Thursday, May 10, 2012

Taco Muffins are amazing

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"Taco muffins"
Last night we tried out one of the billion recipes circulating around Pinterest, Taco Muffins. They were amazing.
Take your flour tortillas (we make our own lately) and cut out circles to fit in your muffin tins.
Fill with seasoned ground beef and cheese.
Bake at 400* until cheese is melted and tortilla edges are browned.
Remove from tray and top with sour cream, salsa, lettuce and tomato.
Devour instantly.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Only Shepherds Pie can be the temperature of ice and lava simultaneously.

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"Only Shepherds Pie can be the temperature of ice and lava simultaneously. "
There's always a lot of swearing when it's (frozen) Shepherds Pie night.
Holly always makes two, we eat one that day and freeze the second for a quick and easy meal.
It's easy but it's never quick because the damn thing never thaws right. Even after sitting on the counter all day and in the oven for over two hours, there's a good chance of an icy pocket right in the middle (of my piece).

Ouch my teeth

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"Ouch my teeth"
Oreo Cakesters are sickeningly delicious and feel terrible on my cavities.
After I ate two packs I looked at the nutritional info to see what the damage was. 
not good.
these will kill you.
Actually, I had a McDonalds apple pie a few days ago which (in my mind) seemed like a 'healthy' snack but those are even worse than the Cakesters. A McDonalds pie has 38% of your recommended fat for a day. I guess they're really bad because they're deep fried rather than baked. fffffuuuuuu
I should just stop looking at the nutritional info and buy stretchy pants.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Astro Original Greek Yogurt- Review and Great Deal!

See these 4 tubs of yogurt? They only cost me $3! Can you believe it!?

My local grocery store had a big sale on these 500g tubs of yogurt a couple weeks ago, I had never tried Greek yogurt before but for $1 I figured it wasn't much of a loss if we didn't like it and it could always just be frozen for smoothies if it wasn't great.
There wasn't much selection but I grabbed a peach low fat and a honey flavor, both still had 2 weeks left on the best before date. I didn't want to buy too much in case we didn't like it. The peach was pretty meh, we didn't finish it and it went into the freezer but the honey was awesome! It's slightly sweet but doesn't taste like honey, it's thick and has a slight tangy cream cheese taste. It tastes almost exactly like the filling for my no bake cheesecake, which consists of a block of cream cheese with half a tub of Cool Whip blended in. I like it, Mr likes it and the kid likes it. It's good on it's own or as a parfait with fruit and granola. It's the best damn yogurt I've ever tasted, we don't usually finish an entire tub but we ate all of this one up no problem!

So I've been checking back every couple days and the sale was still on but the yogurt shelf was empty or just had plain. I pretty much gave up hope until I sorted through my coupons the other day and saw that I had a $1 off coupon for this exact brand and type and the coupon expired that very day! I had to check one last time, I didn't want the coupon to go to waste! I had to go get a few things anyway so I checked the dairy aisle first and grabbed up 4 of them when I saw that the shelf had been filled. I would have grabbed more but really 4 seemed a bit excessive to me even as I added them to my basket.  So they were $1 each plus $1 off coupon, I got all 4 for the price of half a tub at regular price (these sell for $5.99 each!). I picked them up on the 31st and they are good until the 12th. We've already eaten about half a tub so hopefully we use most or all of them up.

I would have to say that this is probably the best deal I've had on anything ever! Yes, I realize that maybe I'm a little too excited about it but it's very tasty and I LOVE a good deal!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Another Informative Cracked Article-5 Stupidest Habits You Develop Growing Up Poor

Man, I just love browsing Cracked and my most favorite thing of all on the site is the lists. I just posted one of their lists a while ago but I came across this one written by the same person titled "The 5 Stupidest Habits You Develop Growing Up Poor" and I can honestly say that from my personal experience that every point he brought up is true, at least in my case.
I grew up very poor even though my parents made decent money. Where did it all go? Money just seemed to be piddled away due to lack of foresight, impulse purchases, restaurant food, lack of budgeting, etc. When I moved out on my own I started living the same way, it never even occurred to me to do it any other way because that was how I grew up, I was working 50-60 hours a week and only paying $300 a month for my apartment but still never seemed to have any money left at the end of the month. I didn't even have a savings account! If only I knew the things then that I know now. I cringe to even think of how much money just went to waste on disposable items, food and entertainment. Thankfully all of that changed or I wouldn't be writing this blog!

Here's a summary of the 5 points as well as my comments but really just go check out the actual article, the guy is hilarious, he approaches bleak topics with a very dark humor that I just love!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

5 Things Nobody Tells You About Being Poor

I just came across this article on Cracked and even though the way their articles are written always give me a good laugh there is complete truth to this one and it's a good honest read. I'll sum up the points of it here but you should definitely go check out the whole article, you might learn something. But be warned, the language is very NSFW, which to me makes it a lot funnier!

  1. You get charged for using your own money (bank overdrafts and fees)
  2. There is an industry that profits by keeping you poor (payday loans)
  3. No credit can be just as damaging as bad credit (being financially responsible by never taking out a loan, etc)
  4. Your next expensive disaster is always around the corner (not having an emergency fund will cost you more)
  5. You're always in survival mode (working crappy jobs just to pay the bills instead of taking a risk for a better job or school because it's more expensive right away)

And if that made you depressed check out one of their other articles, they have tons of cute lists and weird stuff.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Newborn Baby Stuff-What your really need and what you don't

Old post alert! I have a couple mostly written drafts that I kind of forgot about after quite a long time. I'll be filling them in, updating them a bit and posting them in the next little while. No use in wasting a perfectly good but no longer personally relevant post!

We really didn't do much research before buying baby stuff and we could have saved a great deal of money by not buying some things and getting other items gently used. We listened to family members that hadn't had children in 20 years, buying items they told us we absolutely needed to have as well as following lists that other people posted on the internet and just buying things we thought were cute. Shopping with other people was the worst because they would always point out items that they deemed essential.

  • Diapers: Only get 1 or 2 packages of newborn size, you may not need them for long, I think we only needed them for 2 weeks before Alice was into a size 1. If your baby is small you can always go out to get more or get someone to pick them up for you.
  • Receiving blankets: Babies leak at an astounding rate, you will need to mop up spills that you never thought could come out of such a small creature. A large receiving blanket can also be used to swaddle or go over the stroller to keep out the sun while on walks
  • Baby washcloths and towels: You will need to give a lot of baths to clean up the aforementioned leaks.
  • Baby shampoo: You can use this as body wash as well. We bought a huge bottle and just used it up a couple weeks ago.
  • A sling or carrier (Moby type wrap, Ergo or Ring-Sling)
  • Convertible car seat: You can use this kind from birth until your baby is bigger, saves you from buying an infant car seat and then having to buy another once your baby reaches the weight limit of 20 pounds or so (it will be sooner than you think!)
  • Onesies that snap at the crotch:  you will be changing a lot of diapers and you want the quickest, easiest access possible, especially late at night.
  • Stretchy waist pants: Easy on,easy off, young babies don't really straighten their legs to make it easier for you to put pants on them. Baby jeans? Hahahahaha

Might Need

  • Lightweight stroller: If you plan on wearing your baby you may not need to buy a stroller at all. A lot of carriers are good until your baby becomes a toddler and by then they might just want to walk everywhere anyway.
  • Jumperoo: We found this to be quite useful, we put our lady chick in there and got some stuff done around here, kept her busy and happy for up to an hour sometimes! We were able to resell it for a good amount too.
  • Pump: If you're planning on boobing your kid you won't be able to get away from them for more than an hour or 2, and believe me, you WILL want to get away from your kid at some point. It doesn't matter how cute they are, you will want and need a break! Pumps are expensive, see if a friend has one they are done with and just replace the shield and hoses or give it a good boil.

For Later

  • Shoes: You won't be able to get them on or keep them on your tiny person's little curled up feet and your baby doesn't need them until they start to walk anyway. At 7 1/2 months old I could finally get shoes on my kid, she outgrew 3 sizes of cute shoes before she even wore them
  • High chair: You don't need one until your baby starts solid foods and wants to be included in family meals when they are at least 6 months old. No use in having it take up space for that long before you need it. Jon hates ours with a vengeance. The day we bought it he nearly threw it into traffic.

Don't bother

  • Scented body washes and lotions: Those "relaxing, calming or bedtime"scents may smell nice but they aren't going to help your baby sleep. Just use baby shampoo to wash your little dude, it smells nice
  • Bassinets: As soon as your baby can roll over they can roll out of these
  • Change table: We have a kitchen cart from Ikea that we used for our microwave for years, perfect size to strap a soft change pad onto
  • Baby books: Most books have a corresponding website
  • Diaper genie: The refills are expensive and apparently they don't work that well keeping the smell in and are sometimes hard to use. We use a metal canister garbage can with a foot lever lined with a scented bag that we get from the dollar store. We change it whenever it gets full/every 2 or 3 days and it holds the smell in just fine and it's hands free.
  • Diaper bag: I just use a large purse, you really don't need to bring that much stuff with you if you're just running out for groceries. I used to bring tons of stuff with me but I've pared it down to just 2 diapers, travel wipes case, a receiving blanket, a folding change pad and a plastic bag. That's it. If I'm going on a lengthier outing then I bring 1 more diaper and a change of clothes.
  • Travel system: It seemed like a good idea so that's what we went with, an infant car seat that attaches to a stroller. Nope. The stroller is extremely heavy with a very large wheel base. We could barely get it through doorways and down aisles or onto a bus and walks to the store took more time and effort than they should have. It could only be steered with 2 hands, making it nearly impossible to hold a grocery basket and push at the same time. Our baby had already outgrown the carseat in height by the time she was 7 months old. We've since bought a lightweight stroller and convertible carseat.
  • Newborn sized clothes: We had one newborn outfit when Alice was born, she wore it home from the hospital and maybe once more before she outgrew it. It was a gift, all of our other clothes were 0-3 months, so what if they were a bit baggy on her. You don't know how big your baby is going to be, buy bigger. If they are on the smaller size or preemie you can always buy more clothes in that case.
  • Frilly/Fussy Clothes: Don't even bother trying to get on a turtleneck or 1 piece that has to be taken completely off every diaper change. Ditto for clothes with big puffy skirts, you won't be able to get the whole thing out of the way and it's going to be a disaster if you have to change a poo diaper while your little lady is wearing it. Grandparents WILL buy all of these things for you, just smile, nod and then give the offending outfit away. They don't know any better, that's how kids were dressed eleventy thousand years ago. I guess they hadn't invented the crotch snap back then.

What to buy used:

  • Jumperoo/Exersaucer: We bought ours new but should have bought used. Our kid loved it but learned to crawl soon after and didn't want to play in it anymore. We got just a couple months use out of it.
  • Bouncy Chair/Swing: Don't pay the $50+ for a new one, somebody will have one on Craigslist for probably $20, these don't get used for that long either
  • Clothes: Babies outgrow clothes at an astounding rate, you'll put an outfit on your baby and a week later that same outfit will be too tight. We hardly bought anything new, a lot of clothes were found with tags still on from thrift and consignment stores.
  • Baby tub: These are outgrown pretty fast as well, you'll be lucky to get 7 months out of it before your baby wants the big tub.
  • Strollers: You can get really nice, gently used strollers for a good price on Craigslist. I notice that most the time the person states the reason for selling as they have a car and just use the carrier when they need to go into a store or need to upgrade to a double, etc.

Never buy used:

  • Carseats- If it's been in an accident then it's no longer safe to use and should be replaced. You have no way of telling when you buy one from Craigslist, you only have the word of the seller. Carseats also expire after a certain number of years, usually five or six from the manufacturers date.
  • Walkers-Outlawed in Canada. Looks like an exersaucer with wheels. Gives babies who otherwise wouldn't be able to walk the ability to move too fast and reach too many hazards. I've also seen these on Craigslist, people find them in storage from 20 years ago when they had kids and are trying to get rid of them.
  • Drop-side cribs-  They are now illegal but not everybody knows this so may be trying to sell one they found in their storage/attic, etc

I'm sure there are probably more things to add to all of the lists but that's all I could think of for now.

    Saturday, January 21, 2012

    Rich Frosted Chocolate Mug Cake

    Lately I've really been enjoying making various mug cakes.  They are ready in just a couple minutes and make less dirty dishes than making a whole cake, not to mention that a whole cake would go to waste for us because there aren't enough people to eat it!

    I think I've finally perfected the chocolate one the last time I made them so I'm going to present my recipe on the blog. Sorry, no pictures of the process since I made them quickly and late at night when the baby (oops, toddler now!) was resisting going to sleep. They were so rich and yummy!

    Here's what you need to make 2. Just half the recipe if you are alone and have a chocolate craving. Or make the whole thing and devour it and feel sorry for yourself when you get the biggest stomach ache you've ever had in you life!

    For the cake:
    • 1/2 cup flour
    • 1/2 cup sugar
    • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
    • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
    • 1/4 cup milk
    • 1/4 cup oil
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 1 egg
    • a handful of random melt-able chocolate (we had these truffle things that we were given for Christmas so I used 6 of them) use whatever you have around, chocolate chips, half a mars bar, whatever, as long as you can microwave it!
    I defeated the purpose of making cake in a mug by mixing my stuff in bowls, if I was only making one I would have mixed it in the mug, it's just easier to do it this way if you're making multiples!

    Mix all of the dry ingredients together in one bowl and whisk the milk, oil, egg, and vanilla in another. Pour the wet into the dry and combine.  Now microwave whatever chocolate you are using until it's just melted and stir it into your batter. Pour half into each mug and microwave for 1 minute 45 seconds. You may have to play around with the time depending on your microwave, start with 1 minute and then add 30 seconds, it might be done after that long.

    The cake and mugs are going to be very hot so they will have to sit for a bit, this gives you time to mix up the frosting. For this you need:

    • 1/2 cup icing sugar
    • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
    • 1 tablespoon soft butter or margarine
    • 1/2 teaspoon milk or cream
    Just mix everything together with a fork, easy as that! You can spread the frosting right onto the hot cake before serving or you can do what we did, our cakes were really deep so we just spooned on a dollop of frosting for every inch of cake we ate!

    *A quick change for if you want brownies in a mug instead of cake, omit the baking powder and use 2 eggs instead of one

    *Other yummy add-ins: sprinkle of cinnamon, teaspoon of instant coffee, caramel, a peppermint patty pushed halfway down into the batter, etc!

    Thursday, January 19, 2012

    We're still here.......

    ....but we're tired. The kid is just starting to sleep a bit better after cutting molars at only 14 months old so hopefully I can pick back up and post on the blog more often. It's been a whole month with zero posts, I have been cooking and baking but it's been the same stuff I've already posted.

    So here's a quick update on how we're doing:

    • Grocery budget. Still doing decently, coming in around $250-$280 for the past couple months depending on whether we need to pick up any bulk items
    • Schedule. Awesome, Alice and I are up between 8 and 9 every day, she naps between 1 and 2, she's in her own bed and asleep by 8 most nights with the occasional exception where she won't sleep until 9. So much better than it used to be but she still wakes up a lot at night. I've also been getting dinner ready by 6 and we get the apartment cleaned up before 8. No more dishes sitting around all night and crumbs all over the floor
    • Spending. Oops, we've done quite a bit of shopping due to receiving Christmas money, cashing our Swagbucks in for Amazon and Paypal giftcards and forgetting about the once every 3 months HST rebate cheque. I shop a lot more wisely than I used to, most items were useful things, kitchen stuff, socks, underwear and whatnot. Jon bought more gear.  I put money into Alice's RESP.
    • Saving for a house. Putting a bit away at a time, it's going to take a very long time to get enough to buy a house. At this point we might be better off moving to a 2 bedroom place this summer, something on the top floor so that we're not bothered by people upstairs. I honestly don't know how much longer I can put up with the noise, right now they are talking loudly and thumping around right above me.
    • Takeout. The occasional lunch, something cheap like a slice of pizza or McDonalds with a coupon. We're doing very good! We have a planned takeout night coming up for my birthday, we're ordering in Thai or Chinese but making our own rice to save about $2.
    • Treats. If we want sweets I usually just bake something. We rarely buy chocolate or pop now. I haven't had licorice since the summer! Today we both had a can of Coke and a chocolate bar and I really didn't feel well for a while after.
    • Exercise. I have not resumed jogging,  I would like to do it in the morning but it doesn't fit into my schedule and I'm too tired at night and just want to rest. The weather has also been pretty crappy, this morning it was so cold that I didn't take Alice to baby time at the library. When it's not unusually chilly it's pouring rain.
    • Job search. I honestly haven't really been trying after the initial attempt. I'm so tired from so many night wakings, feedings and trying to stay awake long enough to get her back into her own bed that I don't know how I would have managed if someone had hired me! Will try again if Alice ever gets to the point where she's sleeping halfway through the night. 15 months of sleep deprivation is really taking it's toll on me. I think I need to just leave for a weekend, hide out somewhere and sleep. Haha.
    I think that's about it for now, it's midnight and I've been interrupted trying to write this post about half a dozen times now.