Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Works for Me Wednesday

If you use spray paint, this tip will make it easier. At the end of painting, turn the paint can upside down and press the nozzle until you see 'clear' or 'whitish' spray. This clears the valve so that next time you pick up the paint can you don't have to hunt around for a pin to clean out the opening. I've tried this many times and it 'works for me!'

Monday, May 29, 2006

Tackle It Tuesday, again

To the right is my stuff all over the counter. After I took it all out, I decided to use the white plastic container specifically for 'leftovers.' I have a list of them, but now I know where to find the sausage and peppers, beef stroganoff, and company. (It's in the previous post. I don't know how to make pictures go where you really want them to go.) Anyhoo...So I stack up my 'pretty' containers to one side. They are mostly the kind from that spinny rack thing 'as seen on TV.' (Great investment, btw. I have two.) The meat went downstairs. So did the little pizzas. Most of the freezer still isn't as hotsy-totsy as the side pictured above...but it looks better than it did!

Tackle It Tuesday (Early)

I have to head out to work at 9:20 tomorrow and get back at 12:30. I'd be too tired to work on anything so I tackled my Tuesday project early--as will be the case as long as I have a job. So my Tackle project was the freezer compartment of my upstairs fridge. We bought a new one about a year ago, and retired the old refrigerator to the garage. I use that one for the extra gallon of milk I buy, plus all the meat I buy. Except...mostly I put the meat in the upstairs freezer until I get around to lugging it downstairs. Lugging is not something I do well. So the upstairs freezer gets overcrowded and looks like the above picture, with my husband griping he can't get to his ice. So I took everything out and put it on the counter...(See next post)

Monday Memories

Today I'm thinking about how we celebrated Patriotic holidays when I was a kid. I remember my dad putting the American flag out in front of our house. I remember the parades, where you covered your ears at the blast of the fire engine sirens. There were always veterans who sold little red carnations made of paper--perhaps someone can remind me who they were. The American Legion? VFW? The Good Humor Man always had some kind of patriotic treat--one I recall was called "Red, White and Blueberry." Sometimes the fire department would put on a show of their skills. The power of water gushing from the hose was always amazing, and a little scary!
Blessed Memorial Day to All! Today I am remembering my dad, my fil, and my brother, all who served our country.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

My spelling pet peeve

Once again, I just read something where the writer confuses 'loose' and 'lose.' Okay, I know this isn't a frugal tip. It's just something that drives me bat-shinola because I see it every single day. I can understand seeing it in e-mails (although it makes me cringe) but to see an actual writer mess it up...well, that's inexcusable. Wrong: "I am loosing my mind." Well, not unless you opened up your skull and gave your brain more room to move around. Wrong: "He's such a looser." So far as I know, 'looser' is not a noun*. I honestly looked the words up in the dictionary. I figured I was seeing this so often that maybe I was mistaken. But I'm not. Somewhere along the line, people decided 'loose' and 'lose' were interchangeable. "Lose" refers to the loss of something. "Loose" is when something is too big. "I want to lose weight so my pants will be loose." Too big--extra--extra letter--extra "o"=loose. If you lose the "o" in loose, you get lose. Okay, enough Saturday morning ranting. I just wanted to get my humble, but correct, opinion out there. It isn't profound or all that important in the big picture of things...but it's those little things that really make our quality of life. If that wasn't so...we wouldn't consider saving $1 with a coupon all that important. *BTW--the noun version of "loose" is "looseness."

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Wordless Wednesday Here's my photo, of a little fledgling robin I rescued from my putty tat.

Works for Me Wednesday Tip

Here is my contribution this week to "Works for Me Wednesday" over at Rocks in My Dryer. You know those red-edged coupons that come out of a machine at the grocery store? Or the 'Extra Bucks' coupons at the end of your CVS receipt? Be sure to take a look at them. Most of them, I ditch, but I often find ones I can really use. And the best are the ones that can be used for anything. I recently found one for "$5 off your next shopping order." That's $5 off anything at all! (It was Stop and Shop, btw.) One time, about a year ago, I found one laying on the ground of the parking lot. That litter bug's loss was my gain, LOL! Here is a second tip: look at those coupons when you get in the car, and put any ones you'll definitely use right into your wallet. That way they will be handy next time you are out shopping, so even if you accidently leave your manufacturer's coupons at'll still get a nice discount!

Free Scrapping Stuff! This is just one of many, many sites on line where you can get free scrapbooking downloads. Most of these sites require you to join, but it's always free to do that. Being part of any community doesn't mean you have to post every day, or have something 'profound' to contribute. Just play some of the fun games offered in the forums, or compliment a layout or two. The biggest rule is to never 'hot link' directly to a page kit or other download. They ask that you link to the site itself, then follow links to the freebies. But it's worth the few moments to get all that free stuff. I rarely buy anything now. Of course, I have to pay for printer ink, but there are ways to save there, too. And a few cents' worth of ink to print out a nice scrapbook page is a lot cheaper than putting it all together from Michael's! I'm not sure what a printed 8.5 x 11 paper goes for now...but I know it ain't cheap!

Tuesday, May 23, 2006


Tonight I bought shampoo, shaving cream, mustard and batteries from CVS using my list from "The Grocery Game." Best deal was paying 19 cents for VO-5 shampoo. I'm not sure what the original price was, but the sale price was 79 cents and I had a 60 cent coupon. All told I figure that by combining sales and coupons I saved a little over 50%. Now, CVS is ubiquitous (sorry if I didn't spell that right) and you can't drive half a mile without seeing one. We also have a number of Eckerd's. So halfway between the nearest CVS and Eckerd's, I spot a building going up that can only be...a Walgreen's. I hope so, because I don't like driving the 6 or 8 miles roundtrip to the nearest one, but I like the store. And GG has a free Walgreen's list every week. You don't even have to join up to get that.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Prayers for a little girl! Several people have posted links to this blog, but I'm adding it here, too. This little girl is seriously ill and the more prayers we can pray for her, the better! Poor little angel. I just hate to see a child suffer like that...and it's so hard for the parents when they have to stand by and can do little to make it go away. So if anyone reads this today...please visit the blog and leave good thoughts and prayers for her sweet little girl!

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Beef Stroganoff tonight

I usually wait for better cuts of meat (like sirloin) to go on sale and stock up. But my beef supply is very low and I had promised my son beef stroganoff for dinner. Of course, even top round London broil was running about $5/lb. Riiiiiggght. I've never bought shoulder London broil because I thought it would be tough. But I figured I do what we do with meat on Sunday (we almost always have tomato sauce)--cook it forever. So I cut up the L/B, trimmed it and browned it, and then poured on 2 cans of beef broth. I let it come to a boil and then reduced the heat to the lowest setting and let it cook for about 2 hours. I added mushrooms for the last 15 minutes or so. Then I took out the meat and mushrooms and poured the broth into a big measuring cup (8 cups--my only investment from Pampered Chef and a favorite tool). I made gravy a la Alton Brown from "Good Eats," which basically means I made roux of butter and flour and then added the gravy back in. Back in went the meat and mushrooms, and a bit of sour cream. I just finished a dish and boy, did it come out tender! From now on, I'm going to play with other cuts of meat and see how they come out when you cook them looooong and sloooowwww.

Consignment vs Thrift

I guess there must be a difference between 'consignment shop' and 'thrift shop.' I walked into the former today. Should have been warned by the word 'Designer' in the store title. I walked out again when I saw the average price of a blouse was $30. I can buy brand-new for cheaper than that, and I don't care who made it. I mean, really, any second-hand shop isn't much more than a glorified garage sale. And who cares if the blouse was originally $60 just because Liz Claiborne made it? (No fault with L/C...I actually like her stuff when I can afford it.) If it's hanging in your closet unused, or hanging on a rack's worth exactly zilch.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Sheet, revisited

This is what I meant by the elastic...

Inspired by Frugal Upstate...

...where Jenn has a really cool idea about sheets. This is officially "Works for Me Wednesday." Jenn was, in turn, inspired by Shannon at "Rocks in My Dryer." Just a day to post something that makes your life a little easier! Here is another cool sheet trick. You know how they are always coming off the bed? Well, take 4 lengths of elastic--one for each corner of a fitted sheet. I would say about 8 inches long. Sew the elastic crosswise at each corner. I wish I could make a picture of this, but if I can I'll take a photo. When you put the sheets on the bed, the elastic is far enough under the mattress that the sheets don't pull off. Here are links the other other blogs. I've never done links, so I hope they work!

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

It is NOT frugal... leave a shirt on the ironing board. To not notice the shirt fell on the floor...right next to the rat's cage. To not notice that the rat has grabbed hold of parts of the shirt and dragged them into the cage. So he can chew on the shirt. So he can put lovely holes in the shirt. I'm glad the rat was free...makes up for the cost of the damned shirt. Evil rat. (His name is Noodle, btw. Noodle was happy when I took him out to play with him today. Did the whole 'bruxing' thing when I was petting his head...they grind their teeth when they are happy.)


I've been playing "The Grocery Game" for a while now and having a lot of fun with it--as well as saving a lot of money. Now she's added CVS. Heck, I go there every week anyway. It works out to about 63 cents a week for the subscription, so I'm giving it a try. If I don't save a lot more than that I'll give it up. But I just hate reading those circulars. Why are they so busy? I think maybe because they want your eyes to look at everything else in search of what you're really trying to find. It's the same as when the daily things you need like bread and milk are waaaaay in the back of the store so you have to go through a maze of cereal and shampoo and doggie biscuits to get to it. It is pouring rain like a monsoon here but CVS is just around the corner and I need a new package of heat pads. I find using them makes work easier on my back. There is a recent coupon for thermacares but I'm waiting for a sale. Right now I use something called Bodiheat which is cheaper and lasts longer. And never once have I seen a coupon for it.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Putting things back

I hate it when something is on sale...but only certain versions of it. My son likes Hot Pockets. Okay...good Except I find out when I get up to the register (self-check, btw, is what I prefer) that the sale only applies to certain versions of Hot Pockets. So I hit the 'help' button, which makes the register number flash, and I ask Gracie (who watches over the self-checks) if she'd please put the 3 that aren't on sale back. No problem. But I was damned if I was going to pay full price for those puppies. I ended up with just one box and did pretty well between the sale price and the coupon. $2-1.50=50 cents final price. Not bad at all!

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Cheap Mayo

My price book tells me the cheapest place to buy Hellmann's mayo when it isn't on sale is Target. But last week CVS had it on sale even cheaper. I bought 2 jars. Then some coupons I ordered via eBay came in the mail, including a coupon for 50 cents off Hellmann's. I almost went back to CVS to buy another jar, but I couldn't find my coupon folder. A blessing in disguise! This week, Stop & Shop has it on sale for $1.99. Minus a doubled coupon, I'm getting mayo for 99 cents. There are some stores where the darned stuff costs almost $4/jar!!! What I have noticed is that sales are cyclical--if one store has it this week, everyone else will have it next week. Or more than one store will carry the same sale item. This is where comparing prices really helps--you can figure out the best place to buy something.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

For the record, gas is now 3.19. That's a four cent jump in 2 days. I've decided I'm going to put gas in my car either Monday or Tuesday, even if I only put in $10 worth. The timing just works out that I'm always gassing up on Thursday or Friday, so I have to 'force' the car to take gas earlier in the week, when it's cheaper. It's just a good thing that I don't drive that much.

I hate driving

I really do. I think I've already posted this a gazillion times. I hate driving almost as much as I hate snow. Driving in the snow...forget it. But that's a moot point since it's the middle of May. It might not be such a bad thing, though, in this day and age of $3.15 for gas. (Well, $3.15 on Thursday and $3.17 on Friday. I'm curious what it is today.) Hating to drive goes really well with the whole frugality thing, too. 'Cause all I hafta do is check the freezer, fridge and pantry and 9/10 times I've got enough to put a meal together. I have to leave for work at 3:50 today so I'll be eating early. But I have ground turkey (BOGO at Stop and Shop this week!), flour tortillas, cheese and salsa. So dinner is in the bag. husband sent my son out to get a refill for the barbecue's gas tank. I hope he's planning to barbecue tomorrow. If he wants barbecue tonight, he's on his own. The only reason I would go to the grocery is to pick up eggs and bread. My youngest has promised he'll make me French Toast for mother's day.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Orphan Ingredients

One of the troubles with being a 'hobby cook' is that I'll find a recipe that looks good, buy an unusual ingredient for it...and lose the recipe. So there sits anchovy paste, of all things, in my pantry. I checked it and there is no expiration date, so at least I can still use it.

The trick is to go to a recipe site and 'search by ingredient.' I found a recipe for "Sauteed Chicken Breasts with Asian-Style Sweet and Sour Pan Sauce" over at the Cook's Illustrated web site. Next time chicken cutlets go on sale, I'll make this for dinner. I have all the ingredients except the meat. Although I could make it with the pork tenderloin I have in the freezer. I have also found a yummy-looking recipe for chicken Caesar salad over at the Food Network site. Both use only a minimum of the anchovy paste. I'm assuming it's going to be somewhat rich and salty, not fishy. I hope. PS--the picture of an anchovy paste box isn't very exciting, but I thought my site was getting a little boring with no pictures.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Why I haven't been here

A lot of prayers have been answered for me. I got a job! The big deal is that I have been unable to work for a long time because of back problems. I have something called "sacroiliac joint dysfunction." It's about as annoying to live with as it is to try to say (or spell) but it isn't half as bad as some people have it. Mostly I can't sit or stand for any great length of time. In other words...forget begin a cashier. So along comes this job where I only work 3 hours a day!! I'm a receptionist in a doctor's office just 5 minutes from my house. She is a pediatrician and the nicest woman ever. I answer the phone, do filing and some light cleaning. I fill out some papers for insurance, too--that one had me worried but it's actually easy. So now I'm bringing in a little money, but I still have plenty of time to do everything I like to do--like cooking and scrapbooking.
Oh, btw--thanks so much to everyone who commented on my blog! I was so happy to come here and find that. The cheesecake came out great!
My plans for each week's paycheck: 50% goes to one of my credit cards. 25% goes into savings and I get to 'play' with the other 25%.
I went to a thrift store today for the first time in years, but alas, couldn't find anything.
I think getting a job now instead of a few years ago probably worked out for the better. Trying to get myself out of debt, I have learned many good tricks--especially from reading my fellow blogger's sites! I'm so much smarter now. By combining my new found 'wealth' (LOL!) with my savings savvy...I'm sure to get not just my head...but my whole self above water!
Now I gotta go get dinner--bagels and leftover chicken cutlets. I head to work again in about an hour. Wednesday is my busy day--I'm there in the morning and in the evening both. But tomorrow, I get to sleep in.
And I have Friday off!

Thursday, May 04, 2006


Paula Deen had this amazing-looking caramel apple cheesecake on her show the other day. And I was thinking I had all the ingredients...except the apple pie filling. But hey, I had cherry pie filling. I just used that. I miss out on the caramel apple topping (with pecans) but I don't care. I love cherry cheesecake. I just took in out of the oven. I hope it's done. Supposed to cook it until it's set in the center. It looks good...but the proof is in the pie. So we'll have to see later...

Monday, May 01, 2006

Price Book, etc.

I had made a price book when I started this whole frugal thing, but over time let it slide because I knew where the bargains were and my pantry was well-stocked. Now that I need to replace numerous items, I decided to start a new price book. I was surprised to find that a store here that is supposed to be cheap (it's a big chain but old and a little dumpy--clean, but dumpy) is actually anywhere from a few pennies to as much as a dollar or so more per item! Now, in all fairness I only check a short list of things I buy myself. Maybe the overall store is cheaper. But the store where I usually shop, which is modern and very bright and clean, actually has more things cheaper! So just because a place looks cheap doesn't mean it is. A price book is the only way to know. And one thing that really surprised me is that for many items, Target--of all places--is the cheapest way to go! I had a nice surprise at CVS yesterday. They had Hot Pockets on sale 2/5. I had a dollar off two coupon. For some reason the HPs rang up 79 cents! The coupon wouldn't go through so I thought maybe I'd just picked up the wrong size. But the cashier checked and the coupon was for any HPs! I don't know what was going on with their computer, but I managed to get 2 boxes of Hot Pockets for about 60 cents. Sometimes, you get a break in life.