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Thursday, February 23, 2012

Finding Stuff for Free

I read a couple of interesting articles, and thought I would share them.

Everyone’s looking for a bargain; something costing less than what it normally costs, or even better, for free. 

For me, I get a jittery, euphoric high – the kind you get after eating chocolate – when I’ve made a good deal.  Someone definitely let the cat out of the bag with this top 10 list.

Also, there’s a little bit more competition in the area of streaming videos, movies and on-line T.V. at about half the cost of the leading one here.

One of my favorite stores, and by favorite I mean that I go there every week because my total bill is less for the things I buy every day – and I’ve done a lot of comparison shopping – has a new savings program that they are launching.  All you have to do is go  on line or to the computer kiosk in the store, load coupons (which you would normally clip from the weekly circulars) onto your member number, and then when you checkout, you swipe your card or input your member number and voila!  The coupons are deducted off your grocery bill.  And so that you don’t forget what you loaded onto your member number, you can printout a checklist of all the coupons, or email it to yourself so you can read it off your mobile device.  In addition, you can add other items to the list, so nothing’s forgotten.  There’s also deals on things that you buy all the time, and the program will let you know when those things go on sale, or when there’s a coupon for those.  In addition, there’s stuff only available to members.  It’s free to join, and when you do, they give you a free dozen eggs.  You can access on-line or in store.  Click here to see the program.

You want promo codes and coupons for eReader products?  Click here…  Note that there’s an expiration date.  And check out this cite where students (those with an email account ending in .edu) can get free service See this

There’s also a bunch of deals on this site.  Check out the free and discounted stuff you can get there, like saving 90% off used textbooks (overpriced already, right?) and free shipping…

Free samples and other products to try for free?  Click here (they are constantly adding to the list, so check back often – some of the deals expire too)…

I’m going to be very busy getting all this free stuff…before it all goes away!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

My Grandmother Quite Possibly made the best Banana Nut Bread on the Planet

It has taken me 30 years, but I’ve finally come close to her recipe.  Not an easy task.  My grandmother didn’t write down any of her recipes.  I only basically remembered by watching and helping.  She also never really measured anything, she just grabbed and dumped.  Her food was fabulous.  Although she never really claimed to be any sort of an expert cook, she could rival some of what is now considered “culinary genius”.   Without further ado, please enjoy…

Neurotic Grandma’s Best Ever Banana Nut Bread

Preheat oven to 350°F

Grab a big bowl and sift together:

1 ¾ c flour
¼ tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
½ tsp cinnamon (I never really measure this, I always add more or less ½ tsp.)

Set this bowl aside and grab another bowl:

Cream 1/3 c shortening

Gradually add 2/3 c granulated sugar and cream with shortening until fluffy

Add to shortening mixture:

½ tsp vanilla
2 eggs

Beat together well.

Add 1 ½ c mashed banana

Then gradually incorporate the banana mixture with the flour mixture.

Once blended, you can add 1 c chopped walnuts (but this is optional, I make it without nuts for my friends that have allergies to nuts).

Grease and flour a loaf pan (9” x 5” or so), and dump the mixture in.

Bake for an hour or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Sunday Night Baking Session

So my sister in law walks in the door Sunday night and she has a box of chocolate cake mix in one hand and some toffee chips in the other and asks me to bake her cookies – not just any cookies – but what she proclaims to be the best cookies she has ever had in her life.  This is how it went down….

Neurotic Momma’s Chocolate Cookies

(This will make 3-4 dozen cookies)

What you’ll need:

An oven
A bowl
A wooden spoon
A pair of oven mits
Cookie sheets
Cooking spray (like Pam)
A small plate
A large plate
A spatula
1 box of chocolate cake mix
1 tablespoon cocoa
1 egg
¼ cup water
1/3 cup oil
Granulated sugar

Optional ingredients
You can add the following to equal a cup:
- Chocolate, peanut butter or any other kind of chips (or even M & M’s)
- Peanuts, walnuts, pecans, macadamias or any other kind of nuts
- ½ cup of chips and ½ cup of nuts in any combination
- Use coffee in place of water to make the flavor of the chocolate come out even more


1. Heat your oven to 350°F
2. Dump the cake mix into the bowl
3. Grab the spoon and mix the cocoa into the cake mix (at this point, if you are using optional ingredients, add 1 cup of those and mix)
4. Add the egg, water and oil into the cake mixture and mix (although you will end up using your hands, as the dough gets pretty thick especially with optional ingredients) until the dough forms a ball
5. Set the bowl aside
6. Prep the cookie sheets by spraying on cooking spray lightly so the cookies won’t stick
7. Dump some granulated sugar onto the small plate
8. Grab a gob of the dough (about as much to form a 1 inch ball)
9. Roll it into a ball, then roll it around in the sugar, then put it on the cookie sheet
10. Space the balls out because they will expand a little (you’ll want a couple of inches between each ball)
11. Pop cookie sheets into the oven for about 11-14 minutes (depending on how crisp you want the cookies to be)
12. Put on your oven mits and take cookie sheets out of the oven and allow them to cool for about 5 minutes
13. Carefully remove the cookies with the spatula and place them on the large plate
14. …that’s if they make it to the plate, you’ll probably eat them as soon as you remove them off the cookie sheet

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Food Labels and School Lunches

For the past month or so, Ben has had an obsession with reading food labels.

Lately, he’s been checking every package he gets his hands on.  I’ve caught him going through our cupboards, rummaging through the refrigerator, checking cans, packages, boxes and bags.  Even at the store, he will examine the labels on packaged foods to determine if it’s too close or past the expiry date.

This annoys the living crap out of Jerry and me.  We’d like to think that we are being careful, and, supposedly, checking the food is our job anyway, but no; it doesn’t seem that we exercise enough discretion (according to Ben).

Interestingly enough, he does this at school too, and has caught lunchroom people trying to pass off expired food at the lunch line.   As a matter of fact, Ben got so irritated this past Friday that he didn’t even eat lunch at school.  He told me Friday night that he was never eating a school lunch again.

This is odd for him, strangely enough.  Ben has never been a very picky eater.  As a baby, he pretty much ate everything I fed him.  Of course he had his favorite things, but was pretty much happy with whatever we stuck in front of him.  Just as a rule, I served him foods that I liked, bypassing those things that I didn’t care for.  My mother chimed in and said that it wasn’t fair to him; he might like lima beans, cauliflower and eggplant.  So, I gave a broader range of choices hoping that my son would be a little more open-minded than me about foods like those.

Nope, not even close…

Now, it’s never really a fight at dinner time, except when it comes to vegetables; although sautéed onions, baked potatoes, and canned green beans are not seemingly controversial.  Those items are not in the “icky vegetable category”.  In addition, carrot sticks and sliced cucumbers also rank as being acceptable vegetables.  That pretty much leaves everything else on the icky list.  In addition, according to Ben, ketchup qualifies as a serving of vegetables, tomatoes does not.  Reasoning won’t help.  I tell him that ketchup is made from tomatoes.  He looks at me, incredulously, wrinkles his nose and says "EWWW... GROSS!!!"

Mind you, this is a kid that, until about a year ago, wouldn’t even eat French fries.

So I suppose there may be hope for him after all.