Saturday, October 26, 2013

Apple Cider Vinegar

OMG, People, OMG, I made Apple Cider Vinegar, I really did. I kind of thought I would fail at this like I did the Pectin, but I didn't. I really actually made ACV. From scrap stuff I've always been throwing away before, the peels, cores, and seeds. I can't believe it. Why isn't everyone doing this?

I didn't really follow any one particular set of instructions...there's so many different ways of doing something it seems, I just pick the easy parts of the different ones and see what I can make of it.
If you are interested in trying ACV for yourself, I have several helpful sites Pinned on my Apple Pinterest Board.

The jars on the left are from the first batch I started about a week or so before the second batch.
I had filled the large pickle jars with apple scraps, then filled with a 1/4-cup-of-sugar-to-1-quart-water mixture (it ended up taking me 3 quarts of water and 3/4 cup sugar).

I put the jars in my diningroom which is warm and mostly dark, but I sat a cardboard box opened at both ends (actually an un-taped Priority mail box) around the jar to make sure it was a dark enough.

I checked them and stirred them every so often. After a couple of weeks I strained the liquid from the apple scraps of the first batch and re-covered the jar with cheesecloth to allow it to ferment longer.

The second batch didn't look ready yet so I let it keep fermenting with the fruit scraps.

Today I strained the first batch through cheesecloth and into the glass jars.
I put canning lids and rings on to keep the ACV clean and from evaporating, but they aren't "canned".

I strained the liquid from the apple scraps of the second batch and covered with cheesecloth and will let it ferment a couple more weeks, then it should look like the ACV on the left.

Usually I just tear a scrap piece of paper and write the name and date of the product, but here lately I've been all about Labels. Nothing fancy, just not so plain as my torn scraps. Found this one on the internet, erased out the parts I didn't want in Paint, and added the Date.

Sorry for being so excited about this, I'm just so amazed that one can make a useful product out of what I had just always thought was waste. It's like magic to me.

(Dang, with those labels, no one's going to believe I really made this by myself.)

Now, to figure out what to do with it.
I'm pretty sure I won't be eating a spoonful of it a day with my breakfast. Not unless I decide I need to puke my guts out or something.
And despite all the assurances, I'm still pretty iffy about this stuff being a cleaning product.  It still seems like you'd be wiping sticky crud on your windows or floor or whatever. Guess I'll have to give it a try and see how that goes.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Creepy Altered Doll

Remember the other day when I said I had a ton of unfinished projects because sometimes I can't take the next step for fear of messing up? This project was one of them.

(I apologize in advance for the pictures, I tried to get Ryan up to take pics for me but he was busy sleeping.)

I picked this doll up at a yard sale about a month or so ago for 40¢ with the intention of turning it into a Creepy Altered Doll (or Zombie Baby Doll).

First thing I did was spray paint it black. With regular spray paint, not spray paint for plastic. It stayed sticky and never really dried.
I was aggravated and ready to throw it away right then, but I went ahead and painted the face white with acrylic craft paint (53¢ each at Walmart). It was streaky, but didn't really matter in this instance, and it did dry.
I found it a little outfit at a thrift store (Free) that covers most the body, then also painted the hands and feet white.

Then I put it down and left it because, so far, things had gone along well (enough), and I didn't know what I wanted to do next, and that next step might be the one that ruined the whole project.

Before you say it, I know, it's painted. If I messed up, all I had to do re-paint and start over. I told myself that.
I also told myself, all the time I spent looking at pictures of other people's creepy altered dolls on the internet that this is my project, not trying to replicate someone else's doll, there's not any creepy altered doll *rulz* I had to follow, it didn't have to look a certain specific way or else someone would tell me, "You did that wrong".

Oh well.
Anyway, I decided that today was going to be the day. I was going to make this doll. I'd either do okay, or throw it away - it wouldn't be the first time - but it wasn't going to keep laying there looking at me all weird.

I know I wanted to give it eyebrows. I was going for crazy (evilly-insane), but I think I ended up with angry.

I decided I wanted to put a stitched or stapled scar on her face (ya, I know, I'm not very original).  I was going to use some hair elastics, or black yarn, but I thought, "Hm, I wonder if my staple gun would work on a doll face?"

Then I decided I wanted to give it some teeth. I had saw a lot of dolls with "vampire fangs", I didn't really want to make it a vampire, but I thought about the fangs - the tip ends of toothpicks would work as fangs....or a maybe a mouthful of scary, razor sharp teeth.

I tried hot-gluing the "teeth" to the mouth as it was but it didn't work too well. I used a sharp knife to cut a slit between the lips, then pushed the bottom lip back, giving the top lip a Ledge for the "teeth" to attach to.

I used hot glue for the "cut" on the face/eye. It didn't go as well as I'd hoped annnnnd....I'm at quitting point again. I don't know what else to do. Afraid of overkill. Don't know what to do with the hair.

Closer up detail.

Before/After. Not as scary/gory as I'd hoped, but different anyway.

Thanks Again, Kmart!

$5.00 more. Yes, please.

Looks like they're wanting me to use my $5.00 off the cost of a Halloween costume, but I prefer to use it stocking up on something I really need, which, for me at the moment, is toilet paper.
I had been well stocked on TP from the good old days of Extreme couponing a couple years back, but lately my stash has gotten thin and I was just whining the other day I needed a good TP sale.
Or given to me free is good, too...or in this case, $1.05 since they gave me $1 less than before. Can't complain about only paying $1.05 for 12 rolls of Quilted Northern.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

About a month ago I started harvesting our Bishop's Crown (Christmas Bell) peppers.

I'm not much of a Pepper connoisseur (as in, I rarely, if ever, eat much of anything with peppers involved), but as I understand it, these peppers are like Bell peppers - or maybe I'm just assuming that because of the name, Christmas Bell - at any rate, I understood you could slice/chop it up and use it in cooking, or fill with cream cheese and roast as an appetizer.

As such, I cut the top (near the stem) off, de-seeded the peppers and put them in a freezer bag for freezing.
In September I harvested enough peppers for a full gallon bag. This approx. half-gallon is some of the peppers we've picked over the last month, not including a bunch J's been giving away to his friends and co-workers.

I remove the seeds onto a paper towel and set it on the microwave to start drying out. After they dry out a good bit I'll separate the seeds from the pulp and gunk and then let them dry some more.

These are the seeds from the 1st batch, back in September.
Hundreds (thousands?) of seeds, that started from just a single pepper. That still just amazes the heck outta me.
I wrote the name of the seeds, where they came from, and the date on a brown paper bag to put them in.

I read several articles about seed-saving on the internet, and my goodness, there's so much advice and different ways of doing things.
I decided to put the paper bag in a ziplock sandwich bag, and then into an old glass mayonnaise jar, which I'll store in the bottom of my spare fridge.

We also brought home another kind of pepper called a Datil pepper, as in "Yep, dat'l do it".
Datil peppers are very hot, similar in strength to habanero peppers. They are almost identical to a pepper from South Africa called Fatalii peppers, or "Fatal".

The one pepper we brought home yielded only 6 seeds, but we got a 100% germination rate from both peppers. I really feel like that is probably because they were Heirloom plants, and not the genetically modified frankenstein seeds we get from Walmart these days.

I don't know how well you can see in the picture because I took it after picking the orange ones, so the ones remaining are still green, but all 6 plants are still loaded with peppers.

Datil peppers are grown in different places in the US (according to the internet, I'm not sure where all those other places are, or their climate) but the main place they grow is St. Augustine, Florida, which is some bit warmer, for longer, than here.

I'm not sure if they are usually late season ripeners, if they need longer warmer months like Florida (we are having freeze watches now, St. Augustine probably won't get a freeze before late December), if it was something we did wrong, or if it was our rather strange Summer weather this year is the reason why we've had really only a few peppers come ripe for picking yet.

Although we sprouted the seeds back in the Spring, same as we do other seeds like tomatoes, it seemed like all the pepper plants didn't want to grow. They lived, but didn't grow any bigger, and I didn't want to put them out in the garden so small, so I kept trying to coax them to grow larger in my seedling pots. Plus I wanted to wait until after Easter to make sure we were past all the freeze worries. We've been having some later frosts the past couple of years.
Anyway, it was pretty late onto into Spring before I put them out in the garden, and it still seemed like they just were not going to grow. I don't think they ever really took off growing until on into the Summer.

I searched for recipes or ideas for what to do with Datil peppers. There's some cooking recipes that use Datil peppers, but otherwise it seems popular to make jelly, relish or sauce.
Jelly isn't happening. Forget that. I prefer to waste my sugar on delicious fruit-flavored jelly.

I found a couple of recipes (copy & pasted) for Sauces, although one seems more like a relish to me.
I've decided I have to make the "Bottled Hell" sauce because, how can you not make something named "Bottled Hell" and ends with "Use caution".

Datil Sauce (Relish?)
I made my first batch of Datil Sauce this weekend, and it turned out well. I followed the recipe in the link that John gave above. I measured things accurately and used 14 datils (8 were ripe and yellow and 6 were pale green). That gave 3/8 cup of seeded, diced chile. Also used 1 cup diced Vidalia onion, 7/8 cup diced red bell pepper and equal amounts of white sugar and dark brown sugar (total 3 tablespoons). Other than that, I followed the recipe closely. The sauce has a nice heat that about anyone can handle (such as my wife). Chileheads may want it hotter. I'm looking forward to the next batch of pods ripening so I can make more. I saved plenty of seeds -- you get plenty out of 14 datils. Chef Paul, I don't know that the recipe needs any tweaking, I'm well pleased with it.

Bottled Hell
- This recipe was sent to me by a relative of Helen E. Becker.  Her Bottled Hell recipe was a favorite almost 50 years ago and still is today.  She published the recipe in her cook book 'Food Favorites of Olde St. Augustine' in 1959.  This sauce is supposed to be very hot, with a strong datil pepper taste, and intended only for the datil pepper aficionado.
Into an electric blender, put 2 cups of datil peppers and 1/2 cup of vinegar.  Mix for 5 minutes. Put mixture into a saucepan;  add 2 large bottles of ketchup (back then, that would have been a 16 oz. (pint) bottle of ketchup, so use 2), plus 2 1/2 cups of vinegar.  Bring to boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Fill into small bottles.  Use caution! :-)

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Kmart, Part 3

I no sooner got my Points spent last week, than I got another email telling me I had $6.00 more worth of Points to spend.

As I was poking around in my Account, it seems they've sent me a lot of these Free Points (Money) and I've been...overlooking? them, or something. There's like $17.00 worth of Free Points (Money) that went unspent.

It's really not like me to overlook Free Money. The email Subject line said "Melissa, you have FREE $6 in Points expiring...."
"FREE $6" would have definitely caught my attention when I was deleting junk emails, so I'm thinking, for some reason, they weren't getting to me before.

I don't know what changed, but Yay for Free Money. I went online and ordered a 12-roll pack of Northern Quilted TP at $5.99, and will pick it up at the Store later (I may or may not make it up there tomorrow) for Free (no shipping cost).

Jury Duty

About a month or so ago I received a letter in the mail saying I'd been chosen for Jury Duty, starting yesterday October 21st.

My immediate reaction was, "What? No." and irritation and maybe a little anger.
But I don't know why.

I've never served on a jury before. I was called once before, menia year ago, but got excused because the defense lawyer had been my divorce lawyer.
So I had no idea what was so bad about serving jury duty.

I recall back a few years ago when my Dad said he'd been chosen for Grand Jury Duty, and I started 'helping' him by coming up with ideas and reasons he could try to get himself excused.
He didn't want to be excused. He actually looked forward to the experience and was excited to be a part of The Process.

Following my initial reaction, I thought about what my Dad had said, and my reasons for my reaction, and pretty much all I can come up with is, I didn't want to go to jury duty because I'd been conditioned to dislike it.
All I've heard over and over is people moan, groan, and bitch about it, or "Pray God" they didn't get called. Jury Duty was something awful, a Punishment, I thought.
But having never really experienced it for myself, I didn't actually know.

In my whole *trying to look at the bright side* plan to control/overcome my Depression, I decided to look at it as a new Experience. An Adventure.

I have to be honest, I did experience some mini-panic attacks the night before on account of my Introvertedness (Introversion?). I didn't know if I would know where to go, what to do, what if I did something wrong, and everyone looked at me like I was an idiot?

But I knew there'd be people, Security Guards, at the door and they'd tell me where I was supposed to go, and when I got there someone else would probably tell me what to do. Many of the others there were going to be just like me, going into a new situation, not knowing what to do, either. We'd figure it out. Always do.
For years and years, I create drama for myself, worry myself into a panic about things that I know from experience, just is not necessary.

I didn't think I'd sleep Sunday night - but I did - and I was afraid I'd feel like shit Monday morning - but woke up feeling pretty good and looking forward to my little Adventure.

I arrived at the Courthouse and went in the front doors, where some other prospective Jurors were already going through the Security machine.
The man in front of me asked if this was where he was supposed to be for Jury Duty, and when he was told it was, he asked was it upstairs.

See, I was so worried about not knowing where to go, and all I had to do was follow that guy and look like I knew exactly what I was doing.

Upstairs a man was handing out forms and pens for us to fill out our name and mailing info for our Check.
After that we went inside the Courtroom and sat in the pews and in a little bit the Clerks read off a Roll Call, and then a Judge came and told us a little bit about what was going on this week.

I think they said there 93 Prospective Jurors there. The first 40 names on the List was the Red Panel and the rest would be the Blue Panel.
I was on the Red Panel, although I'd rather have been on the Blue. Red clashes with my hair, and just isn't a good color for me in general. And turned out the Blue Panel got to sit Criminal cases, I think, which would have been more exciting than Civil cases.

(Or so I was thinking at the time. However, once I got on a case and the reality set in that I was having to decide a court case, I was kind of freaked out, and glad it was just money, and not someone's guilt or innocence.)

I was the 12th name on the List so was called for the 1st panel of Jurors to be questioned/weeded through for the case (which we still didn't know what was about at this point.)
The judge asked questions like if any of us worked for a certain insurance company, or had any interest in it, and a couple other things I can't remember now.

Then we had to go one-by-one, stand up and tell our name, where we lived, what we did for a living, our spouses' name, and what he/she did for a living. I didn't love that part, and talked breathless and forgot to say where I lived.

We found out we were working a Personal Injury Damages case resulting from an auto accident, and the Lawyers asked a bunch of questions like if any of us had any prejudice because the Plantiff was Hispanic, or if any of us was just set against awarding a large amount of money even if the evidence proved the damages. They asked who had medical training, if any of us had any knowledge about non-displaced fractures, had we ourselves or anyone in our family experienced a non-displaced fracture, or a broken jaw.

Even though I'm a Fire/EMT wife, I didn't have a clue what they were talking about. J doesn't get into details like that usually, he'll just say like "a broken arm" or leg or head or whatever. I've never personally broken a bone, Kevin had a fractured ankle once and of course Ryan broke his neck in a car wreck a few years ago, but I didn't know if those were non-displaced fractures.

It started out with a couple of people telling about their own, or their spouse or parent's broken jaw, and then I guess someone knew what a non-displaced fracture was and offered their up their own broken bone - wrist, I think? - and then someone else had that same broken bone, and it snowballed from there.
I think every one of us ended up telling a story about a bone we or someone we knew had broken, LOL.

After all the questions we were sent out in the hall for several minutes, then when we came back the lawyers struck the people they didn't want. The Clerk read the remaining names, and the Judge excused the rest.

After we found out what the case was exactly about, I was kind of surprised I was left on the Jury because when I told the Defense lawyer about Ryan's broken neck, she asked me had it required surgery (Yes) and did he have some sort of pins, screws or anything in it (Yes, it still has a Titanium cage around it). She asked did he continue to have any pain or trouble with it, and I said no, the scar aggravates him a little bit, but otherwise, no, he's fine.
Seems like the Plantiff's lawyer would have axed me right there. (I didn't tell her that trying to get booted from the Jury, but we still didn't entirely know at that time what the case involved exactly, and I was just being honest.)

After the Jury was selected and the others were given their instructions, we were excused for lunch. After lunch, we reported back to the Courthouse and were sent to the Jury Room to wait for everyone to get back and the case get started again.

This was the first time the 12 Jurors got together and got to see one other and chat a little...and ohhh my lawwwwd, did they whi-i-i-i-ne, mo-o-a-a-n, gro-o-a-a-n, and carry o-o-o-n.

They were tired, bored, had better things to do, missing work (losing out on pay), not being paid enough, being generally inconvenienced, or simply just didn't want to be there.

I just kept my mouth shut, though, because I didn't think it had been so bad thus far, but I didn't want to be that person.

Other than that one thing, though, they were awesome.
No one tried to be all large-and-in-charge, no know-it-alls, no smart-asses. Some of them were hilarious as heck, had us ROLF'ing.

So we get called back to get started and it wasn't that bad.
Had I been sitting off in the back having to watch the thing I probably would have been bored to tears or reading my Kindle, but we were involved in this. We had a stake in this. A job to do.

Sure, some of the testimony was boring and the lawyers were pretty repetitive, but it was interesting to watch it all happen. They gave us notepads to take notes, and I took a lot. Pretty much everything they said. I wanted to make sure I didn't miss anything.

After a little bit, not too long, the Judge gave us a break, which was nice, it was just about long enough after lunch that I needed to visit the Ladies' room.

They put us back in the Jury room...where everyone moaned and groaned and complained....and made us laugh sometimes....then we went back to the Courtroom and continued.

Every so often the Judge would ask if we needed a break and no one said they did. I didn't but I figured even if I did, I sure as heck wouldn't say so, and risk having the others' lynching me for making them have to stay even longer.

About 4'ish the Plantiff's lawyer Rested, and the Defendant's lawyer Rested, and the Judge sent us home for the day. We reported back at 9:30 this morning, to the Jury room.
Gahhhhhhh....okay, I got it, they didn't want to be there.

We were called into the Courtroom to hear Closing arguments, and wow, Lawyers have that "Polite Viciousness" down to an art, don't they. Whew.

Both sides told us told us the amount they wanted to award in the case, which I was glad to have a number of some sort. I'd been afraid they were going to leave it to us to pull a number out of our butts.
I have to say, I was pretty surprised by the amount the Plantiff was seeking, it was considerably lower than I'd been expecting. I thought we were in there for maybe a quarter- or half-a-mil or something really extreme.

The Judge Charged Us with our Duty and sent us off to the Jury Room to Deliberate.

I have to say, that went really awesome, too. Pretty much everyone in there had a lick of sense. And everyone was important. You didn't have one or two say "Well this, well that" and run over or discount everyone else. Everyone was listened to, their thoughts taken into consideration, and in a relatively short time we'd made our decision, and everyone was satisfied with it.
I thought it went really, really well.

Then we were done for the week. The others sure were happy to be out of there, but I would've happily come back some other days and did more Jury Duty.
I don't know if I just got lucky, or if it was my mind set going in, that I wasn't going in hating it and already decided to be miserable, but all in all, I thought it was a pretty excellent Adventure.

By the way, if you've avoided Registering to Vote hoping to avoid Jury Duty, it apparently doesn't work that way anymore (or at least not in Georgia, not sure about other States). But a couple of the people on our Jury aren't Registered to Vote, and didn't understand why they'd gotten picked. Maybe they use the Driver's License Database now, I'm not sure.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Halloween Special

The Halloween That Almost Wasn't

 Another one from my era. Educational, too. Ahhh, I miss the good 'ol days.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Halloween Movie

Here's a fun, classic Halloween movie for your viewing enjoyment; The Worst Witch.

Gosh, I haven't seen this movie in, oh, around 30 years, give or take. (Wow, 30 years sounds a lot longer than it seems).

Brought back a lot of memories, with a lot of the famous actresses of the time, and of Halloween when I was a kid.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Saving at Kmart, Part 2

I am such a hairbrain. It's a wonder I've survived this long, honestly.

So, somehow, I figured out I ended up with 2 Shop Your Way rewards accounts. I don't know, apparently I was using my Kmart Rewards card at Kmart, but had signed up for an account online when I shop at Sears?

Anyway, when I was at Kmart yesterday, the cashier said I had 11,920 points, and some of my points must have expired (overnight).
I didn't think that sounded right so I logged online today to see if I could see my account, and imagine my surprise when I still had 13,000 points - expiring today!

Once I figured out that I had 2 freaking accounts, I had to get to Kmart to spend my $13.00 before they disappeared.

I went to a different Kmart, and they didn't have any big clearance deals at all. Just some regular sales, but nothing great.

I took Ryan with me today, and was looking around for something to buy. He was like, just buy candy. LOL. That's what Kevin said yesterday. Like we don't have 10 pounds of candy at home already.

I ended up buying toilet paper, because we will always need toilet paper.
I also found a set of fishing bobber salt and pepper shakers to give my Mom and/or Dad for Christmas. They decorate their Florida home in fishing/nautical theme.
Then I had about $1.50 left to spend, so I bought the boys a pack each of their favorite candybars, on sale for 88¢ each.

I got these fishing bobber salt & pepper shakers to give to my Mom/Dad but I told Ryan I'd probably end up with them back again because my family seems to think I collect salt & pepper shakers.
I do have a collection of them, but not because I purposely started collecting salt and pepper shakers. I was collecting old and/or usual things and happened to end up with several sets of shakers. It snowballed from there.
Exact same thing happened with my Coke collection. All I was doing was collecting some bottles and cans I thought might be collectible one day, and boom, suddenly I have cups and magnets and thermometers and even a bedding set.

Today's out of pocket cash cost for 24 rolls of tp, a Christmas gift, and 2 packs of candy was a whopping 28¢.

I also was able to put an Inversion table on Lay-a-way. It was on sale for $129.99.

In today's email I got a coupon for get $10.00 in points when I spend $50.00. I wasn't sure if I'd be able to use it on a Lay-a-way item, but the cashier scanned it and said it accepted.

I'm not sure how that will work out with the get $10.00 in points when you complete a Lay-a-way contract, if I will get a total of $20.00 in points, or if one will cancel out the other.

Reckon I'll find out in a few weeks.

Ryan's Crafty Shirt & Cloak

Ryan came to my room the other day and said, "Mom, I need a couple feet of black yarn."

I gave him a couple of feet of black yarn, and in a little bit he comes back wearing the medieval shirt he'd created after watching a You Tube video.

He had cut the neck and sleeve hems off of a white Fruit-of-the-Loom t-shirt, then cut a slice down the chest (it made a V naturally) and made holes to lace the string (yarn) ties through.

A little later he comes down carrying a large drop cloth and says "Mom, I want to sew a cloak. I might need some help."

I informed him that I was not a very good seamstress, and didn't know how much help I'd be able to give him.  But he wasn't concerned, and spread his drop cloth on the floor and started slicing it up with no hesitation.

Once upon a time, probably when I was about the age he is now, I was brave like that. I was young and smart (knew everything) and there wasn't anything I couldn't do.
Well, years later, I've learned better. There's a lot I can't do. And I fear messing up. I have sooo many unfinished projects simply because I can't take the next step, for fear of messing up.

Messing up my own stuff is one thing. I might be aggravated or disappointed, but still, it's my thing(s) to mess up.
Now Ryan comes to me with this project, and he's just cutting up this drop cloth like, no big deal. And expects me to help him sew it up.

Turned out - as I probably should've known - the "help" he needed was for me to sew it for him.

Oh, no pressure there, not wanting to disappoint my kid or mess *his* project up.

I would tell you how I did it, but to be honest, I don't exactly know.  Ryan cut a piece and folded it and said, "Sew this together". It was just a straight line, so I was able to manage that, and it made a hood.

Then he brought me the large body piece and says, "This needs to be gathered across the top edge, then the hood sewed to it."

Well, I have never made a gather or sewed a gather to anything in my life.
I somehow knew - one of those things I learned by osmosis from my Mom or Grannie, I guess - generally how a gather was made, so I gave it a try.
And by some miracle, it worked.

I opened the hood and laid it out and lined the cloak-body up along and started pinning the edges together.
I even managed to get the right (wrong) sides together this time.
Then I sewed it on my sewing machine.
And it came out damn near perfect.

I had completely amazed myself, but when I took it to Ryan he was like, "Yeah, that's what I wanted. Thanks."
Like, no big deal, I knew you could do it.

(It looks better in person. Apparently I'm never going to amount to a good photographer, much as I wish it.)

Saving at Kmart

So I took my Shop Your Way points to Kmart to see what I could get.

I was also planning to put an Inversion Table on sale for $129.99 on lay-a-way, but got the news that my closest local Kmart is shutting it's doors and wasn't doing lay-a-ways. I'll have to go to the next nearest store sometime this week, I reckon.

What I found was a pretty good clothing clearance sale. Already clearanced clothes were marked an additional 70% off.

My youngest son was shopping with me yesterday and he doesn't like shopping at.all. He said we should buy a couple bags of candy and go.
But I like getting more for my money, and 70% off already clearanced clothes - with Christmas bearing down on us fast - was the way to do it.

(I'd also heard there was a fantastic toy sale, an additional 50% off, but I didn't see that at my Kmart.)

These Basic Editions Men's sleep shorts were originally priced $9.99, marked down to $6.99, I got them for $2.09. For my oldest son.

For my oldest son's fiance', a pair of denim Capri's with Margarita glasses, originally priced $19.99, I got for $4.19.
And a Basic white short-sleeve shirt originally priced $6.98, my price $1.04.
Yes, it's a Summery outfit, but people need Summer-time clothes, too, not just flannel shirts and thermal underwear and hoodies that people tend to give at Christmas.

Total $5.23 for an outfit.

This awesome gaudy pink and black sequined tube top will be great for my 20-something niece. Originally priced $10.00, I paid $1.50.

Something you might not know about me is my love of pajamas. Or really pajama pants, because I wear different top and bottom sizes, it's hard to find a set of pjs that fit me. Plus I have a crapload of Boyfriend T-shirts I paid next to nothing for at Target a couple years ago that I love to wear because they're so comfortable, and in the Winter I just pull one of my hoodie collection on over my Boyfriend T and I'm just comfy-cozy.

(No, as much as I love them, I don't wear pj pants to Walmart, lol.)

When I saw these shiny, colorful, fun striped sleep pants I knew I had to have a pair.
Kevin said they were *flamboyant*, lol. I'll take that.
Original price $16.99, I got them for $3.56.

Plus tax and after points, my out-of-pocket cash cost for all these items was 49¢.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Hot Boiled Peanuts

That's hot "biled" or "bawlt" or "burled" peanuts, depending on which part of the South you're in. ("Burled" may be Yankee-ish, though. Sometimes I pick up other pronunciations that sound funny to me, then forget where I got it.)

You can get hot boiled peanuts around here pretty much year-round anymore, but to my reckoning, they're a Fall item.
Probably because years ago, when the boys were little and we were poor and couldn't afford to go or do much, we looked forward to visiting the Fall Harvest Craft festivals for cheap entertainment on the weekends.
Back then they didn't charge for parking and then charge an admission fee on top of that. They charged the Crafters and other vendors booth fees, and then people came and spent their money buying crafts and foods and such.
We didn't have much to spend, but it was fun to look at all the arts & crafts, and we'd let the boys jump in the inflatables, and probably buy them a marshmallow shooter or a little wooden truck toy or such.
Sometimes we'd get a meal, usually a BBQ plate, but we'd generally always get a cup of Hot Boiled Peanuts.

The boys love boiled peanuts, but when the Fall Craft/Harvest festivals started charging us to be able to go in to spend money, I got mad and quit going to them. Even when we got to where we could afford to do more, paying to get into a place to spend money in that place is plumb ridiculous. That's like Walmart charging me to be able to go in to shop.
Or...Sam's Club. Which, by the way, I never had a membership to until they gave it to me, and won't have one again when this one runs out. Pay to be able to spend...Pfffft.

Another place we'd get boiled peanuts was the flea market. But used to, flea markets were like a lot of people having yard sales in one convenient place. That seemed to change to a lot of people having Dollar Stores in one place. Only they weren't charging a dollar for the cheap, imported crap.
So now we don't very often to go to flea markets, either.

We see people set up with their cookpots/kettle/drum in parking lots or on the side of the road, but 99% of the time when I'm out driving, I'm going somewhere and stopping for a bag or cup of boiled peanuts isn't on my mind.

For a long time I didn't know I could make boiled peanuts at home. I guess I thought you had to have a big kettle over a large outdoor fire.
Eventually I researched it and couldn't believe - not only can you make boiled peanuts at home - how freekin' easy it is.

(I can't swear they taste the same as ones boiled in a big kettle over a large fire while enjoying yourself outside on a crisp Fall day, but the boys enjoyed their about once-a-year treat in the comfort of their home.)

Boiled Peanuts - Southern Plate

1 pound green or raw peanuts in the shell
1 cup salt
Fill with water 'til peanuts are covered, although they'll float at first.

Cover pot.
Bring to boil, then reduce to simmer for 3 hours.
Add water if needed.

If too salty, add more water and boil longer.
If not salty enough, add more salt and boil longer.

Of course, as will happen, while I was messing with the peanuts I was reminded of a song I learned as a kid (back when kids weren't so sensitive or such delicate little darlings), and sang to my own kids to get them to quiet down or go to sleep.
Had this song stuck in my head all day.
But that's okay because it brings back good memories from my childhood, and when the boys were sweet little babies.

♫ Found A Peanut, Found  A Peanut
Found A Peanut Just Now
Just Now I Found A Peanut
Found A Peanut Just Now ♫

The lyrics I remember were a little different from this video's version.
(2) Cracked it open.....
(3) It was rotten.....
(4) Ate it anyway.....
(5) Got sick....
(6) Called the Doctor....
(7) Said I'd be okay...
(8) Died anyway.....
(9) Went to Heaven...
(10) Wouldn't let me in....
(11) Went the other way....
(12) Woke up...
(13) Just a dream....
Begin again.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

A Lesson in Frugality

I don't shop K-Mart/Sears very often. Mostly we shop Sears for our Big Ticket items like our appliances and riding lawnmower and one of our televisions.

We have a Sears credit card, but only use it for No-Interest-If-Paid-In-6 (or 12 or 18)-Months type deals. Or if I get a % off for using my credit card, then I pay off the balance before the billing cycle.
(I wasn't born with such good self-control, believe me, it was hard learnt.)

Anyhoo, K-Mart/Sears has a Shop Your Way Rewards card, where you earn Points on your purchases, and those Points turn into money you can spend on other things.
I call it "Free Money". It's not free money if you're shopping there just to get Points, when you could be buying the same item somewhere else cheaper, but if you're shopping there anyway, you're going to be spending the money anyway, so when they give you some of it back, then it's like free money.

Mine really was free money this time. I went shopping with a friend a couple of weeks ago and he went into K-Mart to buy some spray paint. He didn't have a Shop Your Way account and wasn't expecting to get any Points or money back, so I whipped out my SYW card for the cashier to scan on his paint purchase. Wheee, 7,000 Points for me.

And then yesterday I got an email from SYW saying they were giving me 6,000 points ($6.00) for being a Valued Member.
That made a total of 13,000 Points, or $13.00 for me to spend.

As it happens, Sears is having a great Clearance sale on a lot of items. I didn't even look through them all, but check out dresses as low as $3.99:

Swim tops and bottoms as low as $2.99 each:

And lots more. Christmas is coming, you're going to be buying anyway, might as well buy it cheap.
I think Christmas is an excellent time to give bathing suits for gifts. Why not? At this price you could give like 10 suits for the price of one regularly.

And speaking of Christmas, K-Mart is offering Free Layaway, plus you can earn 10,000 Points - which equals $10.00 - for completing a Layaway contract.

For many years I tended to wait until November, December to start thinking about Christmas. Unfortunately, November happens to be the same time our property taxes and insurance are due. Which I also put off thinking about until that time.

Needless to say, we come out of menia of a year way, way in the hole, and have to play catch up for several months the following year.

Eventually I cracked down (ugh, I hate that term) on myself, got my shit straight, and started saving for these things in January.

Last year (or possibly the year before, I can't exactly remember) the ING (now CapitalOne360) online bank offered a great deal where you opened an online checking account and made 10 online or store purchases within 45 days, they gave you a $125.00 bonus.
I'm generally wary of things that sound too good be true (or I was more wary prior to learning about coupon/shopping/frugal deals), but it was no trick. It was exactly as they said.

I opened an account with $25.00, used the card to pay for my small out-of-pocket purchases when doing drug store deals, Redbox rentals, or $1.00 McDonald's Tea.  As promised, after 45 days, they deposited $125.00 in my account.

I still have the account, and every payday I transfer an amount from our regular checking account to that account to save to pay for taxes, insurance, and Christmas.

I'm going to buy stuff for Christmas anyway, and I'll usually buy some of the things from K-Mart. It's about the only time of the year I do shop there.
Instead of just buying the item(s) outright with the money I've been saving all year, why not use Free layaway, make a payment here and there (with the same money I was going to pay up front anyway) and earn a free $10.00.

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Me and Ryan Went to Town

today to check out a couple of our local thrift stores.

He was hungry and I hadn't yet visited a newer business in town called "The Rock Ice Cream Shop", so we went in.

It wasn't anything special. The decor looked....what's the word I'm looking for, contrived? I don't know. Anyway, it wasn't that unique. I was expecting, I don't know, something different.

The food wasn't great. Probably frozen, and expensive.

That said, it's a good addition to Town and I'm glad it's there. I hope it lives long and prospers.

It was a lovely early Fall day, blue skies, low humidity, in the 70's. We parked and walked around downtown. I guess they have flag banners out in support of America during the Government shut down.

I was so disappointed visiting one of my usual thrift stores in town. I could tell before we even walked in the door that something was different. Off. I asked Ryan if they did something different to the place. He didn't know, and I couldn't pinpoint exactly what it was.

Inside was the same. It looked the same, but different.
Eventually I realized that used to, someone had some kind of awesome skill to take all the thrift items and make them look good. And the front windows were always decorated so neat, to make you want to buy the things and think it would look that good in your house.

Now, it looks like a bunch of junk set around here and there. The front windows look like a place they threw garbage. I didn't like it. Didn't like the vibe of the place anymore.

But, I did get lucky. I happened to dig around in a pile of stuff and came up with a magnet-hook that I had been looking for, and it only cost a dime (plus 1¢ tax, so does that mean they are no longer a non-profit organization, and are for profit now?).

I found the babydoll outfit at another thrift store and when I asked the price, the lady told me I could just have it.  For free. I asked her was she sure, because I was willing to pay a quarter or so. Nope, I could just have it.  Kind of strange, because it's not like I go in there often, the place is a dump, even for a thrift store, and she looks up items on ebay and puts "antique store" prices on them, which irritates me. That stuff belongs in an antique store, where I don't expect to find a good deal. Not a thrift store, where I expect to find stuff cheap.

But hey, I don't look a gift horse in the mouth, and I was terribly appreciative of her generosity. I will have to do something nice in return. Maybe I'll start donating my de-hoarded stuff to her, since apparently the management and possibly their purpose has changed at the other thrift store, where I used to do all my donating to.

The two nuts and the washer I found on the ground in a parking lot.
I see random things on the ground all the time, and generally just kick them aside or ignore them altogether. I decided I'd start picking things up. I have a lot of empty jars and containers, I'll just keep the things in and who knows maybe something will come in handy one day, or maybe they'll be useful for an art or craft project.
I see ideas on Pinterest all the time, people make the neatest things out of just random bits and old hardware and pieces and doo-dads.

This is what I wanted the magnet-hook for. I have a steel door with plastic "window dividers", neither of which I wanted to try putting a nail into.

They have over-the-hook wreath hangers, but I saw this idea of hanging a wreath from a ribbon from an upside down hook. I think the original idea was a wreath on the front of a kitchen cabinet door, with the ribbon going over and hanging from an upside down Command hook inside.

I tried sticking a Command hook to some sheet magnet, which might still have worked if I had hot glued it, but I didn't, and it fell off, so I left it worry about later.

Hmmm, I think I need to shorten my twine a bit.

Monday, October 07, 2013

Halloween Decorating

October 1st finally arrived and I was able to start my Halloween decorating.  I'm not completely done, and add to or rearrange it here and there, but here's what I have so far.

If you remember, or haven't visited my blog before, I decorated for Fall back in September by putting out my "pumpkins", aka jack-o-lanterns turned backwards.

For Halloween I turned the jack-o-lanterns around and added some of my other Halloween pieces.

Kevin dug the Bat out from somewhere upstairs and had been using it to try to scare me after the real Bat got in the house a couple of months ago and scared me.

I also got J to install the electric socket above the mantle so I could plug in lights/a lamp/etc.

Here you can see the electric socket hidden behind the plastic canvas stitched Jack. I found a photocell light sensor adaptor thing on clearance at Walmart that I plugged in, then plugged my string lights into. So they automatically go off when it's light, and come on when it gets dark.

I found the candelabra(s) at a yard sale several years ago for $1.00 for the set. (The other is on the Sweetheart cabinet.)

I was complaining about how piled up my sweetheart cabinet always gets because it's right there when you come in the door and easy to lay things down on. It's also out of the way of the kitchen and I tend to stack things I plan to do something with later on it. Here's a stack of egg cartons for J to take to his cousin who gives us fresh eggs.

I finally got to work getting it cleaned off so I could decorate it.

(Yes, I haven't packed away Kitty's litter box yet, even though he's been gone for a few weeks now. It's still too heartbreaking. Sometimes I can still hear him in there scratching in it.)

I made this little guy several years ago, using one of Kevin's outgrown hooded shirts and a pair of jeans. I safety-pinned them together and stuffed them with newspapers.  I did sew a "head" from a couple pieces of white material, but probably a plastic shopping bag would work just as well.
Then I dressed him in a cheap plastic costume. I meant to add some gloves for hands, and sneakers, and do something about some eyes, but haven't got around to it.

Lots of yummys, and I left my CD player because I have a couple of CDs of Halloween-related songs and music I like to play sometimes. (I know I'm behind in technology, I should have an MP3 player and some speakers or whatever. But this works so I don't see a need to upgrade it yet.)

I put my black roses in my Grannie's vase (I see the Dollar Tree sells bouquets of black roses now. Back when I made these I had to spray paint red roses black.)
I found the stickers on the wine bottles at the Dollar Tree a few years ago. I found some more at the Halloween Store the other day.
And my lighted jack-o-lantern.

Here's my spider craft project as you  come up to my carport door.