Monday, August 31, 2009

The 2nd Interview: What Went Wrong

My hair was frizzy, fuzzy. I didn't get the job because in an attempt to create more volume, I flipped my head upside down while blowing my hair dry. Although my hair looked okay when I left the house, by the time I got to the interview, it was frizzy and fuzzy and so I didn't get the job.

Okay, so maybe that's not quite what happened or quite why I didn't get the job. I don't 100% know why I didn't get the job. There are any number of possibilities, as well as the very likely probability that they had another candidate whose skill set better matched their needs or who had more experience in this field than me. I knew that I was a long shot going in- this was an outside sales position and I have less than a year of experience in outside sales. This would be enough to disqualify me from even being interviewed in most cases, but somehow, I got the opportunity to interview. My most recent position did not involve outside sales and I have not actually done outside sales in over three years. None of this was in my control, I couldn't change these facts.

What I could have changed, though, is the skill set that I presented to the hiring manger in the interview. Here's how it went down- she asked me a number of situational questions like, "Was there ever a time when you were able to resolve a customer's problem right there on the spot?" or, "Tell me about an ongoing relationship you had with a customer." What I should have talked about was my relationship with those customers that I had when I was in outside sales 3+ years ago. That would have demonstrated my skill set directly as it related to this job. What I did, though, is talk about my relationships with my customers from my most recent job. I spent three plus years there, so it only makes sense that those situations were the freshest in my mind. It never occurred to me to really dig a bit further back and come up with situations from my previous position, the one just like the position for which I was interviewing. Maybe this is just a big fat DUH for everyone else, but it didn't occur to me until AFTER the big interview, when it was too late. Lesson learned- in an interview, talk about your experience doing the job most like the job you are applying for, even if it was not the last job you held.

The other thing I think went wrong is that I didn't have a clear understanding of how the sales cycle worked for this particular industry. In my last position, we pushed for the sale pretty heavily right up front. With this position, it would have been a more gradual sales process- start with a few items and work the customer up to more, more, more. I didn't know that and unfortunately, it became very clear in the interview that I didn't know that. I could have learned it very quickly, but I think that I lost a lot of appeal when my naivete was exposed. I'm not entirely sure how I could have figured that out before the interview, but I am sure that I could have done some Internet research, at the very least. I will be better prepared for the interview next time around, if there is a next time.

Finally, I wish that I would have come up with better questions to ask the interviewer. You know at the end of the interview, when they ask you if you have any questions for them? I had nothing. Zilch. I feel like the last thing in that interviewer's mind was the fact that I was too stupid to even ask a question about the job. I would have liked the last thing in her mind to have been the insightful, thoughtful question I posed about the industry at large. Next time, I will have several of those kinds of questions ready when the interviewer asks me if I have any questions.

Though I didn't get the job, I do feel like I accomplished something on the day of the interview. It was the first time that I had to get dressed professionally with the baby. Obviously, I get dressed every day, but that usually involves a change of clothes, a quick face wash and new pony tail holder. I generally shower at night or when (if) he naps. The morning of the interview, though, I got up, got him fed and ready and then showered, blew my hair dry, applied make up and got dressed in grown-up real world clothes. When I was working, he was not yet walking and didn't eat solid food. Getting him ready was nothing more than nursing him and changing him. He sat in the bouncy seat or exersaucer while I showered and a woman came to our house to watch him while I left for work. Now, he no longer fits in the exersaucer or bouncy seat and the lovely woman who watched him is out of the country. This meant that I also had to figure out another child care solution while I interviewed- another total stressor in and of itself! We did it though- he and I. He stayed with a friend from play group. He has never stayed with anyone except family and the lovely German woman who watched him when I worked. I was really worried about how he would do being with someone he didn't know all that well. He did great, though, so I was really proud of both him AND me for being able to handle that new experience.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

I am so blessed to be able to sit down, make a menu plan for the week, then realize that I could technically get it all made without having to make a trip to the grocery store! What a blessing it is to have such a stockpile! My freezer is full to the point that we need to worry about how much frozen food we buy. I will still be heading out to Publix this week, though, to pick up some of the cheapie and freebie items they will have. They also have London Broil on sale this week, so I'll be picking up a few of those too. I freeze them in a plastic bag with marinade already on them so they are ready to go right out of the freezer. Here's what else is in store:

Monday: Dinner OUT to Outback, courtesy of my sister-in-law, who sent a gift card for my birthday! :-) Thanks!

Tuesday: Orange Chicken (premade from Costco, per hubs request)

Wednesday: London Broil, roasted potatoes, green beans

Thursday: Turkey Breast- I will brine it first using this brine recipe, then smoke it in the crock pot. I'm hoping for leftovers that I will put in the freezer for Turkey pot pies.

Friday: Ground Beef and Mac & Cheese Casserole. Yep, this is the THIRD week that this has appeared on my menu plan, and we've yet to make it or eat it. Things just seem to keep coming up... I am determined to get it made!

For more menu planning ideas, head on over to!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

No Job for me...

I got an email late last night letting me know that they would be "pursing other candidates". I was HUGELY nice of them to let me know- I was going absolutely bonkers with waiting. I have more to post on the second interview- I kind of knew when that was done that it wasn't going to happen, but I was hoping that I was just being silly and insecure.

I'm hugely disappointed though, and indulging in a bit of a pitty party here. I'll be back with a better attitude and more positive thoughts soon. At least I don't have to come up with a new name for the blog...

Monday, August 24, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

Last week's menu did not get followed to the T, so you will see some repeats here. I don't remember exactly what happened, I just know that not everything got made. I know that we didn't end up eating out, so that's good! Here's what's in store for this week:

Monday: I marinated chicken breast in Kraft Parmesan Asiago Balsamic Vinaigrette dressing (free at Publix a little while back), rice, peppers and onions. The chicken had great flavor and the peppers and onions were a nice change from the peas, green beans, carrots cycle that we seem to be on normally. I planned to have leftover chicken for pot pies later this week, but that didn't happen. I will make a few changes later in the week and we'll be fine! 

Tuesday: Spiced pot roast from the freezer, served over egg noodles and with carrots.

Wednesday: Turkey Meatloaf with Feta and Sun-Dried Tomatoes, fresh green beans and boiled potatoes with garlic. Friends have been raving about this meatloaf recipe, so I am going to try it. I will make two loaves- one for now and one to put in the freezer. I love the idea of cooking once and eating twice! This one was not exactly budget friendly with buying the sun-dried tomatoes and feta, but I'm hoping that it will be worth it! 

Thursday: Pulled pork sandwiches from the freezer, coleslaw, corn

Friday: Ground Beef and Mac and Cheese Casserole, based around this Ground Beef Casserole recipe (found via Once A Month Mom). I bought several Mac and Cheese boxes when they were cheap at CVS and part of the Full Cup Rebate from Kraft, so this lets me turn those into a meal. We will probably eat with a salad.

I am also going to make this End of Summer Harvest Soup for the freezer. I will blend some up for the baby and leave some not blended for me. Hubs wouldn't touch this if you paid him- he doesn't know what he's missing!

For more recipe ideas, visit!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

More Job News

I think that one of the worst things about job searching, just like with dating, is waiting for that call. Back in the day, before cell phones and then smart cell phones with email capability, you used to be able to get away from it all. You could head to the mall, or for a walk, or for a drive, and hope that you'd have a message waiting when you got home. Now there is no escape! No matter where you go, your phone goes too. When I asked about the time frame for the hiring decision, she told me that they were holding final interviews on the 28th. She said that they had three days of round one interviews and round two interviews would be somewhere in between. By my calculations, that meant that she was going through round one on Friday, when I interviewed, Monday and Tuesday. I figured that she would know something about round 2 by Wednesday. I kept an eye on my email and cell phone Monday and Tuesday, just in case.

Wednesday though, I was on pins and needles waiting to hear SOMETHING- ANYTHING. I kept reminding myself that we would be okay, no matter what the outcome, and if not this job, then there was something better out there. Myself wasn't buying it. The fact is, I want this job, more than anything I've wanted in a long time, and that scares me a little. By admitting that I want it, and want it badly, I'm setting myself up for pretty big disappointment. This all led to me compulsively hitting the refresh button on my Gmail account for most of the day Wednesday. At one point, I contemplated sending myself an email from one account to the other, just to check and make sure that all systems at Google were up and running. When I didn't have anything by end of business, I was convinced that they had absolutely no interest in hiring me and I would never get a job ever again. We don't go to extremes here or anything, not us!

Finally, after bathing the baby, I noticed that I had a new email. It was an email from the hiring manager inviting me in for a second interview! WOO HOO!!!! I was holding the baby and jumping up and down and cheering. My husband told me to stop because I was scaring our child. Spoilsport. Anyway, it's Monday at 11 am and I am OVER THE MOON! I am so excited and so blessed to have this opportunity. I am continuing to pray that everything will work itself out as far as me getting this job and also as far as me being able to handle the job- not so much the work itself, but the logistics of getting someone to take care of our little boy and everything else around here while I'm working. More to come on that front, but I am determined to get this posted tonight. It's been slow cooking in my drafts folder since Thursday!

HUGE thanks to everyone that's been praying for me about this. It seems strange to say, but I really feel all of the positive energy through this whole process- I just really hope it continues through the final interview on Friday.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

WFMW- The Bruiser Edition

My son went to bed tonight looking like a prize fighter. He tripped over Mr. Potato Head's hat this morning and scraped his forehead. Tonight in his bath, he insisted on standing up, slipped and somehow hit his cheek on the side of the bathtub. My husband kindly informed me that this is where they cut prize fighters when they get hit there because the area is prone to swelling. I kindly informed my husband that under no circumstances would we be cutting my son, thank you. With tile floors throughout and a little guy who's just finding his feet, we have a lot of bumps and bruises around here.

This WFMW comes straight from my grandma. Trying to hold ice on a little wiggle worm is next to impossible. She recommended getting some frozen fruit juice pops so when the little man fell and hit his lip or mouth, we could just give him a Popsicle. This allows us to apply ice to the injury without having to hog tie him and inflict all kinds of mental anguish. You could even make your own juice ice with ice cube trays. Works like a charm! 

Here's the second part to this WFMW- I need a homemade ice pack that's flexible and works for a little head. When I try to use ice cubes in a bag, it seems like the cubes are just too big and don't really get the cold where it's needed. I've seen the Peas Ice Packs at CVS and might just go ahead and get a few, but are there any other solutions out there? Let me know in comments!

Fore more WFMW tips, visit We are THAT Family.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Crock Pot Wednesday- Herbed Sirloin Tip Roast


My husband informed me today that I will be getting a new CrockPot (or other slow cooker) for my birthday at the end of the month. On the one hand, I'm very impressed that he realizes I need a new CrockPot. I have a very entry level model that doesn't even have a removable insert. I have to limit the size of the roasts I buy in order to make sure that they fit, and I use this thing at least once every 3 days if not more. It's a wonderfully practical gift for a wonderfully practical girl, and something that I've honestly been wanting for a long time. I even wandered by them in Target when I was there last, noticing that they were on sale, but not ON SALE, and leaving them there on the shelf. On the other hand, I'd like to remind my husband that if it plugs in, it's not really a gift. I'm going to appease that side of myself by getting a really high end slow cooker- maybe one with stone inserts of varying sizes and a start timer? Even if it DOES plug in, it's something that I was not going to buy for myself, so I guess it really is a great gift! What kind of CrockPot/ slow cooker do you have? What are the features that you LOVE or the features that you wish you had?? Please leave me your recommendations in comments. Thanks!

Today's adventure in Crock Potting involved an adaptation of this recipe. Here's what I did. 

Herbed Sirloin Tip Roast


  • 1 sirloin tip roast, about 3 pounds
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine (Merlot was what we used)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 tsp spicy seasoning- I used Chili 3000 from Penzy's- think something with cayenne pepper and you'll be good.
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried leaf thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon oregano leaves
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil


About 2 hours before cooking, combine the roast and red wine in a food storage bag; refrigerate. Combine remaining ingredients in a small bowl about 10 minutes before roasting time. Dump wine into the CrockPot. With roast still in the food storage bag, rub the herb mixture on both the top and the bottom of the roast. Cook in a slow cooker on low for 8 ish hours, or on high for 4 ish hours or until a meat thermometer registers 145 degrees for medium rare. 
Serves 8.
I started cooking this Monday for Tuesday's dinner. I bought the roast on Saturday and didn't want to wait another day before cooking. I kind of forgot about it and cooked it to about 165 degrees, maybe a little higher. Fortunately, my husband likes his beef WELL done and I was fine- thank goodness for the forgiveness of the CrockPot! When I finally remembered it last night, I just unplugged the CrockPot, put the whole thing in the fridge and went to bed. Today, I pulled everything back out about 3 pm, cut the roast in half and stuck half back in the fridge to be frozen for another night. All the fat in the juices had solidified, making it very easy to skim off. I let the other half of the roast, plus all the liquid, heat in the CrockPot set on low for about 2 more hours and we enjoyed for dinner with mashed potatoes and carrots. The juices not served over the meat went back with the other half of the roast. When I am ready to serve that half, I'll just reheat everything in the CrockPot again. 
It was FANTASTIC- even my husband said something and he's not one to hand out compliments. There was a lot of flavor in the meat and juices and it was very tender. I have another spiced roast recipe that I do and I was a little afraid the two would taste too close together. I didn't need to worry- this had great, distinct flavor. The wine smelled a little weird while it was cooking and I was worried about the flavor of the beef, but it was fine in the finished product. We are not gravy people, but the sauce this made would make AMAZING gravy if you were to thicken it up. I would recommend leaving this a bit more rare though, especially if you will be cooking it twice like I did. We both thought the meat tasted great, but it was on the edge of being too done. 
For more great CrockPot tips, tricks and recipes, visit Crock Pot Wednesday over at Dining with Debbie

Monday, August 17, 2009

Freecycle Envelopes- Not so much.

Remember my brilliant WFMW Post about Freecycling those envelopes that they send you to use to pay your bills? I suggested using those envelopes to mail things to other people- just stick an address label over the printed address and go to town.

Not such a great idea, it turns out. See those little black bar codie line up there? And at the top next to the stamp? Turns out those are called FIM marks and they are super secret post office language that will direct that envelope to whomever it was originally intended to be sent with no regard for the actual address you print on said envelope.

I used a USAA envelope to send in my Kraft Full Plate Gift Card Offer. Instead of going to Kraft in IL, it went to the nice people at USAA, in San Antonio, Texas, who were kind enough to send it right back to me with the following explanation:

The enclosed envelope and your correspondence were received by USAA because of the bar code and FIM marks on the envelope. The bar code is the line of small bars in the lower right corner of the envelope just below the address. The FIM marks are the longer marks just to the left of the stamp. Both were printed on USAA envelopes to expedite the delivery of official USAA mail.

Even though you addressed your correspondence to another location, it was received by USAA because U.S. Postal Service equipment "reads" and delivers mail based on these two markings, which are unique to USAA.

In my over zealousness to be frugal and save a $0.02 envelope, I am likely going to loose out on $30 in Publix gift cards. In my desire to save the planet by reusing that envelope, I actually ended up causing another envelope to be used, not to mention the gas and everything else to get the original envelope back to me. It seems like this happens to me all the time- I have the best of intentions and put forth the effort and it just blows up in my face. Anyone else have any stories that they would like to share about huge frugal flops???

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

We stuck to our menu plan last week- kinda... there was pizza on the menu for Friday night because I really wanted to try making my own crust, but then, little man T was up til midnight Thursday not feeling good and didn't nap on Friday (still not feeling good). So, I had pizza for dinner- from DiGorno, from a box in the freezer. Hubs had ravioli, also from the freezer. As a native New Yorker, it is against his religion to eat frozen pizza from the grocery store.

I had left over grilled chicken breast that I knew I was going to remix (my new term for jazzing up leftovers) into some sort of pasta dish, but I wasn't sure exactly what. I took insperation from this post for Chicken and Bowtie Pasta at $5 Dinners and got rave reviews! Basically, I threw a little garlic in with some grape tomatoes and frozen spinach, added my cooked chicken (just to heat it through) and some Italian seasonings, then tossed the "sauce" with cooked penne. I added some parmesian cheese too- I actually wanted to add some mozarella, but it was frozen and I did not take it out in time to thaw. Hubs liked this and I actually ate it the next day for lunch. I needed something I could pack and take with, so I just added some Italian dressing and ate it as a pasta salad. VERY yummy and VERY frugal since it was made from leftovers. I will be adding this to my regular rotation as long as I can get cheap tomatoes.

So this week- here goes:

Monday: Herb Sirloin Tip Roast- I will be modifying recipe to cook in the crock pot. We will eat 1/2 for dinner and freeze the other half for later use. I also got ready made mashed potatoes BOGO at Publix since I can't ever seem to get my act together to peel potatoes and make them myself. Ah well.

Tuesday: Chicken Pot Pie using leftover grilled chicken. I am going to try to do grilled chicken on Sunday nights for dinner, then remix the leftovers on Tuesdays. I don't have any puff pastry for crust this week, though, so I'm going to have to come up with something there...

Wednesday: Ground Beef and Mac and Cheese Casserole, based around this Ground Beef Casserole recipe (found via Once A Month Mom). I bought several Mac and Cheese boxes when they were cheap at CVS and part of the Full Cup Rebate from Kraft, so this lets me turn those into a meal. We will probably eat with a salad.

Thursday: Chicken Parm- nothing fancy, I just fry up chicken cutlets and serve with spaghetti and sauce from a jar.

Friday: Burito Bowls (loosely based on this recipe) using ground chicken (nobody tell hubs it's not beef, okay??) I picked up a package of pre-seasoned Taco Ground Chicken at Super Target. It was marked down to $1.99 because its use by date was close. I just threw it in the freezer and it will now make a great meal! I'll cook black beans with it too. LOVE when I can find inexpensive proteins!

For more meal ideas, visit OrgJunkie.

Friday, August 14, 2009

The BIG Interview

So the big interview was this morning. Last night, the little boy started feeling HOT. Really hot... I took his temperature withe our eat thermometer that generally reads about 96 degrees for him and it was up to 100. something. I know that 100. something is not really even a fever, but given that it normally reads cooler, I figured something was up. This is also the first time that he's EVER had a fever or elevated temp of any sort. He seemed to be acting okay, but I gave him baby motrin just to be sure. I could tell just from having him on me that he cooled down, but he wasn't really into going to sleep... he was up until midnight. All I kept thinking was, "What would I do if I had to go to work all day tomorrow??" The surprising thing was, I had an answer. If I HAD to go to work, I would leave him here with a sitter. If I felt that he was too sick to be without me, I'd make arrangements to be home with him. The thought of having to manage a sick child would have normally had me freaking out, but last night, it seemed completely manageable. Interesting...

The little boy actually managed to sleep all night, though he did wake up with little cries a time or two, but quickly settled himself back down. When we woke up for the day about 6, he was HOT again, so he got more motrin as soon as he finished morning milk. He managed to eat a pretty decent breakfast and was in an okay mood. I, on the other hand, was tired and nervous about going. Since he hadn't gone to sleep the night before, I hadn't had any time to do the research that I wanted on the company or the industry. I hadn't tried on the suit and new shirt I bought- I didn't even know if the shirt would be short enough to fit under the suit jacket. I also hadn't switched from my MAMMOTH mommy purse to the more manageable one I wanted to take with me to the interview. I was definitely feeling a little stressed, but DH came to the rescue and took the baby at the appointed time so that I could go get ready. I put the suit and new shirt on- totally compatible! The only "problem" was that the suit was a little loose... hmmmm... not the best impression for the interview, but I wasn't about to complain that my clothes were fitting a little big! You don't really notice these things when you spend most days in sweat pants!

I walked out the door in my compatible suit and smallish purse feeling in control and looking, in my opinion, pretty decent for an overtired mommy. I figured I'd just put my best foot forward and see where that got me. Unfortunately, I made the mistake of checking myself out in the visor mirror in the car when I got to the interview site. No one should look at their dark undereye circles that closely! I assured myself that I would remain at least 3 feet from the interviewer at all times and we would be fine and headed in. I even managed to do a little more research about the company's product line before I was called in for the interview.

Here's where things get kind of cool... I won't bore you with ALL of the details of the interview- which actually lasted 2.5 hours- but one of the huge potential deal breakers with this job was an extended training session out of state. Extended as in leave your child and your husband and don't see them again for four weeks. I think that it would be a lot to ask either spouse to essentially be a single parent for four weeks and before the interview, I couldn't conceive of a way to make that work. BUT... here's the cool part, I think... the extended training? It actually takes place in New York... On Long Island... where my husband's family, who have been FROTHING at the mouth to squeeze my child happen to live. The huge deal breaker might have just become a perk...

The other thing that makes me think that this might just all work out? My husband's actually on board with the idea of me taking this job. There have been other opportunities that have come up in the past and he's been VERY against them. When we talked after this interview, he wasn't even on the fence, he just saw the same potential I did. He saw that this might be a good fit for our family and our situation right now. He saw that we might just be able to make this work. I cannot begin to tell you how blown away I am by this fact. Maybe I just don't generally give him enough credit, but really, his attitude towards this position amazed me. It is literally an answer to prayer.

So here I am, NOT conflicted. I'm very clear in how I feel- I want this job. I really want to believe that the fact that the training, which I thought would be a big issue, seems to be working itself out and that my husband is actually on the same page as I am means that this job is something that is supposed to happen. Honestly, though, I'm afraid of really getting my hopes up and being disappointed. I know that I could do the job, and excel at it, but given the current job market, I really think that they may have candidates with more experience in their specific field and I might get passed over. I'm hopeful though, and grateful for the opportunity to interview today. I feel oddly optimistic- like if this job doesn't come through, then maybe another will. In rereading my post from 3 months ago, I remember feeling like whatever happened was going to be the WRONG thing. I felt like if I got the job, it would be a terrible thing in that I had to leave my child, and if I didn't get the job, it would be a terrible thing for our finances. Now, though, even though I really want this job, I feel like even if I don't get it, we'll be okay and if I do get it, and have to leave my child, we'll still be okay and make that work too.

They will be holding two more rounds of interviews. Dates for the second round have not been set, but round three will be happening on August 28, so I'll either still be in the running then, or I'll know that this is not the job for me. I really, really, really, really hope that I'm still in the running...

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Here we go again- Interview Tomorrow

I have another job interview tomorrow. Remember how conflicted I felt about the last one? I thought that I had a better handle this time around. I was all prepared to write a wonderfully coherent blog post about why I thought we should really consider me going back to work- having group health benefits, a company match 401(K) and college and emergency funds. As I sit here trying to explain those reasons, they all seem hollow. I have encountered plenty of bloggers who make things work without health insurance, a huge emergency fund or regular income.

Just this morning, I checked out Brandi's site- The Prudent Homemaker. Brandi and her family don't have health insurance. She doesn't even go the grocery store on a regular basis- she and her family survive (and thrive) off the food she has stockpiled in their home and the food that they grow in their yard. In the desert of Las Vegas. I guess I can't use that whole weird climate thing as an excuse for my dead herb garden. No one tell my mother-in-law, okay?

All these reasons for wanting to go back to work- health insurance, the 401(K) and college and emergency funds seem like valid, virtuous reasons to go out and get a job. Part of me thinks it's downright irresponsible to have a child and not have health insurance, but on the other hand, we can't insure against the most devastating of things. Even with health insurance, you can end up with some pretty big hospital bills. Brandi and her family faced some pretty big things without health insurance, including a child's broken arm and a pregnancy. They got through them and I certainly would not consider Brandi to be a bad or irresponsible parent. Am I really willing to sacrifice being there daily for my child in order to have money in the bank or stashed away somewhere for retirement? If he were gone tomorrow, would I rather have a fat emergency fund or the time with him? That answer is amazingly easy to figure out- but it's not that simple.

It all just makes me wonder if deep down, I want to go back to work for the old reasons- the ones that I thought I'd gotten over- the need to have the proof of a paycheck every other week to prove my worth, wanting to wear nice clothes and interact with adults. Am I willing to leave my child every day so that we can afford vacations or new furniture?

So apparently I'm still conflicted. I'm going tomorrow with an open mind. We'll see how it goes and if they are even going to offer me the job and put me in a position where I have to choose. Until then, I'm trying to enjoy every minute I have at home and with my little boy. Even if I don't go back to work, he's still growing up WAY TOO FAST!!!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

WFMW- Laundry Pretreater

We do lots of laundry at our house. My husband comes home filthy dirty at the end of the day, so his clothes usually go straight in the washer. Our little boy LOVES to feed himself solid foods and HATES to wear bibs- not a great combination for his wardrobe.

I need a stain pretreater that works and is cost effective, so here's what I do:

Mix a cap full of whatever laundry detergent I found on sale with enough water to fill an old Shout spray bottle, then spray this on my stains and let it sit for a minute before throwing it into the machine. So far, this has been working for me.

Other ideas from around the web:

Abigail's Mommy has a great post with thrifty recipes for ALL your cleaning needs.

baby tool kit recommends simply using a bar of dial soap to pretreat stains. It could not get easier and this is one that I will be trying soon!

Chief Family Officer is loving Zout for its help in dealing with blood stains.

Do you have any laundry tips or tricks you'd like to share? Comment away!

As always, visit We are THAT Family for more great WFMW Tips!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

You REALLY Can Use Your CrockPot as a Smoker!

I love making pulled pork in the CrockPot. It's an incredibly economical meal, saving both time and money. I buy a large picnic roast or butt roast, let it go in the crock pot all day, pull the pork and then freeze meal sized portions for later. Cook once, eat 3-4 times! Woo-hoo!

I decided to take it up a notch and add some smoke flavor to my pulled pork, based on this post from Stephanie over at A Year of Slow Cooking. Basically, you put smoking chips into a parchment package in the bottom of your crock and let the flavor infuse the meat as it cooks. 

I started last night by preparing a rub (recipe here) and rubbing it all over my pork- a half picnic roast, on sale at Publix this week. My crock pot is pretty small and I wanted to make sure that I would have enough room for the smoking chips and the roast. 

This morning, I soaked my wood chips in water. I used Greenwise Market Mesquite Smoking Chips from Publix- the bag was $1.99 and there are enough chips there to make at least 5 pulled pork recipes. According to the Publix website, these chips contain no chemicals and let off no petroleum by-products. After the chips were drained, I wrapped them in a double layer of parchment paper. I put the parchment paper package in the bottom of my crock and used a small paring knife to poke holes in the parchment. I put my rubbed roast on top and turned my crock pot on high. 

I kept opening my crock pot and smelling for smoke, but there was no smokey smell and I was completely convinced that there was going to be NO difference in the cooked meat.  When I finally took the pork out 5 hours later, I was thrilled to see that there were crusty bits on the bottom where it was closest to the smoking chips and the meat had that wonderful pink color you get with smoking. The pork tasted AMAZING- so good and flavorful that I hated to even put BBQ sauce on it! Those little chips were SO worth it. I will be cooking my pork this way from here on out. Try it- you'll like it too!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

So I haven't been doing this lately, but I after a few nights last week of not knowing what I was going to make for dinner, I decided the little investment up front was better than having to think about it every day. I also wanted to get all my shopping done in ONE trip to the store instead of going once for the sale stuff we needed and once for the necessities for our meals. I try to make the two line up as closely as possible, but it does not always work. Anyway, here goes:

  • Monday: Pulled Pork sandwiches- I'm smoking half a pork shoulder in my crock pot. Yes, smoking in the crock pot! I'm not sure how it will turn out, but I'll keep you posted! Served with Coleslaw (using my very own WFMW tip!) and baked beans.
  • Tuesday: Pasta with chicken and tomatoes... don't really have a recipe for this one, but I have left over grilled chicken breast that will be going in with pasta. I also have grape tomatoes that are BOGO at Publix this week. I'm thinking that I might do skewers with grape tomatoes and mozarella cheese with balsamic as an apatizer/ salad course, then the chicken and pasta with a white sauce? Maybe a light vinagrette sauce on the pasta?? I'll let you know when I figure this one out too!
  • Wednesday: Roast Beef, Mashed Potatoes (maybe, if I get my act together- otherwise boiled potatoes with butter, garlic and parsley), carrots. I usually use this recipe for my roast, minus the olive sauce. It gets a great crust on the outside of the meat and has a ton of flavor.)
  • Thursday: Orange chicken (from the freezer section at Costco- my husband's request, I'm not thrilled- it tastes okay and is pretty natural as far as ingredients, but it's EXPENSIVE compared to what I usually make. I'm aiming for $5 or so dinners here...)
  • Friday: I'm aiming for homemade pizza... I keep seeing blog posts about how easy and cheap it is to make homemade pizza dough- (Chief Family Officer comes to mind, but I know that there have been others) so I want to try it myself. This might be overly optimistic, but I'm going for it! We'll see how the week pans out...
So that's me for the week. For more inspiring Menu Plan ideas, be sure to visit!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

WFMW- Substitute Yogurt for some of the Mayo in Summer Salads

I haven't been posting any Menu Plans since we've kind of just been flying by the seat of our pants. It's been kind of fun and we've yet to resort to eating out or take out, so we're doing okay. There was a last minute substitution yesterday- I intended to make meatloaf, but then I ended up napping instead of cooking, so we had a quick peccadillo instead.

Here's the easy recipe:

Cut up green pepper. Brown a pound of ground beef and green pepper in skillet over medium heat. Add can of black beans and can of tomatoes, preferably the kind with the jalapeno in them. Rotel tomatoes would probably be good if you live in the part of the country where they sell those. Heat 10 minutes more until everything comes together. Serve over rice with corn bread if you want. We didn't have any corn bread, or tomatoes with the jalapeno in them, so I added some red pepper flakes to the ground beef and it worked. The original recipe also calls for 1/2 cup golden raisins, but that just seems weird to me.

Okay, now that we're back from that little detour- it seems that I have been serving a lot of "salads" right about now, it being summer and all. My husband ADORES macaroni salad. I love that you can call something a salad when it contains about 1/8 a serving of vegetables, but alas, he assures me that pasta with a sprinkling of veggies does in fact count. We also eat a fair amount of coleslaw, and tonight I got adventurous with potato salad. I cringe when I think of the amout of mayonaise in these "salads", so I started subbing out 1/2 to 1/3 of the mayo called for in a recipe with plain yogurt- full fat plain yogurt, since that is what I have on hand to feed the baby, but even full fat yogurt is a TON better than the mayo. So far, he hasn't noticed and I feel slightly better that I've cut out at least a little bit of the fat and calories.

If you are interested, you can get the recipe I used for our potato salad here. I didn't use any green onion because we didn't have any. It was very good- I felt like it had a lot of layers of flavor that they are always talking about on the food network. It didn't involve as much chopping as I thought and I didn't peel the potatoes. Will be making this again, no question. I used 1/2 cup of light mayo and 1/4 cup yogurt with no problem. Hope you enjoy!

More WFMW Posts (Back to School Edition even!) at We Are THAT Family.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

I'm gonna dust a little flour on my face...

So do y'all remember that Rice Krispie Treat commercial from a few (okay, maybe 10??) years back where the mom hides from her family in the kitchen, claiming to be SLAVING over making Rice Krispie Treats, but really relaxing with a romance novel? She throws a little flour on her face and pretends to be exhausted as she presents the pan of treats to her waiting family?

That's so me right now... my husband got a new Blackberry Curve this weekend- an upgrade from his Palm Treo. Since he is not patient enough to deal with technological issues, it has fallen on me to get his email accounts switched over to the new phone. I also need to get the contacts, including addresses, from the old phone to the new. I know this seems like it should not be too difficult, but we are Mac users and it seems that Blackberry is not feeling the Mac love since they don't even have desktop software for us. No worries though- I found work arounds for everything using the Swagbuck search, of course! Both of my missions have been accomplished, though making sure that the emails he sends reflect the correct email accounts was a bit of a challenge.

Since I am in here, allegedly slaving away over his phone project, he is wrangling the baby boy right now. I'm wondering just how long I can milk this whole thing and hang out in his office? Long enough to get caught up on all my bloggy reading? Long enough to write and schedule some posts for this week? Long enough to climb out the window and make a mad dash to Target??? ;-)