Thursday, December 9, 2010


It breaks my heart when I go to the garden section of a store only to find that the plants are being neglected and left for dead on the shelves. Back in the spring I stumbled upon some sweet potato plants that hadn't been watered and were drying out in the hot Florida sun. After already having previously purchased 3 tomato, 3 pepper, 1 okra, 1 zucchini, 1 cucumber, basil, oregano, cilantro, rosemary, lavendar and thyme plants and the pots to grow them in (I don't have an actual garden, but a little patio garden), Matt made me promise that I would put a stop to my newly formed obsession. This was partly due to the amount of money I had spent but more because our patio was slowly turning into a miniature jungle. Anyway, I had already made my way into the garden section... And in front of me were the helpless sweet potato plants that were limp from the lack of watering. How was I supposed to walk out of the store without taking one with me? So I purchased a dying plant for about three dollars, a large pot for fifteen dollars, two bags of organic soil for ten dollars and drove home excited to transfer my little plant into it's new home hoping that Matt would understand why I had to do what I had to do. Of course, like always, he did.
My sweet potato plant had become very large with curly vines and a few pretty purple flowers. As it got colder the leaves began to die and I knew it was about time for harvest. I wasn't really sure what to expect. Afterall, their home was just a pot.

I turned the pot upside down and to my surprise and extreme delight there were lots of potatoes protruding from the soil.

Because of the lack of space, some potatoes were tangled together but they were all healthy and good to eat. I think I must have harvested about five pounds of potatoes.

Matt cleaned, roasted and pureed the sweet potatoes which he then turned into a healthy delicious soup (recipe to come soon).

Sometimes you just never know what a little plant might do for you.

Thursday, December 2, 2010


Yesterday I started, what I like to call, the CVS challenge. Using the CVS rewards system and by clipping coupons, I am setting a goal to use no more than $5 a month on toiletries (shampoo, conditioner, tp, lotion, contact solution...) for two people. Contrary to popular belief, I am not going to ration out toilet paper squares or anything else for that matter. I'm just going to shop smart and make the system work for me a little.

Here is how I am doing this.

1) First things first. Sign up for a CVS card and register it online. You can get a card in the store. Its not a credit card and it won't cost you anything.

2) Buy the Sunday newspaper to receive their sales flyer as well as manufacturer's coupons.

3) In the flyer you will see certain items that generate "extra bucks". This means that you will purchase the item for full price but at checkout the extra bucks will print out with your receipt. "Extra bucks" is like real money except that they have an expiration date (use within a month).

For example: Yesterday I purchased a name brand contact solution for $9.99 and I received $9.99 in extra bucks. I can use those extra bucks to buy anything in the store, which basically means that I received the contact solution for free. Big deal right? Generic contact solution is $2 at Walmart, so why go through all the trouble? Here's why.

4) With my extra bucks I am going to purchase more items that generate MORE extra bucks. With those extra bucks I'm going to purchase more items that generate MORE extra bucks... And you get the idea.

Of course, nothing is that simple and here is where the challenge lies.

The contact solution that I paid $9.99 for and that generated $9.99 ECB (Extra Care Bucks) was the only item in the flyer that matched the amount of money you got back with what you spent. There are, however, plenty of items that give you back ECBs... But its more like getting $2 in ECBs for a $6 item.

For example: Yesterday I purchased 12.6 oz Pantene conditioner ($3.33) and a hair styling product ($3.49). This purchase generated $2 ECBs. Again, what's the big deal? I still have to pay quite a bit out of pocket, right? Well, not necessarily.

5) This is why you clip coupons. In last month's paper there was a buy one Pantene product get one (around the same value) free. So I purchased two products for $3.49, which is a good deal within itself and then I generated $2 ECBs. Essentially I paid $1.49 for the conditioner and hair mousse. You couldn't get two travel sizes for that little.

So now I have $12 ECBs to use towards my next purchase. I also have a coupon (which you receive when you first sign up for the CVS card) for $4 off a $20 purchase. On my next shopping trip I will spend $4 out of my own pocket for $20 worth of merchandise. I will have to find the best deals that will generate the most amount of ECBs to keep things rolling. If I can manage this, I will hopefully accomplish my goal of spending $5 or less a month for toiletries.

I will keep you all updated on my progress as well as where to find the best deals.

Monday, June 21, 2010


A couple of months ago we received a Cuisinart blender/food processor from Matt's mom. It is a remarkable piece of equipment and is the second most frequently used item in the kitchen, the first being the coffee maker. It is pretty amazing the things that you can make with it, a lot of which I hope to write about in future blogs. But first things first. Smoothies.

Why purchase a smoothie from a coffee or smoothie shop when you can make them yourself?

Not only do coffee house smoothies cost about $4 for a 16 oz cup, in most cases they are loaded with sugar and other weird things that aren't naturally found on this earth. Smoothies can be a really healthy, filling way to start off your day if you make them right. To me, it also feels like I'm having a little treat... Especially if you throw a little coconut rum in there on your days off from work.

Purchase ingredients that are in season and a home-made smoothie can be fairly cheap. The smoothies I make run me about $1.20 for a 16 oz portion. The riper the fruit, the sweeter the smoothie will be. Sometimes you can find over-ripe bananas (perfect for smoothies) for $0.25 a pound. That will cut the cost of the smoothies significantly because the bananas I purchased cost $0.70 per pound. Bananas can also be frozen if you happen to buy a bunch of them on sale.

Here is what I typically put in my smoothies...

Makes about two 12 oz cups

16 oz cup full of ice cubes
1 cup orange juice
1/2 cup blueberries
4 or 5 medium-sized strawberries
1 banana
squeeze of honey

Blend until the consistency is smooth (Use the ice crush option if it is available). If it is too thin, add more ice. If it is too thick, add more juice. If you want a creamier smoothie, add a little yogurt or milk. If you want to catch a buzz, add some rum. You can change up the fruit, the juice, add protein powder... The possibilities are endless.


Once upon a time there was a young girl who had a dream of going to cooking school. Ten years later, after community college and a short career in the Air Force, she realized this dream and attended the school she had always hoped of getting into. During this time, she met a boy, whom she fell in love with and they moved to Colorado. One year later, for reasons that will be left unexplained, they left Colorado and moved to Florida. There they worked at a hotel, the boy as a cook and the girl as a pastry cook. They settled into a colorful upstairs apartment with an ocean view along with their two goldfish, Harriet and Lloyd. Together they cooked, gardened and had fun.
And the girl decided to blog about it.


My boyfriend Matt.

Our home on the second story of a little beach house.

Harriet and Lloyd, the goldfish. Harriet seems to think that she is a conch.

The humble patio garden.