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Archive for November, 2009

food stamps

November 30th, 2009 at 05:55 am

Saving log - $0
Spending log - $3.88 coffee, bagel
Found money - $0.41 (11 pennies - road, sidewalk; 3 dimes - 1 in a gutter, 2 in 2 different sidewalk tree planting squares)

I read jaw dropping statistics about food stamps in an article in the paper today:

1 in 8 Americans currently on them
1 in 4 US children fed by them
1/2 of all Americans have been on them at one time or another
90% of black Americans have been on them at one time or another.

Map of food stamp usage

I have never been, but I've come mighty close to it.

3 pics of the season

November 29th, 2009 at 02:45 am

Saving log - $0 tip box
Spending log - $3.88 coffee, bagel + $3.60 Financial Times, meat pierogi
Found money - $1.01 (one buck! in street parking strip amongst leaves, sidewalk)

Yes! I found a dollar bill... which is very rare for me. That puts me at $10.84 - 249 pennies, 10 nickels, 46 dimes, 9 quarters, $1 in bills.

Thought I put up a couple of holiday pics!

Thanksgiving day spread, traditional even down to the relish tray:


And after, when the remainders attracted V.I.:


And the day after, Black Friday. Can you see the irony in the signs? Big Grin

mixed (Black Friday) bag

November 28th, 2009 at 03:55 am

Friday
Saving log - $0
Spending log - $3 coffee, yogurt + $8 lunch, tea + $26 kitchen items

Thursday
Saving log - $0
Spending log - $3.88 coffee, bagel
Found money - $0.11 (sidewalks, crosswalk)

Wednesday
Saving log - $10 tip box
Spending log - $30 wine, coffee for T-day dinner
Found money - $0.03 (sidewalks)

Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving! Along with the old favorites - turkey, stuffing, potatoes, gravy, cranberry sauce, squash, green beans, pumpkin pie - pumpkin turnovers were delicious, and the guests brought a sweet potato cake with coconut frosting that was wonderful. We all ate too much - one of our guests really had to walk to settle her digestion along with me, so I took her on the 1 mile neighborhood tour: the mayor's house, and the various arson spots.

I didn't plan on buying anything on Black Friday, but I did pick up a couple of salt and pepper shakers shaped like gigantic keyboard keys. DH broke our everyday-use glass and metal top salt shaker when it slipped from his hand. These shakers are easy to load, won't break, and make me laugh. I also picked up a single set-and-use teaspoon tablespoon measurer. It also has a magnetic clip and sticks to the refrigerator. In other words, no retailer should depend on me for their livelihood. I also took a snap of a large group holding signs "Buy More Stuff" in an ironic manner in the midst of Westlake Mall. Funny! I'll post it tomorrow.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that 11 cents walking out and about while the turkey was roasting ... it was a holiday after all, so I didn't expect that much. Today, "Black Friday", I also found 11 cents, but somehow I was disappointed. The sidewalks were full of mylar bits and paper - I look for metal in perfect curves, and all the glittery bits inhibited my eye. I'm sure that a fair amount of coin was lurking underneath the trash.

For laughs (or maybe tears), I calculated the amount of money it would take to invest in various fixed instruments to get to the money that I've picked up from the ground. I hear the "not worth it" far less than I used to. Well, if its not worth it to pick up sidewalk change, most of the other fixed instruments are not worth it much either--

1st month, found $1.33. To get that amount of monthly interest, it would take $11,400 4 wk T-bill; $1,227.69 in an ING account; $798 in a 6 month CD paying 2%; $6,384 in checking paying 0.25%.

2nd month, found $1.20. To get that amount of monthly interest, it would take $51,435 4 wk T-bill; $1,107.69 in an ING account; $720 in a 6 month CD paying 2%; $5,760 in checking paying 0.25%.

3rd month, found $3.28. To get that amount of monthly interest, it would take $140,591 4 wk T-bill (T-bills had a horrible auction week that week); $3,027.69 in an ING account; $1,968 in a 6 month CD paying 2%; $15,744 in checking paying 0.25%.

4th month, found $2.37. To get that amount of monthly interest, it would take $60,941 4 wk T-bill; $2,187.69 in an ING account; $1,422 in a 6 month CD paying 2%; $11,376 in checking paying 0.25%.

The Bank of Seely is looking better all the time.

pumpkin turnovers

November 25th, 2009 at 06:16 am

Tuesday
Saving log - $0
Spending log - $5 baking ingredients
Found money - $0.10 (beauty bark in the park)

Monday
Saving log - $0
Spending log - $1.75 coffee
Found money - $0.07 (Safeway floor & parking lot)

Still am finding money around - between July 14 and today I've found $9.58 - as 238 pennies, 9 nickels, 45 dimes, 9 quarters.

Its Thanksgiving, so I'm going to have a bit of fun and post the recipe for the turnovers I made last night for Thanksgiving. I discovered tonight that they are delicious microwaved.

Pumpkin, raisin, ginger, cumin turnovers

Filling
1 24 oz can pumpkin
1 c golden raisins
2/3 c candied ginger
1/4 c sugar from candied ginger (otherwise 1/4 c granulated sugar)
1 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
1/4 tsp cumin (optional)
dash of nutmeg
dash of salt

Wrapping
1 package phyllo dough
melted butter
granulated sugar

Chop ginger if ginger is in large pieces. Combine all filling ingredients. Stir to mix, taste and correct for seasoning. Chill filling overnight. If phyllo dough is frozen, place in refrigerator to thaw overnight also.

Next day, preheat oven to 375F. Melt butter, strain - you want clarified butter. Pull out filling. Put a small dish of granulated sugar close. Wet a towel to keep phyllo moist and prevent cracking. YMMV, but these are the steps that worked well for me:

Pull off one sheet phyllo, brush sides with butter, brush center with butter.
Pull off second sheet phyllo, set on top first sheet.
Cover rest of phyllo.
Brush second sheet phyllo.
Cut buttered phyllo sheets into thirds lengthwise (three long, thin strips).
(each strip) Spoon filling on one end.
(each strip) Fold into 1st triangle
(each strip) Brush butter, sprinkle granulated sugar along rest of length of phyllo.
(each strip) Continue to fold length of phyllo into triangle - think flag.

Repeat - I ran out of phyllo before I ran out of filling.

Set phyllo triangles on baking sheet. I used parchment paper at bottom. Brush triangles with butter, sprinkle with granulated sugar. Bake 20-30 minutes - or until phyllo is golden brown - at 375F.

Optional: sprinkle with powdered sugar.

carrot and potato gratin

November 23rd, 2009 at 05:19 am

Saturday
Saving log - $0
Spending log - $12 lunch + $7 relish tray
Found money - $0.28 (pennies on road and sidewalk, quarter by the basket stand in Value Village)

Sunday
Saving log - $0
Spending log - $3.88 coffee, bagel + $19 kitchen utensils
Found money - $0.27 (pennies and dimes on road and sidewalk)

Yesterday I got mailed a ton of carrots (red, purple, and orange) and parsnips grown by sister at the farmette, so here's what I did with some of them:

Carrot and Parsnip Gratin

1 lb parsnips
1 lb carrots
1 1/2 c shredded parmesan (lots of hard cheeses work well here)
1/2 c bread crumbs
3/8 c butter, cold
3 tbsp flour
2 c milk (since its being cooked and not baked - I just used milk made from milk powder and water)
1/2 c evaporated milk (can substitute more milk)
2 eggs
1 tbsp dried parsely
nutmeg


Preheat oven to 375F. Lightly butter a large, shallow baking pan.

Peel, trim, and slice carrots and parsnips - the mandoline makes quick work of slicing. Toss carrots and parsnips with 1 tbsp of flour, a 1/2 c of cheese, parsely. Pour into baking pan.

Beat two eggs in a bowl. Add evaporated milk, 2-3 tbsp of cheese, beat until well mixed. Set bowl aside.

Melt butter in saucepan over med heat, add 2 tbsp flour. Maintain medium heat and wisk until well incorporated. Add milk, wisk continuously until thick. Take off heat, add nutmeg to taste, and mix well.

Add warm milk to eggs - remember to add milk in a thin stream and beat as you add to warm the eggs and prevent the eggs from scrambling. When milk is all in, pour the custard mixture over the carrots and parsnips. Shake the pan to get the mix well incorporated into the carrots and parsnips.

Mix the rest of parmesan with the bread crumbs, sprinkle over the top of carrots and parsnips.

Bake at 375F for 50-60 minutes.

Still have way more carrots and parsnips...sigh.

delirious from that new investment opportunity

November 21st, 2009 at 05:00 am

Friday
Saving log - $0
Spending log - $1.75 coffee + $32 t-day groceries
Found money - $0

Thursday
Saving log - $4 tip box
Spending log - $1.75 coffee + $4 chocolate coins
Found money - $0.13 (sidewalks)

Rounding the corner on Thanksgiving. As of writing, we are the hosts. As I write, I'm baking 2 pumpkin pies. Its not as if I really want to bake 2 pumpkin pies for the 4 of us, but the recipe made that much filling. I mostly followed the recipe, but added nutmeg. A lot of nutmeg. I'm a firm beliver that if you don't hallucinate, its not enough nutmeg Big Grin.

DJ friend came by my office and told me that he had an investment opportunity for me that was perfect. Here it is.

Made me laugh!

credit union issues

November 19th, 2009 at 03:39 am

Saving log - $4 tip box
Spending log - $1.75 coffee + 5$ phyllo dough
Found money - $.20 (19 cents under a bench at a bus stop, penny on the road

Petunia asked, but I really don't have an equally gossipy spreadsheet that lists out failing credit unions as I do failing banks. From The Bank Implode-O-Meter, I do have a list of credit union conservatorships, along with failed credit unions. Just not blogged about as much.

And if you like things a tad less lurid, here's an index of NCUA board reports and decisions.

I don't know whether the lack of blogging and gossip is because credit unions are more conservative and therefore more stable, or whether credit unions are smaller and therefore its not as interesting to collect that info. (Mea culpa to thrifty ray for that dig. Big Grin)

No matter bank or credit union, its hard to figure out where to put that change found on the sidewalk: $8.73 thus far - 223 pennies, 8 nickels, 41 dimes, 8 quarters. Enough, when put in an extra strong sock, to really hurt someone. Hmmm, there's an idea...

pouring even when you don't suspect

November 17th, 2009 at 07:12 am

Saving log - $9 tip box
Spending log - $1.75 coffee + $20 copay to chiropractor
Found money - $0.12 (counter, sidewalk, bus stop)

Put the tip box money, along with a $6 dividend check, into the bank today. Since I bought personal trainer time, I had a large credit card bill. I saved enough to move savings into checking to pay the cc, rather than use any of my EF.

Got very rainy and windy tonight, so much so that even when I walked on the furthest edge of the sidewalk, I got really splashed by a car plowing through the gutter. Grrr. At least 10 minutes before, I found that dime at the bus stop. It cheered me up a tad.

And on the bus ride tonight the driver apologized for the short bus. "My bus broke down in the rain and I could only get this one," he said.

I couldn't resist and muttered loudly, "Yeah, its not like it rains a lot in Seattle." It put everyone in the back in a party mood.

I also found out that I'm going to keep a sharper eye on my local banks, even more than I had planned. Washington state has over 25% of its banks under stress. Again, pouring when you don't suspect.

food doings

November 16th, 2009 at 02:32 am

Found money
Friday - $0
Saturday - $0
Sunday - $0.22 (sidewalk corner, Goodwill floor, Goodwill parking lot, Safeway floor)

Lots of little food and holiday things.

Yesterday, DH and I went to a coffeehouse "mugging". One of the arson fires in the neighborhood destroyed a coffeehouse and the quirky mugs therein. Another neighborhood business offered to host the destroyed coffeehouse, but no mugs, so on Saturday we could get a free cup of coffee if we brought our own mug and donated it to the coffeehouse by leaving it in the bus tub.

As I walked past today, I saw my former tulip mug being used. Smile

Fish trade is being worked out - the fish in question is Alaskan sockeye salmon, always good. We have club, rib-eye, beef sausage (hot dog size) and ground beef for trade. The hitch comes from the beef cooking skills of the fish trader; to be fair, club and rib-eye are the classic slap on the grill/cook-hot cook-quick cuts, which you need a little bit of confidence/experience to do. She's interested in getting advice next week, and I'm to get information about the ground beef, so we can better assess the fish to beef ratio. Compared to the duck trade, this is definitely more business. The fish for beef trade will go through, but probably in a couple of weeks.

I was at Goodwill today, seeing what change I can pick up from the floor Smile. We needed a platter or two for Thanksgiving; our ceramic platter broke when I dropped and it hit the floor. At Goodwill I found two matching circular metal with white-enamel platters, each at $3. No pattern - I liked the clean look, the handles, large diameter and the total unlikelihood of them busting when dropped. The enamel part is the only issue - carving and slicing directly on them is counter-indicated.

As far as change finding is concerned, winter has come. With the rain, cold, and wind, change hunting feels like it has become an inside game.

caught him!

November 14th, 2009 at 05:56 am

Friday
Saving log - $4 tip box
Spending log - $1.75 coffee + $9 groceries
Found money - $0

Thursday
Saving log - $3 tip box
Spending log - $1.75 coffee
Found money - $0

It would appear (maybe) that the arsonist has been caught. I looked at the picture, I'm sure that I passed him a couple of times on 85th as I walked home. We'll see whether it really was all him - one can't be too complacent because it might not be him or there might be a copy cat. Still, the mood around the neighborhood is a lot brighter.

Other things are looking up too. I always enjoy Friday the 13th because its going to be a payday. (We get paid on the 15th, or the Friday before, and paid on the last day of the month, or the Friday before).

I decided to talk a break from walking home tonight so I have a bit of energy to burn and don't totally feel like sticking my head in the refrigerator. Besides, this weekend is the weekend of cleaning house and preparing for T-day.

Took a break from hunting for change...actually I think it took a break from being lost. The weather has been freezing, so no one wanted to be out and about, and they kept their collective hands in their collective pockets.

heating up

November 12th, 2009 at 06:31 am

Tuesday
Saving log - $50 DRP
Spending log - $1.75 coffee
Found money - $0.01 (gym floor)

Wednesday
Saving log - $3 tip box
Spending log - $1.75 coffee + $21 groceries
Found money - $0.28 (sidewalk, bus seat, between the sidewalk cobbles)

Right now its just watchful waiting. I bought a bit more gym time with the credit card last month, so I'm slowing my spending down (even more) and I have $700 in my bank savings account. I'd like to see if I can withdraw as little money as possible from my ING account.

Thanksgiving is only two weeks away. We are having the Duvall duck friends over. I picked up a few t-day specific groceries (cranberries) tonight and will keep buying. I saw a recipe for maple pear upside down cake and was intrigued, although the 11 tbsp of butter made me do a double take. (I'm 172, with a hope of being in the 160s by the end of the year.) I really enjoyed the roasted cranberries last year and it was fast, so I'm making that again this year.

Work is definitely heating up as it has every November since I've blogged Big Grin - I see a lot more special event checks and much less fake pledging than in year's past.

Not much money news. My 403B is heating up to close to 6 six figures. Stocks are creeping up also. Real estate? Well, the arsonist is still around - hundreds of neighbors attended a community meeting last night hosted by the Fire Department. First order of business: noting that the meeting site (a local church) is at over capacity, and note where the fire exits were. We are to call 911 if we smell smoke, etc, and not to worry about over reporting.

I heard a fire truck as I walked home tonight.

fire vs mayor

November 10th, 2009 at 05:39 am

Sunday
Saving log - $0
Spending log - $5 coffee, bagel, apple
Found money - $0.01 (sidewalk)

Monday
Saving log - $6 tip box
Spending log - $2.00 2 coffees + $10 lunch
Found money - $0.02 (sidewalk, bus floor)

Busy at work counting pledges. It feels like more than last year, but that's only a feeling. As I walked to my bus to work this morning I wondered if Seattle has a mayor's residence, or whether he uses his own house. And if he uses his own house, how much security? This is not an idle thought - I now walk past the house of the guy who won. (the fence around it is tad junky, if you ask me) I guess I will find out the answer to both of those questions shortly. Increased security can only help catch the arsonist, though. I wonder who would win?

CD has matured - I think I will renew it for 6 months. The money will be for a down payment on a house, so its return of investment, rather than return on investment. The interest rate is depressing - in the 5-10K size range, the amount of money I'd make in interest rivals what I find around town. ($1.50 - $3). My found money totals are at $7.89 since July 15.

I haven't eaten all that much of the beef, and its a lucky thing - I got a call from the person who wants to trade for fish. I still have some beef to trade!

2 1/2 meat recipes

November 8th, 2009 at 04:45 am

Friday
Saving log - $0
Spending log - $13 breakfast + $30 for 2 bottles wine
Found money - $0.21 (sidewalks, road, stair step)

Saturday
Saving log - $0
Spending log - $13 breakfast + $17 groceries + $4.50 cat toy
Found money - $0

So we are unburnt. We've had several nights of rain, thunderstorms, and hail. I was at a potluck last night where several people collected and put hail in the freezer. Not quite sure what purpose saving hail in the freezer serves, but to each his own.

I didn't realize that roasting beef bones would cause such a stir! We got the beef soup bones - mostly joints, with meat and cartilage attached - as part of our 40 lbs of beef. The only part that needs pre-planning was to ask that the bones get chopped into 3 inch pieces. 3 inches is critical for marrow, because if you think of a bone as deviously shaped straw, 3 inches is about the length you can comfortably fish out the marrow from the bone using a knife.

Roasting bones is dead easy. Pull out large heavy metal pan that's a couple of inches deep (need a place for the beef suet to go and it shouldn't be the bottom of the stove), set unfrozen bones on pan, set oven to 350F, no oil, no cover. Marrow is done quickly, when the center pulls away from the bone. Pull it out and spread it on toast. So much for the 1/2 recipe.

But we're not done, I put the marrowless bones and meat back in the oven and keep roasting for 2.5-3 hours. Bone and meat should be deep brown. Pour off the suet (beef fat). If you are into authentic Christmas mincemeat or feeding winter birds, suet's your thing. Put the roasted bones and meat into a pot, add water to barely cover and set on a low heat. Water should simmer lightly for a couple hours more. Strain the solids from the liquid - pick out and retain the meat. Chill the liquid overnight, and scrape off the rest of suet from the top. You should have a brown jelly - the beef stock - and if you made it right its pot roast in a bowl.

If you liked that, perhaps you all will appreciate what I did with the flank steak. Flank steak (cow abs) is a tricky cut - its either best as london broil or fajita (quick sear), or its a long slow braise. I took a first stab at making matahambre - butterflied, stuffed, rolled.

Matahambre (hunger killer)

2 lbs flank steak
4 whole raw carrots, quartered
1 c raw spinach
6 garlic cloves, minced
6 hard boiled eggs, whole and peeled
salt, pepper, water

Butterfly the flank steak, meaning cut the steak along its width to within 3/4 of an inch off the side, forming a hinge. (Hinge should be along the grain of the meat). Open and flatten steak like the pages of a book. Spread plastic wrap over the top of the steak, take a mallet and whack it thin.

You now have a wide, flat piece of meat with the grain going up and down. Salt and pepper the meat on both sides, spread the garlic all along the meat. Spread the spinach throughout. Align the carrots up and down, with the grain), set in three piles. Place hard boiled eggs on top of the carrots.

Tightly roll the flank steak and fillings - and by tight, think sleeping bag into tube tight. When you have your tube, truss it secure with string.

Place flank steak tube in pan, add water to half way up the tube (it sounds like a lot, but I didn't add enough water, so I believe it) Braise the tube, covered, for 2.5 hrs, turning the tube once.

Slice your hunger killer like a jelly roll.

Mine was messy - didn't quite roll it tightly enough - but delicious.

2 more arsons last night

November 6th, 2009 at 07:00 am

in our neighborhood. The Seattle fire department is now going to be patroling in our neighborhood & I've never been so happy to ride out tonight's fall rainstorm. Hard to light a match in the wind and rain.

I've been busy tonight: beef bones have been roasting, and are now simmering in water for beef stock. Tomorrow I have the day off. I only hope some moron with a lit match doesn't spoil it for me tonight.

Saving log - $0
Spending log - $1.75 coffee
Found money - $0.02 (floor of coffeeshop, parking meter)

totally uncreative post

November 5th, 2009 at 04:22 am

Saving log - $8 tip box
Spending log - $1.75 coffee
Found money - $0.17 (2 nickels, 7 pennies on sidewalk, road, bus floor) + yesterday $0.05 (various sidewalks)

Not much has been going on - sister got the dutch oven, the no-knead bread recipe with other stuff - a Bad Cat day calendar and a little pocket planning calendar with a plastic cover for rain, and a recipe pamphlet that we got for the beef. Sister is interested in making a similar thing to give to her CSA and farmer's market customers.

Work is getting very, very busy ... and that's nice. Election day was yesterday - I live about 5 blocks from one of the mayoral candidates. Thankfully, Seattle's low key about political publicity. If it snows, beware, that street is one of the least plowable in the city.

dime and penny show

November 3rd, 2009 at 05:36 am

Monday
Saving log - $0 tip box + $35 drp
Spending log - $1.75 coffee
Found money - $0.11 (parking meter, sidewalk)

Sunday
Saving log - $0 tip box
Spending log - $3.88 coffee, bagel + $9 tea, apple, oatmeal bar, magazine
Found money - $0.18 (sidewalk, coffeeshop floor)

Found a 5 cent euro on Sunday. I figured I'd count it - after all, the exchange rate of the euro: dollar was 1.47:1. In other words, the 5 cent euro is worth a hair over 7 cents.

I-bond rates also came out today. The fixed rate is 0.3%. Better than 0.1%, but not enough to think about buying more. The variable rate, though, is much better on this 6 month go around - a bit over 3%.

Took a walk at noon and discovered an ING Direct/Shareholder branch on King Street. For laughs I went in and chatted with the receptionist, who told me that there were plans for it to turn into an ING cafe.

Final Jackie Handey thought: We are now back on "Standard" time, coming from "Daylight Saving" time. Count the number of months of each. Standard = November, December, January, February, 1-2wks March. Daylight = 2-3wks March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October. Since we are in Daylight Saving time for longer than Standard time, isn't Daylight Saving really Standard?

All in all, this picture sums up the conflicting signs on the economy. Its a real picture, fyi.