Saturday, July 27, 2013

Company Emails: Getting on those lists...

A few months ago, I went through my email and purged.  Really purged all the extra emails that I'd forgotten to delete at the time.  One of the problems is getting off of all those advertising lists.  Ugh!  They clog up my email right and left!  I love Gmail's new system that separates the "promotion" emails from the real ones.  So, why join new lists?  Well, every once in a while I find a new one that's helpful to get...

Waffle Cones Wednesdays

On Wednesday night, my husband came home and wanted to take us all out for a treat after dinner.  We settled on TCBY.  I'm so glad we did!  The TCBY near us has Waffle Cone Wednesdays so small waffle cones are only $1.58.  It was such a blessing because it cost $7 for all of us to get ice cream instead of $16 that I expected!  What a fun blessing! (and our stomachs weren't heavy the way they usually are after having ice cream cones...)

I found out that you can subscribe to specials from your local store (since it's a franchise) on the TCBY website.  Yay!

#2 Life is Good

For my husband's birthday, I was at a complete loss about what to get him.  He also isn't big on birthdays, so it makes it challenging to figure out what to do.  This year I found something.  My husband and I love Life is Good hats and t-shirts.  There is something implied in the statement "Like what you do. Do what you like." that doesn't quite sit with me.  But, I overlook that and just enjoy the simple designs on the shirts and hats.  They fit us.

Anyways, I discovered that you can get free shipping on the Life is Good Website for any size order, which is great.  When I googled "promotion code" and "life is good", I discovered that if you subscribe to the newsletter, you get an online coupon code for 15% off your first order.  I also found a code for 20% off hats on the same site (retail me not).  Yay!  I saved $10 between the two codes--which did work together.

The lesson I learned?
Every once in a while, it's worth subscribing to another list.
As long as I unsubscribe to another one...

Monday, July 15, 2013

An Old Favorite

Tonight my youngest brother in law came over for dinner.  I had defrosted a pound of hamburger and I needed to come up with a meal all would eat.  So, I did what my friend Karen did.  She had just told me this afternoon how she had googled ground beef recipes and came up with meatloaf.  I tried a similar search and came up with cheeseburger macaroni.  I found a recipe online that sounded good and then modified it (as I usually do).  This is what I ended up making...

Cheeseburger Mac
1 lb ground beef 
  • 3/4 cup onions, minced
  • 1-2 tsp. minced garlic (or 1 1/4 tsp. garlic powder added with the spices)
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp butter
  • 3 cups milk
  • 1 1/2 cup cold water
  • 12 oz. or 3 cups elbow macaroni, uncooked  (you could also use small shells or rotini)
  • 3/4 tsp sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt 
  • 1/3 tsp black pepper
  • 1 1/4 tsp oregano
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh parsley, minced or 1 tsp. dried
  • 3/4 tsp chili powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 2 cups mild cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 6 oz. American cheese

Additional 1/3-1/2 cup milk
2-4 Tbsp sour cream (optional)

  1. 1.  Brown ground beef and onions.
  2. 2.  Turn off the heat and place a paper towel in the pan and swish it around to absorb any grease in the pan.  Repeat with another paper towel if there's still more grease.
  3. 3.  Add the rest of the ingredients, except for the cheddar and American cheese. 
  4. Add remaining ingredients except for the cheese.
  5. 4.  Stir and bring to a boil over medium heat.
  6. 5.  Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook until pasta is tender).  Check the noodles and stir after 5 minutes, then after another 3 minutes, and then after another 3 minutes until noodles are done.  Just be careful not to overcook the noodles.  If there isn't enough liquid, add 1/4 cup milk at a time so that the bottom doesn't burn.
  7. 6. Stir in cheeses until melted.  Then, add enough milk (a little at a time) to make the sauce creamy.   Taste it.  If you would like a little tang, start by adding 2 Tbsp of sour cream.  If you want more tang, add a little more...  

  8. Serve right away or the sauce will thicken.  Add a little milk before stirring if it thickens too much.

This was enough to serve my family of 5 plus 1 eighteen year old boy and have a little bit for leftovers.  

All three of my kids ate dinner (and 2 had seconds), so this recipe is going in the recipe box.  My husband and brother in law also gave it a thumbs up--especially since it's pretty quick and easy!

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Always a New Way...

Last week as I was looking at our local grocery ad for ShopRite, I noticed a label that said "see coupon online".  Hmmm...

This morning as I was making my list for the grocery store, I realized I had never gotten around to doing that.  I looked up ShopRite's site and found a spot along the top that said "coupons".  You have to create an account associated with your discount key tag that you use at the store.  That part was complicated because for some reason the computer didn't like what I was putting in.  But, after a few minutes it was done.  Then, you just click on the coupon you want loaded to your price plus club card and it will be there!

It seems like there's always some new way of couponing...

Earlier this summer, I tried to make a "coupon" shopping trip.  It took at least an hour in the store and at the end I was seriously questioning whether it was worth it.  My three kids were very squirrelly and it took so much energy from me to manage the shopping, track the coupons, and keep my kids in line (and from bumping into other shoppers).

When I got home, I sat down and thought about my pressing desire for space and breathing room for a few minutes.  I decided it isn't wise for me to use a lot of coupons at this stage in my life.  My kids are my constant, energy needing companions for my shopping trips.  Loading coupons onto my discount card for the store might be doable, though.  We'll see!

I used to be a diehard couponer.  Every Sunday morning, I'd sit with the coupons, clip, and then organize. Now, I shop the sale ad, BJs coupons, and Aldi.  I think I end up coming out even.  I stock up when things are on sale and I'm not tempted to purchase the "extras" that I might have a paper coupon for.

What about you?

Thursday, July 11, 2013

An Amazing Meal

My husband and I just celebrated our twelfth anniversary this past weekend.  We love food, so it was very fitting that we ate at a wonderful restaurant for dinner.  We were blessed to have dinner at the Kitchen at Rock Hall in Rock Hall, Maryland.  I posted my review on HERE

Later that night, we made a list of the excellent meals we've eaten over the course of our marriage.
This is what we came up with:
1) a steakhouse on our honeymoon (can't remember the name)  My husband was sick our entire honeymoon, so neither of us remember much except that we enjoyed the dinner we had at the restaurant in the hotel.
2) a french restaurant in Dallas (can't remember the name again)  It was a little hole in the wall and I'm not even sure how we found it.
3) Eastside Cafe in Austin, Texas  This is a vegetarian restaurant that has its own garden.  I had the mushroom crepes (which are still on the menu twelve years later).  
4) Goldfish in Atlanta, Georgia is owned by a company that owns several chains in the area.  Chris and I don't usually enjoy chains, but we loved the fish and sushi at this restauarant.  I wonder how it would be now.
5) Ruth's Chris in Baltimore, Maryland  The steaks we had that night were wonderful.
6) A Tapas Restaurant in Ithaca, New York  I tried to google and find the name of it, but 
7) Simply Red Bistro in the La Tourelle Inn in Ithaca, New York.  One of the best breakfast's we've ever had.  We stayed here on our anniversary two years ago.
8) Eaglesmere Inn in Eagles Mere, Pennsylvania.  The breakfast was wonderful.  The dinner was very good, but not excellent.  We really enjoyed our stay here last year for our anniversary.
9) Oyster House in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  Happy Hour is the time to go.  We also had the octopus, which was wonderful!  The turtle soup is worth passing up, though.  We made the drive up to Philly around Valentine's Day this year just for this restaurant.
10) Mason's in Easton, Maryland.  We ate here with our kids and were pleased to actually have real vegetables included with their kids meals!  I can't remember what we had, but I do remember loving it.
11) The Kitchen at Rock Hall in Rock Hall, Maryland.  This was a wonderful dinner and we loved the venue.  Small so that they could serve people well.  The chef doesn't take on more customers than he can cook for excellently.  You MUST make reservations.  We watched people turned away on a Sunday night when the town was dead and hardly anyone was around!  I called the day before and was able to make a reservation.  

So, that's our short list of excellent meals we've eaten together.  They were more expensive meals for us, but ones worth saving for.  We've eaten at a lot of really good restaurants, too, but these were excellent.  Some of the good ones were Food for Thought in Williamsburg, VA; Zen 16 Sushi in Bel Air, MD; the Bees Knees and California Dreaming in Augusta, GA; BuonTempo Brothers Pizza in Bel Air, MD; Carmine's on Penn in Denver, Colorado; and Jonathon's in Salem, OR.  

We've also had our share of horrible meals out during our marriage.  I still remember one place near Atlanta (which thankfully isn't there anymore) where we ate during the first year of our marriage.  The food arrived cold!  Chris didn't want to send it back, but I never, ever wanted to go back there.  When we ate in Williamsburg, Virginia at Red, Hot, and Blues, some of our food arrived cold as well there and my daughter ended up throwing up later that night unfortunately.  So, there have been some bad meals as well.

I came home on Monday after our short trip and excellent dinner wanting to be a better cook.  Wouldn't it be wonderful to cook excellently?  My problem is that I'm usually doing too much at one time.  So, I've been trying this week.  I made pickled beets yesterday and baked my cookies just right!  They were soft and chewy and not overbaked.  I made sure I got to the oven when the timer went off and didn't wait.  We'll see what I can do.  I'm going to try!