Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Frugal & Fun - Ornaments

Today is Halloween and I truly hate to think about Christmas until this day is over.
NOW we can get busy and make some lovely and easy ornaments for ourselves and for gifts.  Super frugal and cute!

1 1/2 C smooth applesauce
2 C cinnamon (buy cheaply at dollar stores)
Mix ingredients together.  Roll out dough to about 1/4" thick - use cookies cutters to make cute shapes.  Improvise and make cute hand or foot cutouts of the kids or grands!
When rolling out and working with dough lightly dust area and hands with cinnamon.
Air dry for 3 - 4 days OR bake at 175* for 2 -3 hours.
Use a small straw to make a hole for ribbon, string, or hook.
**Store in zip-lock bags after Christmas to preserve smell for next year.  THEY SMELL SO GOOD!

These are so cute as tree decorations, added to wreaths, or as a cute addition to a package.

4 C flour
1 C salt
1 1/2 C warm water
Mix dry ingredients and slowly add water while stirring.  When the dough gets too stiff to mix with a spoon, use your hands.  Roll out 1/8" thick. (If too thick it will tend to split and break).  best to roll between 2 sheets of parchment paper.  Use a skinny straw to make a hole.  Bake at 300* on parchment for about 1 hour.  Allow to cool and paint and then spray with poly spray.

Paint and spray for beautiful gifts or gift tags (add a personal touch with painting a name).

1 C baking soda
1/2 C corn starch
3/4 C warm water
Mix dry ingredients in a cooking pot - then add water and stir.  Stir over medium heat until bubbling and pulling away from sides of pot.  Cool a bit in the pot - then remove and knead into a soft dough.  IF too wet, add a bit more baking soda.  Roll 1/4" thick and cut into shapes.
*You can add glitter to the dough at the kneading stage if desired.
Push in beads, jewels or other decorations and allow to air dry over night. 
This dough would be cute to add pet paw prints - or kids hand/foot prints in.
These can be painted if desired.

Pinecone can be found most anywhere.  If no pine trees in your yard, check your local park or cemetery - most all have pinecones laying all over the ground.
Pinecones can be spray painted, glued and glittered, dipped in wax, etc.  They can be turned upside down and made into trees, can be added to wreaths, made into cute angels, added to center pieces or garland, placed on mantles and on and on.............................

I like making bird gifts with them.  Spread the cone with peanut butter and roll in bird seed to heavily coat.  Wrap loosely in plastic wrap and a ribbon and give to a bird loving friend!!!!

Nature gives us so many gifts that we can use in lovely and rustic decorations.  Learn to use what you have.
Twigs can be cut into pieces and glued to the outside of a plain votive holder for a rustic candle holder.
Fill a vase with assorted sizes of branches - wrap a lovely bow around the vase.  Branches can be left plain or spray painted (gold is festive).
Grape vines can be made into wreaths.
You can make all kinds of ornaments with twigs - twigs and a glue gun is all you need.
Spare ribbon pieces or strips of fabric and twigs can be a cute Christmas tree ornament.

Your imagination is your only limiting factor on creating fun and easy FREE ornaments from nature.

You can make so many cute decorations for pennies or FREE.  These are also fun projects for the kids or grandkids - what a fun day it would be.  How lovely to decorate your home with homemade, and how cute these would all be as gifts.  I love homemade gifts - so personal.

Get your CREATIVE BRAIN GOING and have some frugal fun.
Decorating and gifting doesn't have to cost much!

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Frugal Happenings 10/29

Hello my frugal friends.  WOW here we are at the end of another month!
It is hard to believe that we will be welcoming in 2018 in a couple months.  It sure doesn't seem possible.

The weather has FINALLY become fall-like.  We have had a lot of rain and gloom this past week and them temps - well, they fell!  Lows are in the 30's and high in the 40's and 50's.  Thursday morning we had our first 'noticeable' frost and we are supposed to have our first freeze tonight.
The garden party is over!!!!  It makes me sad, but it is also nice to have a break.
I got all the water bowls plugged in for the kitties and natures vast array of critters!

We have had 4 pair of cardinals in the yard for about the past week.  They seem to be busy eating right at dusk and dawn.  Oh my, they are so beautiful!
The birdies and squirrels sure do realize that the weather is changing - they are eating LOTS of food!

Cuteness overload!  I thought this was the sweetest picture!!!!
My frugal week:
  • I processed the last batch of kraut - 8 pints
  • Did get to do more yard work when it wasn't raining - FREE exercise
  • Picked ALL the garden that was left.  I got 8 - 5"-6" heads of cabbage.  5 - tennis balls size heads - several pounds of broccoli, the end of the peppers and bunches and bunches of cherry green tomatoes!   Picked thyme, rosemary, and oregano.
  • Dehydrated the tiny heads of cabbage  (took them apart) - and ground into powder.
  • Dehydrated herbs
  • Had a breakfast/brunch with a high school pal this week.  We met at 9:30 and left the restaurant at 2PM!  We had lots to catch up on.  Cheap fun!!!!!!
  • This was my birthday week and I went to buy myself a present - but found nothing except Christmas gifts!  I went to Big Lots to look for a new shower curtain - NOPE.  BUT I did find 2 - gallon size jars (2lb.each) of Protein powder for my nephews who work out a ton.  They were regular 19.99 and I PAID 5.00 each.!!!!!!!
  • I also got regular size cans of chunky cranberry sauce for .10 each!  Not huge cranberry eaters, but in a pinch it would taste great.   I may also use to make jam with oranges/cranberry.
  • I received some money as a gift this week, and also some home canned goods from my brother (things I don't can).  G bought dinner one night - as I was told I was NOT cooking!!!!  How sweet (but I cringed at the amount spent!)
  • Did more fall deep cleaning.  It never ends.
  • All the normal stuff - we do each and every day!
Meals this week:
Leftover homemade pizza and salad
Taco salad
Mini taco pies and brussel sprouts
Cheesy smoked sausage sandwiches and chips
Cajon rice with chicken . steamed broccoli and sliced tomatoes
Pizza, breadsticks, and wings (delivered) Big Box - had 2 different pizzas & other goodies!
Leftover breadsticks and cheese and pizza

I will be making a nice pot of hamburger/veggie soup today.  I am so in the soup mood with these chilly days!
I am all set for Halloween (with clearance candy I got earlier) - but I still am not sure what I will do.  It just gets kind of scary any more - you never know who is walking around out there.  IF I do it, I will sit outside so I don't have to open the door (it's what I always do) and I will quit early - at dark.  The little kids start coming about 6PM - those are the ones I care about.
Halloween is only once a year and I remember how exciting it was when I was kid.

I sure do dislike the shorter daylight hours we are having.  They will only get worse in another week with the time change.  It is now still dark at 8AM and is dark at 7:30 PM.  That is one part of fall/winter that I hate!  UGH

What did you do in your frugal home this week?  Are the gardens done?  Any special deals?
It seems that the 'fall winding down' is happening every where here in the states.  Some of our readers are getting to enjoy spring/summer!  Lucky gals!

I hope each of you has a safe and healthy week.  May the Lord bless you and keep you in His loving arms.
Blessing from our frugal home to yours.

**Please say an extra prayer for our reader Laura at Harvest Lane Cottage.  She has been battling cancer and is now finished with chemo and surgery.  Prayers that the Lord heals her quickly and completely!

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Shopping Strategies

I think everyone has their own shopping strategies.  No one thing works for everyone.  I totally know that I do NOT shop like other people.    I can't remember the last time a HAD to shop for a weeks worth, or 2 weeks worth of groceries!  I get things to fill in - but always have plenty of groceries on hand.  The pantry/freezers are my friends.
I have really been working hard to use what we have, instead of doing additional shopping this month.  It is working out pretty well.

There are so many things to think about when figuring out when, where, and what to shop for.

You need to know which stores have the best prices on certain items.  I know that Aldi is my best place for ANY dairy and for eggs. 
I know Kroger has the best clearance.  I know that Wal-Mart (in our area) has the best prices on soda pop and deli stuff.  (Although I very seldom shop there.)  I know WM and Meijer have the best cat food prices.  Dollar stores are best for health and beauty products and cleaning products.
KNOW who offers what.

You need to make friends with the meat manager, produce manager, etc. and find out when they NORMALLY mark down their items.  Many stores have great markdowns on Mondays - because they overstocked for the weekend.  Many have the best clearance on the first day the grocery ads come out.  It strictly depends on your stores policies.
COUPONS  & APPS can often be used in conjunctions with markdowns and sales - therefore you get the most for your dollar.
Take advantage of the coupons many stores send out for FREE products or FREE money.  B&BW send out coupons for free items and Kohl's (and others) send out $10/$10 coupons.
NEVER turn down FREE MONEY!!!!!!!!

CREDIT CARDS - Don't use UNLESS you are disciplined enough to pay off your bill every month.  Nothing is a bargain - if you end up paying interest on a card for it.
IF you pay your cards every month - then use them.  You can earn rewards, cash back, and bonus points which can give you FREE items, GC's or specials.

THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX - Your traditional stores aren't the only places to shop.  Learn to love your Dollar Tree, Dollar General, Family Dollar, and even closeout stores like Big Lots and Ollie's.  There are so many bargains that can be found.  For example - I won't buy books for gifts until I have checked out Ollie's (super book prices) or Half Price Books.
Keep watch of Farm Markets, specialty grocery stores (Indian, Mexican, Asian, etc.), and even yard sales for deals.

MAKE A LIST - and stick to it.  Know what you are going to shop for and stick to your list.  The only time I deter from the list, is when I see absolute crazy clearance prices for things I WILL USE!  I will stock up on as many as I WILL USE in a reasonable time or buy for gifts.

SEASONS - know your season.  This is important. Many fruits and veggies are cheaper at certain times of the year.  You probably wouldn't buy a turkey in May - but November is the perfect time.
Linens, appliances, clothes, even cars have seasons that give up the best prices.  Summer items are best priced at markdown in fall, anything holiday related is best priced AFTER the holiday, winter items - buy close to spring.  Always be aware of seasonal sales and markdowns.

CLUB STORES - Sam's and Costco.  Not always the best prices, although there are some things that just make since to purchase there.  You need to be alert and careful.  A gallon can of chopped tomatoes is a deal at 2.28 - but some things cost more than when you watch for sales, clearance, and use coupons.
Bulk purchases can be split with other family or friends.  If you buy too much and it goes to waste - it was not a deal.
BIGGER  is NOT always better. 
This applies at all stores.  Be aware of UNIT prices.
I have seen 4 packs of TP for $1 each - yet the same product in a 12 pack is 4.99.  DUH!

Wouldn't it be nice to see these kind of prices again?  WOW - sadly, most of us probably remember these days!

**Many people MENU PLAN around the sales of the week.  That is a good idea if you are that disciplined.  I AM NOT. 
**STAY AWAY from buying at gas marts and corner marts.  The mark-up on purchases is huge.
**DON'T shop unless you NEED TO!
** NEVER pay interest on something you got on sale and NEVER let sale items (or anything) go to waste!  THEY ARE NOT DEALS if you do these 2 things!!!!!

Like I said above, I don't need to weekly shop.  I rely on the pantry and freezer for most of my meals.  I know a lot of you do the same things.
BUT if you need to shop every week (and many people do and that is totally understandable), make sure you use all the best strategies that you can.  You work hard for those dollars - work just as hard at saving as many dollars as you possibly can.

DO YOU have any great strategies for saving money?
Inquiring minds want to know!

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Simple & Happy

I hope everyone is saying yes.  Now that we are approaching the holiday season, it can bring on a lot of stress, depression, and anxiety.  Those are not things that make for a happy life.

Please remember that no matter what our religion. our ethnicity, our country of origin, or our language - we all have similar emotions and needs.  We all want to be happy.  We all want a stress free life.  We all just need our family and friends.

It is very important to periodically reflect back on your life and your priorities. Is your vision the same as it was 20 years ago, 10 years ago, or even last year?  Do you know what changes you might need to make for a happier future?  Maybe you just need to simplify.

I remember having visions of grandeur when I was younger about everything!  I could conquer the world!  I wanted my holidays to be perfect in every way, I wanted to buy the best for everyone, and I wanted everyone to be happy.
TODAY - I go with the flow!  A perfect holiday is ANY that I am blessed to have.  The food is kept simple, the gifts are homemade, and I am thrilled just getting to spend time with loved ones.  No gifts necessary.

I hope you sit back and reflect on what really makes you happy.  I bet it isn't money or gifts.  I bet it's family, friends and relationships.  Once in a while - we all need a reminder of that.
Make this year's holidays the best ones you have ever had - BUT without the stress and anxiety. 
Eat what you have or what someone brings, worry less about gifts and money, spend time together and BREATHE and ENJOY.

Keep it simple and BE HAPPY!!!! 

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Frugal Happenings 10/22

Good morning my frugal friends.  What a lovely morning it is in our neighborhood.

We have had cooler, yet decent temperatures, this past week.  We did have to turn on the furnace for a cycle, on two different mornings.  Rain coming in tonight and possibly for the next couple days - then much more fall like temperatures.  Highs in the 50's and 60's this coming week.

I have done yard/garden work every day this past week.  So much to do, but I am trying to space it out, as not to kill my back! 
Have been watching the squirrels  carry around walnuts and hide them.  Not sure where they are finding them - but they have been busy.  Every time I go out back, I have to have peanuts in my pocket, as they run up to me and put their paws on my leg, looking up begging!!!  I have created little beggars!!  They take them from my hand.  Too cute.

The allergies have been in full force this week with being outside so much.  I do look for relief from that.
I got the garden pulled out except for cabbage and broccoli.  There is much of that left.  The volunteer tomatoes are still around the yard as well.  Get a few every day!

God's "good morning" to us this morning.  It was the most incredible sunrise!!  Looked like a painting!

My frugal week:
  • Used a $6 off any sale coupon at Kroger.  Got 40 lbs. of cat litter for a grand total $1.04 (mainly tax).  YAY
  • While at Kroger I had to look at clearance - (called withdrawal!!).  I did buy 4 packs of gourmet smoked garlic powder ($1 ea.) and 4 - 12 oz. containers of specialty mocha coffee ($2.29 ea.) on clearance.  NOT for me - these ALL GO IN GIFT BASKETS for Christmas!
  • Bought gas and got it for .20/gallon discount.
  • Had our yearly furnace check under our maintenance agreement - no charge
  • Used a ham bone from the freezer for making beans - boy did a lot of good ham come off the bone!
  • Made cornbread and used bacon grease in it for extra flavor - YUM
  • Got out my fall candles and melts (candle scraps).  Love the smells of fall
  • Did lots and lots of yard work - FREE exercise
  • Stopped at the church thrift store while out.  I got myself 4 tops for a total of $4 ($1 ea.).  I also got a 2 pack of English muffins (18 muffins) for FREE.  One pack in the freezer for later.

A cute holiday t-shirt (new),  sweatshirt with cardinals, brand new denim fall shirt (extra button pack still attached), and a heavy zip up cardinal sweater (I will use as a jacket).  I love cardinals if you couldn't tell!!!
  • Went to my first craft bazaar of the season (just up the street).  It was so disappointing.  Few crafts and lots of pre-made stuff.  Not like years past.  Bought nothing.
  • Making tea, filtering water, using Soda Stream and making meals from pantry/freezer.
  • Line dried laundry
  • Picked more flowers for bud vases
  • We were gifted a pound of 'fried' chicken livers from G's aunt and uncle!  YUM
  • I did stop at Aldi and spent $6.50 on grocery items.  I got 4 lbs. of fresh brussel sprouts and 3 lbs. of baby carrots.  That is all I bought.
Meals this week:
Leftover cheeseburger soup and sandwiches
Cube steak, mac n cheese, and steamed broccoli
Soup beans with ham and cornbread
Chicken livers, mashed potatoes and gravy
Leftover beans and cornbread
Smoked sausage, cabbage and fried smashed potatoes
Homemade 'loaded' pizza

It is hard to believe that Halloween is about a week away, and Thanksgiving is just 4 1/2 weeks away. 
There will be lots of frugal finds in the next few weeks.  After Halloween sales of candy (great for Christmas stocking stuffers and baking), and baking and Thanksgiving type foods will be on sale every where soon.  Turkey, ham, potatoes, sweet potatoes, veggies, and baking goods will be at their best prices.  It will be time to fill the pantries and freezers on the cheap!

What did you do at your frugal home this week?  Any good deals to be had? 
Is anyone making any Christmas gifts?

I hope you all have a blessed and safe week.  May the Lord give you health for your body and love for your heart.
Blessings to all.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Oldie to the Core

THAT'S ME!  I like the old ways, the older music, older things, you name it. 
I tend to be inclined to the 50's and 60's music.  I love gardening and canning.  I garden organically, like my Dad taught me.  I have 'old fashioned' morals and values.  I like re-using and re-inventing things.  I like antiques.  I like buying second hand - gently loved items.  I like old fashioned holiday rituals. 
I just like all that is old.

My home reflects my love of oldie goldies for sure.  NOTHING in my house is really new and modern - oh yeah, I have small appliances and such - but those are pretty necessary to every day living.
I decorate with keepsakes, family heirlooms, childhood possessions, garage sale finds, antiques, and family pictures.
Let me give you a small tour!

Anybody recognize some the 50's items?  I do use a lot of it too!

Old 50's & 60's matchbooks my dad saved - makes a nostalgic picture.
My mechanical doggy and old Mason jars

This picture is from my grandparents home - it is from the early 1900's  I loved this even as a child

My story books from childhood

Old time implement made into my towel holder
Old family pictures, and a certificate from family branch from Ellis Island.  Yep, they came through there and I have the proof!

A $2 yard sale picture.  I bought it for the frame - as you couldn't see the picture for dirt.  I do believe it is worth some money, as the artist is quite prolific and in museums!
Items in the china hutch.  The doll was my Aunts who was born in 1906, and a tiny picture of Aunt holding the doll  from about 1910.  Blue/white dishes came from Germany with ancestors in 1700's.  Brown dish made by my gr. grandma.  Lot of other goodies from days gone by.

Items in shadow box were my Uncles.  Keepsakes I received after he passed years ago.
As you can see, everything old is new again, at my house!  I just have a love for old things - I guess it's a good thing - since I am getting OLD too!  LOL   I guess I just felt nostalgic and wanted to share, plus I also wanted to show how you can decorate for little or no money and have your long ago loved ones around you each and every day as well.  I love paying homage to my ancestors and my past.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Simple, Saving Subs

It is getting to that time of the year in the States that winter will be closing in soon.  Weather can change at a moments notice, and if you are like me, you hate going out in the ice and snow to buy groceries.
We all need to keep our pantries full, but we must also realize that there are any items that can be used in place of others.  There is no reason to make a store run for 1 missing ingredient. 
Most times I am right in the middles of my recipe when I notice I am out of something. 
I am working on being more organized before baking - so that doesn't happen!!!!!  I just love having the knowledge to switch things up a bit.

Substituting ingredients is not only easy, but it is also cost effective and CAN BE healthier as well!  WIN - WIN - WIN!

There are many substitutes for oils in BAKING:
Applesauce can be used cup for cup of oil
Butter can be used cup for cup
ANY fruit puree can be used cup for cup
You can also substitute yogurt (plain or flavored), sour cream, mayo, or buttermilk
Avocado puree can be used cup for cup for butter
Pumpkin and winter squash puree can be used as well

You may need to watch the texture of your baking mix before baking, and adjust the other wet ingredients a bit - but all of these work.

You also have olive oil, Crisco, butter, coconut oil, Ghee and oils made from just about everything.  You can find just about any kind of oil you so desire at the grocery.
I just love knowing, if by some chance I run out, I have other options at my fingertips.  I generally have several types of oils on hand at any given time.  You can also create a lot of yummy new taste sensations as well by experimenting.
**TIP - I always use olive oil in brownies (most people use other oils), and my brownies come out so moist and tasty.  I always get compliments.

Oils for FRYING
My favorite is bacon grease - I keep all bacon grease in a container in the frig.
You can also drain and keep beef fat (from ground meat)
Grease from any type of meat can be drained and kept in containers in the frig or freezer.  Fats from ham, steak, pork, etc. can be rendered down.
There are lots of options for your frying needs as well!  
**TIP - I have even been known to 'pan fry' pork chops or b/s chicken in a water base - no oils at all.  There is also oven 'frying'.  No oils and both options are MUCH healthier - yet still yummy!

There are lots of subs for eggs as well, and many you wouldn't even think of.
1/4 C of Tofu  = 1 egg
1/4 C egg substitute = 1 egg
1 Tbsp. oil +2 Tbsp. water = 1 egg
1 Tbsp. cornstarch + 2 Tbsp. water = 1 egg
1 Tbsp. tapioca flour + 2 Tbsp. water = 1 egg
About 1/2 of a mashed banana (1/4 C) = 1 egg
1/4 C applesauce = 1 egg
1 Tbsp. chia seeds + 1/2 C water (let it set for 15 minutes) = 1  egg
1 Tbsp. ground flax seeds + 3 Tbsp. water (let it set 5 - 10 minutes) = 1 egg

IF you are short just 1 egg for a baking recipe, add 1/4 cup extra oil. 
OR short an egg - add 2 Tbsp. water + 1 Tbsp. oil + 2 tsp. baking powder
**TIP - Always keep a box of egg substitute on hand.  Mix with water.  Found in most baking aisles!

I would suggest if you are replacing oils with purees or dairy TRY NOT to replace eggs with another ingredient.  If you start replacing too many things in one recipe - you will definitely change the taste and texture and the chemistry involved in baking.

It is just fun knowing that we can always bake or cook with what we have on hand AND not make an extra trip to the store.  We all KNOW - NO ONE every gets just one thing at the store!!!!!!!  You save time, wear and tear on your vehicle, gas, and money.

Hope this helps in that moment you run out - it happens to the best of us!
Baking season is here!

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Frugal Happenings 10/15

Good morning frugal friends.
It is another dreary, wet morning here.  We have had a couple days of sunshine this week, otherwise it has been gray and wet!
This coming week, will be normal fall temperatures and it looks like it may be clear and sunny most of the week.  YAY!  My mood really needs some sunshine.

It is also that time of the year that we have what are called milkweed bugs in abundance!  They are all over the garage and the power meters.  They don't really hurt anything, except you just have to dodge them when walking or working outside.

You know it getting close to the holidays when you get the complete list of fall festivals/craft shows in the paper.  Today was the day.  I will probably attend a couple, as I love getting new ideas.
Christmas is 70 days away!

My frugal week:
  • NO A/C or heat at all this week.    Lot's of fresh air.
  • Saved another cereal bag for the wax paper
  • I actually RECEIVED the $50 Visa GC this week.  I just did the survey last week!
  • I did get grass mowed and more yard work done on the couple dry days we had.  Slowly getting there
  • Hung laundry outside to dry
  • Picked the balance of regular tomatoes from plants.  Squash and regular tomatoes are now done.
  • Still picking lots of cherry tomatoes and peppers, and we have broccoli and cabbage growing quite well and producing.
I pick about this many cherry tomatoes every couple days.  The volunteer plants are loaded with little green ones!
  • Found lots of great crafting materials while going through things in the basement this week.  Lot's of projects can be made while spending no money.
  • Washed storm doors and more windows.  Kitties seem to leave lot's of kitty kisses on them!
  • Cut what will probably be the last roses of the season, for my bud vases.
  • Made a 'sticky bun' cake.  Used a cake mix from pantry, and added extras of butter, brown sugar and pecans and all I can say is "MY GOODNESS - YUM"!
  • Changed out purses for the fall season
  • Got the NEED to see people - LOL - so I drove up the road to the library.  I walked the aisles for a while and talked with a couple people in the outdoor sitting area. (The library is in the park).
  • NO grocery shopping at all this week!!!!!!!!  I DID NOT go into any stores!  YAY ME!

Meals this past week:
My version of Pozole' soup - 2X (used leftover Mex. chicken from freezer in it)
Cream cheese/ham/veggie roll-ups
Meat pie - made with stew from freezer
Baked fish, fried green tomatoes and stuffed jalapenos
Cheeseburger soup (homemade)
Tangy hamburger hash and salad

It has been an interesting week.  G said he expected me to get the 'shakes' from not shopping!!!!  I have to admit, I REALLY wanted to go out.  I resisted and was a good girl.
I am just trying to use what we have and get a little more experimental on cooking!  That part is fun.

It has been nice realizing that I am not 'alone' in the unfinished projects area!!  Also  enjoy learning from each of you.  I think it is so neat that everyone shares their hints and tips.  Life is a daily journey of learning.

How was your week?  What were your frugal accomplishments this week?

Please know I pray for ALL of my on-line friends daily and I pray you are all safe and healthy in this coming week.  God bless each of you.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Eats, Treats, & Gifts from the Fall Kitchen

I do love summer and all the fresh fruits and veggies we can grow, but there is something about fall/winter and all the comfort foods that we get to enjoy.
I am not sure if I am the only one or not, but there are just some foods that we eat ONLY in the fall and winter.

Today I want to share a few recipes for yummy eats and fun foodie items that we can all start making now and give during the holidays or just use ourselves!

1/2 C applesauce
3/4 C sugar
2 eggs
3 C quick oats
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 Tsp. salt
1/2 Tsp. cinnamon
1 C milk
1 C apples, peeled, cored, and chopped

Combine applesauce, sugar, and eggs with mixer.  Add next 5 ingredients and beat well.  Fold in apples and pour into a greased 8 x 8 pan.  Bake at 400* for about 30 minutes.
**I am not an oatmeal eater - but this is good.  You could also add some chopped nuts as well!

1 C biscuit baking mix
1 C. brown sugar, packed
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 C butter, softened
5 C apples - peeled, cored, and sliced

Combine first 4 ingredients, set aside.  Place apples in an ungreased 9 x 9 baking dish, and sprinkle the other mixture on top of the apples.  Bake at 375* for 30 minutes or until golden.
**Here is a tip FROM ME - if you don't have apples to slice (or enough), I add a quart of my homemade chunky applesauce.  If no apples - use a couple quarts of chunky applesauce - it will still make a yummy crisp!!!!!

1 gal. (4 qts.) applesauce
4 1/2 C sugar
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. ground cloves
Combine all the ingredients and place in a 6 quart slow cooker, UNCOVERED, on low for 8 to 12 hours.  Stir occasionally.  After 8 - 12 hours, check thickness.  If it's too thin keep cooking until it reaches the right thickness.  Fill sterilized pint jars and process in a water bath for 20 minute boil.  Makes 7 - 9 pints
**This is a great way to use up last seasons (or before) homemade applesauce.
** You can also lessen sugar if you so desire - it's a matter of taste.

2/3 C plus 1 tsp. instant coffee granules
1 1/4 C powdered non-dairy creamer
1 C chocolate drink mix
1/2 C sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1 1/2 plus 1/8 C powdered milk
1 tsp. salt
1 3/4 C powdered sugar
In a blender, grind the coffee to a fine powder.  Combine all the ingredients in a large mixing bowl, blend well.  Can divide up into baggies or smaller container - ADD a cute label with instructions.  USE 3 HEAPING TEASPOONS PER CUP OF HOT WATER.  ADJUST AS NEEDED
Makes about 7 cups of mix.  GIFT with a pretty mug or cup.
Yummy at home on a cold winters morning!

1/2 c dried apples
1/2 C walnut pieces
1/2 C dried pears
1/2 C colorful coated candy (red/green M&M's are cute)
1/2 C dried bananas
In a pint wide mouth jar, layer fruit, nuts and candy.  Makes 4 - 6 servings.
Use the dried fruit that you prefer.  This would be a great ENERGY snack for teachers, hunters, office staff, etc. (OR home).

2 C. dry cocoa mix
2 C non-dairy creamer
1 C instant coffee
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 1/2 C sugar
2 tsp. nutmeg
Blend all ingredients and store in an air tight container.  INSTRUCTIONS:  2 Tbsp. per 1 cup hot water.
Gift with a pretty mug and some baby marshmallows or a candy cane for stirring.

I hope this gives you a couple ideas for some yummy and comforting fall flavors to eat, drink or gift.
ENJOY !!!!!!

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Searching, Sorting & Ideas

It is a very rainy day in this neck of the woods.  Not a good day to attempt outside chores (although I did work in garden during a cease of rain).
I decided today is as good as any to start digging into areas of my storage that I haven't looked at in ages (the result of having  full basement), and sorting through things, and making some crafting plans.  OH MY!  This girl is a bit bewildered.  I have a ton more stuff than I remembered having - and it is in no good order!
We are going to have more rain this week, so just MAYBE I will make heads or tails of it all.

I did come across so interesting things I had forgotten about (from sales past), and crafts supplies I need to make into pretties!

I came across these little crock type mini loaf pans.  I think I got these for like .50 a piece a few years back.  I may be baking some sweet breads (in my tin foil pans), then wrapping and placing them in these pretties for little side gifts.  How cute?  Two gifts in one!

I have several of these orchard baskets that I have kept.  They make real cute "goodie"
 baskets.  You can cover the outside with paper or leave as is for a rustic look.  I always place a checked gingham cloth napkin inside at a diagonal (hanging over edges) and then load up with home canned/baked goodies.

Look what I found!  No it is not from childhood - it was purchased a few years back.  A metal loom and all the strands to make potholders!  What a cute nostalgic novelty to maybe add to gift baskets.

Pretty hankies and quilt square material!  I also found a box (think copy paper box) just about full of 3 x 2 quilting pieces, and big tote with 4 x 4 cuts, and lots and lots of small random rolls of end pieces from bolts from the fabric store.  I also have a tin full of older vintage hankies.
I also have denim and t-shirt material galore.  There is lots of odd and end pieces of fleece, and 2 trash bags of old neckties that were my dad's and G's dads.  Many of the vintage ties of daddies are silk.  Once I get those all sorted, I will take a picture.

I have had so many plans to make quilts for myself and others - maybe this is the winter I get busy with it.  I have even thought about tie pillows for the siblings.

Do you have a stash of hidden/forgotten crafting goodies?  Do you plan projects, then never get to them?
I sure hope someone says YES!!!!!  I don't want to be the only one who never gets projects done!

I am going to do more searching and sorting this week.  Maybe I can make some great plans for gifts and home projects that MIGHT get done this year!
I'll let you know.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Frugal Happenings 10/8

Good morning my frugal friends.
It sure is a beautiful morning in our neighborhood.  We had rain and wind come through last night, but this morning is lovely.  It appears we are going to have lovely weather in the coming week, many days in the 70's.  PERFECT in my opinion.

We had some fairly warm times this week and had to turn AC on a little on 2 or 3 days (not all day).  We did get a lot of rain this week, which we desperately needed.
Sadly I took the hummingbird feeders down this week.  I will miss my little flying jewels till next spring.
I have a clematis that is now blooming for the third time this year!  I have never had that happen before.  I even saw a dandelion blooming this week.  This extra warm weather is playing with my plants!

Check out this TINY sunflower!  I have several blooming that were planted by birds/squirrels, but that itty bity one is just too cute!

I just love nature!

My frugal week:
  • I took a survey with our cable company and will be receiving a $50 Visa card for my 'trouble'!
  • I got to line dry laundry on a dry day the first part of week
  • I received a $5 GC from our local hardware for my birthday month.
  • I got Bath & Body works coupons.  One is for a FREE fun size body product and another for a $5 signature lotion (7.99 savings).  I will go and get these before the end of month - they will be Christmas gifts
  • I got a $6 off any order coupon from Kroger this week.  It is good till 10/19.  Hmmm, with buying no groceries, I think I will just get cat litter with it.
  • I have been doing a lot of fall cleaning.  Vacuumed floors, under/behind things, door jambs, window blinds, lamp shades, etc.
  • Finished adding and logging all Sept. receipts.
  • Cleaned out crispers in frig.  Cut up and froze and BUNCH of peppers from the garden.  Added several bags to the freezer
  • Processed my first batch of kraut. 
  • Spent all available DRY times outside trying to get yard 'winter' ready.  I do a little here and a little there.  Cleaned out one large flower bed, the entire fence row (on empty house side) on both sides of fence.  Cutting down spent plants and mowing.  Trying not to over heat, but take advantage of decent weather.  Slow and steady wins the race!
  • I walked the street on Saturday and picked up trash (it was very windy).  I picked up a lot of stuff.  There was a florescent green hoodie sweatshirt (like utility workers use) laying out there.  There were workers on the street, so I laid it on their truck.  They left and didn't take it.  I went and got it - it's pretty stained up.  I will see if I can clean it up - if not no big deal.  If I can, well it's a new yard shirt for me! 
  • Eating from home and cooking from scratch
  • All the normal frugal stuff

Meals this week:
 'From scratch' sloppy Joe's and chips
Leftover Amish casserole and salad
Fish sandwiches and salad
Loaded baked potatoes
Cowboy casserole
Country gravy/toast and balance of casserole
Mashed potatoes/gravy and spicy BBQ chicken pieces

Now that I have decided to NOT grocery shop any more this month - I think I have just improved my attitude as well!  I have been doing lots of little projects and keeping busy.  I have managed (for the time being) to get out of my slump!  Time to get busy and accomplish things!!!!!!!!!!!!!  GO ME!
I sure hope I can keep this momentum going, because there is SO much I want to get done.

How was your week?  What did you do frugal?  I look forward to hearing from you.

1 lb. of ground meat - browned
1 chopped onion
4 - 5 potatoes - cut into chunks
1 can red or black beans (drained)
1 can chopped tomatoes (I used Rotel like tomatoes)
Garlic  (to taste)
salt and pepper
1/4 C shredded cheese
Throw it all in crockpot and cook on low for 6-7 hours. Toss in cheese at the very end and let it melt - then it's done!  VERY GOOD & easy and cheap.

May the Lord bless you and keep you in good health this week.  Health and happiness to you all.
Blessing from my home to yours.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

ENOUGH and when to STOP

I feel like sometimes I should make a post that says "Hello - My name is Cheryl and I am a grocery store addict".  I am not a shopper of other things, but put me in a grocery store and I am in my element!  I love grocery shopping.
I really do wonder at times if it is an addiction or if I could be borderline hoarder!

As far as addiction - MAYBE - but in my own defense I really LOVE getting a bargain or something for next to nothing.  It is very uncommon that I pay full price for anything.
HOARDER - NO I don't ever feel like there is too much - but I DO USE all I buy and I give it away when someone needs it.  So no, I don't think  I am 'officially' a hoarder.

Do I have enough? YES
Do I need to stop?  YES (at least for a while)

I spent a lot of money this week.  Tuesday I spent the day shopping at Rural King and Sam's Club.  Both are fairly far away, yet they are just a mile or so apart - so that was the day to go!

Rural King was a major cat food stock up.  I got 12 cases (24 cans per), so with what I have, I am good for about 4-5 months.  Each month I will continue to add, so as not to get as low as I was.
They also have a spicy meaty snack that G loves.  It's like a bag of little hot Slim Jim's.  They last a long time, so I got 2 bags - we are good for quite a while.

Sam's - well what can I say?  Oh my, there is a reason I only go once or twice a year.  I really do stock up when I go. 
Trash bags - probably good for 1 - 2 years.  Paper plates (for occasions) good for at least 2 - 3 years.  (The last ones lasted 3 years).
Sweetener (Truvia) - probably 6 - 9 months.  Olives a good 6 months.  Baking soda (3 big bags) probably 6 - 8 months.  (I use for cats, cleaning, laundry, etc.)  Pecans - plenty for holiday baking.
Worcestershire Sauce - over a year.
You also see things that you DIDN'T KNOW you needed!!!!!!  Like a bag of Jalapeno crunchy toppers (like onions).  YUMMO!  The possibilities!

Today I went to Kroger - like I really needed to!  I did want milk, bread and cat litter.  I also got Land O Lakes butter 2/$5, and a couple boxes of tea bags to add back in to stock.
I saw a box of Lemon ginger tea bags on markdown ($1.32) which I thought would be great in Hot Toddy mix for colds this winter.  I also got a box of Chai - special blend - tea bags as an adder to nephews gift basket (he loves chai) (2.14).

I came home, and after sorting and putting everything away I have decided I NEED TO STOP FOR A WHILE! 
I have enough meat, veggies, fruits, baking goods, cereals, grains, health and beauty, and home canned stuff to last us for ages.  I HAVE ENOUGH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Do YOU ever get this way?  Do you ever ask yourself - why did I go to the store again?  Why did I spend that money?
Granted, everything will get used - and I am sure you are all the same way.  You will use your stockpile to survive or to help others.  NO we are not wasteful people - but there comes a time when we all need to take a step back.

Now is MY time.  I am going to give it my best shot to stay away from grocery stores for the rest of the month.  I really have no need to go.  We have plenty of milk and eggs and butter.  I still have fresh veggies coming from harvest.  I can make 'different' kinds of salads - no need to add lettuce.  I have meat and other food that needs to be used.
I want to use up some freezer stock - so I will have room in the event that turkeys and hams go on sale in November.  I have no room at the moment.
It is time to use it and be grateful for what I have.  I am sooooooo blessed.

So MY GOAL is to stay away from the grocery stores for the remainder of the month of October!  USE what I have.  Get CREATIVE on recipes and baking.

Maybe, just maybe, I will get a lot of other stuff done.  Maybe I will get creative on crafting Christmas gifts.  Maybe I will get more canning done - using frozen berries for jelly.  Maybe, I will get more deep cleaning and de-cluttering done.  Maybe, we can save a little extra money this month.  MAYBE! 



Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Tis the Season End

Well, here in the U.S., we are at the end of our gardening season.  It seems many gardens are still giving us produce, but it can't happen for too much longer.
Eventually cold and frost will hit our areas, one by one.

We get to the end of gardening, and we wonder what the heck else can we put up for the winter season. 

Once threat of freeze is here, the green tomatoes have to come off the vines.  Many people wrap them and put them in a dark, cool spot to ripen.
There are a couple other options too.
We absolutely love green tomato relish.  Our family likes it as well, and most of us are totally happy with a spoon and a jar!!!!

Here are a couple other options:

5 C green tomato (chopped fine)
5 C sugar
1/4 C lemon juice
1 - 6 oz. packet of Jello (what ever flavor you want)
Mix tomatoes, sugar, and lemon juice and boil for 5 minutes.  remove from heat and stir in Jello.
Pour into jelly jars (leave 1/2" headroom) and process in water bath for 5 minutes.

Slice your tomatoes a bit thicker than you would for frying fresh.  Stack/pack in a wide mouth jar (get as many in as possible).  Add 1/2 tsp. salt per quart and 1/2 tsp. citric acid OR 1 Tbsp. lemon juice per jar.
Cover with boiling water and leave 1/2" headroom.  Water bath for 40 minutes.
When ready to fry, drain all liquid.  I also lay tomatoes on paper or towels to absorb as much liquid as possible.
Coat as you would fresh and FRY away!
Such a wonderful treat in the dead of winter!!!!!!!

Extra ripe tomatoes and peppers?  Have you made all the sauce and salsa and stewed tomatoes that you can stand? Remember you can also freeze whole tomatoes in skins to use in canning at a later date.  The peels will fall right off when thawed.
OR try making a batch of Rotel.

Click on recipe to enlarge for easy reading.

5 lbs. cabbage shredded
3 1/2 Tbsp. salt
Mix and let mixture set for 30-60 minutes
Pack into jars - leaving 2" head space.  Fill up to 1/2" with cold water.  Place lids and seals on tightly.
Set someplace in a cool, dark place.  Place on paper or in a place that it can drain when fermenting.
Leave it for 6 - 8 weeks.  Check WEEKLY, and top off with COLD SALT BRINE (1 1/2 Tbsp. salt per quart of water).  I keep extra salt brine in frig for future uses.
Replace flat lids with new, and water bath  (start with cold water in WB).  Process 30 minutes after boil is reached.

Make pickles or relish, just substitute zucchini instead of cucumbers.
Shred and freeze in appropriate measured baggies for sweet bread.
Thinly slice and dehydrate - great for soups.  Add salt or garlic/onion  powder and dehydrate slices for munching.  These make great tasty chip treats.
Cut up in chunks for using in stir fry and freeze.

Too many peppers?
Here you go:

3 green (or red) bell peppers - minced     Red pepper looks pretty in gifts for holidays!
2 (4 oz.) cans of diced jalapenos drained (or equivalent  of finely chopped fresh)
1 1/2 C distilled white vinegar
6 1/2 C white sugar
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 (6 oz.) liquid pectin
5 drops green food color

In a large stainless steel pot combine peppers, vinegar, sugar and cayenne.  Cook over medium heat.  Stir frequently until mixture begins to boil.
Stir in pectin; boil for 5 minutes longer, stir constantly, then add food color.  Skim foam.
Ladle into hot sterilized jars and process in water bath for 5 minutes.

Look for ways to save (in a cool dark spot) all those winter squash and pumpkins as well.  They will keep for many months when kept cool and dry.  Same with potatoes and sweet potatoes.

There are so many ways to use up the last bounty of fall.  No need to let things go to waste - make it all into something that will be yummy and much appreciated this winter.

Do you have ANY END OF SEASON RECIPES to share?

Happy harvest!

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Frugal Happenings 10/1

The year is officially all down hill from here!  LOL  Halloween, Thanksgiving, and then Christmas, the time will fly by for sure!
Craft shows will be starting up this month, with lots of fun gift ideas and homemade treasures to buy and see.

The weather has drastically cooled the last half of the week.  Nights are in the 40's and 50's - such good sleeping weather.  AC off and windows open, allowing fresh a plenty in the house.
My allergies are finally starting to get a little better.  It has been a bad allergy season.

We are still enjoying some garden produce.  The volunteer cherry tomatoes plants are giving up tons of little tomatoes (about the size of a quarter).  They sure are good and nice addition to the meals.  They are full of blooms and green tomatoes, so depending on the weather we should have little tomatoes for a while.

Sunflowers - critter planted and Cheryl approved.  We have had lovely sunflowers all summer from the birds and squirrels.
The New England Asters are absolutely covered with blooms.  They are gorgeous.  The butterflies seem to love them.
My frugal week:
  • Sunday we got Long John Silver's for G's birthday dinner.  The gal at the restaurant gave me a FREE drink since I had to wait for fish to cook.  She also gave us extra fish and hushpuppies for FREE.  I got a boat load of  tartar sauce and catsup packages as well.  She was more than generous!
  • Picked a lovely bouquet of N.E. asters
  • Picked tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, broccoli, and peppers this week
  • Took BIL to the hospital this week for an out patient procedure.  He was to be slightly sedated, so couldn't drive. (he is fine)
  • Worked on cleaning up the garage some.  Put many items back into the shed for the winter.
  • Placed 5 doz. quart jars in the shed (that we received free last year).  I brought in a couple dozen as well.
  • We have FREE HBO and Cinemax over the weekend, so I have been DVRing several movies to watch at some later date
  • Have watched a few You Tube videos
  • AC has now been off for 5 days - it will be getting warmer again this week - but here's hoping it gets to stay off. 
  • Had a friend come over and help G and I both with several projects we needed to get done, and just couldn't accomplish by ourselves.
  • Got the whole house generator all checked out for fall and winter - did it ourselves, so no expense
  • Ran to Fresh Thyme for some herbal capsules and came across powdered peanut butter!!!!  I got a jar of it and a jar of chocolate flavored powdered peanut butter!  Oh the possibilities!  I can see using it in baking and in smoothies.  Shelf life is very long - great for prepping.
  • I stopped by WM to check out different flavors of canned cat food.  I dislike WM - but they carry cat food others don't and have good price on it.  I walked by the clearance rack - and I found 4 jars of sweet and sour purple cabbage and 2 jars of pickled baby onions (G loves) all for a $1 a jar.  Great for the pantry
  • Working very hard on organization - especially in the basement.  It is amazing how messy it can get.
  • I stopped at the thrift store (across from WM).  I got 2 loaves of wheat bread for FREE (gave to our friend).
Meals this week:
Long John's (2X)
Chicken strips, steamed broccoli, slaw & tomatoes
Sausage, eggs, and toast
Pizza casserole
Leftover pizza casserole, bread sticks, and salad
Amish casserole and bread sticks
There are several things I would like accomplish in the coming week - here's hoping I have the get up and go to do them!
I pray you all have a wonderful month of October, and that it brings you health and happiness.  May you al be able to add to your stockpiles and ready yourself for winter and Christmas.
God bless you all from our home to yours.