Thursday, July 28, 2011


 I'm not sure if I've ever mentioned how much I love shopping at Tractor Supply (TSC).  I absolutely hate going to malls in general, but love going to a Tractor Supply.  This spring when we were cleaning out the garage we discovered Tip's wading pool had cracked so we had to throw it out.  I'd gotten to the point I wasn't paying for another wading pool to have it crack and knew that Tractor Supply would have some type of container that Tip could cool off in without me having to constantly replace it.  To your left you'll see Tip in his new pool cooling off from our hot July weather.  If you look even closer you can see his tongue sticking out at us because nobody else can get in his pool with him.  This is a heavy rubber material that I guarantee is not going to crack or break.  I'm assuming it's some type of watering or feeding container.  For $29.99, it works wonderfully.  Tractor Supply always comes through for me.  Of course I picked up some other items while there including a new bird decoration for the flower beds.  Matt and I both lucked out and found a bunch of clothes on clearance.  There's a 12' windmill decoration I'd love to get to grow some type of vining plant on.

Tip overheats really easily and loves laying around in a tub or pool of water to stay cool.  If we're hiking and come to a stream he'll immediately lay down in whatever water he can find to cool off.  Some dogs like water and others don't.  Lacey is the exact opposite, she hates being submerged in water.  Tip is actually quite intelligent that he knows he'll cool off quicker if he lays down in water since it cools the stomach/chest area.  In the show/competition circuits, owners will frequently use various cold mats to help keep the dogs cool.  Our dogs never liked the mats and they were a pain to travel with so we quit using them.

One thing I've been asking Matt to do for me is to put in a new clothes line.  There was one behind the garage when I moved in but the poles were rusted.  The first time I tried to hang clothes on the line the poles bent and broke off.  This spring Matt bought me some new poles but due to the wet weather and other things never got them installed.  It took a while, but he never fails me and he finally got the poles put in and the rope strung.  I love hanging my laundry out, especially my sheets for the clean sunshine scent.  The lines typically hold at least two loads of laundry.  I had Matt install it on the opposite side of the yard across from our garage and next to the fence by the neighbor's garage for several reasons.  There's a blackberry tree on the fence line behind our garage and I didn't want to chance blackberry stains on the clothes, bird droppings from birds eating the blackberries, or blackberry mash on shoes behind tracked into the house.  If we decide to stay, the area behind the garage is the only section that doesn't have electrical/cable wires running overhead so I'd be able to put in a fire pit.  All very logical explanations I think.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011


I wanted to share a new electronic/digital coupon website I just found out about.  It's called Saving Star.  It's similar to Cellfire although it doesn't have as many coupons available as Cellfire does.  From what I've seen so far the coupons might be worth more then Cellfire's.  I just activated my account and loaded my shopping card info.  How many stores you can input varies depending on where you live.  There were only four stores available in my area and I have cards for two of those; Kroger and CVS.  I'm definitely going to be using the $1 off Skinny Cow Multi-Pack.  This is the first program I've seen that had Perrier and S. Pellegrino water coupons so those caught my eye.  In this hot weather mixing some fruit juice and sparkling water together is quite refreshing.

Some Coupons I activated:
$1.50 off California Pizza
$0.50 Dannon Greek Yogurt
$1.00/2 Juicy Juice All-Natural 100% Juice
$0.40 No Yolks noodles
$1.00 Skinny Cow Multi-Pack
$1.00 Perrier Sparkling Natural Mineral Water
$1.00 S. Pellegrino or Acqua Panna

For those that aren't quite up on all the techie stuff, these are electronic coupons which are also called digital coupons.  I think electronic coupons are one of the best inventions ever.  I seriously dislike having to gather, cut, sort, organize and carry all those coupons around when I can scan my card or use one of the new electronic key tag programs and all my coupons come zipping off my bill without me carrying anything but my purse and the phone into the store.  Yes, these programs take some time initially to open accounts and then upload new coupons on a regular basis but I think overall they take a lot less time and lack the headache factor.

Kroger has their electronic coupons on their website that you can upload to your card after opening an account.  As I mentioned, Cellfire is another program that is very popular and also works with the Kroger card.  P&G has a website that has electronic coupons you can upload to various store cards including Kroger's. 

For those that have Smartphones, you can do searches to find out what programs are available for your model.  I plan on trying GeoQpons for Blackberrys.   It works off GPS on your phone and gives you coupons for stores and restaurants within 10 miles of where you are.  You're out shopping and realize you want to go to Bed, Bath & Beyond and realize you forgot your coupon at home.  You use one of these types of programs and they'll pull coupons available for use at the stores located with 10 miles of where your current location is at.  Another use would be that you and the girls are out and about and decide you'd like to stop for some lunch but being frugal you'd like to use a coupon - utilize the program and it will list restaurants within the area and the coupons for each.  Once you get to the restaurant you just show the waitperson the coupon on your phone and you're set.

Advantages are you always have your coupons with you without carrying a binder or organizer of any sort.  Another advantage is you don't have to stand in line and scan coupons while people get irritated behind you - they come off within seconds of your scanning the card allowing for a quicker checkout.  It also allows you to use self scanners at stores that don't allow coupons in the self scanner lines.  They you to accumulate coupons without buying newspapers or magazines thereby saving money unless you really read the Sunday newspaper (does anybody do that any more?).  It also saves money over online coupon programs because you don't have to print them so you save on paper and ink.  Most of these programs can be accessed via Smartphones so if you get to the store and realize that you forgot to update your coupons you can always login on your phone and update your coupons before shopping and they should be available by the time you're done shopping (some programs say up to one hour).  Not like that's every happened to me before, I'm just saying. 

There are disadvantages including the number of stores that use electronic coupons.  If your regular store doesn't have a card then it is more difficult to use them, but not impossible.  There are programs for smartphones from what I understand that will overcome this issue.  The variety of coupons availabe can be a disadvantage.  I think the more people utilize these programs the more they will become available and the selection will expand also.

I would love to hear about other sites that have electronic coupons.  For those that have Smartphones I would love to hear how you utilize them to save money on groceries.  Matt is forever telling me I need to stop using my phone for everything else but what it's for - talking - but I'm all for using electronics, including my phone, for everything that I can.

Monday, July 11, 2011


This weekend was our first harvest out of the garden - cucumbers!  To be more specific, pickling cukes.  I wasn't ready yet so I need to get an order in for pickling supplies ASAP.  I've decided to try the Pickl' It system.  It's a bit expensive but I like the design better then cheaper versions that were recommended.  The use of airlocks with the Pickl' It system is what really drew me.  I'll post how I like them.  Once I get the supplies I won't have to worry about this next year.  Nonetheless, I sliced these beauties and put them in a mason jar with a bit of salt, red wine vinegar, and a touch of water for a mild brine.  They made for a mighty tasty snack when I got home this afternoon.  I have some beautiful dill growing in the garden that Matt jokingly called the dill tree this weekend.

The pickles sort of exploded in size very quickly due to the amount of rain we had.  We had bought trellises two weeks ago but were not able to get them up until Sunday.  I wove the vines through the lattice and also used Velcro tape to support them.  Isn't this baby cuke absolutely adorable!  I did decide to cut a couple vines off after seeing how many there were.  Matt and I can only eat so many cucumbers and pickles.  I'm sure we'll still have an abundance of them but they make great gifts right?  I still have a couple jars of bread and butter pickles on hand from last year so I'm debating on whether or not to do another batch this year.  I definitely want to make dill pickles.  A friend of Matt's gave us some dried Thai chilies last year and I plan to use those to make spicy pickles.

We bought two trellises and screwed them directly to the raised beds and then screwed them together for more support.  I seriously doubt a storm will blow these babies over and considering the storm that went through today I think that was proven out.  These are the trellises that I'm using to grow my cucumber vines up so they don't sprawl into the yard or strangle the tomatoes.  There are two broccoli plants in the front of the picture that were from our broccoli last year reseeding itself.  It was a nice surprise when I found it growing.  This is also my lettuce bed which is just getting started. 

It won't be long before I'll be simmering up pots of marinara sauce.  Aren't these baby tomatoes adorable!  I can't wait to make them into sauce.  There are 9 tomato plants in one bed plus 3 plants in the right bed so I will have plenty of tomatoes and hopefully don't lose as many as we did last year to weather damage.  Eight of the tomato plants are Roma's, which make excellent sauce.  I bought Matt one lone grape tomato plant so he can use it for salads and to snack on as desired.  I'm sure it will out produce even his appetite though.

My oregano has gone wild!  It takes up almost the entire front of the bed now.  I have a cilantro plant next to it.  As soon as the tomatoes ripen I think some homemade salsa will be in order.  I have two basil plants growing so I think we'll be okay for sauce making this year. 

Thursday, July 7, 2011


I'm sure I'm not the only mother alive who has wondered if anything she does or says gets through to her kids, especially in regards to food.  I'm a serious foodie and that my kids don't like huge amounts of food boggles my mind.  You'd never know it but these kids once ate anything and everything. 

Years ago mine decided to go on a seafood strike that hasn't ended ...... or so I thought.  Seriously, how do kids that eat tuna salad sandwiches and pasta salad with tuna suddenly decide they don't like it?  I've asked myself this repeatedly over the years since this began.  Fishsticks were common food for them, served with tartar sauce of course, that suddenly was no longer acceptable food to be served.  No more tuna salad and no more pasta salad with tuna added.  No more mac-n-cheese with tuna and mushroom soup either.  Isn't that a childhood staple? 

I've lived with this silliness for years and basically ate fish only when we went out to eat because it was easier then fixing fish for myself and having them gripe because I dared to have fish/seafood anywhere around them.  I should mention that the pickiest eater would be my youngest son.  He is the child that recently told me that Burger King as a gourmet restaurant because they have mushrooms on the menu.

So jump forward probably 15 years into this seafood/fish strike and my youngest son (now 19) and I are walking through Costco the other night and they have the typical food vendors out with samples.  I stopped to try a crunchy fish sample and noticed my son had also grabbed one.  Being the nice mom I am, I quickly informed him that it was fish - to which I got the teenage universal "I know" reply as he continued to eat it.  He knows AND he's eating it????  As we continue to walk he proceeds to inform me (while I'm still in stunned silence) that the sample wasn't too bad, that he has been trying different types of fish and now "likes" some types!!  My son eating fish and liking it!  Has somebody kidnapped and replaced him with an alien? 

As we continue walking he then proceeds to tell me that he's been trying different types and proceeds to start a foodie discussion, granted a very basic one, on how he prefers his fish cooked.  Egads!  I'm sure some of this interest stems from the fact that he's being trained as a cook at the restaurant he works at but I can't help but wonder if maybe something I've said and/or cooked hasn't finally helped him expand his foodie wings after all these years especially since I know that the restaurant doesn't serve many varieties other than fish-n-chips.  It does a mommy's heart good to think something has gotten through though.  My baby is growing up.  Best of all, I can start cooking fish whenever I want instead of just on the days he's working and isn't home for supper.