Friday, February 20, 2009

Once Upon a Mattress

The Frugal Maven loves her bed. I could go home every night, get out of the foundation garments, pour a glass of tea and curl up until the alarm goes off the next morning, especially in the winter. When friends call to invite us over or out on the spur of the moment the first question asked is if I still have my bra on. If the answer is no, they don't even ask twice. They know we're in for the evening.

Several years ago when we needed a new mattress for our rental house in Florida I went to the Mattress-N-More or the Mattress Warehouse or some other cliched name with bad lighting and ran screaming from the store after about two minutes of desperate sales pitches. Now as you know, I am in the car business so I try to be fair to any person striving to make an honest living in sales. Even so, these guys just made me want to hide. I took myself straight to the Sam's Club where they offer firm or extra-firm in the usual sizes and that's that. $65o lighter and much less stressed, my friend Nola and I strapped it in the back of the pickup truck, got on the road and promptly watched it blow out of the truck bed into oncoming traffic. With the help of some good Samaritans we loaded it back up again and went on our way. Now lovely snow birds are sleeping on it and looking out over the pool from the bedroom while we are in Kentucky waiting for the next ice storm/hurricane/tornado.

But I digress. The point of this meandering tale is that my friend Kim over at Finding Deals in the Ville has a coupon on her blog today for 20% off on Sunday at Big Lots. These coupons come periodically by email if you're on the list. Our last mattress, which I so look forward to reclining on very shortly, came from the Big Lots. They sell Serta mattresses that are the same (as far as I can tell) as you would get in a mattress store or a department store. And they are cheap. The sell eurotops, value, plush and perfect sleepers. Our queen pillowtop mattress only was about $420 with the 20% off. A deal by any measure and it has stood up very well. Of course, when we win the lottery we'll be buying this lovely Hastens (seen above) which is handmade in Sweden of horsehair, etc., etc. and starts at $5,000 and tops out at $50,000. Or not.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Truck Testicles Alert

So this is what people spend their money on in the economic downturn. This obviously has nothing to do with being hip or stingy but I've had a long week, my dad's in the hospital and I couldn't resist. I cannot imagine what a set of shiny chrome plated swinging testicles costs although judging by the size of them they can't be cheap. We were on our way to my parent's home for Sunday dinner last week when we passed this paragon of taste and self-esteem on the interstate. I can't believe that, living in Kentucky, I had never seen a set before. I made Travis McGee slow up and down until I got a good pic. I'm sure this man thought he was being stalked. Or that I liked his package. Wonder if they make giant chrome plated hoohoos......

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

You Can Get Something Cheap at Whole Foods!

Whole Foods is not known for being inexpensive. On the contrary, they tend to be high as hell. They do have a lot of things going for them, though. They have excellent produce, meat and cheese. They make it very easy to buy organic and natural although the opportunity to buy local is somewhat lacking. They have a cap on their executive's salaries which in light of today's attitudes was quite proactive. Their employees appear to be happy in their jobs. In comparison to the employees of the Kroger near me they seem to be downright ecstatic.
They also have a little-known bargain that fulfills a myriad of goals for most of us. On select Wednesday nights Whole Foods offers cooking classes. They are cheap, cheap, cheap at $5-$8 per person. Last week while we were all struggling to put a decent meal on the table after work we could have been with a spouse or friend learning how to make Filet Mignon with Cabernet Cream Sauce and Lobster Risotto. And then we could have eaten it. For $8 per person!!!! To recap, we would not have to do our own dishes and we could learn something new. It's a no-brainer. Listed below is the info for the Louisville store. All stores do this as far as I can tell. Enjoy!

Wednesday, Feb 25th- "Seafood Savvy" / $5
On the menu: Risotto w/ Squid and Garlic Butter, Blackened Salmon w/ Hollandaise Sauce, Smoked Salmon, with Red Onion and Goat Cheese Tarts, & Salmon Tartare
Pre-registration for classes required and space is limited, please call 502.899.5545 and sign up today!
**There is no class scheduled for February 18th

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Four Days of Chocolate - Wendy Gaynor's Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Here is, I promise, the last day of Four Days of Chocolate. My stomach can't take much more and yours probably can't either. I was sidetracked by blog awards and Cirque du Soleil and coupons so didn't get around to this last day until after the week was over. I was thrilled, though, to find out that a friend made the Chocolate Dump-It Cake for a dinner party on Valentine's Day and loved it! That's what all this writing is about. He also makes a Cajun Pork Roast that is to die for and you know how I love the hog. Hopefully he'll share that recipe with me and I'll share it with you and we'll make it famous in our own minds at least.
Back to cookies. These cookies are the best ever anywhere. They come from Wendy Gaynor, who owns Ruby and Violette, a sweet shop in New York that basically just sells this cookie in a ton of different flavors. They belong in the repertoire. The dough freezes beautifully and the cookies bake up perfectly. The Lemon and White Chocolate Chunk variation that is listed below after the main recipe may be the best. They have a special quality that makes them perfect to give as gifts. They are so good they should come in a Tiffany box.Wendy Gaynor's 'Perfect' Chocolate Chunk Cookies

8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 cup packed dark brown sugar

1/2 cup granulated sugar

2 large eggs

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

4 cups semisweet chunks (preferably imported).

1. Place the butter in a large bowl and cream at high speed until fluffy. Add the sugars and beat until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes, scraping down sides of bowl occasionally. Beat in eggs, one at a time, until completely mixed.
2. In a separate bowl, mix flflour, salt and baking soda. Add to the butter mixture at low speed until just combined and add vanilla extract. Beat on medium speed, scraping bowl down, until blended. Do not overmix.
3. Add chocolate chunks and mix till thoroughly combined. Refrigerate batter until cold, preferably overnight.
4. Preheat a conventional oven to 350 degrees or a convection oven to 300 degrees, and line several baking sheets with parchment paper. Drop heaping spoonfuls of batter 2 inches apart on the lined baking sheets and bake, turning tray once, until golden brown around edges and soft (but not bubbly), about 9 minutes in a convection oven or 12 in a conventional one. Cool on a wire rack.
Yield: 36 to 72 cookies, depending on size.

Lemon-and-White-Chocolate-Chunk Cookies

Use the ingredients and follow the directions above, except add 3 tablespoons more flour, 1 tablespoon lemon oil (in addition to the vanilla) and 4 cups white-chocolate chunks (preferably imported) instead of semisweet.
Yield: 36 to 72 cookies, depending on size.