Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Costco Amex Rebate

Miss MoneyPenny really looks forward to the Costco American Express Rewards check.  If you have one of these cards, the February bill will have the check.  It is at the tail end of the bill and easy to miss.  Miss MoneyPenny actually did miss the first year and has never forgotten about it.

Most people believe that you must use your check at Costco, but no you do not.  They would like you to.  What you do have to do is cash it there.  Just go to the customer service counter and some nice person will give you greenbacks, which you can take to Nordstrom and have a clothes buying orgy.  Oops.  That was in the bad old days.  What I meant to say was put it in the cruise fund for next year.

My daughter in law works the customer service counter and says that they cash some really huge checks for people using this program.  They probably use their card for everything and if they are smart, pay their bill off every month in full.  What do they get for being smart people?  Free money!!  Ya gotta love it.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Garden Blogs

Even though it is freezin' ass cold outside, Miss MoneyPenny is thinking of the veggie garden and what is going to go in it this year.  Definitely lots of greens.  I really love 'em and they just happen to be really good for us.  You might remember how Miss MoneyPenny was eating roasted green beans and cherry tomatoes last year until she was sick of them.  Guess what?  I'm craving them and it is only January!!  I've got a long wait ahead of me.

I read a couple of good garden blogs that I thought I should pass along.  The first one is gardenrant.com.  This is written by a group of ladies with attitude.  I really enjoy Michelle's posts and purchased her book (Grow the Good Life) for my Sony Reader and my new Color Nook.  I like it that much and I have mentioned it before because I think her message is important.  These ladies rock!!  Give it a looksee.

The other blog that I read is awaytogarden.com by Margaret Roach.  She worked for Martha Stewart for years so she is very knowledgeable and puts together a very entertaining blog.  I have learned a lot from her over the last couple of years.

I know feeding the birds isn't gardening but as far as I'm concerned, they go together, being that they are outside with the garden and all.  The guy from Seattle and I are very serious wild bird feeders so were dismayed to read about Scotts putting out toxic bird food.  Read the article here.  The thought that we could possibly poison the poor birds that we are feeding is horrible.  I have no idea how to tell if the bird food is safe, no matter who makes it.  Maybe buy it at Pet Town in bulk?

Compost update:

The wormies are on top and it is still frozen like a big chunk of ice in the middle.  What it needs is a couple of warmish sunny days and it will be back to cookin'.  It was good to see that the little red wigglers are still with us after the big freeze.

Food waste update:

Now this is truly disgusting.  Somehow these beautiful organic carrots got missed and I'm not making soup this weekend.  I took a picture so you could see how limp they are.

Cha ching: $1.50

Friday, January 27, 2012

OneHanesPlace Update

Imagine Miss MoneyPenny's surprise when she opened her email this morning, and lo and behold, there was a free shipping offer from OneHanesPlace.com.  For today only.  You remember that Miss MoneyPenny was on the warpath with them in the last post for trying to charge $14.99 in shipping costs.

I was discussing this with the guy from Seattle this morning and he agreed that saving $19 on each bra was probably worth the shipping fee.  It is a good deal, but still...

Anyway I was wondering what brought on the offer.  Could it be (a) my nice phone call to the service center, or (b) the nice big order just sitting in the cart, not going anywhere, or (c) they read Miss MoneyPenny's blog and felt guilty.  Miss MoneyPenny thought it was surely (c), but he said it was probably (b), or just a coincidence.  Whatever.  I got what I wanted and that is a big deal to my clothing budget.

Those guys at OneHanesPlace.com are pretty smart because I ended up adding two more items to my cart just to show them not to mess with me again.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

R.I.P. Free Shipping

Miss MoneyPenny is in bad need of new bras and has been putting off buying them, hoping for a screaming deal.  Well my old friend OneHanesPlace.com where I've ordered my bras for years is having a great sale on Bali, my favorite brand.

This seems like a wonderful thing.  Right?  Incorrect!!  For the last ten years, you order over $65 (I think that is the right amount) and you get free shipping.  I've even put orders together with Miss KnowItAll to get the free shipping.  Those good old days just might be over.

Earlier this year I read somewhere that free shipping is going to be harder to find in our new economy.  What!!  Free shipping is an important part of my strategic shopping.  I've been checking around and shipping charges run insanely high...like $13.99 to $15.99 easy.  And some places charge you more shipping the more you buy!!  What genius thought that one up?

Since I'm going to be saving $19 each on five bras, I'll pay the $14.99 shipping, but I don't like it.

I called their customer service and politely asked where the "free shipping" button was and they told me that it is a thing of the past.  Fine.  But just in case, I'm holding off on the order until Saturday as Macy's is having a sale and Miss KnowItAll and I are hitting it.  Maybe they can beat OneHanesPlace's price.  Plus, my Christmas gift certificates are burning a whole in my pocket.

Correction update:

According to an alert reader (the guy from Seattle used to be an English teacher) the oranges were a little overpriced when I posted the last grocery basket.  The correct price is $4.99 for an 8 pound bag, not $44.99 which would probably be some darned good oranges.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Grocery Basket 1/25

Miss MoneyPenny is pretty certain that this is the earliest that she has gotten her butt in gear and got the grocery deals out.  QFC is running a pretty good sale this week along with the Buy 10/get $5 off deal.  Good time to think about the food bank.  Last week the guy from Seattle was buying the groceries at QFC so I stuck six cans of tuna in the cart for the food bank.  He's pretty easy going.

Here is what I'm looking at:

Tillamook cheddar - $5.99/2 lbs
Wild Alaska True Cod - $6.99/lb
Broccoli/cauliflower - .78/lb
Strawberries - $2/16 oz
Asparagus - $2.49/lb
California Navel oranges - 44.99/8 lb bag
English cucumbers - $1.50/ea

I'm not sure where strawberries are growing this time of year, but I'm hoping for California.  It is a concern with produce from out of the country because they can legally use the American made chemicals that our growers are not supposed to use on our food.  Why should they be able to use it on anybody's food, even if we don't like them?  Why produce it in the first place?  Calm down, Miss MoneyPenny!!

Food prices are going to continue to rise and you will really notice it with meat.  I would stay away from the Buy one/get one free deals on meat and poultry.  It looks to me like they jack up the price per pound when they run this one.  We've pretty much just been buying local organic meat and not very much of it.  Guess what?  It tastes much better and is so tender.  Something to think about.

Food waste update:

Half can of Mexican Duck Sauce - .50  (I found this in the dark reaches of the fridge covered in a protective coating of mold.)

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Cabin Fever

Miss MoneyPenny has been snowed in for three days with the guy from Seattle.  The snow just kept on comin' and that's alright...as long as the electric stays on.  Having a home that is all electric is real convenient as long as the power stays on.  There are plans for an alternate heat source on the back burner but we haven't priced it out yet.  These things must be budgeted for.

We are hoping that the weatherman is correct and the snow will turn to rain by tomorrow.  We ended up getting almost a foot of the white stuff.  It made for very interesting trips out to the bird feeder and the compost.  Speaking of the compost, it is frozen solid.  And we are out of bird seed.

Actually we are out of almost everything, so will head up to the store tomorrow.  We've been eating chicken soup, split pea soup with cornbread and tacos.  Very good food for snowy days but not so good for the old weight loss program.  I was thrilled that I only gained 1.8 pounds over the three weeks that I missed meetings (and the holidays, of course.)  Tomorrow's dinner will be fresh fish, brown rice and veggies.

The guy from Seattle and I decided that watching that much television was making us stupid so we started the Scrabble Tournament.  The score is two games to one and the last game was a real nail biter all the way down to the last play.  I like to make big beautiful words and he likes to block me.  Miss MoneyPenny did use some unseemly language on him.

Waste update:

We were stunned to find that our container of chopped tomatoes and avocados and a whole avocado had gone bad on us before we could use them in our second batch of tacos.

Cha Ching!!  $1.50 wasted.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Wastin' Away in Grocerybasketville

Miss MoneyPenny is pretty sure that Jimmy Buffett was singing about something other than food waste when he sang that good old song back in the seventies, but if he ever gets unwasted down there in the Keys, he would probably be shocked, as I am, by our careless waste of food dollars.

The famous MoneyPenny Research Department has come up with some pretty scary facts.  It is estimated that the average U.S. household wastes between 30 and 60 percent of the food that we haul home.  Here are a couple of shocking but interesting graphs:

Retail food waste value.png

Consumer Waste by product.png
I read somewhere about a group of people that was curious just how much of their food budget that they were throwing away, so they came up with the idea to put post-it notes on everything that they brought home that was perishable.  They labeled everything from apples, radishes, yogurt...well, you get the idea, with how much it cost.  So if you bought a bunch of radishes for $1.20 and there were 12 radishes in that bunch, they were 10 cents a piece.  If three of them ended up going blackish like they do and you threw them out, or composted them, that is 30 cents.  If the sour cream gets that pinkish moldy stuff halfway through ( have you noticed that the shower curtain can sometimes get that pink stuff too?  Ick!!) that would be 80 cents and so on.  If you put this money aside until the end of the month, you might find that you had wasted a week's worth of grocery money or even more!!

This also counts for leftovers.  What an unfortunate name for something that is already cooked and waiting for you to heat up and eat. That is a gift from the fridge god and more than likely tastes even better the second time around.  If you have a bunch of those little containers that you carefully saved while cleaning up after dinner, try using them in soup, omelets, pasta or pizza.  Everything tastes good on pizza - even broccoli.

It snowed today and I took a picture of my garden, which is safely tucked away, waiting for Spring.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Grocery Basket 1/13

Eee gads!  Miss MoneyPenny just realized that it is Friday the 13th!!  Well, it is five in the afternoon and we are still doing pretty good so maybe we are going to make it.  I understand that there will be three!! Friday the 13ths this year and it is 2012 to boot!!  Not to worry.  Let's go grocery shopping.

QFC has a nice sale this week.  Here are a few of the highlights:

Rosarita refried beans - $1/ea
Wild Alaska True Cod fillets - $5.99/lb
Red bell peppers - $1/ea
Driscolls blueberries - $3.99/18 oz
Jumbo eggplant - $1/ea
Cara Cara navel oranges - $1/lb
Zucchini - $1/lb
Primroses - $1/ea
Franz breads - $1.99

QFC is still running the Proctor & Gamble Buy 4/save $4 deal, so if you need to stock up, check with Couponmom.com for coupons.

The guy from Seattle and I are trying to eat more locally when it comes to produce so we headed over to Chimacum Corners for apples, pears, lettuce, spuds, carrots and parsnips.  You cannot beat their organic Fujis and they are regularly $1.29 a pound.

At QFC we bought bananas, Franz whole wheat bread ($1.99), Silk almond milks ($2.79 plus we used two .75 coupons), International Delight creamer ($1 coupons), whole Ranger Chicken, sour cream, Rosarita refried black beans, split peas and white beans.

The plan is to roast the chicken, carrots, spuds and parsnips (in the oven, as we speak) then use the carcass and leftover veggies for soup.  The rest of the chicken will get shredded and bagged up in 8 ounce bags for the freezer.  We will use one of the bags for chicken tacos on Sunday while watching the games.

This great plan was thought up by the guy from Seattle and it really shows how you can stretch a chicken and have tasty meals.  We have been trying really hard not to waste a thing and this is a real challenge, let me tell you.  You have to be really on the ball to eat like this and I definitely am not during the work week when Seattle is not here.  Last week I pretty much dined on Special K for most meals.  Truly disgusting.

You may have noticed that I listed primroses this week.  I checked them out while we were at QFC and they were gorgeous, but I'm gonna wait until the weekend snow threat is over and we get back to some good old warm temps and rain.  The thing about primroses is the slugs and snails love them and my place seems to be the neighborhood breeding ground for them.  I buy my Sluggo at Costco and start the gardening year out by Sluggoing the entire perimeter of my house.  Slows them down and gives them something to think about, but these are Olympic Peninsula snails and they never give up.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Grocery Basket 1/4

Okay kids, Miss MoneyPenny has been waiting for QFC to have a decent sale and this is the week.  You may have noticed that your January P&G insert was full of all kinds of goodies this month, and guess what?  They actually correspond to a sale!!  And that is the "buy 4/save $4" P&G sale, so now is the time to stock up on Tide and Crest toothpaste and all of their other products, if you use them.

This is what I'm looking at this week:

Tide - $4.99 when you buy 4 (P&G/$2) = 4x$4.99 = $19.96 - $8 in coupons = $11.96 for 4
Crest toothpaste - $1.75 (P&G/.75) = $1 each
Iams dog food - 16.99 (digital coupon/$1) = $15.99
Softsoap - .88 (S/1/1/.40) = .48 ea
QFC cottage cheese - $2.19/24 oz
Ranger Free Range whole chickens - $1.59/lb
Fresh Rockfish - $5.99/lb
Bartlett or Anjou pears, Fuji apples, navel oranges, red grapefruit, Roma tomatoes - $1/lb

For veggies, I'm heading over to Chimacum Corners.  I love their greens and they are far superior and much fresher than what you get at the supermarket.  Also their prices are pretty competitive.

Also be sure and load your digital coupons onto your QFC card.  You do this by going to the QFC site and registering your card, then select the coupons that you want and load.  Easy peasy.  Don't forget to print out what you have loaded, or otherwise you have to have a much better memory than me.  These count as one coupon and don't stack like they used to in the good old days.  Stacking is getting harder and harder, but what isn't?

Monday, January 2, 2012

Good Old Ebates

You remember that Miss MoneyPenny was unhappy with Ebates because they did not credit her account after the big PetCareRx buy.  They were very polite but we went round and round by email for a couple of weeks.  I'm sure that they could not believe that somebody would be so persistent over $14.80.  What finally happened is that I filed a claim which they said they would look into and then I completely forgot about it because I thought I had lost out on the deal.

Good news!!  Ebates came through and credited my account.  I'm sure the people at PetCareRx hate me and didn't make much on the deal, but fair is fair.  I clipped their coupon for $10 off a $35 order, including free shipping and went through Ebates for the daily double at 10% and used my credit card for another 1%.  I call that strategic shopping.  I ordered flea stuff for my four critters for several months.  This was a better deal than Costco but I really had to work for it.

As far as the UGGs deal, I think that one is a bust.  They never emailed me a confirmation so I printed it out.  Ebates was not interested in it because they do everything online so I'm most likely not going to get credited my $9.  That whole confirmation email is very important if you are an Ebater, so file them away in a little file entitled "Ebates" and check them regularly to make sure you are getting your account credited.  Thank you SmartyPants for that little tip.

Tulip update:

I finally got the dead mums pulled out of my front porch pot and the 12 little tulip bulbs planted in their place.  I was pleasantly surprised at what nice bulbs they were since I got them for 50% off at QFC.  I think that I'm going to challenge myself to garden out of the QFC parking lot again this year.  It worked pretty well last year and I sure didn't spend near as much money as I usually do.  Thank heavens for my dear daughter-in-law.  She always gets me a beautiful and spendy hanging basket for Mother's Day.  I've never been too impressed with the ones at QFC.

Christmas decoration take down update:

They are still up.