Tuesday, December 30, 2014

A refund, please

         Money flies out of my house fast enough, it seems ... so if something I buy isn't rung up at the correct price, or I don't like, need or use a service, I want my money back.


       Got an e-mail deal from a food-service store.  10-inch pies, normally $6.99, were on sale for $2.  (Limited flavors, so methinks it was a Thanksgiving overstock.)    Bought two, then realized when I got home that something wasn't right.   Turns out the clerk only discounted one pie.
       To be fair, the coupon was confusing.  It said "Limit 2"  but the directions said only one pie could be discounted.  Say what?
        So back to the store.  Apparently the clerk should have scanned the coupon twice. Refund: $4.99

     We had some new flooring installed at the casa de chaos.   Turns out the installer didn't need the adhesive, and asked if we wanted it credited.   At $90, you bet your vinyl floor I want it credited ... and we contacted the salesperson to make sure it will be.

     Had to buy an emergency ink cartridge at full price.  (Normally, I order it, but there was a Christmas gift being printed.)   The cartridge was defective.   So back I went, and got an exchange.  No refund, but at least I'm not out the $$.

     I've contacted a cat-food maker about their guarantee ... I tried the product when Little Girl went on her hunger strike.  She wouldn't eat it.   Neither would her brother (who eats just about anything ... including what he shouldn't).
  We'll see what they say ... but that $4.50 (after coupon) can go toward something she will eat.


Friday, December 26, 2014

Stumbling on savings

   I had intended to bake a ham for Christmas dinner.  Even bought one. (Best price I could find this year was $1.29 a pound for a shank ham.  Not bad, but I miss those 99 cent a pound sales.)

   But during a quick trip to the supermarket for a couple of last-minute items, a sign on the meat counter caught my eye:  "All leg of lamb products $2.99 lb."

  Whoa!  That's unheard of.  There were full legs marked at $6.99 lb and boneless half-leg roasts for $8.49 lb.  "Are you sure about this?"   I asked one of the department employees.  "They aren't marked."
     He assured me the price would be marked down at the register, and added that it was unusual for them to have this much lamb left so close to Christmas. 

    So I picked up a boneless half-leg roast, priced at $30.  Sure enough, I got the markdown -- to $9.99.    Merry Christmas!   

     (It was delicious, and we shall eat every scrap ...)

     Today, I was at another market for a pharmacy stop, so I browsed the meat and produce aisles for any markdowns.  Now, I wasn't going to get chicken ... we'd stocked when this market sold drumsticks and thighs for 88 cents a pound.   But there it was ... a shelf full of split chicken breasts, all natural, normally $3.99 a pound ... marked down to 99 cents a pound. 

     So I grabbed a package with five large split breasts.   Yep, we'll
eat more chicken ... 

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Merry Christmas!

from Mein Lila Park
   For those who celebrate  ...

   We here at Dodge and Weave wish  everyone a happy, safe and always frugal holiday season.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

A bit of holiday cheer

         Here's a story and a video about clerks in a German supermarket who put on a holiday show for their customers:


Sunday, December 14, 2014

Back to 'olden' times

   As I've mentioned to my forum friends, we've been painting the kitchen here at the casa de chaos.   It's been going a bit more slowly than expected (we're doing this around DH's work schedule).

   All the shifting has left us without a microwave oven for the past week or so.  It's no problem to plan meals that can be cooked in the oven or on the stove top, but how to reheat the leftovers?  I remember my DM had a stove-top oven in the pre-microwave days, but I have no such thing.

  So, a bit of thinking.  Some things obviously could be reheated in the oven:  pizza, chicken pieces wrapped in foil.  But what to do with pasta in sauce, or a cooked rice dish?  My solution:  a small skillet.

I've had to be a bit more patient:  chicken needs more than 2 minutes to warm up in the oven, and rice and pasta have to be watched and stirred.  And I actually have to use my kettle to warm up water for a single cup of tea. ;)  But all in all, it works.  

But I still look forward to having my microwave back in place.


Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Safety alert

   Thought I'd pass this on, since most of us are out and about for holiday shopping.

    The police in my city are warning of a "flat tire" scam that's going on at some area supermarkets and drug stores.   In this scam, a person slashes or punctures the tire of a vehicle in the parking lot.  When the victim returns to find the flat, this person appears and aggressively offers to change the tire and asks for money in return.

     Police are telling folks to go back into the store and call them (and report it to the store manager).
     I'd suggest parking near the door, or another busy area in the lot, if possible --- might discourage someone from messing with your car.

     Always something, isn't it?

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Is it frugal not to flush?

    If you're squeamish, I might suggest you don't read this over breakfast ....

    Came across this story about the merits of not flushing after ... er ... number one.   There are certainly strong arguments for it:   water conservation,  savings on the water/sewer bills.
     But then again, there's the "ick" factor.  There are certain things you may not want to smell in your house.  And it's not something I'd do in a public setting, or someone else's house. To me, that would be rude.

    Now, I admit there are times we don't flush at the casa de chaos ... middle of the night trips to the bathroom being one.  (No sense in waking up the household for something that can wait a couple of hours.)

Anyway, here's the story.   What do you think?

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!

  Wishing all of my friends in the U.S. a happy, safe and frugal Thanksgiving Day!

   And once again, I'm thankful for everyone who stops by to read my words.  

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Well, that sure didn't work

    I had an appointment earlier this week ... not to a place where I could wear jeans ... so I was getting my clothes ready the night before.

   As I was cleaning up my dress shoes, the cap fell off one of the heels.  OK .. I'll glue it back on.

   Unfortunately, the glue was dried up.   It's late ... now what?

    I spied the silicone sealant.  Well, it holds plumbing fixtures together. Why not?  

    And it did hold ... until I was walking out of the parking garage.  Then the cap came off again, and I had to clump the three blocks to the appointment ... and back.

    I made it ... it wasn't too noticeable, though I probably didn't do the heel much good.   So I'll either have to get some better glue, or find a proper shoe repair shop. 

Friday, November 14, 2014

Single servings

   I've seen an interesting sale trend at one of the area supermarkets:  single servings of meat.

   This week, it's a 4 oz pork chop for $1.25.  Last couple of weeks it's been an 8 oz steak (different cuts) for around $4.99.

    I find this interesting because many of this chain's stores have meat counters, where a shopper could purchase one chop or steak or chicken breast .. etc.

   Perhaps this is targeted toward singles or couples who don't want to buy a package of  chops, or who might be willing to "splurge" on a steak or two. (This particular chain operates in a couple of areas where this is the demographic.) 
   Or maybe it's just a method of disguising the fact that meat prices are on the high side....


Monday, November 10, 2014

Dollar store thanksgiving

    The dollar stores here have ramped up their grocery offerings in the past couple of years. I've noticed lately that they've been featuring their holiday food offerings.   So for the heck of it, I decided to tally up the number of items that could be used in a traditional Thanksgiving dinner.  Here's what I found:

No turkey or ham, though I did find pork loin chops and turkey bacon.

Side dishes

8 ounce box of instant mashed potatoes (or an 8 ounce box of sweet potatoes Au gratin)
3-pack box of brown gravy mix
6 ounce box of stuffing
1 lb bag of frozen mixed vegetables -- various kinds (this store also has canned vegetables for 79 cents each)
15 ounce can of yams
1 quart of boxed milk or 20 ounces of fresh milk if needed for potatoes or gravy.

No traditional pumpkin pie fixings here.  However, there were 9-inch graham cracker crusts, and 21-ounce cans of lemon or chocolate pie filling.  
16 ounce can of whipped topping for the pie.

(Note:  I'm not suggesting this is the way to go. I know some of these items are less expensive at the supermarkets.)

Actually, I was hoping for a bit more ... like cranberry sauce and pumpkin.  But there's another dollar store near my house, and I think it has a better grocery selection.  So I'll pop in to see what's available and report back.

Update:  The second store had most of the same items, though it did have canned pumpkin and pumpkin pie mix.  It also had cheese biscuit and sweet potato muffin mixes for a different twist.
    And while they had no traditional Thanksgiving meats, both stores had plenty of foil pans to cook them in!

Friday, November 7, 2014

Holy cantaloupe!

  We have a happy ending to the cantaloupe saga!
   When last we chatted about the garden, I mentioned that I had to bring my three cantaloupe-harvest inside, even though they didn't appear to be ripe.
     They resided in my bathroom (of course, where else would we put them ;) to keep warm.  Then DH noticed that one of them was rather soft.
      I'm thinking we'd probably lost it, but I cut it open.   It was very melon-like inside.  Took a taste, and while not super-sweet, it wasn't bad.
       So, chunked two of them up and put them in the fridge for breakfasts.  One more to go.

        So the experiment was a success ... and I got my investment back.  But not sure I'll try it again next year.  Maybe I'll take another shot at growing zucchini ...

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Change those clocks!

  Just a reminder that daylight saving time (for those of us in the U.S. and Canada who follow it), ends at 2 a.m. tomorrow.

   So it's time to set the clocks back an hour ... and take the next two weeks to reset our body clocks.

   And while you're at it, please  check/change any batteries in your home's  smoke detectors.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Garden report: All done!

      Time has run out on the garden, it seems.   The two frosts didn't hit my area, but the weather report tonight calls for below-freezing temperatures.  So I spent part of yesterday clearing out the garden.

      My haul:  Four peppers, a handful of baby green beans. and about 6 pounds of tomatoes!  Four pounds of that were from the tiny plum tomatoes that I've been using in salads. 

     I pulled in the three cantaloupe ... not sure keeping the plastic over them did much for ripening.  I'll put them in a warm room and hope for the best.  If not .... well, I tried.

     Anyway, a batch of tomatoes I picked last week is now ripe, and I have some fresh basil to harvest ...so bruschetta is on the menu for dinner. 

     And speaking or gardens ... (Alert: more shameless promotion as I try to put my sabbatical to good use.) here's another story, this one on green beans.  

Monday, October 20, 2014

Garden report: near the end

  We're winding down for the year, it seems.  We've already had a couple of frost warnings, though it looks like the freeze may hold off for another week or so.

   I've picked off the little peppers and the last of the green beans.  I still have lots of green tomatoes, and need to start pulling those in.

   I am in a quandary about my cantaloupe.  I have three rather green ones, and I doubt they'll ripen in time to escape the freeze.  From what I understand, they won't ripen if I pick them.   As a last resort, I'm leaving them covered, hoping that it will create a mini-greenhouse and speed them on ...

And speaking of gardening, and I bit of shameless promotion, check out this story I wrote.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Small frugalities

   Just a few things we're doing ....

    CD envelopes ... DH wanted a few paper envelopes (rather than plastic boxes) for some data CD's.  Rather than buying, he took one apart and made a template so he can make his own.

    Using it up ...  I'm focusing on baking from the pantry (as well as cooking from it) these days.   I now have time to run the bread machine, or bake lunch-box treats, rather than hit the stores. (Even markdowns can get expensive after awhile.)  My latest creation was red velvet cupcakes (from a mix bought on sale), with leftover orange icing.   They kind of clashed, but were tasty, LOL!

    Off with the lights ...  Having  someone at home all the time does not lower the light bill, so I'm trying to offset that.  I've gotten religious about turning off unused lights, and I've cut back on dryer use.  I've also turned off or reset some of the lamp timers in the house. (I don't have to make the house look occupied ... it is :)

    One room with a timer is where Senior Gal spends her time (away from her obnoxious brother).  I want some light in there, but didn't want a lamp going all the time. So I had a brainstorm:  I bought an inexpensive nightlight, and turn that on for a few hours.  It produces enough light to see by, but should use a lot less electricity.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Sunday supper

   A pot of corn chowder for an overcast fall day ...

   I lightened it up a bit by using half the bacon and substituting a mix of evaporated and fresh low-fat milk in place of  cream.  Also cubed up some leftover ham steak and added it to the mix.

    Served with deli turkey sandwiches on homemade (savory) pumpkin bread ... quite filling!

Friday, October 10, 2014

Insurance decisions

   The enrollment information for health insurance arrived ... and as expected, it's going up again.

    DH and I have always carried our own insurance, since it was less expensive, among other factors.  That will continue for a few more months, until my severance runs out.  

    Once it does, if I haven't found a job with benefits, we'll have to make a decision:  go on DH's plan or continue my insurance through COBRA.   Premium-wise, it makes sense to go on DH's plan -- the cost for both of us would likely equal what I would have to pay alone.

   But the rub is we're both on high-deductible plans, and the maximum out-of-pocket costs for the family plan are double those   for a single. If I'm understanding correctly, should one of us became seriously ill or injured, we'd be on the hook for something in the neighborhood of $10,000.

    I'm going to have to figure out what makes the most financial sense -- pay higher premiums to hold down costs in a "worst-case" situation, or pay lower premiums and gamble that we'll stay well.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

And it begins ...

   Those of us with "senior" fur babies know that somewhere down the road, we'll get a vet's report that doesn't say, "all's well."

    Senior Gal, age 15,  had her checkup and blood work this week ... which showed she's in the early stages of kidney disease.  The vet stresses that it is very early, and that a change in diet and some supplements could help to hold off the progression of the disease.

    I'm hopeful, but also a bit distressed. It hasn't been all that long ago that we went through this with Elder, and the memories are still a bit too fresh.  

   Budget-wise, that's an ouch, since her new food is nearly triple the cost of the old food, and we have more blood tests in the future.  But we'll adjust. 


Wednesday, October 1, 2014

In the cards

  I'm going to a job seminar/networking event later this week. And today, I realized that, D'oh, I should have a few business cards.  

I thought about using a template to do my own, then realized that no ... I couldn't produce anything that looked professional ... let alone cut it straight.

      So I tried the Web site of my favorite big-box office supply store. Found a design I liked and set it up.  Then found it would take five to seven days to deliver.  Nope.

      But all was not lost. Big box advertises same-day printing. Figured it would cost me more, but I did have a rebate coupon. So I made a print of the designed card, noted the typefaces and point sizes and headed out.

      The print shop guy was happy to help, but there was a problem:  He couldn't use my design.  Seems the online designs can't be accessed by the in-store print shop.  (Really?  Talk about a missed opportunity for sales!)   But print shop guy had another idea.  He found a similar design and is working it up for my card.   And best of all, he's charging me the Web site price!  

     So now I won't be embarrassed if someone asks for my card.   And since the cards won't cost an arm and a leg, I used the rebate coupon to buy printer ink ... which does cost an arm and a leg.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Declutter for fun and profit

One of my ongoing projects is to clear some of the landfill out of the casa de chaos.  Admittedly, it's going, er, slowly.

I had a box of books  ... romances and mysteries from the 1940s that belonged to my late mother.  I've read them, and had no reason to keep them.

Took them off to the national chain second-hand bookstore, which offered me about 50 cents a book.  That seemed just a bit low, so I declined.  

I hadn't had much luck selling books on eBay in the past, but decided to try it again. This time, there seemed to be a demand for the mysteries. So I grouped the books by author and listed them.

The mysteries sold!  I think after the fees are paid that I might clear a little under $2 per book.   So, someone gets reading material, I get a bit of $, and a bit more space in the house.  Definitely a win-win.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Off to the orchard!

  Fall brings one of my favorite activities .... a trip to the apple orchard.

   My family's been going to this particular orchard for, gosh, more than 25 years.   When I was younger, it was a family affair:  my mom and I and my aunts would all head out to pick (and I do mean pick) apples.

Now, it's just DH and myself, and we just visit the stand to get pre-picked apples :)

It's certainly was a good year for pumpkins; they had quite a spread, including some that looked to be also-rans in the biggest pumpkin contest.  We resisted, though.  I can usually find better prices in town.

I was a little disappointed:  No seconds, which I wanted to get for apple butter and applesauce.   And squash prices were much higher than usual, too.  But I did get a half-peck of my favorite, Jonathans, which will make good eating.  And we had a nice drive in the country.


Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Saving Christmas (lights)

  Considering that the decorations are already up in the stores, I can talk about Christmas, right?  ;)

Actually, we had an unusual reclamation project here at the Casa de Chaos:  reviving Christmas lights.

Couple of years ago, we discovered that three of the five outdoor icicle light sets we had were kaput.  We replaced two of them  and made do with some other lights. But what to do with the three dead sets?

We were going to pull the bulbs and pitch the wiring, but DH read about a gadget that is supposed to repair light sets ... I was skeptical, but figured if it didn't work, I could always return it.

Well, dang, it worked pretty well.  It somehow repairs the circuits (and I don't understand how, to be honest), bringing those dead sections back to life.
     We did have to replace some bulbs, (well, OK, several bulbs) but now we have three functioning sets of lights. 
    I figure that given the cost of  replacements, we've made back the cost of the gadget, and then some.  

Monday, September 15, 2014

Repurposing: Towels

 Had a bath towel that was getting rather "holey" and was sitting in the "I'll do something with this later" bin.  
    Well, it's later ;)  So, a bit of cutting and pinning, and a zig-zag stitch on the hems.  (Actually, the towel in the photo is a work in progress -- you might be able to see the pins holding the top hem.)

Got two hand-sized towels and four nice-size pieces to use for dishrags. 

One of the "new" towels is still a bit worn, so it will be used to clean up messes (or dry off cats).  The other is in good enough shape to use in the bathroom or kitchen.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Rack 'em up

   No, I didn't buy a pool table ....  ;)

   Since I'm home for now, I'm doing some of the "frugal-ing" that I haven't had time for.
     One big thing:  Dry as many laundry loads outside as possible.

     Couple of problems, though.  The HOA here doesn't allow permanent clotheslines.  And I only have two drying racks at the moment, which doesn't allow as much room as I would like.

    So, I thought on this a bit ... then dug up a couple of long bamboo poles and the bottom half of a cafe curtain rod.   Placed them between the two racks and secured them with long twist ties.

     Bingo!  With a bit of planning, I had enough space to dry two loads of laundry.

     Now, if the weather will just hold ....

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Breakfast sandwiches

  Trying to get back into a normal routine here ...

These cute little patties are scrambled eggs, cooked in the microwave. (I put a little spritz of cooking spray in each hole.)

 We happen to have a muffin pan made for the microwave, but they could be baked in a regular muffin tin.

The egg patties, paired with some on-sale canned biscuits, and a few slices of deli ham and cheese (already on hand), gave us enough sandwiches  for two meals, for less than the price of one fast-food meal for two. 

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Decision made: A new chapter

     A big change coming to the casa de chaos ...

     In a decision that turned out to be more emotionally difficult that I thought it would be, I have decided to accept my company's buyout offer, and will be leaving my job.

     A good severance package (which wouldn't be available if I waited for the next round of staff cuts) helped seal the deal.  A bit early, but it still fits into my career plans.

     So, time to batten down the frugal hatches a bit more tightly.  I appreciate the good thoughts as I head into my next adventure.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Decisions to make

Sorry I've been AWOL.

Massive  upheaval at my place of employment, with more to come.  (For starters, the department I work in is being eliminated.) 
In the next day or so, I must decide if I want to apply for a new job within the company or ask for a buyout.
Lots of ifs and no guarantees ..  I could use some good thoughts right now  ...

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Today's tips

   If you are in need of a stick to stir paint, a bamboo skewer (the large ones used for kabobs) works very nicely.

    And if your paint can is a bit rusty around the edges, a layer of plastic wrap placed on top of the  paint will keep out most of the rust particles.

  Actually, it's a good idea to do that when you finish  the original job, should you want to save some paint for touch-ups.  (I'm a slow learner ... ;)

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Sometimes it's good to have older things

  The locks on one of the cars stopped working ... or so we thought.   Turned out the key, which had been in use for more than a decade now, had worn out.

    Fortunately, it is a basic key ... so a trip to the dealer and less than $10 later, we were back in business.  Much better than the 3-figure price tag for newer car keys that contain electronic gizmos.

   (True story:  A friend's hubby was mugged.  The mugger demanded the car keys.  Now friend's hubby drove a beater  that was old enough to vote.  He handed over the basic key ... the mugger took one look, uttered a curse and threw it back at him.)


Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Small frugalities

    A few tiny frugal things around the Casa de Chaos:

     DH was fed at  work the other day, and brought home a box of  bread sticks.  Made a nice snack, and a nice batch of homemade croutons for salad and soup.

    Was thinking I was needed to buy another bottle of hand lotion, when I realized that I had a nice collection of lotion samples on hand.  And I found a few more when I was digging through the bathroom vanity.   I have more than enough to take me into late fall, when I buy a bottle of the "good stuff"  to battle winter dryness.  (Anybody else get really dry skin come winter?)

   We took a short car trip over the weekend. (More on that later).  Car trips for me are a good time to do my mending.  Returned another half-dozen of DH's socks to the rotation. And sent a couple to the rag bin -- some things just can't be mended.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014


          I did a double-take when I saw the grocery ads last week.   One of the supermarkets had sugar on sale:  4 pounds for 99 cents!    This was two weeks after another brand was on sale for $1.25.

      I wondered what was up, and did a bit of research.  Seems Domino, one of the biggest sugar refiners in the U.S., cut prices by 5% earlier this month, due to a large supply of raw sugar on the market.

    Well, the timing is certainly good, especially for those folks who make jellies and preserves.  And let's face it, the holiday baking season is fast approaching ...

   I bought 3 bags, to go with the 2 I got in the previous sale.  So I should be in good shape for a while.    

    How about you?  Are sugar prices any lower in your area?


Monday, July 28, 2014

Inglorious vegetables!

 Here's a neat little video about a French supermarket's campaign against food waste.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

How's that again?

   Got the homeowners' insurance bill, which carried a notice:  instead of a flat rate, the deductible would now be a half-percent of the "dwelling" coverage.   If I wanted to go back to the flat rate, it would be an extra $15.
    A bit worried, I take a look at the deductible ... it's a whole $4 higher.

    I think I'll keep the $15, thanks ...

    However, the real price hike hasn't escaped me ... every time the cost of replacing my house (God forbid) goes up, my deductible will go up, too ...  which means more out of pocket should a hailstorm take out the siding and roof ... again.

Monday, July 21, 2014

This and that

  Sorry, have been AWOL the past week ... here's what's going on.

  • Those rolls of fabric in the photo are the strips I've been putting together for my locker hooking project ... a rug.    When I have a bit of time, I've been sewing the strips, as well as cutting more as I find material.   It's been a good way to use up scraps of both fabric and thread. 
  • Still harvesting lots of beans, and the tomatoes are coming in.  Not sure what kind of tomato harvest I'll have this year ... couple of the plants are slow in setting fruit, which may be due to the unseasonably cool weather we've had.  
  • Also been thinking about next year's garden ... have decided that because of this year's critter attack on my marigolds,  I'm going to save time and money and plant mums in that spot. Critters apparently don't find mums to be tasty ;)   And if the bell/sweet peppers don't produce well this year ... and things aren't looking good ... I'll take the hint and try something else.
  • And finally, job insecurity worries are ratcheting up again. Several corporate moves are signaling that another round of layoffs may be on the way.     I've been taking another look at the financial picture and researching insurance options.  Unfortunately, it's time to schedule   annual physicals, etc. (couldn't get them done earlier because of insurance rules.)  I'm  hesitant to schedule anything until I know it will be covered.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Sometimes you have to work at saving money

  Coupons and I haven't been getting on well, lately.   Actually, I think they're hiding from me :

   I had a prescription to fill (a pricey one, unfortunately).  I also  have a high-deductible health-insurance plan through my employer. So I have to eat the cost (minus the insurance discount, which isn't much).

    The drug maker offers a coupon worth $60 for a new prescription.  But the link on the company website wasn't working properly.

  I gave up  ... tried again an hour later ... still no luck.  So I called the company's help line.   The CS rep put me on hold to talk to another department. Came back to tell me that they were still working on it, and put me on hold again.

  He returned with a suggestion:  Do a right click and hit 'save target as.'   Er, I don't get that with my right click. He repeated the instructions twice more (which began to annoy me).   And then it hit me:

     Are you on Internet Explorer?  I ask.
     Yes ma'am.
     There's the problem:  I'm not.  

    I've stopped using IE due to the security issues, but I decided to take a chance this time.   Bingo!  Got my coupon, and nicely suggested to the young man that the next time, he ask about browsers ...

     Anyway, took me about a half hour to get this straightened out.  But considering I saved $60 on the deal, that's a pretty good payback.   (And the supermarket pharmacy was offering $20 in free groceries for a new prescription, so the payback was even better.)




Thursday, July 10, 2014

Garden report: Beans!

 The harvest is starting here at the casa ....  

Did the first pick of green beans ... nice representation of all four varieties that I planted. 

Got my first cherry tomato with more to come ... my Romas are starting to ripen .. a bit earlier than usual, but that's fine with me.

Note that I have no idea just where I'm going to put these veggies ... I still have a gallon of mulberries that are waiting to go into the freezer!

Also did a bit of frugal fencing for my cantaloupe plants, which I bought to replace the eggplant and cabbage that some critter tore out.
     Took some previously-used edging and fenced off a portion of the garden ... sort of a fence within a fence.  We then found some unused chicken wire fencing, and created a "tent" of sorts, tucking the wire inside the edging.  A few twist ties hold the wire together.  The package isn't terribly noticeable from the street.  So hopefully, the cantaloupe has plenty of room to stretch out. 
 Best of all, it used materials on hand, so no $$ out!

Oh, and my bumper crop of basil made a very nice batch of pesto ... served over pasta!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Refurbishing ....

  Been doing a bit of sewing here at the casa de chaos ... mostly aimed at mending, and finding a new life for some clothing.

   So far:

   I've patched the blown-out knees on a couple of pairs of DH's jeans ... they'll get another life as yard work and around the house pants. ( I use another couple of raggy jeans for "parts."

   Cut off  a pair of my jeans. This pair had  a blown-out knee that's too far gone to patch.  They're either short capris or longish shorts .. not sure which, LOL

    Took in a too-big pair of sleep pants.  They're still a bit too big .. maybe next time I'll try putting some elastic in.

     I took apart my locker hooking project.  It looked too sloppy for my taste .. especially where the strips of cloth had been put together. 
      I'm trying a new tactic ... sewing strips of the same color together.  It's taking extra time, but I think it will look at lot more finished, and the "bands" of color might be a bit more interesting. 
   If nothing else, the first project was a good learning experience ..  and it all can be reused.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Happy Independence Day!

   Wishing everyone here in the U.S. a safe, fun and frugal July 4th!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014


   Back in April, I posted a link to a story on growing food from scraps.   I recently finished up some celery, and thought I'd pop the  root into some water and see what happens.

   I got this ... isn't is cute?    Actually, I took this a few days ago, so it's bigger, with  tiny stalks coming up.

 (BTW, it's in that dish so I could take a decent photo ... it usually sits in a deeper container.)

Figure it's about ready to plant. I'm curious as to whether I get a full-size bunch, or some mini-celery.  Stay tuned!

Saturday, June 28, 2014

I'm 'jammin'

  Finally!  After several failed attempts to make mulberry jelly or jam, I finally found a recipe that works -- freezer jam!

   Followed the directions from the box of pectin.  Easy-peasy (well, except for stemming and crushing 6 cups of mulberries). 

    Nice to have something with the actual consistency of jam.   

    I put a tablespoon of raspberry flavoring in with the fruit ... it's OK, but next time I'll just stick to pure fruit.

    Now I have to find a place in the freezer for 3 jars of jam ...

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Ack .... there went the eggplant!

    I have had problems off and on this growing season with rabbits (and possibly squirrels) getting into my porch and front garden plants.

    I looked at the front garden today and realized something had eaten my last eggplant and cabbage plant!   Not only did it eat the leaves, it dug up the rest of the plants. And this is after I doused it with ground cayenne pepper. (Great, a rabbit that likes spicy food!)

    In the meantime, it bit off part of a potted geranium and dug up and ate three marigolds.   (I'll say this, the critter is eating a balanced diet .... though I thought rabbits didn't like marigolds.)

    I pulled out a large plant stand and put the geraniums (hopefully) out of reach.

    I'm  not sure why my garden is so tasty ... there's a large mulberry tree and some honeysuckle in the back yard to munch on.   I'm especially puzzled about the eggplant. I grew a huge plant there last year without any problems.

     I'll find something else to plant ... and figure out a means to fence it off, somehow.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Sunday dinner

   Took the whole chicken we bought on sale and popped it into the Nesco roaster.   Rubbed it down with a package of marinade mix  (Baja Citrus, I believe).
   Took the whole contraption out to the front porch (where there's an electrical outlet) and let it cook for 2 hours.
     The result: A very juicy roast chicken (and a great smelling front porch.)  Served with the leftover pasta and cabbage-carrot dish from a previous meal.  Topped it off with mulberry pie.

   Naptime ...

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

How's that again?

         While buying cat litter  ....

         There were two signs above the pallet holding the bags.  One read: 2 for $10. Save 98 cents.
  This was right next to the sign that said:  $4.99.

 (What kind of math is this? I pay $10 instead of $9.98 and somehow save 98 cents?)

        Pointed this out to a clerk, who saw the same problem.  She walked us to the checkout counter and told the cashier to ring the bags up at $4.99.

         "But they ring up at $5," the cashier said after waving the scanner at them.

         "No, the sign says they're $4.99."

          "Just two of them, or all of them?"

          "All  of them."

          I'm still scratching my head at this one ...

Monday, June 16, 2014

A garden oops

      We had a cold spell just after I planted my pots of oregano and basil, and after a couple of weeks I realized that the basil had never come up.  So, since I had another packet of seeds, I replanted.

     (You get an idea of where I'm going with this, don't you?)

      Yep,  when the "oregano" grew large enough so I could recognize it, I realized that somehow, the pots had been switched. (Had already lost the markers during a storm).  The basil had come up.    So had the basil I'd planted in the other pot.

     So it appears I'll have a bumper crop of basil this year.  Ah, well, it dries nicely. 

Saturday, June 14, 2014

What $10 will buy

 One of the supermarkets here has a monthly rewards program: spend a predetermined amount in a category and get $ off your next order.  Last month I spent the required amount in pet food (a slam dunk) and garden (another slam dunk), giving me $10 off my next order. 

      So, what to buy?   I decided to see how far $10 could go in stocking my freezer.  One item, I decided, would be a splurge: ground beef.  (My late mother would be horrified to hear that I consider this a splurge item now. Not that I'm thrilled, either.)

    So I check ground beef prices.  $2.99 a pound, but the packages were large, well past my $10 self-imposed limit.  Regular ground chuck was nearly $5 a pound.   Gulp.   I finally settled on a pound of ground round from the butcher's counter at $3.19 a pound on sale. (actual cost, $3.29)

    What next?  Ground turkey was a possibility, but we were stocked with markdowns from another store. DH had suggested ground sausage, but I wasn't thrilled about $3.50 a pound.  Pork shoulder at $1.89 a pound looked promising, but the packages were large, and would have put me over my limit.  
I peeked at the deli counter.  When did lunch meat get to nearly $6 a pound? Thanks, I'll get it at Aldi. 

I finally settled on skinless, boneless chicken thighs, at $1.99 a pound on sale.   A just under 3.5 pound package cost $6.81.   
My total: $10.10.   Not bad -- that will make quite a few meals. 

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Stretching: food edition

How we've been trying to stretch those food dollars here at the casa de chaos this past week ... cause my grocery bills certainly aren't going down....

  1. Not our food, but ...  had to switch foods for Senior Gal because it was upsetting her tummy.  Unfortunately, that left half a bag of kibble.  Since I put the food in smaller containers, I now dump a scoop or two in her younger siblings food mix.  They're OK with it.  Did the same thing with a cat food sample that came in the mail.
  2. Stretching produce:   The garden right now is coming in handy ... I'm able to stretch out our salads with a nice array of microgreens. Hoping the tomatoes come in soon.
  3. More produce:   Trying to use up some fresh carrots, so I'm cooking them with the frozen peas for side dishes.  The fresh cabbage has been going into soups and stir fries.
  4. Bread:  Any stale slices go into the fridge to be made into salad croutons. We same the crumbs too, in a bag in the freezer. (Homemade bread is very crumbly, I find.)  When we get a small bag full, it goes into meatballs, or as breading.
  5. Using what's in season.  Here, that's now mulberries.  I juice them for salad dressing, and will be making a batch of freezer jam. (that's an experiment, so stay tuned). There also will be cobbler and plenty of muffins and or quick bread. (And forgot to mention a batch of mulberry applesauce -- using up berries and apples!)

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

A big, big turkey

    Promised I'd mention this ...

    Came across a great deal while shopping:  whole frozen turkeys at 49 cents a pound.   Luckily, there was room in the freezer at home ;)

    Things were pretty busy at checkout:  We were in a hurry, the clerk was slammed ... something didn't seem quite right when she gave me the total.

    I was right.  When I got  home and looked at the receipt, I realized I'd been charged the original price ... but at the rate of 49 cents per pound for a 40+ pound turkey!   (I know that wouldn't fit in my freezer, let alone my oven, LOL!)

   So I went back to the store with my receipt, and a photo of the price tag on the turkey.   We all had a good laugh, and they refunded the difference.

 I'm still trying to imagine what a turkey that big would look like ???

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Garden report ... almost done

   We have a garden extension!!!

   When last we chatted, I mentioned that we needed 1,100 pounds of dirt.  I was wrong.  We needed 3,300 pounds.   And it all fit, too.

    Anyway, that  settled it.  We had to get a bulk delivery. With a bit of shopping, we found a smaller landscaping company that charged about $10 less per cubic yard that the other companies. That helped offset the delivery costs.

    We used the free compost our city offers to mix into the soil, and a rewards card to buy wood mulch for the top.

    Unfortunately, we had a casualty .. me.   Messed up my back and shoulders moving that dirt around, so the planting is going very slowly. But we're getting there... 

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

How much is that coffee?

This particular online offering made me laugh ....  I know coffee prices are supposed to rise, but financing? LOL!  Or maybe you can buy it a cup at a time?

(I've erased the names to protect the innocent.)

Monday, May 26, 2014

Happy Memorial Day

  In honor of all those who made the ultimate sacrifice ....

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Saving money this past week.

  Sometimes I feel like a broken record when I talk on the forums about saving money.   Taking lunches to work ... washing out plastic bags (maybe I shouldn't admit that ;) ...  trying to avoid eating out (easier said than done) ... blah, blah, blah.

At least this week, I have a few different things to report:

  • Discovered that I'd been way overcharged for something, so I made a return trip to the store to get an adjustment (more on that in another post).  Savings, about $14.
  • Got the bank to refund a charge.  Savings, $5.
  • Used a gift card (earned in surveys) at the gas station, essentially getting $20 worth of gas for $10.   Savings, $10.
  • Used a rebate voucher from the home-improvement store to help pay for 2 new rosebushes and some paving stones.  Savings, about $9. 
So all in all, not a bad week for savings ... it paid for my grocery shop yesterday, with a bit left over.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Recalls updated: ground beef

 And another recall:
Nearly 2 million pounds of ground beef were recalled by Wolverine Packing Co. in Detroit on Monday after 11 people in four states fell sick.

Go here and click on the link for a list of stores that sold the ground beef.  

Previously:  Kraft is recalling 1.2 million cases of cottage cheese that could spoil prematurely and cause illness.   Brands include Breakstone and Knudsen.

For more info, see the story here.

Monday, May 12, 2014


  It's kind of busy around the casa de chaos these days ... thought I'd show you a bit of what we're doing. 
 Here are some of the veggie plants waiting to go into the garden.  (This was before watering ... we didn't get enough rain last night to give everything a good drink.)

Monday, May 5, 2014

Stamp out hunger food drive

 For those of us in the U.S., Saturday is the annual Letter Carriers Stamp out Hunger Food drive.    Sometime during the week, your mail carrier will leave a plastic bag for you to fill with non-perishable foods and put out at your mailbox on Saturday.

   Please give if you can.   The economic number may look better, but the stories I hear say that there's still a great deal of need out there.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Apparently they don't make magnets the way they used to ...

  I mentioned a while back that I glued  a magnet to a chip clip to make a grocery-list holder for the fridge.

   Had another small clip that I wanted to use to hold another list.  Didn't have a long magnet, but I did have 3 small magnets I'd pulled off a shower curtain liner.

   Taped one on and tried it.   Clip slipped right down the fridge.

    Taped a second one.   Same result.

     Taped a third one.   Still sliding.

   Since I've run out of magnets ... and places to tape them ... think we can call this one a frugal fail.  Need to hunt up a stronger magnet...

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Dollar store shopping

         Maybe it's a sign of rising prices, but I'm finding that I'm buying more foodstuffs  from the dollar store these days.  

         Last weekend's list:

  •    2 boxes Kashi Go Lean Vanilla Clusters.  I seldom buy this brand at the grocery because of the price, but $1 for a full-size box is a very good deal
  • 2 cans Progresso minestrone soup.   A pantry staple on the days when there's no time to cook.   I used to be able to buy a can for less than $1 with sale/coupon, but the coupons are far and few between.  Lately, sale prices are around $1.25 a can.
  • 1 loaf bread.  I can do better at Aldi, but I'd spend the savings on gas.
  • 1 jar Campbell's salsa. Had no idea Campbell's makes salsa.  Since it's going in a sauce, it's worth a try.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Place mats

  I've been on a mission to make new place mats, to replace the ones that are getting a bit worse for wear.  (Besides, it's nice to have something new, right?)

  I re-purposed some throw-pillow cases to make these, and a set of napkins. ...

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

How much dirt?

   We're taking baby steps toward this year's gardening ...  but the biggest news is that we're extending the size of our front garden.  

   Actually, there's a ulterior motive for this ... we need to correct a drainage problem

   I'll need to transplant flowers (cross fingers), but this should give me room for a few more  veggie plants.  Or perhaps some edible landscaping ... 

   There's only one problem:  Dirt.   About a half cubic yard.  About 1,100 pounds.  

   Buying in bulk is the logical (and lowest-price) choice.  But we don't have a truck.  (and filling the back of the trunk is not an option ;)  So unless we can borrow a truck, we may have to use the 40lb bag.

  More research to do, it seems.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Happy Easter!

     For those of you who celebrate, have a wonderful and frugal day!  

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Congratulations, it's a sink!

    After a rather long, drawn-out process, I'm pleased to announce that my kitchen has a new sink/faucet/garbage disposer.

    When last we chatted about this, I mentioned that we were lousy DIY faucet installers.  When we started pricing labor to put in a faucet, we found that the cost wasn't much different to putting in a whole sink.

   So, back to shopping.  This time, luck was with us.  One store had the perfect sink, the other had a garbage disposal and drain kit... all on sale.

   We found a handyman with reasonable rates. Thought we were ready to go, then couldn't get scheduled with the guy.   At that point, a family friend said, 'Hey, I do home repairs on the side ... here's my price.'


  The sink, it turns out, was a bear to put in ... took longer than anybody expected.  But it's in .. and it's lovely!

   Now, on to the next project.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Are discounts returning?

  Apparently, according to a new story in The Wall Street Journal.

   Seems as prices have gone up, and incomes have gone down or remained stagnant, folks have been "downshifting," buying fewer brand names, or fewer items of anything.   Apparently this is showing up in the manufacturers' bottom lines and making them nervous.

Procter & Gamble Co., Georgia Pacific Corp., Henkel AG and other companies have responded with a blitz of deals and coupons in conjunction with retailers. Indeed, over a third of packaged food and household products are now sold with discounts, as retailers and manufacturers struggle to get people to open their wallets. In some categories, such as soda, toilet paper and potato chips, more than 50% of consumers' purchases include discounts, said Gary Stibel, chief executive of the New England Consulting Group, a marketing consulting firm.

So,does this mean there are deals to be had?  Maybe.

Personally, I've seen deals, but haven't been impressed.  Forcing me to buy eight items in order to get a discount doesn't sit well. Nor does telling me I have to buy $35 worth of X company's products.
 I am, however, pleased to see coupons and more sales on my furries' brand of cat food. (Though I've been stretching it with other brands.)
 So, like everything else, it pays to shop around .... and decide for yourself if it's truly a deal.

The full story:

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Growing food from scraps

   Maybe because I'm mightily wishing that the weather would get warmer and stay warmer, but I thought this was a neat article about vegetables that you can grow from scraps. 
  I've planted sprouted onions and garlic, but haven't tried some of the others.

If you're interested, here's the article:


Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Sometimes, you gotta let go

          I struck a blow for decluttering the other day:  I cleaned out my panty hose drawer.

          A bit of background:  I am not the frilly type.  I don't wear dresses and skirts often.  (Fortunately,  my choice of profession doesn't require formal business attire.)  So while I do have panty hose, I seldom wear them.

         But having several pairs of panty hose  doesn't mean I actually have wearable hose.  That hit home the other day when I grabbed a pair and realized that it was in poor shape:  the elastic was stretched out, and there were some noticeable snags..   Ditto for the next three pairs ...

       Enough ... I grabbed the contents of the drawer and deposited it in the trash can.  (Actually, I relented a bit ... panty hose make nice stuffing for comforters and draft dodgers.)  

    My new goal:  Invest in a couple of pairs of decent hose, and replace when necessary.


Friday, March 28, 2014

1 million jars of peanut butter dumped

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Nearly a million jars of peanut butter were dumped at a New Mexico landfill this week to expedite the sale of a bankrupt peanut-processing plant that was at the heart of a 2012 salmonella outbreak and nationwide recall.
Bankruptcy trustee Clarke Coll said he had no other choice after Costco Wholesale refused to take shipment of the Sunland Inc. product and declined requests to let it be donated to food banks or repackaged or sold to brokers who provide food to institutions like prisons.

The full story here:


Monday, March 24, 2014

Food recall

If you've purchased any of these things ....

A Minnesota company that makes peanut butter, cheese spreads and dips, bagel spreads and salsas has recalled all its products for possible Listeria contamination. Parkers Farm Inc. is asking consumers not to consume any of its products with a code date.
The products are distributed nationwide under the Parkers Farm, Parkers, Happy Farms, Central Markets, Hy-Top, Amish Classic, Say Cheez, Win Schuler, and Bucky Badger labels. These products were sold at several retail stores, including but not limited to, Hy-Vee, Cub, Rainbow, Byerly’s, Lunds, Target, Whole Foods, Price Chopper, Nash Finch, Costco, ALDI, Walmart and Brookshire stores.

For a list of products, see this link.


Monday, March 17, 2014

Happy St. Pat's Day

  We're all Irish today!   So go have a green beverage (adult or otherwise!)

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

It's alive!

      Been wondering how my plants had fared with this year's harsh winter.   In particular, I was a bit worried about my rose bush, even though I'd cut it down and piled mulch and leaves around it.

     Today, I took advantage of the 5 minutes of warm weather  we had to clean out the flower beds, and checked on the bush.

     It made it!  The bottom of the canes are green, and it's bringing new shoots.  (I know, I know ... I'm easily impressed.)  I put the mulch back, however, since we're supposed to get more snow.

    Now I have to wait to see if the hostas will come up  ....