Wednesday, February 27, 2013

QFC Grocery Basket 2/27

Miss MoneyPenny is getting real nervous about the upcoming surgery tomorrow, so she thought a picture of this little beauty, her great-granddaughter, was in order to get her calmed down.  This will be her first Easter and we are all looking forward to it.  Easter is a big deal in our family because we have the famous Easter Egg Hunt and it is a cut-throat deal for adults.  I'm a little concerned because my son, the plumber, has been doing some serious earth-moving at his house and has taken down that hillside where a lot of Easter eggs are usually hidden.
Doing a little yard work at my place

But it sure will be easier to get in and out.  Before you had to back down that road to leave and, yes, that is a ravine on the right, which I've come pretty close to, hence the fence.  I'm sure the big plumbing supply trucks will be happy, too.

Okay, let's look at the QFC ad for this week.  This is a pretty good ad, meaning that there is a lot of "real" food on sale.  I'm really looking forward to the asparagus.  Here are my picks:
Orowheat Bread - $2.99/loaf
Rosarita Refried Beans - $1/16oz
S&W, Del Monte Canned Tomatoes - $1/15.25oz (what?? they can't fill it to 16 ounces?)
Dannon Oikos Greek Yogurt - $1/5.3oz ($ .50/3 coupon 1/27/S)
Tillamook Ice Cream - $3.33/56oz
Angus New York Steaks - $5.99/lb
Lean Ground Beef - $2.66/lb
Frozen Turkey Breast - $1.49/lb
Wild Dover Sole, Fresh - $5.99/lb
Asparagus - $1.88/lb
Fuji Apples - $1/lb
Large Navel Oranges - $ .99/lb
Medium Hass Avocados - $ .88/ea
Strawberries - $2.50/lb
Texas Red Grapefruit - $1/ea
Fresh Cut Tulips - $3.33/5 stem bunch
Primroses - $1/ea
Chapstick Lip Balm - $1/ea ($1/2 coupon 1/27/RP)

I will keep you posted on how it goes with getting carpal tunnel surgery done on both hands at the same time.  Dr. Wicks assures me that this is the way to go and that I will be able to use my hands.  If not, I'm going to be real irritated with him, but it will be too late, won't it??

Cruise Fund Update:

Old Balance     =      $735.72

                        +           6.75 (Amazon sale)

New Balance   =      $742.47

Monday, February 25, 2013

Book Shelf : How to Manage Your Money When You Don't Have Any

When I first started reading Erik Wecks' self-published book I was disappointed..  I had heard about the book on a financial blog (sorry, can't remember which one) and was intrigued by the title.  Oh, boy, this was going to be right up my alley, probably just full of tips and tricks for stretching my money on a daily basis, but he quickly nixes that.  He calls such books the bowl of popcorn approach, in that there are little nuggets of ideas for everyone.  His book differs in that it is really a philosophy of personal finance for those of us down in the trenches in the 99%.

Once I got over my disappointment, I realized that I had a diamond in the rough in my hands.  Since this book was self-published, it could have used some editing, but he still got his ideas across and they really did resonate with me.  He says that unless we can change what we believe about money, we can't change our financial situation by doing something different with our money.  He also states that if you are not in the real world about your finances, you can do real harm for years to come.  I totally agree with that.

And speaking of the real world, the one thing that he talked about that really hit home with me is that almost all of us have not secured our basic needs of food, shelter, clothing, and transportation.  Example: We live payday to payday, if we are lucky, that is, but our home and car are not paid for.  Or, worse, yet, we do not have an emergency fund if we lose our job or are sick and can't work.  Most of us think that having cell phones and the Dish are more important than securing our children's home.  Strong words I know, but think about it.  Somehow, in the last couple of generations, securing our basic needs has taken a back seat to that new and shiny thing.

Another important point that Mr. Wecks makes is that instead of striving for financial wealth, we in the trenches should be concentrating on financial stability first and foremost.  How many of us have actually played that big roulette table on Wall Street but have not paid off our home, or funded our savings first??  Hard to hear I know, and not very exciting, either, but we have bought into the idea that big advertising has sent our way that we can all be rich.  That fantasy dream will be hard to give up.

Erik Wecks has written a thought provoking book based on his ideas and financial plan that he uses in his own financial life, which I have barely touched on.  This feels like fresh content but it really is based on our grandparent's thinking back in the 20s and 30s.  Most of them understood the lay of the land back then and actually saved up and paid cash for  their needs and wants.  Imagine paying cash for your next vehicle.  I actually have a friend who does this!!

Mr. Wecks has laid out his financial plan (he is a financial counselor, after all) on the last page of his book and I really appreciate his mission statement:

To secure your basic needs, now and in the future, and to do nothing that would harm your ability to secure them on an ongoing basis.

Erik Wecks is a financial counselor, writer, and blogger.  He lives in Vancouver, Washington with his wife and three daughters.  I really like this guy and his ideas even if I do not agree with everything he says.  I look forward to his next book.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Luscious Latin Lovelies

 I was really surprised to see a hummer at the feeder this morning when I fogged out to the kitchen to hit the switch on the coffee pot.  It was 6:30 and still pretty much dark.  What time do those guys get up, anyway??   I worry that sugar water is not enough to keep them going until summer, but the bird lady at the store says that it is.  It shouldn't be too much longer and we will see the traveling Rufous tribe coming up from the south for their summer digs.  Between them and our year round Anna tribe the feeders are going to get a work out, so be ready.

I re-posted the pictures of my beloved begonias from last year to remind myself of why I am so crazy in love with these beauties.  My dear daughter-in-law, Miss PeggyRae, got me started on them one Mother's Day, and I'm so hooked.  I usually buy starts at the nursery but since I've now got a greenhouse, I'm going for the gusto and going to start my own.

Yesterday, while I was at Costco getting my passport photo taken ($4.99) and my tires rotated (for free) I picked up this pack of begonia bulbs:

They had other colors but I fell for Pink Balcony and Angelique, and I'm gonna mix them up, and probably  add some trailing lobelia to the mix to make everything shockingly gorgeous.  They were $11.99 for eight bulbs, which comes out to $1.50 each.  I can't wait!!

Carpal tunnel update:

I'm having the surgery on both !! hands on the 28th.  Miss MaggieMae is driving me and when it is done, we are swooping up my handsome grandson, Eli, and he is going to stay with me and be my hands for a few days.  While he is here, he is going to tackle some things that need to be done around the house like clean out the garden shed, de-mold the roof, scrub the north side of the house and deck, haul many bags of manure and potting soil, and most important of all - put my greenhouse together.

I really am looking forward to him being here because we like the same kind of movies and food, especially pizza.  I'm pretty darn lucky to have a grandson that actually likes to spend time with me.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

QFC Grocery Basket 2/20

My Grandma Redmond was an amateur Phenologist.  She just thought she
was a good farm wife by keeping track of all the goings on at the farm.  Every afternoon she would sit down with a good cup of coffee, with cream from the morning's milking, and a cigarette, and record the weather, new lambs and calves born, crops, flowers, eggs gathered, how much milk to the creamery, grandbabies born, etc.  She had one of those big farm calendars with a large box to write in for each day, and she saved them all.  There was a big stack of them out in the grain room and my cousin and I used to pour over them, looking for the day we were born.  Linfield College came and got them after she died.  I'd love to see them now.

Phenology is really just nature's calendar and if you are a gardener, you practice it.  Timing is everything in the garden and if you pay attention to Mother Nature's signals, your gardening life will be much more pleasant.

I heard a good example of this someplace ?? that when you see blooms on the Forsythia, it is time to prune the roses.  Now that makes sense.  We are told to prune around President's Day but maybe Mother Nature has other ideas and doesn't care, in fact, she laughs at our calendar on the wall.  So if the Forsythia are blooming then it is going to be safe to prune the roses.  We hope.

You may be wondering where I'm going with this.  Me, too.  I just think that it is interesting and you know that means you are going to hear about it, also.  I'm going to start keeping track of what is going on around here and when it does it and the date and weather.  Then, next year, I'm going to use it to help me make decisions regarding my garden, since I can't seem to remember anything past this afternoon unless I write it down.

Now to the shopping.  The QFC ad is crap this week but I did manage to ferret out a few things.  If the strawberries are as good as they were last week, buy them.  They smelled like strawberries should and were delicious.  Strawberry shortcake sounds good, doesn't it??  My mom used to make shortcake biscuits, which were just biscuit batter with sugar added to it.  None of those creepy spongy yellow things at the store.  She would butter each half of the biscuit, add the sweetened berries to the middle and the top, and then top it off with whipped cream.  If you try this, you will never, ever go back to those yellow things again.  Trust me on this.

Here are my picks this week:

Boneless Pork Loin - $1.59/lb
Broccoli - $ .99/lb
Cauliflower - $ .99/lb
Roma Tomatoes - $ .99/lb
Driscoll Strawberries - $2/lb
Franz Bread - $2.49/loaf
Fresh Pacific Cod - $6.99/lb
Primroses - $1/each

Cruise Fund Update :

Old Balance        =      $718.01

                           +          17.71

New Balance      =      $735.72

Sunday, February 17, 2013

February Garden Start

Yesterday I got outside between rain showers and officially started off the gardening season here at the MoneyPenny digs.  Yeah, I've been managing the compost and the bird feeding station, but that is about it.  I've been really hankering to get with it and get some honest dirt on under my nails.  Time to get my grandson, Eli, up here and put together my Christmas present greenhouse so I can get some seeds going.

The first thing that I did yesterday was get my primroses potted up.  I bought these little breath of sunshines at QFC a couple of weeks ago when they were $1 each but was not sure what I was going to do with them. This is the pot that sits on my front porch and last summer it housed three lovely Gerbera daisies that my daughter-in-law, Miss PeggyRae, had given me.  Now that I think of it, that girl has been gold for me and my gardening life.  Thanks, sweetie.

Anyway, the daisies are no more, so what better place??  The first thing that I did was improve the soil with compost and some organic powdered fertilizer.  Then I cut off the old blooms that had run their course to make room for all the buds coming up in the center of each plant.  After they were all snugged in, I Sluggo'd the hell out of them because they are like potato chips to snails.  I think they look fabulous and make me smile.

I had noticed on my Old Farmer's Almanac calendar that I was supposed to give a lavender plant to my Valentine and I thought that I better see how mine made it through the winter.  I have planted several lavenders and they all died, except for this one, and he is about four years old.  He did fine over the winter but was in serious need of some grooming:

After the dead wood was removed.  Much more handsome.

Then I checked the hydrangea to see what was going on there.  I leave the blooms on all winter and don't trim them until I see new spring growth; then I prune them down to the next vigorous bud.  If it is snowing or freezing, wait.  No green growth yet.

Same thing with the hardy fuscia.  I don't prune it until I see the new green growth coming up out of the
ground, then I cut it all the way down to the growth.  No green growth here, either.  Just a few weeds.

Then I weeded like a crazy woman.  Best to get a running jump on the weeds while they are easy to pull.  I think it helps, but I'm not really sure.

Food Waste Update:

I haven't had much food waste lately because I've really been trying to be smarter about my planning and grocery shopping, so was surprised to see that I had totally forgotten this rice.  I had cooked a bunch of rice for my curry dish and planned to put the leftover rice in individual containers and freeze it but it got lost in the back of the fridge.  Didn't happen.  Notice the pink shower curtain type mold in the lower right.

Cha Ching - $1.00

Poppy, the Boston Terrorizer:

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Restaurant Review : Doc's Marina Grill in Port Townsend

I've been going to tell you about Doc's Marina Grill for sometime, but I keep getting sidetracked by other things.  So here goes.  Doc's opened their door on June 15th of last year and they are located out on the tippy tip of Point Hudson in Port Townsend.  They are locally owned with a sister restaurant on Bainbridge Island.  Their main focus is the locals, but they do a brisk business during the summer with the tourists.

I first started dining there last summer with Miss MaggieMay who is a demon when it comes to ferreting out good places to eat.  We ate out on the deck in the summer as long as it wasn't raining, although I do remember a day when the rain was spitting at us.  Here is the deck:

I've eaten in the bar:

And the dining room:

And you can't beat the view, summer or winter:

Now the food.  I've had the fish & chips, pastas, Cesar Salad, burger, and my favorite, the BLTC.  What is a BLTC you ask??  Bacon, lettuce, tomato, and cheese, of course, all grilled on sour dough bread, served with the world's best fries.  No crappy looking lettuce or American cheese here.  I haven't had dinner, just lunches, but I have always been impressed with the high quality of their food.  I'm told that their seafood is the best and I dearly wish I could try it, but I'm allergic.

So, if you are looking for a good restaurant, with great service, very good Northwest cuisine, and a great view, this is your place.  Prices are in the normal range for this type of restaurant, which means not cheap, but a good value.  The Val-Pak coupons that come in your mail box often have a coupon for half off at Doc's.  You will also score coupons if you sign up for their email list.

I forgot to mention that their portions are so generous that you and a friend could easily share, maybe with a side salad, or their delicious cole slaw.  There is one hang up and that is the price of dessert.  The desserts are fabulous and huge, but really pricey.  That's okay.  I don't need dessert, anyway, but if I did....that chocolate cake is killer.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

QFC Grocery Basket 2/13

Today is Ash Wednesday for people of the Catholic religion and it is the first day of Lent.  Not being a Catholic I was always curious about my friends who gave something important up for Lent.  I've heard the usual stuff like drinking, gambling, and smoking, but also crazy stuff like chocolate, sugar, and sex.  Now, why would you want to get carried away and give up chocolate??  Or sex??  Boggles the mind.

If Miss MoneyPenny were participating in Lent, she would have to make a decision to give up Coffee Mate or writing her blog, as they are pretty important to her.  Rest assured that neither one is gonna happen anytime soon, but I thought that this would be a good time to renew my vow to never knowingly waste your money, or your time.  Miss MoneyPenny does the research and interviews the sources to get the best information and deals to you in a timely manner because managing a household and getting the most for your money is a tough gig.

Let's take a look at the QFC ad now that we have the ceremony out of the way.  The ad is pretty good this week even if it is short on veggies.  Be sure and log in to the QFC site and download your ecoupons onto your card.  Between the ecoupons and the coupons that QFC sends in the mail, I rarely clip any more.  Remember to print out a list of your ecoupons as nobody could remember them.  I'm speaking from experience here.

Here are my picks this week:

Darigold Butter - $2.50/lb
Fage Greek Yogurt - $3.49/17.6oz
QFC Sour Cream - $1.25/16oz
QFC Cottage Cheese - $1.25/16oz
Top Sirloin Steaks - $4.99/lb
Draper Valley Whole Chickens - $ .88/lb (stock up and freeze)
Fresh Dover Sole - $5.99/lb
Organic Blueberries - $4.99/18oz
Anjou Pears - $1.49/lb
Fuji or Gala Apples - $1.49/lb
Large Navel Oranges - $ .99/lb
Medium Hass Avocados - $ .99/ea
Red or Yukon Gold Potatoes - $1/lb
Red Seedless Grapes - $1.99/lb

Carpal Tunnel Surgery Update:

It looks like the 28th is the big day, and get this, I'm having BOTH hands done at the same time.  Talk about a thrill seeker!!  Dr. Wicks assures me that this is the way to go.  He says that this quick surgery has come a long way and that I can even drive myself.  He also assures me that my electrocuted hands will be gone that first night!!  I told him that this sounds too good to be true.  We will see.  I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

And Another Word on Tax Prep From Miss SmartyPants

 My sister left another information filled comment on an earlier post about tax prep and I want to make sure that you see it.  If she adds more information, I will put it up.  I stopped by the pharmacy today and picked up my print-out of prescription co-pays for 2012 like she suggested in her last comment.  No more saving all those little slips.  I've also put the mileage next to my medical appointments in my calendar and circled them.  Now all I have to do is add it up.
Miss Smarty Tax PantsFebruary 12, 2013 at 10:33 AM

Tax deductions overlooked often:

1) Interest paid on second home, which includes travel trailers, motor homes, certain boats

2) Points paid to purchase a home

3) Real estate taxes on all properties owned by taxpayer

4) Real estate taxes paid when buying and selling property on closing statements

5) Exchange student living with taxpayer. Can claim $50 per full calendar month of qualifying expenses.

6) Medical mileage to doctors, hospitals, refill prescriptions, etc. @ .23 (2012) or .24 (2013) for each mile. If you have had a lot of appointments or specialists out of the area, you would be amazed at how this adds up.

6) Medical travel for out of town - hotels, ferries, tolls, parking, etc. You can't take food costs as the IRS thinks you have to eat anyway... spoil sports...

I'll post more tips later... Now, I must get back to work!

Tomorrow is my "meet and greet" appointment with the hand surgeon to schedule carpal tunnel surgery.  I've never been to his office and did not know how far it was, so I Googled him and got the mileage.  Every little bit helps when we are talking the IRS.

Monday, February 11, 2013

What About Dental Insurance??

Even though my parents worked hard to make it from payday to payday (and sometimes we didn't) they always made sure that we went to the dentist, not that we wanted to go.  I still have a mouthful of those big old giant fillings to prove it.  Luckily, we had a very good dentist, so none of us feared the drill like some kids.

At Christmas dinner we were talking about Medicare and the fact that it does not cover the dentist.  I pay $46.34 per month for dental and was just sure it was a good deal but I wanted to make sure, so I called up my dentist's office and had a little chat.

First thing that I want to mention is that I was Dr. Young's first patient.  He was just out of school and was hanging around over at Dr. Dugan's office one day when I had a dental emergency.  He solved the problem and I have been with him ever since, and that is close to 30 years.  He has a lovely office building and great long time staff, and is rumored to be the most expensive dentist on the Peninsula, but they are totally worth every penny, as far as I'm concerned.

Now that I have that out of the way, I want you to know that I was really surprised when Beth told me that I would be money ahead to fund my own dental every month instead of paying out for insurance.  The reason is that my insurance has a $1500 yearly cap, meaning that is all they are going to pay.  Gasp!!  So if I'm paying $556.08 per year and I used all my insurance for that year, the insurance company would only be paying out $943.92 extra that year.

So the question is - Is $1500 coverage worth $556.08??  Could be if you need a couple of crowns and a root canal every year but we usually don't.  Most years, it is two cleanings and maybe an x-ray and we lose the rest that we don't use that year.  That is how insurance companies make money.  Hmmm.

This is how my dental fund would look the first year:

End of first year balance = $556.08 ($46.34 per month)

                                      -  188.00 (2 cleanings @ $94 each)

                                      -    94.00 (full set x-rays)

Normal year end balance   = $284.08

Then that balance would be carried over and $46.34 added to it every month.  After two years the balance would be $568, and so on.  One can see that if you only have $1500 in yearly coverage anyway, that this might be the better way to go about taking care of your dental visits.

Here is a short list of the usual dental costs (at my dentist) to help with planning:

Crown - $1044.00

Root Canal - $799.00 (molar - 4 roots)
                       617.00 (side teeth)
                       548.00 (anterior teeth - 1 root)

X-Rays - $94.00 (full mouth)
                 51.00 (4 bite wings)
                 18.00 (roots)

Cleaning - $94.00

My dentist offers a cash rate so check into that when you are asking about your insurance's dental coverage cap.

You may be wondering about the dish pictured above.  I made this dish last week with some leftover Swiss Chard from my garden.  I got this idea from my friend, Miss Jeannie, who is a nutritional therapist and really knows her stuff.  All I did was heat the greens in the pan.  When they were hot, I made two holes and slipped an egg into each one, salt & pepper, put the lid on until done to your liking.  This was really very tasty and made a great dinner - good on nutrition and good on the wallet.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Shopping Costco

Now, you knew it was coming, didn't you??  And, yeah, Costco has earned the famous MoneyPenny Seal of Approval.  I can't believe that I haven't gotten around to bestowing the honor sooner because Miss MoneyPenny loves Costco.

Shopping Costco is tricky if you live on a budget and it took me several years to get it down.  In fact, I avoided even going there for years because I could not get out of there for under $200.  That all ended when my daughter-in-law put me on her family account (she works there) and I no longer have to pay the yearly fee.  I decided that I was going to figure out how to get the best and most for my money at Costco and I did and I'm gonna share.

The first thing that I did was set a monthly budget for Costco of $120.  You know how easy it is to blow that, so I keep a pad on the fridge, with a running list and the prices, so I always know where I'm at.  When it is time for my monthly shopping trip, I sit down with my list and the Costco coupon book.  Matching a coupon with a product means a really good price, so I stock up as much as my budget will allow.

Speaking of stocking up - I rarely buy Costco's wonderful produce because I just can't get through it before it goes bad.  I do buy bananas and in season - strawberries, but that is it.

As I look at my list, I realize that a lot of the items are only purchased once a year, if that, but that is the beauty of Costco, isn't it??  I also buy my tires and smart phones there.  Oh, and a cruise to Alaska, coming up in September.

If I should see some enticing thing while I'm shopping at Costco and it isn't on my list, I put it on the list for next time.  Half the time I end up crossing it off after thinking about it.  And I always use my Costco American Express card to get cash back at the end of the year.

Here is my surprisingly long list of what I buy at Costco:

Kirkland Dark Roast Supremo Coffee (3lb can)
Coffee Mate
Lipton Tea
Clorox Bleach
Spray 'n Wash (Resolve)
Kirkland Fabric Softener
Vinegar & Baking Soda
Palmolive Dish Soap
Kirkland Salmon & Sweet Potato Dog Food (35lb bag)
Friskies Canned Cat Food (48 cans)
Litter Purrfect (35lb jug)
Kirkland Bath Tissue
Kirkland Kitchen Garbage Bags
Kirkland Paper Towels
Sluggo (I've got lots of snails!!)
Gardening Gloves (6 pack)
Cetaphil Cleanser
Cetaphil Moisturizing Cream
Dove Bath Soap
Refresh Plus Eye Drops (100 count)
Trunature Digestive Probiotics
Aller-Tec (generic Zyrtec)
Kirkland Ibuprofen (generic Advil)
Sonicare Replacement Brushes
Kirkland Vitamin C
Kirkland CoQ10
Nature Made Fish Oil
Oatmeal (10 pounds)
Whole Almonds (3 pounds-store in freezer)
Chicken Thighs (separate into packs for freezer)
Rotisserie Chicken
Olive Oil
Nalley Dill Pickles (very good deal)
Salad Croutons
Frozen Fruit (smoothies)
Kirkland Albacore Tuna (very high quality)
Kirkland Honey

I've really honed this list over the years to items that get used and don't go bad, and it is a work in progress.  The size, quality and price make these good deals, and when you add in a coupon, your deal is that much sweeter.  What does your list look like??  Feel free to post it in the "comments" section.  I'd love to see it.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

And a Word on Tax Prep From Miss SmartyPants

Not everyone is lucky enough to have a tax accountant/Enrolled Agent in the family but I am.  I confess to never having filled out my own tax return, even when I only made $2000.  I think my sister started on her career when she was 16 by working at Ritchie Bookkeeping Service after school and she has done the whole family's taxes, business and personal, ever since.  She has even been known to fire family members because they don't do what she says regarding their tax situation.  So far she hasn't given me the pink slip.  Yet.
A couple of weeks ago, in an earlier post, I suggested keeping a file folder on your desk to hold tax receipts throughout the year.  That would insure that you would be at least halfway to being ready for tax time.  My sister left a comment on that post and I want to make sure that you see it because it might be helpful at this time of year - anything to make tax time easier.

Miss Smarty Tax PantsJanuary 31, 2013 at 12:18 PM
Good ideas on saving the tax receipts! I recommend a big mailing envelope instead of a folder so if the cat jumps up on the desk and knocks everything over, it's safe inside the folder. Remember, that the only things that go into the folder are items needed for preparing your taxes. Don't need the monthly utilities, grocery receipts, etc. In fact, you don't need to put in each prescription receipt either as the drug store will gladly print you one off. Donations that you give during the year need receipts and you can pop those in there also. Generally, churches give you a yearly summary. For information on donations, go to and type in Pub 561, Determining the Value of Donated Property. Be SURE to get a signed receipt and include a list of everything that was donated and the value. The IRS site actually has a lot of information. Don't be afraid to poke around in there. Also, when you are waiting for your refund, you can go to and there is a link to check on the status of your refund. The IRS says they will post this within 48 hours of receiving your return. Be sure to E-File. Easy and secure.

After reading her comment I called up my pharmacy and asked if they could print out my prescription receipts because I have a file folder full of those things.  They said they do it all the time and just pick it up next time I'm there.  Who knew??

Look  what came in the mail today:

Yep.  It definitely is a coupon for $50 off a purchase of $150!!  J Jill is my favorite catalog for nicer clothing other than jeans and Ts and it is very easy to spend $150.  Their quality and service is top notch but they rarely offer free shipping, and certainly not with this coupon.  I'm pretty much still wearing everything that I ever bought from J Jill, including the earrings that I have on my ears right now.  Check your mail.

Bird Feeder Update:

I noticed that one of my new bird feeders seemed to be jammed up and wasn't letting the seed down, so I went out to inspect it.  I was upset to see that there was a big moldy jam up and worried that it would make the birds sick, so took it down and I'm just filling the old ugly feeder until I can get another one.  I had noticed that the drainage holes on the new one would plug up and water would sit after a rain.  Not good.  This feeder would probably be okay under a covered porch but not out in the rain.  Too bad because it is pretty and the birds like it.  It is the red one.  The blue one can't stand the wind so it went down months ago.   Sheesh!!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

QFC Grocery Basket 2/6

I was outside digging around in the compost the other day and I happened to notice what looked like life happening in the Swiss Chard patch.  So, today I cleared out all the dead leaves and plants and this is what I got for my trouble.  Who knew that this mess of beautifulness was hiding under all that dead stuff??  As you can see there are three stem colors - white, yellow, and red and I can't wait to eat them.

Cooking is easy peasy.  Rinse the dirt and snails off and slice out the ribs.  Then cut across in wide ribbons and throw them in a pan that has been heating with olive oil.  Salt and pepper and put the lid on, letting the excess water left from rinsing steam them up.  When done, a big pan will cook down to a couple cups, dress them with a little lemon or vinegar, and eat up.  Yum!!  This is almost like a tonic and will take care of what ails you, plus, it is delicious.

Okay.  Valentines Day is on the 14th, as usual, and QFC is running a promotion this week, and I'm assuming next week, because the 14th is on Thursday, that involves buying a card, chocolates, and roses.  You must buy them in one transaction for your valentine and you will receive $5 off.  See the ad for exact details.

The ad is pretty good this week and it includes a cantaloupe, coming from God only knows where, but I'm gonna buy one because I'm jonesing for summertime.  Here are the rest of the highlights:

Franz Bread - 50% off
Florida's Natural Orange Juice - $2.50/59oz
S&W Tomatoes - 50% off 14.5 oz can
Classico Pasta Sauce - 50% off (their pesto is very good)
La Victoria Salsa - 50% off
QFC 18 ct Large Eggs - $1.99
QFC Butter - $2.49/lb
QFC Cottage Cheese - 3/$5 24 oz
Ranger Whole Chicken - $1.59/lb
USDA Choice New York Strip Steak - $5.99/lb
Lobster Tail - $5.99/ea
Fresh Rockfish Fillets - $5.99/lb
Colored Bell Peppers - $1/ea
English Cukes - $1/ea
Delmonte Magnificent Cantaloupe - $2.99/ea
Driscoll's Strawberries - $2/lb (if they smell good, buy them)

As I look at this ad, I'm thinking cottage cheese/fresh fruit salad, steak, baked potatoes, stir fry, roast chicken, cucumber salad and maybe some deviled eggs.  Or scrambled eggs, toast and OJ for dinner.  Lots of possibilities for good and thrifty eating this week.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

February - Best Month to Buy...


Those who know Miss MoneyPenny know that she does not get along with the month of February.  It can be sunny and warm one day, and the next, a freezing ass blizzard.  And you really can't count on that groundhog, either.  Besides, he is on the other side of the country where they have very different weather than us. 

But no matter the weather, on President's Day, we need to prune the roses back to a single stick, in my case, anyway.   My sister, who is an expert gardener, told me to go after Don Juan, the rose, on this day and he will be beautiful come summertime.  I will do my best to leave more than my usual stick by remembering to cut out "diseased, damaged and dead" first before I go all crazy and do my own damage.  He doesn't seem to mind what I do to him.  Really!!  He just wants attention like all men.

As far as shopping is concerned, February is National Canned Food month, so look for sales on the canned foods that you use and stock up.  Chinese foods should also be on sale, such as stir fry sauce, soy sauce, water chestnuts, etc.

If you need a new winter coat, now is the time to buy as coats are on deep mark down in order to make way for the new spring stuff.  Also, good time to buy a big screen TV, camera, cell phone, motorcycle, boat, recliner, dental care products, condoms and personal lubricants.  I kid you not on the last one.  The latest Smart Source coupon insert is displaying a $4 coupon for the K-Y Date Nite Bonus Pack, in case you are interested.

February is also $5 Footlong month at Subway.  You and a friend could have a good lunch for just $5.  I love their subs because they make them right in front of you, with all the fresh ingredients that your little heart desires.  And they have earned the famous MoneyPenny Seal of Approval for their efforts.

I want to let you know that I thought long and hard about including boats in the list this month.  I don't want anyone to blame me when their husband goes out and buys a new boat.  As far as I'm concerned, there is no bigger money pit than a boat, not even a race car. 

Most of the time they just sit out in the front yard getting all moldy or sit at the dock racking up moorage fees. They have to be licensed and insured, as does the trailer, and all the lights have to work.  The outboard/inboard motors are always broke down, lots of times out in the water.  It never ends.  Miss MoneyPenny speaks from experience and does not consider a boat to be a good deal, even it your hubs gets it for free.  Just sayin'.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Shopping LL Bean

Miss MoneyPenny discovered LL Bean back in 1982 after she had been drug, kicking and screaming, from Portland to the Olympic Peninsula by her favorite ex-husband.  I loved Portland and did not want to leave but he did - mainly because the fishing was great.  He gave me the old song and dance about how he wanted to start a new life away from his low-life friends that he had grown up with.  Of course, over time he brought all of them up here and gave them a job.
But, I digress.  Back then the Peninsula was cut off from civilization because the Hood Canal Bridge had blown down and you had to drive a windy, twisty road down the canal to get out of here.  And there was NO SHOPPING!! so I learned about catalog shopping and quickly developed a case of what the hubs called 1-800 madness.
As I waded through the different retailers' catalogs over the years, I noticed that LL Bean had the best quality and service.  Even though a new bridge and new mall were built, I still ordered from them.
Miss MoneyPenny is a jeans-tee shirt-jacket and shorts-tee shirt-hoodie kind of girl, so LL Bean is right up her alley.  They have, hands down, the nicest Ts around - good colors, no cap sleeves, and they don't shrink.  I also really like their fleece jackets and Perfect Fit Slim pant.
And their customer service is at least as good as Nordstrom.  The other day my 10 year old weather station quit working, so I put new batteries in - and, nothing, so I called and asked if they sold replacement senors.  Since it was 10 years old, there were no parts, but they wanted to send me their new and improved model for free!!  Can you believe that?? 
I asked if there was anyone around who could do some troubleshooting as there are lots of reset buttons, etc.  A very nice man came on and spend almost a half hour working with me and this is what we ended up with:

Notice the time is set, also.  I've never been able to figure out how to set the time!!

I don't have the LL Bean credit card but I'm thinking about it, after talking to my friend who has it.  It is a VISA with no annual fee and you get 3% back at LL Bean and 1% everywhere else.  Your rewards points go towards $10 coupons to be used when you shop LL Bean.  And the best part?? free shipping and return shipping so you can order a size above and below your usual size to get the perfect fit!!  Genius!!

Miss MoneyPenny is bestowing the famous MoneyPenny Seal of Approval to LL Bean because they deserve it, if for no other reason than they do not have a phone tree to get through.  Phone trees are deal breakers.  I hate the heck out of them.