Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Wyatt Szarek 2002-2011



This big pile of chocolate love is Wyatt.  He was a textbook lab and more! Loyal, loving, great with kids, and protective.  Wyatt was born on January 2, 2002 in a little of 9 chocolate labs.  We picked him because he winked at David!!   We brought him on Valentines day of that year – in a snow storm!  He was so tiny only 12 pounds – but he quickly grew to 100 pounds!

When David and I were engaged we knew we wanted a lab – we just didn’t know what color. Okay – really I wanted one of each color!! David was watching a hunting show and they were training some labs owned by Kevin Costner. The big one was named Wyatt. We loved the movie Wyatt Earp staring Costner! right then and there we knew we would name our lab Wyatt. We new our lab need to be a big strong Lab with a noticable presence.  Wyatt was all that..Big feet, stocky built and a big block head.


Like normal young labs he was full of energy, after dinner each night we would walk him to the back hill to get some of the energy out.  He loved going in the truck especially when it took us camping.  He climbed Bald Mountain more times then I can count and Rocky Mtn twice. 

the boys have a snack

While camping – Wyatt earned the name “Brown Dog”  that was really what we wanted…a brown dog. Do you remember the Chevy Chase movie – I think it was called funny farm – where they were trying to sell the house and the wife purchased him a big old yellow dog that just slept?  In the end that was how he was but early on he was nuts.  Chasing ducks, digging out stumps and coming out of the woods with a log instead of a stick like another dog would do.

Wyatt was great with the kids!  Tyler practically rode him like a horse.  From the time Tyler was little till just this week, it was nothing to see Tyler laying on Wyatt like a pillow.  They were best buds!  Both kids used Wyatt to climb up onto the couch and to eat their food of their plate that they didn't like.  Emma made a game of it!  In recent months the game at our house each night was the kids each getting milk bones and running down the hall to hide them.  Then Wyatt would sniff them out.


Wyatt passed on Friday Night – it was so painful for us.  He ate a rock, something he has always done.  But this one became stuck in my intestines, he ended up tearing 15 feet of intestines that were not repairable because the found cancer in him.  David and I took it the hardest.  Emma is just to little to really understand, and tyler had a lot of questions.  For David and I , its heartache.  Wyatt was our first born!!  We babied him, spoiled him, loved him and took his role in our life for granted.


Wyatt has slept on our bed since he was a few months old.  He was the best foot and bed warmer I know.  I loved coming home to the sound of his tail almost breaking the molding on my door frames!!  Wyatt could not stand it if I was out of his reach.  He would be find if David was in the Garden but if I walked down there he would bark and bark till I returned.  When I would run at night on the treadmill he would lay there till I was done.  He loved that even though I was running and not really paying any attention him it was his “Me time with mommy!” 

One time David was putting up a tree stand in the woods behind our house and I needed him to come home.  He didn’t take his cell phone.  So I hooked a walkie talkie to his collar and told Wyatt to find daddy.  He sniffed him right out!!  Wyatt was better then Lassie.  In September 2007 it was unseasonably hot, I had worked sick hours at work and passed out in my kitchen late at night (11pm).  David was sleeping and didn’t hear me crash into the counter, cabinets and floor.  Wyatt nudged me, whined and stood with me till I woke up.  I can not account for over 20 minutes of my life that night.  Thankfully my loyal buddy was right there with me.  He was like my shadow when I was pregnant with the kids.

szareks 2011

The house is not the same without Wyatt.  Sometimes I forget he is gone.  I told Emma to pick something up before Wyatt ate it today,  When I walked in, I waited for him to greet me at the door.  Its like part of my life is missing. 

We will always miss Wyatt, and we will never be able to replace him.


We love you brown dog, we miss you…..thank you for being part of our lives!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Running can be the Pits!

Sunday I ran in my 2nd 10K.  This event was held to raise scholarship money in the name of a fallen NY State trooper. The official website for the race is http://www.pitrun.org/ it tells how the trooper was killed off duty stopping an armed robbery.  Very Touching.

When we left our house at 730am it was pooring cats and dogs, cold and plain right nasty but we had hope that accuweather would be correct.

We arrived about 5 minutes before the kids race, the sun was shinning and the bbq were smoking! did I mention the free BBQ afterwards – by the best in the state.  Seriously, brooks BBQ has been on the food network more than once.

I ran over to registration while david signed the kids up for the kids race.  Emma was happy chilling in her stroller with her snack but tyler ran!

Tyler is in the white long sleeve shirt!  It was really cute, each kid had a bib #1! they were given these nice draw string bags with coloring books, magnets, pencils and more. 

The 10K and 5K started off together.  We had to walk to the main road outside the park that the event was held in for the start. 

We had a quick family photo before I started


Every one was lined up and ready to go.


So I saw 2 people run the race without any shoes. That just freaks me out thinking about it. I mean I walk around my house in the summer or at camp without shoes all the time but to run a 10K? that is crazy.

Back to the race.  At the 5K/10K split I really wanted to just go to 5K course! my leg was cramping and this was before the hill from hell.   But I didnt .  The hill was so deceiving. You would go up a hill and it would look like around the corner it would level off, then you got to the top of that corner and realized there was more and more and more and more. it was about 1.5 miles of steep hills.  I had to walk twice.  My leg was so crapped and it was only one leg. 

Finally down hill for about .75 miles, it was a steep down hill run glad we didn’t go up that side! 
Before I talk about the rest, Mile 1, 3, 4 they had people calling out your mile splits.  At mile 3, I thought they said 41minutes. I was like WTF – that is way off my normal pace and this was just at the start of the hill.     Mile 4 was just as we started descending from the hill and they said 42 minutes so I felt much better that I was on track. Well I was hope full that I had misheard the mile 3 person and not the mile 4.

At mile 5 I wanted to walk but I could smell the FREE AMAZING BBQ!! so I kept going around a turn where there was another small hill.  Then we went back down to main street. I thought that I just had to cross the bridge and run towards the center of the park where the finish line was.  I need to read better.  I sprinted down main street and 1/2 thru the park before I realized we had to pass the finish line to the other side of the park and come back.  RUN FOREST RUN!

OMG were my legs burning. I had no idea what time it was. I could hear the names of the people crossing the finish line but not the times. I wanted to push but I had already sprinted.  Finally I made that far turn and headed back towards the finish line.  I thought I could read it as 60minutes so I started  digging deep for anything I could find.  I sprinted as hard as I could.

I wasn’t sure of my official time but knew I hit it out of the park!! my old time was 68minutes.  My new time was :

This photo is so funny, I look like I was in pain but everyone just stopped in the road just over the finish line.  so here I am like a steamroller sprinting to the finish ready to take out the hundreds of people standing there.  it was like a scene from running of the bulls.  I really wasn’t in pain I was just trying to back it down a bit!
Sorry I don’t have a photo of the BBQ. Tyler ate my roll, Emma at half my chicken, baked potato, and cookie and David ate my cole slaw. 

I am very happy I finished with a better time! So I guess on the next one I hope/plan to break the one hour mark!  I am so tired today I went to bootcamp to work of the bbq and cider donut I had! we went to a cute and fun apple mill on the way home!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

FOOD SUCKS: Part 3 - Coupons (take 1???)

My adventures in couponing.

So there I was with my laptop Friday night and the price chopper ad, doing my menu planning.  Erin hooked me up with a website for a local lady that was coupon snazzy.  I linked over to her website to find more PC deals.  That’s when I discovered a few problems.
Problem #1) I never purchased the Sunday paper to get more coupons I was going to rely solely on the internet coupons.
Problem #2) I had no ink for my printer
Saturday morning tyler and I ran to walmart to get ink and watercolor paints (that a long story).  My 2 ink cartridges now cost $31.00 bucks before tax – it use to be $22. Ugh.  Back home we went to install the cartridges.  Now to log onto one of the coupon websites. 
Problem #3) my old desktop is too outdated to run the coupon java scripts or some stupid error.
So I decided to install the printer on my laptop.  The printer was purchased in 2006ish – so the software didn’t support Windows 7!  Thankfully I downloaded it successfully from the internet with no assistance from my techno-savvy friends.   Then I climbed around the desktop hutch to find the cord, unplug it and attached it to my laptop that was balancing on a TV tray with 3 chairs guarding it from children!!
I printed of the FB PC coupons, and a FB Silk coupon.  Price choppers website had an oreo coupon .  Then I found 3 dreamfields coupons because I really wanted to try their product.  I looked up the facebook pages and the websites of all name brand products I buy.  I am use to buying only the Hannaford’s brand.  I went to coupon.com and a few others recommended by http://www.iamthatlady.com/  I didn’t see anything for what I had on my list.  
So here it is walked out the door with $6.25 in coupons after spending $31 on printer ink and over 2 hours.
Once at the store I was greeted by more coupons - $1.00 off the seafood department; .75 off PC Apple juice (on my list) and $1.00 off something else that I was buying.   
I only purchased one box of Dreamfields pasta that was on sale for $2.00. So I could only use one of my $1.00  coupons.  I don’t get how people get it for free - I am still reading that part of couponing.  With the doubling of coupons I brought with me to the store and ones I ended up with at the front of the store; my Coupon savings were….wait for it, wait for it…
Sighhhhhhhhhhh.  2 hours of work, new ink, new printer driver…$10.75 savings (with the ink I feel like I lost $23.04).  But I am not defeated. I am going to try again.  This week I picked up the Sunday paper ($2.00 cost)….I am watching the websites, and I plan to give it another go this week.  Any suggestions and recommendations would be great.
Here is what I purchased:
·         Grapes on sale for 1.99# advantage card
·         Kale
·         Pears
·         Baby carrots
·         Baby spinach
·         Feta cheese
·         Cod (bc the haddock was sold out)
·         Shrimp ($4.00)
·         Silk (FB Coupon)
·         Cottage cheese
·         Ground Turkey 2/$7
·         Secret
·         Juice for the house
·         Juice for lunchbox 2/$5 or 3.49each .. wtf
·         Mac N Cheese .89
·         Black beans
·         Dreamsfield pasta $2.00 plus my $1 off coupon
·         PC Shredded cheese $1 off/2
·         Lunchables ($1 )
·         TP $5 for 24
·         Pudding .89
·         Spray oil
·         Hamburg rolls, Arnolds flatbread and bagel thins
·         BBQ sauce - sweet baby rays
·         Tuna packs
·         Fishy crackers - 2
·         Uncle Ben Rice Pack – 1
·         Pepperoni- Hormel
·         Oatmeal (PC 2/$5 – although this week the Quaker brand is on sale 2/$4 grr)
·         Egg whites PC Brand
·         OJ
·         Napkins – PC Brand
·         Chobani greek yogurt
·         PC brand ice Cream
·         butter

So i will try again next trip.

Menu planning

From the time I went shopping to the time I am typing this we have had major changes to our menu!
Menu planning:
Saturday – Cheese steak sandwich – Drover hill meat, wheat rolls, fresh peppers and onions
Sunday – BBQ at the run, lunch for dinner
Monday – Tacos  Chicken Marsala via the crockpot
Tuesday – Haddock with Broccoli and rice.  Wild Marsala Soup
Wednesday – Grilled Chicken with Grilled potatoes Haddock with Broccoli and rice.  
Thursday – Quesadillas – Mommy and Daddy night out for anniversary. 
Friday – Hamburg’s
Saturday – Spaghetti and/or meatball subs
Sunday – Leftovers or Burgers!
Monday – Drover hill Roast with Acorn Squash
Tuesday – Roast leftovers.

Chicken Marsala + crockpot + 2 night's dinners

Day 1 – Crockpot Chicken Marsala
My mother in law and I have been playing pass the crock pot. Last week I made her and Bernie a beef and bean stoup.  She returned it with Chicken Marsala!   She used the Crockpot guys recipe from here http://crockpotguys.com/2011/09/chicken-marsala-carrabbas-style/
It was great to walk into the house and smell it cooking.  I am a big fan of the crock pot and think that we should have a national holiday for the inventor!
For me it was the perfect cheat meal a day after running a 10K! It had protein, but the gluttony of fat from cream and butter.  And then you could add the carb of your choice!  As I just reread the instructions I realized I added way too much of the heavy cream in my rush to get out the door to swim lessons.  Oops.
Mine didn’t thicken up that much – but that was my fault I had it on high for the 1st 2 hours.  And then it sat on warm for 2 extra hours while we were ate swim lessons with the extra liquid volume from the cream (I really need to learn to read).   
I would defiantly make this again and recommend it.  However,  to save some inches on my hips I would add the right amount of cream, and cup the butter by a lot.   Here is a good one I may try too http://www.skinnytaste.com/2011/03/chicken-and-mushrooms-in-garlic-white.html
Day 2 – Wild Marsala Soup
We had alot left over and I certainly cannot afford to eat this 2 days in a row.  I could allow the calories but I have been a bad girl and enjoying the seasonal cider donuts a bit too much; one on Sunday and one this morning.  (BAD KRISTEN!)
I decided to make it into a soup!  I added another can of broth to the Crockpot, to cut the cream sauce.  Then I added 2 cups of steamed carrots, 1 cup of celery, and two cups of wild rice.  For seasoning I added: ½ tsp of sea salt, 1 tsp of freshly cracked black pepper, ½ tablespoon of oregano, 1 tsp of nutmeg and pinch of paprika.  I shredded the remaining chicken and returned it to the Crockpot.   It smelled so yummy!  Now my crockpot is full again!
 We will probably eat it tonight for dinner – we will be getting home late.  David has a tree job till dark (although its dark by 7pm lately) and I will not be home from the gym till after 5 – pick up the kids it will be after 530 or 6pm.  Any leftovers I am planning to freeze  in either lunch size servings or as a batch. I have those frozen zucchini calzones that would be good with this on a rainy night.
I will try to add photos later!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Awesome Turkey Meatballs

I was planning to have tacos today and meatballs later this week. My mother in law dropped off my crock pot full of food! Now I have a pound of Hamburg unthawed and the turkey from my recent shopping trip to price chopper.  So I made some awesome turkey meatballs this morning.  I will save them for later this week when we are camping!

I mixed:

  • both packages of ground turkey
  • Hamburg
  • one egg
  • 1/2 cup of bread crumbs
  • 1/2 of a med onion chopped
  • 1/2 of a bell pepper chopped
  • 1/4 cup of finely chopped spinach
  • 1 tablespoon of chopped garlic
  • 1 tablespoon of dried oregano
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tsp of adobo seasoning
  • 1/2 cup of salsa ( if your salsa is watery you may need to increase your bread crumbs)

Once it was all mixed I rolled into 36 large meatballs and baked at 375.  I am going to place them in the freezer and I will take out what I need for each meal.  Personally I looking forward to sitting by the campfire with a good old meatball sub!!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Food Suck Part 2b. Price Chopper

I think the last time I shopped at Price Chopper I was about 6 weeks pregnant with tyler.  I was standing by the shredded cheese when a old guy walked by the smell like pipe smoke – omg I turn 3 shades of green.  With that began several long awful weeks of morning sickness.  Its not price choppers fault but that scar has really kept me away!

I have always said that price chopper has some good deals but they also have some higher prices.  I did like the coupons I was able to get at the front door and use.  Some of the deals in the flyer were pretty good and others were so-so.  so many items were priced as 2/$5 or 3.49 each.  I don’t want 2, I want 1. I am not going to use 2.  I should be able to get the same price for 1.  At Hannaford's, if it says 2/$3 and you buy one its $1.50. I like that because I only want to buy what I Need.

They were sold out of the really awesome Haddock at $4.99 a pound and I didn’t mind getting 2/$7 on the good ground turkey.  But $6-9 per pound for ground beef is Crap prices.  They were higher on everyday prices of things like my greek yogurt, cottage cheese and bbq sauce.  Basically you need an advantage card, and you need to stick with the sale items.  I also noticed that they didn’t have as large of an inventory as Hannaford's, they didn’t have my favorite kind of cottage cheese.

It also took me forever to find things. I am so use to Hannafords  that I write my list in order of the aisles.  Because I was new to Price chopper I was all over and I had to go back to some of the aisles to find something on the list.

I ended up spending $170 for 75 items.  My advantedge savings were about $16.45 and I had coupon savings that I will talk about in another post.  Now I am going to tell you I refuse to buy thing just because they are on sale.  I only purchased what I would use.  For example – cereal was onsale but I don’t need it because I have plenty at home so I didn’t buy it.  I did plan on getting the sold out haddock because it was on sale but I need to purchase main course foods this week.   

$170 wasn’t too bad for one week of shopping – actually its for 9 days because I will not be shopping again until columbus day.  But I still feel there is room for improvement. 

Up tomorrow – my adventures in couponing.

Food Suck Part 2 new stores -aldi's

People have told me that shopping at Hannafords is my problem with my higher than life food bill.  So as part of my experiment I am trying other stores! 
First up was Aldi’s


Emma and I decided to test the waters at Aldi’s last weekend while the boys were goose hunting.  It didn’t start off well.  I walked up to get a cart and saw that I needed a quarter; so back to the car I went with Emma on one hip and my recyclable bags under my arm. I could see a quarter on my floor mat so I leaned over the center console and picked up the metal object.  I walked back to the carts to realize I picked up the damn penny next to the quarter.  So back to the car we went – I would of went home right then if I hadn't promised Emma that we were going to buy her cookies.

Once inside I was shocked how small it was and that everything was only the Aldi brand for about 95% of the product.  They had a lot of processed foods that we don’t eat.  But I will say the items that I do buy were pretty cheap – I just hoped they tasted okay.  Emma who is an Oreo snob – ate the Aldi brand Oreos with no problem at all.  The mini muffins the kids love were only 2.29 vs 3.99 at Hannafords.  The pork tenderloin at 3.99 a pound was a great deal.  I ended up spending about 25 bucks for, Oreos, frosted sugar cookies (tyler), 4 cans of tomatoes soup, a gallon of milk, some almonds, pork tenderloin, and gum. 

It was a bit annoying and challenging to keep a 2year old entertained and in her seat while I cashed out, then the cashier who was sitting (odd to me) put the food back in my cart, for me to then move to another counter and bag them.  Part of my pet peeve with grocery shopping is that you handle the food too much, so for him to set the items back in the cart, and then for me to lift back out and into bag was a pain.

Tomorrow will be my Price Chopper blog entry!

Saturday, October 1, 2011


This is going to be a multi-post series about my efforts to change my food bill!

Have you noticed how the prices for everything keeps going up?  We thought we would be saving money right now but some unexpected changes ( no federal raises for 2 years, David new labor agreement, higher health care, higher daycare)  have caused us to not be sitting the way we would like financially.  I was noticing that I was always shopping for food and always coming home with less and less.

I reviewed my bank statement from July 29th – September 16th, and found that I spent about $1,577 on food.  HOLY COW! That’s 262.00 a week and that’s without the cash that I spent at the farmers market each week.

  • $1,147 was spent at Hannaford's alone for about $191 a week
  • $53 was spent at Nice N Easy for Bread, milk and “Emergency” stuff (8.83/week)
  • $89 was spent on Dunkin Donuts (I think that a bit much) that’s $14 a week
  • Another 209 at BJ wholesale
  • the remaining balance was at Rite Aid and other random stores

Until 16 September I would shop for a 2 week period. I would plan those meals and buy what I needed.  The “off” shopping week I would run into get things that needed to be purchased fresh or that I forgot about.  Some produce I would get thrown out before I could use it Sad smile .  But I did feel like I we didn’t buy too much unnecessary stuff.

I feel as if my best saving is my garden – the above timeframe really doesn’t have that much produce cost in it.  My garden was pumping out major product then.  But now its fall and my garden is mostly over other then some fall root veggies. So now I am looking at the potential for  even more cost to feed my family of 4.

So the obviously thing I need to do is one cut out Dunkin donuts.  Then start hacking away at my Hannaford's bill and the corresponding Nice N Easy bill.   My new plan is to shop weekly there for I can buy break and milk at a more reasonably priced grocery store.

My plan for this multi-series post include:

  • Trying new stores (Aldi’s and Price chopper)
  • Using coupons
  • cost saving tips
  • Wrap up and review – hopefully I will see a savings to report.

So where are you trying to save money? Do you have any good tips?

Goal:  To decrease my  $262.00 per week grocery bill.