Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Summer Foodie Tips

Here in the U.S. it is finally starting to feel like summer.  I knew it would happen - it just took a while this year!!
I have a few ideas on some summer fun foods - and to be honest they will work for anytime of the year.    I have done all of these many times all throughout the year.

Fresh tomatoes are going to be coming on soon.  I love sliced tomatoes, tomato sandwiches, tomatoes in all sorts of salads, you name it.  A huge taste sensation to me is mixing tomatoes and cheese - I LOVE IT!
These are so good!!!  Slice your fresh tomatoes and top with parmesan cheese - then place under the broiler or in the oven for just a few minutes.  You want the cheese melted and just starting to brown.  HEAVEN!

**Need a fun dessert.  
Bake a sugar (or whatever you want) cookie on a pizza pan.  Yes, spread the cookie dough until the pan is covered.  Baked until done.  
Mix 8 oz. cream cheese and 1/3 - 1/2 cups sugar together once cream cheese has softened. (You determine sugar content to your sweetness/taste)
Spread this over the cooled cookie
Top with triangles of fresh fruit = sliced strawberries, grapes, pineapples pieces, apple slices, banana slices, any type berries - Kiwi slices - whatever you so desire!!!!  
These are pretty, fun and oh so yummy!

**Next time you make strawberry shortcake - us Twinkies instead of cake.  You have your cake and cream all in one.  This is a fun treat for kids especially.

**Freeze fruits to use in drinks.  You can lay them on a cookie sheet and flash fresh before placing in baggies.  Fruit is fun to find in a glass of lemonade, spritzer, or wine!
You may also want to freeze the fruit in ice cubes.

This is about as easy as it gets for a bread substitute.  Tortillas are easy and fun to make.  I love them with soups, stews, soup beans, breakfast, Mexican food - you name it.  They don't have to be used just for tacos anymore.  These are just so soft and wonderful with any food you serve them with.  No need to bake bread on a hot day - make tortillas.

** Don't forget to freeze tea, fruit juices, and even leftover coffee in ice cube trays.  You can use them to keep your drinks cold - yet they don't water anything down.
Milk can be done the same way to use in smoothies.

**Individual fry pies
No need to heat the oven to have a fun and tasty fruit dessert.  I roll out pie dough and use my biscuit cutter to cut circles.  Then I add 2 - 3 spoons of applesauce to the center of one and top with a second circle and tightly crimp the edges with a fork.
Place these fruit rounds in hot grease and fry on one side till lightly browned - flip and fry other side.  These are quick and easy.  You can even sprinkle the tops with sugar or powdered sugar as they cool.
You could also use any canned pie filling - it is just nice to know that applesauce can be used!

ENJOY some tasty fun treats for pennies this summer.

Do you have any fun ideas for summer treats or yummies?  Let us know!!!!!!!!!!!

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Weekly Wrap-Up 6/23

Good morning all.  Hope you all had a great week.
Geesh we had rain and more rain this week.  I had the back yard flood 2X this week.  Finally it went down enough and we had a sunny day on Friday - and well I just couldn't put off yard work any longer!  I had not mowed the back for 2 weeks because of rain.  At least it looks better now.

My garden plants are hanging in there.  It seems the volunteer tomatoes have more blooms and little tomatoes than the other plants!  So far so good.  It is going to be a late harvest year for sure.
Humidity and heat are coming back this week.  I guess beggars can't be choosers!  Heat and humidity or constant rain - such is life.

Momma kitty isn't feeling well the past day or so.  It appears she has another bad tooth and it makes her sluggish, skittish, slobber, and just not wanting to eat much.  I am putting her meds in wet food, now to get her to eat it a little more.  Poor girl.

My frugal week:
  • I finally got the basement dry.  Shop vac , fan, and dehumidifier = dry basement.  Boy, that was a horrible rain that caused that.  It was hard work, but all is good now.
  • I did a lot more sorting, de-cluttering, rearranging, and cleaning
  • I cut my hair at home
  • Cleaned the hard wood floors really well (hands & knees).  I need to go over them again, then put on conditioner
  • I received a dozen roses from my sister this week.  She came by and brought them.  She is like me - she found a tremendous mark-down at Kroger.  Dozen roses on clearance for $2.  Those pink ones smelled heavenly!
  • Received a rebate check from Menards for $28.80
  • Used rain water on my hair a couple times this week - sure makes it soft
  • Used all leftovers in an egg dish - beans, rice and fried corn all went into a stove top quiche of sorts.

The bottom picture show part of mixture in a single serving pan.  I couldn't turn over in the pan - still too moist in center - so I flipped it onto a griddle to finish cooking (top).  It sure was tasty.  I have a second one cooked and in the freezer.
  • Took the entire oven apart and cleaned.  I mean ENTIRE oven - you could see the floor I remove so much!!!  I did an oops earlier and melted a rubber spatula in the oven.  It was the same color as oven and had fell up against the wall - didn't see it until too late.  What a smelly, icky mess.  I really worked hard to get all the solidified rubber off!  All clean - and lesson learned!  NO MORE rubber spatulas!
  • Mowed and trimmed while we had dry weather
  • Ran to Kroger and got 5 packs of cheese (8 oz.) on the weekend .99/ea. special.  I also got a cantaloupe in the .99 bin.
I did several things this week that just wore this old gal out.  My back was so tired and sore a couple nights.  It felt good to keep busy - however, it sure didn't help me sleep any better.  Sigh!

Meals this week:
Fish and fries and home canned slaw
Skillet quiche and sausage patty
Can of cheesy chicken, broccoli, potato soup and a fruit smooth
Corn on the cob and turkey burger (from freezer)
Refried bean and cheese tostadas
Cold cut sandwich
Black bean and beef taco salad

How was your week?  Did you get any good deals?  Any goodies from the gardens yet?
Give us a shout out and let us all know what is happening in your little spot of the world.

I hope you all have good health and safety this week.  May frugal deals and ideas abound!
Blessings from my humble little home to yours.
God bless.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Recession - Blessing or Curse

I am sure most people would say curse!
Recession can be the beginning of the end for some folks.
It can be drama filled - jobs can be lost, small businesses can close, homes can be lost,  bankruptcies happen, careers can be derailed and more.

All these things can be devastating for sure.  I dare say that the biggest losses will happen to the folks that are not in any way shape or form prepared for hard times.  Hard times happen to each of us at some time and odds are we will all go through a recession (again for many).
If we take a little time to prepare each and every day - we CAN SURVIVE and learn to thrive.

This is a sad fact and I am sure it is this way in many countries.  If people are that close to destruction by missing a pay or two - just think what it will be like if it all goes south for everyone for an extended amount of time.

How can it be a blessing?
Well,, there are many things that happen when families have less money and opportunities and it isn't all bad!

*Parents will HAVE to learn to say no to their children and in some ways reinstate the proper order of authority in the family structure.  They will cut the cord on 'entitlement'.

*Families will spend more time together as a unit - instead of running to restaurants, cinemas, malls, etc.  I mean isn't family time what FAMILY is supposed to be about?

*People will have to learn to live within their means (or even below).  I don't see this as bad - it will be a great learning curve!  They will have to get used to not having that ever expanding line of credit!

*People will have to learn to do without - that could be painful for many after years of having anything and everything. Hopefully it will be a great lesson on basic living and being grateful for WHAT they do have.  They will have to get back to basics (the sad part is many don't have a clue what the basics are!)

*People will have to stop competing with their extravagance - and learn to work together and share.

* I think it can make people healthier.  Cooking from home vs. going out for junk, doing things that require physical labor (exercise) vs. paying someone else, getting creative and reusing vs. depleting the world of more resources, gardening vs. store bought junk, etc.
                                             Do this daily and life will be so much better!!!!

I know not everyone will agree with me on this way of thinking and that is OK.  In my eyes  the heroes will be those who can make it through the worst of times with grace and goodness instead of anger and spite.  Gaining wisdom is such a gift - and some of the best gifts we get come from heartache and loss.  We all need to make something good happen from something bad - then it makes a little more sense.  If we strive for the good we will have less anxiety and stress and more happiness.  Even in recession folks can be happy - you have to realize things and money are NOT happiness!

Now is the time to take action.
Save what you can
Pay off every bill you can possibly pay off
Don't make new debt
Start reading and learning simpler ways of doing things
Learn to cook from scratch
Start reconnecting with the family - one on one (not electronically)
Keep some extra funds at home for emergencies
Work on storing food and supplies for the time you may have no money to buy them
Have a no spend month once in a while to prepare (spending on nothing but bills)
Be prepared for anything (it can happen at anytime)
Breathe and don't panic - you will survive - things will eventually get better

I believe many of us here practice living a lean and sufficient lifestyle daily - that will surely help us in the worst of times.  We have dedicated ourselves to having a better more simple life.
How about you?
Will you survive and survive well?

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Jazz Up Ramen - Cheap Eats

There are times in our lives that we have little or no money.
There are times when just a bit of convenience helps us out.
There are times when we just want to be different!
We always want to stretch our dollars.

OK, no flack.  I know Ramen soup is full of salt (the seasoning packets) - BUT it is incredibly cheap!  Packages are regularly .10 each around here.  I can make that package into a bowl of soup for one or I can add other ingredients and make a meal for two.  It is very easy.
I know Ramen is a staple with college students - maybe this will help someone jazz it up a bit.

NO there is no real nutritional value in Ramen noodles NOR is there any real nutritional value in pasta!  Pasta is pretty cheap - especially if you get it on sale or markdown - and maybe you could get a couple meals from pasta for .10, but not always!

You don't need to use those seasoning packets - save those and maybe add to a big pot of soup or stew later on.  It won't be nearly as bad salt-wise in a big pot of soup.  The flavors are tasty - there are many.  Beef, chicken, pot roast, chili, shrimp, oriental, and on and on!

  • Cook your noodles in water or stock and then add cheese.  Noodles and cheese instead of mac and cheese
  • Make up any stir fry you might make and either stir in noodles or put stir fry over the noodles
  • Consider making a small batch of lo mein (add veggies and/or meat) and a little soy
  • Add cooked noodles to some fried cabbage and a little soy sauce.  Sausage or ham pieces added if you have it.
  • Go Mexican - add hot sauce, salsa, taco meat, taco seasoning, cheese, sour cream...…..
  • Add to any leftovers - meat, veggies, etc. for a soup or stew or 'bowl' dinner.  This would be a great way to extend just a bit of leftovers after a normal meal or holiday and make a totally new type dish.  Add broth, gravy, stock, tomato sauce, whatever you have.
OK - now that looks just yummy!  What a cheap and great way to extend whatever you have on hand.
  • Make a neat salad.  Cook those noodles with herbs and whatever broth you might want.  Drain.  Top with chopped tomatoes, cukes, onions, Italian dressing, herbs, etc.
This would be super with fresh garden veggies (whatever you have), a little dressing when BROKE and you don't know what to eat!  Oh heck, it would be good any time!
  • Turn it Asian.  Add soy, fish sauce, sweet and sour sauce, sriracha  -  maybe a spoonful of peanut butter or peanuts or cashews - shredded carrot or peas or broccoli, green onions, etc..  Get creative!
  • Use half water and half coconut milk for a creamier version of noodles
  • Use tomato sauce, spaghetti sauce, curry powder, pizza fixings, etc.
  • Use the noodles for spaghetti & cover with sauce
  • Top noodles with leftover taco meat
  • Cook noodles - drain, add tuna and some peas - maybe make like a tuna salad.
OK, I think you see there are just no limits to what can be done with a .10 package of noodles.  Get creative.  Being broke is no excuse not to have a tasty and filling meal.
I always have Ramen in my pantry.  Even if you have had it in your pantry for ages - the noodles will still be fine (might ditch the seasoning if too old).  Liquid will always soften the noodles.

I have heard people comment that they were "Ramen poor" - meaning they had no money for other stuff.  It shouldn't be a shameful thing - use it in new ways.  Leftovers and noodles most definitely can EQUAL YUM!

Here's a family favorite:

1 - 16 oz. package slaw mix
2 packages beef Ramen noodles
1 Small pack of sunflower seeds
1 Small pack of slivered almonds
1 bunch green onions - chopped

1/3 C vinegar
1/2 C sugar
3/4 C oil
both seasoning packets

Heat the last 4 ingredients until sugar is melted - cool slightly.  Mix the first 5 ingredients together in a nice bowl -(noodles are slightly broken up and raw).  Pour dressing over salad mixture 15 -20 minutes before serving.  This is really yummy!  Tasty and a great crunch.

So there you have it.  You are never so broke that you can't have a decent meal.  Use what you have and get creative.
Always try to think outside the box - no matter what you have on hand.
Happy eating!

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Weekly Wrap-Up 6/16

Good morning.  I hope this finds everyone safe and well.  Happy Father's Day to all the Dads out there.

It has been quite a week here.  Sometimes a bit overwhelming for sure.  We had some decent weather for a few days.  We had spring, summer and fall all in one week.  Crazy.  Yesterday was horrible as far as weather.  Terrible storms came through the state and there is much damage.
We got almost 4" of rain yesterday, and most of that came in about 2 hours.  Torrential rains!
I have a very flooded back yard and a very wet basement - but consider myself lucky compared to others.  The kids next door had water up to their knees in their basement!!!  A tornado hit 10 minutes up the road.
Thankfully it is clear at the moment.

I just keep thinking about the farmers.  They had a slight reprieve this week to get some things done and I imagine it was all for naught now.  Flooding is covering a lot of the state.  More rain tonight and tomorrow!
My opinion is God is letting us know He is still in control!  We need to quit destroying this planet.

I saw my first lightening bugs of the season this week.  They make me smile.  The first ice cream truck of the season came down the road this week as well.  They always take me back to being a little girl!
My lilies are absolutely covered with buds.  In a few days there will be a sea of yellow and orange in the backyard!  I sure hope my garden plants survive all this flooding!  Little bun-bun (the bunny) is thriving and growing - so cute.

I had to go turn a funeral visitation this week and took my sister with me.  On the way there my Blazer started making noise and smelling hot.  Geesh, I repeat I have my sister with me - she is 88 and we are 30 minutes from home.  We get to the funeral home and my brother went and looked.  Thought he knew what it was and said I should be able to get home.  Thankfully we did.
Got it in shop this week and it was what he said and more.  Brakes, rotors and calipers on the whole back end = big bucks!!!  UGH!  I guess peace of mind is priceless though.

My week in revue:
  • Made hummingbird nectar - they are showing up regularly now!
  • I got FREE flowers from the florist when I went to make a purchase.  They always send you home with flowers when you go in.  I had enough for 2 bouquets - down to one now.
  • I ran to the library and got a couple books
  • Pulled more weeds
  • Finished planting the garden plants.  Zucchini in now (hope they aren't drowned)
  • Froze the last little bit of milk in a jug in ice cube trays - will be good for smoothies
  • Had dinner Sunday at my sisters.  Got to visit with one niece and her husband.  We don't see each other often
  • Sis sent home leftovers with me - they provided me with 2 meals
  • Stopped at Kroger (across the road from repair shop) and got black seedless grapes for .88/lb.  Fresh ear corn 8/$1.  Bushes baked beans (nice size cans) .99/each.  Angel food cake for 1.99.
  • Have 2 full water barrels!  I still have not had to water anything I have planted - the rain keeps coming!!!
Meals this week:
Dinner at sisters
Potato cakes with a small piece of chicken cut up in them (from leftovers)
Last potato cake and a nice chicken breast - made a fruit smoothie as well
Piece of pizza from the freezer and a banana (it was late)
Homemade tostadas
Red beans/rice (with cooked burger from freezer) and biscuits
Fried corn and seasoned turkey burger   (2nd burger went in freezer)

It has been quite a stressful week.  I have been kind of emotional.  This too shall pass.
The sun is shining today, I have my home and my kitties and I can get through anything else.  I am much better than many in my state this morning.  Praise the Lord.

This is my front walk-up.  I love it.  Some may think it is over grown but it makes me smile.  I love the variety.

How was your week?  Did you get any good deals?  How is the garden doing?  I hope you have no weather situations causing problems.

May you all stay safe and healthy this week.  Prayers of healing for those in need.
Prayers for all the farmers in this difficult season.

Blessings from my humble little home to yours.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

More With Less

Sorry I am running late this morning.  It is a gloomy day, I am in a mood, and I had to take my car in for brake work (long story).  UGH.  But, here I am!!

I am going to show you a quote that I LOVE and that I LIVE by.  It is a favorite.  

Living on less is a good thing to do.  It's the only financial advice that will work for almost everyone.  It's about a quality of life you cannot buy, a sense of satisfaction you cannot fake, and an appreciation for others that gives life value.  It's also about helping save the planet and sharing with those in need.  Living on less can be funny, but it is NOT a joke.
Jeff Yeager - The Ultimate Cheapskate

Please read that a couple times.  Read it carefully.  It is just so true in every word.
Living a good life really hasn't got a lot to do with money.  YES, if you do not have proper housing, nourishment, and clothing - money can elevate your position and help.  It can get you a better more secure life.  Extreme poverty is a horrid thing.
But, for the average person - money is a means to an end.  It pays bills, it provides lodging, it provides food and clothing- it gives us the basics.  In REALITY that is all we really need.

OK, it is nice to have fancy things, take vacations, play, give our kids what we didn't have - but those aren't necessary to living your best life and they probably won't make you any happier or satisfied as you are coming to the end of life.  We all leave this planet.  You can't take it with you (though some would love to try to).

Having a comfortable and decent life is about so much MORE than money.  
 * Making memories with one another.  * Loving unconditionally.  * Being a good friend or neighbor.  * Helping those in need.  * Being kind.  * Learning new ways and ideas.  * Using what you have and doing well with that.  * Just being a good person to yourself, others, and the earth.

A dollar saved (by not frivolously spending) is a dollar that you don't have to earn!  You can save any amount of  money if you set your mind to it, but you only get so much time on this earth to earn and save and experience.  There aren't any do-overs with that!  Time has a limit!!
I would rather spend my days, however many I have, experiencing life and people and things, than on working for hours on end to have a few more dollars.

I realize that we all have to work to get by.  That is a given.  But how we get by - is what we can change.  Making the most, spending the most, and having the most - sure as heck won't make you any happier!  Holding your loved one, hearing a child laugh, watching the beauty and complexity of nature, and living in the here and now WILL.

ABSOLUTELY TRUE IN EVERY WORD!!!!!!!!!  This is how we need to live our lives.  I know I am probably preaching to the choir - as you all seem to get it.  There may be someone who hasn't seen the light or is just coming aboard the frugal train that needs to know - THIS IS LIFE AT IT'S BEST.
Don't make things more complicated than they need to be.

Frugal living can be wonderful.  Remembering that "less is more" is the key.
Have a happy day everyone!

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

A Thing or Two

Today is just a couple of hints and tips.  We all look for new ways or things to simplify our lives and save a little money.  I think we all like using items we have for new ways, and tips just to make life easier.

I love nacho cheese.  Love making nachos and that cheese is also good on baked potatoes, over burgers, with chips, you name it.  I don't make it - that seems time consuming to me.  Those jars of nacho cheese you get at the store are pretty pricey, even at Aldi.
Well I found an inexpensive solution and man oh man is it good.

Fiesta Nacho Cheese soup!  I got this at Kroger and paid $1.57 for the can.  I place in a pan to warm and used 1/4 can of milk stirred in (to keep it a bit thicker than soup).  You could add more milk depending on how thin you want it.  It is so yummy.  I made nachos for dinner one night and kept the extra for a baked potato.
Tasty and cheaper than the actual cheese.  Give it a try!
(not spicy at all)

I do a lot of yard work and our area has a ton of poison ivy growing.  I am very allergic.  I don't like wearing long sleeves or a jacket when working in the yard in the summer.  I go from thing to thing, and long sleeves would be too hot.  I may pull weeds for a while, then mow or trim, then tend the garden plants and then back to weeds - so I need protection, just not long sleeves.
I have my own protection.  I use old tube socks or long socks of any type.  Cut out the toe - and then pull them up over your arms.  I wear gloves as well.  When I want to move on to another project for a while, I roll them down and remove - need them again - roll back out to cover arms.

Super easy and it works!  If so desired you can throw them away after using or simply just wash in cold soapy water for another day.

I saw this idea the other day for repurposing plastic.  Many plastic items are not re-cyclable.  I truly don't understand why that is even allowed.  They want to regulate our use of STRAWS - but can't regulate that ALL plastic be recyclable!!   Sorry, a bit off the subject!  
This idea contains your plastic in one place and makes it useful in another way.  They call them Eco blocks. 

Softer plastic is stuffed and packed tightly into bottles.  Have you ever squished up a plastic grocery bag?  It becomes about the size of a quarter!  A wooden dowel or spoon can be used to pack in the plastic.  All contained into one small bottle!  Pack it tightly!
Folks are cleaning up waterways and roadsides of trash and doing this (you want it to be dry before packing).  These Eco blocks are being used to build whimsical sculptures (with plaster or cement), used in building houses, making furniture, kids play equipment, building compost bins, etc.  There is nothing that these couldn't be used to build - your imagination is the only limit.
I just think this a neat way to contain a lot of trash in a small space.
You can Google Eco bricks and see some of the things they do with them.

Who knew??????  Surely not me.  I just found this so very interesting.  What a neat way to measure something on a camping trip or a picnic.  It is amazing the things we can learn every day!!!

So there you go kids - fun facts to know and tell!!!!!!!!
Have a good day.