by Melanie

Tax Day Freebies

April 15, 2014 in Mailbox by Melanie

Whether or not your taxes are done, you can enjoy some tax day freebies and discounts today! Who doesn’t love free stuff?!
Hard Rock Cafe – Perform a complete song on stage between 5-7 pm and get rewarded with a free entree up to $14.95. I kinda wish we had a Hard Rock Cafe close by . That sounds like fun.
Great American Cookie Company – Free chocolate chip cookie, limit one per person, no purchase required. No limit on how many locations you can visit.
California Tortilla – get free chips and queso dip with the magic words: “Taxes Shmaxes” (with purchase). Do you think anyone accidentally claims this one?
7-Eleven – Free medium slurpee. Chuck has been talking about slurpees every day for a week. We only get them once a year on free slurpee day, but now there are TWO free slurpee days. I’ll be the coolest mom ever if I take her to claim this one today.

Cinnabon – Get 2 free cinnabon bites. yum

Bath and Body Works – buy 2 get 2 free (online only)

Boston Market – get 2 meals, each including a half rotisserie chicken and a choice of 2 home style sides and freshly baked cornbread, for $10.40. Like the 1040 tax form – get it?

Sonny’s BBQ – half off the Irresistible Ribs Special: a plate of Sweet & Smokey or House Dry-Rubbed Ribs. I see what they did there…IRS. haha

Orange Leaf Frozen Yogurt – fill your cup (yogurt and toppings) for $4.15 with coupon no matter how much it weighs (claim offer on their Facebook page). 4.15 like April 15th. Clever.

Office Depot -Shred your documents – up to 5 lbs. of paper – for free with this coupon. Wish I had known about this before I spent hours decluttering and shredding old documents

Sonic – 1/2 Price Drinks all day long. My kids think Sonic Happy Hour is the greatest thing ever. Now it’s all day long!

Arby’s – Free Value Curly Fries April 15 with this coupon. Ah, curly fries – the only pregnancy craving Mr. 4018 ever went out of his way to get me.

Culver’s – $2 Turtle Sundae. Made with chocolate, nuts, and caramel – not actual turtles.

Melting Pot – Get 15% off your check, with code words “cheese me, please” Someone could accidentally claim this one, too, right?

Mimi’s Cafe – Buy One, Get One FREE Breakfast or Lunch Entree when you buy two beverages. It may be too late for this one. Sorry!

Schlotzsky’s – Free The Original Small Sandwich with the purchase of chips and 32 oz drink.

Freebies make any day a day to celebrate. Even tax day! Which one sounds the best to you?
by Melanie

Sunday Chicken Supper

April 9, 2014 in Kitchen by Melanie

There’s just something about a Sunday that makes me want comfort food. Maybe it’s because growing up I remember two typical Sunday meals: Mom’s crock pot roast and Dad’s mac & cheese. Talk about comfort food… yum!

I still love a Sunday roast, and homemade mac ‘n’ cheese is my go-to comfort food, but I have also added a few new favorite meals to our Sunday evenings.

Sunday Chicken Supper is such a great Sunday meal! For one, it actually announces itself as the perfect Sunday meal right in its name. Can’t go wrong there! And doesn’t “supper” just sound more homey than dinner?

Besides that, it’s simple to throw together, takes minimal effort, and tastes delicious.

Crock Pot Chicken comfort food with veggies and bacon = the PERFECT Sunday meal

Sunday Chicken Supper

  • 4 medium carrots, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 celery rib, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 2 c fresh green beans, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 2 small red potatoes, quartered
  • 1 broiler/fryer chicken (3 to 3-1/2 pounds), cut up
  • 4 bacon strips, cooked and crumbled
  • 1 1/2 c hot water
  • 2 tsp chicken bouillon granules
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • Pinch pepper

In a slow cooker (5 or 6 quart is a good size for this recipe), layer the carrots, onion, celery, green beans, potatoes, chicken pieces, and bacon. If you don’t want to cut up a whole chicken, you can use pieces already cut up – like thighs or breasts – but meat really has a great flavor when it’s cooked with the bones.

In a separate bowl, combine the water, bouillon, salt, thyme, basil, and pepper. Mix it up and then add it to the crock pot. Don’t stir it; just pour it over the top. Cover and cook it on low for 6-8 hours or until the veggies are tender and chicken juices run clear. When it’s done, set the chicken and veggies on a platter to serve, and then you can thicken the juices to use as a gravy.

My family happily gobbles this down every time I serve it, and I love that it’s pretty healthy! (The bacon is more of a condiment… like an herb for seasoning.) Of course, it’s great on a weekday, too.

Crock Pot Chicken comfort food with veggies and bacon = the PERFECT Sunday meal

What do you love to eat on a Sunday?

by Melanie

Knock, knock! Who’s there? Banana Bread!

April 4, 2014 in Kitchen by Melanie

Best Ever Banana Bread from Forty Eighteen

What is it with my family and bananas? When I buy them with a plan in mind, like a specific recipe or meal, they’re inhaled before I have the groceries put away. When I buy them just because they’re healthy and I think my family would enjoy eating them, they sit on the counter until they’re covered in brown spots and make everything around them smell like rotten banana.

Luckily, overripe bananas are perfect for baking, and I have the yummiest banana bread recipe ever. Of course, as soon as we’re down to two bananas that hang out and turn brown, Mr. 4018 eats one of them out of a sense of duty and foils my plans. His upbringing of never wasting food no matter what doesn’t mesh well with my upbringing of always using the overripe bananas for banana bread.

This morning I found two brown bananas sitting on my counter, so I went into stealth mode and hid them away before Mr. 4018 could add them to his cereal that tastes like cardboard. When Chuck got home, we rescued the bananas from their hiding spot and happily mashed away.

I love, love banana bread, and this is a fabulous recipe. I love big chunks of nuts, and I never measure how much I actually put in. I make small loaves, mini loaves, muffins, mini muffins… lots of shapes and sizes of this moist and delicious yumminess. Cooking times vary with size, so you’ll want to watch it so you don’t end up with banana nut charcoal

Best Ever Banana Bread from Forty Eighteen

Banana Bread

  • 3 eggs
  • 1 c oil
  • 1½ c sugar
  • 2 c flour
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 c ripe bananas (about 2-4 depending on size), mashed
  • 1 c milk
  • 1 c walnuts (or more, if you’re like me and just want the bread to hold the nuts together), coarsely chopped

Mix the dry ingredients, then mix the wet ingredients, then combine them until well blended. Pour into your baking pans and bake at 375.

In a full-size loaf pan, bake for 45 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Muffins and mini loaves take 15-30 minutes, just keep an eye on them.

My sister couldn’t believe how HUGE my slices of banana bread are in this photo. I didn’t know what she meant until I realized she thought those were full-size loaves. These are just mini loaves, but now I totally want to make a full-size loaf and slice it super thick because that sounds a-maz-ing.

By the way, that knock knock joke about bananas? Chuck’s favorite joke.

Knock, knock! Who’s there? Banana. Banana who?
Knock, knock! Who’s there? Banana. Banana who?
Knock, knock! Who’s there? Banana. Banana who?
Knock, knock! Who’s there? Orange. Orange who?
Orange you glad I didn’t say banana??? hahahahaha!

Number of times she told it while we were making banana bread? 11.

Sorry you missed it? Yep.

What do you do with your overripe bananas?

by Melanie

Thankful Thursday: Thank You Notes

April 3, 2014 in Mailbox by Melanie

Gratitude is a valuable attribute, and I, for one, need to spend more time being grateful. So let’s call today Thankful Thursday. In an effort to share more gratitude in my life, here are 10 “Jimmy Fallon-style” thank you notes from me.


Thank you… canyon winds for helping me get to know my neighbors by blowing my trash out of my garbage can and into their yards for me to clean up.

Thank you… again, canyon winds, for helping me get my exercise for the day when I have to chase that trash down the street.

Thank you… Walmart for having 17 bajillion check out lines but only staffing 3 of them with checkers. It makes me feel like a lottery winner when I find one I can use!

Thank you…  Netflix for letting me watch an entire 7 season TV series in a few days, neglecting everything else, including feeding my children and bathing.

Thank you… Dora and Diego for teaching my children that nothing they say is ever loud enough. Thanks to you I never have to worry about it being too quiet in my house.

Thank you… creepy next door neighbor for standing naked in your open window so my innocent girls can be traumatized for life. Now I know exactly what to get you for Christmas! When someone comes over to measure your window for blinds, please let them in.

Thank you… drivers who talk on cell phones, floating across lines and between lanes of traffic with no regard for anyone else on the road, for keeping me awake and alert, always improving my defensive driving skills.

Thank you… Facebook friends who post political rants for bringing me around to your way of thinking. I can’t believe I didn’t see it your way before.

Thank you… callers who start the conversation with “I don’t want to bother you during dinner, but…” for reminding me that choosing not to call during dinner is simply not an option.

Thank you… school teachers who assign homework to parents for thinking I look young enough to be one of your students.

Do you have any Thank You notes to write? Let’s hear it…

by Melanie

Can you fire a tooth fairy?

April 2, 2014 in Playroom by Melanie

I think we need a new tooth fairy.

A tooth fairy’s job requirements are pretty straight forward. Child looses tooth. Child places tooth under pillow. Tooth fairy retrieves tooth while child sleeps and leaves a small gift under the pillow.

Simple, right?

Apparently it’s trickier than I think because my tooth fairy can’t seem to handle it. My kids wake up morning after morning and excitedly sneak their hands under their pillows in search of a fun prize, but every time they retrieve only an old tooth.

Every. Time.

Do you know if there are any unemployed tooth fairies looking for a little extra work? I’m pretty sure I need to find a replacement.


tooth-fairy silhouette

I don’t mean to brag, but I have become quite an expert on coming up with tooth fairy excuses.

“I think she’s just running a little late today, sweetie. Why don’t you try checking under your pillow again? Now please excuse me, I need to run upstairs a few minutes before you do.”

“The tooth fairy doesn’t have as much magic as Santa, so she can’t get to the all the kids in the world in one night.”

“When you lose your tooth so late in the day, the tooth fairy doesn’t have time to put it on her list, so she adds it to the next day’s list.”

My kids always buy it. Every time. So what’s the problem? Well, as the mom, it’s my job to keep things like tooth fairy magic alive. Is it too much to want my 11-year-old to keep believing?

The other day when I was spinning yet another impressive tale excusing our tooth fairy’s shortcomings, my sweet Babs joined in with a few extra embellishments.

“…the good thing about the tooth fairy being late…is she leaves extra money under your pillow! Right, Mom?”

What do you think? Is she on to me?

How is your tooth fairy working out for you?

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