Friday, March 21, 2008

Frugal Shopping

Frugal Friday

With the cost of living going up, I've been searching for ways to stretch my husband's hard earned paycheck as far as I possibly can. Years ago, I used to refund and use coupons, and it got us through some really tough times. Sadly, refunding became more difficult as companies cracked down on people committing fraud. It effected everyone, though, and not just the ones that were being fraudulent.

We had to change our shopping habits, going with store and generic brands, but our shopping bill was still higher. Then Walmart and Sam's came into our area, and it eased the cost some. I wasn't using coupons so much any more, because most things were for prepared foods and name brand items that were still more expensive than the store brands - even with coupons. I would get lucky and find an occasional refund, but with everyone wanting the original receipts, it wasn't helping the budget like it used to.

Of course, times do change :) In fact, I think my shopping sprees these days are even better than those of the refunding days. Don't believe it? Here's proof:

Yesterday, I needed to take my daughter to have her stitches out, so I made the trip worthwhile and stopped at Rite Aid. They have a nice one check rebate offer going on right now, and I picked up a few items.

I purchased:
  1. 4 boxes of Kelloggs Cereal
  2. 1 box Nutrigrain Bars
  3. 75 oz. Electrasol
  4. Skin Appetit
  5. Rite Aid Pantiliners
  6. Scotch Packing Tape
  7. Salon Selectives Shampoo
  8. Bic Soleil Razor
  9. Hershey's Bliss
With coupons and rebates, my grand total for the above items ended up being: $4.62!

Then we went to CVS for even more great savings.

We purchased
  1. Dove Shampoo
  2. Dove Conditioner
  3. 2 Dove Body Wash
  4. Dove Antiperspirant
  5. 2 Mennen Speed Sticks
  6. 3 bags Russel Stover Premium Chocolate
  7. 2 Oral B Cross Action Toothbrushes
  8. Mabelline Superstay Lipcolor
After using coupons and receiving back ECB's, everything cost $5.40 (including sales tax).

Our haul ended up costing $10.02 and that's because I messed up and purchased one too many of the Dove for my $5 ECB for purchasing $15 worth of Dove items. Still, I really can't complain!!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Luck of the Irish

I hope everyone had a great St. Paddy's Day yesterday. We certainly did. I have a bit of Irish in my family tree, so it was a little fun remembering those roots. We had our traditional Corned Beef and Vegetables (ok - so it's not really Irish, but I won't tell if you don't) and some Irish Soda Bread. These recipes originally came from the Feb/Mar 1995 issue of Taste of Home. We've been having this meal for St. Paddy's Day ever since. In fact, every year I have to cook it 2 days in a row, because the bunch here demands it be had 2 days in a row. Once just isn't enough :)

This morning, I'm trying another new recipe for oatmeal bread. This one comes from the Taste of Home website and is called Honey Oatmeal Bread. It's gotten good reviews, so I'm trying it, but I'm a bit surprised with the amount of honey that's in it. Usually, I use 2 Tbsp. but this one calls for 1/2 cup. Seems like quite a lot to me, but we'll see. It's currently in the bread machine resting.

Thursday, we go and get DD's stitches out. What a hassle that turned into. Our doctor said that we should go back to the ER to have them removed, because it should be taken out free of charge because it's a continuing care. The ER agreed, but according to my insurance, that's not the case. We have to pay out of pocket for the visit because it's not an emergency. So after numerous phone calls, I found that we'd need to pay a facility use charge - but no price could be given because it "depends" on numerous things according to the billing of the ER. From what I'm getting from our conversations, they charge differently to each insurance and person. I said that I just wanted to pay cash - forget the insurance, and I was told "No one pays CASH!!" Finally, it was told to me that it would probably be cheaper to go to my doctor, so a call back to the dr. to made an appointment that the office said was incredible that I'd have to do this and pay for the services. I love dealing with health care!!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Who Loves Muffins?!

Our family is crazy about muffins. When I bake them, I make dozens. The gang is let loose on them and then we freeze the rest for quick snacks or to have with breakfast.

Raspberry-Filled Chocolate Chip Muffins

1 cup milk
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
2 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup miniature chocolate chips
1/4 cup raspberry jam

Beat , oil and egg together until well blended. Combine dry ingredients and stir into the liquid mixture. Stir in chocolate chips.

Fill muffin cups 1/3 full. Place 1 teaspoon jam on top of batter.

Top with remaining batter. Sprinkle with sugar if desired. Bake at 400 degrees for 18-20 minutes.

Cool - and enjoy!!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Long Week

DD fell and ended up with quite a few stitches in her chin - 6 inside and 8 outside. Poor thing. But the best part was how she fell and how she made the doctors and nurses laugh and tease her while she was getting medical care.

You see, our DD loves science and is fascinated with biology and has been so thrilled with dissection. Seriously - she loves to dissect things. So when she saw the Discovery channel had a special on the Human Body, she just HAD to watch it. She watches all the operations and anything gross - well, she's in front of it. (Mind you, she's a teen, so she's old enough.) Well, this particular program was on the mind and pain, and it went into detail about a woman who had fallen in the wilderness, broken many bones, and how her mind had blocked out the pain to allow her to get help. That did it. DD ended up passing out and ripping her chin open as she fell face forward on her way back to the bathroom. We had no idea she was getting woosey - until we heard the crash.

We spent all night in the emergency room, and the medical staff was amazed that this was her first time ever in the ER - and better yet, for an injury that a toddler would get. Then when she told the story of how she passed out and got the cut, they had a great time teasing her. The dr. gave her orders she is no longer allowed to watch the Discovery Channel, except when it involves animals. Then he said that he's giving her strict medical orders to only watch comedies and animal shows on TV - period.

She laughs about it - but that night I know she was scared. The humor certainly helped her - and the staff was great to her. Now, we just need to wait to see what kind of a scar she will have.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Winter and Rain Don't Mix

We've been hit with snow, then a big warm up, and now rain in just a matter of days. We've had some flooding in the area, and everything is a big pile of muck. Our yard has swamp-like qualities to it and stepping out into it proves to be a challenge. Walking to the car is even worse - a good place to lose a boot or shoe... I don't care for this time of the year. It's bleak and muddy. Spring is on its way, though, as Monday, we saw some red-winged blackbirds at the feeder. The promise that warmer weather is coming!!

The Log Cabin is at about 25% done now, and although it's coming along nicely, I ended up putting it aside. I ended up doing something to my right arm - I think it's a pinched nerve thing because it goes from my shoulder to my fingertips. It sure makes knitting painful. Actually, it makes most things painful, so I haven't been working much on anything - PC included. Typing and using the mouse is also not easy. So if this post ends up being a bit disjointed, please forgive me, as I have to stop and come back, so my train of thought is interrupted (more than normal! LOL) Anyhow, I've been letting my arm rest as much as possible, because I'm in a knitting race/competition soon, and I will need to be in top shape, because I have to knit faster than my competitor. oh well, however it turns out, it will still be fun :)

Groceries are going up, so we are only buying what's on sale and only what's really needed. We buy our wheat berries and many other products in bulk. I am going to need wheat soon, but can't get a price at this time. My supplier says that the prices are fluctuating so much, that she won't know what the price is until the days she orders. That doesn't make me want to walk in blind and place an order. I also buy Occident flour, which is an unbleached white that is supposed to be higher in gluten. Breads made from it raise much nicer than those made from normal unbleached white. I buy that at the mill along with my oatmeal. Oatmeal ran $13.90 for 25 pounds - which was cheaper than the flour per pound!! So, now I'm trying to add more oatmeal to our diet and cut back on the wheat products.

I'm trying out oatmeal bread recipes, and both of the following recipes are a hit here. Both recipes came from the Rec_food_recipes email list from wife228. If you want to subscribe to the list and receive recipes by email, click on the interactive tab at the top of the page.

Honey Oatmeal Bread

13 ounces warm water
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons honey
3 1/2 cups bread flour
1 cup oatmeal
2 tablespoons powdered milk
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast (or 2 teaspoons bread machine yeast)

Place ingredients in your bread machine in the order recommended for your machine. Set machine on basic bread, 2 pound loaf. For 1.5 pound loaf, reduce water to 10 ounces and flour to 2 1/3 cups; other ingredients remain the same.

Maple Oatmeal Bread

3/4 cup warm water, plus
2 tablespoons warm water
1/3 cup maple syrup
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup quick-cooking oats
2 1/2 cups bread flour
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast

Place ingredients in the order recommended for your bread maker. Select basic bread setting for 1-1/2 pound loaf. Check dough after 5 minutes of mixing and add 1-2 T flour or water if needed.