Friday, November 30, 2012

I got a new layout!

 
 
 
I got it from DesignerBlogs.com for only $15 dollars!
 
All their designs are fabulous, I had the hardest time choosing my favorite!
 
What do you think??
 
 

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Christmas Conundrum

 
I am feeling a little frustrated with my Christmas shopping list this year.  I'd call it a Christmas conundrum.  I have no good ideas of what to get anyone!  The smallish ideas I do have don't excite me in the slightest.  I feel like Austin Powers when he lost his mojo.  I have lost my Christmas mojo.
 
Christmas shopping for me is generally a breeze, and I have it down to such a science (and dislike shopping that much) that I can usually just go into a store head directly to what I want to buy, buy it and get out of there.  I mean, think about it.  I know about all the stores out there, I can pretty much think of everything that Target sells.  Going to the store to look around is such an unnecessary task for me usually.  This year I may have to actually spend a good deal of time in a mall or something because I feel so uninspired.
 
I play to win at Christmas.  I don't know why I am so competitive about some things and apathetic with others, but Christmas is one of the things I want to win.  When I say 'win Christmas'  I by no means mean outspending everyone 5:1, but I want the gift I give to you to be your favorite gift that you received that year.  It is just a weird way of showing how much I love you I guess, lol?
 
So my normal formula of finding the perfect gift includes consideration of the following:
Have you mentioned wanting something in the last year? (it is good to pay attention!)
Is there something you've been needing that I have noticed? (like your purse is all beat up looking, for example)
Do you enjoy any hobbies?
Where are your favorite stores to shop?
 
Then I brainstorm ideas that fit within the price range I am trying to stay in.
 
The problem I am having is that I have exhausted many of my top notch ideas in prior years.  I can give the same gift twice, that is so uncreative! 
 
My Mom never gives us much of an idea of what she wants, I have already given my brother every Houston Texans football themed thing under the sun, Aaron buys everything he wants himself the instant he wants it.  I am at a loss here.  Nothing I can think of gives me the feeling that I will win Christmas.  Maybe I can give gifts in hopes of the person picking up a new hobby so that gift giving in the future will have more options.  Like getting my brother a violin, or a pottery wheel? 
 
I don't know what to do!  What do you do when you don't know what to give someone??
 
 
 

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Leftover Turkey Pot Pie

Did your family make 2 turkeys for 7 people, leaving leftovers for days??  (yes.)

Does the thought of having to eat one more turkey sandwich make you want to hurl yourself off a bridge? (sometimes.)

Solution!

I made a super tasty turkey pot pie that I thought I would share with you all.  Inspired by this recipe.  And I took a load of pictures because if you are like me, you need very specific instructions or you will find the most random weird way to mess it up.  It's like a curse I have with cooking...?

You will need:
Left over turkey + whatever will taste okay in a pot pie
Pie Crust (I use pre-made)
Onion
Celery
Frozen Mixed Veggies
Stick of Butter
Milk/Cream
Flour
Chicken Stock
1 tsp Italian Seasoning
1/2 tsp Celery Seed
1 tsp Garlic Powder
Salt and pepper to taste

Everything not shown.

1. chop up your onion in smallish pieces, and chop 2 stalks of celery. 
I just chopped the celery as is - c shaped

2. Boil that chopped celery and your frozen vegetables in some water until the celery is soft
about 10 minutes.  You can use any pot pie veggies you want.

3. Melt the whole stick of butter in another pan

4. put all the onions in the butter pan and cook until onions are soft using medium heat

5. While you are waiting for the veggies to cook, put the crust into the pie dish
6.  This step might be a bit tricky, but once the onions are all mushy, you add about half a cup of flour to the butter, whisking as you add it.  You are making roux, basically.  Once you are all mixed it should be the consistency of glue (not sticky though)

7.  Next you are going to add to your roux, chicken stock and milk or creme.  I used approx 1.5 cups of stock and half a cup of milk.  You have to use your judgement and not make it too watery.  I got it to the consistency of yogurt.

8. Your vegetables should be done by now.  Drain 'em!  
Try not to get a bunch of them in your sink like I did.

9. Add them to your pan, mix in seasonings, add salt and pepper if it needs them
*If you don't have celery seed on hand, I don't think it is totally necessary, leave it out!

10.  Insert leftovers.  I used turkey that I chopped into smaller pieces and green bean casserole
Mix in and the inside of your pot pie is done!

11.  Fill that pie.  Mine was nearly overflowing, and I still had a bit of extra filling

12.  Add the lid, make sure to poke some holes.  I used a mini snowman cookie cutter.  Festive!
For a pretty crust, brush the top with an egg white
Bake for about 35-40 mins at 425 degrees, or until it looks like this:


13.  enjoy!


It seems like a lot of steps, but it really wasn't too bad.  Plus it tasted really great, so it is worth it!

Are there any other clever recipes for turkey leftovers that you love?







Blog Wishes can come true!

Everyone rush to Florence's blog

http://madebyfirenze.blogspot.com/

She is hosting her first giveaway for Christmas and is giving away anything you want under $55, is that awesome, or what??  AND she will make a donation to a charity of your choice.  So great!


I hope you all can visit and show her some love!
 
 

Monday, November 26, 2012

BUY ALL THE ADS!

 
 
I don't know what has gotten into me lately, but I can safely say that Christmas time is bad for my credit card.  I think I keep such a tight leash on my spending the entire year, when it becomes Christmas time and I green light the spending it is like a teeny crack in a dam turning into a crazy tidal wave.
 
It all started with me reading 1000 blogs, and they all have contests where you have to follow them on twitter and all this other stuff, so they get a bunch of readers and comments and fun things.
 
I thought, I want a bunch of people to read my blog too!  So I joined a face book group of bloggers in my area, and now I am following like 5000 blogs (it is a lot of work to read them all!) Well here comes black Friday and A LOT of people were selling ad space on their blogs on bigtime sale! 
 
I decided that I would spend like $20 bucks to see if this advertising thing actually works.  I am about to get another check from google adsense (thank you ad clickers!) so I thought I could parlay that back into the blog so I can get an even bigger check next time!   
 
Fast forward to today, and now I am advertising on 6 different blogs!  What on earth!?
My investment is currently $41.95.   
 
So I am going to see how this works, but as of right now, here are my stats:
GFC: 25
Twitter: 63
Pinterest: 100
Facebook: 47
 
Is anyone listening to NPR right now?  Because they are doing a piece on bloggers, lol. 
 
But yeah, I am pretty sure I am about to be crazy famous on the internet... (don't worry, you are laughing with me, not at me!) ;)
 
See my fancy advertisings:

 

Brunch With Amber
Southern Sunflowers & Coffee Beans
Island Livin
Girl on a Mission

A Complete Waste of Makeup
 
Happy reading!
 
Have you found blog advertising to work for you?

A Savings Experiment: Part 2

Good morning everyone!  If you read my post from black Friday, I was trying to determine that Cyber Monday is a scam, and the best prices online can be found on black Friday. 

Turns out that I was half right.  The more expensive gifts were the same price, but the cheaper items were more. 

Here are the results of my super scientific study:

TV From Amazon.com: same price

Cd's from Amazon.com: Increased by double!
Kelly Clarkson and Pink were only $5 on black Friday!  Taylor Swift is only .10 cents more. 
 
The purses and cologne from Macy's were the same price today as they were on Friday
 
Target Toys were a better deal on Friday
 
This was $132.99 on Friday

This monster doll is the same price. 
And why are kids so into monsters these days?? 

This was $39.99 on Friday.
 
 
In conclusion, it is best to take care of your internet shopping on black Friday as opposed to Cyber Monday in many cases.  Best case scenario is that they are the same price.  It won't bankrupt you to wait til Monday or anything, but as the old adage goes:  Watch the pennies and the pounds(dollars) take care of themselves!
 
 Happy Holiday Shopping to you all!
 
 
 
 



Sunday, November 25, 2012

Small Business Saturday?

I really put a lot of thought into how I could participate in Small Business Saturday this year, because I really believe in the cause.

Here is an infographic of the economic effects of purchasing local:


So buying local keeps $73 in your local economy while buying at some big box store corporation only $43 will stay behind in your town.

When I got up yesterday, knowing I wanted to participate, I started to brainstorm some local businesses I could patronize.  I thought of a bunch, but the problem as well was that Aaron and I are on a kind tight budget from now until January, and needing to get through all the holiday spending I needed to be kind of strategic about what I am buying and not just spend willy nilly.

I wanted to go get breakfast at House of Pies, which is my favorite local diner-type-place in town.  And pies out the wazoo, in any flavor you wish!
Much to my dismay just now, I learned that House of Pies is actually a defunct chain from the 70's, but there are a handful of them still around.  Local/small enough, I guess.  I like supporting this establishment also because I think whomever owns the place goes to our church, but that has not been confirmed.

But yeah, we didn't end up going because Aaron didn't feel like getting up earlier before he had to get to work.  Bummer.  

Then I spent a lot of the day cleaning the apartment because I meant to do that yesterday but ended up watching TV all day on the couch.  Lazy turd!  

By the time Aaron was getting home at 4pm, I had just gotten ready for my shopping day.  So I knew I had to go to World Market because I was on a hunt for an ornament for my swap buddy, and I needed the best ginger snaps in the whole world.  It isn't the Christmas season without them!

So I went to that corporate store, then I got dinner for Aaron and I at Pei Wei, another big chain place.  I couldn't even go local for dinner.  For shame, Natalie!  

So due to my failure at small business Saturday, I am going to make a concentrated effort to buy small for the rest of the month.  

Some ideas for local businesses to patronize are
*Restaurants and Food Trucks
*Coffee Establishments
*Clothing Boutiques
*Salons and Nail places
*Farmers Markets and Produce Co-ops
*Local Products within your Chain Stores

Don't write off the big stores all together, a lot of them can maybe carry items that come from your town.  For example, I know the Whole Foods grocery store here carries varieties of honey, salsa, BBQ sauce, etc.  that come from local people around town.  

You can't beat yourself up if it is really difficult to get your needs met by local/small businesses.  I found it super difficult because I hate spending a lot of money on stuff I don't need, and I don't have the time to go a crazy amount of out of my way to get stuff.  Awareness counts for something, and when you are aware, you are much more likely to make a better choice than if you didn't know.  Right?

Did you participate in Small Business Saturday?







Sunday Social

Sunday Social today!


1. Name 4 jobs you have had in your life:
Accountant, Interview Appointment Setter, Barista, Retail

2. Name 4 movies you would  do watch over and over:
Eagle vs. Shark, Napoleon Dynamite, She Devil, Troop Beverly Hills

3. Name 4 places you have lived:
San Antonio, Corpus Christi, Denton, and Houston, TX

4. Name 4 of your favorite foods:
Cheese, Crab, Pizza, Dirt Cake

5. Name 4 things you always carry with you:
Phone, keys, wallet, hair tie

6. Name 4 places you have been on vacation:
Japan, Bermuda, Vancouver, Cancun

Link up and enjoy!

Friday, November 23, 2012

This is an official award winning blog! ;)

I am very grateful to announce that my friend Mrs. T over at My Front Porch has nominated me for a blog award. Go check out her blog if you get a chance, it is great fun!

Here is about the award: 


Liebster is German for beloved, or darling,
and I am absolutely excited, honored, and thrilled that Hannah nominated me!
Here are the rules:
1. List 11 facts about yourself.
2. Answer the 11 questions given to you.
3. Create 11 new questions for the bloggers you nominate for the award.
4. Choose 11 bloggers with 200 or less followers to nominate.
5. Go to each bloggers page and let them know about the award.

Facts:
1. I watch an insane amount of TV.  There are so many good shows these days!
2. My brother and I claim our ancestry to be "Mexadian" - a word to mean both Mexican and Canadian
3. I HATE ironing and cleaning floors
4. I fear my living space is a fire hazard due to the amount of books my husband owns
5. I am an accountant
6. I love almost every single thing Marc Jacobs makes
7. I love every single movie Wes Anderson makes
8. I will go to great lengths to avoid crowded spaces, unless live music is involved
9. I am a dog person being forced to co-habitate with a cat
10. I love all Asian food
11.  I am an obsessive planner.  
 

  Mrs. T's Questions:
1. Electronic reading, paper, magazines or paper reading, paper, magazines?
I prefer reading paper things vs. electronic things.  I like the feel and smell of a book or a magazine.  I prefer to read magazines because I can read them in short bursts, because I am usually needing to catch up on chores or homeworks. 

2. What item do you collect on vacation? 
Whenever I am going on a trip I have to send a postcard to myself, #1.  And I usually do a little internet research to find out what the unique souvenir of the location is.  You can get a magnet or a shot glass everywhere.  

3. What is the best Vacation spot you went to?
This is tough, as I have a pretty great time anywhere I go.  I think when my BFF Katrina and I went on a cruise to Mexico, we had such a blast.  My second would be going to Tokyo, Japan because the food was outstanding and everything I saw was just so darn cool and different.

4. Are you a white gold, gold, or silver kind of person?
White gold or silver.  Gold gold looks funny on my skin tone.

5. Would you rather wear shoes or bare feet and why?
Bare feet.  If I am wearing socks and shoes, I feel like I am suffocating.  Weird, right?

6. What is your favorite book?
Love Is a Mixed Tape by Rob Sheffield.  My God how I cried.
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer

7. What is your favorite song?
Dream a Little Dream of Me - The Mamas and the Papas

8. What is your favorite movie?
Eagle vs. Shark, Closer, Donnie Darko, Waiting for Guffman

9. Would you rather have a heavy fall scented candle burning or a light spring scented candle burning?
I like Fall smells

10. Name one secret obsession.
I can't really think of one?  All of my obsessions are very public, sadly, lol.

11. Why did you decided to blog?
I decided to blog because I love to write, and I love to share information and ideas with others (and maybe make them laugh a little too).  And not to be depressing, but I lost my Dad when I was young, and now, nearly 20 yeas later, I often wonder what he was like on a deeper level than the little I could remember.  If he had had a blog or journal of some sort, that would have been a pretty cool thing to be able to read.  So God forbid if I meet my maker and someone wants to know me better, they can read about all the bad TV I watched and how much the cat annoys me, lol.  And eventually if I get enough readers to make some sweet moolah, that would be awesome too, lol.  What a world we live in, right? ;)

My Questions
1. You have to be an item on a salad bar.  What are you and why?
2. If you can have dinner with someone dead or alive, who would you pick and why?
3. What is your biggest pet peeve?
4. What is your dream job?
5. What is a quote that you love?
6. Favorite dessert food
7. If you could max out a credit card in one store, which one would it be?
8. Favorite kitchen appliance?
9. You just won the lottery, but it was only $50,000.  How do you spend it? 
10. Best vacation you ever went on?
11. You decide to give your new poodle a celebrity name, what did you pick?

And the Nominees are...

Sarah @ Loveee Sarah
Nikki @ Lucky in Love
Stephanie @ Bare Apple Blog









 

A Savings Experiment

It is no secret that I am not partaking in the shopping madness today, but I wanted to do another experiment of whether it is a better deal to buy online shopping things today (Black Friday) vs. Monday (Cyber Monday).  My hypothesis is that prices will be lower today, vs Monday, but time will tell.

Here is my sample of a variety of items from the internet:

TV
Amazon.com's 'most popular' selection

Music
Hot New Releases










Now we wait until cyber Monday and see where the prices are....








Thanksgiving was fun!

Oye, I am so full still!  Thanksgiving at my Mom's house was great!  We had 2, yes 2 turkeys (for only 7 people...?)  So it was a cook off between brother Jeff and husband Aaron for Turkey domination.  The presidential themed recipes turned out pretty good too!

Turkey #1 was smoked.  Delicious and flavorful

Turkey #2 roasted perfection.

We got lucky in my house because the hubs and my bro are excellent cooks.  The real winner was our stomachs, but we all agree it was a tie.

Gwen, who will happily take care of any food you may drop

Yum!

Hi Aunt Gloria

Of course there was football watching

We ate and visited and had a grand ol' time.  And I am excited to announce that it is officially the Christmas season!  So instead of shopping today I am going to be cleaning the house and pulling out the Christmas decor!  Tomorrow we are going to go to the Christmas Tree farm to get our tree!!  But first, a turkey sandwich...

How was your Thanksgiving?

Wednesday, November 21, 2012