One woman's quest to save money, save the planet and save my sanity

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Give me $5 and call me Santa

On Wednesday's Noah has Coyote Club which is sort of a kids nature group that meets at a local park. He loves it and I am quite keen on the activity since I am a much bigger fan of trees than sports. What this means for me is that I need to find a way to occupy the girls for and hour and a half since it isn't really worth it to drive home, nor is it enough time to do any serious errand running like grocery shopping. So today we took a quick trip to Agway to pick up chicken supplies, stopped in at the vets to pick up medicine for George, the hot mess puppy bulldog, and then went to our most coveted place - the thrift store. Ah, those two little words set my heart a flutter. My affinity for thrift stores and their many Eco (logical and nomic) benefits will be the subject of many a post here, but for today I will sum up my $5 score.
After scanning my usual hot spots, shoes for Noah and me and pants for the boy giant, I let the girls hit the Toy Room and I went over to check CD's and books. No "new" music of interest. I think I hit my high in that department when I found a copy of "Ill Communication" to replace my scratched one. Who the hell gives away a Beastie Boys CD? Hello, inheritance? On to books. I quickly found a hardcover for me that looks completely untouched. Then one that screamed "Buy me for Mom". Then one for my sister. All in beautiful condition. When I had finished scanning the shelves and surveyed my pile I had a total of eight - four gifts and four for me. Prices? 50cents for hardcover and 25cents for soft. Total = $3.00.
Back to the toy room to pick up the girls and I discover two very girly cases filled with never-used art supplies. A buck a piece. I am always on the hunt for two-of-something to avoid "She won't SHARE it with me!!!". So that's a couple things that will balance out Christmas a bit. I checkout with a total of six future Christmas presents, plus four new reads for me. Not that I will get through them anytime soon, but most of them are reference anyway.
So some might say that I did not need to spend that five dollars. But come December when everyone else is frantically throwing their money at anything that looks like something they can pawn off as a thoughtful gift, I will be at home making wrapping paper out of brown bags and bragging to David about how cheaply I acquired this bounty and resting in the knowledge that my generosity is recycled and still full of love. See you next week Thrift Store!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Think Groucho Stork

So apparently my pickles are a hit. Yes, the verdict is now in from individuals who are not dependant upon me for all their food needs and I am guilty of good pickling. A definite improvement over last year. The casualties of that war are still sitting on the shelf in the basement. They are like organs in a lab. Discolored and useless, yet oddly fascinating. They were mushy and nasty and now I don't know what to do with them. Do I throw them in the compost and risk bad pickly vibes being passed on to next years crop? I screwed those up since it was both my first time gardening and pickling. You really must pace yourself with these things.
First, you have got to use pickling cucumbers. Then you can not give in to the temptation to let them grow until they are all phallic. Smaller ones remain firmer. I have been saying THAT for years. Then you have to get a good recipe. This year, I opted for a refrigerator pickling process. Upside, I didn't have to fire up the water bath canner which I think might have helped make last years' batch so very raw-hot-dogesque. Downside, the majority of my fridge is taken up by quarts of pickles and I am beginning to feel like I live at Katz' s Deli. Every time I go to get the milk I expect to find some guy in an apron asking me if I want rye or pumpernickel.
You don't have to know how to can to make these. So if you can get your hands on some little cukes you might want to give it a whirl. I use quart canning jars, but you could use any size container and adjust the recipe accordingly.
Refrigerator Pickles (Dill)                                               

In each jar:
2 sprigs of fresh dill
2 cloves of garlic, peeled
1 tbl. mixed pickling spices (found in the spice aisle)
1 bay leaf

Combine in saucepan:
1 cup white vinegar
8 cups water
1/4 cup pickling salt (usually near canning supplies or spices)

pickling cucumbers

Put the dill, garlic, pickling spices and bay leaf in the bottom of each jar. Fill the remaining space with cucumbers. Leave small ones whole and cut larger ones into spears.
Combine the vinegar, water, and pickling salt in a saucepan, bring to a boil, and cool.
Pour the liquid mixture into each jar so that the cucumbers are covered. If you run out of liquid just mix up another batch or half-batch. Put a cover on each jar and refrigerate for about three days before eating. Flavor will get stronger over time. Pickles should last about 3-4 weeks. Keep refrigerated.
I have now pawned off enough picks to get a good read and I think I'm in business. Next year I'll grow the dill and garlic and then I can get really freaky with it. Like some people have a whole extra fridge for beer, maybe I'll have one for pickles. Sweet! No seriously they are dill, though. Sweet pickles are an abomination. But that's another post.

Monday, September 28, 2009

This is what I do

I procrastinate. I throw up road blocks. I agonize. I watch TV. I research. I ruminate. Eat something. Try again. Complain to David. Delete. Look up stuff. Stare at the laundry pile. Take the dog out. Check my email. Check Facebook. Pledge to try again. Do this instead of dishes. Look at the clock in horror. Realized I did it. I started. I'm here. Quit while I'm ahead. Don't do it. Don't even proof it. Leave it. Go!