Thursday, June 30, 2016

Cutting Your Summertime Food Costs



     Summer's a perfect time not only to save money on your food costs now -- but in the near future. A few easy ideas can help. (Special note: they're also healthy ones!)

*Grow a garden. But if you can't...

*Take advantage of easily available (and therefore often on sale) fruits and vegetables. Especially fruit. Strawberries, blueberries and raspberries are often on June sale flyers in my neck of the woods. In Michigan, The Mama lives a mile from a huge pick-your-own strawberry farm that has even better prices. Stuff yourself with fresh fruit, then throw at least three or four bags in the freezer, as well. (Wash 'em, slice if needed, bung them in a ziploc bag. That's it.)
     Try this blueberry crostada now.  Make two -- freeze one unbaked. Think how nice warm blueberry pie will sound one rainy autumn night, when you're cold, tired and hungry!




*What...you don't have extra cash to be buying extra fruit now? Can you:
        -- eat off what's already in your freezer or pantry, then use the cash saved?
        -- make a swap with the seller? (Offer to work at the farmer's market. Offer to babysit, bring by a hot supper, or help pack up at day's end. Most sellers are more than willing to dicker, or pay in vegetables, because then they don't have to haul them back home.)
        -- offer to go to a pick-your-own place for a friend or relative who's working? Suggest: "I'll pick the fruit, you pay for it and we'll split it."  Your friend will get fruit at a much better price than the supermarket. Fresher, too.

*Follow the fruit season, for even better prices.  When the cantaloupe ('muskmelons') start coming up from Rocky Ford, about mid-August, I'll buy an extra one, chunk it, and put it in the freezer. Then for a special dinner, I'll buzz the chunks in the blender, along with a little water and sugar, for a 'fruit gelato' that's incredible.
      In Colorado, peaches start producing in late August - mid-September. We buy a bushel, give them to friends, and eat them like crazy; the taste of a fresh, ripe peach must be a little what heaven is like.
      Peaches are also easy to process: slice them in half and remove the pit, then into the bag for the freezer. Or just put them in, pit and all. You'll want to use these half-frozen, but they taste far better than commercially frozen fruit. And if you buy them on sale, from a farmer's market, or even better -- from the farmer him/herself -- you'll pay far less.

*Stock up on the basics. A large bag of onions keeps for weeks. Potatoes keep even longer -- we often buy 50 pounds, then store them downstairs in the basement, where it's cool and dark. Potatoes are on the list of 8 'superfoods' that cost less than a buck a serving. They're easy to fix, and if you go easy on butter and sour cream, they're also surprisingly low-calorie. There's even a  potatoes diet.
     Don't forget about other staples, like sweet potatoes, squash and pumpkin. They also store well. But buy them on sale.

*Watch for 'signature' food sales.  Turkey's not the only thing that magically goes on sale during the holidays! Hot dogs and steaks typically cost less around Memorial Day and the Fourth of July -- but so do various kinds of ice cream products. (Melons often follow this pattern, as well -- but I can't do as much with watermelon, because of the Brick. He grew up in North Carolina, eating melon until it literally ran out his ears...and refuses to touch it now. Ever try to eat a large melon by yourself?)



     Pork chops have also been especially well-priced this season...no doubt because they grill so beautifully. Side items like barbecue sauce and barbecued beans are often on sale too. And they store very well.
     Seasonally-decorated items, like cakes and cookies, but also napkins and other paper products, are usually half-price (or more) when the holiday ends. All the better for the budget!

*Keep pantry items that do more than just season food. Vinegar preserves cucumbers, makes a mean salad dressing...but also, thinned with water, can be used as a rinse to keep your hair clean and shining.  Stock some baking soda, as well, and you've not only got the means to make biscuits, cakes and muffins -- combined, vinegar and baking soda are a very effective cleaner.

Take advantage of easy recipes that taste good. Leanne Brown's Good and Cheap cookbook was written originally to help food stamp recipients. But her recipes have become a great way to use summer's bounty, as well. Go here to buy a copy -- or download a free one. (She welcomes donations, too.)  Many of these, like the blueberry crostata above, also freeze well.

Plan right, and you save money all summer, using these tips. Plan even better, and you've got extra for coming months, too.






Wednesday, June 29, 2016

He Won!

We had a great admiration for Darryl Glenn, a candidate for the Republican senatorial spot for Colorado.



Turns out we weren't the only ones.

He won the Republican spot!  And did it handily by beating out several others (from the Machine, as the Brick noted) with more publicity, endorsements and  much heftier campaign funds.  Glenn's staff was all-volunteer, and his money much more modest.  (More here about that. I think that says a lot about him, to begin with.)

Wow.

Finally -- a candidate I actually want to volunteer for.

If he did it yesterday, under great odds, it will be very interesting to see how he fares against our incumbent, Michael Bennett.

Go, Darryl. You can do it.






More Quilt Hunks

I have had so much fun with these, particularly the Ryan Gosling versions; that moony face rocks 'em so well. Thought you'd enjoy more.






(Feel the steam rising off that one?)


Hey girl. No I didn't fall asleep while you were describing your upcoming sewing and craft projects. I just closed my eyes to visualize them better. They look amazing.:





Hey girl, Of course I don't mind folding and organizing all of your fabric. And when I'm done - let's go shopping for more.:

Hey girl. ♥:


And because I couldn't help it, I added this one, too...


I found the perfect 'hey girl' meme @wackyeileen:

Whoa.









Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Rules: What They're For, What They Aren't

This applies to you, crafting and quilting friends, more than you think. Many of the great teachers bumbled into their 'trademark' techniques -- sometimes because they made a 'mistake' that turned out to be better than the original! 
    So don't EVER feel you have to apologize and/or explain your work. You may just be a little ahead of your time.


Learn The rules...  » Design You Trust. Design, Culture & Society.:

Monday, June 27, 2016

Monday Stuff On the Way to Other Stuff: Primaries--and Darryl Glenn

Colorado's primary election is tomorrow.
     Surely I can't be the only person in America who is irritated when I'm told who the 'winners' are in American political races before I've even had the chance to vote. Because of the time difference, Western states go through this every national election. Winners sometimes give victory speeches even before the polls close here. (Californians and others, an hour behind us, have it even worse.)

     Several times, this was NOT the case. Like Truman's candid, after his presidential race:




Who was that Dewey guy, anyways?? (smirk)

     Perhaps Donald Trump won't be the Republican candidate for president. Perhaps Hillary Clinton won't be the Democratic candidate -- because she'll be indicted, and deservedly so. (Daughter #1 believes this is going to happen anyways, either before, during or after Hillary's flirtation with the White House.) 

     It would just be nice to have voting be an action that actually means something. Not just a foregone conclusion.

     The Brick actually saw this happen, when he was a member of Colorado's Republican state delegate meeting a few months ago. The accepted 'candidates' of The Machine had already made their speeches, flags and signs waving, when a single person walked to the podium and gave a speech. He wasn't surrounded by toadies, didn't have an expensive suit on, and didn't make airy promises -- he just talked. 



    According to the Brick, this man not only made sense, he made good sense. And although Dave had never heard of him before, he voted for him.
    So did the guy next to him.
    And, I'm assuming, the woman next to him. Because against all odds, this man is on the current ballot as the primary Republican candidate. (There are others listed -- but the Brick tells me these former darlings of The Machine are all write-ins.) 
    The candidate for Senator that I'm talking about? Yes, it's

Darryl Glenn.

He's given both the Brick and myself hope that there are still real people out there who care about our state and its future. If you're voting in Colorado's primary, I urge you to consider voting for this man.




Meanwhile:


Faithful dogs -- a long, wonderful list, including animals who kept waiting for their masters, and working dogs. Many good stories here.

It's all in the plating -- fast food arranged to look fahncy.

Looters get their just reward...in ancient Pompeii. A new discovery.

One word -- famous last words. (From Mental Floss)

The rest of the story -- from a number of famous recent news reports that just 'happened' to leave out some of the most important stuff. (From Cracked.com)

A man lies about escaping from Auschwitz -- for decades -- and finally gets caught. Hmm...that's a new twist on stolen valor.

Pasta un Gobbola Tabola...I guess you're supposed to eat it for the Feast of St. Joseph (March 19) -- but it sounds like fun any day!

'Profound' quotes by celebrities. Be impressed by these highfalutin' comments. Uh huh. Sure. You betcha. (From Death and Taxes)

'America is full of high-earning poor people.' Do you agree?

Men in Black are pestering an area in Iowa?

When 'cheap' for a funeral actually means 'respectful.'

'Chekhov,' Anton Yelchin, in the latest Star Trek movies, killed by his own car. Weird.

45 feisty (and memorable) lines said in real life. (From Cracked.com)

Would you return something after a decade of use...because the store has a 'lifetime guarantee?' (From Surviving and Thriving)

Have a great week. 



"If you grow up thinking that government, or the man, is keeping you down, then you're already putting up an artificial ceiling."
— Darryl Glenn















Friday, June 24, 2016

A Marked Woman

Mental Floss just did a 'retrobituary' (a short biography, really) on a very unusual girl: Olive Oatman.

Olive Oatman1.jpg

Unusual in that she was captured by Indians in her early teens.

     Treated as a slave.
     Purchased from the original Indian tribe by another tribe.
     Treated as a family member.  (And tattoed on the chin, so she'd remember who she was related to.)
Not willing to go back to her 'other' family, even though she had opportunities.

     She finally did -- reluctantly. She married a wealthy rancher and had a child, but doesn't seem to have been that happy.  (Here's her story on Wikipedia.)

Shades of Cynthia Parker -- the white captive who was the mother of one of the West's bravest and most notorious Comanche chiefs:  Quanah Parker.  


Cynthia Ann Parker.jpg
Here she is, with her daughter, Prairie Flower -- the nursing image was no doubt intended to shock.
He did not meet with her after she was recaptured and brought back to 'civilization.' But he never forgot her, either.  An intelligent, cunning and fascinating man.

Quanah Parker c1890.png
All images are antiques, pictured in Wikipedia


Both stories are interesting, and give you food for thought. What if they'd just been left alone, to live out their lives with their chosen tribe?
   But if I'd been the parent or sibling of either these 'captive' women, I wouldn't have felt that way...

Brexit...Is This An Opportunity?

I feel a little ashamed -- griping and moaning about a stupid tooth, when Europe's got a lot worse situation to think about. So do we as Americans, for that matter.

(The penicillin must be taking hold, because I'm finally starting to feel better. Thanks for your kind comments, by the way.)

If you haven't been paying attention to international events --

Great Britain just had a HUGE vote on whether to stay in the European Union (EU), or return to being independent.  BREXIT, they called it.

And the independents won. It wasn't a clearcut victory: nearly the same amount of voters thought the UK should 'remain.' (Unlike Scotland's recent un-vote for independence. Now loyalists there are agitating for another referendum.)

   David Cameron, the UK's Prime Minister, resigned. "This is how a political life ends: with a crash, not a whimper," said Scottish journalist Alex Massie. "David Cameron's place in history is now assured. He is the man who took the United Kingdom out of the European Union." Which is exactly what Cameron didn't want.
    (No news on whether Queen Elizabeth and her pack of royals will follow suit...but I doubt it.) 

What this all means --
     No one knows for certain.

But it certainly means instability, not only for other countries in the EU, but for financial markets there. Here, too.
    Lloyds Banking Group (LYG), one of Britain's primary banks, lost nearly 30% in stock value, at one point. (It's currently up a few percentages from that.)
    The Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), which has had a number of financial mishaps in recent years, lost more than 20%.
     The British pound took a hit: more than 12% down.

And the NYSE  plunged more than 400 points.   More here on the general situation.
    (More here, too.)

Ironically, all this brouhaha also means --
    Opportunities.

Remember what Warren Buffett said about this kind of atmosphere?




I won't be going hogwild until the market stabilizes somewhat, but I do think this is a perfect time to load up on some quality stocks that were unnecessarily affected.  (Check, check and recheck your research and numbers first. But you should be doing that, anyways.)

I bought some Lloyds stock today.
Hopefully, there will be a nice profit on it in the near future.