Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Natasha's Bistro & Bar

Restaurant review of Natasha's Bistro & Bar in Lexington KY, Central Kentucky restaurant review of Natasha's Bistro & Bar,
It's Wednesday so you know what time it is?  Here's another yummy review from my step-mom, Becki.  I hope that you're finding her reviews helpful if you live in Central Kentucky or plan a visit in the future.  I know that I have a list of places to go to next time we go down to visit.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Meal Planning for April 25th - May 1st

Since we went out of town for the weekend, we did part of the shopping trip before hand and the rest afterwards.  Jon and Michael went and did the Walmart shopping Friday morning before we left and while I was finishing up the packing.  Here's our dinner meal plans for the week:

  1. Spaghetti
  2. Steaks  
  3. Hamburgers   
  4. Hotdogs   

I'm so happy that we went a whole week and didn't have to carry a meal over to the next!  Hope to keep that up.  Like I said, Jon and Michael went and did the Walmart shopping without me.  Here's the list they had and the prices for each item.

  • hot dogs  $1.98
  • hamburger buns  $1.20
  • hot dog buns  $1.18
  • laundry detergent  $9.97
  • shampoo  $1.50
  • dishwasher detergent  $2.98
  • apple juice 

These were the coupons that I gave Jon.  He said that he didn't buy the apple juice because Walmart was out.  The total that was spent at Walmart was $22.44.

Since we didn't buy the Wegmans list before leaving for the weekend, I was worried that the remainder of the $50 I was budgeting for would accidentally be spent.  Here's the list and prices for each of the item.

  • 1lb hamburger  $3.95
  • steaks  $15.19
  • onions  $0.76
  • spaghetti sauce  $1.99
  • gallon of milk  $3.59
  • OJ  $2.49

The total that we spent was $28.67.  In total we spent $51.11 which made us go over by only $1.11!  That's pretty good for one of the those meals being my birthday meal of steak! If you like what you just read please click to send a quick vote for me on Top Mommy Blogs- The best mommy blog directory featuring top mom bloggers

Early birthday celebration

So, my birthday is actually tomorrow (April 29th), but I always try to go in to my mom's the weekend before to do some celebrating.  The last time I had actually been able to do that was three years ago when I was pregnant with Michael.
Whenever I go into my mom's I always try to eat at the places that are not here in Northern Virginia.  You would think that there wouldn't be many places to go to for a whole weekend, but there actually are quiet a bit of restaurants in my hometown of Parkersburg, WV!

With Jon being off on Fridays, we started our trip Friday morning.  To get to Parkersburg, we have to drive through Jon's hometown of Cumberland, MD.  So, since my mom wouldn't be expecting us until she got off work, we decided to stop and have lunch with his grandparents.  They spoil Jon and Michael every time we see them.  This time, they took us out to CiCi's pizza buffet for lunch and kept giving Michael money for arcade games.

If you love pizza as much as my husband does and even if you just love it every once and a while, a must place to go to in Parkersburg is The Pizza Place ( and  The picture to the left is pulled off of one of their websites.  I forgot to take pictures.  If you ask anyone who's lived or grown up in Parkersburg, they'll tell you that this pizza is the best out there.  Whenever I go home, I always have to have this pizza and this past weekend was no different!  When we got to my mom's we unloaded and then hoped in the car and drove to the mall to get some of this amazing pizza.  We then walked around the mall and planned to have Michael play in the play area, but ended up staying in a store a little too long.

Since we don't have a lot of family near us, we don't get to go to adult movies often.  Jon wanted to see the new Captain America movie.  I redeemed some of the of the money I earned through Ibotta for a Regal gift card to help pay for the tickets.  Before we went to the theaters, we had some hotdogs from Mr. Diggity (another must stops on my list).  We had hoped that Michael would take a nap while we were watching the movie, but he decided to wait until after we got back.  That was ok since Mom had a list of things for Jon to work on around her house.  There will a post later this week, maybe, from Jon about one of the things he fixed.

Sunday we went to the church that I grew up in for service.  Michael had fun with the other kids.  After church, we went to my grandparents' house to visit with them and then headed to my family's favorite restaurant, Muriale's Italian Restaurant (I'll be writing a post about this later), for my birthday lunch with my mom.

Do you have places that you like to go to when you go back to visit your hometown?  What type of fun stuff do you like to do when you celebrate your birthday? If you like what you just read please click to send a quick vote for me on Top Mommy Blogs- The best mommy blog directory featuring top mom bloggers

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Easter 2014

Easter, what the Easter bunny brought for Easter, Easter fun with family,
One thing that I've been wondering is, when did Easter become like Christmas?  I remember just getting a few items from the "Easter Bunny" and candy.  When did grandparents start giving gifts as well?  If we got anything from my grandma for Easter, it was money to buy some more candy with.  This is Michael's third Easter and every single one he's gotten presents from all three sets of grandparents.  Don't get me wrong, I'm happy that they got him the stuff they did (less for us to buy).  There's so much more to this holiday than getting gifts.

Willie's Locally Known

Restaurant review of Willie's Locally Known in Lexington KY, Central Kentucky restaurant review of Willie's Locally Known,
It's Wednesday, time for another review from my step-mom, Becki.  Hope you enjoy her review of Willie's Locally Known.

Review guidelines:

1 Fork = I would rather eat dog food.
2 Forks = I would eat there if I was starving.
3 Forks = Not bad; someplace I would occasionally consider eating.
4 Forks = A good place to eat; I will put it into my rotation of places I dine frequently.
5 Forks = One of my all time favorites!

One caveat to note – I am allergic to fish and seafood, so if you are looking for those recommendations, you will have to consult someone else.

Because I have a daughter-in-law with Celiac and a really good friend who is Vegetarian, I will try to point out whether those options are present when I review a restaurant.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

French Bread Pizza

cheap and easy way to make French bread pizza at home,
If you know my family, you know that my husband and now my son love pizza.  I think if they could, they would eat it everyday for both lunch and dinner.  We love the regular chain pizza joints and the locals, but every now and then we like to make our own.  Here's how we made this French bread pizza.

How to clean a camera

A few days ago a friend of mine had posted this question on facebook, "How can I clean my camera?"  My husband had recommended using a screen cleaner and a microfiber cloth.  Little did I know that I would actually need to use his advice.

Michael seems to have taken a love of photography.  He likes to steal my camera and take pictures of everything.  For almost being 3, he can get some pretty good pictures.
Most of the time him using my camera is not a problem, but since Sunday was Easter he's been eating lots of candy.  Yesterday, he was eating one of the suckers he got from the Easter bunny so his hands were really sticky.
This morning I decided to take Jon's advice and clean my camera, Flip camera, and cell phone (yep, Michael got a hold of them all yesterday).  I took the microfiber cloth that came with the Monster Screencleaner and sprayed the cleaner on the cloth.  Never spray the camera, always spray the cloth.  Then you just rub the cloth on the camera until it's clean.  It really worked.  My camera is not sticky.  Try it out for yourself.
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Even when you have a larger budget, you still might scratch things off your list at the store - Meal Planning for April 18th - 24th

Since we're mid-month and the mortgage has been paid, we had more money to work with ($110.00).  It's always the weeks we have more money to work with that we end up needing a lot more.  Our Sam's Club membership expired at the beginning of the month and even though we don't do a lot of shopping there, we do purchase our gas there.  Seems to be the cheapest place a majority of the time so we think the membership is worth it.

Sam's Club has two levels of membership.  We just have the normal membership since it's the cheapest ($45.00 a year).  When we became members, I was pregnant with Michael.  We had no idea how much we would use that membership within the first year.  It's the best place to get Simalic baby formula and they take the $5 coupons that Simalic sends (even when you're not pregnant in my case) in the mail!  Recently, Jon's place of employment gives a slight membership discount.  The downside is that you have to pay the full membership and then they will give you a gift card for the discount (in our case, it was $10.00).  Here's the list that I had for Sam's Club.  I forgot to write down the costs of the items and can't find the receipt.

  • diapers
  • deodorant

We ended up adding ketchup and breakfast sandwiches to the list.  The breakfast sandwiches are for Jon and will last him three weeks since he works 4 days a week.  Every so often, us regular membership members will get to enjoy some of the benefits of the higher level.  That was going on this past weekend.  The diapers were $6.00 off which made it around the same price of the largest box at Walmart and more diapers!  The deodorant and ketchup were both $2.50 off.  We go through ketchup like crazy in this household so a three pack of ketchup will probably last us the rest of the year.  We spent $57.52 at Sam's, but only used $47.52 of our grocery budget because of the $10.00 gift card.

Before talking about our trips to Walmart and Wegman's, let me go over our dinner meal plan for the week.  Even though we had more money to work with, we didn't have enough to make a traditional Easter meal (hams and turkeys are rather expensive and we already spent close to half of our budget at Sam's).  We decided that we would go out for Easter lunch since my brother was coming over to hang out.  Here's what we decided on for our dinners for the week.

  1. Chicken Wings
  2. Tacos (carry over because the hamburger meat went bad)
  3. French Bread Pizza (will be making a post about this)
  4. Cheese Steaks
  5. Chicken Alfredo (carry over)
  6. Chicken Enchiladas (already had the chicken breasts)

Yep, another week were we have some carry overs.  So far, there will be no carry overs next week!  After going to Sam's, we went next door to Walmart and did our shopping there.  Here's the list and the prices for the items.

  • air fresheners 
  • birthday card for our nephew, Jasper  $3.97
  • fruit gummies  $2.00
  • cinnamon rolls $1.52 x 2 = $3.04
  • rinse aid  $3.57
  • hoagie buns  $2.78
  • enchilada kit  $2.50
  • chicken wings  $9.98 for 4lbs (you can get 10lbs at Sam's for around $20.00)
  • salsa  $1.88
  • French bread loaf  $1.68 x 2 = $3.36
  • Olive Garden salad dressing  $3.28
  • cereal for Jon
  • sippy cup
  • garlic bread  $2.28

As you can see, there were some items on our list that we crossed off.  Since we got breakfast sandwiches for Jon, there was no need to buy him cereal.  I have several baby showers that I'll be going to this year and had a coupon for a sippy cup to help start with the gifts.  Walmart was out of the items that the coupon covered.  We ended up using only two coupons, one for $0.40 off of two cinnamon roll packages and a $0.50 off garlic bread package.  So, we only saved $0.90, but I will earn $0.20 through InboxDollars.  The total spent at Walmart was $39.66.

Off to Wegmans with the a good majority of our grocery budget already spent.  Here's the not so short list and the prices for the items.

  • spaghetti noodles  $0.99 normally, but was on sale for $0.69
  • peanut butter  $2.79
  • 1lb hamburger meat  $3.55
  • Steak-umms  $3.49 for 6 steaks (you can get 14 steaks for $7.16 or 21 steaks for $9.22 at Walmart)
  • pepperoni  $2.29
  • shredded pizza cheese  $2.69 x 2 = $5.38
  • tortilla chips  $3.99
  • onion  $0.51
  • gallon of whole milk  $3.59
  • OJ  $2.59

The total spent at Wegmans was $29.49.  We knew we went over budget before heading to the checkout.  I had $5.00 in cash so we used that to help offset the overage.  The total of our three store grocery shopping was $116.67.  Making us go over $6.67, but I put that $5.00 in so it was really $1.67.  Ended up transferring some money from the savings to help out with this overage.  I also did the steps to earn $0.50 for the milk through Ibotta.   How are you doing with staying in your budget?
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Friday, April 18, 2014

Easter Bunny Cinnamon Rolls

Easter bunny cinnamon rolls, simple Easter morning breakfast with cinnamon rolls,
Last year I found this idea on Pinterest and I'm going to do it again this year.  I didn't take many pictures last year, never thought I would be writing a blog.  Last year I only used one tube of cinnamon rolls, but this year I'm going to get two.  Michael and I love cinnamon rolls, Jon not so much and there's a possibility that my brother might be here for breakfast like he was last year.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Handy Hubby - Replacing a Garbage Disposal

I must admit that I have been blessed with a very handy husband, Jon!  Over the past 10 years, he has saved us thousands of dollars by doing maintenance on his own.  It can be the simple oil change for the cars or designing and building an entertainment center for the playroom, Jon has done it.  Yes, you read it right, he designed and built an entertainment center for Michael's playroom!  I'm so glad that his father and grandfather taught him some basic skills growing up.  He still calls them when he's about to work on a project to get their advice on how to go about it.  If they don't know, off to the internet he goes.  So, since he finds how-to videos and blogs so helpful for projects he works on, he thought that he would start writing his own with all the different maintenance that comes with being a car owner and/or homeowner.  I hope you find this helpful and stay tuned for future posts from my handyman hubby!

Disposal of Despair

A common thing with most new appliances is how cheaply they are made these days. This problem is made worse with new homes, as they are cheaply built.  Recently our garbage disposal stopped working. It just made a humming sound and then nothing. We always ran water when running it, but this did not help. I had to flip the breaker on the house breaker box down stairs and reset the breaker on the disposal (a red button on the bottom of the disposal).  It started to hum again, but then stopped. I tried to look in the disposal for the problem, but the rubber drain guard covers it. This guard could not be removed unless I took the disposal out. To the Home Depot!!!! Load up the Toddler in the Mazda, wifey!

The disposal that we had was an InSinkErator Badger 5 (1/2 HP) and is one of the cheapest disposals you can get! We got lucky, as there are reports of this and other Badgers Cases leaking.  I went with the next series up, the Evolution Series, because it has a better casing than the Badger, has two stage cutting, and the reviews were very positive. It is also WAY quieter than a standard disposal. I could have spent more, but 5/8 HP was more than enough.

Legal part:  I will not be held responsible for miss installation, damage, or injury from following my journey for yourself.

Here are the tools I used to complete this install:
 - big plumber pipe wrench
- flat head screw driver with long shaft
- wire cutters/strippers
- needle nose pliers
- hammer
- smaller screw driver ( I used a ratcheting Stanley as it save lots of time and effort)
- Flash light (I used a ryobi lithium ion battery model)
- Plumbers putty  (it does not come with the disposal)
- SOS pad
- towel

Lets begin the install!

You are going to need to turn off the power to the disposal at the circuit breaker for the house.
Disconnect and remove the hose going to dishwasher.  Be careful as there is most likely still water in the line.
Unscrew the sewer pipe going from disposal from the white pvc sewer pipe.
Unscrew the two screws holding the sewer pipe to the disposal.
Use the supplied wrench that came with the disposal and put it in one of the three holes on the bottom sink collar right above the disposal.  Turn the disposal till it can come off.  It will be heavy so, support it with one hand or have a helper hold it while you unscrew the disposal.
Place a towel in the cabinet to sit the disposal on and turn disposal upside down.  Unscrew and remove electrical cover panel.
Unscrew the two screws holding the electrical cable holder together.  Then twist the electrical cable holder from the disposal and slide it up the electrical cable.
Unscrew the green screw and remove the bare copper wire.
Unscrew and remove the caps from the wires.  Pull the black and whites apart and pull out the electrical wire from the disposal.
The disposal can now be removed.  You could reuse the sink drain collar, but I figured why not replace it since it comes with the kit.  Unscrew the three screws almost all the way out.
There is a round wire, called a lock ring, holding the collar on.  Use a flat head screw driver and pry it off.
The bottom holding ring will come off with the lock ring and will allow you pull the sink drain collar out of the sink.
Look at that junk sealing my sink drain!  It's hard and crumbles if you touch it.
Clean up the sink drain hole with an new SOS pad on top and bottom.  Throw away the SOS pad afterwards.  The sink drain hole should be new looking, clean, and shiny.
Take some plumber's putty and roll it into a cylinder.  You will need to make it a bit thinner than the picture.  It should be half this size.
Line the underside of the new sink drain collar with the rolled putty.  As you can see, I put more putty on than needed.
Put the new sink drain collar in the sink drain hole and push it down.  Put the paper gasket on the new sink drain collar neck under the sink.
Put the new bottom collar on and push the new snap ring in to the groove on the new sink drain collar neck.   It will be really hard to put the ring in place, so be patient.  The new sink drain collar may pop out of the sink while you are trying to put it together with the snap ring.  Do not worry about this, as it will be secured when you screw the collars together.
Once you have the ring in place, you will want to align the new sink drain collar properly and push down.  Screw in all the screws which will pinch the new sink drain collar down and squish plumbers putty out on top and slightly out the bottom.  You will want to clean up any extra putty from the sink above.
Time to prepare the new disposal for installation.  Use a flat head screw driver and hammer tap out the drain plug for the dishwasher.  If you do not have a dishwasher, you can skip this step.  When you align the screw driver head in the drain plug there is a notch.
Once it pops out, pull it out of the disposal with needle nose pliers.
Put the new disposal upside down on the towel.  Take off the electrical panel cover.
Screw in the electrical wire holder into the disposal.  I cleaned up the excess wire cover that the contractor left with the wire stripper.  Feed the electrical wire into the disposal.  Unscrew the green screw and wrap the bare copper wire around it.  (It would be recommend to bend the wire in half a loop with needle nose pliers before hooking it on that screw.)  Screw the green screw down and it should secure the ground wire.  Make sure the ground wire can not come loose by pulling on it.
Match up the black wires and white wires together.  Twist the matching wires exposed copper parts together and twist the wire caps on the wires.  Try the pull the wires out of the caps to make sure they are not going to come loose.  If they do, try again.
Shove the capped wires into the disposal, replace the electrical cover plate, and screw it down.
Screw the electrical cable holder together with the two screws
The new disposal is heavy.  It will help to put the new disposal on the old disposal.
Lift it into position and put the new disposal hooks in the smallest portion of the metal ramps on the bottom sink collar.
Use the supplied wrench to twist the disposal and lock it into place.  When it is done the metal hooks will stop near the loops the wrench fits into.  The disposal is now secure, but you will be able to rotate the disposal as needed by simply twisting it. 
Put the supplied black sewer pipe in the new disposal and check for fitment.  I found that I needed to cut off some of the pipe going to the disposal since I had less clearance because the new disposal was wider.  Use a hack saw and cut off the amount needed.  It might be necessary to cut the other end of the pipe off from other peoples installs.
Put the silver sewer screw nut on the black sewer pipe.  Then put vinyl washer on the bottom of the black sewer pipe with it sloped away from the white PVC.  Using needle nose pliers squeeze the wire hose clamp on the end going to the disposal.  Put the black sewer pipe in the white PVC.
Rotate the disposal towards the black sewer pipe and rotate the black sewer pipe into the disposal.  Make sure the black sewer pipe is inside the rubber drain from the disposal.  Squeeze the wire hose clamp with the needle nose pliers and slide it over the rubber drain coming from the disposal.  Make sure the clamp is on the rubber drain and the black pipe or it will leak.
Using the pipe wrench tighten the silver sewer pipe nut.

Put the hose clamp back on the dishwasher hose and slide the hose on the disposal.  Screw the clamp down on the hose.  Make sure that it is screwing down both the dishwasher hose and the disposal.

Run some water and test for any leaks.  If there are leaks check over the sewer and dishwasher connection and make sure that the pipes are fitted correctly and secured with clamps.
This is what the new disposal looks like from the sink.  The beauty is you can easily remove the rubber drain cover for removal of  items that do not belong in the disposal or insert bigger food items.  Do not ever remove any items from the disposal without turning of the power at the breaker box.  Do not insert food items into the disposal without the cover and look into the disposal for safety reasons.
  Insert the rubber drain cover into the disposal drain.
Job done.  Turn the power back on, run cold water, and check the disposal for function.  Do you hear that?  Yep that is the sound of saving $120 not going down the drain. If you like what you just read please click to send a quick vote for me on Top Mommy Blogs- The best mommy blog directory featuring top mom bloggers

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