Wednesday, October 29, 2008

$2.89

Even lower than the price I saw earlier this week. Woo hoo! Can I hope for under $2/gallon someday again?

Monday, October 27, 2008

$2.97

I actually gasped when I saw the gas price, lol. I didn't buy gas today, but will later this week. I'm so excited to see it under $3/gallon.

Saving pennies - coupons

Last week, the weekly freebie paper had a $1 coupon for the coffee we liked. Woo hoo! So the next time we went for a walk around the neighborhood, we picked up the newspapers that had been sitting on driveways for a couple of days. The interesting thing was the houses that looked empty didn't have any papers; the few we picked up all had cars in the driveway. Was it stealing? I don't think so. The papers are free and I'm probably saving them from being washed down the storm drain. Anyway, a little walk to save a few bucks is worth it to me.

Are you a coupon clipper? I'm not so much anymore since our local store changed their doubling policy. Even though I keep my coupon box stuffed, there's really only a few things I regularly use coupons for (like our favorite coffee). It's harder to get good deals if you're not a CVSer or you don't have stores that double coupons.

I've been sending coupons to a few friends and acquaintances and that was getting to be a hassle (even though I'm the one who offered to send them). Then out of the blue, I got a wonderful surprise. One of my friends sent me an envelope full of envelopes and stamps. I was running out of envelopes so both were appreciated. But nicest of all was the note she enclosed. K, thanks! You didn't have to, but I sure appreciate it.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Saving pennies - green onions

I heard that you if put the root ends of green onions back in the ground, they'll grow back. So I did. And now I've got little green shoots so it looks like it is working. Actually, I'm not doing this to save money. I'm doing it because it will be so much more convenient to go out in the backyard and pick what I need rather than buying a bunch and trying to use them before they go bad.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Parlez-vous fran├žais ?

Non. Nope. I've pretty much forgotten the two years of high school French I had. Even so, I spent part of today and will spend tomorrow morning inputting an index into a French language manual. Talented aren't I? How do I do it? I look at the English version of the manual, see what the French translation of the section says, then look at the index for a similar product and match up the words. It helps that I know the product and DTP software. Don't worry, our French editor will check my work. Yes, it is taking me about ten times longer than it would take her, but since she's got a million and one projects on her plate and I don't, I volunteered to help. It's a fun distraction from my usual work.

Saving pennies - soap

Whenever we stay at a hotel, I bring home the used little bottles of shampoo or the bars of soap. I figure the hotel is just going to throw them away so why not bring them home and get more use out of them? I'm still using the bar soap from our hotel stay last month and I expect it to last a couple months more. I just use the soap to wash my hands, which is why it lasts so long.

Mr. Fix-it prefers liquid hand soap so I buy that for him and for the guest bathroom. Good thing it's on sale this week. With coupons, I should be able to get the bottles for less then 50 cents each. Not as good as how you CVSers do, but still, a good deal.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The gluttony season has started

People have been bringing in Halloween candy all month. Then it was chocolate chip cookies (and ice cream) over the weekend. Yesterday, a coworker brought in shortbread cookies and chocolate. And there were cream puffs in another department; I was invited to partake so I couldn't be rude and turn them down, right? Today, a coworker brought in donuts. What will tomorrow bring, lol?

Monday, October 20, 2008

Meat+Tofu+Veggie+Oyster Sauce


(This is a repost from my food blog. The photo and instructions have been updated.)
I have no idea what to call this dish and its various variations, hence the odd title. This is one of those homey dishes that you won't find in cookbooks. I never measure anything when I make this so I'm just estimating the proportions. The great thing about this dish is that you can modify it to your tastes, plus it is cheap. I use anywhere from 1/4 lb to 1 and 1/4 pound of meat. Just depends on how "meaty" you want the dish to be. It makes 3 to 6 servings (maybe more), depending on ingredients and appetites.

Ingredients
1/4 to 1 pound of ground pork or beef or turkey. I prefer beef or pork.
1 cube of firm tofu, cut into small squares or small cubes. The kind at my grocery store is 14 or 15 oz.
1 small or medium onion, finely chopped
some sort of veggie. I suggest two bundles of Chinese long beans (put your thumb and forefinger together, that's about a bundle), cut into tiny rounds or 1/2 head cabbage, shredded (I suppose you could chop it also)
Optional: Chinese mushrooms, reconstituted and finely chopped

Sauce
cornstarch
water
soy sauce
oyster sauce (regular or vegetarian, I like a mix of the two)
white pepper
salt (optional, I usually don't add salt, but you might like your food saltier than I do. I figure the oyster sauce and soy sauce have enough salt)

Optional garnish: Sliced green onion or cilantro

Directions
1. Brown the meat and chopped onions. If you're using mushrooms, cook them with the meat and onions.
2. Add the tofu till heated through
3. Add the veggies (I suppose you can stir fry them first, but why dirty another pan?) and cook till almost done.
4. As the veggies are cooking, make the sauce. Start with about two teaspoons of cornstarch and 1/4 cup of water. When the cornstarch is dissolved, add several shakes of oyster sauce, a dash of soy sauce, and a dash of white pepper. Stir to blend, then add another 3/4 cup of water. (By shake, I mean you shake the bottle and whatever comes out is what you use, lol. If you're not sure if you like oyster sauce, I'd go really light on it.)
5. When the veggies are done cooking and everything is simmering, stir in the sauce. It should thicken immediately. If it is too thick, immediately add some water.
6. Bring the everything back to a simmer and it's done.
7. Serve over rice with the optional garnish.

Other variations
* Add minced garlic to the meat or garlic powder to the sauce
* Brown the tofu first (before the meat). If you do this, use a non-stick pan. Cut the tofu into squares about 1/2 x 1-1/2 x 1-1/2 inches. Place them in the pan and turn after they brown; then brown the other side. The tofu gets chewy and more meat-like. After browning the tofu, remove it from the pan and start with step 1 above. Note that the tofu doesn't get really brown, more like a golden yellow.
* Use bean sauce in addition to or instead of the oyster sauce.

Notes
The dish in the above photo included 1/4 of ground pork, about 10 small Chinese mushrooms, 1 huge bunch of Chinese string beans, and then the usual ingredients. There was enough for three (large) dinners and two lunches (with rice) so this is one way to stretch your meat/protein dollars.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

The result of being bored

This weekend, I was bored so I baked some chocolate chip cookies. I substituted 1/4 cup of whole wheat flour and decreased the sugar by a scant 1/2 cup. That was probably too much. The cookies taste a little too healthy, despite containing 1/2 cup of butter (that's two sticks for those of you who don't bake). Then I was out of butter and low on sugar so it's a good thing we went grocery shopping the next day.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Saving pennies, making pennies

In my quest to save money, I've started saving veggies trimmings in the freezer. Stuff like celery leaves, the last bit of tomato leftover after making a sandwich, stuff that used to get tossed. I plan on making some vegetable stock with it. I already make chicken stock so why not? Oh you might be asking why I don't put the veggies in with the chicken stock. Because I don't want those flavors if I'm making Chinese soup. My chicken stock is chicken only.

And we're making a bit of $ on ebay. I've sold some Quickutz dies. I'm not making a killing ($3 on the last item I sold), but I'm not losing money either. Well, I am if you count our time, but I have one less thing in the house and more $ in my account so thus far it is worth it to me.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Could you be any cuter?

Over at Linnecards, we had an Inspiration Relay Challenge. That means person #1 makes a layout and emails it to person #2. Then person #2 uses that layout as inspiration (design, color, embellishments, whatever) and makes her own layout. Repeat for person #3, #4, and so on. No one sees all the layouts together until we're done. Here's mine. I had been looking for a chance to scrap this photo and the challenge came just at the right time.
You can see all the layouts (in reverse order) here. This was great fun and easy too. You could easily set this up among a group of scrapping friends. You don't have to be on the same message board; you could do it all by e-mail.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

I'm torturing myself

I've been checking my retirement and savings accounts almost daily and the steady decline is unsettling, to say the least. I suppose I should be happy that I have savings to lose, well, not to lose, but that I actually have savings, you know what I mean.

Mr. Fix-it and I have sacrificed a lot in order to have a cushion. Unfortunately, it looks like we're going to have to start dipping into it. Work has been slow for him and my salary increases for the past few years haven't kept up with inflation. So we're making fewer real dollars than we were four years ago. Plus expensese are going up. And then there are the surprises.

Okay, this one wasn't a surprise, but I had hoped it wouldn't happen for a long time and that our financial outlook would be a little brighter. Dad's retirement doesn't cover his assisted living expenses and his cushion is long gone. Of course we'll contribute. But it sure is painful in this economy.

$3.37

I hope this downward trend continues.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Linnecards sale

In case you're not at work today (unlike me) and need to do some scrapbook shopping, Linnecards is having a Columbus Day sale.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

The Great Escape

One of the fun things about babysitting is you get these great photos of the kids. I'm still trying to a confirmation from the parents as to which twin this is. Not that they can ID the kids from a butt shot; I do have photos from that day that show their faces.
Don't worry, she didn't get all the way out and in fact, once she hit the second flap of the doggie door, she lost all interest in further exploration.

Ungrateful scrapbooker

That's what I'm calling myself at the moment. I had a few packs of American Crafts Foam Thickers lose their stickiness (they are supposed to be self-adhesive) so I wrote the company. They asked me to send the Thickers back and they would replace them and also reimburse me for the postage with AC product. They replaced the Thickers no problem, but for the reimbursement, they sent me a huge pack of paper. The problem is, it is a cheap version of their regular paper. Their regular paper is a much heavier weight and usually has a cut off strip with their name/pattern listed. This paper is see through. Maybe that's why they didn't print their name on the back of it. It would have shown through. So, while I like the designs, I won't be using much of it. I would have been much happier with an extra set of Thickers. It would have cost the company a whole heck of a lot less in postage. Anyway, that's why I'm saying I'm ungrateful.

P.S. If you are looking for a Christmas present for me, I like any of the AC Foam or Puffy Thickers. Forget about the chipboard, felt, or vinyl versions. The chipboard doesn't stick either and the latter two are gross (adhesive stains and the vinyl stinks).

Saturday, October 04, 2008

It's World Card Making Day

I'm off to a crop at my friend Y's. She's always so generous opening her home to us. Hope I get lots done.

For inspiration and lots of contests, head on over to Linnecards.com. There's at least eight prizes up for grabs, maybe more!