Thursday, April 30, 2015

Fairy Garden in front bed

I have an area that is actually thick mulch over an old sidewalk.   So I have made it into a fairy garden.  

I love the little mailbox above.  

The little 'dog house' is actually a bank.  LOL

The houses were purchased a few years ago with Birthday money.  They make me happy each year.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

We have asparagus!

I have been slowly planting things I picked up a few at a time each morning.  When I looked at theasparagus bed on Saturday there was nothing except the beginning of the one Horseradish plant and the chives peeking out.  

Now look at what I have!


There is enough for a meal here, I will be harvesting tomorrow morning.  

   One onion

New asparagus plants in the bed and loads of chives!  I also transplanted six broccoli plants into another bed.  Here's hoping all does well this year........

Great bargains with Gold Coins at Big Y

Normally I have not faired well with trying to use gold coins at Big Y.  Last night I did very well.  I got all shown below plus 10 cans of Iams cat food (not pictured) for just $19.49.  

The Scotties Facial Tissue are the big boxes that are a bit smooshed.  They were marked $1.49 each.  I wish I had my coupon folder with me when I stopped in, as I knew that I had coupons that would have made the deal sweeter, but still, I was pleased to get these two boxes for under $3.00.

The organic celery was FREE with a gold coin, the organic mushrooms were .98 with a gold coin, the  11 ounce box of Olivia's spring mix salad was 2.99 with a gold coin and the organic baby Roma's were FREE with a gold coin. The only things I paid full price for were the carrots and the salted peanuts in the shell.  I thought I did well.  

Monday, April 27, 2015

Finds at urban miners, collinsville antiques and assorted MA stores

We went to visit Urban miners in Hamden on Saturday after a morning of teaching.  A more realistically priced and less flashy then the similar Wrecking business in Stamford.  Definitely not as a spacious.  There were some very interesting finds in this place.  I was happy with my find of a white donkey planter for a buck! 

Then to Collinsville Antiques.  We go to this warehouse at least every 3 or 4 months.  This time I found my first sitting donkey planter.  Also my first piece of Irish Pottery.  I found the same item online in the US for $16.00 and in UK for 9.99 english pounds.  I paid $10.00 plus tax.  

We collect various items, most of which we use.  I have been on the hunt for a sifter.  This was the first one I found in pristine condition.  I don't think it was ever used.  I intend on using it that's for sure!  I think it's from the '50's or 60's.  Only $5!  Look at the inside, usually they are rusty and have old food stuffs in them.  


DH usually isn't excited about glassware, but this set (one pictured) of 6 pilsner glasses from the '50's really caught his eye.  He kept going back to look at them.  I told him to get them.....they match our kitchen, they made him happy.  $22 for the set.  Not bad.  Two are on display in a built in curio cabinet in our dining room (we have several built in's throughout the house that my grandfather made, love having them for all of our collectibles.) and 4 are washed and ready for beer or ice cream.  

I collect violin figurines (I have a curio cabinet at the studio too).  This was a first, a young girl playing violin cast in brass.  Very heavy.  Most expensive single item we purchased.  $35.00.  It was the way she was made and the choice of material that she was made out of that made me decide to get her.  She looks great on my antique music cabinet along side my gilded violin vase from Palestine (a find from last year in the Berkshires)  The painted glass was found in PA last year.  

My DM (who I don't see much, but I do look out for things she likes) collects handle-less creamers from the early 1900's.  This pair was documented as being from a diner in upstate NY in the 1920's.   We paid $7.00 for the pair.  These and some finds from our last PA trip will round out her Mother's Day gift.  

Last find was the jar on the left for just $4.00.  The jar on the right was from several months ago ($15.00)  I have them in the living room so that I will start sorting them.  I have jars with white/colored/dark and metallic buttons.  I find it a relaxing thing to do, sorting my buttons.  I plan on keeping my favorites...and then selling the rest of them.  

That was it.  Our big spend.....Oh wait...........there is the bookstore post.  Maybe tomorrow.  Everyone sleep well!

Raynham Flea Market $33.00 spent

First trip to a flea market for the season.  In Raynham MA, this was a great market.  Our first time, but it was easy to get to, easy parking.  Entry fee is $1.00 (or .50 if you enter before 9 a.m. )  Hours are 8 to 5 Sat and Sun.  Indoor and Outdoor.  

DH enjoyed most of the bargains.  Second booth he was excited to find new hats with Mason logos.  It was a conversation starter for him with several brothers this weekend.  Just $10.00!

Then a new leather holster for his pistol (we are a gun license family) directly from the manufacturer, This was half the price he would have paid online (just $20.00)

I found the grocery deal of the day.  Two packages of brussel sprouts and 3 pounds of bananas.  $3.00!

We probably won't make this a monthly trip, but maybe once or twice a year.  We had a great breakfast at a local place.  $13.49 with tip.    DH had two eggs over easy, white toast, 3 strips of bacon, 'loaded' fried potatoes which would topped with more bacon, cheese, sour cream and chives.    I had two scrambled eggs, two strips of bacon, two sausage links (shared with DH) english muffin and plain potatoes.  DH had OJ and I had water.  I was impressed with the design of the place, and that cleanliness.  Also the quick service.  

It was the beginning to a fun Sunday adventure.  

Friday, April 24, 2015

It's almost time for Farmers Markets and Flea Markets.

I cannot wait!  DH and I enjoy our time at these events (well, me at Farmer's more than he) and I am so excited that City Seed will be resuming outdoor markets in just one more week!

In past seasons we have been able to furnish several rooms in antiques.  We believe in the quality of older products, if it's still around it's made to last!  We also enjoy the hunt, once we set our minds to a certain style we start hunting.  To get the quality of the furniture we buy in new products could be 2, 3 or even 4 times the amount that we pay.

And the hunt has started for our bedroom.   We have started it with this find.  We paid $150 for this beautiful cabinet.  Isn't it beautiful?   It's approximately 85 years old, so not technically an antique....but solid wood, beautiful dimpled glass.  We oiled all the wood, and gently cleaned the glass.  DH also made one repair to a wooden strip that holds in the left hand curved glass side.

We plan on using it for books and some knick knacks we like to have in our bedroom.  The french boudoir clock that DH found last summer looks like it was made to sit on top of it.

Goal is to find similar dresser and chest, maybe even bedside tables.  I already have a mirror that is of the era we want that was in my Great Grandmother's house.  

Do you prefer new or reclaimed furniture?

Monday, April 20, 2015

More Bumble Bee Canned Salmon at Walgreens

Photo from my first deal of this kind in a previous month

The price this time was better,  at Walgreen's, with coupon these 14.75 ounce cans were just $1.99 each.   To sweeten the deal, I had some balance rewards (still haven't transferred scripts, so accumulating points).  I have more than 10 dollars accumulated, but the cashier would only let me use $3.00 for some reason.    But I will take this much salmon for .98.  Wouldn't you?

And for the kind reader who commented without putting their name.  Thank you for the advice.  I'll make sure I take more photos so they won't be blurry.  Sorry it bothered you enough that you had to make a comment.  

Go get that salmon deal everyone!    Thanks again Carol at ctonabudget for teaching me this trick. 

Sunday, April 19, 2015

What's Cookin?

DH's delicious chopped salad.  This fed a family of 4 (I sometime's say 6 counting how Gpa P eats) for several days!   A pound of our Zaycon chicken breast grilled, a can of garbanzo (CeCe) beans, a can of corn, two large cucumbers diced, black and green olives halved, green and red pepper, onion, a head and a half of iceburg lettuce and tomato.  Shredded cheese and ranch with a splash of barbecue sauce for dressing.  He models this after the California Kitchen Barbecue chopped salad that he had once.  We sometimes add tortilla strips, but he couldn't find them in the store, and I wasn't home to make them for him when he created the salad.  This lasted from Monday to Thursday!  

I had purchased a refrigerated can of Crab meat (16 ounce by bumble bee, a new item) for just 6.99 after coupon!  I thought that was a great deal for picked crab meat.  The last of our warehouse sized mayo, a can of sliced olives, onion, celery, a box of Barilla white fiber shells I had gotten free with a coupon a while ago (B1G1 free sale also priced at a dollar a box, had a dollar off two).  Old Bay Seasoning.  This was a winner!

Still finding the last of the locally raised quarter of a steer we had purchased last june.  This was two soup shanks, I had browned and then put into the crockpot over night with onion skins, celery ends, carrot tops.  Look how dark this stock came out!  Then I strained everything, took all the meat off the bones, added lots of onion, chopped celery and carrots.  There is a small amount left, for maybe a lunch.  

Continuing to use it up!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

A busy Sunday and purchases Monday

Though I mentioned in my vent it would be a very tight month, I had put aside monies for several things this month, and DH and I decided that I would still do those plans, as they were the best prices for the season.

We went to Home Depot to get mulch for the yard.  Four days of the year, you can get bags of mulch for just $2.00 a bag.  I purchased 8 bags for $17.01 after tax.  cash.

We went to BJ's wholesale to replenish spring water, milk, salad dressing, a pair of Chinos for DH, and lint brushes.  I also found some clearanced items for the rewards case at the studio.  Total spent $57.00 cash.

Next stop, with coupons was Kohls, to get DH a few more casual dress shirts.  He found two.  We also found the fitbit heart rate tracker (steps/calories/stairs/miles too!).  I have been ordering this for months, only to have each order canceled due to out of stock.  I didn't want to, but he insisted and we used our Kohls's account. I will pay it off in full in May.  Keeping track of my steps has been a very important part of my daily activity.  We also have started keeping track of my pulse (I tend to have panic attacks, and if my pulse is fine I start to calm down).  So for me it is a need not a want.  Total charged after coupons $167.00.

DH had plans to go into Boston with friends (made months ago) so when he left, I spread all the mulch, the last two bags of garden soil was also added to the raised beds, and I weeded out the asparagus raised bed.  Still need to work on the strawberry bed.  I hit 10k steps between 130 and 330 pm!  Water, coffee and shower well deserved!

Next activity was making a Target list.  The beginning of the month I had made a goal to only spend an additional 100-150 on dairy/produce.    However, DH pointed out he was running low on his healthy snacks (nuts/seeds/rice crackers etc) for his lunch box.  So one of my projects while he was away was to see what I could do to get the most bang for my buck.  I do have a Target card, which I use to get an additonal 5% off.  I pay that off in full if I use it as well.  So, I went through the Target Cart app, then the Target website coupons, then  Armed with my list off I went.  I did so well, that the cashier commented.  Before all the discounts, $147.00.  After, $54.00.  Included trail mixes, cleaning supplies for studio, crackers, chips, nuts, fiber one bars, campbells organic soup boxes, two family size heinz gravy on clearance for .86 cents each (I priced them in the regular store at 2.99), a 28 pound box of a new cat litter that was 50% off on Target app too,  and these two lovely Easter/Spring wreaths at 90% off, just 1.49 each!  Ok, not a need, but I could not have made them this cheap.

                     The egg wreath is burlap wrapped, and the feather wreath is felt.


So, some charges made, but I know I can pay them off in full in May, so I feel okay about it.  

Monday DH and I mailed some items I had sold on ebay, picked up prescriptions and went to Big Y to get some cat food and some produce.  $33 out of the paypal account.    Still doing okay, even if the tax man knocks tomorrow.  I'm feeling at ease.  

Friday, April 10, 2015

Sigh, tightening the belt for spending the rest of the month

April 15

Argggghhhh  Need I say more?

The only good thing about this day it's my DD's birthday too. 

I pay quarterly estimated taxes.  I still support my DD (almost 22) yet I can no longer claim her.  I do claim my 70 yo father who we support and provide for. 

 My DH and I work hard (he has a job, I am self employed, owning a music studio)  I am out of the house an average of 65 hours a week.  Though you'd think this was raking in the dough, I volunteer my time for a lot of special needs students who cannot afford my services.  I love what I do, and am lucky that I can make a living while being supportive to so many. 

Though I am prepared, it's still not a great thought to know between owing even more than the almost 10k in estimated I already paid (1700 fed 200 state) my estimated which is also due on the 15th has  increased.  Plus the State Entity Tax is due.  In total, I need to write checks for $4950 on top of usual monthly expenses. 

Sigh.  Just needed to vent a bit.  

DH sold a camera, and I sold a violin.  We can pay the additional owed. 

I can re-adjust things for the changes in estimated.

No Sunday adventures this month.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Chia Seed Pudding

I have been trying to eat better, and in turn give my family more tasty healthy foods to eat.  The main problem is that I enjoy simple plan foods, and the majority of the household prefers salt/fried/processed.  Slowly I'm turning them around, but it hasn't been easy.

My first experiment with Chia seeds was this no cook pudding.  I first read about this idea on the One Hungry Mama website .

I tweaked it a bit.  Instead of the honey I used 5 drops of vanilla stevia.

Instead of the cup of coconut milk, I used half a cup of lite coconut milk and half a cup of water.

1 cup of unsweetened almond milk and 4 tablespoons of organic chia seeds.  After overnight it hadn't set up enough, so I added 2 more tablespoons and waited another 12 hours before tasting.

Mixed together it looked like this

Overnight in the fridge it looked like this

I enjoyed the texture and the taste.  It had just a hint of vanilla and sweetness.  Does have the consistency of tapioca with a bit of a crunch.  I probably would put a few more drops of stevia into it.  My food nutrition breakdown for half a cup is 118 calories, 9 g of carbs, 7 g of fat, 5 g protein, 7 g of fiber and 46 g sodium. 

A winner in my book!

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Zaycon Roasts O My! Referral Link

Please note I do not get compensated for my reviews of any Zaycon meats.  I am very excited about the savings and quality (mostly) of the products I've purchased.  I do get a $1.00 for each person who goes through my referral link if they make a purchase.  My link will be listed below. 

Doesn't this look gorgoeus?   I split a case with two friends (and shared one of my 4 with a cousin)  This week was the first time I was able to cook one.   Browned it up and added it to the crockpot on top of two Tbspns tomato paste, Two Beef stock concentrated gel packs, lots of black pepper, two onions sliced the last of a bag of small carrots and 4 peeled white potatoes.  

On low for 8 hours, the meat was falling apart.  It smelled and tasted delicious.  I had seconds, which with beef is UNHEARD OF IN OUR HOUSE. 

MY DH, who has a culinary degree and was a caterer in his younger life said it was GREAT.  He never says that.    Here is the description of the Roasts from the ZayconFoods Website. 

USDA Choice Chuck Roast

  • USDA Choice or Higher Grade
  • 12 individually wrapped roasts per case
  • Delivered frozen for freshness
  • Limited quantities

There were two negatives.  These roasts are just too darned small.  I cooked the largest one for us, we each had seconds.  There is probably two more servings left.   if Gpa P was home, I would need to cook the last two together. 

I also wasn't happy that though they tell you the price of the roasts and anticipated poundage per case, they were WAY OFF with our first time purchase.  You have to pre -purchase your case.  Price was 208.44 for 36 pounds (5.79 per pound)  I fronted the money for our group.  We actually only got 22 pounds,  and they don't refund the difference back to your card, they give you an account credit.  So I made sure to use it asap, and got another case of chicken just this week, which I then split with a friend who reimbursed me.  This is the one caveat that I warn to people.  After a year of a credit being on your account you can request a refund, but not sooner.  

But knowing this, and having been very happy with the products we have gotten thus far (93% ground beef, boneless/skinless chicken breasts three times/chuck roasts)  I will continue to deal with this company. 

If you would like to check them out too, please consider going through my link and registering on their site to get on their mailing list.  As mentioned above, if you ever make a purchase, I get a credit of $1.00.  Here is my link

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Food Shopping for April (Zaycon referral Link)

Other than getting loss leaders for the rest of the month plus milk and produce we are done shopping for the month.  And it's only April 2nd!

I spent $187.01 at Bj's wholesale.  I paid cash.  I got our Easter Ham (rare visit from DM and DGma, at a young age 95!) for $24.00 by combining a BJ coupon and a manufacturers coupon.

  I purchased Salmon which we had for dinner yesterday, and there is more for at least two more lunches today.

 Enough yogurt for the month (for all of us, we all enjoy yogurt, just different styles)  Almond butter, 10 pounds of baking potatoes, Chia Seeds (making a new pudding this week and will post results), 4 pounds of turkey breast and 1 pound of american cheese.  A dozen large croissants from the bakery(DD will make sandwiches for herself, and I only paid $1.99 after coupon for these, YAY!) A case of water (coupon) Large bag of Skinny pop popcorn and a case of individual bags of Boom Chicka Popcorn (coupon for DH lunch).  24 ounce package of beautiful stuffing mushrooms, Grated Parmesan cheese, 25 pounds of rice (right now in the freezer to kill off any potential dwellers) Breakfast burritos (another request from DD and of course, a coupon!) Ricotta cheese (better price here with coupon than ShopRite) and trail mix for DH lunch.

All in all, I had coupons for everything except the mushrooms, potatoes and almond butter (though that had a clipless coupon deal of $2.00 off)

I shared a case of 40 pounds Zaycon Chicken with a friend $40 reimbursed to me.  No actual out of pocket cost as I had some referral credits and had been credited back for a beef order that I didn't receive the full amount of pounds I had paid for.  If you want to check Zaycon out, I would appreciate you going through my referral link, I get $1.00 towards future purchases if you order!  My Zaycon Referral Link

Big Y this week was two trips, yesterday for the Sale ending and today for the sale starting.  Total spent $55.00 between the two.  6 pounds of Oscar Meyer Bacon $2.66 per pound (B1G2 free), Frozen turkey breast .98 a pound, Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk, Thai light coconut  milk (ouch, $3.55 on sale!  This is for the chai recipe, in the future I might just use almond milk, but wanted to taste the original recipe before I start tweeking)  Large jug of white vinegar (cooking/cleaning), 5 pounds of shredded Mozz, 3 pounds of asparagus, 3 pounds of baby carrots and 1.27 pounds of Broccoli Rabe.

Final stop, DH wanted a treat sandwich (trying to lose weight, so he only requested a sandwich, not a steps, but I am proud!) Broccoli Crowns and Celery.  $10.25   My favorite go to produce market Connecticut Natural Food Mart!

I am going to work hard to make bread and sweets, and only get milk and vege/fruits for the rest of the month.  Since DH is trying so hard to lose weight I won't need to have so many snacky things, which is GREAT!

Total cash so far $252.32          I hope to only spend an additional $100-$150 for the rest of the month.  It really helps that GPA P is in FL for two weeks.  :)

Anxious to get the garden that is!

Nothing makes me feel happier or healthier than working out in the yard.  It also makes me feel awful and sick (I have horrible allergies)  It's a fine balance between which meds are actually helpful and what I can do without becoming incapacitated.

I also am realizing I'm getting older, (though DH pointed out the bags of soil I bought were more than double the usual size.............GREAT price on supplemental soil for my raised beds) which made me feel a little better as I loaded it on a cart and carried to the back yard.  The smaller bags of soil or mulch I was able to just toss over my shoulder last year.  I also am nursing a two year old injury that is a real hassle for a violinist/violist (left shoulder/neck).  But enough whining............

It's spring!   At least according to the calendar.  Which means I want to start gardening!   I have found some bulb flowers peeking through............

And I started getting some of the raised beds ready with that supplemental soil.  Though the new soil is not organic, I have so much organic matter that I have added to the bed (you can see some of it on the other beds) I'm not concerned about this new addition.  Do you see the pumpkin decomposing in the farthest right corner?  That will be this years experiment, to see if any of the seeds will catch and we will have a pumpkin patch.

The farthest left will house peas I plan on putting in today.  A bit late, but not as late as usual.  I didn't think the Farmers Almanac was intending on me removing two feet of snow in order to plant the peas.

I also have green beans (DD used to love hiding in the oversized bean teepees I would make each summer when she was small.  Though those days are long gone, I always reminisce.   Spicy Mesclun, Kale and Swiss Chard.  All from GMO free organic certified seeds.

I have so many locations to get organic tomatoes/cukes/squashes that I don't plant them anymore.  I plant the things that are most cost effective (for anyone who buys mesclun mix at $10.00 a pound at the farmers market you know what I mean)

I also am anxious to see if the garlic scapes I replanted after taking the tops last year will continue to grow.  You might notice some greens in the 'pea' bed, those are onions I planted last year.  Fingers crossed!  The scapes are in the far side of the pumpkin bed.

I also splurged today and got a Stainless Steel Galvanized Watering Can.  $32.99, warrantied not to rust or rot.  It is also the size I wanted, with a rain shower spout AND matches my milk jug decor.