Category Archives: yummy stuff

Buy More Girl Scout Cookies to Sate the Hate

I’m feeling rather stabby today. I don’t know if it is because of the rain, my sore throat, the recent death in the family, or the massive car repairs, but my mind is lingering in gloomy places. Even the cat refuses to come near me.

In addition to all this crap I’ve had to deal with, over the last few days I’ve seen several young girls broadcasting messages —confrontational, stupid messages — and I just want to rip them to shreds. They are just kids. Technically teens. If you put yourself out there on YouTube or the Today Show, you must realize people are going to judge and comment on your message, right?

Earlier this week I ranted about the sexy high school yearbook photo controversy.  Yesterday I found a video of a young teen asking us to boycott Girl Scout Cookies.

Boycott Girl Scout Cookies? Is she insane?  I sold those evil divine cookies for a cause for a least seven years, and ate them for at least thirty more. Why on Earth should I boycott them? According to this girl: because some troops refuse to discriminate against transgender children, and allow them to participate. The horror.

This little Girl Scout obviously worked hard on her message, practiced the delivery, and attempted to present it like a well-thought out argument. I’m assuming a parent recorded it for her, or is at least aware of her posting the video on YouTube. While I applaud her standing for what she believes in,  I vehemently disagree with her.

 I will buy twice as many Girl Scout cookies this year just to show how much I disagree with her bigotry.  (I suppose it won’t hurt that every little girl I know is selling them this year and has already hit me up.)


I am biting my tongue (or restraining my fingers) because I totally want to go off on this girl, but I remember how words can maim, and I did vow to be nicer.

Though I enjoyed a sheltered childhood and kind parents, others still spit comments which cut like a razor and seem to linger forever. I’ve suppressed most memories of the mean girls’ taunts in school and blacked out a good part of my college years (when I when I was not exactly a stellar friend either). I know so many people suffer far crueler jabs on a regular basis, but I’m cranky, so I’ll throw these little nuggets of venom out there for the world to judge:

No.  I just don’t like her. ~ Overheard from Mr. McGreggor, 4th grade P.E. coach, on why he wouldn’t let me join the safety patrol.

Your so clingy. Stop following us around like a puppy dog and find your own friends. ~ 8th grade “friend” (who had the nerve to send me a friend request FB recently).

My, your so pale…and you’ve gained weight. ~ Aunt. I was 5’4 and about 104 lbs at the time.

But everyone else likes me. There’s obviously something very wrong with you. ~ Whispered by Mr. Arico, 10th grade biology teacher.

And this song goes out to (*insert my name here*)…they must have written it just for you…{cue Cold as Ice by Foreigner} ~ High school friend/massive crush/d.j. LIVE over the airwaves (because he couldn’t get into my pants).

What, you think you’re gonna be a brain surgeon or something? You’re JUST A GIRL… ~ Mr. Zagacki, 11th grade physics teacher.

Yeah,  you’ve gained weight. I can see it in your back. ~ (EX) college boyfriend.

You’re a Nazi, and you will be a terrible mother someday! You shouldn’t be allowed to even have  children! ~ Certifiably crazy employee (who I WAS NOT allowed to fire. At the time, at least.)

I guess I just need some sunshine and Samoas. Thin Mints would work just as well. Luckily, I think may still have a box or two lurking in freezer and/or Aldi is down the street (have you tried their ‘fake’ G.S. cookies yet?). Yup, cookies and sunshine…works every time…well, at least when it’s too early for wine.

22 Things I’ve Never Done

***I’m 37 and I’ve never:

Kissed my husband at the top of the Eiffel tower.

Wandered through a field of sunflowers.

Played in the snow.

Taken a gourmet cooking class (preferably in Italy or France).

Mastered walking in stilettos.

Officially learned how to surf.

Been published in a national magazine.

Built a bonfire on the beach.

Drunk a bottle of wine costing more than $50.

Cruised the Pacific Coast Highway in a sports car or convertible, preferably.

Been pampered with a massage or facial.

Caught dinner and a show on Broadway.

Been inked.

Bought an expensive designer purse.

Learned to like sushi.

Stared a great white shark in the eye (from inside a strong, steel cage, of course).

Watched orcas breech and porpoise in a frigid sound.

Jumped into a pile of crimson and bronze fall leaves (then raked them up again).

Danced at a masked ball.

Savored a twelve course tasting menu.

Snuggled up with my son in a tent in the woods and protected him from things that go bump in the night.

Finished my damn novel.

**Now Mama Kat and the Pioneer Woman came up with this great list. But while I pondered some of the things I someday want to do, I was thinking about all the cool things I HAVE done.

So I’m going to start a meme for that, so we can feel good about what we have achieved in our short lifetimes.

Come back here next Tuesday and link up 22 Things I HAVE Done.  Have you run a marathon? Perfected the snow angel? Eaten octopus? We want to know.

One-Buck Chuck and my Frugal Food Challange

So back at the beginning of the month I wrote about My October Food Budget Challenge and promised to save ALL of my grocery receipts. The USDA thinks my little family of three should be spending $464 to $963 per month on groceries. I disagree.

Now, I DID mention that I am not including my wine budget. You can’t make me. 
But I do have to show off a Target frugal find from Friday:
No, I DO NOT DRINK Arbor Mist. 
OR White Zin.
(Well, maybe in college, but that was a LONG TIME AGO.)

But I know people who do. 
I’m just trying to be a nice hostess.
(They don’t have to know it cost $1.)
The Martin Codax, however, is a Albarino from the wine reigion of Rias Baixas in Northwest Spain. 
Reviews say its a pretty decent bottle for its $16 price point.
Personally, I like this bottle’s $2 price point much better.
I would have bought more, but I scoured the shelves and it was the ONLY one.
I only hope it didn’t sit in a truck for two years and taste like vinegar when we pop the cork.

Now back to the REAL budgeting.

Week 1 was tricky. I hosted Kiddo’s birthday party and had ten family members over for lunch, cake, and drinks and I had to bring store-bought cupcakes into his class.  There was also a ton of stuff I use on sale at Publix (with coupon matches–come on, how can I turn down pasta for a quarter?) so I had a much bigger shopping week than usual.

Week 1:

Publix $60.37 (saved $95.41 though)
Aldi $52.49
Walmart $15.84

TOTAL $128.70

Week 2:

Publix: $7.43
Aldi: $36.28

TOTAL:  $43.71

The USDA says I should be spending between $108 (thrifty) and $192 (liberal) per week, so even with the big party week, I’m still doing okay.

{sticks tongue out at USDA}
We shall see how it goes. I still have to do a Costco run before the end of the month. Ka-ching.

Flippant Friend Friday: Things I Can’t Say

Today I’m hanging over at the sweet and sassy Shell’s Things I Can’t Say.  You all have been by her blog, I know, whether it’s for her heartfelt Pour Your Heart Out Wednesdays or some of her uber popular and fun memes such as Rockin the Bump.  And if you haven’t been by, you need to go there right now.

Things I Can't Say

Things I probably shouldn’t say (or write): I hate children’s birthday parties. Being trapped in a melee of screaming kids running around with pinata bats or priate swords while on a massive sugar-high is bad enough. But having to host my own beloved Kiddo’s party nearly gives me a panic attack.

Make sure you head over to Things I Can’t Say to read all about how I am Martha Stewart’s worst nightmare. Maybe you can relate. Or maybe you really are the hostess with the mostess and thrive in a throng of kids. Chime in on the conversation.


Now, as a little sidebar, I have to share a MAJOR DISCOVERY that may change your world.

Aldi sells their own version of Girl Scout Cookies.


You no longer have to wait for the cookie booths to appear in the spring or your coworker to hit you up at work to buy some of her daughter’s cookies. You can get them anytime.  Well, at least a generic version of Thin Mints and Samoas (or Caramel Delights, depending on where you live).

This is NOT going to be good for my waistline. Or hips. Or self-control.

I’ll admit…I haven’t tested them out yet…I’m afraid once I take a bite I’ll go back and buy a case. But I do feel it is my responsibility to let you know if they are any good, so I’ll keep you updated.

Filet tastes on a franks & beans budget: My October Challange

While wasting time being productive on twitter last week, I stumbled upon a tweet which piqued my interest. 

Groceries? Money? I followed the link to the Official USDA Food Plans: Cost of Food at Home at Four Levels.  After I pushed my jaw back up from my chest, I found the information exceptionally interesting. According to these scientifically and mathematically formulated charts,  my little family of three should be spending at the grocery store each month:

$4880 – thrifty plan
$633.90 – low-cost plan
$783.80 – moderate plan
$964.40 – liberal plan

$964 per month? We’d have to be dining on filet mignon with a side of every off-season fruit and veggie sauteed in truffle butter each night for dinner. Maybe some homemade tiramisu as well (that darned marscapone cheese IS expensive). I could make all the recipes I wanted to try —  like truffled deviled eggs — from the new Cook Like A Rock Star cookbook I am reviewing for Bookshelf Bombshells. I would never have to clip another coupon in my life.

Now, these numbers are assuming all monthly means and snacks are prepared at home. Hubby and Kiddo brown-bag lunch and we almost never eat out, so these number should mesh, right?

I am not about to reveal our wine budget. 
You must possess top secret wino clearance to be privy to that information.
What a fabulous idea. I believe I will.

I  blogged last year about my grocery shopping addiction. If you haven’t read that post yet, you should — it explains my love affair with grocery stores and the rush I get when I score fabulous deals. Not all of us can climb mountains, jump out of perfectly good airplanes, or afford a vicious drug habit — a girl has to get her thrills somewhere. Everyone needs some hobbies, and well, I love food and I have a puney budget, so I have learned to make due.

I am nowhere near an extreme couponer; those people are certifiably crazy and I’m sure there will be an official disease named for them soon (couponaholic? suffering from extreme unnecessary stockpiling syndrome?). I do not illicit looks of terror form the cashiers when they see me coming.

I shop at three stores. I hit Costco for frozen meats, paper goods, and sometimes produce. I go to Publix for whatever is on sale (BOGO dry goods, frozen foods, and a tiny bit of meat and produce), and I use Aldi for just about everything else (milk, eggs, produce, and many other things are ALWAYS cheaper there).  Oh, and I hit the Entenmann’s outlet for bread and bagels ($1 for whole grain Arnold breads and Thomas’ bagels, okay). 

Yes, this takes some extra time, but time I have, money I don’t. It works for us.

So this month I am going to save all of my grocery receipts so I can discover what I really spend on food. I don’t have a set budget; I buy whatever is on sale. Some weeks I spend next to nothing, some weeks I stock up. I will be curious to see how it really evens out.

I am also starting will a full pantry and freezers (they are always full). Technically, we could go an entire month without shopping and not starve, but that would just be no fun. I will shop as per normal.

I have a couple of birthday parties and family entertaining events to work in this month. How much will that add to the bottom line? I’ll find out and let you know.

This should be interesting. And I will see if I have to eat my words…

Wordless Wino Wednesday: The Morning After

On a much lighter note…

Remnants of a good night. 
{No, not last night, but a memorable recent Saturday evening.} 
2005 Silver Oak Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
2008 Gnarley Head Old Vine Zin
2009 Big Ass Zin
and a reserve bottle of Winking Owl Chardonnay

Steaks on the grill
Potato, Proscuitto, & Fontina Cakes (recipe to come)
Sabrina’s Spinach Salad
Cheers, lovelies…

Summer Smashed at the Shore

The prompt:

Your blogging Tribe is visiting you for ONE NIGHT out on the town. Write a post with a pre-game drink recipe (alcoholic or non) and tell us where you’d take your blogging friends for a good time!

The response:

My recipe for a perfect {blogger} friend night on the town is actually more of a night in…

Instead of trying to yell over music and chatter of local restaurants and clubs we are going to take it nice and easy. We are meeting up at the timeshare condo on the beach.

It will be a night to let our hair down, kick off our shoes, and dig our toes in the sand.  No dress code. Swimsuits encouraged. Lounge wear is perfectly acceptable.

We’ll meet down by the pool where some cool mango bellinis will be waiting in chilled glasses.

 Mango Bellinis

1 tbsp fresh mango puree (or mango nectar in a pinch)
4 oz. chilled champagne or proscecco
chilled champagne flute
sliced mango to garnish

Add the mango puree/nectar to the bottom of the flute. Add champagne and stir to combine. Garnish with fruit. Chill out and enjoy.
The second refreshing glass of tropical paradise can be transferred to a plastic cup before we wander down the beach. The balmy ocean breeze blows away all our stresses and we forget about our hectic week, work, and family obligations. Computers are off and the kids are with dad/the sitter. We are officially off duty.

As the sun sets,  tiki torches glow and the pool bar and restaurant start gearing up. We dine poolside, our table overlooking the ocean so close we can nearly dangle our flip-flopped feet in the tide. The reggae band begins to play, a gentle, relaxing groove, and we laugh the night away.

After dinner and perhaps a few more drinks the band starts jamming and it’s time for dancing. Or maybe you may just want to chill in the hot tub. Life is full of tough decisions.

And yes, the indoor/outdoor pool has a swim-up bar (with a rather hunky bartender). This is the good life.

What does every girl’s night need next?  Why some dessert of course. Beside the beach-side fire pit is a buffet set up for grown-up gourmet ‘smores.  Yeah, you read right…

Grown-Up Gourmet ‘Smores go so far beyond just some dry, old graham cracker squares and a Hershey bar.  As we have matured, so have our tastes. Just some ideas to salivate over:

  • Nutella, thinly sliced French bread & marshmallow
  • Sugar cookies, raspberry-filled dark chocolate square, fresh raspberries & marshmallow
  • White chocolate, coconut-covered marshmallow, thin slice of pineapple & shortbread wafers
  • Gingersnaps, marshmallow & caramel-filled chocolate square
  • Peanut butter cookies, dark chocolate & marshmallow
  • Cinnamon graham crackers, Reece’s peanut butter cup & marshmallow
  • Pretzel chips, dark chocolate square with sea salt caramel filling & marshmallow
  • Chocolate wafers, caramel & marshmallow
  • Chocolate wafers, mint filled dark chocolate square & marshmallow
  • Coconut-covered marshmallows, banana, dark-chocolate caramel square & shortbread wafer

Are you drooling yet? Yes, we will be keeping Ghiardelli in business that night. And we will be oh so thankful we are wearing comfy, expandable lounge wear and cover-ups.

We will sit around the fire pit with a marshmallow roasting stick in one hand and an umbrella drink in the other.  After we stuff ourselves with these gourmet delights we can sit back in our Adirondack chairs digesting, watching the moon rise over the ocean, and savoring our escape from our hectic everyday lives.

Since we are hanging by the condo we have a built in crash-pad — no designated drivers and no bedtime. The party will go on until dawn and there is always time for some more dancing…

So when are you coming down to the Sunshine State?

Cheers, Ladies…

Link up at Adventures in Mommyhood or at My Time As Mom now until Sunday, August 28th



Time Destroyed my Thyme: Failures of a Suburban Organic Gardner

I was Queen of the garden, guardian of nature, supreme boss of the land.

 These photos showcase delectable memories…

…of last year’s amazing garden.

 An army of multi-colored sunflowers stood guard against my garden fence, their bright and showy blooms following their namesake across the sky each day.

Plump, warm tomatoes hung from sprawling branches no cage could contain and mingled with sweet basil and savory green onions.  Oregano and thyme trailed over the garden wall, perfuming the air each time we brushed past. 

I scavenged through cookbooks and websites in search of new recipes to utilize the bountiful harvest.  Graceful flowers mixed with aromatic greenery covered tabletops and counters. The essence of summer permeated our home.

After the success of last Spring’s garden I decided to kick it up a notch: this year I would grow all my plants from seeds. I would be a suburban organic farmer and locovore extraordinaire. Better Homes & Gardens would be knocking on my jasmine covered garden gate begging to do a photo shoot.

I planted my two favorite varieties of tomatoes, basil, parsley, thyme, green onions, chives, sweet red onions, yellow squash, zucchini, four types of peppers and two kinds of corn.  I worked organic manure into the soil with my thinly gloved hands.  I tied homemade tomato cages together with biodegradable twine.  I nurtured my seedlings with daily waterings, organic fertilizers…I may have even sang to them a few times, encouraging them to grow vigorous and healthy.  I was going to have a garden to rival Martha-Freaking-Stewart.

Bees and dragonflies darted between the delicate blossoms.  Green tomatoes small as peas and mini ears of corn poked from beneath green leaves.

Then the trouble began.

A family of field mice conducted nightly raids on the yellow squash and zucchini decimating the harvest until Hubby wiped them out in revenge. The young plants never recovered (though neither did the mouse colony).

My tender seedlings needed daily watering. The lack of rainfall this Spring doubled my monthly water bill.

Finally the rains came and brought with them a plague of mosquitoes so thick I had to douse myself  with half a bottle of Deep Woods Off AND wear long sleeves, pants, and an utterly unattractive scarf/hat combo just to pull a few of the never-ending weeds erupting from the soil.

Then came this Amazonian heat and humidity. Summertime arrived with its red hot guns blaring. June brought afternoon highs topping 100 degrees. Nighttime temps hovered in the 70s. Just a peek at the garden and I was soaked with sweat. All I could do was stay inside and hide in the A/C.

  Unfortunately, my garden wanted to do the same…

The weeds and repressive heat threw a coup d’etat on my garden.  My harvest consisted of one dish of lackluster tomatoes.  One 3 by 5 inch dish. Only brittle skeletons of my beloved herbs and crops remain.  The once beautiful plot now looks as if it was the victim of a forest fire or plague of locust.  The wild weeds have taken over and mutant mosquitoes reign over the land like Dracula’s spawn.

Bye bye dreams of BH& G. Screw you summer and Martha-Freaking-Stewart.  Screw. You.

Next year I’m just going to hit the farmers market and save my sanity and my skin.

I get the point Mother Nature.  I know who’s the boss now.

Mama’s Losin’ It


I am a grocery shopping addict

Hello, my name is Vinobaby, and I am a grocery shopping addict.

There. I’ve admitted it. My coupon clutch runneth over. My pantry overfloweth. I eagerly await each week’s sale flyer, then peruse the goods, carefully circling my favorite buys. The glimpse of an unadvertised in-store special makes my heart race. I clutch my receipts like a trophy at the end of each trip, and give a only nonchalant smile when the cashier says, “Wow, you did great!” And my receipts are long and lean.

Which may be the problem. As a SAHM on a tight budget, trips to the grocery are not only allowable expenditures, but essential. It is the one place where I can leisurely stroll the isles, browsing the new merchandise, filling the cart to the brim with goodies I feel good about buying.

Now, I don’t mean for it to sound as if I am on a leash (tight, studded, or whatever you may imagine). In our household, I actually control the money, bills, and all expenditures with an iron fist. But I know at least once a week, depending on how many stores I hit, I can swipe my debit card absolutely guilt free.

In fact, I am quite proud of my receipt totals. I was a coupon clipper and bargain hunter extraordinaire long before it became trendy. I saved my Mom’s expired coupons as a little girl. In college, once I actually started buying food myself, I rediscovered the value of those little pieces of paper (hey, saving sixteen bucks back then was giving me a lot of beer money). Once I had my Kiddo and our income was cut in half, my monthly savings enabled me to stay at home with him.
Checking the totals at the end of each trip became a high. How much did I save compared to spend? I don’t meal plan or create weekly menus or any of that crap. I buy what I know we like that is on sale. If our favorite brand of pasta sauce is on sale BOGO, I stock up and buy ten jars. Pasta is on sale too? I have a coupon, so each box will be almost free–I know I have eight boxes at home already, but how do you pass up 19 cent pasta? I know they will be used…eventually…
I never know what is for dinner each night until about 5 p.m. and I decide what I am in the mood for. I actually like to cook. Sometimes dinner is a culinary masterpiece straight out of Gourmet, sometimes it’s dolled-up Hamburger Helper, but whatever I may want, the ingredients are most likely well stocked in my pantry and freezer.

I suppose this addiction may be at least partly genetic. As I was growing up, my Mom’s overstocked pantry was something I would show my friends for shock value. They may be scrounging up anything in the fridge not covered in mold for dinner, but in our house there was a selection of every mix, can, or box readily available for a home cooked meal. Want cake for dessert? There were at least 6 different boxes of cake mix (and coordinating frosting, of course) to choose from. We would joke that if there was ever a hurricane or Armageddon, the party would be at our house.

My Mom is also the only person I am aware of that ever injured herself with this addiction. She opened her packed (yet amazingly organized) freezer one afternoon and a frozen quiche fell on her foot. When I came home I found her crying on the kitchen floor with an ice pack on her foot, waiting for my Dad to take her to the E.R. for an x-ray. Horrible daughter that I was, I just couldn’t stop laughing, and later had a great time telling everyone how my Mom broke her foot. Alas, now I can wholeheartedly sympathize with her plight.

Ever girl needs a hobby, right? I just happened to make mine more productive than say scrapbooking or knitting. Every week is a new challenge, trying to make the bill go down and the quantity of bags go up. And we get to savor the end result. I’ll take some Boursin and Prosciutto Stuffed Chicken with a side of Truffle-Scented Mushroom Risotto any day over a crotchet toilet paper cozy.

Yesterday’s total was a whopping $36.92 with a savings of $77.98. Not too shabby. The only problem was my cupboards were full to the brim and my freezers were overflowing. Ugh oh. But we have saved so much over the years that I get a bigger, brand new energy efficient freezer next month for my 10th Anniversary present. No diamonds for me–practical gifts thrill me.

Now off to the pantry. What shall I make for dinner tonight…?