Thursday, October 18, 2018

Useful Information

I hope that many of you will find the following charts useful and helpful.
There are so many varieties of fruits and veggies out - there is no way for any one of to know about all of them.
Hope these help!!!

Click on picture to enlarge.  There are so many varieties available this time of the year.  I know we all have our favorites - but this may give you a new idea.

Again, it's that time of the year - so many options.
I truly don't think I have found an apple or a squash that I didn't like!

I just love this time of the year for all the goodies that we an get.  Remember that winter squash can be kept for months in a cool, dark and dry place in your home.  Get them when the prices are good, and eat well all winter.
Make sure you check your local orchards and farm markets for apples - if you d the math - it is generally cheaper to buy fresh from the orchard (fresher too).

Make like a squirrel and get these fall goodies while the getting is good!  Stock up and store for the winter.  According to the way these little critters are acting (and the birds) it may be a cold one!!!!!
I do believe that sometimes 'nature' is much smarter than we are!!!

Enjoy the bounties of the fall harvest!

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Ideas to Save $$$ in the Kitchen

We are all looking for ways to save money today.  So many things just continue to raise in price, except paychecks.  They remain the same, and we all have the same bills, still need to buy groceries, and still need to live.  We need to find  ways to make those dollars stretch.

Some of these are common sense, others may be new ideas.  I understand that you won't save TONS of dollars doing these little tricks - but as Daddy always said "pennies make dollars"!!!!!

  • Start your shopping trip by going to produce, meat and dairy sections FIRST!  These are the healthiest REAL foods for your diet.  The center aisles are all full of junk and processed food.
  • Chop and cut your own!!!!!  Don't buy those backs/packs of pre-cut salads, fruits and veggies - they cost a small fortune per pound!  Do the work and save the money.
  • Shred your own cheese!!!!!  It will be 100% cheese.  The bags of shredded cheese you buy have chemicals added to keep the cheese pieces from sticking together.  YUK  Chunk cheese is often cheaper as well.
  • LOOK TO THE REAR!  Oldest items are on the shelves in the front.  If you want to extend your milk, yogurt, veggies, etc. - get your product from the back of the shelf.    ***OK I even have a habit of getting canned goods and such from the back of shelves - as they probably haven't been touched as much!  Less germs!  I know that may seem crazy, but do you have any idea how many nasty germs are on the items?  Sneezing, coughing, poo/pee from little's, who knows what!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  ICK
  • ALWAYS check mark downs, clearance and manager's specials.
  • When buying a bunch of celery - bring it home, remove from plastic and wrap tightly in foil.  It will last for ages.
  • Mushrooms and plastic do not go together!  Bring them home, wipe them off (do not wash) and put them in a paper bag.  They will stay fresh for so long!
  • Once you open your cottage cheese, sour cream, etc. - tightly replace the lid and store upside down in the frig.  This displaces air that cause your dairy to go bad
  • Buying fresh asparagus?  Cut a bit off the bottom end - and store the asparagus in a glass with about an inch or so of water in it.  Cover the top with a plastic bag.  It stays nice and firm and fresh.
  • Many stores have 2 day sales and specials using 'digital coupons'.  You don't have to have a smart phone or even print the coupon.  Separate the items from the rest of grocery items - tell the clerk UP FRONT and show the add.  You will get that special price.  I do this all the time at Kroger.  Just make sure you mention it before they ring it up!!!!!!
  • DO NOT over pack your refrigerator.  That causes it to work harder, and items in the 'middle' may not get as cool as they should be.
  • Keep you frig at the perfect temps to preserve your groceries.  Ideal is 35* - but between 34* - 39* will work.
  • Always wrap your lettuce in a paper towel and then place back in bag or bowl.  That will help keep the moisture off the lettuce which causes it to wilt and slime
  • Wrap your hard cheese in parchment paper when storing  (after opening).  It allows the cheese to breath and stay fresh.
  • NEVER keep onions or potatoes in the frig.  Do NOT keep them in plastic bags either.  They need a dark, cool and dry place and need to be in something that allows them to get air.
  • Never buy cards at the grocery store.  You get the best prices at dollar stores.  NO they may not be Hallmark - but they are fine.  Most people just throw them away - so why spend a fortune on them.  Same with wrapping paper.  I know this isn't a kitchen thing - but it saves money!
  • IF you buy cleaning products - do NOT buy at the grocery unless you can get for next to nothing.  Dollar stores are almost always cheaper.  It is the same with many beauty items (shampoo, toothpaste, brushes, conditioner, etc.)
  • ALWAYS get rain checks when allowable if the store is out of a sale item.  You can get it later for the same discounted price.
  • Even if you do NOT need groceries on a given week - it might be wise to go and check cheaper priced items  for your stock pile.  Your deep pantry/stockpile may save you some day.
  • If you find a great deal (too good to pass up price) - ALWAYS buy more than one!!!!!  ALWAYS!
  • Never waste food.  Use for other meals (lunch, breakfast), use as leftovers, remake into new item, or freeze for a later date.  USE IT UP!!
  • Buy clearance candy and goodies AFTER a holiday.  They last for ages on a shelf or you can freeze them.  It doesn't matter what the decoration on the wrapper is.

There are so many tricks and tips that save money.  Take care of those pennies and they will take care of you. 
Do you have any special tricks for making your groceries and  dollars last longer???

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Frugal Happenings 10/14

Happy Sunday everyone.  This month is just slipping by so very quickly.  I have been keeping busy - but haven't gotten nearly as much done as I would like.

The weather went from hot and humid (almost 90) to 30's at night this week.  It just dropped like crazy all at once.  I told hubs the first of week - just watch it will get cold and maybe snow by Halloween!.  It could happen.  They had flurries in northern part of state Friday night, and we had sleet.  We actually have had to turn on heat a couple times this week.  YUCK

I have been in such a 'funk' of a mood lately.  I think it must be that time of the year.  I just hate the shorter daylight hours!!!!  As my good friend said yesterday I need to "snap out of it"!!!!!  She asked me if it was because I have a birthday later this month - and I laughed.  I then went to the mailbox and opened a letter that stated "in just 9 months you can apply for Medicare".  Dang it - that made me feel old!

The last rose of the season.  Boy did it smell fantastic ALL week long.  It seemed like it lasted longer than normal.

My frugal week:
  • Picked all the last veggies in the garden - about 8 1/2 lbs.
  • Started on pulling out the garden - have it about half done
  • Rolled and drained the hoses
  • Mowed yard and did misc. yard work
  • Emptied and stored 1 of the rain barrels  - one more to go
  • Took the BBQ grill apart and cleaned thoroughly.  Ready for any winter use
  • Lined dried laundry
  • Cut and dehydrated garlic chives and thyme
  • Brought a pot of rosemary inside - going to try to keep it over the winter
  • Bottled 6 more individual bottles of water
  • Got lots of paperwork done this week
  • Made baked apples
  • Made cake mix cookies
  • Made a big pot of cheesy potato soup.  Added ground meat the 2nd night.  Froze the balance for another day
  • Ran to Meijer on Friday to take advantage of their 2 day sale.  I got whole pork loins for 1.15/lb.  (I bought 4)  I will cut mainly into chops.  Half pound packs of smoked sausage for .90 each (11/$10 sale)
                             Look at those prices - I am a happy gal!!!! (click on pictures to enlarge)
  • Went to Menards (across the street from Meijer) and got sale priced furnace filters to last for over the next year.
  • All normal stuff - cooking meals at home, using what we have, blending up new bottles of shampoo, dish soap & Febreeze, staying home a lot, making tea, and more

Meals this past week:
Baked beans with hotdogs added and salad
Cold sandwiches and chips and dip (hot mow day)
Sausage/egg croissants (from freezer) and oven fries
Cheese ravioli/meatballs in marinara and garlic toast
Cheesy potato soup
Soup with added ground beef and sour cream
Hamburger steaks topped with sautéed onions, mushrooms, peppers, tator tots & salad

We had apples with peanut butter, plain apples, baked apples, ice cream sundaes, and cake mix cookies for treats this week.
We either ate all leftovers for other meals or froze them.

I finally got around to adding up all the final receipts for SEPTEMBER this week.  I was sooooo proud of myself!!! 
My regular grocery totals for the MONTH was $87.30 and the total for "deep pantry extras for storage" was only $39.65 for the MONTH!!!!!    WOOHOO!

I tallied my garden produce totals this week as well.  Total picked was 281 lbs. of produce.  What a savings in money!  I have canned 120 jars of goodies and I still haven't done jelly from garden grapes/berries.  We gave a lot to others as well - so lots of people enjoyed it.  I know it isn't as much as some folks, but not too shaggy for my little backyard garden!  I am pleased.


How was your week?  Are your gardens done as well?  Are you getting ready for all the fall/winter holidays?  Any great savings or deals?
Let us know.

May your coming week be fruitful, frugal and fantastic.  Prayers for health and safety to you all.  Prayers going out to all those affected by yet another hurricane.  So many have lost everything.
Blessings from our humble home to yours.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Tasty Treats

It's that time of the year that we think about special treats for the holidays and for fall/winter.
There are so many to choose from!
Goodies can be made for your own pleasure or to use as gifts.

Here is a recipe for those that embrace their 'inner pumpkin'!!!!!

2 C sugar
1  C brown sugar, packed
3/4 C butter
2/3 C evaporated milk
1/2 C canned pumpkin
1 1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
12 oz. pkg. white chocolate chips
7 oz. jar marshmallow crème
1 C chopped pecans
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla

Combine the first 6 ingredients in a heavy pan, heat over medium heat till sugar dissolves..  Continue to heat until it begins to boil, stir constantly - boil until candy thermometer reaches 234* - 243* or soft ball stage.
Remove from heat; stir in chocolate chips until melted.  Add remaining ingredients, and mix well.  Pour into a buttered 13 x 9 pan - cool at room temperature.  Cut into squares, store in frig in airtight container.

                                                 Yep, it happened today in my town!

1 1/2 C chow mein noodles
1 C butterscotch chips
1/2 C peanut butter chips
1 Tbsp. shortening

Place noodles in a large bowl, set aside.  Melt chips and shortening together in a double boiler, until smooth.  Pour over noodles and stir to coat.  Drop by tablespoon onto wax paper - set aside till firm.  Store in an airtight container in the frig.  Makes about 18.
These are so good and so easy to make - I remember making them as a kid.  It was a very special treat!!!!

Just a couple fun and yummy treats to make for fall or the holidays.
I hope you enjoy!!

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Fall - On The Home Front

FALL?  Not so much today.  It has been in the 80's all this week (and last) and humid.  We are setting records on the heat index for these October days.
Well, from what they say the bottom falls out in a day or so.  High Thursday is to be 58* and lows this weekend in upper 30's.  They are NOT calling for a freeze, but patchy frost in and around the area.
I guess it's time.

Today it still looks pretty in some areas of our yard.  I have about half of the garden pulled out - more to go.  Yard is mowed, but flower beds need fall work.

     My decorations keep changing.  Kitties have decided to become part of the table decorations!

                                               Lilly in a box.  She sure does fill it up!

Okra is still blooming.  They have the prettiest flowers.  Cream colored with dark purple/burgandy centers.

                         Fall New England asters and spring begonias are both going strong.

A volunteer cherry tomato plant and hummingbird vines growing in the front flower bed.  The tomato plant is huge as is the vine which volunteered as well.  It is amazing how much they have grown in the past month.  Nature at it's best.

Geraniums still in bloom - not as full - but pretty color.  Mums are blooming.  The best of summer and fall.

And then there is this!  YES, we have a REAL headstone in our backyard.  There is a story!!!! 

When G was working, a guy he worked with bought a home that had a bunch of trash piled up in the back.  G went to help clear, and they came across this stone.  The guy was going to trash it.  G brought it home.  We did some research and found out that it actually belonged in a family cemetery about 30-40  miles from here.  We found the location - in the middle of the woods and straight up hill!!!  I managed to 'trespass' and climb the hill (many years ago) - and you would have a hard time knowing it was a cemetery - just little initialed blocks, scattered here and there.  The land owners never returned calls or answered the door.  We still haven't found a scout troop to help - as it is on private land.  (Scouts take care of a lot of small cemeteries around here).
The research we did, showed Mr. Hugh Boyd was the family head and his children, wife and himself were buried there.
Hugh Boyd died Oct. 12, 1876 at age 70.

So for now, his stone resides with us.  It is safe and it sure is a conversation starter!
Eventually we will get it back safely where it belongs.

Hope you enjoyed the walk around.  Fall is in the air and we will feel it soon.  For now, I am still enjoying the beauty of summer.

What is the weather like in your area?

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Frugal Happenings 10/7

Happy October my friends!
I am not sure if we have any Canadian readers - but if so - here is a wish for a Happy Thanksgiving!

The end of September was exceptionally cool - figured fall was here for sure.  First day of October warmed up - and behold - it's summer again!!!!!!!  We have been in the 80's and humid most of the past week.  This coming week is supposed to be much of the same till Friday - and then I think we will be able "to hear" the temps drop from what they are saying!!!!  LOL  We have had rain quite a bit this week as well - so the air is just full of moisture - ugh! 
Allergies are raging.

I know I am always behind the cool kids when it comes to learning things or doing or seeing things!  Haha. 
This week we FINALLY got around to watching the movie God's Not Dead.  What a great movie!  From what I understand there is a part 2 and 3 out now!   I will definitely look forward to those as well.  Just a note:  IF you are more behind than me - it's a movie worth watching!

My frugal week:
  • Used the crock pot and made a small pork roast  and got a couple different meals from it.
  • Used up several older mis-matched apples to make a crisp.  Added an 8 oz. can of cranberry sauce to it - YUM
  • Chopped and froze 4 quarts of peppers
  • Still picking a tiny bit of produce.  4 1/2 lbs. of tomatoes, and about 3/4 b. of peppers.
  • Did a bunch of printing of forms for G
  • Picked a bouquet of New England asters
  • G ordered a new battery for his computer.  NOT cheap - but we saved 10% by ordering and having delivered to their store.  I ran down there (20 minutes away) and got it.  10% is 10%!
  • Dropped off 2 big boxes of donations on the way to p/u battery (so glad to have those gone)
  • Made 2 pair of sleep shorts from old jammies I came across in the drawer.  I can't sleep with anything around my legs - so I made shorts.  Also used extra material to make 4 more hankies.
  • Bottled up 24 individual bottles of water for storage.  (was given the pop bottles)
  • Straightened and cleaned and organized under the sink base in kitchen this week.  Got rid of all kinds of stuff and organized by category of goods!
  • Cleaned out and straightened pots and pans cabinet
  • I have been organizing and de-cluttering like crazy
  • I ran to the orchard and got apples and cider - my fall splurge.  I got Honey Crisp apples - oh my they are good!  (like I said I splurged - those babies are expensive)
  • I vacuumed and vacuumed and vacuumed some more this week!  Cleaned floors, rugs, furniture, blinds, lamps and vents - also vacuumed over and under and behind everything!  I vacuum regularly - but this was a BIG FALL CLEAN!
  • Been combining things together.  Jars in frig.  Open packs of candy into quart jars.  Cleaning stuff in bottles.  Soap in partial containers.  You get the idea.
Meals this past week:

Pork roast, potatoes, carrots and onions.
Skillet pozole' (same ingredients as soup - just not soupy!) pork, toms, and hominy
Taco salad
Fried chicken livers, mashed potatoes and country style gravy
Dirty rice w/ground sausage and red beans and biscuits
Frittata - made with leftover over rice/sausage and leftover biscuits w/jelly

Apple crisp was enjoyed over many days.
All leftovers used for lunch or mixed in other dinners.

I managed to keep busy this week.  I just love the feeling of seeing things get cleaned for fall, things, getting trashed (just out of the house), things going out the door to bless others, things being accomplished.  It makes ME feel accomplished!
I work in short spurts on projects and seem to get more done.  I did spend a couple hours moving furniture and such when vacuuming - but I was on a roll! (tired too!)

How was your week?  Any good deals?  Add any garden goodies to your pantry? 
Give us a shout out and let us know what you are all up to.

Prayers that you al have a safe and healthy week.  Stay frugal and stay sweet!
Blessings from our humble home to yours.

EDIT:  If you need a ear to ear smile or proof of God's wonders today - please go over and read today's post  At Rivercrest Cottage

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Bacon, bacon, bacon!!!!!!

Bacon.  How do I love thee?  Let me count the ways.

G and I both love bacon.  It is not something that we fix often, because it could easily become an addiction!!!!!  LOL
I stocked up on bacon recently when I found a great sale.  It is in the freezer and will be used sporadically to calm our desires!

OK, I know I may be slow - but I just recently discovered the joys and wonders of cooking bacon in the oven.
No more grease stained clothes.  No more splatter filled stove.  No more messes.  No more pans to clean.  It is a wonder for sure!!!!!!

                   Oven baked bacon.  This is a full size dinner plate - notice the size of the bacon.

The other things I love is that their is little shrinkage and NO curling at all with the bacon.  Just nice straight lovely bacon.

Heat the oven to 400*.  Line a baking pan that has a lip (sides) with heavy duty aluminum foil.  Make sure that foil goes up each side of the pan so as to contain the bacon grease and have no mess.
Lay you bacon out on foil - it's ok of sides touch.  Bake 10 - 20 minutes depending on the crispness you desire.  The above picture is crispy bacon and that was 20 minutes.

When done - remove bacon and place on paper towels to drain.  I did 2 pans full, using the same foil and leaving grease till done.
You can then make a small lip or trough on one corner of the foil - to simply pour  that beautiful bacon grease in your grease jar!  There are so many uses for bacon grease in our world!!!!

Remove the foil and toss - no need to even clean the pan (if you didn't puncture foil).
Easy-peasy - perfect bacon!!

I will never fry bacon again!!!!!!  This was life changing for me - LOL.  It takes so little to amaze me an make me happy!

Have you ever tried this method?
I think you will be surprised.