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