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Carine’s Blog

  • The Art of the Grocery Deal

    Posted on Thursday, January 12, 2017

    I’m sure I’ve written about my skills as a food shopper before-even that Steve and I were able to tell the extreme couponers in a class some tips they had no ideas about using.

    This week Steve and I were so very proud of ourselves.   

    It started with the weekly issue of the newspaper that carries the food ads.  We had to pare down our paper delivery when we moved out here to Arizona-couldn’t afford the 7-day cost of the only major newspaper in the state.

    In Orange County, California there were 2:  The Register and the Times.  Here there’s only the Republic.  There are two weekly ones that put in stories for some of the communities, but they‘re free on every stand in the markets and restaurants.

    I’m digressing-back to our shopping skills.

    Steve and I are VERY big produce consumers.  Sprout’s is our favorite place to go, but the closest one is 22 miles away-so we only go there when we are also going to buy pet food at the PetSmart about 3 miles from that market.

    One of our local markets had blueberries and vine ripened tomatoes at quite the price and since we had time to kill while waiting for Aidan to get out of tutoring after school, we took Dylan to the market to make the pick up of the two items (we had enough greens, squash, etc for the time being).   

    What we love about this market is that besides the weekly specials and the points for gas discounts is that they have a section of “weekly specials“. We got a blender for $6, Israeli couscous for 75% off and lots of other goodies.

    This week though-we hit the jackpot of discounts!!!  Yes-the clearance section had at least 3 dozen boxes of green mountain coffee holiday flavored k-cups on the shelves!!!  $1.99 for a box of 12!

    Can I hear a woot, woot????

    We took 22 (no sense being selfish and having people stare).  Toasted Marshmallow Mocha, Wicked Winter, Cinnamon Sugar cookie and a couple of other flavors!  All were normally $6.99!  We were saving $5 a box!!!

    But wait, there’s more!  I backed up to see the tip-top shelf and saw both Charmin and Northern toilet paper sitting up there!  Yes!  Steve went to the TP aisle and took a look at the regular price-$18.99 for the Charmin.  They had it discounted to $7.49.  We took both.  And the Northern triple roll package was marked down from $15 to $4.99.

    We also go through a lot of mustard around here and there was some that was good until May, 2018 so we got those for 50 cents instead of $2.49.

    So we are now set-berries for breakfast, tomatoes to go on our salads for dinner and coffee to have for breakfast and lots of TP for, well, you know.

    Our total savings on this hall was well over $125.  Plus, since Steve has a thing for storing water we are more than sure we can make the coffee.

    Please don’t ask what our storage/guest room looks like, let’s just say we‘re prepared as well as any survivalist.  Steve also wiped out the clearance aisle a couple of months ago of the special Italian premium pastas for 50 cents each after Italian month was over.  About 6 months ago, after Spanish foods month we secured the clearance aisle of 8 bottles of Extra Virgin 1st Press Olive Oil.  Okay, we shared with the kids.

    As you can see we are experts on the use and art of the grocery market deals.  We also use an abundance of coupons on just about everything.  Last year (I track all of our savings) we saved nearly six thousand dollars on our non-perishables!  Including haircuts and entertainment.

    Have a question on how to make your dollars stretch like Mike TV in Willie Wonka?  I’m all for sharing how we make ends meet in the tastiest of ways.

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  • I Really, Really Love My Pets

    Posted on Thursday, January 5, 2017

    I really, really love our pets.  I must because I am a nut case about making sure I do all I can, all the time.

    In all our 35+ years of marriage Steve and I have rescued our beloved pets.  Yep.  Snowy, our “first” baby was found in the garage of the apartment complex we lived in (it was “no pets“).  We didn’t know it at that moment, but our snow white kitten was almost dead from starvation, being separated from her mom and living in a garage.

    We had her 13 years.  In that 13 years we went through:  3 living room carpets, 2 sofas and 3 chairs.  No, it wasn’t from scratching.  Poor dear had a severe thyroid problem and it kept her from understanding litter box etiquette during her “bad level” days.  But she was cuddling, adored Sarah and loved all of us.  Besides, we were her parents-no matter what.

    Our first Lucky came to us with “puppy paw disease“, which we found out by age 8 months was hip dysplasia (part German Shepherd).  We almost lost her both through that surgery and being spayed.  She seemed to be prone to post surgical infections.  Otherwise, we loved that girl for 13-1/2 years.  

    Next came Sunshine #1.  We rescued her at age 1 and she was the “dog we wished we could clone“.  Only thing that ever happened during our bless 14-1/2 years together was that she seemed to love eating peaches off of our peach tree-pits and all.  Let’s just say it was a $400 stomachache!

    Both our first two dogs had dementia later in life, lost their sight and hearing and then their ability to know exactly where their bathroom was-but they were ours and we loved them even after they had to leave us.

    Pepper came to us with slightly deformed front paws, but it’s never bothered him or us.  We did pay a fortune to have 6 teeth pulled, but he’s worth it.  Even now at 13-1/2 he’s just our little love bug.

    Enter Lucky and Sunshine.  We had never had small dogs-so we had no idea that they were stubborn creatures who take forever to house train.  Both were rescued at about one year of age.

    I stood outside cheering Lucky on for a year and cleaned up messes galore-frustrating, but I kept up a “potty” dance that probably had many neighbors wondering about my sanity.  Unless they also had tiny pups.

    Then Steve rolled up 2 of 3 throw rugs in the house and thoroughly disinfected the areas beneath.  I went outside with Lucky and was in the middle of yet another performance of “yeah for the potty” when I swear to you all-she looked at me with a look that said, “Wait a darn minute here-you want me to go potty out here, right?  Well why on earth didn’t you say so???”

    Never had another accident UNTIL Sunshine came home with us on August 23!

    We have now removed the dining room throw rug.  My wonderful friend Sue H (she is a professional cat rescue person and has dog rescues) gave me a long list of things I needed to change and things to do.

    Steve said he was just getting rid of the carpet and removed the padding he had glued down (damn-I was hoping this was my ticket to getting rid of that awful bamboo!), followed by another round of disinfecting the area.  We have “food bowls” and toys spread throughout the areas and I have upped both my voice and my “potty” dance performances.

    We also  bought a Thunder shirt (anxiety issues from that storm and continuing rain days) and give loads of training treats for any kind of “business” done outdoors.

    After 2 whole days of success we were thrilled.  Then last night we took the girls out for their final job of the day.  Lucky went.  Sunshine didn’t.  We kept encouraging her in our squeally voices for about 10 minutes.   

    Steve said, “Let’s just go in and I’ll take her out before I go to bed in an hour.”

    Fine by me, it was 42 degrees out there and I was characteristically stiff as a board in every joint.

    Took off Lucky’s fleece jacket, took off Sunshine’s Thunder shirt, brushed my teeth, I used the indoor facilities and then, I SMELLED SOMETHING ALL TOO FAMILIAR!

    I walk into the bedroom and there it was:  Lake Sunshine with a side of manure.

    Sigh.  I was proud of myself-I did exactly what Sue said: didn’t get mad, didn’t yell, just calmly went about cleaning up the mess and ignoring the fact that she was shaking like a leaf with tears in her eyes.

    How can I yell at a baby who so clearly was embarrassed and scared about her accident?

    Any of you who can’t relate to our love for her and her need for that unconditional love have no idea how deep any parents love really runs.

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  • 2016, Go Away

    Posted on Thursday, December 29, 2016

    I wasn’t sure I was going to post this last blog of the year.

    Last week was so very, very unkind.  And honestly, the next few projected weeks and months are just not going to improve things AT ALL.

    While I’m not ready to disclose what’s happening in our familial loop at this moment, I will just let you all know that the phrase:

    You can only count on 2 things-death and taxes

    Is all too true.

    We were looking forward to celebrating Steve’s 60th birthday, but while we will celebrate in a way, it won’t be what was originally planned.  We‘re all not in the mood and things are literally changing from one hour to the next.

    There are a lot of decisions being made that are difficult and the plan A and B have outcomes that we‘re just not very happy about yet have no choice but to make the best decision we can and pray for it to be the one that will work the best.

    That stated, I want to wish all of you the healthiest, happiest and hopefully dullest, drama free New Year’s celebration possible.

    May 2017 be a whole lot kinder to us all.

    Love, Carine

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  • Happy Holidays

    Posted on Thursday, December 22, 2016

    It’s hard to believe but 2016 has only moments left-and it feels as if it has just begun! I have no idea what happened to these past (almost) 12 months, but they have just zoomed by!

    The year has been filled with both ups and downs and all around here in the Grand Canyon State.   

    Some of the ups?  The year started with Steve turning 59.  In rapid succession, Dylan turned 9 and Aidan 8.  Then came our cruise so Steve and I could celebrate our 35th anniversary.  We came home and got some great new neighbors!

    Adam, Sam and the kids moved into the “other” corner house on our block.   

    Knowing that PT was both helping and hurting (the drive getting there really played havoc on my back and knees!) I switched it for fun in the pool and took up water aerobics at our community center.  Fortunately, around here-we were able to keep having fun until the end of November!

    In the middle of walking with my friends here and the pool, my orthopedic said I had to cut back on all the walking.  Seems my knees are in a pretty bad state so the water aerobics and cutting back on the outdoor walking did help, but I was put through the arduous journey of having gel shots to the worst knee.  The epidurals in the back and neck have held me somewhat-at least enough to pay off the last round!

    Jackson turned 3 in August.  Sarah, Adam and Sam all had birthdays as well.  In fact, Sam had the milestone #30!  I turned the page to the last year of my 50’s just before Thanksgiving and our grand-daughter Bryce turned 1!!!  She’s now walking, almost talking (okay, she’s talking but we haven’t quite caught on to more than “dog“, “cat“, “daddy“, “mommy” and of course, NO) and according to the pediatrician-she’s grown 2” since her 9 month appointment!

    This year Hanukkah starts right on Christmas Eve.  Thankfully, Steve has both days off-woo hoo!  A whole weekend!

    Then New Year’s Eve will happen.  I’m rather an early riser thanks to my fur kids, so I rarely even make it till 11, let alone mid-night.   

    It will be the last day for Steve to say he’s in his 50’s-shocker for us.  I mean, yes, we all have known that he’s about to turn 60, but when it’s actually happening, well, you still sit there in disbelief that we‘re really “senior citizens“.

    Since I will be doing a small celebration in honor of this milestone event-I bid you all a very Happy Hanukkah, Merry Christmas, a wonderful Kwanzaa, all other celebrations that I know not of and without a doubt, I want to say:

    May 2017 bring us all good health, happiness and fun times!

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  • My Head is in a Complete Whirl

    Posted on Thursday, December 15, 2016

    It all started Monday morning.  I woke up from puppy kisses asking to be let out at the ungodly hour (but the norm) of 6 a.m..

    I knew as soon as my head moved, this particular morning was going to be a challenge to get to the alarm system and the door.  Sigh.  The room was spinning, my head hurt and I was having trouble focusing.

    That said, I still somehow got the “job” done and proceeded to clean the litter box-which was no easy feat considering I could barely stand the bending over and smell.  Then I went on to the rest of the usual morning activities:  feeding the pets, re-pottying, feeding Steve and myself, packing up Steve’s lunch box and getting dressed to, yes-meet up with my friends for a walk.

    I don’t know how I managed it all, but I did.  Came home-couldn’t focus enough to write (truth is, I’m not sure I know how I’m doing that exercise right now!).  Took an anti-seasick pill, since it says right there on the bottle “for motion sickness, including dizziness“.   

    All it did was put me to sleep on and off throughout the day.

    Tuesday morning I was thanking the good Lord for Sarah cancelling an event we were going to together because my head was still hurting and the dizziness was just plain awful.  Tea seemed like a very good option because I had a distinct feeling coffee wasn’t going to go down or back up without making me feel a lot worse.

    Meclizene(anti-motion sickness meds) was still keeping me semi-conscious and almost upright.   

    Wednesday morning, Steve and I were going to do some quality time taking our cars in to be serviced.  Only one of us went, because my head was still making sure I was having a 360 view of the house.


    Steve did call and check on me.  Told him that when he got home he needed to take me to the Immediate Care.  After 3 days of the room spinning and my head hurting, I was out of patience with self-healing.

    And for those who wonder:  No my ears don’t hurt, my sinuses are remarkably clear and open and no I didn’t try the Eply maneuvers (yet) because by the time I go to bed, I am too nauseous to do exercises that are known to make me nauseous!

    All I know is that my head hurts and the room is spinning and that writing this blog entry is making me truly sicker to my stomach.

    What did the Immediate Care do?  Fortunately for me the doctor on call and the PA both knew how to do the Epley hospital version maneuvers and put me through that torture.  Told me to go home and just move very, very slowly for the next couple of days to let those pesky “rocks” in my inner ear settle down.

    I was told to continue the seasick pills and the anti-nausea pills for a few days as well.  Woke up this morning with my head still in agony but the “spinning” sensation is a lot less.  NOT gone, but I’ll take less.

    No walking outdoors for me.  No more adding to this blog either.  I’m thinking I told you all way too much as it is AND my head is continuing to let me know about it.

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  • Oh What a Night!

    Posted on Thursday, December 8, 2016

    It was actually the entire day around here.   

    Have I mentioned that ever since the pups and I got caught in that huge storm a couple of weeks ago that Sunshine has been having “issues“?  Poor thing is so scared of the wind, the cold and the snap in the weather that she has been having some “accidents” (you know, the kind that are on purpose).   

    Take Monday night, as an example:  I fed all three pets, took the dogs out to do their business.  Lucky did a lot for a 6 pound wonder dog.  Sunshine did a brief squirt and ran (without touching the ground I might add) back to the security door to be let in.

    Okay.  It was 44 degrees, high desert winds and dark.  I could understand her trepidation about spending even a few more seconds in that howling mess as I wasn’t enjoying it either.

    Came in and deciding that since Steve was working late, I’d go take a nice hot bath and warm up my rather aching joints.  I plugged the tub, poured in the Epsom salts and had just put my hand on the hot water tap when I see Sunshine begin to squat!!!

    I said, “NO“, rather harshly I fear, and picked her up and put her outside as fast as I was able and said, “This is where we go potty!”

    She looked up at me and went, looking very sad and tears welling up.   

    Sigh.  It’s always the mom’s fault.

    Sunshine has also made a habit of waking up at 4 a.m. (again, since the storm) to throw up.

    Steve went to visit his sister and mom for a few days and I was left to keep getting up for each incident of both ends coming out where they weren’t supposed too.  After I dropped Steve off at the airport, I stopped at our vet’s to ask for some help here.  There is also a third problem that is rather disgusting that I let her know about-let’s just say she’s been very good at keeping Pepper’s litter box clean.

    “It’s a small breed thing to do the litter and it sounds behavioral with the regression in house training, but I am concerned about her nightly vomiting.” Next morning I dropped off Sunshine to see what was happening.

    Lucky and Pepper were not happy-where was she getting to go and why weren’t they being given a car ride?

    8 hours later I went to go pick her up.  The diagnosis?  Acid reflux, a very possible UTI and she’s just plain freaked out from the storm and it will take some time and patience to get over it.

    I was told she’d need to have some Pepcid with her food and meds and report back how things were going.  I hid the doggie K-flex and antacid in a greenie pill pocket.  Guess what?  For the first time in two weeks Sunshine didn’t throw up.

    She also didn’t sleep through the night.

    Not her fault.  When I let the dogs out at 10 for their last bathroom break, there was a whole pack of coyotes on the other side of the block wall howling, yapping and again, freaking out my two little “snacks“.

    Then I locked up, turned out the lights, turned out the security system and all four of us snuggled down for what I hoped would be the night.

    Nope-those coyotes were barking, howling and I figured they had decided my front porch was the perfect place to keep warm and out of the wind for the night.  The four of us were lying there listening to all that noise.

    By morning 3 a.m. they had stopped enough for us to get some sleep.  Then at 6:30-my fur babies decided that they wanted to potty and be fed.

    Sigh.  Thankfully we no longer heard the pack literally at our door.  When I met my friends they were gone.   

    To make sure I don’t forget my last 24 hours, as we were rounding the corner to get back to home, we all saw one of the coyotes just wandering down one of our streets.

    I know we‘re safe here inside the house, but it is very unsettling to know that all those neighbors are that close by and willing to claim my porch as their shelter.

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