Day 165 – Orange Creamsicle Cake

This was quite possibly the easiest cake I have ever made. With just 3 ingredients and no mixer necessary, I might add it to my list of regulars.
I mixed 1 box of white cake mix, 6 ounces of greek yogurt and 1 cup of orange juice together in a bowl and stirred until it was mixed. I baked it for about 40 minutes (my pan was a little different than a standard 8 x 8 so it is a little thicker). I let it cool for a few minutes so when I taste tested it, it was pleasantly warm. This cake is very delicious. I like that it is made with some healthy ingredients too so you don’t have to feel too guilty after eating a piece.

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Total cost: $4

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Day 164 – A Stuffy Nose Remedy Scam

The past two days have been pretty miserable when it comes to the act of breathing. After scouring Pinterest for a while tonight, I decided to search for a stuffy nose remedy. I am interested in low-risk home remedies, so when I saw an idea that involved pressure points to relieve congestion, I thought it would be a perfect thing to try (Mostly because I was not interested in doing anything that involved being up and about).

I followed the directions exactly as the website people told me to (which is surprising since sometimes I skimp on that key idea)

Here is the link, but don’t waste your time clicking it. It didn’t work. I am still just as stuffed as I was before I tried it.

Total cost: $0

(There is no picture…I am not one of those people who takes pictures of my pile of tissues) 😉

Day 163 – Quinoa Broccoli Casserole

I have never tried quinoa before. It is a little grain full of protein, apparently from the Andes Mountains. I have heard of it for a while. It is becoming more and more popular. I know that because I heard about it from a friend before I knew about it. Then I decided to look for it at my regular grocery store (Target) and they did not have it. Then I searched for it at another actual grocery store and it was ridiculously expensive. I am a pretty big bargain hunter, so I decided to pass on the quinoa. In recent weeks, I have been hearing about it more and more. Recipes for it pop up on Pinterest. Chefs on TV use it in their cooking. That same friend talks about it still. I knew I had to try this stuff.

I found a recipe for a broccoli casserole that used quinoa instead of rice. I love broccoli casserole with rice, so this should be an interesting change.

As I was shopping in Walmart yesterday, I decided to check its status of quinoa. I was pleasantly surprised to find an actual selection of it. I could get it in a box mix that would make “Rosemary and Garlic Quinoa,” or “Roasted Red Pepper Quinoa.” There were even two selections of plain quinoa. I opted for the one that was cheaper.

I read the recipe at least two whole times, making sure that I had all of the ingredients at home. It wasn’t until I started cooking it tonight that I realized I was supposed to have cream of broccoli or cream of mushroom soup. It turns out that I only had cream of chicken, so that’s what we used.

To prepare the quinoa, you need to rinse it in a fine sieve until the water runs clear. I meant to pick up a sieve at Walmart (I have been meaning to get one), but it slipped my mind. My colander holes are too big and it appeared that if I ran water over it, I would lose a lot of the little grains down the drain. The best option I had was some tulle fabric from my craft bin. I pulled it out and cut some to a small enough size to line my colander. Then I gave it a good wash with some dish soap. It worked out perfectly for an impromptu sieve.

The finished product was quite tasty. I probably could have boiled the quinoa a little longer than I did, but when it was all mixed together, the taste was really good. It made a LOT. I have all but a few scoops of an 8 x 8 pan. I guess I will be eating this everyday this week! Good thing it is tasty!
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Total cost: $2.50

Day 162 – Biggest Loser Oatmeal Pancakes

One thing that I can’t get excited about is oatmeal–chunky lumpy gooey oatmeal. I really don’t like it. I do, however, like oats when they are involved in other foods. When I saw this recipe for Oatmeal Pancakes, I thought it would be fun to give them a try.

I eat breakfast every morning around 7:00, but depending on what I eat, I am starving by my 11:00 lunchtime. It is very frustrating! I have found that Frosted Mini Wheats (The Target generic brand is perfect. The Walmart generic brand is terrible.) or a Whole Wheat English Muffin with peanut butter and honey keep me going. I am appropriately hungry by lunchtime, but not insanely early like with other foods. These have suited me well for a long time, but I am interested in other alternatives that I can stomach…NOT gross oatmeal.

I decided that I would make some of these pancakes tonight to heat up for tomorrow’s breakfast. It was pretty simple and I actually made them all while my dinner was cooking.

 

Here is the recipe:

 

Ingredients:
6 egg whites
1 cup rolled oats, dry
1 cup cottage cheese
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla

Instructions:

In a blender, blend all ingredients until smooth. Heat a griddle or large non-stick skillet over medium-low heat. Spray with non-stick cooking spray. For each pancake pour 1/4 cup of batter onto griddle. Flip when they start to bubble. Cook until golden brown. Repeat with remaining batches, spraying the griddle as needed. Makes about 10 pancakes.

Number of Servings: 3

Nutritional Info Per Serving:
181 Calories, 2.7g Fat, 10mg Cholesterol, 361mg Sodium, 20g Carbs, 2.8g Fiber

 

I gave one a try while the others were cooking and my verdict is that they are “alright.” They are not AMAZING, but certainly not gross. I think they are kind of bland. I can’t figure out what they need to make them better, but I have a few ideas.

~Sugar…but that would probably counter act the healthiness of them.

~Fresh fruit…but it is winter and berries are pretty expensive this time of year. All I have are oranges, but they might be pretty tasty.

~Syrup…which is the same thing as the sugar.

 

Tomorrow is the time that will tell…will they take me through to lunch? Will they taste good enough to eat as a meal? We shall see…

 

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Total cost: $5.50 (which includes a giant container of oats that I will use again, and I have extra cottage cheese left over to make another batch. I also have enough egg whites to make another batch. It seems expensive, but per pancake, it is probably pretty cheap.)

Day 161 – Snowflake Nails

I really don’t like cold weather. I mean I really really don’t like it.  I hate the need to wear coats. I hate shivering. I hate the way my finger tips and toe tips can never get warm enough.

Since (I heard) it was super cold here last week, I thought it would get me into the cold-spirit to paint snowflakes on my nails. I did a base layer of blue and then I painted the snowflakes using a toothpick and white nail polish (Thanks Tori…again!). I decided to just go with snowflakes on the ring fingers. I thought more than that would be a bit much.

I am happy with how they turned out.

 

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Total cost: $0

Day 160 – The Alphabet Game

There are a lot of different ways that people can play the alphabet game. I used to get really mad when people would force me to play by their rules instead of mine. When I was younger,  my family traveled a lot by car. My grandparents lived more than 2 hours away, and occasionally we would trek out to Ohio on an 8 hour drive. With all of that experience, I definitely felt like an expert.
Here are my rules in a nutshell:
-Has to be at the beginning of the word.
-Abbreviations don’t count.
I figure this is pretty simple and easy to follow.

If you have ever played the alphabet game, you would realize just how hard it is to find Q, X, and z.
Basically, in the English language, no words start with X. You could pretty much search for the entire drive and never find one. That is why I added the ammendment:
-X and only X xan come in the middle of a word.
We got quite stumped on Q, but we found it as we passed a LaQuinta Inn.
The whole game took about 1 hour. We played a second time, but my attention span is not that into it at this point. I am still waiting to find a Z…

This is the website with the picture that inspired this post.  Too bad they didn’t use these letters in words. As I think more about it, this sign would be quite useless if I actually encountered it in a drive.

Day 159 – Tinkerbell Gifts

Kids love Disney World. They also have a difficult time managing their emotions when they are presented with overstimulation in the form of crowds, gift shops, characters, rides, shows… I have done an unscientific observation study on the behavior of random children this week and I have noticed a few things. – No amount of stuff is ever enough. – Even in the early morning wait to get into the parks, kids and parents can be heard squabbling about various things. Some kids ask a question that their mom has answered “THREE times already!” Some kids slam their lanyards into their dads’ stomachs and they are “sick of it!” – Around 3:00 every day, kids can be heard crying for various reasons across all 4 parks. Since I was traveling with a six-year-old and a three-year-old, I thought we would be experiencing a lot of the undesirable behaviors I had heard about. Usually day 3 is the worst day for meltdowns and I wanted to help ward that off at all costs. When I saw a tip about Tinkerbell bringing gifts to good children at night, I thought we had better give that a try. I went to the dollar store and bought Disney related gifts for her to bring. This worked like a charm! It was amazing! These were some of the best behaved children I have ever seen in a park as meltdown-worthy as Disney World! We told them about how Tinkerbell is watching them while they are here and if they are really good, she might bring a present while they slept. The first morning we woke up, Alyssa came down with excitement for her Tinkerbell gift, and poor little Nick woke up in tears because he thought he didn’t get anything. He had fallen out of his bed a few times in the night, so his gift was not in the same place where he woke up. Once everything got sorted out, he was a-ok and both were totally on board with this Tinkerbell thing. Every other morning, I awoke to someone’s little voice talking about their wonderful Tinkerbell present. It was a great bargaining tool when one of them forgot to listen, or had undesirable behavior. These kids were awesome this week. I dont think this Tinkerbell thing was really the reason for that, but I am sure it didn’t hurt!
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Total cost: $16 for 16 gifts No pics yet but I will work on it!

Day 158 – Eating Around the World

Some people enjoy trying a beer or wine around the world at Epcot. By around 7:30 tonight, we could easily spot these people by their wobbliness or their need to shout to the people standing right beside them.

Instead of drinking around the world, I thought it would be fun to try to eat around the world. I found and ate a meal or snack in each country at Epcot. The countries are set up in a circle around a lagoon. From the way that I entered the world showcase, I began in Canada. It was a struggle to find a snack here. There were not many shops and there were not many counter service restaurants. After a long time of searching, I found a bag of potato chips that are in fact a product of Canada. They were pretty tasty and slightly different than the kinds that I have had in the US.

Next, I traveled to the UK. I found a lot of great treats, but I was pretty hungry at this point, so I got some fish and chips. Very tasty.

The United States came next, but I did not get something specifically at this stop because earlier in the day I was starving, so I decided to get some ice cream. That was in the actual real live America, so I decided that counted. Unfortunately, I did not take a picture of it.

France had an amazing patisserie where we got a Napoleon. It was sheets of puff pastry layered with delicious custard. Y.U.M.

I learned something in Morocco that I will never forget. A lentil is a bean; more importantly, I HATE lentils. There were no good snacks in Morocco. I saw some Baklava, but I do not really like that, so I thought it would be adventurous to try some Moroccan side dish. I saw lentil salad and I thought that would be a good try. You see…I was getting lentils mixed up with orzo, which is a pasta. Lentils and orzo are nowhere near similar. One is gross and one is tasty. I could not eat the lentil salad. At least it wasn’t super expensive.

In Japan I had a Kaki-Gori, which is a  Japanese snow cone. Mine was rainbow flavored, which had tangerine, mango and cherry.

Having just had a snow cone, I decided that I should take a break from major sugary treats, which eliminated a lot of things from Italy. I found some cute little candies there.  They were very tasty!

In Germany, I had a Bavarian hand-twisted pretzel. From the looks of things, I thought it was going to be along the same level as those that you microwave from the grocery store. I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was slightly different. It had a buttery flavor and was a little more dry. I definitely liked it a lot though.

By the time I reached China, I decided that I had had enough snacks and was ready for another actual meal. I had a plate of orange chicken and steamed rice. This might have been one of my favorites for the night. I really enjoyed it!

Norway had a little bakery where I couldn’t decide what to get. I ended up getting a sweet pretzel with chocolate and vanilla coating. It tasted very much like a breakfast pastry. Very delicious.

Finally, in Mexico, I had a Mazipan candy, which is a peanut candy. It was ok. It was not as great as some of the other treats, but it was not disgusting either.

These are in no particular order:
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Eating around the world is very filling and very tiring. I hope there are not a lot of typos in this post because I am not up for rereading!

Goodnight.

 

Total cost: I lost count and I am too tired to figure it out.

Day 157 – Disney’s Photopass+

I have a Disney Visa card where you earn Disney Dollars to be used anywhere in the parks (or Disney Stores all around). I have been saving them up and I wanted to use them on something great. I decided to get the Photopass+ which gets you a cd of all of the photos you have taken at the parks by their photographers. They cost about $15 each, so I thought it would be a pretty good deal. Once we have the cd we can get them printed by places like snapfish or shutterfly instead of Disney.
Here are my thoughts on this whole photopass thing:
-It is pretty nice and fun to know that you can have everyone in the shot without asking a stranger to hold your phone/camera.
-I like having the ride photos. We rode a few rides more than once and tried some funny poses that we wouldn’t ordinarily do on a ride.
-The photographers are trained to take some fun shots where they can superimpose characters with you. That is fun.
-I noticed that there are not as many photopass photographers around as I would like.
-For more than one character we visited, there was no photographer present. We still needed to use our own camera.
-Not every photographer seemed knowledgeable about those magic shots that put the character in your picture.
-Most of the time the photographers were in front of the iconic things like the tree of life or Cinderella’s castle. You can only have sooo many of the same shot.

Overall I enjoy having the photopass+ but I do not think that it is worth the full price. There are not enough photographers and not enough different locations for pictures to be taken. But it is really fun to get pictures from the rides.

Total cost: $40 (which is a bargain compared to $199)

Day 156 – Disney Tips and Tricks

I found this amazing website that is full of tips and tricks to use when visiting Disney parks. I probably used more than just these, so here is a sampling of the tips that I used:
– Eating breakfast in the room (house) to save money
– Arrive at rope-drop (I had no idea that the characters arrived on a train and did a little show before people can enter the park!)
-Ask for a complimentary cup of ice water instead of ordering a soda.

My complimentary cup of water with an almost whole Mickey soft pretzel:

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I seriously did a ton of other things from this list too. I highly recommend checking it out and finding the things that work best for you.

Total cost: Let’s pretend that it is $0