Thursday, September 2, 2010

I know it's been a while

...So to make up for it, watch this video all the way through. I found it on Mr. McKnob.

Sorry. You'll have to cut and paste the url, I can't get the video to imbed.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Is it a Great Value?

In my continuing quest to save you money, the next item up for review is Great Value Sharp Cheddar cheese. It's priced well at $3.26/16 oz. package. I think it may have been on sale, but even at it's regular price of around $3.50, it's a Great Value compared to it's national name-brand counterparts.

I don't know about your family, but mine eats a lot of cheese. We're not huge casserole-type people, but for snacks, cheese and crackers is always at the top of our choices. We also use grated cheese a lot for breakfast, regular tacos for dinner, and salads. Most always, I buy the block of cheese and grate it as needed because it's cheaper and it doesn't have the added cellulose as a non-caking agent in the grated cheese packages.

That being said, regarding how my family uses cheese, I find the GV brand fine. The taste is good and it grates fine. My only issue with it is that it doesn't slice very well. It seems like the brick of cheese is really the left-over cheese curds that form during the commercial cheese-making process gathered up and pressed together with the moisture being removed. I'm, of course, making an assumption; I don't know how to make cheese. I only put that out there because of the way the cheese seems to break apart a little when you slice it. Kraft, Borden, and fine deli cheddars don't seem to have that problem.

Of course I will continue buying the GV brand. Considering it's price and quality, it's fine for how we use it. I think, though, if I'm using it for a cheese and cracker tray for a party or something, I'll get the better cheese.

By the way, today's the last day of school. Zac is having a couple of friends over to swim. I'll probably be making quesadillas for everyone!

AND, most importantly, one of the most important people in my life is having her birthday today. She's my Aunt Rhonda, but more. She truly is like a second mom.

She's been a moving presence in my life from the very beginning. I have early memories of my brother and me spending the weekend at her house playing in the den, watching her cut out patterns for the fabulous clothes she used to make, sneaking sips of her coffee (that she left out on purpose for us to sneak!), swimming at the lake, and taking road trips.

As I grew up, her role grew to a literal second mom by having my brother and me live with her young familiy during our high school years. Early days of playing in the den were replaced by laying out at the pool. Watching her cut out dress patterns were replaced by skilled shopping at the mall. Sips of coffee have now been replaced with sipping wine (or rum and diet coke) on the patio while my children run around her house playing and swimming.

Happy birthday, Rhonda. Everyone should be so fortunate to have a mom like you.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Okay, for real...two posts in one day?

I'm letting you know that the "Cash for Clunkers" program was a ridiculous waste of time and money.

The reason?

My dear husband, George, has been looking for months, literally months, for a $5000 vehicle to replace his HONDA. The HONDA is an absolutely wonderful car, but it's just a tiny bit too small. He coaches 2 baseball teams (head coach for Jake and assistant for Zac) and has a ton of gear to carry around; he, of course, is a youth minister and has to haul around stuff for work like sound equipment, camping gear, people, groceries from Sam's, and a miriad other things.

Like I said, he's been looking for MONTHS for a larger vehicle: Ford Escape, Ford Expedition, Ford Explorer, Chevrolet Blazer, Hyundai SUV, Toyota SUV. All of these particular vehicles could be bought a year ago for $5000.

Because of CfC, there are none left. The people who buy these vehicles and trade them after 3, 4 or 5 years on something new, cashed in on the GOVERNMENT PROGRAM and took these vehicles out of the Used Car loop.

Certainly, we can't be the only ones experiencing this problem?

Unintended Concequences...

Is it a Great Value?

As a disclaimer, I am absolutely not being compensated for my opinions relating to Wal Mart's Great Value store brand. I, like most people, am interested in making my dollar work harder and smarter to accomplish a wonderful life for my family. In my experience, the easiest way to stretch the household budget is in the grocery line-item.

I don't have much power over the price of the things my family uses or has. We have 2 paid-for vehicles, a 15-year mortgage, no credit cards, and a student loan payment. We've made choices on certain things. Granted, we could live in a smaller house with a lower mortgage, I could drive a less-expensive vehicle, or we could not run the air conditioner so much, but we choose certain things and pay for them accordingly.

I tell you all of that to let you know that I'm just offering my opinion on the Great Value brand of groceries, whether or not my family likes their taste, I like their performance when I cook with them, or I generally believe it is a good substitute for its national name-brand counterpart.

I went shopping yesterday and spent $212.57, of which $60.17 was GV branded. As I move through this batch of groceries, I'll attempt to offer my opinion on what we're using as we use it.


Great Value Twist and Shout Chocolate Sandwich Cookies.

They were only $1.77 for an 18-ounce bag.

They were the same size as the Oreo cookies, except with not as much cream in the middle. The cookie seemed a little bit crisper than the Oreo, but tasted exactly the same. I'm not much of a cookie dunker, but Zac told me that they held up well to dunking in milk.

I thought they were great, and at $1.77/bag, indeed a Great Value! (Ha ha, see what I did there??)

Anyway, I'll be buying these again in place of Oreos, except maybe if we're having company!

**Edited to add
I thought I wouldn't have these GV cookies for company because I didn't think I'd want anyone to really KNOW that I'm *that* cheap, but really...shouldn't a "Great Value" be shared with everyone?

Monday, May 10, 2010

Just a quick note...

I've got a few things rattling around in my head, a couple of which are political in nature and one is an idea I've had about my opinions on some grocery items (non-compensated, of course). I need to finish my thoughts about them and I'll get it posted. Please stay tuned.

At any rate, Mother's Day was terrific. George, the boys and I drove home from the weekend in San Antonio for a family get-together. Naturally, we stopped at Taco Cabana as soon as we hit Houston on the way to SA, went to TC for breakfast when we left yesterday morning, then went to Ikea on our way back through Houston on our way home.

Ikea wasn't as crowded as I expected. We got the mirrors for the boys' bathroom, a shelf for their bathroom for over the sinks, a new mattress for Zac's double bed, some new glasses, straws and some napkins. I love the paper napkins at Ikea. They're thick, big, and not too expensive. (Click on the hyper-links and you ought to be able to see what we got.)

We got home last night around 8:00. The boys showered, ate some dinner, Zac finished up some homework, and went to bed. George and I stayed up and watched Saturday Night Live with Betty White I'd recorded. How hilarious was she???!!! I stayed up later to watch Breaking Bad after George went to bed. What a fantastic show. Very dark, but great purposeful story-telling not often experienced on a television show.

Now, I'm supposed to be cleaning out the boys' dressers so we can begin the monumental task of switching their rooms around and cleaning and organizing them so George's mom and my mom will have a decent place to sleep when they're visiting in a couple of weeks. Obviously, I'm putting it off as long as I can.

Better get to work.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Blinded By the Light

I just dropped and broke a compact fluoroescent light bulb...

WHAT DO I DO?????!!!!!!

Do I call the EPA? President Obama? Ghost Busters?

I swept it up and threw it away.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Where Have You Been?

I've been updating a lot lately on FaceBook and have ignored my blog. I guess it's because it's so easy to just jot down an idea or upload a photo on FB instead of organizing my thoughts into something coherent here.

Honestly, though, I just read through my posts back to Zac's birthday in August. Not much has changed.

I've begun to notice how my family's year-to-year activities are just about the same. You could overlay the calendar from one year to the next year and not have much variation: Jake's birthday, Mardi Gras, my birthday, Easter, baseball, summer vacation, youth trips, George's birthday, school, Zac's birthday, Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. Those are the big highlights.

I always thought it was strange when I was a kid when the adults around me would comment on how quickly time goes by. I completely understand now.

One more thing...I've had over 6,000 hits on my blog since it started. There are also 8 followers. Pretty cool.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Ice Cream Man

Hey everyone. This is a quick post to let you know that I haven't forgotten about my blog. I've been a little preoccupied.

We had an EXTRA-FABULOUS trip to Disney World a couple of weeks ago that if you follow me on Facebook, you were able to attend vicariously. I'll get some pix up later to update my faithful readers...

Baseball has started back up as have the spring events of youth ministry in South Louisiana

But, I'm here to tell you now that I've come across the best ice cream I've ever had. And I'll tell you that I've had some of the best ice cream EVER (I am from Texas after all). Between my grandma's homemade vanilla/peach/strawberry and Blue Bell (any flavor), I would consider myself an aficionado.

Tonight's revelation is New Orleans Ice Cream Co. Cream Cheese flavor. It was sweet and savory at the same time, if that makes sense. Not too sweet, yet creamy and delicious.

It was a little pricey, almost $5 for a pint, but well worth it for a special treat. They have several other flavors which hint at the New Orleans style, Chocolate City, Praline Crunch, and Ponchatoula Strawberry, just to name a few.

I hope you can find it in your store. I bought it at Winn Dixie. Until recently, it was only available in extreme Southern Louisiana, but it appears as though they're expanding their distribution.

Hopefully you can find it. If you can't, you can come here for a visit and I'll hook you up!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

I don't have a snarky song title for this post

I'm totally aggravated by American Idol.

I didn't watch it until the year Fantasia won and since then I've been hooked. I guess that's long enough to say I'm a die-hard fan. I watch from the humiliating beginnings until the bloody-fingers-from-voting end.

Tonight they let go of Tyler Grady, the kid who auditioned in Boston with braces on his arms. I loved him. He was super cool...probably too cool for AI.

All I heard from the judges for the last, I don't remember how many weeks, was how cool, neat, retro, or sexy he was. So...last night he brings the cool, neat, retro and sexy and they lambasted him. They told him he was a one-trick pony, he needed to be more current, yada yada.

He was totally sabotaged.

I don't know how far behind AI season 9 I can get.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

It's Magic

I don't know if it's the super-secret chemical that will burn a hole in my pipes, poison the water table, and create three-headed fish, or the abrasive grit, but the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser is the only thing that will clean my bathtub.

I love it.

I'd show you a before and after picture, but I'm not that into full disclosure.

And in other news...Seriously, am I the only one who is bothered by my question in the last post? C'mon. Surely there are opinions, especially after last night's petulant, childish thrashing the Supreme Court, Congress, Senate, previous Administration, and the American public took from the President.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

What's the Frequency, Kenneth?

I have a question. I would like everyone to chime in, whether or not I know you.

Does anyone have any idea when the American workforce began being referred to as "workers?"

This has troubled me for a while and I'd like to hear some ideas on the subject.

That is all.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Do You Want to Know a Secret

George and I have been keeping a huge secret from the kids. Over the Mardi Gras break, we're going to America's Mecca, Disney World.

We were going to pick up the kids from school on Friday, February 12, head east and see how long it takes them to figure out our destination.

Last night I picked up Zac from baseball practice. He asked me when was Valentine's Day. He grabbed my phone to look at the calendar to see which day was the 14th and pushed the key to open the day.

I figured I would let it slip eventually, but I thought it would be kind of like that scene in Austin Powers where he can't stop saying mole. I'm the worst at keeping things to myself. It's been all I could do to not blurt this out.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Cover Me

George and the kids were home today for the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. federal holiday. Around here we don't get Presidents Day, but by Jeebus, we will celebrate the Doctor. Don't get me started.

Anyway, in the spirit of President Obama's mandate to make this day a day of service, my people served me quite well.

They cleaned off the car port. Now I can park my Suburban under cover.

Doesn't it look nice?

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Ice Ice Baby

Friday night was Jake's long-awaited birthday party at the ice skating rink. He had wanted Laser Tag, but after skating in San Antonio a couple of weeks ago, he changed his mind.

To say I was a little nervous about the party is a bit of an understatement. Jake hasn't had an official party since he turned 5, when we had a home party with a magician. That was super fun, but really small. When your birthday is in January, right after Christmas, before school starts back it's hard to get in touch with people for invitations. Also, most people's party cache is spent, including my own. I was determined to make a party happen for Jake this year.

I felt like we started this deal with a few strikes against us:

1. We scheduled the party for Friday night at 7:30. Saturdays are pretty busy for most people, especially us, so I didn't really want to pile on another appointment. The open session at the ice rink didn't start until 7:30, a little late, but still do-able.
2. The rink is in a not very nice part of Baton Rouge. It's not terrible, but not really great either.
3. The south isn't really known for its prowess in winter sports, so we weren't really sure how many people would come for ice skating.

I let Jake invite 20 kids in hopes that maybe half would show. By the time it was all said and done, 22 kids were "officially" invited (with an actual invitation). I was more than nervous. 22 kids at $9 each would turn into the party of the century for the Ragsland. Every day when I picked up Jake from school, he told me about another friend he'd "unofficially' invited. I think he asked another 4 or 5 kids. Finally I had to tell him to not invite anymore kids because this party was getting very expensive. He was very sweet and actually began to concern himself a little too much with the cost of this Throw Down.

I got the cake ordered and bought party favors for everyone. Every once-in-a-while, I have a moment of creative cuteness. The party favors we gave out were a pair of gloves and a pack of Ice Breakers gum (the pieces of gum are shaped like ice cubes!). We gave them out as everyone got there so they could use their gloves while they skated.

We ordered pizza from Papa John's on the way to the rink. It was delivered around 8:00 and as kids came in to rest or whatever, they had some pizza. When the Zamboni resurfaced the ice, everyone came to the table and Jake opened his gifts and we served cake. Everyone finished off the pizza too.

Jake got some really wonderful gifts. He got over $100 in cash and gift cards, if you can believe that! He also got 2 different Air Hogs toys that he's wanted since he saw the commercials on TV. He also got a game for his DSi. I was really stunned by everyone's generosity!

As it turned out, 14 kids came to the party. Add to that all of the parents and siblings, I think there were about 35 people there (We only paid for the invited kids! All the others were on their own). It was really a blast.

Sometime during the night, Jake came over to me and said, "I'm having a great time at my party, Mom; thank you," and he gave me a huge hug. That made the party priceless.

Here are some pictures:

The party favors.

Hockey-player cake.


The birthday boy.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Baby It's Cold Outside

The kids are out of school today due to extreme cold.

That's right. I said cold.

The temperature this morning was 19 degrees. Ordinarily, that wouldn't call off school, but there was great fear that since there was rain yesterday that the roads would be iced over. I think they called off school prematurely, seeing as how the midwest has been experiencing blizzard after blizzard with feet of snow being dumped on them. At least we don't get much snow, if at all. The roads are dry this morning.

However, George was supposed to go with the confirmation class on a short retreat tonight and tomorrow in central Louisiana. This is the rescheduled retreat that was cancelled early in December due to the snow!

He just got a call about an hour ago from the camp director that the camp's water pipes were busted and they couldn't host the retreat. Two scheduled, two cancelled. I told George that the kids would get confirmed with or without this retreat. He just went to his office to start making calls to all of the kids.

The boys have been watching Transformers 2 this morning. I've been in my room catching up on TV shows I've recorded the last few weeks. Now I'm watching The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. It's an interesting movie. It kind of makes me think of Forest Gump.

At any rate, the retreat was cancelled, which is what I was really hoping for. I also hope that George doesn't try to reschedule it AGAIN!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Double Vision

I'm listening to Glenn Beck on the radio right now. Actually, I'm streaming WGST out of Atlanta on the computer because my local AM talk channel carries a really nice, but boring local guy.

Something he said really cracked me up. He said that Nancy Pelosi looks like Fire Marshall Bill.

What do you think?

I think it's uncanny. Unfortunately, the fundamental dismantling of the U.S. is not a comedy.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

hello goodbye

I only chose that title because it exemplifies "yin and yang" as it pertains to balance.

I laughed really hard at this commercial. I hope you do too.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Getting Better

Between Atlas Shrugged, the general state of the Union, and my Aunt Rhonda's car accident, I was in a little bit of a funk the second half of 2009.

2010 has arrived, I picked up Atlas Shrugged again (and WILL finish it this year), saw Rhonda last week (who, by the way, is up with healed legs, motoring herself around on a walker and on her way to a complete recovery, praise God), and read this article by Maureen Dowd (could the bloom be off the rose?).

It's getting better all the time
Better Better Better
It's getting better all the time
Better Better Better
Getting so much better all the time

And last, but never least, Jake's 8th birthday was yesterday.

We went to church where his name was included in the birthday reading for the day, had lunch at Jake's favorite restaurant, and let him pick out a new skateboard at Rukus Board Shop. After we got home, I changed clothes and took him to the skate park for the rest of the afternoon.

It's getting better all the time
Better Better Better
It's getting better all the time
Better Better Better
Getting so much better all the time

Indeed, it's getting better.