sarasvati: (persona phone)
I planned earlier in the week to make baked beans for Daniel, because he really likes them. He's not alone, either; I really like them, and the first time I made them I followed no recipe but for the vague instructions you get by practically having Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House series nigh-on memorized.

Doing them differently this time, though. Where I normally add pieces of sausage to the mix (cheap packs of sausages are my friends when I make this stuff), this time Daniel wanted bacon, so bacon we shall have. Not sure how it'll affect the flavour, but here's hoping it'll still be good.

Anyway, by the time I'd filled the casserole dish to go in the oven, I still had way too many boiled beans; I'd put too many on to soak last night! I refuse to waste them, so I've made an impromptu soup. Into the pot with the beans went slices carrots, 1/3 of an onion (chopped, of course), 1.5 tablespoons of freeze-dried garlic pieces, chopped bacon, salt, pepper, a little bit of celery seed, a bay leaf, and some Worcestershire sauce. It smells awesome, and I hope it'll end up tasting just as good, since I've never made anything like this before and didn't bother to check any recipes, instead just throwing things in and judging by taste and smell. Keeping my fingers crossed!

So there's our food right through to Monday, and possibly longer if you count the leftover pea-and-ham soup I made the other day. (Though Daniel informs me that it doesn't microwave very well, which is a shame, but at least it's still edible.)

Total cost of the baked beans and the soup, food which will feed both of us for 3-4 meals each? About $10, I'm guessing. So, somewhere between $1.25 and $1.67 per serving.

And some people say it's too expensive to cook from scratch anymore! I can't find pre-packaged meals that cheap unless they're on sale and heavily discounted, and they're nowhere near as filling, tasty, or healthy as what I just made. Mostly, cooking from scratch costs time, and on Saturdays when Daniel's working and I'm alone in the apartment, I have that to spare. Aside from doing laundry and a little bit of straightening up, I'm not doing anything but reading right now, and most of the time it takes that stuff to cook is time where it can just be left to its own devices while I do other things.

If I'd thought ahead, I'd have made a batch of mint chocolate pinwheel cookies, too, but I only thought of that a moment ago, the oven's now occupied, and Daniel will be home before it'll be free, and I prefer cooking by myself to cooking while somebody else is around. So maybe next time. I don't know when Daniel's next working a Saturday shift, but there's always the chance that he'll be out some night and I can whip up something tasty as a surprise. Like those ham-and-cheese rolls I planned a while ago but never made. Or the sausage that I'm stockpiling bits and pieces of scrap meat for.

Now I wish I had the entire day to myself to spend in the kitchen! But since I don't, I'll just enjoy my remaining alone time and read more of Tabitha Suzuma's Forbidden.
sarasvati: A white lotus flower floating on water. (Default)
I have been incredibly fortunate this ast week, when it's come to groceries. A supermarket near my connecting bus stop has started a Dollar Sale, wherein many of the products it sells are marked down to $1. I couldn't resists stopping by to at least see what they had on sale, and I have, I must say, made out like a freaking bandit!

I made a point of going after work and only getting a few things at a time, no more than I and Daniel could carry home with us on the bus, so we'd save on cab money even if it took us longer to get everything we wanted. But what we did get still astounds me! I've sent around $100 there between Monday and today and come home with around 15 grocery bags full of stuff.

Smoked pork shoulder for $1 a pound. Pork loin roast for $1 a pound. 2 pork souvlaki stick thingies for $1. 3 bars of Ivory soap for $1. 10 pounds of potatoes for $2. Cartons of Egg Beaters, normally between $4-5 a carton, for $1 each - we ended up buying 8 of those. French fries, pasta, jars of spaghetti sauce, fruit snacks, cake, frozen dinners, bagels, tortillas, cans of soup, tubes of toothpaste, nearly all of it for $1, or else incredibly discounted.

The freezer can't hold any more food right now, and it's nearly all filled with meat. I've wished more than once that we had a chest freezer, because I'd get more pork while it's incredibly cheap, and just store it away for when we need it. The cupboard is about full to bursting. The fridge is the only food storage place with any room left in it, and even then it's a tight squeeze.

$100 has bought us enough food to last us for around a month. I'll be spending a little bit more tomorrow, getting some shampoo (not on sale), and some vegetables (carrots, turnip, parsnips if I can get them), and then this weekend I'll get some dried split peas, but other than that, we're pretty well set for food for a good while. Easily until we can afford another grocery order in 3 weeks time. I'm incredibly happy about being able to find so many good deals on so much food, especially when money has turned out to be a bit tighter for us this month than we'd originally budgeted for. This gives us a little leeway, so we're not feeling the pinch quite so much.
sarasvati: A white lotus flower floating on water. (Default)
The holiday season went pretty well. Christmas dinner with my mother was tasty, doubly so because I cooked everything. I did the turkey in Daniel's roaster (count the ways that phrase can be taken...), and did it a little differently than normal, by laying slices of bacon over it so that I didn't have to baste and yet prevent it from drying out. Turns out that the turkey flesh right under the bacon will stay pink (the skin won't, for some reason, though) even though it's cooked, and that turkey-flavoured bacon tastes as good as bacon-flavoured turkey! Must remember to roast turkey that way again.

Then it was off to my father's rented place to hang out and, of all things, get him interested in Gackt. Turns out he's getting into visual kei, and recommended a few J-rock bands to me. This may well be bizarro world...

He sent me home with plenty of food that he wouldn't be able to eat before he had to hit the road again, and some good memories.

Oh yeah, and a brand new freaking Kindle!

Now, as much as I am not fond of Amazon playing the moral police and didn't particularly want to support them at the risk of losing my library, I'm still not going to look a gift Kindle in the mouth. That thing's pretty awesome, especially because I can transfer .pdf files via USB, and I get a lot of my review copies of books via .pdf. I can also send the books I get through NetGalley to it, too, and that'll really help me with getting through my backlog. Before, I was only able to read those books at my laptop, and considering I get around 2 hours a day at my computer now thanks to work, it was pretty slow going. But I'm allowed to use the Kindle at work in between calls, so it'll help out a lot.

I've got my goal to read 100 books in 2011. I'm sure I can make it with the Kindle's help.

I also got a $100 gift certificate to, from my mother. I'm sure they intended me to spend that on e-books for the Kindle, but frankly, I knew I was going to have an easier time spending that money on other books I wanted, some that don't have a digital edition. I used that, plus $45 in money that I got via Swagbucks, to make a huge order.

Well, I say huge, but it's not excessive. It's only 11 books, and while I don't relish carrying the package home from the post office, I'll squee with joy when they get here, because they're all books I've been wanting to read for a good while now.

New Year's celebrations were nonexistant, unless you count being really happy that Daniel got a 4-day weekend and I got a 3-day one. We've spent the time bumming around and playing video games, but it's been so wonderful to have a little extra time off!

Shame we both happened to be sick through it, Daniel moreso than me, but as I like to think, it's better to be sick on your days off than on days that we have to work. It sucks to be sick on downtime, but I'd rather be sick then, when I can stay in bed and rest up, than be sick when I have to drag my sorry butt out of bed and go suffer through a 9-hour shift at a call centre.

Speaking of work, it's getting very well known that I'm seeking a promotion, and I've got people in positions of seniority encouraging me to keep pushing for one. This is one of the first jobs where I've sought a promotion for fervently, and where it means a lot to me. In other jobs, I didn't want to be stuck in an entry-level position forever, but I only applied half-heartedly for other positions. Here, I know I can do the work, I'm taking on extra duties and assisting supervisors and helping agents, and I'm making my intent known. I want to move up, I'm capable, so I'm not going to stop until I get something.

Or until some other job recognizes that I can do it and offers me a better position there. Either way, I win. I don't want to have to go through the hassle of getting a new job, though, because as much as there have been problems with this job, I'm already almost through my probationary period here, and I don't want to have to start from scratch somewhere else.
sarasvati: A white lotus flower floating on water. (Default)
If there was any lingering delusion that autumn wasn't here already, it got blown away this morning, when the temperature dipped as low as it's been thus far: a mere 5 degrees Celcius. The nights are cold enough to really make me appreciative of a nice thick blanket or comforter. The afternoons are warmer, but there's still that particular kind of chill on the breeze that makes you shiver no matter how warm the sunshine.

With that all in mind, I bundled up this morning when I walked my daily three miles.

Well, I say "daily", but I've actually been slack on my walking goals over the weekend. Partly because I spent a good deal of Saturday hanging out with Cass, and Sunday was a day pretty much devoted to staying indoors and watching Rei play Ocarina of Time, watching a movie, and then curling up in bed with old episodes of Ranma 1/2 to keep us company. We did go out, but it was a short walk (a little less than 2 miles) to get some cake.

Tomorrow's going to contain a lot of walking, I'm sure. Not only will I have to walk uptown to get rent money from my bank account (1.5 miles), but then I'll walk from there to the north end (about 2 miles, I'm estimating) to pick up a few groceries, and then home again (1 mile). That's more walking than I normally do, but it all needs to be done, and it'll help me catch up on my weekly goal for HealthMonth. I haven't been doing too badly with those goals, but this weekend's slackness did put me a bit behind schedule, so I'm glad to have a good excuse to make up for that.

Fortunately, that should only take me a couple of hours, so if I leave early enough, I'll still have time to come home and make another batch of baked beans for supper. I want to make some multigrain bread, too, but I'm not sure if I'll leave that until Wednesday, to give me something specific to do on that day. I know I want to make a loaf of bread, and I also thought that using some leftover sausages to make some little sausage-and-cheese buns would be nice, too. Nicely portable, good warm or cold, and handy for Rei to take for lunch if he likes them enough.

Maybe on Thursday I'll try to scrub the rust off the muffin tins (they got rusty thanks to a ceiling leak in the kitchen, and I haven't had the patience to scrub them clean yet) and then make a batch of honey bran muffins for snacks. I might see if Cass's offer to give me some old bananas is still good, and make a loaf of banana bread too, just for fun. I've never made it before, but I do like eating it!

And with the exception of the cheese for the buns, all of these delicious things can be made with what's still in the kitchen, so I don't need to go and waste the little grocery money I have on buying a bunch of ingredients. It makes me feel good to know that I can make so many tasty things without needing to spend a lot of money on them. It just takes a bit of creativity and patience, and I'm learning more how to channel creativity into food and to be more patient with it and myself when I make mistakes. Cooking is good for me in many ways!

Today the only cooking I'll do will be to add another few potatoes and carrots to the leftovers of the turkey-vegetable stew, and some water. I ended up putting too much salt in when I first made it, and adding more vegetables and water to it will end up balancing that out quite nicely, and making the stew last longer. And since we still have plenty of potatoes and carrots in, this gives me a good chance to use them up before they go off.

Oh, for another icon spot so I can add a "Happy Domestic" icon. :p I know that when I get a job again, I'll be buying a paid account here. I really like Dreamwidth, as it's much more like what LJ was before they started to care more about money than pleasing their userbase, and I want to support them where and when I can. Just have to wait until then.

I've managed to keep up both a good amount of reading and writing since the beginning of the month, too, which bodes well for NaNo. I was worried for a while as to whether I could manage to keep pace with my NaNo writing as well as keep reading a good amount for my bookblog, but if this month is any indicator so far, it shouldn't be too big a problem. Even if I end up getting a job next month, so long as I stick to hard copies of books (rather than e-books, I mean) and read over my lunch and breaks as well as during the trip there, I should be just fine.

Making sure I write 1000 words a day this month is also a good warm-up for NaNo. I've been working again on Fractured. I'm only about halfway to where I was when I had to reinstall my operating system and lost everything, but it's going a bit better this time, with the plot and the flow of events, that I don't mind being a little slow with it.

Speaking of NaNo, though, I really ought to devote some time soon to planning out this year's project. I know what I want to write, but I thought that this year I'd actually do more advance work and create a chapter outline plan, so that things flow better and that I have more of an idea of what I'm doing if I end up, say, writing at work. In the past, when I worked in call centres in November, I'd have time to write some in between calls. But given that my main work was at home, I'd often end up starting what I knew I wanted to be the next chapter, whether or not I was done with the previous one. This led to me coming home, updating my writing file, finishing what hadn't been finished of the previous chapter, and trying to finish whatever hadn't been done of the chapter I'd started at work. Things got disjointed easily, phrases got reused far too often, and the whole thing felt like a mess. I didn't enjoy writing that way at all, even though it was a good way to boost my wordcount. So this year I'll do more planning and hopefully be able to avoid such situations in the future.

Of course, if I don't end up getting a job by November, this year may be a repeat of last year, where I met my 50k wordcount goal a little less than halfway through the money, and then couldn't keep myself motivated to write any more even though the story wasn't finished. Chapter outlines will hopefully prevent that from happening again too!
sarasvati: A white lotus flower floating on water. (Default)
The building is still shaking. I was hoping that the deconstruction people would take the weekend off and leave me with a few days of stability, but I suppose they couldn't just leave huge piles of rubble there for two days. For one thing, the rubble is nearly blocking off the only entrance to the lowest apartment in the building. I pity them for having to pick their way around broken wood and glass shards in order to get to and from their home.

Rumour has it that the fire marshall told them they couldn't tear down that building in the way that they ended up doing, since it was so close to a lot of homes and would be a fire and damage hazard. Either they went ahead without approval, or argued the fire marshall down, I don't know. I'd say that they probably argued him down by saying that leaving the building standing would be an even greater fire hazard, but quite honestly, that building's been unoccupied and boarded up for the better part of a decade now, and there were no fires in that that thing during that whole period.

I admit I'm glad to see it come down, in a sense. It's been standing abandonned for so long, and had started to come apart anyway. But what really makes me uneasy about the whole thing is that they first had to clear it out before tearing it down. I don't just mean getting rid of any fridges and stoves that may have come with the apartments in the first place. I mean removing couches, beds, and even toys. It was like everyone got evicted overnight and weren't allowed to get their stuff. I'm sure there are some situations that might warrant that, but I can't imagine what they would be. I know if I was told to get out of my apartment and not come back, and no I didn't have time to move all my belongings, I'd be kicking up one hell of a fuss and wouldn't let it go without a fight.

Very strange.

But since the shaking can't stop me from getting done what I need to do, I've already washed a load of dishes, will wash the other load later, and I plan to make a vegetable stew for tomorrow's supper. (Tonight Rei and I are going to a friend's place for good food and company.) We have carrots, potatoes, and parsnips that need to be used up, and some onion and garlic that will add a nice flavour. I'm tempted to tweak the recipe and throw in the leftover bits of turkey that are still in the fridge, which will make it not-a-vegetable stew, but the turkey does need to be used up soon and this would be a good way to do it.

We've still got a lot of potatoes that need to be used up soon, too, so I'm tempted to experiment with dehydrating them. That way they won't go to waste, and next time we fancy mashed potatoes we won't have to go spend money on buying a new bag.

Of course, I haven't dehydrated anything just using the oven before, so it'll be an adventure. I'll probably try that on Monday, and make that day a kitchen day or something. If I'm not cleaning, I'll be cooking. It'll be the day before my EI money comes through, too, so it'll be a good time to take stock of everything that's in the kitchen, use up what I can before it goes bad, throw out what I can't use (or get stuff together to donate if it's still good but I can no longer tolerate eating it), and make sure I don't waste any of the money I get. I may find enough food to be able to put off grocery shopping for another week, if I'm a little creative with what I make.

Rei and I have been amusing ourselves at night by watching a few episodes of Ranma 1/2 before bed. I'd watched some of it before, at the old anime club I used to belong to in high school, but the club was disorganized and would pretty much just show random episodes from random anime, with no continuity at all. Thus I hadn't actually seen much, and had never seen the beginning. It's fun to take a bit of a nostalgia trip and watch really old stuff every once in a while.

And as a last piece of news, I have a job interview tomorrow morning. Yes, on a Sunday. It's a little unusual, but I guess it's the only time that was available, and I don't mind things being a little unorthodox. The interview's for a job as a night auditor in a hotel I'm actually rather fond of and would enjoy working for, so once more, my fingers are crossed and I'm hoping that they want to hire me.

Ah, let me be very specific here. I'm hoping that they want to hire me and don't demand ridiculous forms of identification in order to do so. I've already had that headache, and I don't fancy reliving it. I have enough rent money now for a few months (thank you, very old tax returns!), but the sooner I get a stable job, the better!
sarasvati: Greyscale image of Sae, from Hidamari Sketch (happy)
I feel much better, emotionally, than I have these past few days. My stomach's still playing hell with me, but that's practically par for the course, and I tolerate that as best I can while still going about doing the things that need to be done.

I decided last night to have another experiment in cooking, and so put some beans on to soak overnight. Boiled them today, then baked them in a mix of tomato soup, water, and a bit of pepper, with some Italian breakfast sausages mixed in. The sausages had been sitting in the freezer for a while, and since I couldn't refreeze them after thawing them, I just fried up the rest to grab as quick snacks or for breakfast or something.

The baked beans turned out awesomely, considering I hadn't made them before and didn't follow a recipe. I knew that normally people add bacon or pork along with molasses in baked beans, but since I don't like molasses we don't keep any in the kitchen, and we don't have bacon or pork right now, the sausages seemed like a good way to add some flavour. And I'm happy with the result.

Next time I make baked beans, though, won't be until winter. Seeing as how the range needs to be on for an hour and the oven itself on for 3 or 4, and the beans themselves are full of protein and fibre, they're best saved for a time when the apartment needs to be heated and we need things to warm us from the inside too.

Skinless boneless chicken breasts were on sale today, too, at less than half their normal price, so I picked up a package of 6. 2 will go into a chicken-and-rice casserole later in the week, and the others will probably be used when Rei makes his famous Cantonese chicken.

Must remember to buy another bag of potatoes soon, so I can experiment making croquettes.

The more I cook, the more I want to cook. If we could only have a bigger budget (meaning, if I can only get a job soon), then I can cook more often and make better things, and no doubt the variety of healthy (or healthy-ish) foods will help our health improve, and give me something fun to do!

Am I turning domestic again? Why yes, yes I am! And I'm loving it, too!

Maybe tomorrow I'll try cleaning the muffin pan again so I can make those honey-bran muffins I've been planning...
sarasvati: A white lotus flower floating on water. (Default)
The latest issue of Piecework arrived yesterday, and I enjoyed reading it. Aside from an interesting biography of Herbert Niebling, it also rekindled my interest in tatted lace. I still regret that I lost my tatting shuttle so soon after buying it. I didn't even get a chance to use it before it went missing. I'm sure I'll be able to find another one at some point, but they aren't very common anymore, so I might have to look around for a while.

The weather has been lousy lately, very damp and grey and chilly, but I've still been making an effort to go for a walk each day. Today's walk won't be until much later, since I plan to pick up some groceries before meeting Rei after work, so I have about 5 hours before I need to even think about going anywhere. Plenty of time for tea and anime yet.

I am, though, thinking about the delicious things I can bring home tonight. Bread, because I'm feeling lazy and don't feel like making any of my own right now. Late at night the grocery store tends to mark down their whole cooked chickens and hams, so one of each of those will be nice, and I can get each for under $10. A few vegetables to add to the still large pile of packets of ramen, so that we can get some nutrients along with something filling. I can pick up enough food to last us for a week or more in less than $50, and I'm even splurging a little to get the chicken and ham, which I may not normally buy.

The chicken will be good for sandwiches as well as providing some scraps to add to the ramen, and the bones and skin and pieces of meat that are too small to do anything else with will go in a pot and become chicken stock for soup. If the ham hasn't been deboned, I'll probably use that bone and scraps for the same thing, to make the food stretch a little further.

I do so love frugal tasty meals.

I'm hoping to hear back from the job I interviewed for on Tuesday. Since it's at a store that does a small of small loans and deals with private financial information, they ran a criminal background check on me, which is perfectly understandable. Rei thinks that they're strongly considering hiring me, since they took my information for the check (including copies of my photo ID) at the interview itself, and he reckons that if they weren't considering me seriously for the position, they wouldn't waste time running a check or taking my ID. It makes sense, and I really hope he's right, since that job has decent hours and fairly good pay, much better than what I was expecting. Not the kind of job that could change my life around entirely, the way some others that I applied for could, but it would still do a lot to help me.

[Edit] - Of course, the grocery store didn't have whole roasted chickens or any ham, so I had to do without that. I'll go back tomorrow to see if they have any then, and to pick up some of the drinks they have on sale. 99 cents is a good price for almost a litre of apple green tea!


sarasvati: A white lotus flower floating on water. (Default)

August 2011

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