Friday, October 31, 2008

Food Product Packaging Getting Chintzy! Tips For Saving A Buck!

Today I picked out a snack pack of Peanut M & M's from the treat bowl for our Trick or Treater's tonight, to find only five M & M"s. I've always had the notion you get what you pay for, but now you pay more and get much less! I have to say truthfully the other snack packs of M & M's contain a couple more between 7 & 8. The candy bars are now bite size, which takes only two bites to eat one!

Back in my day, we couldn't wait to get home Holloween night to count our stash of Hershey Bars. Our Halloween bags almost ripping or tearing from the weight of the precious cargo within. My two sisters and I would stretch our candy loot, covering most of the living room carpet. We usually ended up having about the same amount of Hershey bars! The average size of a Hershey bar then around 1.2 oz, running about 10 - 15 cents a bar! A 1.55 oz Hershey bar is running about 60 - 99 cents now, and the majority of Trick or Treaters are getting the snack size, which is at least a quarter of the big bar size! So now with the modern day snack size, the kids will need to hit another couple blocks of lighted houses to accumulate a nice stash!

Through the years I've become a devout dark chocolate fan, and at the top of my list is Lindt Dark Chocolate Truffles TO DIE FOR, with Dove dark chocolate coming in second! I guess the snack size is perfect for us weight consious parents. We don't feel too guilty munching on two bites of chocolate to relieve our chocolate fix!

Talk about food prices and packaging, I ran to the local supermarket as I always do every week for my small family. I see lettuce is up to $2.49, celery $3.49, chicken breasts going from 5lbs to 3bls per bag and rising at least $2.00 -$4.00 in price. The price of meat and fruit is sky high, I hope my husband gets a deer this season! Salad is a main course in my household, so these items are a must on my list! I know the price of things, so I've been forced out to other food outlets who are charging less for produce.

No more one stop shopping, I'm spreading my buck around to save a buck. You have to be careful even the dollar stores have higher prices on some items. I know what I buy, and I know the price, so I know first hand if I'm getting a deal or not. These days you have to be a smart comparison shopper. I do prefer to buy cuts of meat at my local supermaket, I just don't like all the meat recalls from other food chainstores. I stock up on every meat sale. Look at different ads from different food stores, and compare prices. I'll travel an extra couple miles for a bargain to stock up on an item! I also stock up on store brand name merchandise, which is sometimes half the price of brand name products.

As a consumer, I hate paying more, and getting less. Businesses are hurting and competing for our buck too. This is the reason I won't mention any names, we need all the businesses we can get. Otherwise we won't be able to comparison shop! Big and small businesses are what drive the economy. My husband has a small business which has been slow too. I've seen too many good companies fall, including one I worked for years ago, which is an internet only store now!

Every penny counts in our struggling economy! Gas in our area is down to $2.65. Should we be happy I'm not sure! They always find another reason for gas to go back up! We are learning valuable lessons on how to survive on less, and coming up with new and using old ideas to make our buck go even futher.

Talk about Loot ~ HAPPY HOLLOWEEN!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Autumn PA Destination ~Twin Lakes ~ A Whisker Walk!

Yesterday I met up with my two sisters and nephew, and we drove over to Twin Lakes. Our Humane Society was having their annual Whisker Walk, where canines and felines get all dressed up in Holloween costumes, and parade around the lakes. You can pay a fee to walk with your dog or cat, or get sponsors to sponsor you and your pet. One guy had $500.00 worth of sponsors, which was the highest amount. It was another great Fall day with the dry fallen leaves swirling and crunching beneath our feet. Dogs and cats and their human caregivers gathered at the lower lake, hanging in small groups very mindful of their own space. There were many different full blooded breeds, and mixed ones too! We found a spot right in the center of both lakes, where I took the photo left of the lower lake. You can see the brick walkway to the right where they walked up!

The upper lake was also very picturesque, with the clear water, huge rocks, and beautiful fall treelines. They have a wooden gazebo in the center too, in which the middle is cut out and you can see the fish swimming in the water. Both lakes are stocked with game fish, and many fisherman come here to fish year round. We could see the fish actually jumping up out of the water. The stone walkway goes all around the lakes! Many people walk their animals around the lake, and walk here in general. You can click on any photo in this post to see it enlarged!

I took a few shots of my favorite costumes, as the cuties went by. This is Mattie the Springer Spaniel, wearing a homemade Lion costume sewn by her owner! I'm always amazed at how creative people are. Isn't she just so cute! I think she should've won an award, but she didn't!

A robust boxer dressed in a green dragon costume! He did win a prize, for I think the most unique.

This cutie Labradoodle puppy was dressed as a orange M & M!

Of course the female black labrador retriever dressed as a cow stole my heart. The owner said she would lick me to death, which was exactly the personality my Sampson had. The cute mixed dog had on a shirt that said " I love mailmen," was age 14 like my Delilah. There was no way my Lab could do that long walk!

Sylvester the cat was dressed in a Harley Davidson biker outfit. Sylvester was a shelter cat, I'm sure he was at the same shelter as my OP cat! I never thought to bring him in a cage, the cat is safe from harm this way.

Last but not least was the Peace Bus, lead by two Dashunds, and inside was seated a Chihuahua dog! Awhhhhhhhhh! The sign said "Dashunds for Peace. Loved it! They won first prize for Best over All! All the dogs got special treats at the end! They were all so wonderful, and we enjoyed watching their parade, and the scenic view of the day. Life is too sweet not to enjoy every minute of it!
We're expecting our first snowflakes of the season tonight!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

An Autumn Drive In PA!

We headed back up to the mountain in my husband's dodge panel truck over the weekend. An Autumn drive close to the Laurel Mountains. Visited with my brother-in-law, and of course we were anxious to see how Snoopy dog was doing. Snoopy was my father-in-laws dog, he passed away almost two years ago. Snoopy was only a year old when he died, and a stunning full blooded beagle. We were so in love with him, and kept him many times when my father-in-law was hospitalized. I would often walk Snoopy with Delilah in the woods. He had those long ears, much like the basset hounds I always loved! He had perfect markings, black, brown, and tan. Snoopy also had the high pitched hunting dog howl, especially when he was on a rabbit. The photo to the left taken 3 years ago of Snooy and I. We wanted to keep Snoopy so badly, but he kept jumping on Delilah's back. So we decided it would be best to let him go to my brother-in-law. He is free to run on secluded property, and is living the high life with his new owner. I kissed him madly when I saw him. He's a very happy beagle chasing everything in the woods! Snoopy was elated to see us too!

We left my brother-in-laws house, and started down the mountain. Took some shots right out the front windshield while in motion, because I thought the trees were so gorgeous. The shot above in my header was taken on our way down the mountain. It looks as if the trees go endlessly on! We were hoping to go hiking on the Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail , but the panel truck was running badly when we were on the mountain. We were leaving a cloud of exhaust behind us, so we decided to head homeward bound. Even though our trip was cut short, I still came home with some treasures. My brother-in-law gave me some hot peppers, and fresh grapes from the grapevines he had!

Two days of hard frost over the weekend, killed mostly everything around our area. I didn't bother to cover my flowers. They were pretty much done in, except for my roses, and petunias. I felt it was time to let go of my Summer beauty, and get on with Fall festivities. I'm sure going to miss Summer, it's only been in the upper 40's for highs. Back to jeans, coats, gloves, and hats. Soon the white stuff will be blowing, and I'm already missing the carefree, warm days of Summer!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

An Autumn Walk With My Lab Delilah Dog

We've had a nice run of beautiful weather here in "Steeler Country," so we've been taking full advantage of our Summer like days. Last Saturday we drove up to Fort Ligonier Days and spent half the day looking at crafts. We dined at the First Wok Chinese restaurant, I had shrimp lomein, which I couldn't taste much because I still had my cold! We had a wonderful day out enjoying the sun and all the Autumn sights.

Today another beautiful day, I can say almost like an Indian Summer day. I took my Delilah to our favorite cornfield for a walk, photo above. the farmer alternates between planting corn and soy every year. You can see the trees are starting to change, but colors were more prominent in the mountains when we were in Ligonier . There is a path which goes all around the his cornfield, and down in the center treeline is a creek. A hunter had left deer guts along our path, and of course Delilah was right on it chomping away as fast as she could. The guts were fresh on the ground a couple days ago and were smelling pretty ripe by now. I had to pull her off them, gaging at the foul odor. It's archery season here, and very often we come upon guts and carcuses of deer on our walks in the woods. There are numerous hunters in my area, including female ones!

Delilah couldn't wait to venture out to cool off in the creek water. You can see the leaves were blowing around and floating on top. She doesn't wonder out too far anymore, because her swimming legs are not what they used to be. She swam in our home swimming pool up until last year, she just lost strength in her front paws to pull herself up the ladder. I miss swimming with her. Tears come to my eyes watching her happiness, knowing our time together may come to an end someday in the near future.

Delilah will be 14 years old in January 2009. She was my birthday gift, and my pick of the litter. We had bred our male Sampson with another black Lab Jiggs, and the puppies were beautiful. There were three chocolate Lab pups, but Delilah had the nicest coat and femine face. Delilah is still beautiful with her chocolate and white fur. She has hip dysplasia, arthritus in her paws, and fatty tumors. But she can get around quite well, and she never misses a bite of food we toss to her. Delilah loves her walks, food, and naps more than anything in her world. She's not the lady she once was, she hacks very loudly, pants in constant hotflashes, and she has developed bad manners regressing back to her puppyhood! She likes to steal butter foil wrappers out of the garbage, and drolls big time when you're eating something good. Since she is so old, she gets away with alot of stuff! Delilah is very spoiled and will be until her dying day.

I just had to post this photo of my Sampson and Delilah. We sadly put down Sampson in 2000. He was only 9 1/2 years old. I was devasted to lose my baby. Labrador Retrievers have a lifespan of 10 years. Sampson had the most beautiful coat, onyx shiny black. He had extraordinary puppy dog eyes, with whites underneath which always grabbed at my heart strings. Delilah has his eyes too. They were a pair together, Sampson taught her everything he knew. They ran away together, rolled in cow patties together, rolled in dead animals together, and slept together. We had double trouble with these high strung Labs, but I loved every minute of being with them. I knew when Sampson passed, I would still have Delilah. Now when Delilah goes, all of my Sampson will be gone! Aren't they too cute.? More photos of my Sampson and Delilah can be found on my PassionsFlame site here.

A couple days ago I happened upon another blogger, Maureen ~ water:: earth :: wind :: fire She has a Sam dog too, and her Sam is going to be 20 years old in March 2009. His amazing story is on her site. He looks much like my Sampson did when he reached maturity. What a phenomenal dog, I hope he makes it to 20, and her Sam gives me hope that Delilah may still have some time!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Pennsylvania Puppy Mill Dog Bill H.B. 2525 Is Now Law!!!

We are making great strides regulating Puppy Mills here in Pennsylvania. The signing of the H.B. 2525 Bill by Governor Rendell into law will help to protect these poor sweet animals from suffering at the hands of greedy puppy mill owners.

How excited I am to receive an email from Mike Markarian, Excutive Vice President of The Humane Society of the United States, informing me of the new law! The mass murder of 80 dogs helped bring the dog bill into priority focus, which my story appears here. Along with many animal lovers here in Pennsylvania, I know regulating Puppy Mills is a major step in the right direction. What is crazy to me is that these are full bred dogs, in which people are paying a lot of money for. If they only knew the conditions they come from!

I just wanted to highlight from Mike Markarian's email letter what changes the law will mandate as quoted here;

"Among other provisions, this legislation will double the minimum floor space for primary enclosures and prohibit the use of wire flooring for dogs over the age of 12 weeks. It requires that dogs have access to an exercise area twice the size of their primary enclosure, eliminates the stacking of dogs on top of each other in cages, and mandates veterinary visits at least every six months. While it's a modest step, and there are imperfections in the new law that will require continued vigilance, it will begin to curb the worst abuses of the puppy mill industry and send a message that man's best friend can no longer be treated like a cash crop."

A law all Pennsylvanians can be proud of! There are many more bills such a s Prop 2 Californians For Humane Farms, and others listed here and all through the Humane Society of the United States Site!

Remember don't buy from a dog pet store, and only buy from a reputable breeder. Your local shelter has many wonderful dogs and cats just waiting for your love!

If you supported the dog Bill which is now a LAW, Thank You! The Pennyslyvania Puppy Mill dogs will be forever grateful for your support, and on going support!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Sucky Sick First Cold Of The Season ~ Comfort Foods!

Along with the first frost, I caught my first cold of the season! What started out as sniffles in the beginning of the week, has turned into a full blown cold. Woke up yesterday with a severe sore throat. Today sicker than a dog! The whole body hurts, and my head all stuffed up! My nephews were the first to get sick last week, and passed it down to my whole family! So now's the time for some comfort food!

Today I started off by making a minestrone soup. In the Spring I happened upon Lucy's Blog and she had a recipe for minestrone soup ~ Olive Garden style. I've been making it ever since, and I even make my own vegetable broth. I haven't been able to find the Swansons vegetable broth in my grocery store, so I made my own from scratch with all my fresh vegetables. I froze the extra broth to use as needed. Today was the day! I was also out of spinach, so I used cabbage from the garden. I do love the spinich version though! My soup is lighter because I used my cherry tomatoes, and only used white navy beans. I added parmasan cheese to garnish! Turned out very well, of course my husband asked where's the meat! No meat in this recipe! He had stuffed steak leftovers from yesterday to finish! :)

With the other half of cabbage from the soup, I decided to make Japanese tempura. My Japanese mother Kimiko used to make this for me. I made it for her before she passed away. I think of her everytime I make it! She was so very talented in her presentation, and all her dishes were fabulous. I miss her very much! Today I used cabbage and green pepper, mom always used cabbage and shredded carrot. Mine is just a simple flour recipe, you can find many versions online. I garnished with my sweet peppers and cherry tomatoes. I often call these fritters, because they resemble deep fried foods made all around the world. Fritters here are made with cornmeal too! You can fry just about anything into a fritter, from fruits, vegetables, and even bananas! I always use Canola oil, which has many good benefits, including heart health and low saturated fats. I'll be living on soups and light side dishes for the next few months! Just love them!

I enjoyed both of these dishes for dinner. I haven't lost my taste yet, but fear I will the way this cold progresses. Sucks to be me now! Off to take some meds, and try to get some shuteye! Stay healthy!!!

Monday, October 6, 2008

First Fall Frost ~ Some Late Summer Food Dishes!

Tonight we're expecting our first frost of the season. Bummer! Worried about covering my flowers, but still have some plants in my big vegetable garden. Bell peppers, sweet peppers, and my cherry tomatoes are still coming. Our big tomatoe plants are about done, and the cabbage and pumpkins will hold up for awhile. I'm going to pick the last of the sunflower heads, to dry for snacks.

Evenings have been cold. There was already a slight frost this morn, seems to get colder out here in the country. I remember walking out by the cow fields, last year after the first frost, and noticing a spider frozen in it's web. Funny how mother nature rules the wild!

I thought I would post the last of my easy summer dishes for my food blogger friends. I've frozen much of my garden yield this summer, to consume throughout the winter months.

Our neighbor boats and fishes on Erie lake, and he threw some Walleye filets my way. I baked those babies in the oven tonight, with some fresh garlic, cherry tomatoes, lemon juice, and some breadcrumbs.

I also make a killer shrimp scampi, with butter and garlic sauce. Here I put in some chopped broccoli. I used thin spaghetti instead of linguini, and topped with parmesan cheese. I forgot to use my cheery tomatoes would have been good too!

A past dish I made was stuffed tomatoes and bell peppers. You can use stuffing, and sausage or both. I topped with cheddar cheese. The next time I will wait til the last 5 minutes to put on cheese, which got brown, but was still very good!

Last but not least my sunflower heads were dried in the sun, and I removed the seeds from the heads. I kept one head of small ones to put in my birdfeeder, which the birds went nuts over. I took the remaining bigger seeds, and toasted them in the oven. After toasting I added 1 tbsp of butter to the toasted seeds, and laid them out on paper towels, and sprinkled them with alittle table salt. You can soak them overnight in salt water before roasting, but I hate too much salt. A wonderful low calorie snack to eat at your desk while composing your blogger, with a hot cup of tea or cocoa! Looking forward to warm Fall food dishes! Off to cover the plants!

Friday, October 3, 2008

Fatal Liaison ~ A Love Story ~ Softly Erotic!

Fatal Liaison

The Oyster House Restaurant is where it all began. Jessica Thomas sat at a secluded table enjoying her lunch. She could feel a lingering stare fall upon her. She lifted her eyes and met his gaze across three rows of red checkered round tables. He had attractive dark looks with astounding deep green eyes. They smiled mutually. She suddenly felt flushed looking away, to finish her oyster soup. She jotted down finishing lines for a product campaign . Gathered work notes, flung her purse over her shoulder, and moved toward the cashier to pay the check.

“I couldn’t help but notice you were all by your lonesome,” said a deep voice from behind. “Hi! My name is Ryan Hastings,” Flashing an enticing, pearly smile, eagerly extending his hand.

“Jessica Thomas,” She turned to face him with a smirk and shook his hand. She glanced down discretely noticing he had no wedding band.. From that day forward their rendezvous took place, first for lunch, continuing until they became almost inseparable.

“I promise I’ll get a divorce!,” Ryan relented one evening.

“I can’t believe you never told me,” said Jessica tearfully. “How could you do this to me?”

“We’ve been separated for a year and a half, and Leah won’t sign the papers.” I need more time to convince her.” “ I promise I’ll get her to sign the papers tonight.” Don’t worry babe, I’ll straighten this whole ordeal out.”

Ryan reached over to put his arm around her. Jessica feeling devastated stepped back abruptly, her mascara failing leaving black streaks streaming down her cheeks.

“Don’t touch me, or come back to me until you’re free!” “I refuse to be branded as the other woman.!” she defiantly declared.

“I can’t bear any distance to come between us! pleaded Ryan. Walking steadily toward her, sweeping her swiftly in his arms.

“I love you so much Jess!” He confessed. Glancing down into her huge brown eyes, stroking her long dark brown hair. Unable to resist the urge to press his lips hard against hers., he French kissed her wildly and deeply never wanting to let her go.

She struggled with her dignity, and felt her whole body weaken as his hot breath brushed her right ear, slowly kissing her neck. Her breath quickened, feeling his hand caress her breast, and feeling his desire growing hard against her inner thigh. She arched her body pressing even closer to him.

“Dam him for letting me love him!” Dam him for being irresistible!” Dam him for everything!” Jessica thought.

Both surrendering in the heat of their passion, devouring every inch of each other.

Now he had Jess quietly calmed down, Ryan focused on another important issue. He slipped out of the 2nd floor apartment to head over to the eastside of town. The rain came down in sheets, overflowing the roadway like a river. The weather stations were warning of flash flooding occurring in the area. Ryan hurdled across huge puddles forming on the sidewalks, and dodged soaking wet into the drivers seat. He felt more determined then ever to get Leah’s signature on the divorce papers. He could still smell Jess’s perfume on his shirt collar.

He reached the East End Bridge, and the rain fell heavier yet. He could hardly see through the rain washing over his windshield, but cautiously proceeded to enter the bridge. First accelerating the gas pedal, and realizing he needed to slow down. He jammed on the breaks which caused his Cadillac to spin out of control and hydroplane onto the opposite lane. A gray haired man driving a tow truck frantically beeped his horn, but it was all too late. Ryan was killed instantly in the tremendous impact.

A month later around 2 :00 A.M. Jess pulled her car into the parking lot across from the Oyster House. She couldn’t sleep wanting to feel closer to Ryan, so she drove over to their favorite meeting place. Another storm had hit the city, and the rain fell like the flood of tears flowing from her eyes.

Leah Hastings had claimed Ryan even in death, purchasing a black granite companion headstone. Yet the irony still remained, Jess knew no one could ever claim or take away from her, the unborn child conceived out of their genuine love.

©Jo A. True-Burkholder 2008

Been extremely busy as of late! I had this story brewing for my blogfriend Jo for her prompt on the Word Catalyst! I see she has another one up! Have a great weekend folks!
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