Wednesday, August 31, 2011

To sleep-perchance to dream

I've been having really... I guess you would call them busy dreams lately.  They aren't necessarily bad dreams, but there is so much going on in them I don't wake up feeling rested.  Maybe it's not there is a lot going on, but it's that I'm too close to consciousness and I remember too much of them- really I don't know. 

It's definitely no fun though.

Two days ago I caught myself about to start sleep-meddling.  In this case, I was seconds away from ripping all the covers off the bed (where Tim was trying to sleep, blissfully unaware) and taking them in the laundry room to wash them in the middle of the night.

This morning, my alarm went off for work and I lay there drifting in and out of sleep, telling myself I needed to get up.  That kind of extra "rest" isn't going to make me feel any better, but somehow I just could not force myself out of bed.   Eventually Tim started kneeing me (which earned him grunts of not-happy) and I dragged my tired body out of bed.

I seem to go through cycles of not sleeping well.  It's never just one bad dream or one "busy" dream.  It's always a set of them- maybe it lasts a week, then I sleep wonderfully for a while.  Or I have 10 days of not being able to fall asleep at night, then suddenly I'm sleeping like a baby for a month.

I can never tell why these periods of troubled sleep happen.  Sometimes I can break the cycle though, I'm hoping I can do that this time.


Tuesday, August 30, 2011


I think it's about time for a puppy update.

She is insane.  End of post.

No seriously, River is a very sweet little puppy.  She's at that age where she is either wide open or omg-I-think-she's-dead asleep.

I'm kind of liking the asleep time.  I forget how much energy puppies have.  They are crazy!

The poor little girl is covered in fleas.  The older dogs brought them in the house apparently, where they took up residence on the cats.  The Advantage flea medication is being less than effective in killing everything and the fleas have defected their hosts, jumping gleefully on to this little puppy who is completely medicine free, since she's entirely too young to have anything put on her.

A quick Google search revealed an interesting idea- bathe her in Dawn dish soap.  Well- it's safe to take oil off penguins, so why not?

So River had her first bath the other day.  She was really good- there was minimal thrashing around and the Dawn actually worked!  It was incredible to see them fall off of her.  I'd definitely say Dawn works better than the expensive flea shampoos I've purchased in the past.

Gypsy helped dry the poor, abused puppy.  I don't think it hurt that River smelled deliciously of green apple.


Monday, August 29, 2011

Makin' Salsa

I love to make my own salsa.  One of the great pleasures in life is eating something delicious and knowing you made it.  Even better, salsa lets me enjoy growing the ingredients, making the salsa and then canning it to enjoy the taste of summer all over again whenever I open a new jar.

We start with fresh, homegrown tomatoes, though you can certainly go out and buy a bunch from the store or local farmer's market.  I use 8 lbs or so of Roma tomatoes (about 10 cups after squashing them and dicing them). (A full list of ingredients are at the bottom of the post.)

Skin the tomatoes (I immerse them in boiling water for 30 seconds or so, then put them in a bowl of ice water.  The skins slide right off).  Then cut them in quarters and scoop out the seeds and watery goo.  I also remove the core.  Squeeze the tomatoes lightly to drain off anymore juice.  Do this until you feel like you are going to die.  Maybe you'll die from boredom, maybe standing on your feet doing this will threaten to off you.  Regardless... do it forever.  Or until you have 10 cups of tomato pieces.
Tomato reject pieces- this picture should be rotated, but it may not show up that way.  Joys of technology.

Dice the tomatoes up then toss them in a colander in the sink.  This will allow even more tomato juice to drain.

Meanwhile (if you have a husband or friend who will allow you to rope them in to this) or after you get the tomatoes ready, turn your attention to the Green peppers.

I like to put in 4 cups of green peppers, diced up fine in my handy dandy food processor.  Each green pepper (grocery store size) tends to yield between 3/4-1 cup.  It doesn't matter if you go over or under- really it doesn't.
Dump your tomatoes and your peppers in to a large pot.  I mean LARGE.  I have a stock pot for the purpose of salsa.

Add 3 cups of fine chopped onions. I also use my food processor to chop them up fine.

Add 4 cloves of garlic, again, diced fine.

If you want it spicy, add your peppers to taste.  In my last batch (which is quite warm), I used 6 jalapenos, 5  large cayenne peppers and 4 hot banana peppers. I suggest you start light and add more peppers as you taste the finished product.  Later in the season we also add in habaneros. If you want your salsa very mild, omit hot peppers completely.

Add in 1 teaspoon of black pepper, 1 tablespoon of oregano (dried is fine), 2 tablespoons of cilantro (omit if you don't like the taste) and 1 tablespoon of salt.  Omit the salt if you are on a salt restricted diet.

Add in 2 cups of lemon or lime juice.  I prefer lemon juice.

Next, add in 1 can (12 ounces) or tomato paste.

There we have it.

Put your pot on a burner and bring it to a light simmer, stirring often for around 30 minutes.  You are wanting to kill any bacteria that may be in the salsa.  As it gets hot, sneak a taste.  Is it not spicey enough?  Add in more peppers!

Voila! You have made fresh salsa!  Now you can eat it all or process it through canning, according to your preferred method.   I hope you like it!

10 cups of diced, cored tomato pieces.
4 cups of green bell peppers
3 cups of finely diced onions
4 cloves of garlic
Hot peppers to your preference (optional)
2 cups of lemon juice
1 tsp black pepper
1 tbsp oregano
2 tbsp cilantro (more if you want a stronger cilantro taste, or omit if you hate it)
1 (12 oz) can of tomato paste
1 tbsp salt (optional)


Sunday, August 28, 2011


I have a couple new favorite shows. I'm starting to get sucked in to more and more of these overly dramatic "reality" shows. I'm going to talk about my current Top 2 though.

Dance Moms: Good lord, I watched a few episodes of this show and it was CRAZY. Little girls being forced to dance with sore hips, mutterings of "Oh of COURSE the favorite MADDIE gets ___". These people are CRAZY. Every episode at least two little girls cry and the moms most often just tell them to suck it up. The moms are SO snarky too, even when they aren't actually going at each other tooth or nail, someone is always making a comment about the size of a nose or how old another one is... loves it.

Bridezillas: This is an oldie but a goodie. Crazy, insane women in the final week(s) of their wedding planning, going absolutely nutso on anyone within a 50 mile radius. Tim hates this show because the women are so psychotic and the husbands are very abused. Is it bad of me that I always root for one of these put-upon grooms to up and leave the women like they threaten to for the entire show? Probably, but I do it anyway.

Tim sighs in disgust through most of my shows lol. He says "You just watch this for drama, don't you?"

Of COURSE! But hey, it's better for me to sit at home and watch other the drama of other people, than be one of those folks that have to create my own for entertainment! This way, I can live nice and happily drama free, unless I want to hit "Play"!


Saturday, August 27, 2011

Hurricane Irene

I sit here typing this while I look outside through our glass door.

I see the same thing since I got out of bed at 9am- nothing.  We have some storm clouds, sure.  Some high winds? Well yeah, we're getting some gusts. However, the one thing we were counting on, even looking forward to is missing- the rain.

I live inland in North Carolina.  I wasn't worried for our area when Irene was a Category 3 and I'm even less worried now that she's a Category 1 and has been on land for several hours. Our coast is getting hit, but from everything I've heard, there is very little going on even there- about what you'd expect from a weak Hurricane.

The media REALLY has blown this one out of proportion.  The extreme coverage and fear-mongering from this Hurricane has been insane.  I can remember past years when North Carolina was pounded by hurricane after hurricane and the national media barely blinked in response.  However, on the heels of the odd earthquake, Hurricane Irene was heralded as the worst thing since Hurricane Katrina struck Louisiana.  People as far up the Eastern Coast as New York have been in a state of panic for days now.

Ahh well.  Don't get me wrong, I am happy Irene has been a "bust" as far as The Big One, The End of the World, The Hurr-pocalypse, etc. etc.

I just hope that those folks who spent all their money (in this crappy economy) thanks to the media hype, on bottled water, generators, plywood, had the extra cash to spend on those things.


Friday, August 26, 2011

Buying Gift Cards

Are you the kind of person that would be embarrassed to use the $2.04 left on a gift card? What about $1.13? If so, this is not right for you. By leaving value on the card, you're throwing good money (any any discount you get) in the trash.

Are you the kind of person that will not only use that $1.13 left over, but will use 4 cards with similar value? READ ON!

There are several websites out there that buy your unwanted gift cards and sell them for a price cheaper than the value. The one that springs to mind most readily is "Plastic Jungle".

Your general merchandisers like Target and Walmart offer a lower discount- 3%, as compared to 5% at a more specialized store like Best Buy. Some extremely specialized (ie, no one really wants them) cards offer 35% back!

In browsing the website, it should be no shock that Walmart gift cards seem to sell out first.

With the correct planning, you could save some serious money. Or you could waste a great deal. Which happens is up to you.

Let's say you plan to buy a new computer from Best Buy. By doing your research, you understand you will be spending $600 after taxes (because it's a nice round number and makes this easier..).

You could spend that $600 cash/check/debit, whatever and that's what you've spent. Period. Hopefully you have a Best Buy rewards card and you get a few points towards your cash out of a store voucher (for $5, $10, whatever). That's the end of the story.

Now let's say you think of Plastic Jungle. You check it out and see that a $50.00 gift card costs $47.50 (with free shipping). You quickly do some math and buy 12 cards, valued at $600 total.

What did you just spend for your new computer? $570. PLUS you earned the same amount of rewards points with your buyer's card. Not too bad, especially since that is money you had planned to spend anyway.

Now think how this could help out with daily expenses. If your budget for food is $100 and you know you'll spend $100 at Walmart, why not consider buying a giftcard? Even at only 35 savings, or $3 off your $100, that's $3! Especially if money is so tight it's squeaking, every bit helps. This is also helpful to couple with huge sales- like the PetSmart Friends and Family sales twice a year, or the Bath and Body Works end of the year sale- IF you normally purchase from those stores anyway.

However- are you willing to pull out a $25 or $50 gift card every time you make a purchase? Tim is forgetful and often uses his debit card automatically.

Are you willing to buy $75 worth of items and use the $2.42 you have left on that gift card? Because as you see- you're "only" saving $1.50 per $50 gift card if you buy Walmart or Target cards. If you don't use that $2.42, you've paid MORE for your cards.

Maybe this is an option you'd rather keep in your back pocket for those large purchases, like that computer I mentioned earlier- that's fine too! Maybe you want to use it only to purchase Christmas gifts, if you typically give cash or gift cards anyway- no problem!

No rule says you have to do anything you are uncomfortable with or use a money-saving idea every time you make a purchase. It's definitely food for thought though!

As always, start small and with what you can afford. If you convert your entire paycheck to Best Buy gift cards, that isn't going to help pay your rent.


Thursday, August 25, 2011

Best Deal on Pet Meds EVER

I got the BEST DEAL on Frontline ever (and just a few days ago too)!

Stick with me on this one.

PetCareRX has a Daily Deal that is often really good- a penny item or something like that.  It was a Nylabone puppy chew toy (regularly priced $5) for 1 penny.  Woot! They had a pretty decent deal on Frontline too at $39.99 for 3 months of Frontline Plus for Dogs. 

So- I got to Ebates and type in PetCareRX in the search bar.  Jackpot! It comes up with a 20% cash back rebate when you purchase from there!

So I follow the link to PetCareRX and put in my penny chew toy.  Then I search for Frontline and pick out the biggest tubes they have.  They are the same price as the smaller ones and I have a kit that allows me to measure out the correct dosage for my animals.

I pick out the 3 month supply for the gigantic dogs at $39.99.  Orders of $35 or more get free shipping.  Then I used code REDPLUM to get an additional $10 off.

So to recap, I paid $30 (which is the ebay price I was looking at for 3 smaller tubes) for a 3 month supply of the largest tubes of Frontline Plus for dogs they make and a puppy chew toy.  I get 20% ($6) of that $30 back through Ebates. I also earned "RX" points.  100 of these points = a $5 coupon code.

I'm tickled pink right now.


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Doggy Torture

The corgi, Dixie, is hilarious. She's very smart when she wants to be and she has favorite words that get her all excited. A few of these are "puppy", "ball", "cookie" and the best.. "outside".

We call our dogs puppies, even though Bear is 5 years old and Dixie is right behind him at 4. Cookies are any kind of treat or nommy goodness. Ball is ANY toy, whether it is hers, or belongs to a cat (or Tim...) and of course, outside means we're going to go OUT IN TO THE GREAT WIDE YONDER!

My favorite form of Doggy Torture is to insert any of these words into a sentence, randomly.

For example:

"Whatcha doing ball Dixie?" She looks at me, head cocked, eyes intent. She looks around for a second, then figures she misheard.

"You're such a silly outside cookie girl Dixie!" She hrrumphs, cocks her head again and begins to get excited- she KNOWS what she heard this time. She prances in place then casts around, trying to decide if running around the couch will do any good- but what does she want more? The cookie or the chance to go outside?

I tease her a few more times in this way before I deliver the final torture- "OMG DIXIE, PUPPY BALL OUTSIDE COOKIE! OUTSIDE? BALL COOKIE?" By this time, Dixie is galloping around the house like a goofball barking at the air and not sure whether to poop, die, or go blind (that's a nice little Southern saying ya'll... I'll explain the full thing in person some time.)

Usually by this time, I've laughed at her enough. I hand her a cookie and if it's been a little while since she's gone out, I will let her in to the magical outside, where she stands on the deck for a minute and looks around, then waits to be let back in.

Gotta love doggy torture!


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

5.9 Earthquake!

Seriously?  We don't GET earthquakes in our area.  It just doesn't happen.  We're all much more concerned about hurricanes- in fact, there is one that is projected to bother North Carolina this weekend.

Today, a 5.9 earthquake rocked Mineral, Virginia.  It was felt as far up as Toronto, Canada and it sure jiggled us here in North Carolina, Virginia's cooler and more southern cousin.

I was at work, standing in my boss's office and honestly thought it was working going on at the quarry down the road.  The glass in the windows of the building was rattling to the point I thought it was going to break. We looked at each other and then she said "Well...the books aren't falling off the shelves..."  After about a minute or so, the shaking stopped and we went on about our lives.

I can't believe that we actually FELT an earthquake and not only that- a fairly decent sized one!  A friend of mine located only 30 minutes from the epicenter said she was thrown to the ground while she tried to take pictures of her rabbits.  She said things fell around her, but luckily she and her farm animals were unhurt.

Man, who would have thought that the East Coast would have been rocked by an earthquake ever? Much less on such a beautiful day!


I love Kraft Foods

We recently bought some Claussen pickles.  Tim loves these things.  If it came down to saving me or the pickles in a fire...well I just hope it never comes down to him needing to choose.

These things are a little pricey though.  After all, it is a Kraft product and they are refrigerated and the economy sucks...anyway, they are a little expensive, but we both really like these pickles, so I buy them.  I'd rather spend a little more on something we'll eat all of, than to save 50 cents and throw 3/4 of the product away.  Besides, I often have a coupon to take a little of the money-hurt away.

This last jar of pickles just has not had the same great taste as usual.  It almost tasted like the cucumbers they used weren't quite ripe- they were very firm and the flavor was just off.  I looked up Claussen, found the contact information for Kraft Foods, who makes them and fired off a quick email. 

I was very polite, explaining basically what I told you- we love the pickles, but something was definitely off with this last batch.  They emailed me back the very next day apologizing that this product wasn't up to standard, explaining that it sounded like something had happened in the shipment that probably changed the temperature of the jar (ie they got warm somewhere along the way, then cold again) and let me know they'd be sending me a coupon in the mail for a free jar!  Total time invested? Under 5 minutes.

But wait- an email back from a big company that made it clear they actually read my email? Give me a second to pop my eyes back in because they seriously just bugged out.  An offer of a coupon for a free jar of a product I already buy? Awesome!

I really appreciate it when companies seem to care if their customers are happy or not. We probably go through 26 jars of pickles (or more) each year, so we're definitely good customers. I always joke with Tim we need to buy stock in Claussen Pickles- ha!

So if you get a product that is sub par, don't be afraid to contact the manufacturer.  If it's a good company that cares, they will do what they can to make it right.  After all, a coupon for a free jar of pickles is not even a drop in the bucket for Kraft, but it makes all the difference to me and how I view the company!  Not a bad trade off, I'd say.


Monday, August 22, 2011

Ruck March To Remember

I was blessed this morning on my commute to work to pass part of the "Ruck March to Remember".  If you haven't heard about this incredible march, you can read about it here

The 2,181 mile march honors those who died or were affected by the September 11th tragedy.

The march -- the brainchild of Maj. Jim Alves, the 4th Security Forces Squadron commander at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base in North Carolina -- began July 12 in San Antonio, with individual units selecting 140-mile legs of the journey, which will conclude Sept. 11 in New York City.
I was driving to work when I saw flashing lights up ahead, barely crawling towards me.  As I and the cars around me slowed, we saw them- airmen in fatigues, carrying packs and a flag walking stoically down the road, a line of cars queuing  up behind them, two police cars forming an honor guard around them.  It was a sight I was absolutely unprepared for as I rushed to work, the GPS telling me I would make it on time, but only barely.

I raised my hand- we southerners don't generally wave, we toss a hand up in greeting.  One of the soldiers, the one closest to me, met my eyes and raised his hand as well- then I was past him.

I cried halfway to work.

I don't use this word lightly, but I feel blessed to have passed these soldiers as they honor the men and women who feel in the September 11th attacks.  I wish that every step of the way there could be people honoring them, throwing confetti and cheering as they volunteer to walk in the summer heat, packs on their backs, to a place they could drive to in mere hours.

Instead, they walk to remember and to honor. 

I hope I can remember those few moments forever.  Right now it's as crystal clear in my mind as a photograph.  I don't know why it has affected me the way it has, but it is truly a moment of Grace on a hectic Monday morning.


Sunday, August 21, 2011

Busy day yesterday!

What an incredibly busy day Saturday was!

It started out EARLY.  We're talking 5:30am early, as I got up and showered before the "Run Wild" 5k at the local zoo. Start time was 7:30am, but we had to get up early because it was almost an hour's drive out to the zoo.

I get there and after a completely frustrating and not-helpful "conversation" with a surly worker, I find out I have to register in a totally different spot that no one knows about.  JOY.  I get registered, meet up with Michelle and her daughter, then off we go!

We did pretty well, we took it easy (I am highly out of shape and was wearing my knock off shape ups because it's SUMMER AND I DO NOT LIKE SOCKS).  We finished the 5k in under an hour, which I consider to be awesome.

From there, it was straight to a city approximately two hours away with 13 bunnies and Tim, where I met up with a friend, Joni, and we hung out for a while (in between the rabbits leaving here and there).  Then it was off to pick up...

Are you ready?

Meet River! Our AKC Golden Retriever puppy. :).  We ended up 20 minutes late to our appointment to meet with the last bunny owner, but she was very understanding.  Sorry Katie!

We finally arrived home, where my belated birthday gift had arrived- 3lbs of foreign currency!  Yes, yet another worthless hobby of mine is collecting coins.  This is my first foray in to foreign money- I do it just for the pleasure of seeing what the coins look like.

After that was a fantastic dinner of Joni-zones (recipe forthcoming) and an exciting night full of puppy-neediness and being very tired. 

Overall- AWESOME day!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

The Pets have fleas- joy.

The pets have fleas. I know this, because as I innocently sat in the floor playing on the computer and watching tv (I'm a multi-tasker), one jumped on me. Guh-ross.

I grabbed it and promptly threw it in the toilet to drown. I HATE fleas. Has anyone else noticed how hard these stupid things are to kill? You can't smash them, they get right back up and flip you off before they hop on about their business.

I grabbed our vials of flea medication (one for the cats, one for the dogs) and dosed everyone but Boo. I ran out :(.

I guess it's time to jump on eBay and buy some more medication.


Friday, August 19, 2011

The Light Switcher Off-er

I'm quite sure I drive Tim insane.

As some of you know, I'm way in to couponing and saving money. They are just two of my many talents and hobbies (along with my modesty).

Recently, I begin thinking of even MORE ways I can shave pennies off our bills. Yes, pennies.

I realized that one thing I often do is leave lights on in an area, rather than just in the room I am in. I'm a lights nazi. I will admit it. I despise leaving lights on in any part of the house I'm not currently using and over the years, I've beaten that in to Tim as well- "We don't leave lights on in the kitchen if we aren't in the kitchen!"

However, I caught myself using three different lights while getting ready in the mornings because of the weird way our house is set up.

In the bathroom, there are two lights. One controls half of the bathroom, over the double sinks. One controls the obnoxiously loud fan and the light above the toilet and the tub. I was using both of these. Then, when Tim got up, I would turn on the light in the bedroom so I could get out my clothing for the day- not to mention the light in the walk-in closet. So I guess I really used four lights, but the closet was a quick flip on and off, so it hardly counts.

I digress. This happens a lot.

Anyway, what was the point of leaving all those lights on? Now, I only turn on the light over the sink (or if it's really dark, the light over the tub). Most of the time, the light over the sink gives off plenty of light in the toliet/tub area, I don't have to listen to the insane buzz of the most obnoxious fan ever and I'm not running two lights to light the same area.

Next, I'm breaking myself of the habit of leaving the bedroom light on. I'm in the bathroom drying my hair- why do I really need the light on in the bedroom? Likewise, if I walk in there, it's a quick flip to turn off the bathroom light and turn on the bedroom light. (light light light. light. light light).

Anyway, the point of all this is- even though I thought I was doing really well with turning off the lights to save money and electricity, there is always room for improvement!


Thursday, August 18, 2011

Keep Me Sane

I started a new blog.


Because it keeps me sane. Duh. :)

I have a lot of stories I want to tell, things I want to talk about, aspects I want to whine and snivel about.

This blog is going to be a mishmash of everything and anything I want to talk about. Pets. Life. Food. Whatever I want to post about is going to be here!

I feel free! Not constrained by one subject. This blog can be limitless! what do I talk about?


PS. I am going to be importing my favorite posts from Keep Saving over the next few months :)