Wednesday, January 30, 2013

QFC Grocery Basket 1/30

Today is National Escape Day and it couldn't have come any sooner.  I don't know about you but these long gray days are starting to take their toll, and we haven't even hit February yet, which is the meanest month of all, as far as I'm concerned.  Looking at this picture makes me want to drop everything and pack my bags and head out for the warmth of the sun on my shoulders, a book, and a tall cool one.

Sigh.  But we are still here and looking at the crappy QFC ad trying to find some real food there for a decent price.  Due to the increase in the Social Security deduction on my small Weathers Plumbing paycheck and the increased cost of my medical insurance, my budget has taken a hit of $23.22 per month.  That is a bag of groceries less per month, so I need to be extra vigilant and make sure I get the best bang for my buck.

Here is my list of the best deals and it ain't pretty:

Draper Valley Split Chicken Breasts - $1.49/lb
Pork Shoulder Roast - $1.49/lb
USDA Choice Ribeye Steak - $5.99/lb
Apples (Kiku, Lady Alice, Jazz, Sonya) - $1.99/lb
California Mandarins - $3.99/3lb bag
Cara Cara Navel Oranges - $1.50/lb
Hass Avocados - $ .87/ea
Mangos - $ .87/ea
Organic Carrots - $3/bunch
Fresh Cut Tulips - 3 for $10/5 stem bunch

Home Organization Update:

Going nowhere fast.  Miss CutiePie, the queen of organization, asked me how things were going the other day.  It really is embarrassing but I'm overwhelmed by the project and will probably have CutiePie come over and give me a jump start.  She says that she has a method that works like a charm and she is hard hearted when it comes to throwing stuff out.  Boy, do I need that.  I'm pretty sure that I could easily equip a second home with the stuff that I have accumulated.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Costco Coupons 1/31 - 2/24/2013

On Friday evening, a bunch of us headed over to the CutiePies' house for a fabulous dinner, conversation and a board game.  We dined on the best lasagna I've ever eaten, oriental cabbage salad, homemade bread with spinach-artichoke spread, and sinful chocolate cake.  I had eaten a big lunch, so wasn't going to eat a big dinner, too.  Sadly, that wasn't the case for my waistline.

The above picture shows how Mr. CutiePie earns his place on the MoneyPenny Seal of Approval list.  This jar is home canned tuna, which was caught by him, way the hell and out there in the ocean.  I LOVE home canned tuna!!  It is really a different breed of cat,, than what you get in the store.  Even tuna haters would go gaga over this stuff.

Okay, the coupons.  Heather over at queenbeecoupons was wondering if anyone had noticed that the "glory days" of couponing seems to be over.  I don't know if it is over but it sure is slowing down and the sales aren't real thrilling either. This is happening, or, in this case, not happening, at a time when personal incomes are not keeping up, and the situation is not helped by the recent increase in the Social Security payroll deduction of 2%.  This is taken right off the top of your monthly wage and results, for most of us, in one less tank of gas and bag of groceries.  Ouch!!

So, it is not a big surprise that the Costco coupons are following suit.  As usual they are offering good coupons on smart phones, supplements, and Michelin tires but not much else.  I guess that Costco is feeling the pinch, also.  Here is my very anemic list for February:

Finish Powerball Tabs - $3.25
Cetaphil Cream, Cleanser & Lotion - $4 (time to stock up on this great product)
Shout - $2.50
Crest Whitestrips - $10

Cruise Fund Update:

Old Balance             $696.06

                             +    21.95 (Amazon sale)

New Balance           $718.01

Friday, January 25, 2013

Pruning & Thai Chicken Curry

Everyone who knows Miss MoneyPenny knows that  she is terrified of pruning and for good reason.  I have pruned 30 feet of rambling rose down to a single stick.  Didn't kill it, oddly enough.  And I pruned a lovely and smelly yellow rose back to its root stock which turned out to be a three petal model that was pink.  So I usually make my neighbor (a.k.a. The Yard Barber) do it.  The problem with that is I have to wait until he gets around to it and he doesn't take kindly to my advice on the subject.  

What to do!?  I've been reading up on the subject and I'm starting to understand why I've had problems in the past.  It's witchcraft, is why!!  Who on earth can make heads or tails from the above diagram??  And why would you want it to look like that strange little thing on the left??  

Anyway, what I've gotten from my reading is that pruning is needed for the health and blooming of a plant or tree, not to mention keeping it to size.  Margaret Roach, in her new book The Backyard Parables, says if you don't do anything else, at least do the the three "Ds", which means that you prune out anything that is dead, damaged or diseased.  Sounds simple enough that maybe I can do this and leave the more advanced pruning to the experts.  What do you think??

Now that I've got the pruning out of the way, let's talk curry.  I love curries!!  Doesn't everyone??  I've been trying to find a recipe for curry using green curry paste because that is what I have and I finally found one from Weight Watchers, of all things.  I took their recipe and improved on it by adding vegetables and cooked chicken.  It turned out to be a winner, tasting just as good as the Thai restaurant, maybe better.

These items are the base of the curry:

These are the veggies that I used because they were in my fridge.  You can easily vary it by using what you have on hand.  I sliced them very thin.

The chicken:

Whisk the coconut milk, green onions and curry paste until smooth.

Then add the rest of the ingredients and simmer until done.  Serve over rice with cilantro.

 The ingredients:

1 can coconut milk
2 cups chicken broth
2 T green curry paste
1 T fish sauce
2 t brown sugar, packed
4 green onions
1 red bell pepper
5 mushrooms
8 ounces cooked chicken

Cooked rice

You will thank me for this dish as it really hit the spot on a cold winter day.


Wednesday, January 23, 2013

QFC Grocery Basket 1/23/13

Man, do I love a good hot dog.  In fact, and I feel "somewhat" guilty because I really enjoy a Costco dog now and then.  And if I didn't teach my son how to cook anything else, he knows how to put together a mean HD.  He barbecues all year long, even in the snow, using briquettes, which is not as convenient as gas, but he thinks it produces better tasting food.  He sent me this picture the other night knowing that I would appreciate it.  My question is what's the Heinz for??  Dipping??  Surely, not!!
I want to mention now that it is tax time that if you don't have a system in place this year for your tax stuff, get one going for next year.  This really is a no brainer but you will feel like a genius at tax time because all your documents will be in one place.  No mad rushing around raising your blood pressure.

Take a file folder and make a list of the documents that you need on the inside cover, such as W-2s, interest statements, medical costs, etc.  I know it isn't sexy but this is where mine lives all year, right on my desk, where it is easy just to throw stuff into during the year.  At tax time, I organize it all and send it down to my sister who takes it from there.  

Now, on to the QFC ad this week.  Not a real exciting week, especially in the produce department.  I had a visit with the produce manager last week and he said that they just aren't getting their shipments due to poor weather in California.  He said that he was 85 cases short last week and it is going to be slim pickings for a while longer.  I did notice that they never did have the primroses that were on the sale.

Here are my highlights:

QFC Large Eggs - $1/doz (most exciting deal-deviled eggs & omelets)
Simple Truth Yogurt - $1/5.3oz
Nature Made Vitamins - BOGO
Lean Ground Beef - $2.66/lb (3 pound pack-time for meatloaf)
Wild Alaska True Cod - $6.99/lb ($1 to $2 more per pound than last year)
California Mandarins - $3.99/3 lb bag
Green Bell Peppers - $ .69/ea (stuffed peppers with the ground beef??)
Cucumbers - $ .69/ea
Organic Fuji, Gala, Braeburn - $1.99/lb
Ancient Harvest Quinoa - $4.99/12oz

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Costco American Express Rewards Coupon 2013

My sister can really grow dahlias.  I remember back in the late 80s when she decided that she was going to be a dahlia grower.  She went to dahlia shows and bought gobs of beautiful dahlias.  Then she went home and dug a bed for them that stretched from the house clear down the road, complete with a rebar stake for each one.  And then carefully planted each one and tied it to the stake when it grew.  And she was rewarded with a stunning display of gorgeous dahlias.

When she split with her favorite ex-husband she just started a new dahlia bed in her new home.  Her neighbors love it so much that they care for it when she is away, taking a few home for a bouquet, of course.

Then she dug a bed in front of her office on the main drag of town.

People come by just to admire the display of blooms.


She was going to do a guest blog last fall on her dahlias but had some health issues that she had to deal with.  She tells me that she is gearing up for it and maybe we will hear from her after TAX SEASON, if she survives, being an accountant an all.

Also, the word is out.  The Costco American Express Rewards Coupon will be on the last page of your February bill.  I think this means the bill that you get in March for February charges but be sure and check your bill next month, just in case.

And remember - you have to cash it at Costco but don't have to spend it at Costco, although, they would like you to.  I'm told by my daughter-in-law who works at Costco that there are people who charge their whole life on their card and walk away with several thousand dollars in free money.  Something to think about if you have the discipline.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Best Time To Buy a Mattress

I keep seeing these mattress commercials on television and was wondering why now, so I put the MoneyPenny Research Team to work on it.  I used to think that the best time to buy a mattress is in May because the new models would be coming out over the summer and retailers try to off-load last year's models to make room.  And this is the case, but, and I didn't know this, mattress retailers are now having sales to go along with all the White Sales in January.  Makes sense.  Buy sheets and a new mattress, while you are at it.

If you do find a good deal on a mattress you need to check a couple of things before you close the deal, as they are deal breakers if not offered, as far as I'm concerned.  The first thing is that the retailer is offering, at the very least, a 30 day return policy if you are not happy with the mattress.  Not being happy with your new bed is not a good thing.

The other is free delivery and setup and haul-off of your old mattress.  Getting rid of an old mattress is not fun.  You do remember that I told you that several years ago the previous renters next door threw theirs out in the back yard and set fire to it.  It wasn't pretty.

Now that we have that settled, let's move on.  This is my first winter in retirement and it has been a little trying as I am still trying to get my feet under me.  I keep yearning for spring and gardening.  The only thing that is keeping me sane is the movies.  I've been dragging Miss MaggieMay to all sorts of movies that she normally wouldn't see but she is a good sport.  Today we saw the new Ryan Gosling gangster movie.  I loved it but it isn't for everyone.  Very violent but satisfying in a crazy way.  And who doesn't want to look at Mr. Gosling??

Whew!!  Where was I??  Oh, yeah.  I was going to give you my easy peasy recipe for carrot dried cranberry salad.  I've been eating tons of green salad and was looking for something different and brighter.  This little 50s salad fills the bill.  I got out my little Presto Salad Shooter and went to town on some carrots. 

Mom gave my sister and me Salad Shooters one Christmas.  We always have to have the same thing that the other one has.  It's like - you got a crappy husband...well, I'm gonna get one, too.  Anyway, back to the shooters, we thought that it was a joke at first but we both came to love the silly little thing.  It really works.

I ended up with four cups of grated carrots.

I added a third cup of dried cranberries.  I use cranberries instead of the more traditional raisens because I can't stand them.

My dressing is 2 T mayo, 1T lemon juice, and 1T sugar.

This is how it turned out.  Very tasty and keeps well, covered, in the fridge for a couple of days.

Amaryllis Update:

As you can see from the top picture the amaryllis is putting out leaves but no bulbs.  I think my mistake was when I neglected to cut off the summer growth before I put it in the dark.  Just took too much out of it trying to support the growth instead of gearing up for bulb production.  I'll try it again next year and do it right.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

QFC Grocery Basket 1/16/13

Sometimes, no matter how well I plan, things go bad in the MoneyPenny kitchen.  For example: last week QFC had eggplant, peppers and zucchini on sale and they just spoke to me of summer and ratatouille, a vegetable stew that I really like.  After I finished my morning cup of coffee (more like a tankard) I started chopping and throwing veggies into the crockpot.  My last veggie was the beautiful purple eggplant.  I lovingly washed and dried it.  Then I cut it in half and to my dismay it was rotten!!

What to do??!!  I decided to add the odds and ends of leftover veggies from the refrigerator.  How could that be bad??  I love vegetable stews.  But in this case I was wrong because after cooking most of the day, it looked like this:

Doesn't look too bad.  Tastes awful.  I'm letting it cool out in the fridge for a few days to fix itself.  If it doesn't, it will go for a ride out to the compost.  And, yes, I will be talking to the produce manager at QFC.  He will give me a refund for the eggplant but I still pretty much wasted about $7 in produce.  Maybe the moral of this story is I should have waited until summer to cook ratatouille as it is a warm, summery dish.

I'm just not feeling the love for this week's QFC ad and if you want produce, forgetaboutit.  Here are the highlights:

4 Day Ad - Thursday thru Sunday -

Coffee Bean Coffee - $4.99/12oz
Chobani Greek Yogurt - $ .80/6oz
QFC Milk or Orange Juice - $1/1/2 gal

Regular Ad -

Mission Flour Tortillas - $1/10ct
General Mills Cereal - 4 for $10 (free gallon of milk when you buy 4)
Rosarita Refried Beans - $1/16oz (I'm thinking Mexican this week)
QFC Sour Cream - $1/16oz
Draper Valley Whole Chickens - $ .88/lb (this is the star of the ad)
Anjou or Bosc Pears - $1.49/lb
Jazz Apples - $1.99/lb
Medium Hass Avocados - $1/ea
Fresh Cut Daffodils - $2.50/bunch
Primroses - $1/ea

I was going to buy primroses last week but they only had white.  I like white but just to set off the beautiful jewel colors of the others.  I'm definitely springing for the daffodils because nothing says, well, spring, like daffodils.  I had to memorize and recite the poem Daffodils by William Wodsworth when I was in ninth grade and almost passed out from stage fright but I still love daffodils and don't hold it against them.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Cranberry Sauce in the CrockPot


I borrowed this picture of my son, the plumber, when he was about six years old, from his Facebook page.  He probably will not be pleased to hear that Mom has put it on her blog but I figure that if it is on Facebook, it is fair game.  He still hasn't forgiven me for the hair style.
Miss MoneyPenny has been taken out of the game by a mean pain in the back that has not responded to chiropractor or massage.  I have not slept in my bed for the last 11 nights and I'm getting pretty grumpy about sleeping in the recliner.  My only relief has been double doses of Advil and the heating pad.  In fact, I'm beginning to worry that my back is getting cooked.  I'm not even sure what I did to bring this on, but I suspect it had to do with a 42 pound box of cat litter that I was hefting at Costco to see if it was too heavy to deal with at home.  I now have my answer to that question.
Anyway, I've had this three pound bag of cranberries in the freezer that I can't remember buying.  Why on earth would I buy a bag that big??  So I was leafing through cookbooks trying to get some inspiration on what to cook other than cranberry bread or scones, when I came across some pretty elaborate recipes for cranberry sauce, none of which I had the ingredients for, although wine and crystallized ginger does sound good.
What I decided on was my recipe, using the crockpot idea from Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker Cookbook, and it is a keeper.  I use a lot less sugar - they called for 1 1/2 cups for 12 ounces of cranberries.  I used 1 cup for a pound and it is plenty sweet and a little puckery.  Perfect cranberry sauce, in my opinion.  Here is the recipe:

Mix in crockpot:

1 pound fresh or frozen cranberries
1 cup sugar
Zest from 1 orange
Juice from orange
Set on low.  Mine took about six hours.
 This is what I ended up with:

This is yummy with roasted chicken or pork.  One of these jars is going to Miss MaggieMay who loves cranberry sauce as much as I do.
Flu Shot Update:
If you are serious about being careful with your money, get a flu shot.  I'm not just talking lost wages here, which is important, but what about doctor bills, prescriptions, over the counter meds, and all those boxes of  kleenex and jugs of Vicks Vaporub??  Adds up.  And if you are home sick and watching Homeshopping Network, you might end up with a Vitamix, like me.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

QFC Grocery Basket 1/9/13

Hubba, hubba.  I wish my garden looked like this.  Maybe it will someday if I keep expanding and working on it but something like this takes vision and creativity and I come up short in that department.  Luckily, there are lots of planning tools available and I'm gonna share one of my favorites that I have been using for the last three years. is the website of Gardener's Supply Company (you might have seen their catalog) and they are my favorite gardening guys.

They have a free kitchen garden interactive planning tool on their site under the Learn & Share tab that really works well.  You can plan your whole garden and then print it out, plus planting and harvesting information, and keep it handy for reference as the garden year goes along.  Works like a charm.  And while you are at their site, feel secure in buying from them.  Their service and quality can't be beat.

Now, to the QFC ad.  They are still running the Buy 5, Save $5 promo, so if you need anything from P&G, Kellogg's and Pepsi, now is the time to dig out those coupons and hit the triple whammy.  Also, load up those ecoupons from QFC's site.  I found some good ones this time.

Here is my list this week:

Franz Bread - BOGO
Rosarita Refried Beans - $1/16oz
Simple Truth Quinoa - $2.99/16oz
QFC Cottage Cheese - $1.79/24oz
Simple Truth Greek Yogurt - $1/5.3oz
Simple Truth Natural Cage Free Eggs - $2.50/doz
Nature Made Vitamins - BOGO
Softsoap Liquid Hand Soap - $ .88/ea
Fresh Alaska True Cod Fillets - $6.99/lb
Eggplant - $1/ea
Colored Peppers - $1/ea
Red Grapefruit - $3.99/5lb bag
Zucchini/Yellow Squash - $1.25/lb
Primroses - $1/ea

It is time for a little color in these gray days and primroses are so cheerful.  I'm going to plant mine in the big pot on my front porch.  They will go well with my Christmas wreath, don't you think??  And don't forget the Sluggo because they and their buddies, the snails, love them.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Buy 5, Save $5 Promo

This is my haul after the sale, the promotion, and coupons.  It came to $14.93 with the Herbal Essences coming in at $ .99 each, which is a darn good deal.  I like clear shampoos because I hate the way the creamy ones build up on my hair and good old HE works just fine, giving me squeaky clean hair.  My entire grocery trip saw a savings of 37% overall.  It only takes a few items that aren't on sale to bring your percentage down.

I just finished balancing my checkbook and paying the bills and I got to thinking about something my mom told me once.  She said that no matter how little or how much money I have, I somehow manage to change my standard of living so that I spend it all.  What she meant was that I should live BELOW my means.  I haven't mastered that yet.  I very carefully allocate my money, making sure that the bills get paid and savings saved, but I still spend more than is necessary. 

A good example of the way I usually do things is yesterday's Seahawks game.  A couple of people were coming over to watch the game because they don't have television.  I had planned on setting out some snacks, so that meant a run to the store.  I stopped myself and thought that if they are frugal enough to not have TV, then I should be frugal enough not to spend a bunch of money on expensive snacks.  What did I do??  I handed each of them a big bowl of warm buttered popcorn and a beer (one of them brought the beer) and we were all very happy.  And the game was great!!

Speaking of TV.  I have the Top 120 on the Dish and it costs me $50.80 a month.  I watch the Mariners and Seahawks, PBS and the CBS morning shows, and listen to Sirius radio.  That is it.  I hate network TV because of the commercials, so I don't watch it much.  Now that it is winter time and I'm not outside gardening, I catch up on movies and TV dramas, all from the library.  And best of all - no commercials!!  Right now I'm watching Breaking Bad, which I borrowed from my son, the plumber.  I've got four seasons to get through and I'm addicted.  How do they think this stuff up??

Payroll Deduction Update:

The guys that we voted for and sent off to the other Washington have let the payroll deduction expire.  What that means to you is 2% off the top.  Example:  if you make $3000 a month before taxes, your paycheck will be $60 lighter.  That is approximately equivalent to a tank of gas and a bag of groceries that are no longer in your budget every month.  Hurts, doesn't it??

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Costco Coupons 1/2 - 1/27/13

I don't know about you, but I'm kinda shopped out after all the Christmas buying.  I finally did get my Christmas decorations down but only because I have people coming over tomorrow to watch the Seahawks game.  I literally have been living with the tree lights hanging down off the tree because I couldn't muster enough energy to take them down.  I like putting decorations up but really, really hate taking them down.

I certainly made out like a bandit at Christmas and I feel kind of guilty.  Besides the Macy's gift cards, my faves, Santa got me this cool greenhouse for my deck and a new composter.  Yes!!  Finally, I will be able to grow eggplants and peppers because they will have a nice cozy start in their little house before they get planted out in the cold mean garden.  I'm excited!!  Didn't see that one coming.  My handsome grandson, Eli, is going to put it all together for me.  Can't wait!!  Check it out:

Anyway, on to the Costco coupons.  I was reading somebody's blog, and I'm sorry that I can't remember which one or I would give you the link, but they said that the coupons this time are a big yawn and I pretty much agree.  Maybe it is just shopping overload but here are what I consider to be the more interesting coupons:

Taylor Glass Digital Scale - $5
Kirkland Signature CoQ10 - $5
Trunature Digestive Probiotic - $4
Special K - $2 limit 2
Royal 12-Sheet Shredder - $10
Kleenex - $3.75 limit 3
Cascade Action Pacs - $3 limit 1
Olay Body Wash - $3 limit 2
Colgate Toothpaste - $4 limit 2
Crest Pro-Health Toothpaste - $4 limit 2

Like I said, boring, but if you need new tires or a cell phone be sure and check Costco first.  Michelin tires have a $70 coupon and you can't beat the service in their tire shop.  I always get my phones there because you don't have to wait and they offer good deals and service.  I keep putting off getting a new phone because I don't want to go through learning a new one, but mine doesn't hold a charge like it should.

Cruise Fund Update:

Old balance   -    $681.67

                      +       14.39 Amazon sale

New balance  -   $696.06


Thursday, January 3, 2013

QFC Grocery Basket 1/2

Baby, it's cold outside!!  I just took these shots on my deck at 1:00 this afternoon.  The poor hummers are so frustrated with their feeder being frozen but the weather man says it is gonna warm up this afternoon.  We're waiting...

The holidays have really screwed up my schedule, as usual.  I gave a real start yesterday when I was out to lunch with Miss MaggieMay and it occurred to me that it wasn't Monday.  I'm getting back on track because I've been thinking Thursday all day.  I even finally got to the recycling that I have been saving for "after Christmas".  Those old phone books and calendars really add up.  The entire back of my Cr-V was crammed full.  What a relief to have that all hauled out.

Anyway, on to the QFC ad.  They are running the Buy 5, Save $5 promotion on P&G, Kellogg's and Pepsi this week, so if you have a favorite product, now would be the time to stock up.  Also, Nature Made and Nature's Bounty vitamins are on BOGO.  I refuse to pay full price for vitamins, even at Costco.  By the way, I will have the Costco Coupons up soon.

Here are the standouts this week at QFC:

Franz Bread - BOGO
Starbucks Coffee - $7.99/12oz
Kellogg's Special K - $2.49/ea Promo
S&W Tomatoes - $1/14.5oz
Tide Laundry Detergent - $4.99/50oz Promo
Fage Greek Yogurt - $1/ea
QFC Cottage Cheese - $1.79/24 oz
Herbal Essences - $1.99/ea Promo (coupon Jan/PG for $1 off)
Dover Sole Fillets - $5.99/lb
Draper Valley Whole Chickens - $ .99/lb
Anjou Pears - $1.49/lb
Fuji Apples - $1.49/lb
Organic Carrots - $3/bunch
                           These are all $ .99 per pound :
Large Navel Oranges
Red Grapefruit
Roma Tomatoes
                          These are $ .69 each:
Green Bell Peppers
Green Onions

I always try to keep a whole chicken in the freezer and I cooked the last one, so I will be taking advantage of the sale.  The grapefruit and oranges sound good, too, and the green onions, radishes and cucumber sound like they could make it into a refreshing green salad.  All that heavy holiday food is making me feel, well...heavy.

I took a couple pictures on New Years while down at my son, the plumber's house.  The first one is my little cutie great-granddaughter happily munching away on Grandpa's thumb.  Could she really be teething at three months??

And these lovely ladies are Mama and Granny:

Carpal Tunnel Update:

Yep.  Found out for sure today.  My left hand is the worst, so will have it done first.  I'm told that I will have immediate relief and I hope they are right.  What will it be like to sleep without my hands being electrocuted while being boiled in oil??  I'm ready.