Sunday, June 30, 2013

$7 sizzler! Hot meals from Hot deals!

Here we go! Summer is here and the inn is full to capacity! That's right! All rooms are full, trundle is out and the couches are loaded up! With all this activity I have more mouths to feed and I want to make it good but y'all know it has to cheap.

This is one big problem with couponing......a lot of the items with matching coupons are processed, boxed, bagged and seldom fresh. Never fear! You can still save big and stretch your budget by thinking through your menu and really stocking your pantry!

Marinades, condiments, and basic starches are a pantry must and most of these items I am able to stock up on throughout the year for pennies if I pay anything at all. The rest I leave to the weekly sales and what's in season. Here was tonight's  $7 sizzler:
Hawaiian Chicken! Aloha!
This is so easy and has a million varieties and can also be used for fajitas, etc. The thing for big crowds of growing boys is rice, pasta,.....you know....plate fillers! Heehee!

I served this with rice and home brewed ice tea......I fed 6 boys with a lil leftover for whoever is the 1st to do a late night microwave run for seven bucks! WOOHOO! Yep....seven dollars! Shut yo mouth. (Actually, open your mouth and eat up!)

Here is what I started with:

Grocery list:
3 lbs chicken @$1.99 a pound and $2 off coupon = $4
Green pepper and onion: $1.50
Fresh Pineapple $1.49 (she was tiny)

Soy sauce, brown sugar, 2 bags boil in a bag rice, and garlic are what I call gimmes.......they were in the pantry and they were free for me from previous deals. I love having a gimme when all I hear all day is Gimme Gimme!!

I had seen a few recipes on pinterest but the reviews were not promising so I just browned the chicken in a lil olive oil.....removed. Loaded skillet with sliced peppers and onions and while those were sizzling I cored and diced the pineapple. Mixed  a 1/4 cup of brown sugar with a 1/4 cup soy sauce and added that and the meat back to the pan! What? yep! hmmmmmm. mmmmm. good! Fresh products, happy boys, and while the meal was on fire my pocketbook was not!

Every trip to the market doesn't end with people applauding from all the money I saved with coupons.....sometimes I don't even have 1 coupon in hand (ouch...it's true) but for most folks food is a number 2 or 3 top expense for the family. So, I have to pay attention and maximize that budget. Saving is sexy! Try this recipe out....and don't forget to save! Sizzle sizzle!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

I love pot! But I HATE weed!

Pots! Pots! OMG! I love pots, and I sure hate WEEDS!!!  And I see what a missing letter can do to your message! Lol
If you are anything like me, then you get a natural high from driving up to your home and seeing a nice crisp entrance. Not too busy but a little “pow” of color just to remind you of all nature can do. But who has the time for weeding and maintenance. Not me! So……..bring on the pots!!
Pots can be as fancy or plain as you desire. I use a basic budget of $10 per pot for the season for the porch and use leftovers or “extras” for other random pots around my yard and in my rose garden.
What I buy with the ten bucks is easy…..a bushy flowering annual, a sweet potato vine, and a coleus. These 3 are tried and true and while they start small they never fail to please. No weeding, a little water and you are done! Front porch bare? Patio pitiful? No worries. Shopping now, a little late for the season can give you great sales and a bigger show. Pop these in and you are BBQ ready!




Too much going on using that method? One big perennial can get it done for my minimalists out there. I use a clump of sedum in a cement planter and get a classic English Garden feel with no work. And…..it comes back every year. Now that is a onetime investment this real chick can live with!


Autumn Flower variety of sedum in a vintage cement planter

Terra cotta your cup of tea? Strawberries or Hens and chicks make a great addition to any porch and again, no work. Plant and you are done. Super quick and super cute….season after season!

Whatever your choice of intoxication…….simple, mixed, annuals, or perennials…….you can’t go wrong with pots all over for a polished porch that says I am ready for company. Puff on that! J Real talk!

Friday, June 14, 2013

With all the sounds of summer, listen for silence

Kids laughing, old timers groovin, old school R and B steaming through the outdoor speakers.....it's the sounds of summer. Think about it, those BBQs you remember most, the menu is always the same, it's the sounds that gauge if the party is jumpin.....long after the sun has set the music still plays. For me, the sound of summer means the splish splash of the pool and the crackling of the ocean's waves. This black girl don't run..............but she sure swims!!

When it comes to swimming, our motto is the more the merrier. We get it in! All summer long. Nieces and nephews and neighbors, let's go. No one is getting thrown out of this pool....this is family!!
weekend pool crew, having fun!
While no one gets thrown out.....there are rules to get in. Yup. Some rules. And the rules don't always go over very well. I've been accused of being bougie. (really?) Worried about insurance. (I'm not even making this up) And in many cases not taken seriously................by folks related to and guests in my home. But folks that really know me know I am not playing...........here's why:  Nearly 60% of Black children can't swim, almost twice the figure for white children!  Black children drown at a rate almost three times the overall rate. Go ahead, digest that.
Now, just to be clear....our "more the merrier" policy does not discriminate. It's a rainbow coalition in my backyard and my rules don't discriminate either. If you are swimming....you know the rules. The facts are the facts and drowning is SILENT! There is no soundtrack that comes with it. It is not like television with well thought out splashing and looks of panic. In many cases by the time people realize a child is missing, enough time has passed for the child to have drowned!!

When I opened my pool for the very 1st time a neighbor asked my son if he could come take a swim. Of course was the reply. Let me set it up for you so you can evaluate for yourself:
1. Parents dropped the child off at the house in swim trunks and with a towel (so they knew he was swimming, right?)
2. Parents did not come and meet me or see who would be supervising this activity (9 feet of water people!)
3. We asked the child, "can you swim and with a huge grin he said, "yes Ma'am!"

Ten minutes later while chatting on the side of the house my son comes running and screaming, "He's drowning! He's drowning!!" What? What do you mean he is drowning. How could that be?

When I rounded the corner I expected to see a flailing child, splashing and panicked. I did not see anything. At. All. "Where is he?" I said out loud even as my body was responding to the answer that my mind already knew. Lifeless. Underwater. Nine feet. NO. MOVEMENT.

In I went. Strong. Quick. How can a boy of 12 be so heavy? How can this be happening? Please don't let this beautiful boy I don't even know die here on this day. Got him. Now what? Kick. Kick. Push. Up. Air. Nothing.

Stunned, my husband was at the edge and ready. Lifting, pulling. Helping. In the winter boxes of my mind I pulled out what I knew to do....flip, empty mouth, cpr. Pray. Is it possible to do all of these things at the same time? Yes. I know. I did.

And then, coughing. "What is your name?" I screamed at the top of my lungs and the sound of his voice was like Jesus reaching down and caressing my face. But it wasn't over. Taking him home, offers to the ER being refused, trying to explain that a child can "drown" even hours later to parents that didn't understand. Hearing the whole story of how my son nearly was pulled down with him when he first jumped in to save his friend before getting help......And, finally, sobbing in gratitude. What next..........

Rules of the pool.
1. No swimming alone. Ever.
2. DEMONSTRATED swimming if swimming without flotation devices. (yes, I will stand and watch)
3. If you have young children, you must be present when your child is swimming. umm, AND WATCHING YOUR CHILD.
4. Must be able to explain how to help a swimmer in distress (pool stick, floating device....NOT jumping in)
5. There can be new rules at any time
6. Adults must comply as well

Now, I know in my experience there were so many things I did wrong. And I can share with you that I am one of those people that sees certain things on the news and I scream at the TV...Where were the parents!!!?? And yet......this happened to me. And somehow, I have managed to jump back in and get it in! And I still go by the motto, the more the merrier. It's nothing better than enjoying a hot summer day chilling by the pool. Chatting with a girlfriend. Soaking up some rays. Rockin to the Fresh Prince singing, Summer Summer summer time. And listening to the kids splash and play. But know this, while I may be swaying to the music, smile on my sunburned face, one ear is always listening fully to what I don't hear. Silence. And that is as real as it gets. Pay it forward beautiful people......teach a child to swim. It could save a life. Real talk. Happy summer!

Friday, June 7, 2013

My Facebook Crush and my hope for the future!

I have a confession to make. I have a Facebook crush. I know, I know.....me being straight-laced and married and all...how could I let this happen? Well, for starters...the cuteness. Off the charts cute. Can't get enough cute!! Then there is the strength. Even in a questioning or frustrated post there is an underlying strength that is tangible. And I love it. And then...there is the expectation....the teasing...that something even better is going to come? Keeping me wondering what's next! Yup....I got it bad. You may be wondering who it is? Are they local? Celebrity? What? Well......get your mind right....my Facebook crush is on the Davis Family.
Yep....these 3 right here that I have never met in person but I love like they were my own family. They are my reality TV. When CNN does Black in America I wish they would call them. They are my Huck family (you Scandal watchers know what I mean!) And they are my hope in the future.

We do not share the same religion. We live on different sides of the country. And I have never had a live conversation with any of these fabulous three. But I am rooting for them. If they were a series about to be cancelled I would write to the networks and plead for reconsideration!! Kiarah (the beautiful mom) is the daughter of my childhood neighbor. Bryan (handsome husband) is serving our country in the military. And that magnificent little ray of sunshine on his shoulders is their daughter Zuri. Her FB videos are better than anything I have seen on TLC.

Why should you care? Well, for the same reason I do. In a time when websites are completely devoted to "fight videos" and the news is filled with brown folks shooting each other, and even people on my friend list starting a post with "free such and such" these three remind me that while that other narrative may be louder it is not the only song playing. I want to turn up their song! I want people to know that these young adults are moving through this life loving each other, their God, and their family. They are silly and fun. They make being responsible look cool and model what it can be for anyone making an effort. They send love notes to each other.....they read to and love up on their daughter, they move because of his job and make it an adventure. They struggle from time to time. And there are a ton of folks just like them that we hear so little about.

Last week I received an inbox message from Bryan asking me to use my savings techniques and my love of sending positive mail for a few of his friends stationed in Afghanistan. He started the message: Dear Miss Nicole. Now, y'all know he got me with the Miss Nicole. I am working on that now and all the while thinking, goodness is like a boomerang. The more you throw it out into the world, the more of it that will return. I know this young couple is destined for great things and I will continue to tune in...cheering all the way. And that is some real talk!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Out with the old.....in with the new!

I love when the stars align and things just come together.
Remember Sloan the buffet? She has found a new home! ( for the record......I do not find naming furniture odd in any way...and Sloan is sharp so.....) Here she is when I first spotted her:
Now, she is looking pretty junky here but the ad said "free" and if it's free.......it's for me! Woop! I sent my big guys over to grab her......gave my heartfelt thanks....and made a good dinner because even though I would travel the world for a free junky dresser my guys did not find it fun in any way. Heehee! And she is solid wood with dovetail construction. Double woop! 
Ok, so Sloan was my second project using my homemade chalkpaint recipe. You can see that process here: 


Here she is as I worked on her. I can't believe how easy the paint is to work with and how quick it dries.  $8 for paint.......what? Love it! 
Once this stage was finished I waxed her up and let her cure. And she turned out so sexy and sharp! That's why I named her Sloan. Check her out...

So, I enjoyed her for a while.......dressed her up and really made the most of her. But......as special as she is she wasn't a fit for our style. And a certain someone let me know that.......often! Ha! 
Meanwhile.....in the hustle and bustle of my crazy life we managed to get the pool open and ready for some summer fun. This was the 1st hot weekend and I realized......ummm....well....we threw out the chaise lounges over the winter. Rust and a small tear and someone tripping over them in the garage and they went out with the trash! Hello???? Those things were expensive and now......well.....I need some chairs. And, y'all know I am frugal. But this is a place where getting what you pay for is true and I do not want to throw chairs out in  1-2 years. What's a girl to do? CRAIGSLIST! Yep. But not for chairs. I SOLD SLOAN! O-m- double G!! I put her on and some nice lady handed over $150 for my "free for me" buffet! Holy moly macaroni! And that was all I needed to motivate me to buy new rust proof Sunbrella fabric loungers. I viewed it as a discount. Hey, whatever you have to tell yourself to get it done, right? Holla! Take a peek:




So, so long Sloan.......hello Sunbrella! Let the sunning and red cups commence! Real talk! Heehee!

I am linking to: http://nominimalisthere.blogspot.com/ for great inspiration!