Friday, November 26, 2010

Game Giveaway entry

Mama’s Holiday Wish List Meme

TodaysMama  and GameStopGame Stop are giving away a sleighful of gifts this holiday season and to enter I’m sharing this meme with you.

1. What is your holiday wish for your family?
Good health and safety! 

2. What is your Christmas morning tradition?
French breakfast puffs, my dad reading a story, then present opening 

3. If you could ask Santa for one, completely decadent wish for yourself, what would it be? 
A massage, manicure and pedicure

4. How do you make the holidays special without spending any money?
Christmas music on Pandora, hanging out and playing games, driving around to look at Christmas lights

5. What games did you play with your family growing up?
Pit, Taboo, Shanghai Rummy

6. What holiday tradition have you carried on from your own childhood?
Puffs on Christmas morning!

7. Where would you go for a Christmas-away-from-home trip?
Illinois to visit my husband's parents

8. Check out GameStop (link to: and tell us, what are the three top items on your GameStop Wish List this year? 
Playstation Move, Dragon Age 2 pre-order, Guitar Hero Heroes of Rock

Friday, October 29, 2010


Oh hey, it's been a loong time since I posted.  I blame it on work :-)
I just finished planning out our menus for November.  I like to plan for a month ahead of time because then I can just spend a half hour planning and then do a mega grocery shopping trip. (Usually Aldi for almost everything, then to HyVee for stuff I can't get there)  Let's just say the freezer is stuffed when I get home! 
I go about every week to HyVee to get things like fruit or milk.

November is a "clean out the freezer" month--so I'll be able to buy some extra baking supplies for the holidays!

To make menu planning as easy and pain free as possible I have a spreadsheet on my computer with the various things I make for dinner and the ingredients I need to buy.  It took a while initially, but after that it only takes me about half an hour to plan for the whole month.

I'm really bad about planning side dishes--I like to throw veggies in whatever I'm cooking and have a one dish meal! :-)  I also only plan dinners because we usually eat leftovers for lunch or eat at our work cafeterias, and breakfasts we just eat whatever!

So here are the things I'm making by week (or that Mike will be making on weeks where I work evenings):
Chipotle Bean Burritos, Oatmeal Pancakes, Corn Fritters, Dutch Baby
BBQ pork chops, Potato Corn Chowder, Hamburgers and curly fries, Spaghetti Pie, Bacon and egg quesadillas
Hot Wing Soup, Broccoli Cheese and Rice, Chana Masala and rice, Baked French Toast and sausage
BBQ pizza, crock pot potatoes and ham, sausage eggwiches
Spaghetti and garlic bread, Chili dog casserole

This is probably the biggest way I save money and time for our household! Plus I don't like having to think about what's for dinner.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Lemon-Thyme chicken

This is one of my favorite ways to make chicken--also a bonus because chicken quarters go on sale for $.69-.89 a pound!

 (This is the chicken before I cooked it! Just in case you were wondering)

 Lemon Thyme chicken
2 chicken quarters (thigh and leg)
1 lemon
8 or so sprigs of fresh thyme
fresh rosemary
1/2 stick butter

Put the chicken in a roasting pan (I use a cast iron dutch oven) skin side up, cut the lemon in half, squeeze the juice over the chicken and throw the two halved in the pan.  Put the herbs on top of the chicken, season with salt and pepper then cut the butter into small chunks and put it on the chicken.  Roast for about 5-10 minutes at 425 to make the skin crispy, then bake at 350 for about an  hour or until a meat thermometer reads 165.

I served it with some mashed sweet potatoes!  Yum!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Cereal deal

For those of you who shop at HyVee there is a great deal on General Mills cereal and Era laundry detergent.
I got six boxes of cereal and a 100 oz bottle of Era for $6!  I was excited :-)
I had a coupon for the cereal and for the detergent that I got from the paper, and found a box of Multi-grain Cheerios (my favorite, but I never buy them because they are usually too expensive) marked down because the box was squished!
Here's the link to the HyVee coupon. Basically you get $10 instantly and a $6 Catalina prints off for next time (mine didn't print off for some reason, but one of the managers was really nice and was able to get it to print for me).

I also got my hubby Cinnamon Toast Crunch--his favorite.  My guy LOVES cinnamon.  And oatmeal.  And butterscotch.  But not all together. :-)

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

anniversary trip

This last Sunday was our first wedding anniversary--we've been planning a trip for a while for a get a way weekend.  We rented a cabin in near Dubuque and it was awesome--there were three cabins--two were empty except for a group in one of them on Saturday night.  They were out in the middle of nowhere and beautiful!  Here's a view from our cabin: 

And the cabin itself--it had four bedrooms in the tower--we were not lacking on space!

On Saturday we went to a local winery for a wine tasting (neither of us had ever done that before but it was fun, and there was a really cute dog there)
Then on Sunday we went to Dubuque to walk along the Mississipi
Then we went to Galena, IL to look around the cute shops that are there and then went out to dinner--it was an awesome weekend!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


I've said that one of my new hobbies is looking for deals--to help our budget go as far as possible!
That said, I have had a ton of help from a few blogs that I read regularly Deal Seeking Mom and Money Saving Mom (I realize that I am not a mom, but these sites don't require that you have children :-)  I have been able to get some pretty sweet deals, and reading these has helped me learn how to use coupons--not very good at it yet, but I'm working on it!  But an awesome deal that I got today was this razor rebate so basically I will have a razor (and extra blade) for Mike free after the rebate.  Thought I'd pass it along!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Fill in the blank Friday

I am going to borrow the idea from my friend Monica and do a fill in the blank post!

1. Today for breakfast I ate... cinnamon graham crackers
2. My go to/never fail recipe is... pizza--I love to make all different kinds like pepperoni, BBQ, breakfast--can't go wrong with toppings and homemade oatmeal crust.  (I did try to make Thai flavored pizza a week or two ago, and it was nasty though :-) so I guess you can go wrong!

3. Something I eat that other people think is weird is... I almost always eat leftovers cold.  And for breakfast (you aren't weird Monica!)

4. My worst cooking disaster ever was when I tried to make a... French Breakfast Puffs, which are a Christmas morning tradition in my family--I used cornstarch instead of baking soda.  I had hockey pucks, not breakfast puffs!
5. If I could only eat one flavor of ice cream the rest of my life it would be... I'm not a big fan of ice cream, but I love the strawberry jalapeno gelato from Capanna here in Ames

6. One food I hate and avoid at all costs is... ah, I can't really think of any food I detest :-) I'll pretty much try anything once.  Oh wait--squid/calamari is gross, and I will not eat organ meats like liver or kidney....blech.
7. What is your favorite meal? Breakfast, lunch, or dinner?... umm breakfast for dinner?  I love pancakes, eggs, bacon, fruit etc., but I don't like to eat them in the morning!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

I am a nurse, yes I am

I'm almost done with my first week as an RN at Mary Greeley Medical Center here in Ames.  I am working full time days/evenings.  So I work two weeks of 3-1130pm and then two weeks of 7-330pm, with every other weekend and holidays, but I don't know which yet!
I had to buy a bunch of scrubs--all either navy or white, because nurses can only wear those colors--but it does make it nice because I don't have to think about what to wear to work--just pull out a random top and pair of pants.  :-)
I'm so glad God provided a job for me--we want to use the money from my salary to save up for a house to buy someday!  Plus I was getting super bored sitting at home most of the time.
I actually interviewed for a night position and a part time position but I was offered two day/evening positions (on different floors) so I was able to choose the floor I really wanted to work on.  What a blessing!

I haven't really stopped feeling like a student yet--except that technically I can do everything myself (like IVs, meds, assessments, etc) without supervision since I am licensed!
I have a great nurse training me and it has been pretty cool so far--but it's a bummer that I really don't see Mike on the weeks I work evenings :-(  But he's coming to eat dinner with me tonight at the fabulous Cafe on Grand (aka the Mary Greeley cafeteria)! And we are going to the zoo in Des Moines this weekend--I love zoos!

Friday, July 30, 2010

I just love organization

So I use a lot of spices when I cook--and I have about 19 million bottles of spices and whatnot in my cupboard and it was really unorganized--and I really don't like messy things.
This is what it looked like:

My handsome and handy hubby (I like alliterations) offered to build me a shelf/rack for all the spices so I could see all the labels!  We live in an apartment right now so this is the first "project" he's gotten to do.

This is what it looks like now:

Look at all that organization!  Labels where I can read them, all bottles visible.  I am a happy camper!

Thanks Mike!

Friday, July 23, 2010


Back in November I joined a site called Swagbucks--basically you just do your searches and earn points for it--I've earned enough for $65 in Amazon giftcards--not getting rich, but it has helped me to buy some fun stuff like a cast iron Dutch oven, a couple of books and helped to pay for my Kitchen-aid mixer!  And it doesn't take a lot of work or time either. 
I've put a "swidget" on the right side of this page, and if you are interested in finding out more click through! 
While I've been in school after we got married I have been looking for ways to make a little bit of money at home for the "extra" things we don't have budgeted. This is one of the ways I've done it!  I will post about some more of them later.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Hot Pepper Jelly

Mike and I have a little container garden by the window in the spare room--I grow thyme, rosemary and cilantro and Mike has been growing cayenne peppers!  Mike decided he wanted to try making jelly with the peppers--we've never made jelly before, so we decided not to foray into canning--maybe for a later adventure.

We made a small batch to start with.
3 red cayenne peppers
1 1/2 red bell peppers
1 1/2 cup sugar
almost 1/2 cup white vinegar
1.5 ounces liquid fruit pectin

Chop all the peppers up finely (wear gloves or put baggies over your hands while chopping cayennes). Put them in a heavy saucepan with the sugar and vinegar.  Put in 3 drops red food coloring, if you want to.  Over medium heat bring to a boil and cook for 6 minutes, stirring constantly.  Add the pectin, boil 3 more minutes.  let it cool and put it in containers.  Refrigerate or freeze.

I have to say THIS IS AMAZING!!  I have been eating it on saltines with cream cheese, or just plain on bread. 

Friday, July 16, 2010


I graduated from nursing school in May and passed my boards in late June, so I've been applying for a LOT of jobs in the past two months--but the nursing market is not good right now :-(  I was getting really discouraged by the lack of interviews and being without work for so long--I have been pretty bored--there's only so much you can clean in an apartment!! :-)
My first interviews at Mary Greeley were about two weeks ago and this week I had peer interviews for both the medical/surgical and cardiac/medical floors.  My second peer interview was at 3:30 on Wednesday and they called me at 4:30 the same day to offer me FT days/evenings on either floor--they just said I could pick!  I'm so thankful I don't have to work nights, because I don't do well on not a whole lot of sleep and now I will still be able to see Mike and be social!
I took the job on the cardiac/medical floor and I start on the 26th pending a physical next week!

Amy Bravo, RN (I just like writing that)

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


Since we got married I have made a hobby out of finding deals--I'm not super good at using coupons, since we buy most of our food at ALDI and it's super cheap already, but sometimes I find good coupon deals!
HyVee is having a really good sale this week, and look at what I got for $10!  I don't usually buy chips or frozen pizza, but I got awesome deals!

 Blueberries for $.88, pizza for $.88, brownies and hot dogs for $.49!
The HyVee coupons are in their ad I picked up in the store, and I had a manufacturer coupon for the pizza from their Facebook page.

I also tried making a curry for the first time last night, but it wasn't very good so I won't share the recipe. :-)

Monday, July 12, 2010


Mike and I went to a barbeque with friends from our small group from church today--super fun, even though we were attacked by mosquitos.  We girls had fun watching our hubbies play bocce ball (they weren't actually playing, we found out later, just throwing the balls in random places like down the slides on the playgrounds).  We decided they do a lot more crazy/competitive stuff when the wives aren't around.  
Anyway, I made s'mores bars for tonight.  They are really rich!  Once of our friends put a bar on the grill to see if he could toast it like a real s'more.  It didn't work, but it was a good idea!

Here's the recipe for marshmallowy deliciousness.  It came from here, with a few small changes
S'mores Bars
1 stick of butter, room temperature
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
2 king-sized milk chocolate bars (or a few regular ones if you don't want the chocolate so thick)
1 large egg
A jar of marshmallow fluff
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs (~7 full-sized graham cracker sheets, squished up.  I don't have a food processor, so I just used a potato masher and some of my massive muscle :-)
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8-inch square baking pan. Cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla. Set aside. Add dry ingredients to the creamed butter mixture until combined. Divide dough in half and press half of dough into an even layer on the bottom of the prepared pan.
Place chocolate bars over dough. 2 king-sized Hershey’s bars should fit perfectly side by side.
Spread chocolate with marshmallow creme or fluff. Place remaining dough in a single layer on top of the fluff (most easily achieved by flattening the dough into small shingles and laying them together). Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until lightly browned. Be sure to cool completely before cutting into bars. Makes 16 squares.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

First Post

I decided to write a blog...I had one in college, and haven't blogged for a few years, but thought I'd start again.
So, a little background...I have an awesome husband named Mike and we've been married for almost a year.  I graduated from nursing school in May and passed my RN boards.  I'm currently looking for a full time nursing job--I work part time as an RN in a local nursing home.

I love to cook and bake.  Well, I love to make desserts and bread Mike's coworkers get a lot of treats!  I have to get them out of the house somehow!
Anyway, I'm planning to post some of the recipes that I make, and any other random stuff that might be interesting, so we'll see how it goes!