Monday, September 30, 2013

Photo Dump 9/30

Miss AsylnGrace had a big blowout for her first birthday complete with tutu and tiara as befitting a princess.

Who needs presents when we have this fabulous bag??

Let there be cake!!

Things started to go down hill as the party progressed.  Daddy Kevin is sporting one of her necklaces and her tiara while his buddy, for some reason, is wearing the tutu for a ruff.

With pretty Mommy.

Mommy posted this on FB after the party.  I can just imagine that she was plum wore out after putting together such a great party, complete with lots of little ankle biters attending.

Beautiful people!!  My daughter-in-law, Miss PeggyRae, and grandson Eli.

DC irritably waiting for comfort food after her annual exam and shot.

Poppy, catching some late September rays.

Suzy not only has a big set of lungs (she barks like a German shepherd), she also has some awesome ears.

My beautiful old girl, Pici, complete with jeweled collar.

The garden looking forlorn in late September.  I should have closed the door on the garden shed before I snapped this...and, yes, I just throw things in there because there are several wasp nests in the rafters.

The red maple starting to turn red, with the strawberry and raspberry beds.

The begonias are always the last to go because they are close to the house.  The deck is now in complete shade.

The last of the green beans before I pulled up the crappy looking vines.  The only thing left to eat in the garden is lettuce and onions.

Probably the last of the berries.  I had to look hard to even find these.

Sill life from QFC, in season and on sale, now that the garden is not producing.

My son, the plumber, started working at Enclume the summer before he was 16.  I thought it would be a part time summer job but he kept that job until he started plumbing in his 20s.  This was supposed to be a plant stand but I use it to store my cooking stuff and my apron.  I've also got a cookbook stand and dinner bell hanging there. 

The barometer was really falling yesterday afternoon during the storm.  Very unusual weather for September, which is usually our beautiful month.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

QFC Grocery Basket 9/25

Next Saturday our great-granddaughter, Miss AslynGrace, is turning one year old and there is gonna be a big party.  Even her great-aunts from Florida and Chicago are making the trip for this momentous occasion.  So the Bradster and I headed out for Silverdale to get her a present.  Afterwards we went to our favorite eatery, Silver City Brewing, and shared a seriously good Greek pizza.  We ate the whole thing.

Both of us really like Robert De Niro so we went to see his latest movie, The Family.  Even though it hasn't gotten stellar reviews we enjoyed the heck out of it.  This is the story of a mob boss and his psychopathic family who are in the witness protection program.  They are looked after by FBI agent Tommy Lee Jones who keeps moving them around because they always end up killing somebody and have to leave town.

The wife is played brilliantly by Michelle Pfeiffer who the Bradster thinks is looking mighty fine at age 55.  And she is.  Her supermarket scene was priceless.

This movie may not be everybody but if you want some entertainment on a blustery Monday afternoon and you don't mind laughing at a little violence, you might like it.

Okay, let's do the ad.  If you are gearing up for holiday baking QFC is offering their Private Selection spices for $1.99 each if you buy 4.  This is a good deal and their quality is supposed to very good.

Here are the highlights this week:

Private Selection Spices - $1.99/ea when you buy 4
Private Selection Tea Bags - $1.49/20ct when you buy 4
Starbucks Coffee - $6.99/12oz
Kroger Sour Cream/Cottage Cheese - $1.25/16oz
Kroger Brats - $3.49/16oz
Bartlett Pears - $1/lb
Colored Bell Peppers - $1/ea
Dole Cole Slaw - $1.50/ea
Honeycrisp Apples - $1.99/lb
Mayan Sweet Onions - $1/lb
Leaf Lettuces - $1.50/head
Peaches/Nectarines - $1.49/lb

4-Day Sale (Friday - Monday)

Local Corn - 6/$2
QFC Butter - $1.99/lb
Dave's Killer Bread - $3.99/loaf
Boar's Head Sandwich - $4.99/ea

If you are doing any tailgating or football partying you might consider grilling up the brats with the onions and peppers that are also on sale.  When the new crop pears start coming in we know that we are at the tail end of the peaches and nectarines, so if you want to put some up for the freezer or make jam, you better hop to it.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

How to save money on groceries

Now you know that Miss MoneyPenny has ideas and opinions on just about everything and doesn't hold back.  I've learned a few things about running a household since I was 18 (the first time I married) and I like to share them because feeding a family and running a home is hugely expensive.

One of the areas where you can really make a big difference is groceries.  It is really hard to get out of the grocery store for under a hundred dollars a trip these days.  Everything is just so darned expensive and with a box of Tide, a roast, bread, eggs, milk, diapers, salad stuff, lunch meat, cereal, and bananas - you have easily spent that Benjamin.  And you've only got food for a couple of days, right??  And we are so busy raising kids and working a job that we can't see straight half the time.  Sound familiar??  It sure does to me.

But we gotta eat and we gotta have clean clothes, so we might as well head out to the store with a plan and keep some of that grocery budget in our pocket for something more fun than toilet paper.

My first line of attack is to eat with the seasons as much as possible.  I love salmon but it is only wild and fresh during the summer, so that is when I buy, usually on sale, not during the winter.  Same with asparagus - spring and early summer.  When it comes around again I'm so glad to see it and eat it like crazy when it is in season and on sale.  You can save a lot of money just doing this one thing.

From there I shop the sales.  When I get the ad on Tuesday I sit down and plan loosely what is on the menu for the week and make a list based on what is on sale.  If whole chickens are on sale I buy as many as I have space in the freezer.  If canned tomatoes are a good price I stock up, even if I don't use them right away...and so on.  I try to think ahead and I keep a running list on the fridge. 

After keeping house for even just a short time you know the basic things that you always need on hand.  Running out to the store because you ran out of brown sugar for the cookies can really add up, especially if you pick up some chips and salsa and beer while you are there. 

My next line of attack is Costco.  I've told you before that I used to avoid Costco because I never got out of there for under $200 but my daughter-in-law, Miss PeggyRae, gave me a free membership so I learned how to shop there.  I wrote a post on how I shop Costco and what I buy there and you can read it here.  I use as many of the Costco coupons as I can to save even more money.  Never go to Costco without a list and be sure to stick to it or the bill can get seriously out of hand quick.

Then there is the garden!!  If you want to save some serious money on food - this is it!!  You can grow just about anything in your garden except tropical type fruits but if you have a greenhouse - who knows??  If you want to grow apricots, there is a type that has been bred for this area.  There are eggplant varieties that also do well here, and on and on.  Check your seed catalogs for what will work in your area and talk to other gardeners to see what works well for them. 

And you can share.  It is really gratifying to share some beautiful tomatoes for juicy melons that you don't grow.  The garlic pictured above came courtesy of Cher from my knitting group.  A friend of hers brought this garlic back from her trip to Italy last year and I'm going to plant some of if real soon. 

This will be my first foray into garlic growing.  I'm told that you plant it in the fall for summer harvest the next year.  Then you do selective breeding by choosing the biggest cloves and replanting them to get bigger cloves the following year, and so on.  Reminds me of Mr. Gregg's high school biology class.

The MoneyPenny grocery shopping method really works.  My grocery budget used to be really out of whack.  Then I decided that I was only going to spend $50 a week but that was hard to do.  After putting this method into place I budget $40 a week and usually have money left over.  With this summer's garden I averaged between $20 and $25 a week at the store and that makes me happy.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Photo Dump 9/22

As much as I love to plan, plant, and harvest my garden, I'm always ready to put it to bed for the winter.  I'm a fair weather gardener.  You won't catch me mucking about in the freezing rain and mud.  This is half of the middle garden.  When I had pulled the last of the lettuce, I weeded, composted, and manured.  Then I gave it a cover of leaves to break down over the winter.  This worked really well last year.

Check out these crazy zinnias!!  Just how tall are they going to get, anyway??

Zinnias are the perfect cutting flower.  They have long stems and last pretty good in bouquets.

Poppy, looking innocent.  All the critters got a bath today.  Who knew that if I just put a piece of cheese where they could see it that they would hold still for their bath??

This is the second rogue sunflower to come up this year.  This one is shorter and smaller since it came up through the potted coleus on the deck.  My sister, Miss SmartyPants, is queen of the sunflowers so we should be getting pictures soon.

I got this tomato start this spring from Midori Farms and it is called Koralik.  Prolific is its middle name so if you are going to grow just one red cherry tomato, this is the one for you.  Koralik will be in the mix again next year.

I grew dill from seed this year and it is beautiful in its seedy stage.  I've been putting it in bouquets because I like the way it looks so much.  In the past I always used dill starts and they did absolutely jackshit nothing except grow to about five inches and die.  I read over the winter that dill does not transplant well.  I can tell you from experience that this is certainly true.

This is probably the end of my cucumbers now that it is starting to cool off.

I found this little hot devil when I was picking tomatoes.  I thought that I had gotten them all.  Even though it was a hot summer and these starts lived in the greenhouse until July (where they flourished) the minute I put them in the ground they were just not happy.  Maybe I will try them from seed next year.

Last year I posted a picture of my sedums with the floppsies and you can see it here.  My daughter-in-law, Miss PeggyRae, told me what to do to fix this.  It seemed extreme but what you do is prune it by about a third in June.  I didn't want to do it because it was in bud and I was afraid I wouldn't have anything in the fall but I did it.  I think that the results speak for themselves and I will be doing it again next June.

I've been going berserkers buying sock yarn and here is my latest.  This one is by Lorna's Laces and it is from their Shades of Gray series and it is called Red.

The yarn on the right is also from Lorna's Laces and it is called Christmas at Downton.  The skein on the left is from Poste Yarns and is a striping yarn called Buckeye.  The two Lorna's Laces are 80% Superwash Merino wool and 20% nylon.  The red yarn is 75% Superwash Corriedale wool and 25% nylon.

I will be doing a garden summary and critique this year.  I'm thinking that if I analyze my garden and make the required changes I can improve on it next year...although, it sure was a good garden year because of the wonderful summer that just ended today...and it is looking like a big storm is coming in just in time for the Seahawks game at 1:00.  If the power or the dish go out again, I'm packing up and heading for the Valley Tavern.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

QFC Grocery Basket 9/18

This reminds me of some of the forts that us kids used to make back in Myrtle Creek, Oregon.  Actually these are the cushions from the deck.  My deck is in almost total shade now and I thought that I would take advantage of the two promised days of sunshine and give the cushions a good cleaning before they get stored away for the winter.  If they don't get all the way dried before the rains come, I'll bring them inside and give them the rack treatment. I know it seems early for this chore but I have seen it start raining around here in September and not quit until the next July.

There are a couple of things that I'm going to pick up for the food bank this week at QFC - Angel Soft Bath Tissue and Crest Toothpaste - both going for a dollar.  And remember that if you have lots of extra produce from your garden, the food bank would love to have it.

Here are this week's highlights from the ad:

Nancy's Yogurt - $2.50/qt
Crest Toothpaste - $1/ea
Angel Soft Bath Tissue - $1/4pk
Nature Made Vitamins - BOGO
Fresh NW Cooked Shrimp Meat - $5.99/lb
Fresh Wild Columbia River King Salmon - $12.99/lb
Fresh Dover Sole - $5.99/lb
Black Plums - $1.49/lb
Broccoli/Cauliflower - $ .99/lb
Green Onions/Radishes - $ .50/bunch
Eggplant - $2/ea
Sweet Tango Apples - $1.99/lb

I have lots of tomatoes and onions, so I'm going to pick up an eggplant and a bell pepper and make ratatouille.  You can do all kinds of things with it but this time I'm going to pair it with some homemade polenta.  Very tasty, indeed.  Polenta is super easy to make and I've never had problems with lumps like you hear about.  Instead of adding butter, I add a spoon of pesto to make it beyond delicious.


It occurred to me yesterday that September is when my vehicles tabs expire (they don't send me out a notice any more) so I had better get on it.  I went online and filled in all the pertinent data.  I asked that they mail the tabs to me as usual.  A notice came up telling me that my tabs will expire on September 20th!!  They don't even give you until the end of the month any more.

This whole deal feels like a real moneymaker for the state.  First - you don't remember when your tabs are due and you get a ticket.  Or you fool around like I did and don't get them ordered in time and you drive around with expired tabs and get a ticket, especially if you have gung-ho law enforcement like we do here.  My best advice is to put a reminder on your calendar or on your phone so you don't get caught off guard.

I just followed my own advice.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Photo Dump 9/16

My sister, Miss SmartyPants, sent along some snaps of her garden and this charming gentleman.  I need to find out where he came from and, of course, I want one!!

This is the raised bed part of her garden.  Check out those crazy bean towers.

This is the back part of her garden and you can see that the big mass of sunflowers towards the back is just about to break out into bloom.  She said she would send up a picture when they do. 

Did I mention that she also has a garden at her Eugene home??  That girl got all the family energy.

I went out this morning and rescued the windfall dahlias that really took a beating during that wild storm that we had last night.  Why would a person not grow dahlias??  I'm going to add several more to the mix next year.

My neighbor, Brandon, let me pick his apples, so I made applesauce and gave him some to thank him.  He was thrilled!!  My easy peasy applesauce recipe is here if you have scored some apples.

For once I got a decent basil crop this year and actually got it harvested before it froze to death and turned black.  I tried seeds this year instead of starts and it worked out better than usual.  Of course, the hot summer didn't hurt either.

This is the second batch getting ready for a whiz in the food processor.  I ran out of pine nuts so I threw in some almonds.  You can add any kind of nut that you have around.  Here is my easy peasy recipe for pesto:

Several garlic cloves, peeled
Pine nuts, almonds, walnuts, etc
Shredded Parmesan
Olive oil

Pack the food processor almost full with basil leaves.  Throw in a handful of Parmesan and a handful of nuts.  Use as much garlic as you want.  I would have added more but that was all I had.  It looks like this batch has eight cloves.  Turn on the food processor and add olive oil through the top.  Scrape down the sides and decide if it needs more olive oil.  I poured mine into half pint containers and stored them in the freezer.

Shane, the world's cutest handyman, came over yesterday and cleaned the roof and gutters for me.  He also brought along these beautiful cucumbers.  Even though they are large, they were not bitter and the seeds weren't huge.  I'm gonna ask him what these are called and where he got the seeds.  I sent him home with a bag of vine ripened tomatoes.

Dueling crockpots.  The one on the left is full of apples and cinnamon and the other one is sporting a whole chicken.  I picked up two chickens that were on sale at QFC for $ .99 a pound and cooked one.  I froze the other one for later use.

Check it out!!  Two socks on one 40 inch needle!!  I have no idea about what to do when I get to the heel so I'm hoping that the ladies can help me out at our knitting group.  This method gets rid of "second sock syndrome" if you knit the same pair.  I, however, have another pair just like the ones on the needle.  The sock on the left is from Socks that Rock and it is called Blarney Stone.  The one on the right is a lovely cashmere/merino wool blend that is dreamy to work with.  I can't wait to wear them.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

QFC Grocery Basket 9/11

It has sure been a rough year for local yarn shops.  First Port Hadlock Yarns closed their doors and now I hear that Linda's Knit 'n Stitch is going out of business down in Silverdale.  Lucky for us knitters that we have Bazaar Girls in Port Townsend.  This is a great little shop behind where the old Town Tavern used to be and it comes complete with a deck facing the water where you can knit and drink a latte. 

I know that the Internet is hard on our local shops but if we want to go in and feel the yarn love, we have to support them...and I did with the above ball of sock yarn.  How could I resist Drop Dead Sexy from the ladies at Socks That Rock??  This colorway works for both sexy men and sexy women.

So, the ad.  QFC is still running their Buy 5/Save $5 promo.  As I mentioned in an earlier post I'm lukewarm on these promos, but...that being said, if you have some good coupons to match up for laundry and cleaning supplies check them out.  I think that I get a better deal at Costco with their coupons but you have to have the space to deal with the large size.

If you are having a late summer BBQ this weekend, whole Coho salmon is on sale for $6.99 a pound.  Seasoned up and wrapped in foil makes for tasty eating for a crowd.  I talked to the fish lady and she told me that the king salmon should last a couple more weeks so take advantage of it, if you love it, and I do.

Here are the highlights of this week's ad:

Orowheat Bread - $2.49/loaf
Tully's Coffee - $5.99/12oz
Tillamook Butter - $2/lb (freezes well for holiday baking)
Draper Valley Whole Chickens - $ .99/lb
USDA Ribeye Steaks - $5.99/lb
Wild Fresh Whole Coho - $6.99/lb
Wild Fresh Columbia River King Salmon - $12.99/lb
Wild Fresh Dover Sole - $5.99/lb
Medium Hass Avocados - $ .99/ea
Organic Gala Apples - $1.99/lb
Leaf Lettuce - $1.50/head
Roma Tomatoes - $ .99/lb
Sweet Tango Apples - $1.99/lb
Peaches/Nectarines - $ .99/lb

I'm going to buy a couple of the whole chickens and cook them in the crockpot.  I've used my last package of frozen cooked chicken so I need to restore my stash.  You can click here for my easy peasy method.  After the chicken has cooled I pick off all the meat and pack it into several freezer bags.  My sister, Miss SmartyPants, then puts the carcass and skin back into the crockpot with water and makes broth.  All of this will come in handy when the weather turns cold and we want to make a big pot of chicken noodle soup or chicken and dumplings.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Easy Peasy Marinara Sauce

My kitchen is being attacked by zillions of fruit flies!!  I've got a lot of produce out on the counters and the flies took that as an invitation to have at it.  Back in the day when mom had boxes of fruit waiting to be canned, she would just spray Raid all over everything and that pretty much took care of the fruit flies and us too, probably.  I'm trying out a thrown together cider vinegar trap and if it works I'll let you know.  So far they are all over the bottle but not inside drowning like they should be.

Speaking of lots of produce - I was having lunch with Miss MaggieMay the other day and she was telling me a story about an old gentleman who grows a huge vegetable garden.  He can only eat a small amount of what he grows, so he takes the rest of it to the food bank.  What a great idea!!  I'm sure that fresh produce is a real hit.  They are probably sick of cream of mushroom soup and pasta, so if you have extra - consider the food bank.

I'm having a real tomato glut so I'm going to cook up a batch of marinara sauce and freeze it.  All I do is saute onions (from the garden) and garlic in olive olive oil until soft.  Then I add chopped tomatoes (I use a combination).  I leave the skins and seeds because they don't bother me and hey!! I grew them.  I cook it down until it looks good.  After it has cooled I put it into freezer containers and thank myself in the winter. 

You could add all kinds of seasonings if you feel fancy or run it through a food mill if you want a smooth sauce but I don't bother.  I add the seasoning to whatever I'm cooking.  Who knows whether it will be Italian or Mexican night.

Here is a shot of the beautiful sunflower that I didn't plant:

The next two shots are of the dahlias in the front flower bed:

This one is dinner plate size and is so heavy it resists my efforts at trying to keep it upright.

This one is crazy prolific.  I'm told that these little babies will bloom like crazy until the first hard freeze if you keep cutting bouquets and deadheading.