Dining out on a Dime: Joe's BBQ and a Quick Update

So sorry that I have been MIA for the last while.  If you didn't catch it, here is why.  It is probably why I was craving this, and wearing these all summer long.  It's all starting to make sense now!

Today I am actually feeling quite great (meaning I didn't spend the whole morning wrapped up in a ball on the couch while Landon caused mischief, and I threw in a load of laundry!).  Our house is in a current state of sadness, as all of the decor and most other things are packed up in boxes, ready for our move.  We close on our house this Thursday, and then the madness will begin!  We need to take down wallpaper, paint, and refinish the kitchen cabinets--just to name a few things on our "to-do" list.  But don't worry, I will try to take before and after pictures, because they are the greatest.  And I will definitely post on what we learned about refinishing cabinets, it's a big experiment for us. 

If you are needing a yummy place to eat out this weekend (I'm sure we won't have a very functional kitchen for a bit), then Joe's Real BBQ is a good place to try!  Now, it isn't the cheapest place, but Brett and I got out of there for less than $25, which included lots of good meat, sides, and the biggest rootbeer float I ever did see (with homemade rootbeer, no less).  It is a fun, family-friendly place that has a great atmosphere and seriously good food.  It is a "seat yourself" cafeteria-style set-up that is laid back and fun.

Brett and I each ordered a sandwich this time.  Mine was a bit smaller and had one meat on it.  Brett's was a larger one with two choices of meat on it.  Both of them came with 2 sides.  We love the macaroni and cheese, and the baked beans!  I also really like their main course baked potatoes, cause they come with a heaping bit of meat on it, and it is oh-so-good.  When Brett wants to splurge, he goes with the sampler plate, which has a lot of meat on it!  Writing this post has my mouth watering...I might need to plan this for a date night soon.  

Another great thing about Joe's BBQ, is it is the best place to go for your birthday.  They give you $10 towards a free meal, just show your ID.  You can easily get a full meal on less than $10, or splurge and pay a couple dollars difference.  Now that is frugal!
Landon sporting his Joe's hat

This is the size of the rootbeer float!  Plus, you get unlimited free refills on rootbeer--if you can manage it!

Trust me, this kid eats like a king when he goes out to dinner with us.  He grunts for the pulled pork smothered in BBQ sauce, the mac-n-cheese, and the baked beans!

He just happened to be wearing his John Deere onesie, so we couldn't pass up the photo-op with their fun decor!
This place is in the heart of downtown Gilbert, so if you go when there is nice weather, then walk around and enjoy the fun area too!  BBQ is one of my favorite kinds of foods to order out at a restaurant!


2 Big Changes...

Whew!  It has been a crazy past few weeks here at the Allred house.  And thankfully, it's because we have some crazy, exciting new changes right around the corner!

First off, we will be moving in a few weeks.  Super cool and a huge step for our little family!  Although a little bittersweet, since Brett and I have lived in this cute, tiny, old home since we've been married.  So many memories are here, and it really feels like ours.  This is where we started our marriage, where we lived when Landon was born, where we have experienced everything up to this point in our marriage.  But, we are excited for our new adventure, and we will happily be moving not too far away--into an equally old home (built in the 50's!), but just much more space!  

The even more exciting news is that our family will be growing (you'd know this already if you followed me on instagram, @tia_allred)!

Yep, we are expecting another little peanut, due in February.  We are beyond thrilled!  And yes, yes, in case you were about to ask (as so many others have), my first 2 kids will be very close together.  Just less than 18 months apart.  But, I know it will be a blast!  A lot of work, I know that too, but a heck-of-a-lot-of-fun!

But in case the pregnancy thing is foreign to you, or you have been blessed with perfect ones, this first little bit is not real fun (so throw moving in the mix, and it should be a real treat!).  I mean, we are talking total exhaustion and nausea that may or may not be kept under control by force feeding myself whatever I can choke down.  Oh, and another very sad part, I am having terrible food aversions to pesto, one of my most favorite foods!  Hopefully that will pass.  But in the meantime, I will prepare dinner in phases over a couple hours (Shred the cheese, then go lay down.  Take a drink of water, boil some water on the stove for steamed veggies, then go lay down.  You get the point.).  But, I look at Landon and know how worth it they are!  I'd do it 100 times over to have my babies (I love having babies, it turns out) here with me.  But, I'm so grateful I don't have to do it 100 times!

So really, what I am saying is, to please be patient with me the next month or two.  With all this coming at once, blogging might get scooched to the back burner for a few weeks.  But never fear, with these big changes, come some DIY projects I am sure (new-to-us house built in the 50's), and how to budget in for a baby (round 2, for us!).  So exciting!


Easiest Soup that is Restaurant Worthy

Right after I had Landon, Brett's Aunt Kaye brought us over some lunch/dinner.  It was so simple, heart-warming, delicious and the ultimate comfort food.  I have been having some mad cravings for it, so I made it last night for dinner.

I'm sure you are wondering what she brought us...she brought us a simple potato soup, bread bowls, caesar salad, and rice krispy treats with chocolate drizzled on top.  And it still brings me comfort just thinking of the meal. 
Sorry for the crappy pictures, one day I'll learn how to take beautiful food pictures...one day.

The soup was rich, flavorful, and filling (even for my husband), and it just hit the spot.  So of course, I asked for the recipe and was floored when she told me her secret to make this delicious soup in a matter of minutes! 

Here is her recipe:
1 package of Bear Creek creamy potato soup mix
8 cups water
1 box augratin potatoes with sauce mix (I use the generic store brand)
chopped celery
chopped carrots

Throw it all in the crockpot on low, and let it simmer away for several hours to let the vegetables become tender.

If you don't have a crockpot, then of course, you can do the simmering in a soup pot as well. 

Sometimes the consistency gets rather thick (especially if eaten as leftovers), so add a splash of milk to thin it out if needed!

Obviously, the added veggies, really are optional, but I like the variety it gives to the soup.  Bear Creek soup isn't super inexpensive, but this tastes like a soup you might get at a restaurant (think a Paradise Bakery or Zupas type of restaurant), and makes a lot!  So really, cost per serving isn't super high compared to eating out.  And it is so easy.  Sometimes I am willing to pay $1 or $2 more for a lot of convenience and something I know I'll love. 

Because of the flavorings, this doesn't taste like a traditional baked potato soup.  But if you are looking for something like that, here is my most favorite, inexpensive, and delicious, baked potato soup recipe.  The reason I love this soup, is you don't have to pre-bake or peel the potatoes for it (as so many other recipes require).  Top it off with sour cream, chives, and leftover bacon or ham.  This is another restaurant quality soup that will blow your socks off with how easy and tasty it is!  I love the loaded baked potato soup I order at a local restaurant called Crackers & Co, and this is just as good!


Summer Movie Fun

I just got back in town from Utah (I hitched along with my family while Brett was at scout camp for the week)!  And despite the fact that they were hitting record-breaking highs there, it was still a nice break from the Arizona summer heat!  Now that is saying something.

So pardon my more sparse posting since I was vacationing.  And please continue to pardon my sparse posting as I try to recover from post-vacation blues (loads of laundry, sweltering heat, etc.) while I catch up on my regular daily-duties and posts!

But, in case you need an idea for something to escape the heat here in AZ, here is one!

I know this isn't a secret, but it was something I decided to do this year.  All of my cousins my age that live around here, do this together, and since I have Landon now I decided to join in on the fun!

It is called, Summer Movie Fun and is put on by Harkin's Theaters.  At the beginning of the summer, I bought a season pass for $7, which meant I could go to 10 movies over the summer for that price, total!  All my tickets came with the $7 purchase, so that is less than $1/movie, for 10 movies!  Now, the movies they show are not in theaters, they are already released movies.  But it is a fun outing and since I coordinate with my cousins, we get to see each other once a week in the summer. 

Since it is mid-summer and you might not be able to get your money's worth for a whole season pass, or if you travel a lot and would miss a lot of days--you can just show up to the theater during one of the movies designated times, and if space allows, purchase a ticket for $2 just for that one day and movie.  It still is a really inexpensive option to escape the heat and get out of the house!

I also "splurged" on a $5 loyalty cup, so I can get cheap refills every week or any other time I go to the movies this whole year.  Those who know me well, know I love a good fountain soda!

Brett and I also love to frequent the Picture Show Theater at Superstition Springs (it is $2 for admission, except for $1 on Tuesdays).  It is a discount theater that shows movies that have already hit regular theaters but not been released on DVD yet.  It is a great alternative for date night, than going to a traditional theater, since tickets can be $10 or more in the regular theaters!  We can afford dinner and a movie on the nights we choose to go there!

What do you do during the summer to escape the heat?  I could always use more ideas!


Guest Post: Trendkin "Frugal Fashion"

Hey!  How is everyone doing?  I'm off trying to escape some of the blistering heat, so Trendkin is guest posting for me today while I'm gone!  I hope you enjoy, they have an amazing blog!

Brittany and Jennifer make up the female half of Trendkin. Brittany writes about style tips and trends for women while Jennifer heads up the DIY posts. Both girls know it’s important to look your best, but it can be even more important to stay inside your budget. Great style doesn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg.

We love that rewarding feeling when you find clothes for a screaming deal, knowing your adorable addition to your wardrobe didn't break the bank. Even though we love dressing up as much as the next girl, we rarely pay full price for any of our outfits. You don't have to spend a fortune to look your best! Here are a few of our personal tricks and tips to starting a killer wardrobe on a budget.

Thrift it up
Our tips and tricks aren’t anything new, but we swear by them. It's even turned into a hobby for both of us. Our number one go-to place when we are looking for something new (well, new to us) is a thrift store. We love hunting through thrift stores and we never limit ourselves to just one. By hitting up multiple stores, you increase your chance to score a big find, and you might find exactly what you are looking for. Some of our favorite pieces have come from stores like Goodwill, DI and other thrift/consignment stores!
Still not convinced places like Goodwill has awesome stuff? Check this out.

My outfit in the pictures above was almost entirely thrifted. I recently nabbed the white Oxford shirt and the green jumper at Goodwill on half price day. I knew I was getting a steal when the cashier told me that the jumper had come in only the day before and was still in a Dillard's bag!

I also love Nordstom Last Chance. Phoenix is one of the only locations, so I feel so lucky to have one close by. I picked up my nude Enzo Angiolini pumps there about a year ago. They go with just about everything and are quite comfortable. The best part? These shoes sell for well over $100 in department stores, but they were less than $20 at Last Chance!

And as for my accessories, I thrifted the purse and got my necklace at Stein Mart using a 40% off coupon. Stein Mart has great sales and coupons are always available online. The store might have a bit of an elderly stigma, but let me tell you, I have gotten some quality pieces for next to nothing at Stein Mart!

The two necklaces I am wearing are the only things in my outfit that aren’t thrifted from Goodwill. I made the blue necklace (you can check out the DIY here) and the tan one is from Charming Charlie’s discounted merchandise. Charming Charlie’s is a fun store any day to run by and find some great accessories on a budget. I love my tan necklace because it goes with just about any outfit and can be layered with practically any other necklace I own. 
My skirt and belt aren’t brand name per se but they are awesome quality and totally fun pieces as the geometric embroidery is really ‘in’ right now and the snake skin belt is a perfect accent to so many looks. And getting a J. Crew shirt and Guess heels for less than $10 isn’t a bad deal either!

***As a side note, you probably won't be successful every time you hit up a thrift store (we for sure aren’t), but don't give up! It's definitely hit and miss and you will get better as you keep going.

Be in the know
Another great way to save on clothing is to sign up for emails from your favorite stores. If you are going to shop there, you might as well be on top of all the sales and promotions. Most stores have at least 35% off on their stock about once a month and some have deals that will surprise you. One of our faves, Banana Republic, sometimes has 40% off one item almost weekly!

If having your inbox inundated with emails from stores every day is not your thing, or if you are afraid that you will be too tempted, make an email solely for your subscriptions and just check it when you are ready and looking for the perfect purchase.

Want to see some of our favorite steals?

Another one of my favorite stores always seems to surprise people. A lot of women ask where I bought the blouse in the pictures below, and when I answer, many are shocked I didn't buy it at Anthropologie. So where did I buy it? JCPenney!

My skirt is part of a Tehari suit that retails for over $500 dollars in regular department stores, but I got it for less than $50 at Stein Mart a few years ago. I love the bright yellow color and that I can wear the suit as a complete ensemble or as separates.

Once again, I got the platform sandals at Last Chance. You really need to take a peek; you might walk out with some fabulous shoe finds.

I adore J. Crew styles, but my wallet doesn’t really let me indulge in their prices. I was ecstatic when I realized that J. Crew has a factory store online that has great deals all the time. I got my ikat top for 30% off for some recent family pictures and it is easily one of my new favorites.

My shorts were an amazing find for me. I am nearly six feet tall and it is extremely hard to find shorts that fit me correctly and with all the cute printed shorts that are too short, it was pretty disheartening to not be able mix things up more. I was beyond excited when I found these shorts on Gap.com that came in talls. All I had to do was wait for a 30% off sale and they were mine!

I got my sandals at Target, a perfect place for great and easy styles on a budget, and my purse was $30 from JCPenney.

Next time you hit the stores, don’t forget the idea behind frugal fashion is taking the time to search for deals and being aware of sales. Also, don’t get stuck in the mindset that a store is out of your price range or won’t have clothes that fit your style. Most of the time, you will be surprised at the sales and inventory some stores have. Being in the know will not only help save time, but will help you achieve the look you love, without emptying your wallet.