Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Today's tip

I'm out of ideas for coffee cans right now ... so let's go to milk jugs!

I cut the bottom off and use it as a holder for the toilet brush. It tucks right into the corner, and when it gets yucky, I just toss it into the recycling pile.

Sunday, July 29, 2012


I was really hoping to replace this graphic  with one of a dollar bill going up in flames ;)

Anyway, an update on my car woes:.

The garage I took it to told me that the car's control module ... it's computerized brain... had died. And while they could replace it, they didn't have the means to program it. So it had to go to the dealer.

The dealer's folks said, "Yep, they're right." Then gave me a 4-figure price to do the work. (the part by itself is darn close to $1,000.)

Gulp and double gulp!

Two bright spots: I got a discount because the car wasn't ready on time (part didn't arrive). I also came up with a coupon for 15% off any service, which knocked off some more. (Still couldn't get the bill under 4 figures.)

I've been reminding myself that things happen. And this is why we're frugal, so we'll have $$ to cover the unexpected. . And life will go on ... .

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Don't waste food

Made some chocolate zucchini bread the other day. (recipe link is here) But the second I tasted it, I realized I'd made a boneheaded mistake.

I forgot the sugar.

Ah well, I wasn't about to waste the goodie, so I started looking for ways to salvage it. So here's what I did:

) I've rolled it in powdered sugar. (Not bad.)

2) I've served it with ice cream on top. (This is good!. The ice cream melts into it, and it tastes a little like a shortbread.)

 I'm also thinking this is a good way to use up some frozen whipped topping, or maybe a nice cherry-mulberry compote to pour on top.

And next time, I'll remember the $%! sugar!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Averting planned obsolesence

While I'm off dealing with my dead car today, I'll leave you with the tale of my printer...

My workhorse brand-name printer flashed a new message: Waste ink absorber almost full.

Eh? What's that? A look at the owner's manual mentions nothing.

So, off to the Internets. My printer brand has a foam pad under each cartridge that sops up the excess when the print heads are cleaned. Apparently, the cleanings are tied to a counter. When the counter hits zero, the printer stops working. (Oh, no you don't: I just refilled the ink cartridges!)

Along with this delightful news were instructions on how to reset the counter and clean the pads.

(I did find a mention of this on the company's Web site. Their take: Have it serviced. Yeah. Right. The printer cost $35. Something tells me the bill would be higher than that.)

So I gave it a try.  To start, I pressed the power and resume buttons in the order suggested to reset the counter.

Now for the pads: I could reach them, but couldn't get enough leverage to get them out of the holders. So I tried a suggestion: Wrapped a bit of rag around my finger and pressed on the pads to soak up the ink. It worked pretty well.

Put the cartridges back in. Printed a few test pages. Yahoo! No waste ink message.

 I think it's fixed (she says, crossing her fingers).

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Do they really come in threes?

  Odd things going on here ....

   The workhorse printer sent out a "waste ink absorber is almost full" message. That's a new one on me, and I discovered something interesting.  But  more on that in the next post ... (yes, I'm a tease, sorry ;)

    More urgently, when I headed  to work yesterday, the car wouldn't start.  Had lights, radio, etc, but when I turned the key -- silence.  Second try, it started, but the low-tire warming light began blinking incessantly.  I turned it off, got out and looked at the tires just to make sure I hadn't developed four flats..  When I tried to start it again, no go.  DH tried to jump-start it, but that wouldn't take.
        Long story short, got the car started (with a constantly blinking tire light and flashing tail lights)        The garage folks listened to the symptoms and said, " Sounds like an electrical problem, and we don't do electrical. Here's a place you can take it to." (On the other side of town ... )
         So, the car's back home until I can get it to the shop on Monday.   I can think of a couple of good things: 1) The car died in my driveway, not out on the road.  2) The garage was honest enough to say they couldn't fix it.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Here we go ...

Some not-so-cheery news from the government ...

From the Associated Press

WASHINGTON — U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom
Vilsack warned consumers Wednesday the worsening
drought blanketing more than half of the country will
lead to higher prices for everything from hamburger
meat and bacon to breads and cereals later this year.

The searing heat and sparse rainfall, which has depleted lakes and reservoirs and left some farmers helpless as their corn and soybean crops wither away in bone-dry fields, has left the country suffering through its worst drought since 1956. Especially devastated has been the Midwest, where much of the country’s corn, soybean and other crops are grown.

Livestock producers, in an effort to minimize future losses, are expected to begin reducing their herds because of high feed costs. While the glut of meat should benefit consumers in the near-term, the reduction in cattle, swine and other livestock could come back to bite shoppers.

So what do we do?  The same as always.  Stock up when prices are lower and stretch what we have harder than ever.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Sandwich math

We like sub sandwiches here at the Casa de Chaos, but even the 6-inch basic subs can run around $5, depending on the shop.

But a basic sub is easy enough to make at home. Ten bucks for deli turkey and ham; $1.99 for a pack of 12 hoagy rolls (both from Costco); $1 for a head of lettuce; $2 for a pack of tomatoes.
 I won't count the cheese and the condiments, since we usually have those anyway.

So, for $15, I can make a dozen 6-inch subs. A dozen subs at the local shop -- at least $60! Admittedly, it's not the super-premium or Italian dinner between bread types of sandwiches. But it's pretty darn filling.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

I've been "rolled"

It seems Big Boy has learned a new trick: unrolling the TP.

Came home to discover an entire new roll of TP in a pile on the floor. Then he was caught red-handed (or is that red-pawed) working on the replacement roll.

(Where does he get these ideas?  I only let him and his sister watch PBS!)

At least he has a good work ethic ... he keeps at it until the job is done.

Sigh. I'm sure there are other uses for unrolled TP. I just fear that the paper towels are next.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Something's been added

    You'll notice something new on the blog today ... that "Tips 'n Tricks" graphic over on the right, which will provide a daily tip.

    I haven't started accepting advertising or corporate sponsorship ... I just saw this feature offered and thought it might be a neat way to add a little extra info to the blog. (Hopefully it will be useful info!)

   Please let me know what you think ...

Friday, July 13, 2012

Free stuff

 A little luck for Friday the 13th..

If you're going to be near a Starbucks, drop in between noon and 3 p.m. today for a free Refresher.  Haven't had one, but I understand it uses green tea extracts.


Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Random notes

Just a few observations from shopping:

Wow! It's time for back to school shopping already? I'm seeing the school-supply sales ads, and the racks of uniform clothing are at the front of the stores. (Most of the schools in my area - both public and private - now require a uniform of sorts)

I took back that leak-stopping spray that didn't work. Too bad, but now I know. ;)

For those of you with Costco in your area, they now offer a printer ink refill service. Prices run $7.99 to $9.99, and it seems like good quality ink. You'll probably do best if you have a name-brand cartridge to refill; they wouldn't do a generic cartridge at my store.
Is there some company out there that still makes white, er, unmentionables?   Just askin' ....

Monday, July 9, 2012

Menu Monday: How do you cook corn on the cob?

Saw a blurb on Yahoo! the other week about the best way to cook corn on the cob. Their suggestion: bring the water to a boil, put the corn in, let it come back to a boil, then shut the burner off and let it sit until dinner is ready.

What caught my eye were a couple of comments that suggested cooking the ears in the microwave. Now I usually cook frozen veggies and whole potatoes in the microwave, but hadn't tried ears of corn.

So, I wrapped 2 ears in paper towels (cotton towels would work too) and got both packages soaking wet. Set the microwave for 8 minutes at full power and let 'er rip.

The corn was definitely steaming ... and it came out perfectly. I'll definitely be doing that again.

How about you? How do you cook corn on the cob?

Friday, July 6, 2012

So, they're just a bit shorter, that's all

Ever have a piece of clothing that did something unexpected?

A few years ago, I bought a pair of denim pants made of some sort of non-cotton fabric. The first time I washed it, the darn thing shrank -- by nearly a whole size. I muttered some choice words and threw it in the garage sale pile.

Fast forward, and I came across them again while digging through that pile after I lost some weight. (and no, we won't talk about why I still have a garage sale pile).
I tried them on, and they fit in the waist (yes!). But now they were too short! Looked like I was ready for a flood.

So, I cut 'em off to capri length.  I liked the results so much that I grabbed a pair of khaki pants that had frayed along the hemline and cut them into capris, too.

So, two additions to my summer wardrobe at no cost!  Maybe I should dig through that pile again, eh?

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy Fourth of July

Wishing everyone a happy holiday!   For everyone in areas impacted by drought ... stay safe! 

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

June freebies

Kind of a light month ... heavy on the beverages, LOL!

1 Snapple

1 bag corn chips

2 small SunDrop sodas

Tresemme shampoo, conditioner

1 energy drink

1 Dove deodorant

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Garden report: We've got beans!

Looks like my watering wasn't in vain:   The green beans are coming in.   Picked my first handful today, and more are coming.

 Also got a trio of small onions from one of my reclamation projects -- a store-bought onion that sprouted before I could use it.

 I see lots of little tomatoes and a smattering of peppers.  The cucumber is flowering, though anything it produces will likely be bigger than the plant itself. 

 Nothing yet from the eggplant ...

 The bad news:  The triple-digit temps fried my salad greens, and nearly got my mint.   The mint at least, is recovering nicely.