Monday, April 30, 2007

Italian Market Shopping...

So my mom and I took a guided tour of Philadelphia's Italian Market this weekend which was amazing! The market... the tour was ok, but it did allow us to go "behind the scenes" in lots of establishments, which was cool.

What I liked the best, aside from seeing all the people, were the bargains! we got...

  • 3 bunches of asparagus for $1
  • 3 pounds of fresh spinach (still sandy) for $1
  • 10 pounds of fresh ground beef for $15.99

We saw other bargains that we didn't buy but will remember like 2 containers of raspberries for $1, free range veal for $5.59 a pound, whole fish for $3.99 a pound, and blue crabs $25 a dozen.

It was sensory overload. We also came home with some things that we not bargains but worth the price. I got come homemade cured hot sausage for my hubby, homemade Italian pastries, a waxed ball of provolone, decaf apricot loose leaf tea, and there was probably more which I can't think of at this moment.

As a bonus, I got to meet one of the people running for mayor of Philadelphia. I don't live there, so I can't vote for him, but it was fun nonetheless.

I did not get around to making the Homemade Bagels, but do plan on trying tonight.

I think I will also be making this Vegetable Stirfry from Ari at Baking & Books tonight to go with my roasted chicken.

I promise to take pics and post them tomorrow.

Also... I am happy to announce that I am officially finished with classwork for the semester. I get 3 weeks off before my summer class starts... but that will be my last class and I will have my second Master's Degree! YEAH!

Friday, April 27, 2007

Weekend Plans

This looks as if it will be a fun-filled weekend, with the exception of the fact that I am still writing one last paper.

Friday night Hubby and I are going to see Jon Stewart (of Daily Show fame) live... so very funny.

Saturday my mom and I are headed into the city for a behind the scenes tour of Philadelphia's Italian Market, the oldest open air market in the United States.

Sunday I will be making Tammy's Homemade Bagels (which are sweeping the blogsphere like the no knead bread) and going to the market. I only go every 4-6 weeks, so it is quite an adventure. I will report on all the great deals I found next week.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, April 26, 2007

A Watermelon for My Sweetie

This is a funny story...

My hubby comes home from work the other night with an armful of grocery bags.

"I stopped at that produce place by the train station" he says.

"Oh good" I say.

"I got those rye wraps and some whole grain flat bread" he says

"Oh cool" I say

"I was going to buy you flowers but they don't sell flowers" he says

"Oh, thats ok" I say "It's the thought that counts"

"So I bought you a watermelon instead" he says

I can't say much to that :)

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Spring Cleaning

We all think of Spring as the time to air out the house, sweep out the cobwebs, tackle that big housekeeping task that we have been putting off all winter. In other words, it is time to freshen things up.

I like to think of Spring as a time of reorganization as well as a time of freshening up, after all they do go hand in hand. No one wants to clean a house that is unorganized or organize a house that isn't clean.

This is the first year, ever, that I will be doing a traditional Spring cleaning (ie. cleaning carpets, washing windows, fluffing draperies, etc.) I am really looking forward to renewing my house.

Which got me thinking...

Maybe I should be renewing my body as well. I have kind of let things like exercise habits and eating habits, and generally healthy habits, slip over the last two years and maybe now is a good time to freshen them up as well.

So here is what I am proposing... Every week, beginning on Wednesday (henceforth to be know as "Wellness Wednesday" I will pick up a good habit or two and/or drop a bad habit.

For example, Beginning today I will 1. Drink at least 8 glasses of water a day and 2. take my vitamins.

Next week on Wednesday I will report on my status and decide what new habit to pick up or bad habit to drop.

Any and all are welcome to join me. We can support one another. :)

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Frugality Help.

For me, frugality is something that I have to work at. It is probably this way for many people. I like this kind of work though which makes it a little easier, but for someone who used to describe herself as "a recreational shopper" some days are harder than others. For me, Spring is the hardest season, I get this burning desire in my gut to spend money... its weird. I have ALWAYS been this way, but this year I am resisting... there isn't anything I need, so I shouldn't be buying anything.... this is easier said then done.

I found a little something that might make it easier to resist whipping out my credit card and "treating" myself... The Wallet Buddy.

Print this out, assemble it, and slip your credit/debit card into it. Then every time you pull out said card to buy something ask yourself the 13 questions. By the end of the questions if you still want/need to buy the item in question buy it... if not, move on.

Plus: A VERY Interesting article from Money about buying happiness

A Day Off

I worked on Sunday which meant I had yesterday off. I spent the morning finishing up a paper for my class and mailing it off. Since I finished around noon this meant I had the afternoon to putz around the house and play in the kitchen.

Since the weather was exceptional I took the opportunity to get outside and clan up some branches/sticks in the back yard, remove some decorative fencing that was falling apart, a clean out some dead wild flowers uncovering, in the process, hyacinth pushing through.

I then turned my attention to the house and opened EVERY window, put the screens in the doors and aired everything out. It felt so good to have that spring wind blow out the stale winter air. I reorganized some clothes going to Goodwill, cleaned the kitchen, and did a load of laundry which I hung outside.

For dinner I made:

Carne Asada (Here is a good recipe)
Sauted peppers and onions
Chopped Avocado
Tortillas for wrapping

Cayenne Sweet Potato Fries
2 sweet potatoes, cut into fry shapes
Olive oil (maybe 3 Tbs.)
Salt & pepper
Cayenne pepper (to taste)

Put all of the ingredients in a zip top bag and shake to coat.
Place fries on a baking sheet in a single layer
Bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes (until the crinkle)
Serve Hot (YUM!)

Double Dark Chocolate Mint Brownies (recipe to come)

Then hubby and I went over to a friend's house to drop off gifts and see their brand new baby girl.

Today it's back to work :(

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Frugal Car Repair?

Hubby sent me the following link to Remove car dents quickly and cheaply.

I can't vouch for any of these ideas actually working, but talk about frugal... car repairs are expensive but I have a hair dryer and a can of air... maybe I should open up my own body shop (lol)

To Bring Library Week to a Close...

Friday, April 20, 2007

National Library Week V

On the front of my favorite new T-Shirt.

National Library Week IV

I played hookie (from updating my blog) yesterday, so today's post is playing catch up.

If you have ever visited the children's section of a public library you know how overwhelming it can be... there are literally books EVERYWHERE. Which ones to pick? Which bokos would be good for my child? Which have the best illustrations? the best stories? the most socially redeeming themes? It can be very daunting.

Of course, you could always ask a librarian for help ;) (wink, wink, nudge, nudge, shameless plug for my profession)

Or... you can try looking for one of the many medal winning children's books that are the corner stone of any good children's library.

You are probably familiar with the Newbery (best children's literature) and Caldecott (best picture book) medals but did you know that there are others?

Coretta Scott King Book Award
Given to African American authors and illustrator for outstanding inspirational and educational contributions, the Coretta Scott King Book Award titles promote understanding and appreciation of the culture of all peoples and their contribution to the realization of the American dream.

(Pura) Belpré Medal
The Belpré Medal honors a Latino/Latina writer and illustrator whose works best portray, affirm, and celebrate the Latino cultural experience in an outstanding work of literature for children and youth.

(Theodor Seuss) Geisel Medal
The Theodor Seuss Geisel Medal honors the author(s) and illustrator(s) of the most distinguished contribution to the body of American children’s literature known as beginning reader books published in the United States during the preceding year.

Odyssey Award for Excellence in Audiobook Production
The Odyssey Award will be awarded annually to the best audiobook produced for children and/or young adults, available in English in the United States.

(Robert F.) Sibert Informational Book Medal
The Sibert Medal honors the author(s) and illustrator(s) of the most distinguished informational book published during the preceding year.

(Laura Ingalls) Wilder Award
The Wilder Medal honors an author or illustrator whose books, published in the United States, have made, over a period of years, a substantial and lasting contribution to literature for children.

Have fun discovering new award winning literature with your kids!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

National Library Week III

Who doesn't like to listen to a story, especially when it comes from a great storyteller? This is how I like to think of books on tape or recorded books as they are now called, stories being told to be by a great storyteller.

If you are a fan of recorded books as I am, you may want to check out is an online library of recorded books, chort stories, and poetry that you can either listen to on the web or download to your mp3 player.

From the website: "At LibriVox, volunteers record chapters of books in the public domain into digital audio (eg. mp3), and then make the audio files available to the world, for free (through our catalog, a podcast, and bittorrents)."

Since the books are in the public domain, this means that there are no "new" books, but lots and lots of classics, what a great way to catch up on all of those books you were supposed to have read in high school!

Check out today!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

More Baking

Last night in an attempt to procrastinate and put off editing my very longer paper for class I did some baking instead. I had started chili in the Crockpot in the morning so I thought cornbread would go well with that. I am always on the search for a good cornbread recipe (If you have one please share) so I tried this one from Simply Recipes. My garden had surprised me with some spring onions so I used those in place of the onions in the recipe. I was not all that impressed. Although I did fiddle with the recipe a little bit so maybe it was my fault that I didn;t like it. Anyway, my search for the perfect cornbread continues.

I also decided to make some Granola Cookies using homemade almond coconut granola. Boy were they good! That recipe is a keeper. The recipe comes from one of my favorite new food blogs, The Perfect Pantry.

National Library Week II

Public libraries are wonderful things! Truly democracy in action. Here is a set of resources, books, magazines, videos, sometimes puzzles and games, Internet access, any many other services for anyone in the community to use and enjoy. What are marvelous concept.

There is another kind of public library... the Internet Public Library, which, if you haven't already checked out, you should do so immediately!

"The Internet Public Library (IPL) is a public service organization and learning/teaching environment founded at the University of Michigan School of Information and hosted by Drexel University's College of Information Science & Technology [I am A Proud Drexel Alumnus]. We will engage in activities in the following areas:Publish

Provide library services to Internet users. Activities include: finding, evaluating, selecting, organizing, describing, and creating information resources; and direct assistance to individuals.
Use a learn-by-doing approach to train information professionals and students to work in an increasingly digital environment.
Develop technology and best practices for providing library services via the Internet, including digital reference service and collection management.
Conduct research aimed at improving our services and increasing the body of knowledge about digital libraries and librarianship.
Promote our services. Share what we've learned with the professional community. Participate in efforts to create and promote relevant standards. Disseminate technology and practices to others. Develop relationships with organizations pursuing similar goals. Provide leadership in these activities.
Develop a model and plan for long-term sustainability and growth for our organization and services.

We approach the above activities via the values and principles of the profession of librarianship.

Adopted April 12, 2001"

The IPL functions mainly as a directory, arranging web sites and other web resources by subject area and after by age/grade level. One if the IPL's outstanding features is its collection of online newspapers from across the country and around the world.

Hop on over to the Internet Public Library and check it out!

Monday, April 16, 2007

National Library Week

This week is National Library Week and as a very proud librarian I am honor bound to promote libraries; so this week, I will be posting something every day related to libraries, librarianship, and library science.

Friday, April 13, 2007


My friend from college Hadyn and her husband David will finally have their baby boy in their arms next week.

Congrats to the Boyte family!

Once you get that baby in your arms, never let him go!

Goodwill Shopping

I stopped at Goodwill on my home from work yesterday and this is what I found:

Its oil on board, and although tacky, I am strangely attracted to it. $3.99

A bejeweled tank top for $3.99 (summer is coming... sometime... maybe)

A bag of ribbon (full spools no less) for $.99

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Commentary... My $.02

I don't usually use my blog as a place for political commentary or anything like that, but I can't not say anything any longer.

I have never been, nor currently are, a fan of Don Imus.

I think that his comment about the Rutger's Women's Basketball Team was stupid and obviously not well thought out... BUT...

There is no law against saying stupid things or saying things that are not well thought out... even in a public forum.

In fact... we have a little thing called the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States which reads,

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

Has everyone forgotten about this??? There is no law against offending people... as citizen in a civil society we all try really hard to say things that don't offend people (most of the time anyway), but ultimately, at the end of the day, we have the right to say what we want, or even to say something stupid that offends someone.

The man has lost his job... and, my God, has he said a lot of stupid things on his show, but this is America people, we all have the right to say stupid things... just like we have the right to say smart things that don't offend someone... we have to take with good with the bad and the offensive with the inoffensive...

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Creativity Gone Too Far

A Meat Cake?????

What more can I say?


Poor hubby had to work late last night (and on his birthday too... Boo Hiss), so I took the opportunity to be uber-domestic. I cleaned, cleaned, and cleaned some more... I was a little off my regular cleaning schedule because of my classwork. I cleaned the bathrooms and the kitchen, finished up some laundry and ironed.

I also baked. :)

Since Passover ended at sundown yesterday we can have leavened bread again. SO last night I made a loaf of banana bread (as a gift for a friend), a loaf of Honey Vanilla Challah, and a Whole Grain Loaf for sandwiches and toast.

Boy did the house smell good!

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Monday, April 09, 2007

Dishwasher Frugality

I am procrastinating right now from writing a paper, so I thought I would post about a frugal solution to a (potentially) expensive dishwasher problem.

Recently Amy at Motherload and Stephanie at Stop the Ride have posted about making their own dishwasher detergent. I have a stock pile of Electrosal 3-in-1 tabs (there were free coupons in the paper) so I don't have a need for detergent at this moment in time, however I will be giving this a try when I run out.

Anyway... our dishwasher came with our house when we bought it. It never got things really clean, so with thought it was old and needed to be replaced. We decided to run it until it died though and I switched detergent brands thinking that maybe the cheap ones didn't work as well in this machine.

One day after running the dishwasher at night I opened it up and found the bottom filled with water. I sucked the water out with a shop vac. and called our home warranty company. They send a plumber out to find out what the problem was with the drain. Low and behold it was clogged with something. Apparently this model was prone to that because of the way it is built. I made an off-hand comment about it not cleaning so well and the repair man/plumber told me that the little holes in the arms get clogged and that you need to clean them out.

Huh? I have wash my dishwasher? How would one do that?

He said that Jet Dry makes a dishwasher cleaner (which they do I found out) and that if you use it once a month or so (every 6 months works just fine at our house) it will clear out the blockages and the machine will work better.

Now, I always figured that the "dishwasher cleaner" was a scam by the detergent companies to get you to buy something you don't actually need. "ha ha" I said to myself. "you can't get my money!"

Turns out it is actually a useful and worthwhile product. with out home warranty the sevice call costs $55.00, I don;t even know what it would cost without that (more I'm sure).

The Jet Dry dishwasher cleaner is @ $4.00 and there are always coupons for $1.00 off in the Sunday paper.

SO.... I learned that spending $6.00 a year on dishwasher cleaner can actually save you repair money in the long run.

Carpet Cleaner?

I need some help.

Most of the surfaces in my house are carpeted... I actually like carpeting and think (no matter what the research says) that they help to insulate the house. My problem is that with two dogs, a muddy back yard, and older carpeting, my house looks like I have been hosting a monster truck rally. I need a steam cleaner.

In the past I have borrowed them from friends and family, but it is getting to the point where there are sections/rooms that will need to be done on a monthly basis.

I really don't want to spend an arm and a leg for a steam cleaner and all of the websites I trolled have mixed reviews on all of them.

Does anyone have a recommendation? Hoover? Bissell? Other?

Is Oreck really worth the money?

Any suggestions/recommendations would be welcome.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Another Use for Matzo

Matzo Brie (or Fried Matzo)

2 matzo boards (I use whole wheat, but regular works too)
2 eggs (or equivalent in egg substitute)

Run matzo under warm water until pliable but not soggy.

In a medium bowl break eggs and beat lightly.

Break the matzo, now softened, into the eggs and mix until all matzo pieces are coated with egg.

Heat a large skillet or frying pan over medium high heat.

When the skilet is hot dump the egg covered matzo into in and scramble until all egg is cooked.

For Sweet Matzo Brie: (the way I like it)
Sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar and serve with maple syrup like French toast

For Savory Matzo Brie: (the way hubby likes it)
Saute some onions in the pan before adding the egg and matzo mixture. Scramble all together.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Bagel Holder

I like to look at things before I throw them away and see if there is possible another use for them. Apparently I am not alone... my hubby showed me this last night... I'm going to have to remember this: cd-spindle--bagel-holder

Simple Smoothie

I have never been a big smoothie person (give me a milkshake any day!) but my breakfast options are somewhat limited this week. Normally I would have cereal, but that's out and I could have eggs but cooking while trying to get out the door for work is a task I have not mastered yet. I have looked at lots of smoothie recipes and they all seem so complicated so much fruit, so much milk, ice (which I never have on hand), honey, vanilla, etc., etc. I was going to give up when I a "recipe" mentioned in a magazine. It looked easy enough and contained no ice... Even better. I have made a few changes from the original and this is what I have settled on...

1 container yogurt (I use fat free, what ever flavor is on hand)
1 cup berries (I like frozen raspberries, but any berry would do)
1 banana

Combine in blender. Enjoy.

So I tried it and it is good. I started adding a little Kefir from Lifeway that I needed to use up just to thin out the mixture and be able to suck it through the straw but its not necessary, or you could add a little skim milk.

I think I will call it Molly's Simple Smoothie. :)

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Now I have a need...

to calculate out how much 1 use of everything in my house costs and how long it will take to start saving money. LOL.

For example... the Swiffer Wet Jet (oh how I love thee)

a box of disposable pads is (approx.) $6.00 for 12 pads = $.50 per pad or $.50 per use.

The Bissell pads I was inspired to buy by Amy, were 2 for $9.70 = $4.85 per pad. These are washable and reusable.

I mop my kitchen floor once a week on average after a year of using one pad each use will cost $.10. I'm hoping these last more than a year... so it will cost less and less the longer I am able to use them.

I like this.

What else can I calculate... ;)

[If my math is wrong, please let me know... I have many degrees now, but NONE of them are in math!]

Frugal... Or Not?

I met my mom for lunch today and we were talking about frugality and different idea on how to save money and better yet how to help the environment. My mom mentioned this post from MotherLoad about reusable grocery bags and it got me thinking... are reusable bags really frugal and better for the environment?

On the surface using canvas (or some other environmentally friendly material) for grocery shopping certainly sounds like a good idea. Cut back on waste, don't manufacture so many "disposable" plastic bags, etc. On top of that reusing and reducing are frugal activities which aslo sounds good... but lets look at the math.

Amy mentioned that she had purchased this set of reusable bags from

The set in question contained 3 bags plus some other things and cost $55.90 with shipping.

That equals (approx.) $18.64 per bag. [starting to sounds little expensive to me]

I go to the market once a month (so that is 12 times a year), if my supermarket gives me $.05 (so $.60 a year) back per bag I bring it would take me 31 years of using the bag to BREAK EVEN. It will, obviously take longer, to save money.

That doesn't sound frugal at all.

But what about the environment? Well I agree that not manufacturing plastic bags seems better for the environment, but buying canvas bags on the internet which have to be packaged, and shipped to you (which could be across the entire country) in trucks and planes that have internal combustion engines and pollute, doesn't sound that great for the environment either.

So what is a frugal, tree-hugging girl to do?

First of all, depending on what you are buying and where you are buying it, don;t take a bag if you don't need one.

If you do take a bag, either paper or plastic, reuse it (several times if possible) and then recycle it. Yes, plastic bags can be recycled, there is a bin outside of every supermarket I have ever been to, they are probably outside of yours too.

Once you have reused/recycled all of the bags you already have, scour thrift shop, Goodwill and Salvation Army to find canvas bags on the cheap ($1.99, $.99,) and use them instead.

At $2.00, getting .60 per year back from the market it will only take 3.33 years to break even and then start saving.

That makes more sense to me.

[Update: Amy, at MotherLoad, responded to a comment I made with pretty much the above question in it. Her response about wanting to reduce the number of plastic bags, and inspire others to do the same makes great sense to me. As does her comment about liking to use canvas bags with flat bottoms that are easier to use, much like regular grocery bags.

I UNDERSTAND that completely. I find it so easier to be frugal when I don't have to work so hard at it (does that sound lazy?). I was just saying the exact same thing to my mother about my Swiffer wet jet v. the sponge mop. I know the sponge mop is more frugal but I hate having to fill up the kitchen since, drip here and there, etc. So I find ways that make me happy (i.e. frugal and environmentally friendly) to use the products that I like and make my life easier. Thank you Amy for such a great post and response... YOU INSPIRE ME !]

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Passover Goodies

One of the great things about passover is the fact that you can get Kosher for Passover Coke. As in Coca-Cola. What makes this different from regular coke you ask?

Regular Coke is sweetened with high fructose corn syrup. :(

High fructose corn syrup is made from corn (well duh!)

Corn is a grain.

Grains are forbidden during passover.

To make sure that no one stops drinking Coke during passover Coke makes special batches of their beverage with sucrose... i.e. SUGAR.

If you have ever wondered what Coke used to taste like back in the day before high fructose corn syrup was invented... you have to try kosher for passover Coke.

My hubby and I finally found it this year and although we normally do not drink non-diet soda we bought 5 2-liter bottles. It is GOOD. There is definitely a difference between K for P Coke and regular Coke.

Here is more info on how to spot the REAL thing.

You could also try here.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Happy Passover

Passover begins at sundown tonight. Although I was not raised Jewish (my hubby is Jewish I was raised Catholic but I rejected that dogma a long time ago) but I celebrate all of the Jewish holidays.

If you would like more information about Passover you can check out Wikipedia.

This is one of the fun holidays... I love the reading of the Haggadah, finding creative ways to cook using matzo, and the symbolism of the Seder plate.

Whether you celebrate Passover or Easter or both (we do), enjoy your night!

Spring Cleaning Fun

I got this email this morning and it gave me a chuckle.

How do you know it's time to Spring Clean? Here are a few of the tell-tale signs.

1. Your front door has more fingerprints than the FBI.

2. The dust mites are having an anniversary party under your bed.

3. You are wearing clothes from the floor of the closet - inside out

4. Your family is eating off paper plates so you don't have to open the cabinets.

5. You need a gas mask when you open the refrigerator.

6. The kids can't find their toys -- in fact they can't find the toy box.

7. The garbage disposal is coughing.

8. You can't find the cordless phone unless it rings.

9. You can't turn on the ceiling fan without creating a dust storm.

10. Your chore for the day is to find the vacuum cleaner bags -- and the vacuum cleaner.

11. The remote control has been lost in a sofa crack since the end of football season.

12. The kitty litter is a concrete block.

13. The cat has been missing for three days.

14. There is something solid and black in the bottom of the coffeepot.

15. You can't decide whether to clean the windows or just buy mini blinds.

16. The dog has offered to loan you his doghouse.

17. The mail hasn't been opened since last tax season.

18. The piles of magazines may fall over and bury you.

19. You are afraid to turn on the oven because bugs may be raising a family in there.

20. You wonder if a hose down would ruin the carpets.

21. There is something sprouting in the dishwasher.

22. The washing machine reminds you of a concrete mixer.

23. You introduce your kids as the three little pigs.

24. You can't go outside because fresh air makes you dizzy.

25. It seems easier to move than to clean the house.