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Mmm, mmm good!

October 31st, 2007 at 08:02 pm

I made the seafood pasta dish from the Quick Fix book tonight and it was YUMMY! It was the same dish as my favorite pasta from Buca Di Peppo -- and just as good. The whole family loved it, so I bought it used tonight online. Well worth the $8.84 (the book plus S&H).

On another note, I actually bought just the right amount of candy to give away for Halloween tonight, so no leftovers lingering around for the next year. However, my daughter brought home a full bag of treats after making her rounds with my husband, sister, mother and Elvis (YES! THE KING LIVES!!!)

To buy or not to buy ... that is the question

October 30th, 2007 at 10:35 am

I am thinking about buying a cookbook. I never buy books. Instead I check them out from the local library. Every time I go to the library, I grab a new cookbook and try a few recipes from it.

Recently, I've been cooking meals from Robin Miller's Quick Fix Meals and I have to say it's one of the few cookbooks I've used in the last year or so that I think might be worth investing in. Everything I've tried out of it so far has been great, not to mention fast and easy.

Part of her schtick is that she starts with one recipe that includes cooking extra of something, which you then use for three or four other meals. Last night, I whipped up this incredible talapia dish with a sauce that I'll use later in the week with another meal.

Given how crazy busy I am, it might be worth having a book like this around for weeks like this one where I barely have time to sit down -- let alone stand in the kitchen for very long.

Tomorrow's big family Halloween dinner comes out of the cookbook. I've already prepared the sauce part of it. Assuming it's as good as the other recipes I've tried, I think I might splurge and invest in my own copy of the book.

(p.s. Checked PaperbackSwap.com and it's not available there for free, but I found it used -- but NEW -- for $4.85 on Amazon Marketplace. Definitely buying it at that price...)

I want, I want, I want.....

August 13th, 2007 at 07:52 pm

I'm tempted to splurge and buy an iPod Shuffle for running. (I'm tired of hauling around a brick on my hip in the form of my regular iPod while running.)

I can afford it, but it's not exactly in this month's spending plan. Thus, I'm hoping for a windfall to show up. Nothing big. $85 should about cover it. ...


June 24th, 2007 at 04:30 pm

My husband took a bad fall on his bike trip. He got back on, though, and made it all the way home. But when he got here last night I thought we were going to be spending some time in the doctor's office this week.

He's missing big chunks of flesh all over his body. The biggest missing part being the size of a platter on his hip and butt.

Now that his personal medical team has dispersed, I'm in charge of changing the surgical dressing each day until he leaves for his next trip (which will be tomorrow). We went to Walgreens to get bandages and antibacterial ointment; and left $37 poorer.

I did pick up an Easy Saver catalog while there and am thinking about taking advantage of some of their deals. I'd be interested to hear from others who shop there to see if it's worth it. Also, is it worth paying the extra money for the Grocery Game list of deals at Walgreens?

Survey says......

June 14th, 2007 at 07:10 am

Wow! I was amazed that everyone was in agreement that they would have taken both of the items offered for free in my previous post -- Starbucks and mussels.

So, here is what I did and my reasoning behind each:

Incident 1: I ended up giving the cashier my debit card. It seems like any other person would have taken the free drink. However, my thinking was that I did have another means of paying for the drink (my debit card), so it would have been different if I only had the $50 and they couldn't break it. Also -- and this is a big ALSO -- I decided that in the end it would result in good karma down the line, which explains how I handled Incident 2....

Incident 2: I took the free mussels because I figured it was the good karma from Incident 1 coming back at me. Not to mention the clerk said: "King Soopers has billions. They can afford to give you 18 mussels." Plus, what kind of grocery store only sells mussels in two-pound increments?!?!?!??!

What would you do?

June 13th, 2007 at 02:04 pm

Here are two actual money-related things that happened to me over the course of the last week. I am wondering how others would have handled them.

Incident 1: I walked into my local Starbucks last weekend at 12:30 p.m. and ordered my usual -- a venti black iced tea sweetened. I handed the cashier a $50 bill for a drink that cost $2.14 because that was all the cash I had on me (although I did have my debit card with me, but usually don't use it for "personal" purchases like this).

Without even opening the register, the cashier said she couldn't make change and asked her manager what to do. The manager said to give the drink to me for free. Would you have taken the free drink or insisted that the cashier put it on the debit card?

Incident 2: I went to the seafood counter at a grocery store that I had never been in before to buy mussels. The mussels were marked $6.99 for two pounds, but I only needed 18 mussels. The clerk, who clearly didn't work in the seafood department, counted out 18 mussels but couldn't figure out how to print a sticker with the price for 18 mussels. He went to get the guy who usually works at the seafood counter.

The guy walks up, takes one look at my measly 18 mussels and says they could only be sold in the 2-lb netted bags that were in the display case. I said I was making paella and only needed 18 mussels, but if he couldn't sell me less than 2 pounds I would take them all and steam the rest as an appetizer. He then said he would just give the 18 mussels to me for free. Would you have taken the free mussels or insisted on paying for them or the whole 2 pounds' worth?

After I see what all of you would have done, I will share how I handled each situation.

The Grocery Game Part Deux

May 28th, 2007 at 08:21 pm

As some of you may recall, I've been playing the Grocery Game for the last three week. Each Sunday I get a list of deals for my local grocery store and then I go shopping with my coupons and supposedly save a bunch of dough.

For instance, yesterday I saved $93 on my groceries, but I still spent $150 overall. This to me is not "saving" necessarily since my bill usually hovers around $100 weekly.

Honestly, I don't know if I have the self-control to play the Grocery Game. I found myself buying things like candy bars and weird processed food that I wouldn't normally buy but did just because the stuff was a good deal.

Next week is the last week of my trial membership. If I'm not able to lower the grocery bill considerably, then I probably won't stick with it. I have already come up with a menu for next week and do have most of the ingredients on hand already -- based on purchases I already made while playing the grocery game. But, I don't know if I want to make it a habit of eating hot dogs and processed crab cakes just because they were half off.

Update on the Grocery Game

May 14th, 2007 at 07:12 pm

Turns out I saved $33.37 playing the Grocery Game. I was dutifully impressed, but I'm still waiting to see how the savings add up during the trial period before committing to a regular membership.

I have not tried the jam/chili sauce recipe that one of you suggested, but I might since I ended up with two pork roasts instead of the one I thought I was getting. Apparently there was a 2-for-1 deal that I didn't notice.

We rarely eat meat, but I was craving some comfort food so thought I would make a roast. I haven't made one in 6 years, so I need to brush up on my carnivore cooking skills.

I just want a simple pork roast with some mashed potatoes, green beans, rice and mushroom gravy (yes, the kind mom used to make with Campbell's soup....) Mmmmmm...I can already taste it!

Playing the Grocery Game

May 13th, 2007 at 06:47 pm

A friend recommended that I play the "Grocery Game." At first, I thought this involved play money and buying little plastic houses until she set me straight.

I'm not too keen on the whole concept of buying processed food and I really don't need 10 pounds of apples or 10 sticks of deodorant (OK, well maybe I do....). But I decided that for a 4-week trial period that would only cost one buck, it was worth checking out.

I have my groceries delivered, so I first checked to make sure I would still qualify for all the deals. I did, so today when the Grocery Game folks published their weekly list of deals in my neck of the woods I promptly highlighted all the non-perishables that were worth stocking up on.

Before I even added these items to my cart, my grocery bill for the week would have been just under $50. This posed a problem since the store only delivers on orders of $50 or more. When I've been short previously (a rarity, but it has happened), I've added a case of water to get the bill over the $50 mark. (Yes, I drink bottled water, but that's a whole other posting....)

Today, though, I started adding a few of the deals I found playing the Grocery Game. I threw in 2 jars of grape jam (one can never have enough sticky fingerprints around the house), 2 jars of picante sauce, and some anti-bacterial soap.

My entire bill came to $53. Not bad for a family of three and two hungry dogs. We'll have to see how the Grocery Game goes as far as ultimate savings. I'm not completely sold on it, but should I start craving picante sauce mixed with grape jam maybe I'll change my mind.

How I carved $300 from my grocery budget.....

April 27th, 2007 at 11:16 am

As I tally my spending plan up for the last four weeks, I've noticed a huge drop in spending for groceries -- to the tune of $300 saved.

How did I accomplish this?

Well, primarily by not going to the grocery store.

Yes, you heard me right. I QUIT going to the grocery store to shop. Instead, I'm having the groceries delivered from my local store. The $9.95 delivery fee and $5 in tips to the delivery person each week is nothing compared to the money I used to spend on impulse purchases.

Not to mention, I also find myself buying more store brands now because I actually see the huge difference in price between the generic stuff and the name-brand items. The grocery store's online shopping feature lists items from cheapest to most expensive, so I can easily see what's going to be the best deal. And, guess what? The generic stuff really does taste the same.

How to make a man happy

April 23rd, 2007 at 09:15 am

Yeah, well, I know that would make him happy too, but we're talking about something else here....

We're talking CAFFEINE!!!

Yes, in addition to his little alcohol fetish, my husband has become a coffee freak of late. He says it's my fault because I "made" him go to Starbucks in Times Square last fall and I "made" him get a grande mocha -- even though I personally don't drink mocha or any type of coffee for that matter. Now he has to have a coffee or two every day.

As we all know, though, that can get expensive and we are trying to pay off the debt here so Starbucks twice a day is just not going to happen.

Instead, my husband has been scoring his caffeine from the free dispenser at work. (At least he says it's free. For all I know, he's been stealing it in a fit of caffeine-induced insanity.)

But what to do on the weekends? Ummmm.... Perhaps make coffee at home????

The problem is that we don't have a coffee maker -- at least my husband didn't think we did. So last night he asked me to find a used coffee maker when our neighborhood holds its community garage sale in June. (An annual rite of passage each summer in the suburbs, followed immediately thereafter by "Big Trash Pick-Up Day.")

I, however, did one better than that. I climbed up to the tallest shelf in the kitchen and dug way back behind all the unused kitchen gadgets. Lo and behold what did I find but a two-cup coffee maker that I have owned since my days as a single girl living large in the big city.

Oh, but wait, we have no coffee filters for the cute little coffee maker.... Once again, I did some digging around where no woman dared to tread in at least a decade or two and found the filters as well. (OK, actually, I made my husband dig those up, but I did tell him where to find them....)

So you think all this would have landed me a big kiss or at least a "Thank you, honey, you're GREAT!"

Not even!

Instead, the caffeine fiend ran out the door as fast as he could and sprinted to the nearest grocery store in search of coffee beans.

This morning I walked in the front door after my run and was greeted by the smell of freshly made coffee. And, oh yeah, a very happy husband. To think I didn't even have to put out.....


April 9th, 2007 at 02:29 pm

My beloved laptop has finally passed on. After months of being on life support and three weeks of drastic measures by the computer geeks down the road, I agreed this morning to pull the plug.

Yes, I'm a tad sad. That laptop and I got through grad school together. ...

Alas, I must get over my grief and decide what to do about a new computer. I have been using my husband's computer for the last three weeks, but we don't play well together when it comes to computers so we both agree it's time to invest in a new computer for me.

Fortunately, my business account has all but $300 in it to put toward buying a new desktop computer. But I'm kind of leaning toward evoking my squatter's rights in the basement office until fall when I should have enough saved for a laptop and docking station set-up.

My husband won't be happy to hear this, but what's he going to do? Evict me? (I don't think so....)

Meanwhile, I'm struggling with essentially emptying my business account to buy a new computer. The old me would have charged a new computer on my Visa card as soon as the laptop started showing signs of distress, but the new me is having a hard time with the thought of actually spending money I have set aside for just such an occasion as this.

Because half of my income comes from my home-based business, I truly need to spend a little money here to make money. But I'm just not ready to -- at least for today.

Me and my crap

April 3rd, 2007 at 06:07 am

I'm up early because I've been obsessing about compost all night. More specifically, composting bins.

I'm all about "simple living" these days and one of the things I'd like to do is re-use more stuff instead of throwing it out. Plus, in an effort to beautify the swamp on the east side of my yard, I thought I'd actually try sticking something in the ground and watch it grow this summer (I'm also all about cheap thrills.)

I've been reading up on turning waste into composte and pricing composting bins. I'd like to get one used, but haven't seen any being offered on Freecycle or via my neighbors' trash heaps; and I'm not the handiest of girls with a hammer -- if you know what I mean...

So, after careful consideration, I've decided to purchase one. (Yes, I know it goes against the whole goal here, but I've got a lot of crap I need to turn into black gold as quickly as possible....)

This alone is a stay-up-all-night-to-obsess kind of endeavor. Because of the little problem I have with compulsive shopping and debting, I have to plan out each trip to the store carefully or it gets ugly.

So over the course of the last 8 hours, I have mapped out exactly where I'm going to buy my composting bin, how much I'm willing to spend (no more than $40, which I have in my hot little hands all ready to throw at the first sales clerk who will take it), how I will not be tempted to buy anything more than the bin, and what I will do if I feel myself beginning to slip.

Wish me luck -- and time leftover for a nap this morning....

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