Friday, October 30, 2015

Drunk Fish.......Our Trip to IL PART 2

Since we got more than halfway to our destination on Day 1, Friday, Day 2 was taken at a more leisurely pace.

I realized that our timing was impeccable by the way, staying overnight on a Thursday rather than a Friday.  Our hotel room was about $70 before all sorts of taxes were added but had be stayed there on a Friday night the room would have cost $200 before taxes...Yikes!!

I guess the rate zoomed up because of Notre Dame playing a football game that weekend.  What a rip!

Here's a couple shots outside of the hotel in Michigan.........

Nothing too exciting....

We drove down back toward the Indiana Toll Way to South Bend.
Anyway, on the way out of the Michiana area we stopped at guessed it!.....liquor store.  8-)

You knew you were in a college football playing town right away in this store.

I love the sense of humor some of these craft brewers have when naming their beers.

Hipster Repellant IPA

Kentucky Ryed Chiquen, complete with a chicken feather under the top seal. lolz

I am so not commenting on this label..........

Space Station beer giving the middle finger salute.

After buying of few things we headed west into the "Land of Lincoln".
There was a stop at a World Market to buy a few things, mostly Christmas gifts.  Alcohol may have also been purchased but I'll never tell.

Then feeling puckish we found a nearby café for lunch in the shopping plaza where the World Market was located.

Hubs got a turkey sandwich and I got a roast beef sandwich.
Take a look at the difference in sizes between those 2.......

I was going to suggest we get 1 sandwich and split it before we ordered.  Well it's a good thing I didn't say it out loud in regard to getting my selection and splitting it! lolz

If we had done that, we would have had to stop again for another lunch before hitting Sonya's house.

We hit a little local traffic after having lunch but we pulled into Sonya's driveway a little after 4pm.

I got out of the car and when she opened the front door I yelled across the yard wanting to know if she had found me a FISH FRY for dinner.

Yes, I was all hyped up on wanting to have FISH on Friday up here in IL.  Two years ago I had the BEST Fish sandwich of my life on a Friday after we left Sonya's house and drove down to Mendota IL to have lunch with Pam and Robin(online friends from my beanie days). 
We had Walleye that Friday and it was the first time I'd ever had it and man, was it good!

Since we were coming into town on a Friday I told Sonya to look up some places for dinner that have a fish fry.  She seemed kind of lukewarm on the idea on the phone so I did some research and found a place that served a fish fry just over the border in WI near her town.

So after downing a drink that was thrust into my hand after I got inside the house(why does this always happen at her house?!?lol)we set out with Den driving to go eat some fish.

Well here is where we ended up at.........

Remember how I nearly got 3/5 of my family murdered in a biker dive bar back in July in VA?
Yep, this would be another great dining choice.....
I just seem to know how to pick 'em, don't I?

This place was a hole in the wall locals bar and we sure got the once over by the clientele sitting at the bar when we walked in.  I thought for sure I heard banjos playing in the distance too.

I thought Sonya was going to bolt back out the door until she spied gaming machines in the back corner.  Unfortunately they were "play" machines and you couldn't actually win money on them so her glee turned to despair right quick.

So we ordered our meals and chatted and laughed before the repast hit the table.

I swear this is the only photo I got of Den the entire time we were visiting!  The man had an uncanny knack for avoiding my camera.
Sonya Ann was not to be so lucky however......much to her chagrin.

This is one of the lovely pictures adoring the wall at Grumpy's Pub and Grub.

The food arrived and we wolfed it down.  Den unfortunately chose the only "All You Can Eat" fish option(cod)and it turned out to be the premade/frozen/breaded type.  Hubs and my fish plates were freshly prepared however and were very good.
so what did Sonya Ann order in the land of fishy goodness?

Ok, so that's why she said, "We don't go out for fish." on the phone when I requested a fish fry and she didn't seem too thrilled with Grumpy's(after the gambling was a no-go).

Some woman(the owner, bartender, patron....who knows?)came over after we were done eating and offered us each a cookie out of the box she was holding.
So we got free chocolate chip cookies with our meal....score!

Then the bill came and Den tried to give the waiter his credit card.
And then this happened........

Figures! I'd pick a place that was seedy and only took

So we go back to their house and as they say, "the hilarity ensued".

Just one of the beverages imbibed that evening.

I should have filmed Sonya Ann taking out the recycling the next afternoon.  It looked something like this.......

Next time we should try this with all our empties....

Or this.....

It was a long pleasant evening, however I can't share anything else that happened mostly because I can't remember anything else.
Let's just say that "What happens in Sonya's house stays in Sonya's house" and leave it at that. ;-)


2015 Food & Toiletries Spending.....October Update

Onward to October's food spending report.......

Here are my FOOD BUDGET spending totals for OCTOBER 2015.

I have posted October's totals on the Total Grocery Savings for 2015 Page located HERE and have updated the Yearly Totals there.  I am listing subtotals for each store I purchased from in September.  If you aren't interested in that much detail, just skip to the bottom for the Totals Sum.  My spending includes Food, Toiletries/HBA, Cleaning Products, Paper Goods & tax where applicable. We are a family of 3(2 at home this month). No kids under 19. 

OOP  $30.76
Value  $47.70
Savings 35.51%

OOP  $5.00
Value  $7.50
Savings 25%

OOP  $16.96
Value  $27.16
Savings  47.55%

OOP  $18.61
Value  $25.78
Savings  28%

OOP  $45.30
Value  $80.61
Savings  43.80%

OOP  $0.00
Qs/Ads/gift card $126.67
Value  $126.67
Savings  100%
OOP  $19.37
Qs/Ads $11.85
Value  $31.22
Savings  38%

OOP  $28.57
Value  $52.04
Savings  45.10%

OOP  ($6.72)on free gift card
Value  $8.87
Savings  100%
OOP  $73.07
Qs/Ads  $103.78
Value  $176.85
Savings  58.68%

My best 3 Store Savings Totals were Rite-Aid and Walmart(tied) at 100%, Weis at 58.68% and Grocery Outlet at 47.55%.  My WORST savings rate was Dollar Tree at 25%.

I shopped at 10 different stores this past month.  

TOTAL Out of Pocket........ $237.64
TOTAL Coupons & Store Sales Savings...$346.76
TOTAL Value of Items Purchased............$584.40
TOTAL Savings of...................................59.34%
TOTAL Savings without Rite-Aid...........48.08%

This closes out the October food/toiletries spending.

THOUGHTS & COMMENTS for this month.....
I went into October wanting to do a $300 food budget for the month and I only spent $237.64, leaving me with $62.36 leftover in the budget.

The monthly savings percentage went down by 1.43% in October to 59.34% compared to September's high 60.77% savings average.  Still a great savings rate though for October.

The savings rate for the whole year so far now stands at 59.21%.  That's a .01 increase in savings over September's YTD total(59.20%).  It's still hanging in well over a 40% savings rate for the year so it's all good. 

I have spent a total of $3,723.41 on food/toiletries in 2015 so far at this point in the year. That averages out to $372.34 per month.  That's still under $400 per month average for the year.


We'll try for a $300 food budget for NOVEMBER again like I did in October, since it's just Hubs and I at home now.  No pets either.  But College Boy will be coming home for Thanksgiving for a few days this month.  And there is that behemoth food Turkey Day this month.  Even so, I've already got some of the foods and ingredients in the house for that meal, including a large turkey breast, pumpkin, various squashes and veggies, potatoes, pie and roll making ingredients too.
Plus the freezer and pantry are PACKED otherwise with foodie goodness.  8-)
$300 food budget for November is very doable.
If you have other ideas or guidelines you follow please leave a comment and share yours with us all.
*  How much did you spend on food/toiletries in October?
*  Do you track your yearly food spending?
*  What was your savings percentage buying on sale and/or with coupons vs. buying at regular retail price last month, if you track that sort of thing?
*  What are your methods for keeping your food spending in check?


2015 Garden Harvest Total

Well I spend a good chunk of this week picking, washing, cutting, processing and freezing Collard Greens.
And I am so happy to say that I am finally DONE! lolz

This gardening thing is a lotta work but I gladly do it so we eat well, not to mention cheaply. ;-)

I weighed everything I grew this year and my Grand Total for this season was 23.88 pounds of food from my garden.
Most of that total was yellow squash and collards.  The green beans were mostly a bust this season and the deer liked my tomatoes a little too much unfortunately.  The Japanese Beetles liked my collards but they don't eat nearly as much as the deer. lolz

This year wasn't nearly what my garden produced in 2010.  That was my best year at just shy of 94 pounds of food grown.
But we had a few glitched this chipmunks eating our seedlings(and planted seeds), the rabbits, the deer, not growing nearly as many foods as in years past, etc.

I am happy with how things turned anyway.
And now we just had to chop up the plants, turn the soil and cover with some mulched leaves and grass and wait for Mother Nature to do her thang over the Winter.

Did you grow a garden this season?
How did you do?


Thursday, October 29, 2015

2 Strange Vending Machines & Inedible Trucks.....Our Trip to IL PART 1

Well if you know me you KNOW I like to write ramble so it should be no surprise that this trip post will be a multipart report.  8-)

We usually take a short vacation each October to the shore, Ocean City Maryland specifically.
But we decided to change things up this Fall and take a trip elsewhere.

This was partly because the hotel we always stay at in OC didn't send me a special rate card/promo this year(we are long time customers there)so we would have had to have paid full fare for the room.  Add in, for some strange reason, when I went onto their website in mid-September, all their oceanfront rooms were booked for the time we usually visit.
This has never happened at this time of year before at this hotel. 

And secondly I didn't get a chance to take a Summer Road Trip this year like I did last year because of cataract surgeries and recovery times and I needed to spend chunks of July aiding my Eldest son in his relocation to Virginia.

And thirdly, I wanted to visit my 8th cousin, blogger Sonya Ann and she lives in the middle of the country in Illinois.
So even though I am not a big fan of "The Land of Lincoln" we planned a trip out West......well, it's West for us in the East.

We left bright and early on a Thursday after a quick stop at the local Mickey D's so Hubs could get his coffee fix.
We crossed PA with no problems or back-ups so the drive that first day was fine.
Made another stop in Clearfield PA for gas and more coffee and a pee break.

Oh, if you are traveling along the interstates in PA and see one of these, do NOT under any circumstances stop and eat there........

It's a DUTCH PANTRY Restaurant and they all look similar and dot the interstates in much of PA.
This one is in Clearfield, PA.
You will live to regret eating there is you do.....just remember, you have been warned!! ;-)

I tried to get some shots of the fall foliage as we drove along rural stretches of the interstate.....

Not much color yet in many areas as we'd had a warm Fall so far.

These sections in a higher elevation was better.

The only snag we hit was in the middle of PA.  There was a wrecked tractor trailer that must have been there quiet awhile since they had enough time to set up signage for 2 miles before we got to it that there was an accident on the roadway and a lane of traffic was closed.

The trailer was still on the roadside and they were cleaning up it's cargo.

We finally got out of PA about 1:45pm......

We stopped outside of Youngstown OH for a late lunch.

We got the slowest waitress employed by a Bob Evans Restaurant in the universe named Dottie.  Don't get me wrong, she was personable and sweet even, and horror of horrors could do her job, but we didn't want to linger for hours at lunch and wanted to get back onto the highway.  But that was not in Dottie's plans.

This was after 2pm and they weren't busy but Dottie......well, let's just say she likes to get to know her customers intimately rather than make with the quick service.
Sigh.....or maybe it's me?  I do seem to bring something out in people I am told. lolz

So back on the road by 3:30pm(!!!)and we still had most of OH and half of IN to cross before stopping for the night.

Around 5ishpm we stopped for another coffee/pee break at the Turnpike Rest Area and I saw this vending machine.........

2015 is the 60th Anniversary of the Ohio Turnpike so they are selling crap fine quality merchandise commemorating this milestone in History.
How about a Ohio Turnpike keychain for your Sweetheart for Christmas?
Who wouldn't love that?!

The Ohio Turnpike is always an opportunity to see interesting things.  I saw my first triple tractor-trailer a couple of years ago while riding on it.
This trip it was an "inedible truck".
Now you would think that ALL trucks are inedible.....unless of course you are a Transformers Autobot, and then trucks are a special delicacy.

I give you the inedible truck........

If you look closer you'll see this too.....

I am glad they cleared that up for us all, aren't you?
Humans......don't eat trucks trucks

After forking over $15.75 to the Ohio Toll Commission to get out of that fine state we crossed over into Indiana as the sun began to slowing sink into the West.....

By the time we got to our exit off the Indiana extortion toll road it was dark and going on 7:30pm.
Hubs got a bit cranky with me as our motel for the night was 7 MILES off the toll road and not right off the exit in SouthBend.
Hey, I wanted a night place to lay my head and not have to pay through the nose for a SouthBend motel room.

So we headed up into Michigan to stay at a motel in Niles.  It may have been a few miles out but it was reasonably priced and had an indoor pool, which I took full advantage of!

There was a KFC right next door so Hubs walked over and got us overpriced chicken dinner.
After dinner and a swim I noticed that strange vending machine on the way back to our room.

Food AND drinks in the same machine!  See the little wheels on the side?  You put your quarters in and turn the wheel for your item.

But the wheels/slots for the drinks are hidden inside the machine.  You have to open the front to access the drink selections.
I don't why this struck me as weird/odd but it did.
Maybe it was because it took me a full 5 minutes to figure out how it worked! lolz

After hurting my brain over this funky vending machine I went to bed.
We would need all our faculties about us for Day 2 when we hit Illinois.


Wednesday, October 28, 2015

The Eating Out

If you are a longtime reader here you already know that I track the money we spend on groceries and toiletries every year at Chez Sluggy.
I've ben tracking our food budget monies for well over 7 years now here on this blog.  In those years I've fed between 5 and 2 people on our grocery money and if I don't say so myself I've done a bang up job at both the feeding and the money watching.  ;-)

In order to be more transparent on what is spent on food I have started a page(link on the tab at the top of the blog)to track what I spend on "Eating Out" too.
Because unless you are a hermit and never go out and cook every single item you put into your mouth, you are going to have some meals at restaurants or as take-out from a restaurant.
And this spending adds up too!


While I don't include our Eating Out costs in my Grocery Budget, Eating Out does take a hit on the overall family budget.  I cubbyhole Eating Out in our Entertainment category in the Household Budget.
We enjoy dining out(though not as much as we use to as I find many restaurant foods overly salted)and experiencing new and interesting dishes we don't/can't make ourselves both locally and when we travel.  We also like a good hunk of steak now and again.....

As a category I like to keep the eating out costs around $100 per month, unless we are traveling(in which case eating out is mostly ALL one does!)or there is a special event/occasion(like a birthday meal out, a holiday meal out or company comes to visit).

When all the kids were still living at home, eating out could be very costly.  During any given month, just 1 night of Chinese take-out, 1 night of take-out pizza(2-3 pies required with 3 teens at home) and heaven forbid we all went out to dine that month(ack!) and that $100 limit was blown to bits! lolz
With only 2 of the family eating at home these days(sometimes 3), $100 seems much more ample, even as the cost of restaurant food has risen every year since I started tracking our spending in 2008.

If you take a look at our Eating Out spending for this year we have been pretty good at keeping it under $100 in months where we had no travel/special events happen. 
Unfortunately for our budget we have gone on trips 5 out of the last 10 months so here aren't many under $100 months this year.
Having to eat while living away from home and having no access to cooking facilities(a mini-fridge and a microwave in your motel room don't count in my book as "cooking facilities")isn't very conducive to eating cheaply AND well when traveling.
If you are going to travel(unless you are living in an accommodation with a full kitchen or going in a motor home)you need to account for increased spending on food.

Heck in February we only made one trip to Subway for sammiches to bring home for dinner so our Eating Out totaled $18.  For most people it's totally unrealistic to NOT budget for any eating out whatsoever in a month.
Unless your income is so restricted(in which case you really shouldn't' be splurging on eating out anyway)people are going to be spending money on meals made by someone else, aren't they?

So to all you readers who think I only spend $300 or whatever the spending was that particular month on food, here is the "whole" picture.

Year-to-date spending on Groceries/Toiletries....$3,723.41
Year-to-date spending on Eating Out...................$2,746.57
Total Spending on both Categories......................$6,469.98
Monthly Average Spending on Both Categories....$646.99

Seeing that I "spent" $646.99 a month on all food/toiletries related categories so far this year should make all you folks, who think my food spending was too low and could never be replicate by anyone else, feel better. ;-)
Of course including meals out also includes tips paid at real sit-down restaurants if we eat at those.  Tips while part of the experience of dining out aren't actually spent on "food" technically but on service, they are part of the bill. 

The fact is, if you can't afford eating out on your income level you shouldn't do it.  It is NOT a necessity of life but a luxury.  But if you are human(and who isn't?)it's very difficult to never EVER go out to eat/get take-out food even on a poverty level income.  I'd be hard pressed to find someone in our Modern Society who never eats out, ever.

For us Eating Out is a luxury that we enjoy and/or a hazard of traveling(which we also enjoy). Sure we could eat out less or not at all but if we have a level of income that gives us excess monies in our budget and we are debt-free and saving tons of cash for retirement too, why not use some of that extra income to enjoy ourselves along the journey?

So do you keep track of your Eating Out spending?
When added to your food/grocery spending how does that combined total spending make you feel?



Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Last of the October Shopping

I had a $5 off $50 Purchase Coupon for Maine Source(the local restaurant supply store)and they had some good deals on Sunday(the weekend specials and the new weekly specials good on this day)so I hiked up there to finish off the bulk of my food shopping for this week.

Pictured are acorn squash, sweet potatoes and butternut squash I bought.  The squash was .49¢ lb. and the taters were .69¢ lb.
If some of this lasts long enough to make it to Thanksgiving it will be making an appearance on the Turkey Day table too.  ;-)

I also picked up in this trip--
10 lb. potatoes @$1.69
1 head green cabbage(3.23 lb.)@.59¢ lb.
1 head red cabbage(1.80 lb.)@.69¢ lb.
1 lb. liverwurst(Hubs lunches)@$2.49
2 lb. med. raw shrimp @$11.49 bag
8 lb. ground chuck @$2.69 lb.
1 package paper plates @$1.79(to get me over $50 spent)
Total came to $50.30-$5 coupon=$45.30 OOP

They didn't have sour cream for a good price or any reg. carrots(just those shaved up baby ones)so when Hubs went to Walmart to get a pair of boots afterwards, I picked up a bag of carrots, a container of sour cream and a 8-pack of frozen burritos(Hubs go-to weekend lunch).
These items were free as I had a $50 Walmart gift card(gotten free with credit card points)to use on the food and the boots.  And there is $23+ left on the gift card now.

This finishes off my food/toiletries spending for October so I'll be closing the books now on this month and posting my grocery totals in the next couple of days.  I know I didn't spend over my $300 Oct. budget and can't wait to see how much under I ended up at.

I have also been buying this month with an eye toward having to prepare Thanksgiving dinner.  Little by little I have been squirreling away items I need to make that meal.....turkey, veggies, flour for rolls, pumpkin, evaporated milk and sugar for pies, etc.  About the only item I still need to purchase is some bread for the stuffing and a bottle of Redi-Whip or a carton of Heavy Cream if I want to make my own whipped cream. ;-)

If the Weis ads are good when they come out on Thursday I'll either wait until after Saturday to purchase anything there on November's money IN November or I'll just get my November grocery money a few days early and start the November buying before the weekend.

Some of the squash and cabbage already made it to my table on Monday...........

Potato encrusted Cod, Cole Slaw and Mashed Butternut Squash.



Monday, October 26, 2015

Grocery Spending Last Week

Well we were on vacation last week but I still managed to buy groceries. lolz

A week ago Sunday Sonya Ann took me to Jewel-Osco Markets so I could buy a few things that we mostly ate while on vacation.  I could technically put this spending under the Vacation Budget but I went ahead and filed them under the Food Budget.

No photo but here's what I got....

2 large containers of unsweetened Iced Tea(on sale for $2.00 ea.)as I can't LIVE without my iced tea
1 jar of pickles for $2.50
Another jar of pickles for $2
1 box of crackers for $2.50
1 bag of chips for $2
2 large G2 Gatorades for $1.50 each
1 Ghirardelli chocolate bar for $2(which I left behind at Sonya's house). 
TOTAL OOP.....$18.61 with tax.

Then before we got home Friday night, we stopped at the Surplus Outlet, since we were driving right by it and got a few more food deals.........

3 x Jif cornbread mix....3/$1.00
2 x Velveeta ready meals for CB.....2/$2.78
1 x box of spaghetti......59¢
2 x cans pumpkin....2/.$1.78
3 x jars of spaghetti sauce....3/$2.97
1 x dozen eggs....$1.69 *not pictured
1 x gallon vinegar....$2.19
2.54lbs. onions.....$.99(.39¢ lb.)
1 x Contessa bagged frozen dinner....$3.59 *not pictured
1 x 8 lb. bag of breaded Chicken cutlets....$9.99 *not pictured
2 x candy bars.....2/$1.00 *not pictured
TOTAL OOP.....$28.57 no tax

We were out of white vinegar and chicken cutlets and the rest were good deals.

Total spending last week on food budget $47.18.
I've got a bit more shopping to do this week and then I can close out the books on October and post this month's outcome.


This Week on the Dining Table

It's the "You Mean I Actually Have to COOK Again?!?!" Edition--

Yeah, visiting at Sonya Ann's house means not having to fix food because her Hubs is a fabulous cook!
This was the spread we had on Saturday night when we were there.  Homemade everything from the corn to the squash to the potatoes to the pot roast to the gravy.  I am spoiled now.....and fatter. lolz
Onward to the meal planning!
Here's what was planned last week.......

1. Sunday--Barbecue Pork Sandwiches with Cole Slaw, Sun Dried Tomato Salsa on Toast
2. Monday--Lena's Lemon Chicken with Zucchini and Tomatoes over Rice
3. Tuesday--Leftovers
4. Wednesday--Dinner Out
5. Thursday--?
6. Friday--?
7. Saturday--?

And this is what actually happened--

1. Sunday--Barbecue Pork Sandwiches with Cole Slaw, Sun Dried Tomato Spread on Toast
2. Monday--Eating Out-Culver's(I had a pork tenderloin sandwich, salad)
3. Tuesday--Leftovers-Pot Roast and Mushrooms in Gravy, Butternut Squash, Garlic Mash
4. Wednesday--Pizza
5. Thursday--Eating Out-Pot Roast Sandwich, Cole Slaw & French Fries
6. Friday--No Dinner, Eating Out for Lunch-Chicken Salad Sandwich w/ raw Veggies and Dip
7. Saturday--Take-Out Chinese food

We were on vacation last week so the plan was loose.  Lots of eating out and I got pampered at Sonya's because Den cooked. Mmmmmmm!!!  I was going to cook for everyone one night but all hell broke loose(I'll let Sonya tell y'all about that! lolz)so I didn't fix that meal.  Then lots of restaurant meals on the 2 days it took to get home. 

As for my grocery spending last week......$18.91 spent at Jewel-Osco while at Sonya's house and stopping at Surplus Outlet on the way home and spending another $31.85 for groceries put my food spending from 10/15 to 10/24 at $50.46.  This bit brings the monthly spending to $192.34 for October so far.  $107.66 left in the $300 monthly budget for food in October with 5 days left to spend.

Leftovers going into this week....nothing.  We ate up or froze all the leftovers before we left.  This meant eating a huge slice of homemade apple pie for Breakfast the morning we left on our trip.
Ah the sacrifices I make....... 8-)
Here is this week's "food plan"--

1. Sunday--Cheese Ravioli with Meat Sauce, steamed Mixed Veggie
2. Monday--Fish or Shrimp, Butternut Squash, Cole Slaw
3. Tuesday--Pork Chops, Harvard Beets, Garlic mashed Potatoes
4. Wednesday--Spaghetti and Meatballs(Hubs request), Collards
5. Thursday--Chicken something, Roasted Veggies
6. Friday--Tuna Noodle Casserole, Leftover Veggies
7. Saturday--Leftover Pork Chops, Corn Casserole, ?

What I need to buy for this menu?.........Butternut Squash, Cabbage, Carrots, other Veg? too and Sour Cream.

I have meatballs, pork chops, fish, shrimp, ravioli, chicken and ground beef for spaghetti sauce in the freezer.  There are canned beets and corn, noodles, tuna and tomato sauce in the pantry and collards still in the garden that need to be harvested.
I foresee making a pot of soup also in my future this week as well but I have all the ingredients for that too.

$50 on food should get us through this week and that is counting a run to the Bread Outlet as well.
What is getting fixed and served at your house this week?    

Was last week's plan successful, did you go off plan or did you not even plan what was going to be eaten that week?

Any great deals on food at your stores this week? 


Sunday, October 25, 2015

No One is Safe From Crazies!

Eldest son called tonight to tell us the school where he teaches is trending on CNN.
The reason?
Authorities thwarted a student's mass murder plot planned to be carried out at the school.

Go HERE to read about it.



And the Winner is......

This box of goodies from this Boring Blog Box Giveaway will be winging it's way toward the winner, who turns out to be..........

Annamarie Voss!
What a great selection of items, some I have tried but some I have not and I always love to give new items a try. avosslm at gmail dot com
Congratulations Annamarie!!
Now just send me an email from the email address you supplied with your full name and mailing address and I'll get this prize out in the mail this week to you.
Thank you to everyone who played along and we'll have another Giveaway up on deck soon.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Don't Forget to Enter!......Ends Saturday Night

Just a reminder to enter my Giveaway before it ends Saturday night at 11:59pm, October 24th.

The link is HERE.

I will be off digging out, the rest of this weekend, after returning home from our trip.

Too much unpacking, laundry to do, bills to pay, grocery shopping and food to prepare over the next few days.
I'll be back on Monday for sure but maybe by Sunday, at least to announce the Boring Blog Box Giveaway Winner!

I hope your weekend turns out the way you wish


Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Death Certificates for Geneological Purposes

Since the state of Virginia has finally released many death certificates online earlier this year I have been combing through scads of records on Ancestry trying to get all my ancestors' death information safely filed away.

While it may seem at first glance a pretty morbid hobby, this filing away causes of death for people long gone from this world, it has pointed out to me in a real way how very hard life was in the past compared to today.

With the number of ways to be "offed" so numerous and close at hand, say, 100 years ago, keeping a family intact was against the odds.  While divorce was not very common back then, or at least not talked about or admitted to in polite company, death stalked your and my ancestors closely and made widows and orphans of many of your now long dead family members.

Medical care was rudimentary if available at all, so that many illnesses and diseases that are easily survived today took people down at any age.
Especially cruel was dying in childbirth suddenly, at an age when most women are in their prime physically.

And domestic abuse took many men and women as well, because of the social taboo against divorcing a rotten or down right murderous spouse.
Women didn't work as a general rule but kept the home and raised the children so when a mother died, often the children were farmed off to extended family or if none were able to take them in, these young ones landed in orphanages.
Often a widower would remarry as soon as possible to provide a new mother to take care of his children.

If the man of the house died his widow and kids were left destitute with no source of income. If the widow was employable she went to work(and made barely enough to survive let alone raise her children)and the children were left with relatives or on the door step of a charity house/orphanage.
If a widow was lucky enough to find a new husband quickly many times he didn't want to take on providing for her dead husband's children and they were still farmed out to relatives or an orphanage.  It is cruel but true that often widows had to make a choice between her children and her new husband and due to having to survive themselves, the widows had to choose the new husbands over their own children.
Heck I know someone younger than myself who found out as an adult after her mother died that she had a half-sibling she never knew about.  Her mother had been married before marrying her own father and he refused to raise that child so the mother had nothing to do with her first child and never told her subsequent children she had with this second husband about her previous life and family.
Ah, family secrets.......

And with the death certificates available for viewing I have found my first murder/suicide.
Not on my direct line but in a family related by marriage.
So sad and knowing the details now it fully fleshes out some of these folks as real people which makes these deaths even more tragic.

Sometimes this genealogy stuff cuts right to your heart.



Tuesday, October 20, 2015

2015 Road Trip Day 5-6 AR to LA & Beyond.....

If you want to catch up on the earlier reports on this trip
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

On Day 5 we left Little Rock and headed West across Arkansas, before dropping South into The NW corner of Louisiana.

We passed lot of a billboards for this place, supposedly a massive country buffet type restaurant.
We passed it well before lunch time came so didn't get to experience it.

But we did have a plan to stop at this place for lunch in Arkadelphia............

Hubs got a fried catfish sammich with slaw..........

I got a pork tenderloin sammich with a salad.  Sammiches are made with white bread, pickles and packets of mayo and mustard on the side.

It was hot and fresh.
They also had an extensive list of fried pies so I had to!

Mmmm, as the bag says, "peach".
The look on my face should say it all......

Lot of country and tacky tchotchke décor but the food was good and the prices reasonable.

Nobody leaves hungry at Fat Boys.

We were back in the car and heading further west into Texarkana.
There are two Texarkanas actually.
One half of the town is in Arkansas, the other half in Texas.

The town is bisected by State St. and the Courthouse, Federal Building, Post Office building was constructed in the center of the road so that if you stand on the South side of the building you can stand in two states at one time by straddling the state line.
There is a sign there for photo-ops.

Hubs takes his turn in front of the sign.

Across the street from the Federal building is a bar decorated with Texas football symbols/sayings on one side and Arkansas football stuff on the other side.

A bit more driving west and we swung South and down into Louisiana.......

Got to Shreveport, checked into our hotel, rested a bit and then headed back out to our Daughter's house.

We took her out to a local Italian restaurant her boyfriend's mother recommended.
I had already blown my diet with a fried pie so how much more worse could it be to have a cannoli too? lolz

The Daughter having a coffee after dinner.

The Daughter and Hubs.

The next day, on Friday, we had a mission.
The previous week this had happened to Daughter's car........

*Notice the SEE ROCK CITY license plate*

Daughter worked for a business that was open 24/7 so often had to drive there or back in the wee hours of the night/morning.  They had been experiencing bad weather all Spring in Louisiana.....driving rains, winds, storms.
Daughter was on her way to work in the wee hours, down a country road with no lighting right at the tail end of a horrendous storm.  She came over a rise and bend in the road and a tree limb was across the road.  She slammed on her brakes which snapped a brake cable and she went sliding into the tree limb and obviously from the photo you can see the tree limb won.

Daughter came out of this much better than the car thankfully.
But now she needed a new car to get to work and back.
So our first full day in LA was spent accompanying her car shopping.
Fun, fun.....

We went to see the Giant Rat(or is it a Hamster?)first......

She loved this little new car but everyone deemed it too small, especially if she had anymore fights with tree limbs......

We ended up at a Toyota dealership down the road next and we found this used(a lease turn-in) Honda........

She drove it around, we discussed, we huddled with the salesman and went over the numbers and Daughter bought the car.  She picked it up the next morning............

A sturdy, safer car with low miles that she can afford.
The rest of the day was all about eating and shopping.
First off Daughter took us to the Twister Root Burger Co.

It's a fun place where they serve burgers.  You can get your typical beef burger or a more exotic meat burger.  Daughter and I chose a half duck/half elk burger.

They have a self-serve pickle bar with varieties of pickles you can scarf down.

When you pay you get a ticket and they call your ticket when your burgers are ready.
Of course, here is the ticket we got......

"Coming Mother....."

The beverages were self-serve.
The label on the tea container of the right should read "Sweet Tea".

The wall/ceiling behind the bar in there was covered in guitars....

But the BEST part was the chalkboard walls in the ladies' room.
Someone had written a bunch of Chuck Norris-isms......

We hung out at the hotel in the afternoon and went swimming in the pool there, did some imbibing and chatting too and then went out for dinner at a place nearby......

Sam's is a local eatery using local seasonal ingredients and homemade sides. Daughter & I split my order of shrimp and her order of fried catfish....the fry the whole fish.

 Shrimp as big as your hand, Jumbo Shrimp-the oxymoronic phrase. lolz

A little more yakking and Daughter left for home and we turned in for the night.
Thus ended Day 6 of the 2015 Louisiana Road Trip.