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!

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Frugal Happenings 11/12

Good morning everyone.  I hope you are doing great on this fine Sunday.

Good news first:  I got a note from Jane this morning and Bluey is home and slowing gaining his strength back.  They still don't know exactly what happened (no stroke), but he passed out, aspirated, quit breathing, and was hospitalized -  ended up with pneumonia.  Scary stuff.  I let her know they are still in our prayers.

My week went nothing like I anticipated - NOTHING!  I went out Monday morning to run a couple errands, and as I started to back out of the drive, my brakes went out!   Totally out!  (Thank goodness I was not out on the roads).  We had the Blazer towed to the mechanics and thought it would be a fairly quick fix.  You know that saying about "the best laid plans"?  Each day found another problem in that area.  Oh my.
I didn't want to start anything that was involved - not knowing when they would call.  I had appointments and errands that couldn't be done.  Good deal was I was home all week - so no money spent!  Bad news - it was Friday, late afternoon, before I got the vehicle back and almost $500 gone!  YIKES!!
THIS my friends is exactly why we are frugal most of the time.  Problem solved - paid cash - no debt. Blessed!
Unexpected problems can be devastating if we are not somewhat prepared.

The weather turned very cold this week.  We had one day that the high was in the 30's!  Friday set a record for coldest temperatures for that date in 67 years!  All that after last Sunday being in the 70's with storms.  Crazy weather for sure.

I got most of my errands run and things caught up on Saturday.  I hustled for sure.  I was exhausted at the end of the day - but I am back on track for the most part.

My frugal week:
  • I made a big bowl of fruit salad with fresh and canned fruit. (home canned and store bought).  Made for nice and healthy desserts.
  • Dried more bread (.39 bread) for dressing
  • Made up a new bottle of shampoo (shampoo, water and a bit of Listerine) - a new bottle of dish soap (water, soap, and vinegar), and a new bottle of 'Febreeze' like spray (liquid fabric softener and water) .  Febreeze spray also works to cut static around the house.
  • Did some soggy yard work early in week.  Tried to get some leaves up - but it is a futile task at this point!  Tons more to fall.
  • Did quite a bit of mending
  • Froze some leftover enchilada sauce (used some on burritos).  Froze in cubes for easy use later.
  • Watched several older Holiday Baking Championship shows.  Love getting new ideas.
  • I got a turkey for .49/lb.  Found a 21 pounder!

  • Also got several cans of 'cream of' soup to have on hand for convenience (when I don't have home made mix available) for .49 a can.
  • Watched a few You Tube videos on being frugal and on off-grid living (so interesting)
  • I stopped at an annual craft bazaar I always go to.  Bought no crafts, but did buy a few things from the "grandma's closet" area.  I got 4 lovely NEW placemats, 3 Christmas (Coca Cola) tumblers and 2 picture frames - ALL for $2.70!!!

Meals this week:
Chicken tetrazinni (homemade)
Deconstructed cabbage roll skillet
Burgers and cheese nachos
Chicken/rice/bean burritos  - homemade
Fish sandwiches and oven fries
Jalapeno/pimento cheese sandwiches and chips
Loaded hot dogs

Remember that now is the time to add to the pantry - there are so many holiday specials, with some ridiculously low prices.  Shop those lost leaders and get deals for yourself or to help others.
ALSO REMEMBER 6 weeks from tomorrow is Christmas!!!!!!
How can that be?

What was your week like - any good deals?  Are you ready for Thanksgiving?  How is your gift shopping/crafting going?

May you all be blessed with health, safety, and happiness in the coming week.  God bless my friends.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

An Apple a Day............

It is now that time of the year, that apples are in abundance and cheaper.  Apples are very good for us - lot's of vitamins and nutrients.  Apples are ever so tasty.  Apples are very versatile.

I love crunching away on a fresh apple.  I love cider, apple butter, fried apples, apple pie/crisp, apple jelly, applesauce and ALL the many, many ways they can be prepared and enjoyed.
Apples or apple products can be added to sweet breads and muffins, in donuts, in cookies, cakes, etc.  Applesauce can replace oils in baking, to  make a healthier dish.
My favorite is fresh apples and peanut butter - I make many a lunch from that!

The following, are two charts that I have run across, that may help you in your purchases.

Click on pictures to enlarge.

I hope this you decide on the type of apple you may purchase and how many you need.

Fuji has become our new favorite.  I have always made sauce and canned apples with Granny Smith apples in the past.  I then went through a phase of loving Braeburn for fresh eating.  Fuji seems to be such a lovely combination of sweet, tart, juicy, and CRSIPINESS and is great for eating and canning!

Check out your local orchards and enjoy some fresh juicy apples.  Canning time doesn't have to be over yet!

An apple a day keeps the doctor away!!!!

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Thanksgiving - Keep it Simple

Thanksgiving Day will be here in a bit over two weeks for those of us in the U.S.  It is traditional a day of family gatherings and EXCESS!
People tend to go really over board.  Perfection is strived for.  Lots of money is spent.

Here is a novel thought - KEEP IT SIMPLE!
Know your pantry and your freezer and SHOP it first!
Plan a nice yet simple menu.
Know how many people you are planning to serve.
If you shop - shop for loss leaders - those rock bottom deals!
Have others pitch-in something.  Maybe a dessert, rolls, drinks, a favorite side dish, a salad, etc.

Keep DRINKS simple.  Stick with water, tea, coffee, maybe lemonade, punch. or Kool-aid for the kids.  If people are expecting alcohol, supply one type, and let others bring what they want.  Wine and hard liquor can be very expensive.

Stick to basic and simple foods, and make plenty.  We all like those leftovers over the long (shopping) weekend.
The day should be more about savoring "the moments and the people" than the food.
Take lots of pictures, and sit back and listen and watch.  Pay attention to the expressions and laughter of others, enjoy their company - you don't know if you will ever have that experience again.

You can use basic ingredients from your pantry and jazz them up a bit if so desired.  Some people are just NOT happy with simple - so just get creative.
A pretty table can make simple things lovely!

CRANBERRIES - can be made into a salad by adding cut up oranges and walnuts (this is something I like - it really is good).
You can mix cranberries with apples and blend into a pie or crisp.  A taste of sweet and tart.

SQUASH - mix zucchini with eggs, cheese, and bread crumbs for a casserole/quiche.  Roast chunks of squash of various types. 
Stuffed squash is yummy and filling (could cut back on other dishes).

This could be used as a main dish, if you and your family are keeping it real simple and frugal.  YUM

VEGGIES - roast them.  Carrots, onions, potatoes, squash, sweet potatoes, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, you name it.  Late garden crops make a lovely harvest dish.
You can also stretch veggies by mixing with rice or orzo and maybe adding some 'cream of' soup for a nice casserole.
Make VEGGIE pigs in a blanket!!  Instead of the standard sausage or hotdogs - use steamed asparagus or strips of steamed carrots in the center of your 'blanket'.  Fun, different and yummy.
GREEN BEANS - plain or with baby potatoes or mixed with corn.  Green bean casserole, scalloped, oh so many options.
CORN - plain or mixed with lima beans (succotash), or blend with cornbread mix into a casserole/pudding.

MEAT - traditionally we have turkey and/or ham.  Both are wonderful and provide a great deal of leftovers that can be utilized in many additional meals in various ways.
Perhaps  buy a turkey breast instead of a whole turkey and make lovely open face turkey sandwiches with mashed potatoes and gravy.  We like to make what we call Manhattan's after turkey day.  A warm turkey sandwich, cut in half and separated - mashed potatoes in the center the halves, all covered with gravy!  One of my favorite things.
A large ham steak will provide a nice dinner for 2 - 4 people.
Bake or roast a chicken.  Make a roast.  Make a special ethnic dish. 
Dinner doesn't have to be about turkey or ham.  Use what you HAVE and what you can AFFORD!
IF you can find a turkey for a great price - remember that it is healthy and cheaper than lunchmeat!!

DESSERTS - can be simple and frugal and still quite a treat.  Make a dump cake - quite easy.  Brownies or cookies are always good.  Fancy Jell-O salads are inexpensive.  We do like traditional desserts like pecan pie and cheesecake - but if I don't have the ingredients on hand - I will make something different (plus we really don't need to calories!).  Pumpkin pie is always a favorite at this time of year for many people - do it from scratch or go semi-homemade (canned filling all jazzed up).

DRESSING/STUFFING - I guess it depends on where you live as to what you call it!  Many people go simple with Stove Top stuffing.  You can add turkey broth and other ingredients to jazz it up.  I make my own - so simple and easy.  Dried bread, celery, onions, broth, seasoning and an egg or two.  Costs virtually nothing to make and tastes like heaven!!! 
**watch for mark downs on bread and dry ahead of time, get deals on celery and onions - super cheap this time of year.**

ABSOLUTELY NOTHING says you have to serve what everyone else is serving.  Step out of the 'holiday' box and do what you want and what you can afford.
Go and check your pantry this week!!   Set aside the items you can use for your Thanksgiving dinner.  Make your menu now!!  Shop sales IF you need additional ingredients.
Have fun and enjoy the holiday without going into debt or using money better spent on other things.
*Remember Christmas is just around the corner**

MY simple menu:
Turkey (.49/lb.) and ham - both will make lots of other meals
Green bean casserole
Mashed potatoes and gravy
Creamy Jell-O/fruit/nut salad

Apple/cranberry crisp
Cherry/pineapple dump cake

This is a simple menu - but not an everyday menu.  Everyone will be happy and full!  Very little money spent - most ingredients are in the pantry already!

I hope this gives you something to think about and some ideas that you can use.
Keep it simple, keep it frugal, and most of all - ENJOY FAMILY AND FRIENDS!

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Frugal Happenings 11/5

Good morning my frugal friends.  May this find you well and happy.
First, I'd like to ask for prayers for our friend JANE and her BLUEY.  She found Bluey unconscious  a couple days ago, and he is in a induced coma in the hospital at this point.  They are trying to find a cause.  Hopefully they will allow him to wake tomorrow.  Please pray.

This has been a lazy week for me.  I feel like I have been moving like a sloth all week!  It started cold, wet, and dreary and ended warm, wet, and dreary.  UGH.  I have gotten to turn off heat for a couple days - nice.  We had ONLY one day with sun this week.
I have had to get out REGULAR shoes!  ACK!!!!  I hate shoes, but had to break down and get them out.  Still haven't put away the flip-flops.  LOL
I desperately need to mow, but it is so stinking muddy - so that hasn't happened.
We have a great possibility of some nasty storms today.  Hot air meeting cool air - so enhanced risk of bad stuff.  I sure hope most of it misses us.

Halloween had few trick or treaters for us.  We used to have tons of kids come by (like 400+).  This was the least we ever had with just about 60.  I have lots of candy left which will be used in baking and Christmas baskets.  I had purchased it all on clearance a couple months ago.

My frugal week:
  • Dried FREE bread for dressing for the holidays/winter
  • Tallied receipts for the month
  • Made some sausage/egg muffins with FREE English muffins I received last week
  • Did go to the orchard and bought apples, Asian pears and cider for healthy snacks
  • Cut G's and my hair
  • Received a FREE 2018 wall calendar from NRA - beautiful pictures of 'hunting' dogs
  • Working on my Christmas list and going through purchases - seeing what I need to get yet
  • Bought 6 small pumpkins for 3/.25 on clearance for the squirrels!  We don't eat pumpkin, but the squirrels will enjoy the seeds.  I cut off the top and they stick their heads in!  CUTE
  • Couldn't line dry laundry this week - but did hang some laundry in the basement and only used the dryer for a minimal amount of time.
  • Meals from home and scratch
This is the geranium that says "I think I can - I think I can".  Still hanging in there and looking pretty despite frost and freeze.  It's up against the house - it's saving grace! 

We have also been enjoying watching the many, many cardinals in the yard, and this week we have had an abundance of blue jays in the yard.  They are huge and so majestic looking.  We always have small woodpeckers, however this week the huge pileated woodpecker made an appearance for most of a day.   Such a beauty!   The squirrels are a hoot, playing and running and chasing each other.  FREE entertainment right outside the window!

Meals this week:
Hamburger/veggie soup 2X
Loaded baked potatoes
Sausage gravy/toast and scrambled eggs
Leftover pasta with added cheese/broccoli & cheeseburgers with sautéed onions
Fried split brussel sprouts/onion (in bacon grease), grilled beef fillets and salad.
**Boy were the brussel sprouts yummy cooked that way - added just a splash on soy sauce too.

As you can see, not a lot going on here.  I really need to motivate myself this coming week and get something accomplished.

I did notice this morning an ad in the paper - 4 day sale at Kroger - turkey .49/lb. with additional $20 purchase.  Cheapest I have seen in several years.  I do believe that I have now made enough space to store one until needed for Thanksgiving!
We truly haven't had good turkey sales in our area in ages.  The best prices have been about .69 or .79 over the past few years.  How I long for .29/lb. days!!!!!!!  LOL

I am not happy about this time change thing!  Extra hour sleep last night?  Not here.  My kitties have no idea how to tell "clock" time and still wanted to eat at the same time!  I also wake when my internal clock says 'wake up' - not the clock.  Heck it will dark at 6PM tonight - I so hate that!  The days just seem so short this time of year - I know this most definitely affects my mood!  A friend suggested I buy one of those lights for that - maybe I should.
Oh well, if that is my only problem in life - I am doing great!!!!!!!!  Sorry for complaining!

What was your week like?  Any frugal finds or special deals?

I pray for health and happiness for each of you and your families in the coming week.  Please stay frugal my friends.
God bless you all!

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Season of Thanks

I know we are all thankful ever day for our families and friends and our fur babies.  We are also thankful for health and home.  We have so much to be grateful for, because no matter what situation we are in, there is always someone in a worse one.
I thank my Savior every morning for the dawning of another day and I thank Him every night for another day on this earth.  Some are not so fortunate.

I have been reading so many FB posts lately that seem to portray people as so ungrateful.  So many people seem put upon, when they have received a FREE bounty - as it isn't what they 'wanted'!  Others have been talking about how awful and rude people have become, and they feel so dejected by them. 
YES, there are some bad people and rude people in this world - but I think our reaction is MORE important than the rudeness!! 
Lay on the kindness - no matter how hard that is to do.  It surely will change you and your outlook of the day - and perhaps the other person as well.

It seems that so many people seem to forget about those in need until the holiday season is upon them.  People tend to put the hungry, the homeless, the 'less desirable', children - "out of sight, out of mind" for most of the year.
People need food every day, folks need bedding, socks, undies, etc. every day, they need health and beauty items, they NEED KINDNESS every day.
Children need to be able to go to school in a decent outfit (bullying is horrible), a meal to start the day, the security of knowing they have a safe place to return to, something to hug!

I recently read a post on a FB page of our park area neighborhood (this is a few blocks up the road).  They were 'warning' residents that people were sleeping beneath the bridges and in the park shelters.  They had called the police and reported it as well.  I, for the life of me, don't know how they knew this unless they are purposely looking - as all bridges and shelters are secluded from public/road view.
I totally understand their dismay, but then again most of them NEVER do anything to HELP - they just complain.  My response was 'please pray for them' - that was met with much criticism!!!!!!
I say "only by the grace of God" for most of us.

I try to do my part by providing food and funds for the area soup kitchen (right by the park) and we gift socks and blankets often.  I have made up 'survival' bags in the past to be handed out to the area homeless.  Those bags included small size toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, deodorant, wash cloth, hand towels, hand wipes, razor, etc.   The area church (by the park) has clothing give-aways, and we donate to those.
Any act of kindness is appreciated.

I just hope that each of us can do something to help those less fortunate.  Cold weather seems to make things more prominent in our eyes.
Let all of us be God's angels here on earth.

PLEASE consider donating to a food pantry, soup kitchen, homeless shelter, local school, or children's gifting trees this year. 
Ask your area school if you can donate funds to feed kids who may not have lunch money - many schools have pantries that send food home for the weekends, some schools have a clothing closet, many need donations of school supplies.

We are ALL truly blessed.  We may have hard times - but there is always someone having a harder time.  In my view, money is not what I consider "riches" - it is merely having someone that cares and does.  There are so many blessings far more valuable than money.
This is not something everyone has.  Hope and Peace are treasures.

I challenge everyone to do something kind for another human being.
If you are in dire straights financially - give a kind word, a helping hand, a smile - that is FREE.  You have no idea what it could mean to someone.
God bless you all.


PS - I was late with this post today because of one of our blessings!  Our elderly neighbor stopped by for a visit.  He lost his wife of nearly 50 years this spring, and he was lonely today.  I feel truly blessed that he feels comfortable visiting with us and conversing for several hours.  There is so much to learn from our elders - compassion being the most important.