Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Garage sale fever

I am somewhat reluctantly preparing for the big neighborhood garage sale, plus trying to fit in whatever else needs to be done in the next couple of days.

I say reluctantly because I really dislike all the prep work, and the getting up early part. However, I think I will enjoy the part where I send all the leftovers to the Salvation Army, LOL!

I'll report back ....

Monday, July 27, 2009

Food inflation?

We've been complaining about the "shrinkage" at the grocery store - you know, the gallon of ice cream that's now three quarts or the pound of coffee that's now 12 ounces.
Well, hold on to your seat ... some packages are actually getting larger.
From the Associated Press:

Last year, food packages shrank as food makers, dealing with record high ingredient costs, struggled to maintain their profits. But the weakened economy has caused a slump in demand for ingredients like corn and oil, pushing those prices back down. With lower ingredient costs — and higher consumer demand for more value — some brands are shifting back to bigger packages, without raising prices.
So far, the most evident size boosting is in the chip aisle, where Frito-Lay dominates. The company has boosted some package sizes for brands like Doritos, Cheetos, Tostitos and Fritos by 20 percent, reversing cuts made to bag sizes last year.

But don't expect it to last .. experts predict that commodity prices will go up as the economy improves. So that bag of chips will likely get smaller again.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Use it up: What's for dinner?

Since I keep going on about cutting our food waste, thought I'd list a recent week's worth of meals, and how we're trying to cook ahead and incorporate leftovers into our meals:

Broiled chicken breasts with cajun seasoning. (We cooked 6 breasts with the idea of using the rest later.) Served with mixed veggies and couscous left from dinner the day before, plus fresh green beans from the garden.

Breakfast: Grilled Treet (canned meat) and eggs with fresh melon

Dinner - we went out

Chicken pot pie, using 3 of the chicken breasts. Cajun chicken breasts make for spicy pot pie! (leftovers were frozen for work lunches)

Chicken pizza (and DH added some Treet .. which I didn't notice.) Sauce was jarred spaghetti sauce, with green peppers from the freezer.) Crust was made in the breadmaker. (extra slices were frozen for work lunches)

Pasta, using the rest of the jarred spaghetti sauce and frozen green pepper not used on pizza.

A Treet hash: diced and pan-fried with potatoes and onions. seasoned with garlic, and served in pita bread.

BBQ ribs with corn and baked potatoes. Baked an extra potato and made up work lunches with leftovers.

Soup and sandwich
Ham slice with broccoli and baked potatoes.

At the end of Sunday, we had a bit of ham and pasta left over. What's next? Stay tuned!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

A lesson from the past

I have been reading a new book on John and Abigail Adams ... I admit, I've never known much .. or thought much about Abigail. But this book has given me a new appreciation for her, and what she faced.

John Adams was away for years, first in Philadelphia as the Revolution began, later as an envoy to France and to Amsterdam. Framing a new government wasn't exactly a well-paying position, and it didn't help that Adams had given up his law practice to deal with colonial matters.

So it fell on Abigail to not only raise their children, but keep the family afloat financially.

She rented out the family farm and went into business for herself. She speculated in currency (apparently quite popular in that time), and purchased land (in her husband's name, since she couldn't legally own land.)

When Adams went to France, she asked him to send items that she could sell: chocolate, tea, fabric. Her market was the Bostonians who had become wealthy by profiting from the wartime economy. After a while, she began to deal directly with European merchants, bypassing her DH altogether. (Imagine what she could have done with eBay!)

Her intent was not to become wealthy, but to keep the family housed, clothed and fed without going into debt ... something a frugal New Englander abhorred.

I can't help but compare this to something else I read -- a recent news story about how, as the economy stays sour, more women have had to become the breadwinners for their families.

Doesn't seem all that different, does it?

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Garden report

Well, we've got beans !

I've been picking green and wax beans for the past week ... one batch went straight to the dinner table, the rest are in the freezer.

All of the tomato plants look to be setting fruit. The weather's been so off and on, I'm not sure how well they'll do this year.

So far, I have one green and one purple bell pepper .. not much sign of anything else.

The lettuce is still hanging on, thanks to the rain and cooler weather. The herbs are nice and lush ... must talk DH into making pesto or pasta sauce real soon.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Coupon alert!

Next time you go shopping, pay close attention to the salad dressing displays: Kraft has a tearpad with a coupon for free produce (up to $1) if you buy 2 of their salad dressings.

In my area, dressings usually run around $1.58, and there are currently coupons in the 6/21 SS for $1/1. Depending on prices in your area, for a little over $1 out of pocket, you could get a couple of bottles of dressing and lettuce (or other type of salad greens).

The coupon is good until 3/31 of next year, so there's plenty of time to find a good deal.

Friday, July 17, 2009

This might get people off the roads

From an Associated Press story:

Researchers are looking for 1,500 drivers in six cities to test an on-board computer system that taxes motorists based on miles driven rather than fuel taxes paid at the pump.
That mileage-based tax is being considered in a $16.5 million study for the U.S. Department of Transportation to determine whether it's a viable option for paying for surface transportation, including roads and railroads, in the future.
"As vehicles become more fuel efficient, the money raised by the gas tax goes down," said said Jon Kuhl, a University of Iowa professor of electrical and computer engineering and principle investigator on the study.
And drivers of the increasingly popular electric, hydrogen and hybrid vehicles aren't paying their fair share for road use.
Under the system, a small computer is installed in a vehicle and will record miles and road use. It can also tell what state a person is driving in and can charge different tax rates based on the fuel mileage of the car being driven, Kuhl said.

Personally, I have some privacy issues with this. And it certainly would be an incentive for me to keep the car OFF the road as much as possible. (or is that the idea?)

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Use it up: Painting

There's been some painting going on at the casa de chaos .... we (OK, I really mean DH) have been tackling the half bath.

Rather than buy paint, we decided to use what was on hand. An off-white (which I bought too much of anyway) made a good base coat. Another half-gallon of white mixed with the same amount of light green made a lighter green, which works well in the small space.

We also have plenty of semi-gloss for the woodwork. (I'd purchased a gallon at the paint store's last sale, with the plan of redoing kitchen woodwork at some point.)

We even had a couple of brushes and rollers handy.

I will have to buy a couple of foam brushes to handle the woodwork. But the total OOP for this project -- should be less than $5.

Monday, July 13, 2009

How's that again?

I got a rebate offer in the mail the other day. Actually, it is a glorified B1G1F offer for a snack product.

But the instructions are rather confusing:
Step 2: Send a copy of cash register receipt dated (xx-xx to xx-xx) with purchase price circled.
Step 4: Mail the original form and the original dated receipt with item descriptions and product price circled.

So, which is it? A copy or the original?

Oh yeah, I have to fill out the form with name, address, etc. The back of the card is the original mailer, which carries my name, address, etc....

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Still standing

I'd said earlier this week that the company I work for planned layoffs this week.

I'm still standing .. though the co-workers that sit on either side of me didn't fare as well. Nor did another 30-plus folks in our division.

I know, a drop in the bucket compared to what's going on in the auto industry. But when it hits close to home, it's scary.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Self-serve blues: Update

I promised I would tell everyone how I came out with the $3 coupon I didn't get.
Went back to the store and talked with the manager. She remembered our conversation and immediately had the customer service clerk give me a $3 cash refund. So, all's well.
And of course I spent it, and a bit more, LOL!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

June freebies

This actually turned out to be a pretty good month.

Head & Shoulders shampoo/conditioner
lettuce (courtesy of a friend's garden)
Cottonelle paper/wipes
3 pkgs Huggies diapers
1 Powerade
1 Hawaiian Tropic butter
Bodycology lotion, soap, body mist
2 Country Crocks (1lb) FAC
Joint Flex
All Bran cereal, fiber bar, drink mix
Kotex pads
Dove shampoo/conditioner
Fancy Feast
Axe shampoo
Playtex tampons
Fisher Price DVD
2 cans infant formula
Degree deodorant
Carefree pad
Jack Daniels BBQ sauce
Hunt's ketchup
Reach floss (FAC)
Kashi cereal bar

Monday, July 6, 2009

Here we go again

This is going to be a difficult week.
The company I work for has announced another round of layoffs. This is the 3rd round in 8 months, not to mention the 2 weeks of furlough I've already taken.

So, I cleaned out my desk, just in case (I've learned to travel light) .. and once again, life (at least the financial portion) goes on hold ...

Sunday, July 5, 2009

My sharp CVS deal (and other stuff)

Had mixed success with CVS today. Wanted cereal, but they were all out of Trail Mix Crunch .. hmm, wonder why? No tape to be had, either.
But I did get a sweet deal :
  • 1 Venus Embrace $8.99
  • 2 Bic Soleils. (these still had the $7.99 tag, but scanned at $2.99)
  • 1 Zone bar.

I paid:

  • 2 $3 coupons for the Bic razors
  • 55 cent coupon for the Zone bar (6/14 SS in some markets)
  • $6.98 in ECBs.

Total: $1.08, paid with a gift card I earned doing a survey. So, OOP: Zero! Plus I got $3 ECBs back.

Also, at Kroger this week, Tyson boneless chicken breasts were $1.87 per pound. I used 4 of their recent $1 off coupons to score packages for around $2 each. We usually split the chicken breasts in half before cooking, so I figure I have at least 24 servings of chicken for around $8!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy 4th of July!

May you have a safe and happy holiday. And hopefully, a dry one!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Food waste

One thing I've tried to do this year is cut the amount of food we waste. Not that we pitch tons, but it always seemed that something ended up in the trash each week.
So far, it's been going well ... until the last two weeks. And boy, have I fallen flat.
There were the cooked pork chops that didn't make to the fridge. Found 'em on the counter 9 hours later. (food poisoning, anyone?)
The peaches that skipped ripe and went straight to rot.
The well-refrigerated lunch meat that developed an odd smell the day after it was opened. (it was a last day of sale markdown, but still ...)
And the fresh spinach and strawberries that didn't get eaten quickly enough ... the last bits of those went into the trash, too.
Lessons learned, I suppose. Maybe I should put this poster up in my kitchen, eh?