Wednesday, December 29, 2010

End of the year chores, Part 3


This week I've been posting about some things to take care of before the New Year arrives.


Today: Don't leave $$ on the table.


If you have a flexible spending account, it's very close to use it or lose it time. To be honest, your chances of getting a doctor or dentist appointment may be slim. Glasses ... still possible. All you have to do is pay for them by Saturday.

Here's a thought .... Next year, we won't get reimbursement for over the counter drugs. So, if you have $$ to use up., I suggest heading out to the drugstore and buying industrial size bottles of headache remedies. Or stocking up on your cold/flu remedies, or bandages, or antacids ....


And on the tax front, there's still time to make charitable contributions or contribute to a standard IRA to knock your tax bill down a bit...

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

End of the year chores: Part 2


This week I'm posting about things to take care of before the New Year arrives.

Today's installment: Couponing and such

Time to check your coupon file. Dec. 31 is one of those major cutoff dates. So if you still have some high-value coupons, or some freebies hanging around, be sure to use them on this week's shopping trip.

Have any rebates sitting on your desk? Do they expire on Dec. 31? There's still time to get them in the mail. If you have any rewards from an office supply store or a credit card that are about to expire, it's time to go shopping.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Bargain alert: Tax software

Admittedly, this is not for everyone ....

If you use H&R Block At Home tax software, and got a copy of it in the mail recently, be sure to open it. You'll likely find a form for a $10 rebate if you buy the product from one of several retailers. (Don't ask me why they do this ...)

Anyway, here's where the fun begins. It happens that Target is one of the retailers. If you peruse the coupons on Target.com, you'll find one for $10 off any H&R Block software. (Which means it's good on everything except the basic version.)

But wait! There's more! If you buy it in the store this week, you get a $10 Target gift card at the checkout.

The downside: The deluxe version sells for $44.99.

But here's how the deal goes:
Buy the software at $44.99
Get $10 off with the coupon
Get a $10 gift card
Send in for the $10 rebate.

Total cost -- $14.99

The coupon is good till 1/19; the gift card deal runs through 1/1 (as far as I can tell.) The rebate is good for purchases through 4/15.

If you don't have Target, the rebate is good at several other retailers.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

End of the year chores: Part 1


Happy boxing day ... or the day after Christmas to most of us. That means one thing -- the end of the year is upon us!


This week, I'm going to post about some things to take care of before the New Year arrives.

Today's installment: Christmas aftermath

I'm sure you've reclaimed all the bows, tissue paper and gift bags that can be reused. But while you're putting things away, take inventory: Will you need more paper? Have you run out of small gift bags? Are your tree lights about shot? This week is your best chance to get next year's supplies at half-price or better. (BTW, I've found that supermarkets are good places to go bargain hunting.


Is that sweater from Aunt Matilda two sizes too large? Already have that CD your brother gave you? Slip up on your list and buy an extra toy? This is the week to make the returns (though maybe not today).

Most stores do give you time to exchange things, but the policy varies by the retailer. (and do check those policies) But it's oh, so tempting to just put the gift aside -- then forget about it. So unless you're planning to regift the stuff, go get something you want.


It's also a good time to do inventory of your ornaments: Anything broken? Outdated? Just not your style any more? Take a minute and put it in the trash, or the garage sale pile.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas!

From my house to yours -- Hope you and yours have a Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Surf and save

A little tip .... the next time you are prescribed any name-brand medication, take a spin through the Web -- you might save some money.

While researching a med I was prescribed, I hit the drugmaker's site. Lo and behold, they offered a coupon that would bring my co-pay down to $15 (or knock $60 off the cost for a purchase without insurance ... yeah, it's expensive stuff, gah!)

Wasn't sure it would work, but I took it to the pharmacy ... and they had to jump through a couple of hoops, but in the end, it knocked $20 bucks off my co-pay.

I did a bit of checking, and it looks like other popular name-brand meds also offer coupons or rebates, too.

Now, to be honest, I'd rather see lower prices across the board for all meds -- not just deals for the Internet-savvy. But I honestly don't see that happening any time soon. So in the meantime, I'll try to save as much as I can...

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Santa's coming through

Well, I have success on the gift front: The gift card arrived in the mail yesterday!

I decided to send back the first set of books ... had the feeling that I might just create more problems if I tried to deal for them.

Perhaps the new book will show up this week .. if not, DH will get an IOU wrapped in a box ...

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Will Santa be late?

I thought I was being clever when I decided on a couple of DH's gifts. Somehow, I managed to start a Christmas soap opera!

I used some of of the points from MyPoints to order a gift card. Then I found a book he wanted on PaperbackSwap. Two gifts down and no $$ spent.

Well .... I still haven't received the gift card (though to be fair, we still have another week). Then, there was a big glitch with my transaction on PaperbackSwap. The sender says she notified them that she'd shipped the book. They say she didn't and canceled her order. And without my knowledge (and certainly not my permission) my request bounced to another member, who's already mailed the book.

To make matters more interesting, the first book arrived in the mail. I'm supposed to refuse it and send it back.

So ... will the gift card arrive in time? Will the other book arrive in time, or will I try to make some sort of deal with the first swapper? Stay tuned.

Monday, December 13, 2010

In the Christmas chaos


We're in full Christmas craziness here at the Casa de Chaos. The tree is up .. sorta. Need to get out the cards. The shopping is almost done though. And if this snow sticks around, we'll certainly have a white Christmas.

I live in a city where there's no shortage of Christmas entertainment. Unfortunately, a lot of it is priced out of my budget these days. (I know professional musicians have to earn a living, but it doesn't mean I can afford to help out.)

Fortunately, there's also a number of free events to visit. We caught the holiday concerts of some of the area's community bands. And you know, holiday music sounds just as lovely in a school auditorium or a church sanctuary.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Thanks but no thanks!

I got my eyes examined this week (and yes, some people say I should have my head examined. How did you know?)

Anyway, I made the appointment online, which was certainly convenient. But today, I got a thank-you e-mail with this little surprise: Your next appointment is on Dec. XX, 2011 at 12:40 p.m.

I don't think so. Thanks for the helpful reminder, but call me in 2 years ...

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

November freebies

Thought I did pretty well on the FAC stuff last month:

2 Garnier moisture relief
Fructus anti-dandruff
Leapfrog book
Axe deodorant
1/2 gal Smart Balance milk (FAC)
Gain dish detergent (FAC)
Hungry Man dinner (FAC)
Coffee-mate creamer (FAC)
mac & cheese dinner
Curel
Tide
Kleenex
2 Toms of Maine toothpaste
Garnier UltraLift
Advil
Wrigley's 5 gum
2 sweet potato fries

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Just a sweet tip

If you're in the mood for a flavored, coffee-house type hot chocolate ... here's a nice alternative: Just add a dash or two of flavored coffee creamer to your cup of hot cocoa. Tried some peppermint mocha with mine last night ... Yum!

(and no, we won't discuss calories, fat, etc .. it's Christmas, LOL!)

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Sometimes it pays to ask

It was time to renew my subscription for my computer's anti-virus/firewall updates. (yeah, I do pay for that stuff ... I'll explain in a bit) And I was getting peeved because I couldn't get a firm price for the renewal. The only link I could find was for $30 more than I was paying per year. Uh, no thanks.

So I had a chat with a customer service representative. She gave me a price that was $10 more than I usually paid. When I pointed this out, she suggested I call the sales department, and gave me the phone number.

OK. So, I called, and got quoted a price that was slightly below what I'd been paying. And wait, there's more! He offered to knock another $5 off the price.

So I agreed. And this year, I came out slightly ahead. Of course, now I wonder if I should have bargained a bit harder ;)

(And in case you're wondering, I do know there are plenty of free anti-virus and firewall and malware-blockers out there, and they have plenty of fans. I used to use some of them too, until my computer got hit with viruses - twice. At that point, I decided you get what you pay for ... and paying for software was cheaper than paying my computer geek.)

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Just wondering

If credit is so hard to get these days, why is it that over the past two days we've received 6 offers for a new credit cards ... all from the same bank?

Just asking ....

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Black Friday: Oops, I did it.


Honestly, I have never had any interest in shopping on Black Friday. No way do I want to be in a crowded store at 3 a.m. (Now, perhaps an establishment that sells adult beverages ... ahem ... I digress.)


But there, in one of the ads, was a power tool that DH had been shopping for. Just what he wanted, at the best price we've seen.


So, I pull up the store's Web site to do a bit of research. And discovered that I could buy the tool online. For the Black Friday sale price! And I could pick it up at the store any time the next day.


Kaching!!


So I ordered it. And around noon on Black Friday, I waltzed into the not-too-busy store, picked up the power tool, and went on my merry way.


Now, that's my kind of Black Friday shopping!




Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

I am thankful for all the folks who have stopped by to read this blog over the past year. I hope this day finds you all in the company of friends and loved ones --- and with a meal purchased at sale prices!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Bye, bye Mr. Pumpkin


We performed the annual dispatching of the pumpkins the other night.

I've never dispatched a pie pumpkin, but I am always amazed at the amount of water that has to be drained out of our porch pumpkins. I think the draining took longer than the cooking, LOL!

We boiled 1 1/2 pumpkins and roasted the other half. The tally: 9 1/4 cups of puree, and 10 cups of roasted.

Now, to find room in the freezer!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Thanksgiving dinner costs

The Farm Bureau in my home state totaled up the cost of a Thanksgiving dinner for 10 this year. The shoppers put together a menu using the lowest regular price, no coupons or sales.
The result: $45.79

Here's the lineup:

Turkey (16 lb.) $20.48
Stuffing (14 oz.) $2.48
Pumpkin pie filling mix (30 oz. can) $2.72
Pie shell, 9 in. (2 per pkg.) $2.45
Sweet potatoes (3 lb.) $2.97
Rolls (12 oz./12 per pkg.) $2.12
Peas (16 oz. pkg.) $1.51
Relish tray (1 lb. mixed carrots, celery) $0.88
Whole milk (gal.) $2.83
Cranberries (fresh, 12 oz. pkg.) $2.32
Whipping cream (½ pint) $1.82
Misc. ingredients (AFBF estimate) $ $3.22
TOTAL $45.79

I can't resist. Let's see what happens when I shop the sales:

Turkey (16 lbs @ 57 cents a pound at Kroger). $9.12
Stuffing (2 5-6 oz boxes at Meijer) $1.98
2 Frozen pumpkin pies at Kroger (all right, I'm cheating) $5
Sweet potatoes (3 lbs @25 cents a pound at Meijer). 75 cents
Rolls (Marsh) 99 cents
Peas (12 oz at Kroger). 88 cents
Relish tray (at Aldi, celery, 79 cents; carrots 69 cents). $1.48
1% milk (1 gal at Costco). $1.79
Whipping cream (16 oz at Kroger). $1.99
Cranberries (12 oz at Meijer). $1.50
Misc. ingredients (I'll go with the bureau on this one) $3.22

Grand total: 28.70

Not bad, and I suspect a few coupons could knock the total down even more.

Obviously, your mileage may vary depending on where you shop and what kinds of foods have to be on your holiday table. But hey, that extra $17 can go toward your Black Friday shopping!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A little planning helps

I'm not sure that this is a frugal triumph -- more like a tale of poor planning.

I was recently invited to a baby shower. Found a gift, then decided that .. eh, I have plenty of things in my gift-wrap stash .. no need to buy any paper.

You can guess where this is going, right? A couple of hours before the shower, I poked through my gift-wrap collection, and realized that 98% of my stash was Christmas wrappings. Oops! Actually, I had some lovely blue paper ... but the little one happened to be a girl.

I did find some appropriate paper at the bottom of the stash, but it was a bit creased and beat up. I tried the ironing trick, which helped, but not enough. Fortunately, some strategic ribbon placement hid the worst of the creasing.

Next was the gift tag, which actually wasn't a problem. A quick Internet search found several cute, printable tags. (I realized later that I probably could have printed out some wrapping paper, too.)

So, after an extra hour and much angst, I had a presentable gift.

Technically, I pulled it off. But really, I'm annoyed with myself for not checking my wrapping stash ahead of time. So I will be stopping by the dollar store to pick up some paper (or gift bags) in a nice neutral, solid color ...

Friday, November 12, 2010

The plant that won't die


When I closed out the garden ahead of a hard freeze, I brought all my porch plants inside, including my cherry tomato plant.


As usually happens, most of the herbs don't like the transition, and either died or went dormant. I figured the same thing would happen to the tomato plant as soon as I got the ripe fruits off it.


Well, guess again.


Despite my intentional neglect, the darn thing is surviving. The green tomatoes are ripening. In fact, the darn thing is blooming!


So, who knows ... maybe I'll have tomatoes in my salad all winter. We'll see.


Oh, yeah, guess this means I have to water it more often...

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Time to fall back


Daylight saving time ends today ... don't forget to set your clocks back an hour!


Saturday, November 6, 2010

October freebies

Had a number of FAC items this month ...

2 Nivea lotions
1 Nivea body wash
Dove shampoo/conditioner
Wisk
Post-it notes
Life cereal bar
candy corn (FAC)
EmergenC
EverPure shampoo/conditioner
Powerade
Green Giant steamer (FAC)
Gain dish detergent (FAC)
Triscut crisps
Crest ProHealth
Crest (FAC)
2 Jergens lotions
Dawn (FAC)
Pompeii olive oil (FAC)
Garnier moisture lotion
Prilosec
Always pads

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Garden report: All done


Looks like another growing season has come to a close. Freezing temps were predicted late last week, so I pulled the remaining peppers and tomatoes out of the garden.


The peppers will go straight to the freezer ... as soon as I can get to them. The tomatoes get to sit in sacks for awhile.


Over all, it wasn't a bad year. And we'll certainly enjoy having the fresh-frozen veggies this winter.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

There go the craft projects!

Seems that a toilet-paper maker has come up with an innovation -- tubeless rolls.

Removing the estimated 17 billion toilet paper tubes used in the U.S. annually could save 160 million tons of trash a year, according to Kimberly-Clark. The consumer products company promises the rolls fit on standard spindles and no glue means every square is usable

Does this mean that a whole generation of craft projects will go, er, down the drain?

See the story here:
http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/bus/stories/DN-KimberlyClark_bus28.ART.State.Edition1.248dbb8.html

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Guess it was worth it

We bought a new vacuum cleaner here at the casa de chaos. The 20-year old model didn't seem to be doing the job any more. (I'm not doing vacuum commercials here, so I won't mention the name, but I will say it did not begin with "D")

If I had any doubts about spending the $$, they were dispelled the first time we used the machine. I'm embarrassed to say that this thing pulled a ton of dirt and pet hair out of the carpet. And is still pulling gunk out of the carpet.

Gosh, wonder why I have allergies, eh? ;)

Saturday, October 23, 2010

We are nothing if not flexible

Hadn't pulled anything out of the freezer for dinner yesterday, but I wasn't too worried. I was going to stop at the store and get the chicken breasts that were on sale, so heck, I'd just broil some of those.

Unfortunately ... no chicken breasts. The shipment hadn't come in, the fellow at the meat counter said. (This is also becoming a pattern at this store ... grr.)

So, now what? I was trying to decide when I saw it: A 3lb package of ground turkey marked down to $2.79. Bingo! I grabbed 2 packages.

Those turkeyburgers were mighty tasty!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Curry chicken, reconstructed

There's a crockpot in my kitchen, though I seldom use it. In fact, I think it's main purpose is to keep food warm at pitch-ins.

Don't know if it's our odd schedules or poor planning, but finding a 5 or 8-hour block of time to let something cook is tough. So, when I find a good slow-cooker recipe, I've been known to adapt it to stovetop use.

My latest try is:

Curry Chicken
6 chicken thighs, skins removed (drumsticks work, too)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 cups salsa
1 onion, chopped
2 tablespoons curry powder
1 tablespoon garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste
1-2 cups water
1 cup sour cream

In a dutch oven, sweat onion with salt and pepper in vegetable oil. Add chicken and brown on both sides

Add salsa, water, curry powder, garlic and more salt and pepper to chicken. Stir, then cover and cook for 2 hours.

Take chicken out, put on serving platter. Add sour cream to sauce; serve over chicken. Serve with rice.

Notes: I used medium salsa and the 2 tablespoons of curry powder, and it had a pretty good kick. If you like less spice, use mild salsa and less curry. If you like it really spicy, go with the hot salsa and add as much curry as you can stand.

2 cups of water with this makes a lot of sauce. If you want less sauce, try 1 cup.

I added frozen peas to this for some extra veggie servings.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Seeing red at the produce counter

No, I'm not honked off about prices.

Seems that starting Dec. 1, stores in some areas of the country will be selling red celery, the brainchild of a Florida farm. (Actually, from the photos I've seen, it doesn't look all that red. More like a blush.)

Apparently it tastes and crunches the same. It also carrried a premium price.

If anyone sees this in their stores, I'd love to know what they're asking for this. I'm not sure I want color-coordinated celery badly enough to pay a premium for it ...

the link:

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20101016/ap_on_re_us/us_red_celery

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Maybe I shouldn't mention this ...

I'm blessed to have a DH who supports my frugal efforts. He recently was in need of a haircut, and wanted to wait until our usual shop offered coupons.

Well, he waited, and waited. Finally, he gave up and paid full price (which isn't that bad ...)

You know what's coming, don't you?

Yep ... he got his hair cut in the morning. That afternoon, guess what arrived in the mail ... that's right ... &&*(!! coupons.

I haven't mentioned this yet ....

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

A self-checkout? Where?

I've always joked that Costco needs an express lane for folks like me who don't buy things by the cartload. (I seem to puzzle the cashiers when I show up with a gallon of milk. ... or a rotisserie chicken .. and nothing else.)

I was there over the weekend ... and holy moley ... there sat four self-checkout stations!

The two employees manning them were being kept busy ... the stations are a bit, er, touchy. On the other hand, it was nice not to have to stand in a long line just to buy a bottle of vanilla extract ....

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Change of seasons




Well, I think it's supposed to be fall ... they're predicting 87 degrees today.

But I have pumpkins on the doorstep, and fresh apples to eat, so I guess it's fall.

Decided to splurge on a half-bushel of apples from the orchard, so of course, we have to eat them. Here's one of the recipes I tried:


Apple Muffins
1 egg
1 cup milk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt (I use regular salt)
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 1/2 medium apples, peeled and coarsely grated

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a muffin tin (or use paper muffin cups) Combine egg, milk and oil in a medium bowl by hand with a spoon or fork. In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder,salt and cinnamon with a fork. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour the wet ingredients into it. Add the grated apples, and then mix until all the ingredients are moistened. Spoon the batter into the tin. Bake 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.




Makes 12 muffins (your mileage may vary depending on the size of your muffin tins. )




Personally, I think these could be a bit sweeter, though I suppose it depends on the apple. Next time, I think I'll boost the sugar to a 1/2 cup, or maybe add a tablespoon of honey.


Friday, October 8, 2010

Stacking the deals: Update

Second time was the charm, it seems .... the exchanged shoes fit very well. And as of yesterday, I still had my rebate.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Insurance matters

Since we're coming up on the health-insurance enrollment season, a couple of things to consider:

  • If you have a flexible spending account, or health savings account, be aware that next year, such things as over-the-counter cold medicines or pain relievers no longer will be covered. But such things as bandages will be, apparently.
http://www.chicagotribune.com/health/sc-cons-0930-karp-20101001,0,2871764.story

  • Some health insurance plans offer 100% coverage for preventative care (physicals, mammograms, colonoscopies). Something I almost found out the hard way ... if there's any chance that something may be, oh, removed or fixed during said screening procedure, it no longer is 100% covered. So you could be liable for deductibles and co-pays. (And if you haven't reached your deductible, that could end up being a very large bill.) So adjust your coverage accordingly... just saying ...

Monday, October 4, 2010

September freebies

A bit quiet this month ....

2 Gain dish soaps (1 FAC)
2 Purina pet foods
power bar
adult gummy vitamins
Downy
Soyjoy bar
1 20oz coke
1 McDs smoothie
1 McD's coffee
1 pkg Land O Frost ham
Post-it label notes

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Change in the weather

Brother ... a week and a half ago, we had temperatures in the 90s.
Today, I'm covering the garden in anticipation of frost!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Stacking the deals: Update

Well, bummer, the shoes didn't fit.

I returned them to my local Penney's, and asked to exchange them for a different width. I may lose my rebate on this one ... but even if I do, it still worked out to be a good deal.

Stay tuned ...

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Use it up report


I'm having a run of repurposing around here .. my latest projects:


The seat of my old leather (I think) chair (which I picked up curb shopping a couple of ... er ... decades ago) is splitting -- uncomfortable, and certainly unattractive.

What to do? Luckily, I was given a place mat project that went awry. Let's just say the cutting was a bit off. It was a nice upholstery-type material, and a matching color ...

So I whipped up a seat cover. Actually, it looks pretty nice, but I have to lengthen it -- it won't stay tucked in.


I used a couple of old flannel shirts to make porch goose jackets to sell on Etsy. With the leftover pieces and an old towel, I made a flannel pad to put on elder cat's bed. (Or on the chair that she thinks is her bed, LOL!)


Got a freebie --- one of those advertising magnets that can be used as a picture frame. Nothing against the company, but I don't really want my photo framed by a commercial message. So some card stock and a bit of double-sided tape, and I have something much more decorative. (Now I have to find a tiny photo!)



Monday, September 27, 2010

Not the frugality I had in mind

Buying elder cat's meds is providing all kinds of surprises, it seems. I stopped by the vet to refill a prescription, only to discover they were out! The office folks made calls to the surrounding vets, but they didn't have any either. (Is this stuff very popular, or very obscure?)

So, they had to order it. The vet assured me elder cat would be OK if she didn't get a dose for a day or two (I'm nervous about that ... I personally think this med is part of the reason she's been doing well.)

So, what's a nervous cat momma to do when the tube of medicine runs dry? The old frugal trick of cutting it open and scraping it out. (With the challenge of not gashing my finger on the edge of the metal tube.)

I've managed to get two half-doses out 2/3 of the tube .. one to go. And hopefully that med will arrive quickly.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Garden report


Funny thing about those green beans ...


The plants look really ragged, but every time I go out to clean out the garden, I end up picking another big handful of beans!


Actually, I can say the same thing about my cherry tomato plant.


Otherwise, things are rolling along. Lots of tomatoes still ripening, and the lagging bell pepper plants have produced some smallish, but usable fruit. In fact, I picked two white bell peppers.


So, about three weeks to go, if the usual weather patterns go. Though with the current hot and dry conditions continue, I might be able to squeeze out another week or so.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Chop, chop

I couldn't resist: 99 cents for 3 lbs of onions was a great deal, even if I already have a bag of onions in the pantry.
Time to fill the freezer with chopped onions!

(I couldn't resist the 5lbs of potatoes for 99 cents either ... even if I still am working on another bag of potatoes. Baked potatoes anyone?)

Monday, September 20, 2010

More for the money

I needed a new prescription for one of elder kitty's meds, and asked the vet to write it for more than 4 pills. She only takes a 1/4 pill of this med per day, but still, I'd rather not have a reason to go to a certain warehouse club store every two weeks, KWIM? ;)

Surprise! 16 pills of this med costs the same as 4 pills! Now I don't know whether to be glad that I'm saving $5.50 per month, or annoyed that I've already spent $20-plus more than I had to ...

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Stacking the deals

Sometimes all the stars, or deals, are alligned ... so bear with me while I brag a a bit about my recent shoe purchase.

Found a pair that a I liked on JCPenney. com, which is offering free shipping on shoes right now.

To pay for them, I cashed in some credit-card rewards (in the form of a JCP gift card).
The card didn't quite cover the purchase price and tax, so I put the leftover $3.49 on a credit card (which I shall earn a 1 percent reward on -- a whole 3 cents ;)
But I also placed the order through Ebates, which is giving me a $1.50 rebate on the purchase.

So, total out-of-pocket cost will be $1.97. Not too shabby. Now I hope the shoes fit ....

Thursday, September 16, 2010

A digital baby

We welcomed a new great-nephew into the family this week (weighing in at a little over 7 lbs. He's also adorable, but I'm biased ;)

I suppose it's a sign of the times: instead of waiting for a phone call, we got the news (plus photos) via Facebook. (and he'll likely grow up visiting his grandma and great-grandma via webcam).

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Sometimes you can't win


Ever try to do something to save $$, then find out it's likely costing you $$?


That's where we are with CFL blubs right now. We put them in most rooms of the house with the idea that hey, we'll save energy and save $$ too.


Hasn't worked that way. DH reports no significant decrease in the electric bill. And worse, we're on our 3rd set of CFLs in the kitchen. The darn things seem to burn out just as quickly as incandescent bulbs. (And twice now, I've gotten replacement bulbs from the manufacturer).


To be fair, the bulbs have held up well in other rooms, but the kitchen ... don't know if it's the fixtures or what, but they just don't work for long there.


So we'll go back to incandescents in that room ... I think it will save us $$ in the long run.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Staycationing


We'd planned a big vacation (more in time than $$) this year, but unforeseen events forced us to cancel.


So, outside of an overnight trip, we've vacationed in place. Actually, it's worked out well. We've managed to do some fun things that we normally don't get to do because of work schedules.


Money-wise, we've spent a bit more on eating out. We've been to several sporting events, too, but thanks to some workplace offers, and some other promotions, we were able to snag free or inexpensive tickets to most of the games. Overall, it was still less than hotel/car rental/restaurants.


And all those projects I thought I was going to get done? Yeah, well ... I'm not sure where all that time went ....

Friday, September 3, 2010

August freebies

Compared to the previous months, it's been a little light, but I'm not complaining, LOL!

1 fish oil supplement
Nutrish dog food
facial cream
Glade scented candle
sunflower seeds
1 Smart Balance milk (FAC)
3 Campbell's soups (FAC)
1 DiGiourno pizza
Ritz crackerfuls
Dawn (FAC)
McDonald's smoothie
Wheaties Fuel (FAC)
Sunkist soda

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Garden report


Things are progressing. The beans are dying out now; just a few flowers and small beans here and there.

The tomatoes are ripening nicely. I have lost about a half-dozen, though. They develop bad spots and turn bad while they're on the vine. In a couple of cases, it was obviously bugs, but in others, nothing.

The bell peppers are sort of kicking back in. A couple of the plants have tiny peppers; hopefully they'll get to a good size and ripen before the weather turns.
I'm rather disappointed in the pepper harvest this year. Seems like it may be more cost-efficient to find peppers on sale and freeze them.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

What the heck is this?

We were up in the northern part of the state this week, hitting our favorite salvage and bulk food stores (I took my grocery list ;).



One of the salvage stores had a new service: It now takes coupons. So I happened to have an internet-based coupon for a cereal I wanted to try. When I got to the counter, I handed it to the clerk and asked if the store took such coupons.



Apparently, she'd never seen an internet coupon before. She looked at it, then at me. Then she picked it up gingerly, like it was going to explode, and looked it over. Guess she finally decided it was OK, and took off the amount.


Learn something everyday, I guess.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

State Fair food


Was at the State Fair this week, and of course, half the fun is checking out the food that gives dietitians nightmares (and the rest of us indigestion, LOL).


This year's big thing: the doughnut burger. That's right, for $6.50, you get a hamburger with fixins slapped between two Krispy Kremes. Cheese and bacon are extra ....


The booth had quite a crowd -- more lookers than eaters, I suspect. Of course, when you got done looking at the burgers, you could go next door and watch them make fried butter. (I'm not kidding ... )


By the way, this burger ... it's not mine. I couldn't stomach the thought of eating one. This belongs to a fellow who very kindly allowed us to take a photo of his lunch ...


Monday, August 16, 2010

A seedy idea

Sometimes a frugal idea backfires ...

DH came home from a baseball tournament with lots of sample packages of sunflower seeds. (apparently they weren't too popular ... the workers were handing them out in bunches. ) Now I'm not much on sunflower seeds in the shell ... they make a heck of a mess. But I thought, 'Hey, I'll just find a way to shell all these suckers at once, and use them to make trail mix.'

Ha, ha!

I tried tapping the package with a hammer. It broke the shells all right. It also pulverized the seeds.

So, I've been shelling seeds by hand (a small pair of pliers works nicely). I think this is going to be the most labor-intensive trail mix ever made!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Announcing

My Etsy site:

www.Meadowkrafts.etsy.com

Still adding to it, but stop by and have a look.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Coupons on your TV

Here's a new one: We were flipping through the TV channels when we came upon the CUPON channel.

Turns out it was an interactive channel that advertised cereal. Hit one button to play a game, another to get recipes and another to get a $1 coupon sent to you.

So, what the heck ....

Oops ... didn't work. Seems you need a phone hookup (which we don't have because don't use 'on-demand' services).

I'm not sure what to think about this ... then again, an infomercial that actually gives you something ...

Monday, August 9, 2010

Deal or no deal?

In an attempt to get my printer ink costs down, I decided to give Wag's cartridge refilling service a try (aided by a coupon.)

When I picked up the cartridges, the clerk had bad news. The couldn't fill the black cartridge because it didn't fit in their refilling machine. (I find this kind of odd, since it fits in my printer.)

The color ink was filled, but it didn't pass their print test, so they didn't charge me. It might work in my printer, or might not, he said.

I do appreciate the honesty ... I'd hate to be charged and then find out the darn thing didn't work.

So now I have to try an experiment. I'll pop the cartridge into the printer. If it works, guess I just got a color cartridge for free. If not, well, time to look for another ink deal ....

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Time to stock up

Hold on to your wallet: A string of bad weather conditions means we'll see higher prices at the grocery store.

According to AOL's Daily Finance:

Russia predicts that its record-breaking heat wave will slash its wheat crop by half, and has suspended wheat exports. That's sent wheat prices up 45% on the commodities market, and experts are predicting a 2% to 4% jump in the price of flour, pasta and bread.


And if wheat supplies fall, that raises demand -- and prices -- for corn and soybeans, experts say. The result could be higher prices for meats, since both corn and soybeans are used for animal feed.

Heavy rains and bad harvests in Columbia have pushed up the price of coffee. Kraft has boosted Maxwell House prices by 10%. Smuckers, which distributes Folgers, Dunkin' Donuts and Millstone, has raised prices 9%. That follows a 4% price hike in May.

The full story http://www.dailyfinance.com/story/higher-food-prices-russian-heatwave-wallet/19581230/

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Off the list

Once in a while, I get tired of tracking down the deals. ..

We were running low on tissues. I had some decent coupons, but the sales just weren't there.

The other day, I was at Costco when I happened to see the price for a case of their brand of tissues. True, it was 30 boxes, but each box had more tissues than some of the name brands, and the per-box cost was right on my target price.

I put it in the cart.

Done and dusted ...

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

July Freebies

Wow ... the month's over already!

Another good month, helped along by some good sale/coupon matchups.

Glidden paint
Nivea body lotion
Via coffee
2 Dove shampoo/conditioner
Dawn detergent (FAC)
All detergent
Cottonelle TP and wipe
1 beer
Turkey snack stick
Skinny Cow (FAC)
Kraft mac & cheese
Eos shaving cream
L'Oreal shampoo/conditioner/hair treatment
3 Dentyne gum (2 FAC)
Turkey bacon
Bisquick
Granola bar
Cinnamon Crunch cereal
Purina dog food
First aid kit
Bodycology lotion
Yoplait yogurt (FAC)
Pantene shampoo/conditioner
Head & shoulders
Window cleaner
Speed stick (FAC)
Crest (FAC)
Ivory (FAC)

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Giving me money

Not that I mind if people want to give me money, I was just a bit surprised.

Bought a few things at CVS, and took my reusable bag and the green tag the clerk is supposed to scan. About the time she totaled the order, she realized that she forgot to scan the tag. "I'll just give you a dollar," she says, then calls back to the manager to get instructions. I thought she'd print out an ECB, but nope, she hands me a $1 bill.

Then I stopped to get a burger. Took a look at the receipt when I got home and realized I'd been given the senior discount. Eh??? Either they have a really low age for this discount, or I need to invest in hair dye ....

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Garden report: Tomatoes!


We're in full swing now. The smaller celebrity tomatoes are ripe, and the romas (pardon me, the Health Kick tomatoes) aren't far behind. I'm very pleased, because the last couple of years, the tomatoes haven't ripened until mid-August!
The beans are still coming in like crazy! Time to make more room in the freezer!


The pepper plants, however, don't seem to be interested in producing more fruit. Maybe we'll have something by September, eh?


The lettuce is pretty well shot -- the heat finally got to it. My basil is finally catching up -- had some in eggs the other morning.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Deal alert

This won't work for everyone, but ....

In some areas, Meijer has Oscar Meyer Turkey Bacon on sale 2 for $4. If you have any of the $1.50 coupons from Kraft First Taste or any of the $1 printables that were out there, you can get a package of bacon for $1 to 50 cents.

Catching up

It's been kind of busy around the casa de chaos ...

  • Elder cat is doing pretty well, though we have to deal with various side issues. I never thought I'd have to learn to set up an IV bag, but you gotta do what you gotta do ...
  • Youth baseball season is nearly over, which means DH is busy with tournaments.
  • I'm continuing to study for an IT certification, though that's going more slowly than I like. I'm doing better on the practice tests, but I still have lots of good old-fashioned memorization work to do.
  • I'm working on setting up an Etsy shop. New job worries on the horizon, so anything that could bring in extra income now ... or income later ... is a good thing.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

A joy of summer

I don't think anything tastes better than a BLT with homegrown tomatoes. Unless it's on homemade bread ... ;)

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Got the (rebate) card?

I've noticed a new thing in the rebate game ... instead of a check, or a merchandise credit (which I really don't like) ... the latest is a credit-card branded gift card.

Interesting. I guess it's now cheaper to buy/pay fees to administer the card than it is to cut a check. Given though how electronic payments are taking over, I wonder how long it will be before the rebate companies start requiring a PayPal account that they can send the $$ to ...

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Garden report: We've got beans!


Boy, have we got beans! I've already picked about a half-pound ... and at the current market price, I'm well on my way to getting back my investment in seeds.


Course, now I have to get them blanched and in the freezer ;)


On the tomato front, the cherry tomatoes are ripening a few at a time, and some of my celebrity tomatoes are starting to turn red. (Odd, they beat the Early Girls ....)


Also got two bell peppers. I'm hoping that picking those will encourage the plant to make more. Looking a little sparse there.


And, I pulled in the last of the onions -- 4 small ones.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Sorry, you need more

For those of you who do surveys and/or reward programs ... anyone else notice that the number of points needed to cash in has gone up?

I hit what used to be the $10 cash-out point on a survey site and was ready to get my $$. Not so fast. The cash-out point is now 150 points higher.

Then I won a prize -- 30 points on the Coke rewards site. Enough, it said, for a free bottle of soda.

Wait a minute, I thought. A free bottle was 24 points.

A look at the site, and oops ... not now.

Guess I'll have to wait a little longer, and work a little harder to cash in my rewards, eh?

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Today's tip

If the "low battery" indicator on your thermostat starts blinking, pay attention to it.

Otherwise, one day you'll be walking around the house saying, "Gee, it's hot in here. Why hasn't the AC come on yet?"

Friday, July 9, 2010

June freebies

Quite a month ...

Butterfinger bar
2 Dove shampoo/conditioner
1 Secret clinical
3 Pampers
1 ProGlide razor
1 Coffeemate (FAC)
2 Dawn (FAC)
Firewood
SpecialK bar
True Lemon/Orange/Lime
Lanacane
Roll of TP
Kraft 100 cal cheese bites
Oscar Meyer deli meat
Olay body wash
Ritz crackerfuls
hand sanitizer
ice tea
Kraft flavored mayos
Trash bag
Crystal light mix
shaving cream
Zantac
Caress body wash
Three-Dog Bakery cookies
Purina cat food
Eucerin lotion

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Er, you dropped something

I stopped at CVS and ran my card past the scanner to get the latest coupons. Turns out it was also spitting out my ECBs for the quarter. (50 cents for me).

Then I looked down. There, on the floor, was someone's quarterly ECB of $5.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Garden report


Well, the mystery is solved!


The unknown tomato is ... cherry! Lots of tiny (really tiny ...about the size of large peas) tomatoes that are starting to ripen.


I'm also pleased to announce that I harvested ... an onion.


Otherwise, things are coming along well. I have good-sized bell peppers on a couple of plants, and the big tomato plants are growing fruit. The green beans are all flowering, so I expect to be picking beans in the near future.


The challenge now will be to keep everything watered. We're having another week of 90-degree weather, and I've already used up my rainwater stash.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Happy Independence Day!

Hoping you have a happy, and safe, holiday

Image courtesy of Hub Pages

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Silence

We had a power outage today ... lasted about an hour.

Fortunately, it wasn't too disruptive -- it was cool enough that we didn't need the AC, and I can light the gas stove's burners manually, so I was able to make lunch.

Halfway through the meal, DH remarked that, "It's so quiet."

He was right. It was quiet, and not because the TV or radio wasn't on. We were missing all those "house" noises that run in the background: the refrigerator humming, the "whump" of the sump pump, the dehumidifier cycling on and off, the occasional "beep" from the clocks or the phone.

Just quiet ...

It was kind of refreshing.

But I'm still happy the power came back on ...

Monday, June 28, 2010

A little subterfuge

Elder cat has had some ups and downs, but seems to be feeling better.

She's now bugging me for food, which is a good sign. Unfortunately, she seems to think that she should get fresh food every time she asks ... the stuff she took a few bites of 15 minutes ago is no longer good enough.

Sorry, darlin' ... but at $36 a case, this won't cut it. Usually, I point to the dish and remind her that she hadn't finished her last portion. But when that doesn't work, I've resorted to a little trick. I take the dish, add a drop of water to the old food, and stir it a bit before putting it back. Sometimes I pop it in the microwave for a couple of seconds. (A vet suggested that to me ... warm food smells more appetizing, especially to older and ill cats.)

Kitty eats. She's happy. I'm happy.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Urban firewood

It's 90 degrees outside ... so let's talk about firewood!

Actually, the two subjects are somewhat connected. Those 90-degree days here have been followed by storms ... which tend to knock down trees and branches, creating firewood.

(Not to be flip .. I know said storms have done a great deal of damage in some areas ... fortunately, in our area, the tree damage is of the nuisance variety.)

When we first put in the fireplace, I was a little concerned that we wouldn't be able to find a low-cost (oh, all right, free) source of wood. But I've learned that if you look around, there's a fair amount of wood to be found in an urban/suburban area.

Sometimes it's a branch on the side of the road. (Looking for fun? Just try wrestling a big branch into a 4-door sedan.)

Sometimes it's a pile of cut wood next to the trash awaiting pickup. (When I went to the door to ask if I could take that wood, the homeowner looked at me like I was nuts. But he was OK with it ... probably wanted to get rid of the crazy lady, LOL!)

DH has also helped a couple of folks chop up their storm-felled trees in exchange for some of the wood ... which is how we got our latest supply.

And our own trees are good for producing kindling ... much too good, IMHO!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Jumping to conclusions

Used a couple of coupons for freebies during yesterday's shopping trip ... and when I did a quick check of the receipt, I thought that the cashier had forgotten to take one off.

I admit, I was a bit frosted, and grumbled to myself that I'd just have to take the item back next trip.

When I got home, I took another look at the receipt. Turns out I did get both freebies; the coupon in question was just posted a bit father down.

In addition, I was given the full price off the other product (it was on sale), putting me $1 ahead.

Ahem. I stand corrected. If anyone's looking for me, I'm the one with the bright red face.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Garden report


Lots of rain and warm, muggy days have really given the garden a boost.


So far, I have two tiny bell peppers, and a few small tomatoes. The beans have yet to flower, but I expect that soon.


My mystery tomato plant also has tiny green fruits, so I should know very soon just what we'll have.


The only thing that seems to be lagging is my herbs. The basil and oregano have come up, but aren't growing very quickly. I also suspect that not all my parsley seeds germinated -- that container's looking pretty sparse.


And the lettuce and salad greens are doing ok. Nearly had a disaster -- the cord broke on the hanging pot that holds the lettuce. Fortunately, the pot fell straight down, and stayed intact!


Monday, June 14, 2010

A twist in the road

Apologies for being MIA the past week.

My elder cat, my 16-year-old sweetie, has slipped into kidney disease. We've spent a good deal of time this past week at the vet's office, or on the phone with the vet, and educating ourselves about what we're facing.

I've said in the past that should this kitty become seriously ill, I would hesitate to subject her to drastic treatment. I still feel that way. But as we looked at the options, we saw that we could manage this without drastic measures. So, as long as we can keep her comfortable with a good quality of life -- be it 3 weeks or 3 months or 3 years -- we'll do it. Fortunately, she's responding well to treatment. Also fortunately, our vet is on the same page with us.

Admittedly, this is darned expensive. But this is one reason I live frugally, so I can spend the money on things that matter. And I'm grateful that we can afford to do this.

If nothing else, this will certainly offer a new challenge in finding the best deals ;)

It's also going to force some lifestyle changes: administering daily meds and fluids kind of keeps us in one place. But we will cope.

So, we begin ....

Friday, June 4, 2010

May freebies

Not too bad ...

Dove candy bar
2 Kitten Chow
1 McCormicks herb grinder (FAC)
2 Eucerin lotions
1 Suave shampoo
2 John Freida shampoo & conditioner
3 tomato plants
2 Pantene shampoo & conditioner
1 Dove deodorant
3 Wheat Thins
3 carmel vanilla latte mixes
Cascade
Prilosec
Taco Bell Limeade sparkler
1 Kraft Cheesy Explosion mac & cheese

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Does this make us above average?

The Wall Street Journal recently had a story on how we now want more intense flavors in our food. (hotter, mintier and fruitier as the headline said)

Anyway, it mentioned that according to the McCormick Co., maker of spices, American households now have an average of 40 spices and seasonings in the pantry, compared to 10 in the 40s and 50s. (I am a little confused by this ... I thought people were eating out or doing takeout food. ;)

So I decided to take a spice count in my pantry. The total: 56! (and I didn't count a couple of bottles ... red pepper is red pepper, whether it be crushed or ground.)

No wonder it takes so darn long to find anything when I'm cooking!

Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day


Let us remember those who gave the ultimate sacrifice ....
Image courtesy of VintageHolidayCrafts.com

Sunday, May 30, 2010

And here we go ...


Well, it's official: The garden is in.


The tomatoes and peppers look to be doing well, and the beans I planted earlier in the week are starting to sprout.


The only casualty seems to be the cilantro -- nothing happening in that flower pot.


And the mulberry trees have a bumper crop of berries this year ... and I think they all decided to ripen in the same week. I see lots of pies in my future!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Savings? It's a mystery

Back in late January, I mentioned that our ailing dishwasher was being used as a drying rack. We finally replaced it a couple of weeks ago (after the 10-day wait for a special order turned into a 30-day wait ... grr.)

But I digress. I'd really hoped to get an idea of just how much water we did or didn't save by doing dishes the old-fashioned way. Unfortunately, the water company wouldn't cooperate.

For three months, all we got were bills based on estimated usage. (I now suspect the utility has laid off all but one meter reader.) And to add insult to injury, the bills tend to be estimated on the high side.

Finally, we get a bill with an actual reading. Guess what? The balance was zero! In fact, they still owe us money!

But I don't know ... and will likely never know ... if we actually used a lot less water, or if the estimates are just too blasted high.

Sigh. At least the new dishwasher is supposed to be energy efficient.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

It's amazing

... just how much you take your back for granted until it acts up on you.

Excuse me while I hobble around for a while ....

(At least it's still raining, so I don't feel quite so guilty about not working on the garden.)

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Garden report: We're getting there


I had hoped to report that my garden was in, but we've had rain off and on all week, making it difficult to get anything done.


But, my container gardening is done: My salad greens and lettuce are already sprouting, and I have basil, cilantro, parsley and oregano planted as well.


The garden's going to get a little crowded this year. A co-worker brought in a box of tomato plants, and I couldn't resist taking a couple (well, all right, 3.) I plopped the mystery tomato plant into a large pot --- I'm curious about what I'll get. I may just plant the other two (reportedly beefsteak tomatoes) in the same hole -- they're on the small size.


It's been tough trying to find red or yellow sweet pepper plants. I finally lucked out at a seasonal market. But they only had packs of 3 small plants, so I'm going to try the 1-hole trick with those, too.


Now if I can just get the darn things off my porch and into the ground!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Bargain bin


I love to check out the markdown tables at the supermarket ... never know what you'll find. And I've had a pretty good run of luck lately in the fresh veggie department:


We were traveling a couple of weeks ago and decided to check out an upscale grocery store. This place had an entire corner of the produce department for markdowns! Got 2 small eggplants for 77 cents (for both) and a twin pack of celery for $1.19. Not a thing wrong with them ... both were still very fresh.


I wanted more, but we weren't heading home then, and simply didn't have the cooler space. (Next time I go back, I'm bringing a big cooler and plenty of ice.)


Today at Meijer, I found a whole pineapple for $1; a large head of green cauliflower for 58 cents and a medium stalk of broccoli for 50 cents. Admittedly, the cauliflower and the broccoli need a bit of trimming, but there's still plenty left to blanch and freeze.


Then, at Kroger, I happened upon fresh green beans for 39 cents a pound -- pretty much half price. These needed a bit of picking to find the best ones, but I did find enough for a pound. These will help tide us over until our garden beans come in.


So, if you'll excuse me, I'm going on kitchen duty!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Reclamation project: A new towel




I was given what I think is a "golf towel" one that's meant to be hung from a sports bag. My first thought was to give it to DH, but there were 2 problems:

1) It had a very prominent embroidered logo from a hotel chain. (I swear, this was an advertising piece ... I'm not stealing hotel towels.)

2) The towel was folded into thirds and the grommet was punched through the top, holding all three layers together. Not very practical.

I discovered that the binding could be removed, so I decided to do a little surgery. I pulled out the grommet and opened up the towel, then cut the binding off both ends. After that, I trimmed off the top with the grommet holes, and trimmed off the bottom part with the logo. (see bottom photo).

After that it was pretty simple to sew the binding back on both ends. Poof! One finished towel. (top photo) I also got a small washcloth size rag out of the cut pieces, which I'll use in the kitchen.
I was debating on how to put a new grommet in the corner when I took another look at the towel. It's still big enough to use as a hand towel. And frankly, it's too nice to use for sports. It's going in the linen closet!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

If you don't want to DIY

In the things that make you go hmm category:

Want homegrown veggies, but don't want to do the work? Just hire your own personal farmer.

From the LA Times ..

On average, the companies charge between $900 and $2,000 to have a section of land dug up — or to build a raised bed — that's big enough to grow enough edible plants to feed a family of four.

The companies also offer personalized planting and harvesting services. For an additional weekly fee of $20 or more, a staff member will put in the plants, pluck the weeds, amend the soil, quash the bugs and fill a basket with ripened produce.

Now the story does talk to people who physically can't do garden work, but still want the garden-fresh veggies, so I really can't argue with that. But otherwise ... seems to me that you'd come out ahead buying veggies at the farmers market..

The full story: http://articles.latimes.com/2010/may/02/business/la-fi-farmers-for-hire-20100502/2

Friday, May 7, 2010

Garden musings


I guess this is a good sign ...


Been out trying to buy seeds, and I've discovered that the inexpensive seeds are already picked over.


The vegetable and flower plants are out in force now. Prices look to be a bit higher than last year. Then again, what isn't?

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Stamp out Hunger on Saturday

I Support Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive — Saturday, May 8th The Annual Letter Carriers' Food Drive is Saturday. Many of you may have received a grocery bag from your mail carrier. Please consider filling the bag with non-perishable foods (no glass containers, please) and leaving the bag by your mailbox.

Monday, May 3, 2010

April freebies

Wow .. it was quite a month ...


1 Kashi Heart-to-Heart
1 Green Giant Steamers (FAC)
1 Smart Balance sour cream (FAC)
5 Ritz snacks
4 Planters flavored almonds snacks
Downy liquid
Huggies
Pampers
Puffs-to-go
Tide
Head & Shoulders
Energy drink
Rachel Ray dog food
1 Philadelphia cream cheese mini
6 grapefruit
2 apples
1 can MightyDog dog food
1 Vitamin Water

(office giveaway)
1 chair
2 dish towels
1 box paper
1 coffee mug
3 binders
1 briefcase
1 accordion folder

Thursday, April 29, 2010

All gone

Stopped in at Wally World today, and, as I feared, they've taken out their fabric section.
I had a feeling this was going to happen when I saw material marked down 75% ....

I'm sorry to see it. Admittedly, I wasn't their best customer, but I did occasionally get some reasonably priced material. (At least they still have notions.)

So now, if I want material, I have to go a couple of miles down the road to the last remaining fabric store on my side of town. Unfortunately, it's a small store, so if I want a larger selection, I'll be heading off to the next county ...

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Saving on gas: Part 5

One in a series of saving money at the gas pump.

Today's tip: Join the club

Members of warehouse clubs, such as Sam's Club, Costco and BJ's enjoy lower prices at the pump. (In my area, it's usually 5 to 6 cents a gallon cheaper)

The downside is a $40-$80 membership fee for individuals. But if you drive a lot, or have other reasons to shop at a warehouse club, it may be worth the cost.

Also, some gasoline retailers have loyalty programs. Every time you buy something, you earn points. Earn enough points and you can get gift cards, or a few cents off a gallon.

Speaking of clubs, do you belong to a motor club, a union or any other organization? Check their benefits. The motor club in my area occasionally offers gas cards at a discount

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Lots more stuff

The company that I work for decided to declutter this week, and decided to have a big giveaway for the employees.

So, I, and a big crowd of my co-workers showed up in the pouring rain (fortunately, we were under cover) for what turned out to be a big, free flea market.

My haul included a coffee mug, a small briefcase, several 3-ring binders, an accordion file, some shelving and a desk chair.

It's funny, but the day before, I was thinking that I should buy an accordion file to hold some of my receipts ... and darned if it wasn't the first thing I saw at the giveaway. The shelves will definitely come in handy, too.


I need to clean up a few things, but this turned out to be a good, if soggy, day!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

A profitable week

It's been a good week for thrift-store finds, and for recycling...

Stopped at the Goodwill Outlet to look for some items to use in crafts. If you're not familiar with the concept, well, it's a trip. Items are piled into long bins, with more bins brought out during the day -- quite an anticipated event. Clothing, housewares, glassware and toys are sold by the pound.

Anyway, during my hunt, I came upon a very nice denim shirt, sort of an unusual find. And considering I paid $1.75 for the shirt and 3 other items, it was a steal.

DH and I hit the regular Goodwill to check out the $1.99 sunglasses for him. While we were there, we found a very nice sports jacket. (definitely needed). It fit him perfectly, and cost $7.99. Oh, he got sunglasses, too.

My company has had a clean-up this week, and urging all the departments to join in. One of the highlights was a giveaway table, at which I snagged 2 dish towels. I'm not quite sure why or how those towels ended up in the office giveaway, but hey, I'll take em.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Dinner's going to cost more

Looks like meat prices are taking a hike ...


From the Peoria Journal-Star:

Just in time for the start of grilling season, the already rising prices of meat are expected to jump even higher because of a shortage of market-ready livestock, local meat suppliers said.

Low meat prices last year are to blame for the current rise, because farmers who lost money raising animals cut down their number of livestock, Barth said.

Beef for the most part, is out of my budget anyway. Unfortunately, the price hike is affecting pork, too. Unfortunately, I suspect chicken will go up due to demand, too. Maybe it's a good think that it's garden time ... those veggies may come in handy.

Link to the full story: www.pjstar.com/business/x1030871755/Meat-prices-rising-in-time-for-grilling-season

Friday, April 16, 2010

Clip job

I entered what for me was scary frugal territory: I cut my own hair.

To be honest, I didn't pick up the scissors so much to save $$ as to save time. It's been a tad busy around the casa de chaos, and a haircut kept getting pushed to the bottom of the list.

Besides, I have a straightforward hairstyle. I've watched the process for years. And I usually end up doing a bit of snipping anyway -- hair stylists don't always follow directions. But that childhood memory of cutting my own bangs ... the night before school picture day ... has always haunted me.

So I decided be conservative. I wet my hair, then got a long piece of masking tape and taped the hair to my neck at the spot where I wanted to cut. Then, very carefully, I cut along the tape line (no easy feat when you're looking in a mirror.) Used a bit more tape where I wanted to trim along the sides.

To be honest, I didn't get it perfectly straight in back. But my hair tends to curl under, so it's not obvious. I haven't quite gotten the layering the way I want it, but I'm working on that.

Over all, it looks OK. At least no one points and laughs when I go out in public.

Will I forgo the professional haircut? Eh, likely not. Any hairstylist can probably cut a straighter line than I can. But it's nice to know that I can do it in a pinch! (or is that a snip?)

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Saving on gas: Part 4


One in a series on saving on gasoline costs.


Today's tip: Get the card

I have a gasoline company credit card that offers rebates. Truth is, I seldom use it to buy gas at that retailer.
What do I use it for? Household stuff ... everything from groceries to hardware store purchases. So two or three times a year, I pile up enough rebates to get a gift card ... good for gas at that retailer, of course.


Many gasoline retailers offer credit cards with a rebate program. The rebate percentages vary -- usually from 1% to 5%, depending on what you buy. (The highest rebates usually are on gas purchases.) Many also will offer incentives for signing up -- like 5 cents off a gallon when you use the card.


The rewards differ, too. Some send a gift card you can use at the pump, others credit your bill. The downside, some charge annual fees, so check the fine print before signing up. And it probably goes without saying, but pay off that card every month. Interest rates will eat up any rebates you earn.


Don't want to be tied to a particular retailer? Other cards, such as Discover and American Express offer rebates on gas purchases, too. Rewards tend to range from 3% to 5% on a gasoline purchase.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Garden report: Beginnings

Our warmer-than-usual temperatures make it very tempting to start the garden work ... on the other hand, we had frost last week.


So, right now, it's a bit of container gardening. I planted a couple of onions that had sprouted before we could use them. I also hope to get some basil and lettuce planted this week.


I also put the onions, the mint plant and the geranium out on the porch. If we get another cold spell, I can pull them back inside.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Memories ...

I've been on an archaeological dig today ...

The new refrigerator is due to be delivered this weekend, (Finally!) so it's time to clean off the outside. (Bet you thought I was talking about the inside, LOL!)

I never realized just how many magnets we have ... baseball team schedules, ads for stores that closed; restaurants that have gone out of business; radio stations that have changed formats a half-dozen times; banks we no longer do business with.

And I'm not sure why we have three Costco pharmacy magnets, and two more from Kroger
... or why I kept the cute little animals that are missing ears and tails because they've fallen off the door (and the cats have used them as hockey pucks ...)

Then of course, there are the coupons that expired last October... and the take-out menu that's hopelessly out of date.

Ah well, time for a fresh start!

BTW: The old fridge won't be going to the junk pile. We're donating it to an organization that doesn't mind having an aged fridge with a leaking freezer ....

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

March freebies

Not a bad month at all ...
2 Pampers
Purex 3-in-1
1 DiGiorno pizza
1 Kashi heart-to-heart cereal
2 thermal mugs
1 box Ziplock bags (contest win)
1 set Ziplock containers (contest win)
1 hair glossing cream
Post-it tabs
Olay body wash
Burt's Bees toothpaste
2 Land O'Lakes butter spreads (FAC)
1 Dove bar
1 bottle Dawn (FAC)
2 Chex Mix (FAC)
South Beach bar
2 cans MightyDog dogfood

Monday, April 5, 2010

Opening day


For all you baseball fans out there: Happy Opening Day!



And since we're not done with college basketball yet ....
Go Butler Bulldogs!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Go Bulldogs!




We interrupt our regularly scheduled blog to root on my favorite team in the NCAA Final Four!


Go Butler Bulldogs!

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Saving on gas: Part 3

Third in a series on ways to save on gas prices:

Today: A gallon of milk, a tank of gas:

Next time you head to the grocery store, look for the gas pumps. Seems like every grocery chain and megastore has them. Most of them tend to have prices a bit below the usual stand-alone station -- especially during their grand openings ;)

And to encourage your one-stop shopping, some offer money off if you buy certain products, or spend a predetermined amount. In my city, one grocery chain offers 10 cents off per gallon if :

You spend $100 in groceries in a month;
Buy $50 in gift cards;
Fill 2 prescriptions at their pharmacy.

Do I take advantage of all these offers? Honestly, no. I tend to do most of my shopping at another chain -- and I take advantage of their offers. But I still occasionally buy gas there when the price is right.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Helping pets in need

YMMV, but in some sections of the country, the Smart Source insert in the Sunday paper carried a coupon for a free can of MightyDog dog food. (There's also a $3 off 5 cans, which may make for some very inexpensive/free food, too.)

If you can't use the coupon (or don't know someone who can), please check with your local animal shelter. If it runs a pet-food pantry, it could likely use a donation of a can or two. Or a small shelter might be happy to get the coupon/s.

I stopped by my city's shelter yesterday to drop off my cans. The donation box was darn near empty ...

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Saving on gas: Part 2

Second in a series on ways to save on gas prices.

Today's tip: Patience

I've noticed an interesting thing: The gas station near my house is always packed on Friday afternoon. No big mystery here -- most folks get paid on Friday.

But I've noticed something else, too: Prices tend to rise on Friday, and stay high during the weekend.

I've wondered just how much money folks could save if they could shift that fill-up to, say, mid-week, when prices are usually lower again. (Notice that I say usually. Some weeks you'd be better off placing bets in Vegas.) But sometimes the bet pays off. In my town, prices were $2.81 to $2.76 on Sunday. By Wednesday, they were down to $2.72-$2.70

Admittedly, if you're traveling over the weekend, popping $5 of gas in the tank won't cut it. And I know that for some folks, if the $$$ doesn't go in the tank right then, it may not be available later.

But if you can wait a bit ... you can get a bit more bang for your buck (or 2 bucks.)

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Saving on gas

Don't know about your town, but gas prices here are on the rise again.

There are plenty of good tips for using less gas. But there still comes a time when the gas gauge drops toward "E." Then what?
Let's face it, most of us don't have any control over prices. (And if you do, I'd love to have a word with you.) But there are ways to make things a little easier on the wallet. So for the next few posts, I'm going to offer some tips to make the fill-up a bit less painful.

Today: Comparison shop
We do it with groceries, appliances and other items. Why shouldn't we do it with gas? Unless you live in a very small town, you'll usually find some variations. Recently, the station nearest my house was selling unleaded for $2.81. But six blocks to the east, it was going for $2.76 a gallon.

This doesn't mean you have to drive all over town to check prices. Just pay attention to price trends when you're out and about. Perhaps a station near your doctor's office has cheaper gas. Or maybe that station next to the drugstore undercuts the competition. If you've got an appointment, or have to fill a prescription, why not fill up when you're in the area?

Even easier, check out gasbuddy.com. This site lists gasoline prices (reported by volunteers) in just about every city in the country.
Other options: some TV and newspaper sites list prices, as do the Web sites of some gasoline companies.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

However you slice it

From the Wall Street Journal:

A shortage of tomatoes from weather-battered Florida is forcing restaurants and supermarkets to ration supplies amid soaring prices for America's most popular fresh vegetable.

Fresh tomatoes are in short supply because of the unusual spell of freezing tempertures that hugged Florida in January. The cold tempertures that dented citrus production also destroyed roughly 70% of the tomato crop in Florida.

Well, that explains those jaw-dropping prices in the produce section lately. Don't plan on fresh tomatoes for your sandwiches for a bit.

Sounds like a good excuse to used canned (which tend to be produced in California and the Midwest) .. or to eat seasonally.

Friday, March 19, 2010

False economy

The temperatures have warmed up enough to put thoughts of gardening in my head. Not that I should get too excited ... the weather service is talking about snow flurries next week. Ugh.

Anyway, my point: When we pulled out the hoses, I realized I'd been tripped up by false economy. I'd bought inexpensive hoses last year ... it's not like we fight fires with them.

Anyway, they've been nothing but a source of aggravation. They kink up, they've both sprung leaks. (Nothing like a bath while you're watering plants!) One of them leaks at the faucet, as well. Sigh.

So, out they go. I'll look for quality this time, even if it costs more.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Happy St. Patrick's Day


And may your corned beef and cabbage be purchased on sale!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Cereal deal alert

YMMV, but the Wally world in my neighborhood several baskets filled with Kellogg's, Kashi and Post cereals marked down to $1.50 a box. Pair it up with some high-value coupons, and you could definitely pick up some inexpensive cereal!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

A frugal goose


No, not that kind of goose ;)

We have a new addition to the casa de chaos. Lucy .. our own concrete porch goose. (BTW, that's not our Lucy in the photo ... but it is a fine example of a concrete goose. )

In case you're wondering why I've done such a thing ... well, we in the Midwest are a bit strange. We enjoy putting concrete ornaments on our porches and dressing them up. Google "concrete goose" sometime and you'll see what I mean.

Actually, I seem to be a bit behind the curve on this. It was tough to find an affordable goose. Now if I had wanted to dress up a concrete gnome or a dog, I could have had my pick.

The downside of this is that it can cost a small fortune to buy the little outfits. So in the interests of frugality, I decided to sew Lucy's wardrobe.

One problem: Goose clothing patterns are hard to find. Especially free patterns.

So I punted. I'd purchased a goose dress last year, so I crafted a pattern from that. I used an old T-shirt, and some edging and buttons from my stash to create a retro-style coat for Lucy. (and hey, it's washable!)

A hat ... well, I'm still working on that one.

In the meantime, I'm scouting for patterns that might be adapted for goose clothing. And I will buy some yellow vinyl, because a rain slicker is a must-have for every respectable goose, you know.

But in the meantime ... Lucy needs a new dress for Easter.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Price check

A few years ago, I began buying my allergy medicine through an Internet pharmacy (no, really, it was a real pharmacy that also did business through a Web site ... not one of those "enhance your whatever" places that clog my e-mail box with spam.)

Anyway, even after the meds became more widely available, I stayed with this company because they had the best prices.

Last time around, though, I realized that this was changing: prices were definitely going up. So, time for another price check.

Bingo! Seems a certain warehouse club offers its own brand: 365 pills for $16 -- about the price I was paying for a 90-day supply of generics.

Whoops! Time to change.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

February freebies

Short month, short list. Though a couple of these were really nice items:

Glad trash bag
2 Bounce sheets
1 Caress body wash
Kleenex (3 sheets)
1 frozen food bag
Uniball pen
Tampax
2 Kashi cereals
1 DiGiorno pizza
car wash
iced tea

Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Family Kitchen

I just finished a wonderful book, Talking With My Mouth Full, Crab Cakes, Bundt Cakes and Other Kitchen Stories by Bonny Wolf, who is the food commentator on National Public Radio's Weekend Edition.

This isn't really a cookbook, though it has recipes. It's more about how food binds us together as friends, and as family.

In one chapter, she talks about her kitchen tools, and how she uses things that belonged to her grandmothers ... "I like having both my grandmothers in the kitchen with me," she says.

Wow! Ever read something and wonder if someone was describing your house? She has grandmothers in the kitchen? Heck, I've got my entire family! For instance:
  • My mother's Revere Ware still gets daily use, 60 years after she received it as a wedding present.

  • My paternal grandmother's heavy aluminum pot still cooks vegetables and small portions of pasta.

  • I never knew my maternal grandmother, but I use some of her enamel pans and a few of her bowls.

  • Then there's the glassware that belonged to one aunt, and the dessert dishes that another aunt casually handed to me after I'd admired them.

  • I never met my mother-in-law or my grandmother-in-law, but some of their meals are served at my table, courtesy of the recipe box my DH kept.

Every once in a while, I think it would be nice to just give everything away and start all over with a nice set of kitchenware. But I never get around to it, and now I know why -- I can't give up my family!


Note: In case anyone's asking, this is my personal book. No one gave it to me to review. And no one is compensating me for mentioning it.