Friday, January 28, 2011

Frugal in so many ways ...

So I've been trying to make myself leave the office at lunch at least a couple of days a week. The last couple of weeks have been crazy and it's good to get out mid-day for a little break.

As it happens, there's a huge Goodwill store just a couple of blocks away so that was yesterday's destination. I looked around and didn't really find much - kind of disappointing really. Then, I thought I'd make a sweep through the housewares department. I'm so glad I did!

Several years ago I bought a stainless steel thermos at Starbuck's. I talked myself into believing it was frugal because, afterall, I'd be saving money by brining my own coffee to work. And to that end, it was frugal. The UN-frugal part is that the darn thing cost $25.00 in the first place! But, buy it I did. And both Kevin and I used it for quite a long time. Over time, though, the coffee creamer and gunk built up in the vacuum seal/pour spout and we ended up throwing it away when we moved to our new place a couple of years ago. I do have another thermos - something similar (but far less costly!) - that I use to tote my coffee (or, okay, hot chocolate!) to work. I don't use it every day, but it's nice knowing I have it when I want it.

Yesterday while looking through the housewares, I spotted it. There - on the shelf right in front of me. Ahhhh, thermos love all over again! It was pink. And perfect. And had never even been used! I picked it up immediately and headed to the check-out. Three dollars - THREE DOLLARS! - and it was mine, all mine. It's scrumptuous! I'm reserving this one for cold water and lemonade (doesn't that just sound perfect for this PINK thermos?!) all I have to do is *use* them!

Last Sunday I took a trip through Michael's. I haven't been there in a while (I try and stay away as much as possible because it's like an addiction!) and I wanted to see what was on sale. After all, I *did* receive a $25.00 gift card from a friend for making some invitations for her, so it was like getting 'free' stuff ... right?

Anyway, I also had a coupon for 40% off any Martha Stewart craft item - and you know I couldn't pass that up. I came away with a goodie bag filled with things - AND I still have $8.00 left on the gift card. Score! More on the other goodies later, but I was really excited about the Martha Stewart item and just had to share.

So this is what I ended up buying with my 40% off coupon: Cute, right? I know! I ended up spending just $5.00 on the whole set. I looked at the plastic mounts you're supposed to use for these new kinds of stamps (remind me again, what was wrong with the good 'ol days of wooden stamps?) and I was pretty shocked. The mount alone was $12.99! Yikers. No thanks.

When I got home, I began thinking of things I could possibly use as a mount for the stamps. Then, it hit me: ask my friend Michael - who also happens to be our Industrial Technology teacher - if he has any wooden scraps he was going to throw away! I emailed him and he asked to see the stamps so that he would know what size scraps I needed - makes sense. I brought the stamps in today and by 10:00 a.m., he brought me a box FILLED with the perfect sized pieces of wood - just like the old wooden stamps! YAHOO!! He even brought me the sandpaper to smoothe the edges and 'make them pretty'. I'm going to work on putting them together this weekend and I'll post a picture of the finished product. I can't wait!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Road to California

...quilt show, that is!

This past Saturday while Kevin was working on umpire updates in Phoenix, Deb, her friend Andrea and I had a girls day! As it happened there was an outstanding quilt show last weekend at the Ontario Convention Center so the three of us headed out to see what we could find.

WOW. It was absolutely amazing! Lots and lots of vendors carrying everything you could possibly imagine, from fabrics and patterns to quilting machines to yarns and embroidery transfers and floss. You name it, if it was for stitching, it was there. So many beautiful things to see (and be tempted by!), but THE most amazing things, of course, were the finished quilts. One was more beautiful than the next. I cannot imagine how much time it must take these amazingly talented women to finish their quilts. There is so much incredibly fine detail in these treasures - they truly are a labor of love.

My favorite quilt at the show was called "Tea with Miss D." - a quilt by Sandra Leichner. It's absolutely phenomenal. I didn't take any photos at the quilt show, but I did contact Sandra and request permission to post some photos of her quilt, to which she generously agreed (thank you, Sandra!). So, without further ado, check this out for yourself: (the quilt - not including white border) (center of the quilt)(all the rest of the sweet details)

I have to say, this quilt was such a treat to see! I just fell in love with it; hope you enjoy it, too!

Monday, January 17, 2011

A Winery ... in L.A.!

Well, sort of. The San Antonio Winery has been a part of Los Angeles since 1917. Really! Isn't that amazing! I just somehow cannot picture a vineyard along the Los Angeles river, but ... there you have it. Their grapes are now grown in Paso Robles, and what remains in Los Angeles is a fine tasting room, retail store and restaurant.

For years I've been saying that I wanted to go to the San Antonio winery to try out the restaurant. Well, Saturday was our day! We headed over to the restaurant about 12:30 or so Saturday afternoon. The place is really just a hop, skip and a jump from Bev and Ken's house so it didn't take us any more than about 15 minutes to drive there. The four of us were pretty shocked by the neighborhood. To say the least, it's quite different from when there was a vineyard. The winery is located in a section of L.A. called Lincoln Heights. It's a half residential/half industrial area that has clearly seen some better times. However, when you turn on to Lamar Street and approach the winery, it's as if you've stepped into a different world. The outside of the building is quite charming and, once through the door, you completely forget all about the neighborhood.

Their menu changes daily and what really impressed us was how they showcased their entrees. As you enter the area, there are several tables filled with that day's entrees. Each entree is made in its entirety, wrapped in cling film and placed on the table. Unlike other restaurants where you simply have to go by their description of a dish, at Maddalena Restaurant, there is no doubt what your entree will look like. The most difficult part was making a decision - one dish looked better than the next! And we were not disappointed; the food was both plentiful and delicious. The ambience was very nice as well. The main room of the restaurant is lined with oak wine barrels and there was a wonderful saxaphonist who played mostly old standards - another bonus in my book. =)

After finishing our meal, we walked around a bit and found a flyer highlighting their winery tours. We decided we would definitely come back and take a tour ... and maybe pick up a bottle of vino or two in the process!

If you've never been, I would recommend it. It's a one of a kind L.A. experience that should not be missed. Here are a few photos of our adventure:

Friday, January 14, 2011

What's in *YOUR* Wallet?

(I posted this at the Frugal Living Forum, as well.)

Though I hate the credit card (Capital One), I do love their commercials!!

Anyway, I thought this might be kind of a fun topic. I think it’s interesting to know what different styles of wallets people carry and what they carry in them. I’ve never been one of those girls who carries a small wallet; for some reason, I like having the larger ‘organizing’-type wallets. I don’t feel like I carry an over abundance of stuff with me, but then again, maybe I do!

Anyway, here’s what my wallet looks like, and here’s what’s inside:
• A small, thin calculator (it came with the wallet)
• The check section has nothing as I don’t carry checks with me (we rarely use them)
• Loyalty cards for: Ralph’s, Vons, Albertsons, Smart & Final (do they still use them?), BevMo, Riteaid, CVS, Petco, PetSmart, and Ulta (cosmetics)
• A pen
• Driver’s License (and donor card)
• Auto Club card
• Costco card
• Starbuck’s and local coffee house gift card (totaling about $15.00 … a now and then splurge)
• Kaiser medical card
• Two credit union membership cards
• A credit union debit/ATM card
• An Arco debit card (we avoid the .45 per transaction fee for gas by using this card)
• Kohl’s, Sears, and JC Penney’s credit card – all with a zero balance
• $40.00 cash (a rarity! But I stopped at the CU at lunch for farmer’s market cash)
• .81 cents in coins
• A 15% off coupon for Kohl’s (that I probably won’t end up using – I don’t need anything)
• A Kohl’s merchandise credit in the amount of $6.34
• Nine ‘Forever’ postage stamps
• An emergency phone number list
• Two discount cards to a cake & candy decorating place that I haven’t been to since 2006 (just tossed them)
• A discount card to a beauty supply store I don’t even remember going to (just tossed it)
• A bread outlet discount card
• A list of ‘goodies’ I like to look for at yard sales, thrift shops, etc.
• A DressBarn smart rewards card
• Library cards for two different libraries
• A membership card to Huntington Library
• A Red Cross CPR/First Aid card
• A school (work) ID card
• A Hallmark Gold Crown card that I use *maybe* once a year
• My auto insurance card
• My lifetime membership to ‘Friends of the Library’
• A tip table
• My business card
• Business cards for several emergency (night & weekend) veterinarians

WHEW! Apparently I do carry around a LOT of stuff! LOL

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Middle School

Our kids absolutely crack me up.

Yesterday as I was coming back from lunch, I heard a kid shout to his friend "I'm just a scapegoat!"


Do middle schoolers even *know* what a scapegoat *is*??

A Game of Cat and Mouse

Being a new cat owner, I've heard of this, but not actually witnessed it for myself.

Until yesterday.

I got home from work, opened the door from the garage to the backyard and ... there she was, Daisy ...with her, um, friend. At first I didn't realize it was a mouse. I saw a skinny tail flicker and thought that it was maybe a dragonfly or something. Until I saw a littttle tiny mouse head pop up. Yep, those ears were unmistakeable. Daisy paused for a moment and looked at me - quite proudly I might add - before going back to teasing her prey. She gave it a few more swats with her paw until she, ahem, went for the jugular as it were.

At that point, I was pretttttty much done watching. I went inside and I'm not certain of the outcome. I can tell you, however, that when Kevin got home, he was not able to locate any remains. That, and Daisy didn't eat much of her dinner. Huh, betcha I can guess why.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Time to Get Back Into the Swing of Things

"For pragmatic reasons, I love the routine. I love the structure of it. I love knowing that my days are free. I know where I'm going at night. I know my life is kind of orderly. I just like that better."
Andrea Martin
(Wow! Sorry for the delay - this post has been 4 days in the making! I started it on Monday, got waylaid, and haven't had a chance to get back to it until now. So much for 'routines', eh?!)

Two weeks into the new year and now it's time to get back into the swing of things. Time to get back into a comfortable routine. The holidays are over and we're back at work, so it's time to get crackin' again!

With that in mind, I've gotten back into my routine of making up my two-week menus, searching high and lo for coupons, and doing some stocking up at the grocery store(man, is everything crazy expensive, or what?!). I've been finding some great deals and I've updated the coupon savings tracker to the right. I'm amazed at how quickly the savings add up just by using coupons!

Kevin and I have gotten back into our morning getting-ready-for-work routine, evening-dinner-at-the-table routine, and our weekend must-have-the-trifecta-done-before-going-back-to-work-on-Monday routine. (What's the trifecta? I feel anxious going back to work on Monday morning unless we have: 1. Swiffered & mopped, 2. Grocery shopped, and 3. Finished all of the laundry. See, 1-2-3, your basic trifecta.) And it feels GREAT! I know that there are some who hate being in a 'rut', but I love the comfort of my routines.

Okay, I'm a bit OCD - I admit it. And what's wrong with that? ;o)

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

When did this happen??

Apparently they're not as much 'a part of living' as one might think. Do you remember that old Lifesavers jingle? I do. And at that time, they really were a part of living. I think every mom - and many kids - carried a roll of Lifesavers with them. Some preferred the "Five Flavors" variety, while others, (like me and Deb ;o) preferred "Wild Cherry" or "Butter Rum". Still others preferred "Pep-o-Mint" or "Wint-o-Green".

Well let me just say, whatever your preference, you may be out of luck. At least I am. I've been to several Ralph's stores, one Pavilions store, one Target and one Walmart store and, guess what? No one has them at their checkout stands! Am I wrong, or didn't every store used to have them at their checkout stands? In fact, I can't even find a *roll* of Lifesavers. I can find a bag of individually wrapped Lifesavers - which is what I ended up buying, but they certainly are not as convenient to keep in your purse or car.

Where oh where have my Lifesavers gone? I would often buy them at an old newsstand in Pasadena called Bungalow News. They're closed now, too. Maybe they took all of the rolls of Lifesavers with them. Darn! Just one more thing to miss from the 'good old days'.