Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Is it possible to be addicted to......

yard sales?

Stop laughing. 

No really....I'm serious!  I used to think my mother-in-law was crazy to want to get up at 6a.m. on a Saturday morning to go rummage through someone else's "junk"....but I gotta' tell ya'....I'm gettin' it now. 

And I sure wish she were here to go yard sale-ing with us.  Sigh.

You see....that became one of my kids' fondest memories with Grandma Mable.  She would let them spend the night on a Friday, and then wake them up at the crack of dawn on Saturday with the sound of cast iron skillets clanging around to make them breakfast.  (I still don't get that part....)

After she passed away, Jack would repeatedly say how much he missed doing that with her....and I realize that it was more about "spending time with her" than the yard sales themselves, but it was a memory they made, and after hearing it from all of my kids....I decided one weekend that we would load up and go.

And now I'm hooked. 

And you wouldn't believe how fast they all jump out of the bed on a Saturday morning, because they're afraid "we're missin' out on some good deals!"  (Ha!!  I love it!!)

So I decided to share some of my recent purchases with you....because truthfully....I've impressed myself.

And I probably shouldn't tell on myself here....but instead of rushing around this past Friday and Saturday morning preparing for the possible storm Isaac we are all still waiting for now.....I was out yard sale-ing!!!  

Yep...every once in a while someone will hold it Friday and Saturday and so Karissa and I decided we would just see what was out there....and boy did we score.  

How do ya' like this addition to my living room??  

 Yep...I'm talkin' about the chair....the one that fills a spot I have been wanting a chair in for 7 years, and the one that matches the color scheme in here perfectly. 

Wanna' know how much I spent on it?

Nope....not even kidding.  Didn't have to even talk him down on it, and no...there is nothing wrong with it. 

The family was moving....and needed to get rid of a LOT of stuff.  It wasn't even out "in" the yard sale.  It was sitting in his garage and when I asked him about something else he pointed to it and said...."You need that chair right there??  You can have it for $10." 

What????  Ummm.....yes....please load that in the back of my van....NOW.  We will make it fit. 

And that doesn't include the name brand clothing that we scored for 50cents a piece at the same yard sale.
And I know you can't see the tags because I didn't use my good camera....so I will help you see a little closer that these are name brand.  


And let me just stop right here and say this. 

Yes...I think we scored big on name brand items for 50cents a piece, but let's remember it's a yard sale.  What does that mean??  That means that I am not going to pay $4 for their used clothing items....  A yard sale is a yard sale, and if they wanted to get a consignment shop price for it, then perhaps that's what they should do with it.

Sorry...didn't mean to be ugly, but sometimes, you walk up the driveway only to see the prices on their "stuff" and you just have to turn right around and go back to the car, because there are other yard sales waitin' that know how to price their "stuff". 

I said all of that to say...his prices were fair.  Very fair. 

But as I said....typically there aren't very many yard sales on Friday in my area....and the boys were in school, so we pretty much called it a day and decided to go again the next morning. 

And boy did we score.....

Auburn jacket?  $1

Everything else.....

Stuff a bag for $3.....(and let me just say right here that mama knows how to "stuff a bag for $3".)   I do the stuffing while good ole' Karissa (who might I add is like taking Grandma Mable along on a yard sale because she trained her right), digs through the piles to find the good stuff. 

Yep...look a little closer at what was in that bag.....
That would be Chaps, Nautica, and Nike. 

My "stuffing-a-bag" techniques scored those items for what ended up being 30cents a piece.

Now I realize that this next item is not an "antique", but I liked it....and felt like the price was fair.
$7...and in excellent condition.

And last but not least....just a few other items that were added to my collection for the day...

  • New holiday hand towels....that's what washers and dryers are for. 
  • Two Pampered Chef spin-around-hold-your-kitchen-utensils thingies. 
  •  Two nut crackers 
  • Unopened package of elastic...for the sewing projects I will one day get to...give me a break.
  • Graph paper...sure it was partially used...who cares???
And can I just say that when it came time for school to start this year....I didn't have to go and buy those expensive plastic dividers with pockets or sheet protectors.  I had scored all of those for 25cents an unopened pack at a yard sale in St. Louis over the summer!!!

How do I do it??
  1. Stop at the store and grab something cheap so I can get cash back....only $20. 
  2. Make sure they give me ones and fives....I don't want a $20 bill because I have to have small change for bargaining later. ;)
  3. Hit the road and start watching for signs....believe me....get some boys anxious to find fishin' gear in the van, and they will find any and all signs pointing to a yard sale. 
  4. Then at a moment's notice they will holler out, "MOM....there's a sign!" and then I will be accused of being a "fast & furious" driver because they startle me and I turn quickly. 
  5. We all pile out of the van like clowns in a circus, and begin the hunt.....and then I hear Jack's voice say, "Ummm....sir, you have $2 on here, but will you take $1?
And I love it!!  Grandma Mable taught him well....he never pays the price they have on anything. 

I think she would be right proud of him...and the rest of us for that matter.

I'm just sayin'. 

Monday, August 27, 2012

So you would think by now.........

that after living here as long as I have, that I would be used to this whole "preparing for a hurricane" routine. 

But frankly, I'm not. 

I mean...don't get me wrong, I'm all about knowing things in advance, and I would much prefer this than to have a good ole' midwestern tornado like I grew up with....(those things scared the life out of me), but with the level of media coverage we have these days, and the spaghetti looking mess on the track models  multitude of different tracks the storm could take, it leaves me feeling much like I did on a see-saw as a child.  Up and down....back and forth. 

And for those of you who haven't experienced this....well....if this gives you any indication....this was the Wal-Mart LAST FRIDAY NIGHT.....yes....that would be three days ago, and we just went under an official hurricane warning last night (Sunday) 
Yes, there is bread, but things were already starting to look slim.

And I really feel sorry for the folks that have not been through anything like this yet...
Truth be known, I think that they are the reason that the soup aisle is already pretty bare.
Bless his heart...he had just moved here from way north, and this was his first rodeo....

Yes, I asked....

Because that's how I roll....

And my kids love me for it....

Okay...I lied.  They don't love that I talk to perfect strangers in the store.  But I've embraced southern hospitality...and I'm way off track here. 

Now...call me crazy, but I'm thinking this would be a good time to assess what types of tuna people actually eat....and how to order in the future.

And apparently, Cheerios is the breakfast of champions when there's a storm impending.....

But I don't think I was prepared for what I saw when I turned down the water aisle.  Because remember.....this was FRIDAY....a few days ago.....

That's right....not a single bottle of water to be had.  Those are just a few random single serve drinks that folks must have laid down in their search for some water.

And the frustrating, yet inevitable part of this, is that you have to prepare.....and spend lots of extra money the week after you get all of your kids into school (please don't get me started on the "free" public education my kids receive....I would be wayyyy off track) way in advance, or there may not be anything left at the store when you go...or in my case...even five days before the possible storm. 

And please don't ask me why I don't just have a "hurricane readiness kit" already available.  That would be sooo not my style to have money tied up in something to actually plan ahead and be prepared.  Not to mention, I'm pretty sure my kit would include a lot more that water, batteries and flashlights.  Because I am here to tell ya' that I had a heck of a lot more than that in my buggy at Sam's yesterday. 

And while Wal-Mart was out of everything three days ago, Sam's Club had everything....and more fork lifts coming out of the back as we had flashbacks of last minute Christmas shopping crowds and struggled to get through the aisles without running over someone shopped for our supplies. 

I mean...come on....everybody needs a double pack of roasts, a rotisserie chicken, a four pack of deodorant, and 16 bars of soap....right?

And I don't think that anything could prepare me for the phone call I received at 6:30 last night.....when the school system made that dreaded, automated phone call to tell us that the kids were going to be out of school Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday and the knowledge that our "week off for Thanksgiving" is no longer. 

And don't hate me if you're a local teacher.  I get that it's necessary to allow the school employees and teachers time to prepare for the possible storm.....I am just not looking forward to three days of quality, kids-hyped-up-because-of-storm, possibly cooped up in a dark house with no a/c. 

But as I have written this, the track has headed a little more west....so things might be looking up for us, and not so good for our friends in the New Orleans area. 

I'm just sayin'. 

Saturday, August 18, 2012

So......last night.....

after the long, stressful day I had already had, I decided..."now THIS is what those freezer meals are for!  I will just simply go get the Honey Glazed Chicken out of the freezer (because it's not suppose to thaw first), and get this party started, because mama has had a rough day, and I don't feel like cooking."  


Remember that part the other day about the igniter on my oven seeming like it was going out??  

Yea.... I am pretty sure that the week I do my first shot at freezer cooking is not the week for it to decide to go out for good.....

And did I mention that the gas stove/oven that was here when we bought the house, while nice to cook on, apparently doesn't allow you to light the oven manually?

Yep...pretty much.

So I kept turning the oven off, waiting and then trying again.....as if the last time, only moments before....it had really been playing a trick on me. 

This had to be some sort of a joke.   I was waiting on someone to yell, "You're on Candid Camera!!!"  Eww...wait...umm....I'm not really old enough to even know what that show was.   I'm pretty sure what I meant to say, was that I was waiting on someone to say, "You've been PUNK'ED".  

Regardless of what show I remember, nobody jumped out of the woodwork.  This was the real deal. 

My oven was not coming on, despite my multiple attempts to coax it on....all while my "suppose-to-be-baked-frozen Honey Glazed Chicken" sat thawing beautifully.


I was pretty sure that at this point, nothing else could possibly go wrong.  

So I went for plan "B" which included some of the 336 frozen meatballs, that apparently had "too tangy of a sauce" for a couple of my kids, to which I growled between gritted teeth, replied to my precious offspring that well....."you're lucky that you HAVE a meal after what I have been through today....so stop complaining!!!

Yea...I'm always sweet like that. 

I'm just sayin'.

I had the best laid intentions......

when the morning started. 

Karissa had to take an additional CPR class before starting her new job, and she was told where to go.  Except....when she googled it to get directions, well....she was a little concerned about going over there herself.  The area seemed a little "sketchy" to her. 

So in spite of my highly procrastinated plans to spend the day in the boys room going through their clothes with them to see what fits and what doesn't...I eagerly accepted the opportunity to accompany Karissa over to her class, and kill time in the area until she finished. 

And believe me....the boys were thanking me.  For some reason, all my kids have hated that end-of-summer activity. 

And it was all good until we looked at the clock and realized that we were in crunch mode to get there in time, so I start barking orders  making sure everyone was getting to the van quickly and in a timely manner. ;)

We get all the way over there, only for me to start re-thinking even dropping her off there.  The building had not been updated since oh...probably the 1960's...and that's pushing it....

And no....this was nothing nostalgic like going to an old university or anything....that's not the kind of "old" I am talking about here.  It was dumpy, run down, and making me very thankful I had not sent her over to go it alone.  

The bars on the windows of surrounding businesses weren't making me feel any better about her being there either.  

And had it not been for a trusted source....who had assured us before going that the place was legitimate, we probably would have driven right on by. 

And frankly....that would have probably been the better thing for me to do....because shortly after pulling in to what was the smallest, most crowded parking lot ever.....with only room enough for one vehicle to go through it in one direction, I found myself in a very unique situation. 

Feeling sure that the parking lot must wrap around to the back I continued inching slowly behind the two cars in front me, until suddenly I found myself in the most precarious position. 

I was staring at the reverse lights of the car in front of me, wondering just how much farther she was going to back up before hitting me, and glancing in my rear view mirror, only to see that plenty of others had followed my lead and pulled into the parking lot behind me. 

And suddenly, before I knew it....I was being yelled at by a woman to "BACK UP!!!" And I'm pretty sure there were a few explicatives being thrown out there as well. 

So I did what any good blogger would do, and seized the opportunity to take a few pictures. :)

Well...that was right after I calmly opened my door to get out and explain to her that I would love to back up but that it wasn't quite possible just yet because there were CARS BEHIND ME!!!

No I didn't yell. 

But she was....and she was making me nervous. 

Not to mention, I happen to be claustrophobic and I was feeling a wee bit trapped....with a crazy woman in front of me.....

And cars lined up behind me......
  And you can stop laughing at the fact that I took pictures.  It was all to give you, the readers, the full experience of being trapped in a very dated parking lot.    
 And besides....what was my hurry??  I was TRAPPED, remember???  

That is, until Mr. I-look-good-for-my-age-but-not-as-good-as-I-think-I-look paramedic comes waltzing out and decides to tell us all that we can just "park right there".

Umm...excuse me?  Park?  Right here???  

 So being a paramedic, he can see that I am clearly about to need his medical expertise, as I frantically try to get my window down and explain that, "Umm...sir....(insert nervous laugh), ummm.....I, umm...was just dropping off my daughter right over there...you see...and...well..I'm not staying for your class, so umm...parking here for me is not really what I had in mind."  

Well...one would have thought that this sort of information would have made him cringe, seeing as how there were now quite a few cars behind me, but I'm thinking he was seizing the moment.  He pats my arm (like that's gonna' help...I must have looked rough!) and he marches right on back there and begins to live out his dream of living life on the edge...directing traffic on a very busy street as he ever-so-carefully guided all of us backwards and out so that the crazy-woman-in-the-white-mini-van-who-clearly-had-no-business-pulling-up-into-the-one-way-parking-lot could get out.  

 Oh.  My.  Word.   

My neck hurt so bad from having to look behind me for so long and back up for what seemed like a half a mile....I just wanted to get home as quickly as I could and call it a day.  Because my stress level had already had it's quota.  

But a plan to kill time, is a plan to kill time....and a promise is a promise.....to the poor boys who probably thought we were trapped just minutes earlier, so onward I went in search of yard sale signs.    

Yep...I got to a familar area and started scouring the street corners for yard sale signs.  It's our new favorite Saturday morning activity...but sometimes you get lucky and see some on a Friday.  They thought it would be so cool to go to them in a different place away from home..... 

 And don't ask me why, but somehow it has become part of the yard sale routine to stop and "get cash back" along with the purchase of some donuts at the store....and if you'll recall....I had just gone through a pretty stressful event, so the usual routine was sounding pretty good.    

 And we hit the jackpot....or so we thought.  Markdown donuts at Wal-Mart.  Boys were excited.....and we were in business....watch out yard sales, here we come.    

That is, until the gigantic storm cloud overhead decided it was time to bless us with some serious rain.  Oh yes....rain.  And not just a sprinkle or little shower.  This was the hunker-down-in-your-car-it's-gonna-be-a-while rain.   


Time to break out the donuts.  
Note to self.   Wal-Mart prepackaged donuts are not so good.  Especially the ones that are marked down....and I am all about marked down.  But these failed us.   

Oh well....didn't need them anyway.   

So I thought maybe I could take the boys to a salvage store in lieu of yard sales...you know....rummage through junk and hope to find something worthwhile for a good price.  

Wouldn't you know that the only one I knew of had closed down?  Yep....I drove in the pouring down rain, with sticky fingers from nasty donuts, with boys asking me a thousand questions about "what is a salvage store", all for me to pull up and it be gone.  But as I pulled into the parking lot....what did I see???  

The HOT NOW sign was red.   

 Yep...you know the one.  On a Krispy Kreme store sign.  Staring us right in the face, just moments after we had eaten empty, tasteless, marked down calories donuts.  :(   


It was just turning out to be "one of those mornings".    And though they begged me to stop and buy MORE donuts, I didn't.  I just couldn't justify more calories....or more sugar for children cooped up in a van, killing time while it poured down rain.  

Thank goodness she called and said that she was finished and ready for pick up.   

And you can rest assured, I didn't even pull in to the parking lot to get her....I parked next door. 

I couldn't go through that again.   

I'm just sayin'.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

So doubling the recipe seemed like a good idea at the time.....

but by the time we rolled meatball number 336 we were pretty sure that somehow I had mis-read the recipe.

No I'm not kidding....we really rolled 336 of them....I have pictures to prove it...and witnesses.

And so the question at hand would be, "Why did you need that many meatballs?"  And I am so glad you asked....

You see, I live in the south....the deep south....where football is, well...like a religion.  They take it serious here....and no I'm not just talking about the SEC...I'm talking about my boys that are playing this year for the first time.  Gulp.  (That's another post for another time.) But after signing up....I realized that we were looking at three nights of practice a week PER child.....and I knew what that meant....we wouldn't be home very much. 

So I began to entertain this apparently not-so-new-fangled idea of "freezer cooking" and decided that maybe I should try something new.  Not to use for our meals every night, but just to see if perhaps it could lighten my load a little, and allow for us to have a "home cooked meal" even when our schedule didn't allow for it. 

I scoured the internet for different tried and true recipes....I checked out books from the library paid my fine at the library so I could check out books on freezer cooking. 

Just keepin' it real.  

(and please don't get me started on that....I could write a whole entire post about how many times I could have paid for the movies and books that I was supposedly borrowing-for-free from the library until we realized we were a WEEK late in returning them and that the movies EACH were a doller per day late!!!!)


Sorry...I am way off track. 

You name it, I researched it. 

I discovered that people actually cook for the entire month in one weekend.....and I knew immediately that wasn't for me. 

But in searching and reading, I discovered a website called www.moneysavingmom.com and I felt like the way she broke it down, it was do-able. 

So I decided to give it a try. 

And nothing is fun when you do it alone, so I enlisted the help of my dear friend, Audra who's husband is a head football coach....need I say more?  (I think it's safe to say that she needed freezer cooking more than me!!!)

But it's always better when you're reading about it.....you know....how "proper planning is key", and "shopping the day before and prepping ahead of time"...."never try to do it all in the same day"....

Well, our lives didn't exactly jive with that schedule so off to Sam's we were at 8am Monday morning....to shop...then prep...then cook....all in one day. 

And I think it's safe to say that whoever gave all that "don't do it all in one day" advice was probably a well seasoned freezer cook....because I pretty much was useless to my family yesterday after our cooking day on Monday.  I CRASHED into bed that night and could hardly gimp around the house yesterday...but we did it..and learned some things for the next time.

If there is a next time.....

Lesson Number One:
  • It isn't necessary to double a meatball recipe the first time in your life that you decide to do "freezer cooking".  Especially when a single batch uses 6 lbs. of ground beef. 
Yes....I said 6 lbs.  So yes....we used 12 pounds of ground beef just for meatballs....the picture doesn't even begin to do it justice, but you get the idea.  Just envision about ten of those cookie sheets full...plus some.  I couldn't snap a picture...my hands were making meatballs!!!

What was I thinking???

And can you imagine my horror when I turned my oven on and instead of it coming on, it sat at 100 degrees forever....temperature not going up at all???  It had done this twice before....and then eventually started.  I think the igniter is about to go out.....but moments after we have rolled 336 meatballs is most definitely not the time to decide to die on me.  Thankfully.....it eventually kicked on!

Lesson Number Two:
  • When a recipe says that you can take a boneless, skinless chicken breast and "simply press down on the thick part with the palm of your hand to flatten it"....they probably weren't dealing with the "chicken breasts on steroids" that we bought. 
Those suckers were so thick and slippery and messy and HUGE, that I was having to cut them in half and pound them with an old fashioned potato masher just to try to reduce them from three inches thick to a roll-able size.  Because yes....then they got stuffed and rolled... 

And no...I didn't get a picture of that work in progress.  I didn't want to risk getting salmonella germs on my camera.....you know...that whole cross-contamination thing?? 

Suffice it to say that Audra and I had a few good laughs, and a huge sigh of relief that we didn't have 336 of those to do!!!

Lesson Number Three:
  • Redbox movies and theater candy IS the best way to occupy children on a marathon cooking day....

Good ole' Alvin & the Chipmunks....they never disappoint.

But don't let that picture fool you.....they did manage to get underfoot a few times, but all in all...they did great....while we slaved away in the kitchen.  Thank goodness for growing boys strong enough to take out the trash every thirty minutes as we filled it with garbage!!!

Lesson Number Four:
  • This is probably not what they meant by "be well organized and have your prep work done the day before".....

And please don't ask me why only one window blinds out of the three are open.....it gets hot it my kitchen but the light was helpful....  I know it looks ridiculous, okay??

Lesson Number Five:
  • Always keep a secret stash of sugar handy when freezer cooking....you never know when you're going to need a burst of energy... Can you see it? 

Lesson Number Six:
  • Take more pictures!!!!
Me explaining the fact that we made 40 beef and bean burritos just doesn't do the trying-to-figure-out-how-to-roll-hot-filling-into-a-tortilla-without-it-squirting-out justice.  You just had to be there. 

Because believe me.....by 5pm....we were done.  Physically, mentally, culinarily.....(is that a word?)....DONE.  Until we turned around and saw the mountain of cookie sheets from those darned meatballs that had to bake at 500 degrees for 15 minutes.  Yea....that wasn't exactly the easiest mess to clean.  I think it's safe to say that Lesson Number Seven was:
  • Parchment Paper is your friend next time
But all in all....I think we could call it a success.  It wasn't organized....or pretty....or easy...or pre-prepped....but we did both end up with quite a few dinners for our freezers.

This is just my half of what we made.....she took home the exact amount!

  • 3 gallon bags (28 meatballs each) in salisbury sauce
  • 3 gallon bags (28 meatballs each) in comfort bbq sauce
  • 2 bags of ready to use chicken ala king sauce (add rotisserie)
  • 1 bag of teriyaki chicken
  • 1 bag of honey glazed chicken
  • 1 pan of mariachi chicken rolls (those cursed steroid breasts!)
  • 20 beef/bean burritos (individually wrapped in foil)
  • 35 ready to bake homemade chocolate chip cookie dough
Not too shabby for right around $100 each.....financial break down forthcoming.  I've been recovering from cooking....gimme' a break!

Considering we were newbies at this.....I'd say we didn't do too bad!!!!  Now where is that ibuprofen and a heating pad?? ;)

I'm just sayin'.