Friday, September 30, 2011

Grocery Basket 9/30

You may have noticed that Miss MoneyPenny has been pretty quiet for the last couple of weeks.  I've been in TRAINING at work.  We are getting a new system, and as usual, everything has to be different.  Not one thing is the same.  It is like these guys do it on purpose to make us crazy.  And it is working. 

This is how it goes:  We sit in a hot, stuffy room and our training person starts talking Greek.  I wish it were Greek because I could then go to Greece and actually communicate.  As it is, I just have a few phrases like 'build a periodical record set' or 'build a purchase order record set.'  As you can see there are a lot of record sets with this new system...and I'm just thrilled.

I was looking at the QFC flyer this week and noticed that they seem to be using a lot of ad space per item.  What is with that?  And the sales stink.  I was interested in the cantaloupe for .49/lb but got scared off by the Listeria bug.  So I just picked up a few things and went through the self checkout and called it good.

Safeway is having a pretty good sale on beef this week.  Steak ranges from $3.99/lb to $5/99/lb so if you need it - grab it.  I carefully looked over the flyer to see if they had one of those cool steak coupons like what I used at the beginning of summer.  No dice.  They still are running the flu shot deal for 10% off of your groceries, though.

I'm still eating from the garden and made up a big pan of the famous green bean dish.  Every since I made the trade for potatoes with Mr. SuperGenius, I've added them to the mix, and it is good.  I'm thinking that this is my last mess of green beans for the year but the cherry tomatoes are still coming on like crazy and will continue to do so until a good freeze.  I also picked a nice bouquet of sunflowers and it looks like I'm going to get beautiful dahlias after all.  I love this time of year in the garden.

Someone asked if I could show my budget book so I took a few pictures.  You will notice that it is splitting down the middle.

This very simple budget book has changed my life.  Really.  I posted earlier about how my system works but am planning on doing it again because I think it will work for everyone.   Although, it has been brought to my attention that this doesn't work with some husbands.  It has been my experience that this is so but I can't help you with that because I had the same problem with my favorite ex husband.  His deal was - work hard, make money, play hard, spend money.  Very simple.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Costco and PetSmart Day

Miss MoneyPenny was going to hit the Macy sale after Weight Watchers today but after spending $122 at Costco, she had to go home and sit down.  Costco had good coupons for a lot of their supplements and things like that that I use regularly.  I'm here to tell you that stuff is not cheap but I believe in them and that is half the battle.  Until I was 45, all the pills that I took could be summed up in a birth control pill and a monthly headache aspirin.  Those were the days.  My sister, Miss SmartyPants, called yesterday and asked me what did it mean when you went to the drug store and bought one of those seven day pill holders.  Honey Lamb - it means you've crossed over and the next step is Depends.

Anyway, without those coupons my eye drops and supplements would have cost $140, so I really stocked up.  If I had purchased them at my local grocery store they probably would have been at least $200 - easy.  I have this sneaky feeling that if I become a bag lady, my eye drops may not be in my monthly budget, so that is what all this is about - avoiding the shopping cart with all my worldly possessions safely tucked in a black garbage bag.

PetSmart went much better.  In fact, the cashier was impressed.  I had $14 in coupons for Nutro and ProPlan dog food, plus PetSmart had emailed me a 15% off coupon.  So after scanning my loyalty card, I was able to get the sale prices, which is kind of unfriendly but almost all the stores are doing it these days.  No card = no sale price.  What is with that?  Anyway, the end result was that I got 16 pounds of quality dog food for $18.92, including tax, instead of $42.86.  It adds up.

When I got back to town, I dropped by QFC to cherry pick their loss leaders.  There was a man panhandling where you turn in to the parking lot.  At the door, the Disabled Vets were giving away little poppies for a donation.  I am thrilled to give to those guys.  As I was leaving, there was a "blind" man with a cane and a gas can asking for change.  I'm wondering how blind he was because he called
me "ma'am."  I told him that I gave my last $2 to the vets and not to call me "ma'am."  Good grief!!!  I know it is almost the end of the month but this is crazy.  Is this what our men are coming to?  Flat scares the hell out of me.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Grocery Basket 9/22

Miss MoneyPenny is STILL eating green beans and tomatoes from the garden.  I think that the green beans are almost done, but not the tomatoes.  Those little babies are gonna go strong until the first hard freeze.  I know that in the middle of winter I will really miss them and wonder how I could have possible gotten sick of them.  Happens every year.

Along with the aforementioned, I'm planning on doing a chicken stir-fry and brown rice, tuna sliders and some kind of eggplant dish.  I haven't decided yet what that will be, but it is on sale.  Maybe ratatouille.  I love the stuff.  It is great on polenta and in pasta.  I'm happy to eat it right out of the bowl.

The sale flyers aren't very exciting this week, but here are some items of interest:


Broc/Cauli - .99/lb
Grapes - .99/lb
Pears - .99/lb
Eggplant - 2/$3
Cucumbers & Green Peppers - .59/lb
King salmon - 9.99/lb
They are still running the Buy 10/Get $5 this week.

Earlier I promised the recipe for Killer Chicken Soup.  Here it is:

Saute in 1T olive oil - chopped onion & garlic.  When soft, add 1 small can chopped green chilies, 15 oz can chopped tomatoes, box of chicken broth and diced leftover cooked chicken.  Now, this is the really important part, so don't leave out any of the spices.

1 tsp lemon pepper
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin
2 tsp Lea & Perrins
good dash of hot sauce

Simmer on the back of the stove so that flavors develop.  When it is almost ready, boil up 1/2 cup of orzo pasta.  Drain and add to the soup.  Spoon some of the soup broth into a bowl with 1/2 cup or more of light sour cream.  Whisk until smooth, then add slowly back to the pot.  This is called tempering and you do it so that the sour cream won't look all lumpy.  I bet you didn't think that I was paying attention when the Food Network was on, did you?

This soup just gets better every day as the flavors deepen.  You can change it up by adding bell peppers, corn or black beans.  My friend Miss Maggie May doesn't even put chicken in it - just beans and corn.  This recipe is a keeper and great for when it is cold outside or, God forbid, you have a cold.  Trust me on this.  If you make it, let me know what you think.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Sounds of Summer

Now you know how Miss MoneyPenny loves her music.  There is always music playing in the MoneyPenny household, and there always has been.  I came to music on the radio pretty young.  When I was in first grade I brought home the measles, mumps and chicken pox to the whole family, including Dad.  When I say Mom went crazy taking care of three sick little kids and their father, I mean it - literally.  It was like I brought the plague home on purpose and was never forgiven.

Anyway, the thinking at that time was you had to be in a darkened room, or else you would go blind from the measles.  I personally think that Mom dreamed that one up because whenever any of us got sick from then on, it was the dark room.  We would go to school sick to avoid it.  You can imagine how lonely I was by myself in the dark, so Mom plugged in a radio by my bed.  All I could get on that radio was a Top 40 station out of Roseburg but that was fine with me.  Those DJs were my friends and I really liked the music.  So began a lifetime of radio listening.  I even slept all night with it on and was really put out when my young husband told me to turn that darn thing off, so he could get some sleep.  Jerk.

When I think of summertime music, Summer in the City by the Lovin' Spoonful, always comes to mind.  Also, California Girls by The Beach Boys and Light My Fire by The Doors, Fool by Chris Rea. Lying Eyes by The Eagles, Dreamboat Annie by Heart.  I could go on and on.  I still love those songs and the memories that they bring.

So, this is a list of what I've been listening to this summer:

Light You Up - Shawn Mullins
Beg, Steal or Borrow - Ray LaMontagne
Crash into You - Dave Matthews Band
Two Against One - Dangermouse
Rolling in the Deep - Adele
Iris - Goo Goo Dolls
Come as you are - Nirvana
John Mayer - everything by him - I know that he is a kiss and tell jerk, but I like his music

This is the short list.  Click on the "0 comments" and tell me what you are liking this summer and I'll share.  After all, summer in the city is almost over.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Grocery Basket 9/16

Miss MoneyPenny got her flu shot at Safeway today.  All you have to do is give the nice ladies in the pharmacy your insurance card and then somebody comes out and gives you a shot in the arm.  Nothing to it.  Then you get 10% off of your groceries.

Speaking of groceries - I know that my shopping looks crazy but remember it is only me and the critters.  Both Safeway and QFC were running a couple of deals that I took advantage of for stockpiling.  This is what I bought at Safeway:

Hermiston Sweet Onions - .99/lb
4 Lucerne Greek Yogurts - .89 ea
4 Clorox Toilet Bowl Cleaners - BOGO - used 2 $1/2 coupons from SS/8/21 - ($5.98-$2=$3.98 for 4) - regular price would have been $11.96 before sale and coupons
They were also running the Buy $75 Get $10 Catalina coupon for next time.  I don't think that I've ever taken advantage of that one but it would have come in handy when I had all those hungry guys to feed.


New crop Gala apples - .99/lb
2 Coffee Mate - 2/$5 - plus I used a $1 QFC coupon making them $2 each
2 Silk Almond milks - $3.49 each - I used a $1.50/2 QFC coupon making them $2.74 ea
2 red peppers - $1 each
Buy 10 Save $5 deal:
4 Kraft Mac & Cheese - .49 each
4 Del Monte peaches - .99 each
4 Tide liquid - $5.77 ea - I used 2 $1.50/2 coupons from Sept P&G insert - ($23.08 - $3 = $20.08 for 4) - regular price before sale and coupons $35.96
I had them bag the mac & cheese and peaches separately for the food bank.  I mainly bought them to get the Tide deal but the food bank can always use some help.

Here is a picture of today's stockpile.  I really had a hard time in finding a place on my counter that wasn't all cluttered up.  These 8 items cost me $24.06 instead of $47.92.  They will not go bad and I always use them - good contenders for stockpiling.

My menu plan for the week is to make a big pot of my Killer Chicken Soup, halibut, salad. more green beans and tomatoes - I eat 'em until they are gone.  I might also do some polenta.  I have apples, nectarines and bananas for cereal, yogurt and smoothies.  When I do salad it is a real meal.  I put feta cheese along with the kitchen sink in it.  I buy feta at Costco.  I have no trouble using it up and it is lower in fat than other cheeses.

I will give you the recipe in a later post for the Killer Chicken Soup.  I love regular chicken soup but it can be pretty boring but not this soup.  Trust me.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Hot Springs Weekend

Miss MoneyPenny had such a terrific time at the Hot Springs this past weekend that she still hasn't caught her breath.  It was really hot up there this time so we didn't spend a lot of time in the hot springs.  So we ate and drank and talked until we were blue in the face.  And laughed, of course.  Here is a picture of our cabin:

The cabins are rustic - but not as bad as they were 20 years ago.  I'm not making this up - I rubbed against the wall and got a splinter the first time I was there.  There is no TV, radio, Internet or cell service but the food is very good and you can't beat the scenery.  We also had a swing by the creek, which other people thought that they could use too.  We were very territorial about the swing.  Here is a picture of my sister and I having an early morning chat:

I mentioned in an earlier post that I was going to get my National Parks & Forests Senior Pass.  This is a great deal and if you are 62 or over, take advantage of this.  It was $10!!! and is good for the rest of my life!!!  As long as I'm in the car, armed with my pass, everybody gets in free.  My sister, who is only 59, does a lot of hiking and other wild and crazy outdoor activities.  She's planning on taking me and my little card along with her on some of her adventures.  Her idea of fun is my idea of pure hell.  I know there will be snakes.  We'll stick to places that you don't have sleep on the ground in a tent.  Shudder!!  Here is my card, complete with tiara:

And here is a picture of my two sisters:

My sister, the accountant, figured out our bill and it came to about $200 a piece for everything, including our meals at the lodge, with the cute waiter.  That is pretty reasonable for two nights and all the other stuff.  What was not reasonable was the $203 that I paid to board my babies and then the $80 for the flea medication.  They picked up some of the biggest and meanest fleas I've ever encountered at the doggie hotel.  They are not due for more flea medicine for another two weeks, so I called my vet and asked what to do.  She said I needed to put a different brand of flea stuff on them that worked in a different way than my usual stuff or else there could be a problem.  So now we are looking at a total of $483 for the weekend.  It was worth every penny.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Grocery Basket 9/9

Miss MoneyPenny is not shopping this weekend because it is HOT SPRINGS WEEKEND!!!  I save all year for this.  This includes the cabin, massage and eating at the Lodge, plus all the laying around in the hot springs.  This year my sister Miss SmartyPants is joining Miss Know-it-All and myself to celebrate her birthday.  And this is the exciting part - because Miss MoneyPennny is 62, she can get the lifetime free pass to all the National Parks for $10!!!  Normally it costs us $15 every year to get into the park.  No more!!  My dear old dad told me to be sure and take advantage of all the senior discounts.  He would be proud because I've taken it to the limit.

Okay - QFC is having another one of their 10/$10 sales.  This includes peaches, pears, peppers, oranges and Roma tomatoes.  Miss CutiePie brought up a good point yesterday.  You do not have to buy 10 pounds or 10 peppers to get the sale.  What it breaks down to is $1 per pound or $1 per pepper.  It scares me when I think of the shoppers who either try to eat 10 pounds of pears or 10 peppers before they go bad.  EEK!  Or worse - not taking advantage of the sale.  Also, first aid type stuff is also 10/$10.  This includes cotton balls, alcohol, etc.  They also have Stella beer on for $7.99 for a six pack.  My granddaughter turned me onto Stella.  Good beer.

Of course my sister had the last word on my Costco post.  She's always been that way.  So here is her comment:

Miss Smarty Pants said...
Good thing you added "step" in front of sister! You also won't find slug bait and potting soil cheaper anywhere. Costco rotisserie chickens are the biggest and best! I got my Verizon cell phone there. You not only get the best price, but it adds to your Costco rebate. Did you forget to mention the Am Ex and Membership Costco rebate? Now that I have 3 grandchildren that live with me I once again have no problem using things up by the expiration date. By the way.. DID I MENTION THAT SCHOOL STARTED TODAY!!! Imagine, being almost 59 and excited about the first day of school again....

She is right.  I did forget a lot of stuff.  I also got my Droid there and really cute, well made flip flops for the summer.  I'll be sure and check next year for them.  The rebate that she is talking about is a really good one.  The deal is you sign up for your Costco American Express card and get real money put into an account.  I believe that it is 4% for gas, 2% for restaurants and 1% for everything else.  I use my card all the time, and every week I add up my receipts and bill pay American Express so I don't carry a balance.  They are hoping that I will, of course.  Then come February or March in your Am Ex bill will be a check.  You do have to cash it at Costco but you don't have to spend it there.  Last year I think, if I remember right, my check was around $150.  My sister and my son also use theirs for business, so they get a real nice check.  See - money for nothing!!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


Miss MoneyPenny loves Costco .  You may find it strange that a single lady would shop at Costco because it is warehouse shopping in bulk.  It is true, though.  When I was married to my favorite ex- husband, we would go once a month and spend a whole gob of money.  We didn't even have a list!!!  When I became single again, I would do the same thing!  That didn't last long.  I decided to just avoid Costco altogether because I couldn't get out of there without spending at least $200.  Now, you know Miss MoneyPenny doesn't have $200 in her budget for Costco, nor do I even need $200 worth of stuff every month.

After several years of avoiding the place, my daughter-in-law, who works there, put me on her family plan.  That means I don't have to pay the yearly $50.  What a deal!  So, I decided that I was going to learn how to shop Costco and get the most for my money.  The is what I've learned:

First - never, never go there without a list.  I keep a list of things that I need on the refrigerator.  Sometimes I start a new list as soon as I get home if I've seen something interesting during my shopping trip.  I rarely buy anything that is not on my list because it can really wreck my budget since everything is in bulk, and that adds up quick.  If I'm still interested next month, I'll keep it on the list.  No recreational shopping at Costco.  Ever.

Second - Think hard and long about buying produce at Costco.  I can do the bananas, peppers, grape tomatoes, fresh blueberries and sometimes a container of salad mix.  That is about it.  The quality of their produce is top notch but there is no way one person can eat a flat of apples before they go soft.  I've tried.

Third - Can you use it up before the expiration date?  I'm talking about canned goods, frozen foods and cheeses.  I've found that I can't, no matter how hard I try, no matter how good the price.

That being said, Costco is the best place to buy cat litter, toilet paper, oatmeal, Special K, almonds, canned cat food, Cetaphil, eye drops, baking soda & vinegar, most vitamins, tires,  flannel sheets, pillows, Comet, frozen smoothie fruit and rotisserie chickens.  These are things that I use all the time so nothing goes bad before it gets used up.  You may wonder how one woman can eat up 10 pounds of oatmeal.  Good question, but I do.  It has taken me quite a while to figure out what works for me at Costco.  Your list is probably very different from mine, especially if you have a family and don't like oatmeal.

I bought my iPod at Costco and swear by their concierge service - free technical support and an 800 number.  They are very patient with people that need a manual to figure things out.  What is the deal with all this technology that doesn't come with a manual?  Miss MoneyPenny never reads the manual until all else fails, but it is still good to have it, don't you think?  Anyway, I've also been looking at their mattresses.  Who knew that a mattress doesn't last a lifetime?  Now, all I need is a truck to haul it out of there.

Be sure and take advantage of their coupons because they are good ones and make the deal that much sweeter.  I don't get them in the mail because I am family (what is up with that?) but someone is always giving me theirs.  When all else fails, I drop by and pick them up at the Returns Counter.

Speaking of returns - they are really good about giving your money back if something is wrong.  I bought the wrong vitamins once and took them back.  I had my receipt and hadn't opened them.  I understand from my daughter-in-law that some people really take advantage.  That is too bad.  Costco is a warehouse CLUB and we belong to it.  They should get black balled out of the club because it probably doesn't help with keeping the prices low. 

And they take a pretty good picture, not like the Department of Motor Vehicles, where you can look like Dracula's step sister.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Grocery Basket 9/3

Well, Miss MoneyPenny just learned a big lesson.  When the blogger people tell you that they have failed to save while you are writing your post, they mean it.  I finished my post and thought that it looked pretty good and hit "post."  Nothing.  I'm thinking that maybe I was doing too much ranting and raving and opinionating, so they sent me to the showers, as my dear old dad used to say.  With that in mind, here is what I put in my grocery basket this week:

Safeway -

Buy 4 Get $4 off -
1 large bottle Tabasco - 2.29
1 Grey Poupon - 2.09
2 Best Foods mayonnaise - 4.98

2 large cans of light whip cream - 4.99
(I like to spritz my smoothies)

1 cantaloupe - $2
3 lbs bananas - 2.25

6 pack Stella beer for my granddaughter's birthday BBQ - 11.49


Buy 4 Get $4 off -
3 family sized Puffs - 2.97
17 lbs Iams dog food - 16.99
The $1 ecoupon that I loaded onto my card did not come off my total.  Very irritating.

1 Silk almond milk - 3.29
1 Almond Breeze milk - 3.89
Slider buns - 2.99

I'm eating green beans, cherry tomatoes, blackberries and blueberries like mad, as they are coming on like gang busters.  I have one steak left after that steak deal I did earlier this summer and it will do three meals.  I've got Costco salad and I will pick up salmon on Monday for $8.99/lb.  That should do it, along with Costco oatmeal and Special K.

I almost forgot.  I'm trading green beans with Mr. SuperGenius for his homegrown potatoes.  He has grown several different kinds this year and I'm really looking forward to them

Here's a recipe for you:

Green beans
Cherry tomatoes
1T olive oil
Salt & pepper

Toss all together and spread on sheet pan.  Roast at 400 until tomatoes pop.  Add feta cheese to melt and a few drops of red wine vinegar at serving, then eat it.