Thursday, December 29, 2011

100 things challenge, day 32 update

Since I haven't been blogging much, you may have guessed that I'm also behind on my 100 things challenge. A couple weeks ago, we dropped off a few things at Goodwill, but haven't gotten rid of much else. I did list a bunch of Hallmark ornaments on Craigslist, but didn't get any bites. Here's the latest gone:

1 photo album
1 dress
2 tee shirts
7 books
1 purse
1 wallet
1 CD
1 set napkins
1 nightgown

total gone 18/100

I'm most proud of the nightgown. It is the last of my flannel favorites. I had four flannel nightgowns that I literally wore out. A couple of them were 20+ years old (no, that's not an exaggeration) and the last one, I was hoping to patch and get another couple years out of. But since I never got around to patching the tear on the back seam, I decided I should just get rid of it. Now that was a difficult decision. But to get a little more use out of it, I cut it into rags. It makes me happy to use them.
And yes, I'm tossing them in the trash when I'm done using them. The cut edges shed too much to make it practical to wash and reuse them. And no, I'm not getting out the sewing machine to hem them.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Almost ready for Christmas

Only one more gift to wrap and these are "wrapped" too. We're bringing rice balls and nu mai fan (Chinese sticky rice) to Christmas dinner tomorrow. We'll fry the rice balls tomorrow morning. Rice and rice, from each of our cultures. I know the family likes the rice balls; we'll see about the sticky rice.

Monday, December 05, 2011

Thank you Glitz Design!

I was lucky to win some new Glitz papers and embellies from the Moxie Fab World blog (they're part of Paper Crafts). I was sooo excited that I had to sit down and make a card. When have you heard of me crafting that quickly??!! The only things I added was a bit of ink and the Bazzill flowers.
Thank you Glitz and Paper Crafts!

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Still thankful

It has been over a week since we got home from our quick Thanksgiving trip. We decided to drive up to see my side of the family for Thanksgiving, mostly because we (actually Mr. Fix-it) needed to do some things around the folk's house. Stuff like trimming trees, fixing faucets, stuff that I'm not really good at.

The drive up was surprisingly easy. No long lines at any of the bathrooms and gas was cheaper than back home. We saw my dad and then he kicked us out (we suspect he wanted to watch some football, lol).

Thanksgiving was at my cousin S's. This was the first time I've seen her home, which is huge! And a good thing too since she had 30 guests. Mostly family, but some friends too. Just her family/siblings/kids/parent/in-laws totaled 19 people. There was so much food since everyone brought multiple dishes (we brought multiple snacks since we were traveling): spinach artichoke dip, chips, pigs in blanket, lumpia, cheese and salami tray, nuts, deviled eggs, krab salad in baked filo cups, baked brie/jam in baked filo cups, green salad, crudites, turkey, ham, prime rib, sticky rice (nu mai fan), mashed potatoes, mixed vegetables, asparagus, rolls, green bean casserole, two kinds of cranberry relish, pumpkin pie, cake, sweet potato pie, berry pie, ice cream, cookies, Chex mix, and gosh, I can't remember what else. Needless to say, after two trips to the buffet I was stuffed, but still found room for dessert.

It was a wonderful gathering. The food was delish, but what really shone through was the love my cousins' family. Their kids (my first cousins once removed?) are so close and they've really missed each other. A couple of them have gotten married so being all together is really rare. My uncle was mellower than usual. And, I met a scrapbooker! One of my cousin's friends is a scrabooker (why is it I keep meeting scrapbookers who live hundreds of miles away??!).

We spent the day after Thanksgiving doing stuff at folk's. Mr. Fix-it did all the heavy tree trimming and mom and I used the pruners and hauled everything out front. He cleaned the gutters in the front and I cleaned them in the back. There was still more to do, but it was getting too cold.

The drive home was even faster than the drive up. We both woke up early so decided to leave early. But we waited until it was light, which was a good plan since it was foggy. Although traffic was heavier as we got closer to home, we still made good time and only got gouged on gas prices once.

All-in-all, it was an awesome Thanksgiving, one of the best.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

100 things challenge, round 2

You may remember my recent 100 things challenge. I didn't get rid of as much as I hoped, but I am still happy with the results. So I'm starting it again. I was going to wait till next month (only four more days from now), but since we got rid of two big things today, I thought I'd start the challenge again.

To recap, get rid of 100 things in 100 days. Starting now, ending Tuesday, March 6, 2012. One thing a day, or 10 things every week or so. Remember, there's only one rule. To count, it has to out of the house. It can't be in the donate box, it can't be in the Craig's List/ebay box. With the end of the year coming soon, you may want to considering donating for tax purposes. I recommend not waiting until the last minute since donation sites get pretty crowded the last week of the year.

Here's what we got rid of today (okay, what Mr. Fix-it got rid of, gotta give credit where credit is due):

1 clay extruder
1 clay rolling pin

total gone 2/100

Sunday, November 20, 2011

100 things challenge, last day

It is day 100 of my 100 things challenge. I got rid of a few more things:

1 pile of gift boxes that were too far gone to use again
1 stack (about 1.5 inches) of scrapbook paper (you should be really proud of this one)
3 things from my gift closet (I gave them to my sister so if you know her, they may be on their way to you)

Yesterday, day 99, I had big plans to put together a pile of stuff to take to Goodwill. Unfortunately, it was pouring rain most of the day after grocery shopping this morning, we stayed in the rest of the day (it was raining so hard, we skipped the Starbucks BOGO, and you know how I love a Starbucks discount).

The total gone is far short of my 100 items goal, but I'm still happy with my challenge. There's less stuff in the house and a little more money in my pocket (not as much as I'd like).

What I learned:
  • I don't miss any of the clothes I got rid off.
  • Even though it is a lot easier to see what's in my closet, I still have trouble deciding what to wear.
  • You can't tell that we've gotten rid of books and magazines. I think that means we still need to work on that.
I'll be starting this challenge again soon. Hopefully, Mr. Fix-it will have some time to list some things on Craig's List (I believe this is called delegating, lol). I think I need to challenge myself to include weekly updates. Or maybe every other week. Or maybe every ten things. Look for another 100 things challenge before the end of the year.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Yellow Split Pea and Lentil Soup with Mushrooms

Tonight's dinner was another Macgyver, throw it together adventure. My friend Jackie posted a recipe from Elana's Pantry and I modified it for our dinner tonight.

All the measurements are approximate since I was just using up what I had in the kitchen.

Yellow Split Pea and Lentil Soup with Mushrooms

Ingredients:
  • 1 pound yellow split peas
  • 3/4 pound red lentils
  • 3 quarts water
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 12 ounces button mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 1/2 cups stock (I had some ham stock in the freezer and that's all I had, feel free to use more stock)
  • 1/8 tsp celery salt
  • fresh ground pepper
Directions:
  1. Look over the peas and lentils and remove any stones or debris. (I used to think this was a stupid instruction until I found some pebbles in some beans.)
  2. In a large sauce pan (I used a four quart pan) , bring split peas (and lentils), water, bay leaves and paprika to a boil. Reduce and simmer for 1 hour, until peas break apart (the lentils will cook faster so if you want, add them after the peas have cooked for about half an hour).
  3. In a large stockpot (at least 6 quart), heat oil and saute onion over medium low until translucent. Add garlic and mushrooms and saute until tender.
  4. Add the split peas and lentils to the onion/mushroom mixture.
  5. Add the stock, celery salt, and pepper.
  6. Simmer for a few minutes. Adjust seasonings if needed (you may need more salt; we don't use a lot of salt, plus I figured there was salt in the ham stock).
If you prefer a smoother soup, remove the bay leaves and blend the peas/lentils after step 2.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Monday, November 07, 2011

100 things challenge, day 87 update

I'm a bit behind. Here's what we've gotten rid of recently. Some of it was given to people I know; the majority was donated.

2 piles of magazines
3 nightgowns
3 shirts
1 small bag of toiletries
5 pairs of shoes
1 purse
2 boxes of kitchen stuff
3 books
2 jeans
2 sweaters
1 vacuum
3 vases
2 box of office supplies
2 picture frames
1 GPS
1 bathroom scale
1 vaporizor
1 briefcase
1 box of dishes
2 boxes of paperwork

total gone 61/100

The last item (paperwork) might be considered a bit of a cheat, but getting rid of two boxes of "to be shredded" stuff is a huge accomplishment in my book. That's two filing drawers of stuff (or would be if we actually got around to filing stuff, lol). A local company hired a shredding company as a community goodwill gesture and you could bring five boxes. It was hard enough to get two boxes together; we try to shred stuff on a regular basis.

I don't think I'm going to meet my deadline; finding 40 more things to get rid of in less than two weeks is definitely going to be a challenge.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Reduce your debt, save thousands a year (a vent)

It seems that everyone today has advice on how to save hundreds, even thousands of dollars a year by taking a few simple steps. I really must stop reading these articles because I just shake my head in sorrow whenever I read them. Are people really so stupid that they need to be told that buying a latte at Starbucks costs more than a cup of coffee? Or a cup of coffee brewed at home costs less than takeout? That if they're having trouble paying their bills, going out to eat isn't a good idea? That a vacation is a want, not a need. And I get frustrated because I already do most, if not all of the money-saving ideas people post.

I had a little more hope that this post over at Becoming Minimalist would be different, just because it was a longer list. Maybe there would be something I hadn't thought of. I'm always looking for ideas on how to spend less. Alas, there was nothing new. And of the 33 ideas, I already do 28 out of the 33. I'm including the list here. Maybe it will give you some ideas and maybe you can help me with the five I don't do (1, 3, 12, 13, 20).
  1. Re-shop auto, home and life insurance to see if you can bring down your payments. (Not interested in changing companies so am stuck with this one.)
  2. Downgrade your cable package, or get rid of it entirely. (Never had cable.)
  3. Disconnect your home phone if you have adequate cell service at your home. Or downgrade to a cheaper package. (Need to keep the landline in case I get a call requiring the TTY. And there are no cheaper cell phone plans available unless we decide to go pay-as-you-go, which we don't want to do. We don't have data plans.)
  4. Buy and sell clothes at your local consignment or shop at Goodwill. (My clothes isn't good enough for consignment shops and I buy all of my clothes on clearance, which is usually cheaper than Goodwill.)
  5. Have a massive garage sale. (If you’d rather be out of debt than have an item, choose to sell it to help you get you there.) (Did that and will do it again.)
  6. Advertise higher quality items on Craigslist, Facebook, or your local newspaper to get better prices. (Did that and will do it again.)
  7. Focus on buying mostly sale items at grocery store or generic brands to reduce your cost. (I've always shopped this way. And don't forget the coupons.)
  8. Use a grocery store awards program to earn money off gas. (Not available locally)
  9. Cancel unnecessary expenses like magazine subscriptions, newspapers, manicures, pedicures etc. Anything that could be considered a “want” instead of a “need” should go until you are out of debt or greatly decrease your debt. (I save more in coupons I get than I pay for my newspaper subscription.)
  10. Go to the matinee movies instead of paying full price (and skip the concessions). (Yep. I also buy movies tickets at a discount so I can go to the movies any time.)
  11. Or better yet, use the Red Box for at-home movie entertainment. (I don't rent movies, but I may start using Red Box. So do I count this as a Yep? I think I will.)
  12. Get temporary work or seasonal part time work to boost your income. (I already work 50 hours a week, plus a commute. I've done a bit of consulting, but it is pretty tough out there.)
  13. Read books from the library or take a few trips to Barnes & Noble to complete a book. (Although I do spend around $20/year on books, my last books came from a library sale, Goodwill, or were gifts. I don't believe in cheating B&N out of their $ by reading there for free.)
  14. Buy your most expensive groceries in bulk at Coscto: meats, breads, cheese, produce, paper products. Establish a monthly grocery budget for the additional needs at regular grocery stores. (Yep.)
  15. When eating out, skip the soft drinks and stick with water. Skip the extras too (dessert, etc.). (Yep.)
  16. When eating out, share a large entrée or have small appetizers instead of the costly meal. (Yep.)
  17. Plan your errands more efficiently to conserve gas. (Yep.)
  18. Find friends that you can trade services with…haircutting, handyman, photography, babysitting, pet-sitting. (We do have friends in trades that give us discounts.)
  19. Give home-made gifts, baked goods, or service IOU’s rather than expensive presents. (Yep.)
  20. Boxed cereals are expensive; switch to oatmeal, eggs or fruit for more nutritional and financial bang. (I buy name brand cereal for $1 to $2/box. Although more expensive than oatmeal, I pay significantly less than most people. We go through about 3 boxes a month so it is still pretty cheap.)
  21. Call the utility companies and get on a budget plan to give you more consistency with expenses each month. (How does this save $? But yes, some of our utilities are on level-pay plans.)
  22. Set a spending limit with family at Christmas and/or draw names. (Yep.)
  23. Use exercise videos, walking or hiking instead of paying for the gym. (Yep. Oh wait, this implies that I exercise, lol.)
  24. If your haircut is too expensive, find a less expensive stylist or see if your hairdresser will cut you a break on price temporarily – ours did. ($15 including tip. I'd be embarrassed to ask for a discount.)
  25. Say “no” to hosting and/or attending in-home parties where you feel pressure to purchase. (Yep.)
  26. Does your family live nearby? Once a week dinners with mom or dad saved us a meal out of our shopping budget. Additionally, it usually led to leftovers and our parents looked forward to our visit each week. (I'm the one who usually sends food to others.)
  27. Make your coffee at home instead of buying it each day. (Yep.)
  28. Pack your lunch – not once a week, but regularly. (Yep.)
  29. Make extra dinner servings on purpose to have leftovers for lunch. (Yep.)
  30. Our dentist advised us we could skip the fluoride treatments if we were using a daily dental rinse – which we did… and bought on sale. (Never had fluoride treatments so this doesn't apply)
  31. Program your thermostat for savings on heating/cooling when you’re not at home. (Yep.)
  32. Tempted by certain retail stores? While digging out of debt, avoid window shopping these places where you’ve failed to control your impulses before. (Yep.)
  33. Give**. (Yep.)
Eh, enough with my venting. Keep in mind, most of these things aren't that hard to do. And you might enjoy the extra savings in your pocket.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Five (excuses) on Friday

Why I haven't been blogging much:
  1. We went on vacation. A REAL vacation that involved sightseeing and going out and gaining weight, lol.
  2. I had a visitor for a few days. My SIL (and one of my best friends) came to visit so no computer time when I got home from work.
  3. My computer is really old and really slow, so I am avoiding it.
  4. I'm still catching up on my TV watching from all the shows we recorded while we were gone.
  5. I haven't been in the mood (hey, at least I'm honest).

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Three pounds

After a week-long cruise, filled with all-you-can-eat buffets, plus lunches and dinners that included appetizers, first courses, and desserts (definitely multiple on the desserts), I am happy to report a mere increase of three pounds. As it turns out, I didn't exercise as much on this cruise. Last cruise, I made a huge effort to go to the early morning exercise classes and spent time on the treadmill. This cruise, the yoga and Zumba classes didn't burn off what I ate. Ironically, I don't think the food was as good this time around, even though it was the same cruise line. So why the weight gain? Can I blame it on old age? Hopefully, healthy eating habits will get rid of those three pounds (and more!).

Friday, September 16, 2011

Five on Friday

  1. Remember that scrapbook project I started? Well, I abandoned it. I might just use the pieces for cards, just to get them out of the way.
  2. I had a couple of appointments this week so came in a little late (9:30) or left a little early (4:00). The sad thing is, despite the late arrivals or early departures, I worked more than 40 hours this week.
  3. I'm trying to lose a couple pounds before we go on vacation. Otherwise, I'm afraid I'll burst out of my clothes before the end of our trip.
  4. Fall is definitely here. I've had to break out the sweaters and jackets.
  5. Happy birthday to me! I turned 27, again, lol. (I decided to use 27 instead of 29 since 27 was a better year).
Five on Friday is a random collection of thoughts from the week. Feel free to post your own thoughts in the comments or on your own blog and link back here.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Remembering 9/11

I've spent the last week crying at every news story about 9/11. Some of my friends posted on FB that they were avoiding the news; that reliving that day was too emotional for them. I understand. I won't be watching the news tomorrow.

I wrote about how 9/11 affected me several years ago. But as I look back, I also remember how touched I was by the outpouring of sympathy from the rest of the world. How Canada allowed planes to land and welcomed stranded passengers with open arms. How the world stood with us as we mourned. The photos of citizens from around the world gathering at US embassies in solidarity gave me hope. Hope that good will triumph over evil.

I remember those who were taken from us in such a terrible way and I remember and thank the brave men and women who protect us here and overseas.

Monday, September 05, 2011

100 things challenge, day 24 update

1 small pile of magazines (and we have lots more to get rid of)
1 mattress pad
1 Star Trek candy dish (we've got more ST dishes and "collectibles" if you're interested)
1 large box of dye (I'm finally admitting that I will never revive my silk scarf business)

total gone 22/100

So we're a little behind on getting rid of stuff. Plus, I took a major step backward last week when we went to a library book sale. It was the last day of the sale and books were only $1/bag. I ended up with two bags of books. Now I need to sort though what I've got so I can get rid of some of my current collection in keeping with the one-in-one-out rule.

Friday, September 02, 2011

Five on Friday

  1. I'm starting a new scrapbook project...no really I am. I even started cutting the paper today.
  2. I'm so glad I decided to take today off. Four-day weekend, woo hoo! The bad news is I brought home work. Let's see if I actually do it.
  3. The weather has really cooled off. I need to wear a sweater or jacket in the mornings. That doesn't stop me from wearing sandals though.
  4. Yes, I know I'm behind on my blogging.
  5. Mr. Fix-it thinks we're going to work on the house this weekend. I'm more interested in shopping and scrapping (see item 1). Let's see who wins.
Five on Friday is a random collection of thoughts from the week. Feel free to post your own thoughts in the comments or on your own blog and link back here.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

My Tupperware collection

I know that it isn't all Tupperware (and I've got some mixing bowls and other glassware there), but they are the most valuable pieces of my collection. ;) Mr. Fix-it built these pull-out shelves for me a few months ago and I've really enjoyed them. On the plus side, I did get rid of a lot of the cheap, old stuff that was cluttering up the old shelves since it wouldn't all fit on the new shelves. I must confess that this isn't all of my collection...I've got a couple of more shelves full of plastic ware that I'm not showing you.

Monday, August 29, 2011

A thousand sheets of paper


My friend Nancy posted that her friend Amy over at A Thousand Sheets of Paper, is giving away a thousand sheets of paper, plus a bunch of stamps! How's that for a prize?!!? Actually, she has several prizes. Check it out!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

A little bling


I don't usually do my nails, but when I saw this glitter polish, I couldn't resist. It looks awesome over red, but I wasn't brave enough to wear that to work. The gold over silver is actually relatively subtle.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Awkward

As we were out and about with our errands today, we ran into a few people we knew. One was an acquaintance of Mr. Fix-it who has had some difficult times. He was laid off over a year ago and hasn't been able to find a job since. We've seen the guy out and about since he lives in the neighborhood. The acquaintance told Andy he was buying food for just a few meals at a time since he couldn't afford more. When Mr. Fix-it told me that, I wanted to do something to help. I usually give groceries to the local food bank a couple times a year. Why not give it to someone who you know instead?

Mr. Fix-it was hesitant, but I wanted to try. I knew that it might be refused, that it could be embarrassing. And as it turns out, it was...both. I tried to be gracious, the acquaintance tried to be gracious, but it was still embarrassing. I understand, but I don't understand too because in my family, we're always giving food to one another. It might be something from the garden or a favorite food or something purchased on sale that you got a great deal on. I'm not an extreme couponer, but I do get a lot of good deals. I'm sorry I couldn't share them.

Later, we ran into one of my coworkers at Home Depot. I didn't even know she lived in the area. Thank goodness I looked presentable. Sometimes, I don't bother changing out of my "garden clothes," which are really suitable for public viewing. Or I'll just throw on a plaid shirt over striped pants and wear socks with my sandals. Yes, I have no fashion sense, lol. So, not too awkward, but still, I'm going to be more careful about what I wear when I'm out and about.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Six on Saturday

  1. I've starting listing some of my silk art supplies on Craigslist. I guess that means my career as a silk scarf artist is really over. (Actually we closed our art "business" several years ago, but I couldn't bring myself to get rid of my supplies at the time.)
  2. Either my pedometer is broken or I've been sitting at my desk too long. My daily step average for the past week is a couple thousand less than usual. On a funny note, Mr. Fix-it noticed my pedometer on the counter and told me I was doing really well on my steps. That is, until I told him that was three days worth.
  3. After a great start to my decluttering challenge, I already reached a plateau and have no idea what to get rid of now.
  4. I need to start planning my fall garden. With food prices slated to go up, I hope to offset some of that cost with home-grown vegetables.
  5. I painted my nails for the first time this year. I am so not a girly girl, lol.
  6. Went to the chiropractor yesterday. Hope that gets rid of my earache.
Six on Saturday is a random collection of thoughts from the week. Feel free to post your own thoughts in the comments or on your own blog and link back here.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

So pretty!

A coworker was wearing this necklace and I was so enamoured of it, I asked if I could take a picture of it. I'm not sure how long it is, but she had it wrapped at least once around her neck and it hung almost to her waist (she wouldn't let me photograph it on her, even without her face).

The necklace so delicate and funky and colorful and creative. Here's some more detail:

Does anyone know where I can get one? I did a search on etsy and found a million crocheted lariat necklaces, but hardy any were multicolored and delicate like this one and most didn't have beads. The beads are not a requirement, but I think they add a nice touch.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

100 things update

It is day 2 of my 100 things challenge and we're off to a great start. Yesterday, we dropped off two boxes of magazines and 12 books at the library donation box. If I wanted to make it easy on myself, I'd count the dozens of magazines individually, but I'll be good and count each box as one item.

I also tossed two cardboard boxes. Now, you might think that is cheating, but the truth is, it is a very practical tossing. Practical, because that means I can't fill the boxes up with stuff that "I'll put away later." Practical, because that means I actually put away the stuff that was in the boxes.

Mr. Fix-it listed a couple things on Craigslist and they went fast! The rabbit hutch sold yesterday and an old bike sold today. Mr. Fix-it (and I) are thrilled to have a few more bucks in his pocket.

Gone:
2 boxes of magazines
12 books
2 cardboard boxes
1 rabbit hutch :(
1 bike

total gone: 18/100

Friday, August 12, 2011

My 100 things challenge

You may have heard of the 100 thing challenge, but if you haven't, here's a great recap by Conscious Frugal. I would never be able to reduce my belongings to 100 items. I have waaay more 100 clothing items (thank goodness I don't have 100 pairs of shoes), more than 100 pieces of plastic ware (Tupperware, Gladware, Ziplock, Rubbermaid, and more), more than 100 sheets/pillowcases/towels/blankets (I think; I'm too scared to count). I probably have 100 utensils and dishes. Oh wait, I'm sure I do since I've got 16 place settings of fancy china and flatware, plus serving pieces. What was I thinking? In my defense, that's what people registered for when I got married oh so long ago. As for scrapbooking, I'm sure I have at least 100 sheets of cardstock in every color of the rainbow, plus black, white, tan, 100 kinds of ribbons, flowers, fibers...I better stop there.

So in my quest to simplify my life, I've issued myself a challenge: Get rid of 100 things in 100 days. Starting tomorrow, August 13th, ending November 20. That's one thing a day. Whaddya think? Can I do it??? Think we can do it? Note that Mr. Fix-it doesn't know about this challenge (yet), but I'm sure he'll do what he can to help. I hope I don't start out strong and then fizzle out. The reality is, I will most likely be getting rid of stuff on the weekends and not during the week, so I need to get rid of 5-10 things every weekend.

There's only one rule. To count, it has to out of the house. It can't be in the donate box, it can't be in the Craig's List/ebay box. It has to be gone! Wish this packrat luck!

Monday, August 01, 2011

MacGyver cooking

Even though I love cookbooks and have several shelves devoted to them, I rarely refer to them. And even though I've pinned dozens of recipes on pinterest, I rarely go back to them. And when I do try to follow a recipe, I usually modify it somehow because I might have more or less or an ingredient (or I'm in too much of a hurry to follow the instructions exactly). I call it seat-of-the-pants cooking or use-up-what's-in-the-fridge cooking, but Mr. Fix-it came up with a new term: MacGyver cooking. I like it. But this style of cooking makes it difficult to post recipes on my blog. I hope by posting ingredients and a brief description, I inspire you to create your own dishes.

Tonight's MacGyver dinner was inspired by a dish my mom used to make, plus the huge onion I got in my first CSA box.

Ingredients:
1 huge onion, 3-4 stalks of celery, 1/2 of a kielbasa sausage rope (it was in the freezer), 1 bell pepper (optional), 1 can stewed tomatoes.

Directions:
  1. Slice all ingredients.
  2. Saute the onion and kielbasa sausage until they are slightly browned and the onion is almost cooked through.
  3. Add the bell pepper, celery, and stewed tomatoes. Also, add about 1/4 to 1/2 can of water, depending on how much sauce you want.
  4. Add seasonings. I just added powered garlic, dried oregano, and freshly ground pepper. You may want to add salt. We don't add a lot of salt when we cook.
  5. Simmer until all the veggies are cooked through.
Serve over rice or pasta or with some fresh bread. (I always serve it over rice.)

As written, this dish serves four. It has a lot of flavor, even with using half the sausage.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Swiss chard

I'm terribly behind on posting my garden updates. Here was a harvest of Swiss chard from May.
And another from June. At first, I was harvesting the whole plant. Then I wised up and just harvested the outer leaves. Good thing because none of the seeds I planted later sprouted. So I've been harvesting from just three plants.
Usually, I just stir fry it, but I've tried a few recipes. I tried a gratin; that was just okay. Then I made some egg tarts. Recipe to come later.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Big Lots alert!

Mr. Fix-it asked if I wanted to make a trip to Big Lots. Silly guy, of course! Did you know that Big Lots now sells produce? They had giant red bell peppers 2/$1. They were on their way out, but if you were going to cook them in the next day or two, they would be worth it. All the produce looked better than what's at the 99 cents store. (Is my cheapness starting to show?)

But that's not the alert. At my local store, they moved the scrapbooking section to the other side of the store, but thankfully (or maybe not so thankfully), it is now one full aisle instead of being just one side of an aisle. There was a huge amount of Colorbök albums, lots of grab bags, some new (new to Big Lots that is) American Crafts embellishments, and lots of stamps. Most were the small stamps from Studio G (and overpriced at $2), but there were also quite a few Inkadinkado stamps, which retail for $9.99. I'm not really a stamper, but I couldn't resist. And I loved the colors of the buttons, only $1/package.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

The budget crisis

I'm not talking about the state budget crisis (which is bad) or the federal budget crisis (which is worse), but my own budget crisis. I'm actually thinking about making a budget. Can you believe it? Me? Ms. Is-on-sale, Ms. Is-there-a-coupon-for-it? Yes, me.

I came to this awakening because I can't figure out any other way to bring our spending in line with our income. We're not irresponsible or in debt or need to dip into savings every month, but there isn't anything extra. Plus, I'd like to budget in some fun, like a vacation. Maybe if we have a budget, I wouldn't stress when we go out or splurge on something. Our expenses have gone up quite a bit the last few years, but our income has gone down. Not a good combination. Plus we've got some big expenses coming up the coming months so I'm feeling the pinch even more. Unfortunately, I have no control over most of the increased expenses. Health insurance continues to rise as much as 20% a year, but I have the most cost effective plan at work. I have some family obligations that are taking a bigger bite than I expected. Food and gas prices continue to rise. I feel like we're living paycheck to paycheck, even though I'm sure we're doing better than most of America.

Hopefully, I can come up with some money-saving ideas (that don't include not buying scrapbook supplies) or rework where our money goes so I'm less stressed.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Mexican lasagna

Also known as clean-out-the-fridge lasagna, lol. Had some refried beans (homemade), cheese, and sour cream to use up so I made one of my old standbys, Mexican lasagna. This is much easier than enchiladas and I think a little more forgiving. I don't really have a recipe, but here's what the layers were this time (from bottom to top, since that's how it is built):

corn tortillas
refried beans + a little chopped green onion + a little cheese
corn tortillas
cooked chicken + a little sour cream + green salsa
corn tortillas
refried beans + a little chopped green onion + a little cheese
corn tortillas
cooked chicken + a little sour cream + green salsa
corn tortillas
salsa, cheese, chopped olives

I just dropped all the ingredients onto the corn tortillas in dribs and drabs, they weren't solid layers. Also, I poured about 1/4 cup of water over top layer of corn tortillas before adding the last layer of salsa, cheese, and chopped olives. Bake for 45 minutes at 350 degrees.

Sometimes I add some frozen corn, sometimes I use regular salsa, sometimes I add some tomato sauce, sometimes I add green chilies. Obviously, it never turns out the same, lol.

All right, all right, I know some of you want measurements. Honestly, I never measure anything when I make this. But I do know I used one 16 oz jar of salsa, about 1/3 of a 16 oz container of sour cream (that's all that was left), about 1 cup of shredded cheese, and a sandwich baggie of shredded chicken (from my recent cooking marathon), and used a 2 qt. casserole dish. Does that help?

Sunday, July 17, 2011

My cooking marathon

I decided to spend a recent day off doing a cooking marathon so it wasn't really a vacation day. The good news is I had enough food to last a few days and to share. The bad news is my freezer is overstuffed. (Someday, I'm going to spring for an extra freezer.)

Chicken and turkey stock, plus the meat I picked off the bones. Yes, that's a layer of fat you see on top. I leave it on until I'm going to use the stock, then I decide how much to keep/discard.
Soup (there was more, but I had given some away already), cooked chicken (there were three packages), winter melon (again, I gave away half), and marinated chicken. I figured on some night when I didn't know what to cook, I could pull out the chicken and do a quick stir fry.

The winter melon is from my mom. She gave it to me last year and I finally decided to cut it up (yes, they really do last for months). It was stored in the garage. I didn't end up cooking any since I made the other soup. If anyone wants some seeds, let me know.
Last, but not least, a container of washed and chopped salad greens and another of washed Swiss chard. Cleaning the veggies on the weekends makes it so much easier to eat healthy during the week.
I was exhausted, but pleased with the day's work. Like I said, the only bad thing is my freezer is overstuffed. It is ice cream season and there's no room for any.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Too full

I feel like everything in my life is full and not in a good way. Work days are waaay too full. My camera's memory card is full (and I'm behind on blogging). My computer's hard drive is too full and isn't running efficiently. The only thing that isn't full is my wallet.

Friday, July 01, 2011

Five on Friday

  1. I got a great deal on a plane ticket to see the folks. Unfortunately, I have to come home Saturday instead of Sunday; otherwise the fare would have been $79 more. Also unfortunately, the car rental will be more than the airfare. Hopefully, prices will come down before the end of the month.
  2. Work is still crazy busy. I don't see it slowing down any time soon.
  3. I'm actually missing scrapbooking. Maybe I'll get back to it someday.
  4. I'm thankful for a 4-day weekend. Yep, I'm taking an extra day off.
  5. I'm considering changing the name of my blog and maybe the focus. Stay tuned.
Five on Friday is a random collection of thoughts for the week. I usually post a Five on Friday (or Six on Saturday) when I haven't blogged during the week. Feel free to post your own thoughts below or on your own blog and link back here.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Six on Saturday

  1. I caved and bought more squash seeds and a bell pepper plant since none of what I planted has sprouted yet.
  2. I'm not as fashion-challenged as I thought. I bought a new dress a few weeks ago on clearance, but was reluctant to wear it to work because I thought it might be too casual. The dress will be going into permanent rotation since I got three compliments on it.
  3. The planning committee for this summer's whitefly convention neglected to tell me my backyard was selected for this year's big event (I didn't realize my yard was even in the running). Since they've now overstayed their welcome, does anyone have any advice on getting rid of them? I can't even figure out which plants they're staying at. The bearded irises, which are the usual suspects, are clean.
  4. In the past month or so, I've gained five pounds and I can't figure out why. I'm pretty bummed about it since as soon as I noticed, I've trying to get rid of them and haven't been able to.
  5. I bought a bunch of cookbooks from a friend and now I need to figure out which books I can get rid of now (in keeping with the one-in, one-out attempt to avoid clutter).
  6. We went to a garage sale this morning and I spent a whopping $1.25 for a few craft supplies and a couple dishes. Again, I need to get rid of a few things to maintain balance.
Six on Saturday is a random collection of thoughts from the week. Feel free to post your own thoughts in the comments or on your own blog and link back here.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

TGIF!

I've been confused as to what day it was all week. Monday, I wore jeans to work (I was working off site), which normally is a Friday or weekend outfit. Tuesday, I woke up and thought it was Sunday. That night, I went over to a friend's house to meet her for dinner and I was a week early (surprise!). Wednesday, it was jeans again (and an hour and a half to drive 40 miles home from working off site again, yuck). Today, it's Friday, at least for me. Thank goodness I'm taking a vacation day tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Toss it!

I look forward to clothes wearing out. I know that sounds strange, but since I'm loathe to get rid of anything usable, I usually wear my clothes till they wear out. Actually, I'm quite disappointed in the quality of this shirt. I haven't worn it that often and it is only five or so years old. It is kind of embarrassing how long I keep my clothes. You can't estimate how old a photo is by what I'm wearing because I might have owned that clothing for 10 or more years.

On the plus side, I've got some new rags. With my new frugality mentality (make that new extra frugal mentality since I've always been frugal), I'm turning all my worn out clothes into rags. Hey, maybe this means I'll clean more...ha!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

My favorite form of exercise

We're doing a walking challenge at work. The big goal is to walk and to walk more. I can do that! We have a few hundred employees participating, in teams of seven. While the goal to get healthier, there is not supposed to any competition. For example, the site where we log in our steps will not show us our teammates' steps, only the team total. We can also see where our team ranks within the company. So of course, there is a bit of competition. While it would be nice to be in the top 10, I doubt that will happen since the some of the top teams have marathoners and even one guy training for an Ironman. And the other top teams have the warehouse workers on them and they walk all day. My team? We sit at the computer all day.
I'm sorry to say that I'm dragging my team down, with my average number of steps less than half of the team average. One day, we went to a botanical garden and walked for three hours. You would have thought that was worth several thousand steps. But no! I was still under the team average. (Some of my team members suspect I have a bad pedometer. I like to think that I glide when I walk so my steps don't register.) Working in the garden doesn't increase my step count significantly, unfortunately. But housekeeping does help. I guess dashing out to the garage to do laundry burns more calories than I thought.

Now, I'm happy to report I hit my all-time high! It was simple and really didn't feel like any effort. What's my trick? I went to the mall, lol. Boosting the economy and getting healthy at the same time...I always knew that shopping was my favorite form of exercise.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Frugal tip: banana treat

A quick tip if you have some overripe bananas and don't feel like baking banana bread: frozen banana slices. They make a yummy snack and don't have that overripe "bite" or mushiness. Of course, you can't let them sit around, otherwise they do get mushy. If you make smoothies, you could probably add them to the blender, like frozen berries. Sometimes, I have a few slices after dinner instead of ice cream.
Simply slice the bananas and place them in a single layer on a pie tin, baking sheet, or other freezer safe flat surface. Place in the freezer for a hour or more. Store in an airtight container in the freezer.

Monday, June 06, 2011

My Big Lots find

Yes, even though I am supposed to be reducing, not increasing my scrapbook stash, I couldn't resist these albums. Although I love the look of post-bound albums, I've found that 3-ring binders are more convenient. I don't have any more room in my 3-ring albums, but since most albums are $20 to $30, I've resisted buying any for while. When I saw these, I couldn't pass them up. Granted, these aren't the highest quality albums (I think the outside is some sort of coated paper), but at $8 each, they're a bargain!

Saturday, June 04, 2011

Six on Saturday

  1. A very sweet person sent me some moon cakes. I think I've had them once in the past three years. They just are something I don't think about buying for myself, but I love 'em! Thanks J!
  2. My step average is higher than I expected, but still waaay lower than the rest of the team's. :(
  3. I had a butternut squash, brown rice, green onion, cheese, and cucumber burrito for lunch. Also known as let's-empty-out-the-leftovers-for-lunch burrito. It was surprisingly tasty.
  4. Today I weeded, weeded, weeded, and then planted beets and astilbe (perennial flower). I would have planted basil, but I have no idea where I put the seed packet. I'm still waiting for the bell peppers and squash to sprout. You'd think I would see something after three weeks, shouldn't I?
  5. Sigh, even though it was a short work week, it was really intense. Let's just say that I hate it when a new operating system is on the horizon.
  6. I need to get back to Five on Friday so I don't have to think of so many things to write, lol.
Six on Saturday is a random collection of thoughts from the week. Feel free to post your own thoughts in the comments or on your own blog and link back here.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Scrapbook garage sale

Was I there to buy or sell? To sell, of course, lol! (more on the buying later) Here's what was left. I didn't do as well as I did last time, but I didn't expect to since I already sold most of my "big stuff" like tools. Even so, I did pretty well for selling stuff that was 3, 4, or more years old. And it just goes to show, you never know who will want what. Last time, I sold one book and a couple magazines. This time, I sold almost all of my books (it helped that I discounted most of them to $1) and several magazines.
Thankfully, only one person asked to bargain (I hate bargaining) and I almost refused to because she wanted 50 cents off an $8.50 total and it included some of my beloved Junkitz paper. Plus I had everything bargain priced already (10 to 25% of original price and most things were new in package). But I gave it to her since I am determined to reduce my stash. After getting rid of stuff at the first garage sale, it was easier to add more to my get-rid-of pile. Unfortunately, I didn't really do much prep this time, otherwise I probably could have gotten rid of even more stuff.

I did end up spending a bit more than I planned (I had planned on spending $0). Yes, those are QuicKutz in the lower right corner of the photo below. If you look closely at the blue basket in the first picture above, you can see the back of several QK (I did sell quite a few). So why am I adding to my collection??? Can I justify the addition of the QK by saying I didn't pay for them? My table neighbor insisted I take them after I bought some paper from her. Plus, I had given her part of my lunch. Being nice pays off.

You can see vintage Chatterbox and KI in the last photo. I thought this was a pretty good haul for $13.25 (everything in the last two photos). The red brads alone would have been more than that if purchased new. Now I'm off to see what else I can get rid of from my I-had-to-have-it-but-never-used-it stash.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Garden update

Since I'm not organized enough to keep a garden calendar, I thought I would post some photos to remind me what I was growing when. The photos are from last week. I didn't include photos of the bell peppers or squash because they haven't sprouted yet. :(

Japanese cucumber

Swiss chard (I sowed some more, but they haven't come up yet). If you look closely to the left, you can see some green onion.

My new-to-me upside down planter. A friend was getting rid of his so I thought I would try it. I've got four tomato plants and one eggplant in it, probably too many, but I ended up with an extra plant and didn't know where to put it. We added that white board so hopefully the plant in the back will get some reflected sunlight.

Chinese long bean (string bean). These are my grandmother's seeds. Every year, my mom lets a few beans go to seed for the next year. And now I'm doing the same thing.

Wax beans. My first time growing them.

I have a couple more tomato plants that I didn't take pictures of. I want to plant beets and basil and that's it for this year.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Six on Saturday

  1. I carpooled five days this week. The good part is I saved on gas and enjoyed my carpooler's company. The bad part is she likes working extra long days.
  2. I'm up early today and already showered and took care of the garden. I guess this is a good way to start the long weekend, but I wish I slept in.
  3. I probably didn't sleep in because of anticipation of the LSS garage sale today. If I do half as well as last time, I'll be thrilled since I sold most of my "big stuff" already.
  4. We're going to a BBQ on Monday and I'll be bringing a new recipe or two. If they turn out, I'll post the results.
  5. I'm loving Pinterest! But it looks like you need a Facebook or Twitter account to join. If anyone knows of another way to join, please let me know since I know some people would might enjoy Pinterest but don't belong to any social networking sites.
  6. There's a walk challenge at work and everyone participating received pedometers. It is pathetic how few steps I take a day. My goal is to increase my step average every week.
Six on Saturday is a random collection of thoughts for the week. Feel free to post your own thoughts below or on your own blog and link back here.

Monday, May 23, 2011

The price was right

Mr. Fix-it was reluctant to try this new fabric softener, but I insisted on buying it because it was free with coupons. For free, we'll try it.

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Six on Saturday

  1. It's NSD (National Scrapbook Day for you non-scrapbookers) and I'm not scrapping. But I am window shopping.
  2. I made a huge batch of spaghetti sauce to take to the Italian Aunties. They seemed to enjoy it so I guess I pass the kitchen test after all these years (or maybe they were just being polite).
  3. Once again, I've been working too much. But you should be proud of me. On my days off last week, I only checked my voice mail three times and my e-mail a few times.
  4. I still need to put most of the garden in, though I did buy two tomato plants. I need to get a few more, otherwise we won't have enough to freeze.
  5. I don't like my new haircut. But that's because I'm trying to grow out my bangs and there isn't much my hairdresser can do with them.
  6. Haven't ridden the bike in a couple weeks and I actually miss it. Does this mean I might actually enjoy exercising?

Friday, April 29, 2011

I clicked my heels...

three times and I was still at the office. I guess I don't have the right ruby slippers.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Sweet!

We didn't have anything for dessert so Mr. Fix-it took the mini banana muffins I made and frosted them with almond butter (and yes, he also sliced them in half and added almond butter between the layers). Yum!

Orchids

My white orchids finally bloomed after being dormant for a few years. It had been so long, Mr. Fix-it forgot what colors we had. He clipped one stem to enjoy inside and it lasted more than a month in a vase.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Blueberry muffins


Adapted from this allrecipes.com recipe. I really like this recipe because it makes six muffins, just the right number for us and they are not too sweet.
Ingredients
1 cup all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup brown sugar, loosely scooped, not packed
1 egg
1/3 cup half and half
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 to 6 oz fresh blueberries (about 3/4 to 1 cup)

Directions
  1. Sift together flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon.
  2. Mix in the sugar.
  3. In another bowl, beat the egg, milk, oil, and vanilla.
  4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry, just until moistened. Then gently fold in the blueberries.
  5. Fill six paper-lined muffin cups (I use a Pampered Chef muffin pan).
  6. Bake at 375 degrees F for 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Five on Friday

  1. I had the day off and spend most of it doing housework and yardwork. I guess that means I can relax this weekend.
  2. I made lunch, mini banana muffins (recipe to come), and dinner. I think Mr. Fix-it likes it when I have the day off.
  3. Why is my closet still stuffed if I got rid of a ton of clothes?
  4. All of my memory cards are full. Time to delete and archive.
  5. We still haven't decided what we're doing for Easter.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Five on Friday

  1. It was a beautiful day today, but I was stuck inside doing market research. We did take a walk during the lunch break, but now I'm paying for it since I didn't put on enough sunscreen this morning.
  2. I wish I was the Pioneer Woman so that I could have a yard full of tulips.
  3. We're having a garage sale tomorrow. I hope it is successful.
  4. Work has been a huge drain on me. I haven't put in that many more hours per week, but the intense workload is taking its toll.
  5. I think I need to join Pinterest (like I don't spend enough time online as it is). Anyone have a spare invitation?

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Fresh fish

Hmmm, I sure hope there isn't a hidden door between the two businesses.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Bye-bye Borders

I wasn't planning on hitting Border's clearance sale, but we happened to be in the area a couple weeks ago so we stopped in. There wasn't much left, despite the prices not being that good. I don't think 20 to 30% off a bargain. I did have a handful of magazines (at 50% off) that tempted me, but ended up getting only these two (Mr. Fix-it was not thrilled about me bringing more magazines home).
If you're interested in where to shop after Border's closes, check these independent book stores.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Corned beef and cabbage

I finally got around to cooking our corned beef and cabbage this weekend (I really look forward to the sales around St. Patrick's Day). I usually just boil (simmer) the corned beef and then add potatoes, carrots, and cabbage. This year, I tried something new, first the simmer, and then I baked the corned beef with a coating of brown sugar and mustard. So yummy! I don't have an exact recipe, but here's what I did. All the changing of water was to try to reduce the salt (based on what I read online). I'm not sure if it made a difference though.
  1. Cover the corned beef with water and let sit for an hour. Discard the water.
  2. Refill the pot and bring the water to a simmer. Again, discard the water (it will probably be scummy).
  3. Refill the pot and bring the water to a simmer again.
  4. Simmer the beef for about an hour per pound, minus 1/2 hour (that's for baking time).
  5. Transfer the corned beef to a baking dish. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  6. Mix some brown sugar and mustard together and coat the top of the corned beef. (I used about 1/3 cup of brown sugar [not packed] and 2 tablespoons of mustard.)
  7. Bake for about 1/2 hour. You end up with a yummy topping similar to a Honey-Baked ham.
While the corned beef is baking, you can boil the potatoes and cabbage in the cooking water.

This was so delicious! I think this is Mr. Fix-it's new favorite.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

For sale

The recent LSS garage sale was a success! I had done them in the past without selling much (or ending up spending as much as I made), but this time, I was determined to make a dent in my stash. Plus, I think this store had the "right crowd," not too cutting edge and not too cheap either.
I brought five baskets filled to the brim like this one, a box of magazines, plus some tools, albums, and other big stuff. I actually had more stuff, but after I discovered that the tables were only 5 feet long and all the sellers were crammed in together, I left some stuff in the car. As it was, I had to put 1/3 of my stuff on the floor. I came came home with three empty baskets, most of the magazines, and just a couple of the big items. That's a lot of 25 and 50 cents items gone.

It was interesting what sold and what didn't. Tiny metal frames (actually anything metal) went quickly, as did Cuttlebug and Sizzix embossing folders. Quickutz did not move too well, even at $2 for NIP (new in package) club dies. Alpha sticker sheets, if priced at 25 or 50 cents sold, but sheets at $1 didn't. Punches and deco scissors (all NIP) sold well also. I wish my old magazines sold. I guess I'll donate them to the library for their sale. Paper sold okay. I didn't organize mine like I had for previous sales. I have a Cropper Hopper full of paper that I don't want any more that I take to crops to giveaway. Some people organized their paper by theme to sell, but I decided that was too much work. At 10 cents a sheet, I was happy to get rid of a few dozen sheets. Next time, I think I'll price them at 3/25 cents and maybe I can get rid of more. The woman next to me had premade pages that she was selling for $1-$2 each. They were from classes she taught. She said she sold over $100 worth!

Perhaps it would have been better to package stuff as bundles (it certainly would have been easier to add thing up), but that would have taken more time. Basically, I went though my stash and threw it into one of six piles (25 cents, 50 cents, $1, $2, $4, and special prices). Then I printed out price labels and Mr. Fix-it helped me label everything except the special priced items. That was a huge help. I really tried to price things to sell and remove any emotion to what I was getting rid of. Most items were priced from 10-25% of retail and most stuff was in its original package. Hardly anyone tried to bargain which was a relief to me since I hate bargaining.

The sale was a success for the LSS too. The owner said this was the best Saturday she's had in months, which means that people were looking for bargains and doing regular shopping too.

I was thrilled with how much I sold, but then I lost sleep that night thinking maybe I should have priced things higher. I just need to keep reminding myself that that stuff is gone and I'm happy for the space.

As for my scrapbook accounting, overall, I sold more than I spent so far this year, even counting the crop that was a bust and the table fee for the garage sale. I usually don't count crop fees (or my flight/car costs to crops) as part of my scrapbooking cost, but I started to this year.

So, see anything you need? I'll give you the special blog reader discount. :)

Friday, March 18, 2011

Five on Friday

  1. My heart is breaking for the people of Japan. My coworker's wife is visiting family there. Although they are no where near the coast or earthquake, she's reported that the rice stores are already out of stock.
  2. Wish me luck on the LSS garage sale tomorrow. Hopefully I'll sell more than the table cost and I won't be tempted to buy much. (Thank you Mr. Fix-it for helping me put price stickers on everything.)
  3. In a couple weeks, we'll be fully staffed again, thank goodness.
  4. That means I'll be doing a lot more training classes. You know, because I have so much time on my hands.
  5. In light of #1, please make sure you have an emergency preparedness kit.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Recipes I'd like to try

I spend waaaay too much time reading food blogs or chasing down recipes. Funny thing is I hardly ever follow recipes, even though I have about a million bookmarked. Here's a few that caught my eye recently. Maybe you'll find something interesting. I'd love to hear a report if you try any of these.

Mozzarella stuffed meatballs
Home cured corned beef
Glazed cinnamon scones
Buttermilk syrup
Miso chicken
Graham crackers
Thomas Keller Oreos
Juice pulp crackers (although since I don't juice and don't own a dehydrator, I doubt I'll be trying this one any time soon)
Granola

Six on Saturday

Since I missed Five on Friday, I decided to go for Six on Saturday.
  1. Brought a bunch of stuff to my BIL's garage sale and made $59. Not bad for a couple hours of hanging out. Plus I got some exercise since the kids and I went for a couple of walks.
  2. Check out the PSA Stamp Camp blog. I've decided I need lots of these stamps. :)
  3. I'm not looking forward to missing an hour of sleep. Especially since I'm going to a conference tomorrow.
  4. I'm spending the next week digging through my scrapbook stash and deciding what I can get rid of. Based on today's garage sale, I'm getting better at letting go of stuff at a cheap price. I'd rather have the money and it is out of my house.
  5. I wonder if Facebook will notice a decrease in traffic since so many people are giving up FB for Lent.
  6. I repotted the avocado tree since we're not sure where we're going to plant it. Hopefully the new pot will keep it happy for a couple months.

Friday, March 04, 2011

Five on Friday

  1. I put a small scrape on our car today. Thank goodness it can be buffed out.
  2. It looks like it will be a busy March for us. We've got something to do every weekend.
  3. We had awesome spaghetti sauce for dinner two nights this week. I pulled it out of the freezer to make dinner prep easier. I wish I could remember how I made it. (My sauce come out different every time I make it since I usually use whatever I have on hand.)
  4. I finally harvested enough snow peas for two servings. It only took a week.
  5. I really miss scrapbooking. Wonder if I'll ever get back to it.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Five on Friday

  1. Won't you be my neighbor? There's a house for sale on my street with a fancy kitchen, a pool, and me for a neighbor! And it is priced $50K less than last year. What are you waiting for?
  2. You could take all that savings and put it towards gas since it is now $3.69/gallon.
  3. It is raining again. Guess I won't be working in the yard this weekend. Maybe I'll make soup.
  4. We're getting our taxes done this weekend. Fun, fun, fun.
  5. I've attended more than 25 meetings this month and there are at least five more scheduled before this month ends (yes, five more today and Monday). Whew, I'm tired!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Simplify: Baby steps

I've added a few minimalism and simplicity blogs to my Reader (which is cluttering my Reader, but let's not go there). What's the difference between the two? I'm not sure, but here's a good explanation. I think I'm more into the simplicity than minimalism. I like my little luxuries.

So what am I doing to simplify my life? I'm trying, trying, trying to declutter. It is a difficult task since I'm a packrat. One big step is to get rid of boxes. I have a tendency to stuff things into boxes to sort later. But somehow, later never comes.

I'm doing okay on my clothing rule of new in, old out. I got a couple of great turtlenecks at Target (only $7!) and even at that cheap price, I was still able to stick with my rule. In the past, I would have justified keeping everything in my closet "because the other stuff costs more." But I'm not allowing myself to put the new clothes away until the old clothes has been added to the giveaway bin so I had to get rid of the old stuff to avoid more clutter.

As for groceries, I'm trying not to stockpile as much. Really, how much pasta does one need? (Although a third of the pasta stash is already gone.) I've only made small trips to the grocery stores in the past month and our diet hasn't suffered at all.

Baby steps, but steps in the right direction.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Five on Friday

  1. I'm happy that it is the weekend and Monday is a holiday.
  2. If you're interested in reducing your paper towel usage, this is a great article.
  3. Going out to lunch and dinner four times this week is hard on the pocketbook and caused a major weight increase...temporary I hope
  4. I'm looking forward to celebrating my nephew's birthday this weekend.
  5. We've having an incredible storm here tonight. I hope the backyard is still one piece tomorrow.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

How I continue to avoid technology

I went to the bank today (actually an S&L) to ask about the monthly fee they were implementing for my checking account. With the last two takeovers, my account type was grandfathered in and I was never charged a monthly fee because I have direct deposit. I was hoping for the same thing this time. The banker (should I call him an S&Ler?) asked for my ID and ATM card. Sorry, I don't use the ATM. How about a debit card? Sorry, don't have one of those either. But here's my checkbook with the account number. Unfortunately, with this latest takeover, my direct deposit amount isn't high enough to avoid a monthly fee. Fortunately, since I have multiple accounts there, something else qualified me for free checking (but now that I think about it, I think he was looking at the wrong account so now I have to go back and clarify).

Then he asked me if I'd like to sign up for e-mails. No thanks. Online banking? No thanks. Did I have a cell phone? Yes. Would I like to receive texts? Nope, don't have texting on my phone. I think I confused him. I'm pretty sure most customers aren't like me, lol.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Five on Friday

  1. I'm really bummed that today is one of my favorite coworker's last day.
  2. I've got 192 unread posts in Reader. I'm just a little behind...which is surprising considering how much time I spend on the computer.
  3. It is Friday and I've got two days off. Yay!
  4. My nose is running; I hope I'm not getting a cold.
  5. This making a list thing is harder than I thought it would be.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

A mistake doesn’t mean you’re fired

As I was running around putting out fires this morning, the newest member of our team (she’s been here less than a month) called me over. There was a slightly panicked look in her eye when she confessed that she made a mistake. It took me a few minutes to wrap my head around the mistake, then I had to admit that I didn’t know the answer (or really, how to fix the problem since it involves several groups). I was able to help her backtrack as to how the mistake occurred so she could prevent it in the future and also clearly answer any questions when grilled by our manager. As it turns out, he took it calmly also (although he was slightly less calm when discussing it with me later).

The employee was surprised at how well we took it. I confessed that this morning was hectic with two video conferences back to back (and not enough time to prep) and that if she had told us any other time, our reactions might have been different. But the reality is getting mad wouldn’t solve anything and the best thing to do would be to figure out a solution. Hopefully, I’ll be this calm tomorrow when I hear back from the other parties that this affects.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The enchanted cilantro forest

I've been bringing bunches in to work every week. There's no way I could eat all of this.

Monday, January 24, 2011

It was a Hello Kitty birthday

It was the twins' birthday celebration yesterday. Hello Kitty was everywhere, including this cute cake their mom made (red velvet!). All the presents were Hello Kitty themed, including these, lol. Woo hoo! Big girl panties! Here was my present to them. Doesn't look that exciting, does it? A stack of paper.But it turns into this: The girls, their friend, and I played several rounds of the memory/match/concentration game. I didn't know that they already were familiar with the game, having played it on the computer. But I'll bet it wasn't Hello Kitty! I ended up giving one set to the girls and another set to their little friend. It was really difficult for her to understand that she could play with all the presents, but couldn't take anjavascript:void(0)y home. It was fun to make use of my scrap supplies; I did buy the Hello Kitty dies just to make stuff for the girls since I've outgrown Hello Kitty. (How's that for justification of my purchases?)

(I need add three 12x12 sheets used to my scrapbook accounting total)

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Saving on groceries: coupons

Coupons? Who wants to spend time clipping out little rectangles and organizing them? I don't "want" to, but they are an easy way to save quite a bit on your grocery or HBA (Health/Beauty Aids) bill.

If you're looking for coupon match ups and deals, check out Money Saving Mom, Coupon Pro, or the forums at Hot Coupon World. You may also find some local bloggers/websites who do match ups in your area. Those sites are good because they often list the store locations with the best deals or clearance markdowns.

Target and some grocery stores "stack" coupons. That means you can use one store coupon and one manufacturer coupon on the the same item. Be careful when printing/clipping "store" coupons. Sometimes they are really manufacturer coupons, even though they are in the store ad or printed from the store website. If you do this, be prepared with the store policy. I've had checkers refuse to take multiple coupons or allow me to stack coupons.

I almost always shop with coupons. I usually buy the Sunday paper on Saturday so I can get a sneak peek at the coupons. I got into this habit because one local store used to put 3-day specials in the Sunday paper. They stopped that a few years ago, but I never got out of the habit. I recently got a Groupon deal for a competing newspaper and it was worth it just to get the better coupons. (disclosure: if you sign up for Groupon via the link, I may get a referral bonus)

If you don't want to subscribe to the newspaper (or if coupons aren't available in your Sunday paper), you can buy coupons on ebay, from a coupon clipping service, or see if a friend will pass them on to you. If I'm out for Sunday brunch or passing by an outdoor cafe, I'm not above picking up abandoned coupon flyers or asking people for their coupons. I'm more prone to do this if I know there are awesome coupons that week. You can check out preview sites or forums at hotcouponworld.com. You can also print coupons at coupons.com, redplum, and smart source. (You'll need to download an app to print the coupons; I've never been able to get the smart source printer to work.) You can also load coupons on your cell phone, but since my cell phone is just a phone, I haven't done that.

Sometimes, you get coupons at the register (called Catalinas, after the company that markets them). They are usually for a product you just bought or may be for a competing product. If the Catalina is especially good, I've been know to put my groceries in the car and then turn around and buy that one item on the Catalina. (Catalinas count as manufacturer's coupons.)

I'm not a rabid couponer and (usually) won't drive out of my way for deals. I also don't shop at CVS or Walgreens because I don't want to figure out their coupon deals on top of the shopping I already do. Call me lazy (or practical since I know my limits). You'll need to figure out what works for you. Do you want to clip coupons only for brands you're familiar with (say, Kraft salad dressing)? Or do you want to clip coupons for everything in a category (all salad dressings).

Clipping coupons takes more time than I'd like so I usually try to multitask and clip the coupons when I'm a passenger in the car or while watching TV. Same with the sorting.

I keep my coupons in this box (I purchased it years ago; yes, those are rust stains). If you only clip a few coupons, a recycled envelope works. Or you could buy a coupon organizer (most are too small for me). Some avid couponers organize their coupons in binders, using baseball card holders to store the coupons. I thought about it, but decided it was too much work. You could also keep the flyers intact and just cut out coupons as you need them.

Some things I never buy without coupons (and usually combined with a sale):
cereal
crackers
canned foods
yogurt (except for Greek yogurt)
feminine products
toilet paper
shampoo
toothpaste/toothbrushes

Keep your coupons near your keys or shopping bags or in your car so that you don't forget to take them to the store. Good luck with your savings!

Saving at the grocery store series (topics subject to change):
My grocery budget
Coupons (this post)
Making a list (coming soon)
Checking it twice (coming soon)
Other ways to save (coming soon)