Thursday, January 21, 2021

Thinking About Spring Planting - Ways to SAVE

 We are all looking at magazines for ideas on gardens - reading the seed catalogs - and thinking about growing!  It is still pretty early here to plant anything (starting seeds).  But the time will be here before we know it.  

Here are a few ideas for starting seeds and helping your plants get to growing that cost you NO money!  That is always good.

Save your toilet paper cardboard rolls - they make great starting pots for seeds.  They bio-degradable, so can be planted directly in the garden without disturbing the plants roots.
My brother does this every year.  He starts all of his plants himself and he keep TP rolls all throughout the year.  
You can use them as is - you can cut in half - or you can fold under part to make a bottom to the pot.
Not only are you recycling, but you don't have to spend money buying grow pots and they breakdown in the ground once planted.  Earth to earth.

Make grow pots out of newspaper.  Very easy to do.  You can make rolls of paper and form a bottom if you choose.  You can wrap around a can or jar (a template) and tape together to make any size pot.  Again, these are recycling, saving money and they too are bio-degradable.  Win - win.

I just love the idea of using what you have and not spending money.  Recycling at it's best.

Save popsicle sticks to use as plant markers.  Another great recycle.  Sticks from the yard can be used as well - find some nice sticks - remove bark and write name in permanent marker or paint.
You can also save and use those cardboard egg cartons to start seeds in.  I like them for starting lettuce and leafy crops in - they don't have to have a huge root system to plant - yet they have been given a nice start.  Simply cut the sections apart.

Think about using your old food tins as well.  Clean them out well and poke holes in the bottom and around the side for drainage.  They make good starter pots as well - although you do have to remove the plants from them to plant.
The pull top lids from food tins or pet food can be cleaned and kept to use as plant markers in the garden.  I do this each year with my tomatoes.  I put tomato cages around my plants and then hang a lid with the type of tomato painted on it.

These work perfectly and even have their own hanger connected!  I use a piece of twine or wire tie to attach to the tomato cage.

If you are allowed to collect water - try to find a way to produce some type of rain barrel or water storage.  Natural rain water is so much better for your plants and it is FREE.  I have one purchased rain barrel and one home made.  The homemade one is a 55 gallon cleaned plastic/rubber barrel.  I made a hose to connect the two - so overflow from one goes to the other.  
If nothing else - place totes or buckets at your downspouts to catch water - you can always dump the water into a larger container.  Plants just grow so much healthier with rain water.  **It is also handy to have in a pinch for flushing or hand washing if your water goes out.**  I use the rain water for my birdbaths and pet waterers as well in the summer.

Compost if you can.  That is wonderful for plants and gardens.
Tea  bags, coffee grounds and egg shells are very beneficial for plants.  Keep an old coffee tin under the sink for these scraps to use on your garden (or in your garage).

Make your own fertilizer out of natural products.  This one is a homemade Miracle Grow recipe.  So much better than store bought - no unnecessary chemicals
Click on recipe to enlarge and read better.

So there you have a few ideas of things you can start getting together now to help you prepare for gardening.  If you don't have the objects, I bet you know someone who will save them for you.  It gives us a bit of something to do and gets us in the spring mindset.  

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Ideas to Bust the Gloom of Winter Days

 Many of us are experiencing winter.  It is cold, snowy, wet, damp, gloomy, and just plan old blah!  Many are stuck in the house.  Outdoor activities are limited.  Winter can be the most depressing season of the year.
There are lots of little things we can all do to add a little PUNCH of cheer to our homes and our days.

  • Open your blinds and curtains - even if the sun is not shining bright, natural daylight is a mood enhancer.  It is so much better than artificial light!
  • Re-arrange furniture or pretties if at all possible.  Give yourself a different perspective and view of your home
  • Turn on FUN music and DANCE!  Super good exercise and such a mood enhancer.
  • Start that spring cleaning - yes de-clutter and super clean your home.  A clean and decluttered home is just more enjoyable and less stressful.
  • Add some color - put out some bright pillows, change out a bedspread or linens, add a colorful afghan or quilt.  Move pictures around - add some nature pictures (use something you have photographed).
  • Paint - paint isn't totally cheap, but it isn't crazy expensive either.  Changing the color of a wall or walls can change the mood totally
                         Color changes so much and just brightens a room.  (Not my picture)
  • Use boxes, baskets, frames, pots, etc. for storage for pretty, for accents.  Not only are there many pretty and interesting options out there - but the can be ever so useful.
                                                             (not my picture)
  • Use things in new ways - get creative
  • If you have ANY opportunity to let in some fresh air to the house - take it!!!!!!  Air out the musty old winter!  Germs thrive in closed up warm houses.
  • Go outside as often as you can.  No matter how cold - get outside.  I am outside at least 7-8 times EVERY day - 365 days a year.  Fresh air is healing and refreshing.  Feeling tired and sluggish?  Go out and walk around the yard or the block - it will wake you up!
  • Given the opportunity - grill something outside.  Nothing says you can only grill in the summer.
  • Get exotic!!!!!  Buy a fruit or veggie that you normally wouldn't buy and fix it.  A little splurge now and then can sure lift spirits.
  • Start planning your garden and your flowers NOW - read the seed catalogs and look at magazines for ideas
  • TURN OFF the news and social media!!!!!!!!!!  Surround yourself with happy and positive vibes
  • Read fun books and watch fun and informative (learning) videos
  • Buy yourself a bouquet of flowers from the grocery every now and then!  They don't cost much and they will sure brighten a day/home
  • Get off you butt and DO SOMETHING!  ANYTHING!  We all tend to sit and veg out during the winter.  Make a plan and get busy and creative - do something different.
  • Nature watch - that can be so entertaining - it sure beats TV
You don't have to give into the doom and gloom of winter days.  YOU have the option to change things.  DO SOMETHING - to change things up a bit.  Have a little fun (yes you still can - it isn't outlawed!!!!).  You can be safe and still have fun and joy and beauty and enlightenment in your life.


Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Making Comfort Meals - A Few Cheap & Easy Ideas

 Comfort foods - we all love them.  Why are they called comfort foods?  In my opinion because they are foods that just make you feel warm and cozy inside - like a warm hug!
They can be complicated or they can be simple - guess which I choose???

Today I will list a few ideas - mainly using your pantry and freezer supplies.  If you are one of those that keep a variety of things on hand - you have this covered.  I am going to try to list easy and frugal meals on a regular basis - using what you may have on hand.  Any way that we can add variety and yumminess to one another's lives is a good thing.

CHILI - we all have our own recipe for this.  Then if you are like me, there is NO recipe - I make it different every time.  Generally it contains, ground meat, beans, seasoning, tomato products and possibly pasta or rice.  Many just use beans to make a vegetarian chili.  It is all good.

Another thing that just happens at my house.  Soups and stews vary as much as the hairs on your head.  There is variety and they are all different.  Mix whatever veggies you have or want and broth and meat (if you choose) - make it soup-like or thicker for stew.  Soups often add pasta or rice.  However you make it, it is pure comfort!

Last weeks potato soup - a bit homemade and a bit semi-homemade.  Looks complicated, but it wasn't.  I had a package of soup mix, added a diced potato, a handful of chopped celery (in blue), sprinkled in some cheese powder & a bit of grated cheese and onion soup/dip mix and I cut up ONE of those brats.  Served with a dollop of sour cream.  Mmmmm.  Two meals for me and 2 more frozen for later.  Cheap and easy and most of all TASTY!   You can jazz up any packaged soup mix.  I got a couple more for gifts and I always try to keep a few around.  They are just such a basic ingredient that can really make a great base to a wonderful soup.

Now this is what I call goulash - and what I understand some out East call it chow mein.  Chow mein to me is an Asian dish - but it doesn't matter what you call it.  It is easy and frugal and good.
Basics include pasta, ground meat, seasonings of choice and some tomato product (chopped or diced toms, sauce, pasta sauce, etc.) and then a bit of cheese.  I always add onion (to about everything), but that is my choice.
This is so basic and easy - and most people have everything needed on hand.

I often make a simple version - rice and salsa cooked together.  Doesn't get any easier than that! Super good as a side dish for any meal.

There are so many versions of nachos.  USE WHAT YOU HAVE.  Leftover chili, taco meat, beans, refried beans, salsa, cheese, tomatoes, onions, olives..................  Top tortilla chips and you are done.  Maybe add a dollop of sour cream if you have it.  You can also use over rice or pasta or make TOTchos!!!!!  Toppings over tator tots!!!!!!
This isn't brain surgery - it is just simple basic things you have around.  It is always good and filling.

Hollow out some hoagie buns or even part of a loaf of French bread.  Add pizza fixings, hotdogs and chili sauce, meat and cheese, whatever you have.  Stuff it full.  Wrap in foil and bake at about 375* for 15 minutes or so.  Oh my goodness these are good.  **Keep that bread you pulled out to make breads crumbs.

Hotdog buns (or any bun) -  Separate  into 2 parts and brush with butter and garlic powder or parmesan cheese and bake at 450 for 7-9 minutes.  Easier version - toast your buns and top with butter and garlic powder and cheese.  Heck I even toast bread and make garlic toast.  Great to serve with a salad or with spaghetti, goulash, chili, lasagna, soup, etc.

My easy version is made with pre-made pie crust and whatever thick toppings I have on hand.  Each round of pie crust I make 2 calzones with.  I cut the round in half - add filling to HALF of each and then fold over the other half and crimp edges.   (I hope that is understandable! - your calzone LOOKS like a quarter of the round when done)  I usually use a bit of egg wash around the edges before crimping with a fork.  Make a couple slits in the top of each for a steam vent and bake at the recommended time for the crust.  You want them to be nice and golden brown.
I have stuffed with pizza toppings and I have also used stew (or leftover roast and potatoes and carrots).  You imagination is your only limit.
One of these and a salad makes a tasty meal.

There you go - todays easy comfort meals using things you have (hopefully) on hand.  Experiment a little and have fun with your food.  No need to get bored with the same old things.  
More easy and frugal comfort foods/meals later!!!

Sunday, January 17, 2021

Weekly Wrap Up 1/17

 Happy Sunday to all.  My goodness we are over half way through this month already.  Crazy!
Hope you all had a good week.
I actually got to experience sunshine for a few days this week!!!!  It was wonderful, yet somewhat odd.  It has just been so cloudy for so long.  We had a few really nice days in the 40's along with the sun.  Woke to a covering of snow on Saturday, but most was gone at the end of the day.  It is flurrying again this morning.  Looks like it will be pretty normal and in the 30's all week.

My neighbor has a light on the alley side of his garage - and every morning when I go out to feed the cats, I see a big old rabbit out by his gate.  It sure appears to be big!  I love that there is so much nature here in the burbs.
The  birds and the squirrels have sure been hungry!
Thursday morning I saw something that had me a bit unnerved. I live in the flight path of the airport and I am very used to the sights and sounds.  That morning in the dark of morn - I walked out and saw military jets flying in an unusual flight pattern out of city and at a super high rates of speed!  That was weird for sure - I just felt I wasn't supposed to see that.  Things that make you say "hmmmmm".

My week:

  • Caught up laundry for first time this year - LOL!  Hung most of it in the basement for extra humidity.  Did dry heavier items.  Have it vented (covered to catch lint/dust) into the basement for extra heat.  There are no heat vents down there
  • I did feel the call to stock a bit.  I stocked up on pet products and OTC drugs/vitamins.  I got myself milk and a huge bag of oranges.  Oh, I got myself a new hand mixer!!!!  Mine finally gave it up over the holidays after 33 years of use!  
                     My new mixer.  $14.99 at Kroger.  It will do me just fine for a long while
  • Went outside on one of the nice days a picked up a gazillion sticks that had fallen, as well as odd pieces of blowing debris
  • Cleaned out the watering holes and bird bath while it was nice
  • Made a pot of potato soup and froze 2 containers for future meals
  • Made a batch of 'special' cookies for my brother and sister - we finally get to have our "Christmas" today!!!!!
  • Paid all bills for the rest of the month and ran up to PO to drop off, since mail delivery will be short a day this week
  • Started a 'tax folder' as info is starting to come in
  • Did a root touch-up on my hair
  • I actually ordered myself a magazine subscription!  Haven't ordered magazines in ages.  Ordered Country Woman for 2 years for a grand total of $15!!!!
  • Using what I have, meals at home, just doing all the normal everyday stuff
Meals this past week:
Big juicy loaded burger and a side salad
Loaded Potato soup - 2X
Club sandwich and chips
Ham/rice/asparagus topped with cheese
Smoked sausage sandwiches (used slider buns from frig) topped with lettuce and sliced radish

How was your week?  Are you stocking?  Are you doing a no spend month?  Crafting?  Look forward to hearing from you.

I hope you are all well and safe and stay that way during this coming week.  Prayers for peace and comfort for all.  Blessings from my humble little home to yours.

Be strong and of good courage, do not fear or be in dread of them: for it is the Lord your God who goes with you; He will not fail you or forsake you.
Deuteronomy 31:6

I know I used this last week as well - it is in my heart.
Good words for our current times

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Thinking About Less

 Less is best!?  We all tend to go overboard on most things in life.  Maybe we all need to start thinking LESS!!  Less isn't a bad thing at all.  It can save your health and it can save money and it can save the environment.  It is time to look around and find out how LESS will work in your life!

We all know less STUFF seems to make our lives and our homes more manageable.  You have less stress with less junk in your home.  It is calming and serene.

Less EATING can help us manage our health.  Not many out there who couldn't lose a pound or two.  Smaller servings and one helping is sufficient most of the time.  Remember meat servings shouldn't be any larger than a fist.  Meat shouldn't be a main course, but a side like everything else.  Less fatty and junk food is healthy as well.  Eating too much has become a global problem and a global health problem.  We often eat out of boredom and truly 3 meals a day is not necessary - it is a habit.
Break those bad habits and get a healthier body and save money and resources.

Use LESS water!!!!  We are so wasteful of our water resources.  Never wash dishes with the faucet running.  Catch extra water for plants, animals or drinking when waiting for water to heat up.  Think of catching extra water when showering to flush or use on gardens, etc.  DRIPS are extremely wasteful.  A single drip of a faucet - dripping once a second - wastes thousands of gallons of water a year!!!!!!

Fixing that drip could be as simple as replacing the inner washer or you may need to replace the faucet.  They aren't that expensive and most can be replaced easily (I have done it myself).
If you are permitted - have rain barrels to catch nature's water.  That is so beneficial to gardens and plants and it works well for bird baths and animal bowls.
It can also be kept in jugs at the end of the season to use in an emergency, should municipal water go out.  You can also buy life straws and cleaning tablets that allows you to drink it in a emergency as well.

Use less POWER.  Electricity can be costly.  Think about alternative sources of light.  Lanterns, battery operated lights, solar, candles.
You can use solar lights from outdoors in a pinch if you lose power.  There are also lanterns that can be purchased that you keep near a window to draw solar power and they are great for evenings.

If you have an alternative heat source that is great as well.  Turn OFF lights when not in a room!!!!!!  There is no need to have lights on during the day and sure no need to have them on in an empty room.  Use a night light if necessary.
I have a neighbor that drives me nuts - they leave front & back porch lights on 24/7 as well as their basement light.  They use the basement for laundry only!  WHY would you need to leave on all the time?  I have a dusk to dawn light on my garage for security reasons -and I have flashlights I can use - no need for 24/7 lighting!!!!!!!!!
I open blinds during the day for light and heat from the sun - it is amazing how well it works.  All natural!

LESS A/C or HEAT - germs grow in hot environments.  The cooler your home the less germs that thrive.  I remember having a teacher in high school that always had a couple windows open even on the coldest days.  I thought he was crazy then - but he always told us about germs thriving.  It is true.  I use fresh air as much as possible in the spring/summer/fall.  I know some have allergies and can't do that - but most could.  If it gets upper 40's or 50's in winter I let fresh air in to air the house.  Keep the thermostat down a couple degrees in the winter and only use A/C if necessary in summer - it is healthy and it saves a chunk of change.

Today my recommendation is LESS - TV, NEWS, FB, SOCIAL MEDIA!!!!!!!!  Those things have become toxic to our mental well being and to our society.   Turn them off!
Read a book, take a walk, learn a craft, commune with nature, de-clutter your home, porch sit, talk with others, pray, exercise, meditate, listen to music............anything but soaking in hatred and toxic information.

Use and buy less PACKAGING.  We are so bad about recycling.  Look for items that have less plastic packaging.  Buy loose items instead of packaged items.  Buy larger packages and breakdown at home into glass or freezer or share with others.  Figure out new uses for paper or cardboard (most can be easily recycled).  Use your own shopping bags when permitted.  Make net produce bags to use at the store - they weigh basically nothing and you can use over and over and launder. (I keep those mesh bags from the produce dept.. and reuse)
Less packaging saves money (yes you pay for that packaging), save the environment and just makes good sense.

So yep - LESS can be MORE!!!!!
Using less can mean more money in your pocket, it can mean being heathier, it can mean more natural resources available for all,  it can mean less garbage on the earth, it can mean a prettier and healthier earth......... it can mean so much MORE of everything!

Start a new habit this year and use LESS of everything if you can.

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

You Have a Choice

 There are many things in this old world that we can't  get away from.  BUT there are so many things that we have a choice in and on.  
The biggest choice we have - is choosing JOY and HAPPINESS!

I am sure there are many who say "it isn't that easy".  It kind of is.  No matter what our circumstances are - we have the right to choose how we RESPOND!!!!!

I got a HUGE wake-up call in 2019.  I could have stayed down and out.  I could have stayed bitter and angry.  I could have stayed miserable.  After a while I realized that those things did not help me in any way and they sure didn't represent the memory of my beloved.  He always said if something happened - go forward and do all you can to be happy and do good for others.   I am trying.
It doesn't mean you aren't lonely, it doesn't mean you don't get sad, it doesn't mean you don't miss someone - it means you are showing respect for the life they lived and the one you are living.

Today so many things bring people down.  Health, politics, social media, news, joblessness, prices, etc.. NOW is the time to change your outlook - don't let this year bring you down.  Find joy where you can.

Live within your means
Turn things off
Try to prepare and stay ahead of the 'game'
Simplify everything about your life
Get rid of relationships that make you angry
Forgive - this is HUGE
Do what makes YOU happy
Quit trying to please everyone else
Find joy in the little things - you will soon be more aware
Work on inner peace - without that you can't expect to have peace anywhere else
Develop a relationship with nature
Create the world you want to see

You can let anything and everything going on get you down.  WHY would you?  That sure isn't enjoyable.

I have decided to remove people from my world that I deem toxic and hateful.  I don't need that negativity.  You know them too - those people who just can't shut-up and let things go.  They go out of their way to push buttons - it seems to be their mission.  My life is worth more than to continue with this negativity.
You sometimes just outgrow people and that is OK.  Change is often essential for your well being.
I have decided to simplify even more things in life.  
I have decided to share more good to the world.
I have decided to count and not be oppressed and I am moving forward in baby steps - but moving forward.

Stand up for YOU and your beliefs.  Don't compromise.  You have a right to feel as you wish.  You do and I do.  We don't have to agree and we sure don't have to explain it to anyone!!!!!
Stop trying to please everyone.  You and your home/family is your little world.  Make it happy first.  If EVERYONE worked on their little world and made it the best - the world would be a better place.

Slow down and simplify life.  Seek out the simple life.  Be more humble.  Stop the hate.  Spread more love and joy.
A smile, a kind word, a kind act can change the world for someone - maybe for just a moment - but moments make days.  Be the change you want to see amongst the world.  Lead by example.

You create your own HAPPINESS.
Wishing you all much joy and happiness.  
Go GRAB the best of life - it is out there.   And TOSS about a little joy while you are at it!

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Easy and Frugal Snacks

 We all like a good snack once in a while.  Snack food can be down right bad for you and it can be so stinking costly.  Today I am going to list a lot of things we can all munch on that we may have in our pantries or that can be made into new things.

POPCORN - most definitely the cheapest snack.  Make it from REAL popcorn - not the microwave bags.  You can use about anything to flavor or season - ranch dressing mix, Italian, powdered chees, nutritional yeast, BBQ seasoning, etc.

FRUIT - fresh or canned or frozen.  Fruit is nutritious  - many of us keep oranges, apples, pears, etc. on hand.  Canned fruit in fruit juice is is great as well.  A favorite of mine - apples and peanut butter.  Use what you and think of new ways to use it.
FRESH VEGS - carrots, radish, cukes, fresh asparagus, tomatoes, cabbage, celery.  Eat as is or with dip or cream cheese.  Ants on a log - celery with cream cheese or other spread topped with raisins - fun!
Salads of all types can be eaten for a snack.  Get creative!

YOGURT topped with fruit or granola
JELLO with fruit added
HOMEMADE PUDDING - any flavor - add crushed cookies or cereal.
HOMEMADE cookies, pie, cake, muffins, etc.
TRAIL MIX - use an assortment of what you have on hand to mix this up

ICE CREAM FLOATS - any flavor ice cream or any flavor pop!  Milkshakes or malts.
HOMEMADE potato chips - thinly slice potatoes (very thin) and fry or oven fry.  YUM
BAKED potato skins - any type of topping
CHEESE & crackers
NUTS - and handful will do you!

HUMMUS - so easy to make at home

Click on recipe to see clearer.    Tahini - sesame oil.  I have used other oils as well - whatever I have on hand.  Season with your favorites seasonings.  Serve with crackers

BAKED CHICKPEAS - roast a drained can of chickpeas.  Smear with a bit of oil and some seasoning before roasting.  Roast or bake until crispy.  These are delish!!!!!!
CREAM CHEESE and jelly over cracker.  Many use pepper jelly - but you can use what you have.

REFIED BEANS - use what you have.  Can of beans (drained), throw in a blender with a bit of oil and seasonings.  Can eat cold or heat and serve with tortilla chips
CHOCOLATE covered pretzels -super easy to make with melted chips
TUNA SALAD and crackers or EGG SALAD and crackers OR mini sandwiches of any kind

HOMEMADE tortilla chips - flour or corn tortilla's cut into strips or tri-angles, brush lightly with oil and salt - bake until crisp.  You can easily make your own tortilla's to use as well.
RICE KRISPY bars (or any type of cereal)

PIGS in a blanket
TORTILLA  roll-ups
HAM/PICKLE rolls - a piece of ham smothered with a bit of cream cheese - add a pickle spear and roll up!
PEANUT butter and crackers
PEANUT butter and FLUFF (marshmallow) sammies

SMOOTHIES - veggie or fruit
NO BAKE cookies
A HOT BOWL of oats or rice
PANCAKE - rollups with peanut butter

There is just no end to the types of snacks we can come up with.  Look around the pantry and come up with something fun and different.
There are no limits.
Snacks can be somewhat healthy and they don't have to cost a small fortune.  
If you can buy it - YOU CAN MAKE IT only better!!!!!!!