Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Halloween: The Awwww Factor

Is dis not da kewtest
puppy piggy ever????


Frankie and I wish you all a Happy and Safe Halloween!!!!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

CVS Buys Today

Here is what I did at CVS today. I started off with two ECB coupons--$5 off anything and $4 off if you spent $20.
I bought a Shick Inuition Razor for my daughter at 9.99, with a $2 coupon...and I got back a $4 ECB.
2 boxes of BenGay Patches at 5.99, with a $1 coupon...and I got back a $5 ECB.
Some Halloween candy, Campbell's Soup-in-Hand and Softsoap Bodywash, all on sale.
Sudafed PE 18 count, 5.49 on sale for 3.99, with a 1.50 mfr coupon--final price 2.49, less than half price!
The only non-sale things I picked up were 2 snowman dinner plates (I'm collecting a set a piece or two at a time) and a bag of Tootsie Roll Pops.

Original total before ECBs and mfr coupons: 48.70. Final price--28.24! That's about a 42% savings.

Hope you all get some good buys this week, too!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Please scroll down!

I wrote a post the other day to publish today, Saturday. But Blogger put it under my friday post. Please scroll down to read about how I do coupons!

Friday, October 26, 2007

Sew Crafty Friday: Blouse

This morning, I put the sleeves in the green blouse I've had hanging in my closet forever. I actually posted about the trimmed yolk a long time long ago that I can't find the post.

To make the trim, I traced over the top of the blouse front pattern twice--one longer than the other, as you see. Then I added some needlepoint ribbon to the edge. I simply laid the pieces on top of the blouse and attached them, leaving the bottom (the ribbon side) open. You can't see it in this picture, but the yolk pieces look sort of like pleats.

This pattern was originally meant to have short sleeves. I had to find another pattern with sleeves that would fit this one, which is one reason it has taken so long to finish this. Now I'll be in search of buttons. I wish someone would have them on sale. I put a lot of work into this and I don't want to use cheesey buttons. But they are so expensive!

I would like to find buttons in the darker rose of the trim, and then use a similar rose color to bind the neckline.

Hmmmph...maybe I'll actually get to wear this next fall!
Please visit Shereen's blog, Waiting for Him, for more Friday Craftiness!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The Way I Do Coupons

This is probably a little too much work for some, but it's what I finally settled on as the best way for me to keep track of my coupons. In the long run, I think it takes less time than the way I used to do it. I used to clip my coupons every week and sort them by category into several small accordian folders: one for food, one for health and beauty and one for household. Then I read of a different idea and adapted it for my own use.

I keep my coupon circulars in a 3-ring binder. Being a scrapbooker, I have plenty of page protectors. If you don't know what that is, it's a plastic pocket with 3 holes on the margin. You slip your scrapping page inside and put it in a binder. (They come in larger sizes, too, but 8.5 x 11 is my scrap size of choice.)

So, each week I put my circulars in the plastic sleeves, one circular per sleeve. I use a permanent marker to write the date on the margin of the sleeve, and the initial of the circular--V for Valassis, for example. The two 'biggies' for coupons are Valassis and Smart Source. There are several others that appear periodically, like Proctor & Gamble.

I've been playing the "Grocery Game" for several years now. If that was the only thing I did regarding my shopping, I'd leave this coupon method as it is. GG gives you a list of sales each week and which circular you can search for a coupon. But I also want to use coupons for CVS and other places. So I list my coupons each week in a notebook. At first, this might seem like just one more job to do. But, of course, I don't use every coupon in every circular. So jotting down a list of what I might use from each one only takes a few minutes. I divide them as I used to divide the accordian folders: Food, Health & Beauty and Household. I write the expiration date next to the coupons and if I need to buy more than one item. I don't write down the amounts, although that would probably be a logical step. If I'm going to use a coupon, I'm going to use it no matter what the amount on it.

When you do this for a while, you start to become very familiar with what is available. So when I glance over the CVS circular, for example, I pretty much know whether or not there's a coupon someplace in my binder.
After using a coupon, I cross it off the list. Towards the end of every month, I take a quick look at my notebook and see if there are any coupons about to expire. Some will just go in the trash, but if there is an item I need, I will clip that coupon and see if I can find the item on sale.

So, anyway, that's how I do coupons. It does take me some time, but is well worth it for the money I save. Oh, and those page protectors? When I've used up a circular, I take the empty sleeve, change the date, and use it for a new one.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Coupons: need now vs. need later

I often hear the warning about coupons that they can make you buy things you don't really need. Well, duh...why would I buy something I don't need? It may be something I want. In that case, if it's on sale with a coupon, why not? It might be something new I want to try, or something I really like but couldn't normally afford. Case in point: my gray hair has really, really grown out. But I can't see paying $9.99 for haircolor when it goes on sale sometimes. Of course, it is just my luck the brand I like (Excellence by L'Oreal, btw) hasn't been on sale anywhere in a long, long time.
Finally, today it was! 6.99--plus I had a $2 coupon. Hooray! I'm gonna have auburn hair soon! For half price! (If I had another coupon, I'd buy another box for next time...a 'need later'.)

So that's a 'want' I waited on, although for my self-esteem it was probably a 'need now,' LOL!

Okay, so...need now vs. need later: maybe the coupon caveat should be: is it something you need now, or will need within the next (insert time frame here)?

Toothpaste seems to go on sale every week at one store or another. I've gotten some great buys. Toothpaste is certainly a 'need.' But when I did inventory, I realized I have enough toothpaste to last at least two, possibly three, months. So I will not even look at a toothpaste coupon for a while. The only exception was a recent deal at the grocery where a tube of Aquafresh turned out to be free after a coupon. Even if I had 100 tubes, I would be foolish to pass up 'free.'

So before you coupon shop, check and see how many of something you have. Is it enough to get you through the next two months or so? Then, unless you are saving a HUGE amount of money on the product, don't buy it. Put that money towards something you need now. Ha, ha, if I'd put together all the money I saved from things I didn't buy, I could have paid full price for my haircolor a week ago...

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Meaty Tips for Saturday

You know those two pull out drawers in the bottom of your fridge? I think one is supposed to be for vegetables and one for fruit. Well, I use one for meat. It keeps the raw meat away from everything else in the fridge. (I think there is a meat drawer...but I use that for cheese and cold cuts, LOL!) When meat comes home from the grocery, and it's the kind I want to prep ahead (by cutting or browning, for example), I'll store it there until I'm ready to work on it. Then it gets packed and goes up in the freezer until I need it.

To me, the easiest way to brown a lot of ground beef is in the oven. I put it in a big lasagna pan and put it in the oven at 350 degrees. I let it cook about a half hour, using a wooden spoon to 'break it up' and stir it occasionally. Sometimes I'll add an envelope of onion soup mix or two, other other spices. Even salt and pepper is enough to give you a jumpstart on a meal.

When the meat cools down a little, I use a slotted spoon and put it in either zipper bags or plastic containers. For my house, a gallon bag holds plenty for one meal. If I've used spices with a future dish in mind (like enchildadas) I'll label the bag accordingly.

The bags or containers go into the fridge drawer first, because I don't want to put hot things in my freezer. When they've cooled enough, they get frozen.

Want to hear the best meat tip I ever heard? It isn't really for's for that meat drawer. Next time you clean it out, line it with a section of old newspaper. The newsprint will absorb anything that drips from the meat packaging. So when you go to clean again, you only have to give it a spray with cleaner and wipe it out--no cleaning up that gicky, icky, sticky stuff that happens when meat juice coagulates!

Pardon me, now. I have to go take out meat to thaw for next week's dinners...

Friday, October 19, 2007

Sew Crafty Friday

Here are some little pajamas (size 12 months) I am making. The white things hanging from the shoulders are the elastic for the ankles. I've never made footsie PJs before and am finding the feet very, very frustrating. See, the instructions say to sew a casing around the ankle seam for the elastic. Except...they say to do this after the bottom of the foot is sewn on. do you get at the ankle? I thought to put the leg on the machine from the top down...but the sewing machine arm is too wide and I can't get the leg on that way.
I asked the friend who gave me the pattern, and she said she opened out the back seam of the foot and sewed the elastic directly onto the ankle without a casing. But just opening that part still doesn't leave me enough room to work. If I take the foot off and do it that way, then the bottom of the leg is too wide. I just can't figure it out.
Too bad my friend lives in Pennsylvania or I'd have her show me. One Christmas, she made roughly 25 sets of red jammies as Christmas presents for all the kids in her church. It was amazing. Her two boys and her husband helped, too!
Please visit Shereen at Waiting for Him for more crafty deliciousness.
PS...I actually cut the feet of the lavendar PJs I was making, the casing/elastic was so messed up. But I figure a baby can wear it over lighter a blanket she can't throw off.

One last thought (and it's long)

Brenda hits it right on the head when she suggests 'all talk and no do' will not achieve anything. It's just a shame that today's mommies and daddies have to put up with this kind of nonsense at all--as if there isn't enough to worry about.

I think probably the best place to start is in the voting booth--from the school board all the way up to president of the U.S.A. I truly believe there are probably more people who think like we do than not. (It just seems that the opposite is true here in NY because this is a predominantly liberal/democrat state. I'm sure you can guess, though, that I did NOT vote for Hillary.)

The other action takes place at home. I read somewhere that kids are influenced by their parents more than anyone else. I'd like to think that is true. We've had our 'rough times' with my four, as any parents do, but in the end they're all turning out to be great adults. We parents set the best example for our kids. That's one reason I questioned what kind of home life a 12-year-old has if he's already 'doing it.' Either his parents are overly strict and he's rebelling...or they just plain don't care...or something far worse (read: abuse) is going on. I'll say it again...behavior like this doesn't come from nothing.

Susie Q, I'm so happy to hear Gracie is enjoying her childhood to the fullest. With a great mom like you, she's well-grounded in what's right and good. Let me tell you a story about my daughter...

When she was in high school, she was very shy. Another girl took her under her wing. This other girl had some problems, but in general was pretty nice and never asked Katherine to do anything bad. (One great thing about my daughter...she has always been very open with me. I'm sure there were lots of secrets, as all kids have, but she told me quite a lot). For the record, this girl is our neighbor and I like her family. And I really like her, too. Okay, but there was a problem. See, once your kid becomes friends with someone, they are also exposed to that other person's 'friends.' And in this girl's case, the friends weren't exactly 'nice.'

My daughter truly was an innocent. She knew about things, but in her shy way did not know how to stand up for her beliefs. One day, a kid handed her a small bag of pot. Now, Katherine would never use the stuff, nor would she have anything to do with it. All she did was pass this little bag on to the recipient. It was in her hands maybe 2 minutes. That in itself was wrong, but I guess she thought, "I'm not using it, it isn't mine, so it doesn't matter." That's one thing about kids, they are far too young to think around all sides of things.

Well, the kid got caught with it. And guess where he said he got it from? Yeah, you got it. My daughter. A few other names came up, but do you think any of them 'fessed up? We taught our children to respect authority, and Katherine told the truth. She was the only one who told the truth...and it got her 2 months suspension from school for...get this...distribution.

It was an absolute nightmare time. I remember being in bed crying my eyes out, terrified my little girl (I guess she might have been 14 or 15) was going to juvie. We even got her a lawyer--who, by the way, was appalled by the fact that the school questioned my daughter and then kept her in an office three hours without a parent! Fortunately, there was no hearing, but if there had been we would have nailed them for doing that.

Learn something from this, moms and dads--tell your kids if they are ever in an uncomfortable position at school, they don't have to say a word without you there!

Okay, so let me tell you where this took my daughter. She was now no longer an innocent. It was hard for her to trust. But it also made her stronger and better at standing up for her beliefs. She became part of a group called Natural Helpers, in which students help other students. It was when she first thought she might want to go into law enforcement.

And she agrees that getting caught was a blessing in disguise. It was only a little bag. But if this had gone on, and she continued to innocently think there was nothing wrong with just passing something between two people, there might have been something worse involved--and worse consequences.

So, see, my kids aren't perfect. This was probably the worst thing that happened to any of them, behavior-wise. But in the way I believe Susie Q's little girl is well-grounded in good, so are my kids. As adults, they would never drink and drive or take drugs. They don't lie, cheat or steal. Every one of them will lend you a hand if you need it. And they have very definite opinions of what is right and wrong. We are not a religious family, but we respect others' beliefs. I don't think I did a great job with them, but I did better than a pretty good job, LOL!

If you got this far with this, thanks! And I'll be back later with Sew Crafty Friday...

Thursday, October 18, 2007

On a soapbox today

Once again, I am reminded of why I am soooooo glad my youngest will be out of the public school system in less than 2 years. I feel sorry for today's parents and the crap they have to put up with.

First, schools take away the pleasure of a child bringing in cupcakes on his/her birthday.

Now we have a school up in Maine (and I'm sure that's not the only place) that has voted to allow the distribution of condoms to middle school kids.

So, let's can't have a cupcake, but you can have a condom? In the immortal words of the Geico caveman: Uhhhh....what?

No wonder so many people choose to homeschool.

Some questions I have:

1. Why on earth would a 13-year-old need one? (And I ain't talking cupcakes.) And never mind some of these kids are only 11!!!! Yeah, yeah, I know...there's this whole health thing and all that. And I, for one, don't think simply offering birth control encourages promiscuity (sp?). But we're talking an 11-year-old kid, not a 19-year-old college student!!!

Some would argue, 'well, if they're going to do it anyway, I'd rather they were protected.'

It's like the parents who let kids drink in their homes because, 'they're going to do it anyway, at least I can keep an eye on them.' (And then one sneaks out, goes driving, and kills himself in an accident.)

But why is a pre-teen child doing it anyway? I don't live in a rose-colored cottage and I am a child of the 60s and 70s. I'm pretty open-minded about 'adult' things. Frankly, what two consenting adults do in the privacy of their home is their business. I know reality. But my reality has no room for 11 to 13-year-olds doing 'it.' These kids are supposed to be going to the movies, and playing video games, and eating junk food and generally enjoying the last years of childhood. Today's kids probably face 80+ years of adulthood. With only 10%-ish allowed for childhood, why are we robbing kids of something so rare and precious? question:

2. Where did the kid get the idea in the first place? Let's assume most kids won't be even remotely interested at 11-13. I said 'interested,' not 'curious.'
And let's say you are a guidance counselor and a little 12-year-old boy comes to you for a condom. The school says you have to give it to him. But if you are astute, you will wonder about this request. Because, 12-year-olds don't 'do it.' So...why? Where did this come from?

What in the name of heaven kind of life has this kid had that he's messing around at twelve?????? It can't just be that dad left a few copies of a certain magazine laying around. Could it be there is something more happening in that house? Something to think about!

OMG, this is going on far too long. I have so many thoughts, and I do haved some trouble organizing them. My heart truly goes out to you young parents of today. The only thing I can hope is that your values are so strong and so well ingrained in your kids that they won't be steered by society--not even by the schools where they are supposed to be safe from the outside world.

I said it before and I'll say it again:

Being a child is a right.
Being an adult is a privelege.

And shame on anyone who takes away any child's right to not even begin thinking of adult things!

I would love to hear what others have to say on this topic.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Ridiculously Easy Dinner

One thing that makes dinner easier is when you prep food ahead of time. In tonight's case, I had trimmed and cut up boneless chicken a week or so ago and put it in the freezer. I took it out on Sunday, which is the day I take out my meat for the week. I had originally intended to have it in enchiladas.
But biscuits were on sale at the supermarket. You know, the refrigerated kind. Much as I love to cook, there are a few things I simply can't figure out...and biscuits is one of them (say that, 'one of them is biscuits'--it sounds better).
So, tonight's dinner: I put some canola oil in a non-stick skillet and dumped in my bite-size pieces of chicken. I cooked them a little, then added salt and onion powder. Then I let them cook until they were nicely browned. Caramelized, that is!
Step two, I dumped on two undiluted cans of cream of chicken soup (also on sale!) and gave it a stir. Then I turned the heat down and let the chicken simmer for about an hour.

I made the biscuits, which we split open and topped with the chicken. Yummy! Like the best part of chicken pot pie...which, you know, is the biscuits with that gravy, not the vegetables or even the meat. (Speaking of vegetables...this is what salad is for, LOL!)

Try this sometime!

BTW, does anyone else think (like I do) that chicken just tastes better if it has some color? I see recipes for chicken where they didn't brown it, so you get this pale, sad looking piece of meat. Caramelizing rules!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Variations on a Sewing Theme

A versatile pattern is really frugal. You buy it once and you can use it over and over. Here is my second version of the tunic pattern:

In this version, I'm putting some of my vintage lace at the neckline and sleeves. I still have to do a little sewing on this, but should have it done by the weekend.

Now, I don't want a whole sloo of tunics just like this...plain with my next step will be to see if I can fiddle around with the pattern and come up with something different. I think I'd like to try a sweetheart neckline, and maybe some vertical trim rather than horizontal. We'll see!

Oh, the fabric only cost me $3 a yard. I have a store near me called "Fabric 1, 2 and 3 Dollars." Not sure I'd put work into dollar-a-yard fabric (you get what you pay for) but the $3/yard stuff is just as nice as anything that costs twice the price. I only wish they sold knits. I just bought my first Ottobre magazine, and most of the stuff in there involves knits. (If you never heard of Ottobre Magazine, just google it. If you sew, I promise you it's real eye candy!)

Here is a close-up of the sleeve lace--which is also what I'm using at the neckline.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Looky! I got an award!

Robin at Bittersweet Punkin gave me a "You Make Me Smile" award. It's her birthday today, but she gave me a nice present!
Well, Robin (aka Punkin), you make me smile, too! So I'm handing the reward right back atcha--even if you already have it. Two rewards are even better than one, LOL!
I admit to being a bloghopping addict. I love reading about the lives of other 'ordinary' people like me. I think most of you are extraordinary! Extraordinary in your devotion to your families, in your creative talents, in your clever ways to save time and money. I am soooooooo inspired by many blogs! But...I understand that I can only pay this forward to 10 bloggers. So here are my 10:
1. Robin, at Bittersweet Punkin
2. Susan at Blackberry Creek
3. Kim at Daisy Cottage
4. Heather at The 6 Scavos
5. Kelly at According to Kelly
6. Susie Q at Rabbit Run Cottage
7. Maggie at The Erratic Homemaker
8. Shereen at Waiting for Him
9. Jenn at Frugal Upstate
10. Becka at Renaissance
You are all the best! (And for those I could not include, you're the best, too!)
Thanks again, Punkin Pie! And...HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!!!

Friday, October 12, 2007

Sew Crafty Friday

I had this button-down shirt I had worn for a few years. When I took it out of the attic, I noticed there were tears in it. I think something caught it in the wash--maybe a broken zipper? Anyway, I put it on my mannequin to see if I could rescue it. Unfortunately, the tears were in such places as they couldn't be hidden by appliques. And I couldn't cut the shirt for a new shirt. So...I took the biggest piece, which is the back, and cut two rectangles from it. Then I appliqued two maple leaves on it to hide the tears. The dark red one is fleece. The peachy one is leftover fabric from a blouse I made earlier this year. And the red lace? Cut from the neckline of a t-shirt that no longer fits! It measures about 12 x 16 inches. I haven't stuffed it yet. And I might use dimensional paint to make the veins in the leaves...if I get ambitious.
I hope you like my recycled fall pillow! Check out more goodies at "Waiting for Him" (see my sidebar) and join in "Sew Crafty Friday"!

Seven Things Meme

Susie Q over at Rabbit Run Cottage tagged anyone who wants to play for a meme that lists 7 things no one knew about you.

Maybe some of you do know these things, but here goes:

1. I am afraid of spiders and falling down stairs. The other day at work, there was a wolf spider with a HUGE web blocking my way I had to hunt around Dr. A's property until I found something (a hoe, I think) to knock the web out of the way. I will never kill a spider outside--it is their territory--but I sure ain't gonna walk into a web that is 3 feet across with a BIG, GIGANTIC KILLER SPIDER in the middle! (Don't laugh, but I did apologize to it for destroying its beautiful web.)
Stairs...I had to walk down the scariest, highest, steepest cement stairs five days a week for several years, between college and work. It was the way to get down from the raised railroad platform to the street. I never got used to it. If it snowed, I'd get off at the previous station, which was street level, and walk the extra half mile...rather than walk down icy or snowy steps. I learned from a Charlie Brown cartoon that it's called "Climbakaphobia," which I am certain I did not spell right.

2. I went to the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City for college. My gym class was bowling in Madison Square Garden. I started out in Fashion Design but couldn't cut it. Damn, I hated draping mannequins (it's how you start when you want to turn a drawing into a real garment)! I switched from Fashion Design to Advertising and Communications and went from a C- student to a dean's list student. Guess I'm better at writing than fashion design.

3. My first job was as an editor on a children's wear trade magazine, Earnshaw's Review. I loved that job! I got to see the cutest kids' outfits and write about them. I was often taken to lunch at wonderful restaurants I could never have afforded otherwise.

4. I think a lot of you know that I write, but did you know my first 12 novels were in the horror/supernatural genre? Wow, I'd love to write a scary book again, but they don't seem to sell like they did back in the 80s. It was a LOT easier to sell a book back then, IMHO. I feel sorry for new kids starting out today. My first book, btw, was influenced by "The Amityville Horror." I had read a two-page spread in the Long Island Press about this house in Amityville that was haunted. So I was inspired to write the first book I ever published. It's called "Ghost House," if you want to know. None of my books are in print now, but sometimes they show up at garage sales or in libraries. Or on eBay.
Once, one of my bils read a book by me and said to my sister..."and I thought (she) was such a nice person!" Well, heck...I AM a nice person! In fact, this list might tell you I'm not only nice, but utterly boring. I just like a good scary book. (I don't like bloody horror movies with no real purpose except to be icky and gorey, though.)

5. I am most proud, though, of the 13th, 14th and 15th books I wrote. They are for middle-grade readers under the collective title "Journey to America." They are about immigrant children, from Ireland, Poland and Cambodia. Alas, like the horror market, the historical children's fiction market also died down. Some of you might remember how the "Dear America" series took up shelves and shelves in bookstores. You are lucky if you can find them now. Forget about my books...although I know they are in a lot of libraries.

6. You can tell by my screen name that I love animals, but did you know I've kept rats as pets? They are the sweetest, cleanest, most loving caged animals on earth. I would give a child a rat way before I'd give her a hamster. Hamsters are nasty and they bite. Rats do NOT bite...unless you stick your finger in their cage and they think it's a tasty treat, LOL!
PS, speaking of animals, my silly animal dream is to have an alpaca farm one day. That is...if I could find someone to hire for the shearing, LOL!

7. My favorite actor is Vincent D'Onofrio. I'm into Vincent the way Susie Q is into Brian Dennehy. Both of them ruggedly handsome in their own unusual ways. I'm with Susie Q--who needs a pretty boy when you have Brian and Vincent?

I'm sorry if I bored you all. Later, I'll post my Sew Crafty Friday project!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Works for Me Wednesday

Want to know a way to use less printer ink? Next time you want to print out only part of a page, highlight what you want to print (just left-click and hold the button down as you drag over the desired passage). Then, when the "print" box pops up, look at the "Print Range" box in the lower left. Click the button next to "selection," then click 'print.' Now your printer will only print what you highlighted.

I learned this the hard way a while back. Clicked on 'print' and came back to find the darn printer had done up roughly 30 pages.

Oh, and don't forget...if you don't need a nice copy, use the 'quick print' option under preferences!

I haven't participated in Works for Me Wednesday in a while, mostly because I'm in awe of the brilliant tips found there each week. You want to see some great ideas? Pay a visit:

Looking for a site I lost

Edited: Thanks for the help! Maggie reminded was ebates! Thanks, Maggie!

Okay, a few months ago I switched computers. In the process, I 'lost' some things. Including the name of a rewards site. You know the kind I click there first, then you click on the site where you want to buy something, and the first site keeps track and gives you a percentage of what you spent? For the life of me, I can't remember what this was called. The only reason I remembered it at all is because I just checked out "Works for Me Wednesday" over at "Rocks in my Dryer" and someone mentioned a rewards site. Can anyone give me some names? I'm sure I'll recognize it when I see it. I know I have something in that account, and with Christmas coming up, I can use it!
Thanks for any help!

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Yummy dinner tonight

I'm sitting here savoring Moo Shu Pork, one of my favorite Chinese dishes. And I didn't even have to go out for it. I had a pork tenderloin in the fridge that I'd thawed out last week, but couldn't use. (Being sick one day threw my whole menu off.) So instead of the roast I had planned, I cut it up and browned it, then put it back in the freezer. Today, it came out and was mixed with spices and store bought cole slaw mix. The recipe goes together really fast, and tastes amazing. I think the recipe originates with Taste of Home, which tells you it is user-friendly.

In case you never heard of it, imagine tender, shredded pork with chopped vegetables in an oriental style sauce, all served in a warm tortilla. (They use some kind of pancake in Chinese restaurants, but a flour tortilla does the trick.) I actually got the tortillas at Trader Joe's last night. I had tried the handmade tortillas from there a while back and swore I'd never get the supermarket kind again. So soft and yummy!

Moo Shu comes in many varieties. You could substitute chicken...or maybe some of that leftover turkey you're going to have in a month or two. Take a look at the recipe and adapt it to use up some of your leftovers. I promise...try it, you'll like it!

Sunday, October 07, 2007


Mike and I like to take a ride out on the island to hit the farmstands at least once a year. But I have to tell you, it ain't what it used to be. There were a lot more farms when I was first married 27 years ago. They've been closed down one by one to make room for more strip malls or housing developments. Considering how ridiculous property tax is around here, half a wonder the old mom and pop farms have closed.

But there are still a few. The kind I like are the smaller, more family-operated ones. I'd rather buy my locally grown corn and tomatoes from a little guy just trying to make a few bucks than from the huge place across the street (complete with hay rides, a corn maze a pick-your-own pumpkins).

I used to have a farmstand within walking distance of my house, but they sold the property about a year ago. There are many scrapbook pages about pumpkin picking there each year! Places change, people and businesses come and go...but sometimes I wish they wouldn't.

Today I bought corn, tomatoes, cucumbers and the most delicious macoun favorite! I bought a little scarecrow and a net pumpkin on a stick. Both were very reasonably priced and now decorate my front yard. I passed on the candy apples. I love those, but you don't know when they were made. They could be smushy on the inside and sticky on the outside. I plan to make some soon, anyway. I'm still planning on caramel apples, but somehow I keep forgetting to buy the caramels, LOL!

I hope everyone has had a wonderful weekend, and enjoys the holiday tomorrow!

Friday, October 05, 2007

I won a prize!

First, be sure to scroll down for "Sew Crafty Friday."

Second...I won a prize! I won one of the Day Four prizes from "Blackberry Creek," Susan's blog! It is the prettiest fabric. I know I'm going to get a lot of use out of it. Thanks so much, Susan! I never* win anything, so this has really made my day!

There are a collection of hand-dyed fat quarters in the most gorgeous colors! And a half yard of really cute gardening fabric! Hmmmm...maybe I'll make myself a gardening apron. It might inspire me to finally plant all those danged bulbs I bought. We'll see! All I know is, I'll have a lot of fun with these!

*Well, okay--once I won a 3 foot tall chocolate Easter bunny. But that was so long ago that it was about the same size as my youngest son was back then...and now he is about 5' 8" tall. Honestly, I don't think I'd want to win a 5' 8" tall chocolate Easter bunny!

Thanks again, Susan!

Sew Crafty Friday: Blouse

One thing I love about "Sew Crafty Friday," over at Shereen's Blog, "Waiting for Him" (see sidebar), is that it forces me to work on things that might otherwise hang undone for ages. Trust me on this, I have a LOT of WIPs that hang for ages. But today, I actually finished this blouse!
It is Simplicitly 6715. There are several versions of this top, and pants, too. I like it because there are no buttons or zippers to deal with. I had to alter it a bit because the sleeves were too long and the bust fell in totally the wrong place for my figure. The mannequin made changing the darts quite easy. But all in all, a very easy pattern that I certainly plan to use again.
The lace is from my grandmother's collection. I think I got the fabric at Joanne's.

Don't forget to visit Shereen's blog for more goodies! More important, show something off! Anything 'crafty,' whether it be crochet, embroidery, a scrapbook page...or even the way you decorated for Halloween!

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

So glad I planned ahead this week

As you know, yesterday I cooked up some ground beef and made two different recipes, which then went into the freezer. I don't do the total OAMC (once a month cooking) thing because I actually like to cook, and I really don't want to have it all done in one Sunday afternoon. Still, to have a few 'ready' meals in the freezer is a great thing.
Today--well, very early this morning--I woke up with one of those killer sinus headaches, a stomach ache and general icky-feelingness. You know what I'm talking about...nothing you take helps. Although I'm feeling better now, I'm really tired. Waaaay too tired to make dinner.
So...I am very, very glad that I had taken meat out of the freezer for this week last Saturday, including a brown sugar meatloaf. Yesterday, while on my cooking spree, I prepared filling for stuffed mushrooms. So, tired as I was, I had a nice dinner ready to go tonight. I just popped the meatloaf in the oven, cleaned and stuffed the mushrooms, and now we're eating a pretty good dinner.
Vegetables are just leftover broccoli au gratin from last night.

So...make your life easier and think ahead. Don't just make up a menu plan...take that meat out of the freezer! While last night was meatless (mac & cheese), tonight was the meatloaf, and we'll be having some kind of pork tenderloin and an Oven stuffer. With Italian style cauliflower, whichever night I want to make it, LOL!

Monday, October 01, 2007

Nicer stuff

If you want to read a vent, scroll down. I was griping about people knocking on your door asking for donations...for things you don't really know about.

But on a better note...I'm doing the freeze ahead thing in the kitchen today. I had bought some ground beef this weekend and I went on line to find some recipes to play with.

I ended up making up one of my own:

"Beef for Enchiladas"
Brown ground beef
Mix in a can of Campbell's Pepper Jack Cheese Soup
Mix in what is left of an opened thing of cream cheese...which would go bad if no one used it. I tend to forget about cream cheese, hiding there in the back of the cheese drawer...

So...this will go into the freezer for use another day in enchiladas. I could make the whole enchilada casserole ahead of time...but I'm working with what I have on hand today, and I don't have tortillas. And just having the ground beef part of it done is half the battle, isn't it?

And a second recipe:

Sloppy Joe Casserole

Brown ground beef with some onion flakes, or real onions (I don't have any on hand.) Mix in a little brown sugar, ketchup, bbq sauce and mustard. I'm not measuring anything. I think this will be a good way to use up some opened bottles of BBQ sauce.

I'll freeze this and later on, I'll mix it with macs or put biscuits on top of it, or something. We'll see. My husband doesn't like sloppy joes because they are...can you guess?...'sloppy.' But something you eat with a knife and fork should be fine.

For the record, we're having macaroni and cheese for dinner. Homemade mac & cheese...and the secret ingredient is a bit of Jarlsberg cheese mixed into the cheddar. Mmmmmmmmm....

Venting a bit today

Those annoying solicitious phone calls are bad enough, but when they come to your door...

Twice this summer, we got finagled into buying magazines for some organization or another. They all start the same way, "I'm just meeting people in the neighborhood to collect points." Yeah, right. By now, though, I can spot anyone with an i.d. tag a mile away. (BTW, I really did get the magazines. I probably overpaid for them big time. But how do you say 'no' after a kid talks to you for twenty minutes?)

So today, these two kids ring my bell. I see the i.d. card. UH-OH. I just came right out and said, 'are you selling magazines?' (Because the next line was going to be, I don't need any more.)

No, he was 'collecting points for a trip abroad.'

Oh, my gosh, get a new line, okay? I can't even afford to take my family out to dinner, and I'm supposed to support some kid who wants to go abroad as part of some organization I have never heard of? And how do points pay for a trip? There's money involved here, somewhere.

BUT...there are other, better ways to get it than begging from strangers! (And it really is begging, isn't it?)

Have a car wash!
Do a bake sale!
Sponsor a crafts fair!
Heck...back in high school, we had something called "Donkey Basketball" that was a great fundraiser!

Hey, sell magazines...but be honest and up front about it!

I said. "NO." I said, "I'm sorry, I can't help you." And I walked away. I was not rude, but I was assertive. I can be the most generous person you've ever met, but dang, I want to really, really know where my money is going. I don't have the time to sit and really look at the card they hand you. For all I know, it says something like: "This is a con, but most people don't read the fine print." Okay, it probably doesn't say that. But then again, who knows?

I'll stick to charities I know and trust, thank you very much.

And for the record...I don't think young people should be going door-to-door in this day and age. Except on Halloween, and only in groups or with a parent!