Weekly Budget Breakdown #8

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Once again this week will only have 5 meals instead of 6. I forgot to pull out dinner one night so everything got bumped back a day and Saturday we visited with the wedding caterer and I completely forgot to pull out dinner again.

Monday - Italian Chicken with tomato, corn and basil risotto
3 chicken breasts - $4
1/2 cup Italian dressing $.50
Arborio rice - $0.39
1/4 bag frozen corn $0.25
Total: $5.14

Tuesday - Steak with roasted red potatoes and green beans
3 steaks - $6
4 red potatoes - $0.64
canned green beans $1
Total: $7.64

Wednesday - cajun pork chops w/ roasted corn and garlic rice
3 pork chops - $2.50
1 boil-in-a-bag rice $0.66
1/2 bag frozen corn $0.50
Total: $3.66

Thursday - tacos
1 lb. ground beef - $1.69
lettuce & tomato $0.28
Mexican cheese $1.50
taco shells $1.49
Total: $4.96

Friday - chicken pizza
pizza shells $3.49
1/2 can pizza sauce $0.50
4 cups mozzarella cheese $3.00
1/2 package chicken tenders $3.12
Total: $10.11

Well, thats a bit ironic. I definitely wasn't expecting the pizza to be the most expensive thing on the menu. I'm not sure if I want the chicken or the pork chops to be the beginner meal for this week. I might just do both. And now onto the important part of this post, the total for the week....$31.51. YAY!

Asian Noodles with Beef

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I was reading something today and decided I want to make some changes to this blog. I feel like I'm already doing something decent by showing just how cheaply I can make meals and including pretty versatile recipes, but I realized I wasn't really doing much for that cook that is just learning. So I'm going to create a section for beginner cooks and try to make a recipe each week that gives better detailed instructions on how to cook the meal. Kind of like how the Pioneer Woman does it.

This would have been a good recipe for that, but I didn't think about it until I had already started chopping and figured if I'm going to do it, I might as well do it right. Ironically, this recipe turned out to be more appetizer sized than meal sized. I still can't figure out why.










Asian Noodles with Beef
Servings: 4
Adapted from: www.allrecipes.com
Printer Friendly

Ingredients:
    • 8 oz. sliced shitake mushrooms
    • 1 green pepper, cut into bite sized pieces
    • 1 red pepper, cut into bite sized pieces
    • 1-2 lb. flank steak, cut into strips (or stir fry meat)
    • 1/2 onion, diced
    • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
    • 2 tbsp. soy sauce
    • 1/2 tsp. ginger
    • 1 tsp. sugar
    • 1 tsp. parsley
    • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
    • 1 tsp. lime juice
    • 1/4 box capellini pasta
    • oil

Directions:
1. Add the oil to a medium pan over medium heat. Add in the red pepper, green pepper and onions and cook for 3-5 minutes or until soft.
2. In a medium bowl mix together the rice vinegar, soy sauce, ginger, sugar, pepper and lime juice. Put the meat into the bowl and toss to coat. (This can be done 24 hours in advance.)
3. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
4. Add the meat and marinade to the pan and cook for 7 minutes or until the meat is cooked through.
5. Transfer the meat and vegetable mixture into a large bowl. Add the pasta and toss to coat/combine.
6. Serve in bowls and sprinkle with parsley.

Maybe its just me, but usually when I go to buy a red pepper they are humongous! Usually twice the size of a green pepper which bugs me because I feel like if I want equal peppers than I need 1 1/2 green peppers to 1 red pepper. Today that was not the case. Tom picked out the peppers when we were at the store so I didn't notice the size until I started cooking.

See, this is the size that I expect a red pepper to be! Not overly gigantic and not too small. Maybe this combined with the fact that my mushrooms went bad somehow contributed to my typically dinner sized meal turning into an appetizer size. Hmmm...

Personal Shopper

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I have a slight addiction to a certain wedding message board. One of the boards are other ladies getting married the same month as me. We talk about wedding stuff and basically any other topic that we can think of. Somehow we started talking about shopping for other people. One of the ladies that lives in MD too jokingly said to me that we should start a personal shopper business.

While I was on there today she got 3 pages for people asking to find her shoes. Since I was bored at the time, I did some searching and added to the posts. Everyone was really impressed with what all we could find. So, we joked about this personal shopper business so more.

When I got home today I decided it was worth googling to see what all I could find. Apparently, a personal shopper can make up to $50 an hour and/or 20% of the total purchase price. Now I'm seriously debating it. I don't want $50 an hour or 20%, I'd settle for $15 an hour and 15%, depending on the price.

Its SO easy for me to shop for other people. Shopping for me on the other hand is a nightmare. I can never find what I'm looking for in my size. But other people, no problem.

Polka Dot Wedge Shoe in Navy blue under $50? No problem.
(http://www.6pm.com/tommy-hilfiger-sabrina-navy-pin-dot)









Teal pashmina for your bridesmaids, under $10 each? Got that too. (http://www.beltoutlet.com/pashwrjeto.html)











Haute Inspired Faux Pearl Bracelet under $25? Too easy! (http://www.whiteaisle.com/october_bracelet.htm)











Cherry Blossom Ring Dish under $35? (http://www.etsy.com/view_listing.php?listing_id=42366837&ref=cat1_gallery_6)











Purple Bra in a size 32G under $50? (http://www.bravissimo.com/products/lingerie/sensational-sets/freya/balconette-bras/fyl7-details.aspx?colour=amethyst&ck=ZJc6eCdzb54%3d)
The picture won't work for that one. =(

See how easy it is? I spent less than 20 minutes finding that stuff and 10 or more minutes was trying to think of things that I could google.

So what do you think? Should I start a personal shopper business? What would you be interested in having someone find for you? How much would you be willing to pay?

Lemon Cup Risotto

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Hmm, where to begin with this post. Dinner tonight was supposed to be garlic lemon double stuffed chicken with the lemon cup risotto and corn, however I looked at the chicken recipe and decided I just didn't have the energy tonight to do all of that. So I used seasoned Panko breadcrumbs for the chicken and called it a day.

As for the risotto...here is the recipe I wanted to make: Risotto in a Lemon Cup 
However, once I took a better look at the lemons I bought I realized that this just probably wasn't going to work out. It looks cool and fancy and would be great for a dinner party, but its really not a practical recipe unless you have really large lemons. So, for the sake of the blog, I put the risotto in it, but I didn't serve it that way.

It looks pretty doesn't it? But you can see that the lemon is just too small for even a tiny serving of risotto and I'm not sure how it would affect the flavor even with the inside of the lemon removed.

So I created a general risotto made from the basics and since we had mascarpone cheese, I added that in too. It turned out really well, but darker than usual. I think its because I used a different type of chicken stock. Usually I would use Nature's Promise Organic Low Sodium Chicken Stock, but this time I used the Kitchen Basics brand. Anyway, onto the recipe.

Lemon Cup Risotto
Source: Giada de Laurentis
Servings: 4
Printer friendly


Ingredients:
    • 2 slices small onion, diced
    • 3 tbsp. olive oil
    • 1 1/2 tsp. minced garlic
    • 3/4 cup Arborio rice
    • 1/4 cup white wine
    • 2 cups chicken stock
    • 1 tbsp. butter
    • 1 tsp. mascarpone cheese
    • 1 tsp. cream cheese
    • 1/4 tsp. parsley (optional, garnish)
Directions:
1. Heat a medium sized skillet over medium heat. Add in 1 tbs. olive oil and the onion. Cook until the onion is translucent.
2. Pour the chicken stock into a small saucepan and put over low heat. 
3. Add in the garlic and the remaining olive oil. Cook 1-2 minutes more.
4. Add in the rice and stir around until the rice is coated with the oil and garlic and turns a translucent/pale color. Pour in the white wine (I use cooking wine by the way) and cook until the rice has absorbed the wine.
5. Once the rice has absorbed the liquid, pour in 1/2 to 1 cups of chicken stock and stir occasionally until absorbed. Repeat with the remaining chicken stock.
6. Once the rice looks like its going to start sticking to the pan, turn the heat down to low and add in the butter, mascarpone and cream cheese. Stir and fold until the cheeses and butter are melted and incorporated into the risotto. Garnish with parsley and serve immediately.

Weekly Meal Breakdown #7

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I never ended up making last Friday nights dinner; the chicken marsala. I think I might add it into this week. The parmesan potato gratin didn't turn out too well either, but I think thats just because the recipe called for the wrong measurements. So I'll try it again next week and see what happens.

There are only 5 meals this week because I thought the chicken marsala would have been for Sunday.

Monday - Turkey Reubens
1/4 lb. turkey breast $0.98
6 slices rye bread $1.13
1/4 bottle Thousand Island Dressing $0.37
(I realized today that I forgot to pick up Swiss cheese to make this, so I just used what I had in the fridge, American.)
3 slices American Cheese $0.37
Total: $2.85 (It doesn't get much cheaper than that!)

Tuesday - Steak with Baked Potato and Broccoli and Cheese
3 filet mignon steaks $6
3 potatoes $0.48
1 1/2 heads broccoli $1.66
1/4 medium brick of Velveeta cheese $0.80
Total: $8.94

Wednesday - Garlic Lemon Doubled Stuffed Chicken breast with Lemon Cup Risotto and Corn
Ever since I found the Giada recipe for risotto in a lemon cup, I've wanted to try it. Finally, I get to try it out.
3 chicken breasts $4.00
1/4 8 oz. cream cheese brick $0.45
3 lemons $1.47
Arborio rice $0.39
1/2 bag frozen corn kernels $0.50
2 tbs. mascarpone cheese $0.45
Total: $7.26

Thursday - Asian Noodles w/ Beef
red pepper $1.29
green pepper $1.40
skirt steak $3.99
1/2 box capellini noodles $0.50
1 package mushrooms $1.29
Total: $8.47

Friday - Cumin and Lime rubbed Pork Chops with Baked Potato and spiced corn
3 pork chops $2.50 (Buy 1 get 1 free family packs!)
red pepper $1.29
3 potatoes $0.48
1/2 package frozen corn kernels $0.50
light cream $1.33
Total: $6.10

The total cost for the week is.....$33.62. I think that might just be a new record. My goal for this week is to blog Wednesday, Thursday and Friday's meal.

Oh, and a sneak peek for next week: I want to try lentil soup and tomato, corn and basil risotto. Wish me luck!

Today I signed up for Foodie Blogroll. Sometime in the next two weeks they will contact me to confirm my account. I meet all of the requirements so I'm just impatiently waiting. I get to add a widget on my blog to show that I'm part of the Foodie Blogroll and I might even have random people find my blog then. I'm excited!

Good Evening

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There's no blog about dinner tonight because Tom and C are babysitting Tom's nephews so his brother and girlfriend can go out for her birthday. It was supposed to be baked BBQ pork chops with Parmesan gratin potatoes and beans, but I'm just going to move that to tomorrow night and cook through the weekend to make all of the meals.

So, since I'm alone tonight, I figured it was a good time to clean and wash clothes. Well, actually Tom suggested it and I figured I really have nothing better to do on a random Thursday night.

I hate cleaning. I think its boring, tedious and annoying. However, I'm pretty OCD about things being organized and clean, so I do it anyway. I just don't like doing it. What I hate the most is cleaning the bathroom and vacuuming. Honestly, if we had the extra money, I would hire someone to come in and do just those things weekly. I'm sure its not that expensive and we could actually afford it, but I'd feel really dumb hiring a cleaning person to do just that.

Anyway, since I hate cleaning and it seemed like it took me forever to get the other apartment clean, I decided that tonight I would clean here and time me to see how long it takes. I did decide that I wouldn't vacuum because I started at close to 8 PM and no one wants to be that annoying neighbor who vacuums all late at night.

I started at 7:15 by unloading the dishwasher and throwing a load of clothes in the washing machine. By 7:39, I had wiped down all of the cabinets and counters in the kitchen, swept and mopped the floor, cleaned off the bar and the stove, cleaned the dining room table, and dusted and polished the end tables and tv in the living room. Not too bad.

As mean as it sounds, I really love that our desk is in the bedroom now. At the other apartment it was in the living room so Tom and C would constantly be in there on their computers. I hated asking them to move to clean and the room was generally more messy because everyone was in it ALL.OF.THE.TIME. Now, we hardly ever use the living room. Honestly, I'm not sure of the last time I've sat on the couch. I think it was the first week here when we didn't have cable in the bedroom yet and I wanted to watch my Ghost Hunters show.

From 7:39 to 8:28 I put the load of clothes into the dryer, threw another one in the washing machine, changed the sheets and made the bed (much to the dismay of the cat who simply could not believe that I threw her blanket...yes, my cat has her own blanket...onto the floor), dusted and polished the tables, desk, dressers and tv, put away the first load of clothes from the dryer, added the next load, filed paid bills, hole punched and added 19 more recipes to my already overflowing recipe binder, put some wedding related stuff into my wedding binder and cleaned out the cat's litter box.

It only took me 11 minutes to clean the bathroom. I'm pretty shocked actually. Thats the part that feels like it takes forever. I guess its just because I went from having a super tiny bathroom where you could barely fit in it to having one where I have no idea what to do with the amount of space I have.

So, apparently it takes me exactly an hour to clean the apartment if I don't vacuum. I'm guessing that would take 30 minutes or less. I guess an hour and a half to clean the entire apartment isn't too bad.

What do you think? How long does it take you to clean? And what do you hate cleaning the most?

And in other news, you would not believe what Tom and C found in the apartment on Tuesday and Wednesday. Tuesday there was a hornet. A HORNET!  I've managed almost 25 years of life to avoid all things that sting and now there is a hornet in my apartment? GAH! C killed it and then found that there was a nest on our balcony. :shudder: So, he knocked that down. Then on Wednesday they found a mud wasp. WTF? Why is my apartment full of things that sting? I'm not okay with this! I can handle the lady bugs, even when they dive bomb me while I'm making dinner, but insects that sting are just not welcome here! I still need to call the leasing office about it, but luckily there hasn't been anything else. That hasn't stopped me from staring at the balcony above us when I'm out on ours or tiptoeing around the dining room because thats where they found the hornet.

I still can not adjust to the tv here. I miss OnDemand and having a guide for the tv in the bedroom. I like knowing if I'm going to watch a repeat or not. I really hope that the Comcast here moves into the 21st century and adds HD and OnDemand sometime soon. Like next week.

Old Fashioned Apple Nut Crisp

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My favorite thing about fall is apples. I love cooking with them, eating them, and apple cider. While I know its almost spring, I wanted to make this dessert again.









Old Fashioned Apple Nut Crisp
Adapted from: EatingWell.com
Servings: 8
Printer Friendly

Ingredients:
    • 5 tart apples (McIntosh, Granny Smith, Cortland) peeled and thinly sliced
    • 3 tbs. granulated sugar
    • 1 tbsp. lemon juice
    • 2 tsp. ground cinnamon, divided
    • 2/3 cup whole-wheat flour
    • 1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
    • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
    • 2 tbs. butter, softened and cut into small pieces
    • 2 tbsp. canola oil
    • 2 tbsp. apple juice concentrate
    • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts

Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 375. Coat an 8x8 square baking dish with cooking spray.
2. Combine apples with granulated sugar, lemon juice, and 1 tbs. of cinnamon in a large bowl. Toss to combine. Transfer to the baking dish, cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes.
3. While the apples are baking, combine whole-wheat flour, oats, brown sugar and the other tbs. of cinnamon in a medium bowl. Mix to blend. Cut in the chunks of butter until evenly distributed and there are no chunks. Stir in the oil, apple juice and the toss. Combine well. Mixture will be moist and clumpy.
4. Remove the foil from the baking dish and scatter the topping evenly over the apples. Bake uncovered until the topping has browned and the fruit is soft and bubbly, about 30 minutes more. Let cool for at least 15 minutes before serving.

This is absolutely amazing when served warm over vanilla ice cream!


Weekly Meal Breakdown #6

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I finally feel like I'm back in the swing of things with cooking and planning meals so I figured it was time for one of these again. I still can't find everything in the kitchen and I still stand around wondering which counter to use, but that is another story.

Sunday - Pot Roast w/ Mashed Potatoes and Gravy
pot roast $5
6 potatoes $0.96
3 carrots $0.42
2 celery stalks $0.28
gravy $1.29
Total Cost: $7.95

Monday - Pretzel Crusted Chicken w/ Cheddar Mustard Sauce, French Fries and Tomato, Corn and Sweet Onion Salad
3 chicken breasts $1.55
1/2 bag cheddar cheese $1
1/4 bag pretzels $0.50
1/2 bad french fries $1
Tomato, corn & onion salad $.50
Total Cost: $4.55

Tuesday - Shrimp Bisque
1 lb. shrimp $7
red pepper $0.89
onion $0.14
half and half $1.29
tomato sauce $1
Total Cost: $10.32

Wednesday - Spaghetti w/ Cheesy Garlic Bread
1 lb. ground beef $1.69
mushrooms $1.00
spaghetti sauce $1.59
1/3 loaf french bread $0.60
Total Cost: $4.88

Thursday - BBQ Pork Chops w/ Parmesan Potato Gratin and Baked Beans
3 pork chops $1.99
1/4 cup BBQ sauce $.30
5 potatoes $0.80
1/4 cup Parmesan Cheese $0.35
1 can Bush's Baked Beans  $0.89
Total Cost: $4.33

Friday - Chicken Marsala w/ Buttered Noodles and Green Beans
3 chicken breasts $1.55
mushrooms $1.00
1/2 package fettuccine noodles $.50
canned green beans $1 
Total Cost: $4.05

I usually don't add this in, but since dinners are so cheap this week (Redner's had a gigantic sale on meats):

Dessert - Apple Crisp 
10 apples $5
1/4 cup old fashioned oats $0.25
8 oz. chopped walnuts $5
Total Cost: $10.25

And the total cost for meals and dessert this week is.... $43.66.

Since I'm making some new things this week I'm going to try to blog dinner as much as possible. I definitely want to do the pot roast, pretzel chicken and chicken marsala but we'll just have to see how that goes.  

I know the meats seem ridiculously cheap, but Redner's is running 5 for $20 meats all month. The pot roast that I need is $2.50 per pound and is buy one get one free. The chicken breasts have been gigantic and I managed to get 9 meals from 14 chicken breasts (that's insanity!). The ground beef and pork chops were part of the 5 for $20 deal as well. Apples are typically more expensive around this time of year but they are doing 10 lbs. of apples for $10.
 
Now that I'm all kinds of hungry after making this post and really wanting to cook it all now, I'm going to find something to eat. =)   
 

Chocolate Covered Strawberries

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What do you do on a cold rainy day? Buy more strawberries than necessary and make chocolate covered strawberries. Well, at least that is what I did.

Usually I'll buy the little plastic container of chocolate that you stick in the microwave until it melts, but I forgot to pick it up at the store.









Chocolate Covered Strawberries

Ingredients:
    • 15-20 medium to large strawberries
    • 3-4 squares of semi sweet baker's chocolate

Directions:
1. Wash off the strawberries and pat them dry with a paper towel. If you don't, the chocolate won't stick to the strawberries and just makes a mess.
2. Put the chocolate squares in a plastic bowl and microwave for 30-45 seconds at a time or until the chocolate is melted.
3. Scrape the chocolate to one side of the bowl and dip the strawberries. I spin them around a bit to get all sides covered with the chocolate.
4. Place on a sheet of wax paper.
5. Once you have all of the strawberries covered and on the paper, I like to stick them in the freezer for a few minutes to get the chocolate to harden up. I tried this in the fridge before but it pulled the juice out of the berries and made them rather difficult to eat.
6. Enjoy!

New Layout

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Since I've made 50 posts and it seems that people actually read this blog, I thought today was a good day to dress it up a bit.

I added the label section so now you can view the recipes by their main ingredients. Hopefully that helps out a bit with trying to find them. Now I just need to remember to include the labels when I'm blogging.

I also decided it was time for a color change. Spring is almost here and I need bright colors! So say hello to the new background. I finally decided to venture out of the standard blogger templates that blogspot gives you and venture onto the world of google to find a better one. What do you think?

New Apartment...some photos

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I really debated on whether or not to upload photos of the apartment to Facebook because it would give all of my friends an excuse to not come and visit me since they "saw" the apartment through pictures. I lived 10 minutes from my friends last time and yet it took months and months before anyone ever came over to visit.

This time I think I'm going to have a housewarming party to force people to come over. Well, they better come over if I'm feeding them. If not I'd be cranky!

So, here are some pictures of the apartment. I don't have pictures of the living room, Calvin's room, the guest bathroom or the bedroom yet. I have no excuse for the living room, but I didn't feel like making the bed in our bedroom or asking Calvin to do his. Eventually I'll get around to it.

 

The bathroom is gigantic. I have no idea what to do with all of the counter and cabinet space. The cabinets that are under the sink are gigantic. In one I have all of the basic stuff like rubbing alcohol, peroxide, cotton balls, q-tips, and the trash can. The other side is a humidifer because we didn't know where else to put it. The next one is so large that it holds all of our towels and extra sheets. Then the floor to ceiling cabinet has the medicine stuff, random stuff, cleaning supplies and the bottom holds the cats litter box.

 
I really love the dining room. Its the one room that I feel is pretty much complete. Of course, there is still stuff that I want to do to it, but there are curtains and stuff on the walls. The curtains were quite an adventure to hang too! I can't say that I ever want to remove them to wash them because I know I'm not going to get them to look the same.
 



The jumbo kitchen. The amount of space I have is really ridiculous. The cabinet under the sink holds all of the cleaning supplies and miscellaneous stuff that used to be in our spare closet at the other apartment. The cabinets to the left of that hold all of the separate baking supplies, the cookie sheets, the muffin tins, the immersion blender, brownie pan, cake pan and the list just goes on and on. To the left of that is where all of the laundry detergent and spare trash bags live. One drawer is silverware, the other is plastic baggies, plastic wrap, foil, etc. and I even have a separate one to hold the measuring spoons, spatulas and everything associated with baking. 

Finally the pots and pans aren't stored above my head! I can't even explain how nice that is to actually be able to reach all of them without calling for Tom to come get something down for me. There are even cabinets that I don't have anything in yet!

One day I'll add more pictures of the rest of the apartment.

Awesome Chili

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I went to make chili tonight and realized that I didn't pick up all of the ingredients to make chili the way that I usually make it and the other recipe I have is an all day one so I improvised and came up with this.










Awesome Chili
Servings: 8-10
Adapted from: Tom's mom's recipe
Printer Friendly

Ingredients:
    • 1 lb. ground beef
    • 1 onion, diced
    • 1 16 oz. can tomato sauce
    • 1 16 oz. can diced tomatoes
    • 1 8 oz. can Chi Chi's Fiesta green chiles
    • 1 16 oz. can Hormel chili with beans
    • 1 16 oz. can red kidney beans
    • 2 tbsp. chili powder
    • 1 tsp. Chipotle chili powder
    • 1 tbsp. cumin
    • 1 1/2 tsp. oregano
    • 3-4 hot cherry peppers in oil, diced
    • 1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese, divided

Directions: 
1. In a medium skillet brown the ground beef and drain the grease.
2. While the ground beef is cooking, add the onion, tomato sauce, chili sauce, green chilies, chili with beans and kidney beans into a large pot. After the ground beef is done, add that in and stir to combine.
3. Add in all of the spices and cherry peppers.
4. Cook on low to medium low for at least 30 minutes. To cook longer, reduce the heat to low and stir occasionally. Can be kept on low heat for up to 2 hours.
5. Serve in bowls and top with cheese!

And in other news, my extremely lazy cat who used to do absolutely nothing but lay on the bed at the old apartment is quite amused with this one. She runs around, plays and doesn't look like a bump on a log anymore! Yay Gidget!!

Yay!

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When we went to Food Lion over the weekend it was a bit of a shock. It's small with less options and a really tiny deli counter with maybe 20 different types of lunch meat. However, it did have a lobster tank which was pretty cool since I haven't saw one of those since the early 90's.  I guess I've just been spoiled with my new remodeled Giant with brightly lit aisles, pre-cut packages of apples and green beans and tons and tons options for just about anything you could think of. While Food Lion would serve the purpose for the basic and necessary items, I'm not sure if I could find the more unusual stuff there like Schezuan sauce, Arborio rice and Chipotle chili powder.

So when I got home today I decided to google and look for other grocery store options. I found an Acme store, which I've never been to before but I wasn't overly impressed with their circular. Yes, I admit it, I am a food snob. Then Redner's popped into my head. There is one that is near where I work and the place where I get all of the great deals on meats. I knew from their website that they are popular in PA, northern MD and northern DE so I figured it was worth a shot. I searched for a store location on their website and found out that there is one in Elkton, less than 10 miles away!

Typically what I would do when the freezer was low on meats was use my lunch time to go to Redners and stock up again. I had to lug them from the car into the fridge at work and then back out to my car when I left for the day. Now since there is one so close I'll be able to go there, find my unusual ingredients and even stock up on meats! And I won't need to lug them back and forth anymore. I'll even have Tom to bring them into the apartment for me!

Yeah, I know, I'm way too excited about this, but apparently that's just what happens when your spend your entire teenage and adult life in the same town and get used to everything being easily accessible.

Which leads me to something else that I realized on the drive home today. I like looking at things while I drive. Not like reading a magazine or something, but I like there being buildings, stores, gas stations and all of that stuff. I'm not sure why. I think its because almost every job that I had, I was able to avoid the major roads and take routes where there was more than just road. Which explains why I think driving on 95 is the most boring thing ever. There is nothing to look at but trees, exit signs and the other cars around you. At a previous job I had to drive on 97 which is like 95, there is nothing around. My one amusement for the trip there in the morning is that I passed by the airport and every morning I would watch a Southwest plane fly overhead. Even when I would drive to Ocean City, I would ignore the route to take 50 because 50 is boring to me. You just drive and drive and occasionally you'll see a corn field. Followed by a corn field and then sometimes a broken down house. Blah. I need more amusement than that.

On my drive home I tend to get really bored about half way in between work and home. Its the part of 95 where there is basically nothing there at all. So to keep myself amused and make the drive seem shorter I counted down the exits and tried to remember the names and exit numbers of each of them. Yes, I do completely realize how pathetic that is but there was nothing on the radio. Now I know that once I pass the stadium I'm really close to the bridge and once I get over the bridge I'm practically home.

Today I debated giving up my Dunkin Donuts habit. If I could just move the Dunkin Donuts about 5 miles south of where it is, it would be perfect, but I'm pretty sure I don't have the capabilities to do that. If I take the exit that the GPS suggests, I have to head in the opposite direction of work to get to Dunkin Donuts then turn around and go the other way to work. This morning I tried taking the exit before the one I'm supposed to because it puts me before the Dunkin Donuts. Unfortunately they are doing construction there and you have to come off the exit, come to a complete stop in a no merge area and then floor it to 60 or so while switching lanes in traffic that doesn't have a light or anything to slow it down and ever give you a chance to get out. That's just too much effort before 8 AM. I can handle hot coffee from just about anywhere so that has me covered until it starts to get warm enough out and I would switch over to iced coffee. None of the stores I pass offer iced coffee. Sheetz offers frozen and iced lattes, but sometimes I just want coffee, ya know?

So I'm debating on going to Sheetz for coffee until its warm enough out to switch to iced and then figuring out how to make my own iced coffee. DD has directions on their website so I might just give it a shot. But I'd feel a bit bad with no longer being a DD customer. Hell, they've probably collected more than few paychecks of mine in the amount of coffee that I buy from them in a year.

I know I'm just babbling since I'm exhausted so I'm going to get in the shower to experience my new super powered shower head.

Oh and I promise to be back next week with a weeks full of cheap dinners and posting some new recipes soon!

Day 1 of Functioning in the apartment

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I really should have used today as a vacation day from work. I hardly slept last night because I kept thinking I was going to oversleep without hearing Tom's alarm too so I woke up every hour from 2 AM til 6 AM when my alarm finally went off. I rushed around getting ready this morning because even though the GPS said 36 minutes to work, I wasn't sure if I would run into any traffic or anything.

I followed the GPS exactly, which took me further south than the required weekday Dunkin Donuts trip, but I was just so tired that I didn't feel like listening to it say "Recalculating" over and over again. I'm a bit sad about leaving my old DD behind. On those mornings where you just don't feel like talking to anyone, I could walk in there and they would have my coffee ready to go. I love that kind of service. But the new DD has friendly and fast employees so I'm sure I'll be able to adapt soon. =)

I left for work around 6:30 and got there at 7:20. Tomorrow I'm going to put my aunts address into the GPS so it takes me closer to DD and see how much longer that takes.

Work was absolutely exhausting today. It was a true Monday. Everything seemed to take forever to do and there was a ton of stuff my barely working brain was required to explain. By 11 AM it felt like 3 PM. That's never a good sign.

The trip home was rather uneventful and felt a lot shorter than the way there. I love that there isn't any traffic going in either direction. (Knocking on wood so that doesn't change!)

Today was the first time in a long time that I cooked on an electric stove. Or a brand new stove for that matter. The oven is all fancy and has buttons to set the temperature, not a dial to twist. It was a bit of a challenge getting everything to be done at the same time since the burners take longer to heat up than I'm used to. I guess the real test will be once I bake something. It was also amusing to get used to the kitchen. I spent the last year prepping and cooking in an area that was about 2 foot, if that. Now I have tons of counter space I can use and I have no idea what to do with it. I'm not sure if I like the sink being on the other side of the kitchen than the stove. I feel like I'm going to drop stuff on the floor all of the time.

One of the strangest things about this apartment is there is a severe lady bug infestation. I have no idea where they are coming from, but when we first moved in, there were about 20 dead ones on the carpet in the dining room and a few more near the sliding glass door. All of the windows and doors were shut so I guess they're not coming in from the outside. Actually, as I'm typing this there is one buzzing around our ceiling light in the bedroom which is amusing the cat.

Oh, and the damn cat gave me quite a scare today. She's much more active here than she ever was at the other apartment. At the old place she would walk around at night and sometimes play and we could hear her before we went to bed. During the day she laid on the same blanket on our bed for the entire day and would occasionally get up. But rarely. Here, she walks all over the place and hangs out in the living room...something she never used to do.

Anyway, onto the scare. So Tom and I are in the bedroom on our computers and I watched the cat walk in. I thought I shut the bedroom door all of the way but I wasn't sure. An hour or so goes by and I go to look for the cat because I haven't seen her in a while. She's not on her blanket, not under the bed, not under the night tables, not in the closet, not in her litter box or the bathroom. I figured I didn't shut the door all of the way, so I go out into the living room and she's not there, she's not in the dining room and she's not in the kitchen. I start to panic a bit and wonder if when whoever was the last person to have a cigarette had the door to the balcony cracked and she went outside. So I go out there and check. Nothing. Then I checked C's bedroom and she wasn't there either. Starting to really freak out now, I go back into the bedroom to get Tom telling him that I've really misplaced the cat. We started the search all over again and this time I shake her treat bag and her food bowl which usually gets her out from any hiding place. Nothing. I start checking places that don't even make sense, like the laundry closet where she couldn't even fit, the hall closet which hasn't been opened since yesterday and inside the totes in the dining room. I start calling her name and making the psst noise. Nothing. Tom asks C to check his bedroom and he does...no cat. Now I'm really started to freak out. What if she jumped off the balcony and is now outside freezing? So I start opening all of the doors to the cabinets and the pantry. I come back into the bedroom and search everywhere again before finally moving around the blankets on the bed.

And would you believe what I found under the blanket? Yup, that's right. The god damn cat who wouldn't respond to food, treats, her name or anything. Just laying there all content as can be. Really? It didn't even look like she was hiding under there. The blanket was folded over but not puffed up where you could tell something was there.

So apparently the cat was cold or something. She's been doing weird hiding stuff lately. If you wrap her up in her blue blanket she just stays there looking like a kitty burrito. See:
 


Apparently in her old age she has decided being wrapped up like a burrito is the most amusing thing you can do with her. I'm really tempted to buy her a Snuggie. I know they are completely stupid and are nothing but a backwards robe and the last thing than an animal needs is a backwards robe, but I honestly think she would like it. She constantly lays on blankets and obviously doesn't mind being wrapped up, so whats the difference? Besides, they're only $10 at Petsmart. 

Tom decided not to wait and to buy a new shower head today. Now we have real shower pressure! We're not going to misted in the tub anymore! There will be real water spray! As you can see, I'm a bit excited about that. I also called Comcast today and we have an appointment for Friday to have a technician install cable in our bedroom, so the tv can stop collecting dust.
Well, now I'm going to debate buying a Snuggie for the cat online.
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