Friday, May 30, 2008

Sex In The City Girls Night Out

Tonight I'm going to see the "Sex in the City" movie. Truthfully I didn't watch the show (I was too cheap to pay for HBO). I have seen it before, but have not followed it.

I don't even care really because I haven't seen a movie in about a year. And I haven't seen a movie at night for like 3! (I mean what does a full price movie even cost these days?!?!?)

Before the movie I'm going to Deanna's house for a girls night out party complete with Cosmos and girl food. Deanna is the "Queen of themes" in my world (Heck people, she had a pub night a few months ago and wrote graffiti on her own bathroom walls! ) so in addition to drinking and eating, we'll all be wearing our best cute shoes. I'm bringing deviled eggs.

$10 for a movie (maybe) and a plate of deviled eggs and that promises to be a great frugal girls night out for me! (of course, it's less frugal for Deanna who is hostessing the party) So perhaps the frugal tip is have friends who throw great parties.

Um.. No, actually what I wanted to say is that anytime I get to have a girls night out and eat and drink with my friends is a great time. Spending money is optional because the real wealth is surrounding yourself with wonderful women to hang out with!

Edited to add: Another frugal tip at the movies is to get there and go find your seat while your best friend gets her popcorn (you buy nothing) save her a seat. She'll sit next to you. Eat her popcorn and drink her large drink! ;-)(I swear, I really WAS NOT hungry when we got to the movies Deanna! )

Monday, May 26, 2008

Trash Pickers Beware!

It's no secret that I like other people's garbage.

However, after a near divorce last weekend over an incident involving a neighbor's corner cabinet on the side of the road ("We DON'T trash pick from neighbors Chris") don't tell my husband this next story.

There I was Saturday morning. The weather was beautiful. My parents had my daughter because we had been out the night before. I got up early. I made some coffee and I was off to go garage sailing!!! I was in the zone. Tomato Cages that I needed for $0.25, a Ralph Lauren sweater for my daughter, $2, 2 hand made punched tin chandelier's for $10 each. I was on a roll. I pulled into the nicest street in my town, thrilled to be out and about, enjoying the view and the prospect of untold treasure.

At my very favorite house- MY VERY FAVORITE one, at the edge of their driveway next to the road were the 2 copper planters that I have been admiring for like 3 years. OH. MY. GOD. I pulled over. I got out. I picked them up. Smith and Hawken ,$60 price tags still on the bottom! SCORE!!! I paused before taking them to the car. These seemed to nice to be trash. (but ever thinking about the wastefulness of others, I wasn't surprised.)

Someone opened the door. I turned to see a fellow kind of confused to see a woman in his front yard holding his planters. I held them up,

"Are you getting rid of these?"
"Um I don't know, hang on."

And so I waited and waited and waited. More and more aware that my unwashed hair pulled up in a plastic clip probably looked a little white trash in that neighborhood. Apparently the owner of the planters was going out and decided to get into her car before driving down the driveway and approaching me. The whole time I'm holding the planters. A very nice coiffed woman stopped a very nice car. My hair suddenly looked even worse.

"Can I help you?"
"Um yes, are you getting rid of these?" (holds up planters)
"Oh, OK, (still holding the planters) because they were at the edge of the yard almost in the street there and I thought you were throwing them out."
"Well I'm not getting rid of them. I'm having them re-soldered"
"Oh, well then you might want to move them away from the road because I almost just stole them from you" (said with a laugh and a smile.)

No smile was returned. Nothing more was said. I quickly unhanded the planters and walked with as much dignity as I could muster back to my car. I didn't look back. I kept thinking how good it was that I actually paused before hopping in the car with her planters. Can you imagine? I'm 36 years old and I'm practically stealing from people in nice neighborhoods.

Seriously people, the weather is nice and I'm out and about. If you have something you want to keep I suggest you don't store it right next to the road.

I'm on the loose! (and maybe next time I won't hesitate before jumping in the car!)

Thursday, May 22, 2008

The Best $8 You Can Spend On Your Face

Lest anyone think I've stopped shaving my underarms because of all of this environmental garden talk lately (as a friend of my husband's suggested :-)) I'm hear to tell you it isn't so.

In fact, yesterday I went to the (not very expensive) salon where I got a haircut, highlight and got my eyebrows done. I've been having my brows done for about 7 years now. I'm not an-at-all-hairy person so I never thought I needed it before then. But what a difference after they were done! Even if you pluck at home you should try a salon job at some point.

A nicely shaped brow frames your eyes nicely and can make you look better than just about any beauty treatment I can think of. And it's the cheapest beauty treatment I can think of as well. I've spent anywhere from $5-$13 on this service. Even at $13 it is a bargain. Yesterday's brows cost $8. For the unshaped brow novice you don't have to do them as part of another treatment. You can just go for your brows alone. Try it! You owe it to your face.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008


Gas is nearing $4 a gallon, that is no secret.

Did you know the average salad travels 1400 miles to get to you? That's a lot of gas.

You can grow salad in your backyard VERY cheaply-A pack of seeds is under$2.

Why are we eating 1400 mile salads? Why are we surprised when the cost of out of season produce (our own season that is) costs so much?

One of the reason is because we've come to expect things like salad whenever we want, rather than when salad is in season in the place that we live. Sometimes we don't even know what is in season in the place that we live.

Another reason is that some people don't want to grow their own salad. I get that. Some people, left to their own devices growing food would starve.

Everyone though, can start eating a little more locally.

During the past year, I've been becoming increasing interested in eating more locally. It makes sense to me on so many levels:

-Food is Fresher and tastes better-Who hasn't eaten a crappy tomato in January?
-Food is (marginally) cheaper
-The environmental impact of your food traveling to you is considerably less
-Less packaging, less waste.
-You are supporting your local economy
-Supporting locpal farms keeps ever single inch of your world from being taken over by suburban sprawl or in other words, by buying foods grown and raised closer to where you live, you help maintain farmland and green space in your area.
-You become more in touch with the seasons. You appreciate the juicy strawberries of June and the tart apples of fall.
-You can meet the people who grow your food

There is a current movement of people calling themselves Localvores-People who try and only eat things that originate within 100 miles of them. Barbara Kingsolver is just one of those people and she's written an incredible book, "Animal, Vegetable, Mineral," about her year of eating locally with her family. Nothing I can say can convince you as well as this book can. Read it! You'll thank me! It's a truly enjoyable read too!

Eating locally isn't as hard as it sounds. Start with your vegetables. Go to your local farmers market, join a CSA, grow your own garden. I also happen to live by a Wegman's, and in the summertime I have to say, for probably the past 10 years, they have been doing an excellent job of showcasing local produce. So for some of us, it's as easy as making good choices at the supermarket.

It's not more expensive than what you already do, it's just more fun, better for you, and better for our world!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Garden Math

I calculate the cost of EVERYTHING.

When I worked it was easier, as I sat next to a calculator all day long. Deanna would call to discuss something (financial or not) and more often than not she could hear me tapping away.

"Um, did you know those individual applesauce containers cost you 34% more than a jar"

"Um thanks....."

One place I don't add up costs is in the garden. Granted, I don't spend like a madwoman but if I budget a certain amount for plants, know I'm gonna spend it.

Today at the garden store I bought a bunch of vegetables. The 6 packs were more than they have ever been. $2.99 a six pack. Individual plants were $1.49. Hmmm..... I did the math-$1.49 each or $0.50 each. In some cases I didn't care and bought the single plants, in others, I economized and bought the 6 pack (though I remember what 6 zucchini did last year!) I may try and plant some zucchini at my parents and in-laws.

A six pack of broccoli means $.50 a head for broccoli (organic the way I grow it) vs $2.50 in the grocery store (non-organic) plus the little side shoots that can be sauteed or used in a salad. At least I like to look at it that way. I'm not adding up the soil I just purchased or the water that I use watering or the bricks I plan on buying to edge the beds. Some things I just don't want to look too closely at. I know it's fuzzy math as they say, but I don't even care. I don't garden to save money (though I am CERTAIN I do) Just don't ask me how I know, because truthfully I don't.

This year I've planted (or purchased today to plant) the following so far:
Sugar Snap Peas
Regular Peas
Broccoli Rabe
1 cauliflower
New to me-Kohlrabi and Colorful Swiss Chard
Some kind of surprise squash
Cherry Peppers
Sweet Peppers
3 kinds of Tomatoes
Scarlet Runner Beans
Salad Greens

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Print Your Own Postage

With the cost of postage going up yet again this week, I thought I would share a money saving tip that I discovered today.

Due to my eBay business, I do a lot of mailing. Sometimes I print the postage online and sometimes I drive to the post office.

I discovered today, that with the new postage rate hike, the post office has a new thing they are doing for postage printed online. All priority postage printed online is $.25 cheaper than it is to mail it at the post office. Some days I print up to 10 labels. That $.25 will add up pretty quick for me. (and in addition, I save gas not driving to the post office.)

You can print your priority mail postage online at the United States Postal Website. It's really easy. You don't need a postage meter. Just a scale and a regular computer printer. I don't even use adhesive labels as I found it was cheaper to just use packing tape to secure the postage printed on regular paper (actually recycled 7th grade social studies handouts that my husband brings home from work as scrap paper.) to the box. I bought a new postage scale for $25 on eBay and I would suggest that if you plan on doing any volume of mailing you get one too. However I used an accurate kitchen food scale prior to that with no problems at all.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mother's Day

My Present:
4 yards of soil that my husband has been moving into my new garden for the past 2 days! (I also got a lovely framed picture of my girl and I
and a gift certificate to a local garden shop.) My husband also took my girl to see her grandparents and give me some uninterrupted time in the garden. We'll be grilling later. Pretty frugal, pretty fun and relaxing.

I will be having a mother's tea on Wed for the ladies in my life-done frugally and beautifully of course!!!

Laurel's Learning Loaf

This is my first ever homemade loaf of whole wheat bread!

I don't know why, but I've always thought of home baked bread as something difficult. (Perhaps it was that ONE TIME my mom made French bread in the 70's and complained about it being hard as a rock for like the next 20 years.) Anyway, the alchemy of flour, water and yeast has always seemed mysterious and challenging to me.

I've ventured in a few times but with white bread and with marginal success.

We eat only real whole wheat bread and that is the kind of bread I wanted to learn to make-a chewy substantial bread. I found an excellent resource, The Laurel's Kitchen Bread Book, a guide to Whole Grain Baking. I made Laurel's Learning Loaf, the very first recipe. It was good, not great (well it was actually great toasted with butter!) There are some fabulous looking recipes in this book (such that I may need to look for this second hand-This book was from the library) but I'm going to perfect the learning loaf before I move on.

The best part about it is that the loaf 100% whole wheat (most recipes have a mix of white and wheat flours) No preservatives, no non-pronounceable additives and it was much cheaper than the whole wheat I usually buy. (Although this is one of those things that I do for the pleasure of it, rather than the cost savings that result.)

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Banana Ice Cream

I feel silly even posting this because it's so darn easy!

On a vegan website I saw a recipe for a fast banana ice cream. (well faux ice cream that is!)

-Take as many ripe (or half price overripe bananas on clearance at the store in my case!) bananas as you have. Peel, mash and freeze! Scoop into dish like ice cream.

This was really good-Kind of like banana ice.

My daughter loved this I gave it to her as a "special" dessert tonight! (it may help that she's hardly ever had ice cream!) but it was really good. I plan to make this with banana and blueberries at some point or even add cinnamon.

I got 4 bananas for $0.47 at my local mom and pop grocery store. She probably ate 1/5 of the ice cream that this made. $0.09 for a healthy treat! I don't think I can beat that!

****Updated to add that today at Wegman's the bakery lady gave my girl 2 cookies. She ate one and brought the other one home. This evening we let her choose which one she wanted-Banana ice or cookie. She choose the Banana Ice!!!!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Pittsford Farms Dairy

I have been wanting to try local milk for a while now and today was the day. After a meeting this morning, I went to the only local dairy in my city, The Pittsford Farms Dairy.

The Dairy is a small and has been in operation under two families since 1888. It not only carries milk, but a variety of local products including baked goods, eggs, ice cream, coffee from a local roaster and homemade pasta.

In December, Pittsford farms makes a SERIOUS egg nog sold in local stores. Fortunately it is rather expensive, thus I consume much less than I would otherwise.

I could not wait to get the milk home and try it out of the glass bottles. ($1 each,the first time you get the milk.) It tasted very fresh and sweet actually. The reason behind the sweetness is that generally, milk is pasteurized at 170 to 180, in pipes, for 16 seconds. Pittsford Farms pasteurizes in vats at a much lower temperature (145), for much longer (30 minutes). It's like slow-cooking using indirect heat. The milk tastes different due to caramelization of sugars.

I purchased a half gallon of half and half along with 2 gallons of milk and one dozen local organic eggs. Prices for everything came to a mere $3 more than if I bought them from the grocery store. (not including the $2 for the bottles!)

$3 extra for great quality and to support local food is a deal in my book! It would be cost prohibitive for me to drive there each week just for milk (Hence why I bought 2 gallons and so much half and half!) However, I do find myself out that way once or twice a month and plan to utilize those trips to replace some of the milk/eggs that I buy from the grocery store.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

What Do You Call Two Republicans In A Car?

A Carpool!!!!

I'm happy to report that starting tomorrow morning, my husband and his friend Doug, possibly the only Republican teachers around, will be carpooling to work!

I told him how impressed I was and how funny I thought it was that the 2 republicans were the ones to decide to carpool.

He was a little exasperated with me when he answered:

"We're not all Alex P Keaton ya know."

I told him he's a crunchy conservative.

Friday, May 2, 2008

We joined a CSA!

I'm so excited!

Tonight we joined an Organic CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) Farm. For those of you unfamiliar with the idea:

A CSA, (for Community Supported Agriculture) is a way for the food buying public to create a relationship with a farm and to receive a weekly basket of produce. By making a financial commitment to a farm for their share ($220 a year in this case) , people become "members" (or "shareholders," or "subscribers") of the CSA. Each week we will pick up our share at a local drop point (which happens to be closer to my house than the grocery store!) This farm runs the program for 22 weeks so the cost ends up being $10 a week!!!! For Organic Produce!!!

I have been wanting to do this for a while now but didn't know of a farm and had not known anyone who did this. I was told of this one, Windy Meadow Farms by a mom in my daughter's pre-school. She has done it for a few years now and loves it. This mom said that her box would last the entire week usually. Also, this farm sends an email out each week so you can order what items you want in your box so you don't end up with a bunch of stuff your family won't eat.

They don't do fruit so I will be going to the local farmers markets this summer for that. I am also growing my own garden so will focus on the things I can't get through the farm like tomatoes. The pickup time is Thursday evening from 4-6 which coincides with the local farmers market about a mile from the pickup point. I think my plan will be to head to the pick up and then over to the farmers market to fill in with anything else we need!

I love the idea of locally grown organic produce for a variety of reasons and I'm thrilled we will be expanding it to include all of our veggies this year!!!

They will also be offering eggs this summer and I'm excited to try those as well!

Thursday, May 1, 2008

No New Stuff Year April Edition!

Ok, a quick round up of items purchased during April of the no new stuff year.

2 Garden Urns (I have no excuse here. I WANTED them.)
1 Pair of Sexy Sandals (Well I did need shoes)
1 Bottle of Pink Nail Polish to complement sexy sandals (I'm calling this a need. My toes are tired of winter, tired of shoes, tired of looking dull and lifeless. They look cute today!)

I also bought a few clothing items that I did need.

Gifts have long been something I've tried to be clutter free about unless it was something I know the person wants or needs. For Jeannine's birthday last week I gave her a basket of strawberry plants and some depression glass plates that I thought looked like strawberry shortcake plates. They were totally up her alley. My grandma turned 84 Monday and I gave her a basket of Hollyhock plants with the promise that I will come and install her new hollyhock garden next week.

Note that both of those people are gardeners so the idea of live plants is something they were happy about!

Oh I almost forgot. I bought these garlic clips for the deer in my garden this year. I was kind of disappointed when they came because I thought they were refillable with garlic oil after each season but they are actually disposable.....I wonder if they work? I'll keep you posted on that one as I don't think I know anyone with as many deer in the backyard as I have. If they work for me then they will work for you!

Dirty Secret #2

I recently discovered that my college frig was running in my basement. It contained exactly 9 beers. It has since CHRISTMAS!!!!!

This was understandable at the time when my husband made his own beer and needed a cool place to keep the beer (lest they explode!!!) This was Labatt's which was purchased for a large Christmas gathering. We don't even drink this stuff. What mysterious visitor are we keeping them cold for? They haven't shown up since Christmas so they probably they aren't coming.

The electricity to keep these beers cold for a month probably cost more than the beers are worth (Including the $.05 refund!!!)

Said frig has been unplugged and beers relocated to the upstairs frig!!!