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Thursday, April 24, 2008

Presto Pizzazz Pizza Oven

Presto Pizzazz Pizza Oven
I bought this about 2 years ago for $39.99 at Kmart. The only reason I did was we used to do appetizers on Fridays at the office and one gal had one that she was using to make pizzas with. It was pretty darn neat so I kind of kept my eyes open. After Christmas that year, they went on sale. Woohoo. Honestly, haven’t used it that much until recently. I like it. Almost wish I had 2. You put the pizza on the tray. Put tray on the spinner thingy. Plug it in. Turn the dial to 20 minutes. Walk away. Come back in 20 minutes and you have a fully cooked pizza. I have a huge convection oven. This thing takes forever to get up to 450 degrees for a pizza. I can have a frozen pizza in 20 minutes. Doesn’t heat up the kitchen or house (big deal in south Florida). Easy cleanup. Not a big thing to deal with (stores easily in cabinet). Would I recommend one? Yeah, if you make pizzas frequently. I make a lot of homemade pizzas but have not tried to use the Pizzazz with that yet. But the frozen pizzas it works great. Wish I hadn’t forgotten about it stashed away.

Granola recipe

Homemade Granola (this recipe has been halved from the original) ½ cup brown sugar ¼ cup water 2 tsp vanilla ½ tsp salt 4 cups oatmeal (not the quick cook kind) Handful of nuts (if desired, I use almonds) Preheat oven to 275 and line baking sheet with parchment (or if you must, spray with non stick spray) Mix sugar & water in microwave cup, microwave 3 to 4 minutes til dissolved. Add salt & vanilla and mix well Pour over oatmeal & nuts in bowl. Spread as thin as possible on baking sheet. Bake 45 minutes to 1 hour til brown but still pliable. Allow to cool & store in airtight container or Ziploc bag. Originally, I only used this as a snack or to top yogart. But then DH fell in love with Special K cereal with the almonds. Since it hasn’t been on sale lately, I made this & had him try with milk and that’s what he’s been eating since.

Are you hoarding food?

That’s a strange, if not rude question, I suppose, BUT when I was driving home last night, a talk show on the radio was discussing that. Then this morning, I log on to the internet, which my home page is the Sun-Sentinel.com and there’s a headline titled: “Run On Rice Makes Way to the U.S.”. CNN.com basically has the same thing. There have been reports of Sams Club, Costco, and others, limiting the number of bags of rice, flour, etc that a person can buy. Hmmm. I’m not sure if I’ve ever seen that disclaimer in any of their stores? And some stores are reporting that they do not have any left in stock. I KNOW that last time I was at Costco (2 weeks ago), they did not have any large bags of rice. I just thought that maybe there was a holiday coming up or something (we have a very diversified group of people in south Florida!) It's mostly restaurants, so they report. I’m thinking more in line with the fact that consumers are thinking, a: we are going to keep seeing the prices go sky high (compare rice & flour prices this spring to last spring, outrageous) and b: with the cost of fuel going the way it is, I think, no, I believe, that there is going to be less shipments coming around. Seriously. Ok, so maybe the end is coming. But not in that way. So I get home. I look at my grocery list I started. It has one item. Brown Sugar. I’m dying to see how much it’s going to cost. Used to be 79 cents for a box. Probably a dollar more. Then I look at my flour. I have 2 5 lb bags of whole wheat that was on sale CHEAPER than white. I have a 10 lb bag of white. Some, not much, left in the container. Sugar. Just opened the 10 lb bag, have about 5 lbs left in bag plus what’s in the container. Rice – got a big box of minute rice (I know, that doesn't really 'count' as rice, but...) plus what’s in the container, bag of jasmine and bag of regular ole white rice. Pasta would be a different story. For some reason, haven’t been stocking up on it lately and have had to make a note to buy when I’m making something for the upcoming week. I usually have lots and lots of it sitting around. I’m thinking that if I believe in the above scenario, I need to get to the store and stock up. So, the next question would be: where on earth do ORDINARY people (not restaurants) store that much stuff if hoarding? Garages, under beds, in closets, basements, attics, etc. This is not stuff that they use on a day to day basis. They store in garbage cans, totes, etc. I actually know someone that I do business with whose partner believes that the dollar will have no value before long and has been stocking up for months. He has big drums stored in his warehouse. That’s pretty serious, considering he’s a successful business man at this time NOT in the restaurant business. The bottom line feeling for me is that I don’t think the end is coming. I do believe that times are going to get significantly more difficult in the very near future and that yes, you should be prepared. Sure, an emergency cash fund will be nice, but I honestly believe that a back up supply of essentials is going to be more important as the dollar is not going to be as stretchable as today, let alone a year ago. I don’t believe that we will be rationing food but may be with gas and fuel which will effect the shipments. I do believe that there will be a slight shortage of food. Not enough to cause panic as in other countries, but enough to make people rethink their way of eating and cooking. I don’t believe that the richer will be any better off than the poor. I think the opposite, simply because the poor know how to make do better than anyone, especially the rich who are used to paying for things to be done for them, unless they are frugal like yours truly . Well, that’s enough doom and gloom for the morning, wouldn’t you say. But definitely something to think about. I would be curious to have everyone else’s opinions out there.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

New Thrift Store in Town!!

I’ve been wanting to get to “Out of the Closet” for a few months now. Ok, maybe not that long as they’ve only been open for a few months. They were suppose to have opened last year but had issues with previous tenants (birds) and getting the place cleared out. Finally made it there on Saturday. Wow. I am so glad I went. We finally have a GREAT thrift store again! The lavender tickets were $1. I got me 3 skirts for work (see the photo) and 2 pairs of shorts. All name brands (Express, some Italian dude – made in Italy) and one pair of shorts are organic cotton and the other are from Old Navy. For $5, I got 3 work skirts & 2 shorts. Woohoo!! Had I had more time, I would have bought a lot more stuff. They do the ticket color markdown at the beginning of each month. I was impressed that it’s already the 12th day of the month & I was able to find that many lavender colors. This is done to keep the stock rotating so things don’t sit around for the next 5 years and get dated. You have to know what I’m talking about! The merchandise is definitely the new in styles, not old like Goodwill has been lately. Clothes are clean, in good shape. A lot of top name brands like Liz Claiborne, Express, etc. I was very very impressed. Will definitely be going back there again. I will also add them to my list of donation spots, but only for the better quality stuff. Normal prices are comparable to other places. $4.99 for skirts & shorts. I think jeans were running $8.99. Need to go back & see if they have the kids size (teens), which I’m sure they do. I did not see little kid stuff, which is fine with me. Out of the Closet is a non profit organization owned and operation by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Living Frugal or is it Living Green?

If you are frugal, chances are you are ‘green’. If you live green, chances are you are frugal. Simple enough. Those who are frugal are not wasteful, and the same goes for green living. It’s all about being more conscientious of the things around you and what is used and what is wasted. For instance: I conserve water in my home, along with electricity. Primarily because I want to keep the cost down. BUT in doing so, I am also being kinder to the environment by not wasting unnecessary water OR using more electricity, burning more fuel and leaving less of a carbon footprint by not using my dryer. As I’ve always been frugal, for the most part, I started to look into being greener. I was surprised that I am already green. Of course, there are some things that I should start doing that would make it more so, such as taking my own canvas totes to the stores instead of getting new plastic bags every time (but then what happens when I run low on the bags that I use as liners in the small trashcans in bathrooms??!!). I’ve started a ‘small’ garden. Actually, it’s small Styrofoam cups with a few seeds in each. Once they start sprouting & getting bigger I will decide if I am doing container or ground gardening. Plus I am trying to stagger the sprouting so I don’t suddenly have too much lettuce, herbs, etc.! I’ve gone back to the mindset that if I absolutely need something new to wear, I will shop thrift/2nd hand stores. I did that over the weekend and actually discovered a terrific new thrift store! Woohoo!! For $5 I got 3 new skirts for work & 2 pairs of shorts (ironically made from organic cotton!). I wish there was some way to easily cut back on the amount of driving I do. I mean, substantially. 30% would be nice. I’ve played with the idea of taking the city bus to work one day a week to see how ‘bad’ it really is. If I could park the truck 3 days a week, I’d be happy. Then again, that’s nothing since I don’t drive it on the weekends (dh has a company car – black hemi charger) that I drive on the weekends since his gas is ‘free’ from the company. I don’t put free in quotes to mean badly, but we still pay for it in the end on our income taxes. I could start riding my bike more. Not sure if I could ride it to work. 7 miles. Over 2 bridges. HOT outside. I dress up for work (law firm). Don’t know if I could pull that off or not. Wonder how long it would take me to get here anyway. Hour? Nah. Maybe? I might try it on my day off just to see how long it takes and how hard it really would be. Would be a nice ride though, ocean view ½ way and then the isle view ¼ of the way & the rest would be downtown, which the traffic would scare me at that point!! But the real point, and really, the only point: Whether you choose to live frugally, or you choose to live green, or be a tree hugger, or be conservative, it's all the same in the end. Just a matter of the words you put together to describe it :).