Sunday, August 30, 2015

Stovetop pizza

A friend of mine posted this on Facebook ...  looks interesting.   (Oh, and be sure to read the comments, there's some information on what heat settings to use.)

Friday, August 28, 2015

Bread recall

    If you live in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia or West Virginia, and you bought bread recently, you may want to check out this story.  Several brands of bread baked by Bimbo bakeries are being recalled because glass was found in one of the loaves.

Here's the story, with a list of the brands affected:

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Impromptu trellis

  A broken lawnmower handle turned out to be just the right size for propping up my climbing rose bush. 
 A bit of plastic clothesline strung through the handle's holes provides the anchor ...

Friday, August 7, 2015

Latest project

  The latest sewing project here at the Casa de Chaos has been a new pair of PJ shorts for me. 
 I'd already dug through the fabric stash to find something appropriate, but didn't have a good pattern.  And yowza!  The costs of patterns now!

   In desperation, I dug through my late DM's stash of patterns. (now there's a blast from the past!).  Came across a set of men's PJ's, circa 1970!   Well, close enough.

   Had to get a bit creative, since I wanted a drawstring waist.  Sewed down the fly about halfway and added an inside snap. I think the result came out fairly well.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

The $3 store?

  Just had an odd experience ....
  Stopped by the dollar store this evening to get a couple of items.  As I passed the cereal aisle, saw a box of Special K with Red Berries cereal.  I occasionally see other name-brand cereals there, and usually pick up a box, given the usual price of this stuff.
    At the checkout, it rang up at $3.
    I asked the clerk if he was sure that was correct, and he very politely assured me that it was. (The other clerk on duty was surprised by the price, as were other customers standing in line.)
     Perhaps I missed it, but I don't recall seeing a $3 sign near this cereal. 
    I told the clerk thanks, but no thanks, so he took off the charge and I went on my way. 
    Yikes!  I've seen things marked less than $1, but never above $1.  I've sent a message off to the corporate headquarters ... will report back when I get an answer.

Friday, July 24, 2015

What's going on

   Had another of those blogging lapses ... but really, I've been doing stuff!  It's also hard to believe that the summer is slipping by.  Just realized that in another month or so, we'll have apples and squash.

   Here's what's going on at the casa de chaos:

   We're jammin:  Made a batch of mulberry jam, and for the first time, tried my hand at making peach preserves. (It helps to find peaches on sale, LOL!).   The preserves taste great, but I think I should have cooked them a bit longer.  They're still a little runny.  

In the garden:   We've had so much rain, that I feared everything would drown.  But this stretch of hot, dry weather got the tomatoes and green beans going.  Been picking lots of beans, and am about to freeze my first batch of tomatoes.  Hopefully, soon I can report the arrival of zucchini and eggplant.

The never-ending painting job:   It started with the woodwork in the kitchen. Now I notice that the woodwork in other rooms need a coat of paint, too.  So I've done the front windowsill, next is the trim around the patio door. Then the basement door, then the master bath ....

 The big job:   Replacing our rotting
 mailbox post. (Seen at left in its dismantled state.) We opted to buy the new post only. DH picked it up and did the installation, while I contributed the 2 coats of paint. (What's that about never-ending painting?)

On the sewing front:  Turned a pair of pants with worn-out hems into a pair of capris.  Did some mending.  Cut out a pair of sleep shorts and more quilt squares.  Do need to finish the duvet for our big comforter before it gets cold again. 

Plus the stuff of daily life, like cooking, cleaning, dental visits, vet visits, shopping, and what have you.  At some point, I need to find at least a part-time job to help cover some increased expenses.  Though lately, I'm not sure I've had time for a job ;)  

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Another project down!

  Finally finished one of my "musts"  -- cleaning out the main bookcases!

  Admittedly, I love books ... but there comes a point where there isn't enough room to keep all of them, especially since I have a large pile of books that  "I plan to read when I retire."  ( Methinks the time may have come for that ;)

   Anyway, cleaned out some books that were at least 25 years old. And while I enjoyed them at the time, I have no interest in reading them again.  And while I was at it, I tried to shelve the remaining ones into "interest" sections. Translation: I finally put all the cookbooks and the reference books together. Now I don't have to hunt when I want to cook ... or look something up. 

    In the end, I donated two large grocery bags worth of books.  I have several more bags that I will try to sell at the second-hand book store.

   Now, I need to kick up my reading a notch, since I have more unread books lurking in another closet.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Free food

  We've recently had some odd adventures in dining that resulted in some free meals ....

   Odd adventure 1:  We stopped for burgers at a national chain restaurant.  Knew from the outset we were going to have problems because the worker couldn't comprehend that the sandwich I wanted was actually on the value menu.  We had to persuade her to walk over to the sign listing the value menu items and say, "See ... there it is"  (right below the item she kept insisting that I wanted.)
     I ordered the burger without cheese ... yep, it arrived with cheese.  Manager apologized, remade my order and told me to keep the other burger.  (Which DH ate later.)

Odd adventure 2:  DH wanted pizza and had a 2-fer deal ... OK.   When he got there, he realized one pizza had the wrong sauce and was missing toppings   He had them remake it.   Before he left, he looked at the second pizza, and realized this one had the wrong toppings, too. (and the wrong sauce, we were to find out later)  A chat with the manager, and he ended up with all three pizzas, for free. 

I've never worked in a fast-food joint, so I can't speak to what kind of system or conditions the workers have to deal with.  But this isn't the first time we've had messed-up orders from restaurants ... gotta wonder just how much money these companies are losing -- not only in food, but in customers who don't return -- due to mistakes.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Happy Fourth of July!

      Wishing all of us in the U.S. a safe, happy ... and frugal  holiday!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Salvage store shopping

   I believe I've mentioned that we discovered a salvage grocery store in my city, and while I don't buy a lot there, it's always worth a look.

   Found out they were having a $5 case sale over the weekend, so drove over to see what they had.
   As sales go, it was pretty good.  I would have preferred more staples, like canned goods, but I'm finding those are far and few between at any salvage store.
    Anyway, this is what I came home with:
  Six 12-ounce boxes of granola bars. (This time of year, DH runs through our supply.)  Six 13.5 ounce boxes of cereal; 6 40-count boxes of tea bags; and 24 8-ounce packages of shelf-stable soy milk. 
   (I was very good and passed on the cases of cookies.  And since I bake my muffins from scratch, I passed by those mixes, too.)

   So, not bad for name-brand goods, and with one exception, all of them have "best-by" dates into next year. 
     One odd thing: Someone took my cart.   I parked it to look at something and when I turned around, it was gone.  Fortunately, I didn't lose anything I couldn't replace. 
     And because I am inherently nosy ... I wonder about the folks whose SUV was filled with cases of pancake mix.  Restaurant?  Big family?  Lodge/church pancake breakfast?

Monday, June 29, 2015

A quilting question

  Last time we chatted, I mentioned my late aunt's quilt block project.  And that she did all of her projects by hand.
   Now my aunt had a beautiful hand stitch ... straight, perfectly spaced. She could give Amish quilters a run for their money. Sadly, I did not inherit that talent.  I can't hand-sew a straight stitch worth a $%!!

   So I thought I would try to do a bit of machine quilting ...  a 3-inch square ... two rows of stitching to create two smaller squares within.  Easy, right?

    Er, no.  I can't machine sew a straight line worth a *&!*!! either.   Odd, because I can sew a reasonably straight line to make things.   
     So for those of you who quilt ... am I missing something?  Is there some quilting gadget I should use?  A special foot for the sewing machine? Or should I make a stencil of some kind?

Friday, June 26, 2015

A quilting we go ...

   When my aunt passed, I ended up with one of her unfinished quilt block projects.  I've worked on it on and off over the years, and recently picked it back up again.
    I was coming to the end of the pieces that I had and was wondering what I should do next, when it hit me ... there were more cut pieces put away somewhere.
    So I dug through a box, and boy howdy, did I find quilt pieces.  Problem was, many of them -- some finished, some not -- were for another project ... one I didn't particularly want to finish.
    As I thought about it, I realized that the unfinished ones (which are hexagons) could be cut into the proper size squares.  And the material is similar to what's in the first project.
      At this point I should  explain that my aunt sewed her blocks ... with batting ... separately, quilted them, then sewed them together ... all by hand
      So I had all these nicely stuffed and quilted hexagons left ... what to do?
     I finally decided to cut the hexagons  into smaller squares and use them for another project.  After cutting, the batting could be used as "stuffing" for the squares in the first project.
     I'm experimenting with some nine patch for the smaller squares, but haven't decided just how I'm going to use them.  But at least they'll be out of the box, right? 

Sunday, June 21, 2015

In the news ...

  Just a couple of things of note:

  Egg prices have finally spiked in my area.  The price for a dozen large eggs seems to be around $2.49 ... even at Aldi.  Very glad I stocked up at 99 cents ...

A story in The Wall Street journal notes that snack bars featuring meat are the newest thing, while sales of traditional bars, such as granola, are dropping.   The fun part ... at a  cost of $2 to $3 per bar,  per pound they can cost more than steak.
    (On a side note ... seems like life is mirroring science fiction even more ... now we're getting our nutrition from little processed bars. )

  Here's the story if you're interested.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Barking up another tree

I needed a narrow piece of webbing for a repair project, but for some reason, the nearby fabric stores (or stores with craft sections) didn't have anything that would work.

  So I resigned myself to buying online, until I came across this at the dollar store:

Yep ... that's right.  A dog leash.

But hey, it's the perfect size, and if I turn out the black side (sorry, not easy to see in this view), it will be a great match.

And best of all ... it was $1! And I have leftovers that I can use for something else.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Back and forth ... and back again

  Apologies for the lapse in blogging for the past month or so.  As I've mentioned to my friends over on Frugal Living, I've been at a temp job ( or a project/contract job if you will) which is expected to wrap up shortly. 

  It's been interesting going back to work after a 7-month layoff.   Nice to know I'm still employable, even it it is short-term. On the other hand, I'm reminded that there is a cost to working.  More gas, more laundry, more lunchbox chips, granola bars, etc  ... the occasional soda. (At least I don't have to pay for parking ... )

But we've adapted ... especially on the food front. DH took over a lot of the cooking, so we've managed to avoid the convenience food/let's eat out traps. 

  My biggest challenge has been lunch.  The office  does not have enough microwaves to service all the folks who want to warm up their lunches.  And we only have a half hour, so ...

   At first, I bought deli meat, and burned out on that pretty quickly.   But slowly, I started to realize that a pork roast produces dandy sandwiches, as does baked chicken.  And baked chicken can be turned into chicken salad.  A hard boiled egg can be the basis of a chef's salad.  Tuna salad and crackers is good, as is homemade hummus. 
   As for treats ... first couple of weeks I bought cookies, but I've gotten back into the routine of baking.  

    So, about the time I have this figured out ... it will be time to move on.   (And what's next?  No idea.  I'd like to try working part time to see if I can get a better work/life balance, but we shall see what turns up.)


Saturday, May 23, 2015

A day to remember

      On this weekend, we remember those who were called to make the ultimate sacrifice  ... 

      A safe and happy Memorial Day weekend to all ...

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Painting pots

    Just refreshing some of the flower pots for the upcoming gardening season ...

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Bend me, shape me ....

  Shortly after I got my new glasses, I realized that my sunglasses (which look something like these, with the side clips) no longer fit properly.

   Thought perhaps it was because the lens shape was slightly different, so I decided to check out some other pairs. Well, heck, they didn't fit any better.  And they seemed to be poorly made.

       So I took another look, and realized that because of their shape, the edges of of the lenses in this pair of glasses are thicker than those of my old glasses.  The sunglasses' clips just didn't have enough clearance. 

       So I grabbed a pair of pliers, and with some careful bending, I pulled the clips out enough so that they fit comfortably over the lenses.  
    Problem solved.


Monday, April 13, 2015

Thirft store find

 I stopped in the thrift store, looking for some material that I could use in a project. 
  Didn't find that, but came across this very-gently used blue tablecloth for the grand price of $1!
  Wasn't sure it would fit my table, but by gosh, it did. I think it looks nice with my denim place mats.
  As for the other material ... I found something usable at home ...

Monday, April 6, 2015

Just hit the button

   Seems Amazon is offering a new form of convenience:  a gadget called a Dash Button.

  If I have this right ...  You order a "button" (which looks a bit like a thumb drive) for your favorite products ... ranging from detergent to dog food.   It hooks up to your WiFi through a phone app.  When you run out of said product, just push the button and Amazon will deliver the goods to your house.

   My first thought was that this was not a good thing if you have small children or large pets in the house.  Though I now see that it will only process the first push --- so you don't end up with a 10-year supply of paper towels.

   Admittedly, it is convenient.  But I can also see how that convenience can lull you into just buying ... without checking prices.

 (And full disclosure:  I do buy some products via Amazon's Subscribe & Save option ... though I do check prices periodically.)


Saturday, April 4, 2015

Happy Easter

A happy and frugal day to all who celebrate!

Friday, March 27, 2015

Just do it ...

  I lost a longtime friend this week.  

  Her passing was sudden and unexpected ... and I think we're all still reeling.

  We had periods over the years where we didn't see each other as much ... life got in the way, it seems.  But I am immensely grateful that we had a couple of chances to catch up just before the holidays.

  So ... if you have a friend or a family member that you keep meaning to call, or visit  ... don't put it off any longer.

 We like to think we have all the time in the world, but in reality, we do not.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Shrinking groceries, part II

As promised, here's the episode of the CBC's 'Marketplace' that talks about shrinking groceries. I liked the 'retro' look at how products have been shrinking.

Friday, March 20, 2015

How groceries shrink

Here's a report from the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. on something we've all commented on -- how and why we're getting less for our money ...

Hope the show this refers to (CBC Marketplace) comes online ... I'd like to see it.  If it does, I'll post the link.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Where's the money going? To restaurants, it seems

  A recent article mentions a first:  In January, Americans spent just a bit more at restaurants and bars than in grocery stores, according to the Census Bureau.
  Why?  A lot of reasons, according to some of the experts quoted:  A younger generation that's more likely to eat out than cook. People working longer hours. Our changing view of restaurants. 

Some musings ...

    Personally, I would have liked to see a breakdown by age and income. Are more baby boomers eating out, too?  (I know a couple of women who 'retired' from cooking after the kids left home.)  
    I also wonder if more money is spent at higher-end restaurants, which could skew the totals. (Especially since I keep seeing stories about how mid-price restaurants are struggling.)

   Anyway, I'm sure it's enough to give grocery executives heartburn ...

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

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Weathy vs. rich?

 Came across this interview and article about a new book by New York Times columnist Paul Sullivan.  (Note:  Haven't read the book, not promoting it.)
  He makes one point that those of us who embrace the frugal lifestyle already know:  The small things count.

Here's the article:

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Time to change the clocks

Just a reminder .. it's time to lose an hour of sleep!

Don't forget to set your clocks ahead an hour before you go to bed.   Daylight Saving Time starts at 2 a.m. Sunday.

Well, look at it this way ... it's a sign of spring, LOL!

Friday, February 27, 2015

Salvage store!

  Made a great discovery ... there's a salvage/bent&dent type store in my city!.
  Yeah, I really should get a hobby.  But this is good news because the nearest salvage store
 is about a two hour drive away.
    So, off we went.

    It's a medium-size store ... apparently it is owned by the folks who also own a local restaurant, which explains the industrial-size prepared foods in the freezers.  They offered a number of gluten-free and organic items, too. I bought some vegan cheese ... which is interesting ...
        As for the rest ... many of the items came from the supermarket chain that has several locations in town. Unfortunately, I saw many of the same items that I'd purchased recently ... on sale ... at the store.

      The best deals ended up being snack-type items.  We bought several bags of chips ... most will go into DH's work lunches, along with a few other snacks, plus a large box of dryer sheets.   (I noticed the same thing in my last round of shopping ... snacks, prepared cereals and the like  were going at rock-bottom prices, while the "real food" prices were pretty close to retail.)

     But, like any salvage store, the bargains change frequently.  So it's definitely worth an occasional visit. 


Monday, February 23, 2015

A bit of stretching

I've noticed that both chicken and pork prices are edging downward here. (As for beef, meh ...)  But that doesn't mean we stop stretching.  
 So a large chicken breast (cut in half and baked ahead of time) becomes the basis for a nice big pot of chicken and rice. 
Made enough for two meals, plus some work lunches.  (And the spice was very warming on a cold, cold day.)

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

More fun with K-cups

     Was digging through the pantry the other night, and came across another K-cup -- this one with tea. 

     So I dumped it into a coffee filter (which I stapled shut) and popped it into a teapot of hot water to steep.

     Turned out quite well.  I had a couple of cuppas ... and had enough left over for a couple of glasses of iced tea with lunch.   Not a bad stretch for a single-use produce.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Using it up

    We'd just about gone through our last can of coffee from the stash, and I'd put it on the grocery list. Then I remembered:  I had another stash of coffee.

    This stash was several packages of K-cups that I'd bought back when I took coffee to work to use in the office machine.   Well, I don't have an office, and DH's office uses another type of coffee pod.  And I'm not planning on buying a machine anytime soon ... 

     So I've been dismantling K-cups for use in our drip coffeemaker.  To be honest, it bothers me to see the "cups" go to waste (though it bothered me at work, too).  But it's silly to buy coffee when I have a supply just sitting around. 

    I'm sure, should I ever need to buy them again, that I can find plenty of reasonably priced K-cups somewhere ... meanwhile, I'm enjoying my morning coffee.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Things that make you go ... hmm

  I know there are all sorts of reasons for this ...

   I just find it interesting that a bunch of celery could cost $1.99 two weeks ago, but a week later go on sale at the same store for $1.   Then the next week, go on sale at a different store for 69 cents.  

   And yes, we'll be eating lots of celery ....

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Sometimes, you have to upgrade a bit

   I like to use the dollar store for many of our personal care and cleaning items.  Most of the time, the quality is good ... or at least good enough ;)  But lately we've had a couple of issues.

    I used to buy the 10-pack of scrubby sponges for hand-washing dishes.  Then it went down to an 8-pack, then to a 6-pack.  Anyway, the other dishwasher in the house noted that the sponges were falling apart (and literally going flat) after one or two rounds of dishes.  Rather aggravating.  So I bought Aldi's sponges ... a 3-pack for $1.29.  After a couple of weeks of use, the scrubby part is showing  wear, but the sponge is still holding up. 

    Also was buying the large cans of shaving cream. Unfortunately, in the most recent cans, the lather was a bit "runny" instead of thick ... made it hard to shave.  I bought a can of a store-brand shave cream. (It was on sale, but is normally $1.29 ... is there a pattern here?)  Much better.   I also discovered that another store sells a name-brand for around $1, so that may be another fallback.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Bathroom hacks

  Thought I'd share some of  the "repurposing" that goes on in our bathrooms here at the Casa de Chaos:

Toothbrush holder.  I got tired of cleaning the mold fest out of the bottom of the traditional holder, so I now use a small plastic container that once held cotton swabs.  Not that it doesn't get nasty, but at least I can see it ,,, and do something about it.

Hand sanitizer:  I bought the industrial size jug of this a while back.  To make life a bit easier, I decant it into some repurposed pump hand soap containers.

Bathroom glass:  When we go out to eat, I tend to order water.  Sometimes, the water comes in a nice plastic or foam glass.  Too nice to throw out at the end of the meal.  So I take it home, give it a wash and use it at the bathroom sink.  When it gets gunky, I can recycle it with a clear conscience.

What do you do at your house?

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Substitutions, please

Decided to make a pot of my minestrone soup for a very cold day.  But I've been putting off a big shop, so some of my most-used items are running low ... or are gone. 

First .. no fresh garlic.  No problem, garlic powder will work.

But then I realized I only had one can of white beans ... needed two.  What we did have were a couple of cans of garbanzo beans (we make our own hummus).   After a suggestion by DH, I decided to substitute the garbanzos for one of the cans of beans.

You know what ... I couldn't tell the difference. 

Saturday, January 3, 2015

New decor

 We've been spiffing up the kitchen here at the Casa de Chaos.  So a new color scheme means new window coverings, right?

   I went "shopping" in my fabric stash, and came up with this piece of material that I used to sew the valance.  

    I think the pattern makes a nice bit of contrast against the painted wall ... and it's sort of cheery.  (And the idea of getting a new valance for "free" certainly makes me cheery.)

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Happy New Year

    Here's wishing everyone a happy, healthy and frugal 2015!