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Wednesday, August 31, 2011


Not from the tornado that hit, not from a hurricane. Just freaky.

4 p.m... Exbf was mowing the front yard and weed eating the shameful mess my yard had become. He told me there was a police car and a fire truck at the other end of the block. Naturally, I walked down to see what was happening. The intersection was blocked by fire trucks, police cars, and orange cones.

"Gas leak report."

5 p.m....Okay, I came home after we left to do a chore and stop for produce for the hens. When we got to the corner to turn to my house, we were stopped by huge orange cones and a policeman and told NO we could not go back into the house. Wait four to six hours and come back. !!!

Standing in front of my house. This pic was cropped to make the other end of the block a little larger and show the other end of the block. My driveway is in lower, right corner. Looking south.
Exbf told the policeman he was from Birmingham and was ready to go home and asked if he could get his car from in front of my house and leave. He was only 15 feet from the corner where we were standing. We had parked on the side street and were walking to my house when we were accosted.
"But, YOU cannot go back in." He was not kidding when he said this to me.

Rats, I thought fast and told the truth. "The oven is on and the food in there is done, ready to burn.
"Okay, right in and right out. Okay?" I needed a bit of time. "I will be out in ten minutes."

"No, you cannot take that long. You can come back in 4-6 hours. Hurry!"

I was dressed in sweaty, stained work clothing. And, I was hungry. And, what about the hens? My mind was racing. We hurried in. I told exbf to grab a box. He brought one to the kitchen. I grabbed the baking bag his eight lamb chops were in and placed it in the box along with four beautiful baked potatoes and a plastic bag with floured green tomatoes, ready to be fried in a bit of oil. I asked exbf if he thought he could fry them. He said yes, grabbed his box, his clean clothes and stood there in a sweaty funk while I grabbed things.

"Cheese, chicken breast, bologna, bread, glass of milk, water, coke, toothbrush." (loaf of bread, chunk of cheese, package of bologna..everything in package) I did this aloud and grabbed the clean clothes I wore earlier and snatched them on. Whew.....Okay, I have to pee even if we blow sky high.

So, we left. It was sort of sad seeing all the food just disappear and me being left with bologna. The plan was to wrap each of the seven lamb chops in foil, stick them in the freezer in a freezer bag, wrap the other sweet potatoes and fry the green tomatoes. He would eat a lamb chop, a sweet potato and all the fried green tomatoes here. The cooled lamb chops and sweet potatoes would go home with him.

Even though I would not touch lamb if I were dying, hate fried green tomatoes just as much, and was only going to eat a small sweet potato, I still felt food-lonely and hungry. All the people in this neighborhood are wealthy, have relatives here, or could afford a warm meal and a motel if necessary.

Street behind my house. Flame is in front of truck. Looking south.
When I drove to the other side of the evacuated area, I saw flames 10 feet high! They had to burn off the propane from an underground gas tank. Those are not allowed in the city, under or on top of the ground. They guys said it was very old. Someone said that they were trying to remove the tank and realized it was cracked. What? They did not check to see if there were gas first? I would have called the fire department to purge the tank and oversee the efforts of removal. They will do that.
The flame is in the middle of the picture about two-thirds up. I am three blocks away. Flame is little yellow mark on trees. Looking east.
Closer view. See the flame in front of the truck in the distance?

Suddenly, I realized I did not have my laptop and the phone and camera were dying. I came back home, parked on the side street behind the retaining wall and all the greenery, sneaked up into my yard at the corner, went quickly under some low trees and disappeared on the far side of the house where the chickens were. The water hose was on, so I had to go into the basement to turn if off. Back in the yard, I felt like a criminal. Hurriedly I went up the steps and inside, I packed a bag with laptop, cord, camera cord, phone charger and left the same way. No one came to yell at me or arrest me. But, if this had become a blazing inferno, no one would have looked for me.

I got to the car. My blood sugar was dropping fast, so I gulped the glass of milk I had poured into Tupperware. Then, I went to the grocery store, rode in the electric cart to get cool while I ate a free cookie and felt sorry for myself. I had $0.37 in the bank and $0.31 in my pocket.

Books-A-Million is a lonely place to be in the state of mind I was in. My hens were the problem now. I hoped I could sneak back or Fancy would not die. I hate to say it, but it would kill me if she died, but I could accept the death of either Thelma or Louise.

In an anxious state, I decided to drive by and see what was happening. No, not in the evacuated area. A policeman turned his blue lights on after I sort of made a u-turn, clipped a curb and bounced off. S%^t! I motioned did he want me and he motioned to stay there. He jumped out of his car. We were both sitting in traffic, not on the side of the road. He asked my address, checked a list and told me I could go home now.

As I came to the corner to get into my street, the cones were still there. Not wanting to get in trouble, I just stood there. A 911 vehicle came through the cones and stopped to talk to me. He told me to go home and then walk to the command center at the other end of the block and tell them my address. He said that way they would know who was in homes if something happened.

I did. They were all in a good mood, kidding around with me. I was told to go home and shelter in place, not to mow the yard. Oh, yeah, with a 10 foot flame nearby, I will start up the lawnmower...NOT. Besides, I no longer mow.

Pictures I took approaching and before leaving the corner and walking to the other end of the block and as I approached home. Exciting
Turn right behind fire truck and flame is on other end of block. My house is other end of this block, behind me.
At the corner, looking to the street like I had turned right behind the firetruck in the picture above. Can you see the flame? To the left of truck on the right in the far distance. The fire hose is connected and laid. See it in the street to the left.


The picture above shows the flame best--6-10 feet high. I left some of the lesser shots to give you an idea of the street, proximity to me, houses affected. Somehow, the gas is coming through a metal base, not sure how. So, the flame appears to be shooting up above ground level. I just drove down there (11pm) where the flame was earlier, and there is a huge hole in the yard.
Serious stuff. Camera on wrong setting.

evacfireand rescue

More vehicles on the corner
Now this is where I have my back to the command center at the other corner and am walking home. I cropped the picture and only my yard that desperately needs grass shows instead of all the other yards. If you look at the foliage behind my car, you are looking at the retaining wall. Picture my car backed up until it was out of sight, that is where I parked to sneak home and get the laptop.

I went under the Yoshino Cherry and into the darkness and cover of the bushes and house. The hens are on the retaining wall side of the house. I went behind the house and to the side door to get in.
This has  been an altogether anxiety-filled evening. Oh, there was also an ambulance with the other vehicles. And, this was not the only spot with emergency vehicles.  Okay, two pictures just disappeared as I came back to edit one thing. What is with blogger?

Your turn
Have you had this much excitement and stress today?

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Possum Day: fall forecast

possumwimbleyParsimony and Fun

This was an absolutely cheap outing for me. I discovered the event by accident. The venue is the same as the Farmer's Market, so it is only four blocks from my house. Gas costs were negligible.

Our own
At sunset, Wimbley will predict if we will have an early fall or not, just like Punxsutawney Phil does for spring. The prediction is at the end of the post today.

Earlier in the day there was a 5K Possum Run. Possum Day was held in three different venues. I managed to stumble upon the last of the three. A Strong Man contest happened heard or forgot. Oh, there was a redneck yacht race. The strong man contest and yacht race were in the same spirit as the Possum Queen contest. The 5K run was in earnest.

"Round 2"
They played classic rock. Great music. It would have been better if I had chosen to sit in the back as I usually would have. I wanted pictures. Yes, there were four band members, but I wanted another shot of the Possum Queen.

This event raised money for several charities, on of which was Susan G. Komen for the cure.

My splurge
possumhotdogNo, I did not need this. But, I wanted it. I really could use that $3 today, since I only have change in the bank and more change in my wallet.  It was delicious.

Now, am I lonely
I may have been the lone Democrat in a Republican stronghold. Many politicians were out shaking hands. The teens from the county won this honor in Washington, DC.

We have had two governors from this city and another from the county. People are very active politically.

Face Painting

This little girl allowed me to take her picture.

Children Dancing
possumdancepossumdancingWhen the little girl discovered I was taking her picture, she danced faster, twirled more, and kept her eye on me when she could.

Choosing a Possum Queen

The contestants were given their instructions in the morning. They had a task to complete before the pageant: Go to yard sales and find the cheapest outfit they possibly could to wear that evening. At 6 p.m. they returned to the contest.

The contestants all stood up front in their finery with the band as their backdrop and answered trivia-type questions. These questions being answered right or wrong was of little consequence. The winner was not chosen for her knowledge. We clapped.

possum2contestantsTwo contestants--one in a pool with a fishing pole, the other in a graduation robe with straw hat and something disparaging about our town. Not sure what.

Shannon had a Daisy Duke thing going on, a garter and red toenails.


Trey has a lovely pink gown, pink shoes, and a pink bow in his hair.

Backless fashion. Okay, it will zip no farther.

All five contestants. I cannot find a decent picture of the young woman in the camo outfit and boots.

The Queen
possumcontestantpinkbackTrey was very tall. He fell to his knee to receive the crown. No one had to coax him to do anything of this. He is such a good actor. His mother was sitting behind me, shocked. She said he was so shy. He is a drummer for the high school band.

Adopt a possum
possum3crochetAn employee of a business that provides foster homes for children was present. She had a table with a contest. I entered my name in the drawing to win a knit or crocheted possum. Why not? LOL

I was exhausted after the two hours spent having fun. Many of the pictures just did not turn out. As you can see by the box full of trophies, this was not a high class shindig with a covered table holding the trophies and crown.

One of the organizers who is running for circuit court clerk owns a huge local sporting goods company, so he donated the huge trophies.

Yes, we know it is really an opossum and we might ought to spell it 'possum. But, this was Possum Day.

Questions for the contestants:
I am too tired to make these into multiple choice or even into questions. Each contestant in turn was given a multiple choice question to answer. Here are the facts about which they were quizzed. I suppose this was the talent portion of the contest.

Gestation period for a possum--1-2 months
Mother carries young on her back--1-2 months
Color of possum ears--black
Which do they not eat? fish, flowers, insects, eggs..answer, fish
Colonel Cullman founded Cullman County
City of Cullman founded in 1877
Alabama admitted to the union--1880
Recognized Indian tribe in Cullman--Cherokee
State bird--Yellowhammer
State flower--Camellia
Alabama known as Heart of Dixie, Yellowhammer State, and Cotton State
State nut--pecan
States that border Al-4
States--Tennessee, Georgia, Florida, Mississippi
Alabama had the first in the world--which of these?
a) first red light
b) first street car X...On Dexter St, in Montgomery

I took notes during the question and answer session.

"The meat is more sweet when it is flattened on the street." (Yes, people did eat roadkill. It is not a rumor.) This was said in unison by most of the people in attendance.

My dentist, our state senator, was proclaimed the most possum-friendly senator.

Told at Possum Day:
Q: What is the difference in a dead lawyer in the road and a dead possum in the road?
A: There are skid marks in front of the possum.

More facts
Possum fat is very good for humans. We mostly see possums dead in the road because cars hit them as they try to cross. They are pests and will kill my hens.

At one minute to sundown, we were told to behold the flag, barely moving in the breeze, but it was a breeze. Now, if Wimbley feels a breeze at sundown, we are in for an early fall.
Wimbley and Sprocket and Birmingham Zoo handler

"!" We all chanted just like it was New Year's Eve and we were waiting for the ball to drop in Times Square. Wimbley and Sprocket felt a breeze! We will have an early fall.

Your turn
Have you ever eaten possum? I have not.
Have you ever seen a dead possum, flattened in the road? I have seen hundreds.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Not in My Wildest Dreams...

...would I have ever dreamed this product would be on the shelves. Not only is this wasteful of resources, a piece of junk, a piece of plastic, landfill fodder, but it also encourages unhealthy eating.

Don't get me wrong, I will eat a Twinkie. But, the container calls for a refill every day. Hostess should be ashamed of themselves. Oh...The hat pops up to hold a Twinkie.

This is the latest of the trend of labeling children's lunch/food storage containers with brands...Cheerios, Crayola, and others.

My parsimonious heels are digging in. 

I don't believe I ever gave my children a Twinkie for school lunch. I made cookies for them.

Your turn
Are you as appalled as I?

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Upcycled seating and hen bedtime

Last week I had to make a u-turn. Yes, I had to because I saw something I wanted to photograph.
bedironseat2 (2)
Bed to seat
Isn't this just the nicest remake ever? I have seen wooden beds remade for a bench, but never a metal bed. Below, you can see the seat for the bench. I have seen this mesh-type material, but cannot place it.
Update: The seat is from a tabletop. The frame to go around the seat was welded to fit. Thanks, Stephanie for this information. It is all so clear where I have seen this material. Of course, something else would work.
The pictures are a funny color and angle, but I had to stand where the sun was not in my eyes. Consequently, I was closer than I wanted to be.
I have seen this very style of bed and never thought the bed could be made into a seat. Now, the wooden ones have been around since the 70s. My brother gave me a wooden seat made from a double bed. I never could get it 150 miles back home, so my mother got rid of it.

I started this blog last week in the midst of a fever. Then, with one keystroke, I lost it all. I thought the fever was gone. But, the fever remains and my sinuses are causing a massive face and forehead ache. I hope I can NOT erase all this time.
table for three
My hens were the recipients of the leavings of my watermelon I finished today. They ate for awhile, seemed to lose interest, and left. Yet, when I came back out, they had finished it, including the rind. Only the outer skin remained.

Fancy is at 1 o'clock; Thelma is at 6 o'clock; Louise is at 11 o'clock. (above)
Louise is scratching with both feet
Before they became bored and walked away in search of grass, Louise got in with both feet, scratching.
I suppose she was scratching out more watermelon seeds!

Louise goes to bed

But, the cage is still out on the porch, one step down. She objected to my taking her from the cage so I could put it indoors without having to lift her and carry her up two steps. As soon as the cage was in the doorway, she jumped right back in. However....

Fancy roosting outside the door
Fancy, in the foreground, and Thelma are not going to come in. You can see how dark it is. Usually they are fussing at me, wanting inside. I talked to them and told them to come in. They usually jump right off the rail and into their cage when I get it all settled and tell them it is time for bed.

This time, they both ignored me...for a long time. Thelma was facing the other way, but she seemed to want to ignore me, so she turned like she is, where she cannot see me. They have never done this. Usually, when I wait too long, well, longer than they like, they come right into the house when their cage is in place. I had to pick them from their roost on the iron rail by the porch and step and put them into their cage indoors.

Finally, all tucked in


Your turn
Don't you just love these seats/benches made from beds? Metal in the yard will not rot! Do you have trouble getting the children to bed?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Dumpster Diving II--How nasty is the food?

Second post today. Read the previous post--Well, knock me down with a chicken
Also see:
Dumpster Diving I: why I do it

Free and nasty?
I have several rules to assure that free food does not cause me to be ill. It is one thing to eat cheaply; it quite another thing to take chances on becoming ill. Frugality does not have to have a high price!

If you smelled the dumpster, you would be grossed out, especially in the high heat of summer. That's the best time of the year to take a rest from dumpster diving for food. However, I have collected my bounty in mid-summer. None of what I keep and eat is nasty. Once out of the dumpster, there is no smell on the food.

Do me a favor--let's call this a safari, the way I usually refer to my exploits. Also, the dumpster is an ASC (alternative storage container). Now that we have cleaned up our language, the food will be more palatable.

Friends and family friendly
Mostly, I have done this alone, the way I prefer to shop the asc. However, two different men have helped me when they were here. One was reluctant. The other, present exbf but bf then, was excited to shop there. Then, there was a friend and her grandchildren, three- and four-years-old.

My friend and I would drive around a large city with her two grandchildren. As we passed shopping centers or grocery stores, we would cruise behind, looking for ripe dumpsters. In order for her grandchildren not to know and repeat to others what we did, we were always "looking for boxes." "going on safari" or "asc" could easily be explained away to an adult who questioned what the children were talking about. Actually, she was packing her house, so they did see us use boxes. Occasionally we would actually get a box to satisfy the children.

When either of us saw a good pile of garbage on the side walk or an asc, that person would shout, "Safari!" No other explanation was needed. That is where we found a Polo shirt in size 8, the little boy's size. I priced it at $55 or $35 in the store and online. It appeared to be new, never worn.

I digress--back to nastiness or cleanliness.

Rules so I won't die from germs
I have rules and methods for my safari bounty from the asc.
*never take food that is lying on the asc floor or leaning on the walls. Verboten.
*okay, that was about

Everything is fair game. If I can find a box not deliberately tipped, I try my best to pull it out without spilling anything. That assures me the fruit is fairly clean. Mostly, employees turn boxes over to thwart shoppers in the asc.

Contamination from pests
I do not want anything flies have been on, so broken-open fruit is out. One day, there were ants, I left. Then, there was the day some birds frightened me as they flew out in my face when I went during the day. They were scattering lettuces all over the pavement. I decided I did not want to shop for produce that day. (Once I adopted four hens, mushed produce in boxes was good for them."

My daughter from NYC shrieked, "But, rats probably walked on the food." Another person wrote that the fear of rats having been on the produce is what stopped her. My answer is simple. How can you be assured that a rat did not run across the bell peppers you pick up at the grocery store in the produce department. These peppers could have encountered a rogue rat as the peppers sat waiting to be loaded onto the truck? What about warehouses where packing is done? How can you be sure that a rat did not live on the truck during transport? You cannot. Maybe a roach crawled across the bananas? the grapes?

Washing up the bounty
When I come home from my safari, all the boxes are carried in to the kitchen floor. I run warm (not hot) water in the sink or a large bowl. I put Dawn and vinegar in the water. Everything gets a quick dunk/bath and a rinse! Bananas, bags of lettuce, everything. (I wash the bags.) Then, I dry it quickly and refrigerate what needs the refrigerator.

This safari experience and thinking about all the things we don't know about our food's cleanliness and the hands that handled it prior to my bringing it home to my kitchen have brought a new level of cleanliness to my kitchen. I started washing all produce that entered my home--wrapped or bagged or unwrapped produce.

Oh, yuck
Some days, despite my best intentions, my fingers go into rotten fruit. Some days, I just have to wipe it on my clothing. Usually, I have to rest my arms on the opening for the asc door. Wearing long sleeves keeps the grossness down and assures me I am not picking up contagious diseases. LOL I have denim jacket/shirt that I can wear in the summer and shed before I get into the car. For winter shopping, I wear a coat with only one snap left. I am all about being clean. The clothes I wear are put in the wash since I do touch the outside of the asc with chest and stomach or legs, just in the course of my sometimes strenuous shopping experience.

There are days when I find huge bloody bags of meat drippings and scraps that have been deliberately laid on top of the produce. That finding stops me cold. First, I retch.  I go to a different side of the asc/dumpster or to the second asc a few feet away.

If my hair is clean, I put on a hat or hood. Some days, I grab my longish hair and twist it into a French twist of sorts and secure it with one long pin.  If I forget to cover my hair or put it up, it will always touch the door or inside of the asc as I lean in or reach to the side. That night is the night I wash my hair, even if I washed it in the afternoon.

Luckily, there has never been the odor of mold or a sighting of mold. That would probably turn me off immediately.

So, how nasty is the food?
After I wash it, it may be cleaner than the food you pick up inside and handle.

Your turn
Am I convincing you? (remember, I will not answer question in the comment section, but I will address them in a post.) I really do want questions!  Also, I would love to hear your reaction.

Next: Dumpster Diving III--equipment and timing and location

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Well, knock me down with a chicken!

Okay, so I have been running a high temp since Aug 14, feeling puny since August 12, have gone to doctor twice and taking another round of strong antibiotics and prednisone to help with the head congestion that will not ease. There is little cough, a bit of sore throat, and little sinus pressure. So, I feel lovely, am either hot or sweaty or dried to an ickiness. It definitely is not strep.

Balance has been a problem because I feel half here. I almost fell down the basement steps today since earlier in the day I decided the tomatoes were drooping too much. Getting up and down the steps into the house is dicey. I almost fell several times due to general achyness and lack of will to put my feet in the right place.

Yesterday, I was carrying about 16 oz of water in a plastic tumbler and a small bowl of dry oats, on my way out the door to feed the hens. I tripped on the carpet, kicked the waste basket into my path, stumbled over it and hit myself in the lips and mouth with the plastic tumbler, spilling water on me and dry oats on the carpet. I need to 1) vacuum the carpet or 2) let Fancy in to clean the carpet of oats or 3) wait on exbf and ask him to vacuum the oats. Really, I will wait until he comes so he can be my spotter in case I fall over the canister vacuum while I vacuum that one spot.

Yesterday, I was feeding the hens late, near dusk. They all three had come to perch on the iron railing next to the door, wailing mournfully in an attempt to induce me to come out and feed them supper. You may not believe it, but chickens do know how to beg. I started feeding them near the door at dusk, and they think that is where the food should be. At first, they never got a scrap unless they were in the pen. Good training and it worked. After the raccoon ate Chessie, I decided to feed them close to the door near dark.

That's why they were pestering me yesterday. I went out with a plate of food and managed to get down the steps safely. As I raked it into a pan near the house, Fancy jumped down and ran over. Thelma felt she would just run down the steps. I heard Louise flapping and taking off. She hit me on the right side of my  R knee that had the repaired torn medial meniscus, the one the doctor told me to be careful with. I think that hit was an acl tearer. Or, a lateral meniscus damager.

I staggered about a bit, twisting the L knee that has a torn lateral meniscus that needs surgery. Then, I hobbled to fix their cage on the porch and almost fell backwards off the steps onto concrete. I need a hole to crawl into.

Dinner is pimiento and cheese, ruffled chips, and diet Coke because I want it.  And, I ate KFC last night and there is no one to fix me anything. This morning, the hens went nuts over the breast skin, meat on the bones and the bones.

Sitting and typing is my best thing since Aug 12, 2011. But, there is more to life than this. Sleeping ranks really high. Yes, when chickens are not hitting me, I am stumbling over them.

I refuse to take aspirin to lower my temp or even Tylenol because my body is taking care of itself when I have a temp above normal. But, normal for me is iffy. Most of the time my temp is 97.2, but one day it was 96.5 or lower. I have to work to convince a doctor that if I am running an abnormal temperature.

Okay, right after this is Dumpster Diving II.

Over and out,
The permanently feverish one who is not taking any pictures.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Dumpster Diving--why I do it (1st in series)

On Friday, August 19, 2011, I posted Eating free with thrown-out food.  Frugal Down Under added a comment to my post about you tube videos of freegans. That is exactly what got me started dumpster diving for food--a video of freegans in a dumpster. Now, I want you all to hear how and why I did it. The thrown-out food from last Friday never saw the dark of a dumpster. The tomatoes had been placed on top of the dumpster moments before because I was not expected.

First of all: I do not get in the dumpster. I reach in.

I dumpster dive for the thrill, because I am cheap, because it is free, because it's there, because it is wasteful to trash all I find, because I find things I cannot afford, because I find things I will not buy.

Let me say that I have gotten boxes for packing for years by looking in clean dumpsters or retrieving them from behind stores. I never get boxes that have garbage thrown on top of them. Boxes that have had rain on them, even if they have dried, are left behind. Technically, if retrieving boxes is dumpster diving, many of us are guilty. Okay, let's leave collecting boxes for collecting food and eating it.

Several years ago, someone posted a YouTube video of professionals, doctors in Nashville, I believe, dumpster diving for food. I was intrigued. I read and heard and watched more. One day, in broad daylight, I decided to check out the dumpsters behind a store I was passing in another town. A man was going through the dumpster, or so I thought. His new Chrysler, his wife, and an open trunk waited.  He was well-dressed. He did not really go through anything. Several boxes of produce had been left for his retrieval. This was an inside job. I told him I knew that someone who worked in the store left this just for him.

My issue: someone in the store was breaking all store policies. Yes, I was irritated I could not be the

Yes, I was mean. I actually saw the boxes, all neat, clean, organized, left on top of the gross insides of the dumpster. He told me to shut quickly left. It's a good thing that he drove on pavement. If the surface had been gravel, I would have been thoroughly sprayed with rocks. Yes, he was in a hurry. Nothing else in the dumpster was organized, laid out in boxes. All had been just upturned so the produce landed in nasty places.

Nighttime would be my time, I decided. Why? 1) I knew people who worked in the businesses that were facing or in view of  the dumpster. 2) I really have no strong desire to have the police chase me away.

Next time, I will talk of germs and nasty, gross dumpsters, and how I overcome this issue: How Nasty is the Food?

Your turn
Have you collected and eaten food from a dumpster?

Any questions? I will answer all questions in one of the half dozen posts I have planned. I won't answer in comments sections, because I would be putting full posts in comments.  Any comments that are not questions? It will be interested to see if people around the world are gagging or reading in morbid fascination.

If you live in another country other than a First World country, please comment on the dumpster diving attitudes where you live.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Eating free with thrown-out food

Sorry I did not take a picture. I got a box of discarded food for the hens from a market. In the top were 7 wrapped ears of corn. I rescued that and two good looking tomatoes, each as large as a softball. The rest of the box was dumped in their pen. This is a good, cheap way to feed them and benefit from frugal eating and make my parsimonious heart thump. I saved the two best ears to eat.

When exbf came here on Wednesday, we went to the market in a different place where they instructed us to go to the dumpster and get the boxes of tomatoes just deposited there "five minutes ago." We did. None of it was gross. Little was not suitable to eat. Most was just not saleable anymore.

The exbf brought the boxes of "fresh" tomatoes into the kitchen. I told him to sort salvageable/best ones into a bowl for him, not to save any for me. As he did that, I immediately started washing, trimming, and placing tomatoes into a gallon storage bag set into a bowl. The Romas were the first sorted. Then came the slicing tomatoes. In the end, we had a full gallon bag of  tomatoes to take home. He does not buy fresh fruits and vegetables. Oh, he maybe buys an apple, never anything else.

At the grocery there was a sale on Romaine. For only 99 cents, I purchased a bag of Dole Romaine with three large heads in the bag. Since I purchased two bags, I spent $1.98 on 6 heads. We don't eat a whole one when we each have a salad.

Once a month, I buy a bag of shredded carrots and put them on salads, in soup, in tuna salad. I even throw some in rice or anything with pasta. So, I spend $1.69 for carrots every month or so...  Maybe you remember--I cannot chew and swallow raw carrots like most people. I can eat them cooked just fine and love them. But, when I try to chew raw carrots, they get larger than a golf ball and will not go past my tonsils, even if I cut off a round sliver. I can swallow them if they are shredded small AND disguised.  And, my hands cannot hand the little carrot peeler with safety and without hurting. Sooo....

We had a portion of a cubed steak, two packages with our dinner and for later, all cooked at once. This was purchased reduced to $3 and made 5 meals.

When I get cucumbers, I never eat them. I cut them and put them in vinegar water that has onions, garlic, salt and pepper.

That made a cheap dinner for two
Salad fixings
  Romaine (1/2 of $.99 head) $.50
  Cucumbers free except for reusable vinegar water
    (garlic and onion for vinegar water were gotten from hen box.
  corn on the cob--free,$0

For $1.80 two meals were had. That is less than $1/meal, actually cheaper than the dollar menu at McD! That is $.90 for a nutritious meal.

If I eat alone, I sometimes add a whole can of drained tuna with a bit of Miracle Whip, pickle relish, and celery seeds. The tuna is Star Kist, my favorite. It was $50/can for a while last summer. For me that makes:

Romaine   $.25 (1/4 head)
carrots        .05
tomato        .00
tuna            .50
cheese        .10
                 $.90 for my one nutritious meal

Okay, it is not strictly eating for free. I do often get free bell peppers or red, orange, yellow, and green to put on his salad. Regularly, I also find zucchini and yellow squash to slice on the salad, just not this time. Most of the produce is barely damaged. Some days, I pick up a box that has been sitting. One rotten piece of produce sets bad things in motion when it sits in a box overnight.

The title was not meant to be misleading. I was focusing on the free tomatoes, the one-gallon bag that exbf took home. Plus, I eat free stuff almost every day.

At any rate, the zucchini, squash, and peppers for salads are free. I am very particular and squeamish, so don't assume any of this is bad, going bad, or has been in the vicinity of mold...gag.

Ooops, I forgot--for lunch we had a BLT--free bacon, free tomatoes, cheap romaine leaves, and bread from bread store. Free bacon is another story.
Maybe six gallons of tomatoes went to the hens, but I did not feel like washing, trimming, saving anything. I mostly sat while he was here, working, except for cooking the meat and assembling the salads...oh, and cutting tomatoes.

Your turn
Can you get and eat free food, food that has been discarded?  Now, if you have a garden, that is free except for your labor and materials.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Death by Neti Pot

Three people have died from a brain infection caused by amoeba in the water. The most unusual of the three cases is a young man who obviously used tap water in his neti pot.  Only sterile, distilled, or boiled water should be used in neti pots. Read about the source of the deadly amoeba. It attacks the brain and kills.
Yes, I am still running a fever, still staggering about, and still feel very ill. I don't feel the antibiotic has helped at all, so far. Of course, I would have been more ill without it. I could definitely use a neti pot right now.

Your turn
Do you always follow instructions and use only sterile, distilled, or boiled water in your neti pot? 

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Yellow Jackets + Repurpose + DE

Reuse to save money? I repurpose the Kraft Parmesan Cheese shaker. It holds the DE for outdoor fly control without have to buy something else to apply the dust. It's free=cheap. I have four shakers, full, ready for use.  The shakers of the Kraft products and other products are all over my house. They hold baking soda for cleaning in the bathroom.

I would have shown all four shakers, but I tripped on my extra-tall step, slammed into the rocker, and knocked all four of these off. I could only reach two.

My poor hens do not like going near peaches with yellow jackets on them. The hens avoid their food. I did not take a picture of the hundred (not kidding) yellow jackets because I do not feel like trying to bend over and keep my balance while trying to hold a camera steady.

A yellow jacket invasion could cause a tremendous problem for me or anyone who attempts to walk or mow in my yard. If you have ever been in a swarm of yellow jackets pouring from the ground, you know what I mean. They will chase you even into the house. Ask me how I know.

If fruit trees are left with fallen fruit, yellow jackets form nests under the trees, attracted by food. Wouldn't you move next to fruit tree or grocery store where the food was abundant and free? If all you had to do was dig a little hole and had no rent or furniture to move, it would be  a good deal.

I have a shaker of DE (diatomaceous earth) that I use for fly control. So, I took it and heavily sprinkled it on the yellow jackets. Even though covered in the dust, they flew or hovered. I fled.

The picture below is without DE.

This one below has DE sprinkled on it.

The DE reduced the flies on the fruit in the box by about 90%. Plus, any fly eggs will be destroyed by the DE. I feed the DE to my girls to reduce parasites. People eat DE every day for their health.

Now, all feverish I have to go put some more DE and leaves over the fruit. Exbf will remove all the fruit tomorrow. But, it seems I must act soon before the yellow jackets decide this is a good place to live, a yard with abundance.

There were three or four one day and a hundred the next. I don't need holes in the ground and swarming yellow jackets. So, no, I do not feel well enough to do this!

There is about 15 or 20 pounds of produce in a box waiting to be dumped in for the hens. Right now, they are in the yard, but I want to lie down lots today, nap a bit, and cannot leave them unattended. Okay, sometimes I don't see or hear them for hours while they roam the yard. But, they won't leave the yard. I just worry a dog will chase them. I can hear when they are in trouble if I am not asleep or lying in the bedroom with the ac on.

By the way, my hens are terrified of the DE cloud. It could potentially harm their lungs and mine. Now, they are terrified of the shaker. If I pick it up or they see it, they run for their lives.  I use a Kraft Parmesan cheese shaker for the DE. There is quite a cloud that forms, especially in a slight breeze. They squawk and flee as fast as their legs will take them if they see me dusting 15 ft from them. Smart girls?

From the box in the picture, I took several huge slices of watermelon and some other fruit. I have bend over to place the watermelon. If I don't place it on the ground, just tossing it all, inevitably the watermelon lands upside down. Since the hens cannot turn it over, they have to peck through the watermelon rind to eat it. I try to help them out. This time, I almost fell on my face...seriously a face plant in watermelon. I am off-balance from the sinus infection, fever, and general malaise.

I made a decision--I will dry all clothes in the dryer! I cannot hang clothes in the sun. Bending even to the small table on which I place the basket would just be too much. Plus, the antibiotic will cause a reaction if I am in the sun too much.

Your turn
Have you ever gotten into a swarm of yellow jackets? Seen it happen to anyone? Seen the consequences? How did you rid your yard of a yellow jacket nest? Do you ever repurpose shakers? Have you ever used DE?

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Canning Bacon

Have you ever thought about canning bacon? I have only thought about canning chicken and cuts of beef. But, accidentally I ran across this video with a demonstration on canning bacon. First of all, let me tell you he does a dozen things wrong. I laughed lots and think I might try this. I don't really eat much bacon, but this looks like a deal that would keep me in bacon for years at a low cost, especially if I had a pressure canner to can meat and lots of cheap bacon.

I am not recommending this until further investigation, but if you can can sausage, which I have heard of, I see no reason that bacon cannot be canned.

This could be better, but I am wrapped up with the ac off, running a high temperature, sufferering from draining sinuses. Now, my throat is getting terribly sore. I have body aches. And, I hate to be ill in the summer!

A can of chicken broth is in order. Sinus meds and aspirin have just been taken. Now, my head has starting hurting...whine...whine.

Your turn
Have you ever canned bacon? Know anyone who has? Can you share the results.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Men wearing Utilikilts

Buy Products 
camo kilts?
I ran across a blogger who said she bought Utilikilts at 8 for $10 at a thrift store. She sold them for $1000+ on eBay. It seems men wear them at Burning Man and Renaissance fairs.

This is not intended as advertising. And, I hope they don't mind me using their pictures.

After mulling it over, I just had to take a look. Then, I watched a commercial or two. Why on earth would a man wear a kilt while at a forge or using a torch? Beats me. This is entertaining and educational.

You might like 101 reasons to wear a utilikilt. This list is as edgy as I will get on this blog. You will have to find it yourself on the Utilikilt site in the link above. It is quite funny.  I love it when they refer to wimpy men in pants, or is it men in wimpy pants. ???

My exbf has a kilt, in Scottish plaid, however. I have never seen him in it. Now, I must.

Right after my comment on the blogger's windfall of kilts, this post went far away from parsimony, thrift stores, money or anything I think is good for my views. So, be entertained cheaply.
Referral Program
No, you will find this on the site, so don't try to click.
Your turn
Am I the last person on earth to hear about Utilikilts? Does your guy wear kilts of any sort? How would you feel about him wearing these utilikilts?

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Making yogurt--uh oh

homemade yogurt and home processed peaches
Since  I love yogurt, and yogurt can be less-than-wallet-friendly, I decided to make yogurt in my freecycled handy-dandy Salton Cosmopolitan Yogurt Maker. Besides, it's always fun to do something myself instead of depending on the grocery store. When I get this method down pat, maybe I will try some of the other methods of making yogurt that do not require a special machine or electricity.

I used a smidgen less than a quart of whole milk, measure in a two quart bowl. Then, almost a half cup of powdered milk was mixed into the milk. I never could get it smooth. So, I ended up putting the little globs of powdered milk into the hens' food. That dried milk thing in my milk did not go well.

A Corningware pan with water and a cooking utensil to keep the bowl from touching the bottom was the next step. "Do not boil." I don't think I did but a skin came over the milk. That means I did not stir enough. I fished it out and added it to the hens' food. When the milk got near 150 degrees, I thought I had had enough. But, it almost reached 180 degrees, the temperature on the Salton directions (online) said the milk should reach. This heating to 180 did not go well. I forgot to take a picture of that.
waiting to cool
Once the mixture cooled, I poured some milk into a little bowl in order to mix yogurt as a starter. I used Greek yogurt and mixed about a half cup from the Oika container into the bowl of milk. Once again, I could not get it to completely dissolve. Whatever!
I poured the mixture into the little glass jars and set them into the Salton Cosmopolitan Yogurt Maker that had been on for about four hours, preheating. This did go well. Even though I was exhausted, I spilled nothing.
Neither the dry milk or the yogurt would mix until smooth and thoroughly mixed like the directions said. Soooo, we will see what happens.

Do you see the sweet potato sprouts in the saucer on top of the jar of kidney beans? Or, is that pinto beans? Since I won't eat either, it does not matter. I cut these sprouts from the sweet potatoes to see what happens if I plant them.

I worried. I read more on the Internet. One place said use a tsp of yogurt! Most places said DO NOT boil the milk.

I found this set of instructions that described yogurt-making differently.
1. boil the milk
2. use 1 heaping Tablespoon of  yogurt.

Once I put the mixture into the Salton Cosmopolitan Yogurt Maker (I love to say the whole name), timing began. There was no way I was getting up in the middle of the night to check on yogurt after the hard day I had. After 13 hours, it was refrigerated. Still, I could not wait the 3-4 hours to check on it. I tasted it at 1 pm and promptly ate some with peaches I cooked and put in the refrigerator yesterday.

Delish. Success. Cheap.

This cost me $0.90 for the milk, $0 for the powdered milk. That makes this cost $0.03/ounce. Actually, it was $0.028/ounce, so the rounding takes care of the electricity spent. That makes 8 oz yogurt cost $0.24 cents. A serving for me is around 4 oz=$0.12....not too bad. Oh, I forgot the $0.50 cents worth of store bought yogurt. Make that $0.04 cents/ounce and $0.16/serving. I am sure I can bring that back down to 3 cents even for each ounce if I ever figure out where to buy the yogurt starter.

Remember, the yogurt maker was free from Freecycle. My friend picked it up in Birmingham and brought it to me...not trouble for me either. And, he does not like yogurt! So, no sharing with him.

If yogurt needs instructions and the methods vary as to amount of ingredients and temperature, it's no wonder more people don't make yogurt. 

This endeavor was a success, even if it was stressful for me. I am not sure if I need to use a half cup of yogurt starter or a Tablespoon. I am not sure why the milk has to heat to 180 degrees.

The stress and indecision are over. I have yogurt. This will be repeated.

Your turn
Do you have a yogurt maker? Do you have a Salton yogurt maker? Or, do you make yogurt without a special small appliance?

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Money Magnet Me

I love to find money, even a penny ever so often. It is so silly to get such a lift in spirits over one cent. Is it because I am frugal, cheap, saving, parsimonious? I don't know, but I have been on a roll lately. With the economy is such a fragile state, I would think people would be more careful with their change. I never even look for this. So, I wonder how much I

Two weeks ago:
Saturday, I found a dime when I was pumping gas.

One week ago:
Monday night, I found a nickel and four pennies, and I forgot where. I do remember I was coming from a store and found it near my car.

Minutes later, I found a penny in an altogether different location--by the Coke machine where I was buying a Coke.

I found a dime as I was going into the market for produce.

This is getting to be a serious cash flow into my purse, thirty whole cents!

The most I ever found was astounding to me. As I prepared to get out of the car, I put both feet on the ground together like a proper lady. Now, I just drag one foot out, hold onto the door or steering wheel, give a grunt and heave and put the other foot on the ground. Never mind being proper. As I put my proper feet properly on the ground, I noticed something on the ground.

Not wanting to step in vomit, a freshly-emptied milkshake, or a diaper with a load, I looked down. It was a five-dollar bill and three one-dollar bills, folded twice and coming unfolded. It looked like someone had folded them, put them into a pant pocket with the keys and pulled out this cash with the keys.

I picked it up, looked all around for the owner, stood up, looked farther. No one was even on the sidewalk. The person who left the money had probably driven off.

Into the store I went, still keeping an eye out and an ear open for someone bemoaning lost cash. I finished my business and left. Soooo, it looked like I was $8 richer. Having found this amount of money I became a little obsessed with finding more. I scanned the parking lot. There, about 100 feet away was something on the ground. "Trash," I surmised. However, I just had to go look on the way to the car.

Right there, right there in front my eyes, as I approached I sort of trembled as I tried not to run or exclaim. Closer and closer... it was. It was a bill--$10. It had been folded twice, also, just like the other bills. So, the ten had been on the outside and had blown off.

Well, that is the most money I have ever found--$18. I count it as one find because it was from the same pocket and within ten minutes of the first money. I felt really horrible for the person who lost it and would have returned it, but I had no way of finding the person. I was sixty miles from home, so there was no way I would even hear about someone losing her last bit of grocery money or someone needing that money for medicine for his infant. I just rejoiced in my good fortune.

Your turn
What is the largest amount of money you have found at one time?

Monday, August 8, 2011

"...who had a crooked fence..."

crooked fence

Oh, that line should be in the song....

Can you see my cheap crooked fence? It is just a weird cloud of chicken wire, more like a chicken barrier than a fence. I was in a parsimonious mood. I need my money for other things than proper fence posts. Maybe that was a mistake.

My engineer exbf is not a builder of anything. He is an industrial engineer. He dutifully got anything post-like from my basement just like I asked him to do. When I saw my paint roller extension on the lawn, ready to be used as a fence corner, I almost had a heart attack.

This "garden" probably needs an explanation. Two years ago, someone gave me a roll of six-foot chicken wire. In case you don't know, chicken wire is to keep chickens in. It also can be used to keep chickens out of a garden.

However, chicken wire, contrary to opinions of others, will NOT keep chickens safe from predators, especially raccoons. It will keep an owl or hawk from swooping down into the pen. Mildly interested dogs and cats soon leave when I yell. A determined dog or cat could easily get under or over. But, raccoons make short work of this weak wire.

There are two upright things/poles against that fence and two on the corners out from the fence. Each of the four tomato plants is staked to some sort of upright/pole item. Now, pvc pipe, a broom stick, a piece of galvanized pipe, a chrome pipe, a piece of bamboo, and several long things serve to hold the tomatoes and the chicken wire up off the ground.

It is not pretty, just effective.

Since I put these plants out around the 4th of July, there has been no bug spray of any kind and no fertilizer applied. They are all growing like mad. Oh, there is one jalapeno in the back.

I am puzzled. I told him to use two twist-ties to close up the lap in the "fence." So far, I only see his shoe lace tied a knot that will mean I have to cut it off....Aaaack!

However, the St Augustine grass is lush and lovely. The wisteria is already holding onto the chicken wire.

I know, I know...I need to straighten this up a bit and hope the lightly-tapped-into-the-ground posts don't fall over.

Your turn
Do you "make do" for a fence in your garden? Have you quit laughing yet? You were crying and choking because you laughed so hard? Okay.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Fatwood Could Save Your Life

fatwood from a pine tree

Or, your sanity.

No, this is not a fat insult to anyone. Okay, maybe it will just save your sanity if you need to start a fire. It works for my parsimonious nature. This cheap and efficient fire-starter is free. However, you may prefer to buy it. I am just too cheap to purchase it, especially when I have it in my yard. Fatwood is in abundance if you know where to look.

This post is not about hard-core survival when the zombies are out. It is not even about inconvenience when the power is off. It is about something many people do not know about. I heard about this maybe 50 years ago--fatwood. It goes by other names.

I know I can start a fire in perfect conditions.  But, in an imperfect condition, could you or I start a fire? Probably not? Maybe not? Maybe I am overconfident in thinking I can. Maybe that is because I have watched, listened, and read much over the years. I know experience counts for much. I have only had a little experience.

Here is an informative link about fatwood that you can explore. Basically, this is a natural source for a firestarter that could be found on your next hike, an item you can remove from a National Forest or land preserve...if you don't back a pickup truck to haul it out.  You can carry home one chunk and cut it to size later.

There are no chemicals added to fatwood or fatfire. You can use it to start any fire. You actually only need a source in the forest where you are or a source like the hardware store.

The links telling you where to buy it have lots of information, but they suggest using two eight-inch pieces for a firestarter. Okay, if it is blowing, your wood is soaked and fatwood tinder you find is all you have, use all you need. Shredding it with a knife or using a sliver works just as well. Commercial sites have uniform pieces. Nope, not necessary. Chunks will do.

Over information on the subject. You will also find other firestarting methods at PracticalSurvivor there is lots of information about starting fires.

Remember, it is found in pine trees. Stumps cut decades ago are valuable sources, often dug up for their use as fatwood or kindling. Oaks won't yield this. Wounds in a tree are a prime source. Chunks could ruin a cook stove, so watch out. This stuff burns particularly hot.

Maybe someone will get or give this as a Christmas gift to someone who has none. Maybe you could use it to barter or barter to receive it.

Your turn
Have you ever heard of fatwood or fatfire by any other name? Have you used it? Were you even aware of this handy tool that could be in the nearest dead pine stump?  Are you ever in a situation where you could look for stumps, dead trees, or fallen knots with pine resin to carry home for your use?

Friday, August 5, 2011

My Father's Birthday

henry2  Copybest
In his mid twenties
My father was a great influence in creating my parsimonious, creative nature. I watched him create things all my life. He took me to the site where he was building our house with the help of family.

 Mama packed me my own little lunch. I was so proud to go alone with Daddy "to work." I promised to mind.

The very first time I went, Daddy told me exactly where to sit and play and brought me blocks of wood, small ones from the ends of 2x4s. I ventured close to the house to get blocks of wood, dropping from the roof as some guy cut them and let them drop.

I knew enough at four not to go when the blocks were falling. But, I did not mind and sit in one place. I knew what I was doing! I ran over, bent to gather the pieces of wood. The guy hammering on the side of the house finished hammering and let the hammer drop by his side as he held it....right onto the top of my head.

I must have screamed for an hour. Daddy came running. All the guys came running. Neighbor women came running. I never got to go back again.

He made toys, swings, furniture, doll furniture, trunks for my sister, mother and me. He repaired anything that needed to be repaired. He could figure out almost anything with substitutions. He lived through the Depression, so it was a way of life, a way of survival when there was no money. However, the generations before and after worked with their hands. I have a cousin who is some sort of engineer that works with glass in buildings, not the windows, but structural parts make of glass. That is not exactly hands-on work, I suppose. Others have been brick masons, cabinet-makers. Often, they went beyond the apprentice bit and got degrees in their field.

Oh, it was through his love of words, crossword puzzles, and reading constantly that I learned to love words.  I don't just love words, I love the itty bitty parts of words. Phonemes are like atoms....the smallest part of a word that still has meaning. That is how crazy in love with words I Yes, I should have finished the degree in Linguistics.

He was far, far, far from being a perfect or even good father, but he gave me words and creativity. Oh, yeah, I was the only brunette born into a family of platinum blond siblings.

Daddy was born in 1915, died in 1990 at the age of 75, and would have been have been 96 today.

Rain Barrel System Giveaway

Go over to Fiskars for a chance to win a Rain Barrel System.  I do  believe people outside the US can enter this. The contest starts today and ends Aug 21, 2011.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Busy, HOT Day and NO MORE ANTS

prickles on free cucumber
A friend offered me tomatoes and the lone cucumber on his volunteer cucumber vine. I accepted. He told me to just go pick it. It had little spiny things all over it that made me afraid to pick it. I did, but hated doing so. He said all cucumbers had these. Do they? At any rate, I tried to wipe off enough of them to carry it with two fingers. Today, they look a little less spiny and more just bumpy. I wonder why this cucumber shrunk so much in less than 24 hours.

Today, it was 101 degrees here. The humidity was stifling. I have not checked the humidity, but it was high. My four tomato plants desperately needed attention. Exbf and I spent the day outdoors. We were both drained. Okay, I come in often to catch the ac and was washing clothes, dishes, and cooking. He did stay out for four hours. We both drank lots of water.

Cutting limbs=No more ants
Rather than either of us having to climb a ten-foot ladder, I figured out how to cut limbs 12 feet over our heads. I took a garden rake, stretched to get any portion of the limb. He grabbed it and pulled it down. I used my loppers to cut it. Yes, these were all small limbs, luckily. The ants are no more! GONE! I can clean off the counters and put down new Terro. I had Terro all over the backs of the counters. Now, I can just use one spot of it.

I have these whole wheat, no hfcs, no preservative little bread rounds. I made pizzas on those from free spaghetti sauce, and cheese left from before the tornado in April. Obviously, I just grab a bag of the shredded cheese, toss it back into the freezer, and next time open another. I used up three bags of ends of shredded cheese.  I had a banana and milk afterwards. Exbf wanted nothing else.

Fence for my garden
The four by four raised garden had huge tomato plants lying all over the ground. It was surrounded by chicken wire, sort of a half-done effort to keep the hens out. Today was the day I got a larger "fence." It is pathetic looking, all falling down, but I used what I had. Now, I can take the twist ties off the lapped chicken wire, go inside and tend to it.

There are four tomato plants. At least one is Roma. Then, there is a jalapeno pepper plant. Pathetic to call a garden? LOL I have not had one bug-bitten plant, no slugs. It is really weird. And, I have not used any pesticide. Watch! In the morning, after my sort of bragging, everything will be bitten off at the ground or have leaves laced with holes. Beside the hens, I have rabbits in my yard, so I do have to take a little care for the plants' safety.

Hanging out clothes
Despite feeling faint in the heat and feeling my skin was burning off my arms, I got two loads of clothes hung on the line. Actually, half the first load was hung. When dry, I hung the rest of that load. Then, I hung the second load. The third load never made it to the clothes line. Tomorrow....  I actually got all I washed and dried folded and put away....rare for me to do it so soon.

Pork tenderloin cut into rounds and cooked in an iron skillet saved using the oven if I had cooked it whole. I took the rest of the potatoes meant for the hens and boiled them with the remaining skins on. I was so tired that mashing potatoes (sorta) with a fork and throwing on a dollop of real butter took all my energy. I am still using the Romaine from July 16, and sending it home with exbf, also.  He had a salad of Romaine, cucumber, and banana pepper. There were tomatoes I packed for him to take home, along with more mashed potatoes. He opted for the salad I made for dinner.

Fancy in the Swing
Exbf went to sit in the swing and rest after he used the weed eater on my "rock garden." He cannot stand to come into a cool house when he sweats. I prefer to come into the ac when I get sweaty, throw a blanket on a chair, rest and cool off.

After a bit, I went out and joined him. I did not sit on the end of the swing because wisteria would touch me. Fancy became very interested when I sat down. She came over, talking all the way, stood looking at the six inches of swing seat that was between us. She backed off, looked right at me and came around to the end of the swing where there was more room. I patted the seat and told her to come sit with me. She jumped right up, looked at me, looked around at exbf, and just started chattering away.

Then, she jumped down, came right over  and looked at the swing seat between us. We both scooted outward on the seat. She jumped right up! She was so vocal. She just wanted to get in on the conversation. Maybe she did not want anyone else  sitting under the apple tree with me. (okay, it was a cherry tree)

Ex bf is the only person other than me that she will allow to come near her. She has never wanted to sit with him before.

Your turn
Hot where you are? How is everyone faring with this horrendous heat wave we are having? (at least most of us) Are you still hanging clothes out? Working a bit in the yard? Do your hens like to come around when you have company and join in?

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Hen Hilarity

Okay, this is hilarious to me. You say this is cheap amusement.? Yes, it is. It costs nothing. I admit for the first fifteen seconds I was startled.

This morning, I put the hens' cage outside the side door and opened the cage. After we talked a bit, I left them to their own devices. Like every morning, I muddled about, trying to get myself awake. All of a sudden, after about thirty minutes outdoors, I heard a squawk. Someone was alarmed. Then, I could hear a hen running and making noise, going from this side of the house, around the back, and to the other side of the house where the pen is. She squawked a bit more, then--silence. Hmmm....? I followed the noise and looked at the pen. Nothing.

The squawk? It was not the quick, continual, high-pitched," buk, buk, buk, buk" translated "I see a predator. Watch out everyone." It was not the raucous squawk, "It's got me and I need help" kind of squawk. It was more the startled reaction that is brought by a hickory nut falling nearby or the sight of me with the snake-like hose, hissing as I drag it. If you have chickens, you learn "chickenese."

I went back across the house and looked out. There were the other two hens jumping onto the carport wall, ready to jump into the side yard. They were looking around for the third hen, Thelma. Finally, after seeming to listen as they looked, they jumped down and started pecking around.

Now three minutes from the time Thelma went squawking around the house, I heard her hen song. She spent three minutes on the nest. I can only assume that she waited until she was about to drop the egg and went scurrying off for the nest. I went out, and sure enough, there was a warm, HUGE egg.  All three hens thought more food was coming as they followed me into the pen. We four are creatures of habit.

You know how little kids run funny when they must go pee? Well, I can see this hen waiting until the last minute, running to lay her egg, and I can see her in my mind's eye, running with her knees together. Okay, maybe this is not amusing.

Your turn
LOL, do I sound desperate for amusement? Have I spent too much time learning hens? Do you have hens that amuse you with their antics that are better fun than an amusement park?

Monday, August 1, 2011

Free School Supplies

Office Max gift for teachers
When I walked in the door of Office Max, ready to do a bit of parsimonious shopping, I received this free bag after showing my Teacher OM card. None of the freebies in the bag was going to be cheap if I paid full price.  Notice the coupon that was inside--"$5 off anything you want" at Payless, a really cheap shoe store that people seem to love. I don't. The shoes never fit me and are not leather. But, I can find a gift there--scarf, little purse, whatever. There were more goodies in this bag. I send the OM bag to my daughter and she carries all the Kleenex, sanitizer, paper towels, and plastic Ziploc bags to my granddaughter's school, all the things on the school list. She was happy to see the bag two years ago and said it was handy.

More free items in the OM bag
 There is a planner for the school year, two red Sharpies, 100 jumbo (my favorite) paper clips, sample post-it notes, and sample labels. I will keep the Sharpies and part of the paper clips. The rest will go to my daughter and her children.

Another Surprise
Everything I bought was going to be 20% off! I had $45 on my card for free items, so this was going to be a good shopping day.

lead, tape, two protractors--free
Lead for their mechanical pencils that I believe they still have and use. Maybe not
One very expensive roll of Scotch tape for school. Two protractors--K needs one. I got one for home and one for school. I did not know whether to get the one with the arm or one without. Maybe the teacher prefers one over the other. So, she has two, both are clear.

I believe that a fifth grader should learn how to use a ruler with the protractor. Having the arm does not prepare them for the day when they do not have that little crutch. Getting off the soap box now. These pictures are horrible.

legal pads, pencil cases, pens, Post-its, Expo board markers--free
The teacher's list had one legal pad. I had to purchase 3. Grrrr   K needed two soft pencil cases. Those were going to be $4 or $5...whew. Then, I found a cheap section of items and paid $1.50 for each of these. I have packages of pens that were ten cents for ten pens. However, I have been buying J, who is 16, better pens so they don't hurt his hands. He is an excellent student and does not lose things, so these are a little pricey but worth having a comfortable pen that writes easily, too. Then, there are the wrong Post-it notes. I should have gotten the pad with sticky at the top, but got the dispenser pads instead. So, that means another trip back. the teacher wanted a pack of dry erase board markers. I got the Expo low odor ones. 

100 pencils, 6 rulers--free at OM
As I was checking out, I realized I was going to be about eighty cents short of spending the $45 since I had the 20% discount. I just kept buying more pencils and rulers until I owed OM two cents. YAY! You see 100 pencils and 6 rulers. Remember I have at least 100 more pencils from last year and half a dozen rulers. My $45 had to be spent today or lose it. I did not want to have to go back to OM another time. right now, I am scrunched in the chair until my back is flat on the seat. My back feels best this way, but the lower back is throbbing. So, too much walking today is my problem.

Do you remember the post where I was looking over my supplies? That was in preparation for today.

Left from last year
I don't always send everything I get.
Sharpies for a penny, OM--FREE

There are 19 Sharpies here, ranging in price from $1.99 to $2.49. I paid 19 cents for them. I sent her more than pictured at the beginning of the last school year. Then, at Christmas I gave her another dozen or so. I assume these will still be good this year. In a few weeks, these will probably go on sale again. I need to get more royal blue and Christmas green.  Last year I got plenty of black fine Sharpies. The year before I did not get any. You have to be there early in the day to find any black ones. They do restock, but you cannot count on the warehouse being out of anything...hmmmm, I

From a yard sale
dividers, 9 cents each at yard sale
At a yard sale last year, I came upon a package of the loose leaf index dividers. There were 11 sets of these in the package. One was gone. I paid $1 for the 11 packages. I asked my daughter if J, the high school student, needed these. She was sort of disdainful. This year, she said she needed some of these dividers because she had to buy several for him last fall. !!!??? I reminded her that she turned them down. She has no recollection of the conversation. grrrr...makes me wonder if she listens some days.

All this is free because of purchases my friend made with my card. She has a tax business--prepares tax returns. Plus, I recycled some cartridges. If I had purchased ink, this would have all been my purchases that raised my free amount.

Pencils are still 10 cents for ten pencils for the next week. Get there soon. Rulers are 1 cent. These deals will be different each week. If you know someone who lives near OM, maybe they can pick these up if your drive would not be worth the money saved. Each week the sale items change. I am not through yet!

How to shop at Office Max
You may have to go through the line multiple times if there is a limit. I do this. I asked the cashier if it was an awful thing to do. She said lots of people do it and OM does not care. She said that churches come in with many people and do this, getting supplies to give away. Actually, any store that places a limit per visit cannot deny that when you leave the store and put your things in the car and come back into the store that this is not a new visit. I do buy all my ink supplies and cameras at OM.
10 composition books, 7 book covers, 3 folders
Yet another find at my house
I knew I had these, but could not locate them until just now. Each child in K's class needs 10 composition books. The cheap ones with checks or lines or a mottled design are regularly $1.49. I bought these last year for 25 cents each, thinking K would need more during the year. She had the year before, and my daughter paid full NY price for them. These also come in colors for the same price. However, if you venture into a floral pattern, hearts, kittens, or some other design, these are $2.49+. The teacher this year designated "black and white" composition books. Maybe she has seen the horrendously expensive ones brought to school. Full price for supplies above--$26. My cost--$4.75. None of this group was bought at OM, just bought elsewhere as I found it.

Aha, I found the textbook covers bought for 25 cents!

Free Copy Paper
Remember when I got 10 free reams of copy paper? I may get one ream in the box to mail, especially if I have to go to a larger box.

Office Depot has a better way of recycling, but OM is in this town, three miles from me.

Now, I only have to pack it all into one box for mailing--a $10.95 flat rate box from USPS.

I look for school supplies all year long. Well, I don't search, but I pay attention to what is being reduced and what is at yard sales.

OM this year--retail, $54-20%+ tax, my price, $0.02
Yard sale finds--retail, $10, my price, $1
OM last year (Sharpies)--about $70+ tax, my price--$0
Leftovers from last year--retail, $26+ tax, my price, $4.75
Copy paper--retail, $39+ tax. my price, $0
Freebies in/and OM bag--let's put all that at $10, my price, $0
Grand total~$210.00
I paid~$5.75

Happy Dance
Yes, that is me, spinning, hair flying, ...okay, only in my dreams as I hobble along.

Your turn
Do you recycle to get credit to buy school supplies? Do you ever get school supplies at yard sales? Do you buy all year long when prices drop?