Friday, September 30, 2011

Extreme couponing backlash

As I wrote about here and here, extreme couponing has become really popular in the past few years thanks to a reality show and also thanks to the poor economic conditions. However, not everyone is happy about the trend, including other shoppers, cashiers, store managers, and manufacturers. The article below from covers the backlash that extreme couponers are facing. Will the actions of some "crazy couponers" make it harder for the rest of us to use a reasonable amount of coupons on our next shopping trip? It remains to be seen.

Extreme couponing sparks backlash

Sunday, September 25, 2011

My Three Favorite Recipes

My dear friend Badger Girl Learns to Cook tagged me in a blog game (kind of a modern version of a chain letter) where you post the three favorite recipes you've ever shared on your blog. Can you believe I've posted 37 recipes in my 226 blog posts? Here are the three that stand out to me on this crisp fall day.

Slow Cooker Chipotle-Lime Chicken Thighs
A zesty crockpot meal. Now that the weather is getting colder, this recipe is on my "to-make SOON" list.

Eggplant Pizzas
I have fond memories of my mom making this when I was a kid, and the eggplant rounds topped with sauce and cheese are just as tasty now.

Terri's BBQ Green Beans
Best. sidedish. ever. case closed.

The other part of the blog game was to tag other food blogs so they can also list their top three recipes. However, Badger Girl's is the only food blog I read. So go check hers out!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Guthrie Theater's Much Ado about Nothing

David Manis (Don Pedro), Daniel Gerroll (Benedick) and Bill McCallum (Claudio) in the Guthrie Theater's production of William Shakespeare's MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING, directed by Joe Dowling with set design by Riccardo Hernández, costume design by Fabio Toblini and lighting design by Christopher Akerlind. September 10 - November 5, 2011 on the Wurtele Thrust Stage at the Guthrie Theater, Minneapolis. Photo by Michael Brosilow
As I mentioned here, my husband and I had the opportunity to attend the opening night of The Guthrie Theater's new production of Much Ado about Nothing last Friday night. They had an offer of free tickets for bloggers and I jumped at the chance. We are former season ticket holders, but after having a baby and going down to one income, some of our entertainment expenses had to go. Fortunately, we have been able to see a few shows since then thanks to free tickets through my husband's work, and once through Facebook as I mentioned here.

We were excited to attend the show on opening night. The building was abuzz with energy and packed with people. It was fun to be a part of that. When we got our tickets and headed into the Wurtele Thrust theater, we realized they were great seats. Joe Dowling (the artistic director of the Guthrie and director of Much Ado) was only three rows in front of us and we had perfect sight lines to the whole stage.

Unfortunately since I had little time to prepare before seeing the show, I hadn't visited the Guthrie website and read the play guide like I usually do. My husband and I quickly scanned the program notes before the lights went down. A thrifty theatre tip: many theater websites offer background information about the plays being performed, and the Guthrie website specifically has a lot of great resources. They are free and can really improve your experience, as you are aware of the background of the show, historical facts, playwright biography, etc beforehand.

The play is one of Shakespeare's best-loved romantic comedies. The Guthrie has decided to set it in the 1920's, and the music, sets, and costumes reflect that age well. The story centers around two couples, one young, and one middle-aged. The middle-aged couple, Beatrice and Benedick, provide much comedy throughout the show as they are both very sharp-tongued in their critique of the opposite sex as well as of each other. The actors playing those roles had great chemistry, and their scenes together moved briskly and kept us laughing. A memorable scene involved Benedick hiding in an orange grove to overhear a conversation, with hilarious results. Some scenes without those leading characters seemed to drag a bit, but interjections by Don John, the evil illigitimate brother, and Dogberry, the bumbling police officer, helped to keep us engaged in this long (almost 3-hour) production.

At intermission, we completed our usual tradition of sharing a glass of wine and walking out on the Endless Bridge, an amazing archetectural feature of the Guthrie building. We go out there every time we see a show, even in winter when it's below freezing outside. There is a wonderful view of the Stone Arch Bridge and the Mississippi River. The building is open to the public and free self-guided audio tours as well as paid tours are available, a fun and thrifty thing to do any time of year.

As it was opening night, after the show the audience was invited to a reception in the lobby complete with wine, a nice touch to end the (late) evening. Much Ado about Nothing was an enjoyable show, and the atmosphere of the Guthrie Theater added to the evening as usual.

** Disclaimer- I was given two free tickets to the show by the Guthrie Theater's communications department. I was welcome to blog about my experience but did not have to.

Monday, September 19, 2011

More to come...

My weekend got away from me, check back for my promised "Three favorite recipe" and Much Ado about Nothing posts. Until then, here's a post by one of my favorite bloggers about how to make money blogging. Maybe I should start following more of her tips...

The Cynical Girl: How to Make Money as a Blogger

Friday, September 16, 2011

Two firsts in my "blogger life"

It's been an exciting week in the life of this blogger. First, my real-world as well as blog-world friend Badger Girl invited me to participate in a Pick Three Recipes blog game. See an upcoming post this weekend for the three favorite recipes I have shared on this blog thus far.

And secondly, my husband and I are going to opening night of Much Ado About Nothing tonight for FREE just because I'm a blogger. Talk about thrifty! The Guthrie Theater posted a request for local bloggers to contact them with our email addresses and blog url's. Next thing I knew, I got an email from them offering me tickets for tonight. They said I'm welcome to blog, good or bad, about my experience at the show, as long as I share a link to the blog post with them. So, be on the lookout for that post as well.


Sunday, September 11, 2011

Qwik Trip milk in a bag?

Last week, we got a flier in our newspaper from Qwik Trip. They had a great price for milk- $2.18 a gallon. I realized that the small print said that the milk came in a bag?! What was that all about? I looked at the Kwik Trip website and realized that the bags of milk came with a pitcher to store the milk in. I had to try this for myself. When I went to Kwik Trip I found the milk in half gallon bags for $1.09 each.

There were also free plastic pitchers available. To use the milk, you put the bag in the pitcher and cut off a corner. It pours really easily. You then twist the corner down and put it in the fridge. It fits perfectly in the door.

So, if you have Kwik Trip in your area, give their milk in a bag a try. You'll save about 50 cents per gallon and have the novelty of pouring milk on your cereal from a pitcher. While you're at Kwik Trip, you might find some good deals on things like bananas and bread as well.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Thrifty Recipe- Eggplant Pizzas

I was reminded of the value of gardening this weekend at my parents' house. They have a bountiful garden, and it seemed that every meal contained at least a couple items they had grown. Some examples:

- Pickled beets (my favorite)
- Caprese salad with homegrown tomatoes and Thai basil
- Shaved refrigerator pickles made of homegrown cucumbers
- Sliced tomatoes with red wine vinegar and oil and dill

My parents' garden at the beginning of August

They sent us home with an eggplant they had grown and last night I made eggplant pizzas. Here's the recipe:

Eggplant Pizzas

- One medium eggplant
- One stick unsalted butter
- 1-2 cups breadcrumbs
- 1 cup pizza sauce or spaghetti sauce (homemade or jarred)
- 1 cup shredded mozarella

1. Cut off the ends of the eggplant, peel, and slice into half inch thick rounds
2. Melt butter in a shallow dish and put breadcrumbs in another shallow dish. Dip each round in the butter and then in the breadcrumbs, coating all sides with crumbs.
3. Place on a greased cookie sheet or jellyroll pan
4. Spoon sauce onto each round, and spread evenly over top surface, then top with shredded cheese
5. Bake at 450 for 10-12 minutes

They will be really hot, so be sure to allow to cool a bit before eating. I served with buttered angelhair pasta. Our 19 month old daughter at a whole pizza herself.

CSA's (Community supported agriculture) are another way to get fresh produce without the labor of growing it yourself. Of course, it's not so thrifty to get the produce but then let it go to waste! My BFF Badger Girl has a series on her blog outlining recipes and strategies for getting the most out of your CSA. Be sure to check that out if you need more information about CSA's or are looking for recipes.