Friday, October 31, 2008

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Works for me Wednesday: Time change

Just a reminder that daylight saving time ends on Sunday. While you're running around changing clocks (and why does everything seem to have a clock?) be sure to reset any timers you have in use (indoor lamps, outside lights, sprinkler systems, etc.)
And be sure to check your computer clock, too.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Happy Hollowmas or is it Merry Christween?

It's that time of year again ... when the Christmas decorations have to share space with the Halloween decorations at every store.

Actually, it's a good time to start taking stock for the holidays:

Have any gifts stashed away? Now is a good time to see what you have and figure out what you need.

Cards? (if you send them) Need printed cards or cardstock? For those who have photo cards made, it's a good time to check out sales.

Decorations? Some of our lights gave out last year; now's a good time to check prices for replacements.

Wrappings? Have enough paper, ribbon and tape? The dollar stores are stocked, and I've seen paper at Wally world for $1.

Baking supplies? Stores in my area have been running sales on flour and sugar. (I'm hoping for egg sales next) Time to look at prices for other necessities, such as nuts and cranberries.

Holiday meals? Turkey sales have started in my area. If you have freezer space, it might be a good time to pick up a bargain. Also, consider buying an extra meal item or two now when you shop -- makes it a bit easier on your wallet.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Meat counter bargains

Whenever I'm at the supermarket I make it a point to poke around the meat counters in the hopes of finding some good markdowns or bargains.

Last time, I found a interesting deal: a package of 2 pork cutlets for only $1. Since there's just the two of us, this was a perfect size. We had them breaded and pan-fried for dinner the other night.

Earlier this week, I was back at the market, poking around again. This time I found a last-day-of-sale package of (2) cube steaks, marked down to $1.26. Not sure what we'll do with them, but they'll keep in the freezer until we figure it out.

Now if I could just find a deal on some lamb ....

Friday, October 24, 2008

Go, Taco .. Team!

As I mentioned a few days ago, Taco Bell planned to give away free tacos if a player stole a base during this year's World's Series.

Well, thank Jason Bartlett of the Tampa Bay Rays, and head over to Taco Bell on Tuesday between 2 and 6 p.m. for your free taco.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Closing the garden

The overnight temperatures are dropping a bit too close to freezing for my tastes, even though we haven't had an official frost just yet.

So I gave in and pulled all the green tomatoes and tiny peppers and brought them inside. I think I have more than 3 dozen tomatoes in a paper bag right now. They'll ripen (well, most of them will ripen) and will be fine for cooking.

Sad, though, to realize that gardening is over for another year...

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Works for Me Wednesday: Hand lotion

  • Here's one way I use those foil-packed samples of hand cream: I empty them in a small pump dispenser that I keep next to my sink. It doesn't take up much room, and it's easier to deal with than the individual packets.
  • I also keep a small sample-size tube of hand lotion in my car. (along with a small bottle of hand sanitizer) It's nice to use for an extra bit of protection during colder weather, or if I've washed my hands along the way.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Gee, I'd like to kick myself

I'm gonna need that free Excedrin ...

I had a bit of a run-in with a concrete post at a parking garage ... nothing dented, but I managed to rake a portion of the (plastic) front bumper. Arrgh!

Unfortunately, the only "real" fix is probably a new bumper, and I don't even want to think about that cost. ...

So .. I'm working on the smaller scrapes with some of the wipe-on scratch filler. (it's taking a few coats, but it's doing a pretty good job.) I'll visit the dealer to get some touch-up paint -- maybe I can cover some of the deeper spots, then go over it with the scratch filler.

I know I can't make it look "like new," but maybe I can camouflage it!

Monday, October 20, 2008

This will be a big hit

The World Series begins Wednesday! And to celebrate, Taco Bell is giving away a free taco if a player on either team steals a base during any game in the series... So, root, root, root for a taco ...


Sunday, October 19, 2008

Excedrin deal

There's a possible moneymaker with this week's Excedrin deal at CVS. In this week's ad, a 20-count bottle of Express Gels is on sale for $1.99. This week's SS ad has a mail-in rebate of up to $6.99 for the product.

Now, if your CVS takes printable coupons, use this $2 on 1. (If not, check a coupon database to see if there are any insert coupons available in your area. )

Result: $1.99 overage from the rebate.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Garden's last hurrah

Some of Saturday's forecasts called for a light frost, so I decided to take some precautions.
I picked off the riper tomatoes and peppers, then covered the pepper plants with plastic bags. (which looks mighty strange, I tell you.)
I still have a couple dozen green tomatoes on the vine .. I'm hoping they're covered by enough foliage to withstand any light frost. Temps next week are supposed to be in the 60s, so I'd like to keep them on the vine, and in the sun, for as long as possible.
After that I picked what will be the last harvest of green beans. I didn't bother to pull up the plants .. I'll wait until after the colder weather kills them off.
Of course, the bucket of tomatoes and peppers means I have some kitchen work to do!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Mr. Pumpkin Must Die

One of the fall rituals here at Casa de Chaos is the annual Dismembering of the Pumpkin.
We don't do the jack-o-lantern thing, (Well, actually, I do have a jack-o-lantern: he's made of foam and has a a nightlight in his gut.) but I do like having a pumpkin as part of the outside Halloween decorations.

I just can't see chucking all those potential pumpkin breads and pies into the trash. So after Halloween, we'll carve up our squashy friend and turn him into puree and roasted chunks.

I've read stories and blogs that say jack-o-lantern pumpkins aren't good for eating, and darned if I can figure out why. It's perfectly tasty. Two things to remember, though: The fruit is brownish-orange, not the deep orange of canned pumpkin. It's also a bit more watery, so I always make sure to drain it thoroughly before we make pie .. or soup.... or bread .. or whatever.

This year, the supermarket was having a sale, so we have two pumpkins to chop up. Last year I lucked out when the market decided to give away its surplus pumpkins after the holiday.

At least in my slice of the Midwest, pumpkins aren't taxed. Last year, there was a big flap in Iowa when the tax folks decided that since most pumpkins were used for decoration, they weren't food. So pumpkin buyers had to pay the state's sales tax. The gov finally stepped in and "squashed" the tax...

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Works for Me Wednesday: Keep those receipts

My public service message of the day ;)

If you have anything ( a small appliance, CFL bulbs, etc.) with a warranty or a replacement guarantee, here's a good way to keep track:

Set up a folder that you can keep with your other important papers. When you get the item, save the part of the packaging that lists the company's name and the guarantee. Keeping a UPC code could be helpful too. Staple the receipt (or a copy of the receipt) and stash it in the folder. Should the item die before it's time, you have the company's address and proof of purchase so you can stake your claim.

I mention this because I forgot to do it.

Since March, we've lost 2 CFL bulbs that we bought in 2006. I've been held up on getting a replacement because I couldn't find the $%!&*!! receipt. Spurred by the failure of bulb No. 3, we staged another hunt, and finally came up with the receipt. Now I get to chat with the company ...

Monday, October 13, 2008

Got the coupon blues

I've been reading about the free Lindt chocolate deal available at WAGS .. as I understand it, you combine a couple of coupons from the Sunday paper and a WAGS Easy Saver coupon and get 2 bars free.
Sounded like a good deal, so off I went in search of the Sunday coupons. No luck.
Maybe the date is wrong? So I check a coupon database and discover that the particular coupons were never available in my state.
Drat. It happens (and it's happened to me more than once). Coupons (and their amounts) are tailored to different regions. And since we folks in the blogging community come from all over .. it's only natural that we'll hear about deals we can't take advantage of.
So, best I can suggest is to find a site with a good coupon database, and when you come upon a coupon deal, use it to see if the coupon was available in your area.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Show and Tell: September freebies

I'm a little late with this, I know. All in all, September wasn't a bad month for freebies, though I am seeing a drop in the number of offers available. Perhaps we're swinging more into the "free-after-coupon" (FAC) deals.

The lineup:

PullUps training DVD
Fiber One cereal
Fiber One cereal bar
Stride gum
Avdea firming cream
roll of Scott TP
Pantene shampoo/conditioner
Coke (Coke Rewards)
Purina Natural cat food
Mr. Clean eraser
GeoTrax DVD
Curel hand, foot cream
Gerber Graduates yogurt
12 oz Kraft Singles (FAC)
Pkg Ball Park beef hotdogs (FAC)
Kraft Asian Sesame dressing (FAC)
3 Johnson's Buddies (FAC)

Odds and ends: Looks like the weather here will be unseasonably warm this week, so my tomatoes get a little more time to ripen before first frost hits.

Friday, October 10, 2008

That fresh rebate smell

We're still painting around here .. but while I'm doing the touch-up work, here's a couple of moneymaking free-after-rebates deodorant deals.

Sure Max Clinical Power and Sure with Natural Extracts click on the buttons to get the rebate forms.

Then pair up with these coupons: (A reminder: coupons and their amounts can vary by region.)

For Sure Max Clinical power
$2.50 in the 9/7 SS (expires 10.15)
$2.50 in the 8/3 SS (expires 10.31)

For Sure with Natural Extracts
$1 in the 9/7 SS (expires 10/15)
$1 in the 8/3 SS (expires 10/31)

Thursday, October 9, 2008

A little paint won't hurt..

The Casa de Chaos is living up to its name this week. We've got a bit of room painting going on, so stuff is all over the place.
The big advantage to painting, I've found, is that it gives us a good excuse to really clean the room. And on the frugal side, it's a good way to use up those stockpiles of sample erasers and paper towels, not to mention the free-after-rebate cleaners.
Not so frugal though when you overshoot the amount of non-returnable paint you need. Oh, well, I'm not sure what room we'll paint next, but I'm pretty sure what color it will be ;)

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Works for Me Wednesday: In the car storage

This is actually my DH's idea. My new car has a hatchback, and DH suggested I get a plastic tote to put in the back. I wasn't sure about it, but it's turned out to be a very handy thing to have.

Most of the time it holds my emergency kit and my reusuable grocery bags. When I shop, it's good for holding those full grocery bags in one place. I've also found that the enclosed box helps my frozen and chilled foods stay cooler during the summer. (I've put one of those frozen blue ice things in too, to help things along. ) And if anything does make a mess, it's a lot easer to hose out the box than clean a carpet.

And if it's not too heavy, it makes unloading easier: Just grab the box and take it inside. (And if it is too heavy, I call DH ;)

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

We're on the sauce

Went to a friend's house over the weekend to help her can homemade applesauce. Since I'm a very novice canner, this was a good chance to learn some things.
We also did a bit of research to figure out just why my attempt at jelly making fell flat ( I got a lovely sauce, but I wanted jelly!)

In terms of frugal .. I don't know if buying produce to can, freeze, etc, is that big a cost savings (unless you get a good deal). On the other hand, we know what's in this sauce: and it does taste different than commercially made applesauce.

And hey, I got a chance to catch up with a good friend I don't get to see too often. So it was well worth it.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Use it up: Fun with tortillas

Been working on ways to use up the bits of leftovers that have taken residence in the fridge.
After a batch of Mexican Lasagne, I had several leftover tortillas and a chunk of pepper jack cheese. So, lunch was ham & cheese quesadillas, made with garden tomatoes and my free deli ham.
I didn't have any plain sour cream to serve with it, so I used the ranch veggie dip I got from the neighborhood cookout. (that nicely took the edge off the pepper jack.)
I still have a few tortillas left to use ... and DH just made a batch of his chili. Think I'll just use some of that to make a chili burrito or two .. and use up the leftover rice in the process.
Do you have any tricks for using up leftover food?

Saturday, October 4, 2008

It's fall

The temperatures are cooling off, and the nights are definitely getting colder. We had to turn the heat on one evening just to take the chill off the house. (ugh.)

The garden is slowing down, too. The bean plants are starting to dry up, and what will likely be our last batch of tomatoes is starting to ripen.
The peppers, however, still want to bear fruit. Unfortunately, our first frost will likely hit within the next week or so ....

Friday, October 3, 2008

Show and tell: a 'hot' pepper deal

My best deal this week wasn't at a chain store. It was at our local international market. This is a huge market (housed in a former Kmart). And while I'm not quite willing to try the fresh sheep heads, it's a great place to pick up produce.
Their special that day was red and green bell peppers at 99 cents a pound. This came out to about 50 cents or less per pepper. We use lots of bell peppers in cooking, so I like to buy several and freeze them. Since we're growing green ones, we picked up some red peppers for variety.
I didn't realize how good of a deal this was until I picked up today's ad for a local grocery: Green peppers were 88 cents each. Red bell peppers -- 2 for $4! (yep, you read me right, $2 each...)
Sorry I didn't buy more ....

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Is it just me, or have we returned to the 60s?

From two recent stories in the Wall Street Journal:
  • On Monday, Kellogg Co. is beginning a new advertising push for staple cereals such as Corn Flakes and Rice Krispies. Kraft Foods Inc. has begun advertising its Kool-Aid powdered beverages on national radio for the first time in 11 years.
  • Campbell Soup Co. is partnering with Kraft Foods for a coming insert that will carry coupons for Kraft cheese singles and Campbell's soup side by side in an effort to promote the idea that consumers can put together a low-cost meal -- made up of a grilled-cheese sandwich and a bowl of tomato soup -- right at home.

Wow ... cornflakes for breakfast and Kool-Aid served with grilled cheese with tomato soup for lunch? Excuse me, I think I hear my childhood calling ...

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

When life bites back

A couple of days ago, I was looking at the amount in my medical flex account and realized that I had enough to cover my planned expenses, and then some.
You know where this is going, don't you?
Yep .. got back from my dental checkup. The tooth that's been giving me a twinge for the last month is likely cracked. So there may be a root canal and a crown in my immediate future. My share of the crown would be around $375 .. don't know about the root canal costs yet.
So it doesn't look like I'm in any danger of losing the flex-plan money this year ....
I suppose there's one good thing: I do have a coupon for a $25 gift card from CVS if I bring in a new prescription. So if the dentist has to prescribe some, er, strong painkillers, I'll get something back.