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Farmer's Market Finds

October 4th, 2009 at 02:49 am

Today dh and I headed for a nearby Farmer's Market that features organic produce. This was an impromptu trip because we had the carpets steam cleaned early this morning and we wanted to give them a chance to totally dry. I hit the jackpot at the market. For $17, I bought:
~ two baskets of strawberries, picked this morning (so sweet!)
~ two extra large white meat peaches (one is enough for two people)
~ two large onions
~ a bunch of long beans
~ two bunches of bok choy (two different types)
~ a large bag of squash blossoms
~ a medium-sized white phalaenopsis orchid

Squash blossoms are highly perishable and should be used the day of purchase. Here is how I prepared them for dinner: First I cleaned them by removing the stamens and sepals (there was a mix off male and female blossoms), then washed them and used the salad spinner to completely dry. Next, I sauteed one fresh crushed garlic clove in EVOO, added the blossoms, and tossed in some fresh chopped basil and cooked until wilted. What looks to be a huge amount will be greatly reduced (it's like cooking fresh spinach).

Today's dinner menu: sauteed squash blossoms, brown rice, and grilled tilapia. For dessert: fresh strawberries with 1/3 cup plain

Text is Fage and Link is
Fage yogurt (0%) that I flavored with a little honey. Delicious!

My Neighborhood in the Spring

April 23rd, 2009 at 04:59 am

Yesterday I went for a walk in my neighborhood and took my camera. I love the way it looks in spring... the fields are green and the flowers are in bloom.

There is a little park about two blocks from my house and I enjoy hiking the trail.

The sign at the beginning of the trail alerts hikers...

The trail takes you past fields dotted with California poppies and other wildflowers.

Our state flower, the poppy.

Coming down the trail, you can see my neighborhood in the distance.

And very close to my house, the flowering pear looks like snow.

A lovely contrast to the heavenly bamboo next to it.

And I'm almost home.

Banishing Unwanted Email

March 7th, 2009 at 06:46 pm

The spam filter on my computer is pretty decent, so very few unsolicited junk emails get through to my inbox. But recently I noticed I was getting way too much email that I somehow initiated when I placed an order, signed up for coupons or alerts about specials... that kind of thing. What opened my eyes was the realization I was routinely deleting about 6-8 of my morning emails without even opening them.

Then I found I could simplify things in just a few clicks. I've eliminated these emails by scrolling to the bottom of the email and "unsubscribing." Sometimes you are directed to a website and have to go through a few steps, but it's quick and easy. I've done it with Home Depot, Harry & David's, World Market, Fandango, Macy's, Ann Taylor Loft, and a few more. Good-bye!!

Lucky Pennies

February 22nd, 2009 at 08:20 pm

When I was recently in NYC, my grandnephew (age 5) kept finding pennies... everywhere. Of course, he loved picking them up and I told him they were lucky. I've never seen anything like it, and it made me wonder if life in New York City is so fast-paced that people don't see the change or whether most just don't want to bother with mere pennies.

Grandnephew found .11 in 5 days. I guess being closer to the ground helps, too! He was very sweet and generous to give me one of his pennies for the tiny "lucky cat" piggy bank I bought in Chinatown. Hope it brings me good luck.

Browser Question

January 11th, 2009 at 12:01 am

On my Mac, I use Firefox as my preferred browser. But, depending on the web-based program I am accessing, I occasionally have to use Safari or Explorer. Today, while using Explorer, I meandered over to SA and noticed that some blogs, including mine, do not show all of the widgets that appear when I use Firefox or Safari. Does anyone know why this happens?


January 9th, 2009 at 04:20 am

Yesterday afternoon, dh and I went to the MacWorld Conference and Expo in SF. We wanted to go see all the newest gadgets in the exhibit halls and were able to get in free because of our work with the university (it's $25 per person just to get in to the exhibit halls). Then, while we were in line waiting pay for lunch, a very nice lady came up to us and gave us a coupon for $15 off. Our lunch was only $12.25 so it was completely free. One of our friends came with us and he insisted on paying for the parking ($13) since dh drove, so it was a pretty inexpensive outing.

I did spend $40 on a set of

Text is Tweakers from Grandmax and Link is
Tweakers from Grandmax. These are small, portable speakers I can use with both my computer and my iPhone (for the iTunes feature). I tried out at least five different types of portable speakers, and selected these for the clear, powerful sound that is just incredible. They are reasonably priced (especially compared to some of the others) and will be perfect for travel... they even come with a sturdy pouch.

Tweakers are not widely available yet, but I think that once the word gets out, they will be a hit. My friend also bought some and now dh wishes he had bought a set to use when he needs to project sound from his computer during some of his presentations. Even TC the cat is fascinated with them!

One More Casualty

January 7th, 2009 at 04:02 pm

Yesterday afternoon dh had to drop off some papers at the university and invited me to go along for the ride. Instead, I asked him to drop me off at my favorite Travelsmith outlet store that is close to where he was heading. He did and drove away. Lo and behold, the store was GONE... windows papered over, no sign of life. I called dh who came right back, then I called Travelsmith. Yep, they closed the Palo Alto store due to declining sales. Now the only outlet on the west coast is in Berkeley.

It's alarming to see the growing number of stores and businesses that have closed or are closing due to the recession. I see new ones all the time. The really sad thing is that people worked there... people whose lives have been impacted negatively. How is it in your neck of the woods? Are you seeing the same thing?

Whirlwind Day

December 14th, 2008 at 02:22 am

Today felt like a super hectic day partly because I have so much to do before we leave on our trip in a few days. I started out early and dh went along on the errands, so that made things a little easier. I did get a lot done today:

~Went to UPS and mailed Christmas package for my DDs and SILs
~Went to bank
~Made 10 Secret Santa deliveries
~Went to Staples to buy ink for the printer

Back at home:
~Entered grades on the web-based grade sheet for my class
~Did a load of laundry
~Ironed clothes I'm taking on trip
~Tried cutting TC's nails... (gave up)
~Wrote thank you notes for birthday gifts
~Confirmed with pet sitter and ride to airport
~Answered flagged email

Back out again:
~Had a late lunch with the professional group I am working with

Dh is now fixing his own dinner and I am not hungry at all after my late lunch. He is very good at fending for himself. In this afternoon's mail I received a pleasant surprise: a check for $1128.25. It is from a job I had offered to do pro bono but my former boss decided to pay me... and I'm happy to take it. I will set aside ~$400 for taxes, ~$400 to savings, fund 10 more Secret Santa gifts, and take the rest on the trip.

I still have lots to do:
1) Stock up on cat food and litter
2) Clean out refrigerator
3) Pack items that wrinkle
4) Go to bank again
5) Buy cleaning supplies the house cleaner wants
6) Make a doctor's appointment (for mid-January)
7) Pick up prescriptions
8) Make the rest of the Secret Santa deliveries
9) Type instructions for the pet sitter Animal Smiley 031
10) Take TC to get her nails trimmed (or she'll scratch the furniture)

And I'm sure there's more that I just can't think of right now.

Are you a secret blogger?

September 25th, 2008 at 05:37 am

Well, I am. By "secret blogger" I mean that I have not told anyone about my blog... not family, not friends, not even my DH, DS, or DDs, the closest people in my life. It's not that I've written anything I would be embarrassed for family or friends to read. To me, it's about the freedom in the anonymity of my blog... I can write about anything and everything... I have "blog mates" who understand my interest in finances. By being a "secret blogger," I have no pressure to write every day nor do I have to discuss any of my posts with people who know me. Perhaps someday I'll tell friends or family about my SA blog, but for now I like it this way.

Allergic to Exercise

August 29th, 2008 at 02:53 pm

I hate exercise! Always have, although when I was younger I loved to ice skate and bike ride. These seemed more like fun and not so much like a chore… I guess what bothers me about machines is the monotony, but I know that I have to do something to improve my health. Reducing stress is only the beginning. I need to lose at least 20 pounds to get my BMI back under 25. And, DH is seriously talking about a trip to Machu Picchu in the next year or two, so unless I build up stamina, he’ll be hiking the Inca trail alone. Although I enjoy walks around our complex, this doesn’t provide the strength training and aerobic exercise that will help me develop my lung capacity and a stronger heart.

DH goes to the gym about 5 days a week for an hour and he loves it. I, on the other hand, hate anything that makes me feel sweaty. I’ve belonged to Curves twice before but for me it was a waste of money. It always seemed that I was too tired, too busy, or the place was closed when I finally mustered up the energy or had the time to go. And, I am simply not disciplined enough to exercise at home in front of the TV, although I have plenty of exercise tapes. The only one who uses the Ab Lounger that DH bought me last year is TC… it’s her new favorite place to take her catnaps.

DH’s gym is having a special… $49 to join and $10 a month for a year. Maybe I will give it a try. Now that I’m retired I will have more time, so I can’t use that as an excuse any more. The gym is about 5 minutes from the house so it’s definitely convenient… and it opens early and closes late, so there goes another excuse. My goal: to go at least 3 times a week and stay for 30 minutes (and exercise the whole time, of course). Doable, definitely affordable, and the facility is very clean and well-equipped. Does anyone @SA have tips for making going to the gym bearable/fun/exciting/successful?

DH is always trying to get me motivated.

Back in Smoky CA/ Counting Change

July 8th, 2008 at 05:47 am

We are back in CA after a relaxing week in Idaho. Since today was a workday for me, we were pressed to get home yesterday. The drive took much longer than usual due to horrendous traffic conditions that can be attributed to normal holiday traffic plus slowdowns due to the wild fires. The air was very thick with smoke and the traffic bumper-to-bumper for miles on end.

On the way home, we stopped for breakfast at a busy café and while we waited in line to pay our tab, I observed something that I am seeing more and more and it concerns me. The computer was down, so the young cashier had to count out the change on her own. Normally, the computerized cash register tells the cashier exactly how much change to give. It was sad to see how complicated this process turned out to be for the cashier (about age 18-20). After several attempts, the young woman gave back too much change to the woman ahead of us. The woman then said, “You gave me too much change,” and very patiently demonstrated to the cashier how to count back change from the $50 bill she had paid with. Years ago, I remember teaching my 6th graders how to count change and now it seems that we are relying on the computer to do it for us.