October 29, 2010

Up, Up and Away!

Well ‘tis the season for…property tax bills. I always dread opening the tax bill, because it continues to increase while the market value of our home decreases. It’s definitely frustrating!

This gets me thinking about ways to save money on expenses that I can control. The number one expense that I feel I can control the most, is the amount we spend on food. There are just two of us in my household (I won’t include the cost of pet food…that amount has gone up quite a bit this year), and we often spend about $100 a week on groceries. We also end up throwing away about 15% of what we buy.

Here are some ways to save money on groceries:
  • Don’t cook more food than you need. If you don’t want leftovers, adjust a recipe to account for this. Recipe websites like Allrecipes.com let you adjust the serving size.
  • If you have a membership to a place like Costco, be careful how you shop. I mentioned this in another post about the dangers of the Costco membership! It is very easy to go overboard. We try to limit ourselves to food items that we know we will eat (like chicken breasts that can be used in a bunch of different recipes). Of course if you have a big family, this may not be a problem.
  • If you have a membership to Costco and you are on friendly terms with your neighbors, you can see if they would be willing to split the cost of some of your food purchases.
  • Plan your meals ahead of time, or freeze what you don’t use. One of the food items that we throw away the most is produce. We buy an onion for a recipe, use half of it and end up throwing way the other half. Here is a link with information on how to store and freeze various food items: Kitchenstewardship.com
If anyone has additional suggestions, just leave a comment!

October 25, 2010

My Weekend in Review

This past weekend was much the same as other weekends. Except, of course, for the massive amount of rain we had here. It was so heavy at times, I had trouble sleeping (I’m not a heavy sleeper, though). I am so glad that we had some work/repairs done on our gutter; I discovered a wall of water pouring off the top during the late spring. Now it’s nice and fixed and I don’t have to worry about it (until something else goes wrong)!

My husband and I took a trip to Costco. As usual, we spent over $100 but didn’t really buy much (some wine, cat litter, ect.). Costco can be dangerous that way! I am somewhat of a minimalist, so I don’t have an urge to buy a whole lot of stuff. We did buy some new baking sheets, and here is why I wanted these: every time I bake (which is not too often), the bottoms of my cookies, ect., are always very dark. I read somewhere that this is more likely to happen if you use dark baking sheets. Our old ones were a dark charcoal color, and they were in bad shape.

We also went out to see the movie Hereafter, direct by Clint Eastwood. It was a very good movie - I recommend it. The trailers give the impression that it’s almost a horror movie, which it is definitely not.

October 20, 2010

New Smoky Quartz Earrings

I finally got around to photographing some new earrings yesterday. The earrings on the right include these cute rose quartz diamond-shaped briolettes. I placed these earrings in my Artfire studio, and I still have three more pairs to add.

October 14, 2010

The Maple Trees in Fall

 I awoke to fog this morning, and decided to take these pictures from my backyard. I just love this time of year!

October 12, 2010

New Sterling Silver Earwires

I decided to make some new earwires this past weekend. Most of my earrings are made with purchased earwires, but it is easy to make my own and create different styles and sizes. I also just finised a new pair of earrings using a pair of these earwires. I will post a picture of the new earrings when I get a chance to photograph them.

Here are the new earwires:

October 09, 2010

It’s Time for Halloween Decorations!

I recently decorated my fireplace mantel with Halloween/Fall decorations.  I have a candelabra on my fireplace mantel, and I try to add decorations to the candles. There are only so many places I can decorate my house, since I have a cat that will try to eat just about anything. I am limited to the fireplace mantel, and the walls and doors.

I made a list of holiday decorating tips for those of you with four-legged mischief-makers (actually, this would apply to the two-legged kind, too)!

1.      Make sure that any decorations that can become a choking hazard are safely out of reach. If you are decorating a fireplace mantel for instance, and you have a cat that can jump up to it, try placing larger items at the ends of the mantel.
2.      If you have any decorative candle holders sitting out, make sure the candles are not left unattended while lit.
3.      If you have un-used wall space, you can attach metal or wood wall art.  If you don’t want to create new nail holes, you can remove an existing piece of wall art and use the nail that is already there.
4.      You can attach holiday decals to windows and doors. These are nice because they can be re-used.
5.      You can add fake cobwebs to the edges of hanging picture frames. Add some tiny plastic spiders to the webs, or just sit them on top of the frame.
6.      Replace your regular light bulbs with black lights.

October 06, 2010

New Moonstone Earrings

I have been in the mood to make earrings with light-colored gems and pearls lately. Jewelry made with light and clear beads is always a challenge to photograph, but I think I am getting better at it. Here is my latest creation, using Moonstone briolettes and thin-gauged sterling silver:

October 04, 2010

A Trip to Beautiful Crater Lake

If you ever want to visit a lake that is such a deep and beautiful shade of blue, look no further than Crater Lake in Oregon. My husband and I took a drive down there this past Saturday. It was the first time either of us have been there.

Of course, I had to bring the camera...

Ok this is not a picture of Crater Lake, but there were tons of cute little chipmunks scurrying all over the place. I managed to get one to come right up to me when I called out to it (does that make me a "chipmunk whisperer")?