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.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Paper trail

Hello ... I'm back!

Back in the day, when you could go to the office supply store and trade an old ink cartridge for a ream of paper, I cleaned up. I used to look at all those nice reams of paper tucked in the drawer and wonder how I ever was going to use it all.

Short answer: Go back to school.

We've not only blasted through ink, we've blasted through that paper, too. So I've been looking for anything we might use to stretch our supplies a bit longer.

A look around the computer area turned up a small pile of good paper ... one of us had pulled it from the printer and forgot to put it back. A look through the scrap paper pile also turned up a couple of clean sheets that the printer had spit out.

I also found several sheets of 8.5 x14 paper ... all with a badly creased corner. No problem. I cut off the creased part, and voila! Letter-sized sheets. Same with some 11x17 scrap I'd brought home from work. The top half had printing, but the bottom was clean. A couple of minutes with a paper cutter produced a few more sheets.

Not a huge haul, I admit, but enough to print out another lesson or two. And hey, it's a small contribution toward my decluttering efforts!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Away for a bit

Things are going to be a bit busy this week, so I may not be spending much time in Internet land.

I promise to be back later this week.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Social networking to social marketing

I've seen an interesting shift in freebie offers lately. More posts are saying ..."become a fan of X on Facebook" to get the offer.

Not that I'm surprised. Since younger folks have flocked to such sites, it's a given that companies would send ad dollars that way, too.

Personally, this leaves me with a dilemma: Do I want to join this site just so I can score a free tube of toothpaste?

I've avoided that particular kind of networking because:
1) My life's not that interesting;
2) I have privacy concerns. Perhaps I'm wrong, but seems that a company would have more personal information about me on that site than if I fill out a form using a "junk" e-mail address.

Anybody out there do Facebook? How private/public can you be on it?

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Whack! Whack! Whack!

That's the sound of me hitting my head against the desk. (I believe the technical term for that is "headdesk.")

Had coupons for the frozen veggies on sale this week. So I bought the veggies, got home and realized I hadn't used the coupons. Grrr.

Then I took another look at the coupons. They had expired a week ago!

Headdesk, headdesk, headdesk ...

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

I sense a theme here

I'm not sure how this happens, but lately, we've been doing one-meat weeks.

For example, last week was Poultry Week here at the casa de chaos. A package of turkey breast tenderloins and a package of chicken breasts yielded:

  • Pan-fried turkey cutlets
  • Cajun turkey
  • Baked chicken with a raspberry glaze
  • Curry chicken
  • Chicken noodle soup

What's really odd is that we had take-out one day. From KFC.

If I start speaking in clucks, you'll understand why.

However, this week appears to be pork week: Pork steaks and Italian sausage are being thawed ....

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day!

Hope you have ... or are having .. a wonderful day!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Coupon comeback

Over at the Wall Street Journal, Brett Arends was writing about the new popularity of coupons ... here in the U.S., we redeemed 3.3 billion coupons last year -- a 27% increase over last year. Average savings, $1.44 per coupon. (I admit to being a bit puzzled about this figure ... even with double coupons.)

On the surface, not a big deal. But he points out something that most frugalistas seem to understand: Even the small economies add up.

How long does it actually take to clip and use a coupon? .... Let's assume you spend a minute per coupon. Saving $1.44 for a minute's effort is the equivalent of saving $14.40 for 10 minutes'. Hourly rate: $86.40.

Furthermore, money saved comes with an additional benefit. Unlike the money you earn at work, it is tax free.

If your marginal tax rate is say, 20 percent, you would have to earn $108 before tax to take home $86.40. If your marginal tax rate is 30 percent, you'd have to earn $123.

Something he doesn't mention: Saving $5 or $10 on a week's groceries also means I can make that money work for me by earning interest (even with the puny rates) in a savings or investment account. Admittedly, there's usually tax on those earnings. But at least I don't have to battle traffic to go make that $$, LOL!

And for real entertainment value, flip over to the comments. The pro and anti-coupon forces are putting up quite a fight. Who knew that these little bits of paper could spark such passions?

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

January freebies

It was more of a "free after coupon" kind of month ...

Coffeemate (FAC)
1 beer
Pillsbury calendar
2 J&J first aid kits
(FAC)bar of Dove soap
2 tacos
Peanut butter crackers (FAC)
1 bag Dole salad (FAC)
1 bag Chex Mix (FAC)
1 bag Green Giant Steamers (FAC)
1 Slim-Fast bar
Powerbar energy gels
Benefiber stick

Thursday, February 4, 2010

In which I find out I am behind the times

A new study has pointed out that those of us who blog are, in fact, old fogeys ....

Could it be that blogs have become online fodder for the -- gasp! -- more mature reader? A new study has found that young people are losing interest in long-form blogging, as their communication habits have become increasingly brief, and mobile.

The study, released last week by the Pew Internet & American Life Project, found that 14 percent of Internet youths, ages 12 to 17, now say they blog, compared with just over a quarter who did so in 2006. Pew found a similar drop in blogging among 18- to 29-year-olds.

But wait, there's more:

The Pew study found, for instance, that the percentage of Internet users age 30 and older who maintain a blog increased from 7 percent in 2007 to 11 percent in 2009.

So are those of us older than 30 the only ones who can pay attention to a message that's more than 140 characters? Or have the kids decided to move on to something that their parents and grandparents aren't as likely to access? (Though I do know folks who use Facebook to keep track of the kids and grandkids.)

With social networking has come the ability to do a quick status update, and that has "kind of sucked the life out of long-form blogging," says Amanda Lenhart, a Pew senior researcher and lead author of the latest study.

Well, maybe ... then again, I prefer conversation to sound bites. Don't mind me ... I'll just take my laptop over to the rocking chair ....

See the full Associated Press story here:

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

My head is spinning

Maybe it's because I don't buy major appliances more than, oh, once every other decade, but it seems the process has gotten rather complicated.

Since I'm replacing both a refrigerator and a dishwasher, I thought it would be prudent to get a look what the area stores offered in the brand I wanted. Boy, did I learn some things:

  • Just because two stores sell the same brands, it doesn't mean they sell the same models. Doesn't matter if two dishwashers look exactly alike, and have the same features. There's some tiny difference that makes them different models ... and different prices. So it's tough to do a straight comparison. Of course it doesn't help when you realize that the bigger refrigerator would suit your needs a lot better than the smaller one.
  • Then there are the add-ons. There's an installation fee, there may be a delivery fee (but hey, if you buy both appliances here, we'll give you a rebate on that fee.) Oh and by the way, there's this new installation kit you need. And this is before taxes, of course.
  • Then there's the "Of course, this is the sale price, which is only good until Wednesday." (Er, your store runs sales every week ...) And "Now our extended service plan is just $XXX." ( I usually ignore those things ... but a good friend reports that her high-end dishwasher blew its motor at 18 months....)

It's enough to drive you to indecision. Perhaps I should just store my food in ice chests and continue using the dishwasher as a drying rack, LOL!