Thursday, March 31, 2011

Thoughts on a Thursday

It's time for Thoughts on a Thursday (mini edition since I apparently don't have that many thoughts!).  Link up with Carolyn to play!

  • I'm so glad that tomorrow is Friday!  I've been a day ahead all week and I just knew when I woke up this morning that today was Friday.....not so much.
  • In my Target free beauty bag was a sample of Frederic Fekkai shampoo and conditioner.  I used it for the first time last night and honestly, I'm not that impressed.  Maybe I just didn't use it right, but for me, my hair didn't end up looking or feeling any different than normal.
  • I did really good this week at taking my lunch!  My normal lunch buddy at work is out of town for 2 weeks, so I've sort of been forced to eat what I bring.  I've eaten a salad for lunch almost every day.
  •  Apparently I'm the worst scheduled poster in the world.  Last week's Thoughts on a Thursday was written Wednesday night......and got posted Wednesday night.  Now I'm scared of scheduled posting!

What are your thoughts on a Thursday??

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Simple Pleasures

Isn't a freshly mowed lawn one of the greatest things ever.  It smells looks's easy to see if there are any "surprises" hiding.  Now if only it was KB's favorite chore (instead of waiting until it gets knee high)!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Guilty Pleasure

Don't judge, but I would really like to have one of these....

I drink an insane amount of seltzer water, but after watching a documentary on Netflix about how bad the bottled water industry is, I've cut back.  I want one of these so bad......but maybe not $200 bad.  Does anybody have one of these?  Are they worth it?

Once again....the cheapskate in me will probably win out!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Menu Sunday....on a Monday

Yesterday got away from me before I could do a Menu Sunday here is what the Browns will be eating this week:

Mon: Southwest Beef Enchiladas
         I ended up changing pretty much everything about this recipe except for the dough.  I had some leftover sausage from last week, so I substituted sausage and cheese for beef and carrots.  The dough was really easy to make and was very tasty.

Tues: Slow-Cooker Asian Pork
          I didn't make a slow cooker recipe last week, so I felt obligated to do one this week.  I've also been craving chinese food recently.  I'm also making quite a few substitutions to this recipe; I'll be using pork chops instead of shoulder and bagged frozen asian vegetables instead of snow peas.

Wed: Chicken with Chipotle Alfredo Sauce
         KB loves alfredo sauce, I love mexican, and apparently the Pillsbury dough boy loves both.  This recipe looks pretty easy and delicious.  I couldn't find the chipotle peppers in the podunk grocery store, so I'll be substituting green chiles.

Thurs: Leftover Beef & Barley Stew
         I made this on Saturday and it was delicious!  The recipe also made a ton, so I was able to freeze some for us to eat later.

Fri:  Something I don't have to cook!
       Since it's tax season, KB has been working late most weekends (and weekdays!), so I've sort of stopped cooking on Fridays for now.  Hopefully once our lives become normal again I can get back into the swing of things.

What goodies will you be eating this week???

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Stupendous Saturday

So far my Saturday has consisted of the following stupendous things....

While I still haven't been able to find Castile soap to make my homemade cleaning products anywhere...I was able to find this little guy at the podunk grocery store.  So far I've cleaned my sink and my shower with it and it seems to be working well.

While I was waiting on getting a new set of tires put on the car this morning, I picked up a new bird feeder.  This one can double as a bird feeder or bird bath......with all the rain lately it'll probably end up being the bath.  KB made lots of fun of me when I bought an industrial size bag of bird seed.  I think I'm turning into my grandmother.

I'm making For the Love of Cooking's beef stew tonight.  I was actually able to find barley in the podunk grocery store this morning.  It's been cooking all day and it's making my house smell great.  It's a gross, cold, rainy day here, so I'm also making baked apples.  Nothing says warm and cozy like beef stew and baked apples.

I got my free Target beauty bag in the mail yesterday.  Nothing makes me happier than to come home to find loads of free beauty products waiting for me in my mailbox.  Unfortunately, we don't have a Target here in podunkville, so I don't frequent the Tar-jay.  There are loads of good coupons in here, so I may have to make a special run.

What's making your Saturday stupendous??

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Recipe Review: What's Shakin' Beany Bacon Soup

This soup was the  If you are a fan of Campbell's Bean and Bacon soup (which I am.....and sometimes I feel so wrong saying that I love a weird processed meat soup) then this is the soup for you.

The recipe was really really easy to follow and I ended up making only a few substitutions.  One thing I like about Hungry Girl recipes is that they are fast, easy and healthy (ok...I guess that's three things).  I ended up not using an onion and less chicken stock since I wanted a thicker soup.  I also skipped the part about putting half of the soup in the blender to make it creamier.  Since I cut down on the chicken stock, it ended up being pretty creamy just because it had a thicker texture.

KB said this was one of the best soups he'd ever had (and I make soup at least once a week).  This one is definitely a keeper!

Thoughts on a Thursday

It's time for Thoughts on a Thursday.  Link up with Carolyn!

  • I am so glad that it's Thursday!  This week went by really fast and I'm hoping that Friday will cruise by too.
  • The weather has been so nice this week, but it supposed to be cold again (it's weird to think of high 50s as being cold) tomorrow.  I've gotten used to not having to have the heat on (even at night).
  • I've been really bad about eating out this week.  One of my co-workers is going on vacation for 2 weeks (I'm very jealous!) and we're trying to get in all of her favorite lunch spots before she leaves.  I have been really good about working out though.  I guess one out of two isn't bad!
  • This week I'm only cooking 2 real meals (and I did those Monday and Tuesday).  Last night we had pizza and tonight we are having sausage biscuits.  I know sausage biscuits don't sound like normal dinner food, but what else am I supposed to do with 4 pounds of homemade sausage!  I'm sorta liking the whole "don't cook real food for dinner" thing.
  • I'm looking to switch up my shampoo/conditioner routine.  Right now I use Pantene Naturals and my hair feels a little greasy most days.  Any good suggestions that aren't super expensive?

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Workout Review: Biggest Loser Cardio Max Weight Loss

You lied Bob Harper!

While the cover would have you believe that this will be the best cardio session of your life, good ole Bob does not deliver.  Most of this DVD consists of strength training with short cardio bursts.  Like most of the Biggest Loser DVDs, this is supposed to be done over 8 weeks.  There are 3 workouts, a warm up and a cool down.

I ended up doing all of the workouts together (it lasts about an hour).  Most of the cardio consists of jumping jacks or jumping rope.  While some of the strength training it good, it mostly is just push ups (gross).

One of the main reasons why I pretty much hated this workout is this lady:

For some reason every time I do a workout with her on it I end up being really mad by the end.  She puts off this vibe of "I'mbetterthanyoubecauseIusedtobefatbutnowI'mbeautiful" I just want to yell at her.  I can't help it I didn't start off weighing 300 lbs.

Rant is over now....

Monday, March 21, 2011


I had a busy little weekend!

  • I made this cake and it turned out to be absolutely delicious and it's sort of healthy (that way I didn't feel too bad about eating almost half of it).
  • I tried my first round of bread making with this recipe.  It tastes good, but the loaves are kinda squatty and hard to make sandwiches with.  Any idea for improving my loaf height (that sounds like a problem!) would be greatly appreciated.
  • The weather was glorious and it has stayed that way! I got to dry clothes outside for the first time in a long time.
  •  I deep cleaned my house using my homemade cleaning products made out of various combos of vinegar, castile soap, bon ami powder, and baking far so good!
  • I also got to spend some quality time with these lovely ladies....


Sunday, March 20, 2011

Menu Sunday....

This is what the Brown's will be eating this week (I know this is a pretty piss poor recipe list.....but I'm going to be lazy this week and not really cook):

Mon: Easy Beef Stroganoff
        I've actually never made or eaten beef stroganoff (I know shocker!).  Steaks were on sale at the grocery store, so this ended up being a really cheap meal.  I'll be replacing the sour cream with plain greek yogurt, hopefully it'll work.

Tues: What's Shakin' Beany Bacon Soup
         I'm a big fan of Campbell's bean and bacon soup, but not such a big fan of the huge amounts of sodium and calories.  This recipe looks really easy.  Hopefully this will be just like the bean and bacon soup I adore.....but better for me.

Wed: Pizza of some sort
         I've got leftover pizza sauce, pepperonis and mozzarella cheese from the last time I made pizza.  I have to use them before they go bad, so no real recipe for Wednesday!
Thurs: Breakfast sandwiches
          KB's dad gave us a ton of sausage that I need to use.  I love sausage biscuits with cheese and that seems like a good enough dinner for a Thursday night.

Fri:  Something that I don't cook
       Who knows.....maybe hamburgers.....maybe frozen pizza.....maybe something more exciting.

Extras: HG's Upside Down Pineapple Applesauce Cake
          I ended up making this last night and it was que delicioso!  I like Hungry Girl recipes because they are slimmed down versions of everyday food....but they still end up tasting like the real thing.  This cake was very moist and worked well with the pineapple.  You really can't taste the applesauce in this at all.

These are my lame recipes for the week.....what are yours?

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Thoughts on a Thursday

Link up with Carolyn to share your Thoughts on a Thursday!

  • I am so so sooooo glad that tomorrow is Friday.  Sadly, one of my coworkers died very suddenly and tragically last week and ever since then we have been spread pretty thin with taking care of our clients and work, but also taking care of hers.  We are actually hiring right now (shout out to any project managers in the NC area) so hopefully once someone gets hired and trained it should slow down.
  • I have to go pick up a few things at Sam's Club tomorrow and I'm already sort of excited for the train wreck that it will be.  Sam's is always super super crowded on Friday nights and there are always some of the weirdest people in there.  Last time some old woman told me that I was "beautiful" in the canned meats aisle.
  • This weekend is supposed to be beautiful with highs in the mid 70s......enough said.
  • I'm thinking about starting to bake our own bread on the weekends.  I normally buy a loaf of bread for KB to eat sandwiches for lunch and I've noticed that bread is sort of expensive.  It can't be that hard to make your own bread right?  My mom and grandma do it a lot and theirs always turns out okay.  Any good recipes or tips would be greatly appreciated!
  • Verizon delivered me a new phone today!  I lost my phone last weekend and was due for an upgrade, so the cheapskate in me decided to get the free phone that was offered to me.  At first I really wanted a smartphone, but after talking to people that had them, I don't think I'd use it that much.  I also didn't want to pay $30 for a data package that I probably wouldn't use.  Basically it was a battle with my cool self and my cheap self.....the cheap self won.
What are your thoughts on a Thursday?

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Reading Rainbow...

Take a's in a book.....

Just like Levar Burton, I'm going to tell you my favorite books I'm reading these days.

This is one of the best books that I've read in a really long time.  I went into it thinking that I would hate it, especially with all the hype I'd heard about The Kite Runner.  Last night it was all I could do to stop myself from reading it and go to bed.  It actually almost made me cry....almost.....I couldn't let KB see what a weirdo I was for crying over a book.  It is really moving and I definitely want to read more of Khaled Hosseini's books now.

KB actually got me this book for Valentine's Day a really long time ago and I'm re-reading it now.  It has lots of useful factoids and tidbits in a funny easy to read style.  I normally don't read nonfiction books, but this one is pretty good.  It's very easy to understand, but also has lots of useful info about keeping yourself pretty....inside and out.

So....what are you reading these days?


Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Sugar High


I just almost ate an entire bag of Starburst Jelly Beans.  These are one of my absolute favorite candies.  I'm normally not a huge jelly bean fan, but these are heaven.  My blood sugar levels will not be in heaven in a few hours.....but who cares.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Workout Review: The Firm Cardio Dance Fusion

When I first turned this workout on I was pretty sure I was going to hate it.  The girl that hosts is very very happy.  Most of the time by the time I get home from work, cook dinner, deal with the puppies and actually have time to work out....I'm not very happy.  She actually talks a lot like the older judge lady from the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders tryout show.

Even though the host was a little annoying, the workout itself wasn't too bad.  There are four dance segments (latin, jazz, cheer and modern).  The latin, cheer and jazz sections were all pretty challenging and had a lot of jumping and advanced choreography.  You learn the routines pretty fast, but you end up repeating them at least 4 or 5 times, so it's pretty easy to get eventually.  I was not a big fan of the modern routine.  I actually thought this was the cool down because there's such a change in the intensity level.  It's a lot of ballet type things that I'm not really into.

There are 2 segments on the DVD, an express 25 minute dance version and the full hour long version. I only did the hour version, but the 25 minutes may be better if you can't take the double dose of pageant smiles and "cheer hands"!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Menu Sunday

Here's what the Browns will be eating this week:

Mon: Tuna Noodle Casse-Bowl
        KB loves tuna.  We never really ate fish growing up, so I'm having to learn how to deal with it.  The Hungry Girl always has some really quick, easy and healthy recipes.  I couldn't find the shiritake noodles in our podunk grocery store (surprise, surprise), so I'll be using whole wheat elbow macaroni.

Tues: Mom's Frittata
         I love frittatas.  They are easy and cheap.  I'll be making the Spinach and Swiss version of this recipe.  I'm going to be substituting kale instead of spinach since I had to buy it for another recipe.

Wed: Orecchiette-alla-Rustica
         I can hardly pronounce this one, but the recipe looks pretty easy.  This will be our meatless meal for the week.  Since I couldn't find the orecchiette, I'm going to use the rest of the whole wheat elbows.  I'm not a huge olive fan, but kalamata olives are not nearly as gross as normal olives, so hopefully it won't be too bad.

Thurs: Winter Lentil Soup
         Even though it's not supposed to really feel like winter here next week, I had almost all the ingredients to make this on hand.  This looks like it would be a good recipe to use up any leftover dried beans or veggies that you have laying around.  I'm going to try to adapt this into a slow cooker recipe and up the water/stock so hopefully it won't be too dry.

Fri: Pizza, sandwiches....something I don't have to cook.
       I'm taking the day's closed!

What goodies will you be eating this week?

Friday, March 11, 2011

Recipe Review: Lamb, Balsamic and Sundried Tomato Meat Loaf

While my loaf isn't quite as lovely as the one on the recipe it ended up tasting pretty good.  My loaf was a little dry.  I ended up substituting ground chicken for the lamb, but I didn't add in any additional oil to the recipe, so I think the leaner meat ended up making it dry.

This recipe was really simple and the only drawback is the fact that it has to cook for almost an hour.  Due to the balsamic vinegar and the sundried tomatoes it had a really nice salty bite.  The whole reason I made this recipe is because it doesn't have a sauce.  KB refuses to eat meat loaf with any type of sauce on it.  That being said, I think this would be really good with some balsamic vinaigrette baked on top of it.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Thoughts on a Thursday

It's time for thoughts on a Thursday!  Link up with Carolyn to play along.

  • I can't believe that it's Thursday already!  This week has flown by.  Both KB and I have been really busy with work and it seems like this week has just started.
  • Has anyone tried this laundry detergent before?
I got it because it was on sale at Sam's and I needed laundry detergent.  So far it smells kind of weird, but in a good way.  Supposedly it's all natural, but I'm a little skeptical.

  • I scored a lot of free clothes this week...woohooo.  A coworker of mine that has lots more money than me and much better fashion sense than me, but is luckily the same size as me is cleaning out her closet and has brought me 4 bags of clothes.....4 BAGS!  It's like Christmas every time I see her.  Some people are weird about taking other people's clothes, but most of them still had the tags on them.
  • I've started to look around for bathing suits for this year's summer vacations.  Most of the time I like the freedom of a bikini, but I'm definitely not the tonest girl on the block.  It doesn't really bother me and most of the time I wear a bikini anyway, but I'm thinking I might tone down my look this year. I really love this suit:
But the tightwad in me says that $200 is way too much for something you only wear a couple of months out of the year.

What are your thoughts on this Thursday???

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Good Reading

I've gotten quite a few books read these past few months.  I'm trying to get back into reading at night before bed instead of watching television.  Growing up and in high school I read for pleasure (that's a naughty sounding term!) often, but during college I was kind of over reading.  I'm trying to get back in the habit.  A few of my favorites that I've read recently are:

 This book took a while to get started, but once I got into it I couldn't put it down.  I've put the movie version on my Netflix.  It'll be interesting to see if it's as good as the book.
 This was a last resort read.  I didn't make it to the library and the only actual books we have in the house are leftovers from college.  KB (being your average peace, war and defense major) had this on hand and told me that I "probably wouldn't hate it".  It took me a long time to read, but it was a really moving story.
I'm really loving the Hunger Games books right now.  I read the original Hunger Games around Christmas and couldn't wait to read the sequel.  These books go by so fast because they are well written and are a really interesting story.  I'm waiting on the final book to become available at the library.

What good books have read recently?  Are you on GoodReads?  If so, feel free to add me (REBrown).

Monday, March 7, 2011

Workout Review: Biggest Loser Boot Camp

I really wanted to challenge myself to a workout that was insane.  A lady I work with told me that this was a really really hard workout and that it would definitely challenge me.

When I got this from Netflix I was expecting it to be super challenging, so the first night I only did the Level1 boot camp routine.  The whole thing lasted about 25 minutes and wasn't too bad.  Since the first one was so easy I thought I'd step it up a bit and do all three levels combined.  All together (with the warm-up and cool down) it was about an hour and by the end I was sweatin' it.  It's definitely challenging, but there are lots of modifications.

The entire program is meant to be done in segments.  One week on the Level 1 boot camp, then add Level 2 and then add Level 3.  Overall it was a pretty good workout and even though it called for some specialty equipment (waterballs, medicine balls, resistance bands, etc) Bob had some easy  modifications that made the exercises possible with just weights.

It's definitely worth a try, but I'm not sure if I could stick with it for six weeks!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Menu Sunday

Here's what the Browns will be eating this week:

Mon:  Soup and Grilled Cheese
          It's supposed to be rainy and nasty all day today and early tomorrow, so soup and grilled cheese sounds good.  I also got the soup for FREE!  The podunk grocery store had a promo that if you bought Progresso soup and their version you got both for free.

Tues: Slow-Cooker Creamy Chicken and Biscuits
         I love chicken pot pie, but it takes forever to make.  This slow-cooker version seems really simple.  All you have to do is combine your ingredients and put some frozen biscuits on top....voila!

Wed: Asian Style Pork Chops
         For the Love of Cooking always has good recipes and pork chops just happened to be on sale this week.  I also ended up having everything to make the marinade on hand, so all I had to buy was the meat.

Thurs: Lamb, Balsamic and Sun Dried Tomato Meat Loaf
          I love meat loaf, but KB is not a big fan.  He refuses to eat meat loaf with any type of sauce on it, so I'm constantly on the lookout for sauce free meat loaves.  I saw this in my Woman's Day for this month and knew it would be so delicious.  I will be using ground turkey instead of lamb, but I think the balsamic and the sun dried tomatoes will be the stars of the show, so it shouldn't matter too much.

Fri: Tarragon Chicken Salad Sandwiches
      I love chicken salad and this recipe looks pretty simple.  Instead of the sour cream I will be substituting plain greek yogurt to give it an extra protein kick.  KB has also requested that this be made with tuna instead of chicken....I'm not so sure about that one.

Extra: KB's mom's Grape Salad
          I made this last night and it was so delicious.  Apparently this is a really common dish, but I had never heard of it or had it until last weekend.  I found the recipe on Taste of Home's website.  I substituted plain greek yogurt for sour cream, used splenda instead of sugar and used low fat cream cheese.  I'm telling myself that it's ok to eat almost the whole bowl full!

What goodies will you be eating this week?

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Mean Green Cleaning Machine

Because I'm not Uncle Penngybags, I've decided to go green and save some green in the cleaning department.

Being the ultimate cheap skat that I am, I'm thinking about making some of my own cleaning products.  Not only are cleaning products expensive, but I've started to notice that they don't really work any better than just water and hard scrubbing.

I've heard a lot about vinegar, baking soda, castile soap, peroxide, and lots of other weird things combined, but I'm a little wary to start combing household items all willy nilly.

Does anybody know any good recipes for homemade cleaning products or any good blogs/websites about it?

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Thoughts on a Thursday

These are my thoughts on a Thursday:

  • I did Carmen Electra's "Vegas Strip Workout" last night.  I really thought I was going to love it....big mistake.  It was probably the worst workout DVD I've ever done.  She teaches you dance moves, but then they show her doing them in slo-mo.  I can't learn in slo-mo Carmen.
  • I found out today that I have to "work from home" on Sunday.  While my job is most of the time not very stressful and I don't have to work outside of normal business hours, recently things have been getting crazy.  I feel like I'm drowning in work!
  • The tights I wear with anything other than black officially bit the dust this week.  I'm so ready for spring so I don't have to buy another pair in order to wear anything other than dress pants or black tights.
  • At KB's birthday dinner last week his mom made this delicious desserty salady thing called grape salad.  Ever since I ate it I've been having visions of was that good.  I'm thinking about making a lighter version of it this weekend.  Recipe review on the way!

Link up with Carolyn to tell your thoughts on a Thursday!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Recipe Review: Gravy Pork Chops with Stuffing Biscuits

I made this recipe strictly for KB.  He loves all things gravy and all things pork chops, so why not combine the two?  I got this recipe in a weekly recipe newsletter from Bisquick. 

This is what the recipe is supposed to look like:

This is what mine looked like:

While mine definitely is not the prettiest, it did end up tasting pretty good.  I made quite a few tweaks to the original recipe though, so that may be why it didn't exactly look right.  First off, I made my own gravy.  Pre-made gravy was almost $3 a jar at the store, so I ended up buying a 50 cent packet of brown gravy mix and just made my own.  This made way tooo much gravy (if there even is such a thing!).  I also used "Heart Smart Bisquick".  It's supposed to be better for you, but when you eat mashed potatoes, gravy and pork chops....does it really matter?  My pork chops were also seasoned with lemon pepper seasoning because KB has some weird obsession with lemon pepper.

Overall it was a pretty easy recipe that tasted pretty good.  It was a little on the salty side for my tastes, but you could easily not season the pork chops and I think it would be a little better.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Happy Happy Birthday....take two

Someone else in our family has a birthday this week:

 My darling little Rosebud!!!!!
Happy 2nd birthday little Rosalita!