Coming down from the hustle and bustle of the holidays is a challenge.  I had such a great two-week staycation from work and did exactly what I set out to do — nothing.  I slept late, binge watched tv and movies, took naps, read, cooked and spent alot of time with my brother who was in town for almost three weeks and stayed with me.  He makes me laugh like no one else can.  It’s like “home” to be with him.

When you don’t have a schedule, it’s so easy to get out of routine, especially with your sleep schedule, so last week I leaped out of bed on Monday for work and by Thursday I was so sleepy.  My brain is also not firing on all cylinders for blogging, but I thought I would at least share a few random things I am finding fun, helpful or interesting.  And, I hope to post a podcast this week, too.

First, I broke up with cable television.  I was paying almost $250 a month for channels I have no interest in.  I took a poll at home and the only two channels Mr. Bee was adament we keep was the History Channel and MSNBC.  Me — I only care about HGTV, the Hallmark Channel and cooking shows.  I did some shopping around and found this helpful article  comparing all the companies out there that provide low cost streaming services.  I was already strongly considering Sling TV, and based on my research, they offered just what I wanted for my budget (with a free month of service).  Now I am paying about $50 for Sling, Netflix and DVR.  Then, I spent about an hour on live chat to negotiate my internet bill down to $40 for internet. For less than $100 (a $150 monthly savings) I am done for all the TV and internet I can possibly want.  AT&T took it like a champ and let me ship my equipment back for free at the UPS store.  I also lowered my insane phone bill by $15 a month with bundling my phone and internet.  Monthly savings in total – $165.  Thank you.

I made a list of two foods I want to perfect this year — Roasted chicken and souffles.   I follow this cutie Trent from Store Bought is Fine blog.  His mission is to cook every single one of Ina Garten’s recipes.  I think Trent is up to 663.  He’s inspired me to try new recipes this year and Ina’s Perfect Roast Chicken was the recipe Harry and Meghan were cooking when he proposed.  My brother got me a French cookbook on souffles so that is also on my list.

I made the most amazing meal this weekend.   I did a little grocery shopping on Saturday morning and saw these simmer sauces from Albertson’s Signature Select.  They were on sale for $2.49 a jar so I bought several varieties.  I decided to prepare the Chile Verde with pork.  I got a pork shoulder for about $5, a box of lime cilantro rice, a package of Hatch green tortillas and a can of black beans.  For about $12 I had a dinner meal that ended up making enough servings for lunch the next two days.  The meat was flavorful and the entire meal was delicious.  Really, one of the best meals I’ve made in a while.  I plan to keep these sauces on my shelf.

Kind replies and comments.  I have met some of the sweetest people in my blogging journey.  Strangers send me the kindest notes letting me know how much they appreciate my posts and most recently my podcast.  Here’s a recent message I received in my email inbox last week…

“I just wanted you to know I found your website and podcast, from following Euna Mae’s. I have binged listened to your podcast this past week, and I can’t wait to hear more! I have also looked through a lot of your blog.  Just wanted to say “hi”. Can’t wait to read and hear more!!!!  K.”

Let’s see what else…I cleaned out my pantry so I can start fresh.  Alot of the food I didn’t need any more (our eating habits have changed alot since Miss Bee is away at school), I took up to my church’s food pantry for someone else to enjoy.  I plan to go through all my cabinets in the kitchen and do a purge of things I am not using.  I usually always have at least one “donation” bag going at all times so as I find things I don’t want it goes into the bag.  When the bag is full it goes into the car for drop off the next day.  This trick keeps things from piling up and causing clutter.

I learned something new from  The Kitchen Counter Podcast, which I love, about the difference between convection and conventional cooking.  A “light bulb” moment was that I have the convection feature on my oven and I never use it.  Well, no more!  I made a batch of my favorite chocolate chip cookies with chopped dried cherries (that I found when I organized my pantry) and used the convection mode.  They were amazing.  Seriously.  I love learning and trying new things.  Another fun tip from this podcast is to shop your pantry.  Try to challenge yourself to cook from what you already have instead of buying more.  My pantry purge made me realize I have 100 cans of tomatoes of all varieties.  I need to make a great sauce and freeze it!

So, that’s it for this Monday.  I hope your week is great!