On The Gathering of Things

By now you’ve probably noticed that I am not much of a material girl. I don’t want or “need” the trappings of a sex in the city type and I just downright enjoy getting a bargain and NOT paying 300 bucks for a pair of jeans.  I am, however, occasionally hit by the bug and just want to get a little sumthin sumthin for a little variety to my mostly obtained through donation closet collection or the house in general.

A few weeks back, we were out walking in Hillcrest and I spied a sale rack at a cute boutique stating that “everything on this rack $20”. Well, of course I had to look and of course found a super cute dress that Shawn said would no doubt become my new “uniform”. I tried it on, bought it and left the store wearing it. Normally, I only buy clothes from thrift stores or just have them given to me by my daughter and my friend Anita, but it just kinda happened, you know?

The very next day, this stupid dress started falling apart at the seams, literally! I had to get ol’ Betsy the sewing machine out and sew the bottom ruffle back on as it came almost completely off at the back . Ok, didn’t want to take it back cuz it IS cute and comfy. A couple days later, put it on again and this time the adjustable strap thingy wouldn’t keep the boulder up,so I tied a knot in the strap near the tiny plastic adjuster. About an hour later, I noticed the boob slipping down and lo and behold the damn plastic thing had cracked and half of it had fallen off! I was PO’d. But, no receipt to be found so I will have to just sew the strap in place I guess.

But how wrong is that? Cheap ass junk. Maybe  the old saying about you get what you pay for may apply here, but bear in mind this dress originally sold for $60. The bumpersticker moral to this story, for me anyway, is “I’d rather be shopping at Amvets”.

So with new dedication, the Amvets on the frontage road off Pacific Highway is now my go-to place for virtually everything. I guess I can’t buy panties or a bathing suit there, but whatever.Well, I guess I could. But nah.

Recently I have scored the following:

*2 pairs of gorgeous, nearly new, Pier One lined curtain panels for $19.95. They had been priced the day before at $19.95 per pair, but the next day when I went back they had a 50 percent off sale! Jeez, lucky! One pair is now hanging in my bedroom and the other pair may get used to make pillow covers and maybe even a new “uniform” dress for me!

*a huge and awesome wine decanter just like my wine broker friend’s for $2.95

*a pair of barely worn Lucky jeans for $7.95!!! They were 50 percent off the already incredibly cheap $14.95 and totally fit me (gasp!)

*a cute slightly trampy (ok, pretty trampy) Bebe top for $2.95

*Tommy Bahama shorts for Shawn, totally pressed and new looking for $5.95

*Brand new with tags Callaway Golf shirt for Shawn for $5.95

The only problem is, I have become a little obsessed with checking there a little more often than I should and I’m probably buying more stuff than I normally would just because of the awesome deals. Dear god, I can walk to the freaken’ place! I think I even have the recorded store information they play over the loudspeaker memorized. I’ve even been almost able to zone out and not hear the occasionally screaming kids. Maybe I’ll give it a rest for a few weeks….or days…..or , hmmmm,  I wonder if they have any cool random chairs for my budding dining area?


Love Your Mother

She gives and gives and asks for very little in return. She nurtures, teaches, challenges, sustains, reprimands and gives all unconditionally. When you hurt her or all the life she loves, she cries and her heart breaks but she just keeps on giving anyway. Her name? Earth

Finding A Way: frugal ideas for the beginner’s kitchen

I’m really getting interested in finding ways to help new and beginner cooks. I was thinking that one of the first obstacles a person might face in a new quest to cook and eat at home is having a properly supplied kitchen and how expensive that might seem to a novice cook.

My first suggestion to someone who has very little to no kitchen equipment is to let friends and relatives know what you are looking for. Free is awesome! Many people love to buy new stuff and then give away their old stuff. Me? I rarely buy anything new. If I look around my kitchen, most of it was gifts, freebies from friends or stuff I found at the thrift store.

Maybe you may not think of the thrift store (or flea market, swap meet,garage sales etc.) for kitchen essentials, but it is definitely worth a peek now and then and is my new favorite way to find things that I “need”. Look over items carefully before buying for chips or cracks. Check the label on the bottom because sometimes you may see that the item is for “decorative purposes only” or “not for use with food”, yikes!  I always try to find quality items, which really is not as hard as you may think. Sometimes, you may have to go to more than one store and a few different times to find everything you need. Thrift store prices vary greatly, so shop around and look before you buy.

Recently, my husband and I had really gotten into Asian soups. The only problem was the bowls we had totally did not work for sipping broth out of. We checked Target first. A simple bowl was over 6 bucks! To me, that is way too much. We then decided to go check out the awesome Amvet’s Thrift Store (very near Specialty Produce!). Within minutes, I had a little basket full of matching bowls at a whopping 65 cents apiece. Plus, I found a wonderful lidded rice server (3 dollars, made in Japan) and a pretty Japanese serving dish for around 1 dollar. Took it all home, ran through the dishwasher and ta-da! Fully stocked on bowls for slightly more than it would have cost me for just ONE bowl at a giant, big box retailer. Plus, I stuck to my ideals about reducing, reusing and recycling.

If you can’t find what you need either for free or at the thrift store, try checking Ross. Take it one step further though, and look for the clearance items. Usually they are buried in the back of the shelves. Takes a little time, but is definitely worth it.

To successfully feed yourself at home, at least in the beginning, really takes pretty simple equipment. As far as pots and pans go, stay away from dangerous, environmentally un-friendly non-stick cookware. Also, I recommend not purchasing cheap, light weight aluminum either. Here is my list for a starter kitchen which assumes most people already have a few forks, bowls and plates on hand:

  • Large heavy soup pot, preferably with a lid
  • Small saucepan with lid (to  hold about 2 cups or a little more)
  • Large Cast Iron frying pan ( I will post a tutorial on “seasoning” and using this pan. You will love it once you really use it!)
  • Small skillet
  • A medium size pyrex or corning type baking dish
  • A cookie sheet
  • Stainless steel spatula (or plastic in a pinch, try to stay away from plastic if you can)
  • Wood or Bamboo large spoon for stirring
  • Bowl scraper
  • Large mixing bowl
  • a couple of smaller ones
  • a measuring cup set and measuring spoon set
  • A decent chopping knife. (no, I do not own any really nice knives. I’m using an old Ginsu brand that I’ve had forever. By decent, I mean one that is sharp, is comfortable for you and has a wide flat blade.)
  • A cutting board
  • A  fine mesh strainer
  • A colander
  • Food storage equipment such as lidded bowls (I save containers and wash them to use over and over again)
  • Hot Pad

Gosh, I think that may be it! Of course, there is a ga-gillion different products out there and tons of different gadgets, but for basic cooking, that is really all you need.

That’s it for now, folks! Please let me know if this was useful for anyone.

Thank you so much for reading and commenting!

Farmer’s Market Bag for Tomorrow, 3/11/2010

Hello everybody!

As we all know, Wednesday’s are good days for a variety of reasons with the denomination of “hump day” being the most popular. For me, it’s because I get to see what local produce I get to use this week. Wanna See?   Watch the video from Specialty Produce: This week’s bag.

Nice!  Lot’s of root veggies, and I have a great recipe in mind for the dill (no, not the hollandaise again!) It’s a feta cheese/dill/rice bake that my brother-in-law absolutely loves.

I am especially excited about the Yuzu. I had never heard of it, so of course Wikipedia came in handy. I’m not sure what I’m doing with it yet, but I will be sure to let you know. 🙂

I am really glad there are no mustard greens or chard this week, I have it coming out my ass from my own yard. That is, what the gophers aren’t eating. Organic gardening has it’s small (and furry!) drawbacks.

Yay for FMB day!

So we picked up our bag today and it is AWESOME. We got more fish as an add on, bread and some really tasty smoked cheddar cheese.Would you look at this beautiful stuff? Yes, that is a spaghetti squash. Aren’t those radishes just so pretty? Yay, a fennel bulb again! I had never even had fennel until I started getting this bag and I love it. I’m happy to see the green garlic again, as well. Hello Green Garlic!

When I get my bag, I always take steps to ensure freshness for as long as possible. The fish is portioned and in the freezer (sad, I know. It IS sushi-grade yellow tail afterall). I also do the following:

Cut tops off of root veggies (yes, you should save the beet greens, yummy!)

Any lettuce we get is washed and stored my lidded big bowl I have. I have figured out that we eat way more salad if the lettuce is already clean and ready to go.

I Place any herbs in a clean glass container of water. I put a little plastic bag over the top. Really helps with keeping herbs such as Cilantro fresh longer. See how happy the herbs on the right look? Then look at the sad, wilty bunch of cilantro that my husband brought home and just threw in the produce drawer…..Poor cilantro! Don’t worry, I have plans for the wilty one.

Wilty vegetables don’t usually get tossed at my house. I keep what I call the “trim bowl” in the fridge. That cilantro will probably make it into that bowl tomorrow. A couple times a week I take my veggie “trim” and make broth. If I can’t use up the broth in a day, I just freeze it. Making broth is a huge money and time saver for me. And it cuts down a ton on waste. Call me a weirdo, but I really love making broth. It can be manipulated to taste so many different ways. I find it very helpful to have a seasoned broth and a very plain one on hand. Oh, and don’t salt it. Just salt your dish your making with it to taste.

I keep all kinds of stuff for veggie stock: carrot ends, tops of leeks, bases of leeks, seeds and tops from peppers, thick stems from asparagus, greens, mushroom stems, pretty much anything. I stay away from too much of the skunky veggies for broth like cauliflower and cabbage, but otherwise it all goes in. Ginger peel, leftover herbs and stems, lemongrass ends, radish trim.

So that’s what we have to work with this week. I ‘m not sure what all we’re making yet but so far, the mint has me thinking Mojitos!

Why the Bag

As a subscriber, you are demonstrating respect for the earth by taking responsibility for sustainable farming practices, energy efficient production and distribution while paying farmers decent fair wages, and elevating environmental consciousness.”- Specialtyproduce.com

I read this today while on the Specialty Produce website. I couldn’t have said it better myself. To me, it is wonderful to be offered an affordable and delish way to participate in the community in a way that is really for the greater good. It is always heartening for me to run across businesses and people that are like-minded with my own philosophies.

Community and environmental consciousness may not be something that you think about too often when you think about food, but just by doing something as simple as ordering this produce bag (or any other similar CSA program) is one way to contribute without really even trying! How cool is that?

Besides, it’s just plain fun and yummy. And can’t we all use a little fun and yummy-ness in our lives?

Go forth, little grasshoppers! Find some fun and yummy-ness!

Next time: picking up this week’s bag and deciding what to make.

thank you for reading so far!