Thursday, September 30, 2010

Dollar Tree

The Dollar Tree
15th & Alma
Plano, TX

I grew up thinking that the dollar store was a pre-teen haven full of off-brand items that nobody needed. And to some degree, I was right. But, now, out here in the open, I am admitting to purchasing a number of random items at The Dollar Tree.

First I would like to say that there is in fact a difference in the dollar store location/chain you chose to visit. The store located just North of the shady Collin Creek Mall is both clean and tidy. My recent venture to said store was for writing notebooks for my Kindergartner which run between $4-6 at Target or Walmart. But of course, at The Dollar Tree, guess what!?! ONE DOLLAR! I was tempted by all of the fun Halloween items but remained focus and only strayed long enough to purchase an EXTREMELY cold Diet Coke (FANTASTICO).

Second, it was shockingly uplifting to find a cheery checkout lady! Not only was she nice, but she apologized for the rude customer ahead of me. The customer decided after she had been rung up to go get one more item from the back of the store and had the audacity (and good public relation skills) to not apologize to those waiting in line behind her. Sheer awesomeness from that customer.

Needless to say friends, if you have to run into The Dollar Tree for the odd good deal, visit the one in Plano. Good customer service, clean store, and not a bad way to spend a buck!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Bisquick isn't for this Betty

Don't buy anymore Bisquick, you don't need it! If your kids LOVE pancakes as much as mine do, you already have everything you need to make homemade, wonderful, fluffly, delectable pancakes right in your pantry!

This recipe can be varied in many ways. Throw some blueberries, chocolate chips, or bananas in there! I like to make a batch of pancake batter on Monday and then I have it all week! This is a Mimi trick-of-the-trade. Homemade, hot breakfast everyday and little to no work. I also use a Mickey Mouse waffler which makes better pancakes than waffles. If you want to do it the old fashioned way, then just watch for the little bubbles before you flip these bad boys.

Better Than Bisquick Pancakes

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (you can easily mix half wheat flour with this if you like)
  • 3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups milk (whole milk does work best here)
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted

In a large bowl, sift together dry ingredients. Make a well in center and add milk, egg, & butter. Whisk together. Cook with your preferred method of griddle, frying pan, or Mickey Mouse waffler! If you're dining with my five year old then you'll enjoy your Mickey Mouse pancake with a little butter, a lot of syrup, turkey sausage links and fresh fruit. Have a great morning!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Steinmart; I should know better

Belt Line Rd & Preston

Before you judge me for even going into Steinmart, know that I like to find fabulous gifts at random places. Not that that excuses it, but just so you know.

It makes me sad to write my first "Vinegar" entry. I don't know why. I know there is poor customer service out there, but I'm always hoping for the best, thinking each day is a new day in the world of the gracious consumer. Long story short, I went to Steinmart with my five year old to find a dear friend a birthday gift. My five year old is an excellent shopping companion and since my hubby was home, we left his one year old brother with Dad! Quality time just the two of us, jamming out to his play list in the car, in search of a fab gift for my friend.

Steinmart was the third place we went into and even though it was Friday afternoon, it wasn't that busy. Despite not being greeted at the door, which didn't surprise me, I had high hopes of finding something. Through the women's department we were completely ignored but one sales associate, then another in accessories, and by the time we got to the home department I was done. My guy was being a champ, staying right by me and using his best manners. Then in a tight spot in the home department, an associate squeezed by us and we BOTH said "excuse me" and she said NOTHING!!! As much as I wanted to, I said nothing. I told my son, in a louder voice, that he had excellent manners and isn't it sad that not everyone does?

I did find the gift and even though I didn't want to give them any money, we were short on time. So, I paid the checkout gal, who was friendly enough, and left. It has really bothered me all weekend but I figure this was the best I could do. Put it out there so none of you give them your hard earned money. And if you're thinking, Austin, I don't EVER shop at Steinmart, then you were right all along.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Cheater Chicken Soup

Sometimes you need your mom, or your grandma; or whoever treated you with chicken soup when you felt yucky. If nobody ever did that for you, I am sorry. Make sure you do it for your family so they know how much you love them! My mom made some pretty darn good chicken and noodles (we eliminated soup from the name because it was just so hearty!) that always made my sister and I feel better from whatever ailed us.

This last weekend was a series of stomach bugs with a brief intermission filled by the Texas State Fair. First time for us, even though we've lived here three years. Despite the rain, and I do mean RAIN, it was pretty fun. 4 kiddos in ponchos, one toddler under an umbrella, and four grown ups making their way through puddles, Fletcher's corn dogs, and cow milking seminars made for a memorable Saturday! But alas, come Sunday morning, the stomach bug came back with a vengeance and left my five year old and I out of commission, while my poor husband tried to keep a cranky toddler out of trouble.

So today, Monday, I knew we needed some soup for our souls. So, being a BIG fan of the Barefoot Contessa, I went to the good book and found what I needed. Here's the amended version to Ina's chicken soup. I am proud to say it was easy, the boys seemed to enjoy it, and we have leftovers to boot! Enjoy!

Cheater Chicken Soup
Amended from the Barefoot Contessa
  • 1 rotisserie chicken from your supermarket (Sam's Club has one of the best, and it's a friggin deal at $4) It's also great to have an entire chicken since the white and the dark meat combination is very flavorful
  • 2 quarts chicken stock (sometimes I make and freeze my own, today was not one of those days so I used the Tom Thumb/Safeway Organics brand of chicken stock)
  • 3-4 carrots, peeled & chopped
  • 3-4 celery stalks, chopped
  • 2 bags egg noodles (I use Reme's from the freezer section, next to the rolls. You could use any egg noodles you enjoy.)
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • Salt & pepper to taste

With a large soup pot, heat the chicken stock until simmering. While this heats, remove skin from chicken and remove chicken meat separately. Go ahead and get in there, don't be afraid! Discard skin and bones. Add carrots, celery, and noodles. Cook at a simmer for about 10-15minutes. Then add chicken and parsley. Cook until ready to serve. Add salt and pepper liberally as you like it while cooking.

Serve in a large bowl with a couple of yummy white rolls, hot with butter and honey. Everyone will feel better!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Smoochie, smoochie

This is simple. We all forget to do it. We all need to do it.

Kiss your husband. Kiss him like you kissed him when you were dating. Kiss him in a way that embarrasses your kids just a little bit.

If you stop him the minute he walks in the door from work and kiss the lips off of him, rather than engage in the usual parent to parent update/question/answer period things will be better. Guaranteed.

It's good to be nice to strangers in parking lots, polite to the mail man, friendly to the Starbucks Barista. It's more important to be nice to your hubby. Love on him, take some initiative!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Laundry Fairy

Did you go to bed last night dreaming of the Laundry Fairy and wake up to find she had not come? Shoot! Well, don't tell anyone, especially the kids, but surprise! You ARE the Laundry Fairy. If I can promise you more time out of the laundry room than in it, will try what I am about to suggest? Great, thanks so much for agreeing so readily! Here it is: LAUNDRY EVERY DAY. Are you there? Did you hang up?

The laundry system at our house consists of a simple little routine called "daily". Every morning before my boys get up, I have laundry going. By 10am, my laundry is done. D-O-N-E. That's washed, dried, and most importantly, PUT AWAY. I have only two children but my Grandmother, who has ELEVEN, did it this way and still does. Get it going right away and it won't eat up your entire day! A little rhyme and I didn't even mean to.

You will be a much happier housewife with a truly ecstatic husband (just watch) when there are not piles of clothes to wash and piles more to fold and put away. Enlist your little helpers to nicely put away their clean clothes. My five year old is fully capable of putting away all of his laundry that does not require hanging.

As far as linens are concerned, I believe sheets need to be done once a week and towels twice a week. Those could be completed on designated days though so if the designated day thing is what you're used to now, this will help you transition out of that. Ha! In terms of laundry products, I am OBSESSED with the Method laundry detergent from Target. It smells like Heaven, requires only 4-6 pumps depending on how dirty your dirtiest items are, and the bottle is the size of a shampoo bottle! Yay environment!

So, instead of wishin and hopin' for the Laundry Fairy tonight, go throw a load in right now and fold that pile of clean ones that won't be considered clean for much longer if they just sit there. Good work!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Mimi's Chili

Even though Dallas does not have the robust Fall weather I so long for, sometimes a girl has to pretend and force a season to happen at home. The Broncos are on (thanks NFL Sunday Ticket), school is in, and it's time for some foliage. Or in our case, chili! Now, chili is a bit like religion in my opinion. All falling under one common title with some little and some not-so-little differences from crock pot to crock pot. There are so many good ones out there but I am a tried and true Mimi, or as I call her "Mom", follower. My five year old is already well acquainted with Mimi's Chili and has his own style of dressing his up. Go figure. So, here it is; make it, enjoy it, and be glad dinner is on the table in no time because of a little planning on your part! Killer leftovers by the way.

Mimi's Chili
  • 2lb hamburger (you can use ground turkey)
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 teaspoons worcestershire
  • 2 15oz cans chili beans
  • 2 15oz cans kidney beans, drained
  • 4 8oz cans tomato sauce

Brown the hamburger and drain grease. Combine meat and all ingredients in crock pot and stir. Cover and cook all day on LOW. If chili reduces too much, you can add a can of water mid day. Remove bay leaves before serving.

It's fun to create a mini chili bar for your family. Everyone likes putting their own special touches on their bowl! At our house, everyone has their chili over rice. Sounds crazy but crazy good is what it is! Rice, chili, cheddar cheese, sour cream, and for my husband, hot sauce. We've been known to throw some Fritos on there too! Turn the football game on, have some friends over, and enjoy Mimi's Chili!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Clorox Wipes & You

Go ahead, buy that heart necklace that splits in two. One half will have the letters "Be Fri" and the other will have the letters "st ends". Its for you and the Clorox wipes. These are an essential tool in running the oh-so-easy to keep clean household and every gal should keep them around. If we were having a powder room timed cleaning competition, these handy wipes would get you to the gold medal round everytime. For my "green" friends, they do in fact make a "green" version that is earth friendly.

Little daily tip, wipe down one bathroom in your home everyday. 10 minutes equals crowd friendly bathrooms at all times. Start with the commode and wipe down the entire thing, including the base where some smaller friends tend to hit if aim is off. Then hit the vanity; sink, counter, and all. Some Clorox wipes have minimal streaking so you technically could use them on the mirror as well, but I'm a little old school and stick with the Windex. There you have it, zip zip. Commode and vanity spick and span. Run the vaccuum over the floor (even if it's tile) and you're in business. If it happens to be a full bath and not a half bath, we will address tubs and showers soon. I know you'll be waiting with bated breath.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Hello oven, I'm Austin

Say goodbye to takeout, goodbye to Central Market's fab deli, and hello to your major appliances! You can and will be friends with your kitchen! Whether you've been cooking all of your life or consider cooking taking the Pei Wei out of the to-go container and placing it nicely on your plate, this is for you. We all have to start somewhere and move forward. A few starter cookbooks, a weekly menu, and an understanding family not afraid to order the quick pizza now and then is all you need! Here we go!

Keepin it Clean

Hi Friends,

Let's have our first serious talk. Seriously. Don't be scared but be honest. If a friend who is not a great friend, but possibly a new friend or an acquaintance, showed up at your front door right now (and don't ask why somebody of that status would just drop in), is your house ready? Not, out of town guests for the weekend ready, but my child desperately needs to use your bathroom-do-you-mind ready? Housekeeping does not have to be scary or hard but it does take work. A few simple things to make routine at your house will make this scenario much less horrific. We're going to have some ground rules and some fast fixes so put your big girl panties on and get ready.


The lost art of good customer service and being a housewife are two things I am passionate about! I hope you enjoy tidbits about businesses who treasure the customer (and those who don't) and thus, send your dollars their way. And if you're sure June Cleaver had a housekeeper and a cook, or a substance abuse problem, I believe with a little help, we can all run a sane and happy home! Here's to giving it our best!