Sunday, December 17, 2017

Frugal Happenings 12/17

Hello everyone.  Happy Sunday and last week before Christmas.  I am sure Santa's workshops and Mrs. Claus's kitchens will be busy this week getting ready for all the holiday festivities!
I will be putting together additional gift baskets and getting the few gifts that need wrapped all wrapped up.  Baking will take place off and on.  I am not going to stress about it, or go over board.

We had a cold week, and now the weather is warming.  It seems we will be above normal for at least the next 7 days.  It doesn't look like a good possibility of having a white Christmas here.  I am fine with that, but I know others like it.  I just want it to be decent for all the travelers.

Yesterday was my sibling Christmas get together.  That is always nice, because we sit and talk about the 'good old days' a lot.  I love sharing stories, and learn something new every time.  Everyone was much older than I, so they have stories prior to me!  Precious times and memories.

My frugal week:
  • Made a feed store run.  I am good well into January, maybe February.
  • Used brown paper and bubble pack (came in last weeks delivery) when packing the goodie bags for brother and sister.  There were lots of jars in them.
  • Gave myself a lovely spa night.
  • Made my first batch of Springerle cookies and 6 mini loaves of banana/strawberry nut bread for gift baskets
  • Got my cards all mailed
  • All baking was from supplies on hand, as will be the baking I do this week.  No need to purchase anything.
  • Made a dozen hard boiled eggs
  • Ran to Kroger to get bread and milk.  Found a few markdowns and a few closeouts.  Manager Markdowns are items they have an overstock of.  Closeouts are items they won't be supplying any more.
  • I got packages of faux crab legs on markdown - we use in pasta salad, and as an add-in on those rare seafood dinners.  They were marked down to 2.49/lb.  Regular 4.99/lb.
  • I also got several full size cans of Pringles for........drum roll please.........35 cents a can!!!!!  DEAL OF THE YEAR!!!!!  The store won't be carrying these flavors any more.  We tasted both types and they are good.  I got some for us and for basket stuffers! 
  • All meals and drinks from home
  • Sister sent leftovers home yesterday, so we have extra for lunches
  • I received a surprise box of goodies and pretties from a friend in the mail.  What a lovely surprise.
  • At the sibling get together we received 2 - $25 GC's, home canned goods in a re-usable grocery bag, and a huge box of Russell Stover chocolates.  YUM
Meals this week:
Leftover split pea soup
Tuna patties, tangy mac n cheese and salad
Beef and bean nachos
Leftovers and fried b/s chicken thighs
Fish sticks, oven potato wedges and side salad
Cajon rice with sausage and salad
Dinner from sisters

How was your week?  Are you ready for Christmas?
Did you get any deals to add to your pantries?

Here we are a week until Christmas and two weeks before entering into a new year.  This is still hard for me to believe.  It seems just like the other day that we were saying this in 2016.
The hands of time sure do go quickly as we get older!!!

I pray you all have a safe and lovely week.
Blessings to you all.  May the Lord bless you and keep you in His loving embrace.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Quick and Easy Last Minute TREATS!

Christmas is a week and a half away.  Time is ticking.  In case you are still rushing around shopping, decorating and wrapping (shame on you) - here are a few ideas for quick and easy treats.
I like to stick with simple treat ideas.  I can make several and everyone enjoys them. 

1/4 C butter or  margarine
1 pkg. (10 oz.) marshmallows (4 cups mini)
5 C rice crispy  cereal
Melt butter in a large sauce pan on low heat.  Add marshmallows and stir until melted.  Cook 3 - 4 minutes longer, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat.
Stir in cereal until well coated.
Spread evenly into a 13 x 9 pan.  Cut into squares when cool.
**You can use rice cereal, corn flakes, Chex, or any type of cereal you have on hand.  I once made with Honey Bunches of Oats, and it gave it a great new flavor.
Add a few drops of food color if you want to make it Christmas colors.
You can spread out in pan and cut into shapes as well.

1 lb. powdered sugar
2/3 C cocoa
1/4 tsp. salt

1/4 C milk
2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 C butter
1/2 C chopped nuts (optional)

Sift sugar, cocoa & salt in a microwave safe bowl.  Stir in milk and vanilla.  Place butter in pats (pieces) on top.  Microwave on high for 2 minutes.  Beat with a wooden spoon until smooth.  Add nuts at this time.  Spread in a buttered 8 x 8 pan.  Chill 1 hour.  Cut into 36 pieces.

1 - 18 oz. box of cake mix (any flavor you have)
1/2 C oil
2 eggs
3/4 C chopped nuts (optional)
Combine all ingredient and drop by teaspoon onto a non-stick pan.  Bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes.

Want to have iced cookies or pretty cookies, but don't have the time to decorate all those cookies?  Get simple.  You can either make cookies with store bought mixes or even buy a plain store bought cookie - THEN dip half of the cookie in melted chocolate.  You can use chocolate chips, white chips, or even peanut butter chips.  Add a few sprinkles and you have pretty cookies.

1 1/2 C smooth peanut butter (I have used crunchy too)
1 lb. powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 stick butter or margarine (melted)
6 oz. chocolate chips
Original recipe calls to combine peanut butter, sugar, vanilla and melted butter.  Roll into balls about the size of a buckeye or acorn (smaller than a walnut).  Chill 1 hour.  Melt chocolate in double boiler.  Insert toothpick into balls and dip in chocolate.  Leave a small piece of ball showing to represent the buckeye look.  Lay to dry on wax paper.
**MY VERSION - combine all except chocolate as stated.  Spread out in a lightly buttered 8 x 8 pan.  Chill.  Spread the melted chocolate over the top.  Allow to dry.  Cut into 1 inch pieces. 
You get the taste (not that look), and they are so much easier and less time consuming!!!!

1 Tbsp. egg white (basically I use 1 egg white)
2 C pecan halves
1/4 C sugar
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
In a bowl, beat egg white until foamy.  Add pecans and toss until well coated.  Combine sugar and cinnamon:  sprinkle over pecans and toss to coat.
Spread in a single layer on an ungreased baking sheet.  Bake at 300 for 30 minutes or until browned.  Cool on wax paper.
So easy and these are the best!!!!!!!!  ALWAYS A HIT!
Truthfully you can use about any type of nut you want - but pecans are so good.

Another easy-peasy treat is homemade "Turtle" type treats.  I use small pretzels - top with a Rolo (chocolate & caramel candy).  Place on a parchment lined cookie sheet and place in a 250* oven for 2 - 3 minutes.  (You want to candy to be pliable - not melted!).  Remove from oven and place a pecan half on top of candy, pushing it gently down.  These are always a hit.
Pretzels can be used with Hershey kisses (any flavor) as well.  Fun and easy and so tasty.  Same direction as above.

I also like to melt a bag of chocolate chips and add couple cups of salted peanuts.  Stir and drop onto wax paper by teaspoon.  Let dry.  Yummy salty sweet treat.  You can also add broken pieces of pretzels to the mix.
DON'T forget about chocolate covered (dipped) pretzels.  Again, easy and tasty.

So many tricks to making simple and easy treats.  It doesn't take a master chef or baker to have fun yummy goodies.  Simple things can be the best!

Don't forget you can also change up your sweet bread recipes as well.  If you have a good recipe for zucchini or banana bread - think about changing things up.  Maybe use a different kind of squash, whatever you have. 
I am making banana bread today, but only using half the amount of banana and filling in the rest with thawed strawberries!  YUM  You can use applesauce or any type of pureed fruit.
Get creative, use what you have, and make some yummy treats for your family and friends.


Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Stay Safe and Be Alert

Tis the season!  For cheaters, scammers, thieves, burglars, and thugs!  Oh my.

I hope you all stay safe this year.  Remember to never put gifts under a tree if they can be seen from any window.  That is just inviting trouble.
I don't put any gifts out.  The day I am delivering or the day someone is coming over, is when the gifts get set out.

We all love for our Christmas lights to be seen by passerby's at night - but generally that means your curtain/blinds are open.  People are out prowling around this time of the year.
It is dark much earlier in the evening and much later in the morning - so be careful.  If they can see your lights  they can see you and anything in your home.

Keep your doors and windows locked at all times!!!!!  I go in and out several times a day with the cats and wildlife - but the door is locked behind me.  G is in the house - but he wouldn't see someone coming in until too late. 

Never warm up your car and leave it unlocked.  Dailey I see stories on the news about people getting their cars stolen.  DUH!  I have a second key, which I use to start my car on a cold/frosty day - then I lock it with the fob.  I come in the house and it is locked as well!

If you are not going to be at home, and have ordered goods to be delivered - have them delivered to work if possible or to a neighbors address (that you know will be home).

When going out and about, please be careful.  I ALWAYS keep my cash and/or charge card in my pocket, as well as my cell phone and keys.  I know I will be able to get home.
I do carry a handbag - why?  Because if someone wants to rob me, I want them to yank it and run, thinking they got something good!  Maybe I won't be harmed in the process.

Be very vigilant when walking through stores and parking lots.  Be aware of people following you.  Try to go in the daylight.  If you go out shopping at night - take someone with you.

Keep your car locked in parking lots.  If you have purchases in the car (that don't fit in trunk), be sure you have something that covers them.  Don't make the temptation to rob you any easier.

Consider adding longer screws to your door lock/jambs for better security.  Those short screws can be kicked in like nothing.  The longer the screw the safer it is.  Pretty hard to get that to pull out!

Scammers are even entering our home via the phone and computer.  NEVER say the word YES, when answering questions on the phone to someone you don't know.  Always answer no or the word 'correct'.  This is more important in offices/businesses than homes.  You may just be ordering something the business will HAVE to pay for if you say the word YES!

Don't do those silly surveys and question/answer things on the computer.  You all have seen them.  Name your first crush.  Name your grade school.  Your first grade school friend.  The street you lived on in childhood.   Name your favorite color.  Scammers/hackers use these answers to figure out your passwords and take over your computer and/or accounts.  Think about it - many of the questions on those 'FUN' surveys are the same ones the banks/charge card places ask.

Be watchful around your neighborhood.  Know your neighbors vehicles and their normal coming/going schedule.  Watch out for them as well.

Shoot, I think I thwarted an attempted break-in this morning.  I go out early to feed the animals, and it is still dark out (my area behind house has some lights).  The greenhouse has a light as well.  After feeding the cats and animals out back - I walk to the front porch and pick up the newspaper.
The newspaper guy and I are the only ones ever out and about that early!!!!  All the houses around are still dark.
This morning after getting the paper, I saw someone up by the front door messing around, 4 houses down.  He was all in dark or black clothes.  I stood there and watched - he saw me.
He ducked behind the truck parked out in front of their house - and I walked down the drive (making it look like I was going that way) - and he took off running down the sidewalk the other direction.
He had to be up to no good, because why else run!
Kind of scary, because it is generally pretty safe around here.  You just never know and you can't trust anyone any more.

So please be safe, keep your home and vehicles safe, and YOU stay safe and always be ALERT!!!
Blessings my friends

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Frugal Happenings 12/10

Good morning to everyone.  Two weeks from today is Christmas Eve!  It will be here before you know it.  Are you ready?  I am pretty well there, just some baking to do.

We sure have been on a weather roller coaster this week - mainly downhill!  We started with 70's at the first of the week, and got to a point where highs were in the 20's and we had a light bit of snow.  There was a day or two that seemed brutal because of the temps and the wind.  Brrrrrr. 
Today is supposed to get to close to 40 - heat wave!

My kitties have all found cozy places to be this week.  This is Pooty, and my view most mornings while sitting here on the couch!  She loves her table and Christmas tree.   Coogy is curled up in the rocker, and Lilly is snuggled in with her daddy!

My frugal week:
  • Received another FREE wall calendar this week.
  • Finished up work on my jar recipes for gifts
Here is a couple types all ready for gift bags!
  • Made a 3 1/2 lb. beef roast in the crockpot this week.  It made 3 dinners each, and G had it 2X for breakfast meals
  • Used ham from the freezer as well as broth and made a pot of split pea soup
  • Made O.J. from concentrate.  I have been craving orange juice
  • Made a batch of double chocolate/choc. chip muffins from a mixed I found in the pantry.  Bought it on clearance sometime back - it fixed that sweet craving!
  • Made a gallon of raspberry flavored tea.  We drink iced tea all year, and I decided to jazz it up a bit.  Cooled it out on the porch rail.
  • Made 2 batches of jelly this week.  One batch of black raspberry and one of Concord grape.  Ended up with 4 pints and 12 half pints all together.

Grape on the left and black raspberry on the right.  Mmmmmm!  They all pinged and set up wonderfully.
  • Ordered the last items needed for gift baskets on Wednesday.  Ordered the jalapeno/cheese summer sausage and my bulk dry ham seasoning.  The summer sausage has been a favorite of many for years (can only buy from one place), and the last ham seasoning I ordered, was 3 years ago.  I use it and give as gifts as well. **Amazingly I received both orders on Friday - regular UPS!  One and a half day delivery from OH and PA not to shaggy for this time of the year!
  • Kitties now have a new box to play/lay in - and they love it!  Free entertainment for them!
  • Got all my cards addressed while sitting and enjoying some baking shows 
  • Washed out some zip lock baggies
  • Doing all the regular stuff

Meals this week:
Mexican spaghetti
Cube steak with gravy, leftover pasta and asparagus
Hot dogs and layered bean dip with tortilla chips
Sliced roast beef, potatoes and green beans
Beef enchiladas - (used leftover bean dip and roast in them & enchilada sauce from freezer)
Beef Manhattans
Split pea soup

Beef Manhattan - such warm yummy comfort food!  One of my favorite things.

How was your week?  Did you get any good deals?  Do any baking or last minute crafting/shopping?

I hope you are all taking some time for yourselves and just simply enjoying this incredibly wonderful holiday season.  Enjoy and hug your family and friends.
Tis the season!

May the Lord bless you and keep you safe and healthy in this coming week.  I wish you happiness, calm and snuggles. 
Blessings from our humble home to yours.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Stop the Madness

I had a post set up for today, then I read Face Book this morning and changed my mind.
One of the FB groups I belong to has a daily "what are you up to" post.  I sat and read the original post and then I read every comment left, and by the time I got done, I had tears in my eyes.

Everything I read was hurry, hurry, hurry.  Tons of posts that said "I HAVE"  to do this and that.  I have to make hundreds of cookies, I have to make my Christmas cards, I have to make teacher gifts, I have to buy for any body and everybody, I have to make the prettiest packages, I have to decorate.......
You don't HAVE to do anything people!   We all make choices and you have CHOSEN to do all those things.

We all need to remember that our names are NOT Betty Crocker or Martha Stewart.  Perfection is a 'must' in your own mind.
Thirty years from now, your grandchildren aren't going to remember you set a perfect table - they are going to remember the fun things you did with them.
IF, JUST IF you didn't do all the stuff you think you have to do - will anybody die?  NOPE!
Being perfect is an illusion.  Being human and enjoying your time with your family is a reality.

Yes, I have several items I would LIKE to accomplish before Christmas as well, but I finally realized this week, that if they don't get done - oh well.  My priority is to be as stress free as possible, and to enjoy the time I have on this earth with people I love.  Stress can make you sick and it can kill you.  It isn't worth it.

When the kids come to visit at Christmas, they just want us to spend time together.  If I don't have all the homemade cookies and candies, they won't care.  Being together is what it all about.  That is what they will remember someday - not that Auntie didn't make enough variety of cookies!

Has anybody heard of the K.I.S.S. principle?  Keep It Simple Stupid!!!!!!  KISS.  This is becoming my life motto.   I want to simplify everything in life.  I want to spend more time enjoying the moment and the people. 
It is amazing to me that it has taken me 63 years to figure this out.  Therein comes the term 'stupid'!  LOL (I really don't like that word - but you understand what I mean).

I hope you all stop hurrying and stressing.  I pray you all JUST enjoy. 
The holidays will be over in a couple weeks and then you have a years wait to get the opportunity to enjoy them again. 
Who knows if next year will even come.

God bless you all.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Fun & Frugal Last Minute Gift Ideas

You all know I am a big "homemade" gift kind of gal.  There are so many cute ideas available.  You have to love Pinterest and all the ideas you can find.  The internet provides us with a world of fun and different ideas.
Step outside the box.
Most of the following pictures are pretty self explanatory.

If I receive a handmade gift - regardless of what it is - I think the giver is being so creative and smart.  I am getting something that is just a 'pick-up' at any store!

 Coffee or Hot chocolate baskets - complete with stir sticks (candy canes), marshmallows and mug

Find pinecones and dip in wax (colored or plain).  Make wonderful fire starters - gift in a little basket or bag them up.

 Big mug with fuzzy socks, chocolate, nail polish and a couple special tea bags

 Decorate up a special 6 pack of specialty brew or special pop

Make up a cute basket or box with makings for ice cream sundaes.  Toppings, sprinkles, little cups, cones, and a scoop
 Snack jars are wonderful for all ages.  Any kind of snacks can be added and the jar can be used later too.  You can use jars or baskets or totes.  What fun!!!!!!  Pick a theme or mix it up!

Make specialty gift boxes for the small items from TP tubes!  These could hold jewelry, candy, pocket knives, miniatures............................... 

 Mini bottles of liquor in a jar - you could attach to  6 pack of pop in cans - but I think this alone would be cute for that hard to buy for person.

Make up a cute little sewing kit with things you have around the house.  Great gift for a college student, or someone moving out for the first time.

Never forget about home canned goods or homemade candies, cookies & breads.
Pretty pillows, lap quilts, afghans, scarves, mittens, placemats, dish cloths, etc. are always welcome.

Get creative with what you have, stay frugal, change things up a bit - but most of  all - HAVE FUN!!!!
Tis the season!!!!!!

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Frugal Happenings 12/3

Howdy ho!  Wow, here we are in December, with only 3 weeks till Christmas Eve!  It just seems to have happened all too fast in my opinion.  Yep, I know it's been a year - but I don't pay attention till it's close at hand!! LOL
Are you ready?

We have had 'great' weather this past week, especially for this time of the year.  We have been above normal temps and have had lots of sun.  Such a mood enhancer!  It looks like the temps will hold on through tomorrow, then start dropping.  By mid week we are to get hit by a winter blast that will hang around for a while.
A bright spot in my thinking:  less than three weeks till winter solstice - then the days actually start getting longer again!  December 21st is the shortest day of the year in this hemisphere.

I have pretty much finished my shopping.  I still have homemade items to work on and wrapping, but I do believe that I am done with stores.  I do need to make a bank run for those monetary gifts - but that is it.

I live in the capital city of our state.  This is our circle center after the holiday lighting.  The picture doesn't do it justice.  It is always so pretty downtown this time of the year.  
Click on picture to enlarge.

My frugal week:
  • I used the last of the Thanksgiving food (that wasn't frozen) in new ways.
  • Froze lots of ham and turkey for later use
  • Got to work in the yard.  Raked and mulched the last of the leaves.  My garden should be happy next year.  Lots of FREE exercise!
  • Actually got to turn off the heat and air out the house a couple days.
  • Met with our insurance broker for 2018 health coverage.  I managed to get the same rate as last year, with a teeny tiny improvement in coverage.  I still don't like the options we have, but this is more for catastrophic events in my opinion.  I am very lucky to have no medical problems.
  • I used a $5/$25 coupon at Sav-a Lot before it expired.  Got the balance of items needed for jar recipes.
  • I received another $5/$25 coupon for above store, good until end of December!
  • Ran into Kroger to see if any good clearance.  I got 3 ruby grapefruit for 3/.99, and 2 fresh pineapples for .99 each.  All were in that special produce bin!  That's all I bought.
  • Worked on some of my jar recipes
  • Got out many of my cookie/candy recipes that I hope to make in the next few weeks
  • Enjoying using the fall/winter scented candles and melts that I received as gifts last Christmas
  • Meals from home
  • Doing all the normal every day stuff
Meals this past week:
Potato pancakes, turkey smothered in cheese & dressing 'waffles'
Leftover turkey/noodle soup
Burgers, beans & rice and side salad
Fried chicken livers with gravy, potato wedges
Skillet stew
BBQ wings, mac and cheese and side salad
Nacho cheese/bacon/jalapeno topped baked potatoes
Fresh fruit as treats

My sister and I tentatively set the weekend of 17/18 as sibling Christmas get together.  Looking forward to that.

I HAVE to make jelly this week (I keep putting it off).  Later in the week will be cold - so that seems like a good time for it.
I need to get my goodie baskets all put together and stuff wrapped.  We'll see!!!!!!!  Oh, and need to mail out cards!  Oh, and bake!    YIKES!!!!!

What is going on in your neck of the woods?  Are you ready for Christmas?  Did you get any great deals this week?
Look forward to hearing from everyone.

May the Lord keep you wrapped in His warm, loving, and healing embrace.  God bless my friends.
Have a wonderful week!