Hot Pink, High Heels, & Explosions

So I know it’s been a while — but if you follow me on instagram (and shouldn’t you follow me on instagram?) you’ll know that there is a #noshopsummer craze going on.  I decided to try it out for the month of June, and did fairly well with it.  I only bought some items I needed for work.  I had lost a bit of weight last summer in wedding prep mode, and now that I put it back on I had a closet full of items that I could probably only barely get into last summer but certainly couldn’t wear this year.

However this week, after a lovely trip to the gym — I decided to look around on of our local thrift shop’s, and well …I broke #noshopsummer in a HUGE way!  However, as I was filling my cart with finds I had a little remorse but more of a revelation of how cost-effective thrifting can be.  However, I know many women do not thrift shop for many reasons.  They may be worried about not finding their size, not feeling confident about their purchases, wanting to be up to date on trends, or just not having the time to do it.  But thrift shopping is more than finding gems like these two:

Real Thrift Store Finds(Seriously, I love dogs as much as anyone else…but no.  Please no.  Not even if you are over 65.  And the MJ inspired dressy blouse, I so almost bought it….really I did. *sings Smooth Criminal*)

It can be a legitimate way to update and add to your wardrobe, but in a financially responsible way.  Whether you are a size 26, 12, or 6 — no matter if you are trendy, hipster, or classic.   You can successfully thrift shop!   So I thought I would throw up a few tips I’ve learned through my thrifting journey that might help a new thrifter out.  You should note that my rules really apply to a local Goodwill or Salvation Army styled thrift store — not a higher end one (specialty thrift stores can have higher price points and more limited sizing, so can local consignment shops).  So I am going on the idea that I will walk into a store that is not sized, is perhaps only organized by type of garment and color, and nearly every clothing item is under $5 a piece.  So …

Yep, prepare for battle!  This is all about using strategy to get the best deals you can AND to have the most options at your fingertips.  Most of us do not go shopping daily or even weekly — so you want to try to give yourself the best advantage when you do have time to thrift.

Plus thrifting is a hunt, it’s a battle, so you need to go in more prepared than a normal trip to the mall.  When I go to the mall I know that there will probably be my size; if they are out of my size it may be able to be ordered; and that all the items are new, clean, and in season.  When I thrift I know I will pass by tons of things that are too large or too small, that I will have to take the time to examine the quality of the items (e.g. looking for rips, tears, holes, stains, so on), and that where as I can always walk in and buy a pair of size 10 curvy Macy’s INC jeans — I may wear multiple thrifted sizes.  Here are five things that I’ve learned that aren’t always obvious — but that I’ve found to be true over the years:

thrift shop stratgies

read more

Sometimes inspiration for dinner comes from a blog, but sometimes it comes from a great deal at the grocery store.  After teaching Zumba(R) in the Circuit, I headed over to a local discount grocery store for a few items.

It was set to snow here, and when one is living between two houses, one of them always gets the short end of the grocery stick.  See I spend some time at my fiance’s farm, and then the rest with my mother and pooch in the City.  Living between two houses is a very bi-polar thing, and I tend to find that there are less fresh foods and groceries at my mom’s house when I return from an extended stay at the Farm.  However, currently the farm is without heat — and I am a wuss.  So back to my mom’s house I go.

So I was picking up a few things that could have been missing from the house — a half-quart of milk, a box of store-brand cheerios, can of lima beans.  Just a few things I knew I could eat while on exile from the frozen-tundra that is the inside of the Farmhouse, but not too many since I hadn’t really had time to assess the fridge and pantry.  After picking up a frozen pizza for the family to eat that night (the fiance was going to come by as well), I went to scan the meat department.

This grocery store has a very basic meat selection.   They even have a 5 for $20 special, where families can pick up five different packs of meat ranging from hamburger meat to small packages of beef tips for a stew and chicken.  Again, this is a discount grocery store – and a much needed commodity in areas where people are living on fixed incomes and do not have the luxury of pricy meats.

I always check — no matter what grocery store I am in, the discount section.  And yes folks, there is one for meat too.  Now if you shop this section, be ready to either immediately freeze or cook whatever you buy.  There’s no waiting on those products.  They are STILL GOOD and SAFE for consumption, but the expiration/use by date is usually extremely close.

So in that lovely section I found a small pork roast for $2.50.  TWO -FIFTY!   Sold!

But then I got home and wondered — what in the world do I do with this.  Being the Southern Woman I am, BBQ immediately came to mind.

At first I was just going to dump the pork and some BBQ sauce in a slow cooker and call it a day, but then I began to think harder.  So here is my super simple method.

Ingredients:

  1. Piece of Pork — whatever size you like, whatever type you like
  2. 2 Onions
  3. 1 Can of Beer (whatever you have — really)
  4. 1 package of dry onion soup mix
  5. Seasoning of your choice
  6. BBQ Sauce of Your Choosing (we had a bottle of Budweiser Smoky BBQ Sauce in the cabinet that was close to expiring, so that’s what I used.  If you make your own, great — if you want to use a bottle, works too.  Add as much or as little as you like, to you and your families taste)

NOTE:  I didn’t time this exactly.  I’ll be honest.  I left it on overnight, and then probably longer than one hour in the sauce.  That’s the awesome thing about crock pots.  You don’t HAVE to be percise.  As long as you get that meat to its proper doneness and temperature – after that you golden.  So once the meat is properly cooked, your continued cooking time is up to you.  I love that part of the flexibility of a crock pot over an oven.  I don’t burn it if I leave it a bit longer that necessary, I just want it cooked and tasty.

I don’t have any photos, because I honestly forgot to take some during the process.  However — I wanted to share this more for my friends who are afraid of cooking or experimenting.  I took a super cheap cut of meat, and turned it into a super simple meal.  I didn’t use a recipe, I just guessed — and if it hadn’t have turned out tasty I only wasted about $3 (meat + onions, everything else I had in the house).  So experiment  try new things, try twists on old things!  

What have you experimented with that has worked out well?  Or been a total fail?

So the Fiance and I were trying to figure out what to have for dinner, and he volunteered shrimp and grits.  Perfect!  We wanted something quick and easy, as we had spent a good part of the day outside target shooting on the farm.  Side note:  I have realized 9mm’s are not for me, I will SO stick with anything that shoots a .22!    

I had remembered this recipe from The Caramel Jar (recipe here) that I had recently pinned, and decided to make the grits like the recipe.  However, when we went to the grocery store — I never looked up the recipe.  I knew I had grits and a brick of cream cheese in my farm kitchen.  No need to look anything up…..well that was wrong.  As you can see if you click the recipe — it takes heavy cream, whole milk, and she used stone ground grits.   So what is a girl to do…find something comparable and swap! Not to mention that I’ve recently started Weight Watchers and I DO NOT want to know how much one serving of The Caramel Jar’s grits would be!   [Though I did happily find out that there are activity points to be had from my shooting outing.  I stand while I shoot (be it a handgun or my rifel), and I do try to move about a bit to get better at hitting the target!  Yay activity points!]

So I doctored a Tase of Home (recipe here) since I had most of those ingredients in our pantry or basement stockpile.  Here were our changes:

  1. I used four cups of just straight chicken broth (Kroger brand with 33% lower sodium).  I didn’t bother with the water + bouillon mix.  
  2. We had no chives, but we are a household that oddly had shallots of all things.  So I diced up a very small one, and tossed it into the warming broth before it boiled to make sure the pieces softened and fragranced the broth.
  3. I used quick grits and the world did not stop.  It’s what we had, so I went for it.  I threw the cup in after the chicken broth had began to boil.
  4. I used an entire package of cream cheese — which is 8 oz not three.  I don’t know where Tase of Home is finding three ounce packages of cream cheese, so I made an assumption they were incorrect.  It melted into the grits just fine, promise.
  5. I also added fresh ground pepper while folding in the cream cheese.  The recipe didn’t call for it, which I found odd.  I added ZERO salt by the way.
  6. We did NOT add the shrimp to the grits.  The Fiance lightly sautéed/warmed the pre-cooked (but still slightly frozen) tail-on shrimp in some butter (this is the South!  No judgement!  He was proud of himself because he’s from DC, and usually thinks Southerners use of butter its nuts.), minced shallots, and garlic.

So we ended up just scooping some of the thick and creamy grits into a bowl, and topping them with the shrimp and a spoon full or so of the softened garlic/shallots mix.  And the entire meal took about 20 minutes or so.

So this is what it turned into — a delicious melty mix of what virtually is a shrimp scampi (what I counted it in my points tracker as — that would be 7 Weight Watchers Plus Points for 6 Medium Shrimp (our shrimp were small, and small wasn’t an option, so I made a best guess) and creamy and cheesy grits (from the nutritional values given on the Taste of Home website that equals to 7 Weight Watchers Plus Points).

If you try it let me know what you think and what you changed (if anything!).

IMG_1993

So like most women I am addicted to the innovative web-board Pinterist (follow my boards here!), and since I am off from academia for a while I’ve decided to embrace my inner domestic diva and take care of my household!   In any “Pinterist Sminterist” post you will see me trying something I found on the site.  If I tweak it, I’ll let you know.  If I love it, you’ll know.  If it’s a #fail, you’ll know.

***********************************

When we returned from Christmas up north with the fiance’s family  (and my mom; but that is another post) I realized maybe I should have made that pledge a little later.   Yet for dinner to the internets I went.

Tonight’s Pinterist find: Mississippi Roast from A Perfectly Lovely Ordinary Day.

So this roast only takes a bit of beast, some ranch dressing dry mix, a packet of au jus dry mix, one stick of butter, and some pepperocini’s.  The fiance was totally up for it!

However, admittedly I changed the recipe a touch after reading the comments on the blogger’s page.  This was kind of a hodgepodge of various bits of advice from the other home cooks, and my own ideas:

Also FYI:  For cost savings I used store-brand (Kroger here — no I’m not paid by them either) dry mixes (all three) and I procured my jar of pepperoni peppers from the Dollar Tree (again not paid by them).  A penny saved is a latte (or more funds to the wedding photographer) earned!

Verdict

Success! The future hubbs loved it and cleaned his plate, the pup enjoyed a few tasty pieces of beef, and I found it to be a great option for pot roast.  I personally didn’t find it too salty (a complaint on the blog) but that could be that instead of butter I used the beer.  I thought it was tender, and I did not use an overly expensive cut of beasty — just the least expensive roast I saw at the local Kroger.