Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for January 18th, 2008

Cute money-saving idea

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From The Simple Dollar:

Many people don’t bother to clip coupons for various reasons, mostly revolving around the belief that a fifty cent coupon doesn’t make it worth the effort. On the surface, I agree – without a very clever coupon strategy, it’s probably not worth the effort.

About two months ago, I was talking about this very fact with a friend of mine who works for Hy-Vee, the large grocery store chain here in Iowa. He gave me a tip: he said to take the coupon section out of the Sunday paper and put it aside for four weeks – don’t even bother to look at it. Four weeks later, open it up and clip everything that’s even remotely of interest, whether you’d buy it normally or not.

At that point, take the wad of coupons to the store and just look at the shelves. Magically, most of those coupons you have will sync up very well with stuff that’s already on sale on the shelves. When you combine the sale price and the coupon, you’ll usually be able to get items for next to nothing.

I tried this myself, actually. I saved the flyers from mid-December and then just cut them up earlier this week to take them to the store. What did I find? About 40% of the coupons I cut out matched up with items on sale. I wound up getting T. Marzetti salad dressing for less than a dollar, a package of diapers at the cheapest rate I believe I’ve ever bought them for, and a container of quite good vanilla ice cream for $0.19 – and those are just the ones I remember.

Why does this work? Coupons in the newspaper are usually the first wave of a product push from large companies. They’ll put out coupons to start bumping up the sales, then they’ll move onto sale prices later on in the promotion. The reason for doing these in waves is so that the overall product sales trend looks solidly positive and not just a big spike with a fall-off. Plus, coupon users who use the product, like it, return to the store, and notice the item on sale are often willing to buy the item again. I’ll admit to noticing this working for me in the past with products like V-8 Fusion.

After discovering this nifty attribute, I’ve quickly moved to a big adjustment in my usual grocery shopping strategy. It no longer matters whether I “sync up” with the arrival of the Sunday paper – I just need to clip the coupons roughly a month after I receive the flyer and use them the next time I go to the grocery store.

So, as before, I make a shopping list each week. I just keep writing down staples that are getting low along with ingredients needed for any meals that I’m thinking about making. I usually use a notepad on the refrigerator for this, along with Remember the Milk.

Sometime shortly before I go, I get out a month-old coupon flyer and clip everything that might match something on my list. I’ll also clip anything that I know we can always use – like diapers – along with anything that’s a potentially reasonable purchase, like salad dressings because we often eat salad.

After that, I head out to the store when it’s convenient (often early on Saturday mornings) and use the coupons effectively. Whenever you see a sale item that you also have a coupon for, you’re usually doing quite well and can often get a pretty good item for just pennies – or at least far cheaper than the normal price and usually notably cheaper than the generic version.

This technique saved me about $20 during my last grocery store visit – compared to normal retail prices – for about thirty minutes of extra effort at the breakfast table, cutting coupons and putting together the grocery list. That $20 doesn’t include the fact that the grocery list kept me on task at the store, helping me find items I actually needed and ignore items I don’t. That’s a worthwhile frugal activity, in my opinion.

Written by Leisureguy

18 January 2008 at 3:11 pm

Posted in Daily life

Even more freeware

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Take a look.

Written by Leisureguy

18 January 2008 at 3:06 pm

Posted in Software

Back from blood donation

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Two units, 40 minutes: once every 4 months. Not bad, and very much appreciated. And it’s free! If you haven’t given blood, think about it.

Written by Leisureguy

18 January 2008 at 2:59 pm

Posted in Daily life

More freeware

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14 freeware, to be exact.

Written by Leisureguy

18 January 2008 at 11:46 am

Posted in Software

White House lying

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From Dan Froomkin today:

Responding to reports that the White House may have destroyed millions of e-mails in violation of public records laws, White House spokesman Tony Fratto went before the press corps yesterday to say: What missing e-mails?

“We have no reason to believe that any e-mail at all are missing,” Fratto said.But Henry Waxman ain’t buying.

Last night, the persistent chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee let loose with a double-barreled blast of Congressional truth-squadding.

He disclosed that the White House told his committee investigators last fall that there were almost 500 days on which e-mails weren’t archived for certain White House offices. And he demanded an explanation:

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Leisureguy

18 January 2008 at 10:38 am

Miso, tahini, and nut paste for broiled veggies

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This looks very good:

I’m always looking out for interesting vegan sources of protein, and I think this one is really a winner. It’s a rich paste that contains miso, walnuts, and tahini – three terrific protein-rich foods. But never mind the nutrition aspect – it tastes terrific! Even the confirmed omnivore in our house loves it. It is a wonderful topping for firm, sweet root vegetables like sweet potatoes, squash, turnips and so on. I’ve used it as a topping for carrots here. It looks rather meaty in a bento box, and is quite filling too.

I found the original in a cookbook from an author I am currently in love with, Yumiko Kano, called Saisai Gohan (Vegetable Meals), a book that I’ve mentioned before.

I did alter the recipe a little bit: I found the original version a bit too salty, so I reduced the amount of miso proportionately. I used tahini instead of toasted sesame, to give it a slightly more pasty texture to compensate for the reduced miso.

Choose a fairly low-salt miso for this if you can. I used a genmai miso (brown rice miso) which has a little texture and extra flavors. Gluten sensitive people can make this gluten-free by choosing the appropriate miso.

It keeps for about a week or so in the refrigerator, or longer well wrapped in the freezer. It’s a great bento staple to have around.

Miso, tahini and walnut paste

  • 4 Tbs. miso
  • 4 Tbs. tahini or other sesame seed paste (in Japan use nerigoma, 練りごま)
  • 4 to 5 Tbs. of finely chopped walnuts (I find it’s about 4 whole kernels per tablespoon. You could also use pecans or almonds.)
  • 2 Tbs. of the white part of a leek, finely chopped
  • 1 Tbs. of finely chopped fresh ginger

You can do the chopping part the easiest in a food processor, especially if you have a small bowl or ‘baby food’ attachment. Otherwise, do the chopping by hand.

Combine all the ingredients well. Store well covered in the refrigerator for up to a week, or divide into small portions (about a tablespoon) and freeze.

Baked carrot slices with miso, tahini and walnut paste

  • 1 to 2 tablespoons of the miso-nut paste
  • About 10-12 1 cm / 1/2 inch thick carrot slices from the wide part of the carrot (you can save the tapered end parts for another dish)
  • A drizzle of olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 220°C / 430 °F.

Put the carrot slices on a baking sheet. Drizzle with a little olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Bake for about 15 minutes until the carrots are tender.

Spread the miso paste over the carrots. Bake for an additional 10 minutes or so until the tops are browned.

This can be made in advance, and keeps pretty well in the refrigerator for a few days. You can make it in quantity if you like and freeze it too. The best way to defrost them is to nuke them for a few minutes then pop them in a toaster oven for a couple of minutes. Alternatively, you can use precooked or frozen vegetables, put the paste on top, and broil in the toaster oven – though baking the vegetables really brings out their sweetness the best.

You can use winter squash, sweet potatoes, turnips, rutabagas, and other root vegetables instead of the carrots. Potatoes might be ok too but I prefer to use a vegetable with a little sweetness.

For a spicy variation you can use kochujang or spicy Korean bean paste, which is described in detail here.

Written by Leisureguy

18 January 2008 at 9:16 am

Posted in Food, Recipes & Cooking

Coffee for a social good

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The Eldest sent me a note today about the Thanksgiving Coffee Company:

Founded in 1972 by Joan and Paul Katzeff, Thanksgiving Coffee has long been a pioneer in transforming the coffee business. Our philosophy blends business and politics; our goal is to be a force for change in support of social and economic justice, and environmental sustainability.

Our commitment to total quality imagines trading relationships that empower farmers to produce incredible coffee, and also connects coffee drinkers with the knowledge that they can change the world through their coffee purchases. Thus, our site serves as a wealth of information on topics such as shade grown coffee, fair trade coffee, organic farming, as well as being a great place to learn about and buy our coffee.

The note from The Eldest included comments by a friend:

I recommend buying from A Just Cup from Thanksgiving Coffee Company. They offer a Mirembe Kawomera dark roast blend from Uganda. [You can also specify Light Roast when you order. – LG] From the website: “A sweet, nutty coffee from Uganda with notes of pecan and nutmeg, grown by an amazing and unique cooperative consisting of Jewish, Muslim, and Christian coffee farmers.” …  I’m a coffee snob, and do not like to waste my caffeine intake on low-quality. This is the best coffee that I’ve had.

Written by Leisureguy

18 January 2008 at 9:13 am

Posted in Caffeine

Ylang ylang to start the day

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A very fragrant and thick lather from Mama Bear’s Ylang Ylang shaving soap, brought forth with the Simpsons Persian Jar 2 Super. The trick with the glycerine soaps is to be sure that you get enough soap on the brush to begin with—and I know the trick.

I went back to the Georgian with the Zorrik and got a very pleasant shave, and topped it off with the Swiss Pitralon aftershave. And the laundry’s in the washer, the coffee’s in the cup, and the bird’s on the wing. A sunny spectacular day.

Written by Leisureguy

18 January 2008 at 9:05 am

Posted in Shaving

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