Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Lehman's and Rockefeller Center

This is a record or something - two posts in one day, but I just couldn't let this one slip by. Read this post: A Very GREEN Christmas in Rockefeller Center

Isn't that cool? You probably know that Lehman's is my favorite store for "old time" things. (Things that I use or want to use) I was excited to know that the traditional tree for Rockefeller Center in NYC was cut by a two-man crosscut saw from Lehman's store.

It's probably already been lit by the time this is posted, but better late than never. Sarah has a couple of good posts on it over there: Lehman's Country Life

Christmas Trees

I'm sorry; I can't help it; I love Christmas. Just so you'll know, that will no doubt be a recurring theme for this blog over the next few weeks.

I kind of got caught up in reading when I found the Christmas section at Dollar Stretcher. There are some cool articles there and I like the stories that Gary Foreman writes about John and Mary. It's absorbing information painlessly, something like learning fractions by baking a cake.

Anyway, my favorite is right at the top of the "Holiday Decorating
...for Less!" section, called "Oh, Christmas Tree!". John figures out how big of a tree they really need, and they find out... well, go read it. It's a short and easy read.

I use an artificial tree for a few reasons, but the smell of a real tree really makes Christmas special. If you, too, yearn for the smell of the real thing but can't have one, stop by a Christmas tree lot and see if there are any broken branches - even very small ones - they'll let you have. Bring them home and cut a small piece from the ends to release that fresh real Christmas tree scent.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Time for Gingerbread

You may know that this is my very favorite time of the year. Making new Christmas memories rates right up there with remembering the old, but one of my favorite old memories is when my oldest daughter and I decided to make a gingerbread house.

Yep, it's a little crooked, and nope, it's not fancy. It sure was fun, though.

I've learned a little since then, but one of the things that works just as well now as it did then is the "royal icing" that is used to "glue" the pieces together. If you don't have this recipe, here it is:

  • 3 medium egg whites
  • 1 pound of powdered sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon of cream of tartar

Beat egg whites together until frothy. Mix sugar and cream of tartar together, then add to egg whites and beat until stiff, 5 to 10 minutes.

This hardens, so don't make it until you're ready to use it and keep it covered while you work. You can add a drop of food coloring and/or flavoring like vanilla or peppermint oil.

Gingerbread recipes are easily found on the internet, so I won't post one here, but it's good eating and easy to make. I don't think I'll go for a gingerbread house this year, but definitely cookies and... well, maybe a little gingerbread storage shed...

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

What's Good for the Goose...

...isn't always good for the gander. Take, for instance, the recent drop in the interest rate. It's good for those who want to borrow money. It's not so good for those who utilize savings accounts and money markets.

The same thing is applicable to gas prices. It's not so good for the end consumer, but someone is making money, so it's good for them.

Since tomorrow's Thanksgiving, I guess we should be thankful that sometimes we're the goose and sometimes we're the gander.

Monday, November 19, 2007

The Day After Thanksgiving

Some people call it "Black Friday," some call it "Buy Nothing Day," and some call it the biggest shopping event of the year. The Friday after Thanksgiving when sales are almost mandatory is not a day for the faint of heart.

There's always a story or two about shoppers being hospitalized (or worse) by the sales-crazed crowd as they jostle, push and walk over each other to get the best prices on merchandise that will sooner or later be out of stock.

As a frugalite, I used to feel a little guilty for not getting out there and getting my share, but no more, especially this year. The sales started early, so if you haven't started shopping for Christmas, you may have already lost out on some of the best. If you shop year 'round for gifts you won't have to worry about any of it.

The Day After can be spent doing important things like eating Thanksgiving leftovers while putting up the Christmas tree. You might opt for attending local tree lighting ceremonies or Christmas parades or concerts - all kicking off this "most wonderful time of the year."

However you do it, even if you go shopping The Day After... welcome to Christmas! It's on its way.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The Wonderfrugal Radish

I am unashamedly stealing a word from a charming poster from the Community at Dollar Stretcher, latte4me2day. "Wonderfrugal" seems to describe certain things so well that it should be in the dictionary.

Anyway, you've seen the pictures of my runaway radishes. Planted in June, harvested in October (or was that November?) these French breakfast radishes grew and grew and grew... I left them alone because I wanted to get seed from them. They didn't set seed until it was too late and the tender tips froze, but the huge roots were... well, huge.

Curious, I dug and pulled them up, chopped off the tops and put them in a pan of water, wondering what in the world I was going to do with them.

A day later my sister came for dinner and I decided to slice off some of the root to see if it was edible. It was, very much so. Mild and crunchy, it tasted pretty much like radish, but a little like a turnip, too. My sister wondered if it could be cooked like a turnip.

Since I could never eat all of them, I decided to try. Today, I cut a couple of pieces off and cooked them. Oh, it was good! Just a hint of the bitter edge that puts me off turnips, but with a wonderful, edgy bite to it. I decided that I'd cut up the rest of the two radishes and cook them and might try to freeze them for later (they really were huge - one was about 18 inches long, the other slightly shorter and 3 to 5 inches through the middle).

One of the roots had divided about half way down and when I pulled them apart, the center was eaten out, woody and yucky looking. I sliced off a piece from an outer knob and accidentally dropped the rest to the counter top.

Now, I'm not prone to screaming or squealing at creatures of any kind, but I was surely tempted. A big, fat worm was wriggling desperately to get back to his "safe" hiding place. I don't have anything against worms - I love them in the garden, but on my kitchen counter??!

I scraped off the rest of the radishes into the trash and took it outside. I was brave enough to put three pieces on my plate for supper. I only ate one. I know that's silly and I'll eat the rest later when the picture of that squirmy, wiggly thing has faded a little from my memory.

And wonderfrugal though they may have been, I'll harvest them sooner next time.

Washing Clothes and Other Frugal Entertainment

Well, I let a whole week slip by without posting to this blog! Let me see... what's my excuse... oh, yeah, I've been busy, as you can see by this piece: The Benefits of Washing Clothes by Hand

Now my comment:

So washing clothes by hand isn't for you? What about growing wheat? Or making potholders? Or knitting rugs from rags? Surely you can find something you'll like to do and save money doing it.

A frugal life can be fun, so why not enjoy it? Even if it's something off the wall or something you think no one else would do (a lot of people do funky things!), go ahead and have fun. Experiment, give it a try. Go ahead... have fun and be frugal, too.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

It's almost Thanksgiving!

It's kind of slipping up on us, so I thought I'd give warning. :)

I'm going to be very honest. I know I should think first about the things I'm thankful for - or maybe I should think about family getting together, or about those without family or homes. But the first thing I think about is a turkey.

A big, roasted turkey, to be more specific. I love turkey and I always get one that's 'way too big so I'll have a lot of leftovers. I've already bought one this year - a 21 pounder from Safeway, where they're on sale already. $6 for 21 pounds of meat is a pretty good deal even if part of it is bone.

I need to clean out the freezer so I can get another one while they're on sale. Or maybe two. Well, if I got three, I'd have enough meat for the next two or three months for $18... hmmm...

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Shopping Sales the Easy Way

I'm not much into coupons, but I do watch the sales. Right now, with prices rising faster than a kite on a windy day, shopping the sales is the smartest way we can buy food.

If you can get the wheel turning right, you never have to pay full price for most of your food. Even if you don't have much to spare, you can still stock up a little every time (even $5 worth will help) there's a good sale, and you'll have the product next time you need it - at sale price. If you do this constantly, you'll soon have a pantry full of products bought on sale and you can "pantry shop" (choose what's in your pantry rather than what's in the store) before going to buy groceries. That cuts way down on what you need to buy.

Shopping the sales sounds like a complicated job, but it's really not. Most newspapers run grocery store ads midweek, so that's a start. Not every store puts in their ads, though, and not everyone subscribes to a newspaper. Cheaper and easier: Find the sales online. Most grocery stores have weekly sales listed for your area. You still have to go and hunt down each store, but it's cheaper than a newspaper subscription and you don't have to wade through paper ads scattered all over the table.

Even better than spending a lot of time going to individual sites and looking up the ads, there's a place where you can find them all at one time, faster and easier, with a couple of clicks. really does deliver the sales ads. They've recently had a site facelift, so if you've been there before but had trouble with navigation, you'll love it now. It's all out and upfront so you can see where you want to go and get there right away.

They've added nutrition information and (what can be really helpful!) allergy popups that tell you when you're choosing food that contains whatever allergen you've put in your profile. Super neat.

And, no, I don't get paid to say this; I think the site fills a need we all have: getting the best deal for the best price for the least effort. Can't beat that.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Those radishes...

They don't look very pretty, do they? By the way, that's a piece of yarn in tne foreground that I tied onto them so I'd know which ones to save for seed. No seed, they just kept growing. The tape measure with the one foot mark is for comparison.

Another view. I never have been accused of doing things half way! (Click on the pictures for larger images)