Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Treasure hunt!

I've always said that the secret to bargain hunting is to look in places where you don't expect to find bargains.

One of my favorite stops at the local supermarket is the markdown table. I've found some interesting things there: Last Christmas they had cloth placemats and napkins for around 50 cents each. (Guess what went into my gift stash?)

Anyway, this past week, the table held another goodie: Printer ink! Yep, black inkjet cartridges, compatible with my printer model, for $5 each!

I bought four and did a little happy dance as I left the store. I figure that if these work (and I am keeping the receipt), I've saved at least $40 in ink costs. Yahoo!

Water torture: Part II

Back in October, I was ranting about the way higher-than-normal water bill we received; the one that said we used 1.5 more water than usual.

Well, we never did figure out what had happened that month. Apparently, it wasn't a leak, because our usage levels remained normal.

Unfortunately, the financial pain continued in November ... our utility has the unfortunate habit of estimating usage every other month. Ouch!

But a quick check of the meter did show that our usage was way under the estimate.

So finally, some good news. This month's bill: under $3!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Post-Christmas musings

Hope everyone had a great holiday!
  • We'll be getting in line at the returns desk ... not that we misfired on a gift, but because of our hit-and-miss shopping this year. We bought a couple of things -- then stumbled onto something better at another store. Then there was the ... "Does so-and-so have this particular CD? Well, just in case, let's buy this one too while we try to sort it out."
  • Got a chuckle from DH when he saw me salvaging bows and gift bags and tissue paper to use again. (and yes, you can iron tissue paper ... just make sure the iron is set on low. It won't be as crisp as new paper, but it works well to line boxes.)
  • I'm glad I stuck with the inexpensive ribbons for our outdoor decorations. We've had a windy/rainy holiday (as opposed to the folks who were buried in snow). Two days in a row we've gone out to find a ribbon in pieces, strewn across the yard. Actually, I can fix them, but eventually, they're going to get beaten up beyond repair. When that happens, I won't feel guilty about pitching them, LOL!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Eve

Wishing all my friends in blogland the happiest of holidays!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The mad dash to Christmas

We're in the home stretch of baking and buying here at the casa de chaos. Just a few musings:

  • No offense to the post office, but its frustrating to come up with frugal gifts, only to spend that much and more on mailing them.

  • We seem to be getting fewer holiday cards from friends, and more from businesses. Not that I can talk: About a third of my list will be getting e-mail cards again this year.

  • I don't feel old until I get cards that read, "Johnny is graduating from college this year ..."

  • My holiday and gift pantries have come in handy once again. Didn't need any extra wrapping paper or ribbons, and some of the freebies I stashed away are going to help round out some Christmas baskets.

Hope all your holiday preparations are going well!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Thanks, I'll do the work

It's Christmas baking time here at the casa de chaos. We've been making cookies and quick breads for gifts and the office pitch-in.

A couple of the recipes call for orange peel. Boy, talk about price shock! More than $4 for a small bottle. (I'm really spoiled, since I bought a bottle of lemon peel at the salvage store for $1.)

Anyway, I headed over to the produce department. They had navel oranges (with nice thick peels) for 40 cents each. I bought two.

We washed them, then took off the peel and chopped it up. We partially dried it in the oven, then took it out and let it sit in a bowl on the counter to finish drying.

So for 80 cents, and a few cents worth of gas for the oven, we probably got the equivalent of 2 small bottles of peel. Sweet!

(edited ... I have to learn to actually fill the containers instead of estimating)

Monday, December 14, 2009

Quick craft: Paper clip angel

I just had to pass on this cute, easy-to-make little ornament -- an angel made from a paper clip (or paper clamp, which I think is the correct term).

To get the original instructions, go visit Heavenly Homemakers (Thanks, Laura!).

Now, if you're like me, and don't have any beads in the house, give this a try:

Get a small button with a shank on the back and a thin cord. (I used rug-weight thread.) I used about 6 inches of cord .. you can use more or less depending on the size of your angel and the tree you're hanging it on.

Thread the cord through the button, loop first, then take the cut end and thread it under the "neck" of the clip. Put cut end through the loop and pull up. Presto! One angel with head. Tie the cut ends off in a small knot.

I didn't want my angel's head to sit directly on the neck, so I turned it over, moved the button up a little, then used a piece of sewing thread to tie off the cord under the button shank.

It might make a good office-type ornament, don't you think?

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Today's tip

Should you want to brew a large amount of loose tea and don't have a tea ball big enough for the job -- a coffee filter and a few well-placed staples make a dandy tea bag.

Come to think of it, a square of cheesecloth would work nicely, too!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Soup for you!

We're on a soup kick here at the casa de chaos --- which is a bit chilly these days because the temperatures have dropped. Though, really, the soup-making is designed to use up the excess produce (especially that bargain-priced celery I couldn't resist).

Anyway, I thought I'd share a couple of recipes ..

First is cabbage soup, which has a bit of an Italian flavor:


Then there's my current favorite, Sweet Potato Bisque. It is a bit sweeter than pumpkin soup:

This site has other recipes -- haven't tried any of them yet, though!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

November freebies

Looks like last month was free food month!

Eucerin lotion
Clorox wipe
Chex mix (FAC)
2 cups Starbucks coffee
Garnier eye cream
quart of Glidden paint
2 pieces pumpkin pie
2 McD's iced coffees
1 Chick-fil-A sandwich

Friday, December 4, 2009

Bye, bye Mr. Pumpkin

The annual dispatching of the pumpkins was a little late this year. (Which means no homemade pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving, but we managed, LOL!)

There were 2 pumpkins this year, both a bit smaller than usual. One-half a pumpkin was roasted, the rest were boiled and turned into puree. Oddly enough, both produced the same amount of pulp -- a little over 8 cups.

Now to find room in the freezer!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

It's beginning to look a lot like

It looks like Christmas at my house ... at least outside. (No, I don't mean snow .. though that's supposed to show up sometime this week.)

We took advantage of the last decent weather day (and part of a not-so-decent-day) to put up the outside lights.
I've noticed folks aren't putting up as many lights these days -- I'm guessing it's because they don't want to add to the electric bill. A shame though, the lights make things seem a bit more cheery.

Now for today's question: Why is it that a set of lights will work perfectly when you plug it in inside, but the minute you put them on the house, a half-dozen or more bulbs will go out?