How to get things for free

Back story: My sister’s dog recently had a birthday. The same sister has a birthday in a month. I figured I’d buy some fancy dog treats as a dual present.

Problem: I am currently surviving on ~$400/month, which is how much my rent is. (There’s a story there; I took a risk and I’m learning lots!)

What happened: On my break from the restaurant I work at in the Strip, I walked down to the stand where a friendly middle-aged man sells dog treats and things. (Roughly near 19th street, across from Bella Notte.) I picked up a pigs ear and something coated in peanut butter and asked the man if he was cash only.

“Yes.”

“Oh, ok.” I turned to the bins with a choice between a beef or a turkey link. As I picked up the beef link, I made conversation, “My sister’s dog just had a birthday so I’m picking up a few things.”

“How old’s the dog?”

“One or maybe two.”

Dog Treat Man decisively picks up the pink squeaky-bone toy I had been looking at, and rings up the rest of my treats at the register.

A gift given for a gift!

That took all my dollar bills, but now I needed to grab something to get me through the remaining 7 hours of work.

Back story: I love baklava and pastries of any kind.

Problem: I needed to buy real food because it would be my only meal of the day. Also, most places in the Strip are cash-only or have a $5 minimum.

What happened: I walked by the dessert table in front of Stamoolis and stopped at the corner to count my change.

I really love pastries!

I overheard a man talking to the dessert lady.

“Does the baklava come in a smaller size?”

“No, sir, it’s $5 for the square, but we can cut it in half for you.”

“Hm, no, I’m going to the airport, I would just toss it. I don’t want to waste it.”

*Pause* *More pausing*

I decide to save the day! “I’ll eat the other half!” I volunteer as I start to count my laundry quarters to make up the $2.50.

“Well, look at that!” says Pastry Lady as she cuts a square in half. “It all works out.”

Kind Man says, “How about this one is my treat,” as he smiles.

I think my face physically lit up as I said Thank You several times and just beamed.

He’s from Fort Worth, TX, and single-handedly improved my opinion of the state. Blessings on him and his family.

Baklava is just so good!

You might be wondering if I eventually just ate one of the dog’s pig ears.

Well, I ventured onward to Colangelo’s on 21st. Lunch was over, which was just as well because everything on the menu was out of my current price range.

There was a $5 card minimum. They had my favorite chocolate pastries for $1.95, so I could get another dessert and a fritatta or something to make it up…

Pizza!

“How much is that pizza?”

“$2.50 for a slice.” Smile.

“Ooh, only $2.50, I bet I have enough quarters for that!”

“I can give it to you even if you’re a quarter short. We close soon and I don’t think we’ll sell all of this.”

I had exactly $2.50 in quarters, and honest as I am I exchanged all of them for the best piece of white pizza I’ve had in a very long time.

Baklava, pizza, and presents, and half of them donated.

I think God and the universe is trying to let me know I’m not alone.

There are a lot of people in this world! And I believe most of them have kind hearts.

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Three cities that changed my ‘Meh’ of the Midwest

When the cheapest plane ticket I could find was $450 for one person, round trip, I decided to take the road less traveled.

More specifically, the two (yes, only twointerstates connecting Pittsburgh, PA with OKC. 70 East and 44 East and I are all best buds.

An idea! is born

I had been on several road-trips with my family growing up. We did a few circles around the country, which

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What would you do with a can of undrinkable beer?

See? You gotta train their tastebuds at an early age.

I know, almost sounds like an oxymoron.

OK.  We can all agree the standard drinking fare in Korea is vicious.  I try to stick to makgoelli when possible.

My co-teachers think I’m an amazing drinker because I always mix my soju with the beer when everyone drinks together at school dinners.

"Now with 30% more gasoline!"

No no, my friend.  Mixing the two is simply the only way I can stomach either of them.  The bite of the soju takes the flatness out of the beer.  Or something.

There are three base beer brands: Max, Hite, and Cass.  If I had to choose, Max is less-bad than the others, although they’re all similarly awful.

Hite is shite.  Cass is…well, you get the idea.

The head administrator at my school slipped me a can of Cass to take home at the school dinner aaaages ago, and it’s been hanging out in my refrigerator ever since.

Sunday, I discovered my baking adventures of late had been turning out funky because I had purchased self-rising flour.  Oh.  Apparently that’s kind of a big deal.  So I googled massive amounts of self-rising-flour recipes.  Which essentially just mean you take out the baking powder and the salt.  Oh.

Yummers! I might actually pay money for another can of Cass after these guys!

Still, I made a very valuable discovery: guess what you can make with just self-rising flour and a can of beer?  Bread!  Coooool.

So I did.  Plus a dash of sugar, some rosemary, and my toaster oven.  Oh, and drizzle some butter on top.  After tasting the finished product, I decided it reminded me of breadsticks.  So I added oregano, garlic salt, and cheddar cheese and dipped them in marinara.

Seriously, May is my favorite month.

Also, I had some students over, and I did the typical pancake scene.  Then they wanted more food, so…more experiments!

Microwave apple crisp---success!!

Ever made a microwave apple crisp?  I have, and it was DELICIOUS.  I used a packet of Quaker maple brown sugar oatmeal for the topping.  Oh man oh man.  Little slice of heaven.

Since ice cream is super expensive, we ran next door and snagged one of those frozen milkshake/smoothie dealios for a buck.

Perfect.

They thought I was crazy when I attacked the milkshake package with a pair of scissors.  They don’t quite understand my haphazard approach to food!

Mickey Mouse! Entirely unplanned, the batter was just a little runny 'cause I'm still experimenting with this self-rising flour mumbo-jumbo

Taking pictures of Mickey-Mouse-Pancake

The student in the blue-striped shirt made me a card holder! Awwww. (That's me & my older sis in the frame, BTdubs)

All-You-Can-Eat Meat, Grill Included

To quote a dear friend, “Koreans have perfected the art of the barbecue.”

Observe.

We went to an upscale meat buffet and had our fill of at least six different cuts of beef and as many of pork, plus some sausage and patty dealios that were as delicious as they were mysterious.

Fresh, juicy, tender, and full of flavor.

Nights like these make me wonder why I think about going vegetarian.

This was our 4th or 5th plate. I lost count.

The buffet, in all its refrigerated glory. Those plates were like magic--they never ran out no matter how much we took!

In other news…

I should probably throw away the shoes that did this to me. Thing is, I didn't even notice until I looked down and saw that I'd been tracking blood all over the floor since I got home. (edit: apparently there's some confusion. This has nothing to do with eating meat. A few weeks ago, my shoes caused my toe to bleed. That is all)

Banana bread made in a steamer pot!! It's all gone now though, and I'm hungry... (recipe courtesy ovenlesschef.blogpost.com)

Dan & Deb are the best uncle/aunt combo in the world

I returned to my office this afternoon, looking forward desperately to a cup of coffee. Instead, I found a box from Colorado on my desk. The kind with customs slips attached. Instant excitement.

But nothing compared to actually opening the box.

Loaded with mostly tea and Reese's, but also a chocolate dog, a lovely card, a giant York peppermint pattie, a few rather smashed candy canes, DARK CHOCOLATE Twix, Milky Way, Rolo, and...

...another beautiful glass creation by Debra!

Dark chocolate Reese's and coffee, mmmmmmm. *sigh of contentment*