Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Pasta Update Part 2

I wrote about stocking up on pasta here, and here.  I purchased 100+ pounds of pasta to put in storage for 38 cents per each 12 ounce package.  This was in mid-November of 2010, not even 6 months ago.  They are now on sale at Kroger for 50 cents each if you purchase 10. That's a 32% increase in the sale price in such a short amount of time! Insanity, I tell you.   As I said back then, I am purchasing items when I can find them at rock bottom prices to put in storage "just in case."   Items purchased thusly today will allow us to eat well tomorrow at yesterday's prices.  I can't get over how quickly the prices came up.  I don't think we have seen the worst yet. . .

Monday, March 28, 2011

Victory Garden in the Making!

Last year I got my feet wet with two raised beds, this year I'm expanding to eight beds!  I may add four more later, since we still have a lot of dirt left from the truckload full that we got delivered because it's cheaper to purchase dirt that way.  Not quite sure yet. . . My compost was not quite ready to add to the dirt to amend the soil, so I'm going to have to add commercial fertilizers this year. Hopefully, they will be ready by fall so I can mix it in before the fall planting.  I'm fortunate to live in an area where the winters are relatively mild and can grow some crops even in the dead of winter.

It's been a lot of work just getting the beds ready.  I had to drill 22 holes in each of the beds in order to hammer in big, fat nails to keep the beds in one piece.  It was a lot of work, to put it mildly.  It made me all sore the next day in places I never imagined I had muscles! The beds are all planted now except for one bed.  We also might plant some corn in the area of the yard around the front of the photo.  That is, if we can get our hands on a tiller somehow.  Digging up the grass by hand will be too much work for me since the weather's already turning rather warm.

Hopefully, we will have tomatoes, onions, beets, butternut squash, zucchini, yellow summer squash, spring onions, radishes, peas, snap peas, beans, kohlrabi, watermelon, eggplant, lettuces and bitter melon.  Bitter melon is a Chinese vegetable that looks like a wrinkly, deformed cucumber that is very, very bitter.  It's one of those things that you either love or hate, with nothing in between.  I love it.  The rest of the family doesn't. But,  since I'm the one tending the garden, I'm going to grow it again.  It is costly to make a trip to the Chinese grocery just to buy the stuff. It did very well last year, enough to put away the sliced surplus in the freezer.  I am just now eating the last of last year's bounty.  Apparently it does well in the US because it has no native pests that will attack it.

I still need to plant some cucumbers and perhaps some potatoes and eggplant in the last remaining bed.  It will be interesting to figure out what does well and what doesn't.  I wish I had discovered the joy of vegetable gardening earlier, but that's life.  Not only will it allow me to save a ton of money on produce once the beds start producing, It is really quite fun to watch the plants grow, sometimes even under your nose when you have not been paying attention. 

Will post more photos when the seeds start to sprout!
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Stocking Up on Hot Dogs

Bun Length Oscar Mayer Wieners are on sale at Kroger now for 99 cents a pack of 8. About time! About a year ago, they went on sale for the same price, and I think I purchased around 40 packs to put in my freezer.  With two teenagers in the house and their friends often coming over on a regular basis, I needed a go-to light meal in case I needed to feed a gaggle of hungry teenagers.  At the time, I thought, "maybe I'm buying too much?" but went ahead with the purchase.  And, can you believe it? I was down to my last three packs!  That's a lot of hot dogs!  I managed to guesstimate almost exactly how much of this stuff would be consumed in the past year.  How about that!

Walmart usually sell these for about $2.00, so this was a good purchase.  I purchased 30 packs.  Kroger normally sells these for over $3.00, so my receipt stated that I "saved" $81.00 on today's purchase. 

It's quite a relief since my freezer was starting to look slightly empty.  I also purchased a pork shoulder on clearance for $13.00.  The regular prices was about $22.00.  Last time I purchased one, they were about $7.00 on sale for the same size, so prices have come up quite a bit. . .  Still, I can feed my family about 3 times off this one hunk of meat, so it is a good buy.  The one I purchased weighed about 8 pounds.  I made some killer pulled pork the other day in the oven with the last one I had in the freezer.  I will post the recipe some time in the future.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Frugal Petcare

I LOVE my dogs.  I hate to admit it, but I do.  I grew up with a mother who was born the year of the dog under the Chinese Zodiac who HATED  dogs (go figure). I never had a pet dog growing up, and did not want anything to do with dogs ever since.  Marriage changed all that. I got married and had a couple of kids. My husband said they needed to grow up with dogs.  I said, "no way, I don't want that responsibility on top of the kids." I got overruled. I don't mind in the least.  : )

As you can see, Livingston, our mutt, is my alter ego photo of me for this blog.  I love her to death.

Anyways, my frugal "dog-owner" tip of the day is, sometimes, it is more frugal to spend a little more money to save a LOT.  We have our dogs on an anti-heartworm, flea & intestinal worm medication called Trifexis.  The medication is not cheap, it is about $70 per dog for a six month supply of the medication, but as far as I'm concerned, it is worth every penny.

We used to spend a small fortune buying flea/tick spray every other week or so to keep the fleas under control, in addition to the drops you would put down their backs.  As diligent as we were, we would have flea outbreaks and we would have to go out and buy more flea control medication and foggers to get rid of the fleas in the house.  We reached a crisis point when Livingston had an allergic reaction to flea bites and I noticed her skin turning red under her fur.  The vet said she was allergic to flea bites, and gave her a Cortisone shot (for about $100) and suggested that I put her on "Trifexis" .

He explained that the medicine will start working within 30 minutes, and will continue to kill fleas on her and in the house for approximately one month.  True to his word, it worked like a charm.  We have not had  flea infestations in over a year, and I have not had to purchase flea spray or drops.  Even though the medication  is expensive, we are saving a TON of money because we have not had to buy anything other than the pills.  The dogs are always comfortable, and they don't have to deal with us having to spray them all the time, which they hated.  It is a win-win situation.

Sometimes, you need to spend some money to save a lot.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Counting My Blessings

I haven't felt like blogging much lately. The recent earthquake, tsunami and the subsequent nuclear crisis in Japan has been weighing heavily on my mind. . . It is the country of my birth and where I grew up.  I still have family ties there and many friends I grew up with are still living there.  My mother has been visiting the country, and I spent a nervous few days wondering if she was OK. She was, and no one I know has been injured, but I learned that a  few of my friend's extended family members are missing, and one of the "Fukushima 40" workers who had been trying to get the nuclear reactors under control is a cousin of one of my friends. . . This disaster has hit too close to home for comfort.

It is times like these that we count our blessings. We take life for granted, and fail too often to stop and think about all we have, and what we could be without.  I am blessed that I have a wonderful husband and two wonderful sons who are almost grown men.  While I sometimes  miss the days when they were much younger, I am happy to see that we managed to raise our sons to know right from wrong and adverse to using harmful substances.  While I often wish they would apply themselves to their studies more, I know they are not stupid or ignorant and they will be OK after my husband and I are gone.

My husband. . . I don't thank him often enough how I appreciate him.  He is my best friend. He is the rock that keeps our family together.  He is the one who is always  thinking about "the big picture" as I often run around trying to get things done. We are complete opposites in personality, and I believe that is why we have managed to stay together for 20 years since we met. He has a strong personality and shyness is not in his vocabulary.  He can sometimes come across as abrasive to some strangers, and more than one person has made the comment to us over the years how they did not like him initially and wondered how we stayed married or how I could stand to live with him.  Too often, people judge the strongness in one's character and mistake that with abuse which is not even there.  Those same people realize over time that he is really a teddy bear, though a bear nevertheless when the situation warrants it.  He is my yin as I am his yang; two inseperable parts of a whole.  I cannot imagine life without him. . .

I am blessed to have a roof over my head, a warm bed to sleep in at night and food on my table that I can share with my family and friends.  Everything else is gravy. 

I pray that those who lost their homes, family and friends in Japan can find comfort soon.  And I pray that the thousands who lost their lives did not suffer long and that God was merciful.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

I'm Not Imagining Things. . .

According to Sky News from the UK,   http://news.sky.com/skynews/Home/Business/A-Senior-HSBC-Economist-Warns-Of-Food-Riots-In-The-UK-If-Prices-Continue-To-Soar/Article/201103215948496?lpos=Business_Employment_First_Article_Region_0&lid=ARTICLE_15948496_A_Senior_HSBC_Economist_Warns_Of_Food_Riots_In_The_UK_If_Prices_Continue_To_Soara "senior economist at the worldwide bank HSBC has warned of civil unrest in Britain if food prices continue to soar."  According to the article, this is due to the fact that even in the developed world, there has been very low wage growth to compensate for the price increases we've been experiencing.  The article blames in part, "extreme weather" as destroying crops, towing the liberal agenda, but I believe the main reason has been the push by the left to promote Ethanol additives in gas. 

Ethanol is made from corn. Corn has been grown in the US to feed cows and for export to the Third world countries for food. But, with the US government subsidizing the corn crops farmers grow to sell to energy companies for Ethanol production, there has been a worldwide shortage of corn to feed the livestock and people elsewhere.  In addition, corn-based ingredients are used in a myriad of consumer food products, so the price of EVERYTHING has been going up.  Talk about unintended consequences. . .  Add to that all the unrest in the Middle East raising the price of fuel, thereby further increasing the cost of shipping the food to market, the situation has gone from bad to worse. . .

The reality is that Ethanol is less efficient than petroleum.  It cannot be shipped in a pipeline, so trucks must be used to bring it to market. That means gas.  It costs more per gallon of fuel to manufacture and ship Ethanol than to refine and ship petroleum based products to market.  But the left is so committed to the "green" cause that they refuse to see it.  If I can see it, why can't the politicians?

Their well intended policies are contributing to the misery and suffering in the world. . .  And we are the ones having to suffer the consequences of the rising prices.  At least we in the West are in a better position than those living in the Third World.  When will the insanity end?  In the meantime, continue to stock up on staples, as things are going to get worse before it gets better, whenever that may be. . .

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

It's Time For Guerrilla Tactics

I tell you, things are really getting scary out there. Every time I go to the supermarket to go grocery shopping, the price of everything, and I mean EVERYTHING, is going up.  For instance, I purchased several cases of Gatorade a while back when they were on sale for 50 cents a bottle. I don't care for them, but my husband likes to drink them occasionally, so I like to stock up when on sale so I don't end up paying full price.  The supermarket's usual price on this item was generally a dollar.  Gas stations and convenience stores sell them double that price at around 2 dollars a bottle.  This week, it is on sale for 64 cents at the supermarket.  My math is rusty, but that's about a 25 percent increase? Are you kidding me? 

Same thing for tubs of imitation butter I buy. . . I purchased a supply about a year ago for 99 cents per 15oz/425g tub. Now the "sale" price is hovering around 2 dollars each! That's a 100 percent increase! If prices keep going up at this rate, are we going to be able to afford to eat?  Our wages are not going up 25 or 100 percent!

I'm going to resort to making meals out of my pantry stash for a while and concentrate on guerrilla tactics shopping.  What I mean is, REALLY focus laser sharp on sales and loss leaders even more so than I used to, and put away a substantial stash to weather the coming storm.  It is getting frightfully ugly out there. . .