Friday, July 31, 2009

Food for Less!

With the recession, everyone's been cutting back on unnecessary spening. We all love to go out to eat, but any kind of deal we can get makes it that much better. Here's some restaurant deals I found:

ARBY'S: $5 Roastburger combo and Wednesday FreebiesYou can still hit up your local Arbys on Wednesdays in August for a free regular roast beef, roast chicken club, and a Beef’n Cheddar with the purchase of a soft drink but in addition to “Wednesday FREEbies” you can also pick up a low priced combo every day. For only $5 you can get a one of four Roastburger combos complete with fries and a drink at participating locations.

CHEESECAKE FACTORY: (one of my faves) Lunch and Dinner; $3.95 to $6.95

The Cheesecake Factory, which offers plenty more than cheesecake, recently rolled out a new 'Small Plates and Snacks' menu to its restaurants which offer a cheap way to fill up on a wide array of culinary delights. While the plates are small, the portions are impressive and with 16 varied items on the new menu; there plenty of unique tastes to turn these snacks into a meal.

PF CHANGS'S: $39.99 for 2 / select $9.99 dinnersThe recession doesn't mean your taste buds have to take a staycation; grab a friend or loved one and head over to P.F. Chang's for a generous four-course meal including soup, starter, entr'e and mini dessert as part of their 'Chang's for 2' promotion which is just $39. Select P.F. Chang's locations are also featuring 'Regional Classics' for $9.99 with dishes hailing from five regions in China.

APPLEBEE'S: $5.99 lunch combos and 2 for $20 dinner dealsApplebee’s is still running its affordable 2 for $20 dinner promotion which features 2 full size entrees and your choice of four appetizers including burgers, pasta and chicken. Applebee’s also has some new lunch deals as part of its “Pick ‘n Pair” lunch special which starts at $5.99 and includes French dip sliders, soups and salads.

T.G.I. FRIDAY'S: $5 off for every buddy you bringFriday’s knows that dining out is social event and with its new BYOB promotion it pays to bring your friends to Friday’s. If you “Bring Your Own Buddies” to Fridays you’ll get $5 off the bill for each friend you bring for up to 10 friends. To get the deal you can print out a coupon before you go or text “BYOB13” to “MYTGIF” and have the coupon sent to your phone.

Dinner, Outback special for under $10
There's steak and there's Outback steak! Outback has expanded its Outback special to include a 6-oz. sirloin offering for only $9.95 and comes with salad, baked potato and bread. Outback also offers 14 other meals for under $15. The latest deal at Outback lets you enjoy a Bloomin’ Onion and 2 Blue Moons for only $8.95. If you crave steak, Outback is one of the best ways to fit it into your newly reduced budget for eating out!

HOOTERS: Lunch and dinner, $5.99
Hot on the heels of their $1 draft beer bailout Hooters is offering an economic stimulus package full of wings. Every Wednesday Hooters will offer a 10 piece Boneless wing combo served with a side of fries and a roomful of delightfully tacky decor all for only $5.99. Apparently you are going to Hooters for the wings -- or at you should be!

WENDY'S: Lunch and dinner, sandwiches for $.99Wendy's is trying to give America a finance lesson in their new "3-conomics" sandwich deals. For only 99 cents you can choose from a Crispy Chicken, Jr. Bacon Cheeseburger or a Double Stack, rounding out the meal with fries and a drink for just over $3. This lesson in 3-conomics might prove to be the most delicious way to teach Americans to spend less than they make. How can you pass up a burger with bacon on it for under a buck?

CHILI'S: Lunch and dinner, 3 courses for 2 people for $20
Chili’s latest special makes a splash and puts Applebee’s 2 for $20 deal on notice with its three Courses, two People, $20 special. With more than 15 choices and a desert to top of the evening, Chili’s is heating things up in the casual dining arena.

BOSTON MARKET: $5 lunch and dinner, add a chicken to any Family Meal for $1.99
Boston Market's $5 menu includes 11 meal choices made with favorites from their homestyle menu. With options like a quarter of a chicken and pot pie to sandwiches and side dish sampler platters, $5 gets you a meal even mom would approve of. Now if you buy a Family Meal you can add a whole chicken for just $1.99

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Meal planning made fun!

Meal planning is a great thing for a busy housewife. It saves so much time to plan every meal and purchase at the beginning of the week. I am not the cook in our house, so this doesn't work too well for me, but maybe one day : )

Since I'm all about graphic design, I'm posting a bunch of different meal planning pages in different styles so you can find one that fits your personality best.

To download this cute printable, go here.

Organized Home also has a lot of great worksheets and charts. Check out this weekly meal planning chart, shopping list, pantry & freezer inventory, etc.

The Project Girl has even more options. Check out her pages here.

And for a completely unique & fun design, Future Girl has a great chart.

FREE Organization Tools!

Who doesn't love freebies?

Check out these super cute TO DO lists from Erin Vale Design.

They also have a grocery list in the same style.

Amanda designed these really cool old-fashioned style templates for a planner. They're hard to see when they're small, but open them up and see interesting they are. She put a ton of work into making these!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Let me first explain the reason for the title of my cooking blogs: Microwave junkie learns to cook. I've never been much of a cook and am usually perfectly happy eating frozen food and cereal for every meal. The other half of of "Team T" does the cooking in our household and I clean up the messes. But I am trying to help out more and at least find good recipes for us to try (even if I need some help with the actual cooking). In my attempts to be more of a housewife, I'll try to cook a little more and blog about them here.

And now to the yummy reason I posted this...

No one loves dessert more than me! A coworker brought some of these cookie bars into work today and they were to-die-for! You have to try them!

Chocolate Chip Toffee Bars

  • 2-1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup (1-1/2 sticks) butter or margarine
  • 1 egg, slightly beaten
  • 2 cups (12-oz. pkg.) HERSHEY'S SPECIAL DARK Chocolate Chips or HERSHEY'S Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips, divided
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped nuts
  • 1 can (14 oz.) sweetened condensed milk (not evaporated milk)
  • 1-1/3 cups (8 oz. pkg.) HEATH BITS 'O BRICKLE Toffee Bits, divided

1. Heat oven to 350°F. Grease 13x9x2-inch baking pan.

2. Combine flour and brown sugar in large bowl. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add egg; mix well. Stir in 1-1/2 cups chocolate chips and nuts; set aside 1-1/2 cups mixture.

3. Press remaining crumb mixture onto bottom of prepared pan. Bake 10 minutes. Pour sweetened condensed milk evenly over hot crust; set aside 1/4 cup toffee bits. Sprinkle remaining toffee bits over sweetened condensed milk. Sprinkle reserved crumb mixture and remaining 1/2 cup chips over top.

4. Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until golden brown. Top with reserved toffee bits. Cool completely in pan on wire rack. Cut into bars. About 48 bars.


Something so simple can do so much

Organization always looks so fun when you see other people with these great ideas, but it's a lot harder to motivate yourself to become organized. Here's some ideas that I think are great starting points for your own home organization:

Andrea, writer of Living Large on a Dime, posted some great ideas for organization today. Check out her Home Book which is a great way to organize all those random notes, coupons, schedules, tips, and magazine pages that you have stashed around the house. Thanks for the tips, Andrea!

Elizabeth from the blog, Elizabeth Lives, also posted about her home organization binder. Her binder has many different parts: a planner, training journal, budget, coupons, etc. See specific pictures of each section and how she makes it work.

If these are ideas are still too much for you to handle, follow these step-by-step instructions from How to Build a Home Organization Notebook.

If you have a great way that you organize your life, post them in my comments so I can feature them another day!

Stocking up

I've been SO busy the last few weeks and haven't gotten a chance to shop as much. When I saw the newest Express coupons in the mail yesterday, I HAD to check out their new stuff. Not much is fitting me lately, so I was disappointed as usual that nothing fit right.

At least I can always rely on their spaghetti-strap camis with the built in bra that are perfect for layering in summer or winter.

TOTAL: $19.50 cami + $15 off any purchase coupon + an old gift card I've been saving = FREE!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Movin' on up...

We're movin' on up eventually, but not just yet...

Tonight we finished packing and moved the rest of our stuff into my parents' basement and left the house one last time. As I carried Kitty out the door for the last time, we both cried.

Here's Kitty's last meal in the house. He gets a little excited about canned food!

It's pretty weird living here again after 5 years! Here's our new temporary home (please excuse the mess! I don't have everything organized yet)

The "closet" area

Kitty's area

All the extra crap that didn't fit in the storage unit

Friday, July 24, 2009

Got gossip?

No, not that Gossip Girl...but if you're a girl and like gossip, this is for you!

What girl doesn't love gossiping & joking with her friends about pop culture? Listen to it FREE!

I discovered Pop Trash Radio a couple years ago when I needed something fun to listen to at work. Davy and Kendra call it "southern fried pop culture podcast comfort." It's basically just gossiping and joking about the latest celeb news and trend with a little southern twang mixed in. You can subscribe to it through itunes or just go to their blog and download podcasts. A great way to pass the time at work!

Jealous of celeb hair?

Ever feel jealous that you can't have awesome hair like the celebrities? Here's the secret: you can! I discovered this blog with awesome tutorials for trendy hairstyles. It does take some practice, but they are a lot easier than they look.

Let me know if any of these work for you!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

You are served

I have to admit that most of our wedding gifts were immediately put into storage and we still have not touched them. One of the few things we did open was this bed tray:It's actually a lot darker and more of an espresso/dark cherry. This ended up being one of my favorite wedding gifts! "Team T" often fights over who gets to use it! It's perfect for using a laptop in bed or eating a meal while watching tv. I'm actually thinking of buying a second one so we can each use one at the same time.

Get one at Bed Bath & Beyond here.

Flip-flop Fun

I bought a pair of sandals from Target in 2006. After wearing them for a few months, I realized how much I loved them and waited another pair, but they were gone from the stores already. Ever since then, I've never been able to find a pair of comfy flip flops that were a little dressier than the plastic ones. Just last week I was walking through Salvation Army and something caught my eye. My Target sandals! 3 years later! Score!

Since they are the same bronze color as the ones I already have, I wanted to try to make them black. I went to a local shoe repair shop and an employee showed me how to strip the bronze color off the straps and prepare them for the new color.

As you can see, I taped up the bottom of the sandals so I wouldn't get any spray paint on them. Then I stuffed the straps with newspaper so I wouldn't get paint on the underside of the straps. I sprayed 2 coats black shoe paint and let it dry. Voila! Brand new sandals and super comfy!

$2.50 sandals + $7.00 supplies = $9.50 for my favorite pair of sandals in another color


With only a week to pack up the whole house, I freaked out! As much as packing sucks, I really don't mind it too much because I know we're moving on to something bigger and better.

Here's some packing tips I've learned throughout the process:
1. Label, label, label! Even in the past week, I've found that I had to go back and look for something that was already packed. The more detailed you are, the easier it is to find things.

2. Create a FIRST OPEN box for things like cleaning supplies, paper plates/cups, toilet paper, rags, scissors, markers, tape, towels, and anything else you may need as soon as you get to your new home.

3. Make a list of every place you need to contact to change your address. Here's a quick list and some links: USPS, IRS, utilities, doctors, credit cards, insurance (medical, car, home), workplace, banks, newspapers, magazines, catalogs, family/friends, schools, etc.

4. Color code each box. I bought colored stickers assigned each room it's own color. Then on every box, I put the corresponding sticker on the top so it would be easy to figure out where to put things in our new house.

5. Collect boxes, tissue paper, bubble wrap, tape, etc. ahead of time so you have a large amount before you start. It really sucks if you run out of boxes halfway through and need to find more ASAP.

6. Book your storage unit and/or moving truck ASAP. We couldn't book ours until a week before so it was hard to get the size and date we needed.

7. Lists are your friend. They might be overwhelmingly long, but they help me stay organized. Here's a great checklist of things you may need to get done before you move.

And for your viewing pleasure, here is Kitty wondering why our house is full of boxes...

And then Kitty taking a nap on top of a stack of boxes...

And back to the packing!

One step ahead

Everyone loves a bargain, but it's one of my favorite things! It takes a lot of patience to go through racks and racks of stuff, but when you spot something with that 90% off red clearance sticker, it's all worth it.

I have a lot of problems finding shoes that are cute and don't hurt my feet. When I finally find a pair that I like, it's usually too late to stock up on other colors of the same style because the stores is sold out. There are a few pairs of shoes that I am always on the lookout for when I shop at thrift stores and secondhand shops because I love them so much. Today when I went into Wings, I spotted a pair of my favorite flats. Score! They were my size AND in a color I don't have yet! It looks like they've been worn only once or twice.
TOTAL: $4.00
And just a info about Wings:
WINGS helps homeless and abused women and children by offering integrated services that meet their needs for shelter, education, guidance and support. We provide safe, secure living environments, through transitional housing and emergency shelter, in residential neighborhoods that allow women to go to school, work, and care for themselves and their children.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

So yesterday was a VERY eventful day. Everything started out normal until we got a call that a house we were thinking about got an offer on it. If we didn't put in an offer that afternoon, we would probably lose our chance at getting it. I liked the house, but had only seen it once and wasn't ready to make a decision yet. We had to leave work, run over to the house to see it one last time, and make a decision ASAP. We put in an offer and went back to work thinking we wouldn't end up getting it. 2 hours later I got a call that the house was ours! My mind has been racing ever since with concerns, nervous anxiety, and tons of ideas of things I want to do to fix it up. The house needs some work, but I think it will be a lot of fun to do the work on our own. The inspection is scheduled for Saturday!


Since I am going through a big transition time in my life, I figured it's the perfect time to start a blog. I thought this would be a great way to keep in touch with those of you that I don't see very often and to show you what "Team T" has been up to. This is my first attempt at a blog, so it will be learning process for me. Please feel free to add comments or links to your own blogs : )

For the past year and a half, we have had our lives on hold while our house was on the market. It's been a long and frustrating process, but we're finally nearing the end!

This has been our home for the last 5 years. It's been a great 5 years of learning to survive in the "real world" and getting married, but we're ready for something new.

We finally got a great offer on our house in July and are set to close next week!
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