Thursday, October 16, 2008

I Heart Crockpoting!

It has taken me a long time to making this but I finally did and it was GREAT!
I made Crock Pot refried beans! Yeah!

I am very into cheap and/or free food and making my own beans seamed to make "cents"!

I always fallow CrockPot Lady's blog and have been wanting to try her recipe for refried beans for some time now.

I always try to make in bulk and felt that 2 cups was not enough for my 6qt. but I did it anyways.

FYI- 2 cups dry beans = about 4 cups soaked (24 hours with 3 water changes) and around 4 cups of finished beans.

L and I washed and sorted the beans as the boys played outside working on bicycles, or model rockets, or some other big-boy toys. (Pasta bake was cooking in the oven!)

I let them soak overnight and then all day and cooked them overnight last night. In all they cooked on low in my Crock for about 9 1/2 hours. I didn't have any onions or garlic in the house so I used
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 tablespoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
I used the blender as someone in the comments suggested and started with a good amount of beans and 1/4 cup or so of cooking water. Started blending and that was VERY watery. I added more beans until most were used and it was a great thick uniform constancy.

I poured them into a container and mixed in the rest of the whole beans for thickness. Stuck the container in the fridge and headed to work!

I ate a cup tonight with 1/8 cup of shredded cheddar cheese and a bunch of leftover tortilla chips! Great full dinner! Tomorrow we might have bean and cheese burritos, or maybe some taco bake, or maybe taco pizza!

Next time I will use 4 cups of beans and double the spices. For all the work I did I should go ahead and make a full crock worth. I had to buy a 8 lbs. anyways and now have 2 huge pickle jars waiting to be crocked!

On a side note:
S was a little worried about fat content after we figured out the waffles I made this morning had a LOT (14 grams or so!). Pinto beans are fat free! Yeah pinto beans!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Wow! Time moves so fast!

I just read my last post and couldn't laugh more! The goals for that weekend are strangely similar to today! I have had Saturday, Sunday and now today off.

Saturday was the TREK Breast Cancer Awareness Ride hosted by the bicycle shop S works at. Some ladies from the club have been working on this since March! I have been helping a lot and did a lot of the last minuet work. My mother, a 4 year survivor made the 8 hour drive up here for the even. It was so much fun and we raised right around $2,000 for the Breast Cancer Research Fund. I am so proud that it all came off so well!

Sunday, my mom was still in town and we celebrated S's birthday which was on Thursday.

In reality- today is my day off.

I have already
Done 2 loads of laundry
Gone and opened my store for the traveling Manager
Ran/walked 3 miles
Filled my car up with gas ($2.54 a gallon! Yeah!)

Things I still need to do
Bake bread
Cook dinner (thinking my super easy pasta bake)- L&J are coming for dinner
Clean the ENTIRE house
Wash sheets/ living room blankets
Take the trash out
Tackle the mountain of dishes
Cook pasta (for lunches this week)

From last (months) post I still haven't tried to make refried beans in the crock pot, I might do this tonight! I also have 2 *NEW* sweet potatoes to try the recipe I wanted to try last time!

Oh how time flys!

And in an update in life--- I QUIT MY JOB!!! My last day will around the end of the month. Oct. 25th is my 6month anniversary and I get 1 week of paid vacation so I am sticking it out till then an then I AM DONE!

- Have been looking for new jobs at some non-retail places to get us though the holidays! yeah!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

I have today off from work, and as a mater of fact I have tomorrow off also. The last day I had off was Aug. 17th and 18th and I am more than ready for the time to relax and be productive.

My DM has been in my store twice this week and is coming back on Monday. It is actual great because the week before she wouldn't even return my phone calls! I never realized how much better work is when I feel I am getting the appropriate amount of support!

But I have some very defined goals for these days off and they include quiet a bit of work but I feel it will be worth it!

Work on the puzzle I have started (so relaxing!)
Work on my knitting project (I have my next one picked out and am so excited about it also!)
Grocery shop for the week
Bake bread
Bake muffins for breakfasts this week
Cook lots of lunch-overs to get us though the week
Attempt a few new crock pot recipes (a sweet potato recipe and refried beans?)
Wash our sheets
Hit the laundry mat to wash our blankets (in prep for WINTER!)
Watch a chick flick (S owes me!)
Clean and pick up our ENTIRE HOUSE
Have S's parents over for dinner (they are in town till Wednesday- I love them!)
Clean out my purse
Work out every day- run, bike, kayak, etc.
Apply for 3 out of state jobs!

I am planning on copying this list into my new notebook that I got from a community festival this week. I was WAY to pumped about it for any normal person.

On a side note- I am feeling a little better. It is amazing how small my stomach is after being sick- I get super full, fast! (leftovers from Texas Roadhouse for lunch it is!)

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Too much time? Now I only wish!

It feels like I don't have too much of anything these days! I feel like I work non stop! It should clam down soon with a new hire, or then again I might just put in my 2 weeks soon.

S has his final test tomorrow for school and then he is done! They mentioned interviewing him for a teaching spot after his test, but he isn't thinking about that right now.

I am once again realizing how small this town is and how much I need that uncertancty that comes with moving. In some ways I feel our relationship needs that time when all you have is each other.

Right now I am spending a lot of time evaluating my priorities. Which ones have I outgrown and witch ones to hold on to.

I used to one to be a career woman who was at the top of her game with a wonderful, community serving husband who took care of the kids. Most of me still wants that but with the heart break of not finding a job right away my spirits are a little dashed and I have almost slipped into the fall back plan of being a stay at home mom.

Right now my fantasies are on mundane and fluffy things such as baking, knitting and yes, even completing this puzzle I started. I want a nice house, one to decorate or to work on. One that I can cook and clean to provide for my family.

I am no longer a college student and not being the career woman I thought I would be is causing some internal turmoil.

I have got to find a job or move (hopefully both!) before I go stir crazy!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

A little recognition does wonder for the soul!

I always check PaidTwice's blog. Literally- just about every day. She is the one that got me going on the financial side of life as well as into the idea of blogging.

I know I have neglected my little blog here for quite a while so I decided that in honor of my recognition on her blog (I let her in on the Walgreen's free 8x10 photo that is going on JUST TODAY) I would update mine.

I graduated from college on Saturday and S and I are now into that awkward phase of life where you are no longer a student and struggling to get your first hand-hold on life. For the time being we are going to stay here in this little college town that I so desperately despise, but the truth of the mater is that if we stay here then we have a free house, and free utilities (thank you in-laws!). The pressures of living in a family house on family land can be daunting, but they are less bothersome than the $500+ in expenses of living in town.

I have also taken an Assistant Manager poisiton at a local clothing store. I like the people and for the most part it is mindless work with lots of people interaction- the problem comes when you don't really control the people that walk in your store! Ah! Horor stories I could tell! It is not my dream job, or even something I think I can do for a year, but it is money- and health insurance!

Other than that life is going well. We are thinking about selling our truck and buying something fuel efficient- S wants a Toyota Yaris. We will see.

I plan on posting a lot more about my crazy transition time of life in the coming days. I have a lot to figure out and a lot I could use advice on (student loan repayment plan anyone?). This will be the first car I have ever bought and I am continuing to look for that dream job that gets me out of this state and farther away from my family (yes, they were ALL here this weekend! Ah).

Thanks PaidTwice for the props, and welcome anyone who came to read my little space of blogging heaven! I hope to have more entertainment in the coming days!

Seriously, any advice on the loan repayment stuff? I have to do my "exit counciling" this week! I don't want to grow up!

Monday, February 25, 2008

Sooner than Later

Well I kinda did it a whole lot earlier than planned!

On Friday at the gym, after my workout, I noticed that they were holding the indoor triathlon on Saturday. The entires had already closed by one of my friends who works for intramurals told me to go ask if there were still any spots open. I went in and somehow signed up for the "recreational" division with a 10:30 am start.

I immediately headed to the bike shop where S was at work and told him. He turned around and asked if he could have 2 hours off the next morning to come watch and she said with a huge smile on her face "If its important".

The distances were:
  • 450 Meter swim (9 laps in a 25 m lane)
  • 8 Mile bike (on the worst stationary bike ever! Huge seat)
  • 2 Mile run (22 laps around the tiny indoor track)
I did it!

The gym opened at 10am so I only had 30 min to set up. At breakfast S made a new playlist for me on my iPod and I went to work with him to get a cycling jersey to carry my iPod and GU in. S rode his bike over from the shop a few min before the start time and I was so excited to have him there. My friend L that works intramurals was working the triathalon and everyone was really nice.

On the swim I started a little to fast with no warm up. I tried to keep pace with the guy next to me and after 1.5 laps it became obvious that I could not keep it up. I had to stop and tread water for a min to catch my breath. But then I slowed down a bit and breathed a lot more often and it wasn't that hard, just wore me out pretty good. I looked like a fool trying to get out when I was done. Oh- and I was the last one out in my group of 4. I think I was still only in the pool for around 7 minuets.

On to the bike! They only guy in my group got out of the pool a little before me and was still putting on his shoes when I got to mine. He sat down to do it- rookie mistake (I know I am a rookie- but at least I have read the books!). I beat him onto the bike by a few seconds. I was pretty bummed we were using the exersize bikes instead of the spin bikes. The seats were so huge that I sat on the front just so my legs could move freely! I at a pack of GU (mint chocolate- um!) after about a mile on the bike. I put my iPod on and just zoned out and kept my cadence up. S and L brought me new water bottles and keep to motivated. When I got off after 28 minuets everyone was cheering as I ran up the stairs to the track on the 3rd floor.

Running up the stairs was not as hard as I thought it would be. It was just like being on the bike! I was the only one in my group to run up the stairs. They laughed because they said I was "bouncing" up them. Then started the 22 laps. I just turned my music up loud, laughed at the songs S had chosen and gave a big smile every time I passed my counter and S. I know I ran pretty darn slow, but I didn't walk at all! That was my biggest accomplishment. The day before I had not been able to run 1.5 miles! I think having people cheering was the biggest motivation. The counter would tell me how many I had done when I came around and I would just calculate fractions. I don't even remember the first 4 but at lap 5 I was like- almost a quarter of the way done! Then, 2 laps later at lap 7 I was almost a third of the way done! At 11 I remeber being like "only half way!" and getting a little stressed, but at 14 I was two-thirds of the way done! At 18 I knew I had done it and started to get really excited. On the last lap I picked up the pace and zoomed around to the home stretch where S was standing and L was there counting my total time. They cheered and I sprinted to the finish. S and I then walked 2 laps and laughed and I almost cried.

It was an amazing feeling that I am so much more motivated to work towards now. My sister-in-law G and I laugh that working out is our Crack- we are hopelessly addicted and cranky if we don't get some. (Not like I know what doing crack is like, just a silly joke).

Best of all- it was all FREE! S took about 1.5 hours off of work ($12) but is going to be putting in some extra time this week. We already had my shoes, the GU and all the water bottles anyone could ever want. I did by the jersy for $30 at the shop (regularly $60 before S's discount) and lunch by myself as a congratulations (soup, I was so hungry!)- $5.

Well worth it, so much fun. I have a lot more confidence in myself now. Looking forward to todays workout!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

(Almost) Free Motivation

One of my goals is to do a sprint length triathlon before this year is over. I really would like to do it before July, so we will see how that goes.

Sprint length triathlons are normally
  • 500 M Swim
  • ~20 Mile Bike Ride
  • 5K (3.1 Mile) Run
I have been swimming every so often since November or such. Being in college I have free* access to a great indoor pool with lap lanes that is open every day. I even have a locker at the gym which makes all of this much easier. I have a good racing style swimsuit that I bought a few years ago and still fits great.

For Christmas I got my road bike! I was so excited! S had told me I wouldn't be able to have it until February because they were so popular but the owner of the Bike Store where he works pulled some stings and got it mid December. Honestly I wouldn't have minded waiting till now to get it because it is still too cold to ride outside. I have been using it on the trainer at home with the workout videos S borrows from the bike shop.

The last piece I had been needing was some really great running shoes. I have such picky feet so for Valentines day S took me to the "nice" shoe store where they measure your feet and help you pick out what you need. So in we went with no budget in mind and out I walked with some orange and white Asics for the not-so-responsible price of $135.

I had a little bit of sticker shock at the price, the most I have ever paid for running shoes was about $110 and I was hoping to get off with around $90. But I have realized there are some advantages to spending more up front for these shoes.

  1. The shoes cost so much I HAVE to use them of I feel guilty! I ran a little under a mile on Monday and yesterday did 2 miles of run/walking!
  2. I can't bring myself to use them for anything but running! S told me when I bought them that I could not mess with horses or go to the store or anything in them. They live in my locker at the gym so I have to actually GO to the gym to use them!
  3. They are very comfortable and fit really well so I think the money was worth it. I am keeping track how many times I run in them and it makes the money feel worth it also.
Another thing about the money. We went to another shoe store in town that focuses mostly on dress shoes but the do have athletic shoes (but don't really know a thing about them) and my shoes were the same price there. I know that the service was worth it, but if they would have been $30 cheaper, I would have felt a little bad!

So I figure if they last me several months and into a triathlon or two they will be great shoes, plus they are orange! Yeah!

Monday, February 18, 2008

Muffin Master!

This weekend I was asked to make 100 muffins and cupcakes for our local winter mountain bike event (remember- S works at the bike shop).

I made 8 dozen in one day! I didn't mind because it rained all day Saturday anyways.

  1. Banana Applesauce Muffins
  2. Banana Applesauce Muffins
  3. Yogurt Muffins
  4. Peanut Butter Muffins
  5. Blueberry Muffins
  6. Vanilla Cupcakes
  7. Vanilla with mini chocolate chip Cupcakes (now named Dalmatian Cupcakes)
  8. *My Famous* Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cupcakes
All supplies cost under $20 including new all-pupose flour (10lbs), whole wheat flour (5lbs), and sugar (5lbs). I did not buy any new spices or extracts. I have over half of the all purpose flour and a whole lot of the whole wheat sugar left! The local bike club is paying me back for the ingredients and so I am going to give them the $20 receipt! I get to keep the left over flours and I didn't charge them for my stuff or time!

Things I learned:

Mini Chocolate Chips are AMAZING! (Now that I think about it I didn't charge the club for these because I was not planning on using them- oh well, still "free" flour!). I used them in the second batch of vanilla cupcakes for something more exciting than plain and they were a hit! One of my friend named them Dalmatian and I think the name will stick! Oh! The reason I bought the mini ones- they were one sale! (Cha-Ching!).

Even though I named them *My Famous* Pumpkin Chocolate Chip, they are the ones that go the fastest and people keep coming back for. Although they are the strangest sounding, I should always make 2 dozen!

Yogurt Muffins have possiblity- maybe I should have experimented first. I wanted to make these because they sounded amazingly moist. I only had plain yogurt so that its what I used, the recipie claimed that pineapples yogurt is very good. I think I will have to try it!

Yes, Bananas that are not quite super ripe can be helped along with a teaspoon of vinigar- it makes the muffins not so sweet. Bummer! My favorite new recipe I posted a while ago didn't go over so well because they were super bland. I guess the ripeness adds sweetness (where as the vinegar defiantly negates that) they also add moisture. For the two dozen that I made I also cut the moisture by lowering margarine to 1/2 cup from 1/3 cup and subbed 1/2 cup of the all-purpose flour for whole wheat. Bummer- now S and I have about 20 muffins we have to finish off for breakfasts. I added jelly to mine today!

Yeah! I accomplished blueberry muffins! I am so proud of myself! I went ahead and used frozen blueberries and I even coated them in flour so they wouldn't sink. They didn't! But I should have rinsed them first, they did leave blue streaks in my batter and muffins but they were still appetizing looking and people ate them!

I might work on posting recipes soon- but we will just have to see how much of my amazing-ness I want to share!

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Navagating the Airline Industry

The cruise thing is getting kinda crazy. Thanks grandpa for paying for the thing but I am still having to miss an entire week of school, get myself to port, need a new swimsuit (thankfully its not a "fancy" cruise), passport and a whole host of other random expenditures.

In early January I started looking for flights from Tulsa to Houston. My other grandfather is retired from American Airlines so we often use his passes to fly standby- but trying to catch a boat is a pretty important event. Because I normally fly American- flying Southwest (which I have only done once) feels like I am being loaded onto a slave ship. The whole get a group number, stand in line, pick your own seat is very uncivilized to me- but unfortunately its a great deal cheaper.

While looking at dates I discoverd that the day I get off the boat is my annual convention in Dallas, where my grandparents live. They will be driving to port so I am just going to come home with them and they are going to take me to my convention and then S can drive down and pick me up, or my grandfather said he would take me half way. (Saturday is a triathlon in Dallas and I am considering doing it- but that seems like a lot of stress for one week)

During my search for tickets it seemed that Southwest was running a special for specific cities and where I was flying was one of them. I only needed a one way ticket and the website said $79! Wo hoo! With taxes and security fees it came out to $88. I was pretty proud of myself and my mom was so happy she offered to pay for the flight!

For some reason this morning I decided to check and see what the rates were. $65! Yes, that is right, $14 dollars cheaper! With taxes and fees it comes to $74- still $14 dollars cheaper than what I bought about 3 weeks ago.

Now I understand economics, and supply and demand and all the ways that Southwest uses price as a driver to fill their planes but I still cant help but feel I got the shaft!

I booked under the cheapest category (duh!) and read the rules. Apparently I can cancel my flight and receive 100% in credit for flights at a later date. Does this mean I can cancel- get my $88 back and then book the same flight again? You have to figure if they are this smart then you probably can't do it and it has to do with "later fight" thing.

The only good thing is I didn't pay for the ticket- but I still fell like I flushed $14 of my mom's money down the toilet. Bummer!

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Cheap, Fast and Easy!

I am sitting between classes thinking about how hungry I am decided to post my ultimate favorite easy and cheap recipe.

Broccoli Cheesy Ricey Casserole

1 10oz. bag of frozen cut broccoli
3 tablespoons water
2 cups uncooked brown rice
1 3/4 cup water
1 can condensed soup (cream of celery, cream of mushroom, reduced sodium cream of mushroom)
2+ cups of shredded cheddar cheese

1/2 an onion chopped
1/2 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon oil

Cook rice in water according to package directions. While rice is cooking put frozen broccoli in large plastic, glass or ceramic mixing bowl with 3 tablespoons water and microwave on high for 5-6 min until completely thawed. Let rice and broccoli cool. If I feel like this is when I heat the oil and brown the garlic and onion. This gives the casserole a fuller taste, but it really good even without. Once broccoli and rice are cool combine with soup, onions (if you have em), and shredded cheese. Save a little cheese for sprinkling on the top. I have a great round caserol dish that I stuff the mixture in and then cover with foil. I am sure that a 9x 13 glass pan would work well also. Bake at 425* for 20 covered then remove the foil and cook for 5 more min.

I am constantly just playing with the perportions of everything. There is honestly no way you can mess this us! More cheese, less broccoli, more or less rice- it always works!

S and I eat this with MorningStar Mock Chick'n Nuggets. I am pretty sure that is what we are having tonight!

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Cheap Cooking!

My mother and I have been discussing ways to save money and put it towards our funds for the family cruise we are going on in April. (Grandfather paid for all of us for he and Grandmothers 50th anniversary, but we still have to get ourselves to port, pay for on board activities and in my case- A new swimsuit!). We have known about the cruise for whole year- and being the debt and money aware person I am have been making sure I would have the funds necessary. My mother on the other hand- is a different story! S unfortunately cannot go due to school, but being for my Grandparents 50th, I can't not go. (and I am one of only 2 granddaughters out of 14 grandkids- and frankly they like me best!). One day I might write a whole post about my crazy travel plans for that week!

Well one way S and I keep costs low is- not eating meat. I love being a vegetarian and it really helps me in my athletic endeavors. An added bonus is it can be very cheap! So fallows is the recipe I adapted from one I found on to utilize and use up some things we had lying around (2 browning bananas and apples sauce I have 8 days to finish!)

My New Favorite: Banana-Applesauce Super Moist Muffins!
  • 2 VERY ripe bananas
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 all-purpose flower
  • 1/3 cup margarine
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (or to taste)
Since I totally altered this recipe I will tell you how I assembled in case that made a difference.

Put 2 banannas in bottom of mixing bowl. Mash with fork. Add margarine and also mash with fork to lumpy consistency. Add applesauce, brown sugar (recipe called for plain, so just use what you have), flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Due to the ripeness of my bananas I had plenty of moisture to make a good batter, but if for some reason it was to dry just add more applesauce! Spoon into muffin pans (paper lined for ease, greased and flowered for cheap). Bake at 375* for 20-25 min (I did 22 and they were perfect!).

These turned out really well but I think I could reduce the amount of margarine without effecting the moistness to much. I also added the cinnamon and think that it could use more, just a taste thing. The best part is how easy they were! I made them in the morning and it only took me 5 or so min to assemble and get in the oven before my shower.

S loved these! He ate 3 for breakfast with butter. I ate them plan and hot for breakfast, then plane and cold for an afternoon snack! So fast and so easy! It is such a great way to use up browning bananas!

For some reason I am liking baking way to much right now- so look for more recipes soon!

Monday, January 14, 2008

Sometimes You Have to SPEND Money (For Motivation)

There are lots of things I don't want to do right now. One of them would be clean, and the other would be to bathe my dogs. So I went shopping!

Lenens 'n Things is having their clearance sale right now so after I went and deposited my student loan refund in the bank I decided to pop on in.

One thing I have been meaning to by for a long time is bed risers (you know the little blocks that make your bed taller). I missed my chance at the bening of the school year when they were marked down from $15 to $10 but I thought I would just go in and see. Sure enough! They are on sale again! I knew that S wouldn't mind if I got them because we had talked about them for so long.

The next thing to look at was a hand held shower head so that I could wash C-dog easier. I went over to that section and the cheapest one was $20 on sale for $15, but it was pretty cool. I had seen a supper striped down type at Big Lots for just $10, so I kept shopping. While wondering around the store I happened to notice one of their circulars just lying on a shelf! I was one of the first people in the store for the morning so I helped myself to it. With this new development I decided that I could get the shower thing also, so I went back and got it!

I also found these cute little cupcake holders called Cup-A-Cake on clearance from $3 to $1.5 each. They came in clear and pink so I bought 4 clear and 2 pink. I they they would be cute for Valentine's Day (yeah for thinking ahead!).

When I got home the first thing I did was raise the bed. I was so excited that I changed the sheets, made the bed, and even put our pajamas (yes, clean) and stuffed animals (I have a Godiva Bear I got for Valentine's Day 2 years ago and S has a UglyDoll named Bop 'n Beep) on each of our sides of the bed. But for some reason this was not enough. I brought in the vacuum and did all the carpet, the corners, the cobwebs around the smoke detector that have been bugging me for months and even the window seals!

Next I went to our guest bathroom (with an shower-tub which easier than our stall shower for washing dogs) and attempted to change the shower heads. Unfortunately S had taken his tools to work and I was out of luck on that department. But in my search for tools I found a phillips screwdriver and did a few chores I had been needing one for! I am so proud of myself and S was very excited when he saw the bedroom. Now I just need to wrangle and adjustable wrench and C-Dog will be getting bathed quite often!

So I spent about $35 in total. Not bad for a little motivation!