So happy, more great wins in the loonyverse.

If you read our blog you know that I regularly enter contests, sweepstakes and giveaways as well as have a few of my own. Some GREAT ones coming, so stay tuned.

With the two I have yet to add that I received this morning I am up to 90 wins received this year and several more that I am waiting for. You can see my win list for this year here.

There are several reasons I enter, but the main reason (besides the thrill of a surprise and getting things other than bills in the mail) is so that I can get nice things for my family that I might not otherwise be able to afford.

Or like yesterday I got a call saying I was a potential winner (meaning if I entered fairly and meet all the requirements, I do) of a $500 gift card. This can be used for anything and I feel good knowing that I can contribute in this way. I have physical problems that I don't talk about often but basically I live with pain and never know when I will have to be hospitalized because I need blood or can't stop vomiting or whatever.

I thought it was a good time, with the economy in the shape that it is in and so many looking for work to remind people that while there are no guarantees, entering online to win things is free, fun (I love playing the wouldn't it be nice game with myself) and something I can do when it is convenient for me. I do this part time since it is a hobby and supposed to be fun for me, but some consider it a job.

If any of you could use a little help like with holiday gifts or whatever, here's my step-by-step and everything you need to get started on this rewarding hobby.

Do you enter giveaways? Consider yourself lucky? Have any awesome wins to tell us about? Just want to say hi? We love and appreciate your comments.
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We made taffy! Well, sort of...

Last night Gamer Girlie and I made taffy. Er, we tried to make taffy. It ended up being more like vanilla Tootsie Rolls... but it was delicious anyway!

Here's the recipe we used from

2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 cup light corn syrup
2 teaspoons glycerin (optional)
3/4 cup water
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 to 1 teaspoon flavoring (such as vanilla, lemon, maple, or mint)--we used a whole teaspoon.
3 drops food coloring (optional)--we didn't bother with it.
a large (3- to 4-quart) saucepan
a wooden spoon
a candy thermometer
a pastry brush
waxed paper or plastic wrap
a marble slab or cookie sheet
greased scissors or butter knife

1. Mix together sugar and cornstarch in the saucepan.

2. Use a wooden spoon to stir in the corn syrup, glycerin, water, butter, and salt. Place the saucepan over medium heat and stir until the sugar dissolves.

3. Continue stirring until mixture begins to boil, then let cook, undisturbed, until it reaches about 270° F or the soft-crack stage. Wash down the sides of the pan with a pastry brush dipped in warm water while the syrup cooks.

4. Remove the saucepan from the heat and add food coloring and flavoring. Stir gently, then pour onto a greased marble slab or into a shallow greased cookie sheet to cool.

5. When the taffy is cool enough to handle, grease your hands with oil or butter and pull the taffy until it's light in color and has a satiny gloss. You can have a friend help with this step, which should take about 10 minutes.

6. Roll the pulled taffy into a long rope, about 1/2 inch in diameter, and cut it with greased scissors or a butter knife into 1-inch-long pieces. Let the pieces sit for about half an hour before wrapping them in wax paper or plastic wrap and twisting the ends of the wrapper.

The recipe says that pulling the taffy will take about 10 minutes, but it was over half an hour before it got anywhere NEAR the right texture for us. Then again, we're not sure we were doing it quite right... ah, well. It ended up yummy!

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Wordless & Mostly Wordless Wednesday Giant Cupcake

This is one of my fave moment photo collections, because I wasn't even here when they did it, yet I don't feel like I missed out. I am linking to Classy Mommy to try to win a Kodak digi-frame.

There's nothing a giant cupcake can't make better.
The Geekazoid was having a really lousy day so her sister decided to cheer her up.
There's nothing in the world like sisterly love.
And all...
is well again in our little loonyverse.

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Baked french toast

This is one of those dishes that is perfect for when you have guests spending the night or are hosting a brunch, you can even make it a Christmas morning tradition so you can enjoy spending time with your loved ones instead of rushing to prepare a meal.

Overnight Baked French Toast

  • 1 loaf French bread, cut diagonally (day old, a bit dried out works best)
  • 6 Eggs
  • 1 cup Milk
  • 1 cup Half and half or cream
  • 2 tsps Vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp (or more) Cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup Butter
  • 1 1/3 cups Brown sugar (I use light)
  • 3 Tbsp Pure maple syrup
Cooking Directions
  1. Butter a 9x13 inch baking dish. Arrange the slices of bread in the bottom. In a large bowl, beat together eggs, milk, cream, vanilla and cinnamon. Pour over bread slices, cover, and refrigerate overnight.
  2. The next morning, preheat oven to 350 degrees
  3. The bread should be soaked through... whip up a little more milk and egg mixture if it is too dry.
  4. Cover with foil and bake 25 minutes.
  5. While casserole is baking prepare the sauce-
  6. in a small saucepan, combine butter, brown sugar and maple syrup; heat until bubbling..
  7. Uncover, pour the sauce on top and bake uncovered for 15 minutes.

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MckLinky Blog Hop Favorite Kid Photo

This weeks blog hop is favorite kid photo(s). Naturally mine are of Ian.
Is he not the biggest cheese-eater?

MckLinky Blog Hop
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Toddler bento- vegetarian

Ian really wanted a bento and even though it was lunchtime and we had things we had to be home for, we decided to indulge him with a simple one ( we weren't as neat and careful as we might have been as it was put together very quickly). Since I knew it didn't have to be portable I didn't worry about finding a container with a lid. He didn't seem to mind at all.

Egg salad triangles, watermelon and cantaloupe cutouts, peanut butter stuffed celery (he ate all the raisins so no ants on a log), vanilla yogurt with fresh cherries cut up in it.
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Bountiful Garden Veggie Casserole

This is my very favorite veggie casserole. Once more no exact amounts, just layer in the order given until it is as big as you want. I always make a gigantic batch as this is one of those things I can eat for every meal until it is gone- we're talking breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. Yes, it is that good.

Bountiful Garden Veggie Casserole

  • Eggplant
  • Zucchini
  • Yellow squash
  • Red, yellow, orange or green bell peppers (or any combo you like), cut into strips
  • Tomato
  • Creole seasoning
  • Fresh grated parmesan cheese
Cooking Directions
  1. Slice the eggplant, squashes and tomatoes about 1/2 inch thick. Mix onions and peppers together- when they are expensive I buy the frozen tri-colored pepper blend with onions on sale and just defrost and use those. Much cheaper and just as tasty.
  2. Start with a layer of eggplant, a layer of zucchini, a layer of squash, a layer of peppers & onions then top with tomatoes. Sprinkle liberally with Tony's. If doing a deep casserole, add more layers in the order given, make sure you end with the tomatoes as this will keep the other veggies nice and moist.
  3. Sprinkle with creole seasoning then a light layer of breadcrumbs and dot lightly with butter if desired. Cover with lid or foil and bake 1 hour and 15 minutes @ 375 degrees.
  4. Remove foil and sprinkle lightly with the freshly grated Parmesan and bake an additional 15 minutes or until cheese is melted and lightly browned.

*If there is any question as to whether your eggplant might be bitter (sometimes the larger ones are) after they are sliced salt both sides and layer in a colander then put a paper towel on top and weight down with a plate with something heavy on top of it. Let sit for one hour then rinse and pat completely dry.

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Perfect Pot Roast

Pot roast is cheap, easy and delicious. One of those fabulous meals that take a cheaper cut of meat and turn it into a feast fit for company. Since so few people bother to cook any more, it always gets raves and reminds people of Sunday dinner at grammas.

This can also be made in the crockpot and it never fails. I get tons and tons of compliments on this, and it is embarrassingly easy.

Start with a roast that is the right size for your family. A chuck or bottom round roast is perfect for this meal. Surround it with chunks of red potato, baby carrots, fresh green beans and chunks of red onions.

Cover the meat with a mixture of 2 cans of cream of whatever soup and 1 envelope onion soup mix or their homemade equivalents
Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for at least 1 1/2 hours (longer for larger roasts) .

Can be made in Crockpot on low for 6-8 hours.

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Pork roast with potatoes and carrots

1 pork roast
1 large or 2 smallish potatoes per person
2 large sweet potatoes
2 onions (I often use a bag of frozen pearl onions)
4 carrots (I often use a bag of baby carrots)
Rosemary, garlic, salt and pepper blend
1/2 cup apple cider or apple juice

Place roast in large baking dish and surround with veggies. Sprinkle generously with seasoning and pour apple cider or juice over the meat. Cover with foil and bake 375 degrees for 2 hours. Uncover and bake an additional 30 minutes or until meat is cooked through and vegetables are tender.

This can also be made in the crockpot and it is absolutely delicious. There is something about the apple that really sets off the pork.
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Easy-peasy crockpot beef stew

What makes this so easy is that there is no need to brown the meat first and the tapioca thickens it up into a nice gravy. I am very much an estimate and dump cook so amounts are approximate- use whatever proportions look good to you, you can't ruin it. I usually double this, it is so good that there are hardly any leftovers no matter how full I stuff the crockpot.

Crockpot Beef Stew

2 lbs (more or less depending on finances) stew meat - I like to use a rump roast cut into 1 inch chunks- it is usually cheaper than buying the cut stew meat and I can make sure there is no fat) coated in 1/4 cup seasoned flour- salt and pepper are good, but your favorite seasoning blend really takes it to another level
1 bag baby carrots, cut in half
a couple handfuls of new potatoes or red potatoes scrubbed and large diced
1 bag of frozen pearl onions (no need to defrost)
Water to cover
2 or 3 beef bullion cubes

Optional, any or all of the following can be added
3 Tbsp tomato paste or 1 can diced tomatoes undrained or 1 smallish can tomato sauce
1 bay leaf if desired, remove before serving
Fresh green beans
Fresh mushrooms
You can substitute some or all of the liquid for a hearty red wine like a burgandy

Add all to crockpot, stir gently, cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours.

Stir before serving.

Serve with a nice hot crispy buttered bread or roll.

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Menu for week of 7/27 - 8/2

Here are our menus for the week.
Pork roast with red potatoes, carrots and onions

Bountiful Garden Veggie Casserole (can be made low carb by omitting breadcrumbs) featuring eggplant, squash and more.  This is MY FAVE! veggie dish.

BLT's and Smoothies

Easy-peasy Crockpot beef stew, warm french bread

Roasted butternut squash soup, maple honey ham, mushroom and cheese paninis on ciabatta rolls

Angel hair pasta with roasted veggies

Breakfast for dinner- baked french toast, sausage links for those that want them, fruit salad

What's on the menu at your house this week?

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I hate drunk-sitting

People, do the world a favor and please DON'T get belligerently drunk without a safe-plan. It makes things harder on the rest of us, and makes people like me very grumpy. 
So, last night I was hanging out with my usual group of friends, and they are the sort that drink responsibly. When they do plan on getting drunk they have plans for rides, make sure there is a good sober to drunk ratio, and they know not to invite me to those parties because I just don't like it. Most the time, however, they just drink a little, and they all know not to drive even after only having "some". 

Last night, a new girl was hanging out with us. My friends got tipsy, I spent three hours on a single small coke and rum with almost no rum in it(I'm not much of a drinker) and this girl... wow. By the time everyone else had just enough they knew they couldn't/shouldn't drive or anything, this girl was falling over. I was the only completely sober one left (I even abandoned what little was left of my drink, just in case) I had to keep an eye on this girl who can't even stand, and can't feel right going home leaving her with no one able to drive or anything. 
Turns out this girl is beyond crazy, has been in and out of the mental hospital, want's to die, overdosed on a mental health medication before drinking, and has a breathalyzer on her car. Wow, where did my friends find this one? Everyone is now aware I will NOT hang out when she does. Grrr.

So, I did not have a good night last night. 

If you are going to get drunk, please don't be stupid.
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Safe Sunday child abuse awareness & prevention - Link here

My friend Trina was emotionally and physically abused when she was a child and she recently adopted her nieces and nephew to get them out of a horrendous situation. She is determined to break the cycle in her family as well as make sure the information is available to anyone who might need it.

To that end, we've started a Safe Sunday- child abuse awareness and prevention meme.

While it is my fervent hope that this information will soon be superfluous and that it does not touch any of y'all personally while there is a need we will do what we can to make the resources available should they be necessary. Please help spread the word by doing your own post or even copying mine and linking up.

This weeks link is Child Welfare Information Gateway - Protecting Children . Strengthening Families.

There are several resources and links and even an alphabetical search and a sitemap.
Free subscriptions and a link to have the site translated into Spanish.

It looks very informative and they should be able to point you in the right direction.

We very much appreciate your reading this and passing it on if you can. I would appreciate a link back if you post so we can get others on the bandwagon. I made the Mr. Linky public so feel free to snag one and put it on your post. Knowledge is power- pass it on.

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WHY is it sooo HOOOOOT?

gamer girlie

Hoooooooot, it's soooooo HOT! I was going to leave a nice review of my lovely new Dell XPS m1730 as well as a new game but I have a major case of brain melt. Hopefully I can get it up by Monday and start making regular posts, but right now I'm just going to stand in my shower on full cold for the next 3 years... if i can get the energy to get across the house.
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Brief updates

Not too much is going on here for the Diva's, except that we're all melting because the air conditioning is broken. I myself am currently a giant puddle of goo. Casey and I have both been working, I got my first paycheck yesterday woohoo! Getting ready to move into my own place in about a month, another woohoo! Got hot oil splattered in my eyeball... okay not so woohoo. That one really hurt, actually, but I'm not blind so we're good!

A few things I wanted feedback on from the bloggy world; One, I'm working on making a webcomic about my sissys and I, just some of the crazy happenings of the loonyverse. Who would want to read it? What would you want to see in the comic?

Thing two, I'm getting ready to move into the first place that will be 100% mine, and Casey and her friends are about to move in together as well. Any advice? Things we should bring, decorating advice, cheap places to get some necessities? Funny stories and things to avoid? Anything would be appreciated, thanks!

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Mostly & Wordless Wednesday: Christmas in July

Instead of decking the halls it's deck the geeky mommy.
Here's Kyra getting into the Christmas Spirit. And no, she doesn't drink or do drugs.

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Starbucks Free Pastry offer

As you know the divas have a deep and passionate love affair going on with Starbucks. Well, unless you have been living under a rock and/or haven't read our antics.

Regardless it is with great joy that I tell you how you can get a free pastry from Starbucks with the purchase of any beverage. Even tea! I know, right? Something this fab doesn't come along every day.

So, tomorrow, Tuesday, July 21 while I am at the evil dentist's office, y'all can be enjoying your beverage of choice along with a delicious muffin or bagel or fritter or tropical paradise bar or... well, click the link here to get the all the deets and print out your coupon.

Offer good from opening til 10:30 am or when they run out so get there early.
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Menu for week of 7/20 - 7/26 All meals under $1 serving

If you saw my previous post on Desperate times- our cheapest meals and recipes then you know we're trying to help out some friends who are in a really tough situation right now with a care package and a few meals. In that vein, and because I know a lot of people are struggling right now I have decided to post a weeks worth of menus that all cost under a dollar a serving, most of them are between 50 and 75 cents.

I also wrote an article  Cheap eats- slashing your grocery bill to the bare bones that you are welcome to check it out if you want to find out how to maximize your food budget.

Pasta and cabbage

Tuna Mac

Biscuits & gravy or Creamed chipped beef

Soup over rice or pasta

Baked potatoes with chili & cheese or Baked potatoes with broccoli & cheese

Beanie Weenie

Spaghetti and Garlic Rolls

All of the recipes can be found here.
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Time again for SAFE SUNDAY- child abuse awareness link here please.

This week I want to point you to a site I found that has a lot of information that is extremely helpful. Everything from how to recognize child abuse to alternatives to lashing out at your children and things you can do to support kids and parents and help reduce the stress that can lead to neglect.

The site is Prevent Child Abuse America, but I urge you to check it out wherever you are from, there are some really great tips on there.

This page links to the Pinwheels for Prevention Campaign and I think if everyone reads these and can maybe help out when they see parents and children in stressful situations, then it might not lead to abuse.

I'm willing to do my part- they are just simple little things, but they can make a world of difference in someones life.

Please, bookmark and check it out when you have a chance.

Thank you. You are much appreciated. Spread the word however you can.

You are welcome to copy this and post it on your site or add a link to your own post, the point is to get the word out as far and wide as we can.

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Desperate times- our cheapest meals and recipes

Budget Friendly Tuna Mac
It seems we all know someone who is struggling to put food on the table if we’re not in that situation ourselves. I’m not talking about oh, poor me, I have to make my coffee from home, I’m talking about do I get a gallon of milk or a gallon of gas to get to work broke.

We have some friends who are facing that situation now and while we don’t have a ton we certainly have enough to share. (Thank God for stockpiling, I can do most of the shopping in my own pantry and freezer as our cash supply is pretty much nil.)

Due to circumstances beyond their control and some type of office mix-up they have been two months without being paid, even spending money to travel to the job and such, and like most of us they were used to living paycheck to paycheck so it really hurts them.

What we are doing is making sure they have enough to do some basic, really easy, really cheap meals. They might not be the most nutritious so I don’t recommend this menu/diet for the long term, but when you need to get the bellies full as cheaply as possible, here’s how we do it. I know the whole grains are cheaper and brown rice is healthier, fresh veggies pack a higher nutritional punch etc. but again, the goal is to stop the gnawing hunger from clawing at them and making sure they don’t go hungry.

Some good things to include in a care package (or buy really cheap if you have to get down to the bare bones):
Pasta- several different sizes and shapes all bought on sale
Ground turkey chubs (we got for 79 cents a pound and stocked up)
Bacon – we bought a huge box and separated
Pasta mixes- bought at deep discount and can be used as a complete meal just adding a little butter or margarine, oil or milk
Tuna – excellent protein and again bought on sale
Canned veggies and fruits bought on sale
Canned spaghetti sauce- you can get this for under a dollar even without coupons and it is good when you don’t have the time or ingredients to make your own and is much cheaper than jarred.
Ramen- ‘nuff said
Hot dogs (the cheap ones especially Bar S work and can be bought for under a dollar even when not on sale and 50 to 69 cents on sale)
Bulk sausage- the cheap ones are under $1 a chub and biscuits and gravy are super-cheap and filling as well as tasty
Flour (self-rising eliminates the need for soda or powder so at this time is a good deal unless you’ve got the other)
Onions (for flavor)
Salt and pepper (other spices and seasonings if you can- and when you are broke the ones that cost 50 or 59 cents from the discount store like Big Lots are a good way to start)
Canned soups
Jiffy corn muffin mix

Be sure to check out my post entitled Desperate times- slashing your grocery bill to the bare bones.

Actually, some of these meals we really like and make regularly even when we have plenty. We are just able to have a wider variety in our diet.

Without further ado, here are our cheapest recipes/meals.

PASTA & CABBAGE – serves 4 for just a bit over $2 at full price so 50 cents a serving
Cook and drain a package of mini noodles up (we likes stars best and can get for 39 cents in the ethnic aisle)
Fry up one package coleslaw blend – shredded cabbage and carrots ($1 on sale, $1.50 regular price) in ½ stick of butter. (25 cents I never pay more than $2 for a pound of butter and freeze when I get great deals) You can make this even cheaper using a 79 cent package of margarine but I don’t use it.
Add the noodles and plenty of salt & pepper and you have probably the cheapest meal I know how to make.

TUNA MAC– serves 4-6 Under $3 and if you add corn muffins or marked down rolls you are feeding 6 people for under $4 so about 75 cents a serving.
1 package smallish pasta- shells, elbows, whatever (usually 50 cents to a dollar)
1 can tuna, drained (69 cents)
Sweet pickles ½ small jar, chopped and a splash of the juice (the jar costs a dollar, so 50 cents worth)
Mayo enough to moisten a couple big spoonfuls maybe 50 cents worth or make your own for even less.
Salt & pepper
Cook and drain pasta, rinse in cold water
Add in tuna and pickles
Mix a splash of the pickle juice into some of the mayo- I use a couple of big spoonfuls, maybe a half a cup and dump it on the noodles. Be generous with the salt and pepper and mix it all together. You can eat right away but it is better if it sits for an hour or so.

BISCUITS & GRAVY- serves 4 for under $3 so less than 75 cents a serving
1 package of the cheapest canned biscuits 8 count is 79 cents for generic (it is cheaper to make your own but I’ll go with this since not everyone has the time or inclination)
Bake according to package directions.
1 lb sausage roll the cheaper ones are always under $1
1/4 cup all-purpose flour maybe 25 cents
2 cups milk at most 50 cents
Salt & pepper

CREAMED CHIPPED BEEF- serves 6 for $3 to $4.50 or 50 to 75 cents a serving depending what you serve it over.
Along the same lines as Biscuits and Gravy you can make SOS, which you can buy the jar but the little packets for 59 cents back in the lunchmeat section. Make a cream gravy which I like to do in the microwave.
Melt 3 Tbsp butter or margarine on high about 60 seconds in large glass measuring cup or bowl (I use an 8 cup Pyrex measuring cup that I love)
Whisk in 3 Tbsp flour, salt and pepper
Microwave on high for 45 seconds
Whisk in 3 cups of milk and microwave for 2 minutes, whisk, microwave for 2 minutes etc til it is a nice thick gravy.
Serve over bread, potatoes, rice, noodles, rolls, etc.

SOUP OVER RICE OR PASTA- serves 6 for about $4 or 67 cents a serving
3 cups rice or 1 package medium noodles, cooked- $1 or less
2 cans chunky style soup- there is always some type on sale for 2/$3 so $3
Super simple for busy days- hearty and filling. Just heat the soup and dump over the rice or pasta. You can also serve on baked potatoes if desired.

BAKED POTATOES W/CHILI & CHEESE serves 6 for $4.28 or less than 75 cents a serving
6 large potatoes baked or nuked, split $1.50 at most, usually cheaper if you buy the bigger bags on sale
2 cans chili with beans 79 cents each so $1.58
Small amount of shredded cheddar 50 cents or less
Small dollops of sour cream, 50 cents or less
Very small amount of diced onion, 20 cents or less
BAKED POTATOES WITH BROCCOLI & CHEESE- serves 6 for $4.50 so 75 cents a serving
6 large potatoes baked or nuked, split again $1.50 at most
3 boxes frozen broccoli with low-fat cheese sauce $1 a box so $3 for all (I get either Kroger or Green Giant when Kroger has the 10 for $10 sale and stock up.

BEANIE WEENIE serves 6 Way less than $3 even being generous so 50 cents a serving, less than $4 or 67 cents a serving if you add jiffy corn muffins or some other cheap bread or rolls
3 cans pork and beans 59 cents a can (not on sale- Showboat brand)
Squirt of ketchup
Squirt of mustard
2 shakes Worcestershire sauce
Small handful brown sugar
¼ diced onion
1 package hot dogs, sliced 79 cents usual not sale price Bar S brand
Mix everything together and put in casserole bake 350 for 45 minutes or nuke for 10.

SPAGHETTI & GARLIC ROLLS serves 8 for $4 so 50 cents a serving
1 pk thin spaghetti $1 or less
2 cans Hunts spaghetti sauce- we like to mix 2, 4 cheese and mushroom or chunky vegetable $1 each (can find sometimes for 79 cents a can stock up then) so $2
1 package hot dog or hamburger buns 8 count bought on sale 79 cents
1/4 stick butter 25 cents or margarine is even cheaper
Sprinkle garlic powder less than 20 cents

Make pasta according to package directions.
Heat the sauce with tiny pinch of sugar.
Mix together.
While pasta is cooking split the buns and butter each half sprinkle with garlic powder or salt
Broil on low for 4 minutes or until lightly browned.

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Mommy bloggers - selling out or burning out? pr & disclosure

There have been a ton of posts and even television spots about mommy bloggers, selling out and losing the trust that is so important between bloggers and readers.

I have feelings on both sides of the issue, so I am going to share them here with you.

For the companies, it is very cheap PR. Send a product, maybe offer one to give away and you get advertising. Offer a trip, a car to test drive, redo your living room etc... and you have mommies begging to get in on the action.

What's in it for the bloggers? Free products for their families, everything from hairbows to Keurig coffee makers (which, btw, I am seriously lusting after, so if you want me to review and give one away let me know!!!). Seriously who wouldn't want a bounce-house or play-yard or awesome new (fill in the blank) that is expensive to go out and buy?

I can tell you right now, I don't know many people who would turn down swag.

I do not have a huge blog or a ton of giveaways, and I know if I put more into it I would get a lot more offers, but I have been very, very selective on the few I have received and turn down more than I accept.

I got into blogging as a hobby, and a fun, creative outlet. I have been doing some behind-the-scenes things to make my blog better than ever and I do hope to someday have a few select sponsors, but I intend to never suffer from mommy-blogger burnout.

While I feel for these bloggers, I can't help thinking that the choices they made, to turn their blogs more into businesses than personal blogs, is why they are finding they spend too much time doing reviews and giveaways and neglecting their personal lives, etc...

More than one reminds me of a child having a temper tantrum or when I used to chat- someone would be all I hate this I am never coming back again- until everyone begged them to stay- I even got sucked in at first- and I used to really feel compassion until I learned these drama queens use it as a tool to keep the focus on them. If they really meant they were done- they would quietly be gone. Sad, but true. I am not saying it is this or that particular blogger because it is not, it is just a generalized statement. (Yeah, I know it doesn't mean that for 100% of them this is the reason, but things become generalized for a reason and the majority of them, this is at least one of them.)

Like most areas of life, I think there is a happy medium and I hope that they will be able to find it, whether it be by taking breaks when necessary, only accepting those offers that genuinely reflect what their blogs are about, limiting the time they spend or whatever they need to do to balance blogging with the rest of their lives.

As you know, entering contests and giveaways is one of the hobbies I am most passionate about. I absolutely love being able to give things to family and friends that I might not be able to otherwise afford.

But. You knew that was coming, right?

When it is not fun for me I take breaks- sometimes days, weeks, even months. And that's okay, the prizes will be waiting for me when I am ready to get back into it.

Same thing with blogging. For me it is a hobby and when it is not fun, I won't do it. I have refused to do reviews for a variety of reasons, the main ones being that a product was not a good fit for our blog, the sponsors expected certain things I am not willing to do and/or there was a glut of giveaways and reviews on other sites for the same thing at the same time and quite frankly, when I get sick of seeing the same dang reviews posted on handfuls of sites, I am not going to add it to mine.

That being said, I love blogging and blogs, reviews and giveaways. I have found some amazing products and companies that I would never have found out about otherwise. I do appreciate the time and effort it takes to host a review and giveaway and I am grateful there are bloggers that are willing to offer them.

I love that many blogs disclose that they were compensated, I think that should be a mandatory thing, but don't do it in such a way that some might wonder- ie: I was lucky enough to get my hands on when what you really mean is awesome company sent me this wicked cool dealio and I loved it so much they are letting me offer one to y'all as well. I can get my hands on stuff as well, but if you are given something, be honest about it- we'll ALL respect you more.

I would like to offer one piece of advice to fellow mommies, fellow bloggers, reviewers and companies- don't do cookie cutter reviews- yes, I will enter them and hope to win but it does NOT put the company or the blogger in a favorable light.

Now, I am going to get back to entering, I LOVE TO WIN!
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Wordless & Mostly Wordless Wednesday - Sea Life Aquarium

This was our favorite part of Legoland. If you go (and don't win tickets) you can upgrade to a parkhopper pass and add the aquarium to the park for $10.

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Spracht Aura Mobile BT Giveaway $149. list price

Hey guys, I have another giveaway for you- I received it as part of a larger prize package and since I am still not there yet with the technology I have no use for it. It has a list price of $149. but you can find it a little cheaper at Best Buy or Amazon.

What it is is a Spracht Aura Mobile BT (Bluetooth Conferencing).

You can turn your mobile phone, cordless phone, pc or mac into a portable, high quality digital conferencing phone.

I wanted to do it justice but I really can't so I hunted down a super-thorough review for you on The gist of the review is that this is one of those things where you could find something with similar functions cheaper, but this is most definitely one of those cases where you get what you pay for.

It is new in box and I will send it to the US or Canada since I am paying for the shipping myself.
Once again- I am the only one sponsoring the giveaway, there are no other sponsors or whatnot.

You can enter daily- first entry tell me what you love or hate about technology today, subsequent days you can make it as simple as today's entry.

If you really really want this, you can do the extra things and let me know what they are- follow on twitter, tweet (can be done daily), follow my blog, go on over to Pink Lemonade and comment on my keeping cool in the kitchen summer dinner ideas or no-bake summer pies posts then come back and let me know, sub to my rss feed, spread the word however you choose and leave me the link.

Ends July 31 at 11:59 pm Eastern Standard Time
Winner will be chosen using Randomizer.

Good luck, y'all.
Don't forget to check out the other giveaways going on here.
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Dear Macy's

Dear Macy's,

I am writing this for two reasons. One is to tell you about your most excellent customer service. The other is to tell you about your crappy customer service.

I have to say that in store, when mother and I shopped, and believe you me, we shopped hard, every employee was very helpful, going above and beyond. (When we could find an employee- there were times we had to go to several registers to find someone to help us. Sadly, though, in this economy, all the stores were rather dead.)

They made sure we could use the codes, etc, we got by mail to the best advantage and found exactly what we were looking for.

Every department we bought things in- Jrs, girls, ladies, accessories, home and a couple of others the clerks were wonderful.

Online however, was another matter entirely. Not only was the response to an inquiry not quick, it was downright rude enough for mother to want to cancel her card- and she has had it forever.

She is a long-time Clinique user and she always stocks up when they are having some kind of freebie or deal.

Well, one comes around and offered a free full-sized product as well as several samples, which we use when we travel.

She calls her store and yes, they have it, if she can't make it within a day or two they will hold one for her.

She gets the brilliant idea to save a few minutes and see if they are running the deal online as she has a free shipping dealio over a certain amount.

Yes! Huge ad with the same free with purchase offer so she'll order. (Mom is NOT tech savvy, half the time she can't even remember how to comment on my blog or get to her email, and she considers me a techie guru, so if you know me at all you know that is just sad.)

She places her order and goes about her business.

In comes the box with JUST what she ordered, not one extra.

We compose an email to Macy's and immediately get an automated response back saying they will make sure the right dept gets it, etc.

Almost a week later she gets back a nasty little email implying she is an idiot and that they were out of the freebies online and she only would have gotten it if she had placed it in her cart, which when she ordered they did not have any left.

Excuse the crap outta me, but hello! how was she supposed to know when there is a VERY obvious banner stating if she orders x amount of $ in Clinique she will get free full and trial sized products she only gets it if she puts it in her basket.

Yes, I get that someone took the time to take the thing down to add it into the basket, but HELLO FALSE ADVERTISING it takes no more damn time to take off the banner from the main page than it does to remove an item so you can't get it from the cart but the programmers were what? too stupid to realize if there are none left they should take the banner off the site?

Sorry, Macy's, you totally blew it on that one. We may or may not shop with you any longer, but until or unless you change your ways the only way we'll order online is if there is an unbeatable Black Friday deal.

So, thumbs up on the in-store customer service, but get someone else to handle your emails and take the deals off your site when they are no longer valid or we won't be the only customers you lose.

I know as far as mama is concerned she's very leary and one more instance of being treated like a moron and she will be spending her $ elsewhere- and since it was over $1000 we dropped in a few days, you probably don't want to lose a customer like her.

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MckLinky Blog Hop 3 things you did not know about me

1) I was in the USAF for 6 months and got out with an honorable discharge.
2) A lot of times the only reason I eat is because I know I should and eventually get wicked bad headaches if I keep putting it off.
3) I eat out and get take-out or convenience foods a lot but mostly that is for convenience or because I am lazy or out of time. I actually like my own food a lot better than most I can buy.

MckLinky Blog Hop

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Jobs and such

So Casey and I both got jobs at walmart! Different walmarts, but walmart none the less. I'm working in the deli, and she is working in school supplies, so yay for both of us! Beyond that, I have a place to hopefully move into soon, my friend lives there now but is buying a house so I'll probably move in when she leaves. It's a nice two-bedroom duplex, I know my neighbors, it has a big yard and a great big garden, and it is close to the high school so maybe Devii can come over after school some days and babysit, and/or I can take her home from clubs and such. It would work out well. Also, I've been writing a lot lately, who knows, perhaps I'll have some children's books published soon. Anyways, thats all for now, I'll probably write more later though.
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Menu for week of 7/13 - 7/19

Once more, here is our menu for the week.

Meatloaf, potato salad, green beans, tossed salad w/choice of dressing, French Silk pie

Oriental chicken salad with cashews and dried cranberries using Crockpot rotisserie style chicken

Breakfast for dinner- strawberry stuffed french toast or Finnish oven pancake

Cheesy meatloaf frosted with mashed potatoes, summer squash steamed with red peppers, tomato salad

Spinach salad with strawberries, chicken and (not sure what kind we have) white cheese with raspberry vinaegrette

Grilled hot dogs or fish sticks (one of the kids really wants fish sticks - most of us don't care for them but we'll keep it easy), Velveeta shells & cheese, broiled tomatoes with parmesan

Homemade hot pockets- ham, cheese & broccoli and chicken, mushroom & spinach in a white sauce, tossed salad w/choice of dressing

Whatcha got cooking at your house?

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French Silk Chocolate Pie recipe

French Silk Chocolate Pie (Adapted from the Pillsbury Bake Off cookbook)

1 pre-baked pie crust

3 oz Hershey's® unsweetened chocolate, cut into pieces
1 cup butter, softened (do not use margarine)
1 cup sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
4 pasteurized eggs or 1 cup fat-free cholesterol-free egg product (Using pasteurized eggs or substitute eliminates the food safety concerns of using raw eggs.)

Whipped topping & chocolate curls or sprinkles for garnish, if desired

Melt chocolate in double boiler or microwave, stirring at 30 second intervals until melted, let cool.

In small bowl with electric mixer, beat butter on medium speed until fluffy.

Gradually beat in sugar until light and fluffy.

Beat in cooled chocolate and vanilla until well blended.

Add eggs 1 at a time, beating on high speed 2 minutes after each addition; beat until mixture is smooth and fluffy.

Pour into cooled baked shell.

Refrigerate at least 2 hours before serving.

Garnish with whipped topping and chocolate curls or sprinkles.

Cover and refrigerate any remaining pie.

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Safe Sunday WebMD Child Abuse Helpline

Safe Sunday- Add your link here!

Sorry I'm so late with this- family drama and heat = forgetful dddiva. ;-)

Today I am posting a link for WebMD Child Abuse helpline which has sites and phone numbers you can go to for help. While I hope you don't need it, as long as there is abuse there should be resources to find help and we'll keep posting them. Keep trying until you find the one that will help in your individual situation.

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Harvest Pork Roast w/Veggies

Harvest Pork Roast w/Veggies

  • 1 Pork Roast
  • 1 large or 2 smallish Potatoes per person
  • 2 large Sweet potatoes
  • 2 Onions (I often use bag of frozen pearl onions)
  • 4 Carrots (I often use a bag of baby carrots)
  • To taste Rosemary, garlic, salt & pepper (or blend with similar ingredients)
  • 1/2 cup Apple cider or apple juice
Cooking Directions
  1. Place roast in large baking dish and surround with veggies cut to similar sizes. Sprinkle generously with seasoning and pour apple cider or juice over the meat. Cover with foil and bake 375 degrees for 2 hours. Uncover and bake an additional 30 minutes or until meat is cooked through and vegetables are tender.
  2. This can be made in the slow cooker for ~ 8 hours on low, put veggies in bottom set meat on top and then add juice & seasonings. There is something about the apple that really sets off the pork.

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Pillsbury Giveaway ***UPDATE WINNER CHOSEN***

Random Integer Generator

Here are your random numbers:


Timestamp: 2009-07-16 14:17:44 UTC

Congrats to
a49erfangirl said...

I follow you on google friend connect as Stacie :)

I'll be emailing you in just a few moments to get your info so I can mail you your prize. Enjoy. And try the French Silk Pie, it's delicious. ;-)

Every once in a while there is a contest or giveaway that you just *know* you will win because it is perfect for you or someone you would love to win it for. When that happens, especially with the wonderful advent of the bloggy giveaways I enter every single one I can find that I qualify for. One such case recently was the Pillsbury giveaways they have been having recently.

In the grand scheme of things it's not a huge prize, but I just for some reason really really wanted to win it for Devon. Since she was a tiny little thing she has loved the Pillsbury doughboy. We used to call her our "woohoo" girl.

Anyhoo to get to the point, I found out right before we left for San Diego that we won not one of the prize packs but two. They were waiting for us at the post office this morning.

While Ian or the cousins I am sure would enjoy having their own little plush woohoo doughboys, it is a Devon thing and I decided to spread the love and give one of them away to y'all. Each box came with a plush doughboy that says *woohoo* and a Pillsbury Bake-off Prize Winning Recipes cookbook with 175+ recipes and tips in it.

To make it clear- I am hosting the giveaway, I am not being sponsored in any way, just passing along an extra (brand new) prize package that I won. While I appreciate that Pillsbury has given several of these prizes to bloggers to share with their readers that is NOT the case here, it's all from me, including sending the winner the prize.

Do y'all love Pillsbury as much as I do? Is there anything that doesn't taste fabulous in a crescent roll?

For your chances- for 1st entry (MANDATORY) let me know what you think about Pillsbury- your favorite product, how you like to use it, etc... Even if you haven't tried, anything, but keep it about Pillsbury. Any I want to win, pick me, I really need this, I never win anything that gets picked by the randomizer that says any of this crap and I will choose someone else.

Extra Entries:

Follow me - I lost most of my followers when it switched over to Google Friends and I want y'all back.

Follow me on Twitter- dddiva and leave your name in the comments.

Tweet about this giveaway and leave me the link. You can do this once a day.

Add me to your blogroll.

Blog about this giveaway or add me to your Mr. Linky and leave the link in the comments.

Add my button to your blog and leave the link in the comments.


Grab the code here.

I can only ship to the US and Canada, so if you are legally allowed to give out your info online (or get your parents to do it for you) and you live in the US or Canada, you are eligible.'

After the mandatory entry, you get one entry for each additional thing you do- tweeting is once daily.

I use randomizer and I will email the winner who has 72 hours to respond, if I don't have a response by then I will choose a new winner.

Ends 11:59 pm, July 15th 2009.
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Travel plans- update, Happy 4th of July

Plans have changed - again. Looks like Devon and I will be the only ones going to San Diego. Dawn is sick and the mini diva has interviews.

While it is a shame the tix are non-refundable, we are planning on having a blast.

Legoland and the aquarium are for sure as we have the tix from her win.

It looks like the bay - we're staying at the Loews on Coronado bay- has the best stuff for the 4th starting with a parade at 10 and ending with fireworks over the bay.

The littlest Diva also printed out directions for the outlet mall- hint, hint mom!

Oh- and just in case you plan on staying there be aware- parking at the hotel is even more than the Loews at Universal- $22 a night, $28 for valet. Yes, even for paying guests.
I'm sorry, but why are they trying to nickel and dime (well, dollar and more dollar) you when you are at a 5 star hotel? The cheapie inns never charge you to park, or for internet access. Yes, there's a fee for that too. I don't get it.

Anyways, as you probably know we're celebrating Dev's sweet 16 there, so she found a few places that offer freebies- one she picked up today from Sephora for 3 free lipglosses. if you haven't signed up as a member there yet, do, so you won't miss out.

We won't be back online until Monday evening at the earliest so I wanted to wish everyone (well, those who celebrate) a safe and happy 4th of July.
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