What to do with those empty K-Cups

“Jabber is up, drinking a second cup of coffee!” Jabber reminded me.  “It’s delici-o-so!  A different flavor every day!”

Indeed, one of the first things I do every day is have a cup of coffee.  It’s the quietest time of the day in the house, with Miss Poppy still asleep and not nipping at my feet, with TMWLH also dozing; the sun isn’t even up.  I relish a good cup of coffee and my private, quiet time to think, to write a post, and to organize my day.  How about you?

Right after Security left the building, during a very sad time around here, a very good friend of mine sent me a Keurig coffee maker, something I’d wanted but did not have.  It was a very kind and thoughtful gift at precisely the right time.

Yes, the ‘drawers’ for a Keurig selection of coffees was included with the machine!  Right now they are filled with one type of coffee, a favorite of CCQ Daughter, as she is coming for the weekend.

  One of the fun things to do is try a variety of these coffees.  There is a huge selection!  It’s been a delightful way to start each morning for me.

Every time one makes a cup of coffee, one has a used K-cup which one throws away.  Well…..I read this on a money-saving thrift email recently.

Empty the used coffee grounds out of the k-cups and use the grounds in your flower bed or potted plants.  The now empty k-cups can be used to plant seeds later on.  Perfect size for little seedlings and they have a small hole in the bottom for drainage.

“Sounds like a fun project,” Jabber stated.  

Yes, it does indeed.  I think I’m going to give it a try!

 

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Banana Bread–an old Recipe from an Old Cookbook

“That cookbook has lost its covers and is pretty shabby!” Jabber commented.

Yes, indeed it is.  I think I have had the cookbook some 50 years or more–and haven’t made all the recipes in it at all.  Likely never will.  The Banana Bread recipe is a good one, though, and I’ve made it over and over for a long time.  It occurred to me I should put the recipe up on the blog and then print it out and save it in my ‘keepers’ recipe file before the pages completely disintegrate.

I never knew a “Nancy Voth,” and in fact, I never was familiar with a sorority known as Gamma Pi.  At one point, however, I did live in New Jersey–until the age of 7 years.  No idea where this cook book came from, either.  The recipes in it, however, are very good and basic for baking–from cookies to pies to cakes to dessert breads to punch.  The one limitation is that many of the ingredients are designated “1 x-sized can of xx” and that size isn’t produced any longer.  I adjust as necessary.

Just follow the directions above–but be sure your butter (I prefer butter, but you might substitute margarine if you wish–I think this book was put together way, way back when butter was very ‘dear’) and eggs are at room temperature and that you do, indeed, beat the sugar (I substituted Splenda today) and shortening (butter) until light and fluffy.  (This may take a while–but it is worth it.)  Often I have some frozen bananas in the freezer and they are perfect for this bread.  Be sure they are completely defrosted, too.  At the end, I added some chopped pecans to it as well–about 1/2 cup.  Walnuts are also good in this recipe.

Hints:

If you are using very cold or frozen ingredients, place on the counter to defrost overnight (do not leave eggs out overnight).  Measure out all other ingredients and prep your bread pan.  Before you begin to make the bread, break the eggs into a bowl so they will warm up a little bit before you add to the butter and sugar mixture.  You will be ready to ‘throw’ this together quickly in the morning!

When it has baked for an hour, use a wooden skewer to test doneness.  Today it was perfectly done at 1 hour, sometimes it takes longer–not a scientist so can’t tell you exactly why.

Let the bread cool completely on a rack–out of the pan.  When cool, wrap tightly in plastic wrap and then foil.  It can be frozen or served the next day, depends upon your needs.  Enjoy!

 

 

Spring Fever?

“There is snow everywhere, half the USA is covered in snow and ice and cold, and YOU have spring fever?” Jabberwocky asked, rather perplexed.

Yep.  Do.  We’re all tired of winter.  And guess what I saw in my side garden?

See?  There are still leaves scattered in the bed from last fall, but the Daffodils are up!  Even a flower and a couple of buds are on the plants.  Made me perk right up to spy them as I looked over the deck.  So, of course, I had to take a picture.

Meanwhile, elsewhere in our yard, snow and ice are still around:

But the little plants poking through promise that spring is coming.

My thoughts immediately turned to having a garden of some sort this year–I always THINK that, seldom actually do much in the way of gardening.  However, this year I actually might plant a few vegetables along with some flowers in pots.  If you are interested in that too, you might enjoy this website I stumbled across yesterday:

http://kgi.org

With food prices increasing, it’s a good time to give some thought to growing some food of your own, isn’t it?  This can be done if you plan ahead and do a little bit of work right now, when you are stuck inside due to the snow.  Those little ‘k cups’ which so many of us use can be excellent seed starter pots, so can egg cartons.  It’s close to March, about the right time to start many early-spring seeds so they’ll be ready to plant in pots or in the garden a bit later.

And even if you don’t follow through with your plans, it’s still kind of fun to dream of spring.

Poppy dreaming of spring!

Herb Harvest and Philosophy

“Oh boy, here we go…” Jabberwocky mumbled under her breath, “You’re about to say something YOU think is profundatory, aren’t you? An’ nobody is gonna’ get it.  You really ARE 112.”

Not quite.   Soon.  I feel qualified to have opinions.

“You always have had opinions.” Jabber muttered.

Of course.

So here is the herb harvest and what to do with it:

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Parsley, basil, rosemary, tarragon, dill and thyme grew in pots this summer surrounded by mint which comes back every year, and spreads, whether I want it to or not.  So I gave up trying to control the mint and just cut it in the spring and set herb pots in the midst.  That is my herb garden, nicely contained in that only herbs grow there.

Now it is time to harvest some of these herbs for use during the coming seasons.  One easy method is to cut, wash, and trim the herbs and place in ice cube trays, fill with water and freeze.  Once frozen, you can remove the cubes and place in a plastic bag.  Use these herbs for soups, sauces, casseroles as you wish—right from the freezer.  I do this with some of the herbs.

Others I like to dry.  This morning I picked some of each:

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The mint I’ll use for iced tea (it’s washed and I placed in glasses of water.) 

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Heat water, place the herbs in the hot water with the tea bags, cover and steep for about 5 minutes.  Discard bags and herbs.  Wonderful mint-infused iced tea!

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To dry herbs, simply group in bunches and lightly tie together with kitchen twine.  Hang to dry for several days.

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It’s handy to dry my herbs on the wine rack in the kitchen—they have a lovely aroma which is a nice scent by the kitchen table.

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Once dry, one can grind with a small herb pestle and mortar like this:

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Or simply use one’s fingers to crush the herbs.  I like to keep mine in these:

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But if you don’t have these, then an empty spice jar will do just fine.  Be sure to label.  These are so nice to have on hand for cooking—and to think you grew and dried them yourself is a plus.

“Ok, where is the ‘losophy in all this?” Jabber inquired, impatient to get to the point.

Waste not, want not. 

Aside from that, how do you think people acquire wealth anyway?  By spending their money on things which could be obtained in a less expensive manner and/or for less money?

Of course not. 

(Please do not give me a cynical retort here.  I know all the cynical retorts.  In fact, I likely invented some of them.  I’m 112, remember?   I’m talking about people like you and me—people who were not born with silver spoons.  And not born yesterday, either.)

Spices, like many items, are quite expensive today.  Go to the store and price them!  For minimum cost, I had “decorative” plants all summer—acquired them at a good price early in the spring, simply planted in pots (obtained at yard sales, of course!) with dirt which I did purchase—a little fills many pots—and watered.  If one is going to have ‘greenery’ in one’s yard or on one’s deck, it makes sense to plant something one can eat! 

It took about 30 minutes to cut, wash and hang all these herbs to dry—and I will have additional cuttings this season.  That likely is the equivalent of spending close to $20 or more in herbs. 

As it has always been, so it is now:  Waste not.  Want not.  Plan ahead.  Be organized.  Take time to take care (of yourself, your family, your friends, your things, your life, your money). 

Save the pennies and the dollars will grow.  Even in your 100’s………years, that is.

At the very least, you will have excellent spices on hand to flavor your foods!  Happy Harvesting!


Goodwill Hunting

Here is a riddle for you:  If orange is the new black, then what is the new department store?

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If you guessed Goodwill, you are absolutely correct!

On our adventure Friday to East Nashville, we spotted a Goodwill store.  We are nothing if not Brocanters, of course—always in search of bargains—and this was a new-to-us Goodwill Store.  So we had to stop and shop.  (There are many Goodwill stores throughout Nashville.)

As always, we found many things which intrigued us, with Thumper locating three (count ‘em! THREE!) pairs of 3/4 length pants to take on her up-coming vacation.  (At a fraction of what one would pay at an old-fashioned department store, of course.)   I found some things too! and want to show you.

The photo of the orange oval platter above is one of three I purchased for 99 cents each, with a 10% discount applied because I am a ‘woman of a certain age.’  (If you are a man ‘of a certain age’ you can get a discount as well—at least on Fridays.) 

The other two platters:

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image  Homer Laughlin is the brand!  Collectibles, perhaps?  I wanted some oval plates to carry in this basket found at a sale ($10) the previous week (round platters don’t work well):

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The platters fit nicely into the basket which will make carrying prepared food to gatherings (and other items) do-able.  (Everyone needs some organized method to carry food like this.)

Another Goodwill bargain were these (six new, in the box):

image  99 cents less my 10% discount

I love to use Ramequins for appetizers, when I am baking and measuring out various ingredients before tackling a cooking project, for leftovers, that sort of thing.  Very handy and I have several of them—microwaveable and oven proof, too.

Could not pass up this plastic lined (waterproof! and cleanable) wonderful tote/purse that looks to be brand new for $4.99 less 10%:

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And finally, this beautiful tray (it’s heavy!) for $6.99 less discount:

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Discussing the prices at Goodwill, we decided that they are a bit more than one might pay at yard sales—but it’s one-stop shopping (sometimes) and will provide you with some shopping fun for very little money.  The merchandise changes daily, so if you are looking for something in particular, go often to your favorite Goodwill store.  We have located brand name clothing, some of it new, antiques and collectibles, specialty items for our homes and wearable accessories, not to mention oddities which are often fun to gift to others—especially those who have ‘everything.’

You will find people from all walks of life shopping at Goodwill—from those who could not afford to pay more to those who certainly could, but are savvy shoppers!

Have Lots of Fun!  Remember, Orange is the new Black, and Goodwill is the new Department Store!

 

 

News From the Front (3rd Edition)

When one is 111 or so, survival can be a matter of outsmarting the younger/quicker/more agile and especially, the machines! and now sometimes the rude ‘service providers’ (oxymoron!)

Therefore, I offer you (from time to time), NEWS FROM THE FRONT, a summary of experiences and observations about the on-going “survival war” we seniors (and the rest of society) fight every day, one battle at a time.  Don’t stop fighting for your rights!

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It’s All Automatic!

It’s 5 a.m. and yours truly is opening the mail.  The electric service bill has come, automatically paid through bank draft.  We’ve been in this house for 13 years and had the same bank account for longer than that.

I look at the bill—something is different about it I think.  Retrieving the bills from the last few months I notice that this bill does not say “Do Not Pay.  The Amount Will Automatically Be Deducted From Your Bank On May xx, 2014.”  All the other bills say that.

I know it’s now just 6 a.m., but I call the electric company anyway.  Somebody answers! (A plus for the electric company and I applaud them for good customer service!  Imagine reaching a REAL PERSON at 6 a.m.)  The gentleman explains that evidently the routing number for the bank has been changed.  I respond that if it has, nobody has told us about it.  We just got some new checks with the same old routing number.

He will investigate.

He calls back at about 8:30 and tells me there was an error made on their part.  The amount will be automatically taken from the account on a certain date, just like it always has been done. They are sorry.

Well, I would have been sorry if I had not caught THEIR error and our electricity had been shut off for lack of payment.

Moral of the story:  always check your bill statements, even if they are the routine kind and you THINK the system is automatically taking care of the charges.  The machines are not necessarily our friends.

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1, 1.5, 2, 2.5, 3 and 4!  At Your Service:

Apologies ahead of time for the length of this story.

The last time I purchased a new pair of pants was about 9 months ago.  It is difficult for me to find a pair of pants which fit properly, but this one store generally has the correct size.  Girlfriend agrees to help me in my search. 

We go to the name-brand store and a sales woman offers help—actually, she insists!–in finding some pants for me to try on—but only after she’s tried to get me to buy some which I don’t want.  Then she attempts to get me to look at their newest styles.  I do not want newest style, I want plain pants in black, beige, or white.  Please.

The woman needs pants!” she announces in a very unfriendly-like tone.  I am an uncooperative customer unwilling to consider HER suggestions.  How annoying.

Off she goes to find some for me to try on, and tells me to look around.  I notice a big sign by the front door which says, 50% off the second item if one spends $100.  Oh!  And I already have a $25 coupon which was mailed to me.  This coupon is good if I spend $100 or more.  Believe me, pants will cost $100 or more. 

A rack of tops with a sale sign:  $24.  I like the quality of the tops and think I might buy one of these as well.

A while later, the sales woman brings several pants for me to try on.  After a long wait for a dressing room, I try on all the pants, select two identical pair ($99 each)—one in black and one in beige.  As I step out to show Girlfriend, another sales woman says to me, “I had a customer in that dressing room!” implying I had absconded with HER dressing room.   I mildly reply, “The other sales woman told me to use it?”  She goes off in a huff, obviously angry with either me or the other sales woman or both.

I go to the register.  While waiting there, I decide I will buy one top for the $24 sale price, so I place it on the counter along with the two pair of pants.

The first sales woman, who is definitely overworked with too many customers, has paid almost no attention to me, but that is alright.  I don’t need a lot of attention and don’t really expect it.  I have made my selections. I do not care for shopping in retail stores, anyway, and often only go when I have a specific purchase to make, as I have done this day.   She says, “You must buy two of these tops for the price to be $24 each.”  Oh.

Well, alright, although I did not see that explanation (in small print) on the big sign.  I select a second top and think it’s still a fairly good buy.  We will be taking a vacation and I will be glad to have two new tops.

She rings up my purchases—now two tops and two pair of pants–and deducts the $25 coupon. 

I ask about the 50% discount?  Oh, she says.  Well, she can’t take off both the 50% and the $25 coupon. 

I say, “Well, obviously, I would like the higher discount.  Please.”

She is now irritated.  She voids the transaction, says she has voided it, but refuses to give me a receipt for either the original charge nor for the credit.

“It’s like it never happened,” she states, “You’ll never see it on your account.”*  I disagree and tell her that it WILL appear and at least let me know what the amount was so I can be sure the credit comes through.  I write down the amount, although I can tell she is very irritated with me now and absolutely will NOT give me a receipt of any kind.

She rings up my purchases again, which total $25.43 LESS than the first time.  So I have saved myself $25.43 by simply requesting the higher discount. (Every sales person I’ve ever had would always offer the higher discount to a customer.  This was a first.)

BUT She has charged me $28.29 for one top, and $25.38 for the other top.  Both were on a rack with a large sign, “$24”.   $94 for one pair of pants and $47.02 for the other.  I was also ‘given’ a 5% discount for belonging to their “club” meaning I’ve spent some money there before, which was about 2 years previously.   (As stated, I do not care for retail shopping.) 

And they STILL overcharged me for the tops!

YOU MUST ASK FOR THE LARGER DISCOUNT or you won’t get it, either because the clerk is unknowledgeable and does not know how to apply it, or too greedy (can you say ‘commission’?) to offer it.  It’s unclear which in this case.

Regardless, she is clearly eager to get me out of the store, but no more eager than I am to leave. 

Yes, I should have complained at the overcharge a second time—but by then I was tired of being treated rudely.  As she hands the package at me, she says nothing.  No “Thank You” or “Come Back” or “We appreciate your business.”  She just shoves the bag at me and turns to ring up someone else.   I have spent over $200 in that store.  Evidently that is a ‘minor’ purchase and I certainly do not feel like a ‘valued’ customer.

I go home.  Deciding it is more trouble than it’s worth to get the $5 overcharge corrected, I’ve decided to just forget it.  A couple hours later, I ask TMWLH to check our account online and see if the credit has been issued. 

*My spouse tells me that I’ve been double charged for my purchases.  One charge is $25.43 more than the other charge.  Together, both charges are over $400.  No credit has showed up in the account.  So much for ‘It never happened and it won’t even show up in your statement.”

The cash register receipt has a website.  They want me to take a survey, which I immediately do.  I explain the entire shopping experience.  It was not a pleasant one.  I am now more than just displeased, I am angry.  When one is angry, one needs to take action—you know the old statement, “Do not get mad, get even.”  Well, I think, they owe me some money and I need to make this transaction EVEN!

I call the store and obtain the name and phone number of the district manager.  I leave a message.  My daughter, who has come for dinner,  is furious on my behalf. 

The saga continues, of course.  When the Store manager calls, I talk with her and the District Manager has left me a message.  Both are profoundly apologetic.  I am told that there will be credits issued to my account.  The Store Manager is so sorry—and she will speak with the sales woman about this transaction.  She wants me to know she is so terribly terribly sorry.

It is now 6 days later and the credits finally appear on our account.   A few hours later, they are removed.   Then, the next day, the credits reappear!   No compensation of any sort  has been offered to me for my troubles.  Just a lot of apologies and a brief hand-written note apologizing again, this from the District Manager.  I think that if this type of behavior had happened in a restaurant, at least I likely would have been given a free dessert or a free meal.  Not so with retail shopping.  If I get what they owe me, that’s evidently all I’m going to get.  What ever happened to trying to please the customer?

Oh—you want to know the store name?  Well, I won’t tell you, but I will say it is a popular woman’s store all over the country.  I’ll bet you can figure out which one it is.  (Hint:  See the heading above this article.)

The next time I buy any clothing with this brand name, it will be from a YARD SALE!  At least there, the prices are very reasonable, discounts are negotiated on the spot,  and the sales women are friendly. 

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Guaranteed Arrival

Son-in-law has negotiated with his service provider for a new computer modem.  Son-in-law is an I.T. specialist and knows the lingo and that the competition offers a faster, new modem for no additional charge.  He is told that the installer and the modem will be there at 2 p.m. on Monday and agrees to meet the installer at that time at his home.

This requires Son-in-law to drive 30 minutes from work to his house in the middle of the day (and 30 minutes back to work), which he does, arriving a couple minutes past 2 where he sees the technician standing by the open door of the company vehicle.

Getting out of his car, Son-in-law greets the installer and says, “Come on in,” while walking to his front door.

The installer says, “You are late!  I’ve already cancelled the installation.”

WHAT??????

No amount of arguing with the installer could influence him to go ahead with the installation.  Son-in-law was told to call and reschedule the appointment.

I am not exaggerating here…..this actually happened this week and yes, Son-in-law was literally two minutes ‘late.’

Needless to say, Son-in-law will be changing service providers from Uverse.   And yes, I mention the provider’s name this time. 

Caveat Emptor!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caveat_emptor

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Zip lock bags

How many do you throw out that could be washed and reused?  Of these:

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Next time you are throwing out packaging, take a look first—can it be washed and reused for food storage?  Use white vinegar (natural disinfectant)and dish soap, wash well, and dry—I like to air them over night after wiping with a clean towel.

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The zip lock works just fine!  Reuse! and save some money.

Also consider inside packaging from cake mixes, cereals and other foods.  They can be substituted for plastic baggies, which cost quite a bit.  I sometimes wrap foods to be frozen (such as chopped onions and peppers) first in cake mix packages and then inside zip lock bags.  Be sure to label.  In this way, I can also reuse the larger zip lock bags again.

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