Wednesday, October 31, 2012

QFC Grocery Basket 11/1

I stepped outside in the rain today and took a couple of snaps of the fall flower bed.  I would argue that it is just as beautiful as the summer bed.  That Japanese Maple is stunning!!  And check out this gorgeous hydrangea that my mother gave me back in the 90s.  Readers of this blog know that I have spent years trying to save it from a bad hacking job done by a well meaning yard guy.  I think that it has recovered quite nicely, from a couple of blooms last year to just plain amazing this year.

And this hardy fuchsia is hanging on and looking quite lovely, in my opinion.  I planted three of these plants before one finally made it through the winter.  The only thing that I am doing differently with this one is to leave it alone, even when it gives up the ghost and freezes to death.  In the spring, I go out and clean it up as soon as I see green poking out and give it a good dose of compost.  Seems happy with this arrangement.

Pictured above are a couple of coupons that came my way without having to be cut out.  The $5 one just came in the mail in a QFC mailing.  The other one shot out of the Catalina machine and is for $ .75 off my next shopping trip.  Thank you, very much.

Now that I am a great-grandma, I'm noticing deals on diapers.  This week, QFC is running a promotion where you buy $20 worth of Huggies, get $5 off next purchase.  They have Huggies on sale for $18.99 and there is a coupon for $1 off in S/10/21.

They are also running the Buy 5, Save $2.50 promotion with a lot of items included.  And their ad is shorter this week, running Thursday through Tuesday.  Here are the highlights:

Tillamook Cheese - $4.99/2lb/promo
International Delight Creamer - $2.99/32 oz/promo
Asian Pears, Persimmons & Coconuts - $1/ea
Fugi, Braeburn & Granny Smith Apples - $ .99/lb
Hot House Tomatoes - $ .99/lb
Hass Avocados - $ .99/ea
Mayan Sweet Onions - $ .99/lb
Asparagus - $2.99/lb
Draper Valley Whole Chicken - $ .88/lb
Fresh Alaska True Cod - $7.99/lb
Campbell's Cream of Mushroom Soup - $ .69/can/promo
Orowheat Bread - $2.49/loaf/promo
Gevalia Coffee - $6.49/12 oz/promo
Swanson Broth - $ .49/14.5oz/promo
Special K Cereal - $2.49/coupon for $1 off 3 RP/10/14/promo
Best Foods Mayonnaise - $2.99/30oz/promo
Kleenex - $ .99/ea/promo
Crest Toothpaste - $1/ea/coupon for $ .50 off PG/Oct
Hot Wheels Cars - $ 74/ea (think stocking stuffers)

When I was working at the Library, I noticed that a lot of retired folks were addicted to the Midsomer Murders series and I thought I would give them a go once I had the time.  Now that baseball is over for the year, I found myself needing something to knit by, so I stuck volume one, season one in the player last night.  I enjoyed it very much. 

These are mysteries set in a very charming village somewhere in England where there sure is a lot of murder going on.  They killed off four people in the first show!! and I think that there is close to 20 seasons of this show.  Why would you want to move there??  Anyway, they are very well done as only the Brits can do.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Weekend Recap 10/28

There she is. Is she a beautiful little girl, or what?? In her leopard skin hoodie, jeggings and little socks that look like Mary Janes with pink bows. My great-granddaughter is being held by her grandpa, my son the plumber, always mugging for the camera. This is a very calm and happy baby, content to be passed around and held by her adoring family, sleeping right through music, TV and conversation. I'm in love.


I was reading Cliff Mass's weather blog and he is saying that the computer models are all coming together with the indication that we are in for a "neutral winter".  That sounds good, doesn't it??  But "neutral" is misleading because that is when we can get our worst winter weather.  Think big wind and snowstorms.  I hope that it does not happen but I'm gonna be prepared.

So far, in my winter preparations, I've had the windows caulked, gutters and roof cleaned, heat pump installed, veggie gardens put to bed for the winter, and the car detailed and serviced.  This week, I'll have Costco rotate my tires while I'm shopping and have Chris, my yard guy, come for a final yard service.  I have yet to clean up my front flower beds because I've come to realize that now that I'm retired and gardening on practically a daily basis, I need to update my compost system.  What do you think??

I've outgrown my composter!!  This has worked really well for 25 years when I only gardened when I had time from work, once a week, at best.  Now it is time to add to it and I'm thinking something like this:
Lifetime 80-gallon Tumbler Composter

Pretty fancy and very exciting.  This is Costco's model and looks like it would really do the trick.  I'll keep you posted.

Vet Fund Update:

Now I know what the problem is with my vet fund.  I was reading Bob's blog on retirement and he thinks that putting $100 per month into his vet fund is spot on.  Me, too!!  One problem.  He only has one pet!!  I have four of them.  One is elderly with a bum ticker, one is aging with bad teeth, and one likes to go out and fight things. 

Only one of my critters is youthful and healthy, so the problem is that I need to put $400 per month in that fund!!  This is just not going to happen anytime soon.  It seems that I cannot afford my pets, and I am sure that this is a common situation, now that going to the vet has become crazy expensive.  I remember taking all four of my poodles to the vet for their annual shots and with litter rate, the bill came to $40!!  Those days are over. 

If anyone has any ideas on how to deal with the rising cost of veterinary care, let me know because I've hit the wall on this.  I just recently moved $1000 from savings into my vet fund and it still has a negative balance of $14!!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

QFC Grocery Basket 10/24

Is this sad, or what??  Heartbreaking is what it is.  My old girl, the begonia, couldn't take it any more and gave up the ghost, but not to worry as she will be back in all her glory next summer.

Even though the begonia told me that it was autumn, I've been getting some clues in my food choices.  Gone are the glasses of iced tea, fresh salads, berries and melons.  Now I'm craving cups of hot tea and honey, oatmeal for breakfast, and big steaming bowls of soup.  I was even thrilled with a bowl of split pea soup over at the Farm's Reach Cafe the other day, when I would normally turn up my nose.

Last week I made soup out of the leftover pot roast and veggies and it was delicious.  This week I dug around in the freezer and came up with a bag of meat that I picked from the carcass of a Costco chicken and made spicy chicken soup.  I also used the broth made from that same carcass and onions pulled from the garden.  Very tasty, in deed.

Anyway, we need to go grocery shopping and QFC is running their 10 for $10 promotion and they are having deals on all frozen pizzas.  When you go to the store, look around because there are many things on the 10 for $10 promo that would work well for the food bank.  It is cold out there and folks are hungry.

These are what I consider to be the highlights this week:

Rosarita Refried Beans - $1/ea (coupon for $ .50 off 3 in S/9/16)
Oikos Greek Yogurt - $1/ea 5.3 oz
QFC Sour Cream - $1/16 oz
Crest Toothpaste - $1/ea (coupon in Oct PG for $ .50 off)
Herbal Essences - $2.50 (coupon RP/10/7 for $1 off 2)
Beef Boneless Chuck Roast - BOGO
Fresh Rockfish Fillets - $5.99/lb
Broccoli or Cauliflower - $1/lb
Honeycrisp Apples - $1.68/lb
Jumbo Pomegranates - $2.50/ea
Nature Sweet Cherry Tomatoes - $3/10.5 oz
Red, Yellow or Orange Bell Peppers - $1/ea

I'm thinking that I will roast cherry tomatoes, bell peppers, garlic and onions from the garden and then give them a whirl in the Vita-Mix with chicken broth and seasonings and a little sour cream.  This makes a great soup, especially if you add a small hot pepper or pepper flakes to the mix.  Very spicy and addictive.

Food Waste Update:

This is plain and simple waste on my part and I feel guilty about it.  This is leftover winter squash, complete with mold, that was given to me.  It was huge.  Instead of freezing the leftovers, I kept thinking that I would eat it.  And didn't.

Cha Ching:  $1.00

Monday, October 22, 2012

Weekend Recap 10/22

Check it out!!  I'm knitting socks on one needle!!  And cashmere!!, to boot.  On Friday I joined Sock Club which meets on the first and third Friday of the month at Port Hadlock Yarns.  It was thrilling to meet other knitters who are all about the sock.  I am a seasoned sock knitter but I sure picked up a lot of new ideas from these ladies.  Everybody was using different techniques and tools but still ending up with a knitted sock.  This needle is actually a 32" lace needle with sharp points, so your knitting goes pretty fast.  I learned this technique from one of the ladies in about two minutes.  You can teach an old dog new tricks, for sure.

This is the last of the beauties on my deck and they are not happy.  I was hoping that you could read the thermometer at 40 degrees but it doesn't show up very clearly.  These Latin lovelies will soon find their way into the compost pile and it will be heartbreaking.

I've been raking leaves like mad.  I usually cover everything with cardboard to keep the weeds from using up my fertile soil over the winter but I've got all these wonderful leaves and I'm putting them to good use.  This is my rhubarb corner:

And my new raised bed:

My plan is to cover the other two beds when I put them to bed for the winter.  I've never had time to rake leaves before and I had no idea that it could be such sweaty work.  It was 40 degrees and I was in a short sleeved t-shirt within minutes.

This is my junk pile.  When I've finished getting everything together in the backyard, my yard guy, Chris, will come over and mow and haul off this eyesore, which is full of blackberries and stuff I don't want in the compost.

Cruise Fund Update:

I'm starting to get worried as I haven't put anything in my fund since September.  I guess you have to spend money in order to get leftover money and I don't seem to be spending that much.

Food Waste Update:

I found this disgusting mess in the far reaches of the crisper.  I didn't know it was there and don't remember buying it, so I suspect that the guy from Seattle did it.  He is in Seattle so is not here to defend himself.  He gets the blame.

Cha Ching:  $1.00

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Electrolux Ergorapido Stick Vac Review


See that green guy up there on his perch??  That is Eddie Vedder, the parakeet.  Not only is he a great singer, but he is also a sex maniac and flinger of his bird seed.  I was going crazy dragging out my old Hoover several times a day to clean up after him.  I've tried many different seeds thinking that he didn't like his but he just likes to fling.  This is what his handiwork looks like:

See what I mean??  I go barefoot and I really hate birdseed embedded in the bottom of my feet.  So, when I noticed that Costco had a $15 coupon for the Electrolux Stick Vac, I was all over it.  That was in July so I decided that I would live with it for a while before I gave my opinion.  And my opinion is that this is the best thing since I discovered pizza!!

Now this is not for deep cleaning or carpets, although I do hit the bedroom carpets with it between deep vacuuming.  Most of my floors are hard surfaces, so this is my new best friend.  You can spiff up your whole house in no time with this guy.  It sits on a charger just like my iPod and I can do the whole house on a charge.  It has that cool roller ball technology so it is really easy to maneuver and if you want to get that tight spot, just push the button and the hand vac comes loose, like this:

Whoever thought of this thing, I love them.  And it is super easy to clean.  It has a brush on the bottom that easily snaps off so I can remove a head of hair from it:

To empty it, just remove the hand vac and take it out to the compost and snap off the holding tank and dump it in.  It also has a washable filter that is easy to clean.

This little number usually retails for $100 but Costco carries it for $80.  I got mine for $65 with the $15 coupon and it was money well spent.  And it comes in several cool colors.  Costco just had a couple but, luckily, one of those colors was purple.  This gets the famous MoneyPenny Seal of Approval, so go ahead and spend the money.

Kitty Cat Update:

DC is doing much better after Dr. Cindy worked her magic on her.   Dr. Cindy even called me this morning to see how she was doing and even offered up her cell phone number.  Now that is what I call great veterinary care!!  Here is a picture of DC's new $368 hair cut:

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

QFC Grocery Basket 10/17

When I pulled the spent cucumber plants out of this big pot I was surprised to see all this beautiful lettuce that had been hiding underneath.  This pot is truly butt ugly but it really produced this summer and the chair was the perfect place for vines to hang off, and now lettuce.  I'd forgotten that I had planted some seeds in there.  I almost don't want to harvest it - but I will.

So, if you are starting your holiday baking, QFC has some important ingredients on sale this week.  My son, the plumber, has requested his Grannie's butter balls for Christmas but I'm hesitant because it would be like giving him a coronary for Christmas with all that butter.  And you can't just eat one.  I know this from experience, but they are delicious.

Anyway here is what Miss MoneyPenny considers to be the deals this week:

Franz Bread - $2.50/loaf
Gold Medal Flour - $2.50/5 lb
Spice Island Spices - 50% off (stock up price even tho I can't find any coupons)
Coffee Bean Coffee - $6.99/12 oz
Valley Fresh White Chicken Breast - $1/5 oz can (think Food Bank)
Best Foods Mayonnaise - $3.49/30 oz
Coffee-Mate Creamer - $2.99/qt
Nancy's Yogurt - $2.79/qt (ad shows organic)
QFC Butter - $2.69/lb
Ribeye Steaks - $5.99/lb value pack
Fresh Wild Alaska True Cod - $7.99/lb
Rice A Roni - $1/ea (food bank)
Pears - $ .99/lb
Gala or Jonagold Apples - $ .99/lb
English Cukes - $ .99/ea
Hass Avocados - $ .99/ea
Red Seedless Grapes - $1.28/lb

Kitty Update:

This is the second time the kitty has been attacked since June by something and it has been pretty darned expensive, but what do you do??  After xrays, shots, and some kind of hydration thingy, the bill came to $368.  As I have said before, vet bills are the wild card in the budget.  I budget $100 per month for vet visits but my vet category is now $970 in the red from all the recent issues.  EEEK!!  I will have to redirect funds from other categories to balance my budget and I hate doing that.

Guest Post Update:

My sister, Miss SmartyPants, is going to do a blog post for Miss MoneyPenny on dahlias.  She reigns supreme when it comes to growing dahlias.  She has a strip of dahlias in the front of her office building that runs from property line to property line and people actually come by just to see it.  I love dahlias but don't have a clue how to go about raising them, so she is going to give us her tips and secrets.  I am excited about this!!  We don't call her SmartyPants for nothing.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Clematis Like Cold Feet & Hot Heads



I have always admired the beautiful Clematis vine but have been terrified of growing them.  They just seem so regal and surely they have to be hard to grow.  Look at that thing!!  I've worried that I wouldn't be able to offer them everything that they need to be spectacular, and why grow them if not for the show??

So I happened to be at the local garden center buying steer manure when I spotted a pot with one beautiful purple flower on a broken stem.  The tag said that it was clematis integrifolia durandii which probably means plain old clematis, but I was smitten.  When the clerk noticed my interest, she said that I could take it home for half price - $7 - and I did.  I let it sit out on the deck for a week or so to see if it was going to live, and it did.
The only thing that I know about the clematis is that it wants cold feet and a hot head, so how hard could it be??  I have the perfect place for it.  In the corner of my yard I have a trellis which the Debbie Dodd rose used to grow on, but it turned up its toes and died this year.  A stand of red Lucifers are planted in the front of the used to be rose, like these:
Now you see where I'm going with this.  You know how much I love purple and red together.  This should be a real show stopper, if it works.  I have this vision of Lucifer blooming his red head off with beautiful purple clematis climbing all up the trellis and along the fence behind him.  Gaudy!!  I know!!
Here is what it looks like after I dug a hole and livened it up with some organic fertilizer and then covered it with mulch and leaves.  This should cover all the bases.  It will have cold shady feet and full sun on its hot head and will be just crazy gorgeous come summertime.  I'll keep you posted.
I took some snaps of my boyfriend, the frog.  This little guy would come out of the lemon balm and flirt with me this summer when I sat on the deck.  Sometimes he would go for a swim in the bird bath.  I am happy to say that this has been the froggiest year that I have ever had here and I'm thrilled!!  I must be doing something right. 
This is where he spent the summer.

You can see what a little bitty guy he is but he has a huge croak.  He would stare at me, all the while keeping his eye on the dogs.  What a little charmer.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Weekend Recap 10/15


The highlight of this past weekend was some fun in the dark with Ben Affleck's new arty thriller, Argo.  Argo is the true story of the CIA's Tony Mendez and his successful rescue of six American diplomats who were hiding at the home of the Canadian ambassador during the 1979 Iran Hostage Crisis.  I followed the Iranian Crisis very closely, tuning into Ted Koppel every night at 11:30 but we never heard this story because it was just recently declassified.  We were told that the Canadians got them out, which was fine with Tony.  He wasn't doing his job for fame.
I've never paid much attention to Ben Affleck, thinking that he was just another pretty face, and he is, but it turns out that he is also a gifted director.  Who knew??  He was able to capture that 1979 time perfectly and he didn't pull any punches when it came to how America had behaved with the Iranians because of their oil over the years by installing the Shah.  He was able to entertain, inform and have you leave the theater thinking about this time in history.  
I wanted to mention that not only was this movie a white knuckler, it had moments of pure black comedy provided by the two great actors in the top picture.  Somehow, Tony Mendez was able to talk these two Hollywood movie guys into riding along on the crazy idea of making a fake movie in Iran.  I loved the line where Alan Arkin said that if he was going to make a fake movie, it was going to be a fake hit.  Watching the movie, you just knew that John Goodman and Alan Arkin had a great time making it.  This is the best movie that I've seen in a very long time.
We also spent the weekend taking care of my injured cat.  This is the second time in the last couple of months that some creature has attacked poor old DC.  She loves to be outside in the daytime but I make her come in at night because of this very reason but something had gotten to her by 7:00.  We were noticing that there are only two cats in the neighborhood these days and something tore Brittany up pretty bad last weekend.  Raccoons??  Coyotes??  I don't know but she is using up her nine lives pretty fast.
We did get some outside work in before the storm hit yesterday.  All the cucumber plants were pulled and thrown into the compost.  The new raised bed got covered in more leaves and a wheel barrow full of compost.  The deck chairs were cleaned and put in the shed.  We fought down the blackberries and I'm starting to feel that we are winning.  The maple tree is just about done releasing her leaves for the year and I've been spreading them like mad.  I have two containers stored in the shed to feed into the compost over the winter.  It is a lot more fun putting the garden and deck together than taking it all down, I can tell you.
Rebate Update:
If you are thinking about buying a rechargeable toothbrush, there are a couple things to help you out.  Oral-B is offering a $10 rebate and you can get the form from after purchase.  Also this weekend the SmartSource insert has a $20 coupon off Sonicare DiamondClean or Flexcare rechargeables.  I think that they make great Christmas presents.  My son, not so much.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Costco Coupons 10/11 - 11/4

Sure was nice of Miss MoneyPenny to buy a new comfy bed for the critters.  At least they give me a small sliver to sleep on.  And, Poppy, the Boston Terrorizer is buried under the covers down at the foot of the bed snoring away.  Notice the giant white cat foot on Suzie's butt.  Believe it or not, I usually sleep like a log.

I thought that I would explain the criteria I use for selecting coupons and deals.  There are literally thousands of blogs out there that cover deals with an eye for young families, and I read a lot of them.  I wish that they had been around when I was raising a family, but I would have probably been way too busy to read them. 

Miss MoneyPenny writes for everybody but keeps her eye out for coupons and deals that don't involve a lot of processing in our food and I don't personally buy everything that I mention.  I would if I needed them, though.  I am always looking for ways to save money in just about every area where money is spent and finding products that get the famous MoneyPenny Seal of Approval is a big thrill.  Matching coupons and sales to one of these items is truly a triple whammy.

As I state in my bio on the right hand side of the blog, I'm trying to squeeze every dollar in able to live my chosen lifestyle on a limited retirement budget, which includes paying almost $600 a month for health insurance.  EEEEK!!  And if I see a good deal or important information, I'm going to pass it along. 

Now that you know how I select the deals, we should get going on the Costco deals.  If you are in need of an update on your smartphone, Costco is the place and there are coupons for several different brands.  And if you haven't purchased your winter tires, they have a coupon for $70 off Michelin tires.  Here are the other coupons I noticed:

Smoke Detectors/Fire Extinguishers - $7
Brita Pitcher/Filters - $8/limit 5
Philips Sonicare Brush heads - $10/limit 2
Kirkland Signature CoQ10 - $5/limit 5
Tide - $2.50/limit 1
Downey - $2/limit 1
Bounce Dryer Sheets - $1.75/limit 1
Cascade Complete Action Pacs - $3/limit 1
Dove Bar Soap - $3.50/limit 2/16 count
Dove Body Wash - $3/limit 2
Dove Shampoo/Conditioner - $2/limit 2/40 oz
Crest Toothpaste - $3.50/limit 2/5 pack

From the Who Knew Department:

Who knew that if you see that little "he" symbol on your laundry soap that it is not suitable for use in top loading conventional washing machines??  I had noticed that I sure didn't have very many suds and was wondering if Tide was not so good any more, but after reading all about laundry soap in the October issue of ShopSmart, I now know what is going on.  If you do have a conventional top loader as I do, they are suggesting Target's Up & Up Ultra Concentrated for the best cleaning and price.  I have used Tide since 1967 but now I'm going to take a run at Target's soap when I need to buy detergent.  I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

QFC Grocery Basket 10/10

This is what Miss MoneyPenny felt like doing this morning after 45 minutes of trying to get through to the Social Security people.  I was concerned about a letter that they had sent to me and wanted clarification.  After working my way through their very irritating phone tree and then being put on hold for the next available representative, I would listen to their broken recorded music for about 10 minutes, then my call would be dropped!!  This happened twice.  Then I got the brilliant idea of calling the Port Angeles office.  Same thing.  Then back to the feds and I finally got through.  Whew!!

What I'm getting around to is if you are planning on retiring in the near future, start the process early because it is going to take longer than you think.  I tried to do as much as possible on-line but some things require you to talk to a live body.  Once you get a real live person they are very nice and helpful, but it is a battle and takes a lot of patience.  Also, be sure that you are prepared when you finally do get someone to talk to.  Have your paperwork in front of you and try to remember your mother's maiden name.

Enough of that.  Let's go shopping.  The QFC ad this week isn't very exciting but they are running the 10 for $10 promo and there are some goodies there.  Also, I wanted to mention that Best Foods mayonnaise is on sale this week for $3.49 for a 30 ounce jar.  I find this shocking.  When I first started keeping house in 1967 Best Foods cost $ .73 for a quart (32 oz) and that was not on sale.  This is a good example of why your food budget just doesn't stretch very far.  Here is what I'm looking at this week:

QFC Cottage Cheese - 3/$5 24 oz
Tillamook Butter - $2.99/lb
Chuck Roast - 50% off
New York Strip Steak - $8.99/lb
Fresh Dover Sole - $5.99/lb
Franz Bread - $2.50/ea
Best Foods Mayonnaise - $3.49/30 oz
Whole Pineapples - $1/ea
Large Hass Avocados - $1/ea
Leaf Lettuces - $1/ea
Roma Tomatoes - $1/lb
Grapes - $1.49/lb
Crest Toothpaste - $1/ea (coupon Oct PG for $ .50 off)
Pantene Shampoo/Conditioner - $3.50/12.6 oz (coupon Oct PG Buy Shampoo get Conditioner Free)

That chuck roast is making me think stew.  They are easy to cut up into stew size chunks and freeze.  I usually freeze them in one pound packages and then add lots of veggies when I make the stew.  I flour and brown the meat and then add everything to the crockpot.  I always add a can of whole mushrooms at the end because it adds a little pizazz to plain old stew.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Weekend Recap 10/8


You read about it in the newspapers and you hear about it on television, but when THEFT comes to your own neighborhood it is always a shock.  I live in a barely making-it working class neighborhood so you wouldn't think there would be that much for thieves to steal, but they must be desperate.  First it was car prowls.  Now they are stealing everything that they can get their hands on. 

They stole several thousands of dollars of landscaping equipment out of my neighbor's work trailer.  This weekend, they helped themselves to a locked down quad from my closest neighbor, coming into the thirty foot space between my bedroom and hers.  You would have thought that my beautiful Pici, pictured above, who barks at butterflies, for crying out loud, would have done some serious barking, but not a peep.

So far the only sign that something has been amiss for me is my back gate being shut but unlocked a couple of times.  It seems that somebody must have been creeping around in my back yard checking things out.  I hoped they stepped in dog poop.

Even though there has been drama, I've still got the pedal to the metal in getting the place ready for winter.  On Friday, I started dismantling the summertime deck.  Even though we haven't had any rain, the sun no longer shines on the deck and it isn't pleasant to sit there any more, so I gave all the cushions a good scrub and let them dry out in the sun before storing them away. 

I also grabbed the amaryllis which has been living out on the deck, being fertilized and watered all summer, and stuck it away under the sink in the guest bathroom, where I will try to remember to bring in back out before Christmas.  If it blooms again this year, it will be the third time for this bulb, which I will consider a miracle.  I'll keep you posted.

On Sunday, Shane, the world's cutest handyman, came by and took care of a number of things that I had  been saving up for him, one of which was to build another 4 X 12 raised bed.  It is shocking how much dirt that required.  Along with dirt, we put in 10 bags of composted steer manure and a whole gob of fallen dried leaves.  I'm going to cover it with compost and more leaves and then cover it with cardboard until next spring.

The other two beds will get the same treatment when everything is done growing.  We did harvest the last of the salsa peppers before we threw the frost blackened plants into the compost.  The guy from Seattle made up a big batch of salsa using just one of those hot little devils.  My tongue is still burning from when I tested one of those guys.  And all the black basil plants went to live in the compost, also.

On Saturday, we made the monthly trek to Costco.  I budget $100 per month for Costco.  I came in at $102.79, the extra coming out of the grocery budget.  I keep my Costco list on the fridge and add to it as the month goes on, keeping in mind the Costco coupons and their expiration date.  I reworked that list three times before I had it at $100.  You can really spend a lot of money fast if you are not prepared when you shop Costco.

A last note on the theft drama.  My neighbor put up a camera that records after her 4-wheeler got stolen.  I was not happy this morning as I watched some piece of sh*t hiding under my giant flowering plum tree, working his flashlight at 4:00 this morning.  He moved around for about 20 minutes, checking both our places out.  What could he be planning??

Thursday, October 4, 2012

LL Bean Shopping

I mentioned in an earlier post that I had luckily received two $10 gift cards from LL Bean even though I personally only put in one order.  I did however place an order for the guy from Seattle, on his credit card, but at the same time updated my address.  Maybe that is why they sent me another one.  The guy from Seattle got one also.  I'm gonna try and get it from him.

I was wondering if I could use both of them - and I did!!  Last night I ordered a pullover for my son's birthday and used one of the gift cards, getting $10 off.  Today I received an email from LL Bean that I could get 10% off an order until October 8th.  Sweet!!  Maybe I could pair it with the remaining gift card - and I did!!

This is what the deal on the above fleece jacket that I ordered for myself looks like:

Fleece Jacket       =    $49.95

10% off               -         5.00

$10 gift card       -        10.00

Grand total         =      $34.95 (includes frees shipping & no tax)

Heat Pump Update:

I have been manually controlling the thermostat trying to find the right combinations and think I've got it.  So I dug out the manual, which is quite user friendly, and quickly stored my times and temps.  I'll live with this combination for a while and see how I like it.  You can easily override if you need to bump it up or down, but it will return to the schedule at the next cycle.  Easy peasy.  I think...

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The Heat is On!!

My new thermostat looks suspiciously like the one that lived above my desk at the library.  I am still trying to find my happy medium for the settings.  I first set the heat at 68 and the air conditioning at 75 but I was too HOT!!  I have sky lights and if there is any sun at all, the house really heats up.  I have gobs of insulation and had the windows caulked this summer.  Who knew that had never been done?? and that might have been why there was always a breeze by the windows.

Anyway, they tell me that I need to find that sweet spot that keeps me comfy and keep it there for the best use of energy and to substantially lower my electric bill.  As you can see I have it set at 65 but the house is actually 67 due to the sun shining at 9:48 in the morning.  It is now almost 6:00 in the evening and the house is still at 72 with the furnace only coming on once early this morning.

Now, you know that Miss MoneyPenny had been whining and complaining and wringing her hands at the thought of spending serious money on a new system when I already had a crappy one that was doable, but not effecient and becoming quite expensive.  I talked to several people who had installed a heat pump (and loved it) and did my research and decided that I was just not going to do it and breathed a big sigh of relief.  Once that was out of the way, I began the process of buying one.

After calling around, Jara of Air Flo, was the most on the ball and came out and gave me an estimate.  She was great, always showing up right on time and answering all of my irritating questions and returning all phone calls.  I decided to have the heat pump system installed but it had to be contingent on getting the $1500 rebate from PSE.  She filled out all of the paperwork and submitted it for me and I got an answer within a couple of days, so, we were good to go.  We scheduled for the 1st of October.

At 7:45, the guys showed up.  Two Air Flo guys and two electricians.  They were done by 2:30 and even vacuumed up after themselves.  They set up the heat pump, replaced my old furnace with a fancy dancy electronic looking thing with blinking lights, and did a lot of electrical wiring.  This is what the heat pump looks like:

Here is the new furnace.  They are scheduled to return on Friday with a new custom made door to cover the furnace.  Note the blue blinking lights down on the right.

These are the Air Flo guys, Ryan and Dan.  Very patient with all my questions.  Ryan is the one with the tool belt and Dan is the apprentice.  Ryan has to be worth his weight in gold to Air Flo.

And their van.  I just like work vans.  I actually used $2000 that I had earned on my credit card to put down on a plumbing van for my son's business.

I decided to go with the mid range Trane XR15 heat pump with a 10 year warranty on parts and the compressor and one year labor.  The annual maintenance on the system averages $150.  Here is the breakdown:

Trane XR15 heat pump        =   $7073.00

Tax                                        +      636.57

PSE Rebate                           -     1500.00

Trane Rebate                        -       150.00

Grand Total                         =  $6059.57

I hope this helps if you are looking into a heat pump.  If you decide to do it and go with Air Flo, mention my name and we each get a $100.  What??  You don't think that they know who Miss MoneyPenny is??  Of course they do.      

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

QFC Grocery Basket 10/3

My red maple is certainly living up to its name.  My son the plumber got this beautiful tree for my birthday in 1995.  It was just a twig in a pot and I certainly never thought that it would grow to be this fabulous tree.  The fence is six feet, so that gives you an idea of how tall it is.  I've had the guy from Seattle raking leaves like mad.  My plan is to get several containers full and feed them in to the compost over the winter.

Speaking of winter, the heat pump was installed yesterday and I am thrilled with it.  I'll get my papers together and give you the low down on how I worked that deal very soon.

But we have to feed the troops and that means we gotta go shopping.  I think that I mentioned earlier in the summer that I heard that meat prices were gonna hit the roof and I'm seeing that.  New York and Ribeye steaks are on sale this week for $10.99 a pound, when the regular price at the beginning of summer was $7.99 a pound, and sale prices at $5.99.  I think that these prices are here to stay for a while because ranchers are selling off their herds due to the drought and high corn prices.

On a happier note, QFC is still running their Buy 2, Save $2 promo and the P&G insert that came on Sunday has some good coupons to match up with the sale.  Here are the highlights from the ad:

Yoplait Greek Yogurt - $1/ea (coupon $ .50 off 2, SS/9/9)
Oikos Greek Yogurt - $1/ea
Fage Greek Yogurt - $1/ea
Darigold Butter - $2.99/lb
Draper Valley Whole Chicken - $ .88/lb
Fresh Wild Rockfish - $5.99/lb
Special K - $2.69/12-18 oz (coupon RP/9/16 for $1 off 3)
Tide - $4.99/50 oz/30 load (promo-coupon Oct P&G/$1 & SS/9/9 $ 50/1)
Franz Bread - $2.50/loaf
Starbucks Coffee - $7.99/12 oz (coupon for $1.50 SS/9/9)
Gala Apples - $ .88/lb
Pears - $ .88/lb
Tomatoes on the Vine - $1.49/lb
English Cukes - $1/ea
Jumbo Kiwis - 3/$1
Hass Avocados - $ .99/ea
Nature Made Vitamins - BOGO

QFC is also running a promo on Halloween candy (already??) - buy $20 Hershey's candies, Save $5 at Checkout.  Maybe you can buy Halloween candy ahead, but I sure can't.  Even with candy I don't particularly like.  I'll eat it.

Coupon Reminders:

October is Car Care Month, so dig out that $30 coupon in the AAA magazine (Journey Western) and get that work done on your car before winter driving.  The coupon says for AAA Approved Auto Repair Shops but my local guy, Ben of Satch Works, said that he would be happy to honor the coupon.  The coupon does not cover oil changes but everything else, from hoses and belts to brake jobs.  The coupon can be found on page 36 of the Sept/Oct magazine.

If you took advantage of the LL Bean promotion and have a $10 coupon, you have until October 29th to use it.  Somehow I've ended up with two of them and I can't see where it says one per household, so I will try two transactions and see how that works.  I think they gave me an extra one when I called in an order for the guy from Seattle and at the same time gave them my new address because he got one also.  No problemo.  I'll have no trouble spending it.  You can count on me.