Sunday, December 31, 2017

Frugal Happenings 12/31

Oooooohhhh baby it's cold outside!  We are in the coldest stretch of weather we have had in ages.  Weather man said this will be the coldest New Years in decades.
They have changed plans for festivities tonight and shortened them by several hours due to the cold.
It is just not fit for man nor beast.  Tomorrow's  high is to be 3*!!!
On the bright side, it is staying light longer in the evenings by about a half hour!!!!!

I think about the homeless and just can't imagine.  The shelters are bursting at the seams - turning no one away (as it should be).  There are some that just don't want to be constrained by rules that will stay out.  I pray they live through this.  My outdoor kitties have been staying in the greenhouse a lot - as they have nice warm bedding, they are out of the wind and weather and have heated water bowls and bedding.  They are staying snug!

We had a couple inches of snow Friday evening.  Flurries again this morning.  I have seen my winter snow, it has gotten cold - OK, I am over it - ready for spring!

We had a lovely family get-together yesterday.  Still have one lone nephew (and fiancĂ©) that need to come.  They had to work yesterday.  We will see them when they can get away.  We got some lovely home crafted gifts - I will show them this week.
Eating leftovers today, and we will have our annual seafood dinner tonight!

My frugal week:
  • Replenishing cabinets/pantry from deep pantry
  • Made a cherry cheesecake and lasagna from items on hand for Christmas dinner
  • Kept the lid from a parmesan cheese container
  • Finalized Dec. receipts
  • Cut the cats nails - saving $20 per visit (3 cats) and stressing out the kitties
  • Had an unexpected expense this week.  My battery in the Blazer died for good!  A dear friend went and got us a new one and installed it.  Bless his heart.  We paid him, so he got a little spending cash and we are good for years.  (Last one was 5 1/2 years old)
  • Made several dozen more cookies.  Many were gifted and the rest were ate yesterday.
  • I went to get cabbage at Kroger (for NY dinner) and found some deals!!!  I found Hershey milk chocolate chips marked down to .99/bag!  I got 15 bags.  I also got 2 - 2lb. bags of fresh mixed veggies for. 1.99 ea. (reg. 4.99).  I used some for veggie plate for get-together and the rest will be steamed later in the week or used in soup!
  • I also got 4 - 12 oz. packs of natural bacon on sale for 2.49 ea.  Regular $5.  And I got 5 tubs of frozen Cool-whip for .49 each.
  • I topped off the gas tank while out to prepare for this super cold weather.  I saved .30/gallon.
  • I made ice outdoors for the get together.  I set the trays on the handrail outside kitchen door and it was so cold that it froze lickety-split!  It was colder outside than my freezer was!
  • Had everything on hand for our get-together.  No need to purchase any food or drink and everyone was well fed and enjoyed.
Meals this week:
Homemade blueberry pancakes and fried ham (from freezer)  YUM
Lasagna and salad (2X)
Mac n Cheese with jalapeno smoked sausage and side salad of lettuce topped with sweet/sour red cabbage
Burgers and fries
Chicken/rice/veggies in cream sauce
BBQ meatballs/little wienies, veggies and dip all with crackers (left from get-together)

Cheesecake and cookies for desserts

Today will be a day to rest up.  This body is tired from shoveling snow and cooking.  I will probably take down the few decoration today or tomorrow and get back to a nice fresh look!

WHAT did you do to save money this past week? 
Did you go to any AFTER Christmas sales? 

My prayer for everyone on this New Years Eve is that we can all put our mistakes behind us, and go into the new year with promise and grace.  That we will recognize the good inside each of us, and use it to help better the world.
God bless you all.  I am so honored to have had you in my life this year and look forward to many exciting things to come in 2018!
Stay safe, stay warm, stay healthy, stay frugal!


Thursday, December 28, 2017

Winter wants.....

We live a pretty simple and basic life.  I don't have a bunch of wants - material wise.
I don't really need a thing.  We have shelter, food and warmth.   We have decent health and we can pay our bills.  Not much else needed!

I do have a list of things I WANT to accomplish this winter - this has nothing to do with resolutions.  These are just things that keep getting put off and they really need attention.  My plan is to actually accomplish as many as possible on my list and perhaps even a few more projects. 
It is winter after all - and there isn't a lot to do outdoors.

I think this is needed after the holidays by just about everyone!

  • I want to re-do and totally transform my basement pantry system.  I think I may look for some additional shelving and then re-arrange
  • I want to TOTALLY clean up the crafting area - it looks like a bomb went off - oh my!!!!
  • I want to get to some sewing and repurposing of some old clothing items
  • I want to re-do my written address book.  I have a new one - so it is just a matter of taking the time to sort all those tiny pieces of paper and chicken scratches in the old one!
  • I want to do more work on cleaning up my computer files.  I have so much stuff saved and not in a lot of order.  I need to make new files and sort and I need to delete a lot.
  • I need to do a FB cleanse!!!!!  I don't need the constant drama that some seem to put out there.  I want my new year full of good things
  • I want to clean up and organize my canning supplies in a better fashion.  Again I may need to utilize shelving I have in a new way
  • I want to spend less over the winter.  We have plenty and need to use it.
  • I would like to get some cheap fleece blankets/throws to use in some crafting projects.  This is probably at the bottom of the list - goodness knows I have plenty of items to work with!!!!
  • I want to sit and read a little more.  I haven't done much reading at all this year, except on ideas from the computer.  I am ready for a nice Amish novel!
  • I want to de-clutter more
I am sure there are many more projects that I want to accomplish. It seems that there is never an end to things to do.  I will go at an easy pace (I seem to accomplish more that way), and I WILL get a lot of these done before spring.
I want my house, my life, and mind free from clutter. 
I think we actually save money when our homes are in good order.  Cleaning, de-cluttering and re-organizing doesn't cost us a thing.

Do you have a winter "to do" list? 
What kinds of things do you hope to accomplish this winter?

Let's all get ourselves in good order - so we can just enjoy the spring and summer and the outdoors!!!

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Frugal Happenings (for last week)

Good morning everyone.  Well, the big day has come and gone.  So much hoopla and BOOM it's over!  We still have another Christmas get together, but not sure exactly when that will happen.  It is in the plans for this coming Saturday - but the weather may not cooperate.  The kids will be traveling from out of town and we are supposed to have  a big snow.
I don't want anyone taking any unnecessary chances - so it may wait another week.
It will happen when it's supposed to - no big deal.

I hope you all had a lovely holiday with your families and friends.  We had a nice weekend, although it was pretty quiet.  Watched lots of classic holiday movies and ate!!!!!  I did go see some family for a couple hours on Christmas day.

We ended up having a white Christmas after all.  Amazing.  We got about an inch of snow on Christmas Eve.  The news said it was the first white Christmas since 2010!!!!  WOW.
It got cold as well!  Todays high is going to a whopping 14*.  Brrrrrrrr.

My frugal week last week:
  • Cut G's and my hair
  • Colored my hair (got holiday ready!) with supplies on hand.  2nd color from one box and I have another session left in the box!
  • Filled up all the wild critter food bins from supplies on hand
  • Made rice krispy  bars
  • Got all my wrapping finished
  • Did a lot of small jobs and chores inside and out.  It was warmer the first part of week, so accomplished a lot of little projects
  • Bought $25 worth of groceries from WM with a GC we received.  Got a couple things we wouldn't normally buy - and I also got our shrimp for NY eve dinner!
My WM FREE purchase with GC.  Got to love FREE!
  • Cleaned out the oven - oh my!  I do it by hand - not auto clean.  I about killed  myself and my kitty years ago using self-clean.  Won't do that again in the winter!
  • Cleaned out and re-arranged the refrigerator freezer
  • Stopped at the Christian thrift store (across from WM).  Bought nothing - but they had lots of goodies dropped off by a local grocer.  I got 2 - 12 oz. bags of romaine lettuce hearts and a doz. seedless tangerines.
  • Got the new 2018 wall calendar all marked up with special dates and ready to hang
  • Started working on cleaning up my computer files - that will be an on going project!!
Meals for last week (ending Saturday):
Sausage, eggs, toast and leftover cheesy potatoes
Chef salad topped with chicken
Burgers and ravioli
Meat/cheese & crackers - dip and chips
Cheesy chicken and potato casserole (2 X)
Goulash and salad
Menu from Christmas Eve on will be listed on Dec. 31 post

Pooty found a new hiding place.  "No one will see me here".  Please Mom, just don't refrigerate me!

I hope to get the upstairs pantry straightened back up this week.  Those gremlins have played havoc in there again!!  What a mess.
I also plan on doing some more baking.
I will also be cutting the Christmas cards received this year into gift tags for next year.
It will probably be pretty quiet around here.  Don't need to go buy anything and no place I need to be other than my warm, cozy home!

Did you get any deals last week?  Did you stock up on anything in those last minute sales?
How is the weather in your neck of the woods?

Take care and stay warm.  Blessings from our home to yours.
See you Thursday!

Friday, December 22, 2017

Christmas and a break

I know I am a day late this week, but decided to do it this way, since this is a holiday weekend.
I am sure everyone has been busy with their Christmas chores!  I am done with shopping, finishing up a little wrapping today, and the real baking will be done next week.  We have the kids coming in next weekend, so I won't be making a lot just for us (we don't need it).

I have done a lot of reminiscing of the Christmas festivities of my childhood and of those who aren't with us any more.  I have such fond memories.  NO, I don't really remember gifts received, I remember events that I participated in.

I remember hunting for the 'perfect' Christmas tree at the tree lot with Mom and Daddy.  It was almost always snowing (I think Dad had a plan), and the tree was never really perfect.  Daddy would come home and with a saw and a drill, he would  move branches to make it 'perfect'!  It was always decorated with old timey ornaments like the picture above, big lights, and paper chains.  We would have hot chocolate on that night.

I remember the morning ritual of coming down the stairs (and not looking) at Santa's bounty - HAVING to eat breakfast, daddy having a cigarette -  and then getting to go open presents.  Oh, the anticipation!!

I remember helping Mom bake cookies and make candy.  What fun.

I remember having ALL the family scrunched into our home, which wasn't all that big.  People would be sitting up and down the stairs, and on the floor, and every where.  Lot's of laughter and fun.

I remember all the smells and sounds. 

I remember being so very happy - we didn't have a lot of money - but I was happy.
Santa always left lots of packages, but everything and I mean everything was wrapped separately.  Socks, undies, homemade clothes, homemade Barbie clothes, etc.

I remember that my stocking always had an orange in the toe, and there was nuts in the shell and lots of candy.

Oh the memories!  I so miss my Mom and Daddy, my sister and my brother.  I know they are with me in spirit and in memory - I am happy for that!

I love keeping the wonder and awe of childhood in my Christmas's today.  I still get a thrill seeing Santa, hearing/seeing an excited child, hearing Christmas music, watching holiday movies, and seeing all the pretty lights.  I hope I never lose that, and I hope you all keep that wonder in your hearts as well. 

My favorite times are sitting in a dark room with only Christmas lights on - thinking, meditating and praying.  Life is good and I am thankful.
Yes, we have all had our ups and downs - but we are here.  God has blessed us in so many ways.

I have no immediate wishes for gifts - don't need anything.  I pray that my family and friends (this includes you) have health and happiness.
I pray that those who are homeless find warmth and comfort.
I pray that those who are very needy, get a holiday surprise of love and kindness.
I pray no child goes without.
I pray for meanness, selfishness, greed and pain to go away.
I pray for you!

I will be answering comments - but I will not be posting again until Tuesday, Dec. 26th.  I will post Frugal Happening that day.  Just a little break to take time to enjoy the sights and sounds.

Friends, may you all have a wonderful Christmas. I hope you get to be with family and friends.  Take time to remember the past and those absent from your lives this year.
Take time to thank our Lord for the greatest gift ever given - Jesus Christ.

Merry Christmas!      'God bless us everyone'.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

The Countdown........

Okey dokey, we are on the final leg of the countdown to Christmas.  I hope your life is now settled and that you are enjoying the splendor of the season.
If you are still rushing around, I have a couple more goodie ideas for you that are simple and easy!

350* for 12 minutes - 2 ingredients.  Doesn't get any easier than that!

YUMMO!!!!!!!  I see myself using whatever I have on hand!

2 ingredients - easy-peasy!!!
Easy version of 'royal' icing.  Hardening icing is great for all those cut-out cookies!  **HINT - you could also ice plain store bought cookies to save time!

There you go!  Fun and easy!  A treat is a treat - remember your goodies DON'T have to be traditional.  It's the holidays - have fun.
These are all yummy and good for New Year's festivities as well.  Hmmmm, I see Super Bowl party goodies as well!


Sunday, December 17, 2017

Frugal Happenings 12/17

Hello everyone.  Happy Sunday and last week before Christmas.  I am sure Santa's workshops and Mrs. Claus's kitchens will be busy this week getting ready for all the holiday festivities!
I will be putting together additional gift baskets and getting the few gifts that need wrapped all wrapped up.  Baking will take place off and on.  I am not going to stress about it, or go over board.

We had a cold week, and now the weather is warming.  It seems we will be above normal for at least the next 7 days.  It doesn't look like a good possibility of having a white Christmas here.  I am fine with that, but I know others like it.  I just want it to be decent for all the travelers.

Yesterday was my sibling Christmas get together.  That is always nice, because we sit and talk about the 'good old days' a lot.  I love sharing stories, and learn something new every time.  Everyone was much older than I, so they have stories prior to me!  Precious times and memories.

My frugal week:
  • Made a feed store run.  I am good well into January, maybe February.
  • Used brown paper and bubble pack (came in last weeks delivery) when packing the goodie bags for brother and sister.  There were lots of jars in them.
  • Gave myself a lovely spa night.
  • Made my first batch of Springerle cookies and 6 mini loaves of banana/strawberry nut bread for gift baskets
  • Got my cards all mailed
  • All baking was from supplies on hand, as will be the baking I do this week.  No need to purchase anything.
  • Made a dozen hard boiled eggs
  • Ran to Kroger to get bread and milk.  Found a few markdowns and a few closeouts.  Manager Markdowns are items they have an overstock of.  Closeouts are items they won't be supplying any more.
  • I got packages of faux crab legs on markdown - we use in pasta salad, and as an add-in on those rare seafood dinners.  They were marked down to 2.49/lb.  Regular 4.99/lb.
  • I also got several full size cans of Pringles for........drum roll please.........35 cents a can!!!!!  DEAL OF THE YEAR!!!!!  The store won't be carrying these flavors any more.  We tasted both types and they are good.  I got some for us and for basket stuffers! 
  • All meals and drinks from home
  • Sister sent leftovers home yesterday, so we have extra for lunches
  • I received a surprise box of goodies and pretties from a friend in the mail.  What a lovely surprise.
  • At the sibling get together we received 2 - $25 GC's, home canned goods in a re-usable grocery bag, and a huge box of Russell Stover chocolates.  YUM
Meals this week:
Leftover split pea soup
Tuna patties, tangy mac n cheese and salad
Beef and bean nachos
Leftovers and fried b/s chicken thighs
Fish sticks, oven potato wedges and side salad
Cajon rice with sausage and salad
Dinner from sisters

How was your week?  Are you ready for Christmas?
Did you get any deals to add to your pantries?

Here we are a week until Christmas and two weeks before entering into a new year.  This is still hard for me to believe.  It seems just like the other day that we were saying this in 2016.
The hands of time sure do go quickly as we get older!!!

I pray you all have a safe and lovely week.
Blessings to you all.  May the Lord bless you and keep you in His loving embrace.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Quick and Easy Last Minute TREATS!

Christmas is a week and a half away.  Time is ticking.  In case you are still rushing around shopping, decorating and wrapping (shame on you) - here are a few ideas for quick and easy treats.
I like to stick with simple treat ideas.  I can make several and everyone enjoys them. 

1/4 C butter or  margarine
1 pkg. (10 oz.) marshmallows (4 cups mini)
5 C rice crispy  cereal
Melt butter in a large sauce pan on low heat.  Add marshmallows and stir until melted.  Cook 3 - 4 minutes longer, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat.
Stir in cereal until well coated.
Spread evenly into a 13 x 9 pan.  Cut into squares when cool.
**You can use rice cereal, corn flakes, Chex, or any type of cereal you have on hand.  I once made with Honey Bunches of Oats, and it gave it a great new flavor.
Add a few drops of food color if you want to make it Christmas colors.
You can spread out in pan and cut into shapes as well.

1 lb. powdered sugar
2/3 C cocoa
1/4 tsp. salt

1/4 C milk
2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 C butter
1/2 C chopped nuts (optional)

Sift sugar, cocoa & salt in a microwave safe bowl.  Stir in milk and vanilla.  Place butter in pats (pieces) on top.  Microwave on high for 2 minutes.  Beat with a wooden spoon until smooth.  Add nuts at this time.  Spread in a buttered 8 x 8 pan.  Chill 1 hour.  Cut into 36 pieces.

1 - 18 oz. box of cake mix (any flavor you have)
1/2 C oil
2 eggs
3/4 C chopped nuts (optional)
Combine all ingredient and drop by teaspoon onto a non-stick pan.  Bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes.

Want to have iced cookies or pretty cookies, but don't have the time to decorate all those cookies?  Get simple.  You can either make cookies with store bought mixes or even buy a plain store bought cookie - THEN dip half of the cookie in melted chocolate.  You can use chocolate chips, white chips, or even peanut butter chips.  Add a few sprinkles and you have pretty cookies.

1 1/2 C smooth peanut butter (I have used crunchy too)
1 lb. powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 stick butter or margarine (melted)
6 oz. chocolate chips
Original recipe calls to combine peanut butter, sugar, vanilla and melted butter.  Roll into balls about the size of a buckeye or acorn (smaller than a walnut).  Chill 1 hour.  Melt chocolate in double boiler.  Insert toothpick into balls and dip in chocolate.  Leave a small piece of ball showing to represent the buckeye look.  Lay to dry on wax paper.
**MY VERSION - combine all except chocolate as stated.  Spread out in a lightly buttered 8 x 8 pan.  Chill.  Spread the melted chocolate over the top.  Allow to dry.  Cut into 1 inch pieces. 
You get the taste (not that look), and they are so much easier and less time consuming!!!!

1 Tbsp. egg white (basically I use 1 egg white)
2 C pecan halves
1/4 C sugar
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
In a bowl, beat egg white until foamy.  Add pecans and toss until well coated.  Combine sugar and cinnamon:  sprinkle over pecans and toss to coat.
Spread in a single layer on an ungreased baking sheet.  Bake at 300 for 30 minutes or until browned.  Cool on wax paper.
So easy and these are the best!!!!!!!!  ALWAYS A HIT!
Truthfully you can use about any type of nut you want - but pecans are so good.

Another easy-peasy treat is homemade "Turtle" type treats.  I use small pretzels - top with a Rolo (chocolate & caramel candy).  Place on a parchment lined cookie sheet and place in a 250* oven for 2 - 3 minutes.  (You want to candy to be pliable - not melted!).  Remove from oven and place a pecan half on top of candy, pushing it gently down.  These are always a hit.
Pretzels can be used with Hershey kisses (any flavor) as well.  Fun and easy and so tasty.  Same direction as above.

I also like to melt a bag of chocolate chips and add couple cups of salted peanuts.  Stir and drop onto wax paper by teaspoon.  Let dry.  Yummy salty sweet treat.  You can also add broken pieces of pretzels to the mix.
DON'T forget about chocolate covered (dipped) pretzels.  Again, easy and tasty.

So many tricks to making simple and easy treats.  It doesn't take a master chef or baker to have fun yummy goodies.  Simple things can be the best!

Don't forget you can also change up your sweet bread recipes as well.  If you have a good recipe for zucchini or banana bread - think about changing things up.  Maybe use a different kind of squash, whatever you have. 
I am making banana bread today, but only using half the amount of banana and filling in the rest with thawed strawberries!  YUM  You can use applesauce or any type of pureed fruit.
Get creative, use what you have, and make some yummy treats for your family and friends.


Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Stay Safe and Be Alert

Tis the season!  For cheaters, scammers, thieves, burglars, and thugs!  Oh my.

I hope you all stay safe this year.  Remember to never put gifts under a tree if they can be seen from any window.  That is just inviting trouble.
I don't put any gifts out.  The day I am delivering or the day someone is coming over, is when the gifts get set out.

We all love for our Christmas lights to be seen by passerby's at night - but generally that means your curtain/blinds are open.  People are out prowling around this time of the year.
It is dark much earlier in the evening and much later in the morning - so be careful.  If they can see your lights  they can see you and anything in your home.

Keep your doors and windows locked at all times!!!!!  I go in and out several times a day with the cats and wildlife - but the door is locked behind me.  G is in the house - but he wouldn't see someone coming in until too late. 

Never warm up your car and leave it unlocked.  Dailey I see stories on the news about people getting their cars stolen.  DUH!  I have a second key, which I use to start my car on a cold/frosty day - then I lock it with the fob.  I come in the house and it is locked as well!

If you are not going to be at home, and have ordered goods to be delivered - have them delivered to work if possible or to a neighbors address (that you know will be home).

When going out and about, please be careful.  I ALWAYS keep my cash and/or charge card in my pocket, as well as my cell phone and keys.  I know I will be able to get home.
I do carry a handbag - why?  Because if someone wants to rob me, I want them to yank it and run, thinking they got something good!  Maybe I won't be harmed in the process.

Be very vigilant when walking through stores and parking lots.  Be aware of people following you.  Try to go in the daylight.  If you go out shopping at night - take someone with you.

Keep your car locked in parking lots.  If you have purchases in the car (that don't fit in trunk), be sure you have something that covers them.  Don't make the temptation to rob you any easier.

Consider adding longer screws to your door lock/jambs for better security.  Those short screws can be kicked in like nothing.  The longer the screw the safer it is.  Pretty hard to get that to pull out!

Scammers are even entering our home via the phone and computer.  NEVER say the word YES, when answering questions on the phone to someone you don't know.  Always answer no or the word 'correct'.  This is more important in offices/businesses than homes.  You may just be ordering something the business will HAVE to pay for if you say the word YES!

Don't do those silly surveys and question/answer things on the computer.  You all have seen them.  Name your first crush.  Name your grade school.  Your first grade school friend.  The street you lived on in childhood.   Name your favorite color.  Scammers/hackers use these answers to figure out your passwords and take over your computer and/or accounts.  Think about it - many of the questions on those 'FUN' surveys are the same ones the banks/charge card places ask.

Be watchful around your neighborhood.  Know your neighbors vehicles and their normal coming/going schedule.  Watch out for them as well.

Shoot, I think I thwarted an attempted break-in this morning.  I go out early to feed the animals, and it is still dark out (my area behind house has some lights).  The greenhouse has a light as well.  After feeding the cats and animals out back - I walk to the front porch and pick up the newspaper.
The newspaper guy and I are the only ones ever out and about that early!!!!  All the houses around are still dark.
This morning after getting the paper, I saw someone up by the front door messing around, 4 houses down.  He was all in dark or black clothes.  I stood there and watched - he saw me.
He ducked behind the truck parked out in front of their house - and I walked down the drive (making it look like I was going that way) - and he took off running down the sidewalk the other direction.
He had to be up to no good, because why else run!
Kind of scary, because it is generally pretty safe around here.  You just never know and you can't trust anyone any more.

So please be safe, keep your home and vehicles safe, and YOU stay safe and always be ALERT!!!
Blessings my friends

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Frugal Happenings 12/10

Good morning to everyone.  Two weeks from today is Christmas Eve!  It will be here before you know it.  Are you ready?  I am pretty well there, just some baking to do.

We sure have been on a weather roller coaster this week - mainly downhill!  We started with 70's at the first of the week, and got to a point where highs were in the 20's and we had a light bit of snow.  There was a day or two that seemed brutal because of the temps and the wind.  Brrrrrr. 
Today is supposed to get to close to 40 - heat wave!

My kitties have all found cozy places to be this week.  This is Pooty, and my view most mornings while sitting here on the couch!  She loves her table and Christmas tree.   Coogy is curled up in the rocker, and Lilly is snuggled in with her daddy!

My frugal week:
  • Received another FREE wall calendar this week.
  • Finished up work on my jar recipes for gifts
Here is a couple types all ready for gift bags!
  • Made a 3 1/2 lb. beef roast in the crockpot this week.  It made 3 dinners each, and G had it 2X for breakfast meals
  • Used ham from the freezer as well as broth and made a pot of split pea soup
  • Made O.J. from concentrate.  I have been craving orange juice
  • Made a batch of double chocolate/choc. chip muffins from a mixed I found in the pantry.  Bought it on clearance sometime back - it fixed that sweet craving!
  • Made a gallon of raspberry flavored tea.  We drink iced tea all year, and I decided to jazz it up a bit.  Cooled it out on the porch rail.
  • Made 2 batches of jelly this week.  One batch of black raspberry and one of Concord grape.  Ended up with 4 pints and 12 half pints all together.

Grape on the left and black raspberry on the right.  Mmmmmm!  They all pinged and set up wonderfully.
  • Ordered the last items needed for gift baskets on Wednesday.  Ordered the jalapeno/cheese summer sausage and my bulk dry ham seasoning.  The summer sausage has been a favorite of many for years (can only buy from one place), and the last ham seasoning I ordered, was 3 years ago.  I use it and give as gifts as well. **Amazingly I received both orders on Friday - regular UPS!  One and a half day delivery from OH and PA not to shaggy for this time of the year!
  • Kitties now have a new box to play/lay in - and they love it!  Free entertainment for them!
  • Got all my cards addressed while sitting and enjoying some baking shows 
  • Washed out some zip lock baggies
  • Doing all the regular stuff

Meals this week:
Mexican spaghetti
Cube steak with gravy, leftover pasta and asparagus
Hot dogs and layered bean dip with tortilla chips
Sliced roast beef, potatoes and green beans
Beef enchiladas - (used leftover bean dip and roast in them & enchilada sauce from freezer)
Beef Manhattans
Split pea soup

Beef Manhattan - such warm yummy comfort food!  One of my favorite things.

How was your week?  Did you get any good deals?  Do any baking or last minute crafting/shopping?

I hope you are all taking some time for yourselves and just simply enjoying this incredibly wonderful holiday season.  Enjoy and hug your family and friends.
Tis the season!

May the Lord bless you and keep you safe and healthy in this coming week.  I wish you happiness, calm and snuggles. 
Blessings from our humble home to yours.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Stop the Madness

I had a post set up for today, then I read Face Book this morning and changed my mind.
One of the FB groups I belong to has a daily "what are you up to" post.  I sat and read the original post and then I read every comment left, and by the time I got done, I had tears in my eyes.

Everything I read was hurry, hurry, hurry.  Tons of posts that said "I HAVE"  to do this and that.  I have to make hundreds of cookies, I have to make my Christmas cards, I have to make teacher gifts, I have to buy for any body and everybody, I have to make the prettiest packages, I have to decorate.......
You don't HAVE to do anything people!   We all make choices and you have CHOSEN to do all those things.

We all need to remember that our names are NOT Betty Crocker or Martha Stewart.  Perfection is a 'must' in your own mind.
Thirty years from now, your grandchildren aren't going to remember you set a perfect table - they are going to remember the fun things you did with them.
IF, JUST IF you didn't do all the stuff you think you have to do - will anybody die?  NOPE!
Being perfect is an illusion.  Being human and enjoying your time with your family is a reality.

Yes, I have several items I would LIKE to accomplish before Christmas as well, but I finally realized this week, that if they don't get done - oh well.  My priority is to be as stress free as possible, and to enjoy the time I have on this earth with people I love.  Stress can make you sick and it can kill you.  It isn't worth it.

When the kids come to visit at Christmas, they just want us to spend time together.  If I don't have all the homemade cookies and candies, they won't care.  Being together is what it all about.  That is what they will remember someday - not that Auntie didn't make enough variety of cookies!

Has anybody heard of the K.I.S.S. principle?  Keep It Simple Stupid!!!!!!  KISS.  This is becoming my life motto.   I want to simplify everything in life.  I want to spend more time enjoying the moment and the people. 
It is amazing to me that it has taken me 63 years to figure this out.  Therein comes the term 'stupid'!  LOL (I really don't like that word - but you understand what I mean).

I hope you all stop hurrying and stressing.  I pray you all JUST enjoy. 
The holidays will be over in a couple weeks and then you have a years wait to get the opportunity to enjoy them again. 
Who knows if next year will even come.

God bless you all.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Fun & Frugal Last Minute Gift Ideas

You all know I am a big "homemade" gift kind of gal.  There are so many cute ideas available.  You have to love Pinterest and all the ideas you can find.  The internet provides us with a world of fun and different ideas.
Step outside the box.
Most of the following pictures are pretty self explanatory.

If I receive a handmade gift - regardless of what it is - I think the giver is being so creative and smart.  I am getting something that is just a 'pick-up' at any store!

 Coffee or Hot chocolate baskets - complete with stir sticks (candy canes), marshmallows and mug

Find pinecones and dip in wax (colored or plain).  Make wonderful fire starters - gift in a little basket or bag them up.

 Big mug with fuzzy socks, chocolate, nail polish and a couple special tea bags

 Decorate up a special 6 pack of specialty brew or special pop

Make up a cute basket or box with makings for ice cream sundaes.  Toppings, sprinkles, little cups, cones, and a scoop
 Snack jars are wonderful for all ages.  Any kind of snacks can be added and the jar can be used later too.  You can use jars or baskets or totes.  What fun!!!!!!  Pick a theme or mix it up!

Make specialty gift boxes for the small items from TP tubes!  These could hold jewelry, candy, pocket knives, miniatures............................... 

 Mini bottles of liquor in a jar - you could attach to  6 pack of pop in cans - but I think this alone would be cute for that hard to buy for person.

Make up a cute little sewing kit with things you have around the house.  Great gift for a college student, or someone moving out for the first time.

Never forget about home canned goods or homemade candies, cookies & breads.
Pretty pillows, lap quilts, afghans, scarves, mittens, placemats, dish cloths, etc. are always welcome.

Get creative with what you have, stay frugal, change things up a bit - but most of  all - HAVE FUN!!!!
Tis the season!!!!!!

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Frugal Happenings 12/3

Howdy ho!  Wow, here we are in December, with only 3 weeks till Christmas Eve!  It just seems to have happened all too fast in my opinion.  Yep, I know it's been a year - but I don't pay attention till it's close at hand!! LOL
Are you ready?

We have had 'great' weather this past week, especially for this time of the year.  We have been above normal temps and have had lots of sun.  Such a mood enhancer!  It looks like the temps will hold on through tomorrow, then start dropping.  By mid week we are to get hit by a winter blast that will hang around for a while.
A bright spot in my thinking:  less than three weeks till winter solstice - then the days actually start getting longer again!  December 21st is the shortest day of the year in this hemisphere.

I have pretty much finished my shopping.  I still have homemade items to work on and wrapping, but I do believe that I am done with stores.  I do need to make a bank run for those monetary gifts - but that is it.

I live in the capital city of our state.  This is our circle center after the holiday lighting.  The picture doesn't do it justice.  It is always so pretty downtown this time of the year.  
Click on picture to enlarge.

My frugal week:
  • I used the last of the Thanksgiving food (that wasn't frozen) in new ways.
  • Froze lots of ham and turkey for later use
  • Got to work in the yard.  Raked and mulched the last of the leaves.  My garden should be happy next year.  Lots of FREE exercise!
  • Actually got to turn off the heat and air out the house a couple days.
  • Met with our insurance broker for 2018 health coverage.  I managed to get the same rate as last year, with a teeny tiny improvement in coverage.  I still don't like the options we have, but this is more for catastrophic events in my opinion.  I am very lucky to have no medical problems.
  • I used a $5/$25 coupon at Sav-a Lot before it expired.  Got the balance of items needed for jar recipes.
  • I received another $5/$25 coupon for above store, good until end of December!
  • Ran into Kroger to see if any good clearance.  I got 3 ruby grapefruit for 3/.99, and 2 fresh pineapples for .99 each.  All were in that special produce bin!  That's all I bought.
  • Worked on some of my jar recipes
  • Got out many of my cookie/candy recipes that I hope to make in the next few weeks
  • Enjoying using the fall/winter scented candles and melts that I received as gifts last Christmas
  • Meals from home
  • Doing all the normal every day stuff
Meals this past week:
Potato pancakes, turkey smothered in cheese & dressing 'waffles'
Leftover turkey/noodle soup
Burgers, beans & rice and side salad
Fried chicken livers with gravy, potato wedges
Skillet stew
BBQ wings, mac and cheese and side salad
Nacho cheese/bacon/jalapeno topped baked potatoes
Fresh fruit as treats

My sister and I tentatively set the weekend of 17/18 as sibling Christmas get together.  Looking forward to that.

I HAVE to make jelly this week (I keep putting it off).  Later in the week will be cold - so that seems like a good time for it.
I need to get my goodie baskets all put together and stuff wrapped.  We'll see!!!!!!!  Oh, and need to mail out cards!  Oh, and bake!    YIKES!!!!!

What is going on in your neck of the woods?  Are you ready for Christmas?  Did you get any great deals this week?
Look forward to hearing from everyone.

May the Lord keep you wrapped in His warm, loving, and healing embrace.  God bless my friends.
Have a wonderful week!

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Christmas Tales and Goody Jars

Hello my friends.  Here we are a little over three weeks away from Christmas.  It is really hard to believe.
I thought you like a little Christmas tale I came across this past weekend.  It is a cute little story I had never heard before.
Also I will be passing on a couple more gift jar recipes.

Click on the picture to make it appear larger.
I think this is such a cute little tale.
^     ^     ^     ^     ^     ^     ^     ^     ^     ^     ^

1/2 C barley
1/2 C split peas
1/2 C rice
1/2 C lentils
1 Tbsp. parsley
1 tsp. granulated garlic
1 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. Italian seasoning

Place the beans and rice in layers in a pint jar and add the remaining ingredients in a baggie on top.

DIRECTIONS:  Place the beans and rice in a large stockpot and cover with 10 cups of water.  Chop one onion and add season packet.  Bring to a boil, lower heat and cover and simmer for 1 hour.  Check after about 30 minutes to see if you need more water.  Stir occasionally.
**I sometimes make and add ham chunks or cut up smoked sausage.

(savory muffin good with soup and stews)
2 C all purpose flour
1 Tbsp. dry onion soup mix
1 1/2 Tbsp. sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
Measure the ingredients and stir together.  Place in a jar or a baggie with directions.

DIRECTIONS:  Pour mix in a large bowl, and make a well in the center of ingredients.  Beat together one egg, 1/3 cup oil, one cup shredded cheese and one cup milk.  Combine with mix, stir to moisten.  Fill 12  greased muffin cups 3/4 full.  Bake at 400* for 15 - 20 minutes.  Cool 5 minutes and remove from tin.
*You might even gift this with some pretty muffin pan liners! 

There are so many fun things you can make with the ingredients you have on hand and give as much appreciated gifts.
To see other soup jar recipes - check back to older posts.  Potato soup, Love soup, and White Christmas soup are all posted on December 1, 2016 post.
Bulk cocoa mix, pumpkin dip, and cappuccino mix are listed on November 29, 2016.

All of the soup recipes have been a hit in our family. 
Not only do I give these as gifts, but I like to keep a few ready on the pantry shelves.  It makes it easy for a quick warm meal on a cold evening.
REMEMBER to include yourself in jar mixes you make up.
Quick and handy.

I am making up soup jars today!
Have fun and ENJOY!

Jars of mixed beans with seasoning packet included that I did last year.  I keep these on hand as well.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017


I don't know about you, but I needed a bit heaping dose of RE-BOOT in my life.
What do I mean?

I have been so sluggish and grumpy lately, thanks to the weather.
I am so tired of seeing and hearing about all the violence all around the world and in my own town.
I am sad reading about all the singers/actors of our time passing away.
I am so missing family and friends (who are in heaven) during our holiday occasions.

I needed to be re-booted or re-charged in the worst way.
I feel so much better now (although still missing people).  WHAT DID I DO?  Well, sometimes life just takes care of what we need!!!!!

The weather changed drastically, and we have had decent temperatures and sunny skies!  I needed the sun so badly.
I have gotten outside and done some REAL work - exercised and worked my body to tiredness, and breathed in lots of fresh air.   It really does make me feel better!
Sometimes you just have to turn off the news - the stuff is still going to happen - I just don't need to hear about it every day.  That doesn't mean I don't care - but we all need a break.
People die - we are at that age that many of our contemporaries are passing on.  YES, it's sad and kind of scary - but we all know that age doesn't always have anything to do with it.

Lastly, it seems that fate, God, coincidence, whatever you want to call it - stepped in.
We are not big movie people, at least I am not.  G watches far more TV than I do.  I happened to be glancing through the FREE channels that we received this past weekend, and recorded many movies for him.  Two of those movies I sat and watched with G, plus a You-Tube movie he pulled up.  Mind you, I hardly ever do that.

They were what I needed.  They made me stop and think, look at the world through new eyes AGAIN, and be more appreciative of EVERYTHING.

We watched The Shack.   Love, love, love this movie.  Bad things happen to good people, We all get sad, we all experience terrible loss, we all get depressed, but we are NEVER alone!

We watched Miracles from Heaven.  It is based on a true story.  At times we all have our faith tested to the max, but again we are NEVER alone.

On You Tube we watched The Heart Christmas, about a child dying (based on true story).  This movie was presented by St. Jude.  Make life the best possible, in every moment you have, then when the time comes, AGAIN we are NEVER alone.

We watched all three of these movies 'by chance'  in 3 days.  Was it 'by chance'?  Some will say yes.  Others will say we were guided.  Me - I think it was SUPPOSED to happen when it did.  I needed to see them - to re-boot my mind, body, and soul.
I needed the reminder of thankfulness, love, faith, and beauty in the most minute things.

We all get so busy at this time of the year.  We all get so overwhelmed at this time of the year.  We all get sad, lonely, and somewhat depressed this time of the year.
DO SOMETHING to rejuvenate yourself.

It takes NO money, just a little time.  Pray/meditate, read your book of worship, watch a movie that has a message, read a touching book, breathe the air and work the work, help others, commune with nature........
Whatever it is - DO IT!  Take some time for you.  We all need that "me" time once in a while to recharge our batteries.
Don't feel selfish about it.  If you need it - do it.

Re-boot, recharge, whatever you want to call it, so you can truly ENJOY ALL the holidays have to offer.
Be blessed my friends and remember you are NEVER alone.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Frugal Happenings 11/26

Good morning all my lovelies!  I hope this finds you well today.

Here we are at the bottom end of November and Christmas is just 4 weeks from tomorrow!  How did that happen so quickly?  YIKES

We had a lovely week.  The weather has been pretty great all week - at least for this time of the year.  We have had lots of sunshine, which has helped my mood tremendously.  The temps have stayed in the 40's, 50's and low 60's most of the week (daytime).  I even got to open the doors a couple days and let a little fresh air in.

Our Thanksgiving was very nice with good company and food.  However, I am glad that is behind us.  It is always so extremely tiring.
Our dinner was actually only about $20 out of pocket. That was for the turkey and the ham.  I had everything else here that I needed.  It fed 6 people, leftovers home with 3, and we have been eating on it since.  Not a bad deal!

The grandson of my neighbors that moved over a year ago, came by to visit with us on Wednesday.  Bless his heart.  He is 21 now (we have known him since day1), and still feels like visiting.  He always said we were his adopted aunt and uncle.  That really made my day.
I found out that the new neighbors had their baby, a little 6 lb. girl named Charlotte.  Sweet.

My nephew (like son) stopped by on Saturday with his fiancĂ©.  They have been together for about 5 years and got engaged this weekend!  They came into town and stayed at a fancy hotel, had dinner, and saw the Christmas lights.  Her ring is beautiful and I am so pleased for them.  It was great to see them.

My frugal week:
  • Purchased an additional turkey for .38/lb. for future use.  I wish I had had more room, but my freezers are full.
  • Pre-made lots of ice for holiday gathering
  • I did home maintenance on the Blazer.  I checked all the fluids and topped off what needed to be.  Added Heat to gas tank and filled tank.  Preparing for cold weather.
  • Cleaned both full glass storm doors inside and out (nice weather day) with vinegar and newspaper.
  • Made an appointment with insurance broker for this coming Tuesday to discuss health insurance options (UGH)
  • Deep a lot of deep cleaning - polished cabinets and floors, mopped, laundry, bedding, cleaned under and behind about everything, dusting, etc..
  • Put out a few Christmas decorations.  Changed out the door decorations with things I already had. 
  • I kept the turkey carcass and ham bone - both in the freezer, to make stock with later.
  • I did go to Big Lots on Friday (I swore I wouldn't shop that day!).  I got 5 pretty tins of assorted popcorn for $4 each.  I also got 3 HUGE 20 oz. bags of tortilla chips for $1 each.  Those will be great for holiday gatherings.  I also got 12 regular size bags of Skittles for .25/bag (kids will love those!)
  • Stopped at our local hardware, where I had GC for $5/$25 that expired at end of month.  I got us a new large outdoor thermometer, a finch feeder, a large bag of pet safe ice melt, and a night shirt for me - out of pocket $21!
  • Saturday I went to a fairly new small business I heard of.  It is vintage and lovingly re-made items and homemade.  Oh did I have fun in there!  I did buy some small gifts and items for gift baskets.  I got a FREE cloth shopping bag.  First 50 got a bag with 'swag'!!!!  FREE gifts.  I got 3 handmade ornaments, Christmas earrings, 2 handmade cards, a key chain, sample of skin cream, and other small stuff.  I will definitely go back there to shop.

  • I ran to the Dollar Tree and got several stuffers for the younger kids gift baskets
  • We are getting FREE movie channels again this weekend and have been DVRing many movies to watch later.

Meals this week:
Leftover Chinese
Tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches
Hamburger goulash
Fish sandwiches and chips/dip
Thanksgiving dinner
T-day leftovers
Turkey noodle/veggie soup

How did your week go?  Did all my U.S. friends have a nice Thanksgiving?
Did anyone get any great deals this week - grocery or Christmas?

I hope each and everyone of you have a wonderfully blessed week.  I pray the Lord protects and comforts you and your families.
Sending good thoughts from our little humble home to yours!



Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Be Thankful for Everything

We here in the U.S. are getting ourselves ready for Thanksgiving Day.  A day set aside to recognize ALL that we have to be thankful for, and a day celebrating the struggles and thankful lives of our ancestors.
I can not imagine what it was like for the Pilgrims when they came here, a land that was wild, untamed,  and scary. 

I am so thankful for all of our ancestors that came before us.  We are truly who we are and where we are today because of all they endured.  I have some very historic roots in this country, that started on this land way before it was a country.  I thank them all for their sacrifices.

I am so very thankful for all my family and friends, and for all my fur babies.  God has blessed us in so many ways I can not list them all.
We have a roof over our heads, food for our table, heat to keep us warm, decent health. water, electricity and tons of things we take for granted.  YES, we are blessed to have these things, as much of the world does not.
We are blessed with freedom!  True, we gripe about that sometimes (that things are being taken away) - but we still have the freedom to speak of it and write about it.

I am very thankful for YOU, all the friends that I have made around the world.  I just find that the most awesome thing ever.  That we can come together with ideas and thoughts that are so similar, from so many different places.
I do believe that there are no accidents in life - we were all suppose to come together for a reason.  I hope we continue to add to our little circle and grow in new ways.
We may all be from different regions - but we are still all the same.  We ALL want a good life and we want our time and monies to be used wisely and for the greater good.

God bless you all - no matter how near or far you are on this earth.
Thank you for being so kind and thoughtful and for being friends.  Thank you for sharing and being teachers to one another.  You are all PRICELESS GEMS!!!!!!!

*I will be back after the holiday.  However, I will try to respond to any comments.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Frugal Happenings 11/19

Good morning everyone!
Are you all ready for the events of the coming week?  Can you believe it is already Thanksgiving?  Just a few more weeks and Christmas and the year will be over.  WOW

We have had an eventful weather week for sure.  We had ONE really nice sunny day (busy day for me), but mostly it was gloomy and gray.  Yesterday was an epic weather day - basically 3 seasons in one day!  It started out in the mid 60's and rainy.  We had 20-30 mph winds and gusts of 40-50 mph.  Torrential rain at times and the temps started dropping.  My late evening it was in the low 30's.  Crazy!  There were libs down all over the yard, and pretty much the rest of the leaves are now off the trees.

My frugal week:
  • I colored my hair with supplies on hand (it was much needed - it had been 2 1/2 months!)
  • I did laundry in cold water and 'line' dried most of the items in the basement
  • I did get to do a bit of 'teenage' shopping this week - what a challenge that is!
  • On the one great day we had - I got to mow and mulch and rake leaves.  ALL leaves and mulch went out on the garden. However, now you can't tell I raked - I need to do it all again.
  • Emptied the rain barrels and got them put away for the winter.  I did save many gallons of rain water for house plants and hair care.
  • I received 2 more coupons for FREE items at Bath & Body Works.  I LOVE my postman - he leaves me coupons that would go to the empty houses!
  • I received a coupon for $5/$25 at Sav-A-Lot.  Good till the end of the month.
  • Turkey is out for thawing
  • Pulled together all my pantry items for Thanksgiving day and they are all out an waiting to be used.
  • Totally cleaned out and condensed items in frig.
  • G had his home doctor visit - good for another 3 months!
  • Been cleaning and de-cluttering
  • Made pudding with some milk that is in need of being used
  • Have FREE Cinemax and HBO this weekend, so we have been DVRing many movies for later viewing.
Meals this week:
Ground pork burgers and spicy mac n cheese
Taco soup
Reversed Shepherd Pie (mashed on bottom)
Homemade pizza
Tuna noodle casserole and salad
Pork chops and dirty rice
Chinese (not frugal - but have enough for dinner tonight as well)

I am ready for all the Thanksgiving festivities.  I have everything I need - most just came from the pantry.  I am not sure how many we will have for dinner - but a couple either way won't matter a bit.  There will be plenty of food to go around.  I do know we have a couple friends coming that day.  They really have no family to speak of, so that is what we are!  Family isn't always blood.

I do believe that I may go to Kroger this week and get another turkey for the future.  They now have them advertised in our paper for .38/lb. with $20 purchase (that isn't hard to do).  I may get supplies with that $20 for one of the friends that is coming.  She is in a real tight spot - so anything I get her would be appreciated.  I think I'll get a lot of basics - she is alone, so doesn't do a lot of cooking.

I sincerely doubt that I will go shopping on Black Friday - too many people.  (I will probably do yard work).  I may do some on-line shopping, and I will be scouring the adds that came in todays paper.  For those outside the U.S., Black Friday is the day after Thanksgiving and is considered one of the biggest and best (price wise) shopping days of the year.  Supposedly it is the turning point for retailers to start making a profit!
I  try to make most of my gifts and to shop smaller mom and pop shops.  I hate making those giant retailers richer!

How was your week?  Are you ready for turkey day?  Did you add to your pantry or gift collection this week?
I will post again before Thanksgiving, but in case you don't visit before then, please know that G and I wish you and yours a wonderful Thanksgiving Day.

May the Lord bless you and your families.  Be kind, be thoughtful, and bless someone less fortunate this week.
Blessings from our home to yours!

Thursday, November 16, 2017

A Switched up Kitchen CAN BE Tasty!

We are now at that time of the year that we all cook and bake more than just about any other time.
I am not sure about you - but I love to jazz it up a bit and try new things sometimes.  It's fun and you just MAY find a new family favorite!

You all know I am huge on not going out to buy that one ingredient that I may be missing.  I SWITCH or IMPROVISE more than I care to admit!!!!  LOL
Recipe - hmmmm what is that?

Here are a few ideas I have tried over the years and generally they turned out great.

  • A recipe calls for vanilla.  Try a different flavor extract - there are no limits.  Use something else that goes with all the ingredients
  • Think about using alcohol if you have it.  Rum - flavored rum, Schnapps in flavors, Irish Cream (comes in many flavors), flavored vodkas, etc.
  • Recipe calls for milk or water - try buttermilk, coconut milk, eggnog, chocolate milk, etc.
  • When making sweet breads experiment with different flavors of fruit puree's. Breads aren't just banana and apple - how about strawberry, kiwi, mango, pineapple, etc.
  • Zucchini bread is yummy - but add fruit and nuts for more yumminess!  Blueberries, strawberries, cranberries, raisin, dates and/or any type of nut
  • Pumpkin or any kind of winter squash can be used instead of zucchini.
  • If making a squash 'type' bread, try adding dome different herbs and spices to come up with a sweet and savory loaf
  • Turn bread recipes into muffins or smaller loaves.  Don't have mini loaf pans?  Keep cans from fruits/veggies from the grocery store.  Remove labels and clean well - grease inside well and bake small loaves of breads.  If greased well enough the bread should just come right out and you can use the can over and over.  Sliced they are really pretty - little circles of homemade love!!!                                                                 Mom would cut the humped top off (we ate those!) and would 'wrap' up in plastic wrap and ribbon much like a Tootsie Roll!   CUTE
  • Add chocolate milk, eggnog, or even buttermilk to a French toast recipe - YUM
  • Need colored sugar sprinkles for cookies?  Use your regular sugar and add a few drops of food color and stir until blended.  Works perfect and you can make all types of colors.  I do this all the time.  Cover and keep until needed again.
  • Brown sugar gone?  Mix regular sugar with molasses - a little or a lot - depending on if wanting light or dark brown sugar
  • Out of powdered sugar?  No problem - blend regular sugar in blender till powdered!
  • Add coffee to chocolate baked goods to enhance the flavor.  You don't need a lot - but it really adds to a great chocolate flavor.
  • Tired of regular iced tea?  Add fruit juice of any type to your tea.  Very refreshing (I even keep juice from watermelon in the summer and freeze to add to tea)
  • Need some fancy toppings for your cookies?  Add chopped nuts, crushed candy canes, colored sugars, crumbs from bottom of cereal box, etc.
  • Re-cycle leftover Halloween candy into baked goods.  Chop up and add to cookies, brownies, layers of icing in cakes, etc.

  • Use jelly as  a glaze for ham, pork or lamb (even meatballs)
  • If you are like me, you have lots of jelly and jams that are homemade.  I like using it in thumb print cookies or molasses cookies  or by making jelly rolls.  Fun and different.    Make sandwich cookies  for the kiddies using peanut butter and jelly as the center.
  • Heat jelly or jam and add to pancakes or waffles to 'special' them up!
  • If you are using boxed cake/brownie mixes or packages of cookie mix - jazz them up.  Add chips, nuts, marshmallows, dates, fruit blends, dried berries, toffee or chopped candy - there is no limit to customize the flavors!  Think SEMI homemade! 
  • Remember pasta sauces aren't just for spaghetti - use in chicken dishes, with pork or beef.  It's a great way to make up a new meat dish to jazz up the menu.  (Salsa chicken is fave here)
  • Add salsa to rice for a version of Spanish rice - YUM

18 oz. box of yellow cake mix
3 1/2 oz. package of instant pistachio pudding
4 eggs
1/2 C oil
1/4 C water
1 C sour cream
1/4 C sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
Combine cake and pudding mix, add eggs, oil, water and sour cream.  Pour into 2 - 9 x 5 loaf pans (I make in mini version).  Mix sugar and cinnamon together, and sprinkle over bread tops.
Bake at 350 for 40 minutes (adjust time for mini).
I make these each year and they are a hit!!

**I am thinking chocolate cake mix and chocolate pudding or yellow cake with butterscotch pudding mix, chocolate or yellow cake and banana pudding mix, etc..  Add nuts or dried fruit and you have one special bread!  Jazz it up and customize to your own special bread!  You'll have everyone wanting the recipe!! 

Think outside the box this holiday season.  Switch things up and create some new tasty goodies.  You can have LOTS of fun meals and holiday sweets for little money.  Frugal can be fun!


Have fun, switch it up, and STAY FRUGAL my friends.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Kitchen Gifts on a Dime

We are now on the downward side of preparing for Christmas.  Less than six weeks.  YIKES
Today I will list a few ideas for families or adults (and even teens), that come from your kitchen and will cost you only pennies for each gift.
I am a huge  giver of homemade goodies and that is probably my favorite gift to receive.  WE ALL HAVE TO EAT!!!!!

There are always the lovely gifts of homemade cookies and candy.  Homemade breads and jams and jellies are always a big hit too.  Any home canned item is a special treat.

1/3 C oil
3 bananas, mashed
1/2 tsp. vanilla
3 eggs
2 1/3 C baking mix (homemade or something like Bisquick)
1 C sugar
1/2 C chopped walnuts (optional - can use your favorite nuts)

Beat all the ingredients together for about 30 second.  Pour batter into a greased 9 x 5 loaf pan.  350* oven for 35 - 45 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.  I like to make in mini foil pans (I use over and over).  If making smaller loaves, adjust baking time. (I usually get 4 small ones per one recipe)

2 C baking mix
1/2 c shredded cheddar cheese
2/3 C milk
1/2 tsp. dried basil
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 c butter, melted
Stir together biscuit mix, cheese and milk until a soft dough forms.  Drop by heaping spoonful onto an ungreased baking sheet.  Bake at 450* for 10-12 minutes.  Combine basil, garlic powder and butter:  Brush over the tops of hot biscuits.

Wrap up in plastic wrap and a bow and set into a Dollar Tree basket, bowl, or colander - maybe add a jar of homemade pepper jelly or a jar of homemade butter.

(The cost of a bag of apples)
5 lbs. apples, peeled, cored and sliced
4 1/2 C sugar
1 C cornstarch
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. salt
10 C water
3 Tbsp. lemon juice
Pack apples tightly into wide mouth jars.  In a large sauce pan cook sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and water over a med. heat until thick and bubbly, add lemon juice.  Cover apples in syrup, wipe jars, add lids.  Water bath for 20 minutes.  Makes 7 quarts.
This will make 7 gifts!  Maybe wrap in a Dollar Tree kitchen towel.

1.  Dip candy canes into melted chocolate or chocolate chips.  Dip about half way up the candy cane.  Let dry and wrap in plastic wrap with a ribbon or jute  (gift 5 or 6 each).  Gift in a pretty $1 mug.
2.  Dip the spoon end of plastic flatware into melted chocolate.  Let dry and package up as above (with candy canes).  Again gift with a $1 mug.
These are so simple to make - and they have always been appreciated and enjoyed when I have given them.
**You could also add a couple drops of peppermint extract to melted chocolate for a chocolate peppermint stirrer.

OTHER ideas:
**Make a batch of flavored croutons and gift with perhaps a jar of homemade dressing or attach a nice pair of salad tongs.

**Make up dressing bread, and gift with dehydrated celery and onions and a container of stock.

**Jar up any cookie, cake or brownie recipe (dry ingredients) with an attached card with instructions on wet ingredients needed and baking temp and time.  ** Remember to layer your ingredients to make for a pretty jar.  Attached a ribbon or jute tie to the top with recipe card.

**Dip pretzel rods in melted chocolate (cover about 2/3 of pretzel).  Dry and package up for giving.  OR dip small pretzel rounds or squares in chocolate.  Sprinkles can be added while chocolate is still wet.  If using almond bark or white chocolate, you can also add food color to make them more festive.
I LOVE getting chocolate covered pretzels.  They are always a hit with young and old alike.

**Use tins (bought at thrift stores or Dollar Tree) or large glass jars and fill with homemade cookies or candies.  Maybe gift someone special that much loved cookie jar or family dish filled with goodies (2 gifts in one).

** Never forget homemade pickles, soups, sauces, jellies, jams, relishes, etc. or any home canned goodies.  Odds are, it something they won't already have!

Gifts don't have to cost a fortune.  The best gifts are the ones that contain LOVE!

Have a blessed day!