Thursday, July 31, 2014

Houston Dash Game

Last night I was able to attend my first ever professional soccer game. I got 5 free tickets from work and I took my friend Angie and her kids with me.  It was my first time (their's too) to attend a soccer game in general and also my first time at BBVA Compass Stadium.

The Houston Dash is a women's soccer league that joined the National Women's Soccer League in the 2014 season, making it Houston's newest sports team!  Honestly, I had never heard of the Dash and didn't know we had a woman's team in Houston.  I guess since it is their first season, we haven't heard too much about them.  At this game, they were playing the Seattle Reign.  We didn't know until half-time, but Hope Solo was there playing the goalie.  I had heard of her before, but since I do not follow soccer (at all), I wasn't sure what team she was on.

Anyway, we sat in the President's club section with padded seats, which was really nice. No hard plastic seats for us!  The President's club has it's own fully stocked bar and food area, but you still have to pay for the items.  I was going to get a margarita, but it was $11!  No thanks!  The seats were in the middle of the stadium and you could see the field perfectly.

I invited my friend Angie and her family to come with me.  She had said that none of her kids have ever gone to a soccer game and that her daughter had always wanted to plays soccer.  Perfect!  The game started at 8 pm and I met them at the stadium around 7:15.

Honestly, the stadium was pretty much empty!  It was worse than an Astros game!  The boys were soooo hoping that one of the girls would take off their shirts when they scored a goal.  LOL.  Apparently they had researched it beforehand and were looking forward to it (it didn't happen).  Oh, teenage boys!

During half time, we got up and walked around the stadium.  Most of the food areas were closed, but it seemed like they had at least one open on each side.  We looked around the gift shop a bit and even waited by the tunnel to see the players come out after halftime.  We saw Hope Solo!  She didn't acknowledge any fans though, even the ones who told her Happy Birthday. I guess she was focused on the game (she did sign lots of stuff after the game for fans though).
The game ended in a Houston defeat, dashing (see what I did there?) our hopes for the night.  After the game, the kids got autographs from several players and even got their picture taken with one of them.

It was fun catching up with my friend!  I'm gad she was able to come and I could see her.  I decided that soccer wasn't really my thing, but it is always fun to attend games.  I need to get a team shirt for the next time I go!

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Collecting change

When I worked for a rental car company (insert the name here if you know where I worked) and was in the rental department (sales), we would have to clean the cars on occasion if the car prep wasn't there or was busy.  People were always leaving money in the cup holders or sometimes under the seats if they dropped some change.  We would have know way of telling who dropped what and most people wouldn't want to come back to the branch for a few cents.  Usually it was a bunch of pennies, but sometimes it was closer to $.50.

Over the course of 1 summer, I collected about $75 worth of change!!!  Yep, I rolled it up myself and counted it.  At that time those money machines took about 5% of your change with a fee, and I didn't want to pay it, so I got free rolls from the bank.  Now, those machines at Wal-Mart or wherever give you an option of paying that 5% or rolling your $$ into a gift card with no fee (the store that got the gift card to pays the fee).

Anyway, the point of my story was to say that change adds up.  Quicker than you realize too!  I took some time over the weekend to collect all of my change from my car, my purse, old purses, old wallets, and random drawers throughout my house and put it in a big plastic container that is not see through (so I won't be tempted). I didn't count it because I would be more tempted to spend it!  I will tell you that it is a lot of money in there (probably over $20 in change, plus some 1's) though.

My plan is to keep collecting random change when I get it back from a purchase or even when I find it on the ground going about my daily business.  I want it to be my unofficial savings account that when it gets full (it is a BIG container) I can spend it on whatever I want. Maybe a vacation?  Maybe a new thing-a-ma-bob? 

Have you heard about this guy who had over 13 million pennies?  According to that article, in America, there is over $10.5 BILLION in change just sitting around in homes.  WOW!

To start your own vacation/fun money fund, here are some resources!! BUT, be sure to bring some hand sanitizer and a ziplock for all of your change you find on the ground. 

Start today by going through your house and cars and see how much change you can find.  If you walk anywhere, look on the ground (be careful where you are going) and see if you can find some spare change!

Friday, July 25, 2014

Eggplant Lasagna Recipe

As I have mentioned a numerous amount of times, I can't cook very well.  I try and try, but my recipes don't seem to work out.  I think at least part of the problem is that I usually don't follow the recipe 100%, in terms of the ingredient list that is.  Sometimes, I don't like that ingredient, other times I just don't have it at the house.  I have seen lots of people do just fine with switching ingredients, but for me, it doesn't work! Hmmm.

Well, anyway...this one worked!  I had some lasagna noodles that I needed to use up (I'm trying to use up as much as possible in my pantry and freezer before buying more) and an eggplant as well.  I looked for recipes that used both, but couldn't really find one (This is where my bad cooking critical thinking comes in).  I just sort of made my own recipe, but it turned out wonderfully!!!!

It is hard cooking for just one person, but this recipe freezes easily.  I froze three servings for future lunches/dinners and ate the rest this past week.  Yummy!

Eggplant Lasagna with Goat Cheese
6-9 servings (depending on how big you cut the pieces)

1 package Lasagna noodles (I used the no boil kind)
1/2 eggplant
1/2 poblano pepper
1/2 tube of goat cheese
2 mozzarella cheese sticks (the snack kind)
Jar of spaghetti sauce

1.Heat oven to 350 degrees
2. Cut eggplant into thin slices
3. Layer lasagna noodles on bottom
4. Layer eggplant slices on top of noodles
5. Cut poblano pepper into small pieces, sprinkle on top of eggplant (seeds are optional-gives more of a kick)
6. Layer goat cheese throughout
7. Add 1/2 spaghetti sauce jar
8. Cut 1 mozzarella stick in small pieces, sprinkle throughout
9. Repeat steps 2-8 until you are at the top of the serving dish (my dish only let me do two layers)

1 package Lasagna noodles ($1?? I've had this for awhile now, so I don't 100% remember)
1/2 eggplant ($1)
1/2 poblano pepper ($.50)
1/2 tube of goat cheese  ($2)
2 mozzarella cheese sticks (the snack kind) ($.50)
Jar of spaghetti sauce ($2)

6 servings cost: $1.16 each
9 servings cost: $.77 each

layers without the sauce (the goat cheese and mozzarella will melt)

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Homemade Iced Cinnamon Dolce Latte

How to make Starbucks Lattes at Home!

I don't think it is a secret that I love Starbucks.  Usually, I get a "grade iced cinnamon dolce non fat latte."  LOVE, LOVE, LOVE!  But then I decided to calculate the cost of my 'occasional' drink that was really 1-2 times a week, at $4.50 each. Over the course of a year, that is $234 for once a week or $468 for twice a week.  Sometimes I even went more than twice a week and/or I got breakfast too!  That is just wasteful!

In an effort to save money, I decided to make my own at home.  There are some upfront costs to buy a coffee machine, the coffee, and the syrup, but in the long run it is worth it.

The Coffee
I buy the bags of Starbucks brand espresso (ground) from the grocery store for $7.99 each and add it to an air tight container.  I don't have am latte everyday (they are a calorie bomb, honestly) so it lasts me awhile.

The Machine
About a year ago, I bought a Mr. Coffee espresso maker on Amazon for $40 (I think it was closer to $30 when I bought it, but whatever).  It makes small batches of coffee, enough for one cup to add to your container and go!  I am not a fan of hot drinks (I occasionally drink hot chocolate), but this machine makes the coffee hot and also steams the milk for you.  Perhaps you can make it in a regular coffee pot or a Keurig using expresso coffee.  Use what you have, don't go out spending $$ when you are trying to save it.

The Cinnamon Dolce Syrup
You can buy the syrup at a local Starbucks store.  Yep, for $12.95 (in my area that is) you can buy a HUGE bottle (don't forget to ask for the pump) and add the flavor to your own coffee (or buy it on Amazon).  I use four pumps for a grande size drink.  OR if you are into the whole cooking thing, here is a link to make your own syrup! O

The Cup
You can always buy a cup on Amazon to put it in, but most people (I would think) have some insulated, reusable cups at home.  (If not, hang around a trade show or convention, they are always giving them away).  The cool thing about the Starbucks brand cups are, they have these nifty lines that tell you what measurements to pour your ingredients at.  See the picture below?  The lines tell you where to add the ingredients, so you won't have to measure them out!

The Recipe
I found this recipe online at Starbucks Food Service.  I don't use whipped cream on mine though.

*This post contains affiliate links.  

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Freezing Sandwiches

Did you know that you can freeze sandwiches?????  I had no idea!  I mean, I guess if I would have thought about it, I would have guessed, but I honestly would have never thought to do that. (I guess I need to think outside the box more).

I have a hard time bringing my lunch to work each day.  I am always running late (darn sleep) and don't always have time to pack a lunch in the morning.  Eating out everyday can get expensive (average lunch is between $5-$10) and also the portions are way out of control.  More eating out=less $$ and bigger waistline.

Once I figured out that I could freeze sandwiches and then grab and go in the mornings, wow what a time saver!  You always hear about families who meal plan and do batch cooking, but for single people that is hard.  It takes a while to make a sandwich in the mornings (searching for ingredients, a  container, a bag, etc) or sometimes I buy a thing of lunch meat and by the time  I can use all of it, it goes bad. Sigh.  Freezing them saves me time in the mornings and also trips to the grocery store.

So, the other day I made a big batch of frozen sandwiches.  I bought two loaves of wheat bread (healthier and it freezes better), cheese, lunch meat, peanut butter, and jelly.
(stock photo)

I made the PB&J sandwiches first and I rotated the jelly between cherry and Mango Hibanero.  The lunch meat was a salami type meat, which isn't the best, but the blogs I researched said not to use mayo.  I like mayo, but only on ham sandwiches.  Turkey uses mustard, but ham ONLY uses mayo.  It's gross (to me) any other way.  I could have gotten turkey but the salami looked really good.

I do not lettuce or tomato on my sandwiches, so I didn't have to worry about freezing them.  They say not to add that to the sandwiches until you are using them and they thaw.  Lettuce and other veggies don't freeze well.

****I was going to add pictures, but they looked kind of gross with my camera phone. LOL.  Sorry!

Anyway, the first few days have gone great! I just pull one out in the mornings and add it to my lunch bag.  They thaw by lunchtime and taste the same!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Jabba the Milk Stealer

My kid smells milk from a mile away.  Every time I try and eat cereal, he is all up on me and won't go away until I give him some milk.  He also whines and whines and whines and whines when I make tuna too.

Anyway, I tried to be sneaky and put it in a cup instead of a bowl, but alas, it did not work. :/  I thought it was him just seeing the bowl, but it must be him smelling it.
I love his ears in this picture. LOL.
I think this is one of my new favorite pictures of him!
I just love his little paws!!!!

So, there you go.  Jabba is a milk stealer and he is too cute for me to do anything about it.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Blacklight Run Houston

Here is a race recap that I didn't run AT ALL!  I walked the entire thing with my friend Teri.  We got a groupon for $20 to do the Blacklight Run in Houston.  The event started at 8:30 pm at NRG Stadium (formerly Reliant Stadium) and had an estimated 16,000 people in attendance.

What is a Blacklight Run?  Basically it is a color run, but at night and there are a few blacklights on the course. Sorry, but I wasn't that impressed.  I mean, I guess for $20 you can't beat it, but I know a lot of people who paid a lot more.  These huge run companies come into town and charge a lot of $$, but don't have any food or other fun stuff at the finish line.  I guess I just like smaller runs with free bananas (that I don't take), water bottles, samples, etc.  Plus, I like the smaller ones that the proceeds go to a charity.  I don't like to pad a companies pocket with a huge amount of an entry fee.  I see on their website that they do give some money to a charity, but it doesn't specify a percentage, it only says that they do give some money.  IDK, I just like charity runs.

AND they ask for volunteers!  How can a company that is making a HUGE profit ask for volunteers?!  I think that is ridiculous, I mean you should really pay the people.  I can see a non profit race ask for volunteers, but a for profit race?  No.  Greedy.  I'm all about making $$, but these huge companies that come in get on my nerves. (I didn't realize all this when I signed up).

I also didn't like the course.  It was ALL in a parking lot that you just go back and forth in. Not fun, let me see some cool sights!  But to be fair, I think that renting NRG stadium would be really expensive and it is hard planning for 16,000 people I guess.  It was only $20 (for me, with my groupon) so I can't really say that it was too bad.

I still had fun with my friends.  I walked the entire way with my friend Teri and hung out with her and Armando before and after the event (Armando ran the entire way and waited for us at the finish line).  We took lots of pictures!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Garage Sale

I have been wanting to have a garage sale for a while now.  I am trying to de-clutter my life and get rid of tons of stuff.  It's really silly how much crap I have accumulated in a few short years.  In addition to wanting to simplify my life, it doesn't hurt to get extra $$ too! :)

I went through my house with a fine tooth comb and had no mercy.  I was getting rid of everything!  I got rid of all but two pictures that were hanging on my walls.  My walls still have the nails in them.  Old purses, scarfs, sconces, holiday items, bags, books, and more are all gone now!

I got rid of about 20 DVD's at the local DVD retailer.  I sold them for $10.10 total.  They were DVD's that I didn't ever watch anymore, so I didn't mind getting rid of them.  A new family can watch them.  A few DVD's they wouldn't take because they had too many or were too scratched up. I just threw them back in the garage sale pile.

My friend Tracie, who lives in Pearland, let me borrow her house for a garage sale.  My apartment doesn't have an annual garage sale and no one in my family would let me have one at their house. Off to Pearland I went!
Jabba loves sitting on top of boxes and he was sad when I took this one with me.

I got to her house around 7 and started to unpack my car.  Everything I wanted to bring didn't fit in my car. :/

I put everything on two old sheets (the blue one is hers and the red snowflake one is mine).  This side was DVD's, holiday items, kitchen stuff, office stuff, a few scarves, a few decorative items, etc.

This side was mainly books and bags.  Tracie and her daughter Kayla had a few other things they brought with them outside to sell. It looks kind of bare, but we really had a lot of stuff!

I sold a lot of my stuff for really cheap.  I think the highest thing was $5 (maybe $10 for one item, I can't remember), but most stuff was between $.25 and $1.  My goal was to get rid of it and make a small amount of $$ in the process.  What I don't sell, I will give away.  I made right at $100 though!!!  It isn't a ton of money, but it is $100 I didn't have.  The stuff was just lying around, collecting dust, and I didn't need it anymore.

We are having another garage sale this weekend too.  Hopefully I sell more stuff!  If I don't sell it, I will donate it to the local pet shelter resale shop that supports BARC.

Next up:  My couch!  I have been wanting to get rid of it for awhile now and I think the time has come.  It is HUGE and I am ready for it to be gone.  It takes up too much space and is a pain in the booty to move.  I just want a regular couch.  I will have to save up for a regular couch, so I might be couch-less for awhile, but honestly, that is ok. I don't need to sit on the couch for hours and watch TV, I need to be up and about doing something with my life.   I will probably sell it on Craigslist or something.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

4th of July

How many times did I say that I am a bad blogger that  I don't get posts up on time?  A LOT! :)   Well, this post is only a few weeks late.  I've been known to have posts that are over a year old post late. LOL.

Happy 4th of July 'Merica!  Jabba wanted to show you his 4th of July picture!

Here he is sporting his cool flag shades.
Cutest cat ever!
 Jabba does not like to wear hats/scarves/sunglasses/ties at all.  It takes me forever to get one good picture, but he is so cute, I have too.  Honestly, it's been 3.5 years that I have had him, you would think he would just get used to it by now. I always give him a treat when I get a good picture.
New door wreath I made for the 4th!
I originally made this red and white wreath for Valentine's day, but then I procrastinated too long to add the ribbon and middle thing.  So, it became a 4th of July/Memorial Day wreath.  I need to add some more blue, but I like it like this too.

I went to my grandparents house on the 4th to hang out with them and me and my grandma went to see the Fault in Our Stars.  It was a really good movie!  Maw-Maw asked if the movie was sad and I said no. I only halfway knew it would be sad, considering it was about a cancer patient.  However, OMG, I balled like a baby!  It was super good though.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Family Event at the Astros for $25

I love all Houston sports teams, I am a fan whether they win or lose.  I have gone to a few Astros games this year and recently went to a game for only $3!  I wanted to share how you can get those tickets cheap too!.

So, in order to get some more Houston Astros fans to come to the games, I am going to tell you all about how a family of 5 can go to the Astros game for about $25!  Score!  It is a perfect family night.

Take me out to a ball game! Buy me some peanuts and cracker jacks.  (Tell me you didn't just sing the rest of the lyrics in your head)

(This scenario is a TUESDAY night deal only)

Here's how you can do it:
Tickets: $3/ticket x 5 people= $15* (see below on how to get $3 tickets)
Parking:  $10 per car (ish, some parking spots are cheaper/more expensive-just drive around a bit)
Drinks:  On the first floor, near the side with the movable homerun train, you can get two free sodas if you sign up to be a designated driver.  Yep, anyone (I believe it's 16 and over) who is a DD for their group, gets two free vouchers (see pic below) for small sodas.  Share (or bring sealed bottled water with you) the drinks!
Food:  Bring it from home!  Yes, did you know you can bring a ziplock bag full of food (sealed) in with you? Or just eat before the game.
Souvenirs:  Tell your kids no, it won't hurt them! Or bring a glove and try and catch a foul ball.
Total:  $25

*Just add $3 per additional person over your 5 person family
Designated drivers get free drinks!  Ignore my fingers that need nail polish and a manicure! :)
OK, so how did we get $3 tickets?  We brought a PowerAde or Coca Cola product to the actual ticket counter (not online).  I would suggest purchasing the tickets earlier in the week to make sure you can get the tickets.  You wouldn't want your kids to be disappointed if you came to late to get that deal.

Where are the seats?  Up high, but honestly kids won't notice and/or you can just go down to a lower level during a later inning.  There aren't too many seats that are filled unfortunately (sorry 'stros, but it's true).

Other fun stuff:
Did you know the Astros have fireworks at every Friday night home game?!  Did you know they give out free promotional items at various games?  View the promotional calendar and some additional promotions going on this season!

Play ball!

****The Astros did not pay me (or give me anything) to write this post. I just really want to share a good deal with everyone and gets some fans out to Minute Maid Park!