Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Tis the Season to be Thrifty

I love a good deal.  My sister-in-law, Karla, scored a GREAT deal on a robe for one of the kiddos.  She shared it with me since she knew how excited I would be.  Woo HOO!

Since we're keeping an eye on our expenditures, I've really utilized tips and tricks to save money.  Check out some of my best tips below:

1.  www.coupondivas.com.  This handy website has grocery, retailer, and restaurant coupons.  It also has Kitty's Picks which show up in a great format on a smartphone.  I look at this several times a day to catch good deals.  For example, I got a year subscription to Self magazine for $3.99.  Just yesterday, I bought a year subscription to Budget Travel for a certain family member who has time to travel....Uncle Ron!!

Every week, I print off a coupon to Michaels and Kohls.  Emil buys miscellaneous uke-making supplies at Michaels or Jo-Ann Fabrics.  Did you know you can use a Michaels coupon at Jo-Ann's and vice versa?  Did you know you can have the cashier at Michaels scan the coupon off your smartphone?  Technology...embrace it, people.

2.  Coupon codes.  I'm a big on-line shopper.  Love it!  Love looking at sparkly shoes at Nordstrom in my pajamas, drinking coffee in the morning.  Love looking at Old Navy for pajama pants and yoga pants.  All on-line.  Before I purchase anything, I do a quick Google search and look for a coupon code that will give me a discount or free shipping.  Rarely do I pay shipping on anything.  Sign up to receive emails from your favorite stores....they will notify you of upcoming sales.

3.  Thrift stores.  We have some fabulous thrift stores in Redmond and Bend.  I even found two great stores in Sisters last week.  Why should Emil pay retail price for a tool when he can buy it used for one tenth of the price?  Exactly!  The good stores change often, so go often!  Peruse.  We picked up almost new tennis rackets two weeks ago because we want to learn to play.  Now we're on the hunt for tennis balls.

4.  Craigslist.  I'm addicted to it and on it all the time...just ask Tommy Boy.  HA!  Yesterday, we picked up three huge bags of packing peanuts for free!  LOVE the category "Free" under For Sale.  Why do we need packing peanuts?  Well, we aren't going to hand deliver every ukulele Emil makes...that would be silly.  Ukuleles will come with a gig bag, but we still need to pack them safely in a box with lots of soft cushy stuff.  I also connected with a local upholstery shop who is saving scraps for us.  She was delighted to know the scraps wouldn't be wasted.  Score!  You never know what's on Craigslist, and I have several ads posted on there right now either looking for items or selling stuff.

5.  Fred Meyer app.  Thanks to Tommy Boy for telling me about this app.  Lets me load coupons on to the Fred Meyer card, so when I check out, it gives me the discount.  So handy!  I go on there twice a week to look at coupons, load the ones I want (I just load stuff I generally buy.), and then voila!

Hope this gives you some good ideas!  I've been making a little fun money selling stuff on eBay.  It's been a learning experience...finding out what sells and what doesn't! 

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Why you sneaky little mouse!

About two months ago, I noticed Little Red, our one chicken who lives by herself, eating a lot of food.  I mean, going through a coffee can of food every other day!  How can one sweet elderly chicken eat so much food??  Especially since she's starting to slow down egg production, and she kind of just scoots around these days.

Then, I noticed a little tunnel up through the ground near her food dish.  A-HA!  Turns out I've been feeding all the mice in Central Oregon.... providing a lovely buffet for them at no charge.  How do I know this?  Because Emil set up traps in her pen and the adjacent pen and has caught over 25 mice over the past few weeks.  Yep.  25 well-fed mice.  He disposes of the mouse near the fence, and some unknown creature enjoys a mouse for brunch.

Finally, I had a sneaky suspicion there were mice living above the fridge on a shelf, so we set up traps.  One night, we heard it trip, so Emil got up and took care of the little fellow.  After he settled back into bed, the other one tripped.  Goodness Gracious!  After resetting the traps, we thought the remaining mice had moved on to greener pastures, but lo and behold the other night, there was a clatter in the kitchen sink.  A mouse tripped the trap and flipped down into the kitchen sink.  You know what I did??  Nothing.  Stayed in the recliner because I thought a spoon or something had fallen from the drying dish rack.  Emil was on the phone with his parents when this happened....took the mouse in the trap and put it outside the door until he finished the call.  When he went to dispose of the mouse, a feral cat took off running with the mouse and trap.  The mouse, okay...but please return the trap!

Seriously, never a dull moment here.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Perfect Pastrami and Antiques

Yesterday, my friend, Becky, and I hung out in Sisters doing some antiquing and eating.  What a way to spend a warm sunny day!  I've been in search for a good pastrami sammy, and I finally found the winner at The Depot.  It was fantastic...the homemade jalapeno cheese roll just about did me in!  We chatted with the super cute owner for a few minutes...food porn!  We talked about all our favorite places to go in Bend...Brother Jon's, Sparrow Bakery, Baked.  The list goes on and on.

Served with hand cut fries
Runner up sammies:  Cross Creek Cafe (great bread, good pastrami), and Soup 2 Nuts (great bread, so so pastrami).

Super Turkey Sammy
Runner Up Pastrami at Cross Creek Cafe

We hit several antique stores.  I'm collecting rolling pins, so I'm always looking out for unique ones that don't cost an arm and a leg.  Becky is the mastermind decorator and sees beauty in so many items most people pass up.  For example, Sisters has a GREAT ReStore (bigger than Redmond, I think).  They had these retro office chairs on casters by the door for free.  We sat in them for a bit, and she told me how she would redo them...lacquer, new fabric, and voila!  We hauled them back to her house.  I can't wait to see the finished product.

I'll have to take Emil to Sisters next week to look at tools and goodies at the ReStore...and a pastrami sammy of course!  Hours are limited at The Depot and other stores since it's winter. 

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Uke Time!

It's super busy around here!  Emil set up a uke email on Outlook, and I've set up some social media accounts.  Road Trip Ukuleles is now official!  Please look us up on Facebook and Twitter.  Emil will share his work along the way as he builds his first ukulele.  Much much more to do!  Thanks for your kind support and emails!  We appreciate YOU!

Our ukulele lessons are progressing well, and we are learning music theory along with strum patterns.  Practice Practice Practice!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Tebow Time

Well, I'm 0-2.  The Saints lost, and Tebow had a bad night.  At least, I had good food to console me during the Broncos/Pats game.

While listening to NPR yesterday morning, I whipped up a Peach and Blueberry Custard Cobbler.  It has sour cream, eggs, and vanilla for the custard.  Tastes great right out of the oven with a healthy dollop of vanilla ice cream.  The buttery topping is the best part!

On a side note, my hometown, Greenville, SC was on Wait Wait Don't Tell Me.  Did you hear them mention it?  "Survey shows that people are tired of surveys..."

I also made homemade guacamole with plenty of cilantro, lime juice, and garlic after the cobbler was in the oven.

The weather was gorgeous yesterday...68 degrees, so I went for a quick walk at the Dry Canyon.  Started training again for a 5K.

During halftime of the Broncos game, I made turkey burgers and super tots a la Spenard Roadhouse (one of my favs in Anchorage).  They weren't deep fried like the restaurant does them, but still pretty decent.  Top anything with cheese, bacon, sour cream, and green onions, and it's a winner!

Homemade pickles from the summer

I did use light sour cream!  HA!
A shout out to Sugarspoon in Anchorage.  They just celebrated their 4th Anniversary!!  Wahooey!  Wish I could've been there to celebrate and eat cupcakes with everyone.  They have great Valentine's Day Specials.  Check it out at http://aksugarspoon.com/.

Miss you Sara Spud and Tommy Boy!  Congrats on your success!

Saturday, January 07, 2012

Plenty O' Pinto Beans

Growing up in South Carolina, we often ate at Cracker Barrel.  It was way back when the county store could still be called "quaint," and the prices were super reasonable.  We ate their after church most Sundays and tried to beat the Baptist crowd.

There were two items I really liked there in particular:  Bowl O'Beans served with sweet pickle relish, raw onion and cornbread and the Chicken and Dumplin's.

This past week, I've been baking out of my Cooking Light Way to Bake cookbook (a Christmas gift!).  Here are the recipes I've made:  Cornmeal Buttermilk Biscuits and Bacon Cheddar Corn Muffins.  Both turned out great, and I was telling my Mother about them.  I told her they would really pair well with the pinto beans from Cracker Barrel.  She suggested I make them since the recipe was easy. 

Well, I did a google search for a recipe and came up with my own.  Soak two pounds of dry pinto beans in water overnight.  Throw them in the crockpot with a ham hock, some chopped ham, garlic powder, and cover everything with water.  Let them cook away for 10 hours.

Let me tell you...YUM!  Of course, it's enough beans for the next two weeks, but they are so tasty!  So delicious with the biscuits or corn muffins. 

Maybe use only one pound of beans next time....

Served with a cornmeal buttermilk biscuit!
I've been cooking lots of appetizers today, as some folks from the book club are coming over tonight.  Some of the recipes are new (I love to try out new recipes on guests just like my Mother), so I'll share the winners later.  A few recipes are the usual crowd pleasers....balsamic bean dip with flatbread from Trader Joe's and self-filled cupcakes (Thinking of you, Lori!).

Sunday, January 01, 2012

New Year's Resolutions

Do you make New Year's Resolutions?  Often, I think about making them, but I generally don't get into it much.  Probably because I don't write them down and take it seriously.  My friend, Tom, writes down his resolutions every year and puts some thought into each one.  He shared them with me already, so I'm going to follow suit and share mine with you.  Accountability and all that stuff always helps.

In my opinion, they don't have to be super serious like making yourself thinner, richer, or healthier.  It can be simple stuff.  Little stuff, big stuff, whatever you want.  No judgment from anyone.

1.  Listen to NPR on Saturday mornings.  I love Car Talk and Wait Wait Don't Tell Me.  I usually forget to listen to it despite a sticky note reminder in the kitchen and an alarm on my phone.  Did you listen to it yesterday?  Manure/compost in the Mustang trunk?  C-R-A-Z-Y!

2.  Be a better loved one to Emil.  Listen to him instead of multi-tasking while attempting to listen.  Support him as he opens his own business.  It is and will be a stressful time for both of us.

3.  Do some arm exercises.  I've been doing push ups, and it's been fun!  Just think what tricep dips will do if I commit to doing them too!

4.  Continue building new friendships and work on existing friendships.  It's easy to email, write, and call people.  I am shy and need to push myself sometimes!

5.  Read a daily devotional from "A Year of Living Consciously."  My friend, Starr, gave it to me several years ago, and it's a wonderful book, yet I only look at it sporadically.  I, in turn, gave a copy to Tommy Boy last year.  I'll read each day's passage as I drink my morning coffee.

Well, I guess that's about it for now.  Quite a list to work on, and I don't have to conquer everything in the first two weeks of 2012.  I wish everyone a wonderful 2012 filled with new adventures, fond memories, and delicious food.

P.S.  Did you receive any cookie tins this year or have old cigar boxes sitting around?  Emil is making a fun line of ukuleles out of cookie tins and cigar boxes.  Please send them to me, or I'll pick them up from you if you're local.  THANKS!