Tuesday, July 31, 2012

I Love Being A Mom To My Two Girls!

My greatest joy in my life is my daughters...  Sometimes, I will look at them and just feel in awe that God had blessed me so abundantly..  I love that we enjoy each other.. Of course there are times that we want to wring each others' necks but for the most part - I believe we have a great relationship...  We actually have fun together...  I have two someones that are up to exploring the world with me... Who want to be with me - that in itself is a major feat with teenage girls....

Last year we three took a great trip to the East Coast from California - so many memories were made.. So much fun was had...  We still have many conversations about the times we shared - the places we visited..   This year - because of my work schedule- a long trip is not possible this summer but we did do something really fun....

We hopped in the car- drove up the freeway about 55 minutes and ended up in Hollywood!!!  I have lived in Southern California my ENTIRE life and I have never experienced Hollywood...  So me and my 2 girls became California tourists for a fun-filled weekend.....

Our trip started with a stop at Universal Studios - I planned this in advance and purchased Front of the Line passes - and I have to tell you - well worth the extra money - while others were standing in the heat of the day for 60 minutes or more - we walked right on each ride... So fun
After Universal Studios - We walked around City Walk
From Universal City Walk - we went to our hotel around the corner from Hollywood Blvd - Had NO idea what to expect... We enjoyed the sites/people/dinner at Hard Rock
The next morning -we went on a tour of the stars' homes - we saw Simon Cowell's - Ellen Degeneres',Elvis' old home, Ringo Starr, Elizabeth Taylor's Temple, and many others - but as I write this I'm drawing a blank... What I really liked is going down the Sunset Strip - Seeing all the places I have heard about - The Viper Room, The Roxy, The Comedy Store, Whiskey A Go-Go, and so much more... We also took a walk down Rodeo Drive - felt pretty uncomfortable in THOSE stores.. but enjoyed watching the multiple Roll Royces, Mercedes, and BMWs go by... with a Limo thrown in a time or two..
We had such a good time - so glad I have two beautiful and fun daughters to explore the world with...... So truly blessed...

Saturday, July 14, 2012

My Republican View on Helping Others...

The other day I read a Facebook post from someone I admire and respect...  and of course love like crazy.. We are very similar in many ways...  Our political views, however, seem to be polar opposites...  But when I look at our beliefs and abolish the "party" lines - I think we believe the same things.... want the same things...

The Facebook post was a couple of wonderful Bible verses (yep, I'm talking about you - hee hee) Verses that spoke of our responsibility to the widows and the children and to help others that are in need...  I do agree with this post.. and this verse....  But if I were a mind reading kinda of gal - I might think she was politely referring to the Republican party on our "greed" factor and the thought behind us not wanting to pay taxes to help.....  Now I can't speak for other Republicans  but I will politely give my view on what I believe needs to be done....

First - I do believe it is the responsibility of our government (The People of our great Nation) to help those in need ....  No one should be without food.... no one should be without a safe place to sleep... and no one should be denied an education.. And mostly - no one should be denied medical help...  My only compliant about our government and President on this is that they are not treating the problem.. They are putting a band aid on it...  There are way too many people taking advantage of the welfare system - Speaking to a friend of mine who is an investigator for the welfare and medicare system -he said one of the biggest scams is selling food stamps...  Many times you can buy them on Craig's List... the scammers sell the stamps for drugs.... Medicare - another biggie...  I believe if a person/family needs public assistance - they must be drug tested (just like anyone applying for job) - I believe there should be very strict guidelines... I believe there should be a severe punishment for those who commit fraud with our tax payers money...  I believe if a person is not a US citizen - public assistance should NOT be offered....  Medical help - yes - welfare NO NO NO NO... A person should take the steps to become a US citizen first to take advantage of what our country offers and only if it is needed...  Welfare and public assistance - should be SHORT term - not full time....  The way our government is set up right now on this issue - is it promotes not working - promotes the vicious cycle of teen pregnancies.. more welfare recipients ...There has to be an incentive for people to want to get a job.. There has been be an incentive for companies to hire in their towns.. incentives to provide jobs here and not overseas.. A way for companies to pay a high enough salary (ie: Walmart) that people can support their families....  The government needs to step in and review the situation - there must be more government employees to address this growing problem..

Second - I believe companies - corporations - should pay taxes....  I believe that the government should give tax break incentives to the companies who hire within our US borders....  Within the company's immediate area... (and higher tax bills for those who go overseas).  If the company is employing hundreds of people - thousands of people because of the tax break incentives and ends up not paying "taxes" - who the hell cares... There are hundreds and thousands of people who are now working - supporting their families - spending their money - and paying taxes... It's a win-win situation...  But because our Democratic government (seems to me) only wants to tax tax tax - corporations are taking their jobs to India... Mexico.... Why is it so wrong for a company or person who makes money - money they themselves earned through their own hard work want to keep it?  Why should they pay a much higher tax rate than everyone else......  I believe there should be a flat tax for everyone... A straight across the board tax....  The rich will still pay "more" than others due the percentage of a higher income is higher than the same percentage of a lower income.....  That would be fair.....

Thirdly - If there are checks and balances in our welfare system...  If there were more government employees to ensure that the welfare recipients were truly in need... who were actually looking for work or going to a state/federally funded school to better their situation - our need for higher taxes would be lowered  considerably.. There should be a federally funded daycare provider for those families that need it - Paying for a daycare provider is much less expensive than supporting a full family with welfare and food stamps...

Basically - my thoughts are this - taxes are not bad...  I believe we should all pay our "fair" share... People who need help should Always get it.... But there has to be guidelines - there has to be rules - there has to be checks and balances.. Trusting our government  by just throwing our taxes at them is not working - has not worked - will NEVER work...  Each and every single government employee must be held accountable for their actions -

We need a president that has experience... Who loves our country... Who does not make empty promises about CHANGE.. We need a government that is for the people - all the People....  What is good for the People is good for them... including insurance.......

I think if we tear down the party lines and work together for the same common goal - I think our country would be in much better shape....

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Waking Up The Dead - On A School Morning..

It's 6:15 AM and my alarm goes off -not because I have to get ready for work but because my teenage daughters need to get up and ready for school.. I get up - walk to each of their rooms - turn their lights on and tell them to "Get up" - Sometimes I'll hear a grunt or two - or maybe an "okay".. Then I go back to bed to sleep rest my eyes... And every 15-20 minutes - I will holler to my lovely daughters - "GET UP NOW!!" I will hear lies through the walls - "Mom, I'm up" or "I'm dressed"... I know they are lying because I don't hear their IPods playing their awful music (Man, I just did sound like my mother - didn't I?) and I don't hear them walking around... I have Mommy ears and I do hear everything

This morning - exactly one hour to the minute - I called my oldest into my bedroom.... She was still in her pajamas - sleepy in her eyes - her hair sticking up everywhere.... She spoke to me only as a teenager who has caught my last nerve would.... Her exact words were.... "Mom, it only takes me five minutes to get up" Every mother of a teen knows exactly the voice she used... The one where she sounds annoyed as if I'm the guilty party of disturbing her beauty sleep....

Ten minutes later she makes her way down stairs (we are to leave in less than 3 minutes) - she starts looking through the cabinets for breakfast and her lunch... She ever so s l o w l y takes out the peanut butter and jelly- She covers every part of the white on the bread - her sister is starting to hyperventilate (her school is further away) and my eldest gives her the teenage/sister "I'm going super slow just to bug the crap out of you" look... So I did what any fed up mother would... I grabbed my keys - told her she's walking to school and jumped in the car... As I was walking out the door - I hear "Whhhaaaaaaaaaat?"

My guilt made me go around the block and come back - not because she would have to walk but because she would be super late to school.. But I'm pretty sure - I scared her enough to be ready on time tomorrow... At least I hope I did....

Monday, April 2, 2012

Every 15 Minutes - A Drunk Driver Kills

Bottom of post is a video created by a high school for this event - Worth the Watch

When I was in high school a good friend of mine killed someone....

My friend D had just turned 18 years old and he had been celebrating the New Year ringing into 1983 when he got behind the wheel of his car... D did not believe he was drunk - He was happy.. He was having a fun time until..... he lost control of his car and plowed into another car killing the driver... Six months later my dear sweet friend was in jail and he would remain there until well after his next birthday.... D was a good kid - A good kid who made a bad mistake... Today many many years later - he still feels the pain of that fatal night 29 years ago...

Several years ago my niece was asked to participate in a school event called Every 15 Minutes... As my sister was explaining to me what was going to happen - I could not help but cry... You see - my niece was going to "die" by a drunk driver - She would leave the school - No one would see her - and my sister had the most difficult task of all - writing her daughter's obituary... Although, it was make believe - just the thought of losing my beautiful talented and so very special niece was very hard to take..

Last week - my daughter's high school had their version of Every 15 Minutes - because my daughter is a sophomore she did not participate but many of her friends did and they told her how difficult it was not to cry....

The last couple of weeks I have been planning my daughter's Sweet Sixteen Party and I can't help but think that pretty soon she will behind the wheel of a car and she will most likely attend parties where there will be drinking and many friends will be driving (hopefully - she will never consider drinking and driving or riding with someone that is)... It's hard because kids (and many adults) think that they are good drivers when they are drunk or they may think that nothing bad is going to happen to them... It's a scary time as a parent... One of the things that I have told both of my girls - is that if they do drink at a party or if their ride is drinking - They have a free pass to call me regardless of the time and I will pick up whoever needs to be driven somewhere - no questions asked and no punishment given.... That doesn't mean I won't lecture or be leery the next time they go out... But I need to let them know that their safety is number 1 - Period... And I don't want them fearful of calling home..

Monday, February 6, 2012

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Well Did I Save Money?

In January I challenged myself to save money and I have no doubt I did with a few exceptions....

I am a very big diet coke drinker.... I saved about $93.00 not buying my 2 liters a day...

We used to eat out several days a week - For the month of January we stayed home - I saved about $465 - I think this is a low estimate.

I stopped our cable movie channels - We never watched them anyway - Saved $45 per month.

Coupons and shopping at Target saved me on average $15-$20 a grocery shopping trip..

The unexpected expense was our dog Charlie - When I took her into the vet for her yearly shots - She had an ear infection and she was tested for a thyroid problem - They did find a urinary tract infection - so my bill out the door was over $400... The vet wants me to bring her in this month to biopsy a growth on her paw - She will have to go under and that bill would be in excess of $700 and that's with a discount...

My main dinner staple was spaghetti - the kids like it - so whenever the spouse was not home for dinner that was the main meal.. Crock pot whole chicken another favorite - This is great for dinner and lunch for a couple of days.. I tried out a few new recipes - A wonderful BBQ beef crock pot - most definitely will do again - The chicken and rice - FAIL.. - The tuna casserole - Could have been better.. The clam chowder - yummy.. Cream cheese chicken and broccoli was awesome and fed us another dinner and a couple of lunches...

I learned that feeding a family of 4 on $10 a day is not an easy thing to do - but it is doable. I was pretty strict this month - from now on - not as strict - cereal in the morning is not a must... We can change it up a little... And PB & J sandwiches although good could be exchanged for a turkey and cheese on occasion... And I have discovered that Pizza Hut $10 large pizza special is less expense then my own concoction... Making the pizza wasn't cheap - but I do have to say my version was pretty tasty...

All in all - I did save money - I think I will see the benefits in the long run - I will continue to be more thrifty and on occasion and only on occasion will we eat out or I will buy a 2 liter of diet coke... Maybe if it's on sale.....

I did plan to post every day during the month of January - but my business has really gotten busy and in my down time - I'm lying on my belly - chin on the couch arm watching American Idol....

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

January Challenge Day 25

I just realized that I have saved over $78 this month by not buying diet coke or bottle iced tea...

I truly believe I have saved over $200 thus far this month by not going out to dinner or popping by a fast food joint for a quick soda....

Thought that was pretty cool..........

This recipe lasted us a few days - so yummy - 2 dinners and 3 lunches for two (2) people and the neighbors had a bite too!

Cream Cheese Chicken Casserole

6 Chicken breasts
2-10 oz packages frozen broccoli
2 cups of milk - I used non-fat - tasted good
2- 8 oz packages cream cheese - I used low fat - tasted great
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp garlic powder
3/4 cup Parmesan cheese

Cook the chicken and then break into bite size pieces. Cook broccoli in salted water. Place the broccoli in a 9x13 greased (I used Pam) casserole dish. Heat the milk, cream cheese, salt, garlic powder, and Parmesan cheese over low head, stirring till the mixture is smooth. Pour 1 cup of sauce over the broccoli. Add the chicken into the pan and pour the rest of the sauce over it. Sprinkle the top with 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese. Bake at 350 for 25-30 minute.... And enjoy!

Kara my youngest helping me - stir the sauce until it's creamy

Yummy cooked broccoli
Broccoli with sauce

Chicken covering the broccoli
The Finished dish - with croissants

Friday, January 20, 2012

January Challenge Recipe - BBQ Beef Sandwich

This morning my daughter glanced at the calendar and was in complete shock that it was already January 20th - How did that happen???? Wasn't it just a few days ago that I was taking down our Christmas decorations?

The first week of my January challenge I mentioned either on this blog or on my Facebook the days and events are running together and I am completely going nuts that I was making a BBQ Beef Sandwich recipe... I later mentioned it was really yummy and even my picky kids ate leftovers... Many friends asked me for the recipe - so finally - I'm sharing... The picture is from the recipe book - I forgot to take pictures -but mine looked just about the same...

1 boneless beef chuck roast (about 3 pounds) - purchased buy 1 get 1 free -net price less than $4
1/4 cup ketchup
2 TBSP brown sugar
2 TBSP red wine vinegar
1 TBSP Dijon mustard
1 TBSP Worcestershire sauce
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp liquid smoke (this is what the book recipe called for - I put 1/8 tsp - not fond of smoke)
10 to 12 rolls or buns...

Place beef in Crock-pot - combine ingredients (except the rolls of course), in a medium bowl - pour over meat - Cover; cook on LOW 8-9 hours

Remove beef from Crock-pot and shred with 2 forks.

Combine beef with 1 cup sauce from Crock-pot - and voila!

Tonight I'm making a Cream Cheese Chicken Casserole - left overs for lunch and possibly dinner the next day?

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Getting What You Want Out Of Your Credit Card

Last summer - I took my girls on a Mom/Daughters trip to the East coast from California. My airfare and rental cars were covered... I did not have to pay one red cent to fly or drive! You know why? I had earned points using my Chase Reward card and racked up enough points to cover all three of us. It's FREE money!

Not many people know where to look to get a credit card that is best for them. There's a site that takes the leg work out of calling every credit card company out there. CreditCardCity does ALL the work for you. They are an on-line unbiased company that gives you all the information you need to find the card that is just right for you.

CreditCardCity gives you credit card advice on all you need to know about Airline cards -Cash back cards - low interest cards - no interest cards -cards with rewards - gas cards - any kind of card you can think of - it's there. All you need to do is answer a couple of questions on what you are looking for and click the button and there you go - All the cards that fit your criteria pops up. It's so easy.

I think it's great when you can use a credit card to buy your everyday needs and at the end of the month - you have free stuff... My card took me to Washington DC and back. What has your card done for you?

Saturday, January 14, 2012

January Challenge Post 5

Scroll Down To See Our Kitty On A Leash - So cute

I have to say that January has started off to a very busy beginning of the year - I have a few new clients that have given me some really good loans to process... It looks like a few will make me money at month's end and next month fingers crossed will be an excellent one... But I still need more to keep up a flow of work... Craig's List is a great place to advertise - I place two (2) ads each Sunday and it's FREE.

I need to reconnect with my older clients that I had to let go beginning of last year - I had to complete a bunch of classes - take a few tests - get a broker license - a couple of endorsement certificates because The Department of Real Estate required all this stuff so that I can stay in business and do what I have been doing for over 20 years... Crazy I know... So it kind of sucks that a few of my awesome clients I worked with last year - most likely found a new loan processor or two and have developed good relationships over the past year... But I will do everything I can - to remind them on how good we had it.... ha

So Now To the January Challenge...

I have been writing down everything we spend -everything... I am in complete shock on how much money I spend - AND I'm not buying random stuff! It seems that I live at Target and Albertson.. Two weeks ago - I shopped for two week's worth of dinners.. That so far has worked out really well - My other shopping is to get milk - bread - school necessities, cleaning supplies, and other items we ran out of...

I did purchase a Shark Floor steamer for $69.00 - We have tile floors and a cat and a dog... My biggest thing is I want my floors clean - and I think about the cat using the liter box and walking around the floor and my dog stepping in her poop and tracking it around the house... The bathroom where the cat's box is hidden in the shower (no one uses it) - I once or twice weekly wash the floors and the shower with bleach water - the living room floors - I'm not as good as I should be - once a week at most... Thus the steamer AND - To save $200 a month - I will have to let go of our housekeeper -yes, I've been spoiled and I love a clean clean house - but I have two teens, a husband, and me - I think we can handle it... At least until our savings is replenished...

Cleo The Handsome Cat

My poor dog Charlie has had a bad week.... I took her in on Monday for her annual shots... She is gaining weight and she is not overfed - so the Dr. examined her - She has another ear infection.. so antibiotics - oral and for the ears - While I was waiting for the Dr. to come in with the shots - I was petting her and found strange grown on top of her paw under all her hair.. The Dr. did not like it and she will be going back next month to have it removed and a biopsy.. Oh and she has a urinary tract infection - First Dr. bill - $480 and next month will be around $700 - OUCH...

Charlie The Expense Baby Girl

So Today - I'm fine tuning our menus for the next 2 weeks - I'm trying to find ways to save more money - but I do believe in the long run - the savings will show itself - it's hard to see it now due to the residuals of past year....

On Monday - We had homemade pizza - Less than $5 - Tuesday - Beef tacos and Mexican Rice - $6.00 Wednesday - Left over tacos and grilled cheese sandwich - less than $4. Thursday - Meatball subs - less than $5 - Friday enchilada pie About $6 - Tonight Teriyaki chicken and rice. Tomorrow -Left overs...

Saturday, January 7, 2012

January Challenge To Save Money Post 4

Don't you just love a good sale???

Today is Saturday - Day 7 of my Challenge for January and for the most part - I am on track... I haven't had an impulse buy - nor have we visited a fast food.... We did go out to dinner last night - my beautiful niece from Australia was out on business and our entire Southern California family met up with her at Mimi's Cafe in Long Beach... Before we arrived - I asked both of my girls to not order soda - I'm the ice tea queen of the world but I also opted for water... I asked that they share a plate due to the portions at Mimi's are huge... I enjoyed a cup of my favorite soup - French Onion and a small dinner salad... I learned that although the "soup and salad" meal is a lunch special - most restaurants will let you order it for dinner - Imagine that!

During my last post - I was making grilled pork chops, rice, green beans, corn, and apple sauce... I grilled them to perfections... They were so tasty in fact both of my girls ate everything on their plate... Granted my oldest gagged a little on her green beans - At that moment I realized that I have not introduced my kids to the joys of vegetables... Thankfully - it's not too late and before I am done - my kid will crave those green beans... instead of ice cream... Yup.. I can dream...

Tropical Mum - shared some of her ideas with us - The recipes sound fabulous! Thank you Tropical Mum

Thursday, January 5, 2012

January Challenge To Save Money Post 3

I learned something today..... When you don't eat out - You run out of the basics more quickly -ie: Milk, and bread.... This morning - I did a Target run.... Usually when I go - I take a circular route - through the shoes... to the book section... to the DVDs... and then to the food... Many times along my journey - I would randomly throw books or movies into my basket.... I made the decision when I walked in the door - that I knew what I needed... and that is all I'm going to get...
Bread - $1.99, Brown paper lunch bags (I can't get my kids to use lunch boxes) $1.02 (on sale I bought 2 packs of 100. Target brand Sweet n low - on sale - bought 2 boxes (1/2 the price as the brand name product and tastes the same), 1 gallon of milk - 1/2 the price than Albertson's... Now I did make a purchase that I did not intend to make - Frozen fruit... I'll tell you why on my next post.

Last night - was the last night to have "kid favorites" - yummy - Cheese burgers - I personally like barbeque sauce on mine... How do you eat yours?

Tonight it's Grilled pork chops, rice, green beans and apple sauce..

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

January Challenge to Save Money Post 2

Be Sure To Go To Scroll Down For Something Cute

Well 2012 is off to a somewhat good start - I've been working a lot of hours - this is a good thing... I have finished gathering my business tax information for our accountant this is also good. My goal is to get more organized... and PAY ATTENTION TO WHERE MY MONEY IS GOING!!!! With that said - Here are a couple of things I am doing...

I am keeping receipts of all money I spend.. Grocery - gas - whatever... I have also created an accounting program/process for our home spending - Household (groceries) Credit card, Ebay (my husband's addiction clothes shopping, gas, mortgage, insurance, and everything in between...

The Menu plan is always good - Sunday was Chicken Fried steak - always a winner with the family.. Monday was a complete FAIL - Crockpot Chicken and Rice - with broccoli, and salad - smelled good but very bland, Wednesday (Just me and the kids) Spaghetti, and tonight Thursday (Just me and the kids) cheese burgers and fruit... Tomorrow the plan is Grilled pork chops, rice, green beans, and apple sauce.

The chicken - looks good, doesn't it? Scroll to the bottom - you'll find a cute video of my kids and their young cousins with Nana - dancing on Christmas - so sweet and a good memory...

Christmas Musical

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Day One - January Challenge to Save Money

Happy New Year!!! It's been a crazy couple of weeks and I have not had a chance to blog... The good thing about being too busy is that I have gotten a couple of new clients and I am starting to make some money again.... Just in time for the new year!

One of the presents my loving husband gave me for Christmas was a compact chest freezer - it's perfect!!! Yesterday - I set it up in my office - it's small enough to not be in the way and close enough to the kitchen to not be a pain in the back side to reach.... After it cooled down - I tossed all the meat bargains I had purchased in December... My goal is to keep my weeks food in the freezer in the kitchen so I have exactly what I need on hand.

Today - I clipped some coupons... Went to Target and shopped for groceries for two weeks... In addition to food - I purchased kitty litter - laundry detergent (coupon $2.00 All detergent) - dog food (coupon $1.50 Pedigree) - and a couple of other household necessities.... With the coupons - I saved a little over $10 and using my Target credit card (I pay the balance each month) - I saved an additional $ 5.88... The only thing I could not find at Target was garlic cloves, biscuits (they were sold out), and frozen hamburger meat..

By the way - the month of December we ate fast food once and it was last night - My daughters and I went to Carl's Jr and got cheeseburgers and fries.. January was to start the no fast food rule but I decided to try and cut back in December and I did pretty good... - this is a family that eats fast food regularly.. Last night - When I purchased the cheeseburgers I did not buy sodas like I typically do and I realized that just by doing that - I saved almost $6.00.. crazy isn't it?

So tonight's Menu... Chicken Fried Steak, mash potatoes, country gravy, corn, and biscuits..

The steak - I purchased cubed steak in a buy one get one free at Albertson's last month...

4 steaks = $3.80
Mashed potatoes = I used the bag of frozen potatoes I had in the fridge since Thanksgiving.
Corn - $.90
biscuits = $1
gravy = $1
Flour = $1 or less
eggs - 3 = .75

Total: $8.45

Recipe for easy chicken fried steak..

Season steak lightly with seasoning salt.
dip steak in flour - tenderize steak by lightly pounding
dip steak in flour again.... dip in egg and then dip in flour..

pour 1/4 cup of vegetable oil in skillet - heat skillet till it gently pops if you flick a drop of water in it.. (that's how I test it any way.. lol)

Cook each side approximately 4 minutes until a golden brown using med/high heat..

I really did not get a chance to take a final picture - the potatoes were ready to be mixed and the biscuits buzzer was going off and the gravy was starting to boil... You know how it gets....

Tomorrow - I'm trying a Chicken and rice crock-pot dish with broccoli.... And the chicken I also purchased on a buy one get one free... Love those!


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