Sunday, February 18, 2018

Frugal Happenings 2/18

Good morning.  Here we are more than half way through the month.  February seems like it just flies by, even though it's just a couple days shorter than other months.

We have had that up and down weather again all week.  I got to turn off the heat on Thursday and open a window - then back to cold.  It dropped about 35 degrees in 24 hours.  This next week sounds like it is going to be real soggy - predicting 4" - 6" of rain!!!!  For the record, I will say I am glad that isn't going to be snow!  It is also going to be in the 50's and 60's most of the week.
Crazy stuff.

I would love to get outside and do some yard cleaning -  but it is just so muddy.  It will get worse during the week, so I guess it will have to wait.

The other day we had 11 PAIRS of cardinals in the back yard.  It was just a gorgeous sight! Love watching nature.

My frugal week:
  • Changed out the shower curtain, just to change up the look for spring. (Had  it here)
  • Made soup with leftover chicken and noodles
  • Made dip
  • Made my own enchilada sauce for a dinner this week - so easy
  • We got one of those big tins of varied popcorn for Christmas.  Opened it and ate the popcorn, and now I have another pretty tin for storage!!!
  • Cleaned out the frig thoroughly
  • Took down the valances in living room and dining room and laundered.  Spring cleaning!  They look so fresh now!
  • Had the heat off one day and aired out the house
  • Went to Menards for squirrel/bird feed.  They had a great sale and it was so much cheaper than the feed store
  • On to Sam's.  Spent a chunk of change - but I am stocked on items I normally get there for at least one year if not two. (Not sure I will renew membership).  I did get $29 in instant rebates!
  • I found a dime and a quarter on the ground!  Now in my change jar.
  • Scoured the hard wood floors
  • Found a little light I had gotten for FREE at Harbor Freight ages ago.  It is perfect for my upstairs pantry.  The pantry is deep and has no light - so I always have to turn on DR chandelier to see.  This light hangs on the spice rack on the door and it is bright!   Works great.  Oh why didn't I figure this out sooner??????????
                       These little lights are super bright!  It hangs and I can move it as needed.

Meals this past week:
Chicken /noodles, mashed potatoes and corn
Soup made with leftover chicken/noodles
Pancakes and bacon
Roast chicken and side salad
Mac n cheese, jalapeno smoked sausage and salad
Homemade enchiladas (including sauce)
Spaghetti and meatballs and garlic toast

Leftovers eaten for lunch.  Snacks included popcorn, veggies and dip, apples/peanut butter, and pickles and olives.

How was your week?  What did you do frugal this week?  I love hearing from everyone!

May you and your family be blessed in the coming week. 
Stay healthy and safe and frugal my friends.
God bless.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Delish Depression Desserts

During the depression our ancestors had no choice but to live as frugally as possible,
Many made clothing out of feed sacks and they mended everything.  Hand me downs were common.  Folks often had to do without, and they became masters of stretching the food budgets!
There were a lot of larger families and Moms and Grandmas had to get creative in the kitchen.

They had to come up with recipes that didn't use milk, eggs or butter.  Unless you were a farm family, those items were expensive and rare.  A lot of farm families even got to a point that they did without, as feeding and raising chickens and cows got expensive.

People had soup EVERY week.  Nothing was wasted and bones were turned into broth/stock.
Meat was often replaced with beans - as they were cheaper and filling.
Hunting & fishing were common.  Meat was very expensive and folks took it upon themselves to get their protein.
Gardens and foraging were a must at the time.
Oats, grits and toast/biscuits were a big extender to the food budgets.  They were filling and cheap.

3 1/2 C all purpose flour
2 C sugar
2 tsp. baking soda
2 Tbsp. white vinegar
1 Tbsp. & 1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 C & 2 Tbsp. oil
2 C water
Preheat oven 375*.  Grease 2 - 9" round pans or one 9 x 13.
Blend flour, sugar, baking soda and salt.  Add in water, oil, vinegar and vanilla.  Whisk till well blended, but do not over beat.
Bake on middle rack for 35 minutes.

2 Tbsp. shortening or lard (could use coconut oil)
3/4 C honey or 1 C sugar
1 - 10 3/4 oz. can of condensed tomato soup
1 tsp. baking soda
2 C flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1 tsp. nutmeg
1 C chopped nuts - optional
**If you don't have individual spices use pumpkin pie spice as substitutes

Mix honey or sugar with shortening.  Add spices and soup and stir until completely blended.  Slowly add flour, b.s, b.p. & nuts.
Preheated oven of 350*
Greased loaf pan.
Bake 1 hour and cool for 15 minutes before removing from pan.
                                                                Tomato soup loaf cake

1 1/2 C all purpose flour
3 Tbsp. cocoa
1 C sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. white vinegar
5 Tbsp. oil
1 C water.
Preheat oven 350*
Grease an 8" square pan and add first 5 ingredients to the pan.  Make 3 little wells and pour vinegar in one, oil in one, and vinegar in one.  Pour water over entire surface and mix till smooth.
(Just one pan - no dishes!)
Bake 35 minutes or until toothpick inserted in middle comes out clean.

**NOTICE none of the recipes have eggs, butter or milk in them.  You could substitute gluten free flour today to aid in the new dietary restrictions many have.

I know my Mom got very creative when I was little, but my siblings (who are older) say it was amazing the things Mom came up with, when they had no money.
I have heard them talk about having corn bread in milk for breakfast (or lunch).  Oats were always on the menu.  Pancakes and waffles were a real treat.
I remember one of my favorite treats was peanut butter & syrup (usually cheaper than honey) mixed together and eaten on homemade bread or with saltine crackers.  Sugar/cinnamon toast was another favorite.  I still love those things!

We would always have some sort of sweet that was homemade.  Popcorn was a staple (made on the stove)!  Another favorite treat was homemade potato chips!

We had very little money, but never felt deprived.  I think the creative depression era women sure knew how to get creative and stretch a budget.
We all need to take lessons.

ENJOY the cake recipes!!

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

My Frugal Ways (or cheap)

You all know that last week (and this week) I have been working on repairing my old jeans.  I still plan on making the handbag from material samples, and making capris from slacks.

The past couple weeks I have been saving items that can be re-used in other ways.  I think I am re-cycling and being frugal, others may say I am just cheap!
What say you?

Saved all my peels and cores from apples that I cooked up.  They are now in the freezer - until I get some more - then I will make apple jelly!

I JUST realized that peanut butter and mayo jar lids fit regular mouth mason jars perfectly!  I always have saved my parmesan lids - but figured out these other ones work too!  I can't believe how long I have missed that!

I have been saving desiccant packs from our supplement and herb bottles.  I keep them in a dark supplement bottle to keep them dry.  I use them in my jars of dehydrated goods.  So far I haven't had to buy any!

The taller bottles are from flavorings that I have used for the Soda Stream.  I think they will work great for M&M or Skittle bottles for the kids Christmas baskets this year.  I can put a cute label on them to pretty up.
The orange juice container (concentrate) is plastic with a snap on lid.  What do you think?  I guess I could use in the garage for odds and ends and add a label.  I just figured it would be good for something!

I got these on clearance, and figured the empty containers could be used.  I think one will contain my strait pins for sewing.  I can then carry them upstairs if I need them without spilling.  I am thinking maybe one would be good for carrying aspirin, Tylenol, allergy tabs, etc.  in a smaller handbag (for dress).  They have a nice closure top.

I guess some people would think I am crazy - but I figure you would understand!  I hate seeing things go in the landfill and if I can re-cycle  into something new and useable - that just makes sense (cents) to me!

Have you salvaged anything for up-cycling in the past few weeks?
I love getting new ideas!

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Frugal Happenings 2/11

Good morning.  I hope you are warm and safe.  I know there are many that have had crazy amounts of snow this week.  Hope you all stay safe.
Those in a different hemisphere are too hot!  Stay cool.
It is amazing that there are so many climates going on at the same time.

We woke to snow 3 days this week, but never more than an inch.  I swept and moved snow each time, as I kind of fanatical about the drive and walks being clear!  We had a taste of spring for a day or so, and back to winter.
This morning we woke to a thin later of ice on everything.  It is slick out there.  I went out to feed the kitties and the brick walkway and the wooden deck were crazy slick!  Even the kitties were fishtailing a bit!
We will be back in the 40's and 50's in a couple days, for another brief warm-up this week.  I am glad we are having these short warm periods - it puts us a few days closer to Spring weather - and knocks off a few more cold days!

It has been a real quiet week here.

My frugal week:
  • Had some very stale cereal that we really didn't like - so the birds and squirrels got a treat (everything has a use!)
  • Made bread crumbs from some stale bread
  • Made G a batch of steel cut oats with fruit and nuts added (from the freezer)
  • Got some free exercise moving snow this week
  • I made a batch of bean salad (my own concoction).  It turned out quite yummy - especially the dressing part
A can of green beans, corn and red beans (all drained).  Diced carrots, pepper and onion.  Covered with 1 cup vinegar, 1 cup sugar, 1/2 C oil and a dash of salt.  YUM!
This is a great substitute for green salad, when you have just a few fresh items on hand.
  • Worked on my mending and sewing - didn't get it all done (will work on it again this week)
  • Ran out only one day, thus saving gas.
  • Went to Dollar Tree - hadn't been in ages.  2 - 32 oz. bottles of peroxide for $1 each (I use instead of bleach).  4 - cans of asparagus - $1 each - for stock.
  • Went to the library on the way home (hadn't been there in ages either).  Got a couple books.
  • Meals and drinks from home and just doing all the normal stuff

Meals this past week:
BBQ wings, pizza rolls and veggies and dip
Cold cut sandwiches and bean salad
Meat loaf, green beans w/potatoes and salad
Leftover meatloaf, mashed potatoes and gravy and bean salad
Homemade pizza
Beans & rice with smoked sausage and salad
Beef/hominy skillet fry and side salad

Browned ground beef with onion and peppers.  Added hominy, seasoning and diced tomatoes and simmered.  YUM

See, I told you it was quiet around here!
What have you been up to?  What ways did you save this week?

"Help us, O God, to be content with what we have.  Instead of accumulating more stuff, help us to live more simply".  
Daily prayer from the paper.

I pray you all have a safe, healthy and frugal week.  MAKE your week a great one!
Blessings from our humble home to yours.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

My $$ Saving Up-cycle/Re-cycles

This week I have been working on some projects that I have been putting off for ages!
I have jeans that need repaired or up-cycled.  The average women's jeans (no fancy brands) around go on sale for around $19.99 - $29.99 in my area.  Not me - not if I can help it!!!

I have a couple pair of 'nice' jeans that I wear out  in public.  I have jeans that are garden jeans, and I have jeans that need a world of help!!!
I am repairing this week.  Many need a new bum, some need the zipper area fixed, and others have knees out.  Now I know the holey jeans are fashionable - but I can't stand the feel of my knees hanging out of holes! 
Considering some of the "fashion" jeans I see at stores - mine are probably worth a small fortune!  LOL

Here are 7 pair that I am working on.  I do believe that one pair that is pretty darn bad, and will become a garden apron.  Using these jeans  (even just for yard work) is at minimum a savings of $120 - $160 !
Yes, I can buy jeans at the thrift store - but don't often find ones that fit right in leg length and in the crotch length.  I am long waisted - so it can be a challenge.

I also came across a couple pair of pastel colored dress pants from my working days.  I haven't worked since 2006!  I thought I got rid of all that stuff - but here they hang.  I am going to be cutting them down into capris this week.  They will look nice and cool this summer, when I don't want to sport jeans.
(I am a jeans person if you can't tell!)

I also found a couple of samples of fabric that my brother gave me years ago, from when he was trying to decide on fabric for a chair.  I am going to make a new spring handbag with them.  They are both just the perfect size.  I have strap material and everything else needed in my sewing supplies, so the cost will be $0 for a new handbag.  I will post pictures when I get it done.

It is amazing what a little thought and effort can save dollar-wise.
What are you doing to re-cycle or up-cycle things you have around the house?
Any new projects going on?

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

What If ????

Today I am going to set a scene that I hope none of us ever have to deal with, but you just never know.
WHAT IF you could not leave your property for at least 30 days or maybe more?  It could be from extreme weather, illness, quarantine, marshal law or civil disturbance, lack of vehicle, etc.

I realize that we all may run out of fresh items, but with your freezers, canning, dry goods, and store bought goods, could you and your family survive?

                        Store bought items that I got cheaply to supplement my home canning.

Full freezers are a must.  This is one of two.  Most meat products are purchased on mark-down and garden veggies are canned and frozen.

Bread could be a problem for some.  We don't eat that much bread, but I can bake my own.  Likely I would make biscuits or tortillas.
Milk and eggs could be a problem.  Keep shelf stable milk and dry milk to supplement.  Eggs can be frozen and there is always egg replacement that is dry.

Extra butter is kept in the freezer and I also keep butter powder that could be used for flavoring.
Fresh fruit and veggies could easily replaced with home canned and purchased canned goods.
Meat could be a problem for some.  Simply use less per meal or use in recipes that extends it.

Health and beauty aids - we should all have enough to get by for quite a while. 
Medications  - hopefully you are allowed to purchase in 90 day scripts.  Ask you doctor if you aren't.
Pet supplies - don't forget the fur babies.  We need to have supplies for them as well.

I sure hope so.  This is why we talk about keeping our pantries stocked up - just in case.
Slowly work on your pantries and build them up in all areas.  It can be done with an extra $5 or $10 a week.  Look for mark-downs and super deals.  Try to think about all areas of your life.
It is better to have too much than not enough.  You could always help someone else if too much - but you and your family may get hungry if not enough!

My opinion is that we should all have AT LEAST 2- 3 months worth of food on hand.  I know that sounds daunting, but it could mean survival in a dire situation.
I would push for more than that (maybe 1 year) - but work on that time frame for a basic start.
Make sure you have a variety, so that what might be a miserable situation, doesn't seem worse. 
The time of the year could also play a big part.  In the summer you could have fresh garden produce - but the neighbors might see/take as well (if everyone has to stay home).  It is best to have a good supply INSIDE that can't be seen by others.

I pray that we never have something that horrific happen that we would be bound to the home for that period of time.  In this day and age, you just can't be sure of anything.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Frugal Happenings 2/4

Happy February.
We have had taste or two of spring this week, then we came back to reality.  It is now back to normal temps and we woke to a spitting of snow/rain this morning.  Temp was at 33*, so it couldn't really decide what it wanted to do.  This week should be normal for February temperatures in the 30's.

Despite the crazy lore of the Groundhog's predictions - spring will get here when spring gets here!  I'd feel safe in saying we have 6 - 8 weeks of up and down winter days yet ahead of us.  It won't be long!

It's been quiet again around our little home.  I left the property one day only this week.  I just feel safer staying home with all the flu that is going around.  You never know who has sneezed on, coughed on, and who knows what on things!  I am anal about taking wipes with me, to wipe down my shopping cart.  We touch things at the store (consider every package and can) that can hold germs and forget about eating out.  I do not trust restaurants and their employees at all to be as sanitary as they need to be during this epidemic.
People are passing away daily - and many times it isn't just the elderly and young that they keep saying are at risk.  It is all ages ranges.  There have about 150 die in our state so far.
Better safe than sorry - that's my motto!

Enjoying watching the squirrels and birdies.  We have a heated bird bath (just enough to prevent freezing) and the birds love it!  I don't see them use that bird bath often in warmer weather (turned off then), but on the coldest days they swarm to it and take baths and drink!!  It is so funny.  You 'd think they wouldn't want to get wet when it is so cold - but they bathe, flutter their wings and fly away.  It is probably their only source of non-frozen water around.  Cute and smart!

My Frugal Week:
  • Clean, clean and more clean and de-clutter
  • Cooled tea outdoors before placing in frig.
  • Washed several baggies this week
  • Cooked up a lot of older apples and pears (not ones bought in Jan.) with butter, sugar and cinnamon.  Mmmmm
  • Made a batch of sugar cookies from dough I had in freezer.  Did some with M & M's, some with Kisses and some with a sugar glaze.
  • G did our taxes this week.  Both State and Fed. we owe a total of less than $200.  YAY - the least we have owed in ages.  Will send them in later.
  • Been drinking lots of lemon water this week.  A new favorite thing for me.  So clean and refreshing tasting
  • G has been utilizing Netflix A LOT lately!
  • My outing - ran to Kroger Friday.  Even when I need nothing, it gets me out and I can always get cat litter.  I try to keep over a months worth on hand at all times.  Needed NO weekly groceries.
  • I did find 2 big boxes of frosted flakes on clearance for 1.39 a box!  Not a usual buy, but heck they could work as a sweet snack too. 
  • I also found a big box of Free & Clear  fabric softener sheets.  They were 200 for 4.29.  I don't use often - but there is always a need once in a while in the winter.  Years ago I found 40 count boxes at Dol. Tree for $1 and stocked up (now on last box).  I couldn't find free & clear many places.  Well I think my  200 count box was a much better deal!  It will last me several years!

Meals this past week:
Cheesy potato soup (2X)
Quiche/frittata with lots of veggies
Un-stuffed pepper skillet
Leftover pepper skillet, steak burgers and side salad
Smoked sausage, Kraut (home canned) and mashed potatoes
Chili/cheese topped home fries

Ice cream with warm cooked apples/pears a couple times (so good).  Cookies

How was your week?  Any good deals or pantry prepping?

This coming week, I really intend to get downstairs and mend and sew a little.  Well, I intend that every week - LOL.  I am going to make a greater effort this week.

I hope you are all staying healthy.  May God bless you and comfort you in this coming week.
God bless from our home to yours.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Not On My Watch!

Today I walk to talk about something that is a real pet peeve of mine.  I have experienced family members lately and multiple people on FB (daily) speaking of "EXPIRATION DATES"!!!
They are speaking of expiration dates on food products.

Have you heard screaming or yelling off in the distance the past few weeks?  If so, know it was me yelling at my computer!!!!!

MOST items have a "best if used by" date.  This is a date that the manufacturer places on the item designating a date for the highest and best quality of the product.  It is STRICTLY about quality - NOT safety.  Products do not magically go bad on that date.
Most canned products have dates that are 2 - 3  years out.  If it is good all that time, I don't think more time is going to hurt anything.
I have eaten store bought canned food that was at least 2 years past the "best by" date.  Not a thing wrong with it.
If your cans are not swelled or rusted - the product should be fine.

Seriously - did you know salt contains a 'use by' date?  If kept dry, it is good forever, AND YES it is millions of years old already!

There are also "sell by" dates.  These are added by the grocer.  This is the last date that they feel they should offer it at regular price.  It in no way has anything to do with the freshness of the food.  That "sell by" date is not mandatory.
If so compelled, reach to the back of a shelf for your purchases - the dates will probably be further in the future.

I haven't purchased any, but I do believe that baby formula may have an ACTUAL "expiration date".  If that is the case, I would follow it since it is vulnerable babies that are involved.

I just keep seeing women my age (or close) on several FB pages asking what do I do with this before it expires in a day or two!  I threw such and such away yesterday, as it hit it's expiration date.  Then they ask what others do. 
REALLY?  How much money over all the years have these people literally thrown in the trash, before asking the question at this stage in life?  It totally amazes me.
My husband hears me yelling at the computer some days - and his words of wisdom are "maybe nobody has ever told them".  Well, no one ever told me either - I just used common sense!

We have a family member that always has a table full of products that have hit their 'best by' date to throw away!  When a friend asks if she can have it - the answer is always NO,   "I am going to open it and throw it out" is the answer.  I am sorry that is just selfishness and greed.  Why would you not want to help someone out that has little if you could? 
Can you hear me screaming yet??????   AAARRGGGHHHHH

This morning I opened a new sealed container of cottage cheese that actually had a "use by" date of 1/14/18.  Yep, I just opened it today and G said it was perfect.  TIP:  Once you open cottage cheese, sour cream or dip, place the lid back on securely and refrigerate upside down.  It keeps the air out and keeps it fresh longer!!
Heavens,  cottage cheese is already curdled milk (ick - I don't eat it), and sour cream is already soured - what could a few days more possibly do to it?  LOL

The milk we are currently using (have about one day left) says 'sell by' 1/24/18.  It tastes perfect.  I often don't even open a gallon until a week or two after that 'sell by' date.  I keep it at the back of the frig on the lowest shelf and it stays incredibly cold.

Meat is about the only thing that I truly watch the dates on.  Even then you have a few days leeway.  If it smells ok and looks ok - odds are it's ok.

We all have occasionally found that one container in the frig that we can not identify the contents of!  YUCK - that is bad.  Green and moldy is bad.  A random date is not.


My whole point is - dates are arbitrary!  REMEMBER the manufacturer and the grocers want you to buy more and spend more money.
PLEASE do not throw something away just because it is past a date.  You might as well throw dollar bills into the trash can.
ROTATE, ROTATE, ROTATE you pantry.  Always put newer purchases to the back and older up front. 

I know most of you know this, but perhaps someone doesn't.  I just despise waste, and want to make everyone else aware.  There are so many hungry people in this world who would be grateful for anything, and we throw things away because they hit some random date!