Friday, January 29, 2010

Microwave Saga Continues

When the microwave surrendered to Murphy’s curse, I was sure I would run right out and replace it. After all, how would I reheat Fly Guy and The Teenager’s meals? How could we make microwave popcorn, reheat cold cups of tea? How could we cook without “warming” up veggies or nuking “baked” potatoes? How could I function in my kitchen with just a stove, oven, toaster oven, convection oven, pizza oven, steamer, roaster and electric skillet? How was I to function without the microwave?


I even went to Target to purchase another free standing model to hog the already cramped counters. I did, I saw them priced them and….had an epiphany. Now to convince Fly Guy and The Teenager we could do without one for a little while longer. With debate team skills backing me up, I argued my point. why make an un-necessary purchase at this time, since we were planning on buying a replacement microwave and stove combo in stainless later this year. Why spend the extra money to purchase one for “instant” replacement and gratification, when going without is means making a few minor adjustments. Why not see if we could last without the microwave for a few months? Not knocking microwaves, just basing this on NEED or WANT.




IF I can find a microwave at a thrift store or yard sale for ¾ less than what it cost new, I would purchase it. Until then, we remain microwave less and I am ok with that.  I will learn to adapt to the convience of having the microwave and maybe learn a few new cooking tricks.


Here is a link to a site I discovered on living without a microwave and reheating foods conventionally. Like our mothers and grandmothers did, before the “box”. I found this site when googling “living without a microwave”. Wardeh has an incredible site, wonderful stories and yes, she cooks and lives without a microwave.


Who knows what I might find in tomorrows yard sales?

UPDATE:  In the name of all sanity,   I just came home to find Fly Guy ordering a new microwave.  UH.  What. Happened. To. Our. Agreement?

His comment..."I never really signed on for that honey...it's a man's right to heat his food quickly.  Besides, Teenager needs one too". 

Sell Out!  I love him anyway.  Next time I will hide his debit/credit card!  

Waiting for the new microwave to be delivered and installed next week. :)






Audra

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Murphy Strikes Again

Last night when I was innocently reheating left over mashed potatoes in the microwave, Murphy and his Law sauntered into my kitchen and wrecked a little havoc.


POW, SNAP, SIZZLE....

That's right.  My 13 year old microwave just gave up the ghost and died.  Right.in.the.middle.of.reheating.  I opened the door thinking that maybe something metal was in there.  Nope. No metal, nothing to short out my lovely microwave.  Funny thing, it still has power, but doesn't heat.  Ah, Microwave chip must have fried.  Why oh Why?

 
Never realizing how dependent I am on a microwave, I had to "reheat" potatoes on the stove, put Fly Guys dinner in the convection oven on "warm" and hope for the best.  The Reluctant Teenager asked me how I was supposed to COOK for them now?  UH, same way I always have.  I don't cook anything but popcorn in the microwave, I only use it to reheat.  But what a wonderful thing that is!  I felt like I was trying to cook with one arm.  I feel NEKID!


I think I will be visiting Target today to get a small microwave until we purchase one that fits above our stove.  Cop out I know, I wish I could tell you that I could survive with out one, I could...but not the Reluctant Teenager and Fly Guy.  They both use it to heat up meals they have missed due to work and school.


I would like to get off Murphy's hit list.


Audra

Monday, January 25, 2010

Frugal Ways...



I have wanted to start a weekly post on frugal tips, but where to start that hasn’t already been covered by many great frugalistas and frugalites before me?





I grew up with in a frugal family.  My mother was a child of the depression and often told us stories about having dresses and panties made from flour sacks.  My Aunt’s family did not give gifts for birthdays.  You got out of the chores that day and a birthday cake was baked to be shared with the family after dinner.  An Uncle tells of times being hard that when you bought a bag of 1 cent gum and chewed it till there was nothing left then offered it to your brother!  Ok, maybe he’s embellish a bit on that, but you get the ideas.


Reminding myself that I came from a long, long line of frugal ancestors I decided to share some of the frugal things I do to keep costs down. 


  1. We rarely eat out.  Maybe three times a year.  If I eat out, it is an occasional lunch and I find I enjoy the experience more without the dinner rush. Luncheon specials allow me to try restaurants that I normally would avoid for dinner due to the cost of entrees.
  2. I grocery shop twice a month.  I would love to cut back to once a month but just haven’t mastered that yet.  I do make a weekly trip for milk or cherry picker ad items that are nearly free with coupons.
  3. I do clip coupons, but only the items I use.  I know there are several people out there that coupon and save loads of money.  I eat mostly fresh veggies and fruits and eat little processed foods, which seem to be what the coupon flyers offer.
  4. Bringing my own reusable bags saves me .05 on each bag I use.  I save about .50 which doesn't seem like much but it averages out to 15.00 a year.   If I forget to take my bags in, I charge myself an extra .05 cents a bag.  Funny how I rarely forget now!
  5. I joined a co-op for my fruits and vegetables.  I have the option of ordering weekly or bi-monthly.  As a smaller sized family I find twice a month to work out great.  
  6. Joining Angel Food Ministries and The Treasure Box has helped lower my food cost and helped me plan my meals.
  7. Not being a MENU planning person, I do try to plot out a tentative menu for the week and not make trips to the store.  (this use to be a very costly habit for me)  I use what I have on hand and if I am missing an ingredient I improvise which gets those creative juices flowing.
  8. I cut cable from our home, thus saving $70.00 a month.  We do have local channels and if anyone misses it, there is always Hulu and You Tube.
  9. I haven’t been to a mall in two years. 
  10. Hunt for the mark down stickers on the bagged salads, dairy and meat aisles to purchase items to be used immediately or frozen if applicable.  Saturday I found brie at .99 a pound!  I freeze it, and then make a Stuffed Chicken Breast with Brie filling or Apple, Smoked Ham and Brie Quesadilla.  Yummo!
  11. I make our breakfast and lunches to take to work.  Fly guy loves breakfast burritos, I make a bunch to last a week or two and freeze them.  I take oatmeal, muffin or yogurt and fruit.  Lunches are either left overs from the night before or sandwiches I have made over the weekend and frozen.
  12. I love bottled water and use to buy two or three a day.  Now I reuse the bottles several times and fill them from the gallon jugs I fill at the water machine.  One bottle cost me less than four cents, instead of $1.29 or more!
  13. The Reluctant Teenager and I fill our ten  one gallon water jugs weekly.  Usually Saturday or Sunday Mornings at 7:00 am when everyone else is still waking up.
  14.  I buy all my bread at the Holsum Bakery Outlet.  Unless there is a serious sale with a coupon attached and I can get the bread for less than a dollar.
  15. We have internet phone service that costs $40.00 a year instead of the $40.00 a month I was paying Qwest for basic phone service with caller id and voice messaging.
  16. I am changing my data plan Black Berry to a regular cell phone saving us over $60.00 month.  My IPOD does everything my Blackberry does and it doesn’t cost $70.00 a month.  Will go to a regular cell phone instead.
  17. I save my dish water when I hand wash dishes and water the outside plants with it.  I figure I’ve paid for it, why should I let it go down the drain?
  18. I save left over veggies in a plastic container in the freezer and twice a month I make a big batch or “Freezer Soup”.  I actually got this great idea from the Frugal Zealot herself Amy Dacyczyn. 
  19. I have two crock pots and use them both on the weekends to cook two “week day” meals so I have more time. (To Blog!)
  20. I have both Costco and Sam’s Club Cards, however I only purchase certain items there because warehouse shopping is not always the most cost effective method.
  21. When I am shopping Target (My favorite Store of ALL TIME) I put a timer of 15 minutes on my phone so that I know I have to get what I came in for and not “shop” the aisle.  Once a month I allow myself an extra 20 minutes of shopping time to “browse” and use my “mad money” if I am tempted to purchase something.  
  22. Shop primarily thrift, consignment, garage or rummage sales for 90 % of my clothing and home decor.  I also take my measurements and those of my family members with me when I shop.  This allows me to gauge the sizing better and make less mistakes and few returns. 
  23. When a store runs a huge loss leader in their ad, I will purchase the maximum of the limit and return to buy more in order to stock up.  Last week one store had canned tomatoes 3 for $1.00.  I bought a case of 24 cans.  $8.00 for what would have cost $1.19 a can regularly.  
  24. I purchase my flour, rice, sugar, beans in bulk, usually 25 pound bags.  I also buy the industrial sizes of Ketchup, Ranch Dressing, BBQ Sauce and Pickles.  These are the main condiments The Reluctant Teenager requires to keep his world on it's axis.
  25. Shop at International food stores to save money on produce, noodles and specialty items.  If you can get past the strong fish odor, you will find a mecca of new items to try, Indian, Asian, Polish, Ukrainian.

                                                               Photo by El Nico
    Just a few of my tried and true tips, things that work for me.  I will try to add more each week and encourage anyone that has a helpful or frugal hint, tip or idea to add in.  Maybe we will do a linky on it.  

    Ta-Ta- For Now....


    Audra


    Thursday, January 21, 2010

    Snow Days

    "Uh, Mom, if you don't hear from me for a couple of days, don't worry".... Ooookaaayyyy...  That's about as effective when your husband starts the conversation with "Don't be mad....", you know where this is leading.  That comment is enough to stop a heart right in it's tracks. 


    My daughter, College Diva attends Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, Arizona where they are getting HAMMERED with plenty of the white stuff.  The past three winters have seen extensive snowfall, after nine years little snow fall.   I guess Mother Nature is making up for lost time.
    Pretty yes, scarey when your child tells you that the television reception is gone, the internet is sketchy and the administation has advised that cell phone towers may be affected next.  Oh, I am not ok with that!  I have to know my baby girl is just a speed dial away.   Thank goodness Mimi's daughters both attended NAU, so she knows what I am talking about...Her family just returned from a weekend trip to Flagstaff last weekend.  I am sure they are so glad they picked last weekend to travel!




    Interstate 17 going into Flagstaff is closed at Camp Verde because the snow plows can't clear the falling snow fast enough. 

    This snow plow is saying..."I think I can, I think I can, I think I CAN!".  College Diva says the NAU Snow Plows have had to stop plowing, they can't get around all the stranded cars, or are becoming stranded themselves.


    Here's what the web cam shows now.  NOTHING!  UGH....



    On an aside note...sure glad it's not me up there, I would have to go into hibernation!


    News about uploading pictures.  Will be getting my hub this weekend or by Monday.  Looking for my cord that came with the camera that has been "misplaced" by Murphy and his danged LAW, so I might be able to load pictures again.


    Not a show stopper but a major nuisance none the less.  Stay tuned, hope to be back with lots of lovelies to show and tell!


    ttfn....

    Audra

    Tuesday, January 19, 2010

    BOOK SALE !

    My new blogging friend, Gio over at Decorator to the Stars is having on heck of a book sale!  A decorating book sale with tons of titles and decorating styles. Check out her collection that she is offering at such great prices, you could get two or three books.



    Here are just a few pictures that I borrowed from her site to entice you, my goodness this lovely lady has many to offer it's like a decorator's dream come true.





    Perfect for inspiration, curled up in your favorite cozy chair with a hot cup of tea and a few of these books.  Aah, sounds like heaven to me!



    If you are not familiar with her blog, please rush right over and check it out.  You will not be disappointed, she is a true Renaissance woman with a junk gypsy heart and soul.  She also makes lovely jewelry and decorates french bottles with found objects de art!  I am the happy owner of one bottle and plan on adding more.


    Here's a little glimpse of my bottle, picture taken with my phone, since I as still unable to load photos until I get a new hub (Awesome Geek Guy tried to appease Murphy, but it didn't work!)



    C'est Vrai!  It is made with the handle of a silver spoon and has a tarnished key for added details.  She also covers each face of the bottle with a lovely black and white print to add a little je ne sais quoi to the piece.



    Tres magnifique!  I am seriously going to start a small collection of these bottles!  Be still my heart!


    She also designs jewelry and fashions them out of spoons as well, here is a picture of my new necklace that she sent me!  I am wearing it now, can't wait to show it off at work tomorrow!



    I am sorry these pictures just do not do the pieces justice, but I am so challenged with my Blackberry!


    Be sure to check out Gio at Decorator To The Stars, I know you will find something wonderful for your home.  


    I promise as soon as Awesome Geek Guy replaces my hub, I will be posting better pictures of my treasures as well as a few new finds and some re purposed items.


    Ta Ta For Now....


    Audra

    Monday, January 18, 2010

    Murphy's Law

    Murphy's Law: 
    According to Wikipedia " Murphy's law is an adage or epigram that is typically stated as: "Anything that can go wrong will go wrong."

    I think I have angered Murphy or stepped on his toes or tread on his law.


    It seems he is to be blamed for a rash of computer problems affecting several in blog land.  I have a small problem with my pc, nothing catastrophic but still a show stopper none the less!  I can't upload my pictures!  My pc doesn't see the port that I have my hub plugged into, ergo, nothing works.    I have to wait for Fly Guy aka: Awesome Geek Guy to take a look at my pc when he gets back from his fishing trip.  I have faith he will figure out the problem or at least have an idea of a peace offering for Murphy.



    Maybe I should write a note to Murphy.


    Dear Mr. Murphy.

    I am sorry, so terribly sorry  Murphy, I really didn't mean to piss you off.  I am not sure what I did to make you target me, but what ever it was I am seriously apologetic.  I promise to take note and remedy my behavior in the future so I don't tread on your toes. 


    Can I please, please, please upload my pictures now?



    Your friend most humble servant....

    Audra

    PS: I promise to be back soon with great photos of Saturday's Finds!  

    Tuesday, January 12, 2010

    When Life Gives You Lemons

     Make lemonade or better yet, juice those lemons and freeze juice for cooking year round.



    Living in Arizona, the winter months are filled with an abundance of citrus fruits.  Not a week goes by that there aren't lemons, limes, tangerines, grapefruit and oranges sitting in the break room for the taking.  If you are fortunate enough to have friends with trees you can luck out with several bags of free citrus.  There are often free boxes at yard sales with lemons and grape fruit for the taking. 


    One of my favorite recipes is Roasted Lemon Herb Chicken from All Recipes website.  This makes the most amazingly moist, flavorful chicken ever! I do Stuffed the cavity with the spent lemons, a quartered onion and a few cloves of garlic as one of the commentor posted and it was tres maqnifque!  I just mixed all of the seasonings with the oil (doubled for a 5 lb. chicken) and brushed over the chicken.   Remember to add another hour to baking when the chicken is stuffed.  A three pound chicken took about 2 1/2 hours to bake.

    Ingredients

    • 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
    • 1/2 teaspoon seasoning salt
    • 1/2 teaspoon mustard powder
    • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
    • 1 (3 pound) whole chicken
    • 2 lemons
    • 2 tablespoons olive oil

    Directions

    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
    2. Combine the seasoning, salt, mustard powder, garlic powder and black pepper; set aside. Rinse the chicken thoroughly, and remove the giblets. Place chicken in a 9x13 inch baking dish. Sprinkle 1 1/2 teaspoons of the spice mixture inside the chicken. Rub the remaining mixture on the outside of the chicken.
    3. Squeeze the juice of the 2 lemons into a small bowl or cup, and mix with the olive oil. Drizzle this oil/juice mixture over the chicken. Stuff the inside of the chicken with lemon peels and drizzles more of the mixture inside.  I also like to stuff three or four cloves of garlic inside.
    4. Bake in the preheated oven for 2 1/2 hours, or until juices run clear, basting several times with the remaining oil mixture.


    I am linking ups with

    Tempt My Tummy Tuesdays 



    Tuesdays At The Table

    and Balancing Beauty and Bedlam Tasty Tuesday.

    Be sure to check out these blogs for more fabulous recipes from other wonderful cooks! 


     Bon Appetit!
    Audra

    Sunday, January 10, 2010

    Saturday Finds

    I had a three day weekend this week and was loving every minute of it.  Wish I could work four tens, or cut back to 32 hours so I could have an extra week day to get things done.  


    College Diva headed back up to NAU for the spring semester.  I have to tell you, it breaks my heart when she has to leave, I enjoy our time together.  Though this break we really didn't do as much as we have in the past, spent it mostly resting and recouping.


    I made a plan to head out to yard sale on Saturday...then decided it was too nice snuggled up next to hubby.  We rarely get time together as he works two jobs and we only have Friday night and Sunday nights to hang out.  


    He took me to one of my favorite places to ea on Friday night, Chevy's.  I am addicted to their salsa!  We rarely eat out so this was a real treat for the two of us to have drinks and dinner.  I don't drink often, so when I do I make sure it's something tasty, and the Cadillac Margaritas were yummo!  Probably had a bunch to do with me not getting up early to yard sale!


    After hubby went to job #2, I put some things in the back of the car to donate to St. Peter's Thrift Store.  On the way there I found a couple of sales.


    Here's what I picked up.


     
    Yep.  Rusted Fleur De Lis!  Saw this from my car as I pulled up.  Held my breath (need to stop doing that, before I pass out on someone's drive way)hoping it was in my price range and NOT already sold.


    It was attached to this.


    Yes, it is mine all mine.  Twelve hard earned dollars later it has a new home.


    I headed over to St. Peter's to drop off my donations and picked up a couple more lovelies....




    I saw this propped against the fence as I was walking in with donations.  I pried the $7.00 price tag off  and headed in to pay for it.  The lady inside said she took it home but brought it back because it was too long for her space.  Woot Woot!
    I am going to paint it a darker sage green, to match my decor.  For now I have it hanging in the kitchen until it finds where it wants to reside.


    In the back of the thrift area I spied this lovely on the wall.  Of course, I had to dodge a few bins of records and 8 tracks, push past a few racks of clothes, but she was MINE.  I even stayed horizontal  (this is the thrift store that is carpeted in ASTRO TURF) and didn't have to shove anyone out of my way to get to this.



    I love this print.  Renoir: Woman with a cat. I love cats.  Going to put this in my office/sitting room when I get it finished.  So worth the $3.00.


    Not too bad of a haul considering I got up late and had no intention of yard saling or thrifting for that matter.


    Great use of Christmas cash!


    à bientôt, mon amies...

    Audra

    Wednesday, January 6, 2010

    Happy Birthday to Little Sis!

    Yesterday was my little sisters 34 birthday.  I can't believe she is 34.  The same age as our mother when she had me.  A change of life baby for my mom, a real life doll for me to cherish and adore.

    And I did...she would fuss and I would get her up and hold her on the couch.  My mother would find us like that hours later, watching Saturday morning cartoons.


    My little one.  Wanted to sleep in the "girls" room when she was four.  She had her own bed, specially made for her, before "toddler" beds were fashionable, my mom and a family friend made a bed out of her crib mattress, springs and headboard/foot board.  I thought it was the coolest thing I had ever seen, just like a dwarf bed out of Snow White.  Little sis rarely slept in that bed, she always wanted to have a slumber party in my bed.  I moved to the bottom bunk so we could.


    Little sister who couldn't dance a lick but laughed at my lip-syncing and 80's hair styles.  Five year old face with turquoise eyeshadow and frosted pink lip gloss as I practiced make up secrets from Teen and Seventeen.


    Miss Piggy for Halloween with dress made from orange curtains, fake fur stole and ears and nose made from egg cartons covered with ivory foundation.  Hours of Chutes and Ladders, Hi-ho Cherry O and Operation.  



    Funny stories shared under the covers with a flash light.  First person I told that I was pregnant (with College Diva)even before I told our mother.  Gave her my favorite pairs of Guess Jeans when they got too tight. Curled her hair and painted her face for her first "date" to the Winter Formal.


    In many ways I was the "other" mother for my sister, filling in when my mother worked or had to tend to life.  Funny how life turns around and now she who is more like my mother in patience and temperament, now more like my surrogate mother than I am hers.



    Happy Birthday little sister.  I love you twenty-bunch-a-muchas!

    Audra

    Saturday, January 2, 2010

    First Yard Sale Of The New Year

    One of the bonuses of living in the "desert" is that we have near year round yard sales.  I was not planning on hitting any sales today as I headed to pick up my basket from my co-op this morning.  It was still very dark at 6:45 am and I was not paying attention to yard sale signs, I was excited to see what the first co-op basket of the new year held.


    While heading back, still pretty darkish, College Diva spots a yard sale sign...."We should stop".  That was all the encouragement I needed and I turned around, hoping it wasn't an old sign.  No, it wasn't and I picked up a much needed toaster oven, brand new in the box, for College Diva.  $5.00!  Woot Woot!


    Next couple of sales, were misses, however the fourth sale, turned out to have some really nice things.  I found these lovelies which I asked the price of.
     
    I have a serious love affair for poinsettias!  When I asked for the price, the lady stated that she though another customer was buying the entire box of ornaments for $10.00.  If not, then each ornament was .50 a piece.


    The other lady purchased several boxes of lights, tree skirt and some other holiday decor.  She passed on the box of ornaments.  I had done a quick calculation, figuring there had to be atleast 40 or 50 ornaments in this box.  I told the lady she had a deal, I would pay $10.00 for the lot.

     

    The box is filled with several types of Santas all Woodland, Nordic and Folk Artsy!  I wanted a new theme for a smaller tree I was planning for the family room/office area.  These are fabulous!

     

    Love the little pencil Santa!



     


    Stuffed Crescent Santas!  Hand Painted!  I *heart* them!


    There were 64 ornaments in all 31 Santas and 33 glass balls in Green, Red, Ivory and Soft Gold.  I am sure I will find many uses for these, maybe I will try my hand at a wreath????


    They even came in their own Rubbermaid tote with divided sections.  How fabulous is that?  That breaks down the ornaments for .15 each and the tote for the remainder .40!  Oh, I forgot to mention that the lady also threw in 3 rolls of gold ribbon for free!


    SCORE!  
    This was even cheaper than the 75% sale that Target has on their Holiday items!


    Hope you are enjoying your weekend!


    ta ta for now!

    Audra