Student Loans

We've been doing really well with our student loans. I have taken charge to make sure our payments are made on time (automatically, of course) and that we are taking a larger amount out than the minimum. Yes, that's all fine and dandy but today I devised a plan (based on my own calculations of a wacky Group A, Group B loan situation) that will get both loans paid off in 6 years from today.

That. Is. Exciting.

My main concern though is that my 7 separate student loans and Gary's 4 separate student loans are batched together in two groups. You'd think that these two groups would have the same interest rates, but alas, they do not. I'm pretty sure we are getting screwed little by little each month because the higher interest rate loans are not having much reduction whereas the ones with the lower interest rates are. But seriously, I have no control over that. Our loans were batched together from the start and I have no say other than how much (in total) I want taken out for both loans. Annoying.

Secondly, my loan has recently been transferred. Imagine my excitement when I saw this:

Nope, I didn't win the Sallie Mae sweepstakes. Sad day.

Rather, it was transferred to a company called MOHELA.  I'm not sure why mine was and Gary's wasn't but I'm going to get annoyed real fast. I liked being able to use the same website for both accounts. It made everything very easy. And can anyone tell me this is legitimate? I randomly got the email a few days ago and then saw the picture when I checked my previous servicer's website. I need to confirm that this is a legitimate servicer before I send my payment in a day or two. Yikes! That's the other thing, I REALLLY LIKE MY KIWIPAY! Automatic payments are awesome. Sending a check through the mail each month is annoying and I always forget. Case in point, my cell phone pymt check to my parents. Sorry, Mom & Dad! I finally got caught up this past month.

Still - 6 years. Yeah buddy.

The Wiest Family 2012 Photobook!

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Only if you dare...

Let me preface this post with the fact that this will NOT be for everyone. The two videos below are two that make me giggle relentlessly but for some, definitely will not. If you don't like inappropriate humor, I'd take a pass on this one. For those that do, enjoy! Even if you've already heard the songs :)


Gary may need to buy me some new headphones so he doesn't have to listen to these over and over....

Cute Little Tasty Oven S'mores!

I have so much to be thankful for. I'm in a cruddy mood mostly because of our stupid car - I for the life of me could not get the window cleaned. I decided to risk my life anyway to pick up my husband but was sure PO'd about it. I know he'd so it for me so I do it for him. AND, to whomever shoveled our front sidewalk and to whomever snowplowed our side sidewalk and to whomever plowed our alley, thanks a million. THAT made my life.

Because he's such a love nugget, I made Gspice the cute little oven s'mores again today. Let me tell you, they are SO easy and take no longer than 5 minutes to make. The hardest part is unwrapping the Hershey Kisses. For reals.

Cute Little Tasty Oven S'mores

6 graham cracker sheets broken in half
6 large marshmallows cut in half
12 Hershey’s Kisses, unwrapped

Heat oven to Low Broil.

Align graham crackers in the center of a cookie sheet about 1/2″ apart from each other.

Top each graham cracker with a marshmallow with the cut/sticky side down.
Place marshmallow topped graham crackers under broiler (turn oven light on if you have one). DON’T WALK AWAY, watch them closely as they will toast quickly, allow to toast until golden rotating pan with oven mitt as needed.

Once golden immediately remove from oven, place 1 Kiss in the center of each toasted marshmallow and gently press down. (We placed the S'more back in the oven until the Kiss was heated through)

So good.


What's for Dinner {14} - Chicken Paninis!

Once we break out the Griddler, we just can't stop using it. It's definitely my favorite kitchen appliance HANDS DOWN.

Night one consisted of the Steak with Griddler Topping.
Night two consisted of the Lemon Pepper Chicken Panini.
Night three consisted of the Stubbs BBQ Chicken Panini.


Lemon Pepper Chicken Panini

1 lb chicken breast strips - remove excess fat, ew!
a handful of minced garlic
lemon pepper to taste

G Toppings (in layer order of course)
Italian loaf bread
2 slices provolone cheese
Baby Rays BBQ

V Toppings (in layer order of course)
Italian loaf bread
ranch with a sprinkle of cayenne pepper on each side
1 slice of provolone cheese on each side

We served with this delectable panini chippies and pickles (G - bread & butter; V - zesty)

Stubbs BBQ Chicken Panini
I bought this on a whim one day because it sounded so good - I was sold after seeing citrus and mustard seed in its description. Because I told Gary to buy two pounds of chicken, we had a perfect excuse to use up this BBQ marinade. Let me tell you, we were not disappointed!

The only difference with this panini and the Lemon Pepper Chicken was the preparation of the chicken.

Simply marinade the bbq and chicken together in a zip lock bag overnight.

We both agreed that this panini was FAR SUPERIOR!

Thanks, Stubbs. 

Lemi-Shine is my new best friend!

For weeks now, our dishwasher was being a real stinker. All of a sudden, our dishes had this really annoying, harsh white residue that was practically IMPOSSIBLE to remove with soap and water. Gary, bless his heart, was so upset to see "dirty" dishes come out of the "clean" dishwasher that he spent at least an hour scrubbing to no avail.

Well my friends, I've found our solution..........


It was as simple as using Lemi-Shine for the main wash and my Cascade detergent for the pre-wash.

Although that was probably the coolest day of my entire life, I know that our problem is not yet resolved completely. I am positive that the reason our dishwasher was being so rude is because it needs a good clean.

I'll get to that another day. Until then, I'll sign up for some coupons from lemishine.com!


What's for Dinner {13} - Steak with Griddler Style Topping

After posting all those recipes yesterday, Gary asked if we could have Griddler Chicken. Surprise, surprise. I refuse to make it, though, because it HAS to marinade overnight for extreme flavor. He doesn't seem to understand that yet. However, Griddler Chicken DID sound good so we opted for something else...

Steak with a shrimp topping using the Griddler Chicken marinade. We'll call it Steak with Griddler Style Topping!

Steak with Griddler Style Topping

2 Steaks (cut of your choice)
10 Shrimp (we use the small-medium size) 
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar 
2 tbsp Dijon mustard 
2 tbsp olive oil 
1 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped 
1 tbsp fresh basil, chopped 
1 shallot, chopped finely 
3 cloves of garlic, minced
Sea salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste

Cook down the garlic and shallot in olive oil. 

 Add shrimp and let cook for 3ish minutes per side.

 Add in combined balsamic, dijon, parsley and basil to shrimp and heat through.

 Meanwhile, cook steaks. 

Once done, top with shrimp marinade.


 Gary also made us some mean margaritas! 

Door Decor Craft Time! {2} - Valentine's Day 2013

I told Gary that I wanted to have a door decor budget of $10 per craft. His response? "That's too much!" and "It can come out of your own budget."

Well, mister, how about it cost less than $7 and it comes out of YOUR budget? Hmmm.


Door Decor Craft Time! {2} - VALENTINE'S DAY!!


Recipes from the Past {7} - Griddler Chicken

This is by far the most requested recipe from my husband. I first made this for my mom and I up in Minneapolis and luckily decided it was good enough to make for Gary a few months later when he finally joined me up in the cities. To this day, he basically asks for this once or twice a week. In my opinion, it goes best with Velveeta Macaroni and FRESH corn, which is then cut off the cob*.

*Gary had never tried corn cut straight from the cob before. Life Changing.

Recipe from the Past {7} - Griddler Chicken
It's called Griddler Chicken because we only make this using our Cuisinart Griddler (best wedding gift EVER!)

from March 2011

3-4 chicken breasts, trimmed of any fat
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp Dijon mustard
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
1 tbsp fresh basil, chopped
1 shallot, chopped finely
3 cloves of garlic, minced
Sea salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a large zip lock bag and mix thoroughly; add chicken and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours (I prefer overnight!) Grill meat about 4-5 minutes on each side or until juices are running clear. Let the meat for rest a couple of minutes before cutting it.


Recipes from the Past {6} - Italian Baked Chicken and Pastina

This was one of the very first recipes my college roommate (Kendragon) & I made together our senior year. It was quite tasty. So much, in fact, that when I was in Chicago, I offered our apartment to serve an Entree for the progressive dinner we had. Three rooms took appetizers, three rooms (including mine) took entrees and three took dessert. I like to think ours was one of the best of the night. We also served Caesar salad. SO GOOD!

Recipe from the Past {6} - Italian Baked Chicken and Pastina

from August/September 2009

1 cup pastina pasta (or any small pasta)
2 tbsp olive oil
½ cup cubed chicken breast
½ cup diced onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1 (14.5-oz) can diced tomatoes with juice
1 cup shredded mozzarella
¼ cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
¼ tsp kosher salt
¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup bread crumbs
¼ cup grated Parmesan
1 tbsp butter, plus more for buttering the baking dish

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until just tender, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Drain pasta into a large mixing bowl.

Meanwhile, put the olive oil in a medium saute pan over medium heat. Add the chicken and cook for 3 minutes. Add the onions and garlic, stirring to combine, and cook until the onions are soft and the chicken is cooked through, about 5 minutes more. Put the chicken mixture into the bowl with the cooked pasta. Add the canned tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, parsley, salt, and pepper. Stir to combine. Place the mixture in a buttered 8 by 8 by 2-inch baking dish. In a small bowl mix together the bread crumbs and the Parmesan cheese. Sprinkle over the top of the pasta mixture. Dot the top with small bits of butter. Bake until the top is golden brown, about 30 minutes.

Recipes from the Past {5} - Meatball Cupcakes with Mashed Potato Frosting

There are quite a few recipes I'd like to make with my cupcake pan. This is the first recipe I've ever done using one and it was GREAT!

Recipe from the Past {5} - Meatball Cupcakes with Mashed Potato Frosting

from January 2011
1 lb ground chuck
1 lb ground turkey
1 large egg
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1/2 cup fresh grated parmesan cheese
2 T minced garlic
1 T Worcestershire sauce
1 T dijon mustard
1 T Tabasco

1 small onion, grated OR onion powder
1 tbsp oregano
1 tbsp basil
1 tbsp parsley
Salt and Pepper - to taste

Potato “icing”
3 cups boiled potatoes, chopped into chunks
1 egg yolk
¼ cup half and half or heavy cream
Pinch of salt
2 tbsp melted butter

Preheat your oven to 350 F.

Prepare the meatball by combining all ingredients together in a large bowl.  Mix until incorporated.  Don’t over handle the mixture or the meatball may be too dense.  Chill while you prepare the potatoes.

While the meat is baking, whip the boiled potatoes together with the egg yolk, half and half or cream and salt until smooth.  Stir in the melted butter.  Fit a pastry bag with a large star tip and fill with the potato mixture.  Set aside, but do not refrigerate.

To assemble the cupcakes, lightly spray a cupcake tin with nonstick cooking spray.  Fill each indentation with a small handful of the meat mixture, gently pressing it down until it is completely filled.

Spread a teaspoon of the sauce around the top of each cupcake, and bake for about 30 minutes, until the meat is cooked through.  Remove from the oven and turn on the broiler.

Pipe some potato “icing” on top of each cupcake.  Put the cupcakes under the broiler for a few minutes until the potatoes are lightly browned, about 2 minutes.

Remove from the oven and enjoy.