Friday, September 30, 2011

YouTube Friday

Happy Friday!  Check out this awesome YouTube video someone special took.  Notice anything weird?



Come back next week for some more Semi Organic fun!

  • see what this Whole Foods coupon can get you (and probably what it can't get you too)
  • I finally finished these DIY curtains.  I'll make the final reveal soon!
  • I gotta share this amazing potato recipe we made recently.  It was hot.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Happy Birthday Chicken Dinner


For my special birthday dinner last week (or maybe 2 weeks ago, this is blogging time, not regular time) my wonderful husband made me a special meal to celebrate.  I requested an old favorite of his.  This meal was the very first meal he cooked for me when we started dating way back when.  I knew I had found a keeper.  I'm not sure where he got the recipe or idea but basically I brag that he made it up. 

You get a quarter loaf of Whole Foods organic bread (or more if you can afford it and eat it quick!) and toast it then add apricot jam.  We've broiled, used a toaster and once a grill for this step.  Whatever works. 

Shread some awesome chicken (yes meat!).  Here we used rotisserie chicken since it is easy. 

Don't forget to slice the bread all cool like for the photo - it makes it taste better.  True story.  Then on top of the chicken goes prosciutto and fontina cheese then freshly picked basil.  You eat it like an open faced sandwich and better love it. Try not to cut your mouth on the crust.


Then as a dessert I made these chocolate oatmeal bars.  I lost the recipe but basically like this one: http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/chocolate-oatmeal-bars/detail.aspx.  They were delicious but very rich so the pieces kept getting cut smaller and smaller.  I made a big batch for the nurse anesthesia class; gotta be a suck up wife to our new friends sometimes!



Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Meals for the Week - Sept 26 2011


Menu planning at it's finest here.  Who can spot the repeat from last week? We may or may not sometimes stray from the menu if we changed our minds that night or don't have a key ingredient anymore or are tired or lazy or busy or whatnot.  Some days' menu gets tossed completely only to reappear a few months later.  Sometimes I even transcribe the menu wrong... for instance I think we had tomato soup & dumplings on this weeks' menu (but do you see it here?).  Oops.  Enjoy.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Discount Grocery Shopping

Since moving to Richmond and being lean on a budget we've found some ways to save some dough.  Enter big way #1.  The discount grocery store.  Yep you read correctly (twice if you read the post title).  We have in our neighborhood a discount grocery store that is awesome sauce.  I'm not going to quite claim that neighborhood since its kinda sketchy and what not but not too far away is a legit statement. 

What is a discount grocery store?  Our local Fresh to Frozen is a grocery salvage store.  That sounds pretty bad but honestly it's not.  In my mind there is little to no shame in saving bucks; especially on name brand groceries.  Basically this grocery store is a place where food items get sent when they're not fit to sell on regular grocery store shelves.  

Types of products: almost expired things, expired but frozen food, perfectly good non expired items that were in a pallet where a few items got dented, dented/scratched/marked/bruised items, off season things, stuff that just got sent back because the store didn't need that much inventory, products that just weren't selling in a certain market and more!  

Seriously the most common reason (I think) that products are on the shelf at Fresh to Frozen is that a pallet of said product had to get sent back because a few got damaged.  Thus none of the product can make it to the shelves.  There is nothing wrong with the rest of them!  Another popular reason is that the label got smudged or something.  Either the product line glue all got unstuck, all the ink got smeared or something about the aesthetics are less than 100% perfect.  All items at this salvage store were once for sale somewhere else but didn't make it.  Instead of trashing the stuff they sell it to Fresh to Frozen then I buy it for more than half off.  


They have a big section of large cans of suspicious looking stuff I'd probably never buy.  The brands here are all mixed.  You'll find name brand organics next to basement bargain generics you've never heard of as well as regular stuff too.


Like I said there is nothing wrong with most of the food here.  Plus $1.50 for a bottle of fancy designer water is still a rip off no matter where you get it!  The prices are always lower than regular stores but still I wouldn't pay however much for some things.  They have very basic pricing systems that involve stickies and sometimes sharpie marker; no bar codes used at the register.  


Often they get stuff from what appears to be from restaurants or fast food places.  This enormous bag of baby spinach leaves is $2.99!  Yep.  There is nothing wrong with any of it.  Granted you probably want to eat most of the produce very soon after buying it.  The produce is like that: perfectly fine but don't keep it in your fridge for a week before eating it.  They actually have a ton of produce which surprised me.  They are always stocking!  Anytime I've gone there are lots of employees constantly stocking the shelves.  


They have great prices!  Um Duh!  I've seen better than 2 green peppers for $1.  I've seen 4 for $1 once!  We've gotten name brand peeled bagged carrots for 10 cents (that's 12 carrots for a dime people!), cantaloupes for 20 cents, cabbage for 10 cents/lb, lean cuisines for $1.  They have bakery items decorated for a holiday after the holiday super cheap usually.  Yep that is name brand regular bread over there for $1.50.  Probably expires in less than a week or so, so go ahead and buy a loaf and make lots of french toast and sandwiches.  That's what we've done.  

Also good to mention is that this place is USDA certified and everything.  They abide by all the regular codes and stuff so we don't worry about safety shopping there.  If your local discount grocery store doesn't... be warned.


Often some things will be priced only so so.  For example with a coupon and a sale I could get this extra large box of cheerios for less than the marked $3.92 in a regular store.  What was wrong with this box of cereal?  One corner of a box got slightly dented, that's it!  Nothing wrong with the inside packaging.  It tasted like it was worth way more than what we paid!  


random other items.



Some things are just plain weird.  An entire gallon of fake imitation vanilla flavor?  Umm okay it's all totally sugar but for $5 you'll be set for life!  Also not pictured is a large non food section.  There is nothing wrong with tons of cleaning products, detergents, air freshners, paper towels, soaps, etc.  It's all more than 50% off what you'd normally pay in a traditional store and there is nothing wrong with dented refills of hand soap.  Right?  I'm cool with it.  You should have seen my face the first time we went and got a whole load of groceries for $30.  That's right some people pay that for a single bottle of wine or a couple steaks; we bought a week's worth of food.  Ha.  Speaking of steak - they do have meats but 1. since we're going vegetarian, 2. not sure I'd trust their meat, we stay away.  


Some of the produce could be bruised.  You really gotta be careful and sort through to find the best stuff


In terms of organics - it's hit or miss.  Sometimes you'll find brands like Kashi, Earthbound farms or store brands of organic foods; other times you won't find any.  Thing is - when you do, the savings are amazing!  It's a great feeling to know you're getting organic food for so cheap.  Granted Yes I know that the carbon footprint gets higher the more this food is transported around from country to country then store to store to store (again) then home.  Yes, but still we try to buy organic when we can afford it.




Other winning things you can get at our local discount grocery store: batteries, fresh flowers, beauty products like hair spray, soap, razors.  They have medicines (I've yet to check those out), plastic baggies, tons of restaurant grade 'to go boxes', pet food and other regular food.  Every time you go it's like a new adventure though since stuff comes in and gets tossed out so frequently.  One day you'll find fresh organic lettuce, another a great deal on coke or (non expired) milk and yogurt.  We just last week got name brand organic milk to make homemade ice cream but had to go to another store since Fresh to Frozen didn't have cream cheese that day.  Sometimes things can be totally random!

In conclusion we've lucked out with finding such a winning combination of cheap food that's close buy and tons of savings on our groceries while still cooking great meals.  I'd highly recommend searching around your neighborhood to see if you've got one near you.  Back in Raleigh there was a small place that was 'scratch and dent' grocery but closed since it didn't get great business.  Search around on google or check with your local mainstream store to see if they donate damaged/almost expired food or sell it to someplace like our Fresh to Frozen.  

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Summer Photo drop

As this blog is partly just a public diary of our lives sometimes I feel like just posting stuff for myself.  This is a random photo drop off lots of stuff we've done this summer.  Wait it's no longer summer!??  Oopss.  I miss it already.  Screw long jeans and sweaters and jackets.  Bring back shorts and flip flops!  

Anywho... none of this stuff really deserve their own posts but they all deserved to be remembered.  On that thought - have any bloggers heard about this blog2print thing?  It basically makes a book with all (or some of your choice) of your blog posts?!  Maybe one day I'll want to remember this crap part of our lives.  Also random: just got the blogger iPhone app. Is that new?  I'm not lovin' it at first.

inside out pizza with pesto.  turns out tomatoes on top = amazing!

zucchini and squash fries w/fake TJ's nuggets & organic broccoli & cauliflower

We had guests from out of town, went to Kuba Kuba and had their famous
Tres Leches Cake.  I thought it was good but not as superb as it's hyped to be
cough cough on the Food Network.

They had a chocolate version of the tres leches cake too!
This one was yummm!

I made no-bake cookies for my brothers birthday.
Wow the only organic thing in this dessert was the milk!?!
hmmm... maybe the vanilla, not pictured



me hanging our temporary shades in our new windows

my first ever waffle cone at Local Dairy in Raleigh

the best greek yogurt we've found

can't wait to plant this.  what a neat idea Triscuit!


For our 1st anniversary we got a free anniversary cake from our
wedding cake baker.  So pretty and tasted amazing!  We shared it with friends.
Picking strawberries down the street from our old house
Just so you know... picking strawberries could kill you.
we saw cows!
Congrats Carrie & Graham!


typical summer parfait

We finally made it to bagel & deli!

Me setting up some shots for an engagement shoot.
"Do like this..." 


Free method laundry detergent I won by entering my home video
in their commercial contest thing.  I apparently got mine used...
but I couldn't find it.  I didn't have to buy or make detergent for months!
Thanks method!

free www.nailfraud.com product I got FREE through www.savemore.com
not too shabby looking.  Okay, well not perfect but it was my first time
using nail polish strips
4th of July with Durham friends!
Tony being awkward as usual in group photos
Summer Lemon homemade organic ice cream.  Made with Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream recipe


summer sandwich




Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Monday, September 19, 2011

Paint Chip Art

As a fun little 'i'mboredoutofworkletscraft' project I decided to do some paint chip art.  I've seen it around the blogosphere and I'm nothing if not a follower of trends & others' ideas.  Basically you get free paint color chips from home improvement store and cut them to little sizes and line them up in a frame.  Easy enough.  Makes you feel all artsy inside.

As if I took graphic design online from some progressive interior design college.  Like I have the time; oh wait.


Here I am hard at work while Tony studies.  10^10 points if anyone can even vaguely recognize what's going on in that studying.  Yep I want to re-organize those built in shelves and mantle and stuff in the living room that got nicely placed when we unpacked.  But if I have free time I might want to play with it.  Seasonal anyone?  Actually I'm not really big on huge seasonal decor but whatever... more DIY paint chip art: 



I just taped the little squares to the back of a cereal box that was big enough to fit in the frame & matte.  I chose warm colors to probably go in our bedroom.  As you can see a paper cutter would have been helpful since most of my squares aren't even slightly straight or even at all.  No worries since when I finalized everything I laid them under each other to achieve a straight look.  I do want to invest in a paper cutter though some day.  It's like a dream surprise gift (hint!) albeit silly and possibly expensive.  




Finished product in a frame we already owned.  I considered painting the frame white but love the look of this natural wood.  Most of our frames in the house are black though - IKEA or otherwise.  This still looks good.  Currently it's sitting on my dresser (moved from this mantle shot) but has yet to be hung on the wall.  

Cost of this project:
paint chips: zero - free from Lowes
supplies - scissors, pens, ruler, tape, scrap cardboard: zero - all owned
frame: zero - already owned.
total: ZERO dollars.

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