November Gratitude: Appreciation for Technology

The other day, I phoned my local bank to complain about their new online banking interface. Since the change, I’ve found it very user-UNfrendly and wanted to express my views.

Then the recent Saturday Night Live skit kept popping into my head. You know, the one where the tech reporters were confronted/humiliated by the Chinese iPhone peasant workers. It was hilarious and sad at the same time.

The skit exaggerates some recent iPhone complaints (like the iPhone is too thin and too light) – and then brought out the factory workers who proceeded to put the tech reporters in their place, for being so petty.

In case you didn’t see it, here’s a link.

(My favorite line is “hmm, what product does America make? Hmm, does diabetes count?” Classic!)

Anyway, the point of this post is my revelation. Am I so jaded and spoiled that I can’t recognize and appreciate the awesomeness that is online banking?

I can save gas and time, forgoing a trip to a physical bank branch and actually pay bills, transfer money, check my banking balances and view transactions. Why am I complaining???

I got a grip and realized how lucky I am! (haha, I felt bad enough to actually call back the branch and apologize for my rudeness.)

I’m grateful that there are so many wonderful technologies at my disposal, making my life easier! I need to stop and find appreciation in the gifts I’ve been given!

Life is good!

Grateful: Giving Thanks in November

November is the perfect time to give thanks.

I started a separate Gratitude Blog a couple of years ago but I don’t post very often. I figured this month it would be a good to once a day, pause, and feel a moment of gratitude for something wonderful in my life that day or week.

I might not be able to blog every day, but I’m going to set an alarm on my phone for a gratitude moment.

To start off today, I am so very grateful to live in a community with many awesome public libraries that offer free access to as many books that I can handle! I found a new (for me) library in Methuen today, as I was closeby picking up apples at a local farm. The library is beautiful and I found a bunch of wonderful cookbooks to borrow.

Life is good!

Humbled By a Spider

This morning, after a marathon weeding and grass-clipping along the fence near our vegetable garden, I snipped off two branches of grape leaves, so I could perhaps try a new recipe. I left them for a few minutes inside in the workroom, and when I came back later to get them, I picked them up, and noticed a huge H-U-G-E spider moving on the leaf. I immediately screamed and dropped the branches on the floor!

Then I got up my nerve, picked up the branches, praying that I could get them outside without the spider dropping off in the workroom. I tossed the branch on the pile of weeds/grass in the wheel barrow and ran inside to grab my camera. No one would believe how icky and gross this spider was, I needed photos! I mean this spider was like 2-3 inches!

I took lots of photos, at every angle. (Note: If you have a fear of spiders, don’t read any further, as I’m including detailed photos that might be troubling to someone with arachnophobia.)

Continue reading “Humbled By a Spider”

Recycling Bags, Jars, and Other Containers

Today, I found a great article with tips on washing, drying and storing plastic bags.

I created my own drying rack this morning and it works really well! I used a taller glass jar filled with old dried beans (saved in case I wanted to make a pie crust someday! ha!) and 4 metal skewers. See article for details and photo!

Reusing Plastic Baggies

I always try to reuse my plastic zip bags, especially the freezer bags, but there is so much more to do.

How about produce bags from the grocery? I keep a stash of gently-used produce bags along-side my re-usable grocery/shopping bags so I always have a bag ready when I pick out my produce every week.

I’ve also found that it’s easy to also re-use citrus mesh bags for produce as well. Either at the store, or in the fridge to keep veggies like lettuce, celery or carrots fresh. The mesh allows the produce to “breathe” – and you can keep on using them again and again! I usually cut out the UPC barcode to prevent the cashier from accidentally scanning it again.

It’s also helpful to the local farmer if you bring your own produce bags to the farmer’s markets and farm stores. And speaking of farmers, I also try to give back the little berry/tomato pints & elastics so they can re-use for next time. If your local egg farmer wants their egg cartons back, be sure to do that as well.

One more use for older baggies is for your dog walks, especially ones that you don’t feel comfortable using again, like bags containing raw meat or oily substances. We have a little pouch filled with used plastic bags to pick up our dogs’ “business” – works great!

Glass Jars & Bottles

My buddy Angela over at Test Kitchen Tuesday reminded me that it’s also important to reuse glass jars.

I was saving my glass jars, but rarely used them for anything except to pour cooking grease for the trash. I was under the impression that jar covers were retaining the stronger odors, like salsa or jelly. Angela converted me. I’m now re-using my glass jars for storage: dried beans, grains, nuts, coconut, seeds. In the fridge or in the pantry, it all works!

As for retained odors, I have found that good air circulation is very helpful when the jars are empty. Don’t keep the lids tightly on the jar when you aren’t using them.

Glass jars and bottles are also great salad dressing shakers. And if you have too much dressing, you can easily store what’s left in the fridge.

One thing to keep in mind is most glass container lids do contain BPA, so be careful when re-using. I believe that it’s heat that causes the most problems with BPA, but you never can be too careful.

Other Plastic Containers

And one more item I like to reuse is plastic containers, like the ones from the bulk isle at Whole Foods; they’re great for storing dry goods, and also handy at parties when guests want to bring home leftovers. Empty quart-size yogurt containers are excellent for freezing soups and stock.

I like to think I’m a pretty good recycler, but I’m sure there are things I can improve on. I’m working on that.

Does anyone else have any ideas for reusing?

Credit Card Rewards

I’ve been a “smart” credit card user for many years, paying off the whole balance every month. Yeah, there have been some careless errors which might have resulted in a late charge or small amount of interest, but for the most part, I’ve been conscious about never allowing the credit card debt to get carried away. (knock on wood, I’ve been lucky!)

We have a couple of “Freedom” credit cards from Chase Bank, and they offer a sizable 5% rewards bonus on purchases like groceries and gasoline. Every quarter the bonus category changes. Last quarter (Jan – Mar), it was gasoline, now (Apr – June), it’s groceries. The downsides are you must “activate” the bonus during the quarter to receive your 5% bonus and there is $1500 purchase maximum. See Chase FAQ.

Even though I usually spend cash for groceries, I’m now using my credit cards to get the bonus cash back. You won’t believe how quickly the savings can stack up!

Last month, I spent $180+ for gasoline, that amounted to about $10 in bonus points. This month, add another $10 rewards from my groceries. By May, I will have earned almost $110 in rewards! Not too shabby. :) Rocks!

I’ve been a big fan of for a long time. Great products, great prices, and super customer service!

They proved how wonderful they really are the other day when I had an issue with one of my orders.

I went online to check my “Subcribe & Save” order that will ship soon, and I noticed that they reduced my gift card balance instead of charging my credit card. I planned to save that credit for something special, and when I couldn’t change the payment method, I contacted them using the “chat” option.

Long story short, she couldn’t change the payment method either, so she suggested I cancel the order, and re-order, but since the product (Wild Planet tuna) was out of stock, I didn’t want to cancel for fear of losing the whole order. No problem, I figured that I’d keep it as is.

So, I receive a “feedback” email, which I completed. At the end of the survey, there was an option to speak to someone else per phone, so I figured sure, it couldn’t hurt.

Another long story short (haha) I spoke to someone and they couldn’t change it either, but they ended up offering me two options, #1 speak to billing where they could possibly change it, or #2 accept an additional $15 account credit for “my trouble” – YES PLEASE! I took the credit.

So, my tuna order ended up being free! is the best! Looooove them!

Pink Fuel For the Cure From Connecticut’s Standard Oil

Okay, it’s bad enough that Yoplait has a pink ribbon campaign, but I was shocked to see a Connecticut oil company started promoting “Fuel For the Cure” with a pink oil truck.

Come on!

From Standard Oil’s web site:

Standard Oil has pledged $3 for every delivery The Pink Truck makes for the next 12 months. It is our plan to make somewhere between 6,000 and 7,000 deliveries with The Pink Truck and make a donation of approximately $20,000

Hmm, why is it that companies can’t just make a freakin’ donation if they believe in the cause so much? No, they need to drum up sales first, then make a donation. It’s sickening.

And more importantly, how do we really know for sure that the oil refineries aren’t ultimately causing breast cancer?

Yeah, it looks like it has a hand in causing certain blood cancers, along with damaging our kidneys, liver, nervous system and causing blood pressure and blood clotting issues. And if that’s not enough, it’s poisoning our environment.

So, keep up the good work, Standard Oil.

And add one more “pink ribbon” fiasco to the Susan G. Komen organization. Maybe someday you’ll actually find a CURE for cancer with all that money that floats your way! Nah, I doubt it.


Take Care of Our Bodies

Just received this inspirational quote in my email.

Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live.

Jim Rohn
American motivational speaker, 20th century

I wish everyone could realize that their bodies are “temples” to be treasured.

We abuse ourselves with processed crap made by big corporations that only care about profits.

We are destroying our earth and we torture animals for the sake of easy food.

It’s very sad really and it overwhelms me because I do not see us ever wanting to fix it.

I’m Starving! No, You Really Aren’t!

I just read a forum post on and it really hit home.

To use the term “starving” in relation to your diet, as in “OMG, I’m starving, give me dinner!” is so inappropriate!

Google images for “starving child” and the impact should make you think twice about ever using the term “starving” again!

No, we are not starving. There’s plenty of food in the cupboard and fridge. There’s plenty of food down the street on the grocery store shelves. There’s plenty of food in warehouses and trucks around the country. We are NOT starving, the appropriate word is “hungry”.

Silly Comcast Salesman

We get comcast cable salesman at the door about once a month, since we switched to Verizon Fios, which is a whole other story :(

Anyway, the doorbell rings this afternoon, and it’s another salesman with his “Comcast logo shirt”, and a clipboard with all the addresses of non-customers.

I immediately wave him off (without opening the door) and he goes on to say that they are going to be doing some work on my street. I shrugged and said that doesn’t have anything to do with me, since we aren’t customers. He said that he just wanted me to know they were doing work.

Huh? He expects me to believe that they came up to my home, not to sell me their service, but to let me know they are going to do work on my street. Come on! They could have easily just left a flyer or something if THAT were really true!

I think he was just sick of hearing people turn him down, he needed to think of an excuse to say for those that refused to listen, just to make it look good.