Saturday, April 30, 2011

Bountiful Baskets: save money on produce

A little while ago I learned about this incredible produce co-op program that takes place every week in several Western States. Bountiful Baskets is a volunteer run organization. Members sign into their free, no-contract, accounts on-line early in the week and contribute money to pool together. Bountiful Baskets then buys produce from the same warehouses that grocery stores purchase their produce from. Early on Saturday mornings members arrive at a pick-up site in their communities to pick up their basket of produce. Take a look at the picture below.  This is what I received for my $15 contribution!

What I got in my Bountiful Basket this week!
My basket contained:

two crowns of brocolli
1 head of cauliflower
7 red potatoes
1 cucumber
8 ears of sweet corn
1 bunch of spinach
two containers of strawberries
1 watermelon
1 pineapple
1 bunch of bananas
3 apples
2 grapefruit

My contribution was $15 plus $1.50 in handling charges and a one-time basket fee of $3 since it was my first time participating. If you want organic produce, it is available for a contribution of $25. They also have some options each week of other things to buy like bread, tortillas, oriental produce, a box of peaches, etc.

Sounds good, right? Is there a catch? Well--yes--you don't get to choose what will be in your basket or how much. You get what you get. However, if you look at what I got you'll see that they pick items that most people generally enjoy. Yes, once in a while they will throw in something a little more exotic, but they know from experience what their members usually enjoy and that's mostly what they purchase. You will receive about half fruit and half vegetables. And, if you don't show up in the 20 minute pick-up window you will forfeit your basket--no refunds for no-shows since they already spent your money. You can have someone else pick up your basket if you can't make it or it will be donated.

I tried for several weeks to participate, but all the sites in my area were full. This is getting to be a popular program and it's spreading across the west. They just opened a new site near me so I was able to get in. Each site has a volunteer coordinator and many participants show up an hour early to prepare baskets and help distribute. I arrived on time at 7:30 AM at a local car dealership that allows Bountiful Baskets to use their service area on Saturday mornings and this is what it looked like:

Each person receives TWO of these baskets--one fruit--one veggie

These were mine. You must transfer them to your own basket to take home
You can participate only on the weeks you wish and you can buy more than one basket or share your basket with a friend
This is a great way to get more fruits and veggies in your diet and save money at the same time. My pick up site also just happens to be close to the Great Harvest Bread Company. After I pick up my basket I can swing in there for some fresh baked rolls to enjoy on a Saturday morning!


Thursday, April 28, 2011

Recipe: Cherry Almond Chocolate Chip Cookies

Although I don't enjoy cooking very much I do like to bake. I enjoy coming up with variations on some of my favorite baking recipes. I concocted these yesterday and I think they may be my very best idea yet!


2/3 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
8 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup dried cherries, whole
1 package of SLICED almond pieces (not slivered)

Mix ingredients together and drop by rounded tablespoonfuls onto baking sheet. Press ends of 3-4 sliced almond pieces into the top of each dough ball (make sure they are anchored so they don't fall off later). Bake at 375 degrees for 8-10 minutes. Makes 3 dozen cookies.

As a shortcut you could mix the almond slices right into the batter, but I like them on top as garnish. You could also just press one whole almond into the top before baking.

I always make a double batch. The texture actually improves when you freeze them so you might as well make a double batch while you are at it.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

I'm giving away a Gift Certificate!

On May 1st I'm giving away a Sue Runyon Designs gift certificate to one of my wonderful newsletter subscribers. The amount is currently set at $10, but I'm getting close to having 100 subscribers. If I reach that goal by May 1st the gift certificate amount will go up to $20.

Note that this is not for my Facebook Fans, my Twitter Followers or anyone except my newsletter subscribers. As always, they are my Preferred Customers and are automatically entered in all give-a-ways. If you are already a subscriber you are already entered in this and all future give-a-ways. Pretty good deal isn't it?

I send out just six newsletters a year and never abuse the privilege.

To subscribe, use the form in the right side column of this blog. Or enter here.

I've switched newsletter service providers and you'll now be receiving my newsletter in full color with photos right in the text--no more having to click links to see photos of what I'm working on. Those few subscribers who still have dial-up internet will be able to view a plain text version.

Thanks so much to all my loyal customers. I really appreciate you!


Monday, April 18, 2011

The best necklace chains and cords

When it comes to necklace chains and cords I'm very particular. They MUST be comfortable to wear! I stock a selection of high quality chains and cords and plenty of pendants in my on-line shop:

Also look for my magnetic converter clasps which change hard to work clasps into easy to fasten magnetic ones. These are very strong.

Sunday, April 10, 2011