Saturday, April 30, 2011

Restaurant Review: Wood Stone Restaurant

For a while, my dad and I have wanted to try Wood Stone. A long time ago, in Columbus, there was a place called Mediterranean Cafe and our family looooooved it dearly. Unfortunately, sometime while I was away in either college or grad school or wherever, it closed. Seems like we both had heard that there was a connection though between the old Med Cafe and this newer place. Dad's work recently had catering from Wood Stone and he loved it. (Come to think of it, maybe it was dad who had heard then that the two restaurants were related...)

Anyways, to get back on track- we all piled in to my parents new (well used, but recently acquired) grandkid-mobile (minivan), and headed to Wood Stone. We got there right before 7 p.m. which I think was probably a good idea. We were seated right away and our waiter came and greeted us. At first, he was very quick with everything, but then I think he slowed down some because traffic picked up- tables started filling fast. He was very polite and as attentive as he could be. I just wish he had brought the check with the to-go box because that added on an extra 10 - 15 minutes of waiting (which hey, I'm looking out for the restaurant), I'm sure they wanted to clear our table and sit some more folks!

As far as taste goes, I am in love. You get bread as an appetizer. It's a good balance of crunch and softness. It's dusted with Parmesan cheese and served cut into strips with a little bowl of what I think was oil, garlic and pepper. I inhaled 2.5 pieces... so not WW friendly I'm sure...

My parents were trying to get back that taste of Mediterranean Cafe Pizza, so they "built their own" using what they remembered was on the sort of "house pizza" from back then. I couldn't decide on getting a pasta dish, big salad, or pizza. Tim and I ended up splitting a "Meat Pizza" without the prosciutto (also not very WW friendly). I also ordered a Caesar salad with balsamic vinaigrette instead of Caesar dressing.

My salad was fresh, yum, and a good size. Our pizza was fabulous. My only comment about it was that it seemed like all the toppings were in the center of the pizza and not evenly dispersed. It felt like after the first few bites it became a cheese pizza. But, nonetheless, it was very, very tasty. I look forward to having leftover for lunch tomorrow. I even specially told Tim, that half of our leftovers were mine and not to eat them tonight as a snack.

Overall, I give this place a double thumbs up. It's close to our home in North Columbus, cute on the inside, quiet, pretty artwork for sale in the front area, obviously great food, and pretty good service. I would recommend this to anyone for either a date night or a family dinner. I really want to try this place for lunch sometimes. Unfortunately, it isn't close to work so it would have to be a Friday or Saturday lunch if I've read their hours correctly.

Give it a try if you haven't!

Caturday Saturday: Elliot shows off her skills

Let me see you one, two, punch! Today when I was trying to take photos of my coupon holder for the earlier post, Elliot and Scooby got into a scrap. This is what started it all:

It happens really fast so you may need to watch it more than once haha.

Happy Caturday Saturday!

The Art of Couponing: It really doesn't take that much time

Someone one time told me they thought what I did was cool, but they didn't have the time. Now, I don't know much about this person, but I know myself and I'm highly involved in a lot of things, and I'm managing just fine. I hear the time argument all the time, but let me tell you about the trip to Publix I had with my mom yesterday.

I literally came home from work, went to the garden, snapped some photos and came in to load them when my mom asked if I wanted to go to Publix. Mind you, before I go to Publix I usually make a list of exactly what I want and I go ahead and pull the coupons I want to use and file them in the front of my coupon organizer.
It fits so well in the purse. And yes, that is Elliot in the back.

Look it expands! And yes, Elliot's tail is in the photo...

"Today's shopping coupons"
This allows me to stay on track in the store, get what I need, and generally be done in less than 15 minutes. Before, I used to meander around in the store for about an hour. (So think about that right there!)

However, yesterday I didn't have the pre-planning time. Mom gave me just a few minutes to put on my shoes, and do a quick scan of the sale paper. So, while I was in the car I started mentally listing what I needed to get.

The result? I used 4 coupons, purchased 7 items, paid $8.57, saved $15.43 or 64%

The biggest deals were the Marie's salad dressing for 65 cent (I've done this deal before), and Dove deodorant for 75 cent.

The next big deal I got is not squirmy boy friendly, so you have been warned...

I got a great deal on tampons. Alright, squirmy boys, get your giggles and groans out. But, mostly I'm speaking to the women here. Girly products can be a serious expense sometimes. Especially the good stuff. Publix had all of their Playtex gentle glide, and Playtex sports tampons on sale B1G1. So on top of that I have a $1 off each. The bottom line: Two boxes of tampons for $1.14 each. Are they my favorite brand? No. But, they are at least a close second.

Just think, if I can save 64% without much planning, what can you save if you take just a little time to plan?

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Adventures in Home buying or: How I learned to take off my rose colored sunglasses and smell the dog pee

The view of the house from our back porch. It's not the cutest, but it has potential...right?
Wow. That's almost all I can say. Except "wow" doesn't make for a very entertaining blog post, now does it?

Let me set the stage for what has been going on at our house for the past few days. As you know, we planted a garden recently at the house, on Good Friday to be exact. Well, I also bought some flowers to plant in the back yard. On Monday, my dad was out in the back yard digging up a bush that had died so we could plant my iris bulbs there. Well, he saw some folks looking at the house behind us. I think he got to talking to the folks and mentioned the tree in that back yard that is poised in a position to land on our house (and quite frankly, the wind today has almost got us to that point).

So dad comes to Tim and I, and we're all talking about this house. With us living here, we're at an advantage because we know what lived there before: GREAT DANES, and I'm not talking Hamlet here folks. Seriously, the dogs busted out almost every screen on the back porch of this house...but...we got to thinking...

We thought, the house was pretty much (or maybe it just was) abandoned. It has a very low asking price. Just remember, the "as is" tacked on to it. But, we were trying to be smart. We thought, maybe, just maybe, we could buy this in it, fix it up, and sell it.

I talked to Tim and at first I think his reaction was a little bit like this: "REALLY? We have to move from this house into the backyard...cut the cord Kelly!" But, then he thought about it and it was appealing. We could rip out the carpet, put in hardwood floors...yadda yadda. And the actual benefit of it being in the backyard is that we could seriously do this on a flexible time table.

So now we're at Tuesday. On Tuesday, my mom went over to look in the windows. She said it didn't look that bad and I guess she ran into a lady showing it. She gave mom the card and by lunch time I had called and made an appointment. I was so excited. I was like "wow, this could really happen? out of no where? we finally move out???" I tried to keep my cool. I prayed and prayed. I tried to think of all the positives and all the negatives, but I knew we really needed to get in that house to see for ourselves.

Side note: Keep in mind this alllll went down on Tuesday (the calling of the realtor, etc) while I was at work. And not just *at* work la de da, I was in full swing, getting ready for a *big* event mode. Needless to say I was exhausted by the end of the night (and I still feel a bit run down).

So back to Tuesday night. I was having lots of conversations with Tim, my dad and mom, my brother, my best friend Mel, everyone. But, really I was trying to talk to God too. If my life were a dramatic film, picture me throwing my arms up in the air, Scarlett O'Hara style, and crying out "Lord, just give me a sign!" But, really I was trying to listen. I know that there is a Master Plan and everything will happen when it is supposed to, but that doesn't mean I don't get anxious sometimes. Anyways, I tried hard to control myself.

Wake up Wednesday. I feel like I had a better handle on things today for sure. I think a little of the excitement wore off, and I was ready to simply look. Eh, who am I kidding, I was still excited to LOOK AT A HOUSE.

So here we are: finally at Wednesday afternoon. I left work at 2:31 p.m. (to be absolutely precise), and headed home. While I was on JR Alley parkway, at 2:50 p.m. (precision folks!) I got a call from the realtor. She said she was running late and I said "whew! thank goodness me too!" So I called my parents to let them know. My dad had come home because he didn't know Tim was getting off work also to come see the house. Dad was already waiting at the house.

I pulled up next. And there was a car in the driveway. It wasn't my dad's...I knew it wasn't the realtor so I got out of my car all cautious. It was another person showing the house. Cue the two car fulls of folks that pulled up next. Someone in a military-ish uniform (I can't be positive because I was mostly looking at the other people). Yes, the two young girl and well...I don't know. I don't judge. But they looked like a cross between the following:
Random person from the web...and...

Jesse Camp from MTV (you won't get this is you didn't watch MTV in the late 90s...)
Anyways, I don't judge. But, I do observe...ok, and I envy because they were like a size 0 and I just can't get abs no matter how much weight I continue to lose! We waited patiently outside for our person to show. She did and we went in.


I knew to expect a bad smell...but could smell it before you opened the door...I do NOT know how my mom missed it when she looked in the windows. I swear it was so bad we all felt like we needed a bath when we came out. Yuck.

It was pretty crazy seeing that carpet. It looked very similar to what we had in our house YEARS ago (which obviously makes sense because the house was likely built around the same time and by the same folks). But it was a mess.

The layout is actually pretty cute. The kitchen has great potential. But, it was just too much. I'm worried that replacing the carpet will only half way tackle the smell. That house is unfortunately ruined beyond what I could even begin to afford in repairs. 

Now don't get me wrong, if you are into investment buying for sport- we have the grand prize for you in our backyard. You'll be able to buy that badboy very cheap and resell for a large chunk of change. Just be sure to  rub something in or around your nose before you go in to see it.

While it was indeed a crazy and comical moment in my life, I feel like I learned a really good lesson. I'm taking away from this that it really isn't too much longer before we rename this blog (though for some reason I think living in the same town will always make me Married with Parents). 

Last night I started looking at my credit, and really thinking about our savings in the bigger picture sense. Making the adventure into home buying is in our future. Tim and I have definitely started to have more conversations about home buying in the past 48 or so hours than we have in months. I think we needed this to "shake up" our little comfort zone that we've built up about living at home. I'm really thankful to everyone who has been giving us prayers, advice and support. You all are the best! And who knows, maybe someday in the future we'll have you all over for a housewarming.

But for now, I need to go wash my entire body from head to toe with the strongest soaps and scrubs I can find in attempt that my poor cats will love me again...

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Friday, April 22, 2011

Intro to Gardening: Good Friday is here!

Good Friday is here. And if you read the last blog I wrote about gardening, you'll know my dear old friend Jenn said today is the day. Today I made a trip to Lowe's, and two trips to Home Depot. At Lowe's mom and I bought some flowers and tomatoes for her, and some green pepper for me. Then, between the two trips at Home Depot I bought cucumbers, garden soil (we thought we'd mix it with our old soil too), carrots, green onions, peas, parsley, basil and iris (to plant elsewhere).

Smile! Me planting our first green pepper!
Timmy's hands.


He's so cool with his shades on.

All planted!

We'll have to rearrange some things once they get growing.

We did a mix of seedlings and seeds.

I'm excited to see what happens over the next few weeks. Tomorrow we're going to plant the Iris I think. Just gotta find a spot in the back yard.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Snacking at our House: Pineapple Bliss

Hot out of the oven.

Tonight I made a snack using some of my cheap items from the Publix post last night. Yellow cake mix + crushed pineapples were on sale so this is easy to try.

I got the recipe from SkinnyTaste. She does great stuff.

It is so easy to make. You'll need two 20oz cans of crushed pineapple, yellow cake mix, 8oz low fat cream cheese & 3/4 cup of marshmellow fluff.

For the cake simply mix the first can of pineapple (undrained) with the cake mix. Pour into lined cupcake tins, and bake according to box directions. Cool before icing.

To make the icing mix the pineapple chunks (drained) with the cream cheese and fluff. I put mine in the fridge while the cakes baked. It helped it thicken up a bit.

They turned out to taste very sweet and a little tart. The cake part tastes realllly yum. You can't even tell it has pineapple in it (hence why Tim actually ate one without icing). The icing is very sweet, so if you enjoy sweets- try these!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Art of Couponing: .34 brownie mix and other Publix goodies

Mama knows how to shop! All this for 10.92 (rough average of $1 of per item)- a savings of 61%
If you are my facebook friend you already know about the 34 cent brownie mix. But, if you aren't you should go fast to the Duncan Hines facebook page and get your .50 coupon (which Publix doubles in MOST states). Since the brownie mix is on sale $1.34 per box and the coupon doubles to $1 off...well technically I think it's 35 cent...but...tomato potato...or something. It is roughly 87% off.

Another great deal: going on is the Kraft chunk cheese or cheese cuts. They are $1.67 each and I used a coupon for $1.50 off 2 8oz Kraft cheese. That's almost like getting one free.

The pasta sauce deal is good too. The Bertolli sauces are $2 each and there was a coupon very recently (this past Sunday I think) for $1.50 off two. Again, almost like getting the second one free.

The Publix penny item was my real reason for going in tonight. I knew I could get the brownie anytime this week, but today's penny item was Publix Creamy Peanut Butter. The penny item, and the mailers that come out on Wednesdays are why I do the majority of my couponing on Wednesdays and Sundays.

The 20oz pineapple chunks were B1G1 free so I got one at half off. I'm going to try a new recipe this week and make pineapple bliss cupcakes. Hence why I bought the marsh mellow item (it was sadly not on sale, but that's ok).

Also, I used a total of FIVE coupons tonight. Count them- FIVE. Kraft cheese, Duncan Hines Brownie, Duncan Hines Cake Mix, Penny Coupon, & Bertolli. If you are looking in to starting just tell yourself that you'll start with only one or two. Over time you'll find more to use and see a difference because they add up.When you start using more than one, it really adds up. And when you stack them with store deals (like Publix) you REALLY save.

Happy Savings :) I'll let you know how the cupcakes turn out this week.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

She's Crafty: Necklace for a Princess

This past weekend we had the honor of attending a birthday party for a very cool three-year-old. I decided that it was time to break out the crafty-side of myself and make something. I whipped this up for the little princess (I love pink and purple, by the way).

Eh, a little blurry.

A wee bit bigger and you can see the different shades of the bicones.

The "pearls" have a pink coloring too them which I thought gave it a princess-touch. Now, the true test is if the crimpings that I used stand the wear of a three-year-old. The last piece I made for a youngen didn't last too long because my niece pulled on it. One of these days I'm going to get my etsy going (I've had the storename on reserve for over a year now).

Tim and I were very excited to attend the birthday party. We got to watch all the little kids running around with all their energy (avoid the jump-jump because those things are my new nightmare). Tim and I would love to have a perfect little version of the best of our qualities combined (look out world, superkid awaits), but now just isn't the time. House first, non-fur babies later. But, it was still nice to be around all the smiles, giggles and fun. Thank you for having us to party, BP :)

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Caturday Saturday: Where are Nana and Papa???

So, my parents have been in Hawaii all week and the cats are certainly missing them. Well, mainly papa. Jackson loves to spend time in his papa's lap. They spend lots of quality time together while papa watches TV. Without papa here Jackson has been going nuts. He is my constant shadow and sometimes just wants me to carry him around like a child.

Also, since papa is the first person to wake up he feeds all three cats. The first morning the parents were gone the cats all three lined up outside my dad's bedroom door- waiting. As if he was going to come out at any minute. But he didn't. They have since learned how much easier I am to wake up since I sleep with the door open.

They are certainly lonely without their nana as well. I hear from time to time she gives them all a treat during their long day-time hours together. :)

On to the photos!

Window. Watching. Waiting.

Believe it or not...I can fit in here.


Oh a car door!

Who is it? 

While Nana is away...we take over her chair.


You are going to fall buddy...


So comfy.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Art of Couponing: This is a great time to start

If I haven't persuaded you yet, and you're still holding out, this week at Publix is a great time to start. That's because you actually have the next couple weeks to learn the deals. Publix won't change its sales til after Easter.

One of the things I stocked up on tonight: Weight Watcher Smart Ones frozen meals. They are great for lunch. Right now Publix has them for 5 for $10.00 which is basically $2.00 each (remember you don't have to buy all 5). But, I did. I bought 12. I used a coupon for $5.00 off 12 WW Smart Ones (you can find these easily by going to their website or googling "smart ones coupons." Since several of them vary in price I'll break the math down below:

Total item cost for 12 WW Smart Ones: $33.38
Total on sale: $24.00
Coupon savings: $5.00
Total paid: $19.00
Total savings= $14.38 or 43% off! 

Another great deal that wasn't in the mailer is the Marie's salad dressing. You can get a $1 off coupon by joining their mailing list. Note: I have created a gmail account SOLELY for coupons. That way I cut the clutter from my actual inbox. It is on sale in the store 2 for $3.29 (which is basically B1G1, or 50% off 1). I needed more balsamic vinegarette so I only bought one.

Total cost for 1: $3.29
Total on sale: $1.65
Coupon savings: $1.00
Total paid: $0.65
Total savings= $2.65 or 81% off!

And the good thing about Marie's dressing? The balsamic vinegarette is only 1 WW pt per serving!

Overall, everything I bought on this trip was on sale EXCEPT Tim's popsicles. (I told him he messed up my overall savings and I'd blog about it. But, the good thing is we saved so much it was perfectly fine to buy him a treat haha!)

The total damage was $30.26, with a savings of $24.60 or 45% off!

PS- that's at least 19 lunch meals for me since some of the WW items are double servings (so almost 4 work weeks worth of meals). That is ONE DOLLAR PER MEAL! Can you honestly beat that???

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Dinner at Our House: Buffalo Chicken Wraps

I think I've shared my crock pot Buffalo Chicken Sandwiches before, but this is a different recipe I found for wraps in a magazine.  I thought I'd try something else out for a change, so let me know if you like it. These turned out super yummy and I thought they photographed very beautifully too :)


  • 1/2 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, cubed (on sale at Publix til Tuesday)
  • 1/2 teaspoon canola oil
  • 2 tablespoons Louisiana-style hot sauce (on sale @ Publix til Tuesday)
  • 1 cup shredded lettuce (On sale at Publix!)
  • flour tortillas (6 inches), warmed (I buy the reduced fat ones; fat free when I can find them)
  • 2 teaspoons reduced-fat ranch salad dressing
  • 2 tablespoons crumbled blue cheese
This recipe is very easy to make. (Note: it makes 2 servings, but it can EASILY be doubled or tripled for more people and/or leftovers).

Step 1: Spray cooking spray in your skillet. Add chicken and oil. Cook approximately 6 minutes on high heat. Basically, get the pink out.

Step 2: Add in your buffalo sauce, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer (roughly 3-5 minutes). I actually saved the bottle I bought on sale, and opted to finish off a bottle of Frank's Red Hot.
This is what it looked like after it simmered.
Step 3: Warm your tortillas. Add chopped lettuce.
Lettuce! And yes, paper plates tonight because I'm already missing my mom's clean up...
Step 3: Add chicken!
Step 4: Add blue cheese crumbles (ps- mine are reduced fat). Or Tim used reduced fat shredded cheddar.
And...I'm a girl who loves her cheese, but it's ok because I hit the gym earlier.
Step 5: A touch of low fat dressing. We used light buttermilk ranch.
All this for right at 6 WW points. Not too shabby.

This meal for the both of us was right at about $6-7. (We also roasted some red potatoes to go with this meal). Compare that to what you pay somewhere like Buffalo Wild Wings. And compare it to how much FAT is in theirs. You can have great taste for less money and less fat. Just get creative.

Intro to Gardening: Baby Steps

So a while ago I got it in my head that I could just magically become a veggie gardener. We have been going back and forth on whether or not we want to build a new one in the backyard, or use the old garden area on the side of the house. Well, Good Friday is coming pretty quickly and a wise woman who was born on Hog Killin Day once told me to plant your garden on Good Friday. We finally decided to get to work on the old area and make some progress.

Sooo...we took this:

The poor thing is weathered and weeded.

Icky weeds.
And turned it into this:

But underneath it all...lots of earth worms and other critters

Looking much better already!

I read that earthworms and critters are a good sign that your soil is fertile. Let's hope so. If you have any tips or suggestions on what to plant, let us know!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Dinner at Our House meets The Art of Couponing

I thought I'd use this post to unite two of my current themes in the blog- eating well and saving some cash.

Today for lunch Tim and I enjoyed salads made with some of the super cheap products we got at Publix yesterday:

My salad: Romaine lettuce, blue cheese, croutons and light buttermilk ranch dressing.
Overall, 5 WW points and much cheaper than a salad you'd buy anywhere else (certainly fresher too). Edit: It could have been 3 WW pts, but I had to have a little extra cheese + croutons :)

I still use the food scale as my secret weapon. It lets me know exactly how much cheese, etc I sprinkle on.

Start taking some of that time where you veg out in front of the TV, and use it to glance over the super market sales. A little planning helps your debt AND waistline shrink.

Caturday Saturday: Daddy's New Toy is OUR New Toy

Tim bought a new Mac book. Translation: Cats have a new toy.

This is where I found Elliot when I woke up today.

Yes...yes I like to scrunch the rug up while you sleep....

This is how I found Jackson this morning.

And this is what happens when your husband get a new toy, the cats get one too.

We don't have the heart to tell her she won't fit...


We did fit her in it this way. The box is a very slimming look for Elliot.

Oh hai!



Happy Caturday everyone! I think we're going to play in the garden some.

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