Wednesday, December 31, 2008

December Freebies

Here is what I got completely FREE during the month of December. Click here to read a previous post explaining each category.

Publix Mystery Coupon Items:
Redenbacher popcorn
Publix pasta sauce
sourdough bread
2 bottles grape juice
Publix salad dressing

CVS Extracare Bucks With Sales and Coupons:
2 reams printer paper
Cascade dishwasher detergent
2 jars Ragu sauce
2 Colgate toothpaste
2 Crest toothpaste
Schick Quattro razor
Soft & Dry deodorant
2 CVS facial cleansing towelettes
8 travel size first aid kits
3 Arm and Hammer Essentials

Great Sale Prices Combined with Coupons:

40 boxes Martha White corn muffin mix
4 boxes Shedd's Spread sticks (14 cents each)
2 pkgs Idahoan mashed potatoes
Betty Crocker mashed potatoes (10 cents)
4 strips yeast (10 cents ea)
4 lb apples
ginger Altoids
2 WellPatch
12-pk Schick disposable razors
small bottle Suave moisturizer
2 pkgs Cottonelle bath tissue
Energizer rechargeable charger

Spent Free Gift Cards (from transferring rx):
13 half gallons Mayfield milk
4 lb raw almonds
4 dozen eggs
4 bags frozen veggies
spiral cut ham (for Christmas dinner)
5 lb ground beef
2 28-oz pkgs sausage links
2 lb bacon
2 pkgs shredded cheese
drain opener
birthday card

Full Rebates:
3 boxes Russell Stover Private Reserve chocolates (2 will be full rebates; one was free with a buy 2 get one free coupon)
Arm and Hammer Essentials
Energizer battery charger

Free Deals:
Tide sample
Prilosec sample
3 bottles French's Worcestershire sauce
Dole salad kit

Given to Me:
hot cocoa mix
tray of mini cupcakes
3 layer cherry cordial torte

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Jammy Time

I got busy at the sewing machine a few days before Christmas. The result: jammies for three members of the family. Soft, cuddly, and warm!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Gathering Crafts

For my post-Christmas fun, I might try some of these:

I really, really like this calendar idea from Lark and Lola. So cute!

A little free embroidery from Allsorts to try out in the winter lull.

A skirt without a pattern from Anna. I would do the waistband-and-zipper version.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

After Christmas Sales

So many bloggers are posting their after-Christmas deals; I thought I would do the same.Light bulbs. Two packages of 40 watt. Walmart. Less than $4. That's all we need.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The Stockings Are Full

My clever Professor made stocking hangers this evening after we remembered that our real stocking hangers are also inaccessibly packed away behind the furniture pile. He simply bent the hook section of white wire coat hangers, one per stocking, downward at a 90 degree angle. Set along the mantle, with a row of books to weight them and garland to hide them, they seem to be counterbalanced just right for our very full stockings.

The Professor Learns Free

The Professor is learning my tricks: He came home today and told me he got this fresh poinsettia FREE! But he won't tell me the story until later. I can hardly wait. I am so proud of him!

The garden center was giving them away with the purchase of a plant on Christmas Eve. He bought a loropetalum (Chinese fringe) for me for Christmas. He planted it too!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Christmas Decorating is Over in Our House

We finished decorating for Christmas about the time we began decorating for Christmas. Here is the reason:All the rest of our Christmas decorations are neatly shelved behind this half of the garage sale pile! Back there behind the dressers and the bags of clothes. Behind the medical equipment and the TV. Behind the furniture stacked to the ceiling. I AM NOT climbing behind all that to pull out boxes of wreaths and angels and nativities. So decorating is finished here.

I believe I will bake instead.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Making Room

I really should be decorating for Christmas. But daughter, son-in-law, and grandson are moving in with us next week. We need to make room for them. So we:
1. Floored the attic for storage.
2. Are constantly working on cleaning out drawers, closets, and cupboards while we set aside all the riffraff for a future garage sale.
3. Turned the studio into the master bedroom (all 7'x8' of it!). Our closet consists of two shelf brackets to support about eight hangers each, just visible to the left in the photo. Our dresser is a stretch of open shelf just above the hangers. For a night stand we use a stack of plastic boxes filled with back stock of toiletries. We share the space with crafts and sewing supplies on the upper shelves.
4. Added most of the family room furniture to the living room.5. Turned the family room into the dining room. The cabinet on the left in the photo is going to the garage sale pile, and everything on top of it and on the dining table still needs to find homes.6. Turned the dining room into the computer room. Two more desks and computers will be arriving with the young family so this room will be very full. We moved our CD player/radio into this room, and discovered that all our CD's fit in the top drawer of the dresser on the far left. That's the type of organization I like! 7. Emptied the master bedroom and bath for the young family to use.
8. Continue to pack boxes for the attic with things we don't really need to use right now.

Friday, December 5, 2008

3 Sacks of Groceries: $1.76

It's hard to believe, but sometimes I have to work at spending money on groceries. I spent only $1.76 for all these groceries at Publix tonight. The muffin deal was ending tonight, so I wanted to make sure I used my last coupon. Now that our household has increased by three, I'll take all the help I can get on my groceries! Thank you, Publix and Smucker's!

Here is the breakdown:
10 boxes Martha White corn muffin mix, 2/99 cents, one 55 cent coupon, and Smucker's deal coupon of buy 10 items get $5 off order. (This was a money maker. 10 mixes came to $4.95, plus my 55 cent coupon, brought cost down to $4.40, minus the $5 off, means I made 60 cents on the muffins)
3 boxes Shedd's spread sticks, $1.39, 75 cent Publix coupon, 25 cent mfr coupon doubled, net cost 14 cents each
Idahoan mashed potatoes, BOGO 65 cents, 40 cent coupon doubled, net: I made 15 cents
No Yolk noodles, $1.87, 50 cent coupon doubled, net cost 87 cents
Nestle hot cocoa mix BOGO $1
The math: I owed 42 cents for Shedd's, 87 cents for noodles, $1 for hot cocoa, total: $2.29. Publix owed me 60 cents for the muffins, and 15 cents for the mashed potatoes, total: 75 cents. $2.29 minus 75 cents is $1.54 plus tax comes to $1.76.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

November Freebies

Here is what I got completely FREE during the month of November. Click here to read a previous post explaining each category.

Publix Mystery Coupon Items:
Special K cereal
hot dogs
Campbell's Select Harvest soup

CVS Extracare Bucks With Sales and Coupons:
3 bottles Palmolive dish liquid
St Ives body wash
5 Soft n' Dry deodorant
2 Sure deodorant
2 pkg Stayfree
2 9-volt batteries

Great Sale Prices Combined with Coupons:

2 bags Green Giant Steamers veggies
12 cans Carnation evaporated milk
12 bottles Deer Park bottled water, 3L
3 Pillsbury cake mixes (4 cents ea)
pie pumpkin
Sara Lee hot dog buns
4 cans Hunt's tomato sauce (10 cents ea)
2 cans Muir Glen tomato paste (9 cents ea)
Green Giant frozen boxed broccoli
10 boxes Royal gelatin
10 boxes Martha White corn muffin mix
Powerade sports drink
2 10-packs Bic razors

Spent Free Gift Cards (from transferring rx):
20 lb turkey
10 lb russet potatoes
10 lb ground chuck
3 pkg hot dog buns
4 8-oz bags shredded cheese
2 half gallons Mayfield milk
2 Sure deodorant
2 rolls packing tape
wet wipes

Full Rebates:
St. Ives Elements Olive Cleanser

Free Deals:
Dole salad (won it)
Redenbacher's single-serve micro popcorn
Redenbacher's 100 calorie popcorn cakes sample
Cascade rinse aid
French's worcestershire sauce

Given to Me:
more hot peppers (our neighbor promises this really is the end now)

Monday, November 24, 2008

Gearing Up for Thanksgiving at Publix

It took nearly forever to get my grocery shopping done this afternoon. But, I'm happy to say, I found some really great deals.The freebies are:
bottle of bleach (mystery coupon item)
Worcestershire sauce
10 boxes corn muffin mix (most likely for donation)

The items on sale combined with coupons are:
8 boxes B. Crocker potatoes, 9 cents ea
10 boxes Domino sugar, 19 cents ea
8 cans diced tomatoes, 75 cents ea
4 cans corn, 40 cents ea
2 boxes wild rice, 62 cents ea
2 boxes crackers, $1.40 ea
2 cans Reddi Wip, $1 ea
2 Hellman's mayo, $1.90 ea
2 jars pickles, 39 cents ea
3 bottles Crisco oil, $1.55 ea
2 bottles Glass Plus, 25 cents ea
Lysol bowl cleaner, $1.25 (I have more coupons but I'm waiting for a better sale)

The items on sale but no coupons:
15 lb turkey, $10
fresh cranberries, $1.50
2 cans cranberry sauce, 73 cents ea
bag of oranges, $1.50
bag of apples, $3
bag of grapes, $3
celery, 89 cents

Total: $47

You may wonder how I had 8 or 10 coupons for some of these items. I must say, this week was unusual for me. Every Thursday we get a "throw-away" paper tossed on our driveway. It has the coupon inserts as well as grocery ads for the week. This last Thursday, as I looked through the paper, I happened to see a photo of our daughter at homecoming. I wanted more copies of her, so I asked around the neighbors. One neighbor decided to help me out and ask even more neighbors. Some gave me their entire paper, and some gave me just the section I was looking for. I guess eight or so of the neighbors gave me the entire paper, so I clipped all their coupons as well as my own. Also, I buy a double-bundled Sunday paper every week, for double the coupons. It costs me 50 cents extra.

Friday, November 21, 2008

My First Blog Award

Thank you, JadeMerie, for my very first-ever blog award! She gave me the "Marie Antoinette, Real Person Award".

Now I'm supposed to pass this award on to seven other bloggers, but I'm not sure how to do that since I'm quite computer-challenged. I'm truly amazed that I've gotten even this far with posting the award. I'll have to go into conference with The Professor and David to see if we can figure out what's next.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

One More Project Completed

I finished laying the flooring in our attic! This is a project that has been sitting on my "To Do" list for three and a half years, since the spring of 2005, when we laid the floor in the other half of the attic. Last week I suddenly decided to get it done. Even though I had a cold, I went to six different Home Depots to find the flooring I wanted: 3/4" tongue and groove plywood in 2'x4' sheets. When I couldn't find it anywhere, I bought (4) 4'x8' sheets and had them cut it up for me. After loading it in my car by myself, I carted it all home and pieced them back together on the garage floor, so the cuts would match up.

One by one I carried them up the ladder, wiggled them into place, and hammered in a bunch of nails. I sure bent a lot of the nails; so many, in fact, that I had to go buy more. While I was at it I bought a fifth sheet of plywood and had it cut. Finally I had enough flooring to completely cover every bit possible. I did it all myself except at the very end when The Professor trimmed the tongue off the last few sheets to make them fit. He also hammered in the last 4 or 6 nails for me because my arms were so tired.

Just think of all the stuff that can be stored in our attic now!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Free Samples

I love getting free samples in the mail. After I sign up for a sample, I usually forget about it, so when it arrives, it's like Christmas! A treat and a surprise! Today I got a box with a single serve Redenbacher microwave popcorn packet and a single serve 100 calorie popcorn cakes. I'm not wild about Orville Redenbacher popcorn, but it's free, so I'm not complaining. And, from the manufacturer's view, the whole point is to get us, the consumer, interested in it so that we'd go buy it.

I've decided I won't be buying the 100 calorie popcorn cakes. They taste like cheesypowder-dusted styrofoam. I might as well sprinkle some orange cheese powder over packing pellets and chow down.

Economical Soup for Lunch

I made Broccoli-Cheese soup for my lunch today. After I ate it, I thought about telling about it here, but by then it was too late to take a picture of it.

I LOVE this soup! it's very easy to make and very economical too, because I use leftover broccoli. We had broccoli for dinner last night, and there was about a serving left. To make the soup, I dump the cooked broccoli in the blender, then I add one cup of water, one tablespoon of flour, one teaspoon of chicken bouillon (I buy the loose stuff in a jar; not the hard cubes), one tablespoon of powdered milk (not really necessary), and a few pinches of herbs. Today I used pepper and oregano. Sometimes I squirt a little mustard in too. I suppose you could use milk instead of water, but I never have.

I whirl it until it's smooth, then I pour it into a 2-cup glass measuring cup, or anything microwave-safe. I toss in a tablespoon of margarine and a handful of grated cheese, whatever we have. I nuke it for a minute, stir, and nuke another minute. There! Hot, yummy broccoli-cheese soup! Perfect for a fall day when an icy wind is blowing.

If I have more leftover broccoli, then I increase the other ingredients to make more soup.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Kroger and Publix Today

I did well at both Publix and Kroger today. Here is a picture of my trip to Kroger:I spent $13.51 total at Kroger. I used 11 coupons, plus a coupon that I had loaded onto my Kroger card, but forgot about. That coupon made one box of Green Giant frozen veggies a money-maker! (Kroger paid me to take it home.) Here's my shopping list:
Birds Eye frozen veggies: 30 cents ea after sale and doubled coupons
Green Giant frozen veggies: 30 cents ea after sale and doubled coupons
Kroger frozen veggies: $1
1 lb boxes Domino sugar: 29 cents ea after sale and doubled coupons
McCormick pepper grinders: 50 cents ea after sale and doubled coupons
Kroger cheese: $1.67 each
bread: marked down to 79 cents and $1.79

I also transferred a prescription from another pharmacy and redeemed a competitor's coupon for a $30 gift card. Kroger loads gift cards onto your Kroger card, so that gave me $30 free. I chose not to spend it today, but to save it for our Thanksgiving turkey.

I didn't get a picture of my Publix purchases because I put them away before I thought to take one. This trip set me back $33:
3 5-lb bags Domino sugar: $1.29 ea after sale and doubled coupons
4 bottles Crisco olive oil: $2.50 ea after sale and coupons
3 cartons sour cream: 60 cents ea after BOGO sale
2 Muir Glen tomato paste: 9 cents ea after coupon
2 McCormick grinders: 50 cents ea after BOGO sale and doubled coupons
2 Carnation evap milk: 50 cents ea after sale and doubled coupon
Celestial Seasonings tea: $1.20 after BOGO sale and coupon
Lenders bagels: 96 cents after BOGO sale
fresh bananas, grapefruit, apples, and pears, most on sale: $11.86
Campbells Selects clam chowder: 1 cent after Mystery Coupon

Later in the week I hit Walgreen's twice:
10 boxes Royal gelatin, free after store coupons and mfr coupons
4 pkg shredded cheese, $1.50 ea

To get the Royal gelatin, which I donated to the food bank, I used Walgreen's in-ad coupon for 5 boxes/$1. I also found coupons in a blinkie at Publix for $1 off 5 boxes. Walgreen's allows the two coupons to be combined, making the gelatin FREE! I went to two stores and did this transaction twice.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


Every home has them. You know, those little odd spots, or problem areas, or design features that don't quite work. Would you like to see mine? Of course you would!The living room is the dining room...

...and the dining room is the living room. The furniture just fit better that way. So we have a chandelier in the living room. Oh well. No one hits their head on it because we have the coffee table directly under it.

My studio has no heat or a/c. It shouldn't be a problem because the room is so small, and it has a wide opening into the family room. But, it does get very warm in there in the summer, and too cool in the winter. I'm sure it's a simple fix but The Professor isn't exactly handy with fix-it projects.

Yep. A long rip. In the very center of the arm of the family room sofa. That's foam poking out. There's another nice long rip in the seat. Lovely, isn't it? I dream of someday replacing this sofa.

The recess on the back porch collects all the neighbors' leaves. And I, in turn, keep busy sweeping.
The stairs to nowhere. This was a miscalculation on the part of the wall installation company. They thought they would reach the crest of the hill, but the stairs just went deeper and deeper into the hill. So we now have our "high place", as The Professor calls it.

The broom closet has no floor. Where the wood floor ends, the bare concrete slab begins. Another "someday" project.

What is it with teens? They can't manage to keep their junk stuff treasures put away. Notice, as I did a moment ago, that the bedroom floor is being used as a storage spot for one of my forks! Tines up! Perhaps this is a new security measure!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Family Blog

For my real-life friends who don't read our family blog, you might want to go check it out today. (Click on the underlined words.)

Monday, November 10, 2008

Operation Christmas Child

Our family has enjoyed putting together Christmas boxes for Operation Christmas Child for many years. Some of us have even had the privilege of working at one of the processing centers for three or four years past. One year we caught on to the idea of using plastic shoe boxes for packing because plastic is longer lasting and it makes another "gift" for the child.

Two years ago at the processing center, we saw that someone had come up with a great idea for wrapping. Before filling the shoebox, they lined the bottom and sides with a bandanna scarf. We decided to copy that idea. Then I came up with a variation on that as I was cleaning out my huge fabric stash a few weeks ago, and I found an assortment of small Christmas print remnants. I cut the fabrics into large squares, hemmed the edges with my serger, and there I had Christmas-themed "wrappings" for the shoe boxes!You could do this too, even if you don't have a serger. To finish the cut edges, you could do a narrow hem, or you could even use pinking shears to trim the edges. Either method would keep the edges from fraying, and then the child has one more gift to use, instead of wrapping paper to throw away.

I cut my fabrics into squares, about 18" up to 22", depending on how large my remnants were. I ended up with nine squares, enough for three years of shoe boxes.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Another Project Completed

I had been planning to get all my scrapbooking paper scraps trimmed down into cards and tags for a long time. Yesterday I worked on it for hours, and this morning I finally finished it up. The squares and rectangles I trimmed down with my paper cutter. The tags are punched out using my Sizzix machine.

So, you ask, what are they for? Well, being the frugal person I am, I can't just throw out my paper scraps; I have to Do Something with them. I decided that, trimmed into pretty, uniform shapes, I would be more likely to add them to projects. I have in mind gift tags, bookmarks to tuck into the books I sell online, and color added to journal entries. Do you have any other ideas?

Now that I'm no longer homeschooling, I'm slowly finding time for little projects like these. It feels so satisfying to accomplish goals!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Project Completed

While cleaning out my fabric stash last week I came across a couple of long-forgotten and half made Christmas stockings. I finished them up last night; I think I'll add them to my garage sale accumulation

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Kroger for $6.44

Kroger is running their "Buy 10, Get $5" deal again this week. On Tuesday I did two deals, buying 20 items from the list. I had coupons for all these items; most of the coupons were for $1 off, or doubled to $1 off. Some of them were for $1 off 2 items. Here is what I bought, with final prices after sale, coupons, and the 50 cents off each item.
Day 1
12 cans Carnation milk, free
2 Betty Crocker potatoes, 20 cents ea
3 4-pk DanActive yogurt, 50 cents ea
2 4-pk Activia yogurt, 50 cents ea
1 Land O' Lakes butter, $1.50
I also bought 2 bakery items on clearance

My total including tax for everything pictured: $6.44.

Day 2
On Wednesday I went back and did two more deals at a different Kroger. I bought:
6 Deer Park water 3L, free
1 Betty Crocker potatoes, 65 cents
3 Nestle chocolate chips, $1 ea
3 Activia yogurt, 50 cents ea
3 DanActive yogurt, 50 cents ea
2 10-pk razors, free
2 Colgate toothpaste, 25 cents ea
I also bought 2 feta cheese on clearance

On this shopping trip I spent $10.19

Friday, October 31, 2008

October Freebies

Here is what I got completely FREE during the month of October. Click here to read a previous post explaining each category.

Publix Mystery Coupon Items:
Publix coffee brick
candy corn
6 pack bottled water
loaf of white bread (it will become croutons)

CVS Extracare Bucks With Sales and Coupons:
2 Lady Speed Stick deodorants
3 tubes Colgate Max Fresh toothpaste
Colgate Jr toothpaste
2 GUM toothbrushes
2 Colgate toothbrushes
Always Infinity
CVS vitamin D
5 bars CVS soap
hand sanitizer spray
2 packets Listerine breath strips (on clearance)
2 bottles Life Fitness multi vitamins (on clearance)
2 bottles Natures Bounty vitamin C
2 bottles Hyland's Flu Care
large bottle Ajax dish liquid
2 bags candy corn

Great Sale Prices Combined with Coupons:

5 cans Muir Glen tomato sauce
5 cheez n' crackers (on clearance)
Sara Lee hot dog buns
3 rolls paper towels
3 bottles Robitussin
4 10-packs disposable razors
2 bottles Pert shampoo
2 Reach toothbrushes
4 tubes generic Airborn
3 padded envelopes

Full Rebates:

Free Deals:
Gillette razor
Quaker granola bar sample
8 oz sliced mushrooms (Kroger price promise)
pie pumpkin
Chex Mix bar sample
Fiber One cereal sample
$25 gift card
$30 gift card

Given to Me:
red and green hot peppers (the last of the neighbor's garden)
3 bell peppers
peach salsa
peach preserves
hot sauce
leftover strawberry cream cheese
chocolate covered almonds
spaghetti and meat sauce (enough for a family dinner)
poppy seed salad dressing

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Tote Bag Pattern

Several people have asked what pattern we use to make the toiletries tote bags for the women's shelter. I created the pattern myself, using a gallon-size zipper bag for an estimate of the size. Here is how we make them:
  • Use a brown paper grocery sack, cut open, to make the pattern. Measure out a square 13" tall and 12" wide. You will be placing one 12" side on the fabric fold, so write "place on fold" along a 12" side. This is the bag body and the lining pattern. Next draw a rectangle 4" wide and 22" long on the brown paper. This is the handle pattern.
  • You need about 1/2 yard of two different, complimentary fabrics. The fabrics can be quilting cottons, twill, denim, corduroy, drapery cottons, or similar fabrics. Don't use slippery lining fabrics for the lining of this bag!
  • Cut one bag body (on fold) from your outside fabric. Cut another bag body (on fold) from your inside fabric. Cut two handles from either fabric. We usually use the outside fabric, but using the lining fabric makes a nice contrast.
  • Fold one handle piece in half, wrong sides together, along the length; press the folded edge. Open up, then fold the long cut edges in to meet the center crease. Press the two folded edges. Fold piece in half again along the first crease; press well. Repeat for second handle piece. Stitch both handle pieces, down both long ends, close to the folds. Stitch the open side first, then the folded side.
  • Fold outer bag piece in half right sides together. Stitch the two side seams using a ¼” seam allowance. Snip the fold at the bottom of the bag, in as far as the stitching. Repeat for lining piece.
  • Press the two side seams open. Press in the fold at the bottom of the bag. Using the fold as a guideline, bring the side seam to match up with the fold mark. This forms a triangle or “ear”. Put two pins in the triangle area to hold it in place. Hold a ruler perpendicular to the seamline. Adjust the ruler up or down until you have exactly 3” across the top of the triangle. Trace this line along the ruler as a stitching guide. Repeat on other side seam. Repeat on lining piece.
  • Stitch marked lines on outer bag and lining piece, forming triangles. This forms the box bottom.
  • Measure over 3” from side seam, along top edge of outer bag. Put pin at this mark. Repeat from other side seam. Pin one handle end, centered at this mark, with raw edge of handle at raw edge of bag. Repeat with other end of handle, making sure handle isn’t twisted. Repeat with second handle on other side of bag. The handle loops will be going down, toward the bottom of the bag.
  • Stitch handle ends in place using a ¼” seam. Turn lining piece right side out. Slide lining into bag. Line up side seams and top edges of the two bag pieces. Pin along upper edge. Using a ¼” seam allowance, stitch the upper edge, leaving a section open to turn bag right side out. Double stitch over handles.
  • Turn bag right side out through opening. Stuff lining into bag. Press seam at top edge of bag, pulling handles up and rolling edge to expose the stitching line. Fold in the raw edges of the opening, pressing to make a smooth, continuous line.
  • Top stitch very close to upper edge.
  • Place toiletries in one-gallon zip bag and put unit inside tote bag.
  • These are the full size toiletries we put in bags: wash cloth, bar soap OR bottle of body wash, shampoo, toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Bouillabaisse for a Cold Day

Packages of fresh shrimp, faux lobster, and a salmon fillet on the clearance table at Kroger inspired me to make rich, tasty bouillabaisse for supper tonight. Two tilapia fillets at home rounded out the seafood, and a bag of puffy rolls on clearance in the bakery rounded out the menu.

My recipe for Bouillabaisse:
1/2 c salad oil
1 onion, diced (I didn't have any more onions, so I substituted a little garlic)
1 bay leaf
1/2 lb each of 5 or 6 different kinds of seafood, cut in chunks
3 c tomato pulp
6 c water
1 t salt
1/2 t paprika
2 t Old Bay seasoning
3 T lemon juice (I forgot this)

Heat oil in large stock pot; saute onion until limp. Add bay leaf and any raw seafood, cook 5 minutes. Add tomato pulp and water. Simmer, but do not boil, 15 minutes until fish is tender. Stir ocassionally, being careful to not break up fish. Add any pre-cooked seafood, salt, paprika, Old Bay seasoning, and lemon juice. Continue simmering 10 minutes more.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Inspired Clean Out

Sorting my fabric stash to make tote bags earlier this fall inspired me to dig deeper into my fabrics to sort and clean out. I gathered four boxes of fabrics from the garage, two piles from the studio, and two stacks from a bedroom drawer. Spread around the floor, they looked like this:
A donation pile formed on one corner of the bed, while a pile for more potential tote bags formed on the floor (lower left corner). With a large trash bag for useless scraps handy, I soon had the keepers re-sorted back into the boxes. I still have four boxes of fabric, but no more piles in drawers or the studio. The doantions pile; mostly knits, silkies, and rayons too soft for tote bags.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Fall is Here

The weatherman predicted a cold front moving in today, and he was right. It's time to put away our summery decorations and bring out the fall color.
The mantle is decked out in sage green candles accented with autumn leaves...
borrowed from the trees up the street.

Next on the list: rip out the tomato plants, sweep the leaves off the patio and front porch, change the summer bedding to cozy comforters, and bake a pumpkin pie with the little pie pumpkin I got free at Publix the other day.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Tote Bag Work Day

One dozen ladies met at church on Saturday to make more tote bags for toiletries for the residents of the county abused women's shelter. Using donated fabrics, we stitched up 39 bags! We still have many more cut and ready to sew; we'll be planning more work days in the months to come.Each bag takes 1/2 yard each of two different fabrics. Of the 30 bags pictured, I donated 15 1/2 yards of the fabric. I was happy to donate it to a good cause; it was time to clear the five large boxes of fabric out of my garage.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

A New Centerpiece

I was looking for a new area rug this morning when I found this bargain on the clearance table.Then I added the candle to my cart and the total doubled. At home, I peeled the papers off my onions and scattered them around the candle. It's the centerpiece on our dining room table now.

It looks terrific with tiny gold Christmas balls too. I can hardly wait for December!

Monday, October 6, 2008

I Appreciate Free, But This?

A month or two ago I signed up for a free offer I saw on a blog: email Cedarlane and they will send a coupon for a free frozen entree. Free sounds good to me. Coupon in hand, I chose the Eggplant Parmesan at my local Publix. A couple of weeks ago I almost prepared it for dinner one night when I was alone, but I noticed the box said "serves 2", so I ate leftovers that night and saved the frozen entree for a night when the Professor and I would be dining alone.

Tonight was that night. We both thought the dish looked yummy from the picture, but when I opened the box and pulled out a tiny tray, we both burst out laughing. I seemed to be enough main dish for one small, not hungry person. We split the eggplant in half and added mixed veggies and cottage cheese to our plates. And it proved to be adequate to curb the hunger pangs for about 5 minutes.
How did it taste? We both rate it mediocre. There wasn't anything wrong with it, but we both much prefer homemade to this. In all seriousness, if we need a quick supper in the future we will stick with our longstanding plan, which is to run over to Kroger for a rotisserie chicken.

We ate homemade pancakes for dessert.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Work In Progress

I can't take credit for this project ~ this is Greta's work in progress. She is decorating an adorable little table and chairs set for a young birthday girl we know. Mom bought the dark brown set at a flea market, sanded it, repaired it, and painted it white. Then she turned it over to Greta for the decorative painting. The birthday girl likes yellow and foof!Project complete: A close-up of the chair detail.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Tote Bag Work Party

Twelve or so ladies from church got together Thursday night to stitch up tote bags for the clients of the abused womens shelter. To an outsider it might have looked confusing, but we really did develop a procedure. First the cutting ladies arranged the pattern pieces to best advantage on the donated fabrics and cut the pieces out. Then the ironing ladies folded and pressed the strap pieces. Next to them the sewing ladies stitched the seams. Between pressing straps, the ironing ladies pressed open the seams and marked the box bottoms. The sewing ladies received the bags back to stitch, turn, and top stitch. A final pressing, and the bags went to the toiletries girl who bagged up the toiletries and popped them in the new tote bags. We had so much fun!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

September Freebies

Here is what I got completely FREE during the month of September. Click here to read a previous post explaining each category.

Publix Mystery Coupon Items:
potato chips
2 pkgs Publix brand "Oreo" cookies
coffee brick
6-pk bottled water
peanut butter

CVS Extracare Bucks With Sales and Coupons:
2 bottles Suave shampoo
2 bottles Suave body wash
CVS Plaque Detecting Oral Rinse
CVS lip moisturizer
4 Right Guard deodorant
Soft & Dry deodorant
Adidas deodorant
2 Colgate toothpaste
2 twin-packs Gum toothbrushes
Goody's headache powders
2 bottles St. Ives moisturizer
Nivea for Men body wash

Great Sale Prices Combined with Coupons:

2 jars dill pickles (these really cost me 10 cents a jar, but that's so close to free that I just had to list them here)
5 pkgs Cottonelle bath tissue
Sara Lee hot dog buns
9 bags frozen veggies
3 cans Muir Glen tomato sauce
4 large Dove chocolate bars
5 dozen eggs
3 2-lb bags sugar
2 boxes sugar cubes
2 boxes oatmeal
2 boxes Lipton tea bags
6 boxes drinkable yogurt 4-pks
half gallon orange sherbet
4 pkg Ballpark franks
3 Pillsbury brownie mixes
2.25 lb red grapes
jar of bouillon
2 boxes Smart Taste pasta
Reach toothbrush
2 GUM toothbrushes
2 tubes Colgate toothpaste
3 small bottles Purell hand sanitizer
2 small cans Edge shave gel
Sunsilk shampoo
(Also, I could have had 2 tubes of free Airborn if I had remembered to pay for it with my Rite Aid gift card!)

Full Rebates:
1/2 gallon Mayfield milk
Pert shampoo
Lypsyl lip moisturizer
Nivea for Men body wash

Free Deals:
Cedar Plank Frozen Eggplant Parmesan
Uncle Ben's Ready Rice Cajun Style
3 loaves Sara Lee Soft n' Smooth wheat bread
Pillsbury cake mix
28 sheets scrapbook paper
scrapbook paper storage tote
2 scrapbook paper envelopes
set of acid free pens

5x7 print

Given to Me:

lots of chili peppers

Saturday, September 27, 2008


Bartlett pears are delicious this fall; I think they are the best we have had in years. I can't keep the fruit drawer stocked.

Monday, September 22, 2008

My Best Deals of the Week

Mystery Coupon item, 6-pk bottled water, 1 cent
3 jars (18 oz) Smuckers preserves, sale $2, 35 cent coupons doubled=$1.30 ea
2 Welch's Grape Juice 6-pks, $4.09, $1/2 store coup, (2) $1 coupons=$2.59 ea
Good Belly drink 4-pk, BOGO, $1 coupon=$1
Vlasic dills, BOGO, $1 coupons=40 cents ea
4 Grain eggs, $2, 55 cent coupon=$1.45
2 Motts 6-pk applesauce, 3/$5, 40 cent/2 coupon doubled=$1.27 ea
3 jars baby food, 3/$1
4.5 lb fresh pears, 99 cents lb
Fantastik spray, BOGO, $1 coupon=40 cents
I asked for rainchecks for:
Land o Lakes spread, BOGO, 55 cent coupons=40 cents ea
24-oz Golden Blossom honey, $3.99, 75 cent coupon=$3.24
another Good Belly drink 4-pk, BOGO, $1 coupon=$1

I had a coupon for $20 in free groceries when I transferred a prescription. For the $20, I got:
7 frozen veggies, $1 ea
2 Danactive yogurt, $2, $1 coupons=$1 ea
3 Activia yogurt, $2, $1 coupons=$1 ea
half gallon Country Club orange sherbet, 99 cents
4 pkg Ballpark franks, 99 cents, 50 cents/2 coups dbld=49 cents ea
3 Pillsbury brownie mixes, $1, 40 cent coups doubled=20 cents ea
2.25 lb red grapes, $2.85
Kroger bouillon, $1.49
I also got 2 pkgs Cottonelle bath tissue, 99 cents, 50 cent coupons doubled=free

Adidas deodorant, $4.99, $1 coupon, earn $4 ecb's, paid with $4 ecb's
Nivea for Men body wash, $4.99, earn $4.99 ecb's. I paid with $4 in ecb's and $1 plus change on my gift card.

I'm not loving Walgreen's at the moment because the register wouldn't take my Register Rewards for no reason a few weeks ago, but I had a RR expiring and I wanted the Nivea body wash with a full rebate. So, my purchases:
Nivea for Men body wash, $4.99, full rebate
Sunsilk shampoo, clearance $1.12, $1 coupon=12 cents
Reach toothbrush, $2.99, $1 mfg coupon, $1 Easy Saver coupon=99 cents
Paid with $5 Register Rewards and $1.65 in rebate money
Total OOP: nothing

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Harris Teeter Triples

I read on a blog on Wednesday or Thursday that Harris Teeter was having a TRIPLE coupon bonanza this weekend. Normally I ignore info about Harris Teeter since we don't have that chain of markets anywhere nearby. But we were heading to Charleston on Friday for a competition, and the hotel where we stay is right next door to a Harris Teeter. I borrowed the blog info to match my coupons, drove the six hours to Harris Teeter, and this is what I came back with:

2 boxes Dixie Crystals sugar cubes, $1.39, 55 cent coupons tripled
3 2-lb pkgs Dixie Crystals sugar, $1.39, 55 cent coupons tripled
2 lb Dixie Crystals brown sugar, $2.39, 55 cent coupon but register wouldn't triple it
2 small canisters Quaker oats, $1.50, 50 cent coupons tripled
2 small boxes Lipton tea, $1.19, 75 cents/2 coupon tripled
2 tubes Colgate toothpaste, $1.50, 75 cent coupons tripled
2 travel size Edge shave gel, $1.50, 75 cent coupons tripled
2 GUM toothbrushes, $2.29, 75 cent coupons tripled
3 small Purell hand sanitizers, $1.50, 60 cent coupons tripled
Hillshire Farms sliced turkey, $4.49, 55 cent coupon tripled
Two items we needed for Saturday lunch but I had no coupons for:
Vitamin Water, 99 cents
8 oz sliced Provolone cheese, $2.99

Value of items: $42.62
My total including tax (1.5 % higher than we're used to): $4.84

There was a limit of 20 coupons per household per day. I made these purchases on Friday, and I used only 19 coupons. I planned to stop at Harris Teeter again on Saturday before heading home, but we took a different route and didn't see another store.

The toiletries, oatmeal and tea will all be donated to charity.

Friday, September 19, 2008

An Organized Home: Step 6

Baby Steps to an Organized Home:

Seasonally Re-Evaluate

Just as no home stays tidy on a daily basis, no home stays organized from year to year. My home needs a seasonal (every few months or so) going over to quickly re-evaluate storage areas. This is the time to reorganize cupboards, drawers, shelves, and closets and to get rid of the broken, worn out, outdated, and repetitive items. Here is what I do:

1. I pull out, throw out, and wipe out.
2. I put away what doesn't belong there.
3. I pare down what I don't need.
4. I decide on new or different storage containers if needed.
5. I arrange the keepers neatly back in place.

You will notice that this is the short list of how to get organized in the first place, my steps 1-4. Yes, the same thing needs to be done over and over again, except that it should be the quick version from now on.

Here is an example from my own home; a little reworking of two of my kitchen cupboards:This is a corner cupboard next to the stove and below my main counter work area. The door is only 12" wide and very difficult to reach into. But I'm hoping to fit more casserole dishes inside because the current storage for my microwave-safe casseroles will become toy storage for baby grandson.

This is the high cupboard above the refrigerator. It doesn't have much in it.

1. I pull out, throw out, wipe out:I emptied both cupboards onto the kitchen counter, then I wiped the shelves clean.

2. I put away what doesn't belong there:I decided these items could easily be stored above the refrigerator, rather than in the more convenient lower corner cupboard. Even though it is hard to reach above the refrigerator, most of these pieces are used only seasonally so they don't need to be taking up the lower cupboard space.
3. I pare down what I don't need:On further thought, I decided I don't use these pieces enough, or like them enough, to keep them around any longer. Most will go in the garage sale boxes; one is trash (can you guess which?)
4. I decide on new or different storage containers if needed:
In this case, I don't need any storage containers since this was mainly a reorganization project.

5. I arrange the keepers neatly back in place:The corner cupboard now holds all my casserole dishes and baking dishes: 5 glass and ceramic casseroles, 2 bread pans, 3 9"x13" baking dishes, 1 roasting pan, 6 pie plates, 3 round cake pans, 2 rectangle cake pans, 3 mini muffin pans, and 2 cast iron skillets.

The cupboard over the refrigerator now stores my seasonal pieces: a bundt pan, a springform pan, a chafing dish, a decorative ceramic mold, a Swedish cake pan, 5 mini loaf pans, a gingerbread house mold, a ceramic shortbread mold, and a bag of Tupperware popsicle molds. With a step stool, I can easily access them for the one or two times a year that I use them.

Every time I go through this process, the hardest step for me is #3, paring down what I don't need. I still struggle with keeping and accumulating too much. It's an emotional thing to get rid of what I no longer need: What if I need it later? What if someone I love might need it later? What if I never find one again if I need it? Eventually, I learned that I should keep only two types of items: Items that are used at least once a year, and very special mementos. The rest I make myself let go of, and I found my life to be more calm and less stressful. I much prefer it that way.

My two final thoughts for you:

Remember, there is not one “right” way to organize. Find a method that works for you and do it. Don’t be concerned about others’ methods or opinions.

It’s OK if your house looks lived in. After all, you really do live there. Don’t get caught up in magazine pictures that show spotless homes.

Now, go, enjoy your clutter-free home!

Previous posts in the series:
My Story
Step 1
Step 2
Step 3
Step 4
Step 5