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Monday, January 31, 2011

Era of cheap food drawing to a close?

According the experts who wrote this article, an era cheap food may be drawing to a close. This really bothers me. I know I can get food since I live in a town of 14,000 near farms and farmland. Plus, I have a lawn, a few garden tools, and a smattering of garden knowledge.

Food shortages
Will there be food shortages or will the prices be out of sight? The latter, I believe will happen. The former, I hope will not happen. Remember when the price of gas went up because of shortages? Drive-offs caused gas station attendants to require payment first because they locked the pumps until payment was received.

Lock up food
Can we extrapolate that scenario to food access? I don't really know. But, it seems plausible. Of course, food is already IN the store, gas is not.

Family concerns
Two of my children are near rural areas, are teachers and can depend on one another for access to food. My now-single daughter in NYC is struggling as it is, and only has access to window sills for growing. Her network is large, but not so large and close that she can depend on them in a crisis-crunch, I am afraid. People have their own families. My daughter has already noticed rising prices.

Grain and meat
From what I gather, grain prices will be out of sight. Will meat costs become astronomical, also? The price fo meat will rise, but how far? Of course, all food prices will suffer. But, to me it seems that growing wheat or meat in my yard or on a fire escape will be more difficult that growing tomatoes and basil and a few beans and potatoes.

I am by no means speaking in the prepper mode. If we save for a rainy day, why not save for that same rainy day in the pantries and freezers of America? I can only get so much in the freezer. Meats and grains seem the way to maximize the freezer for ordinary folk. Of course, the plastic buckets with oxygen packets to preserve grains seems all of a sudden to be a practical means of having flour or wheat storage without refrigeration. I truly believe the electricity will be here. Most of us don't have a half dozen freezers to store enough food. Canning meat is an option, too, depending on electricity for freezers full of meats and grains. Dehydrators will become more popular.

Neglected fruit
People who let fruit fall and rot may decide to use their fruit or have someone else take it. The squirrels in this town may have fierce competition for food!

Hens in the yard
I feel lucky to get eggs every day. Maybe this practice will be more common if prices rise or there are shortages of grain or the grain prices make eggs expensive. One hen is broody, so she could raise baby chicks and I can be set for life. I will have to buy fertile eggs!

While I won't discuss eating the three hens. I would definitely consider eating other chickens I could raise to slaughter!

Around the world
People are starving and suffering as it is. Rising prices will make their world more fragile.

Along with raising some of our own food, stockpiling seems a good plan. The worst thing that can happen if you stockpile is that you will be eating cheap food when prices rise.

Buy wisely
I realize that I don't buy wisely sometimes. The ice cream price could buy flour to freeze or store with oxygen packets.. Since I am not a grinder of grain, buying wheat is not an issue with me. Maybe it should be. Maybe I need a wheat grinder.

Your turn
Do you think food prices will rise to levels that will cause food emergencies? Will groceries be protected like gasoline? Do you know people who stockpile in the extreme?

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Have a bowl of soup

Soup's on
I just had to share this lovely and delicious soup. This pot of soup has my last quart of home-canned tomatoes in it, so this is a sad day.

Cold weather makes me want soup and other nice warm meals. I made spaghetti on Friday and still have lots in the refrigerator. Someone said the temperature was 70 degrees today. I don't know why I am starving for warm, tomato-ey food.

My recipe
Many times I make this soup without meat. Today, I used
1/2 lb ground round
frozen, diced  onions, 1/4 cup ?
tiny piece of Bell pepper
1/2 cup frozen, diced celery
1/2 lb carrots
1 potato, diced
can of green beans
qt home canned tomatoes
can of diced tomatoes
1/4 cup brown rice
1 cup shredded cabbage from bag with carrots
1 sprinkle of ground savory (usually, dried summer savory)
bay leaf

Usually, I also add:
3/4 cup frozen corn
3/4 cup frozen lima beans

Chop and cook the ground round
Put onions in pot when meat is almost done, saute onions with the meat
1 can water
1 or 2qts of tomatoes (or equivalent to about 1.5 or 2 qts of store-bought, canned tomatoes)
bell pepper

Cook until carrots almost done
beans, lima and green

When carrots and potatoes are done, add:

Cook just long enough to get the rice done. Discard the bay leaf before eating or storing.

If there is anything you don't like that I use, leave it out. Today, this is different from any I have made because I don't have the corn and lima beans. Add what you like. There are so few potatoes and so little rice that the calories will not foil your plans for eating. If you use canned corn and limas, adding the whole can will really fill the pot in a hurry.

When I use cans of vegetables, I drain the liquid and put in the pot to cook carrots and potatoes. I add the other contents of the can to the pot later.

I had just added the cabbage when I took the picture, so it was all floating. If I don't have cabbage, I leave it out. Since it cooked for such a short time, the cabbage still has texture, not at all unpleasant.

Cabbage cooks so quickly that I don't put it in at the beginning. The tomatoes are done, so I try not to add them early. Today, I did because I needed the juice to cook the carrots and potatoes. When I finish my bowl of soup, I will dip the remainder into quart jars to store in the refrigerator. I am having company Wednesday, so I will make a pan of cornbread to go with the soup. I will spice up some peaches in a skillet and make a stove top pie in a tiny iron skillet.

Your turn
If you are in areas where the snow is relentlessly piling up, I am sure you are preparing warm foods. Share with us what you crave, if you please. If you are making soup, post your recipe link here. It's okay. I just finished a bowl of soup. Now, I need a nap, but it is 10 pm, so maybe it is too late for a nap. Is soup on at your house?

Dishwasher detergent substitutes

This morning, I noticed that the Palmolive Dishwasher liquid is running low. Several years ago, when I noticed the bottle was empty, I turned it over and left it to drain into the dishwasher. I drained the bottle into the cup, then drained more into the dishwasher, sort of the first wash or pre-wash portion. The next dishwashing event happened and I drained more into the cup and washed out the bottle.

I am parsimonious like that. The next time, I washed the bottle out again and poured the liquid into the dishwasher, and then put the bottle and cap in the dishwasher to get the last bit.

Better Me, Better World
Then, Dmarie over at Better me, Better world wrote a post about the same thing--dishwasher liquid substitutes to be more green and save money. In the past, this subject has been discussed. I am apparently the only person who does not have major film issues. Maybe Dmarie will tell about her film experiences. Read her post for her recipe.

Complementary post
This post on a similar subject is supposed to be complementary, not competitive.

Whiter than white
The film issue seems to be sort of like the "whiter than white" conversation in washing machine detergent ads a few decades ago. Why is it necessary to add chemicals to make clothing that white? And, what is a little film compared to being green, saving the cost of a plastic bottle, and spending less money?

Enviromental issues
Palmolive has no phospates. Is that good enough? I don't know. There is the problem of a plastic bottle, but that is not the focus of this discussion. I do try to reuse them. Another thing I do is use less than the bottle or the cup in the dishwasher calls for.

White or shiny equals clean?
We are being brain-washed into thinking that cleanliness equates shine and brightness. I do like the dishwasher and the washing machine. No, I love my dishwasher and washing

Back to brainwashing. I noted that I used only baking soda and vinegar. Others said there was a film on the stainless steel and nothing was shiny enough. However, the water temperature assures me that it is all clean.

The shiny plate or bowl that I carry to the chicken yard and dump food from is clean and germ-free when I leave the house. However, once I handle the latch on the pen, handle freshly laid eggs, pet a hen who thinks she must submit to get food, neither the dish or my hands are germ-free, even if the plate still shines.  (I am the rooster substitute)

Wash a shiny dish?
Thankfully, I have grown beyond "shiny=clean." That said, I do like shiny dishes. Commercial dishwasher liquid accomplishes the shiny goal. Yes, I do was the still-shiny dish that was handled after I fed chickens. However, when the pen is open and I touch nothing, the dish is placed on the counter for more scraps for hens.

My formula
I pull out both racks. Then, I take a cupful or less of vinegar and sort of pour at the top rack. Then, I sprinkle about half cup of baking soda over the top rack and bottom rack and the utensils on the door. This half cup is all I use for all three locations. Close the door and wash.

Stay nearby
This method only works to avoid film if you can catch the rinse cycle. I then put more vinegar into the dishwasher. That seems to cut the film. The film is just the baking soda. It will not hurt anything. For the sake of aesthetics, we buy commercial products? Okay, I, too, am often guilty.

Too much trouble
Yes, it is a problem, but so is washing dishes by hand, as is comsuming plastic and throwing it in the landfill. Actually, washing dishes by hand never leaves things as shiny as the dishwasher does. Okay, maybe you get different results.

I believe my handwashing of dishes leaves the dishes clean. I know the hot water temperature of the dishwasher does a better job of sanitizing, far beyond clean. Think about it: how clean do dishes need to be? How do you figure in the germy hands that touch them. Yes, we all have germs on our hands.  I don't know how clean dishes need to be. But, I do know that we all eat from less than sanitary dishes at least some of the time. But, we never die or even become ill. I was my hands and call them clean enough--soap, warm water, that's all.

Your turn
Do you feel safe eating from dishes your hands have touched? Do you have a problem with film after using a substitute for dishwasher liquid?

Friday, January 28, 2011

Too much food?

not really food to eat--two of four shelves on the door
 What a complaint!
It is not just food in general that is hogging my refrigerator. It's multiple bottles of condiments, dressing, mayos, pickles. I can barely get real food in and close the door. The great majority of this is NOT something I really NEED, but just like and want.

Coupon crazy
The coupons get soooo good some days. I had many coupons for French's mustards. The mustard cost me tax, about nine cents each. So, I just went wild--regular yellow mustard, brown mustard, honey mustard AND honey mustard dipping mustard, mustards galore. Now, I have managed to open five, yes 5, see it--V different kinds of mustards. That takes up room.

Then, we move on to mayo types. I love love love Miracle Whip. But, there are a few recipes that call for regular mayonaise. Take my word for it--NEVER substitute MW for mayo. It does not work in recipes I have tried.. That makes Miracle Whip, Mayonaisse (two brands), Sandwich Shop Mayo with Horseradish, and two kinds of sandwich spread. That is 5 mayo/MW spreads.

Now, for the salad dressings--Italian that I only use for cooking, Ranch--my favorite, Thousand Island that bf said he liked and would eat, Brianna's with asiago, and another I cannot remember.

How about Hot Dog Relish, two--Vlasic and Mt. Olive. And, the quart jar of Vlasic Zesty Garden Mix with zesty garlic and dill flavor that was sent to me to test for a survey. Nope, don't like it and forget to push it on bf who does like it.

Tartar sauce is in a category of its own. Oh, Worcestshire and hot sauce--eeeek. I never touch them, just serve to others and judiciously use in spaghetti....and catsup.

Pickles, anyone? Sweet pickles, dill pickles, sweet relish, dill relish, and bread and butter pickles. Let's add the pint of cucumbers that live in vinegar. Remember, I don't like pickles. I am allergic to them. Plus, I have hotdog relish. Any pickle or cucumber evokes an immediate reaction if I just bite it. My throat starts to close. But, I can handle a little bit of pickle that is hidden in something. Actually, I prefer my tuna and potato salads with sweet and dill pickles, well diced.

Three jars of my homemade jelly were staring at me--hot pepper jelly, crabapple jelly, and scuppernong jelly.  One Smucker's glass jar holds chopped walnuts; another, pecan halves. After I took the picture, I realized there was lemon juice and olive oil.

That's 31 jars and bottles of assorted sizes cramping my style. Plus, anything in a plastic container falls over.

Then, there is the leftover Pet milk, stored in a pb jar--glass. And, the Smuckers pb that must be refrigerated.

Cleaning the refrigerator
Considering the food in the refrigerator and what had to be removed to clean the refrigerator was my motivation for counting. I just knew there was way too much food/condiments, way more than usual.

No promises
I cannot say that I will not buy many containers of mustard, pickles, or spreads if there is another huge coupon event. I won't even hint that I will not have over two dozen things open in the refrigerator. That makes me incorrigible, I suppose. I will promise to think about what I open next time, and will probably do as I did this

No way! I use the MW and mayo before expiration date. Salad dressings will be eaten, but WHEN? I was searching for a good honey mustard when I bought those.  Pickles last forever. It's not like I could just decide to have a big helping of mustard or a bowl of relish.

Most of this will be slowly consumed, never to be bought again. My whole complaint is crowding in the refrigerator, not waste. Of course, I did buy the cheapest, therefore, smallest refrigerator that had a self-defrosting freezer.  So, I did not start out with much room.

Hiding in the main part of the refrigerator were another dozen bottles of condiment-type foodstuffs. I just don't want to discuss and name them for you....eeeeek!

It's not like I can just finish everything off by eating through the refrigerator. I do have two containers with only a smidgen--tartar sauce and one of the sandwich spreads. So, there. It's a good start.

Your turn
Do you ever get an abundance, an overload of condiments? Coupons, other people, and saving money is my excuse. What's yours?

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Salon Savings--my hair costs

Parsimony or Preference?
Many of my parsimonious ways were the result of  forces other than trying to save money.

The beginning
About 48 years ago when I was 16-years-old, my sister who was 14-years-old, wanted me to cut her hair. She still brings it up. It was my first try. What did I know? I did butcher her hair. But, I am tired of saying I am

Second attempt
My son was 13-months-old and his curls were over his ears. It was not the hair that led to his first haircut; it was the fact that people thought he was a girl. ??? So, I cut the curls and the back of the neck strands. My mother cried. People still called my son a girl.

Barber problems
My husband got the worst haircuts, really bad cuts for his thick hair. The barber was about 65 and my husband was 25. One day, I was out with the children walking in the small town. My husband's car was at the barber's. I pushed the stroller about halfway in and asked the barber, okay, told the barber not to cut his hair with a ledge in the back.

Barber's answer
"I cut a man's hair like he wants it, not like his wife wants it." I smile, say bye to husband, and exit. EX said not one word.

Let's just say a civilized conversation ensued at home later that night. The result was that I would be cutting my husband's hair from now on--my idea. He loved the way I cut his hair. Until after the divorce, I was the barber around here.

Boy child
I also cut my son's hair and both of the girls' hair. Of course, I still had to pay to get mine cut. One day when my son was 12-years-old, he wanted to go to the beauty shop, all the newest rage for guys back in 1979. I tried to reason with him. Finally, I decided I would not want to interfere with his emerging manhood. Mama gave the job over to another woman. He did not want me to stay and make sure things went right! I gave in. He emerged speaking rather gruffly, and I was not sure if it were displeasure or an ugly manifestation of more emerging manhood. The haircut was not right for him, but I praised his looks with the new cut.

He liked the haircut. Yes, he would go back again. sigh....sigh...sigh<----me. A few more days passed and he told me he wanted me to cut his hair from now on.. Yay, Mama wins him back. Just kidding. It turned out he did not like the haircut. He never said so, but I am just positive he had unfavorable comments from peers.

Girl children
Their hair was long. I trimmed their long hair and trimmed bangs. The oldest had a double cowlick in the front where her bangs were. So, it never looked right unless her bangs were chin length--not acceptable to any of us.

Yes, I insisted several of my friends who had never cut a strand of hair, cut my hair with my sewing scissors. I was really tired of bad haircuts or desperate, except for one occassion when I did not have money. Those friends extracted haircuts and sewing from me. Hey, I will do anything to get a good haircut or be in charge of how long or short it is cut. For years, I searched for a hairdresser who would not cut an extra three inches off my hair or grab thinning scissors while she had me turned away from the mirror.

I heart Cindy
My present hairdresser is wonderful. She can actually remember how I have had it cut for about 12 years!

Hate styling
I do not like the shampoo chair. It hurts my neck. I hate the shampoo. Taking my own shampoo was better, but I still hurt in the chair.  I hate the goop in my hair. I really hate the haze of hairspray. Mostly, I just hate the whole process and the result of my session in the chair for a cut and style. Paint that baby yellow and call it Yellow Mama, and you see how much I dreaded it. I always washed my hair in two to 12 hours from leaving the chair. I was just glad to have escaped.

Brave move
I told my then-hairdresser that I would wash my hair and come with dry hair and just get a cut if she would allow it. "You mean you will leave here with nothing else and people will see you?" or some insane variation. "Yes, I don't care." It works. My present hairdresser is fine with it and has other people who do the same thing.

My bangs
Finally, because of lack of funds, I let my hair grow longer and trimmed my bangs. Around this time was another time I "convinced" friends they knew how to trim the length on my hair.

Right now, I pay $15 for a haircut once a month. I am not aware at this point of the cost of cut, set and style,  or even a blowout. The first Wednesday of every month, I know where I will be and what it will cost. Maybe you save by getting a yearly cut or less than once a month. When I was working, a professional look was important. When I was looking for a job, same idea. Now that I am not working at a job outside my home and with other professionals, I still do not like to look shaggy or unkempt. Bangs are a must because I say so. I can trim them. A layered cut is necessary for my hair that I refuse to tease and spray. Long, stringy hair on a woman my age is just not attractive! Layers give it poof. (no teasing my hair) I do save a bit on products but that is because they ruin my skin.

Misspent youth
From the time I was a teen, I spent years teasing, spraying, using product on my hair. Those years are why I refuse to tease and spray! No more!

So, here is where you probably have me beat in the savings department. You don't get haircuts so often? I get one extra haircut in December, so that is 13 haircuts x $15=$195/year. Right here, I am going to fall back on the low cost of products for me for 30 years or more, the savings on haircuts for four other family members, and your People, I have to justify spending $200/year!

Are you truly parsimonious? Am I?
Maybe some of you cut your own hair, have someone in the family cut it, or only have your hair cut once a year. Maybe you think my spending is not at all frugal. That's okay, too.

Your turn
Do you cut your family's hair to save money? How do you save on hair products or cuts? Are you so lucky that you can last a year without a cut? Or, do you get the wash, set, and style? Are salon visits just part of your budget?

Join the Jam Slam

We're Jamming and Slamming
Okey dokey. This sounds like a song by Little Richard. Max Wong at My Roman Apartment has challenged us all to "put up" 52 jams in 52 weeks. How close can you get to 52 jams?

Don't make jam?
That's fine. What do you preserve? The way I understand it, anything preserved counts. So my tomatoes and hot pepper jelly will be legal? I wonder if my pepper counts. Yes, I made pepper to sprinkle on food. I took some to a friend today. She could not believe anyone could make Then, she snorted some. My friend, just sprinkle it!

According to Max
"For the sake of keeping things interesting and challenging, Jam Slam 2011 will count pickles and other varieties of preserved food as jam, because, frankly, Preserve Slam 2011 sounds scarily like one of those awful formal dances where your dad gives you a chastity ring."

Working bees
Her bees will be working too. Does honey from bees count as preserved? Even though the bees will be doing all the work making honey, Max will be the one to get the honey from the hive to the jars. I think the bees have the easier chores.

My plans
The first thing I will make is grape jelly. I have some Welch's grape juice, the kind in the glass jar, communion juice, if you will. I like grape jelly and won't consume it as quickly as I will consume grape juice. So, communion grape jelly, it is. The grape juice in big plastic containers has apple and pear juice, among other things. Now, I just despise apple juice, so will not buy the apple/pear/grape mixture. The Welch's in the small bottle is 100% grape juice, ONLY.

Next will be fig jam of some sort from figs I froze last fall. It seemed like a good idea at the time, so I whirred them in the blender. Now, it does not seem like such a good idea.

Winning at the fair
Max plans to win lots of ribbons at the fair. So do I. We both have won ribbons, and I am sure some of you have a clutch of ribbons, also, to brag about. No? Then, let's get started.

Picture on post
My pot in the picture is perfect for short jars. It can be used as a water bath canner with the insert pot. The inner pot is for steaming or for cooking pasta. By using this I can heat less water for the canning process. Fig jam selling or gifting is best in 8 oz or 4 oz jars. The little stick thing is the magnet for lifting lids. Yes, you can avoid buying this, but I boiled my fingers for decades and finally gave in. My funnel is at least 30 years old. I have another, given to me. Both are battered from having a drawer closed on them too many times. The small jar is hot pepper jelly and the larger is scuppernong jelly. Only the shorter jar will fit in the "canner" in the picture. That is not my house. I went on location for the photo.

Your turn
Who will click on My Roman Apartment and join the Jam Slam today? Have you ever won ribbons at the fair? Would you like to win one ribbon or more?

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Music is cheaper than drugs and safer than romance

Music is healthy
So, we are all trying to save a little money, stay a little sane, and stay healthy. Right? This article tells how the sound of our favorite song retunes our bodies to feeling good.
These are not theories of a music lover. Scientists can measure the "feel-good" feelings. (keeping this rated PG)

My opinion
For many years I have listened to songs of the 50s and 60s and noticed that there is an extra bounce to my step, a little zing in the brain, and heightened awareness of my body and my surroundings. Yes, it felt like 16 again. Right now, oldies are songs from the 80s, so I must be ancient.

It may not be possible, but it is almost like I can feel the level of hormones in my body rise. Silly? Maybe not.

Songs remind me of certain times of pleasure. Copacabana reminds me of 1978-79 and riding in the car. My three children and I sang to the tops of our voices. The radio was loud. Good memories. Puff the Magic Dragon from 1963 brings back memories of my son singing it in 1972 when he was four and my daughter was two. Oh, we all sang it, but his voice was sweet.

You can guess the strength I drew from I Will Survive right after my divorce. Music Box Dancer was a song to which my two-year-old (third child) performed an impromptu ballet in an arboretum in Florida. I can still see her in her pink satin shorts and jacket worn over a little tank top, unselfconsciously twirling and doing many a plie and port de bras, counting in French if you wished. (Satin was good in

The Wayward Wind  was a song I heard many a night in the summer, a summer like all of my childhood summers--lacking air conditioning. The Blue Danube or any waltz transports me to a peacefulness that is indescribable.

Most music moves me to feelings that can be described as a peaceful ecstasy. Is that dopamine I feel? (okay, no rap)  Scientists "say a best-loved aria or guitar riff can trigger the same chemical reaction in us as good food, money or sex." It sounds as if music could be a cheap and safe cure-all. Well, maybe I should listen to music instead of eating. Okay, I have good food, so one out of three ain't bad. Right?

Even when songs do not remind me of a specific setting or people, music evokes feelings of pleasure. Music is one great pleasure in my life. Alas, I cannot sing or play an instrument. So sad. However, I do love a good musical in any form--live theater, movies, amateurs or professional performers.

When the little dancer was almost two, she saw a commercial for Kaopectate or Pepto-Bismol. A little doll with a billowy skirt was moving across the black background on the TV screen, while a tinkly, music box tune played. The hidden man said in soothing tones, "Diarrhea, blah, blah, diarrhea." My daughter sat rapt, and then turned and said in her little baby voice that could articulate the words perfectly, "I want diarrhea."

We laughed at the ludicrous idea that anyone wanted diarrhea. She raised her voice, "I do want diarrhea." We howled and I tried to comfort her because everyone laughed. She wailed, "I waaaant diiiiarheeea!" It was the kind of things that had us all howling. I tried, I really tried, I cried, hid my face from her so she would not see my tears rolling down my face.

This went on for months as she saw the commercial. She never failed to express her desire in the same three words, "I want diarrhea." Our response was always the same but tempered. At other times she just wanted me to get diarrhea for her. No amount of explaining worked. Yes, the children explained it graphically to her. She did not flinch. I explained it to her in terms someone so young could, "running down your leg." The visual and music kept her desire strong until finally the commercial ran its course and was no more.

The cure
Could it be that we could save money, lose stress, and attain a "peace with zing" that we crave by listening to more music? Maybe we assail our senses with new purchases just to feel something pleasurable? Of course, we do. That is what marketing tries to do, "manipulate hedonic states" (pleasure) to us through purchasing. Music helps marketing. Maybe we can listen to music to help us avoid purchasing.

My goal
I will listen to more pleasurable music. Rod Stewart, here I come. If I can lose weight, spend even less, I will have accomplished two goals. Since I have never done recreational drugs, I have no goals there. Romance department? What? Where? LOL I will put on music tomorrow and work or play to sounds that make me happier inside and out.

Your turn
Do you think that you could possibly curb spending, lose weight, or reach another goal by listening to music? Maybe it would have to be purposeful listening, not just listening to whatever someone else leaves on the radio or whichever CD is ready to go. Do you think putting on music from your youth or a happy period would help you become peaceful enough to curb your appetites? Maybe it is a certain genre you need from just any period of your life. If you like country and no one in the house listens to country, maybe you need a good country fix. How about it? What do you think? Even if you are like me and cannot sing, sing anyway if no one else is around. Let's get our pleasure from music. Can we save money along with our sanity with music?

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

People Tell Me I Am Eccentric

"You are so eccentric!"
This always puzzles me. Me? Eccentric? How so? Help me here. Usually, I just laugh it off. Sometimes, I ponder aloud a few moments, trying to determine what caused the statement. I am usually no closer to finding meaning than I am of finding gold nuggets in my chickens' poop. Really, I have never looked there, so how do I know what I will find?

Eccentric meaning
I "swagged" eccentric and found this group of meanings.  I especially don't like the #1 "See Synonyms at strange." I am not so sure I want to be strange. At least I don't wince too much when I am pronounced "eccentric." Usually, I am just amazed.

Of course, #2 under verb and #3a or #3b or #2 under n have nothing to do with people.
1. Departing from a recognized, conventional, or established norm or pattern. See Synonyms at strange.

2. Deviating from a circular form or path, as in an elliptical orbit.
a. Not situated at or in the geometric center.
b. Having the axis located elsewhere than at the geometric center.
1. One that deviates markedly from an established norm, especially a person of odd or unconventional behavior.
2. Physics A disk or wheel having its axis of revolution displaced from its center so that it is capable of imparting reciprocating motion.

1. One that deviates markedly from an established norm, especially a person of odd or unconventional behavior.

No one told me I must behave in a conventional manner all the time. Whose norm? The norm that says to buy tp? The norm that says to buy all my clothing.

Not odd
And, I am sure I am not odd. My clothes match. I wear shoes when not at home. I speak English perfectly, I am told. But, that is not true, just closer than most. So, I am certain I am not odd in appearance or speech. I don't talk to myself. I bathe everyday.

Conventional manner
may be the sticking point here. No, I don't wear a bra unless on the job. I keep chickens. Many of my jobs aka making money are at home and creations of my own. Many of my ideas are not shared by people in this area, county, or town.

I am a feminist (yet committed heterosexual). I color my hair when other feminists say, "Let it go gray." At one point I made all my clothing, including bras and panties. I love to wear sandals in winter. (As I get older, my feet get colder, so this is not the point as it was in earlier years.) Aha, I don't read romance novels! That gets me strange looks. I don't watch soaps! I am sounding more eccentric all the time.

So, I am a tree-hugger, but not a dirty hippie. Oh, no, back in the 60s my politics were not revealed in hair or clothing.  As a tree-hugger I don't like destroying trees or any part of nature. (Okay, kill a bear and eat it. Just don't kill it for the trophy head.) Yes, I don't ever buy paper products for my home--yes, I use cloth and wash it instead of tp.

Oh, I finished college--bad thing...or jealousy. Some women in this small town smiled maliciously as they asked me "what on earth are you going to do with all those degrees?" THAT makes me eccentric here with many people.

Do I sound eccentric yet? Conventional manner in whose eyes? In the small town I live in, some traits are eccentric. Those same traits are acceptable in a large university town, but other traits are what gain me the eccentric label. I live between two worlds with different conventions.

Goodness gracious! I hang clothes on the line. I sleep in my swing some afternoons when I cannot stay awake out in the I have been known to take a walk at 2 am. I also do my walking for exercise in sandals.

I forgot: I eat food from dumpsters. I forage on public property. I glean when allowed. That all screams: eccentric!

Some days, I muse aloud to others about wanting to raise enough chickens for my own meat. Okay, I must be eccentric. I rhapsodize about eggs from hens who have never had a vaccine or antibiotic, never eaten chicken feed, never been totally cooped up. You know, I must be eccentric to eschew vaccinations and antibiotics for my hens!

Yes, I do talk to my hens and plants. I . AM . DOOMED. But, in all fairness, the hens usually start the conversation. Plants never start conversations and never respond verbally. But, they are listening.

Okay, eccentric can be good. Right?

 Your turn
How eccentric am I? LOL Has anyone ever pronounced you were eccentric? What did you do to elicit this response from someone?

Reusing heat: Crematorium heats swimming pool plan

Great idea
This is great. In England a city council is discussing using crematorium heat to warm their swimming pool.  Read the information in the link. I think it is a great, green move. I woul not think it was creepy to swim in a pool heated because someone is cremated.

Your turn
Would this bother you?

Baking Bread

"Baking bread" conjures up images of a hearth or oven heated to receive the pillow of dough that will be transformed into a very basic, life-sustaining food, reminiscent of something from our foremother's experiences. Hands very gently knead and turn the dough that will rise is a wooden bread bowl. This is such a primitive, humbling feeling of connection with my past.

I baked this in a bread machine. It is not very loaf-like. More like a cube of bread, I would say. Really, it was a cube. It is a cube. Just look at it.  Honest.
"Loaf" sounds so pillow-like, pillowy if you wish. Say it aloud. "L" is a very soft consonant, starting the pillow of bread. "Loaf" Say it again. Feel the puff or air that you make at the end. Isn't that soft?

Feel/hear that "K" sound made by the "c" in cube. The "K" sound is hard as is the limiting "B." I think there is a glottal stop in "cube." If I had finished the linguistics degree, maybe I would know.

loaf, cube, loaf, cube
Which sounds more comforting? Loaf, of course. The aural manifestation of my bread comforts me.

I made a cube--not a comfort. Aren't words wonderful?

For a friend in California
Back to the bread machine--many of us are determined not to buy new. Secondhand bread machines are plentiful. So, I went to the thrift store in search of a bread machine to send to California. Sure enough, there was a bread machine, looking fine and only $3. I brought it home and discovered that the little paddle was missing. I called the manufacturer who sent me a new one. Tonight, I baked bread.

Bread in a box
Yes, I used a bread mix in a box. I had one on the shelf dated 2005. I could have sworn that I had baked since then. Obviously not. The yeast was still good and it is delicious to eat. I just used a medium crust, something I won't do again.

Butter and jam
Unbeknownst to me, I bought a used bread maker that makes jam. Once before, I bought a used bread maker that made butter.

I bought four or five bread machines at one time, paying an average of $2 apiece at one sale. I sold them for a bit more after trying each one--$10-$12. All worked. Right now, I have a bread maker, new in the box, only opened to show me at a yard sale. I paid a monstrous sum of $4 for that one. For awhile I have been not in the bread making mode. Maybe I will start again.

Your turn
Do you ever buy used bread makers? Do you ever make bread in a bread machine? Pushing on dough to knead it hurts my hands because of the angle and continuous pushing and turning. Besides, it is soooo boring. But, I'll bet there are some of you who knead, turn, and bake bread the old-fashioned way. Right?

Sunday, January 23, 2011

OH! NO! Bad News

Bad news
Regular incandescent light bulbs will be phased out by 2014. Manufacturers will no longer make the most common sizes.

To me, this poses serious physical health and mental health risks. There is a huge potential for a developing black market.

People discuss the problems fluorescent lights cause in their everyday lives and their health--headaches, dizziness, eyestrain, irritability, aggressiveness. No, I have not yet found links to support their or my health issues.

Changes in apparent hues
Since I have sewn for many years, I believe I am a credible witness to the difficulties of fluorescent lighting. It is impossible to know what any fabric or thread combination will be in outdoor or incandescent lighting. Fluorescent lighting changes colors of fabrics. When I am fabric shopping, I must take the bolt outdoors to determine exactly which shade I am purchasing. If this is impossible, I seek a fixture, usually a lamp on display to sell, in order to place my intended purchase under it.

Surely, people who knit or crochet have this problem as well.

Paint--true color
I have become adept at shopping for paint. Even stores like Lowe's have a unit in which to place the paint sample. The unit has three sections--outdoor light, incandescent lighting, and fluorescent. If the source of light does not matter, why would paint manufacturers recognize the results of painting in different conditions as different?

My ability to read, learn, behave, or excel was never an issue for me. However, experience through students and my one office with others showed me there were many people who needlessly are exposed to conditions that are unfavorable to learning. Eyestrain was my main symptom. Of course, I became irritable when I discovered I could not control lighting to my benefit.

My office
When I had my own office, I never turned on the fluorescent lights unless I had a student in the office.  I used lamps brought from home. Low, but adequate, lighting is all anyone needs. I will move under a bright incandescent light if I thread a needle or read small print. Never did I perform either of these tasks in my office.

Perceived calm
Recently, when I was in a classroom for an advanced science unit (certification is in English), I left the fluorescent lights off after lunch. I commented to the students after lunch that we would leave the lights off unless they needed the light to read. When they asked why, I told them of the health benefits and how calm the abundant natural light was to most people. After coming in with the same students for a few days in the month, the students would ask to have the lights off because "it's so peaceful without the fluorescent lights." Some of the students tried it at home and verified the same results. Okay, maybe I colored their perception. Or, maybe not.

I cannot find the study, but maybe you can. Some students cannot learn at school, but at night under incandescent lights at the kitchen table, learn all they were supposed to learn at school. Classroom lighting made the difference.

Disruptive behavior in school
Students who will not mind, are just disruptive, or have learning disabilities are all affected by the lighting. This is a sensitivity to the light. If students spend seven hours in an environment that causes them emotional problems, are we further damaging their future by forcing their parents to use a light source that is harmful.

Using eHow is not really primary evidence. But, like many behavioral problems and health problems, anecdotal evidence leads to research.  Primary evidence exists, I am just not finding it. Conditions like fibromyalgia were not legitimized for many years. So it goes.

I told all this to a friend who said her physician brother-in-law tested this concept in his waiting room. For a period of time (days) he used only incandescent lamps in the waiting room and then switched to fluorescent. His office and nursing staff reported that patients exposed to incandescent lighting had fewer complaints about their wait time and fewer irritable expressions about their health.

So far, all I have told you is anecdotal.
So, here is another personal experiences.,
When I worked in an office with three other women, using the federal grant money and a donated office, we worked under a very low ceiling with 3'x6' fluorescent light panels. One was right over my head and to the back of me. Working with my desk lamp with an incandescent bulb worked well for me. The other two disagreed. So,  because the program director thought I was just complaining, I went to an opthamalogist who agreed that it was the fluorescent lighting. He was very kind but explained that no one would agree to removing the overhead fixture or allowing us to use lamps only. "No one understands," was the best I got, plus a prescription for a screen for my computer to cut down on glare. Glare was not the problem.

When I taught GED, a teacher whose child was in my class introduced me to the Irlen Method. Fortunately, eyestrain, fatigue, and headaches were my only symptoms. Read the list of symptoms and see if anyone you know exhibits these behaviors or health problems. When I mentioned the colored overlays to my students who had problems reading, they assured me the overlays work. They could read with comprehension and lack of any problems.

Light Sensitivity (from Irlen) symptoms

•Bothered by glare, fluorescent lights, bright lights, sunlight and sometimes lights at night
•Some individuals experience physical symptoms and feel tired, sleepy, dizzy, anxious, or irritable. Others experience headaches, mood changes, restlessness or have difficulty staying focused, especially with bright or fluorescent lights.

My plan
I want to be certified in the Irlen Method and get a PhD in reading. That may not happen. But, I believe reading is the single most important skill anyone can learn. Of course, reading with comprehension is the goal. I believe that much of the difficulty most students encounter in school has to do with the lighting. Lighting, combined with a host of other individuals leaves us with a nation of children identified, labeled, and not receiving proper instruction. This is not to blame the educational system. But, I do believe better results could be obtained with different, therefore, better classroom lighting.  Only the lack of money thwarts my plan.

Teachers either dismiss the fluorescent lighting problems or whole-heartedly agree. You may write me off as a nut with a theory that is not falsifiable (cannot be proved through scientific methods). I am not. but, if changing the lighting could cause a child with any kind of learning disability or other label to function better in a classroom, would you believe?

This is going to be a challenge in terms of space and money. This old lady now has things to do.

Your turn
What is your take or experience on the effects of fluorescent lighting?  Do you agree or disagree with my thoughts?

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Visit a Better Giveaway than Mine

If you want to visit a great blog and enter a better giveaway than mine, click  DON'T READ THIS; IT'S BORING. Please say I sent you, remind her of my blog, and enter Sluggy's blog. Go, go, go, hurry.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Valentine Giveaway--Valentine Cards

In addition to the floating heart candle and bear heads, I have added Valentine Cards for children. Even if you don't have children, you can give these to someone who might just need to cut back on expenses. Or, you can give them away to children. If I were giving a gift to someone, I would not be averse to including one of these cards.

Bear  heads, too
That picture of the bear head looks menacing, not But to see one of the dozen bear heads in the prize and the rules, check out the first post for the giveaway.

Assortment--you choose

Starting from top left clockwise to right:

Tweety Bird cards--21
Princess (small)--27
Puppies and Kittens (forgot to photograph them) 32

Choose what you need and will not throw away. If you want to give them to children other than your own, that's okay. If you do not have children of your own, feel free to enter the giveaway, and give them away again. I hope my count is right on all of these. Some were given to my granddaughter to hand out at school. The count on some looks strange, but some are gone!

The two small Valentines are lenticular: X-Men and Princess. The picture changes when the card is moved. I learned a new word. Had I ever heard "lenticular" and forgotten it? Beats me.

Your turn
Do you remember the joy in childhood of handing out and receiving cards? I do. It was a joyous day. But then, I am a celebrating type of girl! Don't forget to enter if you are a follower and get two entries. If you are not a follower, join and enter. I promise I will have better prizes one day!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Milk Savings

Saving money on milk
I have been saving money on milk for quite a while. When, I was younger and had young ones at home, milk gone sour was poured out or fed to an animal.

Drink sour milk
Now, I just use it up by putting Hershey's Quik in it and drinking it instead of another form of chocolate.

Make buttermilk
Since I make buttermilk by leaving perfectly good milk on the counter overnight with a little buttermilk in it for a starter, why not drink sour milk that I paid for? Make buttermilk on the counter!

Make buttermilk substitute
Normally, I use milk with lemon or vinegar in it when a recipe calls for buttermilk. The substitution of this "buttermilk" does not affect the baking a bit.

Freeze sour milk
If you don't want to drink sour milk and have no immediate use such as making buttermilk or a buttermilk substitute, freeze the sour milk until you need it. If your recipe where you need buttermilk calls for 1 cup buttermilk, freeze one cup of sour milk. When you need buttermilk, thaw the sour milk and add vinegar or lemon juice.
I bought milk on sale
Since I bought this milk marked down, I saved one dollar. Instead of a gallon of milk costing me $3.19, I paid $2.19. SCORE!

Out of date
Can you see the date? It is on the top line. The first "1" of "11" is only partially printed. The date is 01 10 11. I purchased this on 01 09 11. I decided to take a chance. Today is 01 20 11. My chance paid off. However, even if this started going off, souring, I would not have lost out on a deal. Just use it as buttermilk if you don't want to drink it with chocolate.

Date meaning
That is the 'sell-by' date. That is not the date by which it must be consumed. I am sure the idea of buying milk on sale is not suitable for most folk. I like milk on sale. According to several experts, milk should be good for five days and for seven days beyond the sell-by date. My jug of milk was not even opened until 01 14 11.

I could not taste any sour milk when I drank milk that soured and had chocolate from the cupboard stirred in.

At 10:30 on January 20, 2011, I drank a glass from the jug in the picture. It still tasted as fresh as when new. You can see there is enough for two more days, maybe one day.

My pennies
Every dollar or penny I save is to my benefit. I refuse to spend just to spend. Well, I do have a pecadillo or two, but don't we all? I saved less than a dime on each glass of milk I drank, but that counts when I add up all my ways of saving, living frugally, being parsimonious.

Your turn
Did you ever drink sour milk with chocolate in it? Other than drinking it with flavor in it or using it for buttermilk or feeding it to animals, what else do you do with sour milk? Have you thrown milk out? I won't tell anyone. Promise. Chickens love milk or dairy products in any form!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Valentine Giveaway--more added

Floating Heart Candle
I just could not get a really good picture of this. No, I don't have great prizes to give away. All this is from years before. Nothing has been used. The candle is about two inches across.

You can enter here.

Stay tuned for more prizes I will put in the box.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Cooking to Relax--Cure for Stress

It seems that worry over children never ends. My daughter is having problems with severe nosebleeds and may need surgery. She ate too many of the pecans I sent her as she made dinner last night and suffered later in the night, frightening her daughter with her moaning. Her sixteen-year-old son is very ill with strep throat. AND, the nine-year-old daughter broke the growth plate in her leg, down near the ankle! Besides that, my daughter has been dealing with the huge snowstorms and the aftermath in NYC. She is a single mother.

So, how is a mother to relax? It is not easy. I just cook my way through the mental pain I feel. Actually, I cooked until I was in physical pain...back, knees, elbow. Don't ask me why the elbow hurt from cooking.

Three chicken breasts were baked on the stove top in an iron skillet with Italian dressing as their only seasoning. Two baked potatoes and eight sweet potatoes spent an hour in the oven, making the kitchen cozy. That was nice after the extreme cold for ten days. Well, it has not been frigid in there for two days, just cold. (baked potato for tomorrow)

Red cabbage looked, smelled, and tasted delicious. Green beans were from a can. Don't scold. I know there is bad stuff in the lining of the can! But, I can eat green beans raw. Honest, I will try to can some green beans this summer. I sliced a horrid tomato that was free. For some reason I opened a can of applesauce to go with all this.

Baked chicken
green beans
sweet potato
red cabbage (purple)
sliced tomato

The plates of food were lovely. I won't have to cook for three days. It is not the cooking for 24 days at once, but it works. No salt was added to anything. The green beans were low sodium and the applesauce had absolutely no sweetener of any sort.

Today, exbf came and helped me with things my back will not allow me to do. He does not cook AT. ALL. So, he enjoyed dinner and took a Tupperware divided plate with a meal for work tomorrow. I also gave him more sweet potato, baked potato, and tomato for another day. LOL...I pay him in food.

After he left, I had to find something to fasten the commode handle to the chain, so I went to Lowe's. It turns out the wire I have will work and not rust. SAVED MONEY--used what I had. Then, the lure of potting soil or something to start seeds in forced  me back to the nursery. I am set. 

A smoothie ended my night--1/2 cup chopped strawberries, large banana, 1/4 cup blueberries, bit of orange juice. One one glass I had my fruit for the day. Well, I had orange juice this morning and apple at noon.

Don't you think an 8" x 8" pan of fudge  brownies with two cups of chopped walnuts is just the thing for me to bake now? I do.

The chickens are over here, snoring! I have clothes to fold and sheets to put on the bed.

Your turn
Do you ever cook just because you are stressed? Now, this was not a fattening meal at all, full of nutrients, all fresh except for the applesauce and green beans. Cooking is a nurturing act even when done for yourself. But, I wanted my daughter and her children to have this meal. No, I did not eat it Do stressors ever cause you to cook?

LED Christmas Light Grow Box

Isn't this clever? He has the original post and at least one other update. This seems like something I would like to try. I have never had a grow box.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Rising Food Prices: A Solution

What will you do to keep your grocery bills stable? Or, maybe you have an unlimited income and can financially cope with the rise. Well, just don't read anything else in this post.

It's a fact. Food prices will rise. Prices are rising daily. This article will inform you. If interested, read here and here. Sure, the last article is from last November. You cannot say you were not informed. If you don't have a pile of cash somewhere to draw from, and you cannot make more money, or you just plain don't want to see your grocery bills rise more, now is the time to think about your grocery strategies. Even if you do have that pile of cash, why would you pay more if you don't have to.

How do you save?
Coupons work to lower the grocery bill. Not eating as much meat will help your finances. Shopping sales along with coupons, and eating less meat will help to lower costs. However, we all are going to have to further tighten our belts.

I have bought food at extremely low prices to save in Ball jars on the shelf--oatmeal, rice, raisins. Now, none of this is meant to feed me for years. Some items will. I am not a prepper for religious or other reasons. But, when the price is right, I buy many packages of whatever food I find that I will eat.

What do you do with fresh produce or meat?  Neither will keep without some sort of processing. Can, freeze, dehydrate, pickle, smoke--all are good options. These are all methods for another post, here or elsewhere.

What are the benefits of processing food?
*you know what pesticides are used if you raise it or buy locally
*you can buy fresh food in bulk and at better prices
*you can take advantage of an unexpected sale or windfall of fresh food
*you will have food bought cheaply when prices are higher
*You will not have to travel farther than your storage to access food

My focus today is taking advantage of an excellent price. You may not be into freezing bananas on sale, but I will be talking each week about how I save money by preserving food for later use. Or, I may discuss the use of preserved food in my stock that I am using right now. Here we go--bananas. (You know I love bananas?)

manager's special--9 bananas
There are nine (9) bananas in the pack. I bought it on Saturday. It is Monday evening. I put these in storage tonight.
 Can you see the price?--$0.29/lb for 3.22 lbs!  I paid $0.93 for 9 bananas. Let's say I paid a dime apiece.
The usual price is $0.69/lb. I would have paid $2.22 for these 9 bananas. At that rate, I would pay $0.25 per banana rather $0.10 per banana. My savings--$1.53 for the package or $0.15 per banana!

Price of bananas
Even if you can purchase bananas for less than my full price, what would those lesser priced bananas cost if you purchased them on sale? This is not about who can buy bananas in their prime the cheapest. It's about how much money you can save by purchasing at the lowest price and freezing them.

Later use
I make smoothies. You might want to mash them and store in the amount your banana bread recipe calls for. I have done that. If you freeze them in a jar, make sure it is a freezer jar.

My method
I take peel and little strings off; break banana in half; wrap in waxed paper; stuff in a quart freezer bag. Now, I am sure I could stuff these in a freezer jar (straight-sided Ball canning jar) but I don't.

One brown banana
Even "One Brown Banana" at My Zero Waste can be used. (I often only have one banana to rescue.) This is a great blog about the Greens in England and how they eliminate waste. I was not sure at first if their name was really "Green." I suppose it really is.

Two things
I wish these were in the brown paper bags as before, bags that could be reused. Also, the banana stems are removed so the banana will fit on the styrofoam. Soooo, I don't pay for useless stems--another tiny savings.

Your turn
Are you as adamant about reducing your food costs as I am? Does anyone else freeze your bananas that will spoil for later consumption? Do you ever do as I do and buy cheap bananas just to freeze? Do you have another use for frozen bananas other than smoothies or baking?

Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Garlic Problem

The problem
Okay, I know this is not the problem global warming is, affecting all our lives. But, I have a garlic problem.

First of all, I just don't use much. I did, and then I quit. Why? I don't know. Maybe it is because when I look, all the garlic has dried up, so I do without that day. It has not dried into in a powder or something really hard or crispy. Dried garlic in my kitchen is only a shell of papery garlic outsides, all hollow inside.

Secondly, I don't buy it because I feel I am wasting my money One. More. Time.

So, garlic that does not last long is my problem. Or, is it that I don't use it fast enough?

Garlic was on my list at the grocery  more for its medicinal/health powers than for the taste it would add. And, I do love the taste. Since I try to avoid garlic from China, I searched and read a bit. Finally, I found a bag of five bulbs for $1. Yes, a plastic bag for garlic. I bit. I bought.

There is a bag of five on the counter. Dehydrating is a choice. I don't want to use the oven since that would be too costly. I don't have a dehydrator. That is on my wish list right after a secure home for my hens.

Chop and store in oil
There were jars of chopped garlic in olive oil and something else (maybe water?)--two choices. I almost just gave up and bought one of the jars of commercially canned, chopped garlic. Home canning of garlic in oil is frowned up by the  canning authorities. I have lots of little pimiento jars that would be perfect for garlic storage.

Store whole
I have taken the advice of several and tried only two methods--leave the garlic on the counter or leave it in the crisper. Obviously, I am just not eating it fast enough. Usually, only one bulb at a time enters my home. Now, I have five bulbs peering at me. Yikes! I do not want to waste food or money.

What have any of you done? Can I just store garlic in the refrigerator in olive oil, chopped or unchopped? Do you think bacteria will grow if I refrigerate the oil/garlic combination?  Five bulbs will last me five months. Maybe I would eat more if I had it handy for cooking and it did not disappear in its skins.

One of these bulbs will be planted. Each little clove planted should yield a good harvest. Maybe I will never have to buy garlic again. Yay Me! I know how to plant!

Garlic home remedies
I just found these uses for garlic.

Your turn
What are your experiences with long term garlic storage? Do you ever chop, dehydrate, freeze, freeze in oil? Do you have any experience or good links to any of this?

My solution
Okay, this was written after the above post. I am going to freeze all the garlic (chopped) in olive oil in a sterilized jar. I still want to know what works for you. I will be freezing garlic again.

$250 Macy's Gift Card at Bargain Babe

 Check this out--11 prizes, including a $250 gift certificate from Macy's! Bargain Babe is giving away some interesting books, all about saving money, of course. The deadline is Monday night, so don't dawdle!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Valentine Giveaway

Happy Valentine's Day
Progressive Giveaway.
Isn't that the cutest little thing you ever saw? He is 2"x2"x2", approximately. I have about eight of these. If I can find a dozen, I will put all them in the box.

Copycat me
I will be filling a box sort of like Sluggy does over at DON'T READ THIS; IT'S BORING. There will be similarities. Each day or so, I will add something else. I don't have time to build lots of suspense because I want to mail this by February 1st, so that you will get it well before Valentine's Day. Everything is new, just still here from previous years. I will buy nothing!

These little bearheads are the first thing to go into the small flat rate box from USPS. They can be hung on a tree if you have a little tree that you hang Halloween and Easter items. Or, go get a branch and push it into a flower pot of dirt! They are good for crafting. I just photographed one. There are more! The hearts under the bear and the ribbon are red, red, red...I just cannot get the color adjusted.

When I made Cabbage Patch Clothes, I saw these while looking through a wholesale catalog. I ordered too many before I knew what hit me. So, I had to do something with them. I sold nothing but CP clothing, so obviously I was branching out. I took off the heart on the bottom and hot-glued and sewed them onto  barrettes that I then adorned with lace and ribbon. I sold them for ornaments just as they are. (not at craft show)

They each have a little doubled ribbon that is easily cut off. Pull very hard on the ribbon, snip close to the bear, and the knot disappears inside the bear head. The heart easily cuts off if you pull the heart from the bear and snip the handsewn threads holding it on.

When I was a vendor at a local show, one little girl about 10 came to my booth with her friend. We talked a bit. One little girl noticed several dozen toward the back of my booth and commented I had lots of bear heads. I told her I had even more, that I had ordered 20 gross. They both were relaxed and looking when I said that. Suddenly their heads jerked up and one girl said in wonder, "That's a LOT of bear heads." (20 gross seems like too few, not as many as I ordered.)

Rules aka how it goes
Everyone who is a follower now, listed as a follower in the continental US (others, read on for your contest) on my group gets an entry if you post one entry. Get it? A two-fer-one for present followers who TELL me they want to enter. But, you gotta post a comment first. Anyone who becomes a follower can post an entry, too. Deadline is January 28, 2011, midnight.

Not in continental US?
I hate to leave you out. So, I am giving two prizes. There will be something for you--$5 Amazon card. Only people in the US can win the box of Valentine goodies. Only people outside the continental US can win the $5 Amazon card. Code will be emailed to you. Got it? TELL ME if you are outside the US, so I can put your name in a different hat. Got it?

Yes, I still have lots and lots and lots of these bearheads, bagsful. Every year, I find more tucked away somewhere. China must have loved me......sigh.

Hints, you will just have to check back, become a follower. I am dying to tell, but I will be an adult and keep this secret. None of this was purchased for the contest. Most was purchased over 5 years ago. All is in good condition, never used, just stored in my Valentine drawer. Seriously, I have one.

Your turn
Leave a comment. One per person. CURRENT followers who respond will automatically get two entries! Are you Ready? Set? Go? Then, do it. Questions?

Friday, January 14, 2011

Bye, Bye, Glad Wrap; Hello Scarlet Letter

Once upon a time, I was inspired to do more good for the earth than I was doing. Soooo, I decided to give up Glad Wrap. No problem! I had half a roll left. Ha! I would use it sparingly...that's the plan. I did use it sparingly.

Yes, it ran out. Had I expected more to come from the roll like clowns spilling from a tiny car? Now, it is real--no more Glad Wrap. Before I tossed the box, I looked in it several more times that day. Satisfied that all of the roll was really gone and no more would appear, I discarded the box, sadly and slowly, knowing I would never see that cheerful yellow box in my kitchen again. Goodbye, dear one.

Lots of whining
Yes, I complained and whined about how much I missed Glad Wrap. This was a friend of at least 45 years! Wouldn't you miss a faithful friend? Never mind I had to pay for each visit out of my pocket. Never mind I deliberately ripped its innards and threw all unceremoniously into the trash and sent it for a ride on a nasty truck, a ride to a horrid, smelly place to live beneath the earth forever. Oh, I whined to anyone I trusted not to look at me like a nut. " I really miss my box of Glad Wrap!"

For much of my life, I never even knew about Glad Wrap. My mother put a saucer over leftovers in the refrigerator. We used Cut Rite waxed paper for school sandwiches. She also used it for putting over food in the refrigerator. At one point over 50 years ago, she used the little shower bonnets made just for food. We had Reynolds foil.

My substitutes
As it turns out, I was already using many other methods of storing leftovers. My transition to "no Glad Wrap" was difficult, nevertheless.

In the picture, top right clockwise: blue sandwich box, old; Smuckers glass pb jar with Pet milk; pecans in Ball, half-pint, wide-mouth canning/freezing, canning jar topped with plastic lid that is sold to make the reusable jar useful for storage; glass bowl with celery inside covered with little lemon "shower cap;" fruit "shower cap;" white bowl with saucer for a cover; half-pint, short freezer jar, reusing canning lid and ring; 4-oz. Tupperware storage. See, I can do other things. Why do I go for the bad boy? He wastes my money and the resources of the earth! Glad, shame on you, bad boy.

What's new?
 Very little. I purchased the little "shower cap" covers in a Publix shortly after I gave up Glad Wrap. I have had the other items for years and used all of them often. I use quart canning jars to store cooked, dried beans. But, if I store them in a bowl, I use a dinner plate as a cover. I just will not give up Tupperware. Nor will I stop using the plastic sandwich box.

Quite parsimonious
As it turns out, I was further along to being a miser with the storage purchases than I thought, even with the Glad.

A gift
A friend finally just bought me a box because she knew how much I missed my Glad. I was ever so grateful. I think I hugged the box. No, I am sure I did. Well, after almost 2 years, I . RAN . OUT.

Sneaking around
Just before Christmas, I stealthily approached the aisle with Glad. My fingers trembled as I snatched the last box off the shelf. That sweetie was mine.

When I opened the box, I startled. The Glad was RED. Now that was a shock, almost like a Scarlet Letter in a box, labeling me and shaming me each time I opened the box and ripped off a sheet. I know how Hester felt. Then, RED taunted me each time I opened the refrigerator or the vegetable crisper drawer. The mischievous Frugal Fairy had the last laugh. Do you know exactly how hard it is to figure out which vegetable is which? A small amount of cabbage, celery, onion, and other items were all in the own little swaddling of red, too many layers. No, it is not easy to ascertain what is what when I am having trouble bending, seeing these is my own shadow, and in a hurry.

Glad is the only plastic wrap that does not have plasticizers in it. At least, it is the least toxic--not a good attitude on my part...sigh...sigh...sigh. So, that bit of the health scare does not bother me. Yes, I do believe that most plastic is not healthy to use. Tupperware gets a pass as do my sandwich boxes.

Your turn
Have you given up plastic wrap or consumable products for you food storage needs? What do you use?

Thursday, January 13, 2011

What I Do for Eggs--is it worth it?

Is the price of my eggs too high?
Okay, since I am getting few eggs these days, I must be doing this for the love of hens. As you may know, parts of the South received heavy snow. I have 8 inches in my yard. The wind blew gently and now that is 7 3/4 inches of snow and 1/4 inch of ice. Every day the ice gets deeper and more treacherous.

traipsing into scary places
Today, I was crunching along, hauling the hens in my arms to their pen as I have to do each morning since it snowed. They refuse to walk on the snow. All day long I traipse on the scary, icy yard, going to their pen to give them nice, warm, unfrozen water and warm, cooked food. No, they don't have a house for night time living. They live in two Rubbermaid boxes atop a plastic table in a 10' x 10' dog pen. Since the raccoon attack and hen murder, they spend the nights indoors with me. We need a patron for this egg project, the hens and I.

at night they live inside with me
Usually, the night cage is set outside the door in the morning, left open for their departure. They depart at their leisure with stiff-legged jumps, and I follow in a few minutes with food and water. Since I still have 8 inches of snow, they refuse to leave the porch. Then, there is poop on the porch.....ewwww.

Speaking of stiff-legged jumping and landings, have you ever noticed that hens do not bend their knees to land when they jump down from something? They don't. They land with a thud that sounds and looks painful.

enticing them
I threw whole wheat bread (no preservatives, no hfcs) onto the porch to induce them to leave the cage today. That worked like a charm. Then, when they finished eating, they hopped right back into the cage. That left me with no choice. I had to carry them to their pen again.

They are always handled gently. Some people grab wings and tails or just swoop down, grab the feet, and carry them upside down. I cannot bear to do that.

long snow-on-the-ground event
It snowed Sunday night, so Monday I carried them. Tuesday, I carried them off the by now-icy porch. Wednesday, they disappeared, so I assumed they went to their pen. NO! they just jumped through the porch railing and were scratching furiously in the long flower bed. They must have detected the one last flower bulb left from their summer scratchings.

treacherous steps
Wednesday, they had lots of room to get away from me since they were in the flower bed. They don't run, just walk away.  I picked up Fancy easily. When I came back for Thelma and Louise, they were determined to avoid me. Silly hens! To avoid me, they went down the concrete basement steps...treacherous for me and especially with the ice. They were easily caught since they were penned in. As I walked up the steps with two hens clutched to my chest, I seriously wondered about my judgment.... I have lived a nice, clean (no poop) life until now-- 64 years old-- and now I am clutching 2 hens to my chest, staggering along in 8" snow that has crusted over, huffing and puffing, saving them from raccoons and cold, hoping that I do not slip down on the ice, crush them to death or maim them.

squalling hens
They would never have willingly picked me to go home with, not in a million years. You should hear their looong, drawn out squalling. I never knew hens did that. Mine know only too well how to beg/plead, complain, and sound danger.

last of flower bed
They sat on the porch in their house cage for an hour Wednesday, just complaining. Then, they decided to dig up every last bulb left in my lovely flower bed after they got bored of pooping on the porch and on my bucket of sand. Oh, I think I told you about that last bulb.

nutritious eggs
Still, I get eggs that are nutritious and have nothing in them to harm the hens or me. I will have gotten eight eggs this week if they keep it up. Okay, so there is the exercise I get by carrying for them. I cannot drive yet because of ice and snow. I cannot even walk into a store to shop, getting a few minutes of activity. So, carrying hens and working to walk in deep snow will be all the exercise I get. If not for them, I would not have stepped foot outside the house all day long for these three  days. Okay, I really have no place to

Raising hens for eggs is worth it for me. It is not the monetary value I count. Healthful eggs from healthy hens is worth the bother. Heart disease is treated and prevented with Omega 3. While there is absolutely no heart disease on either side of my family, I don't want to be the first. Hens that eat green things have eggs chock full Omega 3. I fed them turnip greens from those I grew on the counter from sprouting turnips in their market food. Free range is the way to go for healthy eggs, meat, and dairy products. However, it would be less bother if they had a secure house, secure from raccoons!

practical or parsimonious
At this point keeping these three hens is not practical! They should have a place outdoors that is secure. I don't like having to carry them clutched to my chest. It is a real pain to walk so much. And, the conditions under which I must walk right now are dangerous. Oh, if I were not carrying chickens and were not in pain, having trouble with balance--sure, I love living like this. Okay, that last statement was a lie. Since I know the snow will melt soon, I can endure. But, if this were the way it was going to be all the time, I might just be buying eggs at the store. Practicality would win over parsimony. Laura Ingalls, I am not.

Your turn
Do you raise hens for eggs? For your own consumption or to sell and consume? To save money? To have eggs that have no hormones, poison, or antibiotics? Isn't the raising of hens just a pain some days?


Monday, January 10, 2011

"Happy Frugal Birthday to You"

Flower Power Birthday Party
Last week, I discussed with my daughter the idea of reducing spending on my granddaughter's party this year. We were talking about all the ways she has cut spending, plus ways she can further reduce spending. She is facing financial problems. Well, still having financial problems is more like it. But, she is learning what is essential and what is not. Since her daughter may have broken the growth plate in her knee/leg, she was not really into discussing a May party. Plus, she is still worried about her own severe nosebleed and the things she cannot do now because the same thing might occur.

Last year, she invited 20 or so children. Parents and siblings came, also, and stayed. My daughter felt compelled to feed the whole crew pizza and spend an outrageous (for her) amount of money. Usually it is in her small apt, but last year she hoped for no rain and had it in the park with all the attendees not traipsing into her apartment.

She did not mind their being there except she would have felt compelled to clean

My Ideas--all eco-friendly and cheap!

Last year? She bought matching paper tablecloth, napkins, cups, loot bags, and a centerpiece. She bought cake, ice cream, candles, gifts for her daughter, pizzas for 30 people, and spent much of her valuable time. This year, the party should be simpler and less costly. With little to buy and less going to a landfill, the party can still be pretty and happy for the birthday girl.

Guests? My daughter quit giving large parties for her older son at about this age. She thinks this is the year that her daughter will not have a huge party. Good!

Tablecloth and napkins? I am willing to buy fabric if I cannot find anything in my stash or elsewhere and make a cloth tablecloth to reuse for her party each year. I might be induced to make reusable napkins!

Decorations? In my dumpster diving past, some days I just looked in a dumpster and found a treasure trove. Balloons for helium were in a neat, clean box behind the store, just waiting to be picked up by me. She can make a balloon flower like the one at the top of this page. This is on a Martha Stewart site, but the balloon flower I originally saw on the Internet had the balloon in the middle just a bit smaller. And, the center balloon will only be on one side of the flower since it will probably be hung on the wall. I think I have paper streamers, too.

Paper plates and cups? What to eat from other than paper? How about free paper that will not be reordered? While working online surveys about six years ago, I was given heavy, decorated paper plates to try that have pink and lavender flowers. Naturally, I did not use them all. After all, there is only one of me. So, I have offered to send them to her. Okay, it will be paper again! Yes, I will have to mail them, but I will mail gifts. The box can be planned so that the plates will fit! I even found the cups to match at a clearance place that is full of broken boxes of merchandise. I can stick them in a flat rate box with presents.

Candles? I have some clearance birthday candles!

Food? How about cake or cupcake and ice cream? She can go retro! (No serving a meal of pizzas.) Since there is always abundant food at children's parties in NYC, she can make it clear to the guests (maybe one or two) that she is only having cake and ice cream. I do get coupons for free food items, so I can always supply coupons to cut down on costs on cake mix or frosting. She works, so she does not have time to mix cakes from scratch anymore. She can use one of my Coke coupons from to supply something to drink. Now, I just need plenty of Coke codes. I find cake mixes and frosting for free with sales and coupons. Ooooh, I have some cherry Kool Aid, not my first choice for a drink, but it will be free. Oh, my, I just remembered I have a stash of cupcake papers. My mother gave them to me prior to 1980.

Loot bags? Whhhhhyyyy? If I have to bribe you to come to my party and stay, why bother? I probably have enough things for favors for her and her little neighbor IF it is really necessary.

Invitations--no need.

I think we can make a $200 party cost less than $10.

Gifts? Since I stock up on sale or thrift clothing in the fall for $1-$3 for spring, in March she gets most of what I have bought for her. Each year, I hold  back one outfit to send to be wrapped for her birthday. I can hold back one for daughter to wrap from her. I am sure my daughter will want to buy other gifts, but she can claim one of my outfits.

Now, daughter has said "no big party," so let's see how my alternate, green, money-saving plans work for her. "No big party" was not my idea! Okay, I just don't want you to think I was pressuring her. Okay, so I was nudging a little after she said, "No big party." What else is a mother to do but nudge when the daughter leans a bit?

I know it is a little too early to plan for a May birthday, but the sooner we start, the more frugal we can be. Besides, she is in NYC and I am in Alabama. Coordination is the key.

My daughter is too busy to engage in any crafts for decorating and is too tired to make crafts at the party, even for two children. I was thinking her 16-year-old son could make the flower or at least blow up the balloons.

Not green and frugal?
Considering I have most of the items, yes it is frugal. I rescued those balloons from a trip to the landfill. I will be buying new fabric only if I cannot find thrift fabric. Not using the paper products given to me--cupcake papers and paper plates--is my way of saving them for an occasion that really warrants paper products. This occasion warrants using my pretty paper plates.

Your turn
Have you cut back on children's parties in any way? Fewer guests? Less lavish food? No loot bags? How green and frugal have you been? Oh, I might even use some of the ideas you send my way.