My musings…

Archive for April, 2010

More great deals!

So Harris Teeter is running triple, yes TRIPLE coupons this week!  As soon as I heard that, I printed a bunch of coupons off of the internet and headed over there.  All of the things pictured above I got for $20.13.  Yes, $20!

Here’s what I got:

Item                                                           Original $     Coupon      Discount  Final Price

Heinz Worcestershire Sauce                      $2.49         0.75 x3                                $0.24
Betty Crocker Warm Delight                      $2.35         0.75 x3                                $0.10
Tostitos Family Size Chips                          $4.99                                     BOGO         $2.49
Ortega Taco Shells x2                                   $4.58          0 .75 x3          2/$4          $1.75 for 2 or 88 cents each!
Old El Paso Taco Seasoning x2                 $2                                            BOGO          $1 for 2 or 50 cents each
Old El Paso Green Chiles                             $1.50           0.55 x 3                                free!
Barilla Whole Grain Pasta x2                    $3                   1.00                                      $2 for 2 or $1 each
TGIF Buffalo Wings                                       $3.79            1.50                3/$10         $1.84
Grean Giant Steamer                                    $2.50           .40 x 3            BOGO          $0.05
Sargento Cheese  x2                                     $6.38            $1 x 2             BOGO          $1.19 for 2 or 60 cents each!
Brookstone Sour Cream                             $2.39             .55 x 3                                 $0.74
Yoplait Yogurt x6                                         $4.50            .50                  10/$5         $2.50 or 42 cents each
Yoplait Greek Yogurt x1                            $1.25            .30×3                                    $0.35
Harris Teeter Large Eggs Doz                   $1.69                                      .70               $0.99
Hillshire Farm Thick Slice Turkey x2    $8.30            .55×3            2/$7            $3.70 or $1.85 each
Bob Evans Roll Sausage                              $2.99              .35×3                                  $ 1.94

Total cost if I paid full price: $54.70.
My final price after coupons and discounts: $20.13.

Pretty awesome, right????

So awesome, in fact, that I think I’m going to get the coupons from the paper on Sunday and print more when they reset at the beginning of the month and go there again on Monday before the sale ends!

Check out this deal I got today

So I had $3.50 in Extra Care Bucks from CVS and needed some things, so I decided today would be the day. I went into the CVS on my way to work and picked up:

Colgate Advanced Toothpaste ($2.99. Unfortunately the only coupon I had for this had expired…)
CVS Allergy Meds ($3.49 for a 48 pack – same price as a 24 pack)

I used the $3.50 discount and ended up paying $2.98 out of pocket. Then I got 2 $2 Extra Care bucks back – so they practically paid me $1 to take these things.

I used one of those $2 ECB to pay for:
Starbucks Frappuccino (on sale for $1.50, plus I had a $1 off coupon)
2 packs of Stride Gum ($1.29 each)

I paid $1.08, and still have $2 ECB left to spend!

In total, I paid $4.06 and got 5 products and $2 ECB to spend next time I go to CVS. Not bad, not bad.

Chicken Enchilada Pasta

This one received two thumbs up from Elvis. I thought it was a little spicy, but I’ve revised the spices in this recipe below so it shouldn’t be toooooo spicy.

Chicken Enchilada Pasta
1 14.5 oz can tomato sauce with green chilies
1 t cumin
1 t chili powder
1/2 t oregano
1 c onions, chopped
4 cloves minced garlic
3 chicken breasts, cut into 1″ pieces
2 T olive oil
1 red pepper, chopped
1 c sour cream
8 oz cooked penne pasta, cooked

Put the tomato sauce, cumin, chili powder, oregano, half of the onions and half of the garlic in a blender and mix.

Season the chicken breasts as desired. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over med-high heat. Sauté the chicken until cooked. Add remaining garlic, onions, red peppers and cook until red peppers are softened. Add in tomato sauce mixture, reduce heat and simmer for 10 – 15 minutes. Stir in the sour cream and turn off heat. Serve over pasta.

Cooking and Reading – two of my favorite pastimes!

Being state-side has its advantages – like being able to go to the grocery store and cook!

Last week strawberries were on sale, so I made a strawberry shortcake and a strawberry/spinach salad – both were delicious! Recipes follow:

Strawberry shortcake: (8 servings, ~ 360 calories each)
1 qt strawberries, sliced
1 c sugar, divided
2 c flour
4 t baking powder
1/4 t salt
dash nutmeg
1/2 c margarine
1/2 c milk
2 egg yolks
2 egg whites

Mix the strawberries with 1/2 c. of sugar, set aside.

Mix 1/4 c sugar with flour, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg. Cut in margarine until crumbly. In a small bowl mix milk and egg yolks together. Add to dry ingredients, stir just until moist.

Divide and pat into 2 greased 9″ round cake pans.

Beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. Spread over dough. Sprinkle with remaining sugar.

Bake at 300*F for 40 – 45 minutes or until golden. Cool 10 minutes, remove from pan to wire rack. Cool completely. Serve topped with strawberries and milk!

Review: The dough was really thick. I mean like really really thick. But it turned out nicely. Elvis had never eaten a strawberry shortcake before and he was a little hesitant when I told him that was his dinner, but he enjoyed it and took the leftover biscuit/cake for breakfast the next morning. Note that the base is not really sweet, but it’s not cake-y either.

Strawberry Spinach Salad (8 servings, ~180 calories)
2 bunches spinach, rinsed and torn into bite-sized pieces
4 c sliced strawberries
1/2 c olive oil
1/4 c red wine vinegar
2 T sugar
1/4 t paprika
3 T sunflower seeds

Whisk together oil through paprika. Pour over strawberries, spinach and sunflower seeds. Toss to coat.

Review: Delicious! And fast and easy! I made this for Megan’s bridal shower and received a lot of compliments. Could also make it with almonds, mandarin oranges or walnuts. Other ideas include using balsamic or white wine vinegar and using honey in place of the sugar. The original recipe called for a LOT more sugar, but I don’t think it needed that much. If you do, you can add it back in.

In other news, I have also finished reading 2 books – one from my list, one not from my list.

The Grapes of Wrath was one and I’m not sure why I never read it in high school. I really enjoyed the book. It is set during the Great Depression and focuses on a sharecropper family, the Joads, who moves West in search of better opportunities. Thousands of other families do the same, however, and it soon becomes a “race to the bottom.” While they were originally offered high wages, upon arrival there were thousands of others trying to get the same jobs and would offer to work for a lower and lower wage until they were just working for their dinner. Definitely an interesting read.

The other book was a much faster read – The Baby-Sitters Club: The Summer Before. I read pretty much the whole BSC series growing up and when I heard Ann Martin had written a prequel, I snatched up my copy as soon as it could be ordered. While reading it, I was instantly transported back to my childhood reading books outside in the grass on summer days. I always identified most with Kristy – the athletic one – but always wanted to wear the wacky outfits that Claudia put together. They were like my sisters growing up, haha. It was a great book!

I have started in on Little Women now, we’ll see how long it takes me to finish it. Maybe not that long since Elvis will be working this weekend!

Brazil (again) and other such stuff

After I posted the last time, I spent most of the next weekend and week in bed because I was SICK. YUCK! Had an awful cough and was pretty much exhausted from…well, everything. Luckily I got better just in time to go back to Brazil.

The last full week in March was a course in Manaus, Brazil. This was at a higher level than the courses I have been to recently – designed for project technicians and also with representatives from local governments. The workshop went well. I gave a surprise presentation on the forest carbon markets. Surprise because another person who works with us was going to give the presentation, but he ended up sick at the last minute and didn’t come, so I found out on Monday I was giving the presentation on Tuesday. It went well, though.

On Thursday, the workshop ended and a group of us – a guy from the US, a girl from Brazil and a girl from Spain – traveled from Manaus to Novo Airao – a town about 200kms away. I had no idea what was there, but it was recommended to us by everyone that we asked.  We stayed in a nice hotel called “Bela Vista” which had a beautiful view of the river (Rio Negro).  On the first night, we headed down to the beach and found a place where we could feed pink river dolphins which was awesome!  Then we went to a family-owned restaurant for dinner which was delicious (some sort of fish in a potato/vegetable sauce and a beef dish).

The view from our hotel to the river.

Feeding a pink river dolphin.

Swimming in the Rio Negro

Bird nests

The next day we took a boat tour.  For most of the Rio Negro at this point, you can’t see the opposite side of the river because of these huge islands (one as big as 60 square kilometers) are all through the river.  We went for a hike on one, almost stepped on a snake, saw some birds, went swimming and just enjoyed being out in nature and not in a conference room.

After lunch, we went to visit two cooperatives in the area.  One makes things from palms – mostly baskets and floor mats, and the other uses scraps of wood to make all sorts of creations.  They were both pretty neat – providing employment for the local folks in an environmentally-friendly way.  Then we hopped back in a taxi to take the 200km ride back to Manaus.  Upon arrival, we took a taxi boat across the river and then a second taxi to the hotel.  There is currently no bridge across the river, though they are working on building it.

That night, we went to a churrascaria to eat.  This is a Brazilian steakhouse, but the waiters just keep bringing skewer after skewer of meat to the table.  There was chicken, beef, lamb and pork.  They also have side dishes at a buffet so you can eat vegetables if you really want to. 😛  We also had a chocolate lava cake with ice cream for dessert.  YUM!

Saturday morning we woke up to rain, so we were worried that our plans were ruined.  We decided to change the order of things, though, and went first to the Teatro Amazonas.  The Theater was built in the late 1800s and does not look like it belongs in the middle of the rainforest.  It was really neat to visit, though, and see the different paintings, woodwork and artifacts inside.  Our visit was made extra-special because the orchestra was rehearsing for a show, so we had music which was great!

Teatro Amazonas

Teatro Amazonas

Me at the Meeting of the Waters

Encontro das aguas

Encontro das aguas

Mama bird and her eggs

After the tour there, it wasn’t raining any more, so we were ready to set off on the next portion of the trip – seeing the Econtro das Aguas (Meeting of the Waters)!  In Manaus, the Rio Negro and the Rio Solimoes come together to form the Amazon River.  The Rio Negro, however, is dark in color (thus “Negro”) and quite warm while the Rio Solimoes is a tan (coffee with milk) color and quite cold.  Because of their different densities, the two rivers don’t mix and they travel side by side for about 3 miles until they start to mix.  We hired a boat to take us out there which was MUCH cheaper than going on a tour (we paid about $10 each for a 1 hour tour).  It was a pretty interesting phenomenon to see.  He also took us to see some floating communities, we saw this bird in the picture who was squawking incessantly, then we found her nest and 4 eggs and we went to see a place where they raise pirarucu – a huge fish that can grow to be more than 2 meters long!  Those were pretty cool, but I couldn’t get any good photos since they were in dark water.  They taste delicious, though!

I flew back that night and spent last week between home and the office.

On Friday, I drove to PA to celebrate Easter with my family.  Most of my cousins on my Dad’s side got together on Friday night with 2 of my aunts and grandmother for dinner and then hung out all night which was cool, because I don’t get to see them often enough.  Saturday there was a baby shower for one of those cousins and then I helped a friend with her wedding invitations, then dinner and a run to Meyer’s Dairy for ice cream.  Sunday there were sunrise services, then breakfast, then church services, then lunch with one of my aunts and one of my uncles, then we played Mexican Train dominoes before I left to come back to DC.  What a crazy weekend!

This week I’m back at work and then on Saturday back to PA for my future sister-in-law’s bridal shower!  Maybe someday I’ll spend a weekend relaxing at home!