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Frugal superpowers

May 27th, 2012 at 09:36 pm

Thursday night, I swapped the cords from our non-working DVD player to to the one I bought last week at the neighborhood yard sale. The player and the remote work!

Friday I joked that I had a frugal superpower. Along with being able to pick grocery store produce ... and I used that this weekend by picking out and buying the best 3 pound clamshell of strawberries. Our own strawberries in the strawberry pot are flowering and just setting fruit, as is one of our blueberry plants.

Got the idea for sister's birthday gift in August from a photo she sent me with my birthday gift... turns out that the farmette finally now has a mailbox. And that got me thinking; the classic first mosaic project for some is a house number plate. I know we have no house number plate at the farmette, so a mosaicked one will be her birthday gift.

no kidding

April 1st, 2012 at 05:16 pm

Despite it being April Fools, all of this happened to me:

1. Found a dollar bill in a puddle today, along with a fair amount of additional change. Today's total found money was $1.56, but....

It put my total found after 992 days of tracking and looking at $200.81. Thank you Seattle for being so ... fey about yer money.

2. Bought broccoli for $0.99/lb.

3. Declared my soap nut experiment a success, so I hunted for a dependable bulk supply. Found it at Zenith Supplies for $12/lb. Bought about $10 worth, along with 3 muslin bags. You put about 8 soap nuts into a muslin bag, close the bag, throw the bag in the washer with your clothes. The soap nuts are light, so a bit under a pound of soap nuts is hundreds of soap nut shells, years' worth of laundry.

These things were true. But my favorite April Fools Joke for 2012 was this.

bought my GS cookies

March 9th, 2012 at 08:32 pm

I broke down and bought one (1) box on Wednesday. Now I'll have to ignore for the rest of the season. Big Grin My traditional rules of buying cookies were this:

Last day of the sale.
Buy on the fly - no preorders.
Buy whatever is my favorite from the limited choice.
Parent should be nearby and only as an observer and doing security.
Girl(s) have to be the saleswomen and do the entire thing...
Discuss their product
Do the math
Take the money
Make the change
Thank the customer

I passed by a stand at the grocery store and with the exception of it not being the last day, every thing else was met. I bought a box of a new flavor, Thank You Berry Munch, that had dried cranberries in it. The salesgirl assured me that those cookies went well with coffee as she was asking another girl to help another customer and a third girl to help me with change. CEO material there!

productive frugal day

February 12th, 2012 at 09:18 pm

In honor of retire@50 and monkeymama:

Had a very productive, moderately frugal day today:

10:30 - 12:30. did the Sunday routine of going to the coffeehouse and got coffee, a slice of quiche and read the Sunday NYT. Yes, I pay for coffee. Sundays it happens to be free, but if there is a jar about, I slip a dollar in. I've made my peace with paying for coffee - I get drip, I enjoy the ritual of ordering and being social with the staff. NYT paper subscription on the weekend happens to be expensive and duplicates the Kindle, but I like the feel of paper, I see all the pictures and the NYT itself is the one paper that won't turn your mind into cream cheese.

12:45 - 1:30. 2 mile walk, listened to the podcast of Marketplace Money, hunted for change (found pennies and a 10 cent euro coin). Noted on the walk that a Tile company was having a 20 yr anniversary sale. 50% off grout. Will have to check that out.

1:30 - 1:45. Hit the bus stop. (I go carless). I used OneBusAway to figure out when the bus will come - it really helps to take away the frustration out of using transit. Found out I had about 15 minutes, so I went to the produce stand. Bought 69 cent avocadoes for lunches next week, and $1 bagged salad. I was tempted by the $2/pt blueberries but figured they'd get smashed by the time I got home.

2:15. Made it to Bedrock Industries to pick up 10$ worth of vitreous glass for mosaics. Noted that I can get 4 x 4 in squares of marble for 50 cents!

2:45 Walked to Peets and Whole Foods because I was feeling a little hungry. Peets had a line, didn't see what I really wanted at Whole Foods, so I skipped the temptation. Noted that the blueberries were at 3.99$ at Whole Paycheck.

3:15 Caught the bus back and walked another 1.5 mile home. Got my exercise today and quiet time today.

4:30 - 7:30 Pulled my green folder out, took up Vanguard's offer on cheap(er) TurboTax. Calculated and filed my 2011 taxes. I pay $207, which is pretty usual for me. Since my 403b is going great guns, that represents my tax deferred money pool; I put 5K in a Roth - its worth more to me to bulk up the tax-free pool of money than it is to get the refund if I put it in a traditional IRA. My tax rate in total this year is 9.7%; I'm good with the $207.

In other words, I got a lot done, learned bits of information to further my hobby, got exercise, chilled out. I spent a little bit but I'm good with what I spent - it will all get used.

divided up the beef

September 24th, 2011 at 06:47 pm

We divvied up the cow amongst all parties this afternoon - all in the parking lot behind the Seattle Mennonite Church. A slightly new twist on last year's procedure: after we divvied up the cuts and packages that were mathematically easy to divide, we spread out the rest, drew lots for picking order and took turns picking a package - a bit like picking teammates or picking a Christmas package at the white elephant sale (no stealing though Smile).

That worked even better than the dickering, although I don't know if the number of times one picked in a round was equivalent to the proportion of your beef. In other words, the person who bought the whole quarter should get a pick/round versus the people who bought an eighth would get a pick every other round.

DH and I still should get about 5lb bratwurst and 5lb of kielbasa in the next couple of weeks.

I asked my current trainer and a friend of his to come down and buy from us because I wasn't sure that our share would fit in our freezer - last year we had to cook that week what couldn't fit in. The friend took one look at the piles of white packages and said, "that is more meat than I have ever seen."

There was one cute, but sneaky, little 3 yr old moving our packages into his dad's pile. Fingers crossed that we caught all the packages he moved. Smile

It only took us 30 minutes from when the farmer/rancher drove up to everybody leaving the parking lot.

Cost of our 1/8 share - $427.88. I had heard that the farmer's side job was no more, so I wrapped a $20 (for gas) and added it to an envelope, along with my check.

Oh yes, still keeping on with the paleo/primal eating plan. I'm now at 164.8. I lose two more pounds and my BMI will drop below the overweight range.

picking up the pace

September 12th, 2011 at 09:30 pm

Everybody at work is now back from vacation, and the temporary fundraising staff is here with us on our floor - the pace at work is picking up.

Right now I'm working on the audit - my boss is pulling transactions that the auditors are interested in tracking and I'm making sure that my facts are straight on them. Today, though, I looked at the list the auditors gave, traced the details ... something is wrong, wrong, wrong. With the auditor's sheet. Strangely enough, it cheers me up when the auditors screw up. Only people, I guess.

I am feeling a bit grumpy at some of my co workers, though. One especially who works in a different department. I formatted a sheet with leading zeroes and she whined at me to do it again. Drives me insane about it (and other things) - it takes all of fifteen seconds for anybody with reasonable Excel skills to fix it. These days in the recession, we are on the second leg down - you show idiocy, a "not my job" attitude, or weakness it's over. It just is.

On the food front, the farmer is nearly ready to deliver - tentatively we can gather everybody around on the 24th. Free museum day appears to be canceled.

The cowpool 2011

September 3rd, 2011 at 07:12 pm

Apologies that it's been so long since I've written. Its been quiet, I've been paid, and we are in the midst of a three day weekend. What could be sweeter?

We (about 15-16 of us) in the beef consortium are about to get our beef. This second year, the cow was named Gosling. She is going to be a big one, with a package weight (I call it that - its the total of all the white packages we will get) of 480 lbs! Ginger, last year's cow, was a glorious 402 lbs. I was the designated call-ee - the butcher asked one of us to make a call and confirm the cuts that we wanted. I didn't want too much too fancy, but I did want the cuts to be an inch thick. Last year Ginger was 3/4 inch thick. The thinness made making rare steak a challenge.

Last year we developed a pretty straightforward distribution system. The farmer drove up into the parking lot where we were all to meet. We asked the consortium beforehand to bring coolers and food scales if they had one. We collected four large boxes and broke them down into pads, each representing a quarter. (I and my cow-partner comprised our quarter).

We set the cardboard pads down on the concrete. We sorted the cuts out by package so had a good idea of what there was a lot of and what there was only one or two of. We took the packages we had the most of (hamburger) and dealt them out, then dealt the next most, and all the way down to what we had packages of four of.

Cow-partner and I had to split what we were dealt between the two of us. I asked DH what he most wanted and what he thought would be nice to have. I think we got it. This year though, the cow-partners are a couple of very close friends of ours - DH might find it easier to give up some cuts betting that we'll eat at a dinner party.

The fun began with the 1-2 package cuts. That's when the food scales came in handy. We cleared the pads again (people put their dealt cuts into their coolers and bags). We called out the cuts - the cooks amongst us called out what you could do with the cut. Whomever was most enthused about the cut, the dealer put it on their pad. We kept those cuts on the pad until those cuts were dealt, so that if we could see if someone was shorted. We also traded between the pads on a pound for pound basis.

So I admit that this technique works best if all parties have a sense of adventure, and while excited about meat aren't total booby-heads if they don't get every cut. I throw it out there as a public service - buying a whole cow is suddenly fashionable, but no one talks about how to divy one up.

mystery gift

July 28th, 2011 at 08:01 pm

I got a mystery gift today. Somebody paid $20 for me to get a twenty minute massage. I suspect it was my boss, but I'm not sure. I'll ask her tomorrow.

Yesterday was the Greenwood Seafair Parade... somehow the pictures I took didn't really turn out, but I'll see if I can find some good ones for fun.

The crafty patch is thinning out some. The non-crafty, but creative project of getting my database to play nice in Office 2010 is nearly done. It loads and mostly works - only two buttons don't. Of course they are the two buttons that I use in January, so sigh, project not completely done. But done enough for August.

Video for what our department does has been written and filmed. Now it has to be rendered into a file format and edited ... then done!

We are planning to get another 1/8 of a cow. This one is larger, so it will finish a bit slower (late August instead of right now) - good for a little time to save some money. Bigger means that 1/8 is going to run more than 50 lbs, so I've gotten another buyer who we can sell some to if we don't have enough freezer space. The farmer is offering us two possibilities - one is an Angus, the other a Limousin. Finding out the Limousin is a very old breed that runs a bit leaner is tipping me toward that choice.

Everything is now quiet enough to allow us all to wonder about a US default. But in the meantime, its payday tomorrow.

Chased

April 25th, 2011 at 09:08 pm

Closed out my checking and savings account with Chase, kept the rewards based credit card. Got what I got in cash, and promptly deposited it into the credit union bank. Now both my checking and savings accounts are close to the $500 limit for the 6% interest rate. Its only $30/ year, but at least it means that even my smallest accounts are working hard. Talked to HR, my next paycheck will be paper, the paycheck after will be direct deposited appropriately into the credit union.

That project is done.

DJ friend asked to write up a special letter for the Internet radio station. There is a serious issue - he is a legal internet radio station, which means in the U.S. he has to pay royalties. What usually happens is that he submits the songs/works/etc that he or his other DJs will play, along with a monthly payment to a royalty clearinghouse. The royalty clearinghouse pays another agency who then pays BMI, ASCAP, etc. Apparently the royalty clearinghouse that DJ friend has been using has not been paying anybody and has been shut down. So its been a mad scramble to go to a new clearinghouse.

I have to shake my head here. No wonder the music industry is in the state its in - everybody else has to streamline, get leaner and meaner, etc. The music industry appears to just have gotten meaner without the leaner.

So I wrote the letter explaining the situation to all - only took me two hours. As a payment, got a nice capacity coffee card for my trouble. Free coffee for a couple of weeks!

settling back in

March 16th, 2011 at 09:13 pm

Collected an expense check for something work related I bought, and my bank stock dividend check came in the mail two days ago. (Since its in the process of being bought by another bank, no dividend re-investment). They go into the tip box, along with $3 here, $4 there, $5 yesterday. Right now the tip box squeezings this month stand at $39.

One of my other DRP stocks - IP - raised its dividend by almost 5 cents/share/per quarter. It means that for most of my stocks, each quarter I buy close to another share of stock.

At the asian grocery store, I found seed packets - edamame, several different types of long beans, purple shiso. Mailed the seed packets this afternoon to sister. She is interested in growing them, but found it hard to order some of the seeds.

As for lunch these days, I made up 3 cups of crab salad, bought a pack of whole wheat english muffins, and am going to town. A little bit different than the 1/2 c rice and bit of protein lunches that I've been taking these past couple of years, but the salad/ english muffin combo should last me the better part of a week.

Very slim cheap non-processed food pickings at the grocery store lately; I had better luck with one of the permanent produce markets in town, Rising Sun market. $1.25/lb tomatoes, $1.59/lb green grapes. Had to pick around the not so good stuff, but I could be in Japan and have nothing to pick at.

Other than that, I haven't had any NSDs, but I've had several very low spend days and that makes me happy.

already, blew lunch

February 8th, 2011 at 09:38 pm

..well, just once. We went to Duvall on Sunday to watch the game on their big screen (which cut off the Pittsburgh side of the score which was a great feature), then we watched Glee and chatted. None of us thought any of the super bowl ads grabbed us - maybe we were jaded. Unfortunately we didn't get leftovers and I got back too late to make and pack a lunch, so I ate lunch with friends. That was Monday.

Tuesday I still had timing issues. I wanted to roast the duck thawing in the refrigerator, but didn't get that done in time either. So lunch today was:

1 cup peas/carrots
1 slice ham
1 fried chicken drumstick

Got the rice, and now am roasting the duck tonight. We'll see whether I get it done in time for lunches.

In other news, I am now fully packed. Sister's bed at our place, an air mattress and sleeping bag on the living room floor, our kitty is warming up. Work is coming together and should work out. It had better!

I am just freaking excited, and find it hard to sleep even. Thursday night sister comes into town, Friday night we fly out. I'm trying to manage expectations - I'm going to try to go off the net in a developing nation. And no looking for change - in a place with landmines, picking up shiny circular objects is not smart.

Yummy, Merry Christmas

December 25th, 2010 at 06:51 pm

Merry Christmas to you all!

It has been a low key, frugal Christmas up here in the upper left hand corner of the US. Cooked a goose we traded for beef for from our Duvall friends. 'Little Henry' was written on the package. Little Henry was all dark meat. I made a bread dressing with onion, celery, tarragon, chopped nuts, dried fruit, cinnamon and nutmeg. Really can't taste the cinnamon and nutmeg. Also fried the last of the potatoes my sister sent (with the turnips) in goose fat. OMG, good. Made Szechuan green beans, a green salad, and a pear/cherry brown betty to round out the whole thing.

Yesterday, I ran my second yogurt making experiment. I scalded the milk, let it cool to 115F or so, poured the still warm milk into the wide mouth 'food' thermos ($10 from the grocery store) with a spoonful of store bought yogurt, stirred, sealed it up and waited for 6 hours, then opened it. Worked like a champ! While the goose was roasting I got out the jelly bag, spooned the new yogurt in, let drain, and a couple of hours later I got 1 cup of greek yogurt. About the only issue with the thermos for yogurt making is that it really only makes one serving, so it will require planning.

Got an unexpected, but really interesting gift - DH gave me a pocket video camera. Takes AAA batteries! Boy that will be a fun gift for the Vietnam trip.

The final interesting thought came from the newspaper. Use your live, hopefully not-sprayed tree in cooking! I don't usually have a Christmas tree, live or fake, but no doubt I can find a residential, unsprayed pine overhanging a sidewalk as I walk by.

jelly bag and rant

December 12th, 2010 at 09:25 pm

First the jelly bag with a tripod to hang over the sink. (I was jelly bag-less so I spent 12$ at the hardware store.) I was given a quart of apple butter, homemade by lawyer friend. It was delicious but runny. The solution is: the jelly bag. Pour the quart of apple butter into the jelly bag and wait for 1-2 hours as the liquid drained into the sink. A quart of runny apple butter turned into about a half pint of perfect apple butter.

It got me thinking about my second project. Making yogurt turned into a bit of a bust two weeks ago, but I still have an urge for a dairy project, so how about yogurt cheese, made with supermarket yogurt? I didn't have the butter muslin called for (a finer mesh more-clothy cheesecloth), but I did have the jelly bag. Turned out perfectly, and dead easy, so easy that it really doesn't call for a recipe. Dump supermarket yogurt into a jelly bag, let drip for 12-24 hours. Press a little - I twisted the bag to create a more compact 'cheese'. Its the consistency of cream cheese. I made eight little yogurt balls and rolled them in dried mint and a bit of kosher salt.

Now for the rant. Its been awhile for this one, but today it was just horrible. Our usual Sunday coffeeshop closed a couple of weeks ago due to fire damage next door so we went to a different one. We set down our wrapped newspapers to get coffee and discovered people reading 'em when we got back. I'm happy that people still want to read paper newspapers, yay, but dammit, if you are too damn cheap to buy your newspaper, you ask "may I?" and accept a no if we are not done. We share when we are done. Done means unwrapped from the baggie, paper in sections in a stack on the table. It costs some to get the paper, we buy it so we get first dibs.

Nuts, man.

silver dime and canning exchange

October 31st, 2010 at 07:37 pm

Yesterday I did a wet walking tour amongst the grocery stores and produce stands in my neighborhood. I've been invited to a canning exchange party - provide 1 of what you made and canned, either pints or half-pints, to each of the invitees. So far there are 9. Of course half-pints are way easier to can than pints, but I want to can something special, but seasonal ... because seasonal is cheaper and tastier. Hence the walking tour.

I was excited to see quinces at the produce stand for $1.49/lb, and even more excited to find very straightforward recipes for quince marmalade. (Which before the 19th century, was what everyone considered marmalade, not citrus). So that'll be my contribution.

Yesterday was the fact-finding mission; today was the buying. One of the coins I got in my change was a 1952 dime. Any dime made before 1964 is a silver dime, and apparently the current price of silver makes that dime worth about $1.40. So along with the wheat pennies, I'm looking for old(er) dimes.

fertilizer day!

October 15th, 2010 at 08:13 pm

I wrote the date on some of my work today:

10-15-10

And its payday. I saw the raise - about 15$ per pay period. The new health insurance contact will kick in in November, for perhaps a few dollars more.

This week Safeway had the all the loss leaders: grapes, broccoli/cauliflower, bagged salad, cat food. We ate enough of the beef to make room, so I also bought 2 lb bags each of frozen corn, peas & carrots, green beans, at $1.25/lb. Not great but we were out of the frozen veg so it was needed.

all about the free sandwich

October 1st, 2010 at 09:24 pm

Downtown Seattle, at least in the Pioneer Square district, is a tad depressing. Every block, several businesses with the For Lease sign in the window, caused either by outright business failure or by moving to greener pastures in other neighborhoods.

But today a new lunch place opened up, complete with the free sandwich coupon. So free sandwich ... or rather, free doner. an o with the two dots above it, because its a turkish/german sandwich place. I got a lamb doner with the spinach wrap, cilantro, onion, feta, tomato, red cabbage. I think the cabbage is the german bit. Smile

I asked the counter guy how you pronounce doner with the dots over the o. Sounds like "duna" rhyming with tuna or puma. I said "donor" and he told me that only the Texans say it that way.

I will not have a particularly spendy weekend. I opened my purse tonight on the bus and got a sinking feeling. I left my wallet in my office (well hidden and no guessing where, thief) and it has pretty much everything I need, including my way to get into work. Its a rare person who works over the weekend to let me in, so its surviving by my wits until Monday. Mostly its going to be buying money from DH, and using a couple of bus tickets that I get from the bird flu vaccine study. I took the tickets after the blood draws despite having a bus pass because you just never know.

Turns out that the IRS is going to call DH back starting in mid October. Yay!

Following up with CB in City, my own college alumni is sponsoring a trip in February that I am very, very interested in going on: "Temples and Waterways of Vietnam and Cambodia". Just sounds like the trip of a lifetime. Talked with my boss, and as long as we plan it out, it looks like a go. Since IRS is not going to let DH go in February, I'm in talks with my sister (going alone is unappealing). The time of year is perfect for her.

bank fall out

September 20th, 2010 at 08:38 pm

Weather has been very unsettled, as if late summer and fall were having a full-on wrestling match. First it would be sunny, then downpour, then wind, then heavy clouds. I'm not declaring Venus yet, but fall, of course, will win. Brown leaves have already started to hit the gutters and the first leaves of Fremont are turning red.

It has been a slightly spendy weekend - got my hair cut for $15 (it needed it badly), went to the Half Price books warehouse sale and picked up 6 books for $15. Next weekend will be spendy also - its Greek Festival time and I need olive oil and grape leaves.

Sausage from our cow is ready and I pick it up tomorrow from lawyer friend.

You might remember that I work for a non-profit that starts with "U" is two words, and the second word rhymes with the Canadian "ay". As in, "ay, you hosers." Work has been picking up for this year's campaign and I've been fielding calls from others in the same "united" system. We've all learned a lot about what happens to all of us when our local banks get closed by the FDIC. In a nutshell, all employee pledges from the bank that gets closed are considered a loose end, a debt, and die. They will not be paid out. What happens afterward depends entirely on the bank that buys the old bank from the FDIC. Most do nothing, just absorb the new employees and wait until next year. A few of the new banks will allow the former employees to run a small bridge campaign, and one even assumed part of the old bank's corp gift. Very interesting!

quiet times

September 13th, 2010 at 09:44 pm

I've been sick with a cold for the last few days. I've been sleeping, but I've been walking a bit to get fresh air in my lungs. I took the day off, more to keep from spreading the stuff around. But there has been some news:

Beef fest occurred last Saturday. Lots of beef, and most of the people who became part of the consortium came. The consensus was that red angus four was quite tasty. At the time we named her Ginger (I didn't blog about that before, it made the meat just a tad more personal than I had liked) - ironically most of the dishes people brought contained some spice ginger also.

Screenwriter son's film did not get into Milwaukee, did not get into Chicago, but did get into Ellensburg (college town in central Washington) for a waived fee. Its also up for consideration at the Tallgrass Film Festival in Kansas.

Went up weight to 172, but I think I am back to below 170. (Yay illness and its appetite suppressing qualities). A couple of weeks ago I bought 2 more pants in size 10, one more in size 12. I've gotten rid of nearly all my size 14s. How's that for buring a bridge?

Another Tuesday, another blood draw for the bird flu study. No chicken behavior seen. No payments yet; so far I've gotten was a good working thermometer. I ran a slight fever with the shot, I've run a slight fever with this cold.

While I haven't been blogging where I've been finding change, I've been finding change just to see how much I can find. I've been finding a lot more. Last month I found $6.75, this month $6.02.

My dividend stocks have been bouncing around, but generally have been going up. 403B has been going up steadily also. Might just as well let it ride at 50% stock, 30% bond, 20% cash for a little while.

food doings

September 5th, 2010 at 11:23 pm

Dj friend came by yesterday and bought 4 lbs @ $7/lb. 2 steak cuts which are each packaged paired, so either package will make a nice special meal, plus one pack of hamburger.

As we were talking, he reminded us that we told him about Lenny's ... and I have been complaining about produce prices, how nothing is under $1/lb. Okay, $.99/lb, but that's only for loss leader items. Not that I don't take advantage of them, but it would be nice to turn back the clock to, say, 2004 or so.

So we went back to Lenny's. $.99 for blueberries, .69$/lb for carrots, $.89/lb apples. Ah, back to where it takes a fair amount of weight to get to $5. I also picked up a bunch of swiss chard that looked good - $1.19/lb.

I sauteed the chard leaves in olive oil, garlic, and red pepper flakes. However, I found a great recipe for the chard stalks:

Creamed chard over pasta

1 bunch chard stalks - about 3/4 lb, or 2 cups
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 stick butter
1 cup heavy cream
dash nutmeg (my twist from the recipe I found)
pasta - I used penne
salt, pepper

Clean chard stalks if you haven't already, chop into 1/2 inch pieces.

Melt butter at low/med low heat, add garlic, saute for 1-2 min. (watch the butter, I burned my first batch. Frown )

Add chard, saute until chard is soft. (5-8 minutes)
Add the heavy cream to the chard, stir, keep at low heat and reduce to half the volume. Add nutmeg after about 10 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste.

Cook pasta al dente if you haven't already.

Dress the pasta with the cream sauce, serve warm.

glorious, restful work

September 3rd, 2010 at 09:28 pm

Friday
Saving log - $3 tip box
Spending log - $1.75 coffee + $5 groceries

Thursday
Saving log - $4 tip box
Spending log - $1.75 coffee + $7 groceries

Wednesday
Saving log - $0
Spending log - $0

Feels very good getting back to work. Not because work is always super fantastic, but it is something that really keeps you from spending money. Hours can pass, and none of my money spent. Glorious. Vacation can be stressful in its own way, even if you do nothing. Nothing means, if nothing else, you are eating and spending more.

I did a bit of catching up. Sister enjoyed my creation for her birthday gift - a flipbook made from one of the books I made from a Japanese book binding kit, some pictures I took around the farmette, and a few fortune cookie fortunes.

Unfortunately, the Milwaukee Film Fest didn't accept the movie, so no quick trip to visit sister. I did mention to screenwriter friend that he could show it at another great Milwaukee venue: sister's-across-the-street neighbor owns a converted funeral parlor. This guy's "man cave" was once the main viewing room, and now is a large room with a home theater, 8 barcaloungers in a semi-circle, and a full size pool table many feet behind the loungers. Mammoth man cave, in other words. You could easily fit about 100 people comfortably for a show. Smile

Still fine after the experimental flu shot. No pecking. Well, DH would probably disagree. Smile Actually, I figure that this is going to be the safest flu shot I'm ever gonna get because I'm going to be one of a few hundred being heavily monitored. That has to be far safer than the average one that millions would get a few years from now.

DJ friend is interested in buying a few pounds of beef from us. I figure that our price for all our beef averaged about $7/lb, so that will be his price. However, the twist is that one of those pounds will be hamburger just to get the average right. Selling a little bit will have a useful function - it will make a little room for some bartered duck. Beef fest is still going to be Sept 11.

V.I. passed her 1 yr anniversary with us. So far, she has a little bit of a scratching issue. The vet hasn't found an obvious cause. No ringworm or fleas or anything that can be cultured. So its a watch and wait - change her diet from dry to wet, give her lots of affection and not too many stresses. No surprise vet boardings while we go on summer field trips.

catching up ...again

August 28th, 2010 at 11:14 pm

Even though its been a relaxing stay at home, a lot had happened:

Did the neighborhood gumshoe event for $20. It was a list of 30 clues that got you about and out and around the neighborhood, and you had to answer the question regarding each place. I think the preteen set had the best mind for it; they observed, took things literally, and didn't read too much into the clues.

Went up to Vancouver, B.C. for a surprise two day trip. That one was a bit pricey - about $200 for the hotel room and parking.

Sent off sister's birthday gift for $10 - most of her gifts were home or kit-made or were provided for from the Greenwood yard sale. I especially liked how the flip book of pictures of the farmette and the two framed pics of the farmette turned out.

The rancher delivered the beef to us this afternoon. That one was a bit pricey - $316. We got our 1/8, or about 50 lbs, and I think we got pretty much what we wanted. All told, it did work out to be about $7/lb. Best of all, it just barely fit into the freezer. Here's what 50 lbs of beef looks like in a top freezer.


DH had to re-pack the big bag of short ribs into two smaller ones - he got one of the bags of short ribs into the freezer, but the other is in the fridge. Anybody got a great recipe for short ribs?

Oh yes, the official beef fest is going to be on the 11th.

beef final $

August 13th, 2010 at 11:15 pm

The final decisions were made on red angus four, now that she is no more and her carcass in the freezer locker.

We want as little hamburger as possible (lots of chefs and cooks in our group), so we opted for cube steak, additional chuck steak (beef bourgineon anyone?), some german sausage (long straight kielbasa-like sausage), some summer sausage, plus all the various steak cuts. We are going with the cut to maximize the New York strips and tenderloin. (Last time we asked for the 90 degree off cut to maximize T-bones, rib eye and porterhouse.) No hamburger patties, just 1 and 2 lb packets. I don't hate patties, just that one can make patties of any thickness from thawed hamburger and a pack of patties is a real PITA as it takes up space in the freezer.

Final cost amongst our consortium equals $2527.00 (the carcass price minus the deposit). It means that the 62.5lb 1/8 share = $315.88 if one paid their share of the deposit ($50 for 1/8 cow). In other words $5.85/lb total cost or $5.05/lb not including deposit. Not too shabby. Its grass-fed, grass-finished, organic, un-CAFO, we met the rancher-the land-and the cow beef. Thundering Hooves is probably the closest in quality - their hamburger is $9/lb retail and their steaks go up from there.

Now the real pitfalls begin. Who wants and who gets what cuts? The aim is that people get the poundage that they paid for, mostly get what they want, can cook (or are interested in cooking) what they get, and if there's a universally hated item, its split proportionally amongst the crew.

2 thoughts. 1.) Everybody provide what they most want, what they can cook, and what they hate. Then its like playing Hearts only using with beef cuts and the liver is the queen of spades. Big Grin 2.) Rancher makes 16 equal piles. Those who are on deck for 1/16 get one pile, the 1/8s get two piles, the 1/4s get four piles ... and again with the whacked out beef cut card game making trades.

Sausage comes separately, next month. So I definitely want to be a bit short of poundage to get some sausage.

red four update

August 5th, 2010 at 08:51 pm

You might remember our beef cow, a red angus sporting a four ear tag. In an odd way, thank you for those red x's.

She had turned into a carcass last week, weighed in at 625 lb and is now hanging and resting. The rancher is now asking us for how we want it cut. Dressed weight is about 80% of carcass... all told, I'm expecting about 62 lbs to hit the freezer.

Lifehacker had an article about whole animal buying. The comments were a scream...you buy a whole animal with several people. No one's expecting you to eat it by yourself. Smile Anyway, there was a fantastic link to an Iowa State extension buying guide. (Warning, its a .pdf.) Useful for any meat eater.

riddle me this...

June 19th, 2010 at 07:39 pm

Friday
Saving log - $0
Spending log - $1.75 coffee
Found money - $0.01 (parking meter)

Saturday
Saving log - $3 tip box
Spending log - $15 brunch + $5 coffee, brownie + $3 breakfast bars
Found money - $0.14 (road, coffeehouse floor, Safeway floor)

Such an odd shopping day. I went into Whole Foods, not expecting to buy anything, when I saw Balance bars 2 for $1. Usually they stay at about $1, $1.15 at their cheapest. I got 6 bars - the price appears to be holding until the end of June.

I read about the glut of tomatoes coming onto the market. Well, at Whole Foods organic tomatoes were in $2.99 or so, at a price to be expected at Whole Paycheck. But I went into Safeway and saw regular ol' tomatoes at: $2.99/lb.

The glut hasn't reached us yet.

trimmings

June 17th, 2010 at 08:30 pm

Thursday
Saving log - $2 tip box
Spending log - $1.75 coffee + $14 produce
Found money - $0.12 (road, self serve car wash)

Wednesday
Saving log - $9 tip box
Spending log - $1.75 coffee + $4 groceries
Found money - $0.27 (road, parking meter, Safeway floor)

Tuesday
Saving log - $100 to ING
Spending log - $1.75 coffee + $17 lunch
Found money - $0.27 (bus stop, sidewalk, parking lot, Safeway floor)

We got a better grip of the costs of the beef, we pay on the wet hanging weight (the intermediate step between living creature and finished), and we pay for butchering. Storage - beef must be hung for about 3 weeks at close to freezing to break rigor mortis and for taste - is free, and the rancher will deliver so we won't pay for that either. The current estimate is that a 1/4 (100 pounds) will run us about $850, probably a bit more. My chiropractor is in for half of my quarter, so each of us will be saving our pennies - more than 42,500. Big Grin.

I haven't talked much about found money lately. I even found a penny each of the days that I was out on the beef weekend. Lately the coin hunting has been pretty good. My total, with 29 days to go for the year anniversary, is $47.10: 1,045 pennies, 42 nickels, 169 dimes, 42 quarters, 2 $1 bills, 1 $5 bill, 1 10 pence coin worth 15 cents. I just might make $50 for the year!

We got our ORCA transit cards today - we use them on July 1. So far HR only cares if you give the card to someone else to use when you are at work. They don't care if you use it over the weekend.

Got brave and looked in on my 403B. Hadn't since stocks took that really big jog down a month ago. Its held its own, and I'm still over $110K.

red four

June 14th, 2010 at 09:06 pm

Well, we visited the ranch that we got the beef from last year and from which we are buying a whole animal this year. Here's a picture of our beef cow:


We actually did name it a pretty appropriate name. I hesitate to use it because its a nice name and not "Dinner". Four comes from the ear tag, its a red Angus. The yellow of the tag means that it will finish putting on its weight in August. The rancher buys the cattle at about 12 - 14 months and they eat the pasture and native grass exclusively.

We visited outside of Yakima, in the shadow of Mount Adams.


Most of the acreage is pasture. The rancher has a lot of interest in developing a mixed grass and native plant pasture,


including some exotics called winterfat (in the picture, the bluish green strip exactly in the center background), an important plant that is rich in protein and which comes into its own in the fall and late fall.


but some is wetland that rancher is also trying to rehabilitate.


But it wasn't all biology - I tried a few artistic shots.


and got a good sunset shot.

....and catching up, period

June 8th, 2010 at 10:12 pm

Its been a week. Apologies! So let's see...

Film. Sister enjoyed my tale of the film and said, "hey, submit it to the Milwaukee Film Fest in the fall". So we did - at least screenwriter friend applied, slipped the DVD in, and I paid the submission fee. $50. We also applied to Chicago, which is happening a couple weeks later. Since the film was made by a student, student fee was also $50. Chicago, though, suggested an additional $2.50 as "protection". I used to live in Chicago; "protection" made me laugh. Oh well, if dead men can vote in Chicago, they probably can make movies too.

Beef. We are going to "visit" the beef that we bought. Since our little consortium put a down payment on a whole cow, we can pick the animal. I plan on pictures, although I'd rather pick the steer that looks like it might be involved in a tractor jacking, if you know what I mean.

Work. Performance evaluations are done! Now its the final push for the end of fiscal year pledges. Instead of a bus pass, we are going to get work Orca cards. A bit more pricey a month, but much more flexible - it will work with 4 different transit systems. And because it does that, the card stores when and where it was used. And it because it does that, a co worker asked the basic question of HR - Are you going to monitor our trips? We got a confused answer.

Printer. I have been printing all the Paris photos out on the $20 HP printer I bought at the Greenwood yard sale. I got medium-end (not highest, not lowest) HP paper. Works great! But so far its $15 for 100 sheets, and I ran out of ink - $45 cartridge which should last for 500 pictures. Yikes! I have to console myself by breaking it down.

(15$/100) + (45$/500) = 15 cents for paper + 9 cents for ink. 24 cents per picture. That makes me feel better.

Oh yes, I nearly forgot. I had some good luck finding money over the last week.
$45.93: 1,018 pennies, 41 nickels, 163 dimes, 41 quarters, 2 $1 bills, 1 $5 bill, 1 10 pence coin worth 15 cents.

double negative

May 8th, 2010 at 09:56 pm

Friday
Found money - $0!
Saturday
Found money - $0!

Yikes, I guess, that I haven't found any change for two days in a row. Holding at $40.38, so there is more to life than finding it. Smile This weekend has been glorious so far and I'm close to getting the patio in shape for us to use it. So far, I've:

1. Painted the bottom and legs of the patio table. I have one good coat on it everywhere. Tomorrow I plan on lightly sanding the top, get the second coat on and be done with it.

2. Set up two chairs for DH and I. Turns out that Fred Meyer, Lowes, and Home Depot all had the cushion pattern that I liked. FM price was $35/per, Lowes at $29.98 (so $30)/per, HD at $29.96. HD it was. I also sprung for a stack of chairs cover at $20 ... it does rain here, after all.

V.I. immediately commandeered the chair in the sun. She looks very sultry against the cushion - like Lena Horne on a beach chair. I'll have to post a pic.

3. Planted the 3 strawberry plants we got last Sunday in the strawberry pot. 5 plants at the top is a little tight, but at least everybody has new good soil for this year.

In other financial news, I checked out the new Grocery Outlet one neighborhood west of mine, about a 5 minute walk out of my way. I joke that they put the "gross" in grocery, and I could see that in the produce, but I was surprised that I could get brand name canned tomato products (diced, stewed, sauce, paste) for a least 40 cents/can cheaper, brown rice for 60 cents/lb cheaper, toothpaste for $2 cheaper, etc. Quite useful.

The other irony is that the stock I'm interested in selling (FIS) is possibly going to be bought out by a consortium of three private equity firms. In other words, go back into private hands. Apparently, I just need to sit tight, watch the price rise, and wait for the shareholders to get paid off.

cheered up by cheaper produce

March 18th, 2010 at 09:27 pm

Thursday
Saving log - $3 tip box
Spending log - $3.88 breakfast sandwich (got a free coffee)
Found money - $.14 (sidewalk, road, carpet in our lobby)

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

Transportation challenge
3/14 - no car, walk 2 mi, bus 12 mi
3/15 - no car, walk 2 mi, bus 12 mi
3/16 - no car, walk 1.5 mi, bus 13.5 mi
3/17 - no car, walk 2 mi, bus 12 mi
3/18 - no car, walk 1.5 mi, bus 13.5 mi

Last night I took a look at the grocery flyers for the first time in almost a year. For awhile there it got a bit depressing to maintain any sort of price book - everything was much, much higher than 2004, so the prices were nearly worthless. I just had a simple rule that if I got produce for under $1/lb, it was a good deal.

Now? $.79/lb broccoli, $.49/lb potatoes (no white at night, so no potatoes at dinner), $.49/cabbage, $.79/lb apples. I might be cheered enough to start up my price book again.

Found another international coin - a 50 ore coin. It looked like a penny when I picked it up, but its 1/2 a Norwegian Kroner, worth about 8 cents. Decided that with the hassle of the 10 pence coin, I'm not going to count it.

$29.98: 743 pennies, 27 nickels, 118 dimes, 29 quarters, 2 $1 bills, 1 10 pence coin worth 15 cents.

Easy, Uptight, Fancy

March 5th, 2010 at 08:56 pm

Friday
Saving log - $0 tip box
Spending log - $1.75 coffee + $18 groceries
Found money - $0.11 (Safeway floor)

Thursday
Saving log - $3 tip box
Spending log - $1.75 coffee + $10 lunch
Found money - $0.02 (2 different parking meters)

Carless challenge:
3/4 - no car, commuted by bus 12.5 miles, walked 3 miles
3/5 - no car, commuted by bus 13.5* miles, walked 1 mile
*the reason why my commute is so variable is that I often get off the bus 1.25 - 1.5 miles from my stop, then walk home. Longer commutes mean I didn't walk. Frown .

Work eased up a bit in the last two days - a lunch with friends helped, and so did the fact that I could really buckle down and get done what I really wanted to get done. Yay.

I discovered, upon looking at a photo of the writer who is behind "Ask an Uptight Seattleite", that I know him. Matter of fact, he is my bus marker for the 8:35 number 5. So he, along with the current mayor, lives within 4-5 blocks of me. Will it get me a sidewalk? Probably not.

Final observation, this time fiscal: I bought tuna on a good deal - 10 6 oz cans for $5. I walked down the pet food aisle to checkout and noticed the price of Fancy Feast - 10 3 oz cans for $6.50. Fancy feast, indeed.


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