June 30, 2011


So continuing the non-human things I love list, coupons must be included. I became obsessed with coupons after Clover sent me a link to the coupon goddess's blog on how she got free Huggies diapers at Rite-Aid. That was in September and I haven't looked back. There is all sorts of stuff to be had for free out there if you have the right slips of papers. Sometimes you can get paid to take stuff. After 8 or 9 months of couponing, I have a good sized stockpile. I feel so legit having a stockpile. It is the couponers equivalent to a fame hungry person's reality TV deal. I have arrived.

A new show started on TLC this spring (I think, maybe winter?) called Extreme Couponing. From what I hear, it shows these OCD types who buy stacks of papers or coupon inserts and spend 50 hours a week clipping and planning and pre-ordering so they can go into stores and get 90% off their bill. Most extreme couponers buy 100 of the same item because there is a good coupon and it looks good on their receipt. But you can only go through so many boxes of Chex and so many bottles of mustard before they expire. TLC has a sense of irony anyway, since it is supposedly followed by the show Hoarders. Extreme Couponing, for all its unrealistic stupidity is really changing the couponing landscape for regular couponers and is deeply hated on all coupon blogs. Stores are starting to change policies to make it harder to get good deals. After about 10 years of doubling coupons up to $1 in value, Price Chopper, our local grocery store, will cease to double anything over $.99. Most manufacturers coupons are $1, so this is going to majorly change my grocery shopping. I have been pretty slack about coupons this spring, after obsessing about them through the fall and winter. With these changes looming on the horizon, I have kicked up the couponing a notch and started stockpiling like a squirrel in late October.

I know, looks crazy. But yogurt and cereal are two of the kids favorite breakfasts and snacks. AND last week at Price Chopper, with my handy dandy $1 off coupons being doubled to $2 off, I was getting 6 multi-packs of Yoplait yogurt and 4 boxes of General Mills Cereal for $8 and then getting a $5 coupon from the catalina machine at the register for anything else I wanted to buy at Price Chopper. I use that kind of coupon to knock down my fresh food bill, since it is hard to find coupons on vegetables, fruit, or meat. So subtracting the $5 I would be spending anyway on fresh food, pretty much $3 for 10 items, so 30 cents per box of cereal or yogurt multipack. At that price, and with the coupon policy changes coming up, I couldn't turn it down. Yeah, my kids eat sugary breakfast cereal. But per serving it all has less than half the sugar of an 8 oz glass of orange juice, so I don't worry about it too much. (I just looked--Lucky Charms and Reeses Puffs have 10g of sugar per 3/4 cup while Orange Juice has 24g of sugar per 8 oz. Ha. I have now justified giving my children fortified empty calories rather than something 100% natural.)

Laundry detergent. Purex can be pretty cheap or free with doubled $1 coupons. Ditto with Tide stain release. Generally anything new is cheap with coupons. They want you to try. it. out.

I really need those pantry shelves Justin promise me.

Personal Care items. These are all from Rite-aid or Walgreens. Drug stores are one of the best places to shop with coupons.

Toothpaste anyone?

 You can almost always get free toothpaste even without coupons. Last week at Rite-Aid, they had colgate on sale $2.99 and on your receipt, you get up+ rewards coupon for $2.99 off any other item you purchase at Rite-Aid. This week it is Crest for $2.69 with a $2.69 up+ reward. They do this every other month or so. I think they like couponers to have clean teeth. At least they won't have to deal with bad breath when those obnoxious couponers are arguing at the register. These deals are great because if you have a coupon for the toothpaste, you can bring your purchase price down to $1.99 and still get the $2.99 up+ reward. So you are getting paid 1 Rite-Aid dollar for taking the toothpaste from them. I'll take that!

Obviously, we don't need that much toothpaste. And some of those personal care items we can't even use. But when you are getting paid to take them, it is hard to not think "Maybe so and so could use them." I got rid of a whole rubbermaid of personal care items by having everyone in the meeting dig through and get what they could use out of it. And then I got to go and fill it up again! Yay!

There is something fun in figuring out how to get something for nothing. Despite people's perceptions, the stores aren't getting ripped off. The coupons are like cash from the manufacturers. The store gets paid for the coupon. In the instance of the toothpaste, the manufacturer is generally footing the bill in conjunction with Rite-Aid for the up+ rewards. Some cashiers act like you are trying to rob the store at the end of a coupon binder/file. But the stores are doing fine.

I hope sanity returns to coupon world once Extreme Couponing goes away. When I started couponing just 9 months ago, I would only occasionally see people with coupon binders. The other day in Price Chopper  I passed 7 people with their binders out. This is what the stores and manufacturers are responding to--an increased number of people who watch Extreme Couponing and suddenly realize they can get something for nothing. And in this economy, you certainly can't blame people for doing that. Still, I sort of wish they would do it somewhere far away from Price Chopper. I like my $1 coupons being doubled!

June 29, 2011

Updated Wildflowers

I just went through and put the names and locations on my wildflower pictures. I had such a nice hour ignoring the supper dishes and wallowing in my Audubon wildflower books. I really like those books. I didn't have time this morning to get any AK wildflowers, so in the future, when I have nothing intelligent to say, I will post them.


Apparently this week is a list of things I love. Well non-human things.

In college, I did a National Student Exchange to Alaska. It was just for one semester, the spring of 2003. As most of you know, I met Justin up there and stayed put. This meant that I had to finish college at the U of Alaska Anchroage. When I was ready to graduate, they told me I didn't have enough upper division credits at Potsdam to give me a degree. Since I was lacking 1 in Biology and 9 in History, I decided to skip the double major and just major in Bio. So I did an independent study for Potsdam Bio on the different trees and shrubs of Alaska, complete with pictures. I was really excited about this project. Well as excited as someone can get who just found out a month before being done that she could have totally skipped the Russian History senior seminar and 20 other upper division history credits from UAA. Anyway, I blame this project for my subsequent obsession with wildflowers. I drove around Alaska roads, hopping out to take pictures of trees and shrubs that I didn't have pictures of yet and couldn't help but take pictures of the wildflowers. Alaska has such concentrated sunlight that it does something to the flowers. It gives them a color intensity that is incredible. And as I took pictures, I decided to do wildflowers as well. I was on a mission. And this didn't lessen over the years with our move to Colorado (a whole new state of flowers to take pictures of! Squeal!!!) and then to New York.

Flowers in general are gorgeous. I love all flowers. Except those weird black varities. But wildflowers are an unexpected treat. If I plant petunias, I can't really get excited about finding a petunia. (Well I do sometimes if I grew them from seed. It just seems amazing that I did everything right.) With wildflowers, you can't really anticipate them or plan on where to go to see them. You just have to be on the lookout all the time. And it feels like SUCH an accomplishment to finally find a different flower. Like I have personally re-discovered this flower for the world.

NY Black Eyed Susan

NY--Purple Loosetrife

NY-- Viper's Bugloss

NY--not sure

Parker's Lawn--wild thyme--leaves smell awesome!


CO--rayless coneflower, commonly known as black person's toe. Old-timers call it something less politically correct.

CO--I THINK this is Jacob's Ladder, but it might be flax. Flax generally has only one flower per head and less pointed petals.


CO--skyrocket, firecracker

CO--Think it is a sulfur flower

Co, but in NY--Chicory, used to make coffee in the Civil War. 

CO--Mules Ear

CO--Indian Paintbrush

CO--Whipples Penstemon

CO--Prairie smoke

CO--Green Genetian

CO--Kings Crown


CO--not sure

CO--Elephant heads

AZ--some kind of phlox I think. We were driving through the Four Corners area and it was so horridly desert-y and dry and ungreen that I insisted Justin stop so I could take a picture of this brave plant. I regretted it as soon as I stepped out of the AC into 110 degree heat.

AZ--Scarlet Globeflower at the Grand Canyon

NV--Lamoille Canyon, sunflower


NV--Purple Fringe

And that is why I like them. Because they are fabulous. And so varied. And so beautiful.

June 28, 2011

Peanut Butter

This post is dedicated to my weird sister who detests all things peanut butter and turned 30 yesterday.

I like peanut butter. Particuarly peanut butter toast. I know most people who hear this, think "Hey! This idiot has the culinary sense of a 5 year old." But that is not entirely true. I like peanut butter much more than Orianna.

Peanut butter is in my category of perfect foods.
It doesn't spoil. Well not around here anyway. I have never seen moldy or rotten peanut butter.
It can be eaten in fancy preperations--Thai food/deserts
It is loveliness on a spoon.
It is a nice balance of protein and energy (sugar).

I am sure there are more, but I don't feel like straining my brain. Martins, our local country store makes peanut butter. It is pricier than Jif and Peter Pan, but I love it. I dislike extra crunchy peanut butter intensely. Chewing on a whole peanut in the midst of a nice sandwich is tantamount to a piece of gristle in a filet mignon. Disturbing. After eating fresh ground peanut butter though, Jif seems TOO creamy. Fresh ground has this nice gritty texture that is fabulous. (Hmm...I never thought I could use gritty as a positive adjective.)

The variants on nut butters I currently have.

Jif and fresh ground

Nutella and fresh ground hazelnut peanut butter

 Most of you have probably heard of the Elvis sandwich. I always thought it was a peanut butter and banana sandwich cooked like a grilled cheese. However, when I googled it I found that some recipes call for bacon. Bacon has been rearing its crispy, crunchy little head in deserts a lot lately (chocolate covered bacon anyone? Maybe sprinkled on your ice cream sundae?) so I decided to try it.

Despite my love affair with peanut butter, I doubt I will ever make this again. Maybe it is because it looks too much like grilled cheese, so my brain is expecting stringy meltingness. Or maybe it is the banana on peanut butter. Not a huge fan of that combination. I don't think this is a good recipe to become attached to anyway. It probably has more than half of my daily calories and all the fat I need for several days. But if you like peanut butter and bananas, give it a whirl!

Of course, it is easier to just toast bread and slather peanut butter on. With a glass of milk, peanut butter toast is my favorite breakfast. And favorite back up lunch... or supper. Currently I am partial to Martin's butterscotch peanut butter (peanuts ground with caramel butterscoth chips) and their hazelnut peanut butter. A drizzle of honey over regular peanut butter is a classic standby. A touch of nutella on peanut butter toast ups it to a desert. I am not sure you can really ruin peanut butter toast.

A transplanted American in Sweden says you can't even buy peanut butter over there. I feel for them. But I still have peanut butter, so it is hard to be too downhearted about it. Maybe I should make it my life work to bring peanut butter to all nations. Sort of like the peace corps.

When I was googling the Elvis sandwich, Wikipedia informed me that there are several specialized restaurants that only feature items with peanut butter. Why have I never known this? Check out the variations of peanut butter from PB Loco.

Dark Chocolate Duo, Sumatra Cinnamon & Raisin, CocoaBanana, Chocolate-Chip Cookie Dough, Raspberry White Chocolate, Asian Curry Spice, Jungle Banana, Munchy Crunchy, or Dreamy Creamy

Sun-Dried Tomato PB, Cheddar Cheese, Scrambled Eggs, Jalapenos and, or Bacon optional

Sun-dried tomato PB? Really? hmmm...

Some of their sandwiches
Jungle Banana PB, Strawberry Jam, Coconut & Pineapple
Cocoa Banana PB, Mandarin Oranges & Granola
Sumatra Cinnamon & Raisin PB, Vanilla Cream Cheese, Apple & Caramel

And they serve salads with Asian curry peanut dressings. And have animal crackers on their menu.

I am sensing a peanut butter party coming up....

June 27, 2011

Wasting Time

Today, I am going to waste time talking about wasting time. For some reason I have been thinking a lot about all the time I waste. Like right now, I should be folding 4 loads of laundry, switching laundry, doing breakfast dishes, getting Gilbert dressed, and sorting through a whole basked full of paperwork. Instead, here I am telling you all about it. I am not rational. Or efficient. somehow, if I got all of that done before blogging, it wouldn't feel as time wasteful. Why is that? Must be something to do with Einstiens theory of relativity. I would like to think that my procrastination is actually closely connected to existential physics.

Every few weeks, months, days, I make new plans for staying to top of things. Things include, health, finances, weight, housework, and being a good mother. I generally make them around 10 PM. Then the next morning, I get up with a quickly diminishing resolve and contemplate implementing my very rational and efficient plans. Generally I contemplate from about 7 until 9 while eating peanut butter toast and checking on the world from my computer. From 9 to 10 I try to compensate for the fact that I have accomplished exactly nothing so far by doing a load of dishes and turning the washer on again for the load I forgot to switch yesterday afternoon. From 10 to 12 I feel mildly accomplished and feel justified in sitting down for just a minute to see what the weather will be, who updated their blog, and checking on when that bill is due. A minute generally morphs into an hour or two--once again probably has something to do with physics. Then from 12 to 1 I feed my hungry children and contemplate some more about what actually HAS to be done today. 1 to 2 is nap time, which occasionally stretches to 3. For the first half hour or so of this, I try to be quiet so Gilbert can go to sleep, so I get on the computer and check out money saving blogs to see if I need to go spend some money somewhere online so I can save a lot. Then I actually do something, like laundry or bill paying. Or sometimes I think about how much more productive I would be after supper if I took a wee nap or rested with a good book. And then I stop thinking and start sleeping or reading. Around 3, I panic because Justin will be home in about an hour and a half and the house is more of a mess then when he left this morning and I am no closer to having a plan for supper then when I woke up. I generally assuage this panic by playing the piano a bit, giving the kids a snack, and checking my email. Around 4, I wonder if Justin would like peanut butter toast for supper, since that is what I want. Around 4:30, I anticipate Justin's imminent arrival by scrambling around giving the impression of productivity and organization.  I get some hamburger out of the freezer and suggest tacos. Or if it has been a particularly trying day of procrastination, I suggest nachos. After supper, 5 to 6 I do supper and lunch dishes (most of the time). Just as a side note, I would like to point out that I don't have a dishwasher, so it does take a little while to do dishes. 6 to 7 I make noises about the kids picking up toys and having a bath. 7 to 8, I get serious about getting the kids to bed and picking up toys so there will be no nighttime tripping when we go in to see who had a bad dream or needs a drink at 2:37 AM. From 8 to 9 I debate on whether I should go to sleep early or not. Around 9 I go to bed with or without a good book, which determines whether I actually go to bed early or not.  As I fall asleep I start thinking up good plans for being more effiecient and productive tomorrow. Occasionally I remember the load of laundry and get up and switch it so I don't have to wash it again. Then I go to bed feeling mildly smug that I remembered, which is quickly dashed by realizing I should have done that about 4 or 5 hours earlier. Then a peaceful night of sleep with only occasional interruptions and we start the whole cycle over again!

Obviously I need a manager. I am a fully competent adult. I could accomplish a lot if I would only stay focused. Occasionally I do, which leaves me feeling accomplished and smug for a few days until things start to pile up again and I can get back into the comfortable familiarity of procrastination.

I better go. I am supposed to be having a compensative burst of activity right now.

June 23, 2011


I  love shoes. Beautiful, comfortable shoes that is. I grew up in the late 90's when thick heels and wedges were all the rage. Now, the higher the shoe, the thinner the heel, the better. This leaves me out of the fashionable loop. Bearing three children has done unpleasant things to my feet. They are now roughly the size and shape of pancakes. Pancakes in stilettos. It is just not going to happen.

 I have been wanting some  dressy black shoes for a long time, but I just haven't been able to find anything that remotely combines beauty with comfort. So I just fall back on birkenstocks and sanitas. (On a side note, if you have never checked out sierratradingpost.com go do it now. They have these great coupons, so you can get $100 shoes for $30. )  Still, that kind of shoe can only take you so far. They make outfits casual and fun. Which normally is fine. BUT we are planning on heading up to Canadian conventions in a few weeks.Canadians are notoriously dressy. They could out dressy dress me without blinking. The girls dorm is a rainbow of stilettos and the ground outside is pock marked by heels by Sunday afternoon. I thought I just HAD to have some sort of defense in my wardrobe, namely something that is more than 1 inch off the ground. Obviously I am vain and shallow.

I went to eBay and typed in size 9 heels. This is a partial selection of what came up.

IAMGE NAME           

Who doesn't want a fishtank in their shoe? Or a gun for a heel with bullets conveniently placed around the toe? Or a Lady gaga boot which will just make people want to bump into you just to see you scramble? Do people seriously wear these?

So instead, Orianna, Lily, and I went shopping the other day in Massena and hit up TJ Maxx. There was a fabulous pair, bright pink with flowers over the peep toe, but they were heartbreakingly slippy. Not a suitable shoe for a baby carrying mother. Sigh .Once upon a time, I wore a 3 3/4 inch wedge heel to Altamont. They were perfectly fine the whole day, until Justin and I took a walk up the lane and I tripped coming over the cattle grate. I was caring Lily, who got her face spectacularly scraped up. Fortunately, George and Katie were the only witnesses, so we had a good laugh over stupid shoes and I then had to explain to everyone for the rest of the convention why baby Lily had a scraped cheek. Embarrassing enough to make me not wear slippy, tottery shoes ever again.

But then, I found these.  There were no flowers over peep toes, but they are decidedly comfortable and fairly dressy and completely non slippy. They are a good name, Ecco, and they were on clearance. Good name, clearance, and comfortable are three of my favorite words when it comes to shoes, so I got them. I doubt this will make the Canadian stilettos any shade of jealous, but they can make me feel ever so slightly less frumpy. Actually, looking at that picture, they look like librarian shoes from the 1960's. So maybe they will just cement my frumpiness. But they look Canadian in a middle aged sort of way, so maybe it is just time to embrace my middle-agedness.

Victoria Beckham I am not.

What a trendy pair: David chats to guests as he and Victoria make their way inside

Check out her shoes dead center. Teetering towers of torture. And she is 7 months pregnant in this picture. No wonder she doesn't look like she is enjoying herself.

Someday, I will find the perfect shoes. Until then, I will comfortably wander around with buckles across my toes looking happier than Victoria Beckham.

June 22, 2011

Picture Post

These first 5 or so pictures are ones Olivia took. 


Aren't these cool? These are all copyright Olivia.

Lily has this thing with tucking her shirt in and pulling her skirt up too high. When Clover was here, she told Lily she was cute like this. Now whenever I tell her her shirt doesn't need to be tucked in or her skirt should be a little lower, she tells me that Aunt Clover likes it like that. Thanks, Clover.

Justin showing where she gets it.

Typical after haying. I remember doing this with Nina after haying all day.

Our garden. That is our spinach row that you need a microscope to see. There are at least 3 spinach plants. We blame it on the chickens. We used seed tape, which seemed easier, but I think the chickens pulled the tape up.

Carefully sprinkling the lettuce, since we like gritty salad.

Another wagon

Gilbert was so excited to see us coming in. His excitement evaporated when he realized I was not coming to take him outside.