Friday, December 30, 2011

My Vanilla Smells Like Booze!

I decided to make my own vanilla extract, after reading about others making their own and how wonderful it was. I wrote about it here.

During the time my vanilla extract has been “brewing”, I would be sure and give it the occasional shake and every once in a while I would open the jar and take a sniff.

Yeck! It always smelled like booze. Hubby says it smells chocolaty, but all I smell is booze.

It had been brewing for 3 months when I was making jam, so I decided to add some to one batch of cherry jam. So, it became Cherry –Vanilla Jam. I think it tastes great, but it does not taste vanilla-y to me. Hubby says it tastes like cherry pie with vanilla ice cream. So, HE can taste the vanilla.

The jam smells like cherries and booze. I know the booze burned off when boiling the jam, so I finally realized that the Bourbon Madagascar Vanilla Beans just smell like booze to me.

But the vanilla extract is really gorgeous and made delicious jam. It looks like this.


I figure it is a good enough strength to start baking with.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

I just want to take a minute to wish all my bloggy friends a very Merry Christmas, surrounded with family and love.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Almost ready for Christmas.

Well, I am really ready for Christmas all year round. I just love Christmas.

Almost all of our gifts are wrapped and under the tree. We just have to go get a gift for one of the grandkids, as I tested the ones we got and wouldn't you know it, one of them didn't work. I took it to exchange it and the store didn't have another, so we will go to another store and see if we can find one.....that works.

I have a 4 day weekend! Yes! Tomorrow we will go get the above described toy. Then I will bake 4 loaves of cranberry almond bread to give to the kids and MIL. I have 7 loaves in the freezer, but we love the stuff, so I will save them for us. I also plan to make some raisin bread for Meredith and Samantha, to add to their bags of jam and cranberry almond bread. So, tomorrow will be productive, but not terribly busy.

We are having our get together Saturday evening. Just me, Hubby, his mom, our kids and grandkids. No sis-in-law drama for us this year. It should be really nice. MIL will only let me bring deviled eggs, so really easy prep for me. I will make those on Saturday.

On Christmas Day, it will be just me and Hubby and he is looking forward to it. We have never had a Christmas Day alone. Well, maybe alone. Last night Chance sent me a message regarding Saturday and asked what Hubby and I were doing on Christmas Day. I told him and said that if he had no plans he was, of course, welcome to come over. I told him I wasn't inviting him as I thought he might have plans and didn't want him to feel obligated, but that he is always welcome. So he might come over, he might not. Either way is fine with us.

A wonderful, stress free holiday for us and I am loving it!

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

I fixed our icemaker!

I am such a Mrs. Fixit!

A few months ago, our ice maker was not making as much ice as it used to. I figured it must be time to change the valve. I have done this before and it is pretty easy after the first time…when I knew what I was doing.

I replaced it and the icemaker started making more ice, but then a couple of weeks ago, Hubby told me it was not making ice. I didn’t know what the heck the problem was and I didn’t feel like messing with it, so we just bought ice. Then Sunday, we pulled out the fridge so I could check and see if maybe the line was kinked or the valve clogged. Hmmmmm…..I could see water going all the way up to the fill tube on the backside of the freezer.

I was stumped.

So I started researching on-line and after a little while searching, I followed the easiest bit of advice. Point a blow drier at the fill tube as it can freeze up. I could see a fill tube, but knew it had to be somewhere back there. So, I plugged in my handy blow drier and blew at it for a couple of minutes.

Voila! Apparently that was what was wrong, as the ice maker started filling with water. Yeah! We don’t have to buy bags of ice anymore.

I am so handy to have around the house.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Last day of my mini-vaca.

It's my last day off....for a whole 3 days. LOL! I have another 4 day weekend next weekend, so I won't complain too much.

It doesn't seem like we have done a lot, but a lot of stuff has gotten done. All our Christmas gifts are wrapped and under the tree. Christmas cards are ready to be mailed. Jam is packed up to be sent to my family in Tennessee and South Dakota and we are heading to the post office in a few minutes to drop off those packages...already paid for on USPS.com, using Click and Ship. So much faster than waiting in line at the PO and got a discount! Yeah for discounts.

We also have a lot of packages of Hubby's ebay sales to drop off. I didn't realize he had so much stuff listed until he started packaging it up to ship. He may have made some good money. Yeah! He had said he was going to list a lot of stuff he has one time and if it didn't sold, it will be donated. I think he has burned out on ebay. Though I don't know if he will stop.

We do have to return two transformer type robots today. I decided to take the grandkids toys  out of the packaging and put back in without all they twist ties and other connectors. One toy was screwed into the box! I figured it would save some frustration for the kiddies when opening gifts. It took about 15 minutes to get one robot out of the packaging and I decided to see how easy it was to make it into a car. UGH! That thing sucked. After about 45 minutes, I gave up and told Hubby they are going back to the store. If I could not get those things to transform, I know 4 and 5 year olds won't be able to. We will find them something else that is more kid friendly.

I also will bake some cranberry almond bread to take to work tomorrow. I give a loaf to my  boss and a coworker. For the rest of the office, I will take a bundt for them to share. I only give to one coworker as he and I have worked together for years. The rest of the people that work around me are in my group, but used to work in a different area, so we haven't exchanged gifts. I will take each of them a jar of jam, but they can share the bread.

Oops! Hubby is ready to leave. Have a great day, all!

Friday, December 16, 2011

What a busy week!

Okay, my week was nothing compared to some people's, like McVal or Sluggy. They are always busier than me. But it was busy for me.

Since I took vacation days today and next Monday to have a lovely 4 day weekend, I had to work my booty off to make sure everything at work was at a point that they could manage without me for 2 days. Since my boss is also off today, I will probably not even be missed. He is usually the one panicking when I am not there.

Monday, Tuesday and Thursday, I went and worked out at Curves after work. After the Curves that I had been goind to for 5 years shut down, then the one I visited shut down, I didn't go work out for quite a while. A few months ago, the one close to my house that had closed re-opened and my girlfriend started going. Then about 6 weeks ago, I started back with her. I figured I probably needed it. :-) Plus the monthly fee is less than what we used to pay.

In the first month, I lost a couple of pounds and 2 1/2 inches from my bust, arms and thighs, so it is working. I think taking a break for a while helped, as I had not been losing anything at my old Curves in a long time. Though it did keep things like my cholesterol, blood sugar and heart rate at good levels.




Late Tuesday night, my girlfriend called and asked me if I would be a sub at her mom's Bunko game. I wasn't really up for it, but cannot refuse her mom, so said yes. We went after work on Wednesday and I ended up having a ball! First we had a fabulous dinner baked by gf's mom, who used to be a caterer. Yummy! It was delish! She made a ton of amazing food that was so good I wanted to keep eating even after I was full. I didn't, but I wanted to.

Then we played Bunko, which I had forgotten how to play, but pretty quickly caught on. It was really fun and I won $20 for winning the second highest number of games. Yeah me! It was "double money" night, so the winnings were double the usual. I didn't even have to put money in as I ended up subbing for gf's mom, since she said that would give her a chance to work on the desserts to be served after the game. All of which were amazing. She served tiramisu, individual apple crisps with vanilla ice cream and bananas foster. The ladies love it when the game is at her house as, apparently, she puts on the biggest and best spreads. I tried to give half my winnings to gf's mom, but she refused it saying I had done her a big favor by stepping in at the last minute. She is so nice.

Then, since it was the Christmas game, they exchanged gifts. Before everyone got there, gf's mom told me that they would be exchanging and not to worry that I didn't bring anything as subs were not expected to. And not to feel bad if I received gifts. Well, receive I did! I ended up with a bag of loot and was happy to receive everything. It was so much fun and everyone was so nice that if I am called again, I won't hesitate to go.

For this long weekend, my plans are to bake some more, wrap gifts and box up jam to send to my family in Tennessee and South Dakota.

Oh, and rest, since I still tired from my late Wednesday night.

Hope everyone has a great weekend!

Friday, December 9, 2011

I'm almost out of jars!

I have made 8 1/2 cases of jam! I only have 10 empty jars left and my  blueberry jam recipe says it makes 9 jars. How close is that?

I do have 5 wide mouth jars, but no wide mouth flat lids. I may grab a box when I go to the store so I can make some mixed berry jam. Hubby wanted me to make some for him, but it can wait until I have jars as it will not be Christmas gift jam.

After running out of Sure-Jell...for the first time ever during a jam making session.... I planned to buy some last Tuesday when Hubby and I went to the grocery store. The winner of my -grocery deal lottery was Sellers, so that is where we went. They don't even carry Sure-Jel! Big bummer.

We took our groceries home, then headed to Big Lots for something Hubby wanted. We were passing by HEB and Hubby asked if they had Sure-Jell. I was sure they would, so we stopped and went in. They had it, but no low sugar vnariety, which is all I use. But I was looking at the shelf and right next to the regular variety was Ball brand pectin....in plastic jars. Hmmmm.....pectin is pectin, right? I wasn't sure how many boxes it was the equivalent of, but they had low sugar, so I got a couple of jars of it. It cost right under $4.

So far, I have gotten 3 batches from that jar. I think it has enough left for part of a batch, so it is a good thing that I got 2 of them. The best part is that it was a LOT cheaper than 3 and a part boxes of Sure Jell would have been.Why didn't I think of buying it like this before? Next time I plan to make jam, I may research buying pectin in bulk.

I am done with jam-making except for one batch of blueberry, then I do some baking. It is Cranberry Almond Bread time!

Have a great weekend!

Monday, December 5, 2011

I am out of Sure-Jell!

Well, I will be after I make one more batch of blackberry jam. I thought I had enough for all the jam I am making but I miscalculated how much fruit I had. So, tomorrow, I guess I will head to WalMart to get some Sure-Jell.

Yes, I know you can make jam without it, but I am not going to. I am a little miffed, as in the summer I got some coupons for free sugar when you buy Sure-Jell, but I thought I had enough. So I gave them to my hairdresser. He was thrilled.

Oh, well, the grocery list is short, so we won't go too much out of budget.

Bummer for me.

I am jammin' again!

It has been a while since I posted about making jam. I posted here and here of my previous marathon. Well, it has been a while since I made any. Our stash was low. We were down to a case and a half in the stockpile and Christmas is coming. Since I started giving jam for Christmas gifts, it has come to be expected and what we had left was not going to do it.

I have been preparing since summer, stocking up on fruit when it was in season. The bottom two shelves of our large freezer were crammed full of frozen fruit. Not so much today.

My marathon started on Saturday. I made 22 jars of assorted sizes of peach jam. Yummy!
I set the fruit out to thaw on Friday night an on Saturday it was ready to process. After making 4 batches of peach, I set out peach juice and cherries to thaw overnight.

When I peeled and cut up my peaches for freezing in the summer, I took all the peels, dumped them in a pot, covered with water and boiled for a while to extract all the peachy goodness. I got 8 cups of juice and stuck that in the freezer. When it thaw, the top of the containers were pretty clear, so I poured off the top and just used the dense peach juice on the bottom for my jelly.

Yesterday, I made peach jelly and Bing Cherry jam.

I think the jelly turned out beautiful! It is not perfectly clear like some jelly, since when I drained the peels some particulates were left and I didn't want to strain them out. Too much peachy goodness to waste!

The cherry turned out excellent as well! I made two batches of just cherry jam, then decided to experiment....

I added some of my homemade vanilla to one batch to see how that would work. Some of you may remember that I posted here making vanilla extract back in August. Well, this is what it looks like today.

Yes, it is a deep, dark, delicious looking brown color. It has been "brewing" for more than 3 months now. I was starting to worry about it, since it still smells like booze to me. And I don't smell vanilla at all. Hubby says it smells chocolatey. I smell something other than booze, but it is not the vanilla-y smell I expected. Maybe it is because I used Mexican vanilla for so long and this is made from Madagascar vanilla beans and I just didn't know what to expect.

Anyway, I added some to one batch of cherry and Hubby proclaimed it delicious! He says it tastes like cherry pie with vanilla ice cream. It does tasted good, but I don't taste vanilla. Maybe my taster is broken. But since he proclaimed it delicious, that is good enough for me.

For those of you that make your own vanilla, does it quit smelling boozey at some point, or is that just normal? And have you used different beans? Do they make a different tasting vanilla? Should I get some differerent vanilla beans?

Back to the jam session....I took out blackberries to thaw last night. I will label what I made yesterday and put it away. Today, I plan to go work out with my girlfriend sometime. She is off today, as well, so we will go during the day instead of after work like we normally do. I also need to make a run to the grocery store...maybe. That can wait until tomorrow, since I am also off then.

Hubby and I will be going to get our Christmas tree today, too. So, today I will be making blackberry jam and pulling out our Christmas decorations on my breaks. We will probably put up the tree tomorrow, after letting it sit in a bucket of water overnight to give it a good drink. I will also be making strawberry jam tomorrow.

Hmmm...that sounds like a lot of work! Maybe I will let Hubby do the grocery shopping this week. He doesn't mind and usually spends less money than I do. LOL!

Happy Monday, everyone!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Hubby is in a frenzy!

A cleaning frenzy that it.

Let me preface this by saying that neither one of us likes to dust. We do it, but it is generally only when you can see the dust. If you can't see it, we don't worry about it.

A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned that we needed to reorganize the second bedroom. It holds my stockpile shelves, our freezer, a recumbant bike and a weight bench. We also had boxes were saved for ebaying and just other general junk. When anyone came over, we just shut the door. LOL!

I came home from work one day and Hubby had been organizing for several hours and it looked great and more roomy than it had. The next night I got home and he said he had finished. So I went and looked and he had totally reorganized and dusted my stockpile shelves. It looks fabulous!

Last week, he tackled the bathroom and kitchen. Cleaning and dusting every surface. Last weekend it was the entertainment center. He pulled out everything on it and dusted and washed all the little doo dads on it. He also tackled one of our bookshelves that is packed full of books and doodads.

Tonight I got home and he had tackled another of the bookshelves. Pulling off all the books, and doo dads dusting and reorganizing. He has another bookshelf and the desk to go and everything will be SO clean and dust free.

I love having a hubby that likes to clean! I am so lucky!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

I can't cook Thanksgiving dinner for JUST two.

Though, I tried. I have cooked for more people for so long that it is hard to do for just two. But it was okay, since we just had lots of leftovers and work lunches. Yummy!

Since we had not heard from any kids, I decided to cook our dinner on Thursday. Here was the spread:

I roasted a turkey breast, after brining it the night before. It was delicious! Accompanying it was cornbread dressing, green bean casserole, broccoli cheese casserole, candied sweet potatoes with pecans, mashed potatoes, gravy, rolls, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie. I didn't plan the broccoli cheese casserole, but Hubby asked me to make it Thursday morning and how can I say no to him? And he wanted some mashed potatoes, so he made those.

Everything was ready around 3 and we were just sitting down to eat when the phone rang. It was Samantha asking if it was okay if she stopped by. Well, of course! She was just leaving the get together that w did not attend, so said she would be over in about and hour. So, Hubby and I had time to eat and put on some clothes before she arrived. Yes, SonyaAnn, we were eating nekkid.

Not really. LOL!

Samantha arrived a little after 4 and her boyfriend John, who had dinner at his parents' house came over a bit later. We visited for a while and Chance and Jacob got here around 5. They said Meredith was coming but did not know when. So we had a great time visiting with kids and playing with Jacob.

Sam and John left around 6. Meredith, Theo and Wyatt got here around 6:30. So, we visited and played with Theo and Wyatt. Chance had to leave around 7:30 to take Jacob to his  mom's. (Jacob's mom, not Chance's.) And Mere stayed until around 9, then headed off. So we had 5 hours of visiting. It was sorta like tag team visiting. LOL!

It was a nice surprise to have all the kids and grandkids come over, as we really had not expected them. Heck, I didn't even put on makeup. (I know, Mark, I am a bad wife.)

Friday, Chance came over around 2:30. He and Bob went to eat while I did a little deal shopping at CVS and Walgreens. I had just eaten something when Chance came over and figured that I would give them some "guy time."

We got back home about the same time and Chance hung out and we visited until around 6:30. So we got some quality time with everyone this weekend.

Saturday and Sunday were spent relaxing with only a few chores here and there. Well, except for Hubby. He has been on a cleaning kick lately, so there was a lot of dusting and polishing going on last week through yesterday. I did help a little.

What a great holiday weekend! I hope everyone had a great one!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

We have a winner!

The winner of my Kroger giftcard giveaway is........momma8385! Congratulations, Jeanne! I have sent you an email for your mailing info.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Rebelling against Thanksgiving tradition

Those of you that have followed me for a while may remember the insanity that I went through last Thanksgiving. I posted about it here.

This year we are NOT going through that again this year. Once again, the other side of our family decided to have Thanksgiving at our nephews house. MIL invited us and we told her that we will not be attending. Fortunately, she dropped it at that. Though Hubby and I did not tell her all that happened last year, she heard a lot of it from the kids. They weren't as concerned as we were about upsetting her. I didn't think she needed to hear all of it, but it turned out to be a good thing for Hubby and me that she did.

All 3 of our kids have decided to attend said nephew's house. Hubby feels a little betrayed, as SIL not only tried to get them to side against Hubby last year, but has also said some nasty things about each one of our kids in the past. And the kids know about the things that were said. Oh well, they are adults, they can do what they want.

We talked to MIL about having a get together at her house on Friday or Saturday, but it would be dependent on what the kids were doing. As of today, we have heard nothing from  any of them. Usually, I am the one trying to arrange our schedule around everyone else's, but this year, I am not going to do it. I have everything I need to cook dinner for Hubby and me and that is the extent of it.

I think Hubby is still hoping to hear something from someone. I told him that I would cook on whatever day he wanted if he hears from anyone and they want to come over. I will wait and see what happens. I hope this does not ruin our Thanksgiving. Sigh.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Kroger Giftcard Giveaway!

Purchase any four participating General Mills products* that your family knows and loves and Kroger will reward you for your purchases. It’s that simple! Head to your local Kroger to take advantage of this great offer: From November 13th through November 26th, with the purchase of any four participating General Mills products, you will either receive free milk (up to $3; limit of 2) or to receive $3 off your shopping order**

Look for some of your favorite participating General Mills products like Cheerios, Pillsbury Ready to Bake Cookies, Nature Valley Bars and Fiber One Bars

Promotion varies in different locations. Please be sure to check your local Kroger Co. Family of Stores for specific deals and offers which include Kroger, Ralphs, King Scoopers, City Market, Dillons, Smith’s, Fry’s, QFC, Baker’s, Owen’s, Jay C Food Stores, Hilander, Gerbes, Food4Less, Fred Meyer, Pay Less Supermarkets and Scott’s Food & Pharmacy

What’s better than being rewarded for buying your favorite products from your favorite store? Visit Kroger.com for more information and great ways to save and be sure to check out the Kroger Facebook page to join the conversation and share which General Mills products you’d like to stock up on during the promotion.

*Excludes General Mills meal and baking products including; Betty Crocker, Old El Paso, Progresso, Hamburger Helper, Macaroni Grill, Wanchai Ferry, Yoplait

**Promotion varies based on store location; check your local Kroger store for details (Cash Offer: Mid South, Delta, Mid Atlantic, SW Louisiana stores, Central Missouri stores and Dillons Missouri stores)

Kroger and MyBlogSpark sent me a $25 Kroger giftcard and are offering another one for one of my readers! I just received the gift card yesterday and since I want to give everyone a chance to enter, you might not receive your $25 giftcard in time for this sale, but still, $25 is $25, right?

To enter, just leave me a comment, letting me know what General Mills products you from the above promotion are your favorite.

If you already follow my blog, leave another comment for an additional entry. (Please do not sign up as a follower just to do this. I know who my followers are and they should get a little bit of an advantage for putting up with me.)

And for those of you that love daily entries, you can leave one comment each day, telling me something interesting that you are doing that day.

So, get to entering!!

A winner will be picked randomly on Wednesday, November 23, as soon as I get home from work. So you can enter on that day is well. I will email the winner, that evening.

Disclosure: The Kroger gift card, information, and giveaway have been provided by Kroger and General Mills through MyBlogSpark.

Monday, November 14, 2011

10 pounds of butter!

I am set on butter for holiday baking. HEB had Challenge Butter on sale for $2.69 with a $1 off store coupon. The limit was 5 lbs, so I bought 5 yesterday and went back this evening for 5 more. Two trips in one week! I never do that! The sale is through tomorrow, but I think I will stop with 10 lbs. (Though Hubby said he would go get some tomorrow if I wanted. I will think about that.)

With what I had in the freezer, I am now set. I was really happy with the price as the last time I bought butter, I paid $2/lb. I really miss finding really cheap butter. But I won't complain as it would not do a bit of good.


I will just be happy with the deal I got!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

I am no longer loyal to any one grocery store.

I used to be a loyal Kroger shopper. Every weekend, I was at Kroger, stocking up on the deals and buying our regular groceries. I ONLY went to Kroger...didn't flit from store to store like some couponers. I wanted good deals, but I also like the convenience of going to just one store.

Then Kroger stopped doubling/tripling coupons. I looked at some of my receipts and figured that it would not be a huge loss and wouldn't make a big dent in our grocery budget.

I don't know if it has made the difference, or if there have just not been the deals that there used to be, but I was not getting the biggest bang for my buck by just shopping at Kroger.

I still don't flit from store to store. I may be too lazy. Now, I look at all our local ads and decide who has the best deals and decent prices on my non-deal purchases. And I just shop at one store. Some weeks it is Kroger, other weeks it is not.

Last week it was FoodTown and this week it was HEB. And some items I get at WalMart. We used to rarely go to WalMart. Now we go about once a month.

Sorry, Kroger. I never thought I would cheat on you, but I have been and will continue to do so. I have to stay within the budget I want to have and that means stepping out on you.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

I went and got you some apple cider vinegar.

I know that does not sound sweet, but it did to me today.
 
I have been drinking apple cider vinegar (Braggs unpasteurized) everyday to help with the arthritis and bone spurs in my left knee. I know some will think that ACV does not help, but it does for me. I started taking it last year and wasn’t sure if it helped or not. 
 
Until I ran out of it. 
 
And didn’t drink any for a week. 
 
And wanted to cut my leg off because of the pain.
 
So, now, I make sure I am not out for more than a day or two. This morning, I drank the last of the bottle and figured I would stop and get another bottle on the way home from work.
 
Hubby got back from a little camping trip this afternoon and called me to tell me that he noticed I was out of ACV, so he ran and got me a bottle.
 
Isn’t he sweet!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Happy Birthday to me!

I have had a wonderful birthday today! I had lunch at a local seafood place with Hubby, his mom and Samantha. I ate the most delicious fried shrimp! Yummy! The waiter came out with a deadly dessert and wished me a happy birthday. No one told him....I guess he notice me opening my gifts. The dessert was made with chocolate cake, chocolate mousse, cheesecake chunks and chocolate chunks. OMG....it was amazing!

I got some lovely gifts. Sammy gave me a Christmas ornament that says "our nest" and is a nest of golden wire with 3 eggs in it. I said they represented my babies and everyone said, "Awwww." I am so sappy. She also gave me a lovely music box with a "Mom" sentiment on it. Not stepmom, but mom. I was really touched.

Hubby's mom gave me a really pretty vintage bracelet that, though it is not my style, was a wonderful, wonderful gift. It belonged to Hubby's great-aunt, who died long ago, but I have heard about her since I met Hubby. She was quite excentric and quite adventurous. I was so touched that my MIL gave me a family heirloom. I will cherish it.

After lunch, and a long visit, Hubby and I went grocery shopping and to the meat market. Quite the birthday adventure, right?

I received a ton of birthday greetings on my facebook page, and have felt loved all day.

Happy birthday to me!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Going fishing.....

Not really.

My birthday is tomorrow! Yeah me! I know a lot of people are not big on birthdays, but I am. I love birthdays, whether mine or someone else's. I don't know why...I just do.

A  while back, Hubby asked me what I wanted and I couldn't think of a thing. I guess that means that I have all I need and that is a good thing. But, I did tell Hubby I would like a tackle box. Does that mean that I want to go fishing? Alas, no, it does not. Though I have gone fishing a time or two in my life. But, I have another purpose in mind. So, Hubby got me a tackle box. Here it is:

You may be asking yourselves, if I don't want to fish, what do I want with a tackle box. And you may be asking why there are two Wilton frosting knives in front of the tackle box. Well, I will tell you. I love to decorate cakes. But I have kept my decorating stuff in this box:
I wanted the knives for frosting cakes (Hubby got those for me, too.) and the tackle box to hold my decorating stuff. I have stored all of it in the above box, which works fine. Except that I kept all my decorator tips in a ziploc bag and had to dig through looking for the one I wanted to use. Or line them up on the counter. I had seen a Wilton caddy and thought it was great, But they cost more than I am willing to spend. But I love tackle boxes. I keep my makeup in one and have for years.

So here is what my decorating stuff looks like now:
I love how organized it all is! Now I am ready to decorate some cakes!

I took today off to have a 3 day birthday weekend and Hubby and I went out to lunch, then did a little shopping. Tomorrow Hubby and I will be going to lunch with his mom. Then I plan to relax for the rest of the weekend. Ahhhhh....birthdays and weekends, my favorite!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

And a dryer magically appears!

Our dryer has been taking forever to dry a load of clothes. And last week, Hubby dried a load of his camping linens and when I went to take them out, I smelled burning! Ugh! So I told him not to dry anything else until I cleaned out the lint. I learned a few years ago that you have to actually open up the dryer and clean out lint. I learned that when I smelled burning then.

So, Saturday, I opened it up. Thank goodness the panel you had to remove to get into it was on them front, so I didn't have to crawl behind the dryer. I spent about an hour and pulled out a plastic grocery bag full of lint. And some of it was burned. We had at least one dryer fire!!!

Sunday, I threw in a load of clothes and turned it on. There was a weird buzzing sound. I have NO idea what that was, but I turned it off and told Hubby the dryer was broken. Since it was about 20 years old, we decided a new one was in order.

I was going to hang the clothes to dry, but Hubby, sweetie that he is, took the clothes to the laundromat to dry.

Yesterday, I called the office and told them we needed a new dryer. I didn't know when they would bring it, so was totally surprised when I got home today to find that we have a new dryer. Hubby said he went back to sleep after I went to work this morning. He said he heard some noise and peaked out and the maintenance men were setting up our new dryer. They took the old one away and even put everything back the way it was before they left.

How cool is that! So, hopefully, cothes will take a lot less time to dry and our electric bill may even go down.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Baby, it's cold outside!

Well, cold for US. We had a cool front come through and the temps are in the 60s. It feels amazing. We will be sleeping with the windows open to take advantage of the 50s tonigh. Yes, we like to sleep in COLD air. At least it won't be the AC tonight!

We don't have big plans for the weekend. I WILL be replacing the valve on our ice maker and cleaning the dryer. It is time to delint the dryer so we don't have to worry about a dryer fire.

Hubby just told me he had merchandising jobs at WalMart this weekend, so I may tag along tomorrow and do any drugstore shopping on the way. I wouldn't go, but I need to pick up a filter for our air purifier and they are they best price at WalMart. Otherwise, I would not go near a WalMart on the weekend.

Hope everyone has a lovely weekend!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Clean out your jewelry boxes!

The price of gold is up now. I needed a watch battery, so took the opportunity to clean out my jewelry box. I had a broken gold necklace, a few mismatched earrings and an anniversary ring from my first hubby. I took them all to the jeweler and walked out with $300! For stuff I didn't wear that was just languishing in my jewelry box.

So if you have some broken or mismatched gold jewelry, it is a great way to make a little extra cash!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Need some ideas for Christmas?

Go check out McVal's blog here. She found some great ideas for gifts to make for Christmas!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

"I'm sorry we are so late..."

Chance is home!! We are so excited to have him back!

We had a great time at the casino. Won some and lost some and managed to come home with some of the money we brought to gamble with. On Tuesday, at one point, I was up $150 over what I brought, but kept playing. LOL! Hubby said I should call the 1-800 gambling hotline. I am not THAT bad. I would never gamble more than I brought to leave there. And I saved the money specifically for the trip. We lost a total of around $300, but we didn't pay for our room for 2 days and didn't pay for food for 3 days. So, I think $300 is quite a reasonable amount to spend for a nice 3 day vacation.

Yesterday, we drove to DeRidder, checked in and relaxed for a couple of hours, then headed to Fort Polk for the Welcome Home Ceremony. It was so crowded! It was wonderful to see so many people there to welcome our soldiers home. I managed to snag some seats while Hubby went to the bathroom and when he came back, Meredith and the kids' mom were with him, so we scooted over and had them join us. Otherwise, they might have ended up standing. I sat next to the kids' mom...Hubby sat right behind us in the bleachers. I would have preferred to have Hubby sitting next to me, but like I said, it was really crowded. And we got there an hour early!

Hubby did NOT speak to his ex, but he did not make it really obvious, so it was not uncomfortable. He still does not like his ex. Who does? But he is never rude to her. She and I get along as I have always tried to do what is best for our kids and we share some wonderful kids.
When the soldiers started coming it, there was wild applause and yelling. There were SO MANY soldiers in the group that the applause would die down a little, then start back up. I clapped the entire time. I figured every soldier deserved applause. Plus, I used to go to the ballet a lot, so had experience clapping even after your hands are aching. :-)

After a prayer and playing the Star Spangled Banner, someone said a few words and the soldiers sang "Rolling Along." It was so moving to hear all those soldiers singing! Then the soldiers were released and it was pandemonium. But we spotted Chance and waved and he spotted us and headed our way.

Meredith headed down out of the bleachers and through the crowd and I headed down too. I had planned to hang back and let his mom, Hubby and Mere to get in the first hugs, but his mom and Hubby did not head down fast enough. So Mere hugged him, crying her eyes out. I got to them a few seconds later and got my hug. And I, who rarely cry over anything, was crying as well. I thought his mom and Hubby were right behind me, but they were not, so we guided Chance back to where they were. More hugs and more tears, of course. I meant to get a pic of Hubby hugging Chance, but my camera was in Hubby's pocket, so that didn't happen. But we were taking a lot of pics as did Chance's mom and Mere and we will snag them off of each other's Facebook, so we got some great pics.

One of the first things Chance said to Hubby was "I'm sorry we are so late getting in." LOL! We told him that there was no need to apologize. He walked out to our cars...his mom had parked right behind us which was amazing considering how many cars were there. I got this pic. Doesn't Hubby look happy?
He had to report to the barracks, but is free all day today, so is having breakfast with his mom and Meredith, then will come go to lunch later with us. We cannot wait to spend some time with him. I am one happy mom!

Monday, October 10, 2011

We are at the casino!

Well, not right now. Now we are taking a break and relaxing. It would be a bit of a pain to carry my netbook around the casino. LOL!

We got up early this morning. Ugh! Hubby made me get up early on my vacation. But it was okay, since we got on the road a little before 8 am. We made the drive in 3 hours and were able to check in to our room at 11. Hubby was so glad. Checkin is actually at 3, but Hubby wanted to see if our room was ready as he likes to unload and put everything up before anything else.

We are staying in what is called a "chalet", which is like a small one bedroom mobile home. Not really mobile as they are skirted and have a nice deck with picnic table and grill. We really like staying in them as the bedroom is separate, so if one person wants to stay up when the other is ready for bed, there is no problem as the living room is a separate area. There is also a full kitchen which is great for us as we just bring a lot of food, so no extra food spending. We will get some comped meals at the casino, but we will also eat some "at home."

Oh, and the best part...the room is comped. So FREE!

We did some gambling already and had fun. We lost a little, but I was happy as I usually have terrible luck in the afternoon and I had better luck today.

Wish me luck for the evening gambling! I will let you know how we do.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Chance is coming home!

I haven't talked about Chance in a while, so some people may not realize that our 22 year old son, Chance, has been serving in Afghanistan. Well, next week he comes home!!

We are all so excited! We want to go welcome him home, but it has been a feat trying to find out when he will be here. I finally told my boss that I am taking off the entire week next week, since last Monday we still didn't know when he would be home.

Tentatively, his welcome home ceremony will be next Wednesday night.

So, Hubby and I are combining the casino trip I promised him as a birthday gift and the treck to welcome Chance home. We will heading to the Coushatta Casino in Louisiana on Monday and will spend Monday and Tuesday night there. Free room, of course. Then heading to DeRidder on Wednesday. We have a room there for the night. Not free. Bummer.

We will attend the welcome home ceremony, then hope to get to spend some time with Chance either afterward or on Thursday. His mom will probably go and if he does, I am sure she will spend time with him after the ceremony. Mom always comes first, of course. And Hubby, WILL NOT, under any circumstances spend any time around her if he can avoid it.

But we can work around her.

Then I guess Chance has to work for the rest of the month, or do whatever they do when they come back from a deployment. Then he has the month of November off and he will be spending time visiting family.

We will have him here for Thanksgiving! Yeah!!

I am so grateful for all our troops that are returning home!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Get a discount on your medical bills

I thought I would throw something out to all my frugal friends.

I ALWAYS, ALWAYS ask for discounts, if I think I can get them and often when I think I can't. Last week I got a bill from my cardiologist. I had gone for a routine stress test and my part of the bill after insurance was $101 dollars. I had not problem paying that. I expected it and we had the money.

When I called to make a payment, the lady asked if I wanted to pay in full. Well, that amount, I did plan to pay in full but you know me. I said, "Well, unless you can give me a discount." And she said she could!! She gave me a $30 discount just for asking. I didn't have to tell her I was broke or anything!

So, always ask for a discount.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

I can now save your life!

I am a fire warden at work. I have been certified in high rise fire safety for the last 12 years. Go me! For years I have been able to get people out safely if our building is on fire. So far I have only had to corral people during fire drills.

Today I spent the day in training to become certified in first aid, CPR and AED. I have been able to bandage someone us for years, thanks to Hubby. But now I can give CPR and operate a defibrulator.

I hope I never have to use my training, but I can!

Monday, September 26, 2011

The winner of the Yoplait giveaway is....

Queenie Jeannie!

Congrats on winning! I have emailed you for your mailing info.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Enter my giveaway!

Come on, everyone! I need more entries on my giveaway! You can enter through tomorrow night.

Come on....give me some entries!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The best birthday ever!

That is what Hubby said about his birthday today. He is 55!

On Monday, I decided to take the day off so we could spend his whole birthday together. Yes, I know we spend every weekend together, but I think birthdays are special!

We slept late, then I gave him his gift (some cologne he had mentioned wanting) and a card, then headed to the Pizza Hut buffet for lunch. How is that for a frugal hubby? I told him we could go anywhere he wanted and he picked Pizza Hut. Then we went to the pet store to pick up some aquarium necessities and got some new fish.

We brought the fish home to settle in their new place, then went to the movie to see Contagion. I LOVE going to the movies on a weekday! No lines, no crowds and no fussy kids. It was great! And we really enjoyed the movie.

Then we stopped by Kroger and bought a coconut cake and some ice cream. Yes, I could have made a cake, but I didn't. I told Hubby to pick any cake he wanted and he picked the $7 one. LOL!

Back home to relax, then burgers for dinner. Then we watched another movie.

Hubby said it was "the best birthday ever!" So I am happy.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Yoplait Light Swap Giveaway!

Small changes can make a big difference over time. That's why Yoplait Light has created the "Yoplait Light Swap" to remind people that by making simple substitutions, like swapping one item from your diet per day for a 100 or 110 calorie Yoplait Light, you can cut unwanted calories and help yourself feel great about daily diet choices. Through swapping tips for food, fitness, and fashion, the "Yoplait Light Swap" can help remind you how rewarding one simple change can be.

Yoplait Light yogurt offers 33 different options to choose from in fruit, pastry and dessert flavors that contain around 100 calories or less, providing endless swapping options.

Visit www.Facebook.com/Yoplait to share your favorite food, exercise and fashion swaps, find recipes and quizzes. Alison Sweeney, host of "The Biggest Loser" and author of The Mommy Diet, offers this Top Swap Tip on how she maintains her weight with a hectic schedule.

"I'm all about easy solutions, and making simple swaps in my diet helps me lead a healthy lifestyle while juggling everything else. I swap a slice of my favorite red velvet cake after dinner for a cup of Red Velvet Cake Yoplait Light which can save me almost 300 calories, without even thinking about it."

Swap your way to fabulous with the following tips from fashion guru, host of the Style Network's "How Do I Look?" and correspondent for NBC's upcoming series "Fashion Star," Jeannie Mai.

Swap the bus for a 15 minute walk on the way home, and you can save 60 calories.1

Boost your confidence in seconds by swapping more low-key flats for a pair of colorful heels.

Expand your wardrobe without breaking the bank by swapping clothes and accessories with your girlfriends.

MyBlogSpark and Yoplait sent me an awesome prize pack that contained: (1) VIP coupon for a free cup of Yoplait Light yogurt, an adorable insulated tote bag, a water bottle, sunglasses holder, hardcover planner and ballpoint pen.

And guess what??!!! MyBlogpark and Yoplait have generously offered a prized pack just like the above to one of my readers. To enter, just leave a comment, letting me know one change you have made, or plan to make, to make your life better.

For additional entries, you can:

Like Yoplait on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/Yoplait and leave a comment here that you did.

Visit the Yoplait website and tell me what flavor you would like to try

If you are a current follower or stalker, leave another comment for an additional entry. Please do not follow me just to enter this giveaway. I know who my current followers are. I don’t want to be mean, but my current friends should get a little special treatment.

I will use a random number generator to pick a winner on Sunday September 25 and the winner will be posted on my blog, as well as notified by email.

Good luck, everyone!

Disclosure: The Yoplait Light Swap prize pack, information and coupon have been provided by Yoplait through MyBlogSpark.

Monday, September 19, 2011

The winner of the Betty Crocker giveaway is....

Raven in a Blue Room!

Congrats! I will send you an email to get your mailing info!

Thanks to all that entered!

Stay tuned...I have another giveaway coming up!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Don't forget to enter my giveaway!

You have through tomorrow night to enter my Betty Crocker Brownie Giveaway! You can't win if you don't enter!

Good luck, everyone!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

What cat do when we are not home.

Hubby left this morning to go camping for a couple of days. When I got home, look what I found:
Spenser, on the left, is the newest kitty. I am pretty sure he is the culprit since neither of the other cats we have, Max, on the right, and Mini, not in the pic, have never played with the toilet paper.

Bad kitty!

Never fear, my frugal friends, I rolled up the tp and it will get used. No waste in this house.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Betty Crocker Brownie Giveaway!

 This fall, warm your family’s hearts and home with a fresh-from-the-oven treat that won’t have you spending hours in the kitchen. New Milk Chocolate Traditional Brownie mix from Betty Crocker® can help you simplify your brownie baking regimen and get a head start on homemade.


  • With just the right touch of milk chocolate flavor, your family will love the traditional homemade brownie taste that can be ready in three easy steps.
  •  Look for Betty Crocker Milk Chocolate Traditional Brownie mix in the baking aisle of grocery stores this fall.
MyBlogSpark and Betty Crocker sent me this lovely prize pack that was to include one Betty Crocker® Milk Chocolate Traditional Brownie mix, a Betty Crocker apron, cookie sheet, and mixing spoon. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the “cookie sheet” was in actuality a Wilton 9” X 9” covered baking pan.
This weekend I made that package of brownies and they turned out perfect. Well, we didn’t eat them yet. The reason is kind of an “oops.”

I decided to use frosting left from Theo’s birthday cake to frost the brownies. Yummy…frosted brownies. Well, the frosting was mostly milk chocolate colored with a little bit of bright blue I just dumped in one container. I figured I would add some more cocoa powder and it would mix into a lovely chocolate frosting.

Guess what?! If you mix ¾ light chocolate colored frosting with ¼ bright blue, add a tablespoon of cocoa powder and mix it all together and it turns out…..

Army Green! Yes, lovely dark olive colored. I didn’t think it was THAT olive colored, so I dumped it on the cooled brownies. Yep, it did look THAT olive!

So, I had a brilliant…if I do say so myself…idea! Chance is coming home from Afghanistan early in October. So I decided to freeze the pan of brownies and when he gets home, I will decorated it with a “Welcome Home” message and take it to his welcome home party. I will be making other stuff, but thought the accidental frosting color would work just fine.

MyBlogSpark and Betty Crocker have offered one of my lovely readers a prize pack of their own! The giveaway winner’s prize pack will contain: One Betty Crocker® Milk Chocolate Traditional Brownie mix prize pack which includes a Betty Crocker apron, cookie sheet, and mixing spoon.

How cool is that?!

How do you enter? Well the first entry is super easy. Tell me who you would make brownies for.

For one additional entry each, you can do any or all of the following. Then leave me a comment that you did.
If you are a current follower or stalker, leave another comment for an additional entry. Please do not follow me just to enter this giveaway. I know who my current followers are. I don’t want to be mean, but my current friends should get a little special treatment.

I will use a random number generator to pick a winner on September 18 and the winner will be posted on my blog, as well as notified by email.

Good luck, everyone!

Disclosure: The product, information and prize pack have been provided by Betty Crocker through MyBlogSpark.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Some pics from Theo's 5th birthday party

I thought I would share some pics since I don't have anything to write about it. Hope you enjoy my family as much as I do!
The birthday boy
 Samantha and Meredith
 Samantha and John 
 the birthday boy again
Wyatt in the pool 
Hubby and I were taking pictures and didn't manage to be in any of them. LOL!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Happy Labor Day!

Another day off for me and I am putting it to good use. Hubby and I are headed to our local farm to buy some fresh produce. Yummy!

For all of you waiting with baited breath, here is a pic of the cake I made for Theo's 5th birthday party. It was a success!
After Hubby and I checked a total of 8 stores and didn't find they type of train I wanted, or any cake sized train for that matter, or a rocket ship, I got creative. I found a Thomad Engine and used swiss cake rolls for cars. Theo declared that I "make the best cakes."

My mother-in-law said that she couldn't tell the difference between my cake and one from Kroger. I THINK she meant it as a compliment. LOL!

Happy Labor Day, all!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Taking a day off to make a cake.

Yes, I was just on vacation a week ago. But I still took today off! I have a lot of vacation days left, so decided to use one to have a long holiday weekend.

The big reason for a day off? Theo's birthday party! Our oldest grandson, Theo, turned 5 on Monday, so our side of the family will have his birthday party tomorrow. As usual I am in charge of the birthday cake. He told me a couple of month's ago that he wants a cake with a train and a rocketship on it. LOL! Meredith told Bob that Theo wants chocolate cake and chocolate frosting.

I will use a boxed cake mix. Yes, from a box. But I am using Wilton's Chocolate Buttercream Icing recipe for the frosting. I used Wilton's Buttercream Icing recipe before and it was a big hit, so decided to try the chocolate one. I know it will be a success.

I am taking the easy way on the train and rocket and will buy toys to use on the cake. That way, Theo will have the to play with after eating the cake. Cake and toys...what better thing to have on your birthday, right?

Bob went this week and bought Theo's gift, a Leapster game and he said he would get the cake decorations for me. He came home with race cars and a stealth bomber. LOL! He thought I said race cars and couldn't find a rocket. Um...yeah, Honey. That is not what I wanted. So we will be going to buy the train and rocket today. I am thinking I can find them at the dollar store.

So, I am being a little Martha today. I will post my creation when it is done.

Happy Friday to all!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Back to work

Sigh!

I am back from my wonderful vacation. After a relaxing Sunday of doing not a lot of anything, it is back to work tomorrow.

I had such a great time visiting my family that I cannot wait to go back and have decided I will NEVER wait 18 months to go back again. I am already planning to go back in the Spring. I am frugal, but it is just cheap to not go visit my family more often.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Having a wonderful time. Wish you were here.

I am having the most wonderfully, relaxing vacation! I have spent the time visiting with the family, eating Mom's delicious cooking and communing with nature. I wish you could all feel this relaxed.

Since my dad only has dial up internet, I have not gotten on-line until today. I forgot how slow dialup can be. We need to find him some high speed access!

I will post some pics soon!

Hope everyone is having a great week!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

X-rayed and patted down

I am sitting at the airport at almost 6am. I was X-rayed and patted down for the first time ever. But it was not bad at all. And though the agent said she would be touching sensitive areas, not a single girly part was harrassed.

Off to board my plane!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Hitting the road....errr, air...

in 2 days. I am so excited! I am finally going to visit my family in Tennessee. Usually I go in the Spring, but just kept putting it off. Who knows why. I love going...I guess I just kept thinking I needed to get more work done. I finally figured out that it will never get done. So, it will just have to wait while I go have some fun with my family. And relax.....a lot.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

I ordered more vanilla beans

After reading some more, I found that according to the FDA, "real" vanilla extract takes 6 beans per cup of alcohol. So, I ordered some more vanilla beans. I got 16 for $10.07 at Amazon. Here is the link for anyone that wants it:

16 Vanilla Beans

I will add them and some more vodka to what is brewing. After all, I do want REAL vanilla extract. (Though, vanilla flavored vodka wouldn't be too bad.)

Here is the link for what I bought before. 7 beans, but the price is now $7.76. That is still a good price.

7 Vanilla Beans

Monday, August 15, 2011

Making vanilla extract

I did it! I have my vanilla extract brewing. As promised to a couple of people, I thought I would share my making of it.

I started with 7 vanilla beans I bought off of Amazon for only $6, a pint of vodka and a quart size canning jar.
Then I cut each of the vanilla beans in half and split them most of the way. I did not scrape out the guts
Then I put the cut up vanilla beans in the jar.



I pretended to take a swig. I didn't want to gross anyone out by actually drinking from the bottle that I was going to pour into the vanilla beans.

I poured the vodka over the vanilla beans, put on the lid and shook it up.

Now it is living in a dark part of the pantry for the next couple of months. I will take it out and shake it up a few times a week.
I will update you on how it comes along.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

No groceries for you!

That is what the Lord said to me today.

I went to Kroger to buy some groceries. Not a lot of stuff, as there were not any outstanding deals, but we needed some milk and produce and a few other items.  There were some black clouds in the area, but we had some yesterday and not a drop of rain at my house. Big fake rain clouds! I was hoping they would drop a little rain and hoped to dance through it after grocery shopping. Yes, it has been that long since we had rain that I was hoping to get wet.

As it always happens, when I get to the store, I find a few more items that I need. LOL! So, I had about a 1/2 cart load and moseyed up to the checkout. I got into the line with a guy who had just unloaded his not too full cart, so figured I would be out of there pretty quickly.

Not so fast, little lady! While the checker was scanning the man's items it started thundering and lightning. Then there was a loud crack! And the power went out!

No big deal. We all know stores get back on line pretty quick.

Well, not today. The staff was so great and came to each checkout letting everyone know that the managers were on the phones...I guess cell phones since the land lines weren't working....with Corporate trying to get everything back up.

Some people started leaving. I am pretty patient, so I waited....and waited...and waited......

45 minutes later, they still didn't know when the registers would be back up. So I came home.

No groceries for me today. Hubby will have to go to the store this week. He won't mind, so it is not so bad.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

What do you want from the liquor store?

Isn't that the call that every woman wants to get at work? LOL! Hubby called me yesterday and asked that. No, we are not going on a drinking binge. He kindly offered to go to the liquor store to get some vodka for my new foray into making vanilla extract.

We may have to taste the vodka to make sure it is okay. :-)

I will be sure and take some pics and post my vanilla making.

Monday, August 1, 2011

I need to drink more...

or maybe bake more.

A few weeks ago, I used up the last of a large bottle of vanilla extract that I have had for several years. I was not too upset, as I had a second one. I don’t even remember where I found them, but I got 2 large bottles…we are talking a pint in a half I think. I am just guessing now. But they were large ones. I don’t remember where I got them, but I was somewhere and the store had some marked down merchandise. These bottles of pure vanilla extract were marked down I guess because the labels got wet. I didn’t care, They were still sealed, so I got them.

It was the best vanilla extract I have ever used, and I used it a lot.

So, last Sunday, I was making French Toast and opened the “new” bottle of vanilla. Mmmmm….it smelled so delicious! Then I stuck my finger in for a taste. Ugh! I told Hubby is had gone bad and threw it away. Fortunately, I had a tiny bottle of clear vanilla extract that I had bought for white frosting, so I used that in the French Toast batter.

I was now in need of vanilla. For a long time, I have wanted to make vanilla extract, just to see if I could, so I started researching for instructions. Imagine how lame I felt when I read that vanilla extract always tastes like alcohol. Duh!! I don’t guess I have tasted it straight in a long time.

I called Hubby to tell him how silly I had been to toss a perfectly good bottle of vanilla and he laughed and told me not to think anymore.

So, I am not going to.

Though I do plan to make some vanilla. I ordered vanilla beans today from Amazon.com. I have some GC credit from surveys, so it didn't cost me anything. I will head to the liquor store this weekend. (And try to only buy vodka.)

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Hubby in the kitchen.

And he did GOOD!

I got home from work yesterday and was SO glad the week was over. I gave Hubby and kiss, changed clothes and headed to get something to drink. Hubby handed me a big glass of peach tea at the kitchen doorway...okay, it's not a door, just an opening to the kitchen...and told me not to come in.

I went back into the bedroom to check my email and pay a couple of bills, then went to the living room to veg in front of the tv. I could see Hubby in the kitchen, as it is open, and he was busy, busy. And the most delicious smells started wafting in.

After a while, he told me dinner was ready. OMG! He had made beef enchiladas and cheese enchiladas. Two BIG casserole dishes full! One to eat and one to freeze. He also made rice, beans, chili con queso, guacamole and nachos! It was a dinner fit for a king...and a queen.

We ate and then watched a couple of movies. It was a wonderful Friday evening!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

I am SO ready for the weekend....

It was a good thing I had a relaxing weekend last weekend, since this has been a rough week at work. Due to the Federal Government not getting the issue of the debt ceiling taken care of in a more timely manner, I have had a TON of work to do.

I have spent the last 3 days reading all the contracts with have with Federal entities and analyzing our exposure if they don't pay their electric bills. UGH! I am so tired of reading contract and government acquisition regulations. One good thing is that I HAVE to finish it tomorrow. But still!!

My mind is jello.

I hope everyone else is having a good week.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Oh, lovely Sunday!

I just love weekends! I spent a nice lazy Saturday doing not a lot of anything. For all you ambitious people that are busy, busy, busy on the weekends, please do not be ashamed of me and my laziness. It was SO relaxing.

Today I got up and made breakfast! Yeah, me! LOL! MIL had sent us a loaf of homemade bread a while back that we stuck in the freezer. Hubby took it out this week and had a gleam in his eye, since he knows her homemade bread inspires me to make french toast. So, this morning, I made him french toast for breakfast. Isn't it lovely?
I mean, wasn't it lovely? It is all gone now and it was delicious! I also cooked bacon to go with it, something we don't eat often. It was so good. And it wasn't totally decadent, since we use sugar free syrup on it. It was SO good! And Hubby was a happy boy.

This afternoon, I ran to CVS to use up some ECBs that will expire tomorrow. I spent $16 and got back $15 in ECBs. I would have spent less, but grabbed a bag of Jolly Ranchers to put in a care package we will send to Chance this week.

Then off to Kroger I went. I had a really small list and tops on the list was red cherries, on sale for $1.99/lb. The best price I have seen in a while. I got 10 lbs and will pit and freeze them for my Fall jam making. My mom LOVES cherry jam and I have not made it in a couple of years. I also grabs a few more snacks for the care package.

I was so glad to get home since it is incredible hot and humid today. Not as hot as it has been, but high 90s and high humidity make me miserable. Yes, I am a heat weiny that lives in Texas. Ha!

Hope eveyone had a lovely weekend!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

So I wish I could dance

I am so addicted to dancing shows! Dancing With the Stars and So You Think You Can Dance are my favorites and I never miss an episode.

But they both make me a little sad. I used to love to dance. And I danced every chance I got. When I was young, we used to have dance parties at home. Yes, my mom loved to dance, too. So when Dad wasn't home, she would crank up the stereo and have a party! My dad did not care to join in, so we did it when he was not home. LOL!

In high school I was on the drill team, so danced almost every day. I danced my way through college as soon as I discovered discos. Yes, I was a disco queen!

After college, I still loved hitting the dance floor and having a good time. Then I got old. LOL! And though I do, on occasion, dance around the house, it is not the same as it was in the old days.

Now, I watch amazing dancers on tv and wish I were young and able to do that again.

Sigh.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Kids, plan a reasonable wedding.

I wrote this really long blogpost today while at work to put up tonight. Then when I got home, I realized it was not nice to air ALL my kids' dirty laundry. So I will give you a shortened version.

Let me tell you why I think our daughter, Samantha, should plan a reasonably priced wedding. Including a dress she can afford.


First I want to say, I know there are many dresses well-worth $1000 and more. I watch “Say Yes to the Dress.” LOL! The one Samantha wants is not one of those. It is cute. That is why she likes it….it is cute. It is a pretty ivory, eyelet cotton sundress. A very simple design. It IS pretty. But I think a $1000 dress should be stunning, gorgeous or even beautiful. It just should be more than “cute”.

Now, on to the non-dress spending.

Samantha graduated in November 2010 with a degree in advertising. Since then, she has been working a part time job... 2 or 3 days a week. She is not even looking for a full time job because she does “not want to work full time.” She is happy with the money she makes and she hasn’t asked us for any, so more power to her.

John just got his journeyman certification in May as an electrician. He has worked for several companies while getting his certification and is now working for a company he would like to stay with for a while. However, he is doing contract work, which does not have regular hours. One week he got 27 hours. He wants to work more and is hoping that he will keep getting more.

John is more realistic when it comes to money. He says they need to save up to move from their current apartment, then save to have a small wedding. They currently live in an apartment that is not ideal, but cannot afford to move.

Samantha does not have a car. She bought a scooter, since she cannot afford to get a car. Not enough money and really bad credit.
They adopted 3 dogs. Yes, 3. They do not have any savings in case something happens to the dogs. We all know that pets get sick and you need to be able to take care of them.

So, those are a few of the reasons I think Samantha should try to plan a more reasonably priced wedding. She cannot afford an expensive one. And if anyone gives her money for a wedding gift, it should be going toward living expenses, not a party.

There, I don't feel so bad about airing a little dirty laundry. LOL!

When you have a lot of money and want to have a huge wedding, more power to you. When your parents have the money to throw a big shindig, that is wonderful. When you have niether you plan accordingly.

That is just my opinion, of course.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

You want to spend how much on a dress???

Most everyone here knows that I am cheap. My family knows I am. My kids know I am. I was hoping some of that had rubbed off on our kids. They did live with us PART of the time they were growing up, so I kept hoping. Honestly, they are more frugal than some of their friends, but sometimes I want to scratch my head.

I told you about Samantha's recent engagement. Well, she has started planning here wedding. They plan to wait until next March to get married so they can save up their money for the wedding. Knowing that Samantha and John have been living on little income over the last year made me think that they would be having a small, inexpensive wedding.

What was I thinking?!

Samantha sent Bob an email about the ceremony venue she is considering. $1000! Just for the venue rental. And she is planning to have the reception at a pizza restaurant. The ceremony venue includes nothing else. Just the rental to hold the ceremony there.  Bob came and asked me if she thought WE were paying for the wedding. Umm.....no. I told him that she knows how cheap I am and if she wanted our help, she had better ask for it before making plans. When she told us they were engaged, she said that they would not be inviting everyone in the world, since they were paying for it. To me, that did not sound like a request for assistance.

Plus, we have not let our kids know that we have money in the bank. As far as they know, we are poor, poor, poor.

We do plan to give them money as a wedding gift and they can use it to pay for whatever they want. Knowing Samantha, it would be for anything but an expensive wedding.

BUT then she posts on Facebook a link to the dress she wants. $1000! OMG! For a dress! For one day! I know, I know, a lot of people spend that and much more. But we are not a lot of people. We do not have money to pay for a multi thousand dollar wedding. Well, we could....but we won't.

I didn't comment on the dress, but Sam's mom did. She said it was pretty, but that was a lot to spend for a dress for one day and that she was sure Sam could find something that she loved equally as well for a lot less. Once upon a time, I would have offered to make the dress, as it is a very simple design. But it has been many years since I sewed clothing and even longer since I sewed formal wear. So I think she best find something less expensive.

I don't want to sound even cheaper than I already do, but we have already given Samantha a lot more money than we have ever given the other kids and there is a fairness factor to consider.

So please cross your fingers that Sam is only fantasizing right now and will find some more budget friendly ideas for her wedding.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Meet the family!

Since Mark commented that he didn't know my family, I realized that I have not been posting pics like I used to. So, here are some pics so anyone that hasn't "met" my family will know who I am talking about.

Here is Hubby and me.
 Me, Chance, Samantha, Meredith, Bob (aka: Hubby), this was on Chance's 22nd birthday, 3 days before he deployed to Afghanistan.
Meredith, Samantha, John (Samantha's fiance), and grandson #2, Jacob, in foreground
 Grandson #1, Theo, Grandson #2, Wyatt, and Hubby
 Chance and Jacob
 Chance in Iraq, 2008...this is how he looks at work.
So, there is my family! I will try to post more pics, so you all don't forget everyone!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

I hope everyone had a nice 4th of July holiday!

We did. I had a 3 day weekend, so that ensured I had a good one. Saturday was just a day of relaxing. I didn't even go to the grocery store! Hubby ran and picked up a few things we needed. We saved money by me NOT going to the store. Yeah for saving money!

Sunday, Hubby, Samantha and John went to the Astros afternoon game. Astros lost. Poor Astros...they are not doing well this season.

While they were gone, Meredith called to see if we were busy as she and the boys wanted to come and visit. I told her to come on over as Hubby would be home soon. So they did. We had and excellent visit! The boys were so happy to see us. And we had a ball entertaining them. When they went home that night, Hubby and I were exhausted! Toddlers are a perfect sleep aid. LOL!

Monday, we met Samantha and John to have pizza for lunch and they shared some exciting news. They are engaged! And the cool thing...Samantha proposed! I thought that was so cool. John said he was planning to propose, but wanted to wait until they had saved some money. Sam just beat him to it. They don't plan to get married anytime soon, but they are engaged. And, no, Sam is not pregnant. That is the first thing her mom asked her...weird woman.

So, we got to visit with kids and grandkids and had a great weekend.

Hope you all had a great one, as well.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Isn't it amazing...

How some little thing can happen and make your days so much better? I told you about the job opportunity that has arisen. I submitted my resume yesterday morning as soon as the position was posted.

Yesterday and today have been really good days! I still have the same amount of work. Still working with some loonies. And my boss is still the most demanding person I have ever worked for. Some of you may remember that I used to blog about how I loved my boss. Well, for the last year or so, he is not quite the great guy I thought he was for so many years. He is really stressed out most of the time and he lets that crap roll down hill.

But, just the idea that someone in another department thinks I would be the most perfect person for their group has really made me feel great! It has been a long time since someone at work thought I would be the most perfect. Well, at least the first time anyone told me.

And today I talked to someone that talked to the director over the position I applied for and apparently she is wonderful to work for.

My fingers are crossed.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Why I had a great Friday.

First, you will all be happy to know that we got some rain last week. Finally! Everyone was so happy that we didn't even mind the slow traffic and the wet commute to and from work. I didn't hear one person complaining.

I just hope we get some more soon.

Friday was a pretty good day for me at work. Let's see if I can make this a reasonable length of a story....

I went to our contract management department to talk to the manager about something and noticed she had two gorgeous floral arrangements on her desk. I thought it must be her birthday or something, so had to ask. She told me she was having an awful week, so her group brought her one arrangement and her hubby sent the other.

I asked what was going on and she told me that a supervisor had just let her know that she was quitting. The lady has been out on maternity, then bonding leave to have a baby and called to quit on the day she was due to come back. The manager was really upset, as they had expected her back.

I said that I wished there was something I could do and her face lit up like a Chrstmas tree and she said, "You should do it!" I laughed and told her that I didn't even know what the lady's job was, so she told me all about it. I COULD do it. LOL! And the whole group loves me.

So we talked for a couple more minutes and I told her I would think about it. I then went to lunch with my bf, Rhonda, and she convinced me that it would be a great move and that I should not be loyal to my boss to my detriment. So after lunch I went back and told the manager to let me know when the position is posted.

Our company requires that before a position be filled that it be posted and all applicants considered. So, I will be applying. I am totally qualified, and would take little training, since I use all the systems already. Plus, since I send them a lot of the contracts they work on, I know the work. Of course, that does not guarantee I would get it. But it does give me an advantage.

It was quite exciting to have someone so excited about the idea of me coming to work with their group! I have worked for my boss for so long that I am totally taken for granted in my current job. So, everyone, cross your fingers that if this is the right move for me to make, I get the job.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

What is going on with Texas?!

We are in a drought right now that has lasted longer than any since 1956. It is dry, dry, dry. We need rain so badly it is ridiculous.

What happens when there is a drought? Wildfires. Lots of wildfires. There is now one burning that is the biggest in Texas history.

Why do we have to make history with bad stuff?

Give us some rain, Lord. We need to put these fires out before they get any closer to my house! I know....I am a little selfish. People that have lost their homes and businesses to these fires are in my prayers.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Work is hard!

After even a short vacation!

Rhonda and I had a great time at the casino. We won some and we lost some. It was totally entertaining! I even brought some money home and I took what I was willing to leave there, so I guess I am not a loser.

We had some delish food. We went to a catfish place and I had some super yummy fried catfish. Yes, I know it's fried. But I haven't had catfish since I visited my family in Tennessee over a year ago, so I enjoyed the heck out of it. We had the most amazing Belgian waffles for breakfast one morning and now I want a waffle maker! We always had one growing up, so I know how to use one. I will start looking, because I really want to make some on a regular basis.

I went back to work today and it was HARD! You would have thought I was gone for a month the way the work was piled up. Ugh! I worked my fingers off all day and there will be more waiting for me tomorrow. I cannot WAIT for the weekend.

My only plans for the weekend are to get my hair trimmed. We will see if anything else exciting pops up.

Monday, June 13, 2011

I plan to be WINNING!

My girlfriend, Rhonda, and I are headed off soon for a girls' mini-vacay to the Coushatta! Hopefully, we will be winning! Whether we win or lose, we will have a blast. We always do.

And for my frugal friends, I never take more money than I am willing to lose. I won't be losing the rent or diaper money. LOL!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

I got a clean bill of health!

Dental health, that is. If you have been missing me, sorry about that. I have not been busier than normal. It just seems like I have not had anything interesting to write about.

But I thought I would pop on today and let everyone know that I am still alive and kicking.

A couple of weeks ago, I was flossing my teeth....yes, I floss  almost daily... when I felt rough spot on a back molar. Uh oh! I immediately thought I mist have a cavity. I told Hubby and his response was, "Not you!" Since I am pretty anal about taking care of my teeth. Not really anal, but I do brush at least twice a day and floss almost every day. And I NEVER go to bed without brushing first.

Today was the first day my dentist could get me in, since I was not in pain. So I spent a  couple of weeks preparing to have to get a filling. Something I have not needed in something like 30 years.

I left work early and headed to the dentist and was happily surprised that it was just a rough filling that I was feeling and not a cavity. The dentist polished it a little so it would not be rough and I would not feel it again. I got my teeth cleaned and polished and he told me to come back when I had something for him to do. LOL! I really like my dentist.

Now, I am just waiting for the weekend. It will be a long one, as I am taking off next Monday through Wednesday and my girlfriend and I are heading to the casino!

Wish me luck!