The $25 Target Challenge

The $25 Target Challenge

I have a Target problem. (Am I a basic white bee because I have a target problem? Or do I have a target problem because I am a basic white bee?)

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Get a PSL to sip while you shop! via http://www.beesinfrance.com/

My friend and co-worker, Madre de Bueno (formerly known as “Teacher some number I forgot”) also has this problem. So last week when we decided to go on a target trip to knock out our various secret santa situations MdB came up with brilliant idea: we would challenge ourselves to only spend 25 dollars at Target. It seemed impossible, but we believed we were up to the task.

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spoiler alert: we weren’t up to the task 

It was actually a perfect set-up. I had two secret santas to shop for, a work one and a friend one. I had $15 left to spend for the work secret santa and around $10 for the friend one. It would be eeeeasy to spend $25 or below.

We started our adventure at the dollar spot, the section of target that has $1, $2, and $3 items. IT’S GREAT. All my student’s token system prizes come from this section.

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I love you, cheap section of target

MdB and I found the only remaining Halloween item among the xmas stuff because we have Halloweendar.

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Luckily, I was not tempted (because I still have target halloween stickers leftover from two months ago). Unluckily, we didn’t find a lot of good stuff in the dollar spot so we were forced to move on to other sections, a devestating move for the $25 challenge.

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Next stop was target’s very small book section! Here we see MdB being an actual thrifty shopper and using the target cartwheel app to see if that cookbook was on sale (it wasn’t). And HERE we see me fucking around with these little sticky mirror things you can put on your cell phone case:

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I should be ashamed of how many crappy selfies I took in this tiny little mirror, but I’m not because I am Proud Trash. 

Those mirror stickers were TEN FUCKING DOLL HAIRS can you imagine.

Anyway, there was no great finds in the book section either so we moved on to the gift cards/gifts to go aisle. Where I found THE PERFECT THING FOR ONE OF MY SECRET SANTAS which I can’t tell you about because… they might read my blog? Goooood timing on this post, Me. What I can tell you about is this HORRIFYING price check item override nightmare situation:

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An eleven dollar difference WHO DID THIS 

It’s been 5 years since I worked in retail but this still stresses me out. Who put the nice expensive cards in the $3.99 face? Was it an employee who just had one more to put up and didn’t want to bother with the shelving in the back? Or did a customer take it out from on top and put it back wrong?!?! Either way that’s $11 that I’m gonna have to cost this company because I know that target has the same policy that CVS had that if it’s mis-shelved you get the price it was shelved at sob sob sob CASHIER NIGHTMARES

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Anyway, the gifts to go aisle was a success! Including the $3 worth of stuff I got at the dollar spot I was sitting pretty at $12 left to go in my $25 budget. EASY.

So here where it all started going downhill. I’m not trying to SPILL ANY SECRETS but one of my secret santas said their favorite scent was one of the three items given to the baby jesus uPON his birth. Very holidayish, yes?! WELL I looked at and smelled at every damn candle in target and I did NOT find the right scent. I DID however find the OTHER smelly thing jesus received on his birthday:

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WTFKJSKFHSFB

but even if this WAS the correct smell it was a ~*~*~$15*~*~ flippin candle so, no.

My frantic candle search led me to download the cartwheel app to see if I could get a good deal on something I personally needed

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BULLSHIT

The cartwheel app is USELESS. Once the idea of alcohol was in my brain it was all over. I mean, how can I really expect to go to target without buying a cube of wine? I was setting myself up for failure. MdB and I both realized that we weren’t going to meet the challenge of spending $25 BUT we were determined to buy all our secret santa gifts. And in that way, we were victorious.

Because I’m not a real writer, and I can’t even structure blog posts, the rest of this will be a list of funny things that happened while we were at target:

  1. MdB found a loose kit kat on the floor and offered me $5 to eat it
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    I couldn’t do it, tho.

    2. We ran into our friend, Algebra (I hope you like your blog nickname, Algebra)! AND a random lady who was ALSO secret santa shopping!

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    This picture is titled “Things MdB doesn’t need/can’t have” – Also, check out Random Lady in the background!

    3. MdB had an ACTUAL FIT in the cleaning aisle about this special edition xmas scented soap.

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    this should be an ad for meyer’s

4. “That doesn’t even LOOK like Jennifer Aniston! It looks like Jennifer Aniston photo-shopped onto Mary Kate and Ashley Olson” – MdB

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she’s right tho

5. We stood on the other side of the aisle away from the clothes section for a good five minutes convincing ourselves that we didn’t need to buy or look at any clothes

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Honestly, going to target and avoiding the pull of the entire clothes section is the true miracle of this post. 

6. We found this adorable cookie jar but couldn’t agree on whether it was a squirrel or a chipmunk. IT’S UP TO YOU, INTERNET. SQUIRREL OR CHIPMUNK????

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I’m #teamsquirrel myself

7. This youth shirt design which is weird EVEN by pre-teen girl shirt standards

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tag yourself, I’m the shoe

8. Madre de Bueno took this sneaky snake photo of me at the peak of my mountain madness at the wrong jesus smell candle
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9. And finally, we took this beautiful family photo

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how do you flip photos is a question i have

so in conclusion, spending $25 or less at target is literally impossible based on this one trip. THE END.

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Pickle Party Mega Post

Pickle Party Mega Post

Note: Pretty much all of these images are from the fabulous Teacher 3, who was NOT too scatterbrained to remember to take pictures unlike your friendly narrator 

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Is Teacher 3 still a secret nickname if I tell you which one of these lovely ladies she is???

The Pickle Party was exactly like it sounds! I invited a bunch of my friends over to pickle things. IT WAS MAGICAL. In this post I will tell about all the incredible things
listthat were made and consumed INCLUDING: pickled Brussels sprouts, pickled fancy Asian radish (“Daikon radish”), pickled hot peppers, pickled red onions, pickled cucumbers (…”pickles”), pickle pizza, pickle grilled cheese, fried pickles, and MOST IMPORTANTLY pickleback shots.

First up, Things We Actually Pickled Ourselves:
Ingredients:
Mason jars (I got about 24 pint sized ones, which turned out not to be enough!)
Cucumbers (As you can see on my grocery list I was planning on getting 20 cucumbers but I felt so ridiculous bagging SO MANY cucumbers all by myself I ended up only buying 10. Which turned out to be plenty)
Red onions (I got about 8 and a guest brought 2 more! The jars of pickled red onions were SUPER popular as take-home jars so I recommend not skimping on the red onions if you’re planning your own Pickle Party)
Jalapenos (10 nice sized ones)
Additional hot peppers (I got a handful of habanero, thai chili peppers, and  a poblano pepper for the milder folks)
White vinegar (in the BIGGEST AMOUNT YOU CAN FIND!!!)
Dill (3 bunches – this was hard to find for some reason, all the “nice” grocery stores didn’t have fresh dill, I eventually found it at good ole Shopper’s Food Warehouse)
Garlic (3 bulbs [UNIMPORTANT SIDENOTE: A friend and I went through this phase around junior year of college where we each ate a whole, raw garlic clove once a day because she had read it was good for you. Just typing the word garlic gives me PAINFUL TASTE MEMORIES])
Kosher salt (what makes it Kosher? I DON’T KNOW but I trust it)
Sugar

Additional Fancy Ingredients That Guests Brought:
Daikon radishes (2)
– “Pickling spices” (Teacher 3 brought this and I don’t even know what it was. The first ingredient was cinnamon. Which is weird? Maybe?)
Brussels Sprouts (Teacher 3 and Husband strike again!!!)

All of the above is what was actually used during the merrypicklemaking. Here is an inexhaustible list of what I spent money on and didn’t end up using: peppercorns (pro tip: this is just whole pepper, I learned), limes (why did I think I would be putting lime in pickles), whole coriander, paprika, dried dill weed (this was when I couldn’t find fresh dill and I went nuts because YOU CAN’T MAKE PICKLES WITHOUT DILL so I spent like $20 on fucking little jars of dill weed it was ridiculous because once I DID find fresh dill it was $1.49 A BUNCH!!!!!!!!!!!1) and milk. Technically the milk was for the fried pickle recipe that I ended up forgetting about but, if you are a loyal reader of this blog, and I know you are, you know that Michael and I don’t normally drink milk so it was a WASTE. (Although I did use it later for Thin Mint dunkin’ aw yeah) (almond milk is better)

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Why, yes, I did eventually run out of mason jars

 

Directions (based on these directions):
1) In a large pot bring 2 parts water to 1 part white vinegar to a boil
2) Stir in a ratio of 2 tablespoons kosher salt + 1 teaspoons of sugar to each 2:1 ratio of water: vinegar.
3) What I mean is, if you boil 8 cups of water and 4 cups of vinegar (which I think is what we did for 26 pint sized jars) you will add 8 tablespoons of kosher salt and 4 teaspoons of sugar
4) Turn the heat down so that it’s kept warm
5) Clean and prep your jars
6) Fill each jar with chopped up cucumbers/red onions/hot peppers/radishes/whatever and the additives all the way to the top, but don’t cram anything in with (the) force.
7) Don’t forget to add the additives like chopped garlic and dill!! It’s difficult to get that stuff in there once the jar is filled with CUKES or the like
8) Pour in the pickling mixture to the top and put the lid back on!
9) REFRIGERATE for 10 days.****
10) After this time the jars last up to 6 weeks in the fridge, apparently

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All snug in the fridgeo

**** Despite what I apparently said to a few guests at the end of the approximately 8 hour Pickle Party, this recipe is for REFRIGERATOR pickling and you should not leave the jars out unless you want BOTULISM which is APPARENTLY what Done In Kaila wanted

What I wanted more than anything was an infographic that described the above recipe so here is one I just doodled because I can’t computer. If you can computer please feel free to digitize my nonsense:

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fuck I misspelled refrigerate I hate that word omg

Pickleback Shotspickleback
Ingredients:
– 
Whiskey
– Pickle brine (please DO YOURSELF A FAVOR and only use Claussen pickle brine, we ran out after a billion shots and shooting the brine from the store brand non-refrigerator pickles was maybe the worst thing I ever did to myself)

Directions:
1) Take a shot of whiskey
2) Immediately take a shot of pickle brine
12803023_10206981781557235_128045186325945870_n3) Repeat until you’re done in enough to tell your guests they don’t need to keep pickles refrigerated

*DO NOT ever MIX the shots and call it a drink, a bartender did that to us once at a Buffalo Wild Wings and it was the second worst thing I’ve ever done to myself.

 

Pickle Pizza
Ingredients:
– 
Frozen cheese pizza (pro tip: the cheapest brand will be one of the following: Tombstone, store brand Tombstone, Red Baron, or store brand Red Baron)
– Halved Claussen pickles (THIS POST IS AN AD FOR CLAUSSEN) (PLEASE SPONSOR MY BLOG CLAUSSEN)

Directions:
1) Bake the pizza however the box tells you to
2) Slice the pickles as thinly as is HUMANLY possible
3) Layer the pickles on the pizza when it’s still hot from the oven
4) Feel amazed that you ever doubted how incredible pickle pizza would be

Pickle Grilled Cheese
Ingredients:
– Sliced American cheese12799320_10206982310450457_5818165639252250216_n
– Sliced white cheddar cheese
– Sliced tomato
– THINLY SLICED Halved Claussen pickles (KAILA YOU KNOW YOU CAN BUY CLAUSSENS PRESLICED, yes I do realize this, dear loyal reader, HOWEVER it’s cheaper to get the whole or halved ones and slice yerdamnself)
– Bread
– Butter

Directions:
1) Butter the sides of the bread that face out from the sandwich
2) Inside layer THUSLY: slice of cheese, slice of tomato, slice of other cheese, slices of pickle, slice of first cheese.
3) Grill evenly on each side
4) Quarter

Classic Fried Pickle Chips
Ingredients:
– “Hamburger” pickle chips (in this AND ONLY THIS case store-brand non-refrigerated is fine) 1933953_10206982310370455_5824315537680002339_n
– All-purpose flour
– Egg (beaten)
– Bread crumbs
– Nutritional yeast (optional,but as any vegetarian knows, that shit is great on everything)
– Frying oil

Directions:
1) Lay out three separate containers: one for the flour, one for the egg, and one for the breadcrumbs
2) Heat up about half an inch of oil in a frying pan
3) Individually pad the pickle chips in the flour, then the egg, then the breadcrumbs
4) Fry!
5) Lay out on paper towels when they are nice and brown to soak up some of the oil

Teacher 3 and I really had our hearts set on lacto-fermenting some pickles BUT we are both paranoid people and we decided that there was too much of a chance that we (read: me) would mess something up and poison ourselves. Almost every article we found about lacto-fermenting was like lol seriously watch out for horrible bacterial disaster lol
poisonnnnnning

Also! Lacto-fermenting looked time-consuming and by the time we had made all our other goodies our men had abandoned us to fix the closet (???) and the rest of our friends were watching Boogie Nights and/or SLC Punk

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The pickles are on Day 8 of refrigeration. I will make a post about how they turned out on Day 10! Probably! Til then!

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See I told you we pickled Brussels sprouts 

Pre-Snowzilla Grocery Shopping

Pre-Snowzilla Grocery Shopping

note: The Post says this is called Snowzila now. They’re the boss people!

I assume that almost everyone that reads this blog lives in the greater Washington DC area, or at least on the east coast (best coast) of the United States. However, word press’s fancy stats inform me that I have at least two international readers. Hello international readers! This message is for you:

You may have heard that the capitol of the United States completely crumbled under 1.5 inches (3.8 centimeters, I got you, Rest of the World) of snow. Just to be clear, that is totally accurate. But, to our credit, we really just aren’t built for snow. Our cars aren’t made for snow and our roads sure as crap aren’t either. ALSO, our natural Washington DC pessimism means that we don’t believe that snow is actually going to happen until we’re literally sliding into pedestrians, street lights, the White House, each other, etc. In fact, I myself, walked to my car last night to go to a friend’s house and I was, again, literally, sliding through the parking lot on about an inch of ice and I STILL got in my car and tried to go to my friend’s house. After a mini-van skidded through a red light, missing me by inches, I decided to go back home.

And of course, this was just the pre-storm. The real storm, named Jonas apparently, is coming tomorrow and according to the Capital Weather Gang, my little town might get up to 30 inches of snow.

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Capital Weather Gang – Washington Post

So, after sleeping in until noon (thanks whoever decides on snow days for my school district!) I dragged myself out of bed, went to school to feed the animals enough to potentially last through the weekend, picked up some prescriptions, and went to the grocery store.

 

This grocery store trip was important for several reasons. First, snowstorm Jonas. Second, it was the first time going grocery shopping outside of our weekly budget-grocery shopping. Third, Michael is sick and he couldn’t go so this trip was my first chance to prove I can budget without him. SPOILER ALERT: I cannot budget without Michael. Several things were working against the budget:

  1. I already have a lot of Marge Simpson tendencies when it comes to my loved ones, but when a loved one is sick it goes into OVERDRIVE. I pretty much bought every kind of food I’ve ever seen Michael enjoy.
  2. I decided to go to Safeway, instead of our usual Shopper’s Food Warehouse. Mostly because I’m a little sick of Shopper’s, but als0 because I have emotional ties to Safeway and it gives me the warm fuzzies. 20160121032102207b187646a27cd3
  3. Everyone at the store was acting like the world was about to end and I’m nothing if not easily swayed by others’ panic.
  4. Adding onto that, shopping with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is already difficult but without someone to bounce obsessions off of then every crazy purchase seems like it will make the difference between life and death.
  5. Usually, Michael and I make a very specific, handwritten list of items to buy. And if one of us goes off-list then we stop and discuss if the item is actually needed. Without Michael, I wrote a really crappy list on my phone and only looked at it once in the store.

What I’m getting at here is that without Michael, the budget didn’t stand A CHANCE. I promise that some day I will make a post about a budget-friendly grocery trip but TODAY IS NOT THAT DAY.

My first issue happened before I even entered the store. There were NO empty carts ANYWHERE. I wandered around outside until someone finally came out and left one.

I started at the produce section and I was happy to see that it was pretty much fully stocked. I’ve had a lot of friends post scary photos of empty shelves on facebook but I think most of that was from last night. The bad thing about the well-stocked shelves is that a started loading my cart with produce even though there wasn’t a single produce item on my list. Impulse purchases included: clementines (we already had a bag at home), like 10 bananas (I hate bananas, but Michael likes them), two tubs of white button mushrooms (I eat these like candy when I’m stress eating, it’s the only healthy habit I have), and a bag of potatoes (which Michael doesn’t even like but-potatoes
Next, I stocked up on dry items. I interpreted “pasta stuff” as two packages of white wheat spaghetti (fuck whole wheat spaghetti, if you think it tastes the same you are a liar and a monster), one package of veggie elbow noodles, two packages of store brand kraft dinner, and four jars of pasta sauce.

For snacks, I went with classics first: store brand chez-its, pop-tarts (we normally prefer store brand, but Safeway doesn’t have a store brand pop tart?!?! Insane), and tortilla chips. I went off-roading with the following: store-brand crackers, store brand ONION FLAVORED crackers, store brand sour cream and onion potato chips, and those honey mustard pretzels that Snyder’s makes. DELICIOUS, yet not cost effective, decisions all around.

Now for essentials:

  1. Beer.
    Now, my beer consumption has drastically gone down since budgeting, and while I’m sure my liver has appreciated the vacation I am just straight up not getting through Snowmageddon 2016 without beer. My go-to beer to buy in larger quantities is Yuengling Light, because, as any upper-east-coaster knows, Yuengling is just as cheap as the big brands but it’s actually good AND actually American. ALAS, storm Jonas affected the one thing I cared about most: there was NO Yuengling Light to be found. (I took a picture of the sad hole in the beer case but apparently my phone was upset too and deleted it) I think I must have spent about five solid minutes staring slack-jawed at the empty space, considering if I would stoop so low as to buy Miller Lite. But then I came to my senses and grabbed a 12-pack of regular Yuengling.
  2. Milk… product.
    Michael and I don’t drink milk. So I skidded on past the laughably sparse dairy case and straight to the weird part of the cereal aisle that carries soy/almond/coconut/hemp/seaweed? milk and grabbed the cheapest one. Which was, as it normally is, Blue Diamond brand almond milk. Highly recommended!
  3. Bread
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    I normally don’t like bread either, but sandwiches are just so budget-friendly, so I’ve been giving it a chance. As you can see, most of the sale bread was gone but there was still plenty of other kinds.safeway

Check-out was pretty painless too. The store had been making periodic announcements that they were about to run out of plastic bags but I had actually remembered my reusable bags (MIRACLES). HOWEVER, as soon as I packed up my car I realized I had forgotten to get headache medicine. I ran back in and grabbed it, to find that all of a sudden there was a store-length line. Oh well. Waiting in lines just means a guilt-free length of time to read tabloids during. I learned a lot about Kris Jenner’s menopausal diet, which reminded me a lot of my normal diet.

When I got home I was truly expecting Michael to question me about how much I had spent, and to lament all the unnecessary purchases I had made. Instead, I came home to a pill-bug who had enough energy to say “Thanks for doing the shopping” before passing right back out.

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Are you impressed by my Tetris skills? 

NEXT TIME: Michael and I inevitably get cabin fever.