Tuesday, October 26, 2010

And she weighs.....

Olivia weighs 16 pounds 9.8 ounces!!!! She has gained almost two whole pounds in the last month and a half! This is fantastic. And she barely cried when she got her flu shot.

We find out how much Olivia weighs today!!!

I am so excited. My 10 and half month old, Olivia, has a doctor appointment for a flu shot today. I know, who gets excited about giving a baby shot? I am not mean. I swear! But we get to find out how much she weighs. And THAT is super exciting!
Pregnancy does not agree with me. I had a horrible pregnancy with my son. It was better with Olivia but still, I had lots of complications. Olivia is our little miracle baby. Robbie was not supposed to be able to have children. His ex wife and him had tried. He was checked. Three (3!!) doctors told him that he would never have children. He was sterile. Yeah, doctors know so much. Anyway, she was born sick. Not super sick and, thank God, never went in the NICU. But her pediatrician said she had never seen white blood cell counts that high. Astronomically high were her words. This is a doctor that used to be a professor of medicine and is the second in the Florida panhandle for the Pediatrics Association. She is a great doctor. So, they did spinal taps and took blood. I had no infection. They tested me. Her cultures never produced anything. They gave her some really strong antibiotics and when her white blood cell count came down, they let her come home. She weighed 7 pounds 13.2 oz when she was born last December. She was a good sized baby. Then, she just didn't gain weight. She grew and got longer but her weight percentages kept dropping. We finally leveled off a couple of months ago and no longer have to go in for weight checks every two weeks. At her 9 month appointment she only weighed 14 pounds. She is just now fitting into 3 to 6 month old clothes. It is very frustrating. But, she has decided that she won't eat baby food but loves table food. I can just tell that she has gained weight. I keep hoping for big jump, like two pounds. We will see.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Monday Musings

Last Friday Robbie came home from work with a story about a coworker. It seems that his wife and him got into an argument about disciplining his stepdaughter. The wife didn't like the way he handled it so they argued and then she gave him the silent treatment. Coworker knows that Zach is not Robbie's biological child so he was asking how we handle things. Robbie's only child is our daughter Olivia. Zach is 14 and has Asperger's. We do not always agree on punishments and whatnot but I refuse to argue about the kids in front of the kids. I feel that is undermines authority and teaches children that they only have to listen to one parent. And I don't do the silent treatment. I want you to know how I feel whether you want to hear it or not. Zachary has to listen to Robbie just like he has to listen to me. Now, my older sister believes that Zach should not have to listen to Robbie because he is not his biological parent. She doesn't make her teenage daughter listen to her fiance. I think that would cause problems. I know that I would not live in a home where the children did not have to listen to me. It just would not happen. \

So my question is, are you a blended family too? And how do you handle it?

Thursday, October 21, 2010

A cheap ball pit

I am always on the look out for a good deal or a way to save some pennies. The more pennies I save in every day life, the more pennies I have to go back to Disney World! Anyway, I saw this a couple months ago and decided to give it a try. We bought an infant pool and then some ball pit balls. The pool was $10 and the ball pit balls were $10 at Walmart for 100 balls. So, we spent a $20 for a ball pit! Now, tell me why I really really want to buy the oh so cute Mickey Mouse one at Toys R Us for $50? I am resisting!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

I did my bloggy rounds today. A few posted of losses in their life. My twenties were rough. I got very ill and came very close to dying. My ex has Mesothelioma. He was not supposed to live to see 35. He is doing good and will be 35 in a couple of months. But, coming that close to death and watching one you love get sicker give you a whole new perspective on life. I try my best not to let the little things in life get to me. I try to look for the good. I do my best to believe in Karma. And if it can get someone else, well, it can get me too. So I watch for that. I have a wonderful 14 year old son and a beautiful 10 month old daughter. My son has high functioning autism. It is not always and easy thing to live with. Some days are great and some are not so great. My sister told me a story about something she witnessed at the grocery store. She saw a boy, too old to be in a cart, banging and making noise. He was loud but she said you could look at him and clearly tell 'something was not right'. Sometimes you can look and tell, and sometimes you can't. Anyway, at some point some man decided to complain about him to the parents. When they tried to explain, he then told them they shouldn't take him out in public. (!!!! really?) She stepped in and asked why they were explaining to an idiot? Good job sister!!! Now my son is 14 years old. He knows how to behave in public. Does he always? no. But that is the nature of the beast that is autism. We cannot control the good days or the bad. We can only go with the flow. We can only hope that at 14 he doesn't start crying in the store for some odd reason. And, yes he does sometimes. I don't drive so Robbie has to take me and that means both kids have to go. I am sorry if having my child in public bothers some people. How do these people expect these kids to learn appropriate behavior? It takes practice and you have to do that in a real environment. So please, the next time you see something like this, have a little patience. Though I do not excuse bratty behavior. Just the honest ones. Have you seen the article about the restaurant in North Carolina? http://www.firstcoastnews.com/news/strange/news-article.aspx?storyid=166140 I love it!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Muellers Pasta- $1 off two coupon

I just got an email from Muellers pasta. If you are signed up for their email, or you sign up, you can print a coupon for $1 off of 2 Mueller's pasta. Today is the last day of the Publix sale for the Muellers BOGO pasta at $1.29. My store allows me to use one per item so you get two dollars off $1.29! That is FREE pasta today only!!! I did this earlier this week and it allowed me to get the whole wheat pasta too! Free is my absolute favorite price!!!

A great deal on body wash at Walgreens and a great deal on cereal at Publix

First, I had to get a prescription filled at Walgreens yesterday. I noticed they have Nivea body wash on sale 2 for $5. In Sundays paper there were coupons. I have one for $3 off any one bottle Nivea body wash, one for $1 off any one bottle Nivea body wash, and one for $3 off any body wash. When I do my math, you can get two bottles for as little as $1! That is 50 CENTS each for body wash! Or you can use all three coupons and get three body washes for 50 cents TOTAL!

Ok, on to Publix. Publix has/will have depending on where you live, General Mills cereals BOGO for up to $3.89. My store allows you to use one coupon for each item. There are some $1 off coupons at www.target.com www.smartsource.com and at www.coupons.com. When I do my math, I am getting a 16 to 17oz box of cereal for 95 cents. At this price, I plan to stock up!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Some Fantastic Disney World deals!

Free dining when you book a resort room and ticket package at Walt Disney World resort. Most dates available now through Sept 29, 2011! There are black out dates and you do have to book before December 20, 2010! There is a three night minimum stay and two days ticket purchase.
This is a great deal. My family loves the dining plan. If you would like details or a no obligation quote, please either send me a message or an email at adisneytravelagent@gmail.com or give me a call at Fairytale Journeys at 850-366-2709.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Recently, like in the last two weeks, we have started menu planning. So here is the menu for the week:

Sunday: Roast, potatoes and gravy, vegetable, rolls
Monday: Pork Chops, sides to be decided
Tuesday: Dirty Rice
Wednesday: Tacos
Thursday: Fried Rice
Friday: Pizza!
Saturday: Chili
Sunday: Brats and fries

Ok. Not a very healthy week but it will be yummy. Dirty rice is good but comes from a box. I cannot make it cheaper from scratch because of some of the spices involved. Tacos are tacos but I will be making the tortillas from scratch! I would share the chili recipe with you guys but Boyfriend would kill me. It is his prize winning recipe. Well, one day. He has yet to enter it into a contest. Brats and fries are a cop out too but I have the stuff in the freezer and it has to be eaten!
I make my roast in the crockpot. I put a frozen roast in, toss in an onion (or two) that has been quartered and separated (YUMMY!!!), some minced garlic, some gravy mix, a dash of beef bouillon, and a little pepper. I cook it on low all day. I start with a frozen roast because my slow cooker cooks rather fast and this is the only way I have figured to use this one. I use the broth from the roast to make the gravy using a corn starch slurry. The rolls I will make are the 30 minute rolls from the Hillbilly Housewife website. They are so good and super fast to make! I hope you enjoy!

My tip for the roast...when dinner is over and you have some leftover roast but not enough for a meal or lunch, put it in a bag with the leftover broth. Throw the veggies in too! This will make a great stew one day! Then you have a "free" meal since it was just leftovers.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Fireman's Chicken

This is a recipe that Boyfriend got from his dad. It is very good. The best piece of advice I can give on this is to make sure that the chicken has the skin still on it. If it doesn't, the flavor will too strong. We use this marinade on chicken leg quarters. We used to cook it on the grill but found we like it better in the oven. I can get a better crisp on the skin in the oven. The chicken only needs to marinade for about a half hour. If you marinate for too long, the flavors will be very strong.

Fireman's Chicken marinade

2 cups white vinegar
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup kosher salt
1 tbsp poultry seasoning
1/2 tsp pepper
1 egg

Mix all ingredients together well. Pour over chicken and let marinate for 30 mins.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Tortilla Chips

I love tortilla chips. I love them with cheese, with salsa, or just by themselves. I do not love the salt that comes on them though. So I learned to make my own. All you need is some tortillas. Cut them in eight equal pieces. Ok, mine aren't really that equal but it makes 8 pieces. I use a pizza cutter for ease though scissors would work too if you have a kitchen dedicated pair. Put some parchment paper on a baking sheet. place the tortilla pieces in a single layer. Spray with some cooking spray. I use olive oil spray. I love that stuff. I sprinkle just a little bit of salt on them. Then bake at 325 for about 7 mins or until slightly brown. Babysit these until you know how long it will take in your oven. They go from fantastic to burnt is just a minute.

Chili Mac

Since I have decided to brag about my mad shopping skills...I decided I will also share my recipes. Now, please keep in mind, I do make a lot of things from scratch I will post the recipes for those too. This recipe, not a thing. This was completely out of boxes and tasted oh so yummy!

Chili Mac

1 pound hamburger
1 packet chili mix seasoning (I used some Skyline my dad picked up up north!)
1 box macaroni (1lb box)
2 cans of Campbell's fiesta nacho cheese soup
2 cups of water

I browned the hamburger, drained it and rinsed it well. Put back in the pan, add chili seasoning, and water. At the same time, start your pasta. Add the soup to your meat/chili mix. I let the meat/chili seasoning simmer down while the pasta cooked. This will look very runny. When the pasta is done, drain well. Add pasta to the chili meat mix and stir well. Serve!

This was very easy and very good. It was one of those recipes that we came up with on the fly. We make our chili very different than the standard chili. Dad and Boyfriend both added hot sauce to theirs. Son and I did not. This made enough for all of us to eat dinner and for two of us for lunch.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Baked Ziti

or rather my version of it. Baked ziti is another easy meal for me. And I almost never actually use ziti. Tonight we are using rigatoni. It was on sale for a dollar a box!

Baked Ziti

box of pasta
left over spaghetti sauce
mozzarella cheese

Reall, all I do is heat the sauce, boil the pasta. Mix together with the cheese until it looks like enough for my family. Then I bake it in the oven for 15-20 mins at 350 or until the cheese is all melted and gooey. If I am feeling generous, I put some cheese on top at the end and melt it.

I usually serve this with garlic bread but I have been a bit lazy and haven't made any in a while. I am finding that having a 9 month old is not very conducive to spending a lot of time in the kitchen!
Yesterday was the the first official day of autumn. I love the cooler weather though I hate the cold. We live in Florida so it is still very hot. It was only 95 yesterday!! I love fall and winter foods. They are such comfort foods. Soups and stews, yummy! I have some new recipes and can't wait to try them.
I have started doing a few new/different things. First, I got back into Swag Bucks. This is program that you earn "swag bucks" for doing searches. There are some rules and they have to be legitimate searches but Google doesn't pay me and Swag Bucks does. I started doing this in the middle of August. It is the end of September and I have redeemed for 3 $5 Amazon gift cards. And since then I have discovered a few of my other programs can also pay out in Amazon GC. My debit card with my bank earns points and I cashed in for Amazon GC. So with all that free money (!!!) I ordered a tortilla press. Completely free-ish. I didn't even have to pay for the shipping, it was covered with the gift cards.
Search & Win
The other thing I am doing is trying to cut my grocery bill. In our house, we have me(34), boyfriend(31), my father (age not disclosed), Z (14 year old boy), and 0 (9 month old girl). I started at the beginning of September and have kept track of everything that I have spent on food for the past month. We have spent just under $500 and the food should last us a total of 6 weeks. I threw in some extra money since we will need some produce and milk, eggs in the next few weeks. All in all, between sales and coupons, for 6 weeks of groceries, we spent on average $90 a week. I am hoping to get that down but we also homeschool and boyfriend takes his meals to work. So that is three meals a day for all of us. I am thinking I didn't do too bad. I found a blog that matches coupons with the sales and she is less than a hundred miles from me! I am also going to try doing meal planning. We made a menu for two weeks and so far have stuck to it. Here's hoping!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Sausage, Potatoes and Onions

I know I haven't posted in a while. My computer died and is still not fixed. Life has been busy. Hopefully we will get back to normal soon. Anyway, I am thinking about cheap eats lately. Most of my recipes are on the broken computer and I am stuck with just the laptop. I love polish sausage. You can buy them at Walmart for $3.99 for a package of 16. Add to that an onion and a bag of potatoes (Yukon Gold, $3.47) and you have a pretty cheap meal that feeds many. This is by no means healthy but it is very yummy.
8 polish sausage dogs
1 onion
about 3 pounds of potatoes
a stick of butter
seasoned salt

Directions: cut the polish sausage dogs in half lengthwise. Then slice thinly. The thinner you slice, the faster it cooks. Do the same with the potatoes. Cut the onions into a size you and your family can handle. We do ours large since Z picks them out. Mix everything together in a big pot. Cover with a lid. Cook on medium until potatoes are tender and everything is heated through. Takes about 30 minutes.

Leftovers make great hash for breakfast too! Bonus!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Soft Sandwich Rolls

This recipe makes wonderful rolls for sandwich. I have also just made it into a loaf and baked it that way and it was very good. This also makes good dinner rolls. I just really like this recipe!

Soft Sandwich Rolls
2 1/2 teaspoons regular instant yeast or active dry yeast*
3 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1/4 cup potato flour OR dried potato flakes
1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon lukewarm water (potato water, if you have any saved)
3/4 cup lukewarm milk
3 tablespoons butter, softened or melted
*The recipe directions are written for instant yeast; to use active dry yeast, dissolve it in the potato water first. Also, be aware that your rising times will be longer.

To make dough by hand or mixer: In a large bowl, whisk together the yeast, sugar, salt, flour and potato flakes. Add the water, milk and butter, and beat until smooth. Knead the dough on a lightly oiled surface till it's smooth and supple. Add flour if you must, but the dough will continue to absorb liquid as you knead, so try to knead for 5 minutes or so before adding any additional flour. Remember, the more flour in the dough, the heavier and dryer the rolls will be.

Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl, cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and set the dough aside to rise till doubled in bulk, 1 1/2 to 3 hours, depending on the warmth of your kitchen.

To make dough in a bread machine: Place all of the ingredients into the pan of your bread machine, program the machine for Manual or Dough, and press Start. Assess the dough about 10 minutes before the end of the second kneading cycle; add additional water or flour as necessary to produce a smooth, supple, somewhat soft dough.

To complete the rolls: Divide the dough into eight pieces. Shape each piece into a smooth ball, and flatten the balls till they're about 4 inches in diameter, trying to keep the tops of the rolls smooth; the nicer the top looks at this point, the nicer it will turn out to be once it's baked. Drape the rolls with lightly greased plastic wrap, and set them aside to rise till they're very puffy, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

Bake the rolls in a preheated 350°F oven for 20 to 22 minutes, or until they're golden brown. Remove them front he oven, set them on a wire rack to cool, and spray them with butter-flavored pan spray, if desired (or brush them with melted butter or margarine). This will give the rolls a soft crust. When the rolls have cooled completely, store them in an airtight container. Yield: 8 rolls.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Cheddar Cheese Pretzel Bread

I made this bread a few days ago and I haven't been able to stop eating it. It is so good! I accidentally used to too much cheese so I doubled the recipe. Oops! The recipe states to make a giant pretzel. I made snakes and just braided them together to make an actual loaf of bread. Robbie likes it. He says that he thinks it might make good sandwich bread. I think that if we make up some crispy bacon and mix it in that it would make a most excellent breakfast bread. I will have to try it and let everyone know how it tastes. But for now, here is the recipe:

similar to that found at Le Cellier, Canada Pavilion, EPCOT

Makes 1 loaf (20 servings)

This giant twist is for those who are fans of soft pretzels. Rather than shaping the dough into individual portions, it is rolled in a thick rope and formed into one oversized knot. Slice and serve with sausages and a good cold beer.

½ c chopped onion
1 Tbl butter or margarine
4-5 c all-purpose flour
1 pkg active dry yeast
1 egg
2 c shredded sharp cheddar cheese (8 ounces)
1¼ c warm water (120°-130°)
1 Tbl sugar
1½ tsp dried Italian seasoning, crushed
½ tsp salt
1 slightly beaten egg white
1 Tbl water
1 tsp coarse salt (optional)

In a small skillet cook onion in hot butter or margarine till tender but not brown, about 7 minutes. Set aside to cool slightly.

In a large mixing bowl stir together 1½ cups of the flour and the yeast. Add cooked onion, egg, cheese, 1¼ cups warm water, sugar, Italian seasoning, and salt. Beat with an electric mixer on low speed for 30 seconds, scraping bowl constantly. Beat on high speed for 3 minutes. Using a wooden spoon, stir in as much of the remaining flour as you can.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead in enough of the remaining flour to make a moderately stiff dough that is smooth and elastic (6-8 minutes total). Shape into a ball. Place in a lightly greased bowl; turn once. Cover and let rise in a warm place till double (1-1¼ hours). Punch dough down. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and let rest for 10 minutes.

Lightly grease a baking sheet. Roll dough into a 48-inch-long rope. On the baking sheet form the rope into a large pretzel shape by crossing one end over the other to form a circle, overlapping about 12 inches from each end. Take one end in each hand and twist once at the point where the dough overlaps. Lift each end across to the edge of the circle opposite. Moisten the ends and tuck underneath; press to seal. Cover and let rise in a warm place till nearly double (about 45 minutes). Stir together egg white and 1 tablespoon water; brush onto bread. If desired, sprinkle lightly with coarse salt.

Bake in a preheated 375 degrees F oven for 40-45 minutes, or till bread is golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped. If necessary, cover loosely with foil the last 20 minutes of baking to prevent overbrowning. Remove from pan; cool completely on a wire rack.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Making stuff at home- a microwave popcorn recipe!

There are a lot of things that we pay for in the store that we could make ourselves to save money. When I make chocolate chip cookies, I always double the recipe (everything but the chocolate chips) and we end up with a ton of cookies. There are only the three of us and the baby but she doesn't eat food yet. So, I started making cookie dough balls. I freeze them on a cookie sheet and put a dozen in a bag once they are frozen. Then, the next time we want cookies I just grab some out a bag out of the freezer. Cook like you normally would they just take a few minutes longer. I figure they are good for at least 6 months in the freezer. I don't think any have lasted longer than that in mine. I make waffles and freeze and bag them too. I can make them infinitely cheaper than they do in the store. Your kids like those french toast sticks? Make some french toast, cut into strips and freeze. Microwave when you want to eat them. I took the attitude that if a factory can make it, so can I. I just have to find a recipe. The internet has an abundance of those! Tonight I made microwave popcorn. It is not hard and there is nothing special about it. You just put about a third of a cup of popcorn in a container with a loose lid and put in the microwave. Times will vary from one microwave to the next. My suggestion is to start at 5 mins and watch it. When the kernels are popping slower, it is done. If you like butter on yours, throw a pat on top of the kernels before microwaving. How nifty is that?
One of the ways that we decided I could stay home is if I could cut our budget. I have been home for two years next month. I have learned how to make a lot of stuff in the last two years. I make my own laundry soap and almost all bread products at home. I learned how to make jam and then learned how to make pop tarts. Homemade cream of whatever soup is a huge money saver. Everyone on uses cream soup for something or other. This is super easy to do!

Homemade Cream of ___ Soup Mix

2 cups powdered milk
¾-1 ¼ cups cornstarch or 2 ½ cups flour
¼ cups chicken, beef, or vegetable bouillon granules
2 Tablespoons dried onion flakes or 1 teaspoon of onion powder
1 teaspoon dried thyme, crushed
1 teaspoon dried basil or marjoram, crushed
½ teaspoon black or white pepper

Combine all ingredients and blend until mixed. Store in an airtight container in a cool dry place for up to 1 year. This recipe makes 3 cups and is enough for 9 cans of soup.

To substitute for one can of condensed cream soup:
In a 1-quart saucepan or microwave safe bowl, combine 1/3 cup of soup mix and 1 1/4 cup water. (If made with flour, add ½ cup mix to 1 ¼ water.) For soup, double the water. Bring to a boil or microwave on high for 2 to 2 1/2 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

A Baby Doll? Really????

Let me start off by saying that Olivia has a ton of hair at 4 months old. She took after my Grandma and has porcelain like skin. She is adorable if I do say so myself. Anyway, while Rob's mom was visiting we went to the Naval Aviation Museum. There was Rob, Zach (my 13 year old son), Rob's mom and her friend. We were walking through the exhibits and I was pushing Olivia in her stroller. She started babbling like babies do and scared a woman. She laughed and said she thought I pushing a baby doll around! Really? I am almost 34 years old. There were no small girls around and quite frankly I would not push a doll around in a Peg Perego stroller. Then we are at Walmart the other night. Just Rob and I. Rob is carrying Olivia. He goes to get a cart and hands Olivia to me. She smiles and starts babbling. It happens again! Three women thought we were carrying a baby doll. Really? How many 30 year old men do you know carry baby dolls to the store? And the only thing I can say is Really?

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Disney to offer free dining again this fall!!!

Disney has announced free dining for Disney Visa holders. The dates are 8/15 to 10/2. Historically, this means it will be open to the public on Monday!!! If anyone is interested contact me at adisneytravelagent@gmail.com or angelal@fairytalejourneys.com

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

I miss Disney. Some people miss home or people or whatnot but I MISS Disney. I want to go back so bad. We are going to visit Sister in Nashville and Robs family in upstate New York in July. No Disney this year. You wanna know the worst part? This was MY idea! I don't think I want to deal with bottles, formula, and baby food while on vacation. It just doesn't sound fun. So I said let's just go see your family! Yeah, I am going to have to deal with all that stuff anyway, should have done it in Disney. LOL...I keep looking at stuff and trying to plan. The other day I was actually craving Tusker House breakfast. It is a tradition in our family to eat at Donald's Breakfast Safari at Tusker House in Animal Kingdom. This breakfast buffet has your typical breakfast fare and some African specialties thrown in. I don't particularly care for buffets but love this one. The food is yummy and even better~ They have Jungle Juice. Jungle Juice is something like Mango Guava Passionfruit. I think that is the combination. All I know is I love the stuff! Another great point is that they have characters! Donald, Goofy, Daisy and Mickey were who we met last May, though characters can and will change. Donald is the only one guaranteed.
Disney has a few deals going on right now! One is 15-30% off room rates at Disney May 2nd to August 14th. If you are interested in going to Disney, remember you know a travel agent! contact me at adisneytravelagent@gmail.com

Monday, April 26, 2010

It has been relatively busy around here. School is coming to an end. We have an exam almost every week starting next week until the middle of May and then Zach is done with school for the summer. Now we just have to come up with some fun summer projects to do. I saw something about making a solar oven using foil so we do some research on solar energy and then build one to see if we can get it to work. Olivia is doing good. She is all of 12 pounds now. I can't wait until she is a little older and more independent. She makes working hard. Rob's mom came to visit for a week and threw off all of our schedules so we have to get Zach back on track. I did get somethings done last week. I got my mini muffin pizzas done, frozen and sealed. So lunches are taken care of for a while. I also got some meatballs made. They are frozen but not sealed yet. I really didn't get too much done around the house but I did get my ChaCha motivation back!!! So happy about that. They made some system changes and working is so much easier and faster. Love it! For those of you who don't know what ChaCha is: We are text based answering service. (if you have seen the commercials for KGB, we do the same thing but are FREE!) We answer questions. Any question as long as it isn't abusive! Give is a try: The number to text is 242 242. Again, this is absolutely free. I worked here since 2008 and it is a great way to make a few extra bucks. It is how I am funding my vacation account at the moment. We put in a garden a few weeks ago. It is doing great. My peas and green beans have sprouted. Some of my peppers look like they are getting flower buds on them already. I can't wait for fresh veggies!! And my tip for today, instead of using a chemical to keep the bugs off of your plants...buy a cheap spray bottle at the dollar store, and use dried chilis in it. We just filled the bottle with water, dropped in a few small dried chili's and let them sit for a while. The bugs apparently don't like spicy! So you can put this all over your plants and not have to worry about nasty chemicals. I have seen the chili's at Walmart in the produce section for a little over a dollar for a small pack. Ours were by the potatoes. We bought the big pack for 3.50 by the Mexican food since we use them for Generals Chicken. Thanks for reading and I promise to try to post more often.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Easter gone wrong....

We don't do a whole lot for Easter around here. Both of our families live quite a distance away. The closest relative is an 8 hour drive. For the last few years we have tie dyed shirts on Easter. An odd tradition but it is fun. We dye the shirts with Mickey Mouse's head on them. Really cool. It is a shirt for our Disney vacation which usually happens in May so it is a good way to get excited for the trip. This year this is no Disney trip. We are visiting family instead. So, for our Easter fun project we are going to torture Peeps in the name of science. We are going to set them on fire, put them in the microwave and see what happens when you put one in a vacuum. I have a vacuum sealer and a vacuum container. Sometimes, homeschooling can be so much fun!! But even if you don't homeschool, it is a fun project to do with the kids. I hope everyone has a good Easter.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

So there was this crazy news article the other day about a woman that WANTS to weigh 1,000 pounds. Yep, you read that right. While the rest of us are struggling to lose some weight, this chic is eating 12,000 calories a day trying to gain even more weight. I think she is crazy but who am I to judge. But...here is the funny part, Boyfriend and I were talking about it and he says to me..."We wouldn't be together if you weighed a thousand pounds." He he. I know what he was saying but it just came out ALL wrong. BUT this just gives me fuel to harass him. (I am a horrible person!) So I have to ask him what my weight limit is...he has no answer...just a THAT is NOT what I meant. We often have these crazy conversations that no one ever gets to hear. There was one where somehow I managed to tell him that he smells like farts. I am not sure how that happened but he has been harassing me about it for ages. So now I have something to harass him about now. LOVE IT!!

And just for Sister....we had chili for dinner last night. LOL.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Sorry I have been slacking on posting lately. Olivia has been very needy which means I have little to no time to blog. Or do anything else. Today we are going to talk cupcakes. For some odd reason I have been starving for about two weeks. Yes I eat. Tons, lately. I eat and then a little bit later I am belly rumbling hungry. No idea why. I just go through phases like this. Well, Zach and I got tired of the humdrum of school and since we don't take teacher in service days or days off like MLK day or Predsident's day, we take random holidays and "home ec" days. Home ec days are where Zach learns something related to the home. He will 14 in May and has Asperger's Syndrome. For those of you that don't know, it is a high functioning form of autism. So we started home living skills a few years ago. If he is to have a chance at living on his own someday (hopefully) he will need extra time to learn home tasks. Yesterday I had him bake the most delicious cupcakes! I found this recipe for Sister when she had to make some diabetic treats to take in for a potluck at work. She said they were yummy so I thought...."hey self, you are trying to lose weight, you know you will probably have diabetes when you get older (thanks genetics and gestational diabetes I am higher risk) so why not start to incorporate some of that stuff into our diet NOW? It can't really hurt to be a little healthier, right?" I try not to answer myself when I have these sorts of questions. And just to make myself feel better...I am calling these "low sugar cupcakes". I forgot to buy frosting so we have been eating them plain. Still super yummy!

6 tablespoons reduced-fat margarine
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 18 muffin cups with paper baking cups. Melt margarine in a large saucepan over low heat. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the sugar. In a separate bowl, combine flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt; add dry mixture alternately with the buttermilk and vanilla to the saucepan containing the margarine and sugar. Stir the batter with a whisk until it is well blended. Fill each muffin cup 2/3 full. Bake 18 to 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Remove the cupcakes from the pan and allow them to cool completely on a wire rack. Store, covered, at room temperature.

Yield: 18 cupcakes
Serving size: 1 cupcake
Nutrition Facts

Per Serving:
Calories: 97
Carbohydrate: 18 g
Protein: 2 g
Fat: 2 g
Saturated fat: <1 g
Sodium: 146 mg
Fiber: <1 g

Exchanges per serving: 1 starch
Carbohydrate choices: 1

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Princess and the Frog--$10 off coupon

The Princess and the Frog was released today. There is a $10 off coupon for the Blu-Ray combo pack. http://disney.go.com/disneyvideos/disneymagicalsavings/?cmp=dmov_dvd_dmsave_url_patfcoupon
I have heard rumors that Target will take it for the DVD too. Target has a Princess Tiana purse free with purchase. CVS has 3 extra care bucks with purchase. And Best Buy has a book free with purchase. We will be going to Best Buy to get it. They were having a blood drive over the weekend and it has been a while since I donated so we donated. They gave us $5 Best Buy (each!!) for donating. Awesome! We usually donate at the center and they don't give freebies for donating there. So I was all sorts of happy to have ten free bucks. So, we will buy the Blu-Ray/DVD combo pack for $26.99 minus $10 coupon minus $10 in GCs, the final cost will only be $6.99!!! I can't wait to get this movie. I wanted to see it in the theater but the guys didn't want to go. Now with a baby, it will be a while before I get to go to the movies again.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Walmart Irritates Me

Walmart these days is a necessary evil. They are the cheapest place around for the few groceries that we buy. Our Walmart has been eliminating products and/or brands. Of course the only reason I know this is that they are eliminating half the stuff I buy! For instance, Tony Sacherie's (spelling???) dirty rice. They are the best brand around and they no longer carry it!!! They carry the brand but only for a few things. Now I have to use their brand when they have it or pay almost double for the other brand. I won't buy the other brand, it is just gross. Anyway, my point to this post. We were shopping one day a few weeks ago and were buying a pepperoni stick. Homemade pizza is the best! Anyway, we were in the aisle and Robbie was getting the pepperoni and some parmesan cheese that we needed. Me? Well, I space sometimes and generally live in my own little world. So I was of course not paying attention to him, I was looking at the Mexican food stuff. They have cumin in a bag for like 84 cents. The week before we bought some in the seasoning aisle (where cumin should be BTW) for around $4!!! I HATE paying more than I have to. I hate even more finding something I just bought for less. It sucks and I always feel a little ripped off. Well, as I am complaining to boyfriend about over paying for the cumin the week before I notice they have these giant jars of bouillon granules. Now I know they are bad for you but you do need them for some things. But these giant containers are only $5! The little Wylers jar is over 2 bucks! So the lesson I learned was not to trust Walmart and to look in the odd places for cheaper stuff! I am suspicious now so I look at the Mexican and Oriental food aisle much more closely these days. Ya just never know what you are going to find.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

I have been thinking a lot lately about another trip to Disney. It is killing me that we aren't going this year. It just seems so strange. So, last night I sat down to work on the budget for our next trip. The plan was to stay at Coronado Springs Resort and have the Deluxe Dining Plan. Sound great right? Nope. Olivia will be around 18 months old. Babies that young don't want to sit in restaurants for around an hour while we eat. So, due to her age, I started playing with other options. I think we have decided that we will stay at Pop Century and have the Quick Service Dining Plan. I love the dining plans. I love having everything paid for before I get there and not having to worry about paying the bill at the end of a meal. Now, the quick service is just for the counter service places but it will be nice not having to pay. And not having Boyfriend constantly worrying about money. I waaaaay over budget what I think we will need for food so that I don't have to worry about it. Someone needs to book a Disney trip though me so I have one to plan and I can stop driving my boyfriend crazy with talk of a vacation that isn't happening for over a year!!!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Who knew babies had opinions?

You would think that since humans haven't changed in a few thousand years that raising kids wouldn't have changed all that much either. Apparently while my son was racing his way to the teen years, all sorts of crazy things have happened. When we had to start shopping for gear for Olivia I was just amazed at all the stuff there is for parents these days. I know I didn't have even half of all this stuff for Zach and he is only 13 years old. I am not sure if it is to try to make a parents life easier or just to make you feel like you need it. Though Olivia just loves being in her stroller when we are out, sometimes it is just very inconvenient to take the stroller out. Sometimes we just don't feel like carrying around the carrier carseat. I didn't want one of those to begin with. Rob wanted it so we got one. Works great, got a Graco Snugride. I really wish they would have had the Mickey design out sooner! So, when you don't want to grab the stroller or carry the car seat, what do you do? You use a baby carrier of course! Baby wearing is nothing new. Women have been doing this for centuries. So we bought me a cute Jelly Bean Sling. I liked it. Turns out, the baby has to like it too. Olivia hates that thing. Every time we try to put her in it she starts crying. She already has strong opinions. Gonna be just like her mother! My only complaint about it was that, by their directions, I needed a small. Reality, I needed a large and probably would have been more comfortable with an extra large. I am a small person and it was a tight fit. The sling completely closed her in and covered her up. Which was good when she was really small, still liked being wrapped up in blankets and needed to be shielded from germs. She is 3 months old now and wants to look around. She can't do that laying down in the sling. I am not sure she can really see the lights in the sling. We did go out last weekend and bought a Jeep brand carrier. It has her upright on my chest. The weight feels more evenly distributed too. One suggestion, Don't decide to walk a mile at the track while carrying a three month old in a carrier. After a while the 12 pound baby gets really really heavy!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Training for a 5K

Did you know Disney World has endurance events? You can run a marathon through the parks. They charge you an arm and a leg (or was it your first born?) to have the privilege of running for 26 miles. There are many different events throughout the year. All of them sound exhausting! They have one in Animal Kingdom in June every year that sounds kind of fun. It is a 5K race with a scavenger hunt at the end. Sound fun right? So Z, 13 years old, and Boyfriend have decided to start training to do the Expedition Everest Challenge in June of 2011. Z is a total couch potato. He doesn't go outside and play. Never really has. It is all part of the Autism. He is, on the other hand, really really good at video games. LOL But Z did really good. They jogged, walked, and exercised their way through a mile at the track. He didn't complain once! I was so proud. I am really hoping that he sticks with this and runs the 5K. Two reasons. 1) I think it is good exercise for him. 2) I will get an extra trip to Disney!!! Oh, and just because we started doing this...it is going to rain for the rest of the week! Though it will still be 70 degrees so I will take it. Good thing we own a treadmill. He can still run while it is raining.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

My Grandfather Doesn't Exist

I have recently started working on a family tree. It has been fun, interesting and frustrating all at the same time. Luckily for me, an uncle on my father's side has been working on their side of my family for a few years. Even more luck for me, Sister had a copy of all his work and sent me a copy too! I have traced on branch of our family all the way back to 1485. I just keep following the bloodlines. I think one day I would like to add on all the miscellaneous cousins and their lines too. Just to see how many I can get. There is a website called Geni that will let you build your family tree for free. I am going to find a way to make this a part of our homeschool. I think Z could really benefit from the researching and knowing where his ancestors came from. I have learned that my grandfather apparently never existed! I have a copy of his birth certificate and a copy of their marriage license. They were my grandmothers hard copies. But when searching online I cannot find him anywhere. I can't find his birth, their marriage record, his death, social security, nothing. I have only initials for his parents so that isn't helping any either. I keep hoping that someone else will come across his name in their family and I will find more information that way. How do find someone when the government says they didn't exist?

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

A Stroller for every occasion!

So when we found out I was pregnant last year, it was a shock to say the least. Boyfriend really really wanted to buy things. But I am a high risk for miscarriage so I made him put it off. He, being the good first time dad that he is, does all the research about everything baby related. I have a 13 year old and somewhere around a hundred nieces and nephews. I have been there, done that. So anyway, he starts researching and reading all about everything. He got really interested in strollers. We are Disney fanatics. I love Disney World and someday I might vacation somewhere else. I have been thinking, maybe Disney Land? LOL So when looking at strollers I told him to keep in mind our vacations. It needs to be easy to lift and load onto a bus packed like a sardine. (ever ridden a bus on Disney property? LOL) So he finds the Peg Perego Pliko P3. This baby is SWEET! We went to look at it. It turns out only one place in town sells it. A baby boutique. $$$$$-yeah. Here is a link to Albee Baby to see one: http://www.albeebaby.com/peg-perego-2010-pliko-p3-stroller-in-sophia.html I told him for that kind of money she had better use it until she didn't need one anymore. So after looking at this stroller and freaking out over the price, we headed to Disney World. Yep, I did it pregnant. Still had a ton of fun and now I get to say I need to go back to do what I missed! (justify vacations too, not just junk food. hehe) I am not what you would call a shy person. I strike up conversations with random strangers. So Disney World is the PERFECT place to scope out strollers. Every time I saw one that we both liked, I would walk up to the person and start asking questions about their stroller. I did explain I was pregnant and not just crazy. Lots of strollers got good reviews. But those with the Peg Perego LOVED their stroller. They gush. I kid you not. I now gush about my stroller too! It weighs a whole 16 pounds. In the land of strollers, that is light. It is a full size stroller but folds up like an umbrella stroller so it is very compact. I can push this thing with one hand the control is that good. The snack tray comes off for when your child gets too big for it. The seat reclines and the canopy on top is HUGE, a big plus here in Florida. As with everything, there are some down sides. The basket on the bottom is not very large and can only be accessed from the sides. But, there are loops on the handles to "hang" your diaper bag. We bought some carbiner clips to put on our diaper bag. Works great! And since that is what it is meant for, the stroller doesn't tip over when we put it on. The cup holder is pretty useless. It is so small that only a soda/water bottle (or baby bottle) will fit in it. Other than those two things, this stroller is fantastic. I am glad that he chose it and wouldn't have any other stroller. Had we known she was girl we probably would have chosen a more girly color. Ours is grey. But I am going to glam it up before our next Disney trip. Now, how should I decorate it?

Monday, March 1, 2010

You can make chocolate syrup!?!?

I have been on quest to eliminate HFCS from our diet. Then I started the quest to just be able to pronounce all the ingredients in the food I eat. I cheat sometimes, that whole moderation thing. I have some Girl Scout cookies we have been eating. I call it supporting the Girl Scouts. Justification. LOL Anyway, I was playing around looking for a recipe for something or other when I came across a recipe for chocolate syrup. The reviews say it tastes like Hershey's. Did you know Hershey's has HFCS in it? WHY!!!! Why is that stuff in EVERYTHING? It would be OK if it was only in some stuff but it seems to be in just about everything these days. That is not moderation to me. So my goal is to make some chocolate syrup sometime this week. I have changed the recipe a little based on the reviews and what people agreed worked and didn't work.
Chocolate Syrup
1 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1 cup cocoa powder
dash of salt
1 tsp vanilla extract

1. In a small bowl combine sugar and cocoa powder.
2. combine water, sugar/cocoa powder mix, and salt in pan over low heat. Whisk constantly until syrup starts to thicken and begins to simmer.
3. Remove from heat. Stir in vanilla.
Use warm or store in covered in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Half of the sugar can be substituted with sugar substitute without affecting the flavor too much.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Making laundry soap?

I started trying to save money a while ago. I started visiting those sites that talk about being frugal. Some of the ideas are just gross or scary. I will NOT go without deodorant to save a buck. I WILL wash my hair every time I take a shower! Some suggestions are just gross. But I have learned some useful things. Like how to make my own laundry detergent. Z has psoriasis so could only use the expensive free and clear, hypoallergenic laundry detergent. As if that stuff isn't expensive enough they charge extra to leave stuff out! It was killing me. So I learned how to make my own. It is easy and cheap. I spend on average about a little more than $20 a YEAR to make detergent. I make a powder because the liquid is just a pain to make and maintain. The powder only takes about two minutes to make. I was making large batches at once but quickly learned that humidity is the enemy. I live in Florida and my laundry soap was getting clumpy. I didn't like it. So small batches but, like I said, only about two minutes to make. This stuff has no effect on anyone's skin and I have been using it in my high efficiency machine for a long time. BTW, high efficiency detergent simply has less of the sudsing agent in the soap. Since my soap doesn't sud I can use it my machine. I totally asked when we were buying the machine. I would have chosen a different machine if I had to buy special expensive soap for it. Here is the recipe:
1 cup borax
1 cup sodium carbonate
1/2 cup laundry booster

Mix and store in air tight container. Use 1 tablespoon per load. 2 if it is really dirty.

See....easy peasy! Borax can be found in the laundry aisle. It has a mule on the box. DO NOT mistake sodium carbonate for sodium BIcarbonate (baking soda). They are not the same thing!! Sodium carbonate can sometimes be found in the laundry aisle called Washing Soda. If your local store doesn't have that....go to the pool supplies. It is called Ph Plus there. Just make sure the container says 100% sodium carbonate. Laundry booster is something like Oxy Clean. Though I use the Sun brand because it has no scents in it. And besides...why does laundry soap need scent? We just use fabric softner to make it smell good anyway. LOL... You can also use vinegar in place of fabric softner. It does the same job but won't smell as great. I also use vinegar to clean my machine once a month. If you have a front loader, you are supposed to use a product called Afresh (?) to clean the machine. I use about a cup of vinegar. It does the same thing for a fraction of the cost!

Friday, February 26, 2010

I am going to walk it off!

Turning 30 wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. 31, however, smacked me in the face. I realized I was getting older. I was out of shape, smoking, couldn't run, not really eating healthy, the list goes on. I came to the realization that I needed to start doing something NOW. Time won't wait for me to get off my tush so I had to get started. My first goal was to quit smoking. I did that on January 13, 2007. Three years smoke free! GO ME!! Then I decided that I drank entirely too much Pepsi. So I switched to Coke. LOL...doesn't sound like much but it really worked. I am down to 1, maybe 2, sodas a day now. I drink water. Can you believe it? Not out of the tap. The tap water here is gross so we bought a Brita filter. It takes the nasty out of the water. Then, I started eating healthier. I started my journey of weight loss last year. I was doing great right up until I found out I was pregnant. I then decided that losing weight while pregnant was a bad idea so I gained it instead. LOL...I didn't gain much and actually weigh less now than when I got pregnant. But I still have all that 'I quit smoking and Boyfriend is a great cook' weight on me. So I need to lose about 20 pounds. That will get me to a healthy BMI according to my Wii Fit. Exercising is very challenging when you have a baby that likes to be held. But she slept in a bowling alley yesterday. I had Boyfriend move the treadmill to the living room so I can use it when she naps. I googled the distance from my house to the resort I am staying at in Walt Disney World next May. It is 457 miles from my driveway to the resort. So I will be walking the weight off and 457 miles is my goal. So far, I have a half mile down! Only 456.5 miles left to go. This should be interesting. Here's hoping I can stay motivated. If you are trying to lose weight, what keeps you motivated?

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Disappearing Egg Shell Experiment

We homeschool Z for a few reasons, one of which is the schools in our area. One of the middle schools has a NO FAIL policy! So if you are in 6th, 7th, or 8th grade you don't actually have to do anything. They will pass you no matter what. So since Boyfriend's job is here and I am not working right now, we are thinking of possibly homeschooling O when she is old enough for school. I scour the internet for free resources. There are tons out there. You just have to weed through a lot to get the good stuff. I have started collecting things for when O will be old enough. I grab anything I think I might be able to use in the future. Here is a science experiment that could be fun for anyone! Remember when you were a kid and you made the chicken bone rubbery? Same thing only with a boiled egg.
Disappearing Egg Shell
What you will need:
1 hard boiled egg
1 jar with lid
white vinegar
1. place the hard boiled egg into the jar
2. fill the jar with white vinegar
3. screw the lid on and let the egg sit for 3 days.
4. after 3 days the eggshell will be gone leaving a thin white membrane. The egg will look and feel like rubber!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

A Crib for Olivia

Last April, on April Fool's Day, we got the shock of our lives. Boyfriend had been told he would never have children. HA! Olivia is now two and half months old. We had no plans for anymore children. Z is 13. Yep, you read that right. A teenager and a newborn! I am pretty sure at this point I might have a few sanity issues. That being said, I had to buy all new baby gear. We chose a crib at Sears. We got the Dorel Crib/Changing Table combo in Cherry. The cost was around $250. Now, I never thought I would need a changing table. I didn't have one with Z and he survived. But I have to say I love having one! This crib will convert into a toddler/day bed and then a headboard and foot board later down the road. The changing table detaches! Most of the combo models we looked at did not detach. This was a selling point for me. The front has three drawers and the back side has three shelves. They are holding diaper changing supplies right now but will turn into book shelves as she grows! I fell in love with this crib and was super excited when Boyfriends mom bought it for us! I also fell in love with another crib that was super cute but was over $600 ON SALE!!! Are you kidding me? I instantly fell out of love when I saw that price tag. LOL But I do love the Dorel. The only downside, and I knew about it before we bought it, is that the changing table is an odd size. It is VERY hard to find a changing table pad to fit it. So, buyer beware. Now that is not too hard to solve! I am cheap. I am ok with it and admit it. Here is what we did. Boyfriends mom and I went to Walmart. They sell these foam pads in the craft section. We bought some, measured it out. We glued a total of four sections together. It was the way it was shaped and cut but there are two layers of padding to make sure she had plenty of padding. We used a fabric glue that you can wash. We then bought some fabric and made a cover for the foam. She also made a colorful cover that matches the room/bedding. That changing pad cost us less than $10 to make.
Olivia's Bed

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Disney's Value Resorts, A review

My first trip to Disney World was in 1978. I have no memories of that trip. My second trip was in 2001. I took my son when he was 5. That trip began the obsession with going back. We stayed onsite at Disney's All Star Sports Resort. I have been a total of 8 times now. Today I wanted to talk about the value resorts. Here is a link to some pictures and a list of the amenities: http://fairytalejourneys.com/value_resorts_11.html. We have stayed at three of the four value resorts. There are three All Star resorts, Music, Movies, and Sports. The other value resort is Pop Century. The only one I haven't stayed at is Movies. The values are just that, a value. Rates start at $82 a night, depending on the time of year you chose to go. Sports was great. Good food and good atmosphere. If your family are big sports fans you will love the over-sized theme of this resort. We did not care for Music. I have only stayed there once and it was only for a weekend trip. We got a great rate and this was the only value available. We are not a musical family, none of us plays an instrument, so the theme just didn't work for us. We love Pop Century. The food is great. The theme is fantastic. Pop doesn't share buses with any other resort. We never waited very long for a bus at any of the values though. The rooms at the values are small but you can make it work. I just tend to over-pack for any trip. The pools are just a basic pool. They don't have water slides. But we liked the pools at Pop best. In our opinion, the value resorts are a great value. A small price to stay on property and you still get all the benefits of a resort guest!
There are plenty of great deals out there right now! Email me at angelal@fairytalejourneys.com for a quote.
For a limited time...Value resort vacation with flight, hotel, and tickets starting at just $97 per person per night. Five-day advance purchase required
Prices are per person, per night based on quad occupancy and do not include a $3.70 federal excise tax per takeoff and landing, airport taxes of up to $18 roundtrip per person, and a federal September 11th Security Fee of up to $10 roundtrip per person. Some blackout dates apply, must be booked by March 27, 2010. Travel dates until August 13, 2010.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Bread Recipes

A few years ago high fructose corn syrup started getting a lot of press. The more I read about it, the less I liked it. Don't get me wrong. I am a firm believer that nothing is bad for you as long as it is eaten in moderation. See, I just justified the cake I have in the fridge! It is a talent I have. (see Wednesdays justification for another Disney trip) Back on topic: High fructose corn syrup is in just about everything! That is not in moderation. The body processes it differently than natural sugars. Diabetes is a serious concern in my family so it is something that caught my attention. In my quest to limit the amount of HFCS that my family is taking in, I started out making my own bread. It really isn't that hard to do. I messed up a few batches but it happens. I have messed a few dinners too. Didn't stop me from making dinner! So here are two of my favorite bread recipes. The Soft as Wonder Bread is really good. But we really really like the Soft Sandwich Rolls. I just follow the directions but rise and bake in a bread pan. Very good!
Soft As Wonder Bread:
1 cup water (room temp)
1 tsp salt
3 tblsp margarine
1 tblsp honey
3 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup powdered milk (not skim)
2 tsp sugar
1 1/2 tsp bread machine yeast
add ingredients in the order given to your bread machine. Select dough cycle. Shape into a loaf and place in a loaf pan. Let rise in a warm place for about 40 mins until it has doubled in size. Bake on center rack at 350 for 25-30 mins. cool one a rack before slicing.

Do not cool in the pan! It makes for a very wet loaf of bread. To tell if your bread is done, thump it with your thumb. If it sounds hollow then it is done.

The Soft Sandwich Rolls recipe I grabbed from King Arthur Flour's website. Here is the link to the recipe: http://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipes/soft-sandwich-rolls-recipe
I hope I have inspired you to try making your own bread. Or if you already do, feel free to share a recipe with us!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

I mentioned on Saturday that I am all about saving money. And I am, though I also know my limits. I am very very bad at coupons. My sister rocks the whole coupon thing. I clip them, then leave them at home. I know I should be better. Most coupons don't work for me though. I make everything I can. Bread, pasta, hot pockets, pizza, biscuits, english muffins, cookies, all from scratch. It takes 20 minutes to make brownies from a box or from scratch. And scratch tastes better. Plus I can control what goes in it. We buy meat at the butcher. If you have one near, you should drop in one day and ask questions. We pay $150 and get enough meat, a variety, to last almost two months for the three of us.
I have recently started re-purposing things around the house. I buy ice cream in the gallon size buckets. These are great for Legos, barbie accessories, laundry soap, they have a ton of uses. Mayfield had a square container the other day. I got way to excited about the container and not the fact that I would have ice cream once again. It was just sad. We buy the big containers of shampoo and conditioner, the ones with the pump. I turned one into a hand soap dispenser the other day. It is a little large but it works and cost me nothing. Did you know you can make the foam soap yourself? Just buy the soap once so you have the pump. They have a different pump than other soap dispensers. Then just buy the regular refill soap. Fill your foam soap container a quarter of the way with soap. Fill the rest of the way with water. Shake well. You have just make foamy soap! Now doesn't it just KILL you to know you have been spending all that money on water?
Have a great weekend everyone!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Homeschool and Disney???

We home school my 13 year old son. Z has ADHD and high functioning autism. Part of his autism had manifested itself in anxiety. The public school district here is horrible. We tried private Catholic school. He did ok but was having organizational problems. Very common for kids like him. Then eighth grade started to roll around. He started to have more and more anxiety problems and they tend to stem from being around large groups. He loved school but just wasn't able to handle being around the many kids and all the stuff that comes with changing classes and middle school. So, two days before school started we made the decision to home school. There is nothing like making last minute decisions. He takes some classes online through a virtual school and some classes we do. For a foreign language he decided to take Japanese. Crazy, I know. His goal is to be a video game designer for Nintendo. He needs to be able to talk to them so he is learning Japanese. These lessons are also free. Check them out at www.livemocha.com. There are whole bunch of free language lessons. Free just happens to be my favorite price.
Sorry, I ramble. Anyway, I was playing around on my favorite Disney board, DisBoards. Someone mentions that they are trying to organize a YES trip. OMG!!! Disney does special classes for kids! How did I miss this? I know about Home School Days in January. But any time of year you can organize these classes. You just need 10 participating students. They have classes from K thru 12. How cool is that? Just another reason for me to go back to Disney. And now it is justified as educational. I am thinking of trying to organize a group for May 2011. That is when I am planning our next trip down.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Wednesday Review

I said in Monday's post that I make almost everything at home. I wasn't kidding. I am all about saving money. When Boyfriend and I decided that I would stay home, we lost about a third of our income. Most of it was discretionary but we did have to learn to not spend so much money. We are blessed that he has a very secure job with the Navy as a civilian. One of the things I wanted to learn to make was bread. I have a rule about kitchen toys. I will not buy the big expensive ones until I know that I will use them. I started out making bread by hand. Kneading dough makes for great arm muscles. Once I proved to myself that I was going to make the bread on a regular basis, I got a bread machine to make my life easier. Actually, Boyfriends mom bought it for me for Christmas. She got me a Sunbeam machine from Walmart. It runs around $50 at my local store. This is it: http://www.sunbeam.com/Category.aspx?section=kitchen&cid=241. I have to tell, I love this machine! It makes making bread so easy. I do not use it to its full potential. You can make cakes and jams in this thing. I actually stopped baking my bread in it. The bread tasted really good coming out of the machine but we had a few issues with it. First was the size. The bread comes out very tall. Two slices was too big for a sandwich and one slice cut in half was not big enough. The second issue was that the paddle used for mixing and kneading was still in there leaving a whole in the bottom of the bread. So I use the machine to make the dough then bake in the oven in a bread pan. We make all sorts of doughs in this machine. We make most of our pizzas at home now too since you can make the dough in the machine. It is the best of both worlds!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Tuesday is Travel Day!!

Like I said in my first post, I am a travel agent. I love love love traveling. I am a firm believer in vacations. It gets the family together and away from the everyday nonsense that is life. There are no classes to attend, no sports events, no cleaning, no paying bills, and no grocery shopping. When I go on vacation I want nothing but fun. That is one of the reasons I love going to Disney. Once I am at my resort, we park the truck and don't drive again until it is time to go home. I prefer having the dining plan so I don't have to think about how much the food costs too. This way everything is prepaid and I only need money for souvenirs! I have two travel deals for today:

First, is Disney: Disney World has 25% to 45% off rooms now thru August 14th. It must be booked by March 27th. For a room only reservation, you only need a deposit equal to one nights stay. You can also turn this into a package deal by adding tickets and/or the dining plan. The deposit then becomes $200.
They have also extended the free gift card offer:
Book a 6-day, 5-night non-discounted room and ticket package at select Walt Disney World Resort hotels and get a free Disney Gift Card for stays most nights 2/15 — 3/27 and 4/11 — 8/14.
  • Value resorts: $300 Disney Gift Card
  • Moderate resort: $500 Disney Gift Card
  • Disney Deluxe or Deluxe Villa resort: $750 Disney Gift Card

This discount must be booked by 3/27/10. All discounts are subject to availability, certain restrictions apply. Blackout dates may apply.
The next one I have is Princess Cruise Line. This offer must be booked by Friday, February 19th.
3 ways to save on Canada & New England
and Summer Caribbean vacations!

1Fares from $75 per day
• 7-day Caribbean cruises from just $449*
• 9-day Caribbean cruises from just $749*
• 10-day Canada & New England cruises from $1,199*
• 14-day Canada & New England land & sea vacations from $1,999*

2Up to $100 Cash Back per Stateroom**
• Up to $50 on 7- to 9- day sailings
• Up to $100 on 10- to 14-day sailings

3Free balcony upgrades^
• Enjoy balcony accommodations at oceanview fares!
If you are interested in either of these deals, contact me at angelal@fairytalejourneys.com

Sunday, February 14, 2010

I am brand new to this whole blogging thing. My sister got me started. Her and a friend were so kind as to design this for me. Aren't they so nice! I decided to blog about what I know. So on Mondays I will post a new recipe. We are not fancy eaters here. I hate seafood. I have not been very adventurous in the past but I am learning to try new things. Actually, at the age of 33 I am finding that I have missed out on a lot of good food over the years. I am also relatively frugal. I make most things at home and find my recipes for free around the internet. We do tend to tweak recipes to our liking though. Today I am making waffles to freeze. I will use homemade Bisquick. It is so easy to make you won't believe you have been buying this stuff!

2 cups homemade bisquick
1 1/3 cups milk
1 egg
2 tbl vegetable oil
dash of vanilla

Mix all ingredients together. Preheat waffle iron. When the iron is hot, spray liberally with non-stick spray. Pour some batter on the iron making sure that all the bumps are covered. Cook for about 5 mins. They are done when they are golden brown.

3 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup nonfat dry milk powder
1/2 cornstarch
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt

Mix well. Store in airtight container. Lasts for 6 months.

I make really large batches at once. Then I lay them on cookie sheet and put them in the freezer. Once they are frozen solid I vacuum seal them. If you try to vacuum seal them before they are frozen, you squish them beyond recognition and they NEVER get their shape back. Learn from my mistakes! You could put them in zipper bags but they tend to get freezer burnt over time. When you or one of the kids wants a waffle, just pop it in the toaster. Hot, fresh, yummy, and you know what is in it!
Hi. My name is Angela. I have two children and a wonderful boyfriend. We live in Florida, homeschool, and love going to Disney. My son, Z, is 13 and my daughter, O, is 2 months. In fact, I love going to Disney so much and enjoy planning trips that I decided to become a travel agent. Even better, I got my Disney certification!! They even sent me a certificate and my very own graduation ears. You would think with 8 trips to Disney World I would have purchased a pair of ears by now. It has been my goal to go to Disney every year. It is a lofty goal. I make it about once every other year. Unless we buy annual passes. Then we go a few times. So I started working at home for a company called Fairytale Journeys (www.fairytalejourneys.com) as a home based travel agent. First off, a good travel agent is worth their weight in gold. Second, they cost you NOTHING to book through them. So always a good idea to use one. If you have any travel plans feel free to contact me at angelal@fairytalejourneys.com.
I started with my Disney obsession in 1990. I watched The Little Mermaid for the first time. I fell in love with all things Disney. My first trip to Disney World I was only 2 and have no memories from. I took Z for his first trip when he was 5. We stayed on site at the All Star Sports. We had a blast. We did the cha-cha with Bear from Bear in the Big Blue House. And he met his hero, Buzz Lightyear! There is nothing like seeing the magic of Disney through the eyes of a child. On that trip I knew we would be back again and again. I just had to find a way!