Saturday, October 26, 2013

Menu Plan

In case you are wondering, we did eat this week.   I've been busy and slacking on posts.

Monday - Chicken Pie

Tuesday - Center-Cut Baked Pork Chops

Wednesday - Super-son & I went to the launch of a new program and they served Chick-fil-a.  Super-husband had leftover chili.

Thursday - Rare treat for super-husband to be home with us (he works evenings), so we went out to eat.  Afterwards, I prepped a couple of meals for a meal swap.

Friday - Buffalo Chicken Tenders

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Meal Plan Monday (a day late)

You may notice that some of the items from last week are on this week's menu too.  We had leftovers one night and the chicken pie was switched out for the chicken & stuffing crockpot recipes.  :)

Monday - Crustless Quiche

Tuesday - Meatballs

Wednesday - Chicken Alfredo Roll-Ups

Thursday - Chicken Pie

Friday - Chili

What's cooking at your house this week? 

Monday, October 7, 2013

Menu Plan Monday - 10/07/13

Here's the menu for this week - although not necessarily in the same order as listed  :)

Monday - Soup & Grilled Cheese (I think it is supposed to rain so this should be perfect)

Tuesday - Chicken Pie (although the fellas have requested the Crockpot Chicken & Stuffing again)

Wednesday - Crustless Quiche

Thursday - Chicken Alfredo Roll-Ups

Friday - Pizza Casserole

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

New Recipe - Apple Crescent Roll Ups!

Fall is here & that means fresh, crisp apples!   I tried this easy apple turnover recipe last week!  It would be great for kids who like to help out in the kitchen too.   Click here for the recipe I used.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Electronics, Cell Phones, and Tweens oh my!

Happy October 1st!  Throwback Tuesday -- Here is a picture of super-son his first Halloween -- wasn't he a chunky pumpkin?  Ahh,  I miss those days!

I'm not even sure where to start with today's post.  Maybe my frustrations are a sign that I'm getting older :(    Society has made lots of advancement with technology over the past decade.  Does anyone remember when cell phones had to sit in the passenger seat of your car?  They were far from mobile!    Their purpose was to provide communication when a land-line wasn't available.  And, texting came along and changed the world & let's not forget the world wide web (WWW) - now, it's available along with thousands of apps for our smart phones.  Let's face it - some of us have dumb phones too.  

So much electronic gibberish!  I certainly support the advancement of technology.  BUT (you knew that was coming didn't you) at what expense do we trade our communication skills, etiquette, and personal interactions for an electronic device.   Super-son started middle school this year.   I knew the "cell phone" conversation was coming but in our minds we had thought thirteen seemed a reasonable age to CONSIDER one.  ;)    Of course, the first week we had a bus issue and the second week another bus issue & the third week having to stay after school for a project - all of which set the wheels in motion far sooner than we expected.

We know folks whose kids have had cell phones since 4th grade.  Yes, fourth grade.  I don't know why -I'm still scratching my head trying to figure it out.  The "phone was free".   Ahh - yes the phone was free but the monthly data plan and cell phone usage and texting are NOT!   To each his own,  my circumstances don't fit their needs and my situation is not theirs. 

So, the short of the story - Super-son is not getting an iPhone4 even though they are "cheap" right now and it would eliminate the "need" for his iPod.  A co-worker has an old Blackberry that she is kind enough to let us have.  We found a local company that has a $12 plan - (250 minutes & 250 texts).  Honestly,  it is all we feel like he needs right now.  The future may necessitate changes to the plan but for a twelve and half year old - we think it's the most reasonable. 

It's less likely with this plan that the cell phone will become an appendage.  We want him to understand the importance of actually having conversations (face to face) & not looking at a cell phone while having dinner with other folks (yes, these are pet peeves of mine).  

Monday, September 30, 2013

Menu Plan Monday - 9/30/13

This week's menu has a couple of repeats from last week.   Friday night, I fell asleep when I got home & the baked spaghetti never got made.  (opps!)   Taco meat night was a disaster.   We've been using the Mrs. Dash Fiesta-Lime seasoning for our taco seasoning for a couple of years.  I can't tell the difference & you save so much sodium!  Unfortunately, it's been increasingly harder to find - so I picked up McCormick's Citrus-Lime seasoning.   I prepped everything the night before & it smelled so good.  However, the taste the next day was HORRIBLE. 

Monday - Baked Spaghetti

Tuesday - Taco Meat (for salads or tacos)

Wednesday - Salmon Patties

Thursday -Chicken Broccoli Braid

Friday - Hamburgers

What's cooking at your place this week?

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Meal Planning 101

If you are here looking for the perfect method for meal-planning,  you may want to search again.  I'm not an expert meal-planner, but I thought I would share some tips & tricks that have worked for me.  I've tried meal-planning off and on for the past few years.  Despite the "planning",  it seems like we always end up in a rut of eating the same meals.   Since school started in late August,  I've tried a different approach.

1.  Sit down a make a list of recipes your family likes or of recipes you would like to try.   My list generated 32 recipes as well as a few "new" recipes.  Granted there are some variations on the list (tacos, enchiladas & spaghetti, lasagna, stuffed shells) - but there aren't any duplicates.

2.  Dedicate time on your calendar to make your weekly menu.  Thursday tends to be a good time - you can look at the grocery store sale flyers and generate your menu around meat or other items that may be on-sale.

3.  Make a grocery list and check it twice.  I live in the Southeast & two local grocery stores (Lowes Food & Harris Teeter) offer shopping online.  You submit your order online, they shop the order, and you arrive at your pre-selected time to pick it up and go.  They always call after they've shopped your order to see if you need to add any items.  The cost is $4.95 per order.   Some people think this is absolutely ridiculous.  However, I've found that I stick to my list and actually spend less because there are no impulse buys. (and you can still use coupons!)

4.  Keep a frozen pizza or other quick go-to meals in the cabinet just in case.  There will be nights where the mountain of homework is unending or you simply don't feel good & it's quicker and easier to do a frozen meal.  It's still cheaper than hitting a drive-thru.

5.  Prep meals.  I enjoy Sunday football but not all afternoon long.  While super-husband enjoys the game,  I spend a couple of hours meal-prepping.  On average, I usually have 3 of 5 meals prepped for the week.   When I get home, it's nice to preheat the oven and bake!

6.  Why do I only plan meals for Mon - Fri?  We have one "eat-out" meal per week and it tends to be Saturday or Sunday.  Some weeks we have leftovers and don't always go through the 5 planned meals so I prepare one of those on Saturday or Sunday if needed.

7.  How much do I spend?  My goal is to keep our grocery budget under $100 per week; however, on average I would say I have been spending $125 per week.  Understanding couponing is next on my list -- I've never done well at it or perfected the methods.

 It's required a little more effort on my end - but the trade-off is well worth it.  I feel more prepared at the beginning of the week (no thinking what's for dinner),  we're saving money & we are eating out less.  Do you have any meal planning tips?

Monday, September 23, 2013

Menu Plan Monday - 9/23/13

Monday - Crockpot Chicken & Stuffing

Tuesday - Taco Meat (for salads or soft tacos)

Wednesday - Fellowship Meal at church (or leftovers at home)

Thursday - Crockpot Roast

Friday - Baked Spaghetti

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Orange Honey Teriayki Chicken & Quinoa Fried Rice

One of my favorite (and perhaps my only) Chinese dishes is General Tso's chicken.  I love the combination of sweet & spicy.   We don't eat Chinese often because it usually leaves me feeling miserable and bloated.  I ran across these two recipes on Pinterest & decided to give them a try.  Thumbs up for both of them!

Orange Honey Teriyaki Chicken - click here for the recipe.   I didn't not follow the recipe to a T because I didn't have all the ingredients on hand.  However, it turned out DELISH!   I omitted the mirin and ginger & substituted chicken breast in place of the chicken thighs.

Quinoa Fried Rice - click here for recipe.  I am a new fan to quinoa.  It is incredibly feeling and has a texture between rice & pasta.  This dish did not disappoint.  Of course, I modified and it turned out great.  I didn't use fish sauce, tomatoes, red peppers - but instead used a diced onion, a small can of peas/carrots (drained) and only 1 egg. 

Monday, September 16, 2013

Menu Plan Monday 9/16/13

Monday - Chicken Alfredo Roll-Ups

Tuesday - Meatloaf Muffins

Wednesday - Chicken Broccoli Bake

Thursday - Chicken Clubhouse Squares

Friday - Pizza

Saturday - Enchilada Bake

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Twice Baked Potatoes - Lightened Up

Last week, I made twice-baked potatoes.  It was the second time I've made the recipe and once again, it was a hit.   I pinned the recipe here.  If you want accurate serving size/nutrition information,  I would highly recommend running through a recipe builder.   The recipe was quite a few more calories according to My Fitness Pal.  We had the potatoes with a side salad it was filling and delish!

Easy Twice Baked Potatoes

3 large russet potatoes
1/2 c. fat free chicken broth  (I used reserved chicken broth from another recipe I was making)
1 c. 2% shredded cheddar
1/3 c. thinly sliced green onions
1/4 c. light sour cream
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 TBS Hormel real bacon bits

Heat oven to 400 degrees F.

Pierce potatoes in several places with tip of sharp knife. Bake 1 to 1-1/4 hours or until tender. Immediately cut potatoes lengthwise in half; scoop out centers, leaving 1/4-inch-thick shells.

Beat potato pulp, broth, 1/2 cup cheese, onions, sour cream and mustard with mixer until well blended. Spoon into shells; top with remaining cheese and bacon bits.

Bake 20 minutes or until heated through.

Makes 6 Servings

I prepped these ahead of time & popped them in the oven when I got home from work.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

9/11 -- Stair Climb Challenge

Yesterday was a day of rememberance and honor for all those and their families who lost precious family members on September 11th.  It was also a day of recoginizing the unsung heroes - the men & women in uniform, the countless volunteers - all who made a difference in saving a life.

A local personal trainer challenged our area to a stair climb to honor each lost life of 9/11.  She organized the event on the campus of a local university.  It may seem an odd tribute to some but I can't think of the numerous lives that were saved because of the stairwell.  The stairwell became the ONLY access point for firefighters to enter the towers are one point.  I was unable to do the challenge as it conflicted with getting super-son to school. 

It was on my mind all day, so around lunch I decided to climb the largest building on our campus.  I knew it wouldn't be 2,977 steps - but to me it was honoring those on 9/11.  

The building was 265 steps from Main Floor to the Roof Top access.  (The count in unofficial - I may have lost count at some point) - so 530 steps total. 

Monday, September 9, 2013

Menu Plan Monday

For the past two weeks, I've gone over budget on groceries.   My goal budget is $100 each week - I was over between $30-$40 each week.  I'm trying not to get too discouraged about it.   The good news - those groceries feed us breakfast, lunch, and dinner (plus snacks) all week.  We ate out once last week and once the week before.  Honestly, we are doing better than usual.  Enough about that - here's the menu...

Monday - Twice Baked Potatoes and Salad

Tuesday - Chicken Pie

Wednesday - Spinach Patties (a co-worker made these a couple of weeks ago - DELISH)

Thursday - Orange Honey Teriakyi Chicken and "Fried" Rice

Friday - only day I'm uncertain of - possible Pinterest party at my house  :)

Saturday - BBQ at my parent's

What's cooking this week?

Sunday, September 8, 2013

What's cooking?

Last Monday, I decided to cook up a couple meals to get started in the week.  I've done this before and it proves to be a huge time-saver during the week especially when school is in session.  It probably took me about 2 hours but was worth every minute.  There was no second-guessing what's for dinner.  Bonus, we had leftovers so I didn't have a sandwich every day for lunch either.  :)

After church today, I decided to do the same.  I was already scheduled to pick up groceries around 12:30p, so I had about an hour to play with.  I started stewing some chicken and put together super-son's breakfast pizza/casserole for the week.   After all the groceries were put away, I went right back to it.  Not only did I get 3 meals prepped and ready for dinner this week.  I have super-son's breakfast baked and portioned out for the week.  DIY trail-mix, wasabi peas, watermelon, cucumbers, celery are all prepped, portioned, and ready to put in lunch boxes.  It took me around 3.5-4 hours this week but that includes going to pick-up the groceries.  All in all not bad!

Do you have any time saving or meal-prep tips?

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Half Crazy is Better than Full Crazy - Right?

Not long ago, I shared my 2013 fitness goals with you.  Tonight, I went to a information session to learn more about one of my goals  13.1 to be exact.   I turned 40 this year and I'd love to run a half marathon to celebrate.   I understand to most folks it sounds like the absolute craziest idea in the world.  I'm not sure why I want to do it so bad other than for most of my life I NEVER thought I would be able too.

Let me assure I will not be the fastest,  I will not win any awards - but if I do take the next step and sign-up for this program - I WILL COMPLETE THE RACE.   Whether you cross the line first or last - it doesn't matter.  Everyone who crosses the line is a half-marathoner.

Do you have a "big" dream/goal?

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Menu Plan Monday (a day late)

Sunday - We had leftovers (BBQ drumsticks & the crockpot chicken & stuffing)

Monday - Hot Dogs

Tuesday - Baked Pork Chops

Wednesday - Spinach Lasagna Roll-Ups

Thursday - Taco Meat for Salad, Tacos, or Nachos

Friday -  Italian Style Chicken Roll-Ups

Have a great week!

Monday, September 2, 2013

A little elbow grease, a little time = clean oven!

Yesterday,  I mentioned cleaning my oven as one of my "to-do's".   I'm happy to say I was able to check that off the list.   I've always said this blog was about keeping it real and the pictures of my oven will reassure you of that.   While I do have a self-cleaning oven,  I'd read reports and heard from a co-worker that this was not always the way to go.  It seems easy enough to hit "self clean" but the oven gets ridiculously hot as part of the process.  Since I wasn't trying to burn my house down, I opted for good ol' elbow grease.  Now, I will be completely honest and say the oven has not been cleaned in about 7-8 years. 

I promised I would keep it real - GASP!
How did I clean it?  Well, I'm glad you asked.  I know Easy-Off is a popular oven cleaner but I've also read the fumes can be intoxicating.  This was another "no-spend" project, so I used what I had on hand.

  • Hot Water
  • Shaklee Basic H Degeaser
  • Soap Pads (I had the Dollar General brand)
  • Hot Water
  • Rubber Gloves
  • Sponge
I started my laying an old sheet underneath the oven door to catch any crumbs or suds.  Then, I took a damp paper towel and wiped out all the loose crumbs.  Next,  I sprayed the Shaklee Degreaser liberally on the back and sides.  While it was soaking, I filled a bucket with hot water.  I got the sponge wet and then started wiping and scrubbing.  The sides/back of the oven were relatively easy to clean.  Next,  I sprayed down the bottom of the stove. Again, it was alot of elbow grease & repeated efforts of spray, scrub, and wipe. I had a couple of stubborn spots on the bottom, so I grabbed the soap pads I had on hand and went to work.  I repeated the same process for the oven door.    It's not perfect - but it looks soooo much better!

Super husband had to help with the oven door because I had used all my muscles on the oven itself! I am so happy with the results and so happy the products I had on hand worked.  It really didn't take me that long, so why did we let it get so bad?!! 

Are you relaxing or tackling projects this holiday weekend?

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Weekend Labor Day - Home Projects

Do you have a list of home projects or things you'd like "to-do"?    You know how I like lists.  :)     As I sit here this morning,  I'm slightly overwhelmed by my list because I don't know which project to start working on today.   But, it's quite possible that I could tackle more than one if I would quit thinking and just jump in!

On my list:

-Superson's bath room re-do (I had a revelation this week & realized that I could probably do this for ZERO dollars spent)

-Office closet (I need to declutter and reorganize the bottom half of the closet so we can start the transition to a mulitpurpose room)

-Clean my oven (undoubtedly the least exciting of all the other 2)

The optimist in me wants them all done today, so she can enjoy being lazy on her day off tomorrow.  :)

Do you have any weekend projects?

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Multipurpose Room -- Ugh Again?!

Way back in 2011,  I talked about our spare bedroom and the need for it to be a multipurpose room.   I'm happy to report it has not returned to the cluttered, chaotic state in one of the pictures of that post - but man, oh, man - my heart still doesn't swoon when I walk in.    I've decluttered and purged ALOT.    I don't want to share the current "before" pictures because I'm not sure when this project will unfold.    I've started an "inspiration" board here on Pinterest.   The room is still begging for direction and definition.  

Super-husband and I have agreed to keep the treadmill for 6 months & then re-evaluate.  Personally, I would rather be outdoors exercising (even if it is freezing cold) - he is the opposite & prefers the treadmill. 

The desk.  I have a love-hate relationship with it.  In the link to 2011, you'll see a corner desk.  I'm happy to report I disassembled that desk - it was not a "space saver" for us.  I'm currently evaluating the office closet idea.  I mentioned it as well in my first post & I really think that is the best option for the space.

Other than that,  I'd love to have a futon, bed, or seating area to accompany guest or for us to have a place to retreat.  The bottom line, I want it to be usable space for us & not a door that we keep closed.  This will likely be my Labor Day weekend project - my goals:  design on dime (not to spend much if any money)  & make the space fully functional. 

Please let me know if you have some suggestions!  :)

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Back to School

It's the first week of school here!  To me, it marks the unofficial end to summer - back to schedules and routines.  In general,  I like routine - but summer is just special - lazy evenings and life seems calmer.   Super-son started middle school this year - a new chapter in life.  I was incredibly anxious but after open house something inside just told me he was ready.    Even though I'm not the one back in class - I'm exhausted!   It's one thing to throw on clothes to go exercise at 530a but it's another to get up and start your morning routine (shower, dress, make breakfast, get son up, etc, etc) and out the door by 6:45a prepared to take on the day.  We are learning and adjusting. 

Do you like the lazy days of summer?   Or do you prefer the routine (and sometimes chaos) of the school year?

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

New Recipe - Crispy Oven "Fried" Buffalo Chicken Tenders

Happy Tuesday!  

Do y'all love Pinterest as much as I do?   I know you get tired of hearing me talk about it.   :)    It's such a wonderful resource for ideas, recipes, decorating, organizing and the list goes on and on.   Last week, I found a recipe for "Oven Fried Buffalo Chicken Tenders".   It sounded like a real family pleaser.  Lucky for me,  chicken tenderloins were buy one, get one free this week - SCORE!    They are super easy to prepare and tasty!

Now, if you are one of those folks that likes exact measurements the link above for the recipe won't be for you.    I couldn't find measurements, baking time on it anywhere - so I do what I usually do anyway and just modified.   :)     I lined the countertop with a paper plate (all-purpose flour), bowl (buffalo wing sauce), and paper plate (panko crumbs).   I dipped each tenderloin into each of those in that ordered.  Then, I placed them on a wire rack on a cookie sheet - baked at 450 for 20 minutes.  The results -- moist & juicy on the inside and nice & crunchy on the outside.  Personally, I thought it could have used a little more kick from the buffalo wing sauce, but I was experimenting with a new brand.

Perfect recipe for the upcoming football season!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Menu Plan Monday

For the most part, we followed last week's menus.  I made a couple of adjustments with things we had on hand for sake of time, but we didn't eat out and used what was here.  YAY!

Monday - Salmon Patties

Tuesday - Meatloaf

Wednesday - Buffalo Chicken Tenders

Thursday - Hamburgers

Friday - Crockpot Chicken & Stuffing

Saturday - Ham/Broccoli Braid

Sunday - ?

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Keurig Party - Success!!

Remember my posts about House Party and the Keurig give-away?   Well, I am happy to report it was a great success!   

Ready to brew!  (Sorry it's blurry)

I hosted the party on Thursday evening - hoping to avoid some of the back-to-school weekend madness.  I had two folks who couldn't attend because it conflicted with the elementary school open house.  However, the ladies who did come had an awesome time. 

Everyone enjoying their brewed beverages!

House Party made it so easy to host.  Literally, everything I needed to host the party came in a box from either Keurig or House Party.  The guests enjoyed hanging out with each other and most of all no pressure to buy anything.  They had a chance to sample a variety of K-Cups (hot and iced) and learn more about the Keurig brewers.  Even though there was only one Keurig to give-away, everyone walked a winner thanks to the awesome coupons and tumblers!

Thank you House Party & Keurig for choosing me to host this party!!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Lists - To Do? or Not To Do?

Are you a list-maker?   To some extent, I always have been.  Some days I wish I were more of a list-maker than I am -- some are well thought out & others are scribbled on a piece of paper.  

-Have you ever gone into the grocery store without a list?  I have & it's never been a successful trip.
-Have you ever ran errands without a list?   Forget something?  I have.
-Have you outlined goals for the year?   Only to forget two weeks later what they were.  I have.

My point is a list helps keep us focused. 

At work - I have an ongoing list of tasks & deadlines.  I'm constantly marking off completed items and adding more that needs to be done.

At home - I have several  :)  One in particular that I enjoy looking at is room by room of things I would like to do to update or change the space.  (Painting, moving furniture, decluttering, etc)  

During the school year,  I try to make a list each day before I leave work of things I need to get accomplished that evening.   Super-husband works evenings, so I have to make sure I maximize the time I do have -- ensuring super-son's schoolwork is complete coupled with dinner and other household duties.

What's your take on lists?  

See my fitness goals list here.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Menu Plan Monday

I opted for the easy way out and avoided the grocery store this week.  I placed an order online via Lowes Foods To Go & picked it up the next morning.  It sounds ridiculously lazy!  Typically, I spend less because I stick to my list and there are no impulsive purchases.  They will even take coupons and apply them toward your next order.

Sunday -- Fried Chicken (it was the deli e-offer special this week)

Monday -- Lasagna Roll-Ups

Tuesday -- Salmon Patties

Wednesday -- Pizza Casserole

Thursday -- Ham & Cheese Party Rolls

Friday -- Smoked Sausage & Sauerkraut

Saturday -- ?

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Rain, Rain, Rain....

Here in the South - our summers are typically hot and humid followed by hot and humid, but this year it's been unusually wet and alot like this.... 

It seems as though every five day forecast has called for a reasonable chance of rain.   It's cancelled several pool days and outdoor plans.   Generally, farmers are anxiously awaiting rainfall, but I think this year too much rain has hampered some of the crops.  Personally,  I can't remember a summer this wet in my lifetime. 

Yesterday was no exception.   We had hoped to tackle some yard work,  to mow,  and get a handle on the weeds.  We've either been out of town or it's rain - so the yard seems out of control.   On a positive note,  the grass is usually dry and brittle by this time of year; but this year, ours is plush and green.   We had a nice quiet, steady rain -  Sometimes, I wonder if it's God's way of getting us to slow down a little bit.  We spent a lazy day at home... a little laundry, a little cleaning (I really hoped to do more), and alot of lazy.  

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Customer Service

Happy Saturday!

Customer Service embodies so many qualities and characteristics, but I believe EXCELLENT customer service is integral to any successful business.   I worked retail for a few years during and after high school, and I will agree there are times it is close to impossible to keep the smile on your face and the pleasant tone in your voice.  Over the past several months,  we've tried to bring super-son's awareness to customer service when we are out and about.  We've had a few excellent experiences and it gives a chance to talk about what was right -- the attendant went above and beyond our expectations;  they corrected a wrong order; or they were just polite!   Unfortunately, we've had a couple of bad experiences too - but it's given us a chance to talk about what they could have done differently or could we have communicated differently.   It probably seems silly to most - but I think it's good for him to see and understand.

Remember my House Party post, if not run over and check it out!   The Keurig brewers arrived this week.   I'm still in awe of this awesome party pack.  House Party provided all the essential party supplies:  cups, K-cups for the brewer,  coupons, and a cookie tin.  Keurig sent two brewers - yes, you read that correctly TWO brewers!  One for me to keep and one for me to give to away to a lucky guest!  

The brewer boxes indicated there were a couple of bonus items included - but I was missing the bonus K-cups in each box.  I called the company last night & to be completely honest -- I would rate the phone call as a 5 (on  1-10 scale).   AND, to be completely honest - it felt weird calling when the brewer was free to begin with - but I wanted the guest who wins it to have whatever was supposed to be in the box. 

Anyway, I was told my request would be sent to the "department that handles that type thing".   Shortly afterwards,  I received an email with a coupon code for free K-cups.   I was confused, so I emailed them to inquire if this was in response to my phone call or was it because I registered the brewer.   They sent another email with a discount code this AM because it was in response to my phone call but they didn't realize neither brewer had the bonus K-Cups.  So that my friends is EXCELLENT customer service in my book!!!

Have you had an EXCELLENT customer service experience recently?

Monday, August 12, 2013

Family Staycation

Typically, we spend a week enjoying the sand & surf at one of the Carolina beaches.  This year, our family vacation was very different for us. We chose to stay home!  We spent the week cleaning closets & enjoying a few things off the beaten path.  

Super-husband & super-son are big Dr Who fans.  They heard about a dad who had built a TARDIS for his son.  It turns out it was only about 30-40 minutes from us, so we set out to find it.  And we did!

It was literally on the side of the road & had we not been looking we would have missed it. 

 On the way home, we discovered an Amish market with big supply of spices, fresh bread & deli meat. 
We will definite be visiting them again!

Have you ever done a staycation?  Dud you like it?

Friday, August 9, 2013

Lions and Tigers and Bears and Yellow Jackets Oh My!

A couple of weeks ago, we were going to do some yard work.  I headed out a few minutes before super-husband to throw some limbs in the backyard over the fence.   One of them was rather large so I opened the back gate to throw it further into the woods.   As I tugged on the branch,  I felt something scratch my leg - assuming it was the branch - I readjusted and tugged some more.  I threw the branch into the woods and still felt the stinging on my leg.  I looked down and saw a yellow jacket & quickly swatted it off.  Suddenly, I felt more stinging and realized I had aggravated a yellow jacket's nest.  They were on my lower leg, my arm, and then I felt stings up my pant leg.  I panicked and started - yelping, crying, and swatting - all the while running toward the back door.  As I'm making my way to the back door, I realize until I get them beat off of me I can't go in because they will go in with me!   (By the way, this is all happening while super-husband is still inside getting his shoes on!)   I do what any crazy person would do -- start pulling clothes off as I go through the yard.  I run inside and go straight to the bathroom while my husband looks at me like I've lost my mind.  I'm crying and sobbing & can hardly get out the words to tell him what happened.  I was fortunate only to get bitten eight times and even more fortunate that I am NOT allergic to them.  In hindsight, the whole scenario was humorous!  

Yesterday, my neighbor walked over as soon as I pulled in the driveway to point out this...
Yes, it's a hornets, wasp, or stinging insect nest of some sort!   This is in our front yard.  Yes, we've called the professionals for this one folks.  Hoping they can take care of it for us.  :)

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

House Party!

I'm not a party animal, but I do love to have people in my home!   Over the holidays, we were invited to a House Party -- sounds like college event huh?   I promise you this is like nothing you experienced in college.  House Party is a company that puts products into the hands of consumers for feedback.  I suppose you could say it is a modern day focus group.  The party we were invited to over the holidays was a family-focused New Year's Eve event.  The host had been given Hasbro games for guests to play.  Guests got to try the games and the host was able to keep all the goodies & provide feedback on the games to the company.

What a cool concept right?  Have people over and get some cool products - win, win!  I joined House Party and applied for a couple of different products of interest.  I'd never been chosen until last week.  We will be hosting a Keurig "Brew What You Love" party later this month & I couldn't be more excited!   The prize pack is pretty amazing!!  As a host - we will receive a Keurig maker and K-cups for guests to try.  Additionally, we will get another Keurig maker to give away to one of the guests as well as coupons for everyone! 

Cruise on over to House Party and sign up -- what do you have to lose?

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Random List of Things I'd Like to Learn

Do you have moments when you wish you knew how to do something -- a skill, a talent, etc.... I thought I'd make a list of things I'd like to learn...

1.  Sewing - I've tried before and failed miserably - something about the sewing machine intimidates me.  I need a super basic sewing class.  I asked for a gift certificate for a local sewing place several years ago - I signed up to learn to make a pillow -- seemed basic enough, but even that was over my head!

2. Basic Plumbing & Electrical Skills - I just wanna know how to do stuff!  Although, I must admit with Google and YouTube - you can almost figure out anything.  We had a steady drip from our shower head for longer than I care to admit.  We kept avoiding addressing the issue b/c well, I don't know why!  Anyway, I recently fixed it with help of Google, YouTube, and my friend Sally. It was such a simple fix - the washer behind the knob needed to be tightened!

3. Automotive Stuff - I say stuff because I'm really not sure what I want to know - I don't want to be intimidated at the garage when I need a car repair.

4.  Music/Singing - This is definitely a talent I was  not born with - I'm tone deaf and can't carry a tune, but boy, I can make a joyful noise.  I'd love to learn to read music, play the piano, and use my voice.

I'm sure there are more, but these are the ones that come to mind most often... What do you want to learn?

Monday, August 5, 2013

Menu Plan Monday

This is the plan - but it doesn't always go according to plan - thanks to leftovers, etc!

Monday - Oven Baked Tacos

Tuesday - Chicken Spaghetti

Wednesday -  Leftovers (back-up tomato sandwiches)

Thursday - Broccoli Cheddar Braid

Friday - Dinner at a friend's house for Pinterest night  ;)

Saturday - Dinner at my parent's house

Sunday - Out of Town

Sunday, August 4, 2013

2013 Fitness Goals

This post would have been more appropriately posted in January, but better late than never!    Toward the end of last year, I hit a slump with exercising and eating.   I had done fairly well keeping the proverbial train on the tracks from 2009 through most of last year.  Not exactly sure what happened last winter, but I lost the drive and enthusiasm I had for exercising.   In late January, I was watching the first episode of Biggest Loser and realized I needed to get my act together before everything came falling apart.  I decided the most logical step would be to write down my fitness goals for 2013.  Here they are --

I had thought about many of these goals before but actually writing them out on paper suddenly made me more accountable & honestly has helped get me back on track.   I'm still working on my endurance and speed at the top of the list - but many of the others are ongoing - strengthening my core has happened as a result of new activities (Metabolic Effect classes) - I've been averaging around 4 workouts per week (my goal is no less than 3)... 10K was completed on June 22nd... The main thing is I'm focused again and I have been since I made the list...

My words of advice -- make a list  :)

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Old news but worth posting - 10K

10K -- no not ten thousand dollars - I wish!   10K = 10 kilometers - 6.2 miles    

In late April/early May, I shared my 2013 fitness goals with a co-worker.  I keep promising to share them here and I will (I promise).   Anyway, one of my goals for this year was to complete a 10K race.  I've done several 5K races over the past three years.  I'm not super fast by any means as of matter of fact at most races I feel like a turtle in quick sand.  This year, I wanted to push myself a little harder because another goal was to increase my pace and endurance. 

The race was held in late June which unfortunately here in the South typically is hot and humid.  To prep for the race, we met 2-3 mornings three to four weeks before the race to run one loop of the course.  My goal was to finish strong and not be last.  This was the first annual race for Industries for the Blind which meant it was a relatively small race (around 170 registered runners - yikes!).   At the sound of the horn, the majority of the pack jetted ahead.  One mistake I've made in the past was starting out too fast - so this time I was determined to pace myself.   It was quite clear from the start I was going to be at the back.  The course was challenging - some gradual inclines, some flat areas, and a nice steep hill leading to the finish line.  My only negative is that it was a two loop course meaning we ran the same 3.2 mile loop twice --- this played with my mind.    At the beginning of the race, I played cat and mouse with one runner for the most of the first loop.  Around mile 4, I managed to pass her and two others.  I desperately tried to pass an older gentleman in front of me - but I just couldn't do it!

Climbing the hill to the finish line,  I heard Kelly Clarkson's "What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Stronger" playing and I dug deep and plowed up the hill.  The good news - I wasn't LAST (three people finished after me) and it was one of my best races pace wise.  AGAIN,  I know I'm not fast - but I was pleased as punch with my 13:31 mile pace (just 10 seconds shy of my best 5K pace). 

I couldn't have done it with out my Super-Friend and so happy she helped me trained and stayed right by my side throughout the race!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Design on a Dime - Master Bath Update

After last year's kitchen DIY,  I said it would be a long time before I tackled another project and after almost exactly a year -- I decided to dive in again!    Our master bath has been bugging me for awhile.  Most people wouldn't even considered it a master bath - it's probably the size of most homes half-baths.

We aren't certain, but we think the previous owners removed the shower/tub combo and replaced it with a shower stall.  I know brass was the "in" thing in the mid 80's but I wasn't digging it too much.  Aside from that, no matter how hard I tried - the caulk at the bottom was nearly impossible to keep clean as was the shower basin.  The whole project got started because super-son was heading to overnight camp for the first time and this momma needed something to keep her busy.

First step, remove all the caulk, clean with non-ammonia cleaner, followed by bleach... allow to dry really well and then recaulk.  Sounds relatively easy, but I'm not going to lie - most of the caulk came up relatively easy - but any residue on the wall was very hard to remove (sharp edge, goo-gone, you name it - I probably tried it).  We had lived with it looking less than stellar anyway - so I did the best I could and moved on.  Next, I patched the wall to the left of the shower stall - at some point there had been a small leak and fortunately, it wasn't ongoing and didn't cause significant damage.

Next up paint -- walls, ceiling, and trim.  It's been really hard to get good pictures of the room.  The before color was fairly neutral - beige with yellowish undertones - it went well with the brass if that's your thing.  :)   I wanted to go with Sherwin Williams Ice Cube - it was a very light grey - white with a hint of gray.  After painting a small area,  I realized I loved the color - but needed a little more grey.  Back to Sherwin Williams (always excellent customer service by the way) and they added to make it more like Olympus Gray.

Much better and it complements the gray tile floor.   I really didn't want the storage cabinets to come back in the bathroom, but this was "design on a dime" so there they are.   :)   The smaller one contains extra toiletries and the one over the toilet holds items we use on a daily basis.  Much improved overall - but the stall was still an eyesore to me.  I decided to get a tension rod and hang wall-to-wall to create the illusion that a regular tub/shower combo was behind there.  

Plan A:  We looked at Kohls,  Bed, Bath, and Beyond, Target and Walmart online and finally agreed on a shower curtain we both liked.   Only to realize, standard shower curtains are 72 inches in length - the shower stall was 74 inches itself -- back to square one.  Plan B:  I found out Bed, Bath, and Beyond online carries special size shower curtains and we agreed on one -- only to find out it was backordered and out of stock.  There wasn't alot to choose from - so plan C.   Find a high thread count sheet -- accent with grosgrain ribbon and have our embroidered with our monogram.   I stopped in at Home Goods to see what I could find - measurements in hand.  And stumbled across the perfect pattern for us - only it wasn't a shower curtain.  Plan D:  A lightweight twin XL duvet color was the perfect length and I loved the pattern! 

The  colors look amazing with the walls and floors -- since it is merely hiding our shower stall the fabric didn't matter!   I choose the round hooks with clips - so we didn't have to make any adjustments to the curtain in order to get it on the rod.  

The towel holder, toilet paper holder, hinges, and light fixture were all brass... but nothing that a little Krylon couldn't fix!   Worked perfectly on the hinges & light fixture.  We had a towel holder and toilet paper holder under the sink that previous owners had left (uhh 11 years ago). 

And a couple more pictures of the finished room - wish I could get a better picture!  We hung the tension rod at the ceiling and the room appears taller.

The only paint I had to purchase was 1 gallon from Sherwin Williams (yeah for 30% off) and the rest was leftover from last year's kitchen project.

In addition, I repaired a pesky drip from the shower head - thanks to Google, YouTube, and my pal, Sally.  :)

Monday, July 8, 2013

4 Months!

It's true - the older I get the more time flies!   The last time I posted it was March and now it's July!  Summa-time is here! 

Here's what I've been up to lately:

  • Working on my fitness goals for 2013.  I made the list in late January while watching Biggest Loser.  I've been  hesitant to share the list because that well, uh, makes us more accountable right?  However, I hope to share the list with you soon & let you know about my progress.
  • Super-son completed elementary school in June and will be heading to middle school in August.  Not sure if this mom is ready for that!
  • It's been a BUSY summer!   We've implemented some new software at work which has resulted in my "busy" season at work to be twice as busy.  
  • Vacation for us this year will be a stay-cation which is a huge change for us.  We never go anywhere over the top - we are fortunate to live in close proximity to the beach and mountains & the beach is usually our destination of choice.  However, this year we've decided to stay home and do some day trips and really just enjoy each others company. 
  • DIY!  After last year's DIY summer adventure,  I haven't been ready to tackle ANYTHING - BUT...  Super-son was away at the beach last week with the grandparents and home for  a day & heads to church camp tomorrow... this momma needed something to do... stay tuned for my Design on a Dime bathroom makeover!   It's currently in the "what was I thinking - have no choice but to move forward stage".  
Have a fabulous Monday!!!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Happy Birthday!

Hey, Hey! Hope you all are having a fabulous Wednesday!    I'm still fighting the allergies/cold (whatever it is) - feeling less achy today, but still tired and worn down.  I walked into work this morning and my work space was transformed over night because as of today I am...

That's right people - I hit the big four-oh today!   Quite honestly, it doesn't seem possible!   I had several people ask me if I felt older or if it bothered me getting older.   It doesn't.  Turning 30 was hard for me - I looked back over the years and felt some disappointment for things I hadn't accomplished that I felt I should have.  The decade between 30 and 40 certainly threw some unexpected surprises and curve balls my way.  However,  I am confident that I am stronger (mentally and physically) because of it.  I'm not sure what the next decade holds, but I promise you I will be climbing up the hill instead of over it.   :)

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Spring Fever

The weekend weather was a nice tease for spring!   It's very likely we will have a few more chilly nights and mornings.    I woke up in the middle of the night feeling miserable - my mouth was so dry that it seemed difficult to swallow (this was after downing close to 80 oz of water yesterday).   This morning, I felt sinus pressure and achy all over my face.   I suppose it could be allergies - some years I'm plagued by them and other times it passes right over, so I'm not sure if this is a cold or allergy.  Either way, I came home to a HOT shower and PJs & that helped a ton. It's hard to be still on the couch when it is so pretty outside, but I need to listen to my body!

Are you ready for spring?

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Just Do It

Yesterday was a beautiful day!   I woke up to birds chirping, sun shining and relatively warm temperatures.  We went to bed later than usual on Friday night because we were finishing up the laundry room DIY project.  Super-son had stayed over night with a friend, so it was the perfect morning to sleep in!  However, every time I have an opportunity to sleep in - no matter how hard I try - I can't!   I got up around 830a - technically I that is later than a regular work day  :)    Super-husband dropped his car off for service the evening before and around 10a they called to say it was ready.   He wasn't up yet and I hadn't gone for my 2-3 miles yet -- so I decided to do something completely out of my comfort zone! 

I decided I would walk to pick up his car.  I checked MapMyRun for the route and it was almost 2.5 miles to the garage - perfect, I could tackle two tasks at the same time.  I called my friend, Angie, to let her know what I was doing (just in case) and left super-husband a note (he was still snoozing) & out the door I went. 

We live in a relatively rural area - no sidewalks... fortunately, the garage is relatively close to us and I only had to go down one road after getting out of our neighborhood to get there.  I followed the rules of the road (ride with, walk against) and wore my fluorescent pink wind-breaker.  I was on and off the pavement alot - as cars approached I would walk in the grass  (I've seen some folks who don't budge off the road - I'm not one of those).   I did not have my ear-buds in either.  Since this was the first time on a major road (I'm usually in our neighborhood, at the local town square, or a neighborhood around where I work)  I decided I needed to really be aware of my surroundings.  I wasn't sure I could maintain my usual pace (no music, on & off the road), but I tried not to focus on that and just be proud of the fact that I was doing something NEW!

I arrived at the garage slightly winded, but feeling pretty proud of stepping outside my comfort zone.  I was able to keep my usual pace (yeah!).   I returned home and super-husband woke up 30 minutes or so later & mentioned we needed to go get his car.  I told him it was in the driveway (SURPRISE!) -- I think he was proud of me too!   We went out for brunch and then went to the park at I logged another 1.25 miles.   

Are you staying focused this weekend?

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Laundry Room - Design on a Dime

While searching Pinterest,  I've stumbled across so many amazing laundry rooms.   It makes me laugh to search for "small laundry room" and have pictures show up with laundry rooms ten times the size of my really, truly, small laundry room.   Anyway,  I created a board of inspiration for our laundry room and you can see it here. This is the mess I was working with (don't judge!) - this is real life  :)

Goodness, what a mess!  Our washer/dryer is located behind two bifold doors.  It's more like a laundry closet.  As you can see there is some attempt at storage, but it fails miserably.  My goals were to complete the project on a dime - spend as little money as possible;  group like items together in a more organized fashion; and give a little sense of style to the room.   My initial thoughts to 2 paint thick bold stripes in the area with leftover kitchen paint & find stylish storage  :)

I started by enlisting the help of my best friends, Sally and Angie.  Our idea of a great girls night out is helping each other with a project.  Angie's basement remodel is on our list, but she wasn't quite ready to tackle it.  We dove in head first - uh in some cases literally - for this project. 

We started by completely emptying the room and cleaning from floor to ceiling.  It's nearly impossible to see everything you are working with unless you do this step!  Purge items you don't need - it's much easier when you have help to discard items - you don't have time to think about "when" or "if" you will need an item in the future.   NEXT,  group like items together - I grouped in the following categories - cleaning, DIY, outdoors, lighting.

And after... you can see each crate has a chalkboard with the items within that crate.  I kept the blue cleaning caddy by itself  because it is used on a regular basis.  The black cube storage piece - we already had &  it contains all of our auto cleaning supplies.   The basket on top of the dryer contains items we use on a regular basis to complete laundry:  detergent, dryer sheets, stain remover, iron, etc.   Overall,  it looks so much better!!   As you can see, I did NOT paint the stripes I initially thought about. The crates came unfinished and Sally had some leftover stain from a project - we used it to give a splash of color to the area.  

The crates were on sale this week at our local AC Moore for under $8.00.  I have to admit I was pleasantly surprised by their size and durability.  I bought two and Sally gifted me two for my birthday.  The total cost for this project was under $20.00  I'm really pleased with how it turned out! 

We reorganized my pantry/small storage room too & I'll post it later!