Monday, December 31, 2012

Resolutions Revisited 2012

It's that time of year when we are all thinking about our New Year's resolutions.  Most of the time we resolve to lose weight and exercise more, only to slowly fall back into our old comfortable ways by March.  At the age of 64, I can't begin to tell you how many times that has been my resolution and having been at my present weight for over a year, it is time to re-address it - again.  And I will, but first I want to evaluate how last year's resolutions went.

First, I set out to address food waste in the MoneyPenny household and that has been very enlightening, indeed.  It turned out that it wasn't as easy as I first thought.  We live in a throw away society and I was just as guilty as the next person. 

What I found out is that the only way to curb food waste is to change your mindset.  You can score all the great grocery deals out there, using the sales and coupons, but if you aren't planning how you are going to use that food, a lot of food, time, effort and money could be wasted.  I found this to be the hardest part of the equation but I channelled my Grandma DeBolt and asked myself what would she do and started to get it.

I started looking at every food item as dollar bills, even when I fed it to the dogs or dumped it in the compost.  That is a real wake up!!  I'd rather set it on fire because that would be more fun, but anyway,  I began to get creative about the food that I brought home. 

In fact, I became much more discriminating about the food that I did bring in the door.  I asked myself these questions before I put it on my grocery list:

1.  Is it "real" food?
2.  Will I "really" eat it or just think I should?
3.  Can it morph into other meals or be frozen for later?
4.  Is it a good value?
5.  Can I really eat 10 apples before they get soft?  Would 5 work?

Sounds easy peasy, doesn't it??  Ha!!  It was like learning a new language for me but I'm now living it.  I used to budget $50 per week for groceries and often went over that.  Now it is $40 but I usually spend about $25, unless there is something that I want to stock up on.  That is getting close to a 50% savings in food dollars and I very rarely let things "get away from me in the fridge" any more.  I would call this resolution an ongoing success.

My other resolution was to wean myself off of anti-anxiety medicine (Klonopin).  It took me six months but I did it.  It was harder than I thought but I'm now "controlled substance" free.  Of course, now I've got to figure out how to deal with anxiety.

I've been mulling a lot of ideas around in my head, trying to decide what to focus on this year and I've decided that organization fills the bill.  My house looks clean but don't open any drawers (see above picture) or closets or you will be frightened.  I know I am.  And paralyzed.  I don't even know what I have anymore and literally freeze up when I think about the clutter, so I think I have hit on the nerve of the right resolution for me.  I'll keep you posted.

Happy New Year!!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Soup for the Winter Doldrums

As you can plainly see, the amaryllis is getting tall, but still no bulb or second set of leaves.  It might be just bloomed out.  We'll see.  I'll keep hitting it with Miracle Gro and see what happens.

Since my soup file only has two soups that I make on a regular basis, it is easy for me to keep track of the ingredients and make sure I have them on hand when the spirit moves me to make a pot of soup.  A couple of weeks ago QFC had colored peppers on sale, so I grabbed three of them and tucked them away in the crisper.  I also had sour cream left from Christmas dinner, so I was in business.

I cut the peppers in fourths, added an onion, box of cherry tomatoes and garlic cloves and put them in a large bowl.  Then I added salt, pepper, pepper flakes and olive oil and using my hands, mixed it all up and then slid the whole thing out on a large baking sheet, and roasted it for one hour at 400.  Half way through I gave it a good stir.

When the veggies were all roasty and yummy, I dumped them into the blender with a couple cups of chicken broth and gave it a good whirl.  I tasted and added just the right dollop of sour cream to give it smoothness and gave it another whirl.  Done!!

When I had a bowl at lunch with a piece of homemade bread, I was just sure I had died and gone to heaven.  It was so brightly delicious and full of vitamins, it should be illegal.  This picture doesn't do the color justice but you can see how beautiful and smooth it is:

This came in the mail the other day.  Be sure and check anything that comes from Macy's, so that it doesn't get thrown out because it looks like junk mail.  What is so great about it is that it is like a $10 bill to be used at Macy's.  Usually, you have to spend $30 and then get $10 off.  Or, it can't be used on makeup or a myriad of other items.  If your item costs $10, it's free!!

Hummer Update:

I've heard people say that they have hummers all year long but I never have...until now, and they are hitting the feeder hard.  I wish that there was something that I could offer them besides sugar water but I've been told to not add bird vitamins or anything else.  If anyone knows about this, would you let me know??

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

QFC Grocery Basket 12/26

As I was cleaning up after Christmas dinner I got to thinking about my mom.  She used to say that there must have been a mix up at the hospital when I was born because I didn't fit with the family.  It didn't hurt my feelings because I agreed with her.  Surely I belonged with the Astorbilts, not this struggling working class family, but it was Mom who was the oddball, in more ways than one.

During WWII Mom was in the Navy.  She was stationed in Washington, D.C. and that was the happiest time of her life.  We have pictures of her dressed in her uniform and she was the tiniest, cutest thing you ever saw.  She looked to be having so much fun with her friends.  She loved nice clothes and cared about things such as flatware and crystal which didn't go with her life at all after the war. 

She married my dad, a farm boy turned log truck driver and proceeded to have three kids between the end of 1948 and September of 1952.  They really struggled financially until my dad left trucking and bought into the tire business but his heart never left trucking.

My sister and I have come to really appreciate how hard Mom worked for her family.  It was especially difficult for her because she was an intellectual and preferred to be quiet by herself.  Instead she got a husband who loved westerns and three loud and demanding kids who never gave her any peace.

The lovely velvet lined box of flatware was hers and I always take it out for special occasions.  My sister has her crystal.  These things were important to Mom and now they are cherished by us.

And on that note, let's take a look at the QFC ad for this week.  Now, you know that Miss MoneyPenny is suspicious of BOGO when it comes to meat and the chicken breasts that are in the ad are a perfect example of why.  According to the ad you will save up to $7.49 a pound.  Surely they aren't charging $7.49 a pound for chicken breasts!! 

So I called QFC and talked to the butcher.  He said they were $6.99 per pound, so I have no idea where the $7.49 came from, but that means with the BOGO you are paying around $3.50 a pound, which is not that good of a deal.  Be careful with BOGOs when it comes to meat.  You can usually do much better on a price per pound sale.

Here are the standouts this week:

Franz Bread - $2.50/loaf
Seattle Sour Dough Bread - 50% off
Simple Truth Cage Free Eggs - $2.50/doz
Chicken of the Sea Tuna - $1/ea (think food bank)
Valley Fresh Chicken - $1/50z can (food bank)
Classico Pasta Sauce - 50% off (I like their pesto - coupon S/11/18 for $1 off 2)
Chobani Greek Yogurt - $1/6oz
Voskos Greek Yogurt - $1/5.3oz
Softsoap Liquid Hand Soap - $ .88/ea
Pork Shoulder Roast - $1.49/lb
California Cuties Clementines - $4.99/3lb bag ($ .50 coupon S/12/2/)
Large Lemons - $ .50/ea
Medium Hass Avocados - $1/ea
Roma Tomatoes - $1.25/lb

Leftover reminder:

Take care of any leftover holiday meat before it goes bad.  That prime rib was expensive.  I have a couple of thick slices of prime rib left that is going to go into a tasty soup.  When I waited tables down at the Rafters in Portland in the 70s, they used to take the leftover prime rib and au jus and make a very popular soup the next day.  This is delicious with vegetables, with or without noodles.  I have a couple of leftover baked potatoes that I'm going to cube up and throw in, also.  Any leftover veggies are good, too.

I'm going to freeze the ribs for that day in deepest winter when I will slobber them up with barbecue sauce and wrap them in foil and slow bake them.  It will be just the ticket to get me out of the doldrums that February can bring.

Friday, December 21, 2012

World Ending Budgeting

Well, we made it through another world ending prediction and since we are still here it is time to start thinking about the 2013 budget.  Miss MoneyPenny thinks that a budget is a beautiful thing.  Weird, huh??  A budget can set you free to realize your financial dreams and help you to get a good night's sleep in the bargain.
I've been retired since June and living on Social Security, state pension (28+ years at the library) and a small income from bookkeeping for my son, the plumber.  Since I won't be 65 until November 2013 I've been forking over $600 a month for health insurance.  I had this all figured out to the penny before I retired but now that I'm living it, there needs to be some changes.  After all, a budget would not be useful if we couldn't keep tweaking it to get what we need from it.
The first thing that I need to address is a new ledger as mine is falling apart.  I use a simple three column ledger divided into three parts.  The first part is my monthly living expenses and it is divided into several tabbed pages, such as mortgage, utilities, gas, food, etc.
The second part is also divided into several tabbed pages and I call this "Living the dream" because this is where some exciting things can happen like cruises, for instance.  I also have tabs for car expenses, vet bills, medical bills, home maintenance, Christmas, etc.  Every month I allocate a certain amount to each of these funds so that I am prepared for car insurance or repairs, doctor bills or a new dish washer.
The third part of my budget is just a page but it is a record of my savings.  I believe in continuing to save through retirement.  Why not??
Deciding on what your categories are takes some thinking and planning.  I walked around with a notebook for a while and entered every cent.  This is irritating but very helpful for setting up a budget.  This is really the only way to figure out what you spend and how you spend it every month.  Those lattes really add up.  Who knew??
I'm learning now that I'm retired that some tweaking is in order.  Mostly what I need to do is put less money in the grocery fund and move the extra over to utilities because I don't spend as much on food as I did when I worked but I'm using more water.  I'm getting a $25 raise at the beginning of the year, so it is going right into my recreation fund as I never have enough.  The other funds in this part of the budget are working well so will leave them alone.
If you are a reader of this blog, you know that the big problem in my budget is my aging dogs.  The $100 that I put into this fund is not working.  What to do.  I can't keep taking money out of savings for this.  There is only one solution and that is to put more money aside every month.  I'm thinking that I will put $10 less in my other funds and add it to the vet fund and see how that works.  It is always a work in progress.
It took me a long time to learn it but if you don't take care of your finances, they won't take care of you, either.  Time spent thinking and planning about how to use our money wisely, is not time wasted.  It is really exhilarating when it all comes together and you feel like a genius.  Trust me on this.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

QFC Grocery Basket 12/19

Haley Vandegrift

My great granddaughter, Aslyn Grace, is turning out to be a beauty just like her mom.  She is going to make Christmas very special this year.  Nothing like babies at Christmas time.
Today was filter changing day at the MoneyPenny household.  I change furnace filters with the season, sometimes ignoring summer if I've not used the furnace.  My little timer on the Brita also indicated a new filter is in order.  I washed out the Brita and soaked the filter and headed for the laundry room to tackle the furnace.
This is the first time that I have changed the filter on my new furnace and I got so irritated that my glasses fogged up and the dogs went and hid.  Changing out the filter was nothing but getting that #*^%$# door back on was an exercise in frustration because of this thing:

And there are two of them.  The first one worked like a dream but this one would not latch.  You may ask why not just leave it??  Well, because the furnace does not work without it being latched.  Who knew??  I remember that the guys who installed the furnace seemed to be having trouble getting it to latch but they were always able to do it.  Not me.  I finally figured that it was a little off, so I stuck a screw driver in the edge and lifted and it went in.  I think that this warrants a call to Air-Flo, don't you??

Enough of that.  Let's go grocery shopping.  QFC is still running the Buy 6, Save 6 promotion on General Mills and Kraft products.  Now would be a good time to stock up on GM cereals and there is a coupon ($1/2 12/9/S) to help make it a deal.  The two pound brick of Tillamook cheese in on for $4.99 and this is pretty close to a rock bottom price, so I'm going to buy the limit, which is two.  It doesn't go bad if you don't open it and I'm a big cheese eater.

Here are what I consider to be the standouts this week:

Sonicare Essence Power Toothbrush - $39.99 ($4 coupon 11/18/S)
Gevalia Coffee - $5.99/12 oz ($1.50 coupon 12/9/S) Promotion B6,$6
Challenge Butter - $2.50/ea
QFC Whipping Cream - $2/16oz
Tillamook Cheese - $4.99/2lb
Ribeye Roast - $7.99/lb
Hormel Cure 81 Spiral Ham - $1.79/lb
Anjou Pears - $1.49/lb
Broccoli/Cauliflower - $1/lb
Celery - $1/lb
Jazz/Junami Apples - $1.99/lb
Organic Carrots - $2.50/bunch
Sweet Potatoes - $1/lb
Lay's Potato Chips - BOGO (think chips & onion soup dip - love it)

Bird Guide Drawing Reminder:

The birds at my feeders are going through the seed like crazy during this cold, windy, snowy weather.  They are so much fun to watch as they jockey for position.  I hope they aren't fighting but it looks like a little push and shove to me.

Don't forget to leave a comment or like on Facebook to get entered into the drawing for the above pictured book.  My neighbor, Tina, is going to pick the winning name on Christmas Eve.


Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Prime Rib for Christmas


Yesterday I had a visit with the butcher when I was at QFC.  He assured me that rib roast was not going to go for less than $7.99 a pound, so I picked up a nice six pounder.  Last year they went for $6.99 a pound at QFC but the cost of food is going up, so I should be grateful that it isn't any worse.

 Anyway, I've had good luck with their rib roasts in the past and they have cooked up tender and flavorful using my easy peasy method of roasting.  Ha!!  I bet you were worried that I was gonna put it in my crockpot, since I've been on a real binge lately, but it is going in the oven.

Last year after I wrote the prime rib post, my sister said that she had changed up our method a little and was quite happy with the results, so I tried it, with a change of my own.  She was right.  The flavor was wonderful and it looked just like the above picture.  Nice and crusty on the outside and tender on the inside.  Perfect!!

When you are buying your rib roast, you figure one rib per two people, so a three rib should feed six people generously.  Stick with this formula because one year I told the butcher that I was feeding six people when I pre-ordered and ended up with a $120 piece of meat!! so, be careful.

Roasting a rib roast really is easy peasy if you follow these instructions.  I've had terrible results when I cooked at a high temperature, so I roast at 325 for 30 minutes per pound to desired doneness, but keep your meat thermometer handy.  This is just a rough guide to use for planning dinner time.

Pat the roast dry with paper towels, then rub liberally all over with Worcestershire sauce, then with olive oil.  When you have it all oiled up, season heavily with Montreal Steak Seasoning, giving it a good rub down.  Roast it fat side up, uncovered.  When it is about 15 minutes from being done to your liking, remove it from the oven and tent it with foil for a nice rest, so the juices can redistribute.  That is it.  Couldn't be easier.

Baked or mashed potatoes traditionally go with prime rib but I love my sister's oyster stuffing and she has given up her recipe and I'm gonna share.

Fresh oysters - she suggests getting 3 times what you need
Seasoned cracker crumbs
Seasoned stuffing cubes
Celery & onions
Chicken broth

Dredge your oysters in flour, then beaten eggs, then seasoned cracker crumbs.  Fry slowly in oil on medium heat.  When done, pass the lemons and eat them, saving enough for the stuffing.  This is how we do it, really!!

In one cube of butter, slowly saute chopped celery and onions.  In large bowl, mix stuffing cubes, vegetables & butter, and several eggs (you decide, this is a loose recipe).  Add chicken broth until you get the consistency that you like.  We don't like mushy stuffing.

In a buttered oblong dish, layer stuffing, then oysters, then stuffing, etc. until you run out of layers.  Roast with your meat, covered or uncovered, or both.

This is so good and it goes with turkey or prime rib.  I've been known to only eat this and my mom's yeast rolls at Christmas dinner.

P.S. Don't throw out those meaty ribs because they are unbelievable grilled with barbecue sauce the next day.  If it is too cold for grilling outside, wrap in foil and roast in the oven at 350.  I told the butcher about this and he says that he always does it, hiding the bones after he carves.  Good idea, that hiding thing.  There is always someone who wants to gnaw on a bone.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Free Shipping Monday!!



Now, you know that Miss MoneyPenny has been patiently waiting for today to do her last minute Christmas shopping because she really hates shipping costs.  They can sure ruin a good deal and some of them are really over the top.  What is with merchants who charge you more in shipping the more you buy??  Seems backwards to me.  I keep a little list of these guys and never buy from them, unless it is a free shipping day, like today.

Before you place your order, be sure and go over to  They will have a list of merchants who are offering free shipping and the percentage of cash back that you will receive in your Ebates account.  This really adds up if you do your shopping online and you will get a check in the mail from them quarterly.  My sister, Miss SmartyPants, really cleans up on this because she shops for her business through them.  If you aren't signed up, it is easy and free.  Check it out.

Yesterday was such a cold nasty day that I only ventured outside once, and that was to dig around in the compost.  Things are moving slowly on that front because the wormy guys are cold.  I made a pot of chicken soup and cleaned out the fridge and did a lot of knitting. 

My new project is a cowl and I got the idea from Cindy up at Port Hadlock Yarns.  If you have a ball of sock yarn that is just too expensive and beautiful to make a pair of socks, this pattern is for you and it is available at for free.  This is what it looks like:

Here is mine:

It takes one ball of sock yarn and #5 Addi-Turbo 16" circular lace needles.  You really do need a pointy lace needle or you will be thinking up all kinds of new cuss words while you are trying to work all those K2togs.  Just sayin'.

Amaryllis Update:

I had just about given up on getting three years out of the amaryllis bulb.  I made a mistake this fall when I brought it indoors and put it in the closet and did not cut the summer growth off, so it was trying to support them in the dark.  When I brought it out, it was a slimy mess and I pruned it then but it had to sit and sulk for a while.  I hit it with the fertilizer to help it out and here is what popped out on Saturday:

Bird Guide Drawing Reminder:

Be sure and leave a comment so that you are in the drawing for the Puget Sound Bird Guide.  This is a good book for us backyard birders.  Likes on Facebook are entered, also.  Deadline is Christmas Eve.


Friday, December 14, 2012

Middle Class Musings


One day, not too long ago, I showed up at the KnowItAll's house about lunch time and they shared a delicious meal with me.  Another delicious thing over at their house is good conversation and we got to talking about the middle class and what it means today.  After I went home, that conversation stayed with me and I kept mulling it over, so I decided to turn the MoneyPenny Research Department loose on it and they came up with some interesting information.

I looked at lots of graphs and charts and decided on this one from because it is very clear and easy to understand.  It is also kinda big but I wanted you to be able to see it.

You can see that "median" income is $50,221, which means half of households live on one side and half on the other side of that figure.  35% of us live below $35,000 which makes me wonder why all of us think that we are in the middle class or better.

Here is a rough breakdown on just what the many levels of "middle class" are:

Upper Middle Class                         $100,000-$150,000

Middle Class                                    $ 60,000-$100,000

Lower Middle Class                         $ 32,500-$ 60,000

Working Class                                  $ 23,000-$ 32,500

I threw in the last category because now that I am not working, I have, strangely enough, slid down into the Working Class.

I think that this information is important because, and as my friend, Jeannie, said today, it can help us get to reality when it comes to our finances.  Are our spending and financial planning really in line with our place on the graph??  And if they aren't - what do we need to do to get in that upper level??  More education or training or move??  Or is it even possible??  Do we even really want to make that kind of effort and commitment??  Where are we on the age graph??  Good questions.

If moving up into a higher income bracket isn't in the stars, getting real about spending and financial planning is the answer.  Otherwise, we could be putting our home and family at risk by living beyond our means.  Credit cards can only take you so far and then they get ugly.  I'm thinking that having your car repossessed or your home foreclosed on can't be much fun, either.

As I look at these figures, it has occurred to me that I've spent almost 10% of my entire annual income on vet bills!!  When you look at it like that, it becomes very real.  And scary.  It is driving home the sad truth that I can't afford my animals on a Working Class income, so attrition is in order.  I've been happily collecting pets like someone in the Upper Middle Class or maybe even higher up than that!! 

Bird Guide Drawing Reminder:

Leave a comment on this blog or "like" on Facebook to get entered into the drawing for the Birds of the Puget Sound Region book by Christmas Eve.  This is a great guide for local birds.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Bird Guide Giveaway

Yesterday Miss MaggieMay and I were down in Silverdale searching fruitlessly for a new suitcase for her.  I'm still mystified that she gave the purple leopard skin beauty a pass.  Anyway, we stopped off at Barnes & Noble because I was looking for a new bird guide that is just for this region. 
The guide that I've been using is for the western United States and I find it to be more trouble than it is worth because there are so many birds listed.  When you think that you have your bird identified, you find, after paging over to the map, that it would be a miracle if that was your bird, since it only hangs out in San Diego.
After looking at several guides I settled on this one which is pictured above.  This is a great little book with a full page of information on each bird and great pictures, so I thought that since it is getting pretty close to Christmas that I would give away a copy. 
All you gotta do is leave a comment at the end of this blog and you will be entered in the drawing.  Just say"I want it" and you are in.  All Facebook comments and "likes" will also be entered.  I will have my neighbor, Tina, draw the lucky name on Christmas Eve.  Multiple entries are allowed and encouraged.
Before I forget, Starbucks is having a BOGO on their three holiday drinks starting today from 2 until 5p.m. so if you are out shopping with your best buddy, you will probably need a jolt of caffeine by then.  This lasts until the 16th.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

QFC Grocery Basket 12/12/12



Isn't it just like Miss MoneyPenny to ruin your grocery shopping day by showing a disgusting picture of food waste??  There is a method to my madness here and I thought that shopping day was the perfect day to make my point. 
Miss MaggieMay and I were talking about this today and we came up with a brilliant solution - don't buy so much food every week and eat up what you do have in the pantry and freezer and produce crisper first.  Genius!! 
The big drawback here is that shopping and cooking in order to not waste food takes planning and attention, which is something that our grandmothers were pretty good at.  Especially if they lived through the Depression.  My Grandma DeBolt was a fabulous cook and she did not waste a thing.  I still have this memory of her making baked beans and shaking up the last of the mustard with a little water to get every last bit out. 
Last year about this time I ran some cool graphs about food waste and this post was the all time most popular post that Miss MoneyPenny has done, so I thought I would show some more.  I got this one from and it is a good one:



Pretty amazing, isn't it??  And according to Dr. Andrew Weil we waste 20 pounds per person per month, up 50% from 1970!!  This is just in the United States but is also a problem in other countries.

Anyway, I hope you are not too bummed to go shopping because QFC has a decent ad this week.  Kraft and General Mills are running a Buy 6, Save $6 promotion, so now would be a good time to stock up on their products, like cereal.  Before you shop be sure and check for coupons to make it a really good deal.

Here is my list of worthy deals thinking ahead to Christmas baking and dinner:

C&H Granulated Sugar - $2.50/2lb ($ .50 coupon 11/4/RP)
Gold Medal Flour - $2.50/5lb
Kroger Brown/Powdered Sugar - $2/2lb
McCormick Spices - 50% off ($ .50 coupon 12/2/RP)
Starbucks Coffee - $6.99/12oz ($3 off 2 coupon 12/2/S)
Philadelphia Cream Cheese - $1/8oz
QFC Sour Cream - $1/16oz
QFC Whipping Cream - $1/16oz
Tillamook Butter - $2.50/lb
Tillamook Yogurt - $ .50/6oz
Beef Rib Roast - $7.99/lb - this price may go down so I'm waiting a week
Hormel Cure 81 Spiral Ham - $1.79/lb ($2 coupon 11/4/S)
Fresh Dover Sole - $5.99/lb
California Cuties Clementines - $4.99/3lb ($ .50 coupon 12/2/S)
Colored Bell Peppers - $1/ea
English Cucumbers - $1/ea
Sweet Potatoes - $ .99/lb

Peggy, my daughter-in-law has come up with a good solution to holiday meal waste.  No appetizers!!  It works.  On Thanksgiving we were all so hungry that we ate everything and she said that she just had some mashed potatoes left over.  I agree.  Who wants to spend all that money and all that time cooking and everybody comes to the table full from the appetizers??  This is such a great idea that I can't believe Miss MoneyPenny didn't think of it first.


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

One More Useful Easy Peasy Recipe


When I set up the new bird feeding station on the edge of the deck this fall I had no idea that I was going to have so much fun with it.  For the first week or so, the birds pretty much ignored it, then they arrived in droves, whatever a drove is, and I get to watch them from my kitchen window and dining room table.

I soon dug out my 1990 edition of Peterson's Western Birds so I could identify them.  What I usually get are Oregon Juncos, House Sparrows and a few red Finches, but as Henry Mitchell put it in one of his brilliant garden essays, what did I expect - Pink Flamingos??

Anyway, the above handsome guy and a whole gob of his buddies dropped by the other day for an afternoon visit.  Haven't seen him since but according to my guide he is a Chestnut-Backed Chickadee and prefers moist conifer forests along the central coast of California but my backyard is within his range.  I hope he comes back.

Gee - I feel a little guilty about giving you a recipe for chicken after all of that but I'm gonna do it anyway.  QFC had whole chickens on sale this past week and it got me to thinking about how easy they are to cook and how useful the cooked meat is to have around.  I always try to keep a few bags in the freezer, ready to be added to soup or pot pie.

Until recently I've not cared for the texture of crockpot chicken but that was because I cooked it too long and with added liquid.  Who knew??  Didn't you just throw the chicken in the crockpot and head off for a full day at work to return to dinner ready and waiting??  That was the "old" way and it got dinner on the table but nobody was particularly thrilled.

This is my method now and it produces a very good chicken, not quite rotisserie but pretty darn close.  I took a whole chicken, removed the giblets and gave it a wash and dry.  Then I slathered it with olive oil, salt and pepper, and Montreal Chicken Seasoning (the secret).


I turned it breast side down because I wanted a moist breast and I did not add any liquid.

I needed to leave the house for a while so I set it to Low for 8 hours.

My bird was almost five pounds so I checked it after five hours and it was almost done.  I turned it over to brown on the top and gave it another 45 minutes.  I apologize to all the food photographers out there but I had to make sure that it wasn't over cooked but not raw, either.

You can tell by looking at the wing on the left that it got pretty browned on the back side but it was too close to done to brown very much on top by the time I got home and got it turned over.

Chicken cooked like this is not only good but it yields a concentrated broth that looks like broth jello.  Here it is after a night in the fridge, with the layer of fat removed.  That top layer is the goodies left after straining and is full of seasonings and flavor.  Don't throw it out.


If you haven't discovered Henry Mitchell's garden essays, you are in for a treat.  Give The essential earthman or One man's garden a try.  You will thank me.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Miss MoneyPenny Seal of Approval List 2012

Okay, here it is.  The famous MoneyPenny Seal of Approval list for 2012.  As I look at this, it occurs to me that it is hard to get on this list.  The standards are rigorous and the MoneyPenny Research Team are a tough bunch of skeptics.  Having said that, I also noticed that Miss MoneyPenny is shameless when it comes to cute guys, since there are two on the list.  In my defense, these two guys earned their place fair and square.

I also want to mention that there are two additions to the list, both from Costco.  They are the above pictured Kirkland Signature 100% Colombian Coffee (with my coffee canister that I bought at Starbucks in Seattle in 1995) and the Kirkland Signature Brand Nature's Domain Dog Food.

The coffee is a very fine ground, dark roast coffee that turned out to be very good, with no bitterness.  The cost is great too, coming in at $9.99 for 3 pounds.  I really like the full bodied flavor that doesn't get overwhelmed with the addition of my beloved Coffee-Mate.

I wrote in an earlier post last summer that I was giving the dog food some time before I gave the Seal.  I feed my doggies the "salmon and sweet potato" recipe and it has really worked out to my satisfaction.  The only drawback is the 35 pound bag.  If you drop it, don't try to catch it.  Just sayin'.
The price on this bag last week was $33.69, which is a screaming deal.

Enough said.  Here is the list:

Shane, the world's cutest handyman
Mr. CutiePie - my fresh salmon & halibut connection
A gorgeous front yard in France:


Cetaphil Moisturizing Cream
Electrolux Stick Vac
Pleasant Hill Farm Coffee - 5 pound bag
Kirkland Signature 100% Colombian Coffee - 3 pound can
Kirkland Signature Brand Nature's Domain Dog Food - 35 pound bag
Hose Connectors:


Prime Rib Update:

It is only two weeks until Christmas Eve!! so I've got prime rib roast on the brain.  I checked the price at Costco when I was there on Saturday and it was $9.99 per pound.  The roasts were beautiful and they even had some that were smaller so you don't have to worry about going broke buying one.  I saw a couple in the $60 range.

I talked to the butcher today at QFC and he said that their prime ribs are $7.99 per pound until at least Christmas, and it is best to pre-order.  I'm gonna wait until the week before to order, as he also said the price could go down.

I will post my slightly updated technique for cooking prime rib soon.

Kitchenaid Dish Drainer Update:

Costco had a coupon for $5 off the Kitchenaid Drainers this time and I could really use a new one.  This drainer is really too big and too hi-tech for my needs, so am passing it by, but will be on the lookout for a new Rubbermaid model.  Here it is:


Wednesday, December 5, 2012

QFC Grocery Basket 12/5


Miss MoneyPenny learned something today.  When you pull a 35 pound bag of dog food out of the back of your CR-V and you drop it - don't try to catch it.  Luckily it was time for my monthly chiropractor visit so I crawled in to see Dr. Calah and she worked her magic on me, so I was able to actually stand upright.  I still have to turn my whole body to turn my neck but I'm on the mend and after a couple more visits I'll be like new.  Lesson learned.  Dog food doesn' get hurt if you drop it.

Anyway, on to the QFC ad.  It is not a bad sale this week, but even the sale prices cause me to catch my breath these days.  Having said that, check out this 5 quart Crock-Pot for $19.99 which is a pretty good price.  I bought my first crockpot with S&H green stamps in 1974 and used the heck out of it.  It was the old kind and the crock was not a separate piece, so washing up was a challenge.  They've come a long way, baby, since then.

Here are my picks for this week:

C&H Granulated Sugar - $3.50/4lb
Gold Medal Flour - $2.50/5lb
Spice Islands Spices - 50% off
Silk Pure Almond milk - $2.79/64oz
Tully's Coffee - $5.99/12oz or 12/ct
Simple Truth Organic Broth - 3/$5/32oz (we make our own but if you run out)
QFC Butter - $2.29/lb
International Delight Coffee Creamer - $2.79/32oz
New York Strip Steaks - $5.99/lb
Draper Whole Chicken - $ .89/lb
Russet Baking Potatoes - $ .50/lb
Broccoli or Cauliflower - $ .99/lb
Fuji Apples - $ .99/lb
Navel Oranges - $ .99/lb
Hass Avocados - $ .99/ea
Roma Tomatoes - $ .99/lb

I'm going to take advantage of the sale on whole chickens this week.  I have one left from the freezer and I have it thawing in the fridge.  I'm gonna cook it in the crockpot.  Stay tuned for pictures.

Amaryllis Update:


As you can see things are not looking too good for this kid.  After spending about six weeks in the bathroom cabinet, I took it out and gave it a trim and a good jolt of Miracle Gro.  If I don't see signs of life, out it goes to live again in the compost.  I have this little beauty handy and will be potting it up soon.  You can't have too many amaryllises (sp??) around in the dreary winter, can you??

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Fleas in Hadlock Redux

Yep.  The fleas are back.  It has been exactly 14 days since I dosed the critters with Advantage.  So this morning I hit them with the Frontline.  I've been itching like crazy because I have seen two fleas.  They don't bite me, thank God, but just the sight of one of these nasty things sets me to itching.  As we speak all the dog beds are in the washer.  I'm serious about this.  I really, really hate fleas.  Update in two weeks.

After I dosed the girls and brushed their teeth, I could not wait to get outside and take advantage of the rain free mild weather we are having.  According to MJ, the weather lady, this weekend could be dicey, with temps dropping down into the 30s during the day, so I decided to get out there and finish up the daylilies.


Above is what my daylilies used to look like.  Now they are all orange and I'm not sure how this happened, but I suspect neglect on my part.  I've never cleaned them up for winter or divided them but this year has been different.  I actually kept them watered and dead headed this summer and they were lovely and lasted a long time. 

Today I cleaned up five stands in the front flower bed, overfilling my big pink lugger.  It was really easy as they had all died down.  When I was done, I stood back and made a plan for dividing them out and new placement.  Dividing is a cinch. 

All you do is dig up the clump, put some compost and organic fertilizer in the hole, hack the clump up with your shovel, and plant the piece that you want to keep.  Water it in.  Easy peasy.  Then put the other pieces into a cardboard box and leave them on your neighbor's doorstep when they are gone.

While I was out there I was again charmed by the barberries.  Now you know Miss MoneyPenny is on a mission to get more barberries into people's gardens.  These plants really earn their keep in a flower border and there are many different varieties and colors.  Barberries require very little in maintenance, maybe a little pruning of dead branches or to keep it to your desired size.  They don't care what kind of soil they are in and don't get all mad if they are not watered.  They are beautiful and really serve as a backdrop to your more flowery flowers, really setting them off, and the birds eat the berries in fall and winter.  Plus, and this is a big plus, DEER HATE THEM!!

Here is a picture of my barberries.  The first one still has its leaves.  The little green barberry has lost his leaves but has stunning red berries.


And since we are showing pretty pictures of flowers, here is what arrived on my birthday from my sister, SmartyPants:


Monday, December 3, 2012

Weekend Recap 12/3


What else can I say??  The man is beautiful and getting more so as he gets older, and he is a darned fine actor.  You might have guessed that Miss MoneyPenny and Miss Maggie May headed out on Saturday in a driving rain storm to see Denzel's latest movie, Flight.  This was a hold on to your seat and hope you don't have to go to the bathroom kind of film.  We enjoyed it very much but I will tell you that I'm never, ever, ever flying again.  I still don't know how I kept my panic attack under control.  This is a good movie, with the crash as backdrop for the larger issues that it deals with.  And it doesn't pull any punches.

Now, you know that it is cold and wet out there and people are having a hard time, especially this time of year, but I bet they are hungry all year long.  As I talk to people in our community I'm just heartbroken when I hear the stories of hardship.  This is as political as Miss MoneyPenny is gonna get but it is pretty obvious that folks can't rely on the government when they are going through rough times.  This is where we come in.  We gotta do this, kids.

There are so many ways that we can help in our community.  The food bank is easy.  Just buy extra when you are shopping and drop it in the Food Bank bin on your way out of the store.  Cash donations are always welcome and will be used for fresh food.  This is the address:

Jefferson County Food Bank
P.O. Box 124
Port Hadlock, WA  98339

Deb over at Tri Area Pharmacy says that she buys coats for Foster Kids and takes them to Sleep Country every year for their program, so that would be a good idea.  Makes me wonder what the Foster Parents are spending the Foster Kid money on, but that is not your business MoneyPenny.  For information on this program, call any Sleep Country.  The number for the Sequim Sleep Country is:


And don't forget the Toys for Tots type programs all over the community.  All you do is pick a tag off of the Christmas tree and buy the gift listed.  No wrapping.  Peninsula Credit Union's tree is for kids in the Tri Area and has had great participation.  There were only a couple of tags left when I was there today to turn in my gift.  They are going to make more tags and you have until December 16th.

I mentioned in an earlier post that Port Hadlock Yarns was sponsoring knitting for homeless teens and they have had good participation, also.  They provided free patterns and yarn for watch caps, fingerless mitts and scarves in colors and styles that kids will wear.  I made two hats and now Cindy has me working on a cowl to keep necks warm.  Here is a picture of my hat:

And since it is holiday time - I don't need to decorate because my neighbor Tina does it up good enough for both our places.  I took these pictures just before dark because every time I went in her yard at dark her super powered motion detector would blast me in the eyes.  She has a daycare so she has an excuse to decorate and she hits all the holidays, and she does it all herself.  I can't bear to watch her hang over the edge of her roof to hang the icicle lights.

Food Waste Update:

A couple of weeks ago we had tuna sandwiches with sweet pickles and they were delicious but we didn't eat it all.  This little container held just the right size for a sandwich and it got lost.  Damn.

Cha Ching: $1

Friday, November 30, 2012

Crabtree & EEEEvelyn Deal


Who knew that is how you pronounce Crabtree & Evelyn, but it's true.  I called them to ask a question about my order and it is definitely a long eeee.

Anyway I want to tell you about a deal that I found on today and it is a good one.  You know how Miss MoneyPenny goes through good hand cream since my hands look like they have had a hard life, and they have.  What with waitress work, library work, homemaking and gardening my hands are a wreck.  So, here is the deal:

Go to and click on the Editor's Choice tab.  Scroll down to the Crabtree & Evelyn deal and click on it.  The way you work this deal is buy five of the Hand Therapy creams (small size).  At checkout you end up paying a total of $10!! with free shipping.  I think that this is a one day deal, so if you are interested, jump on it and I did.  This is excellent hand cream, by the way and a very good deal.


Thursday, November 29, 2012

Costco Coupons 11/26-12/16/12


Now, you know that Miss MoneyPenny gives Subway a thumbs up.  I love their subs and don't feel like I've over indulged when I eat there.  This is exciting, but according to Facebook, December is Customer Appreciation Month and you can get a 6 inch sub for $2!!  I've noticed that Heather over at queenbeecoupons is talking about it, too, so I'm reasonably sure that this is the deal, although I haven't seen it advertised on TV yet.

If you are in the mood for a new laptop, Costco is offering coupons for $100 off several different brands, so that is worth a look.  There are also $3 coupons for several different vitamins.  I've found that Costco is a good place for drug storey type items and you can really save a bunch.  Example:  I got a bottle of 365 generic Zyrtec for $14.99 and you know how expensive Zyrtec is.  This little hint came from my physician when I flinched at the expense of taking a Zyrtec every night forever. 

This is my list of coupons:

Finish Powerball - $3.25 limit 5
Wisk Laundry Detergent - $3.50 limit 5
Philips Sonicare - $25
Kitchenaid Dish Rack - $5
Palmolive - $2 limit 2
Dove Bar Soap - $3.50 limit 2
Dove Body Wash - $3 limit 2
Nexxus Therappe Shampoo - $4 limit 4

You are probably wondering what the dish rack is all about.  I'm still using a brown and very ugly dish rack from the 70s, but I haven't gotten excited enough to buy a new one.  I'm gonna take a look at this Kitchenaid dish rack.  How cool could it be??  Here is a picture of the one that I've been using for almost 40 years:

Usually when I put my veggie garden to bed for the winter, that is it, until spring.  But this year I have a little winter garden.  Nothing fancy.  Just a row of Swiss chard and a 1 x 4 plot of lettuce.  All I did with the lettuce is sprinkle a mix of leftover seeds thickly over the dirt and scratched them in.  I've been eating the most wonderful lettuce and it even survived the 27 degree nights that we had last week.  Who knew??  Here is what I picked today:

And I know that colander is ugly but I've had it since the 60s and I don't plan on replacing it.  I bought it at McKay's Food Market in Reedsport, Oregon on my first grocery shopping trip as a new bride in 1967.  Some things are sacred and that colander is one of them.  And yes, we got married young back then.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

QFC Grocery Basket 11/28


Yep, it's true!!  The Full Beaver Moon is tonight.  The MoneyPenny Research Department did some digging to see what is going on with this moon.  This moon is an apogee full moon which means that it is at its most distant from the earth, being 252,522 miles out there.  Since it is so far away it will look like our smallest and dullest moon.  It is sometimes called The Full Frosty Moon.

Here is the official version of why this moon is called The Full Beaver Moon:

The U.S. Naval Observatory’s Geoff Chester offers the reasoning behind the name: “[The] name comes from Native American skylore reminding trappers to set their final traps for the season before the beaver ponds freeze up for the winter,” Chester writes.

Huh.  Not very friendly, is it??  Miss MoneyPenny thinks that it is obvious what is going on here.  The beavers are getting on their bikes and heading for Florida to their winter digs.  Who wants to deal with frozen beaver ponds and cold hearted trappers, anyway??  That's a no brainer.

Enough fun.  We gotta go shopping.  I look at these sales prices and just cringe.  Grocery prices just keep going up and it scares me.  I've been doing a lot more grocery shopping at Costco these days but you really have to be on your toes there.  One mistake can wipe out your savings, easily.  Here are what I consider to be the deals this week at QFC:

Orowheat Bread - $2.50/loaf
C&H Brown/Powdered Sugar - $2.99/2lb (coupon for $ .50 off RP/11/4)
Gold Medal Flour - $2.50/5lb
Tully's Coffee - $5.99/12oz or 12ct
Hunt's Tomatoes - $1/can
Darigold Butter - $2.50/lb
International Delight - $2.79/32oz (coupon for $1 off 2 S/11/11)
Boneless Top Round Roast - $4.49/lb
Fresh Wild Dover Sole - $5.99/lb
Nature Sweet Cherry Tomatoes - BOGO/10.5oz
Eggplant - BOGO
Fuji Apples - $ .99/lb
Bartlett Pears - $ .99/lb
Medium Hass Avocados - $ .99/ea
Purina Dog Food - $10.99/16-18lb bag (coupon for $1 off S/11/18)

This list is not very exciting but there are a couple of possibilities here.  One is to pair the eggplant and tomatoes with zucchini, onions and a red pepper and make ratatouille.  I love that stuff and it goes on everything, including toast.  And since we are talking toast, I make my own bread and I am totally out of flour, so will be picking up both white and whole wheat Gold Medal flour.  I'm going to buy at least three pounds of Fuji apples in case they need to become applesauce.  I hate to bite into a mushy apple but love applesauce, especially on my yogurt.

This is a picture that I snapped yesterday morning in the sun at 28 degrees.  These white headed frozen sedums (Autumn Joy) show that there is beauty in the garden almost all year.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Fleas in Hadlock

There she is.  The world's most expensive cat.  DC was a rescue kitty and sometimes I feel like taking her back down to the library and reinstating her in the bush that I found her in.  But...I love her and she is totally devoted to me, so there you have it.
Anyway, her latest deal is that she is taking in Hadlock Fleas that are becoming resistant to Frontline Plus!!  I double dosed her (twice in two weeks) trying to kill them but only ended up almost killing her.  So, a phone call to Dr. Cindy was in order.  What to do??  I can't stand fleas!!
After she got me calmed down (she is Miss Maggie May's daughter in law, so she gets me) she told me that lots of people are having this problem.  The fleas are smart and tough and are figuring out how to not only survive, but thrive on flea meds!!  A very scary thought.  So, this is what she told me to do.  Dose DC up with Advantage and then two weeks later, hit her with the Frontline again.  Do this every two weeks until you get on top of it.
The reason that you can do this is that you are dosing with two different formulas that target different areas.  My experience was that just changing to Advantage got rid of the fleas, but I will check in two weeks.
Now you are probably wondering where I'm going with this one.  When I went to the local pet store, one dose of Advantage was $20.  When you buy the six pack at Costco of Frontline, it runs about $11.50 or so a dose.  I'm maybe going to need a lot of flea meds, so this could get real expensive, since I have three animals that get it.  So I went online.
I found that 1800PETMEDS had 6% back through Ebates, so I went there.  I only needed Advantage for the kitty because I'm pretty well stocked for the dogs.  This is how the deal worked:
4 pack Advantage II        $44.99 (still cheaper than Costco)
                                       -   4.50  Coupon Code
Total                               $40.49  ($10.12 per dose and free shipping)
And $2.43 into my Ebates account.   This is not what I would call a screaming deal but not bad.  Certainly better that $20 per dose.
I did take a picture of the last of the blooms on my Christmas cactus.  It is a traditionally colored pink cactus but in the last couple of years, it has also added a few white blooms and they are gorgeous:

Cruise Fund Update:

Old Balance           =  $652.52

                               +       2.50 Senior Movie Savings (Skyfall)

                               +     26.65 Amazon Sale

New Balance         =  $681.67