Friday, April 29, 2011

Saving your Dollars

SAVED $100.00 in a WEEK

SPENT $30.00 SAVED $50.00

This week is SUPER DOUBLES at Harris Teeter.  I was really surprised it was Super Doubles already!  YAY.  I also picked up $5.00 of FREE stuff at PetSmart, a box of dog biscuits and a can of cat food.  I had two other coupons that I used for $9.00 off my Blue dog food.   

At Harris Teeter: Presented 16 coupons, all at least $1.00 in value - all doubled.

A few of the Harris Teeter Deals and what I paid for each:  

Eight O'Clock Coffee - $2.15, Blue Bunny Ice Cream - $1.29, El Torito Burritos - .24, Cascade Farms Granola - $1.00.

FREE - Band-Aids, 7th Generation Paper Towels, Colgate Toothpaste, and Starkist Tuna.

Harris Teeter will double up to $1.98 so a $1.50 coupon yields $3.00 off.  WOW.

I love getting Seventh Generation products discounted.  Can't go wrong there.  No one should be buying non-recycled paper products!!!!  This was my second strike, I spend $80.00 the first round and saved $50.00.  That's a total savings of $100.00 in one week. 

SPENT $80.00 SAVED $50.00 

I've always split up my Harris Teeter trips (max 20 coupons and it allows me to really scour the store).

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Charlottesville Public Gardens

As part of Virginia Garden Week, we visited two of the best known gardens in Charlottesville, Monticello and the UVA Academical VillageMonticello offered a free lecture and tour of the gardens that Thomas Jefferson designed in the early 1800's.

I've been to Monticello twice since moving to Charlottesville and have yet to go into the house.  The grounds keep me totally occupied.  There are flower gardens, orchards, and the enormously wonderful vegetable garden.  The Gardening Club of Virginia accurately restored the gardens utilizing Jefferson's meticulous records and plans.  During restoration, they discovered that if they shone their headlights on the yard they could SEE the old outline of the garden foot paths behind Monticello.

Crown Imperial Lily, Fritillaria imperialis
The speaker and key tour guide, Peter Hatch, the Director of Gardens and Grounds, is so impressive.  He has worked for 34 years restoring Jefferson's gardens and eloquently sharing his passion for Monticello.  Publishing several books on the topic, he can recite the history of the gardens like no other!

We strolled the grounds with Peter taking in his enthusiasm for gardening while our eyes feasted on the beautiful scenery.  Monticello's high elevation provides a scenic panoramic view of surrounding mountains and Charlottesville.  Winding our way through the largest Tulips I have ever seen, a trail of color lining the main pathways to the house, surrounding us.  Dancing Columbines, Jeffersonia Diphylla, Tree Peonies, and other spring bloomers were side notes to the Tulips.  The massive trees were leafing out and remnants of patches of the early showing of yellow Daffodils were lingering in the grassy hillsides.  The grounds of Monticello are amazing any season but Spring should not be missed!

We reluctantly sped away down into the heart of Charlottesville to another one of Jefferson's masterpieces, the UVA Academical Village.  This is the original area of the University of Virginia.  There are separate serpentine brick walled gardens behind each main buildings in this area.  Jefferson had no specific designs for the plantings within the walls but years following his death, these gardens have developed into lovely, restful spaces.

My next gardening week event is organized through the Newcomers Club and hosted by the Monticello Gardening Club.  Then, I will be returning to our family home to gather some cuttings and divide some plants while turning a half a century old on Easter Sunday. 


Monday, April 18, 2011

Garden Week in Virginia

April 16 - 23rd is the annual Virginia Garden Week and there are a host of activities throughout the State of Virginia sponsored by the Garden Club of Virginia.
Yesterday we traveled to Staunton to tour the Newtown Historic District.  I fell in love with Staunton the moment I saw it many years ago.  It has made great strides since my first trip.  The Stonewall Jackson Hotel was not even under renovation at that time and I was near hysterical just thinking that this wonderful structure would fall into disrepair and ultimately be destroyed.  There were some shops on the main drag and businesses were opening along warehouse row, but it was not as "happening" as it is today.  I am so happy that Staunton has made such great strides and several years ago I was able to stay in the Stonewall Jackson Hotel which was saved and lovingly renovated.

Staunton's historic district is dripping with history.  Homes are vibrantly colored and it's not uncommon to see renovations in the works.  My main reason to tour was to see tucked in city gardens showing off spring colors of pink, blue, yellow, and green but was surprised to find the most unusual and fantastically gorgeous floral arrangements crafted by The Augusta Gardening Club.

Nearly every room, mantel, and porch had an arrangement displayed that illuminated a corresponding piece of art or furnishing.  The different varieties of Tulips and their smashing range of colors were a highlight.  An especially cute arrangement that I was not permitted to shoot, was a dainty row of halved egg shells each containing a little stem of a dwarf Narcissus.  The Augusta Gardening Club is amazing and they should be so proud of their hard work.

It was a rainy day but very often we found ourselves actually walking in very light rain, the only torrential downpour being later in the day while we were having a late lunch.  The restaurant kitchen was nearly flooded and had to be closed down it was such a huge rain.  Amazingly the skies cleared and we were off to check out some local thrift stores and head to the Crozet Mudhouse for the best Mocha in Charlottesville.

Tuesday the 19th is the big day in Charlottesville, offering free tours.  We will start in the morning at Monticello for a morning tour of Thomas Jefferson's restored gardens and then go on campus at UVA to see the walled gardens on campus which I highly recommend.  There is a short garden lecture on campus to be given by Shaun Spencer-Hester who lives in her grandmothers home and gardens.  It sounds very reminiscent of my past life in Pulaski.

Parts of the Presidents house and gardens and the Morea Gardens will be open.  There is a lot to do on campus and at Monticello Tuesday!  Local gardeners won't want to miss it.


Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Tumblr and Taxes

TAXES are DONE.  I am stunned that it is over and so relieved.  I porked on a piece of Orange Cake and German Chocolate to celebrate... yes, two different cakes.

I was filled with so much glee after finishing my taxes that I popped over to my tumblr blog and posted a little flower series of a native plant that was blooming at the Ivy Creek Nature Center down the street from us in Charlottesville.  I'm having so much fun over on  I love tumblr, can I say that being I have a blog on  I'm not sure, but tumblr is a lot of fun if you are thinking about creating a small pictorial blog.

Anyway, check out my postings, especially of my spring flowers.  I can not stop photographing flowers, they are all so amazingly different and sweet.

Off to walk the dog - have a good day and I hope your taxes are DONE and don't forget to enjoy the cake after they are filed - you deserve it!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Life Pledge #1

The Proud Rooster in all his glory.

Today I formally pledge to purchase only Pasture Raised Chicken Eggs for the rest of my life.  I take this pledge seriously and have given it consideration over the last year.  A life pledge commitment can not be frivolous nor can it be spur of the moment.  It sounds like a relatively simple proposition given the current economic situation and the popularity of caring for your own chicken flock.  My only provision out is if some disaster happens and there is nothing else to eat to get protein or if I am put into a position where economically I have to buy the .79 a dozen carton.  Let's face it, some people have no other alternative or just go without - which is also a viable option.  Personally, I think it might be cheaper to just raise your own flock (and more fun for sure).
Ok, more lovely Roosters.
There are several "fancy" types of eggs sold now in groceries and most you pay a premium.  The true humane "stamp" on that carton of eggs is the "pasture raised" stamp.  There are a host of other marketing ploys that make you think your premium carton has been produced by chickens treated humanely.  Such terms as "cage free" and "free range".  Be wary - "cage free" can mean they chickens are still crammed together inside a massive chicken house, never seeing the light of day and that the industry definition of "free range" has no actual "time outside" measure.  The "all natural" stamp is a good thing as is the "organic" both indicators that no slaughter house by-products are fed to the chickens (which is just plain nasty).  "Organic" being the premium and farther encompassing term.

All and all, the stamp that I'm seeking is "Pasture Raised".  I take real issue with millions of chickens living their entire lives in a cage in a dark, dusty, feces laden hen house smashed into an area the size of a piece of paper.  I hope you do to.  It's unhealthy for the chickens and ultimately the product you are digesting.  Apparently improvements have been made in some of the factory farm hen houses to reduce Salmonella bacteria but I am just now reading that our FDA has not even re-inspected ANY of the IOWA farms that were involved in the 2010 outbreak where nearly 2,000 became ill.  Doesn't that make you just want to go buy a pack of factory farm eggs?

Finally, a hen - lovely.
Currently I am spoiled to death by getting free eggs from my lovely neighbors that have a hen house.  Their chickens are pets.  I visited the other day and hear this noise in the leaves.  I thought it was their kids playing but it was the chickens foraging in the leaves under the majestic Oaks having the best time being just what they were born to be... FREE BIRDS.

Do you have a life pledge or would you like to make, please share - leave a comment!


Wednesday, April 6, 2011

T & A & X & E & S

I am trying to put a positive spin on filing my taxes.  Is that at all even possible?  I am not going to hyperventilate or break out in my usual annual sweat.  I promise, promise.  Well, to be truthful, I actually went into a tizzy this morning after just trying to begin my taxes!  I was logging my tax documents and couldn't find one interest form.  My blood pressure went up and I started disrobing.  No matter what I do, meditate, breath deeply, sip my cup of tea, I get in a TAX TIZZY.  Anthony knows when it's tax filing time, he sees the dark storm cloud following me and it conjures up all sorts of Ides of March gloom and doom.  In the old days, the Ides was an indication of the 15th day of the month when bills were due!  How convenient that April 15th is still known as tax day.

My history with the IRS is actually pretty decent but I did have a run in last year.  After receiving my filing for 2009, I received a one pager saying I never filed my taxes for 2008.  The blood ran up into my face and steam came out of my ears.  It was unbelievable.  That year, for the first time ever, I had filed my taxes online.  After a speedy and disturbing conversation with the IRS, it seems they actually received my filing but rejected it!  They never notified me - no email, no letter in the MAILBOX.  They tried to bill me over $1,000 in late fees (which made me nauseous to say the least) but after researching online as to how to approach the situation with the IRS, we ended up paying $7.00.  I was stunned that I had actually won my case!

So here it is 9 days before filing due date and I am procrastinating - AGAIN.  Next is to go online and see if there are any strange new 2010 tax credits I can write in.  Then off to find me a FREE Filer. 

The only good thing about this day is that the Bluebirds are fighting for our bird house!  YAY.


Monday, April 4, 2011

Tickle me Pink

Weeping Cherry, Rugby Road, Charlottesville
There is an amazingly beautiful spray of PINK outside in Virginia this time of year.  It has become a RIOT of color.  The transformation from brown to PINK is wonderful.  Ahhh, smell the PINK.


On a recent weekend trip with friends to my Hometown of Roanoke, Virginia the PINK was at it's PEAK.  The Star City was ablazing with color.  The drive around Old Southwest and Peakwood was incredible.
Crazy Pink in Peakwood in Roanoke

The Weeping Cherry is my all time favorite flowering tree and the most gorgeous tree in all the world was across the street from our family home in Pulaski, Virginia.  We used to laugh because no one looked at our 40' Daffodil row that took me years to divide and transplant that was located just on the other side of the street from the glorious Cherries.  Carloads containing heads twisted as far as they would go, hanging out windows would come to a standstill and stop and STARE at the Weeping Cherries (there are two together).  I can see the breeze blowing through the Cherries and my little daffodil blooms shimmering in the wind.  Magnificant.
Plain old Pink Saucer Magnolia on Grandin Road in Roanoke

Enjoy the pink while you can, the strong yellows, oranges, and reds are soon to follow.

The Roanoke Star a fixture since my youth.
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