Wednesday, January 29, 2014
This is one of those days that my favorite ex-husband used to call "another suicide gray day" and I totally get it. It is so dark that you need your lights on all day just to see, and I have white walls, lots of windows, and three skylights.
It is so gloomy outside that my camera kept trying to use the flash on my pics. Pictured above is the garlic that I planted last fall. I don't know what happens with garlic as this is the first time for me. I got the cloves from a friend who got them from a friend when she came back from Italy so these are the real deal. I use quite a bit of garlic in my cooking so I'm really looking forward to it.
This is my old contractors wheel barrow that has been put out to pasture. That damned thing is just too heavy and dangerous. I actually ended up in the emergency room getting stitches when the it sliced my ankle. I still have the scar to remind me. Anyway, I re purposed it for the zucchini plants and it works really well. It keeps them confined and the dirt gets hot enough for them. Coming happily up are daffodils and after them, the tulips.
Last year I made my New Years resolution to get my house organized. Did not happen. Not one drawer or closet. I spent most of last year dealing with pain starting out the year with an unhappy scapula, then moving onto an unhappy tooth, and then finishing out the last half with a blown out hip. That's my excuse, and I'm sticking to it.
So this year I've decided to get my recreation budget under control. As I was going through my budget at year end I was shocked at how much money I spent on just eating out. Now if my house was paid for and I had lots of disposable income, I could justify this but that is not me.
I live on a tight budget and it seems that I consider my recreation to be eating out. Does that make me a recreational eater?? God, I hope not. I also love the movies but find myself short and not able to afford going because I'd eaten out so much. Now, let's get real here. I would say that I don't really enjoy 75% of the food that I pay for when I eat out. As my sister says - we can make it better and cheaper at home.
So my resolution this year is to control my meals out and look for "real recreation" and use dining out as a special occasion. Example: Miss MaggieMay and I went to Costco yesterday. Usually we eat in a restaurant which usually costs me $15 to $20 and I rarely feel that it has been money well spent.
Yesterday we had a Costco hot dog and lemonade for $1.63, including tax, and it was delicious and quick. We were just shopping and I was meeting friends for Mexican in the evening (I had a burrito, chips & salsa, and tip $14), so why have an expensive lunch out?? I agree with Miss MaggieMay in that we are taking a meal out for granted. Something to think about.
Here are my suggestion for "real food" from the QFC ad this week:
Tully's Coffee - $6.99/12oz
Chobani/Fage Yogurt - $1/7oz
Darigold Sour Cream - $1.50/16oz
Tillamook Medium Cheddar Cheese - $4.99/2lb (buy 2, they keep well)
Pork Chops - BOGO
USDA Choice Boneless New York Strip Steaks - $5.99/lb
Fresh Dover Sole - $5.99/lb
Broccoli/Cauliflower - $ .99/lb
Cucumbers - $ .68/ea
Green Bell Peppers - $ .68/ea
Fuji Apples - $1.68/lb
Medium Hass Avocados - $ .99/ea
Mango - $ .99/ea
QFC is offering fresh cut tulips bunches of five for 3/$10. For my vase 10 is perfect and they really brighten up a dreary day for not a lot of money.
And speaking of bright - check out my rhubarb patch.
Again, the flash kept going off but you can see that the rhubarb is getting ready to do its thing.
Wednesday, January 22, 2014
Miss MoneyPenny had to dig really hard through the ad this week for real food at a good price. Weeks like this we have to rely on our pantry and freezer to put food on the table but that is why we put things up. Right?? In the olden days our grandmothers put food up so that they could feed their families during the winter when fresh food was scarce.
In reality, especially here in the Pacific Northwest, fresh food is scarce during the winter but we can easily buy fresh produce at the market that has been grown somewhere else. Now we are learning that this isn't the planet-friendly way to eat. So - what to do!! Put up food during the summer just like Grandma. And let me tell you...this food is way more delicious that those January raspberries which came from who knows where and have God only knows what sprayed on them.
So this is what I came up with this week in the ad:
Lean Ground Beef - $2.49/lb
USDA Choice Boneless Chuck Roast - BOGO
Hormel Spiral Slice Ham - $1.88/b
Tully's Coffee - $6.99/lb
Dannon Greek Yogurt - $1/5.3oz
Simple Truth Cage Free Eggs - $2.50/doz
Large Navel Oranges - $ .68/lb
Colored Bell Peppers - $1.50/ea
English Cucumbers - $1.50/ea
Tomatoes on the Vine - $1.99/lb
Large Hass Avocados - $1.99/ea
Organic Fuji Apples - $1.99/lb
Organic Bunch Beets/Carrots - $2.50/bunch
I didn't put up as much food as I wanted to this past summer because of my rotten hip, but I did make applesauce and pesto. Once you make your own pesto you will never go back to store bought. It is so easy to make your own and you don't have to use just basil. Try kale, if you have a bumper crop, or roasted red peppers. Use your imagination and I can guarantee that it will be delicious on your pasta. Click here for my easy peasy basic recipe.
Friday, January 17, 2014
This morning I was having my coffee and watching the feeders outside on my deck when one of these handsome guys showed up. What a beauty!! According to my guide this is a Northern Flicker and he comes from the woodpecker family. His wings and tail feathers are stunning when he displays them. He can come back anytime.
Okay. In case you haven't gotten your flu shot by now, January is a good time to get it. There are plenty of supplies and you can easily get it at your local pharmacy, and it doesn't hurt. Miss MoneyPenny thinks that getting the flu is a bad waste of money and time. And you can die!! The last time that I got the flu I did think that I was going to die, so I decided that from then on I would get the vaccine, and I have not had a cold or the flu since. Also, if you have had pneumonia or bronchitis in the past, or just have lung issues (you know who you are, you smokers) get a pneumonia shot while you are at it. They don't hurt either and are good for 10 years.
Here is my list of what to look for on sale to get a rock bottom price:
Carpeting & Furniture
Linens & Bedding (White Sales)
Electronics & TVs
Christmas Stuff (on deep mark down)
Oranges & Other Citrus
Chard & Other Greens
I keep forgetting to tell you how I made the beef curry dish for Christmas Eve dinner. There were five of us and we ate an entire dutch oven full of the stuff. It turned out even better than I remember. Here is how I made it:
2 pounds top sirloin steak, cubed
2 onions, diced
4 garlic cloves, diced
2 stalks celery, sliced
2 peppers, diced (I used red & orange)
Button Mushrooms - to be added later
Beef broth, 1 quart (or more if needed)
S&W Golden Curry Paste (I used hot)
Brown the beef, remove to a plate. Add the veggies, except the mushrooms, and saute until soft. Add the beef back in, including any juices. Cover with broth and let simmer until meat is very tender. I simmered mine for two hours. Add mushrooms. Break up the curry paste (it will look like a chocolate bar) and mix in. Simmer for another 30 minutes. Taste for seasoning.
Serve over cooked rice or noodles with the condiments, if desired:
Shredded Coconut Flakes
Chopped Salted Peanuts
Major Grey's Mango Chutney
Chopped Green Onions
Wednesday, January 15, 2014
You are probably wondering what on earth the above picture is. These little rosettes are the beginnings of the Autumn Joy sedum and they seem to be a little early this year. I probably say that every year but this year I really mean it.
I didn't get my flower beds put to bed for the winter this year due to my blown-out hip. It was all I could do to get the veggie beds taken care of before I went under the knife. And quite frankly, I haven't been up for serious gardening...until today. I originally planned to just clean up the sedums but one thing led to another and I was out there for over an hour...and nothing hurt!! The only reason I came inside was because my nose was running like crazy and my sleeves were used up.
This is a shot of the primroses (from QFC) that were in the pot on the front porch from last year. After they quit blooming and started looking pretty rough I dug a hole in the flower bed and threw them in. They were actually quite happy there and bloomed on and off. Well, they are getting ready to bloom again...and QFC has them on sale 10 for $10 this week, so if you are dying for some color in your deck pots, pick some up because they don't get any cheaper.
Before I forget, I know that there are a lot of amaryllis bulbs out there that are almost through blooming and are getting ready for the compost heap. I've had mixed luck with trying to rebloom them, mostly bad luck, actually. Here is an idea that my sister, Miss SmartyPants, told me about and I called her to make sure that I had the details right.
Here is the deal. She has a friend who trims up the old bulb after blooming and then buries it in the pot out on the deck and forgets about it. She has several and they bloom every year out there!! Who knew?? And she lives up on Langlois Mountain which is in the Oregon coast range so it's not like she is anywhere tropical. I'm gonna give it a try because what have I got to lose??
Enough of that. Let's look at the ad for this week. Here are my suggestions:
Mission Tortillas $1/10ct
QFC Sour Cream - $1/16oz
Peet's Coffee - $6.99/12oz
S&W Beans/Tomatoes/Nalley Chili - $1/ea
Chobani Greek Yogurt - $1/6oz
Draper Valley Whole Chickens - $ .99/lb
Pork Shoulder Roast - $1.79/lb
Fresh Dover Sole - $5.99/lb
Angel Soft Bathroom Tissue - $1/4pk
Brawny Paper Towels - $1/roll
Barilla Pasta - $1/12oz
Mandarins - $3.99/3lb bag
Cucumbers/Green Peppers - $ .68/ea
Kale/Chard/Collards/Mustard Greens - $2/bunch
Mayan Sweet Onions - $ .99/lb
Organic Anjou Pears - $1.99/lb
Pacific Rose/Sonya Apples - $1.99/lb
Daffodils - $2.50/5stem bunch
Primroses - $1/ea
4-Day Sale (Thurs - Sun)
Franz Bread - $2/loaf
Florida's Natural Orange Juice - $2.50/59oz
Colgate Toothpaste - $1/4.6oz
Blueberries - $2.50/pint
Wednesday, January 8, 2014
Now that the holidays are past and we are starting to settle into the dark days of winter, it is just the right time for some exciting reading. This is my assortment of catalogs that came in the mail lately. Even though I prefer to get my seeds from Territorial I like to see what the other guys are offering. Plus, you can get some good ideas from reading their catalogs for planning your garden.
In the past I bought my Territorial seeds from the local garden centers but I've discovered that they don't have everything that is offered. I'm still going to buy my tomato and pepper starts there. Why I'm still going to try and grow peppers is a mystery to me. I've suffered a real beatdown where peppers are concerned. This year my plan is to never let them leave the greenhouse - no matter how hot a summer we have or how big they get.
As I look at the QFC ad I'm having a hard time getting inspired. I've been home from the hospital six weeks and I'm barely doing any cooking and that has got to stop. Not only for my budget but also my health. A person can't survive very well on sandwiches, so I'm vowing to get over it and start cooking again. And I'm going to start eating more fruits and veggies. I need to be up and running for gardening season, after all.
Don't forget the food bank because even though Christmas is over, people are still hungry. I'm pretty sure that a lot of people are running short after paying their electric bill after the cold snaps that we have been having this winter and are having to rely on the food bank to feed their families. Pet food is always appreciated, also.
Here are my suggestions for this week:
Franz Organic Bread - $2.99/loaf
Mission Tortillas - $1/10ct (tacos, anyone?)
Tully's Coffee - $6.99/12oz
S&W Beans - $1/can
La Victoria Salsa - $1.50/16oz
Greek Gods Yogurt - $2.50/24oz
Birds Eye Frozen Veggies - $1/16oz
Colgate Toothpaste - $1/4.6oz
Nature Made Vitamins/Supplements - BOGO
Jennie-O Ground Turkey - $2.99/lb
Lean Ground Beef - $4.99/lb
Angel Soft Bath Tissue - $1/4rolls
Barilla Pasta - $1/16oz
Colored Bell Peppers - $1/ea
English Cukes - $1/ea
Large Hass Avocados - $1.50/ea
Mangos - $ .99/ea
Organic Navel Oranges - $1.49/lb
Here we are with another of my blurry pictures but trying to get parakeets to hold still is impossible. I'm sad to announce that while I was in the hospital my old parakeet, Miss Stevie Nicks, passed away. This really upset my friends who were taking care of the house for me but she was at least 10 years old.
Poor Eddie Vedder, the green one, was so lonely it was painful to see, so the Bradster and I went to Pet Smart and picked up Miss Billie Holiday - the lavender bird pictured. They hated each other on the spot and spend two days crashing into the sides of the cage. I was just sure we were going to have to take her back but they settled in. You can see that he is telling her about what a crazy, mad lover he is but she isn't yet convinced.
Sunday, January 5, 2014
I don't know about you guys but I'm definitely ready for some good old Northwest rain. According to the weatherman December was the fifth driest on record and the snow pack is dismal. The only good thing that can come out of all this cold is maybe the fleas will freeze to death.
Just like last fall, I had an infestation again this year. I was battling the little boogers before I had surgery and thought that I had them beat. But nooooo. When I got home from the hospital they were waiting for me. They don't bite me but I go crazy when I see one jump on me.
My sister, Miss SmartyPants, was here to help me recover and she had brought her little King Charles Spaniel, Rosie, aka Rosewood, with her (she and Poppy are best friends) and she is allergic to fleas. I'm pretty sure that Rosie and I were a sight with our crazy itching and scratching and cussing.
What I did to get on top of the fleas was change out Frontline for Advantix. I hate to say it but the Kirkland flea medicine was worse than worthless, which is the first Costco product that hasn't lived up to my expectations.
Speaking of Costco - the Bradster and I are headed that way tomorrow after my last doctor appointment having to do with my new hip. Since I haven't been able to get down there for two months I've seen my grocery bill skyrocket. It just kills me to pay grocery store prices. And lately the sales have been just lame.
Here are the highlights:
Nicoderm - $15 (for New Year's resolution)
Weight Watchers Digital Glass Scales - $5 (again with the resolution)
Pantene Shampoo/Conditioner - $2
Colgate Total Advanced Toothpaste - $4
Huggies Diapers - $6
Dawn Advanced Power - $2
Cascade Complete Action Pacs - $3
Pine Sol - $2.50
Kleenex - $3.50
Shout Stain Remover - $2.50
Gain Powder - $4.50
Bounce & Tide Powder - $8
Ziploc Bags - $2
Royal 12-sheet Shredder - $10
During these cold snaps I keep two hummingbird feeders going - one for the hummers and one to thaw out. This winter I've had more hummers than I usually do in the summer. It pained me to see one with his beak stuck in the frozen feeder. This actually happened and he was just able to get away right before I touched him so I could help him out.
Be sure to keep the brew in the feeders changed out regularly. I use one cup of sugar to four cups of water and they seem happy with it.