Monday, December 26, 2011
My Christmas Baked Ham:
1 ham shank
1 cup apple cider
3 tbsp maple syrup
3 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp ground cloves
1+ tbsp stone ground mustard
I used my cast iron dutch oven to bake this in and baked it with the cover on but you could put foil over a pan if you don't have a dutch oven or small roaster. Put ham into pan. Mix apple cider, maple syrup, brown sugar, ground cloves, and mustard together and pour over ham. Cook for 1 hr. @ 350'. Remove and let rest for 10 to 15 minutes and then slice.
* You could also stud the ham with cloves for additional flavor.
* Apple juice could be used instead of the apple cider.
* Here in Michigan Vernor's ginger ale is frequently used but any ginger ale could be substituted for a variation of this.
* Another variation would be using pineapple juice and tossing in pineapple chunks for a sweeter flavor.
Monday, December 5, 2011
Saturday, October 29, 2011
Sunday, October 16, 2011
One of the great things about our area that I do like is that there's a yearly ball held in October. It was started by a group of friends to celebrate the life of someone who'd died and who'd left them money to have a celebration for him. Unfortunately few know the original history of the Ball. In school I loved attending the proms each year. The first year I attended a prom I was in 8th grade but my boyfriend who was a junior and asked me to attend. The funny thing is I never attended my senior prom. The Ball is like a prom for grownups and a lot more fun to say the least. There's even an open bar which we never had at our high school proms. It was a huge surprise that a friend came from out of state to attend and never told anybody she was coming.
As great as the Ball has been, I'm wondering if it's not getting to large and will experience a slow death. As typical in our society, everything needs to be bigger and better - but is it necessarily better? When I first started attending the ball about 8 or 9 years ago there was 130 person capacity and it never sold out the first couple years I attended. We were a bunch of friends having fun - there was an intimacy to the group. Everybody knew most of the people or recognised them. Then the organizers changed a bit and with the increased promotion and popularity of the the ball started selling out. One couldn't wait until the night of the ball to buy tickets, you had to buy them in February when they went on sale to ensure you'd be able to attend or take a chance that somebody would be selling tickets prior to the ball. The decision was made that the venue wasn't large enough and we had to move to another location and increase the capacity to 200 and then the following year to 300. This year brought another change in venue with a 500 person capacity. Tickets sold out in just three weeks. This year also brought a change that the Ball was held inside a hotel instead of commuting people back and forth between. Due to problems with the venue this year there's talk of another new venue next year and a huge price increase that have people already grumbling.
The intimacy of the original Ball has fast fading. I no longer know most of the people attending. Larger and larger groups of strangers are coming and a lot of them are young. It's no longer about who has the best outfit but who has the biggest entourage with to vote them king or queen. Those that wear costumes don't bother even dressing to the theme of the ball anymore. The theme this year was Alice in Wonderland and yet a zombie won as king over a mad hatter and a march hare. Some spend outlandish amounts on costumes. A friend of mine confided he'd spent $1500 this year on a custom made costume for the Ball. It was absolutely beautiful version of the Johnny Depp's Alice's white queen - but seriously was it really worth $1500? Granted he got his picture taken with a lot of people and if attention is what you want..... Another friend also had a similar costume custom made and she was nominated for queen - she also lost out to a female zombie. I'm part of the group that dresses like this is a formal ball and I wear a formal long dress for it. I've also never spent more then $50 on a dress. I'm in agreement with those that don't like the costuming because we feel this is a ball and not a costume party. We use to brag about how cheap we got our dresses at garage sales and thrift stores - now people brag about how much they paid for custom ones.
Yes, I'm set in my ways and I don't like change for changes sake. I'm starting to hear the grumblings though and can't help wonder. Are the organizers starting to go too far in their attempt to make it bigger and bigger instead of allowing it to stay smaller and more intimate? Does everybody that says they want a ticket really have to have one? Do we really need people from other states attending? Will people get hotel rooms but not buy tickets and just meet up in the rooms instead, which is what's happened to another event in our area.
In all honesty, this ball felt like an ending. Of what I'm not sure. Possibly my morbid views are due to the fact we may not be here next year and it could very well have been my last Ball. The Ball has long since lost it's celebration aspect and has become a huge party and is now becoming a huge costume party. Maybe it will be easier for me that so I don't feel the loss of community so closely if we do in fact move. It's always a sad thing though when a book you enjoyed so much comes to an end and you have to close the cover. Whether or not there will be a sequel is unknown.
Monday, October 10, 2011
Thursday, July 28, 2011
Tip overheats really easily and loves laying around in a tub or pool of water to stay cool. If we're hiking and come to a stream he'll immediately lay down in whatever water he can find to cool off. Some dogs like water and others don't. Lacey is the exact opposite, she hates being submerged in water. Tip is actually quite intelligent that he knows he'll cool off quicker if he lays down in water since it cools the stomach/chest area. In the show/competition circuits, owners will frequently use various cold mats to help keep the dogs cool. Our dogs never liked the mats and they were a pain to travel with so we quit using them.
One thing I've been asking Matt to do for me is to put in a new clothes line. There was one behind the garage when I moved in but the poles were rusted. The first time I tried to hang clothes on the line the poles bent and broke off. This spring Matt bought me some new poles but due to the wet weather and other things never got them installed. It took a while, but he never fails me and he finally got the poles put in and the rope strung. I love hanging my laundry out, especially my sheets for the clean sunshine scent. The lines typically hold at least two loads of laundry. I had Matt install it on the opposite side of the yard across from our garage and next to the fence by the neighbor's garage for several reasons. There's a blackberry tree on the fence line behind our garage and I didn't want to chance blackberry stains on the clothes, bird droppings from birds eating the blackberries, or blackberry mash on shoes behind tracked into the house. If we decide to stay, the area behind the garage is the only section that doesn't have electrical/cable wires running overhead so I'd be able to put in a fire pit. All very logical explanations I think.
Wednesday, July 13, 2011
Some Coupons I activated:
$1.50 off California Pizza
$0.50 Dannon Greek Yogurt
$1.00/2 Juicy Juice All-Natural 100% Juice
$0.40 No Yolks noodles
$1.00 Skinny Cow Multi-Pack
$1.00 Perrier Sparkling Natural Mineral Water
$1.00 S. Pellegrino or Acqua Panna
For those that aren't quite up on all the techie stuff, these are electronic coupons which are also called digital coupons. I think electronic coupons are one of the best inventions ever. I seriously dislike having to gather, cut, sort, organize and carry all those coupons around when I can scan my card or use one of the new electronic key tag programs and all my coupons come zipping off my bill without me carrying anything but my purse and the phone into the store. Yes, these programs take some time initially to open accounts and then upload new coupons on a regular basis but I think overall they take a lot less time and lack the headache factor.
Kroger has their electronic coupons on their website that you can upload to your card after opening an account. As I mentioned, Cellfire is another program that is very popular and also works with the Kroger card. P&G has a website that has electronic coupons you can upload to various store cards including Kroger's.
For those that have Smartphones, you can do searches to find out what programs are available for your model. I plan on trying GeoQpons for Blackberrys. It works off GPS on your phone and gives you coupons for stores and restaurants within 10 miles of where you are. You're out shopping and realize you want to go to Bed, Bath & Beyond and realize you forgot your coupon at home. You use one of these types of programs and they'll pull coupons available for use at the stores located with 10 miles of where your current location is at. Another use would be that you and the girls are out and about and decide you'd like to stop for some lunch but being frugal you'd like to use a coupon - utilize the program and it will list restaurants within the area and the coupons for each. Once you get to the restaurant you just show the waitperson the coupon on your phone and you're set.
Advantages are you always have your coupons with you without carrying a binder or organizer of any sort. Another advantage is you don't have to stand in line and scan coupons while people get irritated behind you - they come off within seconds of your scanning the card allowing for a quicker checkout. It also allows you to use self scanners at stores that don't allow coupons in the self scanner lines. They you to accumulate coupons without buying newspapers or magazines thereby saving money unless you really read the Sunday newspaper (does anybody do that any more?). It also saves money over online coupon programs because you don't have to print them so you save on paper and ink. Most of these programs can be accessed via Smartphones so if you get to the store and realize that you forgot to update your coupons you can always login on your phone and update your coupons before shopping and they should be available by the time you're done shopping (some programs say up to one hour). Not like that's every happened to me before, I'm just saying.
There are disadvantages including the number of stores that use electronic coupons. If your regular store doesn't have a card then it is more difficult to use them, but not impossible. There are programs for smartphones from what I understand that will overcome this issue. The variety of coupons availabe can be a disadvantage. I think the more people utilize these programs the more they will become available and the selection will expand also.
I would love to hear about other sites that have electronic coupons. For those that have Smartphones I would love to hear how you utilize them to save money on groceries. Matt is forever telling me I need to stop using my phone for everything else but what it's for - talking - but I'm all for using electronics, including my phone, for everything that I can.
Monday, July 11, 2011
Thursday, July 7, 2011
Years ago mine decided to go on a seafood strike that hasn't ended ...... or so I thought. Seriously, how do kids that eat tuna salad sandwiches and pasta salad with tuna suddenly decide they don't like it? I've asked myself this repeatedly over the years since this began. Fishsticks were common food for them, served with tartar sauce of course, that suddenly was no longer acceptable food to be served. No more tuna salad and no more pasta salad with tuna added. No more mac-n-cheese with tuna and mushroom soup either. Isn't that a childhood staple?
I've lived with this silliness for years and basically ate fish only when we went out to eat because it was easier then fixing fish for myself and having them gripe because I dared to have fish/seafood anywhere around them. I should mention that the pickiest eater would be my youngest son. He is the child that recently told me that Burger King as a gourmet restaurant because they have mushrooms on the menu.
So jump forward probably 15 years into this seafood/fish strike and my youngest son (now 19) and I are walking through Costco the other night and they have the typical food vendors out with samples. I stopped to try a crunchy fish sample and noticed my son had also grabbed one. Being the nice mom I am, I quickly informed him that it was fish - to which I got the teenage universal "I know" reply as he continued to eat it. He knows AND he's eating it???? As we continue to walk he proceeds to inform me (while I'm still in stunned silence) that the sample wasn't too bad, that he has been trying different types of fish and now "likes" some types!! My son eating fish and liking it! Has somebody kidnapped and replaced him with an alien?
As we continue walking he then proceeds to tell me that he's been trying different types and proceeds to start a foodie discussion, granted a very basic one, on how he prefers his fish cooked. Egads! I'm sure some of this interest stems from the fact that he's being trained as a cook at the restaurant he works at but I can't help but wonder if maybe something I've said and/or cooked hasn't finally helped him expand his foodie wings after all these years especially since I know that the restaurant doesn't serve many varieties other than fish-n-chips. It does a mommy's heart good to think something has gotten through though. My baby is growing up. Best of all, I can start cooking fish whenever I want instead of just on the days he's working and isn't home for supper.
Wednesday, June 29, 2011
I found several crocheted and knitted patterns on Ralvery and decided to make a crocheted version. I bought supplies almost two months ago for this project and just got to it Saturday. The cotton yarn was leftover from a dishcloth yarn buying spree and the terry/chenille was a new purchase. While Matt was working Saturday morning I decided to watch a couple chic flicks on Netflix and crochet a Swiffer cover. The pattern I chose can be used either as a dust mop or as a mop. It ended up pretty thick so the next time I will use only one skein of yarn instead of two. I used a cotton Peaches and Cream and a terry/chenille type yarn. I believe I worked this with a size 8 hook. The pattern I loosely followed was called Reversible Swiffer Sock. It took me a total of about four hours to work, so I got to watch two chic flicks. In my defense I will state I was also doing laundry so I wasn't being total lazy. I had figured one skein of each should be plenty, but of course I was wrong and ran out of both. I did have a partial skein of the cotton but ended up changing the terry/chenille to another yarn and color. The resulting cover isn't necessarily pretty but it is quite functional.
Now my next project will be re-usable covers for the dusters! Hopefully Matt will have a couple Saturdays he'll be working so I can knock those out along with a chic flick or two.
Wednesday, June 22, 2011
I modified the original recipe, but if you'd like their recipe just go to http://fix-itandforget-it.com/blog/2011/06/13/apple-carmel-pie/#more-1723. They also posted a tutorial on how to put the pie crust into the crockpot. I used a smaller crockpot, I think it's a 1.5 quart, then they did so my portions are different. I also didn't have any carmels in the house so I made a plain apple pie. This has been a HUGE hit with Matt and my son and I've already had it requested twice since I made it. It's great to put into the crockpot when I get home and serve up after supper. The next time I make this I plan on trying it with sliced apples instead of apple pie filling.
CROCKPOT APPLE PIE
1 refridgerator pie crust (Pilsbury)
1 can of apple pie filling
Lay out the pie crust on a board. Cut about 1/4 to 1/3 of the bottom of the crust off (keep). Now slice the larger piece in half. Place the pieces so that approximately 1-1/2" to 2" of the crust is going up the side of the crockpot. Use your finger to splice the sections together so the entire bottom is covered. Pour in apple pie filling. Sprinkle cinnamon over the top to taste. Take the small piece of pie crust and cut it into 1/2" lengths. Use these strips to make a lattice style crust on top of the pie filling. Cook on high for approximately 3 hours. Serve with a huge scoop of vanilla ice cream. The picture below is prior to cooking it.
Wednesday, June 8, 2011
My poppies have continued to burst into bloom and are beautiful. I would love to have a huge section of them just like my grandmother did. Our clematis has also burst into bloom. Matt's sisters got this clematis for him several years ago and we thought it had pretty well died when I moved in but it has come around nicely with fertilizing and regular watering. It's strange that the clematis for the past two years has bloomed in September or October, fairly late in the season we thought, and this year it bloomed in June. I've had to cut back my chives, oregano, and thyme already.
Last night Matt was in a pasta and cheese mood so I made my cheeseburger mac and green beans for supper. It was extremely tasty and hit the spot for both of us. If you don't have tomato soup on hand you could use tomato sauce or spaghetti sauce for this too. If you don't have stewed tomatoes they can be omitted. This is a pretty versatile recipe. Leave the cheese out and you have beef-a-roni. Use chili powder instead of Italian seasoning and you get chili mac. This recipe is GREAT with garlic bread to sop up any sauce.
1 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, chopped
8 oz macaroni, cooked
2 cans tomato soup
1-2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 can stewed tomatoes
2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
2 -3 tsp Italian seasoning
Put water on to cook macaroni. Fry hamburger with onion until almost done and add garlic. Add Worcestershire sauce, stewed tomatoes, tomato soup, Worcestershire sauce and seasonings. Reduce to low and let simmer while macaroni cooks. Break up stewed tomatoes as it simmers. Drain macaroni and add to hamburger mixture. Add cheese and stir. Simmer until cheese melts.
Sunday, June 5, 2011
Monday, May 30, 2011
Our thrifty finds for the weekend continued through Sunday. My oldest son who is in the Army gave me his flat screen TV before he left for Afghanistan which won't fit into our entertainment center. Matt wanted to watch the Red Wings Stanley Cup Playoffs on the larger screen and suggested we try looking at Pier 1 for a new TV stand Sunday afternoon. I will mention here that we have looked at several Salvation Army stores and several other thrift stores along with Big Lots and Ikea without finding anything we liked or were comfortable paying. My son gave us the TV back in March so it had been sitting around unused for a while and the box was becoming a cat perch and dust/cat hair magnet.
So Sunday we went to Pier 1 and were checking out the furniture. Ended up back in the clearance section (gee, surprise there). I was looking at a TV unit that had a definite Chinese/Zen look when Matt noticed a price tag under it that was marked down from $599 to $149. Intrigued at what could be marked down 70% and why it was marked down, we decided to investigate. There were tables in front of it so we had to do some moving to get to the unit to see what it even was - I initially though it was a table that you would put behind a couch. What we found was a TV unit that was nearly perfect for what we wanted and we both were agreeable to the price. I would have preferred a dark brown but we both were tired of looking and this was as close as we'd gotten to something we liked without spending our retirement funds to pay for it. Upon asking we found out that the unit was marked down because it had been a floor unit and there was a ding on the top about the size of a pencil eraser.
Other then a few small issues like my son forgetting to give us the remote and our having to run to Best Buy to get a universal, set up was pretty easy. By the end of the night the old entertainment unit was in the garage waiting to be put up on Craigslist and the new unit was dusted and all the equipment was connected and working. All the DVDs, CDs, and VCR tapes that had been in the bookcase are now housed in the new unit (well most of them at least) and the games and puzzles we'd stored in the old unit were now in the bookcase. I continued with my spring cleaning and washed down the wall behind the unit along with half of two other walls. I was also able to sweep and mop where the larger unit had been. We were able to watch the Red Wing game that night and several since Sunday on a nicer TV. The new unit really opens up that wall and makes the room look larger, which I'm really liking. Now if only the new couch would arrive!
Matt and I came home one Friday to find that my beloved dog, Tip, had gotten sick and to say he had explosive diarrhea is to put it mildly. Good thing was it was out of his system by the time we got home but the mess was unbelievable when we got home. Matt walked into the mess first and started doing spot cleanup on the floor. I walked in behind and immediately started washing the bedding that definitely had to be washed before we went to bed that night. Matt's description of the couch was that it looked like somebody took poop and used a spackling knife to spread it over a good portion of the couch. It was on the throw rug in the living room, the bath mat in the bathroom, the walls in hall and bedroom, all of the dog beds throughout the house ---- it was EVERYWHERE!!! My son's room (door was closed) and the computer/library room were the only two rooms that were not hit.
Poor Tip hadn't fared much better and I had to take him outside and hose him down to clean him up. He was so upset with himself over the mess he'd made. He obviously wasn't feeling great and just wanted to be held and comforted. My poor boy.
After we did the spot cleaning and took inventory we decided that a new couch had moved up from a want to a immediate need and went couch hunting. We were able to find one in the clearance center that wasn't in stock but was due in the beginning of May and for $100 less then the clearance room price. Original price on the sticker was $1200 and was marked down to $499 and with the $100 discount it ended up $399 plus tax. $399 for a leather couch was a great deal. The salesman actually made a comment to the effect that he'd never seen a woman pick out a couch and buy it so fast in all the years he'd been a salesman. I laughed and informed him that was one of my traits that Matt loved the most.
The following day started my spring cleaning project. I started in the bedroom and worked my way out to the hallway. I'd somehow pulled a muscle in my back earlier that week and by the time I was done with the cleaning that Saturday I was having massive spasming in my back, which ended up preventing me from continuing the cleaning the following day. Two weeks later and I'm still having issues with spasming of my back but hopefully if I continue the cleaning in smaller doses I won't have as bad a flare up again.
Sunday, May 8, 2011
Another purchase we made were 2 celestial pictures for the bathroom and a celestial nightlight for a total of $7 for all three items. Here's a picture of the nightlight ($3).
I also stopped at a thrift store after I dropped my son at work yesterday. It also opened over the winter and I hadn't had a chance to drop in yet. Signs that say 50% off are a definate draw for me. I was able to find a gauzey black broomstick skirt originally $3 for $1.50 and a book called Secondhand Chic originally $1 for 50c. Overall, I did pretty good on finds.
Wednesday, April 20, 2011
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
One thing I will remark on is the paint. We used Behr's Ultra (primer and paint in one) for the beadboard and molding (blue). I was not happy with the coverage at all. Being that it was a dark color we knew we would need two coats of paint but we ended up doing 3 and 4 coats of paint. I think I will just stick with my preference for Glidden paints on future jobs.
Monday, March 14, 2011
Phase one was ripping out the tub surround that had cracked and replacing it - HUGE project that Matt completed pretty much on his own (awesome man !) Unfortunately I wasn't able to take pictures of this phase. Of course with this project he found a ton of issues that the person who had previously worked on it had done incorrectly. Only one of the boards was green board (water resistant) and the rest was regular drywall board (NOT water resistant). They'd taken the insulation out of the walls and put what looked like pillow filling into some of the spaces but huge areas were empty of any insulation. Soooo, Matt had the wonderful job of correcting all these problems in addition to putting the new surround up which was made more complicated by the fact he had to cut the surround for the window and frame out the window and put up a new ceiling over the tub. He got that portion knocked out between Friday night and Sunday night a couple weeks ago.
This is just a rough outline of meals I suggested with Matt last night and got approved.
1. Roast with gravy, potatoes, and carrots - possibly rolls.
2. Homemade Beef-a-roni and green beans
3. Chicken and noodles with biscuits
4. Homemade pizza & salad
5. Tacos, refried beans, and homemade guacamole
For the weekend Matt has suggested possibly a bbq cookup with ribs or a rib roast - we'll have to play it by ear to see what the kids have planned.
Thursday, March 10, 2011
This morning I had one of the Eureka! moments. I was contemplating that I should really drink a bottle of water instead of going back and pouring myself a Mt. Dew when I looked at the box of Celestial Seasonings Lemon Zinger tea in my drawer. I didn't want hot tea and that's when the Eureka moment hit - why couldn't I stuff the tea bag in the water bottle for a couple minutes to flavor the water. It would give me the taste I wanted as well as not needing any sweetener. Obviously this won't work for all teas, but it is a great idea for teas that you enjoy that don't require any sweetening. Since the teabag was only in the bottle a couple minutes I kept the teabag to reuse. I would imagine a teabag could be used several times in a day thereby cutting the cost even more. I will mention that I prefer drinking water at room temp and the water had quite a bit of flavor within 1 to 2 minutes. Cold water might take a little longer.
It may be obvious to some to flavor water this way but it was a Eureka! moment for me. Now I can have flavored water without the calories and without the artificial sweeteners. I'm really excited to see if this helps with my weight loss since I know I drink way to many calories every time I have my Dew. I hope this helps others out trying to break the soda/pop habit or those who don't like bland water either.