Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Oh, boy, did I mess up

Try as I might to be frugal, sometimes I do some absolutely boneheaded thing that will cost me $$

Case in point: I had to make some hotel reservations recently. I was doing it online, and the Web site was giving me trouble.

Anyway, got it done, put aside the reservation sheet and went on my merry way.

Not long before I had to leave, I discovered that the reservations were not for the day I'd intended. They were for the day after I'd made them. Why didn't I notice this before? Good question; wish I could answer it.

And obviously, it was way too late to cancel. (Not to mention that I had to scramble to make new reservations.)


There is a happy ending. I contacted the hotel and explained the situation. They're giving me a free night for a future stay. So great customer service on their part.

As for me ... a big lesson in paying attention. Grrr....

Monday, August 29, 2011

Menu Monday: Southwestern sauce

This makes a great salad dressing, or use it on sandwiches or wraps ...

1/4 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon chili powder
salt and ground pepper to taste

Measure all ingredients in a bowl and whisk until blended. Keeps nicely in refrigerator.

Lighten this up by using fat-free or light sour cream and light mayo..

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Today's math problem

A 200 ounce bottle of detergent advertises that it can do 112 loads of laundy. But the lowest mark on the measuring cup (for light loads, you see) holds 2 ounces of detergent.

But if I always used the 2-ounce measurement, I'd only have enough detergent to do 100 loads.

Does this mean I should use 1.66 ounces per load to get the 112? Or do 12 loads at 1 ounce, then the other 100 at 1.8 ounces? Ugh. Too much math for me.

Got a better idea ... I've marked the cup at the 1 ounce point. If that gets the laundry clean, I'll use that much ... then I'll get 200 loads.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Making appliances last

Just wanted to pass on this story, which has some common-sense tips on maintaining appliances.

Personally, I agree with keeping the dryer cleaned out. I'm religious about cleaning vents and lint traps, but dang, that lint can build up everywhere. Biggest shock I ever had was when a repairman opened up my old dryer .. and it was packed!

Also, on newer refrigerators, the condenser coils are sealed (at least mine is). I'm not sure just how you'd clean it.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Menu Monday: Ginger-curry lentils and chicken

Had a request for this:

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped and peeled
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 cup lentils (dried or canned)
1 tablespoon chopped ginger root
1 teaspoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

2 cooked chicken breasts, sliced

In a pot or deep skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic and cook for 5 minutes.
Stir in 2 cups of water, lentils, ginger, curry and salt.

If using dried lentils
Cover and simmer for 25 minutes or until lentils are tender (you may need to add more water.) During the last 10 minutes, add the chicken and allow to heat through. Remove chicken. Place lentils in serving bowl and top with chicken slices.

If using canned lentils
Add chicken to mixture, cover and simmer for 10-15 minutes, or until lentils are tender. Serve same as above.

Now, I have to add a tip: Be careful if you use green lentils. I did, and it gave the chicken a ... well... a light green hue. It was still quite tasty, and very filling, but it was ... green. So if your family might accuse you of serving very old chicken, go with the yellow, LOL!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Garden report: harvesting

Slowly, but surely, I'm harvesting veggies.

After a lull, the bush beans are producing again. And I no longer have to wonder about my Kentucky Wonder pole beans -- they're flowering. (yes, pun intended!)

My bell peppers aren't overly prolific, but the banana peppers and the cayenne peppers are doing nicely. My red peppers are coming along, though I suspect I have more flowers than actual fruit.

My tomatoes are ripening ... the yield's a bit off, not sure if the weather is to blame, or I need to shore up the soil a bit more.

I've planted some turnip greens to replace my lettuce, and need to replant cilantro
I need to dry more oregano and basil (or make pesto)

The bust: My Black Russian tomato just didn't take. I'll likely pull it and plant more beans (which will help the soil.)

And a note to my eggplant: The first fruit you produced was mighty tasty. Now, can I have another?

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Thinking out of the 'box'

We're talking kitty litter today ... (so if you're a bit squeamish ... I understand. We'll see you in a day or two.)

I knew when our cat population went to 3 that we'd have to add another litter box. But hey, the el-cheapo clay litter always worked well for my other cats. Scoop often, wash the boxes every couple of weeks and all was well.

Well, things change. With two active young'uns and with senior's box in a more trafficked area, it became apparent that cheapo clay wasn't going to cut it. Too messy ... too .. er smelly.

So began the Great Kitty Litter Hunt. First up: baking soda in regular litter. It helped, but not enough. (BTW, I don't buy artificially scented litter .. don't think it's good for the cats or my allergies ... but that's just me. Your mileage may vary.)

Next, a less-expensive brand of scoop litter. Again, it helped, but not enough, and it kept migrating outside the box ... even worse than the non-scoopable stuff.

Recycled paper pellets? I've tried that before, and odor control is a problem.

Wheat? Too dusty, I read.

Corn? Way expensive, probably because the demand for corn is high.

So that leaves ... pine. I bought a bag of store-brand pellets and gave it a try.

So far, so good. It doesn't track as much as the sandy stuff. Odor control is pretty good. After some "What is this stuff?" looks ... everyone seems to have adjusted.

Truthfully, I hate having to pay 3 times as much for litter ... but if it works ...

Sunday, August 14, 2011

It's that time AGAIN?

I was out shopping today, and guess what I saw?

Halloween decorations.

Thanksgiving decorations. (Or maybe they were fall decorations ... but there were definitely turkeys ...)

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

Anyone want to lay a bet on whether the stores start playing Christmas carols before or after Labor Day?

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Things are cooking

I've been cooking here at the casa de chaos this week.

It all started with a rotisserie chicken (on sale and with a store coupon .. ca-ching!)

Got 2 dinners and 2 lunches out of it.

Then I took a cup of meat and used it for a curried lentil and chicken dish. (It's not the prettiest dish I ever made, but it's tasty.)

The lentil dish made for 2 dinners, and some left over for work lunches.

Then I "picked" the rest of the meat and put it in the freezer for stir fry, or a fast dinner.

Next up, sausage & bean soup. Can't be quite as stretchy: Just two dinners and 2 work lunches.

In between, I blanched 10 ears of corn for the freezer.

Now I just have to figure out what to have today ....

Monday, August 8, 2011

More shrinkage

I wanted to buy some flashlight batteries at the dollar store ... only to discover that instead of 4 D batteries in a pack, there now are 3!

Seems kind of awkward ...

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Things that make you go hmmm ....

I've noticed something interesting about the sales at my local supermarkets. Seems like everyone is advertising "quantities"
Buy 10 items from this list and get $XX off your order.
Buy $30 worth of these products and get $X off your order.

I'm not sure if this is a reaction to extreme couponing (since most of my area stores now limit how many coupons they'll double, etc.), or if it's an attempt to keep folks (like me) from "cherry picking" the sale items, or if it's just a way to entice us to spend more $$ at their store.

To be honest, I find it a bit annoying. I don't feel like spending extra $$ just so I can get an extra 50 cents or so off the items I do want.

Maybe it's just a marketing fad ?

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

July freebies

Not a huge month in quantity, but got some nice things:

Chi-Chi's salsa (FAC)
Chex mix (FAC)
Kashi TLC pita crisps
Aveeno shampoo and conditioner
1 Glad trash bag
1 cup coffee (Hardee's)
Fiber Choice weight management
Jif to go
Wrigley's 5 gum