Staples Coupon Bargains

Yesterday I received an email from Staples with a bunch of coupons in it. One was for a straight up $5/off a purchase. Free product. Yay. The rest were for pretty deep discounts on items I normally use. I printed the majority of them, and made a mental note to actually go to the store and redeem them. Sometimes I’m good at mapping out the bargains, but not so great on the follow through. This time, though, I followed through. And I’m happy I did.

I got all the above for $10. I wish I could say I got it for free, but… hey. $10 for all that isn’t bad. The notebooks, pink pen and Ticonderoga pencils were my semi-“freebies” purchased with the $5 off coupon. The pencils were $2 each, the pen $1, and the notebooks (the twins wanted notebooks), $1 each. So I went slightly over. But ah well. The pencils, as Carlito calls them are, “The World’s BEST Pencils” indeed. I will never think of them as just a pencil anymore, not after he asked for them. Mom, will you pick up some pencils? But they have to be THE WORLD’S BEST PENCILS, not just any pencil. He’s very literal like that. It wasn’t a joke. He meant for me to seriously pick up Ticonderoga, the world’s best pencil. He doesn’t want to write with anything else.

So, basically, I got the pencils, notebooks and pen for.. $3. Had the twins not been along, I would have gotten away scott free with the coupon. But, I’m not going to squirm too much over it.

Labels: $2 (reg. $9.99)

Pens: $2 (reg. $4.79)

Binder clips: $1 (reg. $2.99)

Copy paper: $2 (reg. $5.99)

Stickies $1 (reg. $5)

All of these items I will use, so in itself it is was good deal.

Confession: I Turned On The Central Air

… In 76-degree weather.

I’m not proud of it. Here I sit, scrounging for deals, meal-planning, coupon-cutting… all to turn on the central air on a less than impressively hot day. The thermostat reads 75 degrees inside the house.

This would be a good place to insert one of those mouth-cocked smileys you see all over the internet. :/

But, there is good reason. I am in a mood. A cranky, crankieness that only a drop in humidity and cooler temperature can fix. I think. I couldn’t figure it out yesterday, but it started to dawn on me today. Admittedly, I have a lot going on. Kids off of school, parents retiring and moving this week, old boss leaving and new boss coming this week, sending a kid off to overnight camps (separation anxiety for me – don’t laugh–or puke, packing, thinking, preparing, etc.). I’m at capacity. Add warm and sticky to that list and I’m… well. I’m a monster.

I can’t sleep when I’m warm. I don’t like it when my sheets feel swampy wet. I need sleep.

I can’t clean. I can’t sleep. I can’t think. I can’t cook. I can’t read. I woke a dozen times last night. This morning I got up, mopped down the bathroom floor (the bathroom feels disgusting when it is humid), cleaned the toilet, tried to do some work, became overwhelmed, took a shower, began sweating, began loathing my house, cursing dust, confusion, circle-turning not knowing what to tackle first.

Noticed the discomfort of my own skin. I couldn’t cool down. Distinctly felt like there was something I needed. Something. But what?

Relief. Comfort. The ability to think straight and get some things done to relieve the oppression of an arm-long To Do list.

It is worth it. If my productivity is zilch and I’m a whiny puddle and turning on my central air will help — I need to just bite it and do it.

And I did. My sweat is drying already.


Book Review – A Reliable Wife

The joy of picking out a new book never escapes me. Unless I have a book club read lined up. But, if I haven’t read it I’m usually excited for the change of scenery in book choice (like this time).

Just finished:

A Reliable Wife

There is a reason why I had to have a glass of wine in my hand every time I picked up this book. Or at least an oppressive cloud of boredom hanging over my head. This read like a Harlequin novel “dressed up” as historical fiction. Violent, sexually-repressed man places order for a “reliable wife” – shady lady with a plan answers ad. The plot thickens (or gets incredibly soap opera-ish from there). If it weren’t for my obsessive-compulsive need to finish books when I start them, (and the ability to trade paperbacks online) I would have used it for kindling in the firepit. It seemed to have decent reviews, so maybe it’s just me. I really don’t know. Don’t care.  Done. Next!

Now starting:

The Lords of Discipline

This is a book club pick.

You can see all of the books I’ve read so far this year on my 2011 Books I’ve Read list.

Making Crockpot Yogurt Second Attempt

This time, it worked.

Thick(er) than my first attempt, but not quite as thick as store-bought. I tried to keep the concoction warmer this time. When I removed some warmed milk to mix with the yogurt, and returned the mixture, I turned on the crock to HIGH for a bit, stirred, set the oven to WARM for about 10 minutes or so, and then removed the warm pot from the crock, wrapped it in a towel, placed in the oven (which I had turned off) with the light on, and left it to sleep all night long.

I dug in, and it didn’t feel like cold milk.

This recipe makes a LOT of yogurt. I’m not sure what part of me didn’t consider that. I suspect determination to make it overrode common sense. Thankfully, I had some glass jars in the ready, as well as a few plastic containers for individual servings.

Glass jar was first. I figured it would hold a couple of cups worth and decided to go for maple.

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Making Yogurt in the Crockpot – First Try

I remember reading about making homemade yogurt eons ago. Never gave it a try. Contemplated it. Had my mother tell me, My goodness, I made yogurt for you guys all the time when you were little. — No wonder I have this “granola” strain in me. Even though I’m adopted, I have this mutated homemaker gene. I see where I get it. Through the baked breads, homemade yogurts, creative playing, scrap-saving, able-to-whip-up-a-meal-from-the-pantry mother of mine.

Back to yogurt. A cruise around the web turned up many similar posts regarding making yogurt in the crockpot:

You Can Make Yogurt in Your Crockpot!
Crockpot Yogurt (foreshadowing… also see bottom of post, “what to do when yogurt fails” – ahem)
Make Yogurt in Your Crockpot

Obviously tons of people are doing this. Should be easy enough for a cavewoman, right?

Whatever. The title, “first try” hints to the end result of my first experience with crockpot yogurt making.

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How To Clean Your Crockpot

I use my crockpot a lot. Sometimes I make things in there that are loaded with onions, garlic, or other pungent delights. Sometimes my husband will scrub out the crockpot and it still has what I call, ring-around-the crockpot. I can tell it is cleaned, because I witnessed the elbow grease scrubbing that goes into it, but it still doesn’t seem clean-clean.


Good old baking soda. Drop a quarter cup or so of that in a dry pot and scrub, scrub, scrub.

I went all crazy rebellious and used my scouring pad that simply is NOT SAFE TO USE ON NON STICK COOKWARE or delicate items because I’m just dangerous like that.

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Defrosting The Freezer

My freezer was out of control, iced up, in dire need of a defrost. For months. Both Frank and I mentioned this to one another, but neither took action. When the days started to get warmer, the freezer began to take on a life of its own, swallowing the entire contents of the top shelf. It happened slowly. We had time. But we waited. Waited, and then the food was gone.

Once the top shelf was impervious, I knew the rest was soon to follow. My hint-dropping was not working. Planning meals became an even bigger challenge as your freezer was taking over part of the food supply. We couldn’t stock up and we couldn’t eat the stock. Yet, the inaction continued.

One day Frank was working an overtime, I was home. The kids were at school. I could no longer take it. I (took pictures) scooted the freezer to the drain hole in the center of our garage. I knew taking it out into the driveway might have been the quickest way, but I didn’t need the neighbors to witness the monstrosity that was our freezer.

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Crockopt Sloppy Joes With Diet Coke

Hello, friend.

Every time I sit down to write a post, I see a squirrel (aka I get distracted with other things, ADD-style). In some ways that is good. It means I’m getting things done, which I am. I have a mission of productivity when I get to the computer lately, and I’ve been better at keeping with that mission. It has been a productive week for me. Clothes a’ washing, drying on the line, freezer defrosted (more on that in another post), continue to keep my flowers alive out front (not a small feat for a black-thumb like myself), paid bills, got kids appointments made and completed (no missed appointments this week)… the list goes on and on. I feel satisfied. More content when I allow myself to accomplish tasks and stay on track.

For a long time I’ve put other things first; I’m working on not doing that as much. Not in a means of being selfish and all-important, but with the intent to make sure that I am fulfilling the needs and obligations of myself and my family. Giving that the priority it demands. When I don’t, I feel life spinning out of control, bills being paid late, meals being ordered in because I didn’t prepare, home being embarrassingly messy — things that don’t make for a happy home.

In that effort, I’ve been spending my time online looking for recipes to add to my ever-growing collection. The past few days I’ve been trying to eat what we have and make less runs to the store. My success has been about 60%, which is up from before. Knowing that I had some ground turkey and beef in the freezer, I opted to get it out the night before to thaw. Doing this took a little bit of planning (find recipe, remove from freezer). Not much, but a bit. The peace of mind I had, though, knowing what we were having for dinner the next day is worth something.

I’m also working on minding my food and taking better care of my body again, so I explored sparkpeople for a bit, hoping to turn up something new and tasty. I found a recipe for Diet Coke Sloppy Joes and did a little bit of modifying.

16 oz. 96% ground beef
1 cup diet coke
2/3 cup reduced sugar ketchup
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 tbsp white vinegar
2 tsp dry mustard
Brown ground beef in skillet. Drain beef and add back to skillet. Add remaining ingredients and stir well. Cook on low for 30 minutes uncovered so sauce can thicken. You can also add onions or green peppers if you’d like.

Number of Servings: 4

I doubled, using the beef/turkey mix; drained, put in crockpot. Then I took some frozen chopped green peppers and put that in the pot, heated them a bit, adding the ketchup (not reduced sugar – don’t have it), Worcestershire, vinegar (used apple cider instead), dry mustard, and 2 tsp of garlic (I love garlic). After I mixed that around a bit, I added the Coke (I used Coke Zero). I poured this over the meat in the crock, added about 2T of dried onion flakes, mixed it all up and set it on high. I cooked it for about 1.5 hours on high, stirring it here and there, and then let it simmer with the lid off for half an hour or so. It smelled delicious and tasted good, too. Everyone thought it was yummy. It was less saucy than a Manwich, or “traditional” sloppy joes, but I liked it for something different and bit dryer. Doubled, I would say that it fed a little more than 8 with 2 sandwiches each (approx. 1/4 cup per serving).

I love my crockpot.