Sunday, December 29, 2013

Pear butter!

     Came across a bargain at the grocery:  a bag of with about a half-dozen bruised pears for $1.66.       Decided to buy them and try my hand at making some pear butter.   

       Wasn't thrilled with the recipes I found, but did run across a nice recipe for pear sauce ... spiced with cinnamon, ginger and vanilla.   And since apple butter is basically cooked-down applesauce ... seemed like pears should be the same.

       Took me a couple of hours at the stove, but I ended up with a lightly spice, very pear-ry  tasting  product.   Tasted pretty good on the pancakes we had for Christmas Eve breakfast!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Some after Christmas notes

  Just a few thoughts as we unwind a bit from the holiday ..

Santa came through: An insulated lunch bag was on my list.  I take my lunch to work every day, and rather than place it in the office fridge (which the janitorial staff is rather ruthless about cleaning out), I leave it in the bag with a cold pack if needed.    Just in case though, I'd found a pattern for a quilted lunch bag, and I was mentally choosing fabric from my stash, pricing insulation, etc.  But by gosh, Santa delivered.  So it's on to the next project.

Kitty Christmas:   Rather  than buy new toys for our furries  (Senior isn't interested; it took Big Boy all of 15 minutes to rip his toy  apart last year), we dug all the old toys out from under the couch and chairs.  They had a grand time chasing around the forgotten balls and bottle caps.   The more durable mice were placed in a bag with dried catnip overnight.  Those were a big hit, too ... even with the territorial dispute over 1 mouse ... 

Can't stop selling:  I must be way out of the loop on this ... 
  Had not seen the major TV shopping channels since we dropped pay-TV a few years ago.  This year, both have appeared in "over-the-air" formats here ...   
       I'd remembered that at least one of those channels would shut down on Christmas Eve and show public service  announcements, or just put up a "Happy Holidays from ..."  sign.
      So, when I clicked through the channels Christmas Eve, I was surprised to see they were showing pre-recorded "holiday events"  -- hosts doing infomercials  about various products.  One of the stations was inviting viewers to shop online.  

     Guess times have changed ... I realize none of the online stores shut down for the holiday, so everyone else has to keep up.  Still, I found it a bit jarring. 

 (And this is the part where all the comments tell me it's been going on for the last decade, and I just haven't been paying attention, right ;)

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas

     To all my friends ... I wish you a joyous Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.  

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Black walnuts

  The time has come, the walnut said ....

  It's time to see how the black walnuts we've collected from around the neighborhood have fared after a a month or so of curing.  
  That mess in the photo is the pile of shells from the first half-dozen that I took a hammer to.

     So far, so good.  I was a bit surprised.  I was expecting them to be large nutmeats, like a regular walnut.  Didn't realize that the shells had many chambers ...   Oh, well, I was going to chop them up anyway ... nothing like getting a head start.

    Cracking nuts is good frustration relief, too, LOL!  And it certainly entertains the cats ... especially when a piece of shell goes skittering off.

    A little early to tell just how much nutmeat I'm going to get out of those 6 dozen nuts ...  but it's time to peruse cookie and cake recipes ...

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Shopped at Target? Check your cards

  In case you missed it on the news ...

If you shopped at any Target store between Nov. 27 and Dec. 15 and used a credit or debit card, please check your account NOW.   According to news reports, up to 40 million customers' credit and debit card date may have been stolen.  Check your account online, or give  your bank or credit-card issuer a call.

The fact this happened at bricks-and-mortar stores across the country ... and impacted that many people is truly scary.

Here's a link to a story:

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Oh Christmas tree .. where art thy ornaments?

          The arrival of  our tabletop Christmas tree has created a bit of excitement for two of the furry residents here at the casa de chaos.

       Of course, they have to sniff the tree, and taste the tree (even though it means getting a swat from Mom).  Then, we move on to "King of the Hill," where BB and LG push each other off the table. (risking another swat.)

       Then, after Mom and Dad go to bed ... it's time for the real game:  knock the ornaments off the tree.   Got up this morning to find ornaments all over the floor .... and in two of the four corners of the room.

       I really thought that after the first year or two, they'd calm down (like our other cats) so that we could put up the big tree ... I think it may be 2028 before that tree goes up again.


Saturday, December 14, 2013

On sale: strings attached

  I've noticed a change in how the supermarkets in my city are doing weekly sales ---  the big loss leaders  now have a few strings attached. 

   For example, at one store, coffee was on sale for $4.99 a can ... provided you buy two.  Last week it was on sale as part of a "Buy 10 items and get $10 off." )

   That store also had ham for  99 cents a pound, provided you bought an additional $10 worth of groceries. Another store had it for 97 cents, with a $25 additional purchase.  (I've seen this  with turkeys, but it's the first time I've seen this kind of restriction on ham.)

     The conventional wisdom was that stores would use the loss leaders to draw in shoppers, who would buy  enough other items to make up the "loss."   Wondering if so many shoppers are now  just buying the loss leaders  that stores are using the "additional purchase" card to make sure they get back their investment ...


Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Buying in bulk

  My DH likely thinks I've gone round the bend ... I bought a case of TP from one of the big office supply stores. 

   I got  one of those daily deal e-mails offering a discount on "break room" supplies.  And since the price was at my target for 12 double rolls ... and since the rolls were 450 sheets compared with the 264 on the "double" role of the same brand, I thought it was a great deal.   

    Besides, they shipped it to my door for free, so what's not to like?

     (And I put it next to the case of tissues that I bought earlier in the year ...)

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Ever think better of something?

  I was poking through the pile of garage-sale goods (actually, stuff left over from the last sale), when I came across a small pile of linens:  couple of pillowcases, couple of pairs of curtains/valances.

  Thought about it for a few minutes, and realized that with the cost of material, these items were worth more to me as potential fabric for projects than what they'd bring at a sale.

   So I took them out of the pile and put them in another pile ... my fabric stash.  

Friday, December 6, 2013

November freebies

Had much to be thankful for, freebie-wise, last month:

1 roll paper towels
1 medium French fries
1 mp3 song
3  tea bags
2  K-cups
1 smoothie mix
1 brownie mix
1 box crisps
1 Align trial size
2 energy drinks
2 cookies
1 bottle water
1 cup coffee


Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Bright idea: keeping warm

  I've not been able to find an affordable replacement for my insulated patio curtains.  (Really, when did pinch pleat drapes go out of style? Everything is grommets!)

  So my latest project has been to find a suitable liner for my current patio drapes.  Looked at the commercially made blackout liners; nice, but cost almost as much as a new pair of drapes. I can buy the  lining, but I'm not quite sure how to attach it.  And I'm a bit worried that the lining might be a bit too heavy for the curtain.

 (I'm  wondering if lightweight flannel or  polar fleece would work? Anyone have an idea?)

   And while I debated, the temperatures dropped.  Got to do something   ...

Then I remembered:   A few years ago, I bought several yards of felt to use as window coverings during the winter.   I sewed a pocket at the top, and put them up using tension rods.   We seldom used the one I made for one room, so I did a bit of measuring ... turns out the felt, and the rod, fit perfectly inside the patio door frame.  Well, not quite perfect ... it's a bit short ... but close enough. (Which  makes the cats  happy, since that's a prime bird-watching spot, LOL!)

     It's noticeably warmer by the door now.  It may not be a permanent fix ... but at least it's free.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Pumpkin seeds

   Here's the cookie sheet full of seeds from the 2 pumpkins we processed last week.   That, and another small pan of squash seeds went into the oven to roast at 250 degrees.   They'll be the basis for a nice big batch of trail mix. (made with raisins, chocolate chips that are on hand.)

    I'm hoping for a triple play of sorts ... roasting the seeds will pre-warm the oven for a batch of muffins I plan to make.  It will also throw a bit of extra heat into the house.    

  I also did a small load of laundry -- kitchen rags.  They're drying on a rack in the kitchen near the stove.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Mr. Pumpkin is in the freezer

Well, we performed the annual whacking of the pumpkins here at the casa de chaos.

This year's totals:
  Pumpkin No. 1 produced about 8 pounds of roasted pulp.

Pumpkin No. 2 produced 7 cups of puree. That always seems a bit out of whack to me ...   Methinks that if I want to make pumpkin butter, I'll have to find a small pumpkin somewhere.

BTW, did anyone see the story in which chef Michael Chiarello told the "Today" show folks that canned pumpkin isn't really pumpkin ... it's allegedly blue Hubbard squash.

Should I be saying that my pumpkin pie is the real thing?

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

     Among the people I am thankful for are all of you who stop by and read this blog, and take time to leave comments.  
     To all my friends  ... a happy, safe and frugal holiday!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Monday menu: Pumpkin recipies

   It's almost time to whack the pumpkins here at the casa de  chaos.   That mean's it's time to clear the freezer of the pumpkin puree from last year.

   So I thought I'd pass on a couple of recipes that I found on the Internets ....

Pumpkin and sage vegetarian pasta. 

Very good, though it took a lot more salt and pepper than I thought it might ....  I threw in a teaspoon or so of sugar to balance the sage a bit ... 

Cranberry pumpkin coffee cake

Oh. my. gosh!  This is good!  Honestly, you don't even need the cranberry.  Next time we make it, we're using raisins.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

From junk mail to Christmas tags

Got a solicitation in the mail the other day, and the outside envelope was decorated with this guy and a couple of others.   I thought they were way too cute to send off to recycling, so a few minutes with a ruler and an X-Acto knife, and voila!   New gift tags!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Makes you go Hmmm

  Just wondering ... why the big-box retailer needs 4 to 7 days to deliver my online order to a local store, but then expects me to pick it up THE MINUTE IT GETS THERE!

Ahem ... rant over.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

This and that
Just a couple of notes about what's going on at the Casa de Chaos:

  Have 6 dozen black walnuts curing in my garage.   Seems like we have several trees in the neighborhood, and no one seems interested in harvesting them ... outside of the squirrels, that is.  So I thought I'd give it a try.    I either will be making a small black walnut cake for Christmas, or this has all be a big waste of time.  

   Lots of mending and patching going on here. Besides the new cuffs for my hoodie, I've been trying to get some  flannel jammies back into rotation.  I've been using an old flannel PJ top in a similar  color for the patching jobs. The not-quite matching color is going to be  obvious on one top, but it's not going out of the house.  
  Then I need to work on the socks, which apparently all sprouted holes at the same time. 

Monday, November 11, 2013

Veterans Day

     Thank you to those who have served.  And a special thanks to the families of those who have served.

Saturday, November 9, 2013


  I'd been on the hunt for a square baking pan to replace my glass one that broke a while back.

    Had heard about silicone pans, but didn't have much luck finding anything except loaf pans.

   Then, I went looking for another glass pan.  Found plenty, but they were all 8 x 8, and I was really hoping for a 9 x 9.

    Well, lo and behold ... look what I found at Aldi!  A 9 x 9 pan  made of silicone.   And it was $2.99!

So I guess I need to go bake some brownies now ... gotta try it out, right?

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Making do: sewing project

      My old hoodie (as seen above) was getting really raggy around the cuffs.  I'd been looking for a set of replacement cuffs, but finding this particular color was impossible.

      So I decided to try the old sock trick.  Had a pair of DH's old dress socks that couldn't be mended any more, so I cut off the tops and used them.  Had to do a bit of cutting and resewing to make them fit, but it worked out pretty well.  The seams aren't as pretty as the original ones,but heck, they're inside ;)

      Would have been even better if the socks had been green, but I figure the blue makes a nice contrast ...  

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

October freebies

Not a bad month at all:

Folger’s coffee
Iced tea
Yummy tummy drink
2 Shampoo/conditioner
Fabric softener
Dishwasher tabs
Snapple K-cups
Lipton K-cups
1 movie rental

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Set your clocks!

  For most of us, it's time to fall back!

 Daylight saving time starts today at  2 a.m. EST, so don't forget to give yourself an extra hour!

  (And we'll all spend the next couple of weeks trying to get our body clocks back in sync!)

Saturday, November 2, 2013

If the cap fits ...

Came home to an unexpected mess --- one of the cats (Yeah, Big Boy, I'm talking to you) had knocked over a plant.  A just-watered plant that left a pile of wet dirt on the carpet.

So, out with the rug cleaning machine.  Unfortunately, when I put the pieces together, I realized that the water tank's screw cap was missing.  Our search turned up ... Nada. (Though I continue to hope that one of the cats decided it was a hockey puck and flipped it under the fridge.

Now what?  I looked through our collection of jars and stray caps, but nothing fit.  Then I had a brainstorm ... opened the fridge and grabbed a bottle of juice that happens to have a plastic screw cap.  Bingo!  It fit.

So, the rug got cleaned. (Ever try to get real, live dirt out of a carpet? Ugh.)  The well-washed cap is back on the juice bottle for now, but it will have a new home very soon.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween!

For all who celebrate, have a fun, safe, and frugal day!

(And if  you live in an area - like mine- where celebrations are being delayed due to storms, then have a Happy Halloween tomorrow, then!)

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Use it up: Money!

  Well, yeah, I do a good job of that anyway ....

  Have started taking stock of a few things as we head toward the end of the year (and how the heck did that happen?).  

Realized that I had a few half-used gift cards  and a few "rewards" points from various stores.  So, time to put them to use! (And give my budget a rest.)

Couple of things that have helped: 
    I tuck a card or two in my wallet, so I'll actually have them when I'm in the store. (I have the bad habit of putting them aside ... oh, sure, I'll remember to bring them along ... not!)

    Since I can't remember exactly when those ECBs expire, I now enter those dates into the calendar on my phone.  Now I get a digital nudge ...

    So far, so good.   There was  enough  on one card to buy a small turkey breast (on sale) at the market.   And used some rewards points for stuff at the office supply store...

Friday, October 25, 2013

Cheese recall

Thought I would pass this along:

Kraft Foods Group Inc. is voluntarily recalling some of its Kraft and Polly-O string cheese because they may spoil and change color before the expiration date on the packages.

The full story:;_ylt=A2KJ3CYPMGtS1SgA6sPQtDMD

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Garden report: All done

 It's a sad time of the year .... we had a heavy frost last night, and everything in the garden got hit ...

Spent part of the last two days bringing in all the green tomatoes, beans and eggplant.   All my potted herbs are sitting in the garage, waiting to be cut and dried....

So, off to the kitchen to preserve the harvest ;)

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Apple butter recipe

Stacie ... as promised:

Crock pot apple butter

Approximately 3 lbs of apples.  I fill a 6-quart crock pot full of peeled, cored and sliced apples.  (Your mileage may vary.  It your cooker is bigger, adjust the spices accordingly.)

Turn crock pot on high and let cook for an hour or so, covered,  until the apples are softened a bit. If your apples seem to be a bit dry, add more water or juice.  Stir often.

At this point, I add:

2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons of cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon cloves
dash of salt
1/4 cup of apple juice or water

Pour spices over softened apples and stir. Cover again and let the apples cook down until it resembles a rather chunky applesauce. (This could take several hours)  I leave the cooker on high, though other recipes suggest turning it down to low.  I suspect this might depend on how hot your particular cooker gets.
  At that point, I use a stick blender to produce a nice, smooth mixture. A potato masher might work, too.

After that, I uncover the pot and let the mixture cook down until it is very thick and spreadable.  (and mixture will be very dark.)  Stir often to prevent scorching.

When done, let cool and load into jars.  Since this makes about a quart, I don't can ... just put the jars into the fridge, where they can stay for up to 6 weeks.  It also freezes.  

Beware ... this will take the better part of a day. My last batch took nearly 12 hours to finish, though my apples did throw off a lot of juice that had to be cooked down.  (Some recipes suggest letting it cook overnight on low.)  Next time, I'm considering making the applesauce part on the stove, then adding the spices and transferring it to the slow cooker to let it thicken. 

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Uh, oh ...

Today's thought:

When you open the garage door, you really don't want to hear a bolt hit the floor, then see a piece of the opener's mechanism swinging from the track ....

Oy .....

Update: DH bolted the bracket back into place, so crisis averted!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Now really ...

My doc prescribed a med to add to my OTC allergy drug during the worst of the allergy season. In fact, that was the prescription that inspired a previous post.

Apparently, my health insurer has now decided that this is a maintenance drug...   I recently got a  rather threatening letter saying that I MUST fill the prescription through their mail order pharmacy, or I will be paying more for the script. 

Really?  Geez ... I have all of 1 refill left.  (Haven't even finished the previous one.) I'm sure that the second refill just automatically flags the drug.   It would be nice if they inquired ... which, I know, is probably expecting too much.

Sorry folks ... threaten all you want.  It's not worth my time and sanity to jump through this particular hoop.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Apple time!

  For me, one of the best things about fall is the annual trip to the apple orchard.  Something about biting into a nice crisp apple on a beautiful fall day ...

But I digress.   We made the trip last weekend and picked up a small bag for "eatin' " apples ... and a half-bushel of "seconds" to use for cooking.  ( Not a bad deal ... $9 bucks, compared with $16 for a "Grade A" half bushel. And we could get an assortment of apples, too.)

So far, I've made a quart of apple butter.  Also plan to make a batch of cranberry applesauce, and some filling for crepes.   Oh, and I'm sure there's a pie or two in my future.

Apple Pie Bites seem to be the big thing this year.  Found this recipe, which is very tasty:

Friday, October 11, 2013

Turn off that light!

 ... which is hard to do when the light switch isn't working properly.   

       But, fortunately, it's an easy fix ... 54 cents for a new switch, a few minutes of my time and we're back in business.

      I wish the other repairs were as easy ... or should I say that inexpensive.  For the second month in a row, the casa de chaos has been walloped with 3-figure fixes ... the sump pump (which died during a rather rainy week) and the pump on the air bed. (in the past decade, we've also replaced both air bladders ... though I suppose by now it would be time to replace a conventional mattress, and would have cost a great deal more.)

      The dehumidifier has kicked off, too ... trying to determine if that  can be fixed.  If not, there's a potential replacement in the wings.   

     (And that's why an emergency fund is a good thing, eh?)

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Score one Christmas gift

  Have been picking up a few gifts here and there for my flock of great-nieces and nephews. 
 As we were walking through Meijer on a late night foray for something else, I came across these on the clearance shelf:

Aren't they cute?   (and less than $4!)   But Auntie may have gotten the better present:  I just happened to look this up online.   It's going for $12 bucks!

Monday, October 7, 2013

September freebies

A light month, but some good things:

1 bottle pop
1 pkg hot dog buns (FAC)
1 lotion
1 dental treat for dogs

Friday, October 4, 2013

Bargain alert!

If  you're looking for a fresh pumpkin for a jack-o-lantern or other decorations (or, at my house, filler for pumpkin bread, etc ....)  Aldi is selling very large pumpkins for $1.99 this week.

© Bobbie Peachey
I bought two ... more on the whacking of the pumpkin next month ...

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Stock-up time

  Happy October everyone!

   Made the semi-annual trip to the salvage/outlet stores to stock the pantry here at the Casa de Chaos. 

  Did manage to find some good deals, though prices seemed to be higher this year ... some things on the list weren't significantly cheaper than Aldi prices.

That said,  I did score:

      24 pounds (a dozen 2lb bags) of all-purpose  flour for $2.49.  (I was very pleased, as I was nearly out of flour, and baking season is nearly upon us.)

       1 case (12, 28 oz cans) of whole tomatoes for $3.99.

        28 oz cans of crushed tomatoes for 39 cents each.
        1.5 oz jar of lemon peel for $1.   (I don't use a lot of this, but the current jar is getting low, and I'd rather restock at that price than the $4+ I recently saw at the supermarket.)

      Also picked up several boxes of name brand cereal (including Wheatabix, which I  seldom buy) for $1-$1.50.

      (And I'll admit to a fair amount of snacks ... granola bars, various chips, crackers ...  It does keep us out of the vending machines at work.)
       Best of all, I found a new baking dish to replace the one that exploded!

       So, the pantry is filling up nicely .... next up ... fresh apples!

Monday, September 30, 2013

Eggplant anyone?

      And here I was worried that I wouldn't get much from my eggplant ... Ha!

       We've been having eggplantapalooza here at the Casa de Chaos.    So far, this $3 plant has paid for itself several times over. (Considering that the going rate for eggplant here is around 99 cents a pound.)

      We've had:

       3 meals of baked eggplant, each of them producing 1-2 extra servings that went into work lunches.

        1 meal of ratatouille, which also produced a serving for a work lunch

         1 stir-fry meal, which produced 2 extra servings for a work lunch. 

          1 bowl of baba ganoush for snacking. Wasn't sure about it at first, but it grew on me.  It also saved me the cost of a tub of hummus.)

         3 more fruits were gifted ... I'm told one made a very nice eggplant parm ...

         It is nice to sit down to a dinner in which most of the food came from my own garden.  Makes the work (and the expenditures) worth it.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Use it up: Fruit chunk muffins

     Had a bit of canned tropical fruit left in the fridge.  While I usually like this brand, this particular can of fruit didn't have a lot of taste ...     
     So. rather than waste, I decided to disguise it.   I adapted a muffin recipe to work with the "tropical" flavors and make this a bit more tasty.  

Fruit Chunk Muffins

1/4 cup butter or canola oil
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup plain yogurt (see note)
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup chopped canned fruit 
1 teaspoon orange peel
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Grease a muffin tin. 

Cream together the butter and sugar. Add the egg, beating well. Add the yogurt, vanilla and orange peel and beat until combined. 

In another bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.  Add to the dry ingredients.  Gently fold in the fruit.

Fill the muffin cups 2/3 full. 

Bake 20-30 minutes, or until lightly browned.  Let cool in pan on rack for 5 minutes, then remove from the pan and cool on rack 

Makes 6-9 muffins, depending on size of the pan. 

Note: The yogurt I used had a thin consistency. (My batter was a bit looser than traditional muffin batter.) If you use something thicker, like Greek yogurt, you might  use a bit less and thin it out with milk. 

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Unexpected linens

        On a whim, I stopped at our Goodwill outlet ..
      And this, dear friends, is where I tend to get in trouble. 

       I was looking for something specific, but came out with:
       1 snowman flannel sheet. I thought was that this would be good fabric for a project.  When I got it home, I realized that it was queen-size.  And I don't have any flannel sheets for the queen-size guest bed.  Uh, oh.
         1 flannel regular-size pillowcase with snowmen. (Why, yes, I like snowmen. Why do you ask?)   My first thought was a project, but nah ... this one's for me.
      1 swath of plaid material.  I believe it is a flannel sheet, though the texture is a bit rough. (Fortunately, it doesn't fit any of the beds.) It might make a nice tablecloth or topper with matching napkins. It also might make good fabric for those sleep pants I still intend to sew. We shall see.

      And 1 large plastic flowerpot....

       Can't say I broke the bank here. I spent all of  $3.28. But I'm supposed to be decluttering!

(Oh yeah ... any fabric/clothing from the thrift store gets bagged, and once home,  gets a good shaking outside, then goes straight to the washer.)


Saturday, September 21, 2013

Oh, that's sneaky

     Had a coupon for $1 off of 2 tubes of a certain brand of toothpaste.  So I thought I'd try my luck at the dollar store.

     They had lots of this brand ... but the coupon had a rather long list of sizes that it wasn't good on.

    And guess which sizes were on the shelf?  Yep, every one of them.  (not enough profit margin, perhaps?)

      So, no toothpaste for me .... 

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Finding bargains in odd places

Speaking of spare parts ....

I've been on the lookout for a new coffeemaker  ... sort of a spare if you will.     Actually, the coffee maker we're using originally was a spare ... after two machines with timers croaked in short order, we started using the current, basic one.

Anyway, I stopped at my favorite spot at the supermarket ... the markdown bin.  And there, with the canned goods, sat a half-dozen coffee makers. Originally $12.99 ... marked down to (drum roll, please) ...


I couldn't resist.  I bought one.  (Yeah, just one ...)  So if this one croaks, I'm in no danger of going without coffee.  (Trust me on that one.)

On the other hand, if it's anything like the bread maker ... this machine may sit on the shelf for another four or five years, LOL!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Dump bread anyone?

  Needed to make a loaf of bread, so I loaded up the bread maker and turned it on.

Instead of whir... whir... whir ... I got click .. click ... click.

The spindle that turns the paddle in the bread pan seems to have frozen.  So, pulled the pan and dumped the contents into another bowl so DH could try to loosen things up with a wrench.   No go.

So, now what?   I remembered that we'd bought a similar bread maker at the thrift store a while back, specifically for the paddle. (The old one got chewed up.)   Maybe ...

Pulled the pan from that one and checked. Yep, it fit.  So, the dough makings got dumped into this pan, and we were back in business.

 The bread doesn't seem any worse for wear ...

Note: I went back to look for the post in which I talk about buying that bread maker.  Holy moly, it was four years ago.  And the original bread maker is still with us ...

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Might as well get something good from this

    I'm nursing a sore mouth today ... had to get a tooth pulled.

  (Darned if I know how, but I managed to break a wisdom tooth. And when your dentist takes one look and shakes his head, you know you're in trouble ...)

    Anyway, I needed to get a couple of prescriptions filled afterwards.  Was about to tell DH to head to the nearest drugstore when I remembered: I had a catalina from Meijer that would give me a coupon for $20 in groceries if I got a prescription filled at their pharmacy.  

So, a little silver lining ...


(The best part was when the tech asked if I wanted to get a flu shot, too.  Er, no ... I've been poked with enough needles for one day.)

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

And things continue to shrink

  Came across this story from the Wall Street Journal ... seems the makers of tissues and TP are, er, short-sheeting us again.  (Or as the headline calls it, "desheeting.")

But hey, the product is better, so we need less, they say.

It's getting to the point where I really hate buying TP, even when it's at my target price ... the variance between manufacturers is amazing.
  Even the number of sheets isn't a good indicator.  Of  two packs in my closet, both 264 sheets, one has 352 sq ft, the other has 369 sq ft. 

Anyway, here's the link  to the story:

Saturday, September 7, 2013

August freebies

A very very light month ...

The tally:  2 packages of dog food, which will go to the animal shelter's pet-food bank.

And one biggie:  Firewood!  One of the neighbors took a big tree down and left the wood in the yard with a "Free" sign.   Not a lot of takers ... the pieces were a bit on the large side.  But we did get a few carloads.  

 Nice find, since we had been running  low on supplies from last year. So that, along with the dead wood we culled from the mulberry trees will top things up very nicely.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Cheaper Tide?

  In the news ....

 Proctor & Gamble is going to sell a less-expensive version of its flagship detergent. 

But as growth in developed markets has slowed and P&G expands in emerging markets, the company has been working to become more balanced in its offerings, with more goods at both the low and high end of the price spectrum.
"There are consumers for whom a lower price is a more critical element of their personal value equation," said CEO A.G. Lafley at a Barclays conference in Boston on Wednesday. "We need to have brands and products that are relevant for them as well, and we increasingly will."

   Interesting .... I wonder what the difference will be.  I generally don't use the product, but I have friends who swear by it.  I wonder how well the "cheaper" version would go over with them.

     Anyway, here's the link:

Monday, September 2, 2013

Sometimes, you punt

We've been doing quick and easy meals from the pantry at the casa de chaos as we get back into our regular routine.

The other night, dinner was  to be pasta, using the jarred sauce in the fridge.

Oops .. not enough sauce.  No problem, we'll get a jar  from the pantry.

Double oops.  There wasn't any sauce in the pantry.

So, DH dug up a can of roasted-tomato cooking sauce and added it to the mix.  It was a bit thin, so we pulled a container of tomato paste from
the freezer and threw that in, too.  

Threw in some extra seasonings and the rest of the previously made meatballs from the freezer.

Not bad ... not bad at all.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Blame it on McDonald's?

  So Ronald McDonald and his fast-food rivals are to blame for the higher chicken prices I see?  Hmms...

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Miss me?

Coastal Maine
    Been away for a few days for vacation and to check in on some family.  (Nice thing about blogs ... you can always write ahead.)

    Came back to an over flowing cucumber patch ... I see salsa and salad in my future, LOL!

    Came back to the usual something-broke-in-the-house-and-has-to-be-fixed, too.  So, time to dig out those coupons and set up some appointments.

I always struggle with the idea of vacations now ... seems like a major layoff at work usually takes place right before I'm set to leave.

On the other hand, living in fear isn't good either.  So, I spend mindfully at home so we can afford to have these experiences -- and spend mindfully on the experiences themselves. ( I just don't make any plans that can't be cancelled quickly.)

 When things change financially, then we'll adjust.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Feeling scrappy

          I know, you're wondering just what that mess is.

          Well, I got bit (slightly) by the decluttering bug ... mostly because I was tired of looking at the fabric scraps piled in the sewing room. 

         I set aside several pieces that could be cut into squares ... ultimately to be used in a comforter project I need to finish. (Yeah, one of these days.)

        The rest were cut into 1-inch strips to use in a long delayed project -- a bit of locker hooking.  (It's like latch hooking, but the implement looks like a crochet hook with a needle's eye at the end.

        Saw this demonstrated at a quilt store a while back and decided that I had to try it.  Unfortunately, it got pushed to the background as other things popped up, but methinks it's time to try it out.

       I'm starting with a place mat or two ... perhaps if it goes well, I'll graduate to a rug.  Seems like a nice way to use those old raggy jeans.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Using it up


We’ve been on a use-it-up kick here at the casa de chaos.  The fridge was getting full, which isn’t a bad problem to have, but it was time to start moving things before it all went bad.

So, a few things I’ve done:

We’d been eating fresh blueberries and yogurt for dessert, but the blueberries outlasted the yogurt. No problem, just made a box of vanilla pudding from the pantry and served the fruit over that.  (Now I have to find those granola crumbs to serve over the rest of the pudding.)

The last of the fresh cherries and the remainder of a jar of blackberries were chopped up to use in muffins. (I call them cherry-berry muffins; it’s all in the marketing, you know.)

Pulled veggie broth and tomatoes from the freezer (along with some carrots and celery from the fridge) to make a pot of lentil soup. (And the peelings and celery tops went into the freezer to make more veggie broth.)

Speaking of carrots, I’ll chop the last two into sticks for work lunches.  The last of the celery will get the same treatment, but they’ll spend the night in a cold-water bath to perk them back up.

The bits and pieces of stale bread became homemade croutons. (The crumbs have been going into the freezer to be used as breading or meatloaf/meatball filler.)

Still working on those taco-size tortillas.  (We can eat just so many fajita and taco dishes…)  Any suggestions?

Friday, August 16, 2013

Got cucumbers?

Give this a try:  

Crisp cucumber salsa

2 cups finely chopped, seeded and peeled cucumber
1/2 cup finely chopped, seeded tomato
1/4 cup chopped red onion
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
4.5 teaspoons minced fresh cilantro
1 clove garlic, minced or pressed
1/4 cup low-fat sour cream
1.5 teaspoons lemon juice
1.5 teaspoons lime juice
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon seasoned salt

In a small bowl, combine the first 7 ingredients.  In another bowl, combine the sour cream, lemon juice, lime juice, cumin and salt.  Fold sour cream mixture into vegetables. 

Serve with tortilla chips.  Can be served immediately, but I let mine chill for a few hours before serving. 

Calories: roughly 16 per 1/4 cup.

Note:  I used 1.5 tablespoons of dried parsley and 4 teaspoons of dried cilantro.  Came out just fine. (And got good reviews at an office pitch-in.)

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Garden report: I have eggplant!

  I know ... I need to get a life.   

 I've tried various eggplant varieties, but never had much luck. This year, I found a plant at the big-box hardware store and decided to take a chance.  

I put  it in my front garden, and it took off.  (And it has the added advantage of looking like part of the landscaping).  Picked the first one this weekend, and baked it for a nice Sunday dinner. (With garden-gown green beans as a side dish.)

     Now, if the eggplant-friendly weather will hold ...

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Medical billing .. grr

  No, I did not get a bill for that prescription.

I got the bill for my recent physical/lab tests.  Usually, I end up paying for the lab tests (after the insurance discount. Not a big deal.

What I didn't expect was a bill for more than $200 -- the biggest charge for a procedure clearly marked as "preventative."

Er, my plan is supposed to pay for preventative care at 100%.  So, I made a call to the insurance company.   Yes, the rep said, that's covered and in fact, payment had been sent. (and I got a date and a payment number.)

The practice's billing department confirmed that they'd received the payment, so I should be getting a new ... and lower bill ... soon.

This is now the third time in the last 18 months that I've had to deal with billing screw-ups. (I'm 2 for 3 on this in getting things resolved.)  I'm  beginning to wonder if there's a code on my insurance card that reads: Go ahead, mess up this one's bill!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Oh, that's gonna hurt

       Saw a sign at the entrance of my Meijer store:  Starting Aug. 25, they are no longer doubling coupons.

       Big ouch!  

       Meijer's been my go-to store for double coupons for the past couple of years. Apparently I was in minority here, the chain is saying that only about 5% of its shoppers took advantage of them.  But combined with sales, I've managed to get some pretty good deals, even if I haven't had "Extreme Couponing" totals. (Apparently, this is chain-wide, and the company is definitely getting some blowback on Facebook.)

     Can't say I'm surprised. Kroger just stopped doubling coupons in my area, and the regional chain here stopped a couple of months ago.  Meijer's also been pushing its digital coupons, though of course, they don't double.

    So ...  guess I'll be looking for the higher-value coupons. I also suspect I'll be buying fewer brand names, since in many cases, double coupons gave them a price advantage.

Dodge and weave ... dodge and weave ....

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Halloween treat

 Yes, it's a bit early, but aren't these adorable?   Saw this over on Halloween Cottage's Facebook site, and it was too good not to share. (And it's nice to see a healthy Halloween treat.)

Friday, August 2, 2013

July freebies

It's been an interesting month.   One of the big grocery chains here stopped doing double coupons (ouch).  But to get folks to use its digital coupons, the chain has been offering a weekly freebie. So, yes, I'll take a full-size shampoo, or toothpaste, or whatever.

Green Tea
Vitamin water
Diet ginger ale
Coffee K-cup
2 squash (love it when friends' gardens go wild, LOL)
Roll of paper towels (FAC)
Disposable razor
Eye cream
Berry shake
1 box granola bars

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Sobering day

  Not exactly a good day at the workplace.  More layoffs announced. Fortunately, I'm not among them. (At least not this round ... next time, who knows?)

    Just another reminder that economically, especially in some industries, things are still dicey.  Time to look again at the contingency plans and to take stock of where things stand financially at the casa de chaos.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Repair project: mini blinds

    I find myself fixing the strangest things ...

    The mini blinds in one bedroom served us well ... until BB came along.  
     Smart boy  learned that if he wants to look out that particular window, he can just shove down a couple of slats with his paw.

     Unfortunately, the slats had become a bit brittle from age and sun ... two of them snapped at the spot where the guide rope threads through.

     I have some ideas about replacing the blind ... but I'd like the windows to look presentable till I get it done.  So...

      Simply taping the slats back together didn't work ... not enough surface.   So I cut two  thin pieces of lightweight cardboard to use as a brace ... taped one on each side of the slat.   Much better.

      It's not the most elegant fix, but unless someone's looking very closely, it's not noticeable. (And if someone is looking that closely from the outside, I'm calling the police!)

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Well, that worked out well

I had a prescription to fill, and since I have a high-deductible plan. I figured I’d be paying the full cost, since I hadn’t hit my deductible yet.

I know the drill:  I checked prices and dug up a coupon that would bring the price down to $58 at one of the big chains.  Not great, but certainly better than the $123 or more at other stores.

The pharmacy tech checked the coupon, then asked if I wanted to run it through my insurance.  Sure ..  if if nothing else, I could apply it toward the deductible..

She ran the numbers and said  “You know, with your insurance, the cost is $24.”

Sometimes, things work out better than expected.

(Though I'm a bit worried that I'm going to get a letter saying, 'Oh, we made a mistake. You owe us $100.')