Sunday, December 20, 2009


My driveway:
The picnic table on our deck:

We got about 18" of snow. Farther out on Long Island, it hit 2 feet! This was our first blizzard since the 90s. All I can say is, I'm glad we knew it was coming. Katherine traded her Camaro for my SUV, so it was a much safer drive home from work for her late last night. She said the roads were terrible and people were sliding all over the place. I was so glad when she called to say she'd arrived safely at Erick's parents' house. It's a few miles closer than her own apartment, so she decided to spend the night there.
The last photo is of our street corner:

Friday, December 11, 2009

CD Coasters

Do you remember this apron from last year? It was made for a dear friend who loves "A Charlie Brown Christmas." I had some of the fabric left over, so when I found a tutorial for CD Coasters, I knew what to make!

And here is an excellent tutorial for the coasters:

I made my patterns a little differently, though. I simply traced 3 circles with a CD. I made one larger for the outside, one slightly smaller for the batting and one exact for the back. And I made mine in this order: glued the batting on first, then sewed on the top (over the batting so the top of the coaster is padded--obviously, I used thin batting (low loft?). You could use felt.) and finally, a piece of felt on the back. Her way is much faster and easier, but I like the padding on top!
Here is the finished product:

I'll be sending them to her this week, with some homemade cookies. I even found a square Christmas gift box that these fit into perfectly!

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Another Cookie Day

I made another batch of spritz cookie dough on Friday and made them up today. I have to be honest, in the long run I don't think that battery-powered press is any easier than a manual one. I think it might be because the main part (where the motor is) is really too big for my hand to get around it and get a good position to press the button. Well, anyway, at least the cookies are done. But I hafta say, my wrist is killing me. (And I ate way too much cookie dough. Dang, that stuff is good.)

Monday, November 30, 2009

29 Years

Mike and I celebrated 29 years yesterday. Well, we actually went out to dinner Saturday night. He gave me 2 gift cards and I gave him...glue. No kidding, glue. What do you give a guy who wants nothing? He's a man of simple tastes who is not into sports or cologne or anything fussy. I had bought several different kinds of sticky stuff as a Christmas gift, but then I got an idea. So I put it in a bag and wrote: "Me and You--Stuck Like Glue!" He thought it was great and it made him laugh. And since he's always fixing this-or-that around the house, he now has a stash of various glues that cover just about any project.

We have been together 38 years total. Hard to believe, but I still think he's 'hot.' Or is that TMI????

Okay, change of subject. I found a cute blog!

And she's having a snowman ornament giveaway! Go check it'll put you in the Christmas spirit!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Cookies today

Today I'm trying out the new cordless cookie press I bought from Michael's a few weeks back. With the 40% coupon, it was 20 dollars. So far, so good, although it would have helped if I'd had fresh batteries for the first batch. I keep all my new batterieso in a basket (which I change with the seasonal decor) and throw the old ones into a recycling bin. But I guess a few oldies got mixed in there.
Anyway, even with the dying batteries, the press is pretty cool. I changed out for new ones, and when I make the next batch, I'm sure it will work better. I'm making spritz cookies. Here's the link back to last year's post:

I don't know why I don't make these more often. They are easy and good. I'm doing a pumpkin design today, mostly. I'll bring some to the friends we're visiting tonight. Luckily, I happen to have orange sugar, LOL!

Friday, November 06, 2009

Turkey Dressing (Frugal Friday)

It's Frugal Friday over at Life as Mom.

Here's my donation. We all love stuffing, but lately I keep hearing that you aren't supposed to stuff the bird. It's because you can't get the internal temperature of the stuffing to a safe number (165 degrees F, I believe) without overcooking the bird.

I think I understand why I was sick on so many Thanksgiving Fridays as a kid. And my mom made/makes the BEST stuffing.

I've had the kind made in a casserole (which I think is called 'dressing') but it just doesn't taste the same. I figured there had to be a safe way to get that 'cooked in the bird' flavor. Then it hit me: turkey broth! And not some canned stuff, but real, homemade broth.

The trick is that you have to think ahead. Buy yourself a small turkey, a turkey breast or legs and wings for a meal. Sometimes, you can find a pre-cooked turkey breast on sale at your supermarket's deli counter.

After you have taken off the meat, throw the bones in a pot, add water, and boil for about an hour. I add Kosher salt and sometimes some pepper corns. Strain it all out when you are done, then put it in the fridge. The next day, take the fat off the top. Freeze the broth, or use it right away.

This is how I make stuffing now:

A loaf's worth of broken up bread
A small onion
A stick of butter
Sage to taste
Homemade Turkey Broth

Chop up the onion.
Melt the butter in a little pot.
Cook the onion in the butter for about five minutes, until the onion is soft.
Add butter/onion mixture to bread and toss. Sprinkle with sage to taste.
Now add in the turkey broth until you get a nice consistency. I like my dressing firm so I don't use too much broth. You can always add more later in the cooking process if you need to.

Put it all in a buttered casserole. Cover and pop it in the oven with the turkey, for about 30 minutes.


Thursday, October 29, 2009

Freeze Ahead Breakfast
Jessica over at "Life As Mom" has a recipe swap going on today with breakfast as the theme. I love the way she makes eggs (what I would call 'over-easy') and totally plan to steal that idea next time I'm making my egg/cheese/bacon biscuits.

One problem some families have with breakfast is the morning rush. That's where 'freeze-ahead' comes in handy. In fact, my son James just asked me when I was going to make those fake-o Egg McMuffins again. (Well, I use biscuits, not muffins, but I'm sure English Muffins would work here.) Here is the recipe:

Freeze-ahead Egg/Bacon/Cheese Biscuits

A can of Grands Biscuits (Yeah, I cheat. Make your own if you like, but biscuits aren't my strong point, and I can get these pretty cheap with coupons)
Eggs--if you scramble them, you can probably get two sandwiches from one egg
Your favorite cheese, sliced

There are no set amounts here--just go by what you think your family will eat, or at least by what won't fall off the edges.
Bake the biscuits and split them in half
Fry or scramble the eggs.
Fry the bacon.

Put some egg on a biscuit, then a piece of cheese, then some bacon. Put the top on the biscuit. Do this with all the biscuits.

You can eat these right now, or you can wrap each sandwich in plastic wrap and throw them in a plastic bag in the freezer. For my microwave, it takes about a minute for each biscuit to reheat from frozen, but you have to adjust for your own.

Of course, you can trade out the bacon for ham or sausage. Those round sausage patties you brown and serve would work great.

Whether you make this from scratch or cheat with Grands as I do, they are better than McDonald's and oh-so-much cheaper!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Halloween Craft

This decoration was very easy to make. I had a bucket that I'd bought at a garage sale, which I painted with chalkboard paint and decorated with chalk. The pumpkin is made of felt, except for his stem. I couldn't find my box of felt so I had to use cardstock.
I gave the pumpkin head some body by cutting a smaller shape out of cardboard and sandwiching it between two layers of felt. The stick came from some other decoration that broke, but you could use a dowel.
I had this 90% made for quite a while because I was trying to figure out how to get the stick to stand up. I had thought of filling the bucket with rocks, but did not want to spend the money on them.
So I ended up crushing newspaper and filling the bucket 3/4 up, then covering the newspaper with real leaves from the back yard. On top of that, I sprinkled these cute plastic acorns I bought a while back at Michael's.
You could duplicate this in a smaller version with a simple can and smaller parts. It goes together easily and I think kids would have fun with it. It's on my front steps now (we have a bit of an overhang so it won't get wet.)

Friday, October 16, 2009

Sew Crafty Friday

I miss "Sew Crafty Friday." Shereen's blog hadn't been updated for months last I saw. I hope she comes back again, but she is probably busy with her family. Meantime, I need something like this to push myself to get my crafting done. Here is my donation for the week: a baby blanket.
It isn't for any particular baby, but my nieces and nephews and my daughter's friends will surely be having them soon!
This is my own design--at least, the combination is! I don't think anyone really designs original 'stitches,' LOL! It is a simple shell stitch. I don't like working with baby yarn, so this is done on an "I" needle. I think the yarn is sport weight? Just standard, but soft and pretty.
One of the things I bought with the $50 gift card Mike gave me is a book called "100 Flowers to Knit and Crochet." I will make several flowers from the book and scatter them over the blanket.

I like that the shells make a nice, tight pattern. We want to keep baby cozy, LOL! As you might be able to see, I'm grading the size of each stripe. The first ones are about 11 rows, then I have 7 rows and if I feel I need to add length, the final group will be about 3 or 4 rows.
If you've got something going this week, please let me know and I'll come over and visit you!

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

In Ohio This Week

Wow, I'm really awful at keeping up with this blog! I apologize--I'm just so tired all the time and seem to have so much to do. Nick takes his second road test later this month. In the meantime, I drive him to and from college. It's only 20 minutes away, but that's 40 minutes round trip and I despise driving! Well, for 2 days he is only in class an hour and fifteen minutes, so I use that time to shop at some of the stores nearby. My husband helps whenever it fits into his work schedule. Fortunately, Nicky's classes don't interfere with my work at all.

I'm off this week, spending it in Columbus with my mother. We're having such a good time together. We went to a favorite restaurant yesterday and hit a few Amish stores. The prices are so reasonable! I got a good stack of fabric to play with when I get home.

Before I left New York, Mike surprised me at the airport with a $50 gift card! (Amex, so I can use it almost anywhere.) Well, I've had my eye on these cute valances for several years now. They are sold in the gift shop of the restaurant, but I never felt justified in spending money on them. I finally got them, along with a few matching things like potholders and towels--and I still have a little left over!

My aunt and my mother think Mike is sweet. I totally agree.

I hope everyone (all four of you) who reads this blog is doing well!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

A Savings Reminder

Now that school has officially started all over the country, and stores want to make room for Halloween merchandise, this is the perfect time to start shopping for school supplies!

I'm sure I'm preaching to the choir here, as my ten or so readers are smart about these things. But doesn't it blow you away how many people aren't?

At work the other day, some mothers were lamenting at the expense of school supplies. Of course, I told them that they should prepare for January by buying up what's on sale now. After all, we all know folders never last beyond the holidays. Why pay a dollar later when you can pay a dime now? I reminded them that they can store things in a closet or the attic, and they'll have a jump on new supplies. Pencils and paper don't go bad!

You would have thought I was a guru at the top of a mountain, with information no one else had,the way these young moms looked at me. Made me feel really good about being frugal. I love to share the wealth--the wealth of knowledge I've gotten from my on-line frugal friends, that is!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

I'm glad I was...

...born when I was, which is 1956, for the record. That made me far too young to pay much attention when the S*xual Revolution reached its peak in 1969. There was a show on the History Channel last night about just that.

If I'd been among the first Baby Boomers, I'd have been of legal age by 1969. I might have dared to go to Woodstock, but I've never been one for crowds, so I doubt it.

Not sure whether I'd have marched for or against anything. But I do know I've wanted to be a wife and mother from a very young age. Maybe that is why the subtitle of the placard carried by a Woman's Libber (there's a phrase from the past!) bugged me.

I can't remember the top of the sign. The middle said, "Don't Get Married." And below, she had handwritten this: "Washing Diapers is Not Fulfilling!"

And all I could think of was... if your definition of Motherhood starts with 'washing diapers,' then maybe it's a great thing if you don't get married. (I also called her something that rhymes with 'witch,' but I do try to keep this a family-friendly blog). Who'd want you for a mother? Or a wife?}

Miserable human being...I wonder if she ever married and had kids? Did she find joy in it, or was she still stuck in the 'washing diapers is not fulfilling' mode. If so, I feel danged sorry for any kids she brought into this world!

Okay, the soapbox is yours now!

Monday, August 17, 2009

A product I like

One thing that is nice about building up a stockpile is that eventually you have enough 'on hand,' and your shopping list is so small, that you can treat yourself. You can try something new you might not have wanted to swing otherwise.

My new thing is Purex 3-in-1 complete. Basically, it's your detergent, softener and dryer sheet all in one. (I never knew people used dryer sheets if they already used softener.)

How is this fancy product even 'sorta' frugal? Well, it is if you get a deal. It is on sale this week BOGO at CVS. And I have a dollar coupon, making each less than half price.

But here is what makes it even more frugal. You can cut those puppies in half, and even thirds! Really, who needs the whole enchilada if you're only washing slightly dirty items?

I still use regular detergent most of the time. But you all know the story--sometimes you are too tired, or sick, or busy to remember to add the danged softener. So for those times, this product is great!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Did anyone else do this back in the day?

My daughter uses that expression: "back in the day." Not sure what day she's talking about, but in this case I'm talking around the 1960s.

I don't know why this memory popped into my head this morning. When I was in grammar school, I can remember that we often made corsages for our friends' birthdays. My sister, who is 4 years older than me, probably did it in high school, too, but by the time I got there it was the 1970s and nice little things like that just weren't 'in.'

We would take one of those cheap bows you stick on top of packages and add either a piece of gum (always Bazooka!) or a mini Tootsie roll to each loop until we had the number of years old the friend was. Sometimes, you had to add streamers for more ribbons. I think we sometimes did this with pennies. Hey, back then 8 cents actually bought something.

Did anyone else do that? Or do they still give out handmade candy corsages?


Friday, July 03, 2009

Frugal Friday: CC warning

There are lots of great tips for living frugally over at "Life as Mom," so go check them out here:

Here is my tip. If you are lucky enough to be able to pay off a credit card, there is something you need to keep in mind. Just because the card is 'closed' doesn't mean there won't be some charge on it!

I have recently been able, thanks to the best husband on earth, to pay off most of my big, fat debt. As I pay off a card, I also close it. But I double-checked the next month to make sure the balance was at $0. Well! To my surprise I found out this isn't always true. Yes, there will be no more charges from outside sources. But what about the CC's own finance charges?

You could pay off the current balance on a card, without knowing that your finance charges weren't scheduled to show up for a day or so. Those charges go on your card. And there you are, happily thinking of $0 balances, while those sneaky charges lay in the dark, waiting to make your life miserable!

So...take a second look at any CCs you close and make sure they really are finished and done!

BTW, card companies are legalized loan-sharking establishments. Thank goodness there will be regulations to stop this nonsense in the next few years!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

He did it!

My fourth and youngest, Nicholas (Nicky to us, Nick to his friends) graduated high school today. It was a nice ceremony that ran just under two hours. There was a dark cloud in the nearby sky, but it moved away from us. Pleasant breezes took care of the heat that usually plagues these outdoor ceremonies. (And to think, I had four personal fans in my pocketbook!)

Nick will be attending a local community college. He recently took a two-day program meant to assess his strengths. We haven't gotten the results back, but he's best at math and science. (He's great at history, too, if the topic interests him.) The program will help him pick his major.

With the economy as it is, many more kids than before are attending community colleges. This means a longer waiting list. We got our notice that Nicky's application is being processed. I'm pretty sure he's in. He has the grades and I think community colleges have to accept local residents as long as they qualify. It isn't like Harvard. Thank isn't like the tuition there, either.

So the future begins. I only have two of four kids living home now. It is weird to come home and know the house will be empty for a few hours.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

My frugal, florist daughter

Katherine and I had a nice lunch at an all-you-can-eat Sushi buffet today, followed up by a visit to Michael's Crafts store. I didn't buy much--just some glue and yarn. But it's fun to look at things. Katherine picks up a small package and says, "I'd sure like to meet the idiot who'd buy this!"
It was a packet of broken up dried leaves, named "leaf confetti", which I suppose is used in card-making or scrapbooking. The price was $3.99! And I'm talking a packet that would fit in the palm of your hand. Why would she call the buyer of such an item an idiot?
Because this is the kind of thing she sweeps off the floor of the floral department at her store, LOL!
Honestly, the things people will pay for, right?

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

We should all get along like this!

I was lucky enough to have my camera ready when I discovered my cat, Melody, taking a snooze with my ferret, Austin! Melody was even grooming him. How sweet is that?

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Grrrrocery Pet Peeves

There are two things I find really annoying at the supermarket:

1)People who park their cart dead-center in the middle of an aisle so you can't get around them.

2)People who come up behind you on the self-checkout line and start their order before you're finished bagging your own. Thank you, but I'd rather not have my bread smashed by your 12-pack of Snapple!

Yep, someone needs to make an official 'Grocery Etiquette' guide!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Make a Freezer Map

We have one of those freezers that opens from the top. It's one of the best household investments we ever made, but if you have one, you know what a pain they are when you want to find something.

Mike and I are making a great effort to be debt-free by the end of the year, and one of the ways I'm helping is by upping my frugal efforts at food shopping. What better way than to use as much as I have on hand as possible?

So I decided to do an inventory of the freezer downstairs. Then it hit me: when you want to find something, what's better than a map? (If they create GPS for freezers, please lmk!)

I took everything out, and as I put it back in an orderly way, I did several things:

1. I used a piece of paper (on a clipboard) and drew a front-view of the freezer. Then I blocked off where each item went, and wrote down how many I have.

2. I took out things I need for dinners this week, which mostly includes meat I've browned or marinated and leftovers.

3. I put all of my daughter's diet foods in one area so she can take them down to her new apartment. This will free up almost 2 square feet of space!

4. I moved all the meat from the upstairs fridge's freezer to the downstairs, making more room upstairs. I'll get to that upstairs freezer another time.

So, if you are going to do an inventory anyway, think about creating a map, too!

Friday, May 08, 2009

Salad Festival!

There's a summer salad festival going on over at "A Heart for Home." I don't know about you, but I can never get enough salad! Here's the link:

Here is a salad my family really enjoys. Because it has a cabbage base, instead of lettuce, it 'keeps' longer. You really do want to go for the celery seed and the Longhorn Colby cheese for this, as they 'make' the recipe!

Delicious Vegetable Salad

A small head of cabbage (or half a big head) cut in chunks--don't shred it, this ain't cole slaw!
About a cup of Longhorn Colby Cheese, also cut in chunks
Cherry tomatoes
Broccoli, cut up
Carrots and celery, cut up
Anything else you like!!!!

Put these all in a big bowl.

The dressing:
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon celery seed
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard...or squirt of the 'wet' kind
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
A dash of onion powder
1/2 cup vegetable or canola oil (I think olive oil would be too strong.)

Mix all the dressing ingredients, except for the oil, in a microwave-safe bowl. Heat for about a minute (depending on how strong your microwave is). Then stir until the sugar is dissolved and everything is nicely blended. Drizzle in the oil and stir--or do like I do, and just put it in a jar and shake like crazy.

Pour the warm dressing over the salad and toss. You can eat it like this, or later. You don't have to eat it warm--the heat is just to melt the sugar, I think!

All I know is, this tastes just as good a day later, if it lasts that long!

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Gotta love this site

I'm the type of person who will check out a blog if it has a catchy name. Who could resist a name like "Sugarpie Farmhouse." You can almost smell the shortenin' bread. Okay, I'm from New York. I have no idea what shortenin' bread is or what it smells like. But I bet it smells like grandma's kitchen, you know?

Sugarpie Farmhouse is a homey site dedicated to all things hospitable and domestic. The girl talk forums (for Sugar Pie Sistas!) is full of great advice and encouragement.

Go check it out:

Monday, April 27, 2009

WFMW: Idea for 'gifts' box

Check out this week's "Works for Me Wednesday" over at "We Are That Family."

Here's my donation. I actually posted this Monday, but don't tell anyone that, okay? Nobody stopped by so I'm editing it to fit in with WFMW.

Do you keep a gifts box? You know, nice things you find on sale and keep for future use as gifts? I have an idea for you.

Check out CVS or Walgreen's (or maybe even your local supermarket) and see if they have any of those pre-made Easter baskets left. Frankly, IMHO, at full price they are a ripoff. But I picked up the last basket at CVS today for only 79 cents! It was 90% off. Besides the cheesy little bags of candy (which I'll give to my boys), it has a nice jumprope and a ball-and-jacks set. I couldn't buy one of those toys for 79 cents.

So they go in my 'giftie box. My kids are way past the birthday party age, as you know. But I babysit sometimes, and have a three-year-old nephew. So I keep my eyes open for goodies to use as gifts that won't break the bank.

Oh, and speaking of saving money: if you have a Passover section at your grocery store, check it out. Now that the holiday is over, you can find some really good buys there!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Mouthwatering Mondays

I found a new (to me) 'carnival' over at "A Southern Fairytale" and thought I would participate, too. It's called "Mouthwatering Mondays." I'm all for new recipes!

Here's mine:

Broccoli Salad

4 Cups of cut-up broccoli
A few handfuls of red, seedless grapes--cut in half if big
1 Cup mayo
1/3 Cup sugar
2 Tablespoons cider vinegar
Bacon, cooked and crumbled
Chopped Nuts

You'll notice I didn't put measurements in for the bacon or nuts--just knock yourself out, LOL!

Combine the broccoli and grapes.
Mix up mayo, sguar and vinegar.
Toss together.
Add the other ingredients.

BTW, you could leave out the grapes and broccoli and use a cole slaw mix with this, too!

Thursday, April 02, 2009

I like it!

I give the Chop Wizard a 9 out of 10. Only a nine because it is a bit of a pain to clean, but it comes with this weird comby thing that helps a lot. Also helps to use the spray hose from the sink to rinse off the stuck pieces before putting it in the dishwasher. Other than that, it works just like it claims. I was a choppin' fool last night, since we had sausages and peppers for dinner. If you can find a deal on one, or just want to swing the full price, I'd say "go for it."

Monday, March 30, 2009

It pays to wait

My kids gave me a $100 gift card for my birthday, and I've probably stretched it at least 2x as far as the ordinary person. "Ordinary person" does not, of course, include my fellow frugal bloggers!

Okay, so I've had my eye on the Vidalia Chop Wizard for a while now, but even with the gift card I wasn't sure I wanted to pay $20. So I kept passing it by.
What do you know? Today I found it on the clearance rack at Walgreen's for only $12.99! Seven dollars saved just by putting it off.

Think about it. How often do you just 'need' something, but it's really a 'want'? If you are willing to wait a bit, most of the time those 'wants' go on sale for a much better price. At the very least, if you wait until they show up on an "As Seen on TV" shelf, you won't have to pay for shipping.

I've heard a vast range of reviews for this puppy, mostly very good, so I'll have to let you know how I like it.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Kitchen Tip Tuesday: electric knife

Do you have an electric knife? If you do, chances are it sits in a drawer forgotten most of the year. Well, it can be useful for more than carving roasts or turkeys! Use it to prep raw meat, too.

Today, I got a *BOGO deal on top round. This is what we usually put in the pasta sauce my husband makes on Sundays. Life is a lot easier when the meat is already cut up and ready to go.

So, today I took out my electric carving knife and went to work on two nice steaks. I was able to trim them and cut them into bite-sized pieces in half the time it would take for a regular knife. The pieces went into labelled bags and are now in the freezer. Four Sunday's worth of beef for sauce in less than 20 minutes! (BTW, we also add sausage and sometimes meatballs or brasciole. My husband makes a gooooood sauce.)

Hey, speaking of BOGO: whenever you have a deal like that where the items have various prices, be sure to match up the prices as closely as possible for the maximum savings. Remember, they always discount the lowest price, so you want that low price to be as close to the high price as possible.

For more great tips, visit "Tammy's Recipes" for Kitchen Tip Tuesdays. The link is over there on my sidebar!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Easy Onion Rings

I rarely fry anything. It makes too much of a mess. But once in a while, I get in the mood!

I don't have a deep fryer. I use a regular 3-quart pot and fill it about halfway up, then I use a thermometer to make sure I'm at the deep-fry temperature. Having your oil at the correct temp and making sure you have enough in the pot is key to successful frying.

So here is the recipe:

Onion cut into rings (Sweet onions like vidalias or mayans are best)
Complete Pancake Mix
any spice you like--I use just a bit of onion powder.

Mix the onion powder (or whatever) in with the pancake mix. Add seltzer until you have a nice consistency--not too thin, not too thick. Just a little thinner than actual pancake batter.

Dip the onions, then fry them a few at a time. Never overload your oil! You want to keep it at a steady temp, and too many goodies will bring it down. That will result in mushy onion rings. They cook up fast enough, so don't worry if you only do 2 or 3 at a time.

Drain on paper towels and add salt, as you go along.

Keep an eye on the temp, and either let the oil sit a minute to gain or remove from the burner for a few moments to let it cool again.

When you are all done, enjoy! But put a few in the freezer for the future. I flash-froze about 8 of them and put them in a bag. Today, I took them out and reheated them at 350 degrees in the toaster oven. They were great!

BTW, seltzer makes them 'puff' a little, so they come out just like diner onion rings.

PS...I strain and decant my oil into a canning jar and use it again. Twice is about my limit, but I think you can use it a few times with success.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

CVS Trick

I can't believe it took me two years to figure this one out. Unfortunately, it won't work for everyone. But if you have a 'spending account' card, it will work for you.

In case you don't know, a spending account card comes from your insurance company. At the beginning of the year, you put a certain amount in the card. It's your money. This is like a debit card, except that it has a specific purpose. In my case, to buy medical things or services. Everything medical that is not covered by my insurance can be paid for with this card. (You have to use it up within the year or you lose it. And it comes right off the top as a tax deduction.)

That includes most OTC meds, which is where the CVS trick comes in. The other day, I used the card to stock up on some cold medicine, bandages, etc. One product gave me $3.00 in ECBs. I was also picking up some fabric softener that was BOGO (yes, I use vinegar and baking soda, but sometimes I just want something that smells nice), which made it 2 for 3.99. So I used the $3.00 ECB and got the softener for about 50 cents a bottle!

I hope this helps a few people out there to save a little money!

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Oh, boy, an award!

Look what I got from Debbie J! Debbie's blog is link is on my sidebar.

Debbie makes awesome things, including an adorable clothespin bag for me that I love! Check it out on the old post:

Thanks, Debbie. You are definitely one of my favorite people!

Friday, March 06, 2009

Frugal Friday: Time Saver and a Thank You

First I want to say 'thanks' to Crystal over at Biblicalwomanhood for hosting 'Frugal Fridays' these past few years. I've learned so much from my fellow bloggers, and it has been a treat to find great tips all in one place. Crystal's passing the baton over to a fellow blogger. Details and today's tips here:

I've posted before about measuring out dry ingredients for several recipes at once. We all know one of the biggest kitchen messes involves measuring flour! (Okay, maybe that's only true in my kitchen.) But I'm not sure if I posted this idea: measure out the same recipe twice!

Today I'm making Tollhouse Cookies. When I measured out the flour and other dry ingredients, I also measured the same into an empty coffee can. Then I put the sugars I need into a small bag, which fits right in the can on top of the flour. I labeled the can and put it in my pantry. Now, in the future, I've got half the work done when we're in the mood for cookies!

Saving time=being frugal!

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Thoughts on Commercials

It's been a long time since I commented on TV commercials that bug me, so here goes.

Other bloggers have mentioned the "High Fructose Corn Syrup" commercials. I still don't 'get' the whole anti-HFCS thing except that the darned stuff is everywhere. I actually saw the one where the couple is on a picnic quite a few times before reading another blogger's (sorry, can't remember who--maybe Kelly the Kitchen Kop) post mentioning the popsicle. Then it hit me: who the heck brings a popsicle on a picnic? And only one????

Commercial two, for KFC: they show that you can't make the same chicken at home. Okay, I'll buy that you don't know what's in the secret spice mixture. But they have the kids buying chicken (probably full price) and a whole bag of flour. Even if you didn't have the flour at home, you aren't using the whole thing in your recipe! Duh! So maybe I can't duplicate the exact meal, but I sure can come close for a lot less.

And finally, a commercial for Applebee's, I think. I hate Applebee's. Lousy service, lousy food. Anyhoo...the commercial says you can eat there for the price of a meal at home. Then they advertise a 2 for $20 special. you know what I could make for $20 if I was only feeding myself and my husband? Hey, throw in two of the kids and I could still do better. $10 a person would mean really good steak and all kinds of sides, possibly even shrimp. A real special-occasion dinner, not a weeknight meal.

Who do these people think they are kidding?

BTW, I do eat out. I like to eat out, although we haven't done 'fancy' in years. (Our favorite is a seafood restaurant that is part seafood store. Good prices, great food.) I used to like KFC but I think they've gone downhill.

It's just the commercials that take us for dummies that get to me.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Sunday Scrapbooking Freebies

I've found some nice freebies for scrapbookers, card-makers, etc. I hope you enjoy them!

Joni Gray has the prettiest "Snow Drops" kit in soft greens and white. There are other beautiful freebies on her blog, too!

Over at KatLen Kreations you'll find an adorable and cheerful "Happy Birthday" kit in bright primary colors. It's part of a bigger "Blog Train," which means you'll also find links to other blogs offering birthday kits! How awesome is that? And, oh, my gosh, you have to scroll down and check out the baby goats! Oh, the cuteness!!!!!

Over at "Digitreats" are some cool alphabets! I like these because they download as individual letters rather than one sheet from A-Z.

BTW, I have downloaded and extracted these items with no problem at all. If you want to know how to do that, let me know. It helps to have some kind of scrapbooking or art program in which to use them, too.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Kitchen Tip Tuesday: Recipe Notebook

It's time for Kitchen Tip Tuesday at Tammy's Recipes. Take a trip over there for some great tips and recipes from our fellow bloggers!

I don't have a recipe today, but a tip to keep track of the ones you find on line and would like to try. I used to either bookmark them, which takes up room on my toolbar, or print them out--which is more paperwork in a house already inundated with the stuff.

Solution: a cute little notepad. I bought mine when Target had their dollar deals on sale 75% off, so it cost me a quarter. It's got a chocolate lab puppy on the front.

Inside, I jot down the names of recipes and where to find them on line. The notepad is no bigger than my hand, so it takes up very little space. I plan to keep it right here on my desk, next to the laptop.

After I make a recipe, if I like it, I'll make a nicer copy to put into my recipe folder. In the meantime, having this little recipe notebook helps reduce all the papers around here!

Friday, February 20, 2009

I'm still here

Just haven't had much to post about. I'm tired all the time. You know I work at a pediatric office, and I honestly think my body is worn out from resisting one sickness after another. Knock on wood, I haven't caught anything yet...and winter is almost over. (I've doubled my vitamins, so hopefully, that will help.)

I did think of something to post about today. It's silly, but one of those 'duh' ideas. I was rearranging some pans, moving them from the bottom of my pantry into a cabinet in the kitchen. (This also involved putting some never-used items aside for the thrift store.) I had my cookie sheets and lasagna-type pans stacked up nicely, but not much room on the side of them for anything else.

Here was the 'duh' moment...I turned the pans around 90 degrees! Instead of the wide part facing the opening, the narrower part faces it. Leaving me with half the shelf empty for other storage! Perfect space for my larger size, rectangular slow cooker.

Most of my ideas are the bolt-from-the-blue type. I could spend hours staring at a problem and never solve it. But walk away and do something else...and it hits me.

So if you are in the rearranging stuff mood, think about turning something sideways and maybe you'll find more room!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

I can live with this weather!

It's 63 degrees right now. On Long Island. In the dead middle of winter. So you know what I did today?

I hung laundry for the first time in months! I opened the back door to let the dog out and saw my lonely, forgotten clothesline. (Well, okay, lonely but not forgotten. I miss it.) And I thought...the sun is shining, it's way, way above freezing, so why not?

So I just did a small wash of light weight things, mostly aprons and napkins. I figure that, at 63 degrees, things won't dry as fast as when it hits 83.

Boy, what a treat--hanging laundry in the wintertime!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Tightwad Tuesday: Space Party

Check out the Tightwad Tuesday post over at "Being Frugal." She put on the coolest party for a 'tweenager,' based on the show "American Idol." Things like this make me miss the days when my kids were young and I could throw theme parties for them. I'll tell you about one I did for my son, when he was about six. It was a party based on an Outer Space theme. Sorry, no pictures--this was 20 years ago! (Of course, there are pictures someplace, in some album I the attic.)

I honestly can't remember the cake, but I suppose it was shaped like a rocket ship. That would be easy enough to do. Prior to the party, I collected egg cartons and half-gallon milk containers. These were washed out very carefully, then I wrapped white paper around the milk carton. I glued the egg part of the carton to the milk container. I remember that I cut off the triangular top--so basically, you had a box with a bunch of bumps on it, LOL! What for? Well, the kids decorated these and we called them 'Space Packs,' which was a fancy-shmancy name for a goodie bag!

Two games I remember: one was "Throw the Ring Around Saturn." We had a huge ball, like a beachball, and a hoola-hoop. The kids had to toss the ring around the ball. The second game was "Captain (Put Name Here) Says," instead of Simon Says. I was the captain. Maybe I was Captain Mom. Hey, I can't remember what I had for lunch yesterday, let alone something that happened in 1988. I do remember walking very slowly, like you might on the moon, and then jumping up and down like you just stepped on the sun. The kids loved it, LOL! (Nobody said it was Rocket Science. I'm perfectly aware you can't walk on the sun.)

One snack comes back to my poor brain: Saturn pops. Basically, I unwrapped Dum-Dums, then put a gumdrop ring around the pop. Then I wrapped them again.

Like I said, I don't remember it all...but I do remember we had a great time!

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Thrifty Thursday

It's Thrifty Thursday day over at Thrifty Jinxy!

My little donation today is just this: when it comes to being frugal, it doesn't have to be all or nothing!

You don't have to spend an entire Sunday doing the Once a Month Cooking thing. Every little bit you do ahead of time will help you. Examples: brown ground beef and repackage it according to how much you would need for a meal. Then freeze it! You could even add Italian, Mexican or other spices! Can I tell you how great it was to have my ground beef all ready to go last night for spaghetti, especially since I found out earlier in the day I was working in the evening?

Cut up your vegetables when you bring them home (or soon after). Don't cut and wash berries--you probably already know this, but wet berries get all gooky. Nothing like reaching into the produce drawer to make a salad...and all you have to do is throw it together!

I love couponing and spend quite a lot of time on it, but I consider it a hobby that pays me back. You don't have to do this. Think what you would really like to save money on, and concentrate on those items--diapers, for example! (I'm awfully glad I haven't had to buy diapers in years.) We all use shaving products, and the very-high-value coupons for them show up quite often. It is great to get a 9.99 razor for half price by combining sales and coupons--especially if you also get Extra Care Bucks from CVS, LOL!

Speaking of CVS, I've written about this before but it bears repeating. If there is one rule to remember for the ECBs thing, it is this: look at your receipt after each purchase and immediately put the coupons into your wallet! That way, they are there for you next time you shop, not left on the kitchen counter.

Just a couple of little things, but boy, oh, boy, they make life easier!

(BTW, if you like the OAMC on Sunday thing, cool--but I actually like cooking and wouldn't want to do it all in one day. I do, however, like to have some things made ahead of time for those days I'm just not in the mood to put a meal together!)

Friday, January 30, 2009

Frugal Friday: Kraft Coupon Instant Win

It's Frugal Friday today:
There are so many good ideas over there! Bloggers are just the smartest people on earth, IMHO.

I found an instant win contest on the Kraft site for $15 in coupons. You only get to play once a day...but I tried today and won! The coupons will come in the mail in a few weeks.

I'm always iffy about things like this, so I stick with reliable companies I know. Here's the link to the Kraft contest:

This ends February 2nd, btw! (Sorry, I only just found out about it.) Good luck to everyone.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Do Something with Your Leftovers!

Today's assignment, should you choose to accept it, is this:

Pick out a shelf in your fridge.
Take out any leftovers on that shelf.
Check for the following qualities:
1)Pleasant smell
2)Lack of growing/green stuff

Should the leftovers in question meet these criteria, your next step will be to either
a)plan a meal around them within the next 2 days
b)get them into the freezer for future use. And don't forget to label them!

I just put some sushi rice and some cooked beef in gravy in the freezer. Not sure what will become of the rice, but I made a note on the beef that I could add spices, shred it, and put it in tortillas.
I'm going to finish off some soup broth for lunch today by adding some noodles, which James and Nick will eat.
For me, leftover peanut butter spaghetti, roasted cherry tomatoes and maybe broccoli salad. At the very least, it's our vegetable tonight!

What are you waiting for? Go rescue some leftovers before they turn into science projects!

This blog entry will NOT self destruct in ten seconds...

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Tightwad Tuesday

Today is Tightwad Tuesday over

My bit of advice is to pay cash whenever you can. Since the beginning of this year, I've been trying to do just that. It doesn't always work, but I find if I stick to a list, I can do it. Combining coupons and sales helps, too! (Yesterday, I brought home almost $40 worth of groceries for $18!)

The kids pay me cash for car insurance or rent, and I try to use this so I don't dip into my pathetic bank account. (Pathetic because of trying to keep up with bills, like so many others!) If I have $25, I try to aim for spending less than $20.

I've been doing Grocery Game for a long time now, and have a good stockpile that helps keep my list short. On Sunday, I'll print out a list of possible purchases, but then I'll go through it and cross off things I really don't need. I try to save at least 50%. It wasn't easy when I first started, but as I think about what I already have on hand, I can cut things off the list.

I have cashed in change, scratch-off lottery tickets and bottle receipts to get a few extra bucks. It isn't going to erase my debt, but it sure does help with the groceries.

After all, your food bill is probably one of the most flexible expenditures (right word?) in your budget!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Thrifty Thursday: Adaptation

I haven't participated in Thrifty Thursday for a while, so here I go again. My thrifty advice today is: 'adaptation.' Instead of running off to the store to get the ingredients you need for a recipe, look around and see what you can use instead.

I found a recipe for a Beef and Vegetable Bake in the January issue of Ladies' Home Journal. (Page 109). I have 90% of the ingredients. I'm only missing mushrooms, possibly red wine, and biscuit mix. Okay, I like mushrooms, but since it is only 2 of us eating tonight, they aren't practical. So I'll leave them out. I can increase the beef broth or add water to sub for the wine, if I need to do that.

As far as biscuit mix, well, I looked it up to make my own. But you need shortening, and I don't keep that in the house. So then I remembered I have a can of crescent rolls in the fridge. Instead of biscuits, I'm going to put the crescent dough on top. I think it will work. At the very least, I'm sure the meat part will taste good!

So, always think about what you already have that might be able to do the job. It will save you money!

For more great thrifty ideas, visit "Thrifty Jinxy" soon!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Tightwad Tuesday: Napkins

I'm not working on any particular sewing projects these days, but want to keep myself 'in the mood.' So I've been looking for little things to do that don't involve a trip to the fabric store. (See my previous post.)
I like cloth napkins, just because they feel nice--nothing to do with the environment. Saving the earth is just a bonus. Saving money and getting something semi-luxurious out of the deal is the real reason I do it.

Today, I'm making more cloth napkins.

This is frugal because it's a)cheaper than constantly buying paper napkins* and b)I'm using up some of my ridiculous fabric scrap stash. Did I say ridiculous? Can any sewist have too much fabric--even little pieces?

*truth: my husband buys paper napkins. I use them, too, but not as often as I use cloth. I only wish I could get the rest of the house on board with me. Oh, well.

For more Tightwad Tuesday fun, visit:

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Sewing/organizing Project

My son Nick has a collection of playing cards, in different colors, that usually ends up all over his floor. So I made him this wall hanging to hold them, and other things. I had a big piece of 'ticking stripe' which must have originally been a pillow (my mom gave it to me), because 3 sides were already sewn up. I just finished it off and added some pockets. I sized the bottom row to hold the playing cards, but just used whatever size scraps I had for the remaining pockets. Nick really likes it. I hope it means there will be a few less things on his floor!
BTW, when most of the sewing you do is for girls, it's really hard to find 'boy' fabrics in your stash, LOL!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Yes, I Do Have Bananas!

I've got bananas up to wazoo. My boss had a religious gathering at her home the other night. She is Hindu, and part of the ceremony involves fruits and flowers. In fact, my daughter helped her do the flowers. So today, Dr. A asks me if I want some bananas. She gave me 3 big bunches, plus some apples and pears! Free fruit, oh, boy!

I learned something new today. Hindus don't eat onions. At least, not the kind that Dr. A is. (I don't know if there are different groups.) Onions are thought to make you 'hard' inside. I thought that was interesting.

Meantime, here I am with bananas. I chopped up some and am freezing them for smoothies, and I smashed up some to freeze for banana bread. I'm giving a bunch to my neighbor.

I think, maybe, I'll either start swinging from a tree soon or go into potassium overload.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Tightwad Tuesday

I found another awesome "Day" at a cool blog called "" It is "Tightwad Tuesday." Head on over there to check out some great ideas from other bloggers!

Here is my donation. It is a recipe for the most tender, juicy roasted chicken you've ever eaten. I think it was shown on some morning show a while back, but don't ask me to remember where!


You need a roasting chicken and one or two lemons. That's it. That's all.

Take a fork and stab the lemon a bunch of times and put it up inside the bird. If it's a big guy, you might need 2 lemons.

Roast your chicken exactly as you would a plain one. The lemon juice will leak out and will both tenderize and flavor the meat.

You can make a lemon gravy from the juices, if you'd like.

A caveat: do NOT put any lemons in the pan, outside the bird. Somehow, they work just fine inside, but I found that lemons outside make the drippings really bitter.


Friday, January 09, 2009

Frugal Friday

It's Frugal Friday over at Biblical Womanhood, and I actually have something to offer!

I love sushi. I crave sushi. I even found a recipe and have 98% of the ingredients to try making it myself (California Roll. I'll eat raw fish, but I doubt I could find/afford sushi grade tuna). I'm only missing the green stuff, which I think is called 'nori.'

But this is not about sushi. It's about those cute little containers that sushi comes in. The tops are clear and the bottoms have a pretty Oriental-floral design. Seemed a shame to get rid of them.

So I bleach-clean them and use them for craft storage! I just let them soak a bit, and there is no smell. Really, if your sushi smells fishy...order the tempura.

I've divided up my ribbons by color and am now starting on dividing up my buttons. They stack beautifully and you can easily see what is inside!

Thursday, January 08, 2009

My Nintendo DS

This was the gift my kids gave to me, and I love it! I cashed in some change for an Amazon gift certificate and got the "Personal Trainer" cooking program. It came in the mail yesterday, and it's so much fun. Tonight I'm making "Bang-Bang Chicken" (don'tcha love that name?) and Chinese Cabbage Salad for dinner. With the program, you can check off items you need, and it makes a master grocery list for you. It also has a calculator that keeps track of how much you are spending. That's a good thing, because I wanted to stay under $30, the cash in my wallet--and I did.
Oh, and you can also ask for substitute ingredients! For each of these recipes, there are some things I don't want to have to pay for (chili oil, for example) and was glad I had substitutes for them here at home.
I don't mind buying something if I know I'm going to use it, but what's the point of having something take up room in your pantry? Case in point is the Malt Vinegar that I've had for years and years, LOL!

So, if you have the DS and you were thinking about this program (I first saw it on a cute TV commercial) I definitely recommend it. BTW, for this item, shipping was free. I had to buy something else to hit the $25 minimum (the program costs about $20), so I bought the latest paperback by Diane Mott Davidson. All paid for with pocket change!