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Friday, December 7

Random Acts of kindness

Hello there and Happy Holidays!

Tom and I have been continuing our random acts of kindness and here are two of the latest!

We taped quarters to the gumball machines at Kroger one night last week. It was strange, walking in we both had this feeling like we were going to get in trouble. We noticed people staring at us and I overheard a couple behind us while we were taping....
"what are they doing?"
"I don't know, must be on drugs"
It was funny, but at the same time sad that kindness is so uncommon we automatically think people are doing something wrong.
Anyways, we hope that some kids enjoyed our RAK!!

Our next RAK was my favorite so far. We found these gorgeous Poinsettias the weekend after Thanksgiving at Home Depot for 99 cents, so we bought 6 with the intention of taking them to a nursing home. We explained to the nurse what we were doing, and asked her to please help us give these to (6) residents who don't get many (or any) visitors. We met some amazing people, who were thrilled to get such a nice surprise....but I think mostly to have a new face to talk to. One lady commented on how handsome Tom was, and I think was a bit sweet on him. I don't blame her ; )  The residents were so grateful, and I realized that even though it's fun to spend money on friends and's a truly moving experience to reach out to those who don't have a lot, or maybe don't even have someone to celebrate with. It's really doesn't take much to make someone's day.

I didn't get a chance to get a good picture as we were walking around, and didn't want to post the residents we saw.....but here is a blurry Tom anyhow.

Till next time Happy Holidays and spread the love!!

Saturday, November 24

Adventures in Holiday Kindness

It seems before Thanksgiving can wind down, we are already gearing up for Christmas. Anyone else feel forced to get out Christmas decoration boxes as you are putting away your fall decoration ones?  I do get excited about the tree and the decorations and getting into the Christmas spirit. It's the one time of year I feel I can be generous without people think I am dying and working on a bucket list. And with the exception of Black Friday, I find that people are a little more "jolly" this month.

This year Tom and I decided not to get each other we have an expensive year coming up (wedding!). Instead we are going to do Random Acts of Kindness (RACKs) together. This will be a way for us to reconnect as a couple and enjoy some time together....and also spread some love and cheer while we are at it. It's a win-win!

Follow me as I blog about our adventures in kindness this holiday season. Maybe it will inspire you to do the same. I would love to hear about your RACK experiences.....receiving or giving!

......Our first RACK was to send some gifts to the military. I chose (2) random soldiers from the site. This is a great tool for those who like to support the troops this time of year. You can choose a person by branch, home state, length of tour....etc. Most have a "wish list" that makes it easy to shop. Our two soldiers asked for movies, Doritos, Ramen noodles, and powdered drink mixes. Tom and I set our budget for $50 and headed off to Sam's Club! For just under $50 we were able to get....

(8) movies: $20 (sale 2/$5) Good movies too, like V for Vendetta and Blood Diamond!
(50) individual bags of chips $11
(50) packages of Ramen noodles $6
(50) individual Crystal Lite packs $9

We wrote a letter to send with the packages, added some pictures and headed off to the post office!

Now I will say mailing things to the troops is not easy or cheap.....anyone who wants to brainstorm a way to make this better during the holidays has my support! But it is well worth it.....just plan on some time at the Post office.

And here is the BEST PART! While we were at the post office and man approached us and asked if we were sending stuff to troops, and we said yes. He gave us a $10 bill and said, "Thank you. Here is some help with postage" I almost cried. Our first random act of kindness and it's already spreading! Can't you just feel the love and cheer oozing out around the city!?

On our way home we stopped at Long's Bakery to pick up a couple donuts, and there were some tree and gutter men working outside on the building across the street. It was a terribly windy and cold day so we decided on a spontaneous RACK and bought them yeast donuts (only $5) and said "Happy Holidays!"

We all have thoughts of generosity. I encourage you to spend just one day acting on those thoughts and seeing how different the world can be. You truly can make a difference!

Till next time!

Friday, April 20

More dinners

Still chugging along with my dinners. This cabinet, which used to be PACKED full, now has some breathing room. And I am making a huge dent in my stash of frozen meat.

So without further delay,  here is what we have been eating ther past few nights:

Grilled Cheese & soup

This one was pretty easy. I totally scored and found a loaf of bread in the back of the freezer! Hooray! You can eat just about anything when it is on bread. I also founds some cheese slices I bought on sale and froze. Note: cheese freezes well but gets crumbly so the slices were great for grilled cheese. I also found 1 can of tomato soup (for Tom) and a veggie soup (for me). A nice comforting dinner.

My grade: B (only because it was sort of boring)
Fiancee: A

Chicken Parmasan

sorry for the blurry pic, I was in a hurry to eat!
I could not believe I actually had everything for Chicken Parmasan. Thank goodness I saved 2 slices of motzarella cheese from grilled cheese night. If you have never made C.P. before, you should try it, it is easier than it looks. I put the breast between plastic wrap and pound them out till they are about 1/4" thick (flat). Then season with S&P. Dip in flour, then a beaten egg, then Panko bread crumbs. the secret is PANKO bread crumbs and not normal every day bread crumbs. I also added basil and oregano to the Panko. Cook in a small amount of oil in a pan till almost done then top with sauce and a slice of cheese and pop in the oven till the cheese is brown and ooey-gooey delicious.

My grade: A+
Fiancee: A+

Sloppy Joes

I had bought these deli roll/bun things for a shrimp po-boy recipe. But since my recent allergy to shrimp has popped up....the recipe and the buns have been lost in the freezer. But when I found the soup the other night, I found a can of Mamwich.("Really I bought a can of mamwich?") Anyhow, I had a pound of ground beef in the freezer so it worked out great. This was a nice carb loaded dinner that made you feel like you wanted to explode when done. Why can't I find forzen bags of strawberry and spinach salad?

My grade: B
Fiancee: A (he is so easy to please!)

Pasta Surprise

I don't even know what this is, but it was really good. This is the definition of throwing things you find together to make something half way edible. The ingredients are:
-The remaining alfredo sauce from the pizza we made the other night
-half of a red bell pepper (used the other half in the juicer)
-a found found bag of frozen asparagus (total score!)
-chicken breast, cubed. The other 2 breast (from package of 4)  from the ones thawed out for Chicken Parm night.

My grade: A
Fiancee: A

A couple others we have had that I forgot to take pictures of are:

Pork chops with yellow squash, yellow bell pepper and rice.

chicken sausage on those deli roll/buns with green beans and some pre-packaged-noodle-just-add-milk thing.

So I am at about 15 dinners, and I got to say I don't think I will make it to 30. We are going to run out of stuff. However, so far I am pleased with how it is going. My cabinets, freezer, and fridge are not so crowded and I don't feel so overwhelmed looking thru it all. This also sets us up for starting to eat healthier by getting the "junk" outta here, without wasting it and just throwing it in the trash.


Monday, April 2

Zombie Prom

I thought I would take a quick break from the dinner posts to share some pictures from my niece's Sweet 16 birthday party....themed Zombie Prom. This was a blast to plan, and luckily we had so many Halloween decorations in storage it wasn't an expensive party either. Enjoy the pictures!

Sunday, April 1

Dinner #5

While I had a few minutes I thought I would post last nights dinner and also my fifth in the "no shopping" series. So far we are doing pretty good. I stocked up on produce for juicing over the weekend, and grabbed a bit more for dinner fill-ins.

Dinner #5: Pot Roast

I discovered a lovely pork roast in the freezer downstairs. Oh yeah! I remember buying that and thinking, "wow this will be an easy crock pot meal". So I tossed it in with some celery and carrots, which I always have plenty of for juicing. Added the last 2 onions in the pantry. Some A1 sauce, and BBQ sauce from the fridge. Then I scoured the spice rack and added some garlic powder, salt and pepper, Mrs. Dash, and bay leaves. Later I was in the back yard and noticed the Sage had come back from last year so I quick snipped a couple of sprigs and threw those in too! I was out of potatoes (hash browns) so I made rice. Overall, I very cheap, easy and comforting dinner.

My rating: A (needed a bit more sauce)
Fiancee rating: A

Friday, March 30

Dinner #4

Dinner #4

This one was pretty easy, and I got to use my new Food Processor!
We had 2 dozen eggs, so we had breakfast for dinner. I found some sausage in the freezer downstairs and then made scramby eggs. I also had a few potatoes in the pantry, so I popped those in the food processor and made hashbrowns! I went ahead and cooked the whole 1 lb. of sausage and mixed it with the scramby eggs so that we would have leftovers for breakfast the next day or two.

My rating: B+
Fiancee rating: A

Wednesday, March 28

Dinner #3

Well, I am beginning to wonder if we will have the stock of groceries to make it 30 days...unless we start having mustard sandwiches. But until then here is Dinner #3!

Dinner #3

Tonight I found a refridgerated pizza dough (2 actually) in the basement fridge and it was a huge score. Pizza is the perfect catch all dish. On top of this pizza was a bit of a jar of alfredo sauce, a cooked chicken breast I had frozen, half of a bell pepper from juicing a couple days back, some herbs and spices, some cherry tomatoes from the salad last week, and a mexican cheese blend. We didn't have any Italian cheeses.

My rating: A
Fiancee rating: A
You can't go wrong with pizza.

Friday, March 23

30 (maybe) days of no shopping dinners

Usually around 4:30 I open the cabinets, freezer, and pantry and think, "What in the heck am I going to make for dinner tonight?" Ironically the cabinets, freezer and pantry are all FULL of how can this be a tough decison? How do I decide that there is NOTHING I can make and order pizza instead?

I have tried meal planning, and it works. It's a good way to eliminate the "what am I making" question. But I found myself spending a lot of time and money at the grocery store.

Last night I became inspired when watching the Food Network show Chopped. In an effort to save money and not be so wasteful, I have challenged myself to 30 days of dinners using WHAT I HAVE. I am expecting lots of pasta dishes and some total flops, but I think it will help me become aware that just because I can go get anything I want anytime I want it, doesn't mean I should. Hopefully this will make me a little less selfish and a little more frugal.

Let me make a note that I am cooking for myself & my fiancee. There are no kids in the house, so I might have it a little easier than some.

Here are my rules:
  1. The majority of dinner must be made with foods I already have at home.
  2. Fresh produce and dairy can still be bought throughout the month. However, I must chose to use  the frozen veggies over fresh if I have them.
  3. I can grocery shop to fill in small items if I need to, but the grocery bill cannot excede $20 a week.
Follow me on this adventure of creative cooking and see what I can come up with!


This was actually last night and before I decided on the challenge, so unfortunately no picture. But here is what I made.

I thawed and cooked lean turkey smoked sausage. Boiled some carrot/pea/beet pasta I bought at the local farmers market 2 weeks ago. Tossed it in a mixture of (no measuring here!) parmasan cheese, basil, oregano, rosemary, garlic, salt, pepper and about 1/2 tbsp of butter. Then just because I felt crazy I threw in a wedge of Laughing Cow light swiss cheese.

My Rating: B-      wish I had some cream to thin it out, and make it...creamier.
Fiancee Rating: B+    too much garlic


Tonight I pulled out a half gone bag of Egg noodles and decided they were on the chopping block for tonight. I browned some lean ground tukey, added some water....oh and what is that hiding in the back of my spices? Beef bouillon cubes! Sure, why not. I tossed in 2 of those. Added egg noodles & cooked till tender. Added 1 of the gazillion cans of Cream of Mushroom soup I have. How does one person aquire so much CoM soup? Anways, in to the pan that goes. Then I added the left over of a block of Velveta I had from when I made Polish mistakes 2 months ago. I never buy Velveta so this ingredient is a tough one for me. I added salt and pepper and a little bit of milk to help thin it out. Velveta gets thick!

My Rating: C-        I'm not a huge fan of Velveta
Fiancee Rating: A-

Tuesday, February 28

5 ways to be more social in 2012

"The problem's plain to see. Too much technology. Machines to save our lives. Machines de-humanize." -Styx Mr. Roboto

Our lives are oh so convenient. Thanks to the microwave, I can have dinner in 3 minutes. The internet let's me self-diagnose that leg cramp in about 2 minutes. My handy-dandy cell phone allows me to text my fiance and get a response in 30 seconds. We've come a long way.

But don't let technology surpass humanity. Although these devices are convenient, and make our busy lives a little easier, they are driving a huge stake through our social skills. We don't talk to each other anymore and we are losing the ability to interact with each other. When we stop having human interactions, we all become robots. Take a stand today, don't be a robot! Interact with another person today. Texting and e-mail does not count. Here are 5 easy and inexpensive ways you can be more of a human and less of a robot. Try to do all 5 in the next month. Feeling really inspired and ambitious? Try 1 a week for the rest of the year! You can do it!

Monday, February 20

My Current Day-To-Day

Not working has proven to be quite awesome, especially now that it's cold outside and there are no projects looming over my head to work on. To every thing there is a season, and 'tis the season for rest, rejuvination and laziness.
Here is what my typical day looks like.

The best start to any day is one that does not involve an alarm clock. I have found my natural clock wakes me up at 9:30am. If that happens to fail, Guinness likes to be out of bed by 9:32.

Then it's your normal routine....

After that, my day is pretty wide open. I do have a couple standing lunch dates every week, and some evenings I have Zumba. And sometimes I do really exciting things like grocery shopping, drop off dry cleaning, or make a terrarium. But in general, this is what I do.

Most of the time I pick laundry OR dishes. In my experience, trying to tackle both in one day leads to a domestic goddess melt down and mass consumption of wine.

Yes, I sweep the floors every day...because we seem to be the proud owners of World Champion Shedders.

And because I walk Barney just about every day, whether I like it or not...sometimes I look more like this. He, of course, is the same.

this happens several times. Usually followed up with Advil.

Finally, I like to round out my day with dinner and maybe an episode of Walking Dead. Pretty exciting stuff ; )

Till next time!

Wednesday, February 15

Today I made intestines

What did you do today?
Oh nothing really. Just ate lunch, walked the dog, made some intestines.

My neice is turning 16 next month and we are throwing her a themed birthday party. Zombie Prom. It's going to awesome. This is the first of probably a few zombie-themed blogs as I work on her party.

Today I started experimenting (Dr. Frankenstein style) with making some fake intestines. Grabbing things here and there from around the house and seeing what works.

This is not a tried and true method, and I am sure someone out there has a better process. Please invite me to your zombie party so I can check out your work! I am just trying to come up with something using stuff I have around the house and make them as cheaply as possible.

I started off by cutting the legs off old pairs of panty hose. I used nude and black colored. Actually the black turned out to be better, in my opinion, because you don't want any flesh/white colors showing. I stuffed them with old ripped up bedsheets, because thanks to Barney I had a shredded set laying around. You could also use pillow stuffing. I tied off the end, and then twisted/knotted/bunched them up. I ran them thru my sewing machine randomly to give that sectioned look. If you don't have a sewing machine you might be able to use rubber bands?

Next I painted them. The first one I actually used a paint brush, but that became slow moving so I started dunking them in a water-paint mixture and ringing them out. This made it extra gross, and super sloppy. I looked like I had disemboweled someone. Maybe it won't be so sloppy for you. I tend to be messy when I craft, especially if it involves paint. Tip: put down some plastic.

After I had finished dunking them. I went back with a paintbrush to add some red and also blue paint for detail. Just to give the effect of being bloody and having veins.

Then just hang them up to dry and get ready to be the best zombie this side of the Mississippi!!