Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Birthday Gifts

I have a Birthday on Thursday of this week. My mailbox has been filed with interesting coupons in honor of that day. I am on the mailing lists of these companies and regularly get their coupons year round. I have included the web sites so that your mailbox can get these too. You may have to be registered with them well in advance to get these coupons, but if you do not make the cut this year your birthday will come around again.

I will admit right up front not all of these are exactly gifts, but better described as good coupons. All were coupons received in email within the past week or so. Since the teenagers in our home are working three counties away I think there will be some great suppers soon with minimal additional purchase.

Free Entrees (I use the term loosely.)
www.Qdoba.com offers a free burrito or other entree with the purchase of one.
www.Unos.com for dine-in only an Individual Deep Dish Pizza, a Flatbread Pizza or entree (no additional purchase noted)
www.redrobin.com has a Gourmet Burger awaiting me (no additional purchase noted)
www.noodles.com has a free entree up to $7.50 (no additional purchase noted)

Free deserts with the purchase of an entree at all of these:

Other offers:
www.einsteinbros.com wants to give me a free bagel & shmear (no additional purchase necessary)
www.dairyqueen.com will give me a free 16 oz Blizzard Treat with the purchase of one
www.GoodTimesBurgers.com is a buy a small Spoonbender and get one free

Non-Food items (sort of)
www.tonysmarket.com (Denver area) $5 coupon
www.sephora.com free gift (This year it a trio of lip gloss I really like.)
www.macys.com sent me a $10 off $30 purchase coupon.

Snail Mail brought:
www.BeauJos.com $10 coupon, Colorado, great pizza

All of these offers have time limits on them the most is a month the least 3 days, the bulk of the offers run about 7-10 days. I think I may hang up my pots and pans this week and take advantage of these offers.

I am sure that there are more offers like these out there. I invite you to let me know about them.

Remember to keep an eye on your emails to receive useful coupons. I downloaded several other ones that I may well use this week too.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Organization Can Be a Gift

I have never been known to be neat or organized in general, but parts of my life have been at times. Sometimes, it is because an endeavor is new and there is not much to keep track of and other times because I need to find something. Well there is now a third way, when you are forced to pack stuff up quickly a slow unpack can help.

The sewing room was packed up quickly a few weeks ago due to plumbing problems. Since that time I have been slowly reorganizing and sorting as I unpack. There is some stuff that I have not seen in years. Some of it has gone, other things are inspiring new projects. The sewing room is taking on some new purposes.

Art and I do a podcast on Geocaching. See CentennialStateGeocaching.com for more information. Each podcast we do takes a modest amount of time to set the equipment up in Studio D (the dining room table.) We all know that time is money so I need to clear space to have a new Studio D (D for Den this time.)

The pack up fast episode also had me moving some of my pantry out of the laundry room. I have now begun to realize that there is stocking up and there is non-sense. My family will eat soup once a month. So why do I have 40+ cans of soup? I have also begun to make homemade soup more often than not, it is greatly preferred. The question becomes where to store excesses like this. My pantry has shown me that I have a lot of good intentions, I just need more focus.

The current project is organization. It is accompanied by a notebook to keep track of the projects and plans for life in our household. I believe this will assist us in saving more money and other resources in the future.

So tell me how are you planning life in the future?

Monday, May 4, 2009

What 2 Weeks Can Do

Yesterday I blogged about part of what happened last week but I failed to tell you why.

Two weeks ago when I realized that for the most part my teenagers will be gone for the summer I started to think about what to accomplish this year. We have an out of commission 3/4 bath downstairs, that has been for over 5 years. I had taken to using this room as a closet as all the fixtures and flooring had been removed. It bothered me every time I saw it.

I had that talk with my darling hubby about fixing the eyesore and having a basement bathroom back again. Knowing that the drain there always ran slow, that was to be the first task for a plumber. Read yesterday's post under www.coloradorainbowarts.blogpot.com to see that a slow drain became replacing all below ground piping in the house.

This weekend we revisited the talk about that bathroom. I realize that since last week's project was not inexpensive it likely will not happen soon. With this knowledge in hand I am not going to make the error I did before by turning it into a closet. Only the parts that will eventually make it a bathroom are allowed there. What do you know, we will end up cleaning out a portion of the garage!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

There Are Downfalls

This past week I had the misfortune to have a terrible cold. It was one of those colds that you do not want to touch anything that the rest of the family is going to use, for fear of infecting them, much less cook for them. The problem has come in the preparation of fresh foods for each meal.

In the past I have had a freezer full of quick to reheat meals for a variety of reasons. But in the efforts to cook more and fresh I had abandon that idea. I found that I really enjoy my cooking and need to preserve more of it for times being under the weather. In the past week not only were the meals poor imitations of what I would have presented they cost a small fortune. My loved ones are not able to replicate what I cook.

Several nights were devoted to take out. I often find it too salty for my taste. The Manicotti from Costco was good but pretty pricey. Canned soup and sandwiches is usually a fail unless there is great desperation.

I guess I have now learned that I need to Invest in meals for my freezer. A day or two of Investment Cooking is a good investment in my family.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Pumpkin Chip Muffins

Here is another much requested recipe. I put this one together as a result of moving to the Denver area. Not a lot of cakes appear when you bring something for a gathering. High altitude baking is a skill here in the Mile High City. Everyone have their favorite bar cookie so this brings something different to the table.
These Pumpkin Chip Muffins are very moist and have a kick from the spices. The pumpkin is mild. The recipe is adapted from a Libby' recipe. As always use the best ingredients you can.

Pumpkin Chip Muffins

7 cups All-purpose Flour
1/2 teaspoon of Baking Powder
1 Tablespoon Baking Soda
2 teaspoons of Salt
2 teaspoons each of Nutmeg, Cloves and Cinnamon
(you can substitute 2 Tablespoons of Pumpkin Pie Spice)
3 cups Granulated Sugar
3 cups Brown Sugar
2 cups Vegetable Oil
1 can of Pumpkin (3.5 to 4 cups) (NOT pumpkin pie filling)
8 Eggs
12oz. bag of Chocolate Chips (use mini chips if making mini muffins)

Sift together the Flour, Baking Soda, Baking Powder, Salt and Spices. Stir in the Sugars. Add the Pumpkin and Oil and stir combining well.

Add the Eggs 2 at a time. Add the Chocolate Chips.

Either grease muffin tins or use cupcake papers. I use cooking spray on my mini muffins. Fill about 2/3 full.

Bake at 350 22-25 minutes for large muffins and about 12-15 minutes for mini muffins. Tester should come out clean.

This recipe makes about 2 dozen muffins and 6 dozen mini muffins. They are a great crowd-pleaser and they freeze well.

Have fun baking.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Cream of Tomato Soup

Several of you have requested some recipes from me and I thought this might be the best way to present them. Then you wont lose them or have your son do his homework on the back of it. Now how do I know about that one!

Cream of Tomato Soup
This is nice and thick. It will stick to your ribs on a chilly day. Not a real picky recipe on amounts of the ingredients. Adapted from a recipe on FoodNetwork.

Ingredients & directions
4 Tablespoons of Butter melt it in a pan on low
2 medium Onion chopped add to pan
1 large Carrot diced small add to pan
Turn up the heat to medium till the onions and carrots soften, keep stirring.
Then Add 4 Tablespoons of Flour, cook and stir 3-5 minutes. (As flour sticks to the pan you need to move to the next step.)

Then add:
2 28 oz cans of Tomatoes (diced, stewed, whatever you have 4 14.5 oz cans work too)
2 14.5 oz cans of Chicken Broth and 1/2 can of water
About 3oz of Tomato Paste (half a small can, you can freeze the rest to use later.)
1 teaspoon Basil
1 teaspoon Thyme
2 Bay leaves, whole
Stir well. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer for about 15 minutes. Remove Bay leaves.

In small batches puree the soup in a food processor or blender.
Return it to the pan. Slowly add 2 cups of light Cream or Milk (Use anything heavier than skim milk.) Wisking it together. Simmer till heated through.

Salt and pepper to taste
We also like to add Garlic Powder and Parmigiana Cheese at the table.
Serve with some nice crusty bread.

If you chose to freeze this stop before you add the cream or milk (they will not freeze well in the soup.) Add cream or milk after defrosting.

Sure if it is the right time of the year use fresh tomatoes and seasonings. Canned and dried are the least expensive most of the time.

The recipe can be halved.

6 to 10 servings

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Procrastination Can Be Expensive

I often wonder why it seems that doing anything but the priorities on my list, look like more inviting tasks. It creates all sorts of problems.

The forgotten birthday card to your mother-in -law will involve a lot of Tylenol.

Deciding not to go to the store on Monday when it is sunny, will either get you wet in Tuesday's rain or the grapes will cost a dollar more a pound on Wednesday.

You might as well pick up the poster boards now because it will be a Sunday evening when your child needs one for the term project, due Monday, that he remembered 10 minutes ago.

All of us know that that the meal still in the freezer as dinner time approaches creates a problem. Microwave thawed chicken parts are not as tasty and that hamburg is going to need a lot of coaxing to become patties. Once in a while you can get away with pulling out a jar of spaghetti sauce and with salad fixings the family might think you planned it. How often is it tempting to just hit the drive thru or holler out for pizza? The lesson: timely defrosting.

Now for fifteen more things that will cost you money if you postpone doing them.
1. Returning rental movies or library books late.
2. Paying a bill late.
3. Store bought cupcakes are more expensive than home made ones.
4. Fixing the car's oil leak now and not replacing the engine later.
5. Keep a filled water bottle with you rather than buy a fountain drink when you are out.
6. Packing your lunch will save you later in the day.
7. Book as hotel as soon as you know you need one, gives you more choices and maybe less expensive.
8. Set the coffee pot up before you go to bed, then you can take it with you rather than wait in line for a more expensive one.
9. Wear you new shoes around the house on the carpet to be sure they feel good, if not no scuffs on the soles makes for a much easier return.
10. Before hitting the new book store, check out a used book store. Go with a list of what you want.
11. Check batteries in flashlights and radios often for charge and corrosion.
12. Start you seedlings for your garden. $3 of seeds will give you a lot more plants than you can buy for that later.
13. Check your tires. Proper inflation gives better gas mileage.
14. Buy extra 'Forever' postage stamps now before the rates go up this Spring.
15. Admit it, you are now eligible for senior citizens discounts, use that to your advantage.

Being Prepared can reduce your stress and maybe save you a little money.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Make Your Time Count

Are you spending time going door-to-door selling yourself or product? You might figure that that is as good a use as any for your time in your fledgling business, or not. Do you have a plan for when someone answers that knock you just made?

I had a young man come to my door this afternoon looking to be a Wealth Manager as a small business man. The fellow was well attired in a suit and appropriately groomed, seemed to be a friendly enough fellow. However, he did not seem prepared to make the sale.

I opened my door and he was already 10+ feet away. There was not a business card on my door. He asked about a place I had been based on a bumper sticker.

He was already a good 3 minutes into conversation before he introduced himself, by first name only, and stated that he was a small business man in the field of Wealth Management. I saw flyers in his pocket but he never offered me one. Did he fail to realize that I was A) not going to invite him intro my home to speak of financial matters right off the street and B)that he was a complete stranger to me?

In his presentation, it would be fair for him to make the representation that he would/could be my wealth manager. Think positive. He actually found someone at home. The brochure in his pocket should have been at very least been under my eyes if not in my hand.

I suspect that he failed to realize that he was not going to be invited into someone home and make a sale right then and there. Only Girl Scouts get that quick of a sale from me, especially when Thin Mints are in hand. I certainly would research someone wanting to be my Financial Guru. But I Do not know his full name nor what type of product he was selling? By starting the conversation 10 feet from my door, he could not hand me a business card with at least a website on it, or a brochure, but he already seemed as if he wanted to be at the next doorstep.

As with most people who have spent time at home I am pretty good at getting rid of door-to-door peddlers. If you are going door-to-door know that I am not the only one like that. Also know that I have made purchases this way. I found a great tree removal person for instance.

In this tough economy Door-to Door may be the right marketing strategy for you. Take the time to do it right. If you bothered to climb the 13 step to my front door at least leave a business card. Otherwise, all you are going to get is a nice walk out of your afternoon.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

The Grocery Store Difference

Recently, I have started to shop at Sunflower Markets more often. It certainly changes the way that you think about cooking. To be successful here you must cook not just reheat. OK they have some heat and serve available and they are tasty.

In the past, I did not think about preparing vegetables as part of the meal. I checked to see what was frozen in the freezer. This week I looked at Italian Squash and thought about how to cook with it. It appears to be in the Zucchini family. I will be making a small casserole from it. Eggplant was also on sale. I can smell the Eggplant Parmigiana now. These can be frozen or portioned out for lunches.

Salads are a regular part of dinner since the makings are often on sale. Looking beyond the Iceberg Lettuce there are a lot of bargains out there with a variety of Romain often on sale for as little as dollar a head.

I buy the best meat that I can afford. I do this by making red meat a smaller portion of the meal than I may have in the past. Sliders have become a big hit in my family. A pound of hamburg makes 8 burgers. I keep frozen bread dough rolls on hand. The toppings make the burgers, the salad is on the plate a different way and a little great cheese goes a long a way. Roasted root vegetables round out this meal.

Cooking does not have to be hard but it is thoughtful. The cash in your pocket will make the difference.