Thursday, August 16, 2018

We ALL Need a Smile!!

Some days we just all need a smile and a little laughter.
It has been a very busy week here, as I am sure it has been in your home.  We get so caught up in BUSY - we often forget to just smile.

My kitties always give me something to smile about.
The squirrels antics are always funny.
G has a weird sense of humor - so he can get a smile.
The garden produce looks and tastes yummy - so I smile.
Meeting a friendly person at the store can make me smile.
Preparing my pantry for those "what if" times, makes me happy and smile.
Waking up each morning makes me smile.

But I don't think anything can make you smile like seeing a sweet berry faced smiling piggy!!!!!!! 

Just wanted to wish you all a GREAT day and don't forget to SMILE!

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Shades of a Summer Day

Around here, summer days and evenings are anything but dull or boring.  There is always something to do.  It is a never ending list of chores and projects.
Now mind you, a lot of the projects get put off, as there just isn't the time to do them, till cooler weather.

I don't mean to sound as if I am complaining, as the garden is a blessing, but also a chore!
The yard - well what can I say?  So much heat and so much rain equals weeds every where.  We did have an extended dry spell for several weeks and many things just looked like crap.  So I started just cutting them back to the ground - and now they are arising once again (although they look better!)

Work, work, work - something we all need to get used to.  So many today, don't want to get their hands dirty, or think things are trivial and not worth the effort. 
Me thinks they are!!!!!!
It gives us something to be proud of - something for others to admire (pretty yards) - and often times, good food to eat.

I am currently writing this in between waiting on the slaw to set for a while before canning another batch, and picking more tomatoes.

Todays pick:
Todays harvest of tomatoes - 12 lbs.  Look at the size of those things.  I do this about every day now.  Be careful what you wish for!!!!  I couldn't wait for the first one and then they took off.  Remember this is just 10 plants - part of my 8' x 15' garden.

Part of the slaw fixings in the sink before chopping.  That cabbage about covers the bottom of the sink!
I can't begin to tell you how many times I have mopped in the past two weeks - I guess I am not the neatest canner!!!

I try to spend some early mornings out pulling weeds and cleaning flower beds.  Oh my, they have gotten so out of hand.  I dead head flowers when needed, and the weeds.....................
I truly wish we could cross weed genes with garden genes to make our gardens grow like weeds!  Wouldn't that be something?

Weeds and more weeds and dead plants.  If you notice there is a metal trash can in the back right, so you can judge how big the pile is.  This is only one of two out there that need to be bagged up.

This is mint and snow on the mountain plant - I cut these back to the ground about a week and a half ago - you could see nothing when I finished.  They had gotten so nasty looking beforehand.
Well, it surely didn't hurt them - they are growing again and looking healthy.  That means a second crop of mint!!!!!!!

OK, I guess I am done rambling about the woes of a summer day. 
I am blessed and I am busy and I am getting tired! 
As G always jokingly says "it keeps you out of the bars!!"   LOL LOL!!!   (he really is joking!)

No lazy days of summer here.
How about you?  I bet you are all keeping mighty busy too!

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Frugal Happenings 8/12

Happy Sunday everyone.  Here we are at the beginning of another week that God has graced us with.
We had another good week here on our little homestead.

We had a lot of rain at the first of week, then it dried out, and I got to mow.
Today the humidity is down some and it's in the 80's.  Supposed to have 80's for highs this week and evening in the 60's.  Rain off and on this week.  Not too bad for August.
The grass has taken off again in growing.  I mowed on Thursday and it needs it again already!  I went almost 4 weeks without mowing - now..........

The garden is still producing.  I only have one zucchini plant left that is producing.  The others have all succumbed to something (probably darn bugs).  I have dusted, but between bugs and heat, they gave up the fight.
The tomatoes are going crazy!
I have shared many tomatoes with our friend next door.  He is a happy camper.

My frugal week:
  • Line dried laundry
  • Froze more okra
  • Canned 10 pints of coleslaw
  • Canned 7 pints of pizza sauce
  • Canned 7 pints of pasta and 3 - 1/2 pints (for dishes that need a zip) of pasta sauce
                                                  Big pot of spaghetti sauce simmering!
  • Picked grapes - only one section had ripe ones.  After I de-stemmed them, I had 3 pounds.  I put into the freezer till I have time to make jelly
  • Mowed and worked on flower beds
  • Used the scalding canning water along the edge of porch and in fence row to kill grass and weeds
  • Dehydrated tomato skins to make powder
  • Cut G's and my hair
  • Picked approximately 42 pounds of produce this week!!!!!!!!  Okra, peppers, grapes, zucchini, cukes, LOTS of tomatoes and another HUGE cabbage   WOOHOO!!!!!
  • Used all leftovers for dinners or lunches
  • Ran to Kroger on Friday - 1/2 gallon milk, loaf of bread, found bulk chopped hazelnuts in clearance, and got 4 packs of Hillshire Farms smoke ham and turkey for 1.99/pkg. (special) - dated October.  I also got a pork loin on special for 1.69/lb. and I will be cutting it into chops today.  It cost a total of $7.50. (I'll let you know how many chops I get).  I only got one - as they will go even cheaper at some point.
These came to 2 lbs. total for $6.  Hazelnuts are very expensive here.  They usually run about 7.99 lb.

Home fried fish and salad
Fish/veggie roll-ups
Stuffed pepper skillet dinner
Mac n cheese with little smokies, tomatoes and cukes
Salmon patties, dirty rice, and tomatoes
Steak burgers topped with provolone and ravioli and tomatoes and  cukes
Homemade zesty chicken bowls (like Taco Bell) and salad


I kept busy, but this coming week will be the same or busier.  Canning season is here in full measure.
I love being able to put my harvest up for the winter.  I love eating it now as well!!!!!  There is just nothing like fresh!
This coming week my plan is for canning more tomato products, more coleslaw, and maybe starting some kraut.  I am not sure when jelly will be made - it can wait for a while.
I also need to color my hair - I think that is on agenda for today!

Between taking care of the yard/garden and canning I think I will stay out of trouble!!!!  LOL

Are you doing any canning yet?  How are the gardens doing?  Deals and bargains?
I look forward to hearing about your adventures.

May you and yours be blessed beyond measure in the coming week.  Prayers for health and happiness.
Blessings from our humble home to yours.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Encouraging Words

We all have days when we don't want to do anything - just no oomph!
We all have days when we feel sorry for ourselves.
We all have days that seem overwhelming.
We all have days when we are just sad - for whatever reason.
We all have days that we just don't feel well.
We all have days.........................................................

We all need to just go with the flow.  There are some things that we can't do anything about, no matter had badly we want to.  Life happens.
We have all had tough times, YET we are still here today.  Yep, we woke up this morning, and the past is in the past - all we can do is move forward.

I just want everyone to know it is OK to have those days!  We ALL do.
Never give up.  Don't beat yourself up if you fall behind or hit an obstacle. 
Take a deep breath, laugh about the situation, learn something, and TRY AGAIN!

BE THANKFUL for what you DO have!!!!!!!
Let it be enough for today.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Canning - My Toys and a Recipe

It is that time of the year when we are all getting back into canning our garden produce.
Do you have special 'toys' that make your life easier?  I do!
Sometimes you just need things that make life easier!  Well, we probably don't NEED them, but they are sure nice.

I truly love my emersion sticker blender.  It is a must for me when I am working with tomatoes.  I use it to slightly blend tomatoes for salsa.  We like ours somewhat chunky, so I just use it to break up bigger pieces.  I love it for making pizza sauce and spaghetti sauce.  It makes things so smooth.
It is a tool I use every day!!!!!  Yes, every day for something!!  It is great for making 'cream of' soups and for getting rid of any lumps in gravy.  So many uses.  I make smoothies each day - so it is used for all kinds of things.

My second favorite 'toy' or tool is the Ninja!  I probably never would have bought it, because of cost.  We received ours as a gift a few years ago (my nephew loves me).  It has a smoothie cup, a food processor jar, and a dough mixer.  I LOVE IT.
It makes quick work of relish or slaw.  When I made my sweet relish the other day - I had all veggies chopped within 15 minutes.  Six pulses and it was perfect consistency!
When I made slaw - 4 pulses per jar did the job.  Onions, carrots, and 8 pounds of cabbage DONE in about 10-15 minutes!!!!!
You have to experiment a bit - but boy does it make life easy.

Of course we have our normal every day tools that we use.  I have been known to mash tomatoes with a potato masher (as well as fruit when making juice for jelly), and I love my draining spoons (slits in them).  A good sharp knife is a MUST!  My mandolin also comes in handy at times.

My must haves are pretty much everyone else's must haves as well.
I have 2 canners and one slightly smaller enamel pot that is great for mixing big batches of goods.  I love my funnel - it was Mom's, so it is old.  I have had my jar grabber for years.  No need to get new - I use what works!

Canning COLESLAW! - How fun is that??????
I promised Vickie I would give the recipe for this, and figured others may want to try it as well.

1 medium head of cabbage
1 large carrot
1 bell pepper
1 small onion
1 tsp. salt
Chop to desired consistency and add this all together and let it sit for one hour. Salt pulls liquid out of cabbage.

1 C vinegar
1/4 C water
2 C sugar
1 tsp. mustard seed
Bring this to a boil.  Let it cool slightly (so it won't COOK shredded cabbage).

After one hour drain liquid off of the cabbage mixture (some people rinse too - I didn't).
Pour slightly cooled syrup over the mixture and mix together thoroughly.  Place in jars (leave one inch head room).  Make sure you get liquid in each jar. 
Process in a water bath for 15 minutes.

You can serve directly from jar.  It is sweet and slightly tangy.  OR you can drain, and add mayo if desired.  Your choice.  It is very tasty!

**I used an 8 lb. cabbage - so I doubled everything else.  I considered that a large head - not a medium.

So there you have it.
I know we all have our own ways of doing things - ways we may have learned from Mom's and Grandma's. 
I love using what I have to make my life easier.

So what 'toys' or tools do you have and use to make your gardening season easier?
We can all use some new ideas!

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Frugal Happenings 8/5

Good morning.  I hope you all had a good week.  These weeks of summer sure are flying by.
We had a lot of much needed rain during the first part of the week.  We have gotten pretty darn warm and humid again, for a few days.  After a day or so, we are supposed to get back to more normal temps in the lower and mid 80's.
It's all good, and helping the garden grow.

Our week was another fairly quiet one.  That seems to be the story of our lives lately.  It is nice - no drama.

My frugal week:
  • I picked a lovely bouquet this week
  • I got to work in the large perennial bed for a while (when it was cooler)
  • Made a large batch of marinated salad to enjoy for the entire week (still have some)
  • Froze chunked zucchini and yellow squash for winter cooking
  • Froze more okra
  • I did run to store for 2 things.  I got a couple bags of onions (for canning stuff) and another gallon of apple cider vinegar (boy that stuff is expensive!)
  • Canned 13 jars of sweet relish
  • Canned a quart jar of tangy sliced peppers
  • Got to mow for the first time in well over 3 weeks (everything was brown before)
  • Kept another Parmesan cheese shaker top
  • Our neighbor/friend visited another food pantry this week.  He is so picky!!!!  He received things he would not or could not eat in a timely fashion, so he shared.  He gave us 2 large cartons of cottage cheese, a bag of Romaine lettuce, 10 pack of Kettle Corn popcorn (for microwave), a fresh sweet potato pie, 6 apples, and 2 smaller bags of oats - all for FREE
  • Picked approx. 23 lbs. of garden produce - 8 lbs. of that was a beautiful cabbage! 
  • Line dried laundry
                                              Pretty aren't they?  They smell heavenly too.

Weekly Meals:
Cold sandwiches and chips
Popeye's (yes we did!!!!!)
Enchilada casserole and sliced tomatoes
Poor man Swiss steak, mashed potatoes & salad
Egg/cheese/tomato sandwiches and salad
Zucchini pie (recipe 8/2), smoked sausage & sliced tomatoes
Turkey/cheese sandwiches and salad

G has really been in the mood for sandwiches lately.  That is fine for me, as I get a break from cooking!  They are always enjoyed.
We ate a lot of cantaloupe (from last week) as a treat after dinners.

Look, look - the Concord's are starting to ripen!!!  I will be picking some of those this coming week.  The other grapes aren't turning yet - but that is ok.  Looks like jelly may be in the future soon!

I plan on canning coleslaw this week and maybe even making some more kraut.  The cabbages are really big and I have plenty.  I MAY be able to can some tomato products this week as well - not sure.  Then there is jelly!  Bring it on!!!!!!!!!!!!!  It's canning time at our house!
It seems the cukes and the squash have really slowed down - and other things are producing a lot.  The cycle keeps us busy, that is for sure.

Are you starting to can yet?  What was your week like?  Any great deals?

I pray for each of you, and pray you stay healthy and safe.  May you have all you NEED and may your hearts stay warm and caring and giving.
Thank you for coming by.

Blessings from our humble home to yours. 

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Garden to Table - Meals in Minutes

Gardens are all starting to produce so many goodies.  This is my favorite time of the year for food!  I love all the fresh food, and all the fun things you can do with it.

Meals don't have to be complicated.  In our house, a meal can be a one dish item!  If we are full and satisfied, that is the only requirement!  G never complains, and eats whatever is placed before him.  We love eating our garden goodies.

My favorite summer quick meal - is a tomato sandwich!  I like mustard on mine (and bread toasted), but many others prefer mayo.  Sometimes I like a slice of sweet onion on it.

1 bagel, slice in half
4 - 6 Tbsp. cream cheese, softened
1 - 1 1/2 Tbsp. sunflowers seeds
1 cucumber - sliced
1 tomato - sliced
1 leaf of fresh lettuce
Spread cream cheese on one half of bagel, sprinkle with sunflower seeds.  Layer all the veggies as much as you want.  Top with remaining half of bagel.  Simple, easy, healthy & filling!!!!

4 C zucchini, sliced and quartered
4 eggs
1 C biscuit type baking mix
1 onion, diced
1/2 C Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 C oil
Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl, and spread into a 13 x 9 baking pan.  Bake at 350* for 45 minutes.  I am making a HALF recipe of this tonight!

Thinly slice fresh garden tomatoes to top your pizza before baking!  It makes them taste so good.  This is a favorite of my husband - he gets excited every time he see tomatoes on top!!
Think about adding thinly sliced or shredded zucchini on your pizza as well.  There is no end to the types of toppings.  (I always DRAIN squash when using it - slice or shred and place between paper towels or dish cloths to absorb water)

6 oz. pkg. cooked rotini
2 C plum tomatoes (or regular) chopped
1 C corn ( frozen is fine - thaw)
1/2 C chopped green onions
Mix all and gently toss - add basil dressing below!

1/3 C red wine vinegar
2 Tbsp. olive oil
3 Tbsp. fresh basil - finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic - minced
salt & pepper
Whisk together and fold into salad


BROCOLLI SALAD (one of our favorites)
1 head of broccoli - chopped
1 medium onion - chopped
1/2 - 1 C sunflower seeds
1 C real bacon bits or crumbled fresh cooked bacon
1 C mayo
1/2 C sugar
3 Tbsp. vinegar
Mix mayo, sugar and vinegar together and completely fold into salad.  This is sooooooo good.
It is sweet with a bit of tang.
(For those who don't like raisins in broccoli salad!!!!)


There are so many variations of things you can do with pasta and fresh veggies.
Use any type of pasta you want.  ADD any COMBO of tomato, onion, cucumbers, zucchini, broccoli, cauliflower, peppers, fresh corn, etc.
DRESSING - can be whatever you like.  You can use the dressings from above recipes, or plain old Ranch dressing, Italian dressing, combo of Ranch & Italian (we love this), or whatever your favorite dressing may be!
There are NO RULES!!!!

(we currently have this in frig)
Chopped broccoli, zucchini, cukes, onion, tomato, pepper - (whatever veggies you have) with a half bottle of Italian dressing.  So yummy and refreshing!!!!!

Steamed veggies are quick and easy and so healthy.  You can top with cheese or just a light seasoning of salt and pepper.  So fresh and natural.

Slice and mix with vinegar and sugar to taste.  This is as simple as it comes!

Just about any veggie can be sautéed in a sir fry dish.  We love squash, peppers, onions, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower - you name it.  You can stir fry (we like ours with a bit of crunch), with or without meat.  Add any seasoning or sauces you like.  Serve alone or over rice.

Hope this gives you a few ideas of quick garden to table meals you can make.  Shake things up a bit this summer - EXPERIMENT with new combos.  You really can't go wrong!