Thursday, October 18, 2012


Let's face it, we're broke.  I mean, when I quit my job to stay home with the girls, we knew it would be tough.  Our days of eating PB&J, rationing bagels, and having applesauce as "dessert" each night have only just begun - and I'm loving it!
Though, who wouldn't like a bit of extra cash?! I have always been a member of our local credit union (a financial institution, but NOT a bank) since I was about 4.  My account number has been preserved, I've been on posters in their marketing department, and I know most of their employees at several branches. That's one reason I love the small town place.  But there, they have a savings account that has literally saved our lives - I was able to use some dividends a few weeks ago to cover Lydia's emergency trip to the hospital! It's called a PayBack savings account and it does just that - pays you back.  It's the BEST option (the ONLY option in my book) for saving my money that I don't necessarily need right this moment, yielding the best percentage of money earned, and it's up for grabs at ANY time (without any penalty).  I just have to meet a list of requirements each month, like having a loan (car and house), using my debit card as "credit" 25 times/month, and using the only banking system...then I get 1-3% earned each month, free activation on VISA gift cards, and a few other perks.  IT'S TOTALLY WORTH IT. I haven't found anything like it.

But what's even better - they're running a contest that ends Monday night.  J and I became goofs late one night when we were up and made a quick video of why we like the account - and posted it. Now we just need votes.  The video with the most votes (currently, we're the only one, but there's potential for more to be posted soon) wins $500 on Tuesday morning. What can I do with that? hmmmmm - car taxes, Christmas gifts, pedicure, give some to you....

So will you help me? Go to this link and vote for our video.  You can vote once a day through Monday night. We need your votes!

Monday, October 8, 2012

The only reason I love cold weather...

SOUP! I have been SO excited about today's forecast for a few days now, for one reason and one reason only - I have been CRAVING soup. But I don't like eating soup when it's warm outside. So basically, from April-September I go on a soup aversion.  But once October hits, bring on the candy corn soup!
And since I like to try new recipes, I went searching for a crock pot vegetable minestrone that would work for us - by the mixing of 3 different recipes and a touch of love from my own pantry, I came out with this pot of beauty:
So many of you asked for the recipe, so here it is as best as I can remember it:
- 1-2 tbsp of olive oil
- 2 stalks of celery, diced
- 10 mini carrots (or 2 reg carrots), sliced 
- 1 small onion, diced
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 large zucchini, cubed
- 2 cups of your fave spaghetti sauce with 2 cups of water
- 4 cups of chicken stock, plus 2-3 cups (optional)
- 1 can kidney bean, drained
- 1 can stewed tomatoes
- salt, pepper, red pepper, italian seasoning, or whatever else flavor you like in your soup :)
- 1-2 cups torn spinach without stems
- 3-5 handfuls of uncooked pasta (shells, elbows, or whatever is in the pantry)

1. Heat frying pan with olive oil and saute celery, carrots, onion, garlic and zucchini until just tender. (you can probably skip this step as it did in all other recipes, but I LOVE sauteed veggies...)
2. Dump veggies in crock pot.  Add 4 cups of chicken stock, the spaghetti sauce with water, tomatoes, and kidney beans.  Add salt, pepper, and other seasonings to taste.  (I had a 1/2 packet of italian seasoning for dressing in the pantry so I just poured it in too).
3. Cook on low 7-8 hours (or 10 like mine did). 
4.  Add in spinach and pasta while there's still about 30 minutes left.
5. Add extra stock if too thick (we like our soup a little runny...)

VOILA - yum-o! I use a 5 qt crock pot.  I actually made dinner for another family tonight, so I split the pot with them.  J had 3 huge bowls, I had one and Miriam ate a bowl too. Served with my favorite 3 ingredient sour cream biscuits (2 cups self rising flour, 1.5 sticks of melted butter, 1 cup sour cream - mix and drop spoonfuls in mini muffin pan, bake 20-25 min at 350).  For dessert, we had pumpkin muffins that I made yesterday morning while I was in the baking mode.

And since I'm in the baking mode, I need your help.  I LOVE chocolate chip cookies, and all of my recipes are my favorite.  I have had a bad hankering for some lately, and now sits a bag of unopened chocolate chip morsels in the pantry just waiting to make their appearance in a cookie. So what is your favorite cc cookie recipe?? Since I shared my soup with you, share your cookies with me!