Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Holiday Guilt

I think we have all had one of those years that we felt tremendous guilt on the money that we have spent.  For myself, it was years and years ago, in my VERY young and stupid days.
I would shop and shop for others, charge it, and then pay all year with high interest rates, and start the process over again.

How many of you have had 'holiday guilt' before?

I know it is tougher when people have kids.  Now a days, kids are bomb-barded from morning to night with commercials and ads for all the things they so NEED!!!!!!!  UGH!  Everything is electronic and high tech.  Kids seem to have everything by the time they just hit their teenage years.
So many young people (as in adults) think they deserve to have EVERYTHING right now - the same things their parents worked for, for years.  It has become a ME world full of instant gratification.

I have mentioned many times that I make most of our gifts.  The younger kids (nieces and nephews) do get some store bought stuff.  I am very lucky that the youngsters in our family have parents that have taught them restraint.  They get tickled to pieces to get fuzzy socks or new jammies!  Little cars, story books, and army men from dollar stores have been great hits in the past!That makes me happy.

I love to hear stories of folks who buy at sales all year long for their gift 'closet', or those who buy "like new" from yard sales and thrift stores, or those who limit gifts and funds for shopping.  I like to hear about the homemade gifts - as well as loving to receive them! 
I think it is great that many parents have " a want, a need. a read, a clothing" type of Christmas - YES, just 4 items!  They should be proud of themselves.

Giving young people ALL they want - helps no one.  They do not learn restraint, they don't learn responsibility, they don't learn anything about monetary values, etc. 
Don't allow your children or grand children to get caught up in that trap.
Hopefully they will follow examples throughout their lives, and turn out  to be frugal like their great teachers and mentors!

I hope none of you feel 'holiday guilt' this year.  Don't go overboard, keep things simple, stay within budget, and have a ball! 
Merry Christmas


Sunday, December 4, 2016

Frugal Happenings 12/4

It's beginning to FEEL a lot like Christmas!!!   Oh baby, it's getting cold outside.  It will be highs in the 40's for the next couple days - but by the end of the week our highs are supposed to be in the 20's!!  YIKES
I really dislike cold, cold weather.  I guess it has come with getting older.

We have only seen peeks of sunshine this week.  It has been so cloudy and overcast.  I think I could handle the weather better if there was sun - I really do NEED sunshine!  I feel sunshine is essential for my sanity!

My frugal week:
  • I made a pot of 'turkey' gumbo soup (and tossed in leftover green beans)
  • I made up 10 jars of mixed beans for gift giving
  • I went to Dollar Tree and got lots of 'stocking/basket'  stuffers
  • Found lot's of great deals for the young-ins I buy for.  Took advantage of sales.
  • No groceries bought this week
  • I got the few decorations up, that I will be doing this year. (Just not into it).
  • Door decorations up
  • Got my Christmas cards out and have started working on them (all bought for .50 a box last year)
  • Received a bag of turnips from my brother yesterday.  We love them raw!  I am going to try frying like potatoes too. (his recommendation)
  • Received another $10/$40 coupon from Aldi on todays paper.  Good till the 17th!
  • Worked on my health insurance this week.  My company is not offering in 2017.  Finally signed and got a new policy.  Not everything I wanted - but it will cover major problems (God forbid) and I will be saving $200 a month from what I have now!!!!!!  All in all I am pleased!
  • I have been working on getting gift baskets together
  • Still using tomatoes from our garden for fresh salads - they are slowly ripening!

Meals this week:
Turkey gumbo soup (2X)
Open faced cheeseburgers and salad
Made a batch of faux crab/pasta salad with fresh veggies (yum)
Fried chicken and leftovers
Leftover night
'Pizza' casserole (like baked spaghetti only with pizza toppings)

It has been a fairly quiet week.  I am slowly trying to get things ready for Christmas.  I will have to start baking in a week or so.  I don't like to start too early.
3 more weeks till Christmas!!!!!!!

What have you all been up to this week?  Has anyone gotten any great deals or done anything fun?
I pray you all have a glorious week.  Stay safe and healthy my friends.


Thursday, December 1, 2016

Jar Recipe Gifts & More - PART 2

Well here we are 24 days till Christmas!  The official  countdown has begun.
It is beginning to feel a little more like Christmas here, as the weather has cooled again.  Not as cold as it probably should be - but that is ok.

Today are a few more ideas for a homemade Christmas.  Hope they give you some ideas.

  • Dip some nice size apples in chocolate and cover with crushed nuts or candy.  Stick a popsicle stick in stem end and either drizzle or dip the apples.  Place in a cupcake pan liner to dry.  wrap in saran wrap for giving.
  • A pretty dollar store cup and several flavored tea bags for the tea lover
  • Dip plastic spoons in white or regular melted chocolate.  After dry, bundle up several and cover with plastic wrap.  Attach a note - saying coffee stirrers.
  • Use small jelly size jars - place wooden stick matches inside.  Cut the striker pad off box to fit the top of jar (under jar ring).  Great for campers
  • Make fire starters for campers or those with fireplace.  Dip pinecones in wax and let dry. (Pinecones can easily be found in parks and at the cemetery).    You can also stuff TP tubes with drier lint - then wrap the tubes in brown paper to look like wrapped gifts (or taffy candy).
  • Don't forget the pets of people.  A nice bag of treats would be appreciated - or a new toy.
  • Make some sweet breads (banana, zucchini, pumpkin, etc.).  Wrap in plastic wrap - then "gift wrap" in a dollar store kitchen towel.  2 gifts in one.
  • Dip pretzels in chocolate or almond bark.  SO EASY and yet a yummy gift
  • Homemade cookies and candies on a pretty dollar store plate

I mix whatever type of beans I have together.  Fill either pint or quart jars (depending on family size) or use any jar you have.  I leave space in jar for a small packet of dry ham base (I made a packet containing 5 Tbsp. per jar).  Make up a cute tag giving cooking instructions and attach to jar.  Cute and very useful.

Here are some I made up the other day.  Each pint jar has close to a pound of beans and a small packet of ham seasoning.  I used 8 lbs. of beans and made 10 jars.

(Layer items in a jar)
1 box (2 pkts.) onion soup mix (or equivalent of homemade)
1/2 C split peas
1/2 C small alphabet macaroni
1/2 C shells (pasta)
1/2 C colored pasta
1/4 C lentils

CARD;  "When you feel you are to busy and a meal you need to fix, get out a kettle, 7 cups of water and 1/2 pound hamburger and this jar."
"While you have your things to do, and when you sit and eat - REMEMBER  - WE LOVE YOU!"
**You could add a small can of tomato sauce or diced tomatoes too if you wish.

(I get requests for this mix from family - they love it)
1 package of Country Gravy Mix (2.75 oz.) - can be bought at most grocers (or equiv. of bulk mix)
2 Tbsp.  chicken bouillon granules
2 Tbsp. minced onion (dried type)
2 Tbsp. celery flakes
2 tsp. parsley flakes
2 1/2 - 3 C. dried noodles (like egg noodles)

Best to use a wide mouth quart jar.  Stir together first 5 ingredients and place in jar - top with noodles.  Give with can of chicken.

INSTRUCTIONS attach:  empty contents into a pan and add 8 cups water - heat to boiling on high.  reduce heat - add chicken and simmer till noodles are done.  Stir occasionally.

1 3/4 C instant potatoes
1 1/2 C dry milk
2 Tbsp. chicken bouillon
1 tsp. dried parsley
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/4 tsp. thyme
1/8 tsp. turmeric
1/2 tsp. seasoning salt
*(You could even a tablespoon or two of cheddar cheese powder if you have it on hand)
Combine all together and put in a quart jar.
INSTRUCTIONS attach:  Place 1/2 cup mix in a bowl and add 1 cup boiling water.  Stir till smooth.

***Great for taking to the office or a hearty after school snack.

NOTE:  These soups are all very hearty and yummy. 
Most of the ingredients can be bought at dollar stores or Big Lots cheaply.  You get several jars from purchasing a jar of most of the ingredients (spices, etc.).

I hope these give you some ideas for fun and different gifts.  There is not limit to what can be put in a jar and gifted.  Homemade is thoughtful and fun and FRUGAL!
If giving more than one item - you can gift in a small basket (thrift store) or a re-usable grocery bag (you could make that too!)
If you make up several - and don't give them all away - you are ready for a quick and simple dinner at home!!


Merry Christmas

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Jar Gifts and Other Fun Things

I promised some jar recipe gift ideas.  Jar gifts are so easy to make from supplies on hand.  Don't think you have to use canning jars - you can use whatever jars you have that "fit" the recipe.

I LOVE giving food items, and most of my gift recipients ask for them - my theory - we ALL HAVE TO EAT!  I love FREE groceries!!!  Any home canned good works in a goody basket or bag.
Salsa - spaghetti sauce - jelly/jams - applesauce - green beans - pickles - etc.................

There are a lot of fun ideas available to fill in with.  Here we go!

I mix salted peanuts, M & M candies, and raisins/craisins together in big pans.  I then fill jars or even baggies with the yumminess.
You can other things as well.  Frosted cereals, mini pretzels, banana chips, etc.
There is no set recipe for this - BUT it is always a winner.
**You can also buy HUGE bulk bags of Chex-Mix at Sam's or Costco and divide into smaller jars or bags.

2/3 C instant coffee granules
1 C hot chocolate mix (I buy big cans super cheap of Kroger brand - or make your own)
1 C powdered non-dairy creamer
1/2 C sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. nutmeg
Mix together thoroughly and put into a jar
Add instructions to jar :  Mix 3 Tbsp. to 6 oz. hot water
Maybe add a pretty coffee cup.

 2 C powdered sugar
1 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. allspice
2 tsp. cinnamon
Mix together and place in a zip lock bag
Attach together with a 15 oz. can of pumpkin and an 8 oz. cream cheese.
INSTRUCTIONS :  Mix room temp. cream cheese, powdered mix and pumpkin together.
Serve with gingersnaps or graham crackers.  (You could give the crackers/cookies as well)

This can be made for home use or divided up and presented as gifts.

10 C dry milk
1 3/4 C dry coffee creamer (could be flavored for a neat perk)
1 3/4 C cocoa
5 C powdered sugar (OR Stevia "for baking" in equivalent measure)

Combine and mix very well.  Store in a cool dry place.
INSTRUCTION:  Mix 1/3 C of mix with 3/4 C boiling water
Makes approx. 50 servings
**If dividing up into to smaller jars (maybe tie a small packet of mini marshmallows to the jars)
Gift with a pretty cup from thrift store or Dollar Tree

Here is a cute idea I made up today for a couple of newlyweds as a small token gift.

The oven mitt I have had in my 'gift box' for quite a while.  Added cookie mix and brownie mix ($1 ea.) and a spatula and whisk from the Dollar Tree.  I spent $4. 
This could be done even cheaper if you added a jar recipe of cookie mix or brownie mix you made yourself (or gotten for free with sales and coupons).

REMEMBER; Just about any recipe can be made into a jar recipe gift.  Layer your dry ingredients (to make it pretty) in appropriate size jar and add instructions of how to mix with their own wet ingredients and baking instructions.

I will post  soup "jar" recipes in the next post, and some other ideas you may like.


Sunday, November 27, 2016

Frugal Happenings 11/27

Good morning all.
I hope you all had a wonderful day of thanks this past week.  I hope you enjoyed family and friends and lots of yummy food.

We are still using leftovers - today what isn't used in soup, will go in the freezer at our house.  Desserts have already been frozen for a later date. 

I stayed home on Black Friday - there was absolutely nothing I needed bad enough to fight those crazy crowds.  I saw pictures on the news of people fighting from different areas around the country.  Really?  Acting like total idiots for stuff they really don't need  (and going in debt for) on the day after being thankful for what we have.  CRAZY!!!!

It's hard to believe that we are the last few days of November!  Hey folks - 4 weeks till Christmas!!!!
Don't hate me for continually reminding you!  I think I am reminding myself more than anything.  I need to get busy.  I am just not into yet this year.

My frugal week:
  • Stayed home for 7 days straight
  • Using leftovers and re-inventing them
  • I was gifted 2 Pennsylvania Dutch squash by my brother.  Together they weigh 15 lbs.!!

  • On Friday I made and canned 10 pints of Concord grape jelly from grapes I had frozen this summer (from the yard).  It helped clear the freezer a bit too!!!
  • 'Cooked' the turkey carcass and got 4 quarts of extra stock.  Froze into 'pucks' in my muffin tins. I then placed into freezer bags for use later.
  • Froze over half of the cheesecake for later.  We ate way too many sweets this week!
  • Made approx. 100 small squirrel cookies with items that I had saved back that were stale.  (Not wanting to waste or throw anything away).    Have plenty of supplies left to make more.  (old cake mix, stale cereal, some stale nuts - anything will do).  NOTE:  The squirrels love them and are starting to take from my hand!
  • Went to Kroger Saturday to buy milk and bread ONLY.  Did get a box of huge deli croissants (4) on clearance for 1.49.  Cooked up eggs and sausage at home and made my own croissant-"wiches".  G will enjoy them heated up this week.
  • I have been recording movies and programs we never get to see this weekend.  Noticed that we have a weekend of FREE premiere movie channels from U-Verse.  Taking advantage of that.
  • Brought in several of the free jars I received this summer and scrubbed them all.  Getting ready to make jar recipes tomorrow for my gift giving.
  • Did laundry in cold water and line dried in the basement. (Bonus - adds humidity to the house, keeping it warmer on cold days).
  • Stopped at the oldest 2nd hand bookstore in the city on Saturday.  I ended up with 6 different publications for $18.  I know it's more than many thrift stores - but I love helping out a small business, especially one in our community (just up the road).
I love anything Amish.  The Ball books (3) range in age from 1941 to 2006.  The Mayberry cookbook is a real hoot.  Lots of recipes and full of pictures and stories from the show.

I am going by my brothers' old home to pick up a family piece of furniture today.  It is a desk and chair that Mom worked a part time job for, as a gift for Dad's Christmas when I was about 3.  I have no idea where I will put it (for now in garage), but I don't want to see it get lost or sold. 

Meals this week:
Made a small pot of soup from frig. leftovers
Breaded fish, fries and slaw
Leftover fish and slaw
Grilled cheese and salad
T-Day meal
T-day meal of leftovers
Turkey Manhattens (YUM)  This must be a regional item, as I saw a diner up the road that was advertising them as their special yesterday!!!!!

How was your week?  Are you still eating leftovers?  Have you made any gifts for the Christmas holiday (or done any frugal shopping)?
Let us all know what you are up too.

COMING THIS WEEK:  Jar recipes for gifting - and more!

May the Lord be with you in this coming week and keep you in His safe and loving arms.  God bless you all.
I am so thankful for all my blog and FB friends!!!

Wednesday, November 23, 2016


The day after Thanksgiving is known as Black Friday here in the states.  That is supposedly the day that retailers finally get into the black with profits (I am not believing that).

We then  have Cyber Monday - the biggest shopping day of the year via internet. 

My preference is Small Business Saturday! 
Most folks that visit my blog are frugal folks.  We are also creative and try to step out of the normal flow of things.  We make gifts and get creative with gift giving ideas.
SMALL BUSINESSES can allow us to do that, as well as helping our local community.

There are so many options for gifts at small businesses.  One can buy gift cards/certificates at that small Mom & Pop diner or restaurant that everyone loves.  We have many small family owned shops that sell jewelry, art, crafty gifts, wine, pottery, candy, baked goods, cheese, handmade toys, wood crafts, area orchards, ethnic groceries..........................................................  I even include the small local thrift stores in these shops and used book stores.
Most larger communities and cities have a great variety of small businesses.
There will be lots of Craft Bazaars going on around the country this weekend as well.  Those are great options for buying unique gifts at an affordable price.  They also give a lots of great ideas for making homemade gifts.

If you are inclined to shop this weekend - stay away from the huge box stores that just make their millionaire owners richer, if at all possible! 
Help out that small guy who lives in the community, whose children go to local schools and participate in local sports................... help out a neighbor! 
Help save a job of someone struggling just like you and I.

SHOP SMALL SATURDAY  (and everyday if possible)!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Turkey Day Leftovers

Thanksgiving evening, most of us curl up to watch a movie and "roll" into bed!  Generally we are all so full that we can't imagine eating for days.
BUT there are always leftovers, and heaven knows we WILL be eating again tomorrow!!!!

My all time favorite thing on Friday is a cold turkey sandwich with salt and mustard!  I look forward to that every year!!!!!!

Many people just get tired of all the leftovers because they only eat them in their original form.  We do once or twice - THEN it comes time to get creative!

I love fixing a ham and potato and cheese casserole - baked.
Ham and cheese grilled sandwiches.
Ham and soup beans or split pea soup with ham added
Green beans, potatoes, and ham
Julienned ham on a large chef salad
Ham and eggs
Fried rice with ham
Potato soup with ham added
The list goes on and on...............................

Turkey/noodle or turkey/rice soup
Casserole (I layer dressing, mashed potatoes, turkey and gravy - top with cheese and bake till heated). Kind of like Shepherd's pie.
GO MEXICAN with tacos, burritos, enchiladas
Turkey chili
Add to a chef salad
INDIAN - spice it up and make a tomato/curry type soup with turkey
Grilled turkey and cheese sandwiches
Another FAVORITE at our house is turkey Manhattens (like the beef ones we have)  Turkey sandwich split - mashed potatoes in the middles all topped with gravy.
Turkey and noodles or dumplings
Use in ANY way you would chicken

Whether mashed or mashed sweet potatoes - they can be turned into potato cakes and fried
Add to soup as a thickener
Freeze in individual muffin tins for a later date
Make potato candy

Add to any type of soup or stir fry or fried rice or homemade lo-mein

Not a favorite here - but I do like them with added oranges, mandarins or pineapple
Great mixed with apple sauce - (Mmmmm over yogurt or cottage cheese)
Mix sauce with apples and make an additional pie
Serve over hot oatmeal
Add to Jello

Spoon portions into a muffin pan and bake till crispy on the outside.  These are good frozen for later too. (great for quick lunch or snacks)
I love to add to a waffle iron - heat till browned on outside - add a fried egg and make very hearty breakfast sandwiches

Cheesecake - is wonderful frozen.  I always have some in the freezer during the holidays - for a special frozen YUM when we get a craving.
Most pies and cakes can be frozen as well.  Same with cookies and brownies.
You could always send those desserts home with others...........NAH!

OK, this is all off the top of my head.  WHAT IDEAS DO YOU HAVE FOR LEFTOVERS?  We all need to know!!!!!!!
I know we will end up putting some meat in the freezer, as well as the ham bone, and I will make stock with the turkey carcass.  Thanksgiving food is the food that just keeps on giving!

I love this time of year and the special foods that we tend to eat only around the holidays.  I absolutely LOVE to re-invent things too.

I hope this gives you some ideas of new things to try.  Share any ideas you have for turkey day food reincarnations!