Saturday, December 31, 2011

Year End Wrap Up

Husband installing the Chimney Liner - not for the timid.
2011 was a year of refining my quest to save dollars while earning a little on the side.  Couponing and deal searching saved me $2,700.00.  It's often hard to keep track of each penny so I can estimate that my savings were probably closer to $3,000.  Toss in several do-it-yourself projects (we installed our own flexible chimney liner and built a Chicken Coop) and we saved $1,000 more.  My Etsy business grew last year and I've gotten the hang of selling.  I sold nearly 100 pairs of vintage eyewear that previously belonged to my father and nearly 50 other vintage items.  This little side business is my way of trying to preserve what little savings I have remaining from years of employment.

Amazing Ginko at the UVA Rotunda.

Last year was also a time to take blogging seriously and I made it through an entire year and 101 posts!  I almost reached 10,000 readers checking out my Forsythia Hill Finds blog!   I also started a separate blog on tumblr to create a visual log of some of my photography.  I have nearly 3,500 followers.

Next year I will continue couponing even though I am finding it a bit harder to get those super deals of early 2011.  Grocery stores have somewhat changed their strategy to make it more difficult to super save.  I'm going to have to do a better job of stocking up - not stockpiling - but stocking up essentials so I don't have to ever pay full price.  I did a good job last year of not buying non-essentials.  My goals are to continue selling items I no longer use and of course to discover and sell vintage.  I'll be seriously clearing out my parents belongings so interesting vintage will pop up in my etsy store.

Pretty sky over Forsythia Hill.
Our biggest expenses are fuel and food.  My mother taught me the Kroger savings trick of buying gift cards for places I shop (like Target) when Krogers offers 4X the fuel points.  This will give you FREE greater fuel savings at the pump. We have a wood stove and chop our own wood to help reduce our electric bill.  I also don't drive the car everyday and combine shopping tasks - always making several stops to save gas.  My husband works from home one day a week which saves a little on fuel.  It's going to be hard to shave the fuel bill down any more.  Hopefully we'll see some food savings this year due to my improved couponing skills - practice really does help concerning nailing down couponing.

Our sweet shy yellow tabby Cesar.
We were relieved to not have any pet deaths in 2011 given the prior year we lost 2 dear pets.  We acquired our six hens that are so fun to have around.  This will be our third Spring on Forsythia Hill and I am eager to transplant some perennial plants now that they have grown a bit and put them in more permanent spots.  There is nothing like a dark cold winter to get your gardening blood moving.  Little Red Kale plants are coming along and by early Spring I'll be harvesting!  Fingers crossed that the Muscadine Grape plant that I purchased this Winter survives.

See you on "the other side" --- HAPPY NEW YEAR!


Monday, December 12, 2011

Gingerbread Express and Let There Be Light

Glo-Tribal dance performance at PVCC.
Friday, we attended the annual PVCC Let There Be Light student art show.  It was a freezing cold night but there is always plenty of free Hot Cider and Hot Chocolate to warm us midway around the perimeter of the outside of the campus building.  We also rode a bus in the annual Downtown Business Association Gingerbread Express Holiday light trolley trip. 

This year two refugees went with us.  One refugee had only been here for 4 months and spoke very little English and the other has been in Charlottesville for a year now.  There was little understanding of exactly what they were going to!  My friend Cindy (who adopted a refugee family last year) likes to introduce them to local activities so they will gain a greater understanding of our culture.

Our friends having a laugh over floating marshmallows.
I think the Hot Chocolate was a real surprise for our refugee friends, something neither had tried.  The huge marshmallow was a freak of nature to them, they were not exactly sure what you did with that thing.  Also I think it was super sweet tasting to them (the whipped cream was a bit over the top).  The light sticks were totally new for them and they waved them around for hours.

The light display is always fun and interesting.  Nestled in the woods, hanging in the trees were a series of lighted art creations.  We had to rush through this year because of our pending trolley trip scheduled for 8 pm.

The trolley was actually a 45 minute bus ride through downtown Charlottesville neighborhoods.  There were many oohh's and aaww's.  It was fun to listen to the kids say - that's a dud or scream with delight when a good light show popped into view.  There was a crazy crazy CRAZY Hooville House along the route which made it all well worth the trip - Mountain View St. and Monticello Rd.  Santa came on board for the kids and everyone was happy and having fun until ---------------------------- the kids puked in the seat right in front of us.   Ugh.  Ugh.  Oh gross.  It's been a long time since I've been on a bus with kids, especially with one that puked.  That sorta deflated our spirits and I've never seen so many windows shoot down in my life but now understand why. 

After the bus ride, we went back to the refugees house and had the best meal prepared for us.  A Nepali dish of peas and thin fried bread.  It was a bit hard to swallow at first -- peas and puke certainly don't mix -- but it was so good that all was ok after a few bites.

It was a fun night and you never know what's in store!


Thursday, December 8, 2011

McIntire Botanical Garden Plans

Plans are underway to add a Botanical Garden to McIntire Park.  The park is managed by the city Parks and Recreation and adding the proposed garden to the park requires approval by the Charlottesville City Town Council.  A vote as to the future usage of this space will hopefully be decided in 2012. 

If you think the Botanical Garden is a worthy addition to the City, please attend the next meeting.

The next scheduled meeting is Monday, December 12.

Nice old Oaks on top of the hill on the East side.
Today, I ventured to the park for the first time.  When I moved here two years ago, my first indication of the existence of the park were the posted signs "Save McIntire Park".  For years, there has been a road construction project planned that would slice off part of the Eastern most section and many local residents have fought this decision.  Currently the park is divided down the middle by a railroad track giving it an East section and West.  McIntire Park has long been an enigma for me, probably because I see it as a recreational park and not a place to go and convene with nature.

I discovered that the East section is a large green expanse dotted with magnificant old Oaks and of what used to be a small golf course.  Apparently long defunct, I had the entire 75 acres to myself this cold afternoon.  Still actively used,  and visible from the 250 bypass is the playground and vintage McIntire Wading Pool.   There is also a small sweet Vietnam Memorial.  All of the elements that are still in use will remain.  Wow, talk about a diamond in the rough.  I was pleasantly surprised to find such openness downtown and now understand why the protest to protect this space is still enduring today.  Thankfully, it sounds like the City is open to the proposal to keep this area natural. 

Lovely rose at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden
The proposed McIntire Botanical Garden will be located on the East side section of McIntire Park and feature native plants of the Piedmont Region of Virginia.  Detailed plans encompassing 75 acres have been professionally drafted.  A botanical garden is one that labels plant species.  When I think of gardens that I frequent several come to mind; the Richmond Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, the Roanoke Virginia Western Community Arboretum, the Lynchburg Old City Cemetery, and of course Monticello and the UVA Academical Gardens.   Given the setting is in a City on a hill, it reminded me of the stellar San Francisco Golden Gate Park Botanical Garden.  When I moved here I was a bit stunned that of all the outdoor parks and developed walking trails in the City of Charlottesville, there was not one Botanical Garden or Arboretum.  Sure, walking on natural trails that have not been landscaped is an equally wonderful experience and our Shenandoah National Park is outstanding but a Botanical Garden allows closeup contact with plants that might not always be spotted while hiking along a restricted trail path.  It's a different experience that is equally educational.

After visiting the site, I really can see this space becoming a nature lovers paradise.  There are some wonderful old Oaks, a Southern Magnolia, and Dogwoods.  Little Chickadees were following me around the Vietnam Memorial.  The park will become surrounded by traffic after the Meadow Creek Parkway opens, it will require a nice tree buffer to tone down the noise and that is exactly what this area needs!  The western side, by the railroad tracks, has a nice dense forested area.  I see no detriment of adding a Botanical Garden to McIntire Park.  The park is adjacent to neighborhoods where there are exercise paths, hiking trails, ball fields, a High School and Football Stadium, Condos, the 250 bypass, and Rio Road.  Our natural world is being chipped away with roadways and development.  This might just be the last place in the City for such a garden.

Planning meetings are open to the public.  The next scheduled meeting is Monday, December 12 where attendees will break out into groups and plan the future of the East side of the park!  All area interested gardeners are invited to attend this important meeting to aid in the planning of the area where the proposed Botanical Garden might reside.


Friday, December 2, 2011

What's a Girl To Do

Get out and about and give a little this Holiday Season. 

FRIDAY - December 2

5:30 PM - 7:30 PM - FREE - McGuffey Holiday Show.  Opening reception for local artisans crafts for sale.

SATURDAY - December 3

9 AM - 3 PM - FREE - Earlysville Craft Show at the fire house in Earlysville.

2 PM - 6 PM - FREE - Handmade for the Holidays.  Thomas Jefferson Visitor Center Museum Shop.  Meet artisans, sample delectable holiday treats and shop for gifts made in Virginia.  Chocolate tasting!

Snowman for sale in my Etsy Shop.
10 PM - $15.00 - Dirty Barbie & Other Girlhood TalesLive Arts Theatre.  One woman show, has been sold out every night.  About growing up in the South.  Continues to next weekend at earlier times.  Pre-pay online.


Dec 16 - 20.  Holiday Trolley - get your ticket TODAY - FRI - Dec 2nd is the last day to purchase - they sell out FAST.  Tours run Dec 16 and 17.


Holiday Instrument Drive - donate your old musical instrument to a child in need.


Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Albemarle County Wastes Paper

When I think commonly used words during the last decade, GREEN certainly comes to mind.  When we receive my semiannual glob of property tax bills from the County of Albemarle, I have to ask, how out of touch with GREEN is our local government?  Are they unaware that they send every household in the county that owns property a separate mailing for each piece of property they own?

16 pieces of "property tax" paper = a dozen too many!

We only have three cars and a house.  At the maximum, I would expect two bills, one for all cars and one for the house both mailed in one envelop (no return envelop, let the taxpayer use their own if they mail the payment).  Ideally, there would be an online system in place where I can forgo ANY paper.  The second most used term in the past decade is PAPERLESS. 

When I made my last semiannual payment in person, I asked the clerk if I could receive one piece of paper for all my vehicles, mailed to my one address.  I received a brusk NO, as if this line of questioning  was a common one, pressing a nerve of the person that had to endure the question. 

I imagine that multitudes of taxpayer dollars were spent on the automated system that spits out the bills every six months and find it hard to believe that making such minor improvements is not possible.  I mean this is computer programming 101, one of the simplest changes

IF address = same THEN

print on one page


Albemarle County Strikes out...
STRIKE ONE - I don't see that any the paper from the county is recycled paper.
STRIKE TWO - Each piece of property is billed on a separate piece of paper.
STRIKE THREE - Each bill is mailed in a separate envelop with separate postage.
STRIKE FOUR - Each bill has a return envelop and I never mail in my payment.
STRIKE FIVE - There is no way to see a bill online and circumvent paper all together.

UGH - someone make it STOP!

Sometimes it's the simple things that hurt the environment the most and make me the most disgusted.  "General" property taxes are collected on real estate, public service, personal property, mobile homes, and machinery and tools resulting in a $151 million dollars billed to county citizens and revenue collections amounting to 64% of the budget!

Where not talking small potato paper waste in a county of 100,000 citizens.


Sunday, November 27, 2011

Cyber Monday Deal

Cool shades on modeled by Trisha
Tomorrow is Cyber Monday and there are plenty of deals to be had on the internet Wild Wild West. 

One of my favorite places to find deals is on  I have two vintage shops on Etsy.  To search for cyber monday deals on etsy - Enter the search term of what you are looking for + the term cyber monday.   For example, if you are looking for vintage tea cups that have a Cyber Monday deal:  First select Vintage from the drop down search menu and then type: tea cups cyber monday.  Each shop will have a different and unique twist on Cyber Monday.

FREE Eyeglasses Leash on Cyber Monday
The deal I'm running in my shops - and -- Buy any glasses and get a FREE colorful cotton Eyeglasses Leash!  If you buy glasses TODAY, Sunday - tell me on checkout that u read my blog and u can get my Cyber Monday deal TODAY!

Have fun shopping.  I hope u get a little work done on Cyber Monday.


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Save the UVA Rotunda Magnolias

It is estimated that for 100 years eight Southern Magnolia have flanked the 1826 UVA Rotunda that originally housed the campus library.  Thomas Jefferson's Rotunda is the pride of the University and has been undergoing renovation for years and will continue to be hammered upon for years to come.  Part of Jefferson's original Academical Village included lovely garden spaces.  The Magnolias were planted well after Jefferson's death (he would be nearly 270 years old if still alive today) and were not part of his original plan (he designed the hard scape and intended the Pavilion residents to design and maintain their own landscapes).  Aside from that, the local trend when it comes to Jefferson tends to be a complete restoration of his vision and that includes his plantings.  Given that Thomas Jefferson was a man of reason, constant invention, and change, I do not believe that he would expect the garden plantings to not be altered over a 200 year period!

The Board of Visitors has decided that the Magnolias must go because scaffolding must be erected (here we go again) to replace the roof.  Work on the Rotunda seems to be a constant theme, the interior was restored in 1976 and the columns have been falling apart for years and have finally been covered with boots to protect what remains. 

Students have created an online petition to save the trees.  I was absolutely thrilled to see that students are interested in campaigning to save trees!  I felt helpless when I read the news of the trees, as if campus can do whatever they want and is above any citizen outcry.  A student revolt is a totally different beast and should not be taken lightly.  Unlike the Obama appointed Super Committee failed attempt at compromise, I hope the Board of Visitors will listen to the students and alter their original plan so no one will chain themselves to a grand Magnolia (boy have I been tempted in the past to do just that).

Seems a little shaping up is in order
I visited the Rotunda two days ago to see for myself the positioning and size of the trees.  The Board of Visitors was quoted as saying the trees had to go because of scaffolding, which is ridiculous.  If the roofers can't erect scaffolding without harming the trees they need to go back to scaffolding 101 school.  Another often used excuse when cutting down older trees is that they have reached the end of their expected life.  Bah humbug.  There is something to be said for light cast inside the Rotunda.  Also mentioned is that the trees are massive and they might damage the Rotunda in a storm.  Anything is possible but historically it appears that the only damage incurred during a storm was to two of the eight Magnolia, not to the Rotunda (the most pressing damage it seems to me for the Rotunda is pollution from cars and coal).  The Magnolias are not even as tall as the Rotunda dome and are in desperate need of pruning.  I was a bit taken aback at the lack of pruning,, especially on the sides.  Given the structure is so large, the Magnolia actually flank the Rotunda quite nicely.  There is one particular Magnolia that is a lovely specimen and there is no reason to remove it.  It easily can be pruned to not overhang a walkway and is not directly beside the Rotunda. 

Ground level with the magnificent Magnolia
Living among the trees for 20 years in my family home, I shudder at the thought of any tree being cut down.  One of my grandmothers favorite trees was her beloved Southern Magnolia and also on the "park like" property is an assortment of 75 year old trees; Maples, Chestnuts, Apples, Catalpa, Walnut, and Holly.  When we first moved into our family home there were two HUGE yews that I absolutely loved but they were literally growing into the house.  They were planted 2' from the house and were twice as tall as the house! After 10 years, I finally got the courage to cut down the trees when my mother told me that my Grandmother had said, those trees were planted way to close to the house and that she always regretted that decision.  Last year my mother had a 150' leaning Blue Spruce cut down that was also planted way too close to the house.  Both decisions were horrifying to make but were the correct ones.  The house was being gobbled up by the trees so much that you could not see it and the roof was being horribly damaged.  On the flip side, I watched my idiot neighbors hire jack legs to cut down 20 hardwood trees that were NOT up against their house.  I cried watching the destruction and hearing the chain saws for months on end.  I begged them to not do this but they continued (having some drop on our fence).  Our home place has just been sold and I have no desire to go back and possibly see the destruction of the majestic trees on the property for reasons such as... oh I don't like leaves, or we need to let more sun in, or that tree is so messy, or that tree is OLD.

So grand it would bring TJ to tears
Online it has been suggested that the Magnolias be relocated to another site on campus. When I headed to campus the other day, I was ready to battle to save the Magnolias.   I still am but my view has changed.   If judicious pruning doesn't improve the situation and you must remove then instead relocate, keep one where it stands, and make commemorative bowls out of the two storm injured trees (apparently "the thing" to do with felled TJ trees).

The main point in all this is that people young and old care about the nature that abounds on campus and don't want to see it destroyed just because it is convenient to do so.

2013 UPDATE:  The Magnolia are still standing as a consequence of the protests by students!  YAY!


Friday, November 18, 2011

What's a Girl To Do

Don't be a chicken - do something this weekend!
Happening in Charlottesville this weekend ---


Movie at PVCC - 7:30 pm, FREE - The Future by Miranda July. Film released in 2011 and has received good online reviews.


Friends of the Library Fall Book Sale - 10 am - 7 pm (Nov 12th - 20th) - This is an amazing sale, read my review from last Spring. I'm volunteering right now, checking people out and boy are there a lot of books!  SAT and SUN 50% OFF !!!


Monday, November 14, 2011

Artisan Studio Tour Trek

The Barn Swallow
This past Saturday during the annual Artisan Studio Tour held in the Charlottesville area, we visited six studios in Nelson County.

We started our tour near Crozet at The Barn Swallow, a retail store that features many unique artisans.  Decorated for the holidays, it is always charming this time of year. 

  Gerald Boggs at Wayfarer Forge
Next stop was Wayfarer Forge Ironworks where we were greeted by 44 chickens!   Inside the studio Gerald Boggs was showing a crowd how to heat and bend iron into lovely works of art and outside I was enjoying the variety of colorful chickens. 

During our trek we stopped at an antique store on Afton Mountain and at Basic Necessities eclectic eatery in Nellysford.

Tonya Tyree Sculpture
My favorite studio along the winding road from Afton to Nellysford was the gallery of 2 Art Studios featuring works of Melinko Katic' and Tanya Tyree.  I was amazed at Melinko's horse paintings and Tanya's ceramic objects were so detailed and unique.  Tanya's mom's Frosted Oatmeal Cookies were the icing on the cake - YUM!

Making our way to our final stop, Cindy spotted a poor little goat stuck in a fence!  His horns were so long he managed to get his head in and not back out (why does that happen?)  After some serious bending of fencing and many shots with my camera, the goat rescue was a success. 

Off to Nan Rothwell's Studio tucked away in an absolutely lovely wooded setting.  Nan teaches pottery classes and is an expert at throwing and baking salt-glazed and stoneware pottery.

Our last stop was at a relatively new vintage shop,  Bittersweet Branch Primitives off 29 S.  We really enjoyed her selection of wicker furniture and collectibles.

It was a perfect day to drive in the country enjoying great food, lovely scenery, and wonderful artisans!


Tuesday, November 8, 2011

What's a Girl To Do

Deal of the Week - Target has a Netbook for sale, $197.00.  This was such a good price and my computer equipment must be 10 years old so I finally broke down and purchased one.  It is really convenient.  It is small and portable and I can check email and my Etsy store in a snap.  It is powerful, has a lot of storage space, is speedy, and has a cam built in.  The screen is very clear and just the right size.  This is not a "notebook" it can do anything a laptop can do, it's just smaller in size.  I'm creating today's blog with it right now!

Happening in Charlottesville this weekend ---

Whatcha waiting for ?

Friends of the Library Fall Book Sale - 10 am - 7 pm (Nov 12th - 20th) - This is an amazing sale, read my review from last Spring.  I'm volunteering right now, putting books on the shelves and boy are there a lot of books!

Artisans Studio Tour  - 10 am - 5 pm (Sat and Sun) - 17th annual area Art Tour.  Visit studios while enjoying free snacks.  Read my review from last year's tour.


Friday, November 4, 2011

Pillow Deal

Each Fall I watch the retail store Pillow Wars and wait to strike.  This is the second year that I have purchased pillows at JcPenney.  I don't know about you, but the $3.97 cheopo pillow deals for an uncomfortable lumpy pillow just don't cut it.  This is one area where I do spend a bit more for something that is comfortable and durable.  Do something nice for yourself and get a new pillow every year!

Sealy, comes in different softness levels.
JcPenney is running, Buy one pillow, get another for .99.  Ok, that's a great deal, but the kicker was that in the Friday newspaper they had a Buy $25.00 worth of anything and get $10.00 off.  For comparison, Belk has a Buy $50.00 and get $10.00 - not as good of a deal.  The third kicker is that the paper had 2 coupons.  So not only did I get the pillow deal, I separately purchased a few Christmas gifts and some 80% off tops and shorts, using another $10.00 coupon. 

Cooking At CafĂ© DI ended up spending $17.00 for two quality pillows that would have normally cost me $52.00.


Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Great Deals this Week

HURRY, these offers won't last long --

First frost on Forsythia Hill.
Staples is offering 100 free postcards - these can be holiday or whatever.  You print in-store to avoid shipping.  Print coupon details, and take in a zip drive w/your photo on it.

I just printed 40 free photos at Walgreens.  You upload your digital images, enter Coupon Code - DRUGSTORE40 and select to pick up at your local store to avoid shipping.

There is a Target coupon for $3.00 off  sleepwear.  This is a good deal if you can snag something off their sale rack.

Happy Shopping.


Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween Pranks

Earlysville Road, Charlottesville, Virginia
This post is dedicated to my Halloween kindred spirit - Bren - BOO.

I love Halloween and S P O O K Y things.  Creepy houses, candy, Devils and Ghosts.  When we moved into our family home built in 1932 we tried our hardest to resurrect the spirits - NOTHING - 20 years of nothing... except for the meowie Crow that always seemed to appear at my darkest moments.  When I was down in the dumps it always seemed this Crow would appear and make a cat like meowie sound.  One time I was up at the family cemetery plot and was deep in sadness the Crow appeared and started meowing.  I always associated the Crow with my Grandmother watching over me.  She apparently liked many of the things I like such as flowers, books, and cooking.  The freaky thing is that when we moved 3 hours away, shortly afterwards, here came a meowie Crow.  We still have a large flock of Crow's that hang out at our house, just like they did at our old house.

Our old house - lots of vegetation to hide in!
Our old house was a perfect haunted house having two huge trees out front, a long front porch, and lots of fallen leaves.  I had moved from a condo that was not scary friendly.  I so longed to scare the bejesus out of some Trick or Treaters and now I had the perfect setting.  I of course had an evil assortment of costumes, a Witch, Devil, and Skeleton.  With my husbands help, we created a leaf pile that moved.  A string and cube of cardboard was buried in the pile and a sign that read, Beware of the LEAF PILE of course got the Trick or Treaters curious about the pile.  At just the right moment, my husband who was hidden in the bushes pulled the string.  We laughed so hard watching the kids scream and run into the night.

We loved "candy" pranks.  Dressed up as a Witch, spooky music in the background, I would snap out a scarred plastic hand just as the kids were grabbing a glob of candy and say "don't take too many".  It worked every time, getting a jump out of the kids and saving more candy for us (ha ha).  I would present a tray of Pennies to the kids.  The faces were so funny, looks of -- are you nuts -- WE WANT CANDY - forget the MONEY - we want CANDY!  I had an old metal dish that had a piece of wrapped candy that had melted and was stuck to the bottom.  It was too funny to watch the kids try to get it off.  I had to discontinue one prank... I had a tray of bone shaped Dog Biscuits - a few kids would laugh and not take but several took them.  The next day my neighbor said one kid came to their door that said, those people over there are giving out bone shaped candy --- holding a piece with a bite out --- "it's not very good."  I never imagined anyone would actually EAT IT.

Happy Halloween and have FUN.


Friday, October 28, 2011

Where has the Week Gone

It's been one of those weeks... and now it is GONE.  At the start, it had so much promise.  I was going to get the basement "vintage" assortment organized and list items in my Etsy shop and on Craigslist.

Pair of Vintage Shades for sale in my Etsy shop, ForsythiaHill.
It turns out that the search for a new pair of eyeglasses is proving to be more difficult than imagined.  Every day I hit a new shop, searching for a frame that looks good on me.  In between eyeglass searching, I did a few more things this week... 

Monday I heard Bob Woodward speak at the lovely historic Miller Center, a.k.a. The Faulkner House, a.k.a The Old Ivy Inn.  I had never been there before and discovered 19 acres of lovely grounds and a beautifully restored mansion.  Mr. Woodward's presentation was very interesting and I put a check mark in my brain to seek out his books at the library.  Later in the week when I stopped by the Recycle Center in Charlottesville and there is this wonderful trailer in the back full of discarded books!  I actually found an old book of Bob Woodward's, The Commanders.  I did the sniff test, no funky old smells and have begun reading it.  So far it is fascinating and it was FREE.

Tuesday I took a trip to Lynchburg to have lunch with the parents and Wednesday I met with my Newcomers Club Saving 101 Group.  Thursday I zipped up the 29N Bypass - yes, there already IS a bypass -- it's called Earlysville Rd - to get my hair cut and pick up some deals at PetSmart.  I had a $15.00 off coupon for $50.00 or more purchase and it really adds up when you buy bagged dog food and joint supplements.  Anyway, I saved over $30.00 with coupons.

We're staying IN - all snugglie and warm.
The week is at end and a friend ordered reserved tickets for the Fall Open House at the Fan Mountain Observatory.  It's going to be cloudy so no sky viewing but the gang wants to go anyway.  Burrr, it's beginning to feel like Winter, I just want to stay in this weekend and stay WARM. 

Off to try and list ONE item on Craigslist... we'll see if that happens.


Thursday, October 20, 2011

What's a Girl To Do

Weekend Deal

On Saturday 11 am - 2 pm at Whole Foods
FREE - 8 oz. Cup of Whole Trade Allegro Coffee at for trying Organic Valley Creamer (Dairy or Soy).  NOTE:  This is my favorite creamer, it actually tastes GOOD!

Virginia Creeper on Forsythia Hill

2 PM - October 23rd Ivy Creek Natural Area - FREE - Native Trees of Virginia walk and talk with Ellen Powell of the Virginia Department of Forestry about our native trees.

6 - 9 PM - October 23rd - The Haven - DONATION - Food Day Potluck with speaker Tanya Cobb who will share success stories from her book concerning locally grown grassroots food sources.  Proceeds to help the homeless.   "Reclaiming Our Food: How the Grassroots Food Movement is Changing the Way We Eat."


11 AM - October 24 - The Miller Center - FREE - Forum: From Nixon to Obama.   BOB WOODWARD is regarded as one of America’s preeminent investigative reporters and non-fiction authors. He has worked for The Washington Post since 1971 as a reporter, and is currently an associate editor of the Post. A book signing will follow his Forum.


Monday, October 17, 2011

Trip to Crabtree Falls

Lovely views on the way to Crabtree Falls.
Three friends headed out Saturday to explore the Blue Ridge Parkway.  I had it in my mind that on a beautiful fall day the place to go would be the Shenandoah National Park.  Charlottesville is conveniently located just a short drive between both of these beautiful natural areas.  Basically, right off I-64 you either head South to the Blue Ridge Parkway or North to Shenandoah National Forest.

The upper section of Crabtree Falls.

I bet you did not realize that only one hour away from Charlottesville on the Blue Ridge Parkway is the highest vertical-drop cascading waterfall east of the Mississippi River!  Crabtree Falls is located in Nelson County, Virginia, just six miles off the scenic Blue Ridge Parkway near milepost 27.  It was pretty crowded this peak fall day but it was not obnoxiously crowded.  There were moments of quiet and solitude and I can imagine this spot would be wonderful to visit just about any time of the year.


A 3 mile hike up gets you to the top of the falls that travel 1,200 feet down.  Twenty-seven people have fallen off the falls and died (most were not on the trail).  A sign at the falls cautions: "Young men and women between 18 and 25 years of age, who are bright, intelligent and educated fit the profile of the victims of the siren of Crabtree Falls."   We only went 1/2 way up as one section is literally an extreme vertical flight of stairs up to the sky. It is not insurmountable but it is very steep and we didn't want to be victim #28, 29, and 30. 

The falls are thought to be named after William Crabtree of 1777.  Crabtree Falls was mentioned in the Walton's Television Show but never filmed as part of the show.  This is an outstanding camping and cabin rental area complete with a store and many hiking opportunities.

Searching the Pumpkin Patch.
After leaving the falls, we happened upon an Apple Festival and Trisha and I split a 1/2 a bushel of my favorite apple, the Stayman.  Wow, they are so good.  I'm putting them in pancakes, oatmeal, cookies, and now am getting ready to make some applesauce!  At the festival, there was a Pumpkin picking patch, music, and apple tasting. 

I'm ready to welcome in Fall now.  Taking a short rest before Spring planting.


Thursday, October 13, 2011

What's a Girl To Do

9:30 AM - October 15th - $15.00 - Apple Tasting at Tufton Farm of Monticello.   2.5 hour discussion and tasting of many unusual but wonderful apple varieties that can't be found in the local grocery store.  Pre-pay online.

Noon - October 15th & 16th - FREE - Stone Carving Demo at White Hall Vineyards.  Members of the Virginia Stone Carvers Guild demonstrate stone carving techniques under the open sky.  Also on Sunday at the same time.


Monday 11:00 AM - October 24 - FREE - The Miller Center.  Forum: From Nixon to ObamaBOB WOODWARD is regarded as one of America’s preeminent investigative reporters and non-fiction authors. He has worked for The Washington Post since 1971 as a reporter, and is currently an associate editor of the Post. A book signing will follow his Forum.


Monday, October 10, 2011

Staples Camera Deal

Kodak Easyshare M320
I've been waiting months to pounce on a good camera deal.  My husband purchased a Kodak Easyshare as a gift for me years ago.  It was time for an upgrade.  Back in the day of "film" photography, I had a zoom lens Minolta.  I paid a good penny for it in the early 80's and it weighed a ton.  It was a great camera but not easily replaced for a decent price with today's digital technology, until yesterday. 

I researched online, reading numerous reviews.  There were really no serious negatives so I took the plunge and grabbed a Fujifilm Finepix S3300.  It seemed weight was an issue for some reviewers but compared to my old Minolta this was lightweight.  It actually adds some balance and the point and shoots are so lightweight I fumble with them! 

The deal runs this week at Staples.  The cost is $199.00 and you get a $50.00 gift card, making the deal $150.00.  It's an impressive camera with 14 megapixels, 26X Optical Zoom.  It's fairly easy to use for a versitle camera.  I am so happy to finally once again be able to manually alter aperature and shutter settings.  The lower priced point and shoots rarely, if ever, don't offer both.  My Kodak actually allowed more flexiblity and was a decent 9.2 megapixels (which was pretty good even by today's standards) but maxed out at a 3X Optical Zoom.

FujiFilm S3300
You can see the improvement from the shots taken in the same light minutes apart.  The detail just can not be realized with my Kodak 3X zoom.  Pretty impressive for just pointing and shooting right out of the box.  I have a lot to learn but it was easy to get a few shots without too much fiddling.  There is no other digital camera with such zoom power and good online ratings at this price.  Typical prices for other camera in this category are $500 - $800.00.  If your in the market and will spend $50.00 at Staples over the next several years, grab it before the deal is gone.  The Gift Card has no "expiration".


Thursday, October 6, 2011

What's a Girl To Do


I decided to finally breakdown and buy a food processor.  Originally I purchased one that had "middle of the road" online recommendations.  It didn't make my Hummus fine enough so I returned it.  I researched products online and ended up with a Ninja.  Someone even stopped  me as I was buying it to tell me how much they loved their Ninja!  It pulverizes my Hummus in a snap and makes creamy Smoothies.  Included is a hard plastic pitcher and chopper container.  It's chops just about anything in record speed.  I made some homemade Tomato Sauce and ran it through to make it even finer and it worked great.  I had to grind and grind my Hummus with the first processor that I purchased and it never got as fine whipped as with the Ninja.  I found mine at Target on sale but they can be purchased online as well.

Shenandoah National Park

9:30 AM - October 8th - $15.00 - Strenuous Trek - Hike up Montalto with Peter Hatch of MonticelloLong 2.5 hour hike takes you to pristine views of C'ville, Albemarle County, and the Blue Ridge Mountains.  Pre-pay online.


2:00 PM - October 9th- FREE - Movie Screening - Forks over Knives. Save your life by changing your diet.  Take charge of your health.  The reasons why and motivation to get you started.  Downtown Central Library, Charlottesville.


7:00 PM - October 11th - FREE - Photographic Presentation - TechnoTrees and Natural Trees.  Ivy Creek Nature Center, Charlottesville.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Free Stuff and Deals

I came home today w/a small load of FREE items and several deals.

Freecycle is a great place to find this or that.  I have found numerous items; two "like new" bookcases, packaging supplies, and now a sawdust "source".  I use sawdust for my deep litter system that I use inside my Chicken Coop.  It's better than paying $5.00 a bale for straw or shavings.

I picked up a bag of used Coffee grounds from the downtown Mudhouse (a $1.00 donation to Habitat for Humanity is recommended) to help fortify my garden. 

The Wonderful Pistachios were on sale and I had a manufacturers coupon for $1.00 off and a $2.00 CVS store coupon.  I also got $1.00 Extracare Bucks back, making the nuts only $1.00.  Now that is a deal.  Suet is on sale this week at Southern States for .89.  I load up (buying a dozen) and freeze it until needed.

Happy dealing this week.  They are out there, you just gotta look.


Wednesday, September 28, 2011

What's a Girl to do


CVS Reward ExtraBucks.  Just pledge to USE THEM and you get $2.00 in extra bucks for FREE to be used by 10/3/11.  You will need to have an ExtraCare Rewards CVS card.  The dumpster diving videos on their website remind me of a certain person - who shall remain nameless.

A little chicken art, Whopper, one of our chickens.

6:00 PM - September 30th - Book Tour - The President of the HSUS, Wayne Pacelle, will be speaking about his new book, The Bond: Our Kinship with Animals, Our Call to Defend Them and discussing a vision for animal protection in the 21st century.  "Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty."  University of Virginia Bookstore, 400 Emmet Street South.

 If you are an animal lover, this is not to be missed --- The HSUS encompasses "all" animals; pets, wildlife, and farm animals.

Abstract White Peony taken at Lewis Ginter Botanical.

9:30 AM - October 1st - Natural History Walk - $15.00 - Monticello Curator of Plants, Peggy Cornett, will lead a two-hour trek through the forests of Monticello. 

Meet at the Garden Center at the Visitor Center.  Pre-pay online.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Deal at Michaels

Today I stopped by Michaels to get a picture frame and used two coupons that I had clipped from their Sunday news-paper insert.  Often Michaels puts restrictions on their coupons but these were pretty wide open and I was able to use both of them in one transaction.   I spent $7.50 for an 8X10 matted frame, 16 month calendar, recipe cards, and an archival pen.

One of my ForsythiaHill prints for sale on Etsy.
The frame will hold one of my photography prints. At the encouragement of friends and family, I am selling my photos on Etsy.

The retro recipe cards were 75% off costing .30 cents! I received an additional $1.25 discount on the already "on sale" frame using one coupon.  The other coupon I used on the regularly priced acid-free archival pen, saving $1.40.
I noticed they have a section of $1.00 - $3.00 items at 75% off! It's a good week to buy a frame at Michaels, pack of note cards or recipe cards.

Happy shopping.

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