Sunday, July 5, 2020

Weekly Wrap-Up 7/5

Good morning my friends.

Those of you who have followed for a while know how much I hate fireworks!!!  Last night was the worst year yet!  It was nerve wracking and horrifying.  Think a professional fireworks display X50 surrounding you on all sides and lasting for 5 1/2 hours NON-STOP!!!!  It was a nightmare.  I cried for all the poor animals.
Recession, no money for food or bills - didn't seem so in my neighborhood.  There had to be 10's of thousands of dollars spent on fireworks for just last night, just in my area.
OK - I am sorry for the rant and negativity.  I was just so upset and I am really tired today - not much sleep.
P.S. - my kitties were all here this morning for breakfast as were the squirrels.  So happy!

It has been HOT this week - my goodness.  We got some rain at the first of week and then yesterday  evening at about 6:30 a decent rain storm came through - thank goodness it wet everything down.  It was much appreciated.  I have been watering everything like crazy this week.
Garden is growing nicely.  Finally getting blooms on the cucumbers and they are now vining.  Pepper plants are growing some.  We have broken records for the number of consecutive 90*+ days - more to come all this week.
Have seen this several times this week - this was taken at about 5PM - the heat of the day.  HOT!!!!

My week:
  • I raked the yard again - free mulch
  • Cleaned up the over growing plants on the front walk - they have been taking over again!
  • Got my registration and new plates for the Blazer JUST IN TIME!!!  YAY!
  • My dryer knob broke again (the back part).  I have repaired before a few years back - and did so again!  It is now working fine again - for free
  • I had a couple chap-stick tubes that were close to empty.  I used a toothpick and removed what was left in one and put in the other one.  Not wasting any of it!
  • Weeded garden - boy was that hot!
  • Picked a bouquet - phlox, echinacea and lilies - enjoyed them all week
  • Cut my hair
  • Made a run to Meijer this week.  I received an ad for the first time in months and what a deal they had for the holiday!  Ground beef was 1.89/lb. (limit 2 packs).  I got 2 packs which weighed close to 10 lbs. total.  I also got a watermelon for 1.99 - my goodness it is good.  I found a package of Portabella mushrooms marked down to 3.29 and I picked up some additional fresh veggies and a couple household items
You can see the 1.89 sticker here.  Did I need it?  NO  - but I will and best to buy at a cheap price
3.29 for 3 huge Portabella mushrooms.  A great deal around here

  • Ran across the street to Staples (from Meijer) and got ink for printer.  Hoping that fixes my printer problem.  First time ever in a Staples!
  • All bills for the month paid
  • Made some turkey burgers and froze extras
  • I drove over to the park just to drive around and look at the flowers.  Noticed hardly no cars at the library (it opened back up a little over a week ago).  I ran in - there were 3 people, counting me, and 2 were in computer lab.  I had the stacks all to myself!!!  I missed just browsing the aisles.  Got myself 3 books
  • Had several neighbors visit from over the fences and from the curb this week.  We all caught up on gossip!!!  
  • Made some watermelon water - using the juice left from cutting watermelon and adding to a bottle of water.  Tasty.
  • Picked 3 zucchini
Meals this past week:
Leftover zucchini skillet and a leftover veggie burger
Turkey cheese burgers
Pasta/veggie salad (lots of veggies)
Pasta/veg. salad and a pork chop sandwich (small chop already cooked from freezer)
Jalapeno/cheese stuffed Portabella and sautéed onion and peppers
stuffed mushroom topped with peppers and onion

Smaller stuffed shroom and 2 chicken tenders
Fried zucchini (yum), chicken tenders and cuke/tom/onion side salad
Munching on watermelon all week!

What did you do this week to stay frugal and add to your household?  Did you find any deals?
How are the gardens doing?
I look forward to hearing from you all.  

Stay safe, cool and healthy my friends.
Blessings from my humble little home to yours.

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Some of My Off the Wall Recipes

I know I post some unusual food items sometimes.  I am pretty easy to please and I hate to waste anything.  I like finding new ways to fix food.
I know that come heck or highwater - I will be eating - and eating well.  I have learned to experiment with food and have fun with it.  Waste has never been in my vocabulary.

I will try to give recipes for a few 'odd' things I make (sort of recipes) - as I just usually wing it!

VEGGIE/RICE BURGERS (from last week)
I had leftover dirty rice and leftover refried beans.  Mixed them together - added some finely chopped onion, a bit of beef bouillon, and bread crumbs.  (You could use crushed crackers or even oats).  Got it a consistency that I could form patties.  I then fried on a non-stick griddle.  Browned both sides and topped with cheese as they were about done.  Made for a very tasty sandwich and a side the next day.
If you just have regular red or black beans (or any kind) just smash them up a bit and add to any type of leftover rice.  You an also use lentils as a base for veggie burgers.

Rice mixes available at Aldi.  These are very good and provide enough for a small family.  No need to make a huge pot of something when you can use these mixes.  Very comparable to name brand and less than a $1 a box.  I always have these on hand.

I mixed a box of Stovetop cornbread stuffing mix (you can use any type) with an egg and about 3/4 C water.  I added a small can of chunk chicken.  You could add any type of leftover meat.  I have done with chopped turkey and ground sausage.  You can also leave meat out entirely.
Form into patties and fry on griddle until golden brown on each side.  These are very good.  Great as a side instead of meat.  You could also do these in a waffle iron.  I have done that as well.

I make pasta salads with fresh veggies - more veggies than pasta.  Any type of veggies work.  Can use Mayo or store bought or homemade dressing of any type.
I add whatever veggies I have.  Above is  brocolli, zucchini, cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers, onion, carrots with a little pasta.  You truly don't have to add pasta - I do, to make it more of a meal.

Ham, tuna, chicken or egg salad are huge summer favorites.  Eat on bread or bun or just plate it up with some veggies and chips and you have a simple, cool and refreshing meal.
I often add frozen peas to my meat salads - my Mom always did and so do I.  It just adds a veggie to the mix and it is colorful!

Most of us steam or cook our veggies.  Some veggies are better roasted - can do on the grill in the summer.  I like sautéed or fried veggies.  We all think about fried potatoes, fried/breaded okra (YUM), fried green tomatoes or fried zucchini.
I like to add a bit of butter or bacon grease to a pan and sautee up green beans.  They are so good, add a bit of chopped onion or bacon crumbles.  Fried corn (or hominy) with diced onion and peppers is totally yum.  Love fried/sautéed  asparagus.
The list goes on and on.  Get outside the box a bit and try fixing things new ways.  Trust me you may find a new family favorite.  You can fry any type of veggie.

Another easy and fun food is fried apples!!!  Melt a bit of butter - peel and slice apples (got some that need used up?) and then add a bit of brown sugar or sugar and maybe a dash of cinnamon and cook until tender.  OH MY they are so good.  Great as a side with pork or use as a dessert!

Turkey, chicken or pork grind makes great burgers.  It tends to be softer in texture, so you  may need to add bread crumbs, oatmeal, or cracker crumbs.  If you want a 'beef burger' taste add beef bouillon to your mix.  Fry up as you would with any burger.  This can be a healthier version of meat and it can be cheaper with the price of beef now.
I found a package of ground turkey in the freezer this week that I got on a clearance and made that into burgers.  Made enough for my meal and to freeze for later - all from a pound of meat.
You can also substitute in chili, tacos, meatballs, sloppy Joe's, etc.
1.19 and I got burgers for several meals - doesn't get much cheaper than that! (empty package - forgot to take picture with turkey in it!)

The mixes that I pictured above can be used in so many ways for a non-meat type meal. (Of course you can add meat if desired).
I use as a side dish, mix into burgers or meatloaf, use in enchiladas, burritos, tacos, frittatas, you name it.  I often make soup in the fall/winter with these being my base - just add veggies, tomatoes, broth, meat - whatever you want to add.  Makes for a nice hearty and tangy soup.

Not just a shroom any more.  They are great to use as a substitute for burgers.  Grill or fry until tender and top with cheese and plop on a bun with all the fixings.
I like to stuff the bella's with a mixture of cream cheese, sour cream, a bit of shredded cheddar and jalapenos and bake or grill.  Oh my goodness these are so yummy.
I can make these as a main course.  Mushrooms are a wonderful substitute for meat - so hearty and meaty tasting.
You can stuff mushrooms with about any combo you can come up with and then bake/grill.  They sell stuffed Portabella mushrooms at the grocery and the are very expensive.  Make yourself a delicacy at home for much less $$

Hope this gives you and idea or two of lighter ways to eat this summer or just a lighter way to eat in general.  Get into using things in new and different ways - it really can expand your food adventures and your dollars!

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

FREEDOM = A Stocked Pantry

I truly believe that a fully stocked pantry (home) is FREEDOM.
As we have all seen this year STUFF HAPPENS - and then what?  Panic????  Why not just be prepared and go with the flow?

It sure pays to be prepared in all ways - not just your food pantry.  You need medical supplies.  You need paper products (TP) or alternatives.  You need pet supplies.  You need cleaning and antiseptic supplies.  You need food.  You may need cash.  You need seeds.
I know it sounds overwhelming and expensive - but it doesn't have to be.

Many people are on fixed incomes and stocking up seems impossible.  Do a little at a time.  Even if you can only do $5 or $10 extra a week - add to your supplies.  Each item you add - is something that will sustain you later.  Don't stop - don't slack - just DO IT!

I will give you an example from personal experience.  When hubs was here - we had to be careful to keep anyone away that was sick - getting the flue or even a cold could have had devastating affects for him.  I always had masks, gloves, and hand sanitizer on hand.  Honestly in all the years of having these things - they were only necessary a couple times.  BUT boy did they come in handy this year!!!!!  I had what I needed and I was not in a panic like so many trying to find supplies.  I still have ample supplies and I know I wasn't taken advantage of with price gouging!

Learn new recipes and open your mind to trying new recipes and alternatives.  Have good old basic recipe books on hand (you never know the libraries may close again).  It is nice to have your own - then you can mark special recipes or tag pages that you like.  Get creative.
Realize that you don't have to have meat everyday!  We have some plant foodies here and they are surviving just fine.  There are alternatives to meat for protein.
Go visit Belinda at Frugal Workshop (see side panel).  She has been listing a lot of recipes lately that are great for stretching the budget and the pantry.

Keep dry goods on hand.  Evaporated milk, buttermilk powder, powdered eggs.  You can get just about anything in powdered form - really!!!  Vinegar, butter, sour cream, honey, milk, eggs, horseradish...………..the list of powders goes on and on.  I have always found just about anything I can think of at Spices, Etc.  I get milk, buttermilk and eggs at the store - but other things can be hard to find at the grocery aisles.

Make sure you have cleaning supplies.  Soap, vinegar, alcohol, peroxide, laundry supplies, baking soda and health and beauty supplies.

NOW is the time to buy your holiday baking supplies.  I know that maybe prices can get cheaper at the holidays - but who says they will be there or you can get out to purchase them.  Get them now.  Be prepared.  I am not banking on the holiday season being 'normal' - but this girl wants to make it as normal as possible.  That includes some baking!!!!  That includes gifts - start NOW!

Think about buying extra veggie seeds for gardens.  Here in the U.S. it is about time for stores to be marking that stuff down.  Get garden supplies now - just in case.  They will be good for a long time.

I know we all get complacent and when things seem somewhat 'normal' and we tend to let our guard down.  You should have learned that is not what we should be doing.  We all need to be prepared for anything at anytime.

I keep seeing people on FB pages ask "I am new at this - what do I need to stock?"
My answer is always - stock what you use!!!!!!
Then they ask "how much should I have?"
Well - how long do you want to be prepared for?  A month, 6 months, a year or longer?  Decide how much of everything you use each week or month and then multiply it out.
Make sure you have FUN foods or treats as well.  If you are bored and stuck inside those fun things hidden away can make life seem more tolerable!

I know a lot of people are talking about this subject - but right now it is important.  We all need to make sure we take advantage of sales, clearance and deals.  Take advantage of gardens and fresh produce markets.
PLAN AHEAD - it doesn't get more clear than that!

IF "it hits the fan" AGAIN this year - do you want to depend on the stores to have what you need or do you want to depend on your PERSONAL store of goods?
Me - I want to have what I need and not depend on others.  I don't want the stress and worry about not finding things.  I want to stay home and be content - and just go on living a good life - no interruptions.
I want the FREEDOM my pantry supplies provide me.
Think about it.

GET BUSY and do SOMETHING - it will all be for the good in your future.
Do NOT be complacent.

Tomorrow: recipe ideas

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Nature - Pretties and Smiles

I have a busy day ahead, so I just want to put some pretties out there and hope it gives you a smile or two.
Lovelies out front
Rose Moss  - I have 5 pots of this - every color - it is so pretty
Regular eating tomatoes on vine - can't wait!!!
Roma tomatoes
Echinacea starting to bloom - loaded with buds.  Front and back yard both
Tons of tiger lilies blooming.  On the left is Coreopsis which will bloom soon - in foreground is phlox setting blooms.  Hopefully lots of purple soon!
Squirrel/bird planted and approved.  I have several coming up and blooming
Clematis just starting to bloom.  Normally they would be in full bloom.  This year the freeze we had in May killed all first buds - so finally re-budded.

My peonies only bloomed a bit as well.  I know it was because of freeze.  They were covered with big old buds when the freeze happened.  I did get to enjoy some - but most of the blooms/buds just dried up on the plant.
First set of grapevine did the same.  It finally re-leafed and now there are new bunches of grapes setting.  Not as many as usual - but looking forward to some.

Just a quick tour.  Have a wonderful day!
SMILE and be happy today - you have that choice!

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Weekly Wrap-Up 6/28

Happy Sunday all.  It is a gloomy, humid and wet last Sunday of June here.
We had storms and rain off and on yesterday.  Some rain predicted for each of the next 3 or 4 days and hot.
The rain is surely making the garden and plants grow.  They are thriving.  Nature's water is much better for the plants than hose water.

Enjoying watching all the animals around.  One night I had 2 adult and 4 baby racoons out back.  They were playing and scurrying around every where.  Up this tree and down and then up the other tree and down.  Big old opossum came walking by that night and the cats were just sitting on their chairs watching everything!  Bunnies were out playing and eating clover earlier.  Birds and squirrels and neighborhood cats visiting ...... it is a real menagerie out there.  My neighbor used to say I was "Alice in wonderland", now I am just "Jane of the jungle"!!!!!  LOL

We had a power outage Friday night in the neighborhood.  From the sounds of all the sirens, I imagine it was caused by a wreck somewhere close by.  My generator kicked on instantly and I was the only one with power!  Power was only out about an hour - but good to know I am covered.

Update:  The kids from two doors down came and apologized to me!  I don't believe it was their idea (teen just looked unhappy) - but they did apologize for being rude and for saying the things they said.  We had a nice talk out on the porch and I told them we were just all worried that they may do something that they can't take back and then they would have their lives ruined.  The young couple next door had a HUGE conversation with their Mom and told her she better start parenting - because that was her job, not theirs and not the neighbors.  We'll see.  Just figured I would let you all know.  It has been quiet this week!!!

This week:
  • Steamed & sautéed some fresh veggies that needed used up
  • Towered my potato plants - they are really growing - don't know if there will be potatoes, but plants are really pretty & growing
  • Repotted several house plants.  Some very old and leggy looking plants and some from planters I got  last spring.  Had the pots and soil on hand
  • Placed some starts from old plants in water to root as well 
  • Raked leaves 2X.  YES, raked - the tulip poplar always starts shedding in mid June and July - ugh!  Used the leaves as a mulch grass barrier behind the shed
  • Mowed the entire yard while it still was a bit cooler
  • Rain barrels are both full again!
  • Picked my first zucchini on Tuesday!!!  Looks like I will be eating zucchini a lot in upcoming days!  YAY - free food.  There are many coming on.
  • Made up an Aldi dirty rice mix and used it in 3 different ways for meals this week
  • Used some sausage in a skillet zucchini dish and then sliced up rest of sausage into (7) patties and froze for future use.
  • Put together a new bottle of dish soap and one of  shampoo, adding vinegar to both
  • Just doing all the normal every day stuff
  • Did go out to fill gas tank and saved .20/gal. with points
Meals this past week:
Steamed cauliflower and sautéed mushrooms/pepper & fried chicken/cornbread stuffing patty
Repeat of above
Dirty rice with a single sausage, green beans and cherry toms
Rice (leftover) & bean/cheese enchilada 'like' burritos  (topped burritos w/sauce)
Homemade veggie cheese burgers (using rice and beans in burger mix) & slaw
Zucchini/sausage/cheese skillet (threw in leftover green beans)
BLT sandwich and chips and salsa
Dirty rice with an indiv. size smoked sausage - love dirty rice
Zucchini, ground sausage, onion, salsa, a handful of pasta and cheese - YUM (having leftovers today!)

I have just been hanging out here at home.  Only left to get gas (didn't want to lose my points).  Did some porch sitting the first part of the week when the temps were cooler and watched the birds and hummingbirds.  Weeding garden and pulling weeds from flower beds have been my main activity and just visiting with all my nature and kitties.  Kitties know where to lay to stay the coolest - they sure are smart.
Not much exciting in my neck of the woods.

How was your week?  Have you harvested anything yet?  So many of you are in places that so far ahead in crops than here.
Look forward to hearing from you all.

Stay kind and helpful and positive.  Prayers that you are all safe and healthy.
Blessings from my humble little home to yours.

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Six Months - IN and OUT

Well, we are a little over six months into this year - and all I can say is what a ride it has been!
I am sure none of us would have thought so much negative would have happened  at this point, on January 1, 2020.  We all know stuff happens - but enough already!!

Six months from today is Christmas!!!!!!  Oh my goodness.
Have any of you  thought about it yet?  Has anyone started planning?  Has anyone started making or buying gifts?  I bet I can guess who has!!!!!  (Annabel is first on my mind - she is always getting ready!)
What do you plan to do this year?
We have no idea what things will be like then.  Hopefully family get togethers will be back to normal and the craziness of the world will be settled down.

I have never been an on-line shopper - may have to think about it this year.  Most everyone is getting older - so money and gift cards are ALWAYS appreciated.  There are only a few 'littles', so I think I can handle that.  
I will continue to can my special goodies that everyone likes.  I will make up jar recipes - those are always a hit.  Food products and restaurant gift cards are what many in my circle like to receive.  I still have some sewing projects in the back of my brain - so I may work on those as well.
I know it will be simple and most likely edible.  

As the young kiddos get older - it really is getting easier.  They love gift cards to their favorite shopping places, they love snacks, and they love going out to fast food places.  I can oblige!!!
Most every gift card I might want to get, can be found at my Kroger or Wal-Mart.  At Kroger - I can often get extra gas points when purchasing gift cards!!  Win-win.
Gift cards card be purchased over time and put back for the holidays.  They don't expire.  You can spread the expenses over time.  
The teenagers love their snack foods.  I like to make up some sort of 'basket' or 'bag' of their favorite goodies that can keep in their rooms - and not have to share!!!  LOL

Do you have special go to things that you are getting for the holidays?  Are you thinking of preparing ahead of time this year?
Will Christmas look different for you this year?

I think the grocery store and my garden will be my go to sources of gifts this year.  It will still be personalized, it will be tasty, and it will be frugal.  
That's my plan and I'm sticking to it!!!!!

What say you?

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Jump Start your Frugal Budget #2

Jump starting the budget - we all need to do that from time to time.    This time let's talk about EDUCATION!
We all need to take the time to educate ourselves in new ways - in old ways - in all ways!
We are never to old to learn new things.  I learn from you all every week.  Each single solitary person has their own mind and beliefs - and they need to share.  My goodness, if we all shared the knowledge that is in our heads we would all be in good shape.

Educate yourself about how sales work.  Know the cycles that the stores follow.  They have them - trust me.  Certain items go on sale at specific intervals that can be pretty well followed.  Watch and know what goes on sale at holiday times.  You can save so much money if you follow and watch and buy during these sales times.

Educate yourself about herbs and 'weeds'.  Herbs can be healing on many levels.  Natural healing is wonderful - read and learn what you can use and how to use it.  'Weeds' are not always weeds!  They can be food - the same with some flowers.  There are many books on herbs and their use available.  Type 'edible weeds' in your search engine and learn tons about the 'weeds' growing in your yard and how they can provide food and medicine for you and your family.

Educate yourself  on gardening.  You don't have to have a yard to grow SOME food.  Heck, you don't even have to have a patio.  You can grown lettuce, onions and herbs on your window sill.  You can regrow celery and romaine lettuce and green onions from scraps (bottoms) of store bought  products right there in your kitchen!
Understand that anything you re-use or grow is something you no longer have to buy.  Thus saving money!!!

Educate yourself on using things in new ways.  Kitchen scraps can be used to make compost.  Coffee grounds and egg shells can be used in your garden.  Vick's menthol rub can be used to deter mosquitos on your body outdoors.  Milk crates can be used as storage and as decorative storage in your home.  Door mounted cloth/plastic shoe racks can be used to hold small items - toys, food packets, health & beauty, etc.  Get creative with cooking and use things differently.
Decorate with what you have.  There is no limit to what can be reused in a new way.

Educate yourself about dehydrating and canning and freezing foods.  Figure out which is best for you or learn how to do all of them.  You can freeze, can and dehydrate store bought produce - it doesn't have to be home grown.  You can dehydrate frozen veggies and fruits - which saves you room in storage and you don't have to worry about loss of electricity.  There are many sites and many books that can teach you all of this.  
Go to the library!!!  It is your friend.  There are resources about everything there.  
Watch You Tube - my goodness you can learn how to fix anything - you can learn how to can - to dehydrate - to sew - to crochet - to garden - to prep - to fix a washing machine, change the oil in a car, ANYTHING!!!!
If you go to You Tube - type in whatever you are interested in - in the search space and you will find hundreds of videos on that subject.
I love looking at the videos of people's long term pantries and watching how other people are staying frugal.  So many ideas.
Follow BLOGS and VLOGS and learn from others.  There are many helpful blogs out there.  
Use you computer to LEARN - not just to follow communicate with others.  The world is at your fingertips!!!!!

Educate yourself on medical problems/solutions.  I have a couple helpful natural medical books that I keep on hand.  You just never know when you may need that information.  You may not be able to go to a doctor or get meds - know what you can do to help yourself.

Educate yourself on how to make your own cleaning products.  SO many natural things you throw away can be used to clean.  Many natural things are antiseptic (including herbs).  Learn the natural and frugal ways.

Educate yourself on living off grid.  WHAT IF the grid went down?  Would you be able to survive?  Do you know different ways of cooking, or staying warm or cool?  Something to think about.

What you know - may become your most valuable resource some day.  Learn everything you can.  Keep reference books on hand.  Keep cookbooks.  Keep books on canning, freezing, dehydrating, gardening.  Keep books on "How To"....  Make yourself an educational library at your home.  You may be glad you did someday.
I hope this gives you something to think about and maybe some ways to help yourself in the future.
We need to prepare for anything.  Better to be prepared and have knowledge than not!
Education  and knowledge IS frugal!!!!!

Next week we will talk about expenses - and what we can do to help our budgets.