Saturday, December 21, 2013

Our Christmas Menu

I know that I usually share our menu for the week, but, this week it will just be our Christmas menu.
With work, more work, wrapping, shopping, visiting, Christmas Eve, Christmas and more work it is going to be a busy week to say the least.  I am really looking forward to the time with family and friends, despite the schedule!

I do an annual appetizers & desserts open house style visiting day on Christmas.  This is the 3rd or 4th year and it works out well.  We start the day with some quiet family time and we have breakfast together and open gifts.  Then, the company arrives and we visit.  If my kids can stay up late enough, I would love to finish the day with a family Christmas movie.  So far they have not made it past 6pm, haha!

This is our menu, balanced between the kid palates and the adult preferences.

For appetizers we are having:
1 - Crockpot ham made into ham sandwiches(we are making)
2 - Sausage Appetizers (we are making)
3 - Crabbie Appetizers (we are making)
4 - Fruit Salad (store bought)
5 - Meatballs and red sauce (store)
6 - Kielbasa & maple (us)
7 - Veggie tray & dip (us)
8 - Cheese & crackers (store)
9 - Toasted Ravioli (store)
10 - Buffalo Chicken Dip & veggies & scoops (store)
11 - Artichoke & Spinach Dip & scoops (store)
12 - Bagel Bites (store)
13 - Spiral Sandwiches (store)
14 - Beverages: Party Punch, coffee, water & soda with juice boxes for kids (us/store)

For desserts:
1. shortbread cookies (store)
2. Tree cakes (store)
3. Cream Puffs (store)
4. Kiss cookies (us)
5. M&M cookies (us)
6. Brownies (us)
7. Fancy Carmel popcorn (coworker)



Tuesday, December 17, 2013

10 Things - New TV Shows - Fall 2013

The Originals

I gave 10 new shows a shot this fall (OK, maybe I tried more than 10 but this is about 10 Things, OK?).  Some were good, some were bad and some are on their way to being cancelled!  My opinions, in no particular order, are below:
  1. Michael J. Fox's Show - OK but I am only keeping it on my Season Pass because my hubby likes it.
  2. Sleepy Hollow - I LOVE this show!  I really like Abby & Icky.  And,  together they are pure TV magic.  They are hunting down clues and working together as a great team.
  3. The Tomorrow People - I like this show and may attempt to pick it up again some day.  But, it had to go for now as I have too many shows.
  4. The Blacklist - Still hanging in there.  But, if my DVR gets too full this is probably the next to go.
  5. Hostages - I currently have 4 or 5 episodes on my DVR.  I like it and I like that it has a finite life span.  But, somehow I haven't got around to watching this show.
  6. Dracula - I had incredibly high hopes for this show because I love me some Jonathan Rhys Meyers and some vampires.  But, so far it just isn't grabbing me.  I don't care too much about any of the characters except the butler.  I don't think that was the network's plan.  I do wish JRM luck with his sobriety.  Maybe he needs the junk to be a convincing mad man.
  7. The Witches of East End - I really like this show!  But, I just don't have enough time for it now.  I noticed that Lifetime makes episodes available online.  I may try to catch up over Winter Break.  But, as I already have a stockpile of shows to watch during winter break, this may have to wait until summer.
  8. The Goldberg's -Critics of this show mentioned that they thought people would like this show and laugh JUST because they were having fun reliving the 80's.  While I agree with this, I also think that the show is just funny!  There is a great cast and I like the writing about the family.  The Grandpa is one of my favorites.
  9. The Crazy Ones -I thought that a show with this cast would be amazing!  However, I do have a really strong aversion to 30 minute comedies that came about from investing in 30 minute comedies that were too quickly cancelled.
  10. The Originals -I watch The Vampire Diaries and decided to give this a go.  I am not a Claus fan.  I really wasn't feeling this show after the first couple of episodes .  But, I kept watching and now it is one of my favorites.  I was sucked in by the baby-hybrid story line and the vast cast.  I really like how we get to know so many other supernatural creatures in this show.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Weekly Dinner Menu - December 16, 2013

Monday -   Kielbasa, Cabbage and Onions in the Crockpot like we made HERE.

Tuesday -   Easy Pasta Dish -  Manicotti and Meatballs
  
Wednesday -  leftovers


Thursday -    Social Engagement so no dinner at home.


Friday - Broiled shrimp & scallops (we have a little leftover of both of these) with oven baked potatoes of some sort and a green veggie.

Saturday -   Tilapia or Cod with a sides that are TBD.
  
Sunday -    TBD - I am considering ending the menus on Saturday because I am still planning for today's meal (Sunday) on the day I prep the menu.  It seems to be a consistent challenge to come up with Sunday's meal so look for a shake-up next week.

Last Sunday we didn't make anything in the Crockpot but on Monday, my husband made sweet Italian sausage, peppers, onions and potatoes and they came out great.  We wanted to buy a second Crockpot.  We ended up getting the Ninja and this was our first experience using the Ninja as a slow cooker.

Sickness came to our house in a big way last week (strep x2) so the menu is completely out of sync.  Tonight we are having company so I am making the veggie spiral and the Coca Cola Chicken.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Weekly TV Update - December 11, 2013

Shannon's current TV lineup:

  1. Sleepy Hollow (Monday)
  2. 2 Broke Girls (Monday)
  3. The Blacklist (Monday)
  4. Revenge (Sunday)
  5. The Goldberg's (Monday)
  6. Revolution (Wednesday)
  7. Nashville (Wednesday)
  8. The Michael J. Fox Show (Thursday)
  9. The Vampire Diaries (Thursday)
  10. The Originals (Tuesdays)
  11. Hart of Dixie (Monday)
  12. Arrow (Wednesday)
  13. Mike & Molly (Monday)
  14. Dracula (Friday)
  15. The Carrie Diaries (Friday)
  16. Grimm (Friday)
 Other Info:

Entering the last year of the series - How I Met Your Mother (ends May/June 2014).
The Walking Dead will be back for the second half of Season 4 on February 9, 2014.
Coming soon:
The Following - Due back in January 19 & 20, 2014 - a 2 night premiere!  This has actually changed to 1/19/14 and then the second episode will air the following week (instead of the next night).  That it to make room for the Season 1 finale of Sleepy Hollow.
  
And finally, my comments: 
  • Bones & How I Met Your Mother and Hostages - I have decided to let these episodes pile up on my DVR.  During last year's winter hiatus I watched them all and that was a fun treat.
  • The Originals -  
  • Vampire Diaries -  
  • Nashville
  • The Goldberg's -
  • Revolution -  I didn't have a new episode.
  • Arrow
  • Michael J. Fox - I didn't get a new episode of this, either.
  • Dracula -  
  • The Carrie Diaries
  • Grimm -  What a spooky little demon kid!  Gadzooks!  It's nice that Juliette
     is able to help Nick with his crime solving now.
  • Revenge
  • 2 Broke Girls
  • The Blacklist -  
  • Hart of Dixie
  • Mike & Molly -

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The Great Slipper Hunt

Flower Clog Slippers
I need a good pair of slippers!

I actually had this problem last year.  I took a Facebook survey and decided to take the plunge and buy some expensive (to me, anyway) slippers.  I think I bought them during the 50% off sale so they were $24.50.

I bought the Land's End Purple Clog Slippers.  They fit well.  They are warm & fuzzy.  I don't slip when wearing them.  The problem is that there is almost too much padding on the bottom and my feet seem to slip off of the padding onto either side of the slipper.  This is WEIRD.  I know it.  But, it makes me not love my slippers.

Here is the link if you want to see them:
http://www.landsend.com/products/womens-flower-clog-slippers/id_244209?sku_0=::I7D

Can anyone make a recommendation of some awesome slippers?  Bonus points if you recommend a brand with a deal going on now!


Monday, December 9, 2013

Oven Roasted Sausage, Potatoes and Vegetables

1 lb. Kielbasa
Mmmmmmmmm, I think that I have a new favorite!  I found a Pin for this dinner and finally made it!  It was originally Pinned by Lila's Apron here.   While the blogger is not a prolific writer, she has a great personality and some even better recipes!
Bell Pepper, Onion, Idaho Potatoes


All you need is:
  • 1 lb of sausage (I used Kielbasa because that is what we had on hand)
  • 4-5 potatoes (I used Idaho because that is what we had)
  • 1 sliced bell pepper (any color)
  • 1-2 large sliced onions
  • 1 small jar of banana peppers (I used mild)
  • 3 Tbs. olive oil
  • Salt & pepper
  • Creole seasoning (I used Old Bay)


Banana Peppers, Olive Oil & Seasonings
Instructions:
  • Preheat over to 400 degrees F
  • Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil
  • Use a large bowl and add diced sausage, potatoes, onions and peppers with the olive oil.  Stir to coat.  Add banana peppers and stir some more.
  • Spread mixture onto the baking sheet and spread it out to the same thickness.
  • Sprinkle salt, pepper and other seasonings.
  • Bake for 35 minutes or so until potatoes are tender.
Notes:
  • The type of potatoes will really effect the cooking time and you don't want to serve this until the potatoes are done.  I cooked it for a full 40 minutes or so.
  • Use the middle rack of your oven so that the Kielbasa doesn't over cook.
  • I added some Italian Seasoning.
  • Before Cooking
  • My husband thinks that this would be great with the addition of Italian sausage and I think that he is right!
In the Bowl


After Cooking






Sunday, December 8, 2013

Advent Calendars Without Candy

This year I decided to try something new.  We usually do those el cheapo advent calendars that come filled with chocolates.  My kids are both 4 now and they really enjoy those chocolate advent calendars. But, I always see adorable, and creative homemade advent calendars on the internet and I finally decided to make some!






For those of you who are not familiar with Advent Calendars, they are a small way for kids to count down to the celebration of Christ's Birth.  You start on December 1st and finish up on December 24th or 25th depending on how generous your calendar maker was.  You have to find the day's number on the flap, pop it open and find the prize inside.  The chocolate versions have been around forever.  I received them most years when I was a kid.

We picked up 2-14 inch "tool" organizers at Home Depot.  They each could have 27 compartments each.  My husband bought them for $4.97 each.  I am planning to re-use the organizers for at least the next few years.

We are going to let the kids pick 1 treat from all 24 treats each day.  We did not worry about assigning days at this stage of development.  It would be cute to put numbers inside of each compartment and I may do that in the future.  Stickers with numbers or numbers printed from a label maker would work.

For my daughters box we put in:
Cupcake pony-tail holders: blue (from a 2 pack) DT
Pink beaded necklace (from a pack of necklace & bracelet) DT
Christmas themed erasers (from a big multipack) DT
Cupcake pony-tail holders: pink (from a 2 pack) DT
Minnie Mouse's Bunny friend (from a 3 piece play set) TRU
Pony-tail holders: pink & purple DT
Tiny decorated Dispenser (from a 3 pack) TRU
Pink beaded bracelet (from
Hello Kitty lip balm (from a multipack)
Calico Critters panda twins
Cupcake barrettes: pink
Cupcake barrettes: blue
Orange scented marker
Mini Mouse (from
Pink glow sticks
Pink nail polish
Purple nail polish
Minnie Mouse Scooter
Stickers (rolled up)
Yo-Yo
Sheriff's Badge
Doc McDtuffins wash cloth
Toy Story tissues

For my son's box we put in:
Trash can friends
Christmas erasers
Mini tape
Erasers
Stickers
Matchbox Jeep
Stickers
Strawberry scented marker
Sully figurine
Mike wozinski figurine
Yellow fire engine Matchbox car
Bumble Bee Transformer
Toy Story tissues (under the Winnie the Pooh tissues)
Yo-Yo
2 glow sticks
2 Sheriff badges
Iron Man wash cloth
Police Matchbox car

$39 spent at Toys R Us (wait until you go to the Dollar Tree to buy the wash cloths as they are $1.49 at TRU).  $19 spent at DT.  $58 plus the $10 for the organizers may be a little over budget for some families.  If you don't buy anything at TRU and stick with just a dollar store and/or you include candy you could definitely bring the cost per box way down.  These boxes average out to $34 per 4 year old child.  (If we already had the containers, it would have been $29).





PS
For full disclosure, it should be noted that my kids actually received 2 advent calendars for the December count down as we had already purchased Scooby Doo Chocolate Advent Calendars.  I bought them a few weeks ago because I didn't think that I would actually get my act together and prepare the homemade advent calendars.  Next year I will not buy the chocolate calendars and will DIY it again using the same boxes.

Weekly Dinner Menu - December 9, 2013

Monday -   Buffalo Mac & Cheese.  We made it before HERE.  We were hoping to make this last week but we never did.

Tuesday -   Easy Pasta Dish - Spaghetti & Meatballs. 
  
Wednesday -      Tilapia or Cod with a delicious Veggie Spiral like the one we made HERE.

Thursday -     Coca Cola Chicken inspired by Six Sisters HERE.  There are tons of variations of this recipe floating around the internet.  Sides will be mac&cheese and a veggie.

Friday -  leftovers
Saturday -   Shrimp, seasoned baked potatoes and a veggie.
  
Sunday -    Once again, I want to make something big & yummy in the Crock-pot but, I don't know what yet.  Once I decide I will post about it.  (I know that I owe an update for last week, too.  All I have so far is that it will be something with sausage in it).

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Weekly TV Update - December 4, 2013

Grimm -  A Friday Night Fav

Shannon's current TV lineup:
  1. Boardwalk Empire (Sunday)-season is over
  2. Bones (Monday)
  3. Sleepy Hollow (Monday)
  4. 2 Broke Girls (Monday)
  5. Hostages (Monday)
  6. The Blacklist (Monday)
  7. Revenge (Sunday)
  8. Homeland (Sunday)-season is over
  9. The Goldberg's (Monday)
  10. Revolution (Wednesday)
  11. Nashville (Wednesday)
  12. The Michael J. Fox Show (Thursday)
  13. The Vampire Diaries (Thursday)
  14. The Originals (Tuesdays)
  15. Hart of Dixie (Monday)
  16. The Walking Dead (Sunday)
  17. The Talking Dead (Sunday)
  18. Arrow (Wednesday)
  19. How I Met Your Mother (Monday)
  20. Mike & Molly (Monday)
  21. Dracula (Friday)
  22. The Carrie Diaries (Friday)
  23. Grimm (Friday)
  24. The Crazy Ones
  25. Sons of Anarchy (Tuesday)
  26. Drop Dead Diva (Sunday)
  27. The Witches of East End (Sunday)
  28. American Horror Story: Coven (Wednesday)
  29. Giuliana & Bill - now airing on E! (Tuesday)
  30. The Tomorrow People (Wednesday)
  31. Keeping Up With the Kardashians (Sunday)
 Other Info:

Entering the last year of the series - How I Met Your Mother (ends May/June 2014)
 
Coming soon:
The Following - Due back in January 19 & 20, 2014 - a 2 night premiere!
  
And finally, my comments:  This week is going to look strange because a ton of shows weren't on Thanksgiving week and I had a bit of a DVR pile up before.  But, since I hardly had anything on the DVR from Thanksgiving week, I am worried that I have a DVR issue.
    • Bones & How I Met Your Mother - I have decided to let these episodes pile up on my DVR.  During last year's winter hiatus I watched them all and that was a fun treat.
    • The Originals -  
    • Vampire Diaries -  
    • Nashville
    • The Goldberg's -
    • Revolution -  
    • Arrow
    • Michael J. Fox
    • Dracula -  
    • The Carrie Diaries
    • Grimm -  I am so happy that Juliette is now "in the know" on everything and she knows about "M" or Mom as well!
    • The Walking Dead - Fall Season Finale:
    • Revenge
    • 2 Broke Girls -  So funny!  I say that ever week. 
    • Hostages -  
    • The Blacklist -  
    • Hart of Dixie
    • Mike & Molly -

    Tuesday, December 3, 2013

    Saving Money At The Grocery Store

    I wanted to share this article with you all today.  The article is titled How To Save On Food.   It is written by one of my favorite bloggers, Ruth from Living Well, Spending Less.  Especially since Thanksgiving has just passed, a lot of us have food on our minds.  Hopefully you were able to give something to a local food drive.  My children's preschool had a Thanksgiving basket food drive that we contributed to.

    An easy way to save money and build your own stockpile of grocery items (which leads further savings) to is to shop the sales!  This is pretty basic in terms of theories on how to save on food.  But, it is my favorite because it is easy.

    You go to the store and you buy the items that you would normally use anyway that are on sale now.  Buy enough to last until the next sale (usually about 2 months but depending on your grocery store/chain this could be different).  Take the items home and place the extras in a specified area.  If you have room in your kitchen cabinets or pantry, that is ideal.  But, if you don't just find another space.  Now, when you run out of an item, you won't have to pay full price for the replacement.  You can just go into your stockpile and replenish your item.

    Repeating this cycle with your different grocery staples will really help your grocery budget over time.  Here is my favorite segment from the article:

    Let me make it more clear with an example.  Say your family eats 2 boxes of Honey Nut Cheerios every week.  The regular price for Honey Nut Cheerios is $4.50 a box, but when you go to the store this week, you see it is on sale for only $1.99 a box–more than 50% off the regular price!   Instead of buying only 2 boxes like you normally would for your weekly shopping trip, you buy 12 boxes–enough to last your family for the next 6 weeks at less than half the price you would normally pay.

    Read more at http://www.livingwellspendingless.com/2012/11/01/how-to-save-on-food/#ayUfTtmaAvZIkG8o.99

    I hope you enjoy the article and the ideas! 

    Monday, December 2, 2013

    DIY Taco Seasoning - That Was Easy!

    Put Your Kid to Work & Have Her Mix
    I have seen pins floating around Pinterest for making your own Taco seasoning.  I actually am not in


    love with the flavor that you get from the packaged Taco seasoning mixes.  So, I decided to give the whole making my own Taco Seasoning thing a try!

    I am happy to report that this was much more tasty than what I usually buy.

    I liked the info and recipe from Smashed Peas and Carrots the best.  I don't think that it is cheaper to make your own as the little packets are only about $0.75 each.  But, maybe if you already own all the spices it is cheaper?  I had to go shopping.

    All you need is:
    1/4 cup chili powder
    1 1/2 tsp onion powder
    1 1/2 tsp garlic powder
    1 1/2 tsp cumin
    1 1/2 oregano
    1/2 tsp paprika
    1 tsp salt
    1 tsp pepper
    Mix everything together in a bowl.  One packet of store bought taco seasoning will be equal to 2 rounded Tablespoons of this mixture.

    Smashed Peas & Carrots says that:
    **You can also kick up the heat a notch by adding in 1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes!!**.
    The Ingredients For Homemade Taco Seasoning
    I haven't tried this yet because I didn't want it to be too spicy because I wanted the kids to eat it, too.

    Some notes:
    • It is worth buying the big wholesale size chili powder if you plan to make this and store the extra.
    • The texture is much bumpier than I expected.
    • I used smoked paprika because that is what we had and it tasted fine and didn't taste smoked once in the food dish (chili).
    • I think it would be great to make a bunch of spices and seal them in 2 TBS sized pouches with a food sealer.  I hope to seal some and show you all what I am talking about.

    Sunday, December 1, 2013

    Weekly Dinner Menu - December 1, 2013

    Monday -    Easy Pasta: Shells with Red Sauce and Meatballs, Bread and Salad.

    Tuesday -   Tilapia with ??.  My husband will be making the side so I'm going to consult with him and then update.
      
    Wednesday -     We didn't end up having this last week: Meatloaf with mashed potatoes and a veggie.  I hope to post a My Husband Cooks post after this meal.
    Thursday -     Chicken, Green Bean, Potato Bake

    Friday -   Buffalo Mac & Cheese from this link when we made it before.
     
    Saturday -    leftovers
      
    Sunday -   Something warm & yummy in the Crock-pot!  I will update when I decide what it's going to be.  I started perusing some of my favorite cooking blogs and Pinterest so it's a tough decision!
     

    Tuesday, November 26, 2013

    Product Review - Sea Cuisine Pub Style Cod

    Sea Cuisine Cod
    A new fish product that we tried is the Sea Cuisine Pub Style Cod.  As any of my blog readers know, we eat a lot of Tilapia in this house.  My local wholesale club recently started carrying this Cod and we decided to give it a try.


    I was really hesitant to try this because any other brand of pub style cod (fish & chips style) that I have tried before has always been bad, really bad.  But, we like the 2 types of tilapia that this company sells so I decided to make some tarter sauce and try out this cod!  See my tilapia review here.


    I am very happy to report that this cod is great!  It cooks in 22 minutes and it is the closest to real pub style fish.  I would still take some fish and chips from a nice Irish or English Pub over something from my oven if given the chance.  But, as the likelihood of me getting out to an authentic pub for dinner is at about 0.00005%, having something like this at home every once and awhile makes for a nice dinner.

    I believe that it was $14.99 for 6 servings.  The servings are 2 of the pieces as shown on the cookie sheet.

    DISCLOSURE
    I was not compensated for my opinion or post. 
    All of the opinions expressed above are my own.
    
    Cod - Ready To Bake

    Monday, November 25, 2013

    Saving Money at Target

    Target REDcard 5% Off
    Another way we save some money is by using the
    Target REDcard to save 5% off of our purchases at Target.  You can also get free shipping on items purchased from Target.com.  I have yet to utilize the second perk.  But, I may be using it this holiday season in order to get my shopping done on time.

    I love to shop at Target.  I think it is my favorite big box store in the area.  I had read blog posts about saving 5% off of my purchases for years.  The store clerks often mentioned the REDcard as well.  The issue was that I utilize a bank that did not offer real live checks with their checking accounts.  In order to get a REDcard, you HAVE to bring a real live check into the store and get it voided as part of the application process.  I emailed and called my bank asking for a work around.  The only option was a bank information sheet with an example check on the paper that included my account and routing numbers.  However, Target declined this form of a check and I was not able to get my REDcard.

    I lived in my sad little world of paying full price at Target until the magical day came when my bank decided to offer real live checks to it's customers!  I signed up for my 50 free checks and happily waited for them to arrive.  Finally, they came in the mail.  I grabbed the first check and headed off to Target.  I opened my REDcard and I have been saving 5% ever since!

    I received my REDcard right at the same time that my Target upgraded to a Super Target with a grocery store inside with fresh produce, meat and bakery items.  Since this time I have started shopping at Target a lot more.  With the bonus of being able to get the grocery items that we need, I can buzz into Target to get whatever I need and save time by also getting the grocery items, too.

    A really rough estimate of my family's savings at Target with the REDcard would be:
    A trip to Target every 2 weeks costing at least $75 is equal to 26 Target trips a year.  The 26 trips cost at least $1,950 per year.  Buy paying for those trips with a Target REDcard, I would save 5% of the $1,950 or $97.50.  In addition, I usually spend at least $200 on birthdays and at least $500 on Christmas at Target.  Another 5% off of that $700 in spending is another $35 in savings which brings my total Target savings to $132.50 per year.

    I hope that this helps your family save some money.  Please let me know if you have any questions or comments.

    Also, check out my first article about how we save some money at Cumberland Farms here.

    Disclosure
    I haven't been compensated by Target for my post.  I just like to find ways to save money so I can spend some money on purses, kid toys and occasionally getting my nails done.

    Sunday, November 24, 2013

    Weekly Dinner Menu - November 24, 2013

    Monday -   Beef with BBQ (leftover from the freezer), corn and mashed potatoes.  I was picturing a Shepherd's Pie type of meal but I am not sure I will have time to layer it and bake it since it's a Monday night.  But, you never know when inspiration may strike!


    Tuesday -  Easy Pasta: Tortellini in Chicken Broth with celery and veggies.

     
    Wednesday -    Meatloaf with mashed potatoes and a veggie.  I hope to post a My Husband Cooks post after this meal.

     
    Thursday -  HAVE A HAPPY THANKSGIVING
     

    Friday -  Turkey leftovers, yum yum!
     
     
    Saturday -    Tilapia with some kind of baked potato sides (maybe those Pioneer Woman smashed potatoes) and carrots.

     
    Sunday -    6 Can Chicken tortilla Soup (2 cans chicken broth, 1 can corn, 1 can of Rotelle, 1 can of black beans and 1 can of chicken).  Serve with tortilla chips.

     
    If you haven't had a chance to check out the About Section of the Weekly Menu, please check out now for info on sides & veggies.

     
     

    Thursday, November 21, 2013

    Buying a Wii U This Winter?


    Wii U Bundle With Mario and Luigi
    I like to feel like I am getting something
    of value for my money.  I am guessing that most of us feel the same way.  When we occasionally splurge on something, I want to get the most bang for my buck.  Trying to avoid impulse purchases and taking the time to look for the best deals can often save us some money.

    The item in question for this post is the Wii-U.  I think it looked like a lot of fun and it had some games with my favorite video game characters, Mario and Luigi.  There is also a Zelda game that I have my eyes on.  Not to mention, I LOVED the option of being able to play games on the hand held unit while other family members did something else with the TV.  I can only watch the Cars movie so many times without passing out from boredom.

    The black Wii U unit comes with 32Gb of memory.  I knew we wanted that size.  I looked around at the basic price of the unit and then the different bundles that are available.  Did we want just the unit alone?  Did we want the Zelda bundle?  The Zombie bundle?  The Super Mario Brothers bundle?  The original bundle with Nintendo Land?

    After checking the bundles out online and in the real stores, I went with the Super Mario Bros. Bundle from Best Buy.  It was $299.  I felt like this was a decent price considering that I wanted the unit, the Super Mario Bros. U game and the Super Luigi U game as well. 

    The Zelda game costs about $49 from what I have seen.  The Mario game is about $45 and the Luigi game is about $30.  I also have my eye on the Zombie game ZombiU.  This game has had a recent price drop because it was over $40 at Best Buy but is now on Amazon for only $22.  It has been out for a while so it was due for a drop, in my opinion.  For some off reason, the ZombiU bundle was over $400.  I couldn't find any reason to justify THAT price.

    That just leaves the original bundle that comes with Nintendo Land.  As this is the game that most Wii U owners will have, I felt that it was a complete waste of cash to get this game in the bundle ($299).  This game will flood the marketplace and is available used now for $13-$15.  I expect that price to drop significantly in January after everyone gets Wii U for the holidays, plays Nintendo Land, gets bored with it, wants better games and sell Nintendo Land in order to finance the purchase of better games.  I will probably buy it in January or rent it somewhere to see if it is even worth owning.  I think that my kids may enjoy playing it, though. 

    I could have purchased the Zelda bundle for $299 as well.  But, since I also wanted Mario &  Luigi this would have been more expensive in the long run.  The Zelda bundle plus the 2 games would have cost $299 +$45 + $30 = $374.  But buying the Mario & Luigi bundle, and then buying Zelda alone, I spent $299 + $49 = $348.  This leave enough in the budget to also buy ZombiU now that it costs $22

    My master plan is to wait on Zelda though.  The next game will probably be the recently reduced ZombiU.  Once these games are played out, then hopefully we can get the Zelda game when it's price drops down below the current $49 or so.

    Also, I was really happy to buy this bundle at a real b&m store.  I hardly ever buy the consumer protection plans that are offered with many electronic purchases.  But, since this gaming system comes with a separate hand held unit, I could foresee some future damage being done.  I spent the $70 on a 2 year protection plan at Best Buy for this purchase.  If I feel like we need it, I will extend for another 2 years before this one expires.  With small kids in the house and some crazy animals as well, I feel like this protection plan may earn it's keep!


















    Disclosure
    I haven't been compensated by Best Buy, Nintendo, Mario nor Luigi for my post.  I just like to find ways to save money so I can spend some money on my pets, kids and hubby.

    Wednesday, November 20, 2013

    Weekly TV Update - November 20, 2013

    Shannon's current TV lineup:
    The Goldberg's

    1. Boardwalk Empire (Sunday)
    2. Bones (Monday)
    3. Sleepy Hollow (Monday)
    4. 2 Broke Girls (Monday)
    5. Hostages (Monday)
    6. The Blacklist (Monday)
    7. Revenge (Sunday)
    8. Homeland (Sunday)
    9. The Goldberg's (Monday)
    10. Revolution (Wednesday)
    11. Nashville (Wednesday)
    12. The Michael J. Fox Show (Thursday)
    13. The Vampire Diaries (Thursday)
    14. The Originals (Tuesdays)
    15. Hart of Dixie (Monday)
    16. The Walking Dead (Sunday)
    17. The Talking Dead (Sunday)
    18. Arrow (Wednesday)
    19. How I Met Your Mother (Monday)
    20. Mike & Molly (Monday)
    21. Dracula (Friday)
    22. The Carrie Diaries (Friday)
    23. Grimm (Friday)
    24. The Crazy Ones
    25. Sons of Anarchy (Tuesday)
    26. Drop Dead Diva (Sunday)
    27. The Witches of East End (Sunday)
    28. American Horror Story: Coven (Wednesday)
    29. Giuliana & Bill - now airing on E! (Tuesday)
    30. The Tomorrow People (Wednesday)
    31. Keeping Up With the Kardashians (Sunday)
     Other Info:

    Entering the last year of the series - How I Met Your Mother (ends May/June 2014)
     
    Coming soon:
    The Following - Due back in January 2014
      
    And finally, my comments:
    • Bones & How I Met Your Mother - I have decided to let these episodes pile up on my DVR.  During last year's winter hiatus I watched them all and that was a fun treat.
    • Boardwalk Empire -    on DVR.
    • The Originals -   We got to see Tyler.  The big cross over.  Yadda-Yadda.
    • Vampire Diaries -  Poor mortal Katherine!  Just Kidding!  She is still so entertaining.  I actually like her story line with the professor doc, too,  Maybe he can help her.  I am so bored by the Bonny is dead story line so hopefully now that she straddles two words, we can have a break from her death.  Nina D did a great job as all 3 characters.  She is really believable especially for such a young actor. How many episodes before Elena & Stefan are making out??  I won't miss Crazy, Crazier and Silas at all.  Did anyone else get to see the State Farm Scooby Doo & The Gang commercial during this show?  Awesome!
    • Nashville -  OK the good news is that I did not miss an episode last week!  Onto this week: Maddy & Deacon - it's about time!  Whoa, Juliette, everyone is hot for some Juliette!
    • The Goldberg's - I loved the story of how the new neighbor's mom and the Goldberg Mom went from enemies to besties!
    • Revolution -  Oh traitorous Dad!  Such heart break all around on that note.  Poor Aaron.  They must save him & Caroline (is that her name? Clara?).
    • Arrow - I watched this and then really couldn't even remember why they were in Russia.
    • Michael J. Fox -  Snooze, Snooze, liked girls night with the Auntie, liked the Back to The Future jokes.  OK, this show lives another week!
    • Dracula -  Good episode!  I liked the vampire friend drama and all of the hub bub about the engagement party.
    • The Carrie Diaries -  So cute!  But, that little boy is a monster.
    • Grimm -  Good - I liked this episode and am looking forward to more Grimm!
    • The Walking Dead - We all wanted to know what The Governor has been up to all this time.  Now we do know and boy is it a shock!  I never expected him to gain a new family.  The ending was great!  I can't wait to see what his former cronies have to say to The Gov when and if they help him and Penny 2.o out of the hole.
    • Revenge - on DVR.
    • Homeland - Saul is going to get Brody?
    • 2 Broke Girls -  So funny!  I say that ever week.  The one armed cleaning lady was a pretty silly but entertaining segment.  Watching Max in pastry school will be fun!
    • Sleepy Hollow -  Still loving this show but I have yet to watch the newest episode.
    • Hostages -   on DVR
    • The Blacklist -   on DVR
    • Hart of Dixie -  on DVR
    • Mike & Molly - on DVR

    PS
    If you wonder what is up with my photo choices... I choose my favorite episode of the week and pull up a picture from that show and post it with my column.

     

    Tuesday, November 19, 2013

    Hello Kitty Has THE Life:

    We joke a lot about the nice lives that our animals lead.  But, our cat Hello Kitty really takes the cake in the relaxation department as evidenced by this picture of her in our son's bed:


    Lounge Kitty

    Monday, November 18, 2013

    Saving Money on Gas at Cumberland Farms

    Cumbies SmartPay Card
    There is a debit card that you can get from Cumberland Farms that will enable you to save $0.10 per gallon of gas. 

    Most people from New England will recognize the Cumberland Farms chain of gas and convenience stores.  We often bought gas and other convenience items here before we had the SmartPay card.  Once we realized that Cumbies often has the cheapest price on gas in our part of town, we decided to get the SmartPay card and save an additional $0.10 per gallon.

    You have to go inside and get a SmartPay card from the store.  There is no cost for this card.  Take it home and log into the website and link this card to your checking account.  Then, the next time you go to Cumberland Farms to fill up your gas tank, you will get the member price on gas which is $0.10 per gallon less than the regular or non-member price.

    You can also use this card to pay for your other purchases inside the store.  Certain exceptions do apply though.  you can not pay for lottery tickets with this card as they have a cash for lottery ticket policy (at least in our area).

    The card is protected by a pin.  I keep it right behind my regular debit card so that I don't lose or misplace it.

    If 2 drivers utilize the savings on this card over the course of a year a lot of money can be saved. 

    Here is an example of what we save at our house:
    Driver #1
    40 gallons of gas per week times 52 weeks per year = 2,080 gallons of gas per year.  Saving $0.10 per gallon on each of these 2,080 gallons saves Driver #1 $208.00 per year.

    Driver #2
    30 gallons of gas per week times 52 weeks per year = 1,560 gallons of gas per year.  Saving $0.10 per gallon on each of these 1,560 gallons saves Driver #2 $156.00 per year.

    Together, our household saves $364.00 in gas by using the Cumbies SmartPay card.  Hopefully you don't drive as much as we do!

    If you have any questions or need any help, just post here or email me and I will help you.

    Disclosure
    I haven't been compensated by Cumberland Farms for my post.  I just like to find ways to save money so I can spend some money on vacations and baking supplies and Kindle books.

    Sunday, November 17, 2013

    Weekly Dinner Menu - November 17, 2013

    Weekly Menu November 18, 2013
    Monday -   Crock-pot:  Pineapple Glazed Ham from Six Sisters with beans and a veggie.

    Tuesday -   Crockpot: Chicken Broccoli Alfredo from Six Sisters over egg noodles or linguini.
     
    Wednesday -    leftovers

     
    Thursday -  An Easy Frozen Pasta like Shells, Tortellini or Manicotti.  Serve with some bread and a side salad.
     

    Friday -  Tilapia with green beans & garlic and scalloped potatoes.
     
     
    Saturday -    French Stuffed Potatoes from my Monthly Challenge (To Cook From My Cookbooks).  Serve with carrots or broccoli.  (OK - I STILL haven't managed to make this).

     
    Sunday -    From this PIN, Oven Roasted Kielbasa, Potatoes And Veggies

     
    If you haven't had a chance to check out the About Section of the Weekly Menu, please check out now for info on sides & veggies.

     
     

    Friday, November 15, 2013

    Fun Places To Go - Roger Williams Zoo, Providence, RI

    Elephants Waiting For Baths
    The Roger Williams Zoo in Providence, RI is a fun place to visit.  This is true even in the winter.  We went in February 2013.  However, I do recommend that you make a warm(er) weather visit!

    The Zoo is small enough that you can easily navigate through it.  There is only 1 entrance and 1 exit.  You enter the zoo and then go through the zoo in a circle like direction.  Then, you exit the zoo through the same spot.  It is large enough that you feel like you get your money's worth from the visit. 

    Parking is free at this zoo.  There is even a small Dunkin' Donuts inside, across from the elephants.  There are lots of gift shops.  Most are very small but my favorite is large(r) and it is located after the snack/restaurant area.  I have found some great books and items here.  They have a ton of adorable stuffed animals.  Some are very realistic while others are made to be cute and cuddly.

    Highlights of the zoo are the zebras, elephants, seals and giraffes.  Also, there is a great outdoor playground that stays open all year long.  We timed our visit just right and we were able to see the elephants get a bath indoors.
    Outdoor Playground & Treehouse











    Thursday, November 14, 2013

    Weekly TV Update - November 13, 2013


    Elena, Katherine and now the 3rd character

    Shannon's current TV lineup:

    1. Boardwalk Empire (Sunday)
    2. Bones (Monday)
    3. Sleepy Hollow (Monday)
    4. 2 Broke Girls (Monday)
    5. Hostages (Monday)
    6. The Blacklist (Monday)
    7. Revenge (Sunday)
    8. Homeland (Sunday)
    9. The Goldberg's (Monday)
    10. Revolution (Wednesday)
    11. Nashville (Wednesday)
    12. The Michael J. Fox Show (Thursday)
    13. The Vampire Diaries (Thursday)
    14. The Originals (Tuesdays)
    15. Hart of Dixie (Monday)
    16. The Walking Dead (Sunday)
    17. The Talking Dead (Sunday)
    18. Arrow (Wednesday)
    19. How I Met Your Mother (Monday)
    20. Mike & Molly (Monday)
    21. Dracula (Friday)
    22. The Carrie Diaries (Friday)
    23. Grimm (Friday)
    24. The Crazy Ones
    25. Sons of Anarchy (Tuesday)
    26. Drop Dead Diva (Sunday)
    27. The Witches of East End (Sunday)
    28. American Horror Story: Coven (Wednesday)
    29. Giuliana & Bill - now airing on E! (Tuesday)
    30. The Tomorrow People (Wednesday)
    31. Keeping Up With the Kardashians (Sunday)
     Other Info:

    Entering the last year of the series - How I Met Your Mother (ends May/June 2014)
     
    Coming soon:
    The Following - Due back in January 2014
      
    And finally, my comments:
    • Sleepy Hollow - This is such a good show.  Glad we got to see some of the Mason mythology.
    • Bones - I have decided to let these episodes pile up on my DVR since I am on the fence about this show.  During last year's winter hiatus I watched them all and that was a fun treat.
    • Boardwalk Empire -  It's still on the DVR.
    • The Originals -  This was a decent Claus episode!
    • 2 Broke Girls -  So so so funny!
    • Vampire Diaries -  Stuck on the cabin with Stefan and Tessa.  I felt for Elena when that happened!  I LOVED how calm Stefan was when we kept telling Elena that she really shouldn't have come through the door.
    • Hostages -  on DVR (or, did this not come on this week?  I have to check.)
    • The Blacklist -  on DVR
    • Revolution -   on DVR (I have 1.5 episodes to watch!  strange considering that it is one of my favorites).
    • Nashville - I didn't get an episode of Nashville.  I think it was a week off for them.  I hope so, anyway.
    • Michael J. Fox - Nobody likes bed bugs!  How sweet was it's that Michael's sister had those Parkinson's books in her place.
    • Hart of Dixie - on DVR
    • The Walking Dead -   Carol!  Were art thou?  The gang was much too busy this week.  I just know that Daryl will track her down next week.
    • Homeland -  Really enjoying this but you really have to pay attention to all of the characters and plot twists.  I will have more to say next week.
    • Arrow -  I still enjoy this show and I like most of the story lines.  I really want to see what happens with Mama Queen.  But, please, LESS ISLAND!  I need a break from all the flash backs.  Yes, there is an island but, we don't need to see Lost 2.0.
    • Revenge -   on DVR
    • Dracula -  This show is getting better!  I really like the love triangle of the Assistant, Dracula and Dr Miss.  Interesting that Dr Miss's blond friend is into her.
    • The Carrie Diaries - Such a cute show!  Glad that Carrie will be back in Castlebury with her Dad and Sis for a while.  I have had enough Carrie and Sebastian on again, off again.  So, let's take a break from that plot line.
    • Grimm - I liked the episode and like more of Monroe's story.

     

    Sunday, November 10, 2013

    Weekly Dinner Menu - November 10, 2013

    Monday -  Leftover Crock-pot Ham & Potato Casserole, that I made in this post.  (This recipe got bumped to Sunday last week).


    Tuesday -  Tilapia or Cod. 

     
    Wednesday -   An Easy Frozen Pasta Like Shells, Tortellini or Manicotti.  Serve with some bread and a side salad.

     
    Thursday -  French Stuffed Potatoes from my Monthly Challenge (To Cook From My Cookbooks).  Serve with carrots or broccoli.  We didn't make this last week as we ended up with too much food.
     

    Friday - leftovers
     
     
    Saturday -   Breakfast For Dinner: French Toast Sticks and Diced Fruit.

     
    Sunday -   Oven Roasted Sausage, Potatoes and Vegetables.

     
    If you haven't had a chance to check out the About Section of the Weekly Menu, please check out now for info on sides & veggies.

     
     

    Thursday, November 7, 2013

    Product Review: Spritz Gift Wrap


    Sptitz Gift Wrapping Paper
    I like to keep some gift wrap on hand so that I am ready to give a gift when the occasion arises.  Usually, I need wrapping paper that appeals to kids.  But, on this particular occasion, I had some adult gifts to prep.  While shopping at Target, I spotted this cute, trendy wrapping paper made by Spritz.  I believe it was $3.99 a roll. 

    
    Gift After Wrapping
    The paper was thick enough that I didn't get any additional tears when cutting the wrapping paper.  It was easy to match up the patterns when applying the tape.  My only complaint is that there was not a grid on the non-decorated side of the wrapping paper.  I think with bold patterns such as these, a grid would have been useful.

    I stacked the individual components of this gift on top of one another.  I like the overall effect!

    Disclosure:
    I think that I have mentioned this a few times but, I have not been paid or otherwise compensated for my opinions in this post or in any of my other posts.  If the day comes when I am paid or otherwise compensated for my time and/or opinions I will disclose that at the bottom or the top of the post.