Food

For These Things I Am Thankful

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I am going on strike. I have been asked by six people what I am planning to cook for Thanksgiving, and each have been shocked when I have responded, “very little.” I have the bird, I have some vegetables and I have stuff to make desserts, but am I cooking for two days to eat left overs for four, heck no! I plan to celebrate Thanksgiving, but not in the traditional way.

I am thankful to be able to have the means in which to purchase the needed items to make such a splendid meal. However, with the cost of food and fuel, I see no reason to spend $200 to make dinner. If I am going to have a $200 dinner, the Chef best come to my table and make sure I enjoyed every savory morsel!

I cook five or six days a week and Tuesdays are my baking day. I bake fresh each week and my friends are all well aware. I am usually asked to share what I make and often do. Today is Tuesday so I have decided to make a pie. I am thankful that I have friends who enjoy my cooking 52 times per year. I do not need them to wait until the final Thursday in November.

Because I cook so often, I have found clever if not unusual means to recycle my leftovers. The roast from Sunday is often cut down to make tacos on Mondays or soups or stews throughout the week. The left over cornbread I made on Sunday is perfect for some cornbread dressing. I am thankful that there is enough leftover and I do not have to make a fresh pan special for Thanksgiving.

I have potatoes, both white and sweet, along with peas and other items bought from local growers. I am going to cook for the week anyway, but this week, I am planning to cook a turkey. Since the bird is mid-sized, it is also perfect for making turkey pot pie, turkey noodle soup and turkey salad. I am thankful that I know how to stretch my food budget.

So often we spend this day of Thanksgiving engorging ourselves with overly rich foods, overspending and annoying the hell out of each other. Again, I am protesting. My modest dinner this Thursday will consist of a bird and two side dishes. I am not heading out on Black Friday to shop for items I don’t need either. I am staying home.

I have been blessed this year with clarity to understand my place on this universe. I have learned in the past year that less is more. I have learned that to be an educator, I must first educate myself. I have learned that in order to be loved, I must, without reservation give it to those who deserve it, as well as those finding their way. I have, most of all, learned that I am still learning.

I do not require a certain day in which to cook a meal to share with my family and friends. I have learned to manage my money so that I do not have to shop like a maniac the day after Thanksgiving. I have learned to be crafty and can make my friends items they will appreciate, so I do not need to spend money. And for these things, I am thankful.

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My Favorite Things!

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If Oprah can have a list of her favorite things, then why can’t I? As I was walking through the grocers, I came across the magazine rack and saw the Lady Oprah dancing across the cover of “O.” She looked so pretty I almost bought the magazine that is until I saw the $4.50 price tag. I was bad, I picked it up and flipped through the pages. Personally, her favorite things weren’t really all that awesome. I can see no real use for these Chocolate Bears for $12 plus shipping and handling. For exactly the same twelve dollars, I can buy some of my favorite things, like frozen vegetables at the ten for $10 sale, which mean I have vegetables to eat for at least 10 days.

    I continued to look through some of Ms. O’s favorite things. I did see some items that made me stop and wonder what where she came up with these items.

 http://zappos.com retail $120

Originally $137, now $109 with code OPRAH  DeuxLux.com
$125 | Saks.com

These are really nice items, but really, we are in a recession and I can’t afford these things. What I have learned over the years is how to take the things that I truly love, and make a version of them.

First on my list is Moose Munch made famous by Harry and David, retailing at $29.95. This is Crunch and Munch on steroids. I sometimes will buy it as a treat, but most of the time, I make it myself. Here is a simple recipe.

Second on my list of favorite things are any items that I can make. The holiday season I love placards for my holiday table settings. Oriental Trading Company is always on my holiday shopping list, because I can pick up these easy placards for about $5.00. The kit creates 12 settings, and at this price, I can afford to buy several, even to give them as gifts.

And last but not least, some of my favorite things are bags. Purses, satchels, book bags, shopping bags and anything that I can carry my stuff in. I love to shop on http://Ebags.com. There is everything there for your pockets and your pocketbook. Best of all, the prices are right for your purse.

The whole point to my thought process here is to not over spend or get caught up in the haze of Black Friday and the holiday shopping madness. There is enough retail therapy to go around without breaking the bank and acting like a mad person on a spending frenzy. Out of curiosity, what is on your list of favorite things?

You Just Got Served!

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It was a long day my friends, so I popped into my friendly neighborhood bar and grille for some libation and something on which to nosh. I came face to face with Joe A. Customer; the standing “A” for abnormally large, pulsing hemorrhoid. I must tell you, as a customer, I know I’m not always right, but what happens when a customer is totally wrong?
    Well, here begins the story of Joe A, who began his evening being inappropriate with his young, busty waitress. Her look of disgust was evident to all who looked on, but did not seem to faze our overly friendly Joe. The waitress, being a smart little cookie, swapped tables with a strapping young man. Joe was not happy and began to migrate into a class” A” duodenum. The wait staff was not happy. The customers were not happy. The waitress scratched her ass, and then fondled his food.
    I saw it. The couple next to us saw it as well. Joe, did not because he was busy flapping his lips because he could no longer flirt with something half his age. She had no interest in your tawdry advances. The waitress had no interest in you. Here’s the irony. The ass you wanted to touch, you ended up eating. I wonder if it tastes like crow? Joe, you just got served your just desserts for being a jerk.
    If you are going to go through life being a grade “A” assmunch, then be smart enough not to anger the people serving you food. I know I should have said something to her about Karma, how life is reciprocal, and what we give out, comes back to us. I saved the words to the waitress because maybe all of those things were now being applied to Joe.     

 Be nice to your wait staff and tip them with cash. If you tip them with your credit card the bar owner takes a piece. But most importantly, act as if your mother taught you some manners.

Get Crafty This Holiday Season

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This holiday season, you save yourself a few dollars by making some Christmas gifts. I know, I know who has the time? That is the wrong question. The right question is who has the money to buy that many gifts? This nice wreath is made out of Coffee filters. The total cost for this project is about $10.

    There are many simple projects that you can do that can either upcycle items already in your home or those items that need to leave your home. However, before we get to upcycling, let’s get back to those talents that you have that you can use to give or make gifts. Get your mind out of the gutter, you may be good at that but you can’t give it to your Nana!

Are you good at making cakes? You can make cake pops delivered in a nice basket from the Dollar Store. Are you good at making brownies, jams, cookies? All of these items make fabulous Holiday gifts. My neighbor makes a tin of cookies for us each year. The whole cul-de-sac knows when she is baking and we sit around like children awaiting our deliveries. I have another neighbor that makes fudge. I am not a fudge eater but am always glad for a gift that someone took the time to craft for me.

There are many projects and creative ideas available to you for free if you know where to look. I receive a free magazine from Lowe’s Home Improvement called Creative Ideas. It was choked full of so many great ideas that it inspired me to write. I am hoping to inspire you to try something different this year to save money and truly live better. This month’s issue takes you through easy steps to make wonderful holiday wreaths, headboards and upcycling home items. Upcycling takes recycling to a whole new level by recovering or repurposing items you already have in your home. Take that hideous chair that your Mom sent over to your new place. You don’t want it, but you can’t hurt her feelings. Give it a coat of paint, and add some studs and viola, you have upcylced items that you were going to throw away. You have reduced your carbon footprint, reduce landfill input and given that piece of furniture a reason to feel useful again.

I think the most exciting thing about the holidays is the decorations. Each year, we look for that special ornament to add to our tree. Have you thought about making ornaments out of every day simple items or really putting the décor into decorating? I went to visit my favorite crafter’s website, Martha Stewart. I have always considered her to be the McGyver of crafting. I saw where you can take mini picture frames and turn them into cute ornaments for the mantle or the tree.

Many of the websites have free newsletters, Blogs and magazines that you can have sent right to your home. It doesn’t matter what your skillset, there is something you can do that someone else admires. You can make a box of custom greeting cards. You can lay out a few pages in a scrapbook for a family member. You can buy a set of stencils and create a personalized box for a night stand. You just have to try.

Here is your starting point. Here are some Thanksgiving place cards along with the template courtesy of Ms. Stewart.

Happy Crafting!


I’ll Buy That for a Dollar!

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Next June will mark my 22nd wedding anniversary. Hubby and I are planning a really cool vacation and I plan to fully enjoy myself without cumbersome worries of how are we going to eat when we get back from this lovely little trip. I have begun to save large chunks which mean there is little room left for play money. I thereby had to put myself on a cash diet. I can only use my credit card or debit card for emergencies. This past week I have truly learned the value of a dollar. I have also learned that there are something’s that I will not buy, not even for a dollar!

As I previously stated in one of my early post, I have begun to coupon. I am now a step below extreme couponing and hovering around extreme value shopping. I have become, what I consider, to be very clever. I am recycling everything from pieces of left over roast, which are transformed into taco night, or in this weather, a hearty stew. The stews are great to also use up the leftover peas and carrots in the fridge. I am even stocking up the pantry and deep freezer. Let me tell you how.

As I was leaving the house to start my bargain shopping, I noticed the planters on the front porch needed fall plants. Normally, by this time, I would have added some Mums, but I wanted to stretch what I have until it is time to put in the Icicle Pansies. I head over to my friendly neighborhood Lowes. Instead of shopping in the front, I head to the rear of the garden center to THAT rack. Yes, the rack of shelves with sad, lonely, and deserted plants. I have found the ones on the ends are the healthiest and easy to revive. I picked up two hanging Tahitian Bridal Veils for $1 each. They need to be repotted so next I head to Roses. Instead of purchasing the name brand bags of potting soil for five bucks, I opt for the local no name bags for $1. Hey, it’s dirt. I am going to add some plant food when I repot them anyway. Now it’s time to get really busy.

I am headed to the buy one get one sale at Food Lion. I have already added the sale coupons to my MVP card buy downloading the digital coupons to my frequent shopper cards. The hard copy of manufacturer coupons in hand, I have a $1 off of two boxes of Cheerios, which just happen to be on sale for buy one get one. Armed with my sale ad in hand, I pick up bags of chicken breast, shrimp, Doritos, and a large 39 oz container of coffee. I save $1 on the coffee, which I purchased for $7.99. I am on a roll. I purchased high end ice cream at buy one get one along with high end butter crackers. Zesta Whole Wheat Crackers at buy one get one box is great deal; grabbed two of those.

I load up the mama mobile and make my way to Kroger. They are having a ten for $10 sale. Here, you have to be very careful. Last week, the same store brand vegetables I got for $.88 per bag are now in the 10 for ten sale; this is not good friends. I did pick and choose which items were a good deal for a buck, but Lipton Rice mixes are a dollar anyway, so this is not really a good buy. Staples purchased, I now have my local independent grocer’s ad, or the local IGA. These stores are great for pantry items. There is a five for $5 sale going on so I stock up on two pounds bags of rice, hot sauce, ketchup can goods and dry beans. I also grab a ten pound bag of chicken leg quarters for $6. I do have a freezer safe bags in the trunk for my cold items. These wonderful bags keep food cold for 3 hours.

My last stop is to the local Bakery outlet. Tuesday and Friday’s at the John Derst bakery outlet has bread on sale for $.79. Wheat bread, cinnamon raisin bread, Kaiser Hamburger buns and hot dog rolls are all for $.79; with no buying limits. I have found that you can freeze bread for up to 3 months and when you defrost, it is good as new.

    My pantry is stocked. My fridge and freezer is full and my bank account is not empty. I have a full tank of gas, my hair is done, and I have a few bucks left in my working account for just in cases. I did all of this today, including my hair, for a mere $160.00. It’s okay, you can say, “ooohhhh!” I know I did.

    I must close out now because my new issue of All You arrived in the mail. The cover says there are $94.55 worth of coupons inside. I have work to do.



That’s what friends are for……

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    I have been running hard and eating poorly these past three weeks. New quarter, new classes, new students and a new schedule added up to a recipe for disaster. My body rebelled and told me to stop the nonsense and when I refused to listen, it shut down. We are not talking about a head cold, I am talking a full blown system purging.
I was laid out. Flat on my back is where I ended up after a night of personal conversations from several perspectives with the King of the Lavatory.

    I couldn’t be sick. Tomorrow was my scrapbooking day with my friend, Saturday I was hitting the Oktoberfest with another friend and the flea market, plus I had to get the Quilt Show, and the Fair to get a turkey leg. I can’t do any of these things sick! The fever I had said otherwise and I called it quits.

    My friend called my cell at 10 am on Friday. When I did not respond she called me at 11:15 and this time left a voice message. At noon she sent a text and at 12:30 she called my house. I had not responded which, she stated, was not like me. And yes, we have a land line. No, I am not a dinosaur. On with the story about friends…stay focused please. At 1:30 she was at my front door with a bag of peppermint tea for my upset tummy and although my son had placed a chair on the opposite side of the bed of sickness, she opted not to use it. Instead, she brought me a hot cup of bitter ass peppermint tea, fluffed up the pillows on hubby’s side of the bed and climbed in beside me.

    She climbed on beside “Oh, my gosh, I have a fever” breath. She climbed on beside I smell like I’m sick, fever soaked sweaty tee shirt. She climbed on beside my matted afro and crusted nose that had started to drip from being so hot all night from fever, that now resembled a 5 year old with hayfever. She did so with a smile and simultaneously grabbed the remote and began to ask me why I was laid out like I was on a crucifix.

    I started to laugh. She then commented on my smelling like I had been riding a horse and my desperate need of a shower and washing my face. She stayed for 2.5 hours and when she left I felt better. Not cured, but better and ready to get well.

    Ironically, my friend that I was supposed to meet on Saturday, called while she was there as well, and she too called my house because I had not answered my cell; she too figured something must have been wrong. Something was wrong; I had made some poor choices on rest, exercise and food. I did not, however, make poor choices in my friends. They know me well enough to know when I am up and sharp enough to know to call my house when I am down. They also know my home number.

    Don’t be confused, any friend can be at your side when you are the life of the party. It takes a special friend to climb on your sickbed and hold your feverish hand. Friends are there to make you feel better when you are down, help you celebrate your accomplishments and cry when you need it. Remember, a friend is someone to also thank for putting up with you…..

    

But She is My Friend…………………….

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After the week I have had, I am thoroughly convinced that people are losing their minds! First I receive a text out of the blue from a friend who just has to see me, and invites me for drinks on Saturday night. Secondly, I receive an email from another friend who is itching to scrapbook but want to have lunch first and them get started about 3 pm after her hubby comes back to be able to sit with the dog. Last, but not least, I literally run into an old friend in Wal-Mart, who avoids me. Me? What did I do to you? She treated me as if she caught me sleeping with her husband.

Let me back up for a minute and start with friend one and the call out of nowhere. Initially, a month ago, she calls and tells me she is having a get together for the ladies at the church and she wants me to come over. She did not invite me as a guest, but as an extra pair of hands. I guess this was supposed to be our bonding time. She actually expected me to show up and work my butt off serving her guest. I refused.

Fast forward two months, her over complicated life is about to swallow her up and she knows the perfect friend to call. This of course would be me. How the bleep do you figure that I have nothing better to do with time other than make you feel better about yourself and your sorry life choices? She was buying lunch, I wanted hot wings, so I went. I made her feel better and she was proud to say she calls me friend.

The second friend, which, we haven’t know each other that long, we really aren’t that close, and really haven’t had a chance to truly bond. Our first night out with her and her hubby, they brought the 10 year old. Understandaly, you didn’t have a sitter. Second time we met, she left the windows down on the car and I thought, well maybe she doesn’t like air conditioning. There was a dog in the back seat. I was informed that the dog had some issues and did not like to be left home alone.

Two weeks later, we are planning to get together to scrapbook. She said she has to bring her dog.

I. Don’t. Have. A . Dog.

She said he would be fine if I had shade in my back yard. What makes you think I want dog crap in my yard? I can see making a concession for your 10 year old, even considering I don’t have one, but for your dog? You have lost your damn mind!

Last but not least, to my former friend in the store, I am sorry if I have done something to offend you. I am even sorrier if you have done something to offend me that I have yet to learn. I am sorry that we have come to this point in our relationship. Which leads me to this thought, why do I call these people friend?

I am starting a running list of my new dirty words and friend comes in at number two. I am uncertain if we have entered such and electronic world where knowing the intimacies of your life via your Tweets and Facebook posts, makes us close. It does not. It makes you a person who is losing touch with reality. Where were you in your book of “Hello, God, it’s me Magaret…” that no one answered you back?

If your friends do not have small children, then it is not okay to bring your child to dinner. If your friend does not have a dog, then why would you want to bring yours to my house? If I don’t call you to vent and unload my problems, then why do you think it is okay to do this to me? Why, because you call me friend? Out of curiosity, what do you think I call you?

If you are avoiding me in the store, then the problem lies within you. I have not wronged you and you will not afford me the opportunity to make it right. Dictionary.com defines friend as “a person attached to another by feelings of affection or personal regard.” If you hold these people you call friend in high regard, then treat them as such and not as a person who owes you something, your personal counselor, or someone you need to hate in order to feel alive.

On the other shoe, if she gets drunk every time you go out, and you have to be their babysitter, you can also scratch them off your list as a friend. If you constantly have to bail them out, literally and figuratively, then maybe you should not call them friend. Today I am making a list, and noting the qualities I like in those who support me and I them and why I choose to call them my friend. I am glad you are on my list.