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My $90 day

March 14th, 2012 at 01:57 pm

10.719 gallons refuel @ $3.909/gallon, cheapest within three miles of my home. I even beat the closest gas station to my house, one of the cheapest in Seattle (which means I went outside Seattle for fuel). $41.84

$39.64 - organic milk (brought wrong coupons), tea tree oil (for cleaning mildewy/smelly fabrics and other), MarketSpice tea (it's wet wet cold wet today), Spike seasoning in bulk, Ginger Peach tea in bulk, chicken breasts @ price-book level, red wine vinegar, five other items I can't think of, sirloin tip roast @ close to price-book level, organic carrots @ price-book level, eggs @ below price-book level, walnuts @ price-book level.

$8.79 -- favourite expenditure: PIE slices at $3.14/slice! with San Pellegrino water: I have cystitis, UTI or a kidney stone, so I bought the water to lower the internal pressure I was feeling. Left a tip 'coz I ain't no drip.

I did a second, clean pass through our taxes and saw that we owed $14.40 more than originally estimated. Crossing my fingers we don't get a tax penalty.

Fun Day with Recipe

February 14th, 2012 at 05:53 pm

We went to Budapest Bistro up in way north Lynnwood, as I had been craving Hungarian food since Zsa Zsa's birthday. The menu was very small: all on a whiteboard. We picked the one dish I had not made at home: a rice dish with peppers and paprika called lecho (Recipe to follow!). I had hot spiced red wine, and a cream puff for dessert. We were the only customers in. I sat next to a map of Hungary, and saw my ancestors' village just at the northern border of Hungary, touching Slovenia. Then everything about my grandmother's cooking washed over my memory cells: the spaetzle, cabbage rolls, sauerkraut, perogies.

I made Valentines for my son to hand out in class. This style went over well with the male fourth-graders:

with a nice bitter epithet from H L Mencken!

The one for his music teacher was even better. It had Twelfth Night's Duke of Orsino's "if music be the food of love, play on" quote, and "'Enough; no more: 'Tis not so sweet now as it was before." seeming to come from a dowager.


My lunch date thought it was nice. I thought it was wonderful: romance for me is not necessarily hearts, flowers and chocolates -- a few hours' burp-ups of peppered rice and cinnamon-infused Cabernet is as good as a rubdown as far as this girl is concerned.

Lecho
1 pkg. Hungarian (or Polish) sausage
4 sweet peppers (yellow, green and red in mine)
5-6 potatoes
1 c. uncooked rice
1 lg. onion
Salt & pepper
Paprika
Water
Saute onions and green peppers. Slice sausage and saute with peppers and onions. Salt and pepper to taste. Add enough water to cover meat. Add diced potatoes. Sprinkle with paprika. Let cook about 15 minutes on medium-high. Add rice. Cook until potatoes and rice are done (about 35-40 minutes).

starts and ends for januar/january/janvier

January 31st, 2012 at 06:50 pm

January 1st:
HELOC: 14927
Money Market Account: 10493
Gold and Silver: 11918

January 31st (no-spend day, by the by)
HELOC: 14400
Money Market Account: 10600
Gold and Silver: 12915

What should be up is up, what should be down is down. The Money Market Account amount is arbitrary: if I had to pay my mortgage tomorrow for March, my Money Market Account would be at 10600, else it would be at $11400.

I am mulling over challenges and goals for February: maybe just doing something courgeous and noble every day, whether it be public or private, is enough.

Ideas: juicing, decluttering, washing -- I bought a gallon of Sal Suds, which now has tax added when purchased online from Dr. Bronner, reading, exercising... fill some in, I'm relatively bereft of ideas.

Bean Here, Done This! With short subjects of food

January 14th, 2012 at 09:23 am

This week I did not at any time order coffee or espresso out. I know the week doesn't officially end until fifteen hours from now, but I thought that was remarkable. My husband had only work coffee on Friday.

I will brave jaunts for flour, eggs and canned soups, so I can commence to warming the main floor and our stomachs. I will also brave semi-annual payment of car insurance. This might be the last one we have for our vehicle. I better go bless the heap with holy water so we are protected from driving hell this week.What's great on a snow day? Red pepper soup and brioche!

Downloaded ePamphlet from usa.gov on healthy frugal recipes. You Can Too!

As I picked up some paper detritus, I found an old printout from grocerylists.org. I love how, in addition to dairy, fish, baking goods, there's a shopping section for carcinogens. I resolve to reduce my intake of parabens this year. I just had bacon burgers last night, au Yellow Farmhouse Cookbook, so that will be sad to restrict. Come to think of it, pancetta and prosciutto are processed meats too. I go cry now.

It is nearly the middle of the month and we have spent only $26 on automotive fuel! Yay shut-in lifestyle!

Fave poverty cookbooks: Cooking for College Kids - home ec teacher from Alberta so LOTS of meat recipes. Meat's plentiful in Alberta! More-With-Less, the Mennonite classic. Saving Dinner by Leanne Ely.

Off-Topic: Recipe Exchange

December 14th, 2011 at 07:04 pm

I received an e-mail recipe exchange tree. I am wondering if I can get six to twenty recipes as comments in here to give to my e-mail friends. Naturally the repeat visitors to this post can use what commentators share.

Here's mine, "Syllabub" from The Grange, a 1835-era "gentleman's house" which was originally the house of Upper Canada's "government elite" the Family Compact Boultons.

Syllabub -- a popular dessert recipe served from The Grange kitchens. If it gets runny and starts to separate, serve it as a great drink. Metric measurements are to the right of the item. Use US or metric, but not both, unless you want to double the recipe.

1 large lemon 1
1/3 cup medium sherry 75 mL
2 tbsp brandy (optional) 25 mL
1/4 cup granulated sugar 50 mL
1 cup whipping cream 250mL

Grate lemon peel finely; cut lemon in half and squeeze juice into bowl. Add grated peel, sherry, brandy if using, and sugar. Stir until sugar dissolves. Add cream and whisk until soft peaks form. Spoon mixture into wine glasses. This tastes best refrigerated for 24 hours before serving. Makes four servings.

Gainsbourg is closed due to a kitchen fire, until the end of the holidays. Maybe I'll just make homemade Chex Mix and the Syllabub.

Post-feast Digestives

November 25th, 2011 at 03:07 pm

I can't tell if we had Thanksgiving or not. In the Yes column:
- roast bird
- festive placemats and tablecloth
- succotash
- I had a glass of sherry
- American hubby called his parents.
- baked squash w/apple, raisin and walnut stuffing
- homemade dinner rolls
- brief religious "thank you" from child
- someone in the kitchen for hours in stations of chop, cook and clean

In the No column:
- no guests
- no turkey
- no heated political arguments or bloviation (see: "no guests")

But am I going to spend today? Yes. Although our car's battery out of juice, I walked over a mile to a used game electronics shop to serendipitously benefit in a buy-two, get-one-free sale, as my child was the only one for whom I have not purchased presents.

So My English Castle, instead of getting pepper-sprayed or squeezed to death between rampaging suburbanites, I got my exercise by walking downhill then uphill for two+ miles today.

And baselle, I am invited to an Oath of Office ceremony on Nov. 30 to watch the new school board members get sworn in.

10-10 or X-X

October 10th, 2011 at 05:23 pm

$10 to Sacred Heart Shelter for homeless women
$10 to St. Martin de Porres shelter for homeless women

It's World Homeless Day or World Mental Illness Day or something: I gave $10 to each. I also gave $10 to a food bank earlier, and now that I know our PTSA banks at a credit union, I renewed membership so $25 there for a couple membership.

I need a monthly challenge: maybe learning to distinguish wants from needs.

Found neat coffee place en route to curling: it's a church-run coffeehouse, with Stumptown roast beans. It's a hit with the small one because of the games, puzzles and music; it's a hit with the spouse because he and a barista both ride their wives' motorbikes to work.

Made 39 butter tarts for DS's class to commemorate October birthdays: apparently there were other birthday children but they didn't contribute anything. My son devised a Canada trivia quiz heavy on hockey content [mother rolls eyes--they come up five and three!] to which few including the teacher could come up with an answer. Thus I had eleven left over by the end of the class, and five left by the time I left the school, as other students took them. To their credit, they asked.

child's birthday week poor time for frugality

October 2nd, 2011 at 05:54 pm

HELOC: $15764.14
Mortgage: $118675.67

I have been reviewing our debt group diary and nine months ago I thought I was going to have $10888.23 paid off, from $138488.77, by the end of the year. I'm at $134439.81. If I hadn't missed one mortgage payment (interstitial) and taken $3500 out for the roof, I'd be on track.

I paid for three weeks' curling lessons for my child and enrolled him this morning. Say what you like: there were three other children sharing dual citizenship status taking lessons along with him.

Also Tuesday night is supposed to be heavy wind and rain with possible power outages, so I bought from Value Village (secondhand store) a coat for the boy, and went to JC Penney to pay for some waterproof winter boots.

I went to Big John's Pacific Food Importer to get prepared tart tins for butter tarts (class birthday celebration on Friday), we splurged on malt balls, roasted red peppers, 1 lb. prosciutto, butter, Walker's shortbread mini chocolate chip cookies. It is hard to not go nuts at Big John's PFI.

Then to Whole Foods for mussels (on sale at 25% off -- don't think I'm one of those who spends all her food dollars at Whole Foods because it happened to be across the street from a stop my son and I made), white wine for cooking -- ideal! 200ml for $3.00, lemongrass. Damp or windy grey weather makes me hunger for shellfish. I used a recipe from The Expo 86 Cookbook, which I bought for $1 the week before. Now I can add Nanaimo Bars to my Buttercup inventory as the cookbook author was the first to make them commercially available in Vancouver. I do know Nanaimo Bars are popular down here.

Nanaimo Bars -- triple layer bars. Bottom: walnuts, coconut; middle: custard; top: cocoa powder, sugar, coffee.

Tonight it is Flying Squirrel pizza (pizza for foodies), and Peaks Frozen Custard for Simply Maple custard. Because apparently after curling, and playing Vancouver 2010 Winter Sports Olympics on the Wii, and going to Vancouver to watch Canucks hockey practice, my kid has not had a sufficiently Canadian birthday. He also lost a tooth tonight, so the Tooth Fairy flew past customs and gave him a loonie, eh?

Oh yeah my laptop keyboard has stuck keys. I am getting by on another keyboard in a USB port, and access to my son's Linux computer. Hubby has already ordered a new keyboard.

Also, I might be losing my mind here, but sometimes I enter my bedroom to find the sunlamp over my bed on, with no memory of turning it on. Cats aren't that smart to be able to turn on lamps by pushing buttons with their paws, are they?

this is my house, plus goals

September 30th, 2011 at 08:38 pm

The Queen of Hearts
She made some tarts,
All on a summer's day;
The Knave of Hearts
He stole those tarts,
And took them clean away.
The King of Hearts
Called for the tarts,
And beat the knave full sore;
The Knave of Hearts
Brought back the tarts,
And vowed he'd steal no more.

I witnessed, Guide's Honour, the following exchange in my house.

"There are three fewer butter tarts! WHO TOOK THEM? WAS IT YOU?" Knave points to King.
King, smiling, looks down at Knave. "Oh I didn't have three butter tarts... I had SIX!"

Knave throws himself at King, pummeling him with flying fists. "You SON of a PICKLE!"
Then he pushes King out of the kitchen toward the living room. "OUT! YOU DON'T LIVE HERE ANYMORE!! GET YOUR THINGS AND GO!"

Seriously, that was the most worked up I'd ever seen the knave since the King told him he'd not drive us to Peoria, Illinois to hear John Daker sing in the First United Methodist Church Sunday service. (Search YouTube for John Daker if you dare. Safe for work, unless you're a church musical director.)

Possible butter tart fixation at my house.

Thinking, if I do run a business, of calling it "Buttercup Palace." Now for a design...
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Goals:
* floss teeth at least three times a week
* coconut or unrefined sesame oil three times a week -- oil-pulling
* medication taken morning and night
* affirmations and energy routines and yoga three times a week

The people yipping about Citibank and Bank of America finding a new revenue source now that small businesses have lower debit card merchant transaction fees remind me of The Kinks. Nobody's making them bank at those places, nobody's forcing them to use debit cards, and what were they doing when some of us were fleeing the banks because we couldn't have fee-free accounts anymore, or they shortened our grace periods, brought in arbitration... waiting for stuff to happen to THEM.

Hunger

September 29th, 2011 at 11:03 am

As payback for not immediately giving a dollar to the beggar who paced the doors of a lecture hall to block departing people in a rush to get home (it was a free event, no beverages or snacks, so it wasn't a fine-frocked concert affair), I had a fitful sleep with hunger pangs, dreaming of the psychologically worst time of our uneducated-single-parent poverty-stricken childhood. I had two bowls of Indian-spiced lentils and rice before heading to the lecture hall and thought that might tide me overnight but no.

Fascinating to remember how ashamed I was of our Studebaker which was more recent than our current beater. I am ashamed of the beater, but I am determined to run it into the ground before getting a newer car, as I hope a midsize sedan with equivalent fuel efficiency will be in our price range at that time.

If I have $10 or $20 remaining at the end of the payperiod, it's going to the local food bank. People can't function properly with empty stomachs. I don't apologize for giving to a food bank or to organizations: they give me a receipt and tell me beforehand what they will do with the money.

Several are asking me for money (school, political, charity donations) but nobody is asking me to work for money. No more political donations unless the candidate or incumbent can find paying work for me.
No more school donations outside of book purchases.

Austerity can be tiring -- this is how I feel. My self-control is stretched. I buy makeup every two-three years instead of every 6 months to a year, many of my clothes are secondhand or 7 years old and too small for me. I am reducing my vitamin and supplement intake to Vitamin C, D and Udo's Choice 3-6-9 oil with multi-vitamins for a few weeks.

My second mortgage payment has been received: only 142 payments and 98.6% principal left to go! The interest portion is 25% less than it would have been if we didn't refinance, so I blink a few times when I see it on our online statement. I don't feel any richer with the smaller mortgage payment -- probably because I am acutely aware of how my city plans to raise our utility charges, introduce a $60 vehicle license tab ($60 is about what we pay all year for gas in the scooter!), and most damningly, increased coffee bean prices at Costco.

Made butter tarts as promised for my child as reward for getting over ten people to donate to his walk-a-thon: they went very fast -- his friend fought him (!!) for dibs, and my poor overworked and frustrated spouse pouted when there were none left for him, so I made two more while the boys were distracted by outside play. I thought three tarts each would satisfy the boys but no. My mom made butter tarts that my brother loved but I didn't -- maybe they are a guy thing. I exhausted my awesomeness points with the butter tarts and turned into a pumpkin the moment I left the house for the evening.

Wondering if I could try some "Mildred Pierce" style Depression-buster entrepreneurialism and make "butter tarts" the foodie trend that poutine seems to be here. Certainly there's a market for sugar...
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if anyone has made it this far, I express my gratitude to the SavingAdvice admins for the swift and routine extermination of the spam blogs.

Today's News Flash

September 25th, 2011 at 03:57 pm

For My English Castle:
I got some REAL exercise: panting, heart-pounding exercise, hiking two trails in a state park. Oh my heart is in a woeful state. 1.0 miles, but last the 0.4 miles is on a steep and narrow trail. I had to stop twice to catch my breath.

$10 for day pass for the park, but four of us went, two of us high-energy tweens.

Money spent on espresso & pastries, above-mentioned state park fee and lamb chops for dinner. I saw BooBerry, FrankenBerry and Count Chocula cereals at Safeway, which we didn't have on our shelves back in the old country but boy! did we see the ads on US TV (grumble grumble). So my mind shot back to watching Christopher Glenn on "Take 30" (CBS? ABC?) and PSAs about our neighbours being "fuelish" and crying Indians, and I wanted to take a box each and nibble in front of the TV set watching a rented DVD box set of "Columbo". (I will not choose again to watch those Prescott-Scheimer cartoons, except "Fat Albert" or "Gilligan's Planet" if I had some really good mind-altering substances) My American husband said to me "Have you ever HAD those cereals?"
"Uh no, I just said..."
"But later in life, did you..."
"If I had, would I be yearning to take those home with me?"

If I didn't have a tween boy...
--------------
This is what you guys get for showing us your furshlugginer General Mills marshmallow cereal ads but not letting us have the cereal brands, thus delaying our eventual slide into obesity and Type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome. Nyah!


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