December 31, 2008

2008 Year in Pictures

We're having a New Year's Party over at the Roost. Head on over to check out other people's walk through the past year.


This is quite possibly the best picture I’ve ever taken. Mr. Right and I volunteer at a Cystic Fibrosis Valentine’s charity event every year. Can you believe $20 (yep, that dress was on sale) looks that good? ;)


My parents said they suspected this spring was the last opportunity they would have to vacation with me by myself. Turns out, Mr. Right had already asked them for my hand. The three of us spent a fun weekend in Asheville, NC.


One of my bucket list items was to see a game in Yankee Stadium. Since this was the final season in the old Stadium, Mr. Right and I made a spring trip – to a Red Sox game no less!


While we were in NYC, Mr. Right proposed in Central Park. Our first date started on a bench, waiting for a table at the restaurant. So sitting on this bench (a couple days earlier) he asked me to marry him. This was a reenactment, since we were too excited and forgot to get pictures.


My nephew was born in May. I can’t post a picture of how ridiculously cute he his b/c my sister is paranoid about things like that. I figured this was generic baby enough, with my Mamaw (now a great-grandmother to two) looking on.


Mr. Right was very into the political scene this year. After doing a lot of research…we found that all the candidates sucked. Well at least all of them that had a shot. Sign waving sure gets some interesting reactions from folks driving by…

Mr. Right and I started moving our stuff into the new house early this fall. Beyond the appliances that we had to replace (it was a foreclosure and they took everything but the kitchen sink), we only bought two pieces of furniture for the house – an entertainment center from the Salvation Army & a couch at a yard sale. This picture is the before/after of my dad recovering the old chairs that once belonged to my great-grandmother. I’m proud of how well we’ve done with hand me downs.


This was a fun day spent with my parents & Mr. Right in G-burg. We did all the cheesy tourist things. My dad and I have an interesting relationship – I show my love by torturing him. He’s always been paranoid of balconies, to the point where we couldn’t get close to the railing in a 2nd story hotel.


Mr. Right and I tied the knot at an old church in the National Park. Check out this blog for the details.


Only lived in the house for a month and I almost burnt it down making cookies. Martha Stewart I am not, and I had the flames to prove it.


Lois over at Fearfully, Wonderfully Made has given me my first every bloggy award!

As proud recipient of the award, I must now share 10 things about myself that I ordinarily wouldn’t tell people.

1. I have a horrible temper. Sorta like the incredible hulk. It’s quite embarrassing, especially since people don’t have clotheslines anymore and it’s hard to find a new shirt after ripping yours off.

2. I’m married to an unbeliever. He’s learning about God, seeking. But I pledged my life to him knowing that there was a real possibility I would never share the God I love with the man that I love.

3. I never wanted children. Still don’t have that great longing in my heart for them. Mr. Right does though, and I know when I have one I’ll love him/her.

4. My wedding ring set has 33 diamonds on it – because Mr. Right’s favorite basketball player is Larry Bird. Seriously.

5. I’m very insecure. I’ve wondered if I’m the “pity friend” before.

6. I hate playing secret santa and am glad we didn’t do it at work this year.

7. Mercy is NOT my spiritual gift. In fact sometimes my thoughts about others can be quite cruel.

8. I like the TV Show Family Guy. I’m glad that God saved me by grace because otherwise that show alone could send me straight to hell. “And the fireworks go BANG!”

9. I’m very smug that I had an eco-friendly high gas-mileage car before it was trendy. In fact, I got my 38 MPG car because I couldn’t afford the nicer SUV.

10. I’ve always idolized my sister. She’s seriously that amazing.

I’ll pass this award along to my first friend in the bloggy world, Katie.

December 30, 2008

Movie Night Monday Review - Tropic Thunder

This is only my 2nd Monday taking advantage of the weekly free Redbox movie codes. I wrote down the code on a sticky note and tucked it in my wallet. Since I was headed to Walgreens for their monthly deals, I figured I would pick up the movie on my way out.

I entered the code 545D29 - invalid code.

I entered it again - still invalid.

Okay so maybe the 2nd "5" is supposed to be an "S".

54SD29 - invalid.

I sent a text message to a friend of mine. Just last week she and I had discussed the codes, and she had said she was on the lookout for free codes, but had only ever gotten one. When I got yesterday's code, I emailed her the link.

Thankfully her text message arrived just as I was pulling out of the Walgreens parking lot.

I pulled back up to the Kiosk and entered the code 545DZ9 - this time it worked! I know that my handwriting is horrible, but I couldn't believe it was so bad I confused a "Z" for a "2".

Thankfully my first choice, Tropic Thunder, was available. As expected, it was a hilarious movie. Full of fake partruding innards and profanity, but hilarious none the less.

Basically its a movie about making a movie. Robert Downey Jr.'s character undergoes pigment alteration surgery in order to fully immerse himself in his African American character. Some of the funniest moments are when the "other" black guy (who is actually African American) gets stick of Downey's charichatures and lets him have it.

I wonder how Jack Black felt, playing a drug addict - knowing the whole time the character was based on people like his costar Downey. From the credits (and to his credit), I believe Ben Stiller had his hand in almost every part of the movie.

I highly recommend it, unless you are a better Christian than me and can't stand to hear swear words thrown around like candy. Then you'd probably better stay away.

December 29, 2008

Redbox Code - Today only

Inside Redbox has posted today's free rental code (545D29)

Happy viewing!

Menu Plan Monday

This week I won't be doing much cooking, thanks to Christmas leftovers and New Years celebrations.

Tonight we're going to continue our Monday Movie night

Monday: Pizza, popocorn
Tuesday: Ham leftovers with boxed au gratin potatoes and a canned veggie
Wednesday: Weenie Roast w/fries (deep fried in my mom's new Fry Daddy she got for Christmas)
Thursday: Chicken Fetticni Alfredo (I used boxed tuna helper, but add chicken instead)
Friday: Hamburger Helper Lasagna

I stocked up when Kroger had HH meals for $1 each (and I had several $0.25 off 3 coupons, that Kroger doubled). I didn't realize they reached their expiration date so quickly.

Mr. Right and I will be eating HH at least once a week for the next month or so!

Tennessee Squirrel Revival

I was attacked by a squirrel yesterday.


We had to return early from visiting the in-laws this weekend because Mr. Right had to work yesterday. Around 3 o’clock yesterday afternoon, he called me wanting to know how much my grandfather wanted for the cabin he has up for sale and where it was located.

From what he remembered of the cabin, it fit what his clients were looking for. He wasn’t sure how exactly to get out there, so my grandfather gave me the key and I met Mr. Right and his clients.

We unlocked the cabin and took them inside. No sooner had I walked in then something grazed my leg – a squirrel. It was running around crazy, going up the cabins and the wall and running across the kitchen table.

Mr. Right and I both thought that it had ran inside when we had opened the door, but the client had been standing at the door holding it open and said that it didn’t run in that way. Mr. Right grabbed a broom and used it to shoo the squirrel outside (knocking the blinds off into the kitchen sink in the process).

I went outside to speak with the wife and kids of the client, while Mr. Right took the husband upstairs to show him the rest of the cabin. All of a sudden I heard “there’s another one – get the kids out of the way!!”

Apparently the client was right. The squirrels had somehow found their way into the cabin.

Not quite the Mississippi Squirrel Revival, but close enough for me!

Surprisingly enough, I don't think they were interested in buying the cabin.

And so you don't think I'm just making this up (because sometimes even I wonder how all this crazy stuff happens to me), pictorial proof that the squirrel grazed the back of my knee...think I need a rabies shot?


December 24, 2008

The Light of the World

Tonight, my parents, Mr. Right and I attended Christmas Eve service at my church. We sang a few Christmas songs, observed the Lord's Supper, the ended by singing Silent Night.

Everyone had been given a candle as they entered the sanctuary. As the music for the benediction song started, the ushers started at the front and began working their way back lighting the candles. I attend a large church (about 3,000 members) so this took a little while.

It was in that moment I saw the Christmas story play out.

A man - who had come alone to the service dressed in jeans, a work jacket, and his hair back in a ponytail - reached into his pocket and got his cigerrette lighter to light his own candle. After doing that, he turned to the well dressed, wealthy lady beside him and lit her candle with his own.

The Shepherd and the Wise (wo)Man were joined by the light of our Savior.

Isn't that what Christmas is all about? Jesus coming to Earth not only to bring us to Him, but to bridge any differences and bring us together as His people?

Happy Christmas Eve!

I wrote this last year...but posting here for the first time.

This Christmas season, more than usual, I have been overcome with this heavy feeling of guilt. Not for something that I have done wrong, or for something that I should have done but didn’t. It’s a sense of guilt that comes from the great blessings that I have in my life, and even more so a sense of guilt for not always recognizing those blessings.

For example, as I walk out of the store with my arms full of packages – well thought out presents, for recipients who already have more than they could ever need – how could I walk past the bell ringer without dropping a little something in the bucket for those that might not otherwise have life’s necessities? Or while I’m out on the day after Thanksgiving trying to grab up those great deals, the clerk at the Dollar general asks me if I would like to donate a toy for Toys for Tots. After spending what felt like $100 in gas to hit every end of the county, how can I say “no” to paying $2 so a child can have a new toy this Christmas?

Two weekends ago, Mr. Right and I put up my Christmas tree, and once again I did a great job of overlooking how blessed that I am. I put the tree together (purchased on sale last year after Christmas for a very good price) but wasn’t pleased with how it fluffed. I noticed too many bare spots on the tree that I just couldn’t seem to cover up by moving the branches around.

For what I’m sure seemed like an eternity to Mr. Right, I cried and considered not having a tree if that “pathetic” thing was the best I could do. From there I slid into self pity mode. Poor me, I never have anything new. I buy everything on sale. When will I ever be able to have anything nice?

Having no experience with how to deal with the fit of a 2 year old, he ignored me and tried to fluff the tree as best he could. When I finally decided to snap out of it, we put the decorations on the tree. We started with the regular bulbs – antique glass ornaments that were my great-grandmother’s. Then we added the Hallmark ornaments that I have received as gifts over the years, and finished with the tree topper that my mom gave me the first Christmas that I moved out on my own.

It was a real chore to get all the presents – purchased and wrapped in a timely fashion – under the tree. There just wasn’t enough room for them. As I stepped back and looked at the finished product, I realized just how much I had taken for granted.

I was lying on my bed in a pair of $150 designer track pants crying because I didn’t own anything nice. Mind you I didn’t pay $150 for them, but they are “nice” to say the very least. As I was pouting in my room, my wonderful boyfriend was looking after the tree, trying to fix it to make me happy. I remember 2 years ago putting up my Christmas tree all by myself and how sad that it made me that I didn’t have a significant other to share the season with.

Of course I’m blessed, not only to have such a wonderful heirloom from my great-grandmother, but I was also blessed enough to have her in my life for over twenty years. Not many people have that opportunity. And finally, the presents crowded under the tree. How could I not see how well I have it? To be able to buy my family exactly what they want, something I know that they will be thrilled to have…

These epiphanies usually go as quickly as they come, so it wasn’t until this weekend that I had another bout with thankfulness. Friday night was the City’s Christmas party…excuse me “Employee Appreciation Dinner”. The dress code was casual, but I love dressing up and took this as an opportunity to do so. Digging through my things, I found a silver sparkly halter top with a shrug that a friend had given me.

I like to pretend that she outgrew it; realistically I just think that she isn’t the type to wear something like that more than once or twice. While I should be thankful that I have a friend as giving as she is, but realistically I was more excited at the thought of being able to fit into one of her shirts. While I could have passed the shirt off as one that I had purchased new on my own, I took more pride in the fact that I was wearing a shirt formerly owned by someone who resembles a stick insect. (I say that in the most loving, jealous way possible!) Rather than setting for “thanks”, whenever anyone complimented me on my shirt I was proud to let them know exactly where I got it!!

My church has what they call “The Christmas Store” where people in our community who are less fortunate can come and get food, clothing, hygiene items, and toys for Christmas. Saturday morning around 9 o’clock I headed over to wrap the Christmas toys – items with gift tags “To: Billy From: Mom and Dad”. It made me thankful that the Christmas my family was in need, there were people that surrounded us with love and helped us out.

People from my father’s workplace, our church, and our extended family, brought truckloads of food and toys so that we wouldn’t do without on Christmas, not to mention the house payments and electric bills covered by these same people who loved us. I felt ashamed that I knew of that Christmas, but remember nothing of it myself. Thankfully my mom assured me that I have a very good reason for not remembering – I was only 1 ½!

My 4 year old sister and I were blessed that year with gifts, but were too young to understand that the real blessing was the people around us that were so caring. I would be irresponsible for me, now that I’m in a position to help, if I didn’t pass these blessings along.

As I got ready Saturday evening, I was reminded of another blessing in my life – my parents, and my maternal grandparents are all still living and in good health. As I dressed in my black pants and dark sweater to go the funeral home for a coworker, I had to take a moment to thank God for my family’s health – something I continually take for granted.

Just yesterday I was annoyed with my mother for making me even more late for work, ringing my doorbell at 7:59 to drop off homemade fudge and cookies. Just as I was about to electronically comment on how annoying it was, I noticed a friend’s comments on her mother’s deathiversary. How many people out there would love to be late for work because their mothers showed up on their doorsteps, much less baring homemade goodies?!

So let me take this opportunity to say a big MERRY CHRISTMAS to you and prayers that God will bless your life as much as he has blessed mine!

December 23, 2008

Merry Christmas Starbucks!

I decided to splurge today at lunch and buy myself to a White Chocolate Peppermint Mocha. I rationalized that I was getting my lunch for free (coupon for a personal pan from pizza hut), so it wouldn't hurt me to spend a little extra money for a Christmas treat.

I placed my order but he didn't give me my total as I drove around to the window. When I went to exchange my credit card for the drink he wouldn't accept it. "Its on us today."

Now I can't remember what I said to him.

What I wanted to say:

"Thank you"
"Merry Christmas"
"God Bless You"

Movie Night Monday Review

I'm sure I'm behind for the rest of the bloggy world - but I got my first free Redbox DVD rental last night! Since it was spur of the moment, I didn't consult Mr. Right and just chose Hancock - a movie I had been wanting to see.

Normally Monday night is Chuck and Heroes night at the Right household, so I've never bothered with the free codes. Both of those shows won't be back on till the first of the year, so I thought the rental would be the perfect way to spend the evening!

After work I walked with my mother, then headed to Walgreens (our Redbox location). Since I also had to go to CVS to grab up their two day only Extra Care Buck deals, I told Mr. Right we'd be having leftovers for dinner.

On the way home I decided that pizza and popcorn would be the perfect treat to go with our movie night. (Not to mention the leftovers I was going to serve consisted of chicken slop from last Monday - and my mom assured me chicken didn't stay good that long.)

While I wasn't all that crazy about the movie (I was expecting a superhero-comedy), Pizza/Popcorn/Movie night was a success! We've even decided that in the future when Monday codes are available, we'll tape Chuck and Hereos and watch them the following evening. Although instead of having frozen pizza, it would be more economical to keep the boxed pizza kits on hand.

Amazingly enough, I think Mr. Right and I are actually going to survive this cable fast!

December 22, 2008

My first dinner party

This past Saturday I invited my family (all 19 of them) to my house for our pre-Christmas celebration. My aunt and her family of 5 couldn't attend, so including Mr. Right and myself, we had 14 people in our home.

There are several reasons this is remarkable:

* i have OCD tendencies, and don't like people messing up my stuff

By the grace of God, I was able to not be a perfectionist for a change. My guest were to arrive at 5 o'clock, and at 4:15, I was on the couch, enjoying my Christmas tree and a magazine.

My house was clean enough and the two dishes I made were sufficient. (It was a potluck finger food party - I made chili-cheese dip and pasta salad). I had planned no activities, knowing that this crowd has a way of entertaining themselves.

* Mr. Right and his father have both criticized the house for enough living space

When we first moved in I had to ask Mr. Right to quit commenting on the inadequacies of the home. By my standard its huge (about 500 sq ft bigger than the home I grew up in) and I didn't appreciate anyone, even my beloved, saying otherwise.

While I'll agree the layout of the living room leaves a little to be desired (too many walk ways take away the usable space), I'll reiterate that 14 people were in my living room comfortably on Saturday. How small can it be? (Some of us young whipper snappers sat in the floor, while others pulled in chairs from the dining room.)

*Mr. Right had post-party car trouble

This is the one moment that my anxiety level was high. After our guests left, the hubs wanted to go to the store for some tobacco. Crappy Chrysler #1 wouldn't start, so he went to the gas station in Crappy Chrysler #2. He called shortly thereafter and told me that #2 wouldn't start and he needed me to come jump him off.

I drive tiny toyota to the gas station and have to wait 30 minutes for him to fix Crappy Chrysler #2. He boosted #2 off, but then as he put it in reverse, it died again.

I had two levels of frustration - the first being my sink-ful of dishes. The second is the fact that he has two vehicles and neither is 100% reliable.

If I were to add a third, it would be the country giving billions of dollars to bail out a company who can't make a vehicle that starts properly in the rain. But that frustration came after my kitchen was clean. :)

Over all, I think the dinner party was a success and we plan to have it again next year. My aunt quit hosting the event because it was too much work and money. So maybe when I have children I won't continue the event, but for now I look forward to making pre-Christmas mayhem at my house a tradition!

December 19, 2008

Walgreens - Free 8 X 10

Crystal over gave the heads up about a current photo deal at Walgreens.

All you have to register on their site (if you do online rebates you're already registered), upload a photo, add it to your cart, and during check out enter the coupon code "freegift". Be sure you choose to pick up the photo in store.

I've ordered a wedding picture, and have let all my family know about it just incase they want one as well!

Frugal Friday - Grocery Bills

This summer to go along with the economic stimulus checks the government issues, Kroger ran a special where they added 10% when you purchased a gift card with a $300 $600 or $1200 value. I participated in this special twice - both times for $300 cards.

Turns out, it was a great way to track grocery spending. I just finished the last of the gift cards this past week. I had purchased $660 in cards, and a couple of co-workers went in on a $50 gift card when I got married.

I've used nothing but those cards since I got them (excluding the very rare trips to Wal-Mart and Food City to buy groceries), which means I've spent approximately $710 in groceries since May. That's under $90 a month for our grocery bill!

Keeping in mind that over the past 8 months, I've used those cards to build up a food emergency fund. So that $90 not only contributed to our weekly grocery expenses, but also to the full cabinets that we have right now.

How'd I do it? The typical - shopping sales, using coupons, menu planning. I know those are ideas everyone in the bloggy world has heard a million times. But it works. Also, in the past I've been more willing to compromise on health type items. But that is something I'm working on. (I actually bought the flavor seal ground chuck this past week, rather than the ground beef.)

For more great ideas, check out the weekly Frugal Friday carnival at Biblical Womanhood.

December 18, 2008

Things I love Thursday - my stove

A stove is a crazy thing to love huh? Just hear me out.


1) I love the cooktop - which allows me to clean my messes up with windex most of the time

2) I love the oven - that didn't quit on me when Mr. Right threw water into it.


3) The Black/stainless steel goes great with the rest of my kitchen!

Christmas Cookies

In years past for our girls night in party, we’ve had an ugly Christmas sweater party where we have to come wearing the most hideous article of clothing that ever attempted to express Christmas cheer. To follow that we had an ugly Christmas ornament party – same concept different media.

This year instead of making fun of something, we were going to spread good tidings of great blessings in the form of Christmas cookies. Only I took it a step further and made them ugly Christmas cookies. Not on purpose, mind you. But ugly none the less.

As I was writing about making cookies for the party, a message board friend of mine mentioned that she loved thumbprint cookies. A link was provided and after a little research on my party a horrible idea was born.

I decided that I could take the tea cake recipe I had made on Monday (and chilled overnight) and make them into thumbprint cookies. After all the only part that made the thumbprint cookies different was the circle in the middle and the jam right?


Put 4 spoon fulls of cookies across the cookie sheet and four down, the filled them with jam. I had some homemade peach jam my mother had made over the summer as well as some black raspberry jam my MIL purchased on her last visit.

I put them in the oven to bake and went on with my business, not realizing the tea cake recipe I had made the cookies from had a tendency to spread out rather than up. . I had 2 more dozen cookies to make, and I was going to roll them out into Christmas shapes and make plain sugar cookies out of them.


As I was struggling to roll out the dough and attempting to make snowmen cookies, my kitchen smelled wonderful. I could smell the jam as I warmed in the oven. After giving up on making shapes with the other cookies, I checked in on the “thumbprint” cookies.

As the cookies had spread on the baking sheet, they ran out of room and some of the dough/jam combination were pushed overboard. It landed dangerously close to the heating element in my oven, so I called my mother for assistance.

“I have cornbread run over all the time, its fine. Just let it get all crusty and it’ll be easier to clean up later.“

“So it won’t catch on fire or anything?”

“Nope, it’ll be fine.”

As she had said, the dough cooked, then burnt, then got really crispy.

And then it burst into flames.

I got under the kitchen sink to get the fire extinguisher, but my brilliant husband insisted that would make too big of a mess and through water into my electric oven. I can honestly say it was only by the grace of God that he didn’t kill himself, my oven, or both in the process.

As he raised the windows to get rid of the smoke smell, I began cleaning out the oven.


Actually my oven is still dirty, but I cleaned out the big chunks so there was no risk of anything else catching on fire. After all I had 2 more dozen cookies to bake.


After the makeshift thumbprints cooled, I helped myself to a bite. They actually tasted very good. Too bad they looked “ugly” for our Christmas cookie exchange.


December 17, 2008

Works for Me Wednesday Rerun

Pulling from the archives (can a blog this young have archives?)...

I'm not a fan of excercise or sweating like crazy. And to be honest, it takes a while for me to see the results. I need some sort of encouragement to keep myself going.

While I love sports drinks, most of them have enough calories to completely negate the work out. If I'm going to waste my time/energy to burn calories, I don't want to turn around and immediately drink them. My alternative to that is G2 Gatorade. It has only 25 calories per 8 oz serving.

But I don't stop there. In an effort to consume even fewer calories, and to save money, I mix the G2 with water. Let's face it G2 just tastes like watered down Gatorade any way, so why not water it down even more. I typically mix about 2 oz of G2 with about 10-14 oz water (depending on the size of my container). It gives my water a kick, but I don't waste the money or the calories on a full size bottle.

I stocked up last time Kroger had the big "buy 10 get 5 off" sale, so I got 10-32 oz bottles for $0.50 each. This was several months ago and I still have 6 full bottles left.

To be honest its quite like the "water with lemon" trick at restaurants. You are consuming something that's good for you, only you give it a hint of another flavor to fool yourself into liking it.

To check out more helpful tips and tricks, check out Works for Me Wednesday over at Rocks in the Dryer.

The Tim Taylor of Chefs

Last night my attempt to turn a casserole into a crockpot meal flopped. I refused to eat it. Mr. Right sucked it up because he hated to see it go to waste. Poor thing is eating the leftovers for dinner tonight. I went straight for the microwave mexican food last night.

Then in the process of baking cookies for tonight's GNO, I caught my oven on fire. Literally. I didn't get a picture of the flames (was too concerned at the moment). But I did get plenty of other pictures of my cookies in all their pathetic glory. As well as the giant mess I had to clean up.

The good news is that I get to give these cookies away and in return take some cookies from people who know how to bake. Sucks to be them!

December 16, 2008

Girls Night In

Tomorrow is our GNO Christmas party and I'm hosting it at my home. My friends haven't seen the house since we've got it painted and all moved in, so I'm looking forward to having them over.

One of tomorrow night's festivities is a cookie swap. We're each making 3 dozen cookies then swapping them for different varieties (there are 5 of us total so I should get 4 different kinds of cookies).

I made up a batch of sugar cookies last night because the recipe calls for the mixture to sit overnight in the fridge. I bought green sugar to top the cookies with, but then a friend suggested I make thumbprint cookies. (I'm using my great-grandmother's recipe and will share it tomorrow if the cookies turn out okay.)

I had never heard of them before, but they sound delish! And it'll work with the cookie dough I already have made up. My mom made apple butter this summer, and I have some of that left over.

I think I'm going to do half standard sugar cookies and half thumbprint cookies. I'm getting hungry just thinking about them!

December 15, 2008

Menu Plan Monday

This week I've got a couple of Christmas parties, so I'm only planning for 3 nights. I'm having girlfriends over on Wednesday, my office party on Friday and family over (potluck) on Saturday.

Monday: Ziti w/black olive and sun riped tomato sauce and salad
(its one of those 90 second sauces that I got almost free at Wal-mart)

Tuesday: Cheesy Chicken and Rice (see below)

Wednesday: GNO

Salsa Chicken

Friday: Christmas party

Since I don't get home in time to wait on a casserole to bake, I'm going to try this in the crockpot. My trusted cooking advisor says to just put the chicken on bottom and the rice on top and all should be well.

Cheesy Chicken & Rice Casserole

1 can Cream of Chicken Soup 1 1/3 cups water
1/2 tsp. onion powder 1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
2 cups frozen mixed vegetables 4 skinless, chicken breasts halves
1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese 3/4 cup uncooked regular long-grain white rice

Stir the soup, water, rice, onion powder, black pepper and vegetables in an 11 x 8-inch (2-quart) shallow baking dish. Top with the chicken. Season the chicken as desired. Cover. Bake at 375°F. for 50 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through and the rice is tender. Top with cheese. Let casserole stand for 10 minutes. Stir rice before serving.

December 12, 2008

I'M DEBT FREE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

No, this is not a new occurrence, I've been this way for a while. I'm screaming it now because the next time I blog I will have a loan.

Mr. Right and I purchased 5.55 acres of land the weekend after our wedding. Its gorgeous - just perfect for that farmhouse he and I want some day. And the best part? It was exactly what we wanted to pay for it. Not $1K less or more.

I'm a little nervous, I've never owed this much to anyone before. (We're currently renting our beautiful home from his parents.) We're hoping to have it paid off in about 5 years so that we can start to build.

Lord willin' and the creek don't rise, as they say!

Frugal Friday - Lunch help wanted

When Mr. Right and I pledged our love, our lives, and our bank accounts to one another a little over a month ago, we had the discussion about finances. I spend $60 a month or so on fast food. Its quick, its yummy, and its my habit. Added up over the year, that's over $700 of burgers and fries!

Lest ye worry I'm eating my family out of house and home, my hubs also wastes about $60 a month - on smokeless tobacco (referred to around here as "dip"). Starting out we both pledged to curb our habits and save our month budget $120.

Of course I'm doing slightly better than him, which is to be expected. Last time I checked the grease Mickey Dees cooks their fries in doesn't have a highly addictive drug added too it (but I do question the drug-like properties of their Cokes).

After about a week of eating a mish-mash of leftovers, my low blood sugar got the better of me. Yes I said some not nice things to my hubs. Don't judge - crankiness is an official side effect of Hypoglycemia.

Wanna here something crazy? All that fast food was good for me. Maybe not my heart and my thighs, but the protein in the burgers played and important roll in keeping my blood sugar where is supposed to be. (Naturally fasting I'm around 40-50 range. Normal people should be around 70-100)

So I need some ideas. I'm sure most of you frugal bloggers have been packing lunches for ages. What are some high protein/low calorie (I don't wanna get fat because I stopped eating fast food) items that I can through together for my lunches?

Check out Frugal Friday for some great ideas on saving money by doing things smarter!

December 11, 2008

Things I Love Thursday - Nine West Shoes

I use to think all high heels were uncomfortable, turns out its just that poorly made heels are uncomfortable. Shopping at my local TJ Maxx with Mr. Right's mom, I came upon this pair of heels and fell immediately in love:

I'm not sure if they remind me of the jellies shoes of my youth,or i just thought they looked hawt (that's Lost message board slang for super hot). They were marked down to $19.99, so I snatched them up. I expected to wear them on dates with my sweetie and maybe to church on occasion.

They have since become my "go to" summer shoe. They are just as comfortable as the lace ups and flats in my closet (not quite tennis shoe comfortable - they're not magicians people).

I'm too cheap to pay retail prices, but I buy their shoes whenever I can because they are so comfortable yet dressy! I have to say that on this one, Stacy (from TLC's What Not to Wear) is right. Better to spend a little more for a good quality shoe that you enjoy wearing then go for a cheaper poorly made item. Especially when you're a bargain shopper and "paying more" just means an extra 5 bucks.

The wedding - the finale

The garter toss was something I was concerned about. I knew in advance that we had very few single men coming, and I worried that the ones there would be too shy to come forward. Thankfully the DJ was able to coax them out.

The bouquet toss was another story. My friend that caught it swore she wasn’t trying – but then again she was standing in the middle of all the girls so she wasn’t running from it either!

Some of my family isn’t comfortable with dancing, so I worried that the DJ would be a waste and no one would dance. Thankfully that wasn’t the case. Everyone seemed to have a great time.

Mr. Right was anxious to get home, so after a couple hours of dancing we called it a night.

The getaway car was his dad’s Hummer, so after just a few feet of driving our Coach turned into a Pumpkin as we traded the Hummer for Mr. Right’s Durango. Since this is a G rated blog, I think the story stops here.

December 10, 2008

Works for me Wednesday: Regifting parties

I still hang out on a somewhat regular basis (every month or two) with a group of friends I met at my last job. We always try to get together for Christmas, but we don't exchange gifts. With there being 3 of us (plus spouses and a kid now) it would get too expensive.

A few weeks ago as I was making my daily blog rounds I found a great gift idea that we're incorporating into our Christmas party this year - regifting! Our instuctions for our gift exchange was to find two things around the house that you'd like to get rid of (there are three of us getting together). Since there are two guys they are just doing one each.

Scavanging for a piece of to get rid of is a lot of fun. Plus you get the fun and excitement of opening something new (to you).

For other great tips and tricks, head on over to Rocks in my Dryer for Works for Me Wednesday!

The wedding - part 3

Finally it was time for the moment Mr. Right had been dreading since we got engaged – the first dance

He’s not a dancer, and certainly didn’t want all those eye watching him mess up. I told him not to worry, all slow dancing involves is swaying back and forth. But I wish I’d check on the length of the song – we danced to Keith Urban’s Memories of Us and it seemed to last forever!
Next up was the father-daughter dance. I had set up a surprise for my dad. All along I told him we weren’t having one. When he heard Butterfly Kisses start playing you could see the surprise and delight in his eyes. He started crying immediately. I hugged him tight because I knew what was coming and couldn’t control the laughter.
He looked confused at the record scratch then the familiar stoic opening. “He had plastic bags wrapped ‘round his shoes, he was covered in the evening news...” Everyone told me that I couldn’t play a song about a homeless guy at my wedding. The only problem was that Almost Home by Craig Morgan is our song. My father is a sap who cries at everything. So when the song came out in 2003, he cried every time he heard it.
And being a good daughter, I mocked him every time. Whenever I hear it on the radio, I quickly call him, turn up the radio, and put the phone up to the speaker. I knew it was the perfect choice for our father-daughter dance. I had given the photographer heads up and he got it perfectly. The sweet tears of my dad, the laughter from me, the confusion of the record scratch and best of all the “you little sh*t” look on my dad’s face when he realized that they were playing our song. This picture was taken by my sister after the real song started playing.

Then it was time for the mother-son dance. I mingled, going from table to table saying hello while my new husband danced with his mom.

December 09, 2008

Tree Bling

Today Sara at Greetings from Butterville is hosting a Show off your Tree Bling carnival!

I don't have very many household decorations beyond my tree (now that I actually have a house I hope to change that with this year's post holiday sales). Here is a picture of me as I'm putting up the tree. I've worked 8 long hours, done freezer cooking, then started on the tree. I realize I look a little short/stumpy/tired. Please don't judge me, just enjoy the work in progress on the tree! (clicking on the picture makes them larger)

Mr. Right assembled the tree, but knew he wouldn't quite decorate it to suit me so all the fun was left up to me. Right now I only have two presents remaining to wrap and get under the tree.

If you noticed the band of lights on my tree that doesn't work - please don't ask. A two year old threw a temper tantrum and broke the lights *hopes everyone forgets that I don't have a two year old*

The wedding - part 2

Since there are no facilities at this one room church (no electricity either), we stopped at the camp ground parking lot before we headed into the loop. Safe to say, my dad was tailgating as we left the camp ground. The truck in front of us decided to be a smarty pants and go 3 miles an hour, even though there was no reason to. My dad put the pedal to the metal and passed the truck. As we zoomed by (at about 30 MPH) the driver of the truck gave us a big California howdy.
Once we got to the church, most all of the guests were there – got their early wanting to be the traffic no doubt. Unfortunately, I don’t have any pictures to share with you all of the church, or the gorgeous scenery. My sister took all the pictures that I’m posting. We got a CD of all the pictures from our professional photographer, but I’m not sure if I can post them for copyright reasons. Here is one that my sister took of my grandparents.

We did have a couple of hang ups. The florist shorted us one bouquet, so my cousin walked down the aisle empty handed. The princess apparently had a growth spurt b/c her ballet flats didn’t fit and she had to walk down the aisle barefoot. During the unity sand, the pastor said “and for that reason a man should leave his wife” when he meant to say “leave his mother and father”.
All problems aside, the wedding was perfect. Parking was less of an issue than we had anticipated, the music was great, the kids did wonderfully (a remarkable feat given that my niece aka the flower princess is only 4 years old and the ring bearer was my 6 month old nephew). We did a fair amount of pictures, but we were still able to get to the reception hall pretty close to the same time as the rest of our guests did. Due to park regulations we couldn’t invite everyone to the wedding, but tried to include friends/family in the reception even if they could be a part of the wedding.

December 08, 2008

Christmas Traditions

Jenn over at Frugal Upstate is hosting a Frugal Holiday carnival.

I must admit that some of our holiday traditions aren't so frugal. I'll skip right over the Christmas Eve meal of t-bone steaks and get to the frugal parts.

Our church has communion by candle light every Christmas Eve. We always sit with an elderly couple who has adopted my family (their children don't live in the area). After church we head home for a not-so-frugal meal (but my dad does by the steaks on sale and freezes them) on our family china. I suppose this could be a frugal tradition since the china was a gift and its reuses every year.

The main frugal tradition comes on Christmas day. We gather with my extended family and do a gift exchange. We draw names on Thanksgiving day and have to spend only $1 on the person who's name we have. That way no one spends too much money - but every gets the fun of shopping and opening presents on Christmas day.

And we have a winner...

Actually I have 3 winners of my Pay it forward bloggy giveaway

1. Katie
2. Lisa
3. Selectively Frugal

I'll be shipping out your books as soon as I can get your addresses.

Happy Reading!

The wedding - part 1

I completed my wedding blog - but in Word it was 6 pages long! I decided to break it up into segments...

Since the whole family was a part of the wedding party, the morning started out pretty hectic. My mother had made biscuits and gravy the day before so that we’d all have a hearty breakfast that would stick with us through the morning. My brother-in-law and nephew (groomsman and ring bearer) had to be at the church at 12:30 with Mr. Right and the rest of the guys.

Parking in the National Park is at a premium, so we had to have a plan to get everyone to the church in as few cars as possible. Mr. Right’s mom had the first hair appointment of the day since she had to be at the church with the guys. BIL and the little man went to the hair salon with my sister and I to catch a ride to the church with the rest of the groom’s peeps.

Once the stylist (who’s also my cousin) finished with the Mother of the Groom, she started on my hair. Originally I wanted to keep it very simple. I contemplated doing my own hair, and just doing a low ponytail. Every time I did a test run, I found something wrong with it. I’m a perfectionist and wisely decided that I wouldn’t be able to suit myself. I didn’t need that kind of pressure on my wedding day.

I’m so glad I made that choice. She did a great job of keeping my hair simple, like I wanted, but still very elegant. While my sister was getting her hair done, I did my makeup. 10:30 and the day was drama free…but not for long.

My parents and my niece (the princess) met us at the salon in my sister’s minivan and we were going to carpool to the church. I had taken my makeup bag and veil into the salon, my parents had my dress, and my shoes were in the car my sister and I had driven. I asked for the keys to get them out and transfer them to the van. Only my sister had no clue where they were. She looked in her purse, diaper bag, pockets – practically everywhere.

She started freaking out, but amazingly enough I didn’t. I had on a pair of camo flip flops, but I knew that the dress was so long the shoes would never be seen. My sister offered me her shoes and said she would wear the ugly ones, but since her dress was tea length I shot that idea down right away. Just as we were about to give up and head on to the church, my mom found them. To be honest, I can’t remember where, but I do remember feeling a twinge of disappointment that I had the heels to wear instead of the more comfortable flops.

Even before the shoe drama, we were running a few minutes late, so there was a little tension about getting to the church at 1:15 as we had originally planned. Of course I reassured myself that they couldn’t start without me! If we were late we would just have to push pictures until after the ceremony.
My parents:

We worried about traffic getting to the wedding – we were marrying in a church in Cades Cove in the National Park. Cades Cove is an 11 mile, one way loop. And I was getting married on the weekend that the leaves were the prettiest of the fall. With no traffic, the fastest that the road can be traveled is about 20 or 30. When people are stopping to take pictures, traffic can be a bear.

Literally in our case. About 5 miles before the loop, traffic in front of us came to a standstill. At first we were worried that the road was just that backed up from people trying to get to the loop road. Turns out, they were just stopping for wildlife. Two bears were on the side of the road up ahead. My father has never been a patient man, so on such a high anxiety day he was extra jump. He tried honking his horn to make noise to chase the bear away. Then he rolled down his window and screamed “if you wanna see a bear go to the d*mn zoo!”

Both actions were less than helpful. As we approached the spot where the bears were my mom yelled up at my dad “slow down, the princess wants to see.” So after berating the entire line of cars for stopping, my father stopped the car so my sister could get a picture and my niece could see the bears through her window.

December 04, 2008

Frugal Friday: My First Giveaway!!

I was one of the winners of Rachel's Pay it Forward giveaway. (Rachel is paying if forward from winning Linda's give away.) My charge from Linda, thru Rachel?

"Nothing extravagant, just a simple treat in the mail. You choose the prize you want to give. It's the holidays so don't feel like it needs to be spendy."

How do you win? I'll us a Christmas tradition of my own (drawing names) from three people who comment on this blog with their favorite Christmas tradition. If you can't play along with a pay it forward give away of your own, go ahead and leave your tradition. Just be sure to let me know you're not throwing your hat into the ring.

What am I giving away? A book from one of my favorite authors - Janet Evanovich. Her Stephanie Plum series is a light hearted take on the mystery genre. Mr. Right gets irritated when I read her books because at least once in the book I can't help but literally laugh out loud!

The best part? Its frugal too! My secret? I found HARDBACK copies of the book at the Dollar Tree. That's right only $1 for a festive, funny book.

The Dollar Tree has tons of great stuff that can be combined in a basket to make a great (but frugal) Christmas gift. They also have a lot of crap. So just be sure you know who you're buying for or else it would be a waste of money (see the post over at Frugal Hacks "Giving and Misplaced Frugality".

For more great money saving ideas, check out this weeks Frugal Friday blog carnival over at Biblical Womanhood.

Things I Love Thursday

Another of my wedding gifts that I absolutely love is my Black and Decker Convection Oven. I use it to make all kinds of breads for Mr. Right and I to have with dinner. Okay so its Pillsbury cresent rolls and sliced italian bread for garlic toast, but still it stretches our dinners further (I get left overs). And is really yummy!

One word of caution - it doesn't take as long as the directions say for a conventional oven. So if it says that the cresent rolls should be in the oven for 17 minutes, they will burn in the convection oven in less than 10.

For more great products, check out Things I Love Thursday at the Diaper Diaries.

The injury part 2

Continued from what I wrote the morning after...

I got back to the car and headed home. Neither of us had eaten all day, so he asked me to stop at Taco Bell. Since it was so late in the day I hoped it would help with the lightheadedness. Slowly the shock began to wear off and his finger began to throb. He’s a tough guy, so when he says he is in pain, I know it must be pretty bad.

Once we got home, he unwrapped his finger and made me look at it. I was convinced that the sander had gone straight through to the bone and taken off the tip of his finger. I put a ratty old blanket down on the couch and gave him the remote control while I “unloaded the car.” I quickly called my sister back to ask if she thought I should insist he go to the hospital. She told me to take him on this time. Better to be safe, and if he was fine I could always just use this as a reference point for the future.

A few tears and a “please” was all it took to convince him to go to the hospital. Oh, and me telling him our insurance doesn’t charge for true emergencies. (God has already forgiven me for that lie.) I had asked him if he wanted to go to the local ER or to the University hospital. While I trust the University more, they are also an extra 15 minutes away. So we went local.

“This is gonna be free right?” He said as we were walking in the door. I just kept walking. “Did you lie to me.” Again silence. “Brooke?”

“My husband has hemophilia and is bleeding from an injury.” Then I gave the desk worker his name and began to fill out the paperwork. Too late for him to turn back.
While we were waiting, a woman was wheeled out from the back. We overheard her on her cell phone asking someone to pick her up. That apparently failed, because then she turned to me and asked me to take her home. I quickly let her know that I was here for an emergency and wasn’t abandoning my husband to take her home. She then started yelling across the lobby asking anyone who would make eye contact to take her home.

Once we got back to see the doctor, we quickly learned that I had made a good choice, and a bad one. The staff was nice and attentive, but they had no clue how to treat someone with hemophilia. They also didn’t have the factor he needs for an injury on site.

When he came back from x-ray, my decision to take him to the ER was validated – he had an open fracture. While I was wrong about him clipping off the bone, the skin was so mangled the bone was exposed. They were hesitant to clean it, afraid that they would cause him to bleed more. However they did soak it in iodine and prescribe antibiotics to keep it from getting infected. He was instructed to follow up with his doctor on Monday, but if he bled through the bandage before then to head straight to the University ER.

We got home around 10 and I started tiding up a few things that I had dropped when the accident happened. As I put my cold taco in the microwave (I still hadn’t had a chance to eat it), he yelled for me to come into the other room. He held up his finger for me to see – it had already bled through the bandage. I changed back into my clothes (I had already gotten into my pjs. He assured me this visit would take awhile so I gathered up some reading material for both of us.

He turned out to be very wrong. Our 2nd ER visit of the day could have easily set a record for quickest non-life threatening emergency room visit every. We were in, out, and back in our car by 11:30. Apparently the local ER had misunderstood the University’s instructions. As soon as the University doctor saw Mr. Right, he said that it should have bled thru some but that it hadn’t bled enough for him to need treatment.

This morning, as my man lies beside me sleeping in bed, I’m still concerned for him. But I’m also thankful. The injury could have been much worse.

December 03, 2008

The injury

Written the morning after Mr. Right's injury. Its lengthy, so I'll post in 3 segments.

Yesterday was the scariest day of my life. My husband was out in the garage sanding table I had purchased at a thrift store. I was in the house cleaning and I thought I heard him say something. As I headed out that direction he yelled again “I need help.” I could tell by his tone something was desperately wrong – and immediately I wanted to panic. You see Mr. Right has hemophilia. An injury to him is far more dangerous than it would ever be for you and me.

As I opened the garage door I found him with his finger wrapped in paper towels, soaked with blood. “What do I need to do?” This was his first injury since we’d met. He said that he was light headed and I quickly saw that I needed to be the one giving orders, not the other way around.

I told him to sit down, so he wouldn’t further injury himself if he passed out. Then it clicked in my head. “Get in the car!” If he passed out, I would have no way of getting him into the vehicle. I went inside to pick up the necessities – his new insurance card (only 2 weeks old), my purse, and keys.

When I got back outside he was still walking around. “Get in the car!” Finally he complied. He suggested I get more towels for the bleeding, so I grabbed a roll, along with some bath towels I had set aside early that morning for rags.
I tried to fight the fear as I sped to the hospital. He told me several times that the main way I could help would be to get us there safely. At that moment, I topped a hill at full speed and was inches away from hitting the oncoming truck. (That particular road is very narrow.) To break the tension, I joked that if we were in a car wreck we’d get to the hospital quicker, but he was too upset to find any humor in that.

Half way to the hospital, he decided that the bleeding had stopped and the injury wasn’t as bad as he originally feared. He tole me to stop at CVS and pick up some peroxide and gauze and he would be fine. Since it was my first experience with an injury, I trusted his judgment. He’s been through this before and knows his body better than I do. Who was I to argue?

We both agreed not to tell his parents right away. They live a couple states away and worry about him too much. My parents were out of town and we weren’t going to tell them either – we didn’t want to ruin their trip since there wasn’t anything they could do to help any way. So when my sister called to chat about her bargain hunting trip to Target the night before, I wasn’t sure how to act. I did know that I had to play it cool in front of my husband for sure.

“Have you washed your flannel sheets yet?” She and I both had made trips to the store to get a set while they were on sale for $15.99.

“Yeah, I washed them up last night and got them on the bed this morning.”
“Okay, I just wondered because I think you have another set coming your way.”
“Two sets never hurt. That’d be handy as I’m changing sheets. You stay here. No, you’re not going in. STAY IN THE CAR!”

That last part of course was to my husband, who was convinced that he was okay to go in the drugstore with me. I was NOT having my man pass out in CVS. Of course once I got into the store, I had to fill my sister in on why I was yelling at him. She commented on how calm I was and I assured her that I was just faking it really well.

December 02, 2008

I feel like Martha Stewart...

or better yet Money Saving Mom :)

Yesterday I put a roast in the crockpot (Mr. Right's mom's recipe - just the roast, water, and a packed of onion soup mix). I was too lazy to cut the fat off the meat before i put it in the slow cooker (okay this isn't the part where i'm like MSM) so I just tossed the whole thing in.

It turned out great! By the time we were ready to eat it, the meat was so tender it was easy to pull the fat off (usually i labor for about 15 or 20 minutes cutting it off, only to get so grossed out its hard to eat the roast the next day).

As we were doing dishes, I started to scoop out the broth to get to the left over meat (I was making up a couple of different tupperware containers for this week's lunches). I stopped for a moment and remembered reading about how some frugal bloggers make their own chicken and beef broth, rather than buying the canned variety.

I am not a cook, so I called my #1 cooking question contact - my sister. She thought that it sounded like a good idea, but she wasn't sure enough to give me the green light. She suggested I call my #2 (Mamaw) and then let her know the verdict.

Vivian (not her real name but my I'm not allowed to address her as "Mamaw" "Grandmother" or her real name in public) confirmed that I could keep the juices for broth, I would just need to keep it refridgerated. She also said that leaving the fat on the meat before cooking is not only easier, but it makes the roast, as well as the broth better.

I poured the broth into an old spaghetti sauce container (nothing gets thrown away at our house). We didn't have anything to properly label it with, so I improvised. I had some white atheltic tape that I've been using to tape Mr. Right's splint on, so I stuck a piece on there and Mr. Right wrote on it with a sharpie.

December 01, 2008

Happy Cyber Monday!

Following thanksgiving I'll add a 102 item i'm thankful for - leftover mashed potato casserole!!My MIL is responsible for feeding her entire family (anywhere from 15-20 people) so as a time saver, she went instant potatoes this year. Mashed potatoes are my favorite food, so i was very pleased to find out that my Aunt had some of her mashed potato casserole left over and was more than willing to let me have them!

Also, Mr. Right's parents got us a freezer for an early Christmas gift. Its getting delivered this afternoon!! I'm planning on doing some freezer cooking this week - doing several batches of soups as well as chili and spaghetti sauce. Good freezer recipes are welcome!