This marinade is perfect for many meats and I have used it to marinate a ham the night before we smoked it. It was the marinade for the already smoked ham we had on Christmas Eve that was Thee Bestestess Ham I have ever had. I like ham, I guess, it just is a little salty and not really my thing.

At Tony's previous employer, for the holidays, he was able to choose a turkey, a ham, or what he thought was a Boston Butt. However, when we unpacked the quote-unquote, Boston Butt, we were looking at a bone-in, already smoked ham. It smelled like ham and there went my idea of a pulled pork dinner extravaganza for Christmas Eve. But not to be discouraged, we marinated it overnight anyway, cooked it on low for four hours, and then mixed a brown-sugar rub commonly found on a spiral cut honey baked ham. It was delicious! I wanted to eat it for every meal, breakfast, lunch, dinner, and a snack. I bought brown and serve rolls and we finished off all the leftovers as mini-sandwiches.

Annnyyyywaaay, I went and bought an actual Boston Butt pork roast, which is not part of the pig's butt, but actually part of the shoulder area. And did you know that a Boston Butt is cheap? When we did our Sam's Aldi comparison we bought a large piece at Sams and cut it up into smaller pieces. Okay, the marinade already. I used the marinade I wrote down while watching Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives. My friend, Sherry, told me that you can look up some of triple Ds recipes on the website but I haven't done that yet. So I have no idea what the exact measurements are. I just use equal parts for most of the ingredients.

1 cup loosely packed brown sugar
1 T. Celery Salt
1 T. Garlic Powder
1 T. Dried Mustard
1 T. Ground Ginger
1 T. Black Pepper
1 T. Rosemary
1 1/2 tsp. Liquid Smoke
1/4 cup Worcestershire
3/4 cup Cider Vinegar
1/2 cup Soy Sauce
1/2 cup Vegetable Oil

Whisk all together.

Place the Boston Butt in a large ziploc bag and fill with the marinade. Place in the fridge overnight.

In the morning place in the crockpot on low for 8 hours. Add the marinade sprinkle with garlic salt and a large sliced onion. Serve as sandwiches, over a baked potato, or all by itself. Like I said I have no idea what the exact measurements for the marinade is suppose to be, but I have used it several times as directed above and it was perfect.
Before I get any emails about how unsafe a trampoline is without the safety net let me just say this. I don't care. I am heartless, mean, and do not care about the safety of my children, because if I did I would have a net, helmets, knee pads, and a first alert necklace portrayed in the picture. But they had the best time! Tony and I watched from the warmth of our living room while Anna and the neighborhood kids tried to jump in the snow and ice that had accumulated on our trampoline. They decided to do this after walking the creek behind our neighborhood and trying to use a sled on our street's 20 degree incline.

They had to work together to get into an upright position because if one person stood up the ice would make the other two slide toward the middle. They were falling, screaming, and laughing the entire time while I just silently prayed no one got hurt.

Every once in a while the three of them would get up and there would be a couple of quick jumps. I found out later they also had the feeling of suspense hinking the trampoline was going to break through. But they spent the majority of the time rolling around and while trying to keep the snow and ice from going down their pants.

Anna was not very successful with that task due to her affinity to making all jeans low-riders. Her pants were completely covered inside and out with snow and ice and I still had to drag her into the house to warm up. Hot chocolate with marshmallows did the trick.
No school, no work, no driving about town but we still need to eat. These mini meatloaves are super easy and very good, even for people that are not particularly fond of meatloaf, me. They take only three ingredients: 2lbs ground beef, 1 bag/box chicken stuffing, and 1 egg.

Mix all three, count 'em three, ingredients together and spoon into a muffin tin.

Bake in oven at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes. Time varies due to your comfort with the 'doneness', is that even a word? of hamburger meat.

Freeze the leftovers as individual portions in sandwich bags put in a large freezer bag. Perfect kid meal and just the right portion. Plus each person can doctor their meatloaf as they wish with BBQ sauce, ketchup, or just plain. The chicken stuffing mixed with ground beef is so good even I can eat this without doctoring it up. Condiments are my reason for eating.

Before I even start this post if you are interested in an apples to apples comparison please read Shannon's post on shopping at Aldi. She does an actual worksheet comparing basic items she regularly buys at Walmart and what like items cost at Aldi. My post, well I did write down the things that I generally buy at Sams, but uh, I forgot to write what Aldi cost breakdown (oz,lb $) was. But, I do still have my receipt. So this is for you April because you are so sweet and have all three near you and for you, LouAnn, the Aldi pioneer, to give Aldi a second chance because they take debit cards now. No more loading up your rented basket only to be turned away when you pull out your MasterCard.

Our shopping trip was not quick, it took some time. We started at Sams to price the meat and bulk items, breaking them down into cost per units (don't do this, look to the bottom and in tiny print you will see it-learned this on our return trip, DUH....) and then we went to Aldi. We dragged Anna along and she only perked up once, when she got to retrieve the quarter from returning the grocery cart at Aldi. I let her keep it and then told her we were going back to Sams.

Here it is:
Cereal is must buy at Aldi. Most kid cereals are all $1.29 and their brand of Special K and more adult cereal was somewhere around $2.49.
  • Frosted Shredded Wheat was $1.79
  • Apple Cinnamon Cheerios was $1.89
  • Bag of Mozzarella Cheese Sticks was $2.89
  • Bag of baby carrots was $.99
  • Sour Cream was $.89!! and not the tiny tub
  • 8 0z block of cream cheese was $.99
  • 4 sticks of unsalted butter was $1.99!!!
  • roll of sausage was $1.89
  • boxes of instant Mac-n-Cheese were $.35
  • 8 whole English Muffins were $.99!!
  • Large bottle of Vegetable oil was $2.29
  • 1 lb. bag powdered sugar was $1.19

But meat, for us, was less expensive at Sams. I say for us because if you could not afford to buy meat in bulk for $20 then Aldi would be a great place. But per pound for meat prices, Sams is better. Here are the prices that I wrote down from Sams:

  • Boston Butt, $1.68/lb
  • Brisket, $2.90/lb
  • Chuck Roast, $3.29
  • Ground Beef 80/20, $2.68, but in the 10lb tube $2.48
  • Bone in Chicken Breast, $1.79/lb
  • 6lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts/2.16lb, it is cheaper to buy the fresh cut and then wash and lay on wax paper on a cookie sheet in the freezer and freeze individually. The non frozen breasts are bigger too.
  • 25lb bag all purpose flour, $.31/lb
  • Sugar, $.52/lb
  • Non-Instant Rice, $.43/lb or $.05/oz
  • Instant Rice, $.84/lb
  • Uncle Bens, $.11/oz
  • Ramen Chicken Noodle, $.16/bag
  • Mac-n-Cheese, $.61/box

Does this mean I am going to actually do a price book? I don't think so but I definitely think I might as well put a few singles in a pile and light them if I don't continue to shop at Aldi. I just think it would be nuts not to. Because Aldi is not near us and the closest one to us prompted my husband to wish for his concealed weapon permit, it is not very convenient. However, since last Saturday, a week later, all we had to buy at the large grocery store .25 miles from our house was milk.

By the way, a full week of Tony staying home and I still love it. So incredibly nice and Janelle, Anna is very excited to spend time with him. Monica, your career change is exactly like Tony's, he is enrolling for both, radiology and RN, and whatever comes first is what he will do. Hope this little bit of comparison shopping info helps. If there is something you want me to check at Aldi's for you let me know and I will on my next visit.

Several years ago, while working at Montgomery Wards buying office, I read the book Who Moved My Cheese. It became apparent that I was more of a sniffer mouse even though I am a control freak. The ability to accept change and continue to find different ways of doing things has helped with life's challenges. Being a single mother, moving, getting married again, job changes, and now, deciding that our family will be a one-income family for the next two years, will put my self diagnosed personality trait to the test.

We have decided that my husband will not look for another job within his previous area of expertise but instead he will pursue an education in the health care field. He has not made a decision on which particular field of study he will pursue; but plans on making that decision this week after speaking with advisers at the various schools in our area. His graduated with a B.S. in Biology so we are hoping many of his credits will transfer and be applicable to a RN degree or Radiology. He hopes to find a part time job at one of the local hospitals and possibly receive a scholarship or signing bonuses.

I do not know all the details but as he hammers out his options I will have a clearer picture. But I do know he is taking this opportunity to make a significant career change and I could not be happier for him. Seriously. I have had this complete feeling of elation that things are going to be so good for us, hard and difficult, but content and happy.

I came home from work today to a spotless house, all the laundry done, and all the beds changed and remade. Wow! The only thing I asked was for me to keep the cooking and the vacuuming. But tonight I was so happy and felt so good coming home to a house that didn't need cleaning up that I relented and told Tony the vacuuming is all his.

The other HUGE thing for us is Anna is leaving daycare and she will be staying home with Tony. Just writing that makes me tear up. Since I divorced while pregnant I have never had the opportunity to stay home with Anna. She has been in daycare since she was four weeks old. We told her last night about all the changes and that Tony would be picking her up from school and staying with her. When she heard that she squealed and did a little jump while hugging Tony. Of course, Anna being Anna, immediately takes it to the next level saying that now Tony could come eat lunch with her and then take her to the little cafe all the SAHMs go to Tuesday after school.

Changes are definitely going to take place in our household and the cheese might stink at times but surely all the reading of frugal blogs I have done will now serve a purpose.

I have much more about dealing with the ex-wife, not pretty, and the Aldi versus Sams, versus Wal-Mart price comparison we did Saturday. But I am going to go over our new budget with my husband and talk about our new awesome future. Two things, thank you so much for the emails and comments, thank you, thank you!! and Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal is $1.29 at Aldi!!!
My husband lost his job today. His company had a major layoff today, laying off 187 employees out of the remaining 225 from the previous lay-offs. I think everything will be fine and I am channeling Scarlett O'Hara because I will think about it tomorrow, tomorrow meaning this weekend. We have been waiting for his company to close and he has been looking for a job since last May. The leads and interviews he has had have been put on hold until sometime in 2009, if the open positions make the budget cuts. We will see and we will pray and Tony will find something.

Then, this afternoon while returning from lunch, one of my co-workers called my cell to tell me they were reducing employees at my place of business. Supposedly, 35 were to be let go and 12 had been fired so far. They also asked some long time employees to take early retirement. Within minutes I lost my lunch, what a waste of $8 that I might not have again. I was scared, really scared.

At 3 o'clock we had a company-wide meeting. It looks like, for now, I still have my job. Things will be changing and there will be mandatory vacation days but at this time my department is safe. Our 14% sales growth last year will not be rewarded with a profit sharing check.

I thought my next post might be about my job and my new position back to international buying. However, I had no idea that today, January 9th, my family will be doing its own re-organization.
Oh my gosh! This was so good and so easy. I think the hardest part was looking for the Golden Mushroom Soup. Seriously. I found this recipe and it had almost 5 stars out of over 1250 reviews. How could that many people love beef stroganoff was my first thought and then I saw the small list of ingredients and was very surprised. How strange something that this many people thought was good was made without a large mixture of spice and flavors. I made it, but as is my compulsion I added to it.

Oh, and I doubled it the second time I made it. It is so good as leftovers and you might think this is sick, but I put some of the gravy/sauce on mashed potatoes, oh wow!

2 pounds cubed stew meat
2 cans Condensed Golden Mushroom Soup
1 largish onion diced
2-3-4 tabls of Worcestershire (this stuff is so awesome I always add more)
1/2 water
8 oz of cream cheese (the first time I made this with just 1lb of meat I still added 8 oz's, sshh don't tell my lactose intolerant hubbie)
couple of dashes of Garlic Salt (1 tsp?)
couple dashes of Hot Paprika (see I just can't believe this would be good without some sort of kick)

In the slow cooker stir in all the ingredients, except the meat AND the Cream Cheese, together. Once combined add the meat and mix together.

Cook on Low for 8 hours. Cut up the cream cheese into cubes just before serving and turn crockpot on high. Stir the cream cheese in until all combined. You might have to put the lid back on and leave for 10 minutes.

Serve over egg noodles. Or mashed potatoes, I won't tell anyone but I would really like to not be alone in this.

We had a great New Years Eve Party. We had twelve kids. Are you jealous? It was actually very smooth. At my twentieth high school reunion I reconnected with Sherry, my friend since fourth grade. During the reconnection I found out that she comes back to Oklahoma every year after Christmas. Well hello! We had to get together, with everyone. Well, most of us made it some could not come due to family obligations and just plain old life. But we had a great time.

Tony, took this picture and I was trying a new pose that I read about to be more attractive in photos. Instructions were to pose to the side, chin down, eyes up, shoulders back, and chest out. I think I nailed it. I might not be a model but I tried, and he noticed, wondering out loud, what the hell was that look? But of course there is always the one person that is not ready so in the above photo I cropped her out and I think she would thank me. (love you!)

Here is the second picture taken after my husband asked who I was trying to impress with the first photo. Uh, him of course. Our kids had a great time eating, playing the Wii, playing hida and seek, and generally running through the house. Sherry has four boys and Cheryl has two. My stepson is in heaven when Cheryl's kids come over and our girls think they are Brittany Spears/Hannah Montana/ICarly/Zoey101 when Sherry's boys are around.

And shock of all shocks. My sister actually came to my house for more than two hours! She brought her 2 year old daughter, Margaret, who she put to bed at 8 p.m. Amazing. I loved having Kelly here and it was so nice to hang out with her. My good friends Sonja and Dave stopped to say hello and left yummy peanut brittle and candied pecans, that we ate in one shot. They had another party to attend, a party sans 12 kids, imagine.
I am not a big New Years Resolution person. Mainly because I try to avoid failure not seek it out. But internally I make my own pacts with myself, and those internal pacts...well, I need to re-negotiate. Today was the first real day of my 2009 because since January 1st I have been cocooned in my casa, not in my snuggli-even though Tony says he will divorce me if I bought one, I know he would be all over it. I went back to work today and I proved what I already knew about myself, I have no will power. This is what I did not resolve do do per say but what I thought would be nice and helpful if I could accomplish in 2009.
  • Get up early like when my husband gets into the shower so that I could do my devotions. Instead, I turned over onto my stomach and snoozed until he sat down beside me to put on his shoes....Viva 2008!
  • Watch what I eat. Oh I did, I watched myself in an almost out of body experience unwrap and eat six, count 'em, six Hershey's Special Dark Chocolate bars. I am all about being retro!
  • Dress more professionally-with makeup. Half of me was all about this new resolution. The half that doesn't wear jeans and does wearing glasses with makeup count as trying?
  • Give my husband the sexy, provocative woman that he married twenty pounds ago. Is it really my fault that mother nature created a roadblock?
  • Stay off the internet while at work. Are you freaking kidding me?? there is no way, I tried until 8:45 and then was all who cares? I never wrote these resolutions down, who was the actual person that thought of resolutions? The internet is what makes my job bearable, so it actually helps my job.

Oh, I have more but then I would be committed and I would hate to be a disappointment. Instead, if in fact I actually do follow through with my resolutions ideas then I will be all about the bragging come December 2009.