Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Lasagna Roll-ups

I hope everyone had a great Memorial Day Weekend. I was touched the other day, as I drove past our Veterans Cemetary, to see the flags carefully placed for the ceremony the next day. I though of all the soldiers who had died in the different conflicts and wars of our country. I hope that God has given them a special place in Heaven to spend their eternity. I pray for their families, as they go on without them. I think of my dad and how proud he was of the service he gave in Navy during WWII. A little tear escapes my eye as I remember the 21 gun salute they gave him at his funeral 6 years ago. He had such deep feelings about the war he fought in and the service he rendered. I was lucky, my dad came back and was able to live a full life. He made sure that we showed respect for our fallen soldiers. I hope I have taught my children well on this subject, I pray we all have.

On a lighter note, I found this wonderful recipe for Lasagna roll-ups that was just too good not to post. It's different and I can't wait to try it.


8 ounces uncooked lasagna noodles
1 Tablespoon olive oil
10 oz. pkg. frozen chopped spinach, thawed and dried
2 Tablespoons minced green onion
15 oz. ricotta cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg
21 oz. jar Alfredo sauce
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add lasagna and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente. Rinse in cold water and drain well. Meanwhile, in a large sauce pan over medium heat add oil and cook broccoli or spinach and green onions until tender, stirring frequently. Remove pan from heat and stir in ricotta cheese, Parmesan cheese, salt and egg. Preheat oven to 375°F. Place noodles in a single layer on a sheet of waxed paper. Evenly spread some of the cheese mixture on each noodle. Roll up each noodle from the short end, jellyroll style. In a 9x13” baking dish, spoon about 3/4 of the Alfredo sauce on the bottom and spread evenly. Arrange the rolled noodles, seam side down, in the dish. Top with mozzarella cheese and remaining sauce. Cover loosely with foil and bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes or until hot and bubbly and the cheese is melted. Serve. Yields 4-6 servings

Friday, May 26, 2006

Crockpot Beef Fajitas......Crockpot tips by Chet

Beef Fajitas

1 1/2 lb beef flank steak
1 onion, sliced
1 green pepper, cut into strips
1 jalapeno pepper, chopped
1 tbs cilantro
1 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp salt
8 oz can chopped tomatoes
A dozen 8" flour tortillas
Toppings: sour cream, guacamole, shredded cheddar cheese,salsa

Cut flank steak into 6 portions. In any size crock pot, combine meat, onion, green pepper, red pepper, jalapeno pepper, cilantro, garlic, chili powder, cumin, coriander and salt. Add tomatoes. Cover and cook on low for 8-10hours or on high 4-5 hours. Remove meat from crock pot and shred. Return meat to crock pot and stir. To serve fajitas, spread meat mixture on flour tortillas and add favorite toppings. Roll up tortillas. Serves 6-8

Crockpot tips from Chet:
* Use cooking times as guidelines. Pots vary; each one is not exactly the same, and fluctuations in power or voltage may occur. Generally, figure that 1 hour on high is about 2 hours on low. Some recipes should only be cooked on high or low, so follow directions carefully.

* Because they cook more slowly than meats, generally place fresh vegetables, such as carrots, potatoes, celery, and onions, in the bottom and around the sides ofthe slow cooker. Then place meats on top.

* To avoid curdling dairy products, generally add milk, heavy cream, sour cream, or cheese sometime during the last hour of cooking time. If heating cheeses for long periods, opt to use processed cheeses or cheese spreads, because they can tolerate more heat. Some dessert recipes use milk, cream, eggs, and cream cheese successfully, but for the most part, these are cooked quickly on the high heat setting.

* Beef cuts will be better cooked on low for 8-10 hours, while chicken can be cooked on high for 2 1/2 to 3 hours.

Check out Chets webpage at: http://dayzines.com

Have a great weekend everyone!

Monday, May 22, 2006

Free tours for the whole family

Fun Factories
by Jeff Yeager
Free tours for the whole family

When I was growing up in the Midwest, our family vacations and weekend outings invariably included show and tell stops at factories that manufactured everything from cookies and candy to light bulbs and model rockets. In retrospect, I realize that my parents undoubtedly loved the price tag of admission (almost always free) and the fact that we usually walked away with free samples to further augment our limited family budget. That we were also getting a painless (if sometimes rather superfluous) educational experience was icing on the cakes coming off the conveyor belt.

As kids, all we knew was that these tours were the best part of almost any trip. Still to this day, at family gatherings, we fondly recall our tour guide "Three Fingers Fred" at the meat packing plant we toured in Chicago, and we laugh at the dog-eared snapshot taken of our family at a pickle factory in Ohio, with each of us proudly sporting the pickle shaped paper hats like those worn by the plant's workers. We never got to a single Disney park when I was growing up, but when it comes to good times with family, I'll take our dream factories over the Magic Kingdom any day.

Unfortunately, fewer factories today open their doors to visitors. I suspect that's because of increased liability concerns and, sadder still, the growing belief among Americans that if something doesn't cost a lot of money, it can't be fun or worthwhile. Nonetheless, many factories still do offer tours, and most of them are still free.

For only the cost of a smile, you can see dolls being made at the Turner Doll factory in Heltonville, Indiana, sample otherworldly teas at the Celestial Seasonings plant in Boulder, Colorado, and see Harley-Davidson Motorcycles roar off the assembly line at the factory in York, Pennsylvania. The tour of Ben & Jerry's ice cream factory in Waterbury, Vermont is a hit with more than a quarter of a million visitors each year, particularly the sampling stop in the FlavoRoom (adults $3 and kids under 12 are free). You can even take a virtual tour of the Spam Factory at the Spam Museum in Austin, Minnesota.

Check out www.factorytoursusa.com for a comprehensive list of tours by state. And, my upbringing on factory tours has carried over to adulthood. Here's where to look for information on brewery and winery tours: www.ratebeer.com, www.allamericanwineries.com, and www.wineamerica.org (become a WineAmerica Trailblazer for $25 a year and get access to special VIP tours and tastings). _____________________________
Jeff Yeager is a freelance writer and public speaker with a humorous approach to personal finances. He has appeared on the NBC Today Show and can be contacted via his website www.UltimateCheapskate.com.

Note from Lucy: I love taking tours. I suppose my favorite tour was at the Blue Bell Ice Cream plant in Brenhem, TX. It just freaked me out at how big the mixing units were. I still wonder how they make so many flavors of ice cream in one place. They must have the biggest freezer in the world! The best part of the tour was the tasting room. Yummmm.

With summer on our heels, you just might be able to find a way to compensate for gas prices by taking a free tour or two on you trip. If you want to take a vacation, closer to home, a free tour might just make the day. There is no telling what you will find. Follow the links above and have a good time.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Reaffirming Old Debts...

You've heard of gift cards -- they come pre-loaded with cash -- but have you ever heard of a credit-card that comes pre-loaded with DEBT? That's right... It comes with a balance due!

"Reaffirming" an old unpaid debt makes this possible. Assume you have an old $2,000 unpaid, dormant, debt that hasn't reached the 7-year Statute Of Limitation on collection. Perhaps it's a disputed debt that was never resolved. A credit-card company can purchase your debt from the original creditor for pennies on the dollar. Any money collected from you that exceeds their cost of buying your debt from your original creditor is pure profit. This credit-card company then sends you an enticing credit-card offer. When the card arrives, it has a $2,000 balance due, reflecting your old unpaid debt!

It's now a new unpaid debt to a new creditor and the 7-year Statute Of Limitations clock is reset. Not to mention whatever credit limit you were granted has been reduced by $2,000. This is legal if the credit-card company discloses their intent to resuscitate this debt in their solicitation. If you agree, that is, if you apply for their credit card, you have "Reaffirmed" this debt and re-committed to paying it.

If you search for "Reaffirming old debts" on a search engine, like Yahoo!, you'll see hundreds of results associated with bankruptcy. Reaffirmation is most common in bankruptcy proceedings, when you are agreeing on which of your debts you are going to pay after bankruptcy. You won't see many results associated with credit-cards.

This is a new credit card company profit strategy, but one likely to grow in popularity. It combines low cost, low risk, capital appreciation, high interest potential, and FICO score pressure. The DebtIntoWealth rapid debt payoff system helps you avoid these kinds of credit-card company shenanigans because you'll pay off all credit card debt in less than 3 years.
You won't be a target.

However, if you find yourself with an unresolvable debt situation and have chosen to let the statute of limitations on collections expire, be aware that you'll become very interesting to credit card companies as your expiration date approaches. That new credit-card may come with a very sturdy string attached.

Greg Moore is the Creator of the Wealth Building System 'DebtIntoWealth -- Lessons from My Journey to Debt Freedom'.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

What did you think of the Presidents speech?

I listened to the Presidents speech on the Internet the other night and I was very disappointed. I think he is trying to come up with a band-aid for a large wound. I really don’t think he is concerned about how many people have come into our country illegally. He “says” that he will be sending “up to” 6,000 unarmed National Guardsmen to protect our borders. I don’t believe him. Actions are louder than words and he has done everything he can to just let the people walk into our country. He has money that he hasn’t used for border patrols still in the budget. Our government is even giving the Mexican government information about where the Minute men are and telling them the best places that they can come across. Is this any indication that they are willing to stop the flood of illegal immigrants? We need to secure our boarders now….

Did you know that 1/3 of Mexico’s income comes from the money that illegal immigrants send home to their families? Valiente Fox doesn’t want that much income cut off and he is whining to President Bush about it. What is he doing to help his own country? One of the plans that Pres. Bush is pushing will allow millions of people to come to this country as “guest workers” and they will be allowed to bring their families and aged parents with them. By the year 2026 we will have over 130 million immigrants living in our country, just from Mexico. Who is going to take care of those aged parents. Are they going to collect Social Security without even paying a dime into it? Are we still going to pay for welfare, health care and schooling for all these immigrants out of our pockets? Are these “guest workers” going to be paying into our system?

President Bush doesn’t want to use the word Amnesty. He wants to call these people “guest workers”, but he needs to use a dictionary and look up the word Amnesty. Why should he give that many people, who evidentially don’t respect our system, a free ride? Do we really think that those “guest workers” are going to go home to Mexico after their three year permits are up? Why would they bring their families and aged parents to this country only to take them back home after three years? They are not going “home”, come on! If you really believe that then I have a bridge in Iceland I can sell you.

I don’t mind it when people come to our country, that really want to become American citizens, and speak the English language. Our forefathers came to this country with legal status, many of them coming in thru Ellis Island. My own grandfather came here from Moravia with the proper papers and he came here legally. He paid his taxes and did his due diligence to become an American citizen in the proper manner. Many of our forefathers did the same thing. What has happened to our system now?

The next important problem is of our unsecured boarders. I wonder how many terrorists have already come across the border? Any one care to guess? Our system is broken and we need to do something to fix it. Sorry for the rant but this frustrates me to no end.

Now, a few frugal living tips:
http://www.bankrate.com/dls/news/pf/20060517a1.asp Landing a job after a lengthy absence.

http://www.stretcher.com/stories/06/06may15a.cfm Radical cost cutting when your budget is out of whack.

http://www.bankrate.com/dls/green/debt-consolidation/basics4-3a.asp 12 questions to ask a potential credit counselor.

http://www.stretcher.com/stories/05/05may16b.cfm Adjustable rate mortgages in a rising rate environment.

http://www.stretcher.com/stories/06/06may15g.cfm Two free days at Disney

Friday, May 12, 2006

Are they really entitled to this?

I have a friend that has moved back to Houston from somewhere in Nebraska. Right now she is living in a place called the Intown Suites. It is a motel of sorts that has small rooms with a little kitchen and it offers weekly and monthly rates. She has MS and is in a wheel chair right now. She is living off of Social Security and hanging in there. BUT there are many of the hurricane Katrina and Rita evacuees living at this small motel. I will go over to visit my friend and see them milling around the complex. "We the People" (the government) are still paying their way. This morning I received this email and thought it was a sad explanation of what many of these people do. (Now I know that there are some who have found jobs and are going on with their lives, but this is an example of what is wrong with people who believe in entitlements.

Here is the email:
This past weekend FEMA and the City of Austin, along with the Texas Workforce Commission setup a job training/hiring/interview/job fair for all the Katrina FEMA evacuees in the Austin area to be held at the ACC campus on Webberville Road in East Austin. Several of the evacuees said they had no transportation to get from the apartment complexes.

So the city of Austin/FEMA/TWC set up transportation for each of them to ensure they would be able to partake of the benefit of job searching. The transportation consisted of nine buses and vans, to run from four locations in Round Rock, and five locations in Austin, in continuing shuttles back and forth to the campus to ensure that the hundreds of people looking for jobs would be transported in comfort. The vehicles were brought to their residences; drivers knocked on the doors; and every effort was made.

At the end of the day, the nine vans and buses transported a total of one Person.

Not one person per bus - one person total.

At the end of the day, none of the Katrina Evacuees applied for any of The jobs. Not one person took employment - NONE total.

The bill to FEMA was $7800.

You know, I don't mind helping the sick and the elderly, but those that refuse to work don't "deserve" my dime. Do you think we owe these people? I’m open for discussion here.

Monday, May 08, 2006

The babies are back home…

Well, it was a long nine days, but Grandma took care of JJ age 4 and Jocelyn age 8 months. You forget just how much work is involved in taking care of two children that age. The last time I did it was 25 years ago. I was a lot younger and in better shape back then and I had 3 children in that time frame. JJ does a good job entertaining himself. He likes to go to http://www.noggin.com/ and plays the different games there. He loves to play pigeon patterns and Play with me Sesame. Dora the Explorer and Pinky Dinky Do are also his favorites. He loves playing with his numbers and letters puzzles. I have also found out that he has a sweet tooth and if there is any candy in sight, he will find it. Yogurt is his favorite food to eat at Grandma’s house. His bed time is 9:00pm and he will actually tell you when it is his bedtime.

Jocelyne is an adorable baby. She loves to eat, unlike her big brother. These last nine days she has been teething a bit, and I gave her dog bone treats to teethe on. Jennifer did not like that idea, saying that her daughter was not a dog. I reminded her that babies have been teething on them for years. They are hard, full of healthy ingredients, and Jocelyne loved them. Jocelyn was already saying Da Da and, by the time she went home, I had her saying Ma Ma. I don’t know if she knows what it means, but she can say it. I have to admit that I did not get out much while the kids were here. Jocelyn weights a ton and I had a hard time carrying her around in her car seat.

Jennifer and Justin are recovering from their trip to El Paso to pick up Justin’s mom. They got her to Houston’s medical center just in time to save her life. The doctors told them that if they had waited one more hour, she would have died. She went through about 8 hours of surgery and still has some more surgery tomorrow morning. Let me tell you, this woman is lucky to be alive. I thank God that she made it here on time.

Bonnie was home for three days and then off to New York City. Go check out her blog at: http://bonnietravels.blogspot.com/ to see her in front of Times Square. She also has a picture of Jocelyne posted. William also popped in, from New Orleans, for three days and overlapped Bonnie’s stay.

Did I tell you that we had a monster thunderstorm last Thursday night? Bonnie and TF were watching TV when they heard a loud boommmm. The transformer, on the pole in our back yard, decided to blow. Our lights didn’t come back on till 4:30 the next morning. We had hail the size of marbles hitting our house, just something to add to the mix.

Off the top of my head: I read the other day that you can use a dryer sheet to clean soap scum from your shower tiles. Soak a cleaning cloth with white vinegar and wipe down your tiles, then use your dryer sheet to rub the tiles down and you will be surprised how much soap scum comes off. I tried it this morning and it really does work.

Lots to do tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

A Good Healthy Recipe...

Gabe's Famous Bean-Eggplant-Tomato Casserole - Quick Version

2 onions, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 green peppers, chopped
2 28-oz. cans plum tomatoes, chopped
2 T. fresh oregano or 2 t. dried
1 T. fresh thyme or 1 t. dried
2 bay leaves
1/4 t. cayenne, or to taste
2 eggplants (select very young, firm, shiny ones)
3 cans kidney beans, undrained

Bring the onions, garlic, pepper, tomatoes with their juice, and the seasonings to a boil and simmer while dicing the eggplant. Add eggplant to the pot and simmer 10 minutes. (You can peel the eggplant if you wish; I never do.) Stir in the cooked beans and simmer for 15-20 minutes.
10-12 servings freezes well!
Extra-Quick Version: Substitute 2 bags frozen pepper/onion mix for the onions and green peppers.
Southwestern Version: Add 1 tablespoon Southwestern Spice Mix or 1 tablespoon mild chile powder.
Recipe by: Gabe Merkin

Note from Lucy: Still busy with the babies. Jennifer and Justin should be back from picking up Justin's mom sometime tomorrow. I'm sure they will be tired and I'll have the babies at least two more days. My oldest daughter is home, between jobs, for the next three days. She'll be heading out to New York City to work after that. She is excited because she will get to see a musical and Uncle Larry has already promised her that he will take her to the "Met". Inbetween all of that Bonnie will get plenty of work done.
Life goes on!