Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Dining on a Dime: Cheater King Cake

Hooray! It's Mardi Gras! 
Ok, admittedly, I'm an atheist, so the religious aspects of the holiday don't really apply to me. However, I can't turn down an excuse to bake something.
I really would have liked to make a real King Cake, but, with work and other obligations, there just wasn't the time. This recipe presented a happy alternative using crescent roll dough (which you might have noticed, I love). I found the recipe here.

The only thing I changed was doubling the cream cheese mixture. In my book, the more cream cheese the better. I meant to press a bean into the dough to serve as the "baby" since I didn't have one. Unfortunately, I forgot this until after I pulled it out of the oven. Oh well. I also go in a hurry and poured on the glaze before it had cooled.
Normally, I would type up the recipe and directions for you, but I'm going to go enjoy some King Cake and a drink.
Happy Mardi Gras kids!!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Dining on a Dime: Mini Cinnamon Rolls

We've had a pretty rough week at our house: two bouts of a vicious stomach bug that sent me to urgent care and left us both tired and headache-y the rest of the week. So, between missing work and the unexpected medical bills I acquired, I'm feeling a little sorry for myself this weekend and was in desperate need of a pick-me-up. I came up with a great one. Who doesn't love mini cinnamon rolls? AND, its even better because they are super quick, easy and more importantly, cheap.

On a side note, check out our new table in the background there! It's an awesome rustic, farmhouse table, built entirely by Deven from reclaimed pallet wood. It's beautiful!!!

Anyway, back to the cinnamon rolls. You will need:
  • One roll of crescent roll dough
  • Butter or margarine, softened
  • Cinnamon sugar
  • Simple glaze (see below)
First, preheat your oven to 375°F. Next, unroll your crescent dough. Separate the dough into four rectangles consisting of two triangles of dough and press the seams together. I smooshed the dough out a little flatter as well. Next, spread a little of the butter or margarine over the entire rectangle of dough and then sprinkle generously with the cinnamon sugar. Don't know how to make cinnamon sugar? You're in luck, because its super easy (and nice to have around the house to go on your toast). Simply mix together sugar with a sprinkle of cinnamon to taste.

Next, roll up the dough from one of the short ends and slice. 

Place the slices on a cookie sheet and bake 9 to 10 minutes, or until golden. Remove from oven and drizzle with glaze.

Now, I know not everyone knows how to make a glaze, but you should. It is one of the quickest and easiest ways to fancy up your baking just a little, and its very versatile. For this recipe I took a few heaping tablespoons of powdered sugar and added a few drops of vanilla extract. Then, I mixed in mall quantities of milk until I had the consistency I was looking for. The great thing with glaze is, you can use just the milk and sugar, or water. Or booze and sugar. I've make some really yummy amaretto glaze for an amaretto cake before. The only limit is really your imagination.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Another Pinterest Test... And an Apology

Ok, so I think I should probably start with the apology. I know, I've been MIA for some time now. For those of you who might not know, I work in retail and during the holiday season that can be a pretty brutal experience. There was one week I work 52 hours. That was 52 hours of pissed off holiday shoppers, not fun. Aside from that, my stress and anxiety problems were not doing well, so I decided a hiatus was the best thing to do.

The good news is, my anxiety is in a much better place now and I finally feel like I can really get back to blogging, so thank you everyone for your patience and support.

ANYWAY, on to the Pinterest test. This one is short and sweet. We have this leather chair at our house that Deven just HAD to have when we moved into our house. Unfortunately for the chair, Freckles loves it.

I couldn't tell you for sure what the website was anymore, but I've seen several different places that recommend olive oil to help hide scratches on leather. It's as simple as it sounds: take your olive oil and rub a little on your scratched leather. Rub and rub and rub, then wipe clean. Here is what I started with:

 And here is what I ended up with: 

That's right. Shiny leather! Or, more importantly, nothing. Didn't work. Needless to say, I'm a little disappointed. Does anyone have an better suggestions for me?

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Retail v. Thanksgiving

Alright. I will freely admit that this post is nothing but a rant. I know this has nothing to do with saving money, but you know what? It's my blog, so I'm going to rant anyway.

Ok, so to the point. I follow out local NBC affiliate on Facebook and lately they have made several posts about retail stores opening up on Thanksgiving and the employees that are either signing petitions or striking to try to change that. I've been disturbed by some of the comments left by other followers. Here are a few examples (I lifted these verbatim, so the awful grammar is not my own this time, and I let these jerks retain their anonymity):

  • "So really it doesnt make a difference because their are tons of other people working on Holidays and people are making a big deal out of store clerks and etc to work on holidays?? It is not hard work.."
  • "Its not like what they do is Rocket Science. of course, we have become an entitlement society and everyone believes their job is the most important."
  • "I don't see what the big deal is...like others have said most families are done with Thanksgiving dinner by 8 anyway. I'm sure the stores that are opening earlier aren't forcing the employees to work."
  • "Yep I'm shopping don't like it get a job that don't require holidays matter fact be grateful you have one I mean come on people this is a given in retail..." 
  • "Nobody forced you to work at target or Walmart or where ever it is you draw a pay check. If you don't like it find another job!"
  • "Boohoo...I know a lot of people who would be happy to take your job for you."
  • "If you whom work at walmart or any other service job do not like it go to school and get the hell out of the way."
It's the attitude behind these comments that really bothers me.

Most of you know that I work in retail. When I was hired, I knew that I would be working on Black Friday. I'm not crazy about the idea, but that's fine. But, I still get Thanksgiving Day. Not everyone in retail does. I also get holiday pay, which again, not everyone does. Not forcing their employees to work? Think again. Most retail workers are required to work on Black Friday. If they want to keep their job, they have to work that day.

But this whole attitude that the people in the above comments have pisses me off. Retail is generally not an essential thing. One day without a retail sore open is not a huge deal. Forgot the cranberries? Oh well. Should have planned ahead. You can live without cranberries.

Yes, police, firemen, nurses, etc. all have to work on holidays, but let's be real here. They are essential. We need them. And typically, they are going to be paid more that your average retail worker for their time. Besides, back when I was growing up and my mom was a respiratory therapist she worked every other holiday, so they don't have to work every holiday, in general.

Then there is the implication that retail is not hard work. That's a bunch of crap. There are lots of times when I work 10 hour shifts and come home aching all over. Being on your feet all day is tough, and couple that with customers who are pissed off over something stupid or just generally being irate because they want a discount or don't like the company policy that I have no control over doesn't make it easy at all. I work very hard at my job, thank you very much. When someone is yelling at me, I have to smile and deal with it. I have to dig through stockrooms to find a size someone is looking for, only to have them not buy it. I have to refold piles of clothing that people leave a mess. I have to do all of this and more. It is not an easy job to do retail and do it well, but I try to. So, if you are one of those people advocating for stores being open on Thanksgiving, you better be being nice to the people that are checking you out. They don't have a choice but to be there dealing with you when they would rather be at home with family.

Besides, there is absolutely no reason to be rude to them. Act like a friggin' adult.

And then there is Mr. "go to school and get the hell out of the way". I have gone to school, thank you very much, and I wager that I'm better educated that you are. Many of the retail workers I know are in college or have degrees.  Most are very intelligent. I didn't take this job because I'm stupid. I took it because I needed a job and this one was available. Would I like a job with set hours, holidays off, better pay, benefits, and that kept me off my feet? Of course! But until I can find one available, I am where I am, so I would appreciate it if I didn't get treated like I'm a moron.

People are so rude these days. I know I've said it before, but I think its an important point. There is no reason to be rude to any retail worker who is trying to help you. Be nice and make it a positive experience for both of you.

And then here is this, because I feel like this is an appropriate time to share it:

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Dining on a Dime: Cake Mix Brownies

Most of you know my now that I have a vicious sweet tooth. I could not get by without sweets and baked goods, it's just not going to happen.

I originally found this recipe on Pinterest, for Strawberry Brownies, but the link didn't go to the recipe and a search of the site it took me to didn't yield the original recipe either. I tweaked the one on the pin to my liking and am very pleased with the result.

I didn't use a strawberry cake mix, but a caramel one. This recipe took just a few minutes to prepare and in under half an hour we were enjoying yummy "brownies".

You will need:
  • 1 box of cake mix (any flavor)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup melted butter
  • 2 tablespoons of booze or water (more on this later)
Preheat your oven to 350°F and spray a 9x13 inch pan lightly. In a bowl mix together your ingredients until everything is incorporated. Batter will be very thick. Press evenly into the bottom of the pan. Bake for 14 minutes.

The original recipe called for only the eggs and oil. I switched the oil for butter (butter with caramel, that was a no brainer for me). The batter still wouldn't quite pull together for me and my arm was getting tired, so I added 2 tablespoons of Captain Morgan Black to the batter. Voila. Perfect.

The possibilities here are so endless. Lemon, strawberry, red velvet. You are limited only by the choices of cake mix, booze, and your imagination. These would also be incredible with chocolate chips or toffee pieces sprinkled on top. Experiment!

If you come up with any mind blowing combinations, you know the drill! Share them! You guys have been awfully quiet lately!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Holiday Shopping

Well, I feel like I really shouldn't ignore the topic anymore. Despite the fact that Thanksgiving has not even yet come and gone, since I work in retail it is totally clear to me that we are well into the holiday shopping season. I have a few tips, tricks and reminders for you as you work through your holiday gift lists.

1. Do your research

Sure, those deals in the Black Friday ads can seem pretty smoking, but make sure you do your research to find out if you are really getting as good of a deal as you think you are. It's pretty simple.

2. Really want to save money? Make your gifts!

Thanks to Pinterest and the internet, it is easier than ever to find ideas and tutorials that will help you makes fun handmade gifts for your friends and family. You get the satisfaction of making them something they will love and save a little money in the process. They will get an awesome, one-of-a-kind gift! Win-win!

or 3. Buy handmade.

There are tons of stores on etsy and Storenvy full of some truly awesome handmade gifts (like mine, wink, wink). I'll be working on a gift guide featuring some of these stores soon, but its easy to dive in on your own. Support small businesses!

4. Be nice!!!

This might just be the frustrated retail worker in me talking, but, please, please, please, be nice to people! Keep in mind, not only on Black Friday, but all year, that most of the time, the things that you are upset about aren't the fault of the people trying to help you. As cashiers, we don't have control over the way things are priced, the number of items available, colors and sizes available, etc. It isn't our fault that the company we work for has made changes that you are unhappy with. Computers are going to run slowly and there will be computer glitches. People will move items under sale signs that don't belong there. Please keep calm. Please be patient. Please keep in mind that no matter how early you got up to shop, most of us had to be at the store even earlier. Don't leave a mess behind you. Act like an adult. Holiday shopping can be total madness. Try not to make it worse for people. I could rant on this one forever, but it seems to me that people could really use a reminder on basic courtesy this time of year. And that is sad.

Something else to keep in mind: if you aren't able to score exactly what you went out to get, try to keep your cool. The people you are buying for will most likely love something else just as much, as long as it comes from the heart. I know, that sounds extremely cheesy from me, but its true. I would rather have a gift someone took the time and thought to make for me personally, than something they went to the store and knocked a bunch of people out of the way for so they could get it cheaper.

Anything to add? You know I love it when you share!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Halloween Fun!

Ok, if you are anything like me (and I'm guessing you aren't, because I'm kind of a jerk) you are hiding out in your house avoiding the trick or treaters. So, if you want something to do while you're hiding out, or really just anytime because these sites are awesome, check out some of these websites:

Order of the Good Death: Written by mortician Caitlin Doughty this blog is written "with the goal of bringing the realistic discussion of death back into popular culture." She also has a webseries called "Ask a Mortician". She is completely hilarious, if, like me, you appreciate a dark sense of humor. You should also follow her on Facebook, she's fantastic!

The Chirurgeon’s Apprentice: A blog by medical historian Lindsey Fitzharris, this is site is SUPER fascinating. I seriously sat down and read the entire thing the day I discovered it.

Cracked: Ok, so this one is not always Halloween themed, being that it's a comedy site, but that do have an entire "horror" section and its awesome.

If you have any good creepy or dark site, I want to know about them! Post them!!