Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Use It Up #2

Another item rattling around in my pantry was an almost-used-up can of vanilla frosting, left over from David's cake baking activity several weeks ago. We can't let it go to waste, can we?

So I whipped up our family's favorite brownies, cooled them, then iced them with a paper thin layer of the frosting (Like I said, the frosting can was almost used up!). I first doctored the manufactured flavor with a dribble of mint extract, and tinted the white to a pale green. Then I poured a thin chocolate glaze over the top, chilled it, and here they are:That light colored, thin line between the brownie and the glaze is mint frosting. The glaze is made with 1/4 c margarine, melted, and 2 tablespoons cocoa powder. Stir it together and pour it over the top of the brownies, tilting to spread it out. Chill and then cut into squares.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Use It Up

My recent spring cleaning brought to light some foods in the pantry in need of using up. On the dessert menu for tonight: Creme Anglaise and Caramel Flan. Both of these mixes are left over from our year in France. That goes back a few years! I even had to write in the translation for the French-only directions on the Creme Anglaise package, since I don't speak French.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Earth Day Revisited

I vividly remember the first Earth Day. I was in high school. The student leaders decided that all students should get to and from school that one day by any self-propelled method they chose, but not by a motorized vehicle of any sort. To encourage it, they got administrative approval to begin school one half-hour later than usual. My brother, sister, and I all viewed it as a chance to sleep just a bit later, and we never told our parents why school was starting late that day. We didn't see any reason to give up our ride to school since we walked home from school every day of the year. Most kids drove or were given rides both ways. We were the freaks, walking home, uphill, two miles, day after day after day.

I won't pass judgment on ourselves all those years ago. We felt we were already doing the hard thing. The other students gave themselves big pats on the back for being so ecologically conscious for just one day. We suffered, albeit unwillingly, every day. What we didn't realize in our misery was that we were made stronger for it. My sister and I, at least, have continued our frugal and green ways, even when it went out of style for several decades.

Today our society usually indulges in much more self-congratulation for what should have been a commonplace life style all these years since the first Earth Day. We used to "let it mellow" in the 70's. Why did most people stop? Now many people react with revulsion to the idea. We used to use cloth shopping bags; now they seem like a new, modern idea to most people. Composting, recycling, reusing and repurposing. Don't let the water run and run! Turn off the lights! Run a full load in the dishwasher and washing machine. Walk; it's good for you. All old ideas we have practiced for years.

Yet for all the talk about saving resources, there has been an explosion of disposable products entering the market in the last few years. I have a hard time understanding how disposable wipes for every conceivable cleaning situation are wise ecologically. Or, worse, disposable toilet scrubbers. And disposable diapers? Most young parents cannot even fathom any other option. But washing cloth diapers is not all that difficult, especially now that velcroed all-in-one styles are on the market. They were an unrealized dream to me when I was diapering my babies using diaper pins.

What is particularly annoying is the preaching about living a green lifestyle, yet the preachers, such as Al Gore, do not practice it themselves. I don't think a person has any right to tell others what to do if they don't live it themselves. Be consistent. Do it first yourself. Even though I have done many ecologically sound activities for many years, I don't run around bossing other people. And I admit there is still more I can do to conserve resources.

Well, I'm off to CVS. On foot. It's about two miles away, but it's not uphill!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Love Those Orange and Yellow Stickers

I love these stickers at Kroger! Last week I found:a tray of 12 HUGE croissants: $2.50
4 loaves of bread: 39 cents-79 cents
dip: $1.79 minus $1 coupon
1 qt. cottage cheese: $1.39
sour cream: 59 cents
feta cheese: $1.79
8 cartons of 6 eggs: 59 cents each
shredded cabbage: 69 cents
stew beef: $2.09/lb

This week I found:
5-pk bagels: 49 cents
4-pk chocolate croissants: $1.79
sour cream: 99 cents (except I don't need any)

I have learned to grab my cart and wheel around the perimeter of the store first, stopping in the strategic areas where these stickers are most likely to be lurking. I'm especially successful in the bakery, produce, and dairy departments. I've found deals in the deli, frozen foods, meats, and packaged items too, but much less often.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Garage Sale Lace

I found two pretty lace doilies at a garage sale yesterday. I think they are hand-crocheted; but even if they are not, I still really like them. Their only problem was they were badly stained. I dumped them in a tub of hot water and Biz for a good long soak overnight. This morning they were better, but still stained. So I tried out a trick I once read about: spread them on the dewy grass first thing in the morning and leave them in the sun all day. I brought them in just now, and I am very pleased to tell you it worked! One is now snowy white, not a trace of stain remains. The other started out much worse, and I still see a line of pale beige stain. That's really quite amazing since it was a deep brown stain yesterday. I will try the sun bleaching again tomorrow to see if it comes out completely.A round white one...
and an oblong ecru one. See the trace of stains remaining in the center?

Sunday, April 13, 2008

All Free

This was my free stuff this week:Bread: Mystery Coupon item at Publix (turned into croƻtons)
HB of O: on sale $2, $2 coupon
4 bars Olay soap: free using rain check from weeks ago at Walgreens
4 tubes Aveeno lotion: free after earning $10 Register Rewards at Walgreens
Essence of Beauty facial scrubs: free after earning $5 ecb's on the three scrubs
2 tubes Pillsbury crescent roll dough (not pictured)
twin pack toothbrushes: free, plus I earned $2 ecb's

I found more coupons in the Sunday paper so I bought 10 more items at Kroger's "Buy 10 Get $5" promo deal. It cost me $7.50, which was more than last week, but it's still very good for 10 grocery items:
Pillsbury croissant dough mentioned above
3 pkgs Keebler cookies
Cheez-It crackers
2 boxes granola bars
2 pkgs Kraft cheese

My other good deal at Kroger was 2 gallons of milk on clearance; one gallon of 2% for $1.50, one gallon of chocolate milk for $1.99. The chocolate milk can be dessert for this week!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Shabby Chic Furniture

Sometimes it's fun to waste time browsing the web by searching interesting words or phrases. Once in a while I come across something quite fun like I did tonight. I really like this idea; maybe I will make one someday if I find an old window. I also like this. But I would never be able to make one myself! I found these by searching "painted furniture".

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

In the Studio

My sister and I were having an online scrapping party for about the last month. She has done an amazing amount in that time, while I did just a few months of pages. Now I have to "close shop" on scrapbooking because I ran out of blank pages and new ones don't quite fit in the budget yet. So I cleaned up the studio and moved on to a few sewing projects.

Scraps and tools everywhere!

Between sewing projects. I just finished a skirt, and another is almost ready to hem. They are both hanging on pegs to the right, just out of the photo.

Fabrics I hope to sew into clothes very soon. They aren't all named yet, but I really need springy shirts.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Peanut Butter Cookies

I baked seven dozen cookies today. This is a very old recipe; older than me I think. They are nice and crunchy, just like I remember making and eating as a child.
I recently read about the peanut butter we should use when making peanut butter cookies. Don't use "natural style" peanut butter because it makes the cookies too dry. Use only Jif or Skippy or any other peanut butter with sugar and partially hydrogenated oils added to it. You know, the unhealthy stuff. The shelf-stable stuff. The stuff I stopped buying many years ago. The stuff my kids hate. Now I know the reason my peanut butter cookies haven't turned out well all these years!

All This For $4.17

Walgreen's Free Items:2 dozen eggs
baby nail scissors
shaving gel

CVS Free Items (in three trips):
3 bottles Softsoap Spa Body Wash
CVS TP, 12 jumbo rolls
CVS drawstring kitchen trash bags
small bottle Motrin on clearance
24-ct acetaminophen
Schick Quattro Titanium razor, mail-in rebate for full price back
Bath scale

Publix Free Items:
$10 worth of groceries using free gift card
mini watermelon
4 boxes Post cereal
3 pkgs rice

Kroger is running a special deal this week called "10 Item Mega Event". If you buy any 10 of the specially tagged items, you get $5 off your order. Each customer can do up to three of that deal in one order. I wanted to use coupons, but, as it turns out, a number of my coupons that I thought I could use were for slightly different products, such as French's mustard. Two of my mustard coupons were for honey mustard; the deal was for spicy mustard. Also, on Pillsbury Crescent rolls, the product included in the deal was the little 4-roll tube which is of no use to me. I eventually found 10 products to buy, but only 10. I spent $4.17 on:
4 Betty Crocker Muffin Mix, $1.50 ea, $1 coupon on each
Welch's Grape Juice, $2, 75 cent coupon
2 Hormel Chili, 50 cents each, 55 cent coupon on the 2
French's Mustard, 50 cents, 60 cent coupon
2 Pillsbury Pizza Crust, $1 each, 40 cent coupon on each
Then, the cashier gave me the senior discount, even though I have quite a few years yet until I'm "of age". That took off almost $1.