Countdown To Relaxation

In exactly 26 days, I’ll be sitting on a beach with my family and BFF and her family.  I cannot tell you how excited I am about all of this, after the year we’ve had. I know the kids are getting excited and He talks about it at least four times during the week, but I am inexplicably and totally obsessed.

I typed up a packing list, printed it and promptly lost it, so this week I’m finishing retyping it(and saved it this time while I worked!). I’ve already slapped some non-food necessaries in a laundry basket and stuffed them in the closet with a box of household stuff I’ve been collecting for the trip all along. I think Rocker Mom might just be ready to stuff our joint list down my throat if I don’t stop talking about it.

I am *that* hyper about it.

*ahem*

 

So, with the arrival of our new freezer(which I’ll tell you all about another day this week), I plan on diving into cooking for this trip very soon! We have a meal plan for the entire vacation and a list of foods we intend on taking with us. Which will limit the cost at the grocery there to a bare minimum of things that wouldn’t travel well in a large cooler. Rocker Mom and I will be cooking for the next three weeks to prepare us for the trip down, doing a little each week and storing it all in my freezer(since I have the space right now). As we go, I’ll share what we’re making and how we’re doing it with you guys.

 

And when I finally finish my packing list, I’ll share that too, in downloadable form, so if you like, you can use it too!

How do you get ready for vacation? How early do you start? I know we must seem a little nutty, but we’re over-achievers!

Back to School Costs Big Bucks

Little He and Little She are going to be starting back to school pretty soon and sadly all I can think about is what kind of money it’s going to set us back. Not that I won’t miss the little stinkers, I love them and time with them is never time wasted, though quiet time is highly overrated. ;) But seriously though, school lists get longer each and every year. Unlike surrounding areas, we get our lists at open house, which is the last possible minute and well after the start of the back to school sales.

In an effort to combat the rising cost of school supplies, I start hunting the deals down even before we get teacher assignments and open house invitations. I know some of the things I pick up won’t be useful now or even on their lists, but for pennies I can either donate them or put them in my office supplies totes until they’re needed.

Want to save money this year on school supplies? There are many many “mommy” blogs that are focused on the subject intensely and will post every “deal”(and I use that term loosely there) for you to ooh and ahh over. Or you can play it smart and pick up a Sunday paper or cruise each office supply store’s website for their weekly ad. Every week for about a month to six weeks prior to school starting, Staples, Office Max, Office Depot, and often times Walgreens will run awesome specials. Most have the best deals right on the front page, with the terms and conditions listed. Make a list once you’ve gone through all the ads you’re interested in and check out what stores you have on there.

I prefer to start at the store I have to drive the furthest to get to and work my way back home, that way when I’m done with my endless spree I am close to home, where I can flop on the couch and separate our supplies stash from that day! Don’t forget to you can save yourself a lot of headache on the national brand items and price match at Target or Walmart. Just remember that store brand items aren’t something you can price match, so if you’re interested, be prepared to plan that trip.

Let’s say you drive to your store and low and behold, there’s no more left to be had! That’s frustrating and sometimes, depending on the sale there’s no option to be had. Some things are simply “while supplies last”. Most times though, the stores will be happy to write you a raincheck for that exact item at the sale price if you ask, or substitute something similar for the same price! It never hurts to ask nicely when things aren’t going your way.

We do this almost every year and by the time we get our supply lists, we often find that we have almost everything on them already or we’re close enough that an additional $5-$10 takes care of the rest. Our jaunt through the stores normally only costs around $15-$30. Making back to school shopping a much more affordable event for us.

 

What ways do you save?

Miracle Tub Cleaner

Does that title look familiar to my long timers? You bet it does!(anyone else say that in Mayor Bob White’s voice? LOL!) A while back, I shared a pinterest experiment we had tried using vinegar and dawn to clean a very dirty bathtub. Honestly those pictures weren’t too convincing, it just wasn’t dirty enough to really show you the cleaning power that mix has.

So we’re going to visit it again, and this time, I have come prepared.

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Meet my bathtub.

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Longtime friend of the He the mechanic and obviously Little She of the Tub-time Crayons. They have dirtied it up in a way that makes me ashamed to say it’s even a fixture in my home! However, watch this miracle cleaner work it’s magic.

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Check out the differences, even with the bright red from her crayons. It’s a crazy mix that doesn’t seem like it could even chemically work, but it’s another awesome vinegar use I can stand behind.IMAG1519

Look at the shine that the tub wall has after being cleaned with that mix? The wall and the tub was incredibly dull with all the grime that had built up on it over time, and it never fails to amaze me how much better it looks with less than five minutes of scrubbing.

In case you wanna know how much I used here, I combined the following in a spray bottle:

~half of a small dawn bottle(about 4 ounces or so)

~about a cup or cup and a half of white vinegar(I heat the vinegar, like you do with it anytime you clean ;) )

-hot water to finish filling the bottle to the top It’s not a huge bottle and I probably added about the same amount of water as vinegar to the bottle.

I shook it pretty hard to combine and went to town spraying. After about an hour or so I went back with a rag and scrubbed the walls and tub down, which took about five minutes, though if I hadn’t had to contend with the crayon, it would have been a couple of minutes. Tub-time crayons, especially that have been on there a long time(these were), are very hard to get off, so I was super impressed with it!

Convinced about vinegar yet? Told ya I’d be working on you ;-) Wanna try this out yourself? Link up in the comments below and show us how it worked for you!

The Thursday Top Ten!

Each Thursday, I’ll be posting a top ten list from my pinterest boards, whether it be top ten craft ideas, funnies, recipes, etc. Please feel free to share some of your favorites or leave a comment on mine!

 

**Please be aware, there may be some vulgar language in some of these. They are not politically correct, they are mostly not family friendly.  If this offends you, please pass on by this post. I’d appreciate not having several condescending comments about it, because you have BEEN WARNED!**

 

Top Ten Funnies: August 1st, 2013

#10

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#9

funny2

Creep out your guests

#8

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Hilarious wrong number texts

#7

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#6

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#5

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Dorothy: “Wait a minute…wait a minute. Leg Warmers?”
Instructor: “You need to keep your legs warm. What are you using now?”
Dorothy: “Friction, that’s why we’re here!”

#4

funny7

#3

funny8

#2

funny9

#1

funny 10

 

 

The Best Chocolate Cake Ever!(or at least, we think so)

About three weeks back, maybe four total, I went to my recipe folder in search of our chocolate cake recipe. I cannot tell you what site I found it on, but it was our very favorite of the many, many, many, many, many(well you see my point) recipes we’d tried before. When I flipped through the stack, I started getting upset, because the recipe wasn’t there. We searched a really long time for this one and there’s a reason we only made it.

The last few weeks I’ve searched Pinterest(an obsession for sure) and the internet, all in vain, for the chocolate cake recipe. At my wits end, I decided to make my own recipe up! How though, do you do this and get the ingredients balanced? I googled and read a lot of information on what ingredients do what for cakes, how they affect the batter, what’s interchangeable and what’s not. I learned about weight ratios and differences in ingredient qualities too, there’s much more to a recipe than I ever thought. Read=give credit to people who supply you with a favorite recipe, especially bakers….this stuff is complicated!!

Today I finished my chocolate cake project. The recipe was written, balanced and re-balanced so many times my head hurts just thinking about it. So today was the day……time to bake it and see if it was edible. I faithfully took pictures as I went along, and was very encouraged by my sweet babies. “Mommy it smells so good!!!”  I don’t know some days what I’d do without them, even the days when it seems they test my every limit.

So I finished…and I have to say, without tooting my own horn, that it was the best chocolate cake I’ve ever put in my mouth.  The icing and the cake melted as I ate. No grit, no lumpy spots, no oily residue, no hard bits…just smooth chocolaty goodness. I am so very glad I lost my favorite recipe now. Not only did I end up with a recipe that greatly surpassed it, but I have so much more knowledge now! I feel  like I am armed in the kitchen with something I was just lacking before and it’s inspired me. I need to be doing this with all of my recipes.

While I love using a good recipe someone else has posted, there is a pride and special happiness in making something of your very own. And if you’d oblige me, I’d like to share it with you now. If you love it, tell us all about it and if you hate it, let us know that too! Without further ado(or running my yap some more!)…

For anyone interested in making this with us, here’s a step by step with photos! If you have any questions or concerns, leave a comment and I’ll help as best as I can!

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Ingredients:

Dry;

~2 c All Purpose Flour

~1/2 t Salt

~2 t Baking Powder

~1 1/2 Baking Soda

~3/4 c Cocoa Powder

~1 Pack Instant Coffee

Wet;

~1 3/4 c Sugar

~2 Eggs

~1 t Vanilla

~1 c Sour Milk

~1/2 c Butter(melted)

~1 c Hot Dark Roast Coffee

*Melt the butter and set it to the side. It needs to be room temperature without solidifying again.

~Whisk all of your dry ingredients in your mixer bowl, sans instant coffee

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~Whisk together all your wet ingredients, sans coffee whisking in the butter last

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~Add the whisked liquid mixture to the mixing bowl and mix until well combined. The batter will be fairly thick at this stage.

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~Add the cup of coffee(hot) to the batter, and mix well. The batter will be MUCH thinner at this point. Add the instant coffee while you mix this to help it bloom. The double coffee punch brings out the chocolate flavor to the max!

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~Now that we have our batter, pick out a pretty cupcake liner. Or let your little girl pick her favorite out. These are pretty good right?

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~Line your muffin pans and fill the liners about halfway full. No more or you’ll have a runaway mess!

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~Bake your cupcakes for right about 16 minutes in a 350 degree oven. The tops come out smooth and shiny and the cake is springy and soft.

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~All that’s left now is letting them cool on your rack(an agonizing thirty minutes today!!) and frosting them with a rich, smooth, homemade buttercream.

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YUM is right! This recipe makes 36 cupcakes on the nose, frost them all today or freeze some in baggies for later. They’ll last up to three months. ;)

Pinterest is An Obsession: My Top Three…

In the coming months, look for more Pinterest posts from us. Last year I tried to integrate Pinterest into my blog and failed miserably due to all the stress and time management issues we were having. It’s not that we never tried out any pins, but it was never the ones we were shooting for. In an effort to rectify this, I’ll be posting a few times a month with my top three pins lists, each set coming from a different board. I won’t make it to all of my boards each month, but I’ll try to highlight new ones from month to month, not repeating them two months in a row.

To start us out, I want to share my top three favorite current pins on my Main Dishes board! I’m going to try to work these dishes into rotation during the month of August, even if we only make them once each. Afterwards I’ll post and revisit each, reviewing it for you guys! Be sure you share your thoughts and experiences with us as well.

 

#1: Baked Spaghetti Pie

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#2: Muffin Tin Calzone

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#3: Baked Pork Chops

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If you’ve tried any of these particular recipes, please let us know and leave your review in the comments, or even a link to it on your site as well. Hopefully one of these makes it on the menu for the coming week so we get on with it!

 

How often do you make something you see on Pinterest and are truly happy with it? Do you tend to go back and really work at completing the things you pin, or are you like me and a Pinterest Hoarder?

Movie Review: Disney’s ‘Brave’

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A couple of nights ago, my family and I used a free Redbox code to rent a movie we hadn’t seen yet, but had talked about for a while; the new Disney film called ‘Brave’.  Given that it was a PG Rating, I was a little hesitant about Little She seeing it(given that she’s only 6), but decided if there was anything that needed further censoring or explaining, I would deal with it as the movie went on. She’s a huge fan of Disney princesses and was more excited than the rest of us about the movie.

Brave opens on an introductory scene where we meet Merida(the wild and free princess of the film), Elinor(the refined and slightly controlling mother), and Fergus(the fun loving father figure) as they encounter the demon bear. This bear haunts the family for years ever after and keeps not just a piece of their memories, but also one of Fergus’s legs!

We then move several years later, Fergus is reigning king within the territories, Merida is almost a grown woman and Elinor spends her days wrangling her three identical sons and teaching Merida everything she can about being a proper lady. Little does Merida know, she’s being trained so that she can marry a suitor from one of their allied lands to keep the peace within her family. Being strong minded and fiercely independent, Merida refuses to concede to her family’s wishes. She embarrasses them at a set of ceremonial games dedicated to winning her hand and then runs away into the neighboring forest to escape the fate set upon her by her parents.

While there, she stumbles upon a witches cottage, and arranges for a spell to change her mother to avoid being married off to someone she does not love. Armed with the spell, Merida returns to the castle and feeds it to her mother, who instead of forgetting her idea becomes a bear!

Grab a copy and follow along as Merida and Elinor go through many adventures and hardships to bring them back together, repairing the broken bond of love between two people intent on very different things. A beautiful message lies in this movie, especially for mothers and teen daughters, though I think most preteens to teens would enjoy it as well.

As for us, the movie was really just a little too much. There’s a rather busty character who Disney’s animators lend a LOT of bounce to as she scampers through the movie. It’s not something I’d consider appropriate for my kids and reminds me of why I should screen PG movies before showing my kids. Please be aware(for anyone who’s concerned) that there’s mooning(with implied nudity), and outright rear nudity in a few different scenes. While they’re funny for us, and probably for a great many older children, I don’t believe they’re funny for kids within the age range mine are at. All that aside, even with a beautiful message, we weren’t really impressed with this movie. We’ve got to give it a two star rating.

2stars

 

Did you see this movie as well? What did you and your family think about it?