Tuesday, July 31, 2018

De-Clutter CHECK-IN

Remember at the first of the month, we all decided to take the de-clutter challenge?  Today is check-in day!!!!!!
I know there are several who are thinking of moving, folks who have inherited things, and those who (like me) are just looking to lighten the load.

I have many things boxed up and ready to donate.  I seemed to get side tracked some this month with doing some home maintenance (outside) and gardening.  I didn't get as much done as I intended.  We all know that saying about "the best laid plans.....".
I am not giving up and I am not stopping.

I was told over the weekend that 3 neighbors are planning on having yard sales this coming weekend, in case I was interested.  I thought about it - but I think I will pass.  Temps will be back to 90*, and a week isn't enough time for me to get it all done and priced.  Oh boy, do I have the excuses!!!!!!  LOL

I figure  even though I go slow at this, it is getting done.  I have much yet to do - but I will eventually get there. 
I have many items that I cherish and love, and I really want to be able to show those off and enjoy them more.  I have much that is JUST HERE - that I don't love.  It needs to go.  There is no reason to have things that don't make us happy or joyful.

Please let us know how your venture is going.
Have you been able to purge items or are you still collecting?
Have you been consistently working on it or are you slowed by summer chores too?


Sunday, July 29, 2018

Frugal Happenings 7/29

Well here we are approaching the end of another month. 
It appears that we will end this month with some below average temperatures!  It has been cooler for a couple days and will stay so, through about Wednesday.  We also have a chance of rain or storms for the next few days.

Cooler weather always gets me more motivated to do things.  It seems a lot has been accomplished over the past few days.  I had a little help here and there, but things are getting done.  G got out in the garage and worked on some projects as well.

My frugal week:
  • Well, our truck is gone!!!!  No more plate renewals and no more insurance payments.  A savings of about $500 a year.  NO  we didn't end up selling it.  We gave it to our young neighbors.  They have a small baby, and only have one vehicle - so it helps them greatly.  She now can have a vehicle for any emergencies or errands, and he has one for work.  Their happiness was all  the payment we needed!
  • I got a FREE 20 lb. bag of bird seed with my punch card at the feed store this week.
  • Picked about 21 pounds of produce from the garden.
  • Froze more okra for winter use
  • Used the crockpot this week
  • Made a nice big bowl of broccoli salad
  • Ran to the Super Kroger this week (have only been there a time or two).  Went to get G new socks (I can't believe we had no packages put back!).  I did get a 25% price reduction on socks - and I also bought 2 cantaloupes in the .99 bags.  That was it.  
  • Bought gas - needed less than a half tank.  Used last months points (mainly bonus points) and got .30/gallon off
  • Our friend helped me put up a new security light on the garage.  We have had the light for ages - I just needed a little help with it.  DONE
  • Power washed the back of the house, the whole garage, the shed, and all the metal furniture and brick on patio area.  It looks fantastic!!!!!!  The back of the garage was in desperate need of cleaning and it looks brand new now!
  • Worked on cleaning out some spent flowers from one flower garden
  • Our groceries came from the garden and pantry - extras brought up for long term pantry.

Meals this past week:
Steak burger over rice, cooked kale and sliced tomatoes
Smoked spicy sausage and cabbage and mashed potatoes
Ground sausage and garden veggie stir fry & side salad
Crockpot beef fillets/potato/carrot/onion
Hotdogs and broccoli salad
Tuna salad sandwiches, sliced tomatoes and broccoli salad
Taco salad

That's it!  Some of the jobs  were very tiring, but I do feel accomplished this week.  It is nice to get some of our big projects done.  It seems there is always something that needs done.
Work is never done!

How was your week?  How are the gardens doing?  Any canning yet?
Did you get any frugal deals this week?

I hope you all have a wonderful week ahead.  Prayers for health and safety for you all.
Blessings from our humble home to yours.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Bold & Bright - Trending

I am beginning to wonder if it is just our area or if it is every where.  Bold and bright have become the choices for house color!  NOT necessarily the inside - but the outside!

We have many older neighborhoods all over our city that have some really neat architecture dating back to early 1900's and some even earlier.  Our neighborhood was built in 1947 and most of the surrounding areas are about the same or a little older.
This area has always been rather neutral when it comes to house colors.   The homes that are not brick or stone tend to be white, beige, pale yellow or blue or gray.  Boy is that changing.
I am not sure how I feel about it either.

I do like the older homes that have a great accent color on the trim or an accented front door.  We also have a lot of homes with fret work (gingerbread as we call it) on the corners and porches.  I love those older, kind of Victorian looks.

The home across the street was purchased last fall and they painted a very dark gray with black trim.  Not bad - totally different from rest of neighborhood.   I looked out 2 days ago and they added shutters and painted the door.
The front door is actually chartreuse and the shutters are orange (it's a lot brighter than it looks).  My first thought was Halloween pumpkin!  It is growing on me now, and I am thinking I MAY actually like it.  It is a bold move for this neighborhood for sure.

If any of you have ever seen the HGTV show Good Bones, that is filmed about 10 minutes from our house.  The gals have been renovating and flipping homes for a few years in that area.  Their business name is 2 Chicks and a Hammer - it's a Mom/daughter duo.
THEY seem to be responsible for the huge change in landscape.  Once they started doing their reno's - more bright colors and modern architecture took over the those older neighborhoods.  I do not like the modern architecture at all - they totally change the beauty of the areas.
They don't 'rehabilitate back to original' - they renovate totally different.  Just seems wrong to me.  Call me old fashioned!

Good part is the housing market is starting to rise some - bad part is taxes are starting to rise as well.

Here are a few of the  of homes the Good Bones show renovated within 10 - 15 minute drive of us.

Not of fan of the stripes

Siding going in 2 different direction - this one is really a  shade of chartreuse  in real life.  I do like the door!

Cute for a play house - just can't get my head around purple
These homes DID keep the basic  architecture of the time - but the colors!  It reminds me more of a coastal beach feel - not an older city neighborhood.

This has definitely become the trend in the Fountain Square & Bates Hendricks areas (which are minutes from us).  I guess they are going for a young/hip buyer - not us older folks.
Now it is starting to trickle into our neighborhood.  I guess we will have to wait and see what happens.
Surprisingly some of the choices are growing on me!

Funny, I was checking out real estate available in these areas, and "normal" generic colored homes sell for almost nothing and these brightly colored ones are selling for 3X - 4X more, some even higher.  CRAZY!!

I have decided (actually decided a while back) that I want my doors a different accent color.  House is white, shutters are hunter green - so I am currently looking for a different color I can 'live' with.  They are now white. 

So what say you?  Do you like?  Is this happening in other areas?
I am curious.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

My Thoughts - Food Safety

I have a lot of thoughts on food safety.  I definitely want my family to be healthy and safe - but I also think there is so much info out there that is just over the top. 
Those of us that can are constantly being bombarded with the quote "that method isn't USDA approved".

You know what?  Not everyone lives in the U.S. and doesn't follow the same guidelines.  I can't help but wonder why my family is at risk for me not using a pressure canner and someone's family in Europe or Australia's isn't!!!
Pressure canners and jars that we use here, are quite expensive in other countries - if they can get them.

I have always been one who follows the thinking of "your kitchen - your rules".  My Mom canned everything and NEVER owned a pressure canner.  She water bathed everything and raised 5 children and fed us and dozens of grandkids and never once did anyone get sick!
Until a few years ago I had never heard of anyone using a water bath on jelly.  I made jelly and either used the inversion method or added paraffin to the top.  I do water bath now - but never had a problem before.

Everyone says follow the Blue Book recipes.  Well, even those change over the years.  I have books that give BOTH pressure canning and water bath instructions for just about everything (including meat).

If you click on picture to enlarge - you will see water bath instruction for beans, corn, etc.

Considering that EVERY week commercially processed food is being recalled (sometimes every day), I feel pretty content about the way I process mine.
It is amazing how many recalls have been happening.  It is not just meat or fresh foods - it also crackers and canned goods - you name it. 
How does that happen???
Shouldn't there be tons of regulation that these factories have to follow, so that this doesn't happen?

I take a lot of precautions in my kitchen, as far as boiling food before canning, heating my jars, and storing things in a cool dry place.  I also heat food other than pickled items back to a boiling point before eating.  I feel confident.
I don't think I necessarily need  government intrusion in my kitchen.  They intrude enough in other aspects of my life (not trying to be political).

I just have such a problem understanding why something  is safe in other countries yet isn't OK here.
Makes no sense to me.
So until the commercially generated food products are COMPLETELY safe - I don't need anyone telling me what I can do in my kitchen.

What do you think?

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Frugal Happpenings 7/22

Good morning my friends.  I hope you are all well and happy on this blessed day.

This week we had some more very hot days, then a slight cooling!  Actually I have had a few days that AC got turned off most of the day and windows opened.  Humidity left for a couple days.  Rain came back in the state and humidity has risen since then.  We finally got a couple short downpours on Friday, then rain a big part of yesterday.  We still have rain in the forecast for all of today and some tomorrow.  It is much needed and appreciated.
I think they are predicting only one day this coming week of 90* temps, then 80's the rest of the time.  That is just fine with me.

The hummingbirds have started making a lot more appearances at the feeders and at our flowers.  I love hearing that little chirp of theirs.  You can always tell they are in the area when you hear their little song.

It has really been a quiet week around here - just the way I like it!

My frugal week:
  • Organized and inventoried the upright freezer and the kitchen freezer.  I found things I had forgotten about.  I did make a list - here's hoping I keep it up!  I still have the chest freezer to do - but cooler temps are needed for that, as it is in the garage.
  • Watered with rain water as needed.
  • Both rain barrels are now FULL again - as I had virtually emptied both.
  • Line dried laundry
  • Tried a couple new recipes in the past week or so, and was happy with both
  • No grocery shopping this week.
  • Didn't leave - stayed home all week.
  • Our neighbor (friend) went to Gleaner's (food pantry) this week and received a bunch of food.  He had no choice in what he received - so he got some things he doesn't eat or couldn't use.  He gave us 12 ears of corn (he got 2 doz.), 3 bags of baby kale salad mix, and 12 bags of Soy/Rice casserole mix (I had never heard of it).
I made a bag of it to try.  I made it with chicken broth and it is quite tasty.  Kind of tasted like chicken/rice soup.  Next time I sure won't make a whole bag!!!!!!  Goodness, it expands!!  LOL!!  G really likes it and said he will eat for lunch or breakfast or snacks!   It has dried veggies and TVP in it as well.
I decided to store in a gallon glass jar with instructions attached.  5 bags filled the gallon jar!!!  Guess we are set for a while.
  • I froze 8 ears of corn, chopped okra from garden and froze, and froze ripe bananas as well.
  • Picked rhubarb again this week and it is in the freezer as well.
  • Picked 15 pounds of produce this week from garden.
  • Made an Amish banana pudding (new recipe) - that was like a combo banana pudding & cheese cake. Oh my - rich and yummy!  Lasted many days.
  • Got to do lots of yard work (in/around flower beds) this week while it was cooler.  Didn't need to mow.
  • I separated out the baby kale from the salad fixings we were given and I cooked the kale in ham broth yesterday.  That will be added to todays dinner!  YUM
  • Our neighbor/friend's girlfriend gave him a 'surprise' 65th birthday dinner/party yesterday.  Dinner was provided by her.  Good time and free dinner by walking next door.
                                               Tomato harvest this week - 4 more!  YUM
                                    By the way that first one from last week was fantastic!!!!
Meals this past week:
Leftover antipasto melt sandwiches and broccoli salad
Burgers with sautéed onion/peppers, mac and cheese and sliced tomato
Breaded chicken fillets, mashed/cheesy squash, and salad
Creamy squash soup - 2X
Chicken flavored rice mix, steamed broccoli, corn and tomatoes
Dinner at our neighbor/friends house

So as you can see it was very quiet here.  I did manage to add quit a few items to the winter pantry - between the garden and the free items we received.
I just feel that we were so blessed this week.  What a windfall.

I imagine this coming week will be almost as quiet.  I do need to make a run to the feed store this week for bird/squirrel goodies.  Hopefully that will be it.

How was your week?  Did you get any garden goodies?  Frugal deals this week?

Wishing you all a blessed week of health and happiness.  Stay safe and continue to keep your heart with God.  Always remember  - all things are possible with Him.
Blessings from our humble home to yours.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Being Ready for the WHAT IF'S

What if you lost your job this week?
What if you had unexpected medical bills come up?
What if you suddenly lost all your money (savings)?
What if there was a nation wide trucker strike?
What if food reserves were gone due to catastrophic weather every where?
What if you were suddenly thrown into an off grid existence?
WHAT IF.......................................

There are so many what if's in this world.  The majority of the population depends on grocery stores for there food, medication, and home goods.
Stop and think!  If you live in the U.S. (especially), you know what happens at the grocery when the word SNOW is just mentioned!!!!!!  The shelves are wiped out in a day or so.
Never do I hear 'we are going to have light snow today" any more - it is always portrayed as a "snow storm".
People panic as if they won't be able to get out of the house for months!  I just have to laugh, because I can't believe how crazy that is.
There tends to be a grocery, drug store, or quick mart of about every main corner any more. 
Heaven forbid, people might have to walk some where!
Heaven forbid people might have to do without something for a few days.
MY POINT here is - snow empties the shelves quickly - but what if there were nothing else coming to replenish those shelves?  Most stores could survive 3 days with supplies on hand, if there were a crisis. WOW!

We know - don't we?  We are ready for whatever life may throw at us.  We are survivors!
A few years ago, I knew people who thought I was crazy.  They called G & I  hoarders, conspiracy nuts, etc.  Now, more people are starting to jump on the preparation bandwagon!

Not long ago at all!  But people survived, because they had skills and common sense!

If you haven't started keeping a DEEP pantry - now is the time to start.  You don't have to go crazy and spend a fortune all at once.  Spend an extra $10 or so a week.
Buy an extra can of coffee and a few can goods.  Buy an extra sugar, flour, and salt.  Buy a couple cases of water.  Buy a few jars of peanut butter, or cans of tuna.  Buy dry beans of different types.
Make sure you have plenty of protein items on hand to keep you and yours healthy.  We all need water (including animals).  Remember to stock animal food as well!

We have all be told to have a few months worth of emergency funds put back (in case) - the same goes for pantry items.
There are essential things needed to survive, then there are fun things that would make life easier.
IF the grocery stores closed down this weekend for an extended period of time - would you be OK?

If you have your pantry (which includes all kinds of things) and/or you have your garden - hopefully you would be good.
Take time to go through your stocks and inventory what you have.  Figure out where you are good and where you are deficient.

Work on your deep pantry slowly.  Add something every week, whether from the store or from you own garden.
NO ONE knows what could happen. 


Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Summer Squash Part 3

Today I will give you recipes for a couple more family favorites for our summer squash.  I hope you all have been enjoying them and maybe get some recipes for your files.

5 yellow or small zucchini squash (I use the larger ones for this dish - minus seeds)
2 green onions  (I use a small onion chopped)
2 Tbsp. butter
1 can chicken broth (or equivalent water/bouillon)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 1/2 C whipping cream

Sautee squash and onion in butter until tender.  Stir in broth and spices.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer 20-25 minutes.  Cool slightly.  Put in blender (or use immersion blender).  Return to pan and add cream.  Heat.

OK you know I try a recipe once the way it is written - then I PLAY!!!!  My favorite way to make is follow all up through adding broth and heating. I then remove a few drained spoonful's of squash (hubs doesn't like plain creamy soup).  I set those aside and blend up the rest.  I THEN use a small package of peppered gravy mix with 1 1/2 c of milk - blend and add to soup.  Add chunks of squash back in and heat.  It thickens and has so much flavor.
**Sometimes I add cooked chopped carrots or rice to the soup.  It is fixed different every time at our house!  LOL
Top with a dollop of sour cream when serving.  YUMMO!
We are having this tonight!

*You can remove or leave the skin - leaving it adds some color and it doesn't change the flavor.  Probably adds more vitamins!

1 C sugar
1/4 C brown sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
pinch of salt
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
4 C zucchini (peeled, de-seeded, and cut into apple slice looking pieces)
1/4 tsp. allspice
1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
Cover your cut zucchini with water and boil 2 minutes.  Drain and let it cool.  Mix all ingredients together.  Gently ad the zucchini and mix.  Pour into an unbaked pie shell and top with Dutch Apple Topping (below).  Bake at 400 for 10 minutes, reduce heat to 350 for 20-30 minutes until golden.

1/2 C sugar
1/2 C butter
1/2 C chopped nuts
3/4 C flour
Mix together till crumbly.

This is so good and really does taste like apple pie.  My late FIL came by one day after I had made this, and I asked if he wanted pie - of course!  He loved it and had no idea it wasn't apple.  My brother was the same way - no idea.

Don't forget you can  dehydrate any squash for use in  the winter.  I keep track of how many racks in dehydrator each squash takes up - 1 rack, or 1 1/2 racks, etc.  I then package them - as 1  squash per bag.  That helps me decide how much to use in soups and such. 
I vacuum seal or make sure all air is out of the bags and then I put all the bags into a large glass jar.

You can also dehydrate and powder for use as flavoring in soups and stews. **(You can do that with just about any veggie or fruit).

Last night I tried something new as well.  I cooked squash in chicken broth and seasonings until very soft.  I then drained and MASHED the squash and added a bit of PARMESAN and SHREDDED CHEDDAR.
It was so good as a side.  After G's bowl was empty he asked for seconds - OOPS! 
I had used one yellow and one zucchini and it really cooked down.  Next time I will make more.
It was definitely a "do again" dish!

DONT'T FORGET about making zucchini bread and muffins as well!  Mmmmm chocolate zucchini bread is so rich and yummy.


Tuesday, July 17, 2018

A Happy Little World

My little corner of the world is as happy as I can make it.  I see and hear enough bad stuff daily, that I just want to hole up here and love my little piece of this big old planet.

I have been around gardening every one of my 63 1/2 years - and it still amazes me.  It truly is like having a grocery store in your back yard!  Every day that I go out with my garden bag and pick something - I find myself giggling!!!  I really do!
I just find a huge amount of happiness in walking into the yard, picking something fresh, and deciding how we will EAT IT!

My folks had a huge garden and my poor Momma had the task of putting it all up for the leaner cold months.  She worked till midnight or after, many a day.  I truly didn't appreciate the garden back then - it was just a lot of hot work to me. 
Now I did love eating raspberries as I was helping to pick - but I hated the chigger bites.  I loved going out and picking a warm tomato off the vine and eating it right there.  I loved sitting behind the chicken house eating sour green apples till I got sick.  I loved standing under the grape arbor munching on Concord grapes till Mom saw me - and said she needed them for juice and jelly. 
I just didn't understand then, that all that work was necessary for us to have the good life we had.  We ate good all year long.  Other people ate good at our house too.  Mom fed anyone that showed up.  We didn't have much money - but we had scrumptious healthy food to keep us full.

Today, most of us don't HAVE to grow a garden for financial reasons.  We can go to the grocery store and buy whatever we want.  However, many of us prefer to grow our own.  We know how it was grown, we know what is on our table, we know how it was fixed.  It is soooooooo much healthier.  I don't necessarily fall for the "organic" hype at the stores - truthfully they can tell us anything, and we can't prove them wrong.  I know how my garden was grown!

We can make jams, jellies, juices, sauces, etc.  We can eat it fresh, or cook it, or can it, or  freeze it.
We save money with our gardens.  We eat healthier with our gardens. 
I still marvel at what a little seed can produce.  It is definitely a gift from God in my opinion.

Don't forget that you can also use EVERYTHING.  Those tough ends from asparagus, broccoli, etc. can be dehydrated and ground into powder.   Tomato skins can be dried and powdered.  (You can add so much flavor to food with these things).  I personally love to peel the tough ends of broccoli and steam them  - they are my favorite part to eat!
The outer leaves of cabbage or broccoli can be done the same way.
Peels and pits can be cooked down and made into jelly and jams.  Rinds can be sugared or pickled.
Herbs can be grown in small areas or pots and dried for later use.
Peels or scraps can be placed in the garden for extra fertilizer or in the compost maker.  Waste nothing!

I love making flavorful powders out of all kinds of things most people would throw away.  Powders can be added to soups and stews or smoothies and breads - there is no limit to what you can do.

So they next time you walk outside and pick something - maybe you will giggle too.  Take a moment to realize what a wonderful gift it is.  I don't care if you have a container garden or 2 acres, or if you get a handful of things or bushels - it is ALL magical!!!!!!

Look upward and say "thank you" - because you are blessed beyond measure.  You too, live in a happy little world!

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Frugal Happenings 7/15

Good morning and a blessed Sunday to all.
Hard to believe we are already half way through this month.

We have continued to have a heat wave - although there were 2 mornings that windows got opened and the house got aired out.  The humidity just dropped away, and it was heavenly.
It still isn't too bad humidity wise.  We have chances of rain today and tomorrow - it is much needed.  The next week will be cooler with high in the 80's only!  YAY!!!!!!

The garden is really doing great.  I am getting a lot of yummy goodness from it now.  I bet in a few weeks, we will be up to our eyeballs in fresh veggies (here's hoping).

I have only seen the hummingbirds a few times since all the noise and craziness around here on the 4th of July.  Slowly they are coming back around to the feeders.  Poor babies!

My frugal week:
  • Cut thyme and basil and dried
  • G and I worked in the garage a bit on a cooler morning.  Got rid of lots of stuff!  Some "needs work" items went to the curb for FREE - got them out of our way.
  • Watered with rain water when at all possible
  • Line dried laundry
  • Picking lots of produce - broccoli, zucchini, yellow squash, both kinds of peppers, cukes, cherry toms, and out 1st regular tomato!!!  19 lbs. worth of veggies this week!!!!!! (Yep, I weigh everything)
Check out this mater!!!!!  1 lb. and 12 oz.  I picked it before it fully ripened, as I was terrified 'something' would take a big bite of it.  I'll let you how yummy it tastes later!

Broccoli the size of a large dinner plate - I have picked 4 heads like this or bigger this week!
  • Staked up the tomato plants 
  • Tore the stove apart and thoroughly cleaned
  • Washed all the windows inside (kitty kisses) and all the mirrors
  • G had  his friend do some welding for him on one of his roller seats to strengthen up the bottom.
  • I "fixed" my laptop this week.  The left hinge completely broke off.  Computer works fine just droopy on that side.  So me and the duct tape worked on it!!! It is holding fine for now, till I decide to let go of some change for a new one (maybe end of year sales)
  • Took 2 tall kitchen bags and one box of old paperwork (receipts, statements, bills, etc.) to the FREE shred it day about 5 minutes from here.  Been waiting a while for one of those days. Glad to have that stuff gone!
  • Made broccoli salad - yum!
  • Used the very last of the milk dated 7/1 before getting a new gallon.
  • Ran to Kroger - gallon milk - 1.39.  1.5 quart boxes of ice bream - .99 each (limit 5).  I can't make it that cheap.
  • Aired out the house 2 different mornings
  • Re-discovered my bib overalls this week!!!!!  They had been put away for ages.  They are so comfy for working in the yard.  No wonder Daddy wore them all the time!!  LOL

Meals this past week:
Zucchini lasagna
Veggie/sausage scramble, side salad & toast
Leftover scramble, steamed broccoli, sliced cukes
Loaded baked potatoes
Cold sandwiches and potato salad
'Mom's' zucchini/sausage skillet dinner
Antipasto sandwich melts and broccoli salad

Not a real exciting week, but a nice one.  Harvested lot's of veggies - worth a chunk of change at the store - and my frig is full!  Got some much needed de-cluttering done.  Did some needed cleaning and got some fresh air in the house!  I like these quiet kind of weeks.
Life is good.

How was your week?  Any produce from the gardens yet?  Great deals?
Inquiring minds want to know!  Share your good fortune with all of us. 
I just love hearing what everyone else is doing.

May you all have a safe and healthy week.  Praying the Lord blesses your gardens to provide you food and nourishment for your families.

Blessings from our humble home to yours.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Summer Squash Part 2

I was asked for my favorite zucchini recipe the other day.  That is hard.  I have a few that G and I both really love.

Here we go!

My Mom put this together years and years ago and it is still a family favorite.

1 lb. ground sausage
2 medium or one large zucchini -  seeded & sliced
1 small onion chopped
4 - 6 oz. shredded cheddar cheese
1 tomato - thinly sliced.

Brown your sausage, then add sliced zucchini and onion and cook till tender.  Turn off heat - and spread with cheese and top with thinly sliced tomatoes.  Put a lid over skillet and let it set for 10 minutes or so (till cheese melts and tomato softens).
We generally just have this for dinner, but you could stretch it  by serving over rice.

Brown and crumble 1 pound of bacon.  Remove all but a couple tablespoons of grease - follow other directions.  Both bacon or sausage or super good.

2 medium zucchini - cut in half lengthwise and seeds scooped out
6 Tbsp. shredded cheddar cheese
2 Tbsp. cream cheese - softened
2 Tbsp. sour cream
1 1/2 Tbsp. chopped jalapeno
4 Tbsp. Panko bread crumbs
Mix cream cheese, sour cream and jalapenos together.  Spread into the centers of the zucchini.  Sprinkle the top with bread crumbs and bake at 400* for 25 minutes.
THIS is the ORIGINAL recipe.
**I use a LOT more sour cream and cream cheese  (about 3X more)- as we really like the flavor and it gives you creamy yumminess with every bite.  I also add a nice dash of garlic powder to the cheese.
Here's another hint - I also microwave split zucchini for about 3 -4 minutes before filling and baking.  Otherwise they don't get soft enough for out taste.

Sorry I don't have a picture of this.  It is so good!!!!!!!!!!  We serve with a small salad.

ANOTHER FAVORITE thing to do - is slice zucchini  (or yellow) into steaks.  You can cut length wise or across, whichever you prefer (just thicker than normal).  Butter and  season and cook for a few minutes on each side on the grill.  So yummy!!!!

FAVORITE SALAD is - dice up a zucchini into bite size pieces, chop onion, and added diced tomatoes - then cover with Italian dressing and let it set over night before serving.   I make a big bowl of this so we can have it for several days as a side.  The dressing flavor is absorbed into the squash and this is such a refreshing salad.

Here's salad with some carrots and bell pepper added.  You can add whatever you want.  It just makes a great garden harvest salad.

There are plenty more favorites to come next week.  Maybe this will give a you a fun ideas for the weekend.
I hope you enjoy these recipes as much as we do.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Health & Happiness

Life can sure throw us some curve balls. 
I know many of our readers have recently experienced loss of loved ones, some have gone through divorce, some have had extreme physical illness, and others have had financial problems.

There are some things in life that we can control, but for those things that we can't - all we can do is breathe and put our trust and faith in a higher being.

Stress - no matter what it is over - can cause health issues.  We need to try and have faith that no matter how bad a situation is, we will get through - thus we have faith and less stress.  Somehow we have strength to go on.
Think about all the bad things you have been through in your life............YOU ARE STILL HERE!

Try to keep a positive attitude and look at the best in life - not the worst.

Try to eat as healthy as you can - your body is what you put in it.

Minimalize your stuff - you will have a more peaceful feeling.

Realize stuff happens to everyone - it just does.  You just have to go with the flow and make the best of it.

Use less chemicals and un-natural items in your home and yard.  That is the air you breathe.

Learn about natural remedies for ailments.  Herbs and vitamins can help a lot.

Get fresh air and sunshine EVERY day.  It amazing how that helps your physical and mental health.

Accept help from others when they offer.  It is hard for most of us to do that - but sometimes it is just necessary.

Don't bottle up your hurt, negative feelings, or anxieties - let out.  Talk with someone you trust. 
Crazy as it sounds - I have even been known to go to the basement or out in the car and just yell and carry on about what is bothering me (talking to myself).  I always feel better!

Try to laugh every day.

Enjoy the little things in life.  Listening to the birds, watching the squirrels, looking at the flowers, hearing a child laugh, seeing a smiling face, helping a stranger, etc.

Wishing you PEACE in life, no matter what you are currently facing.  Wishing you HEATH, both physically and mentally.
Hand your problems UP and you can get through this thing called life.


Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Summer Squash #1

Today I will list a couple tried and true recipes that are just fun.
These are a bit unconventional for a veggie - but they are sure good - especially when you have squash coming out your ears!

3 c peeled, grated zucchini (no seeds)
1/2 C lemon juice
1 - 3 oz. box of flavored gelatin  - recipe suggests strawberry
3 C sugar
Bring squash and lemon juice to a boil and boil for ten minutes.  Add the gelatin and sugar.  Boil for 6 more minutes.  Pour into sterilized jars.
Recipe calls for sealing with paraffin - or turning jars upside down for 15-20 minutes then inverting. (Make sure rings are tight if you do that)
I have done the inversion method and the jam stays good for ages.  Water bath is too much heating with gelatin.
**I have made this with raspberry and peach - both were yummy and requested.
**I have also added finely chopped jalapeno (2 or 3) to the mix for a spicy version.
It is definitely the consistency of jam!

4 quarts (16 C) of peeled, de-seeded and diced or grated zucchini
1 1/2 C bottled lemon juice
1 can (46 oz.)  unsweetened pineapple juice
3 C sugar
After getting squash into the preferred consistency (I cut in wedges or grate) - mix all ingredients together and simmer for 20 minutes.  Stir frequently.
Pour hot mixture into sterilized jars and leave 1/2" head space.  Process 30 minutes in a boiling water bath.
Use as substitute for crushed or chunk pineapple in recipes.  It is great in dump cake , pineapple upside down cake and sweet breads!  Makes a great pineapple pie as well.

So there you have a couple fun and different ways to use up that excess zucchini.  I have tried them both and they are yummy.

More squash recipes on Friday.  Stay tuned!

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Days of Summer

The heat is on... again!!!!  The humidity came back and the temps are rising.  Normally we have about 19 days of 90* plus during the summer.  We reached that mark today and we still have the rest of July and all of August to go.  Sigh!!!!!!!
OK, I'll stop whining!  I swore I wouldn't complain once winter was over. 

We are becoming inundated with zucchini and yellow squash already.  We usually get a big influx all at once - then they slow.  I always have to get creative with them.  Luckily we do love them and they are healthy and they take on the taste of about anything.

G calls me the Bubba/Forest Gump of zucchini - LOL!  Fried zucchini, baked zucchini, zucchini, bread, zucchini soup, zucchini relish, zucchini casserole..............................................
I do have a secret weapon!

My MIL found this at a yard sale years and years ago and got it for me.  500 Recipes Using Zucchini.
I wish I could tell you where to buy one - but it's last copyright was 1988 and it was compiled through a garden club in OH.
I have gotten so many great ideas from this book over the years.
IF YOU have any questions about zucchini - ask.  Maybe I can find a recipe you would like!!!!!

On to other things:

I looked out the window yesterday, and saw this 2 doors down.  The young couple that lives there have a little girl about a year old - and this is the first time I have seen laundry hanging outside.  I love it!  They attached a line to the garage and then to a spindly little tree - but it works.  It there is a will - there is a way!  I love seeing young people get into doing things that are the old ways and that save a little money! 
I have another neighbor in the other direction, that often hangs jeans, towels, and blankets over the fence to dry (single guy).  Love folks getting creative!

This is all one plant in my front flower bed.  Aren't they beautiful!  Did you know that the smell wonderfully too?  This is right outside my dining room window, and I have one kitty (Coogy), who loves to sit and look out at the gold finches munching on the seeds at the flower centers.  He gets so excited!

We are getting some rather large cherry tomatoes.  Still no ripe regular tomatoes, but hopefully it won't be long.  There are many hanging out there that are huge, and the plants are really starting to produce a lot more tomatoes.  I sure hope this is a good year - Momma needs to do some canning!
I even have tomatoes coming on the volunteer plants.  They were so tiny when I transplanted them, and then sort of shocked with moving them.  But they have tomatoes setting - can't wait to see what they produce!

If you inhale hard enough - just maybe you can smell the heavenly scent of my old fashioned phlox!  They smell so sweet.  We have bees every where, and I am so glad.  I think that because we have so many aromatic flowers around, it truly does help.  My garden loves the bees as well.

My bee water bowl!  Don't forget that bees need water too.  If they try to drink out of bird baths and such, they often drown.  They need something shallow with a platform they can stay on while getting water.  I take care of them and they take care of me - by pollinating my garden!

Aaahhhh the wonderful days of summer.  There are just so many things to see and grow and do.  I truly do enjoy these days.  Every season has it's moments - but summer gives yields like no other.
Even though it is hot, hot, hot in so many areas - I truly hope you are enjoying the blessings of summer!

ENJOY my friends!

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Frugal Happenings 7/8

It is that time of the week again!  Time sure flies when you're having fun!!!

We had muggy hot weather most of the week, but everything started changing Friday.  Winds were blowing in, and cooling it down.  Humidity levels dropped away!  I got to turn off the air all day yesterday and it's still off.  I love airing out the house.  Goodness knows the AC unit needed a break - it will be needed a lot in a few days again.

We have been enjoying having an abundance of blue jays around lately.  I have seen at least 4 at a time all week!  Usually we see one or two - they sure are majestic looking.  They are really enjoying peanuts!  They are taking lots of baths like the robins and red-wing black birds.  They are so entertaining to watch.

The garden is doing great.  I have been picking a lot of things and we are sure enjoying them.  I got out my zucchini cookbook last night.  It's getting to that time - trying to come up with fun uses!

My frugal week:
  • Line dried laundry
  • Got to utilize the cooler days to do a huge cleanup of the yard.  Pulled weeds, mowed, trimmed, picked.  It looks so pretty!
  • I ran to Meijer, as they had dry cat food on sale.  I got 3 - 16 lb. bags.  Will be good for a long while on that - also added 48 cans to stock.
  • I also found ground beef on sale for 1.79/lb. and got 10 more pounds for the freezer (take advantage when I can).  6 ears of fresh corn $1.
  • Then I impulse bought and splurged!!!!  YIKES!!   I saw a Bissell vacuum on sale - and decided to buy it.  I HATE the Hoover I got last year!!!!!!!!  It is so stinking heavy and it over heats a lot (never get everything done in one sweep).  The Bissell is probably a quarter the weight and works beautifully.  Then I really splurged and bought a second small one for basement and doing the steps and it separates into a hand held.  I spent less on both than the one last year.  Now, I am happy - I have tools that I like to work with.
                                                 My new toys!  No bags to buy ever again!!
  • A friend brought 2 pieces of red, white, and blue pie to us on the 4th.  Boy that was yummy
  • Brought up coffee and oil from basement storage for the pantry
  • Have 2 FREE movie channels this weekend - so recording movies for later
  • Made fruit salad
  • Also ran to Kroger for fruit.  I got bananas for .39/lb. again.  Apples in .99 bag.  Strawberries $1/lb. (got 2 lbs.) and 3 peaches.  Also managed to luck into finding 12 lbs. of boneless skinless chicken breast on markdown for .99/lb.  My freezer is happy!
  • Picked a total of 7 zucchini, 2 yellow squash, a few okra, and 6 cukes this week
My Independence Day harvest - picking lots of stuff this week.

                                                   Our first tomato!!!!!!! LOL.  We split it!
  • Eating lots of goodies from the garden
  • Been using rain water on the garden
  • I cooked baby back ribs for the 4th.  I cooked them in the crockpot for many hours before using the oven.  It kept the house much cooler.  (NOTE:  they were wonderful!)

Meals this past week:
Mexican beef over rice
Leftover Mex. beef & rice cooked with added zucchini and peppers (like goulash)
Steak burgers, corn and salad
BBQ ribs and macaroni salad
Jalapeno & cheese stuffed zucchini boats and salad
Skillet meatloaves and butter/parmesan sautéed zucchini/onion
Swiss cheese/mushroom chicken, fried potatoes and fried okra (from garden)

Eating fruit salad for evening snacks
All leftovers eaten for other meals or frozen for later

There you have it. Nothing real exciting.  Just plugging along and enjoying all the fresh garden goodies.  Enjoying cooler weather, and happily watching all of our nature.  The outdoor kitties have sure been enjoying the cooler weather!  I see them a lot more - they aren't hanging out under the deck in the shade!  Bless their hearts.

How was your week?  Did you get any good deals?  How are the gardens coming along?
Stop by and say hello.  I love hearing from everyone!

God bless and keep you all in safety and health in this coming week.
Blessings from our humble home to yours.                                                   

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Jump Starting Your Budget

Does anybody need to jump start their budget?  Have you slipped off the frugal highway?
We all do it at times.  Stuff happens, and we just start taking short cuts that cost us money.

There are so many ways to get back on track and stay on budget.  There are ways to live on one income or a limited income and live WELL!

DON'T WASTE anything!  Use leftovers and re-invent into new meals.  Feed chickens or other animals food scraps.  Compost.  Recycle.  Limit electricity use - lower/raise thermostats, line dry laundry, keep lights off, use a fan, etc.  Catch water and use for plants or toilets.  The list goes on and on.

GARDEN - which is basically free food.  Even if in an apartment you can grow something in a pot or window sill.  Whatever you grow, is something you don't have to buy.

USE LESS.  Eat less meat.  Use less utilities.  Eat smaller portions (more healthy).  Plan your running around and use less gas.

MAKE THINGS FROM SCRATCH - learn to make pizza, bread, tortillas, etc.  Make your own special coffee and teas and sports drinks.  Make your own cleaning supplies from natural things.  Make gifts.  Learn to can or freeze or dehydrate inexpensive foods for later.

STOP BAD HABITS - quit smoking, eating out, shopping for wants versus needs, going out for coffee, impulse buying, etc.

TAKE ADVANTAGE of point programs - for gas or free gift cards or gifts. 
EXAMPLE - buying GC's as Christmas gifts?  Buy them at Kroger/affiliates on the weekends and get 4X their value in points to use for gas.  Shop on days that you can get double points.  Take surveys to earn extra points.  If you have charge cards that give points - use them - and pay off monthly!  I use those points to get GC's to use at the grocery or for gifts.  LEARN TO USE THE SYSTEM!  They take advantage of you - so learn the tricks to help yourself. (Do nothing unethical)

SAVE the first 10% - 15% of every pay.  PAY YOURSELF first!!!!!

Watch for DEALS and MARKDOWNS - don't pay full price if at all possible.

Make your own ENTERTAINMENT - Learn to do things in your area that are free.

There are so many ways to stretch, enhance, or jump start your budget.  It takes a little time getting used to doing these things - but you will be richer in so many ways for it!
There are blogs, You Tube, library, etc., to watch and read to give you ideas. 
Places like here and other blogs - where we can all share ideas, have fun, and learn, and teach!

It seems that thrifty, frugal, backyard homesteading, home schooling, one income, and ENJOYING LIFE if becoming popular again!  It is a new movement again.  It used to be a way of life - then things became too easy.  I think people are finally realizing AGAIN, there is more to life than making money. 

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Super Savings in Days Gone By!

Yesterday while I was setting and doing some research on the computer - I happened upon some old Extreme Couponing shows on TV. (Yes, I multi-task!!)

I used to be really intrigued by these shows, but yesterday it kind of disgusted me.  Such greed, hoarding and gluttony!  So many of these people had no regard for the fact that others may come to shop for product too - they just wiped the shelves clean.
Rooms just brimming with products - that could not possibly be used before it became stale or flat (not to mention rodents or bugs in garages and sheds).

I remember watching a women once that had thousands of dollars worth of groceries she had paid next to zero for - but she was going to move from the mainland to Hawaii and MOVE IT ALL!  WHAT??????  It costs me a small fortune to mail a small package across the country - let alone moving hundreds or thousands of pounds of groceries either by plane or ship!!!!!  I also wondered if many items would even be allowed.  CRAZY!!

I used to be a great couponer myself.  I got super deals when stores doubled coupons.  I would match with sales and get lots of stuff for pennies or free.  Most of what I got was health and beauty, pet products, soups, and canned veggies and fruit.
Very seldom do we have coupons in this area for meat - and then it is hotdogs, sausage or bacon.
NO STORES here double any longer at all!
I rarely use a coupon now, except for certain pet food and maybe hair dye.  That's about it.  Most coupons we get are for highly processed items.

This is about the best deal in couponing we ever see any more -  and it happens once a year.

My personal best checkout was a local grocery who had a 2 day triple coupon event.  You could triple 5 like coupons with a face value up to .75.  There was no limit to how many coupons.  I cleaned up that weekend.  I got so much cat food and canned goods and soap, dish and laundry soup and shampoo.  I think my best checkout was something like $146 for a total of $8 and change OOP.
I was a good shopper and didn't wipe out shelves, and I did visit different stores.  I think I did 3 different orders over 2 days got several hundred dollars worth of goods for about $40 or less.
I was a happy shopper.
That was probably one of my last Hoorahs in couponing!!!!!

I  read on FB about people saying they still do this.  I just don't get it.  No stores double ANY coupons here.  I guess there must be places that still do.
I also don't consider mail in rebates or gas points as money off my groceries.  I have to spend the money - mail in a rebate - then get money back at a later date.  It will save me in the future - but it saved NOTHING today.  Gas is gas - not groceries.
Instant rebates happen once in a while and those are nice.  I get them most often at Sam's.  That is a discount at the time of purchase.

Today, my logic is different than it was several years ago.  I look for clearance, mark-downs, and sales that I use a coupon with.  No trying to extreme coupon here - it just can't happen.

I guess we can all reminisce about those great couponing days of old.

Do you have any stores that double coupons still?  Do you use many coupons?

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Frugal Happenings 7/1

Good morning and happy July to everyone.  We are officially half way done with this year.  WOW.
It sure is hot!  The weather wasn't bad at all through Wednesday - then the heat wave hit.
We had rain a couple times and lots and lots of heat.
According to the weather man the temps will be in the 90's at least for the next week if not longer.  We are getting close to setting records on the number of 90* days already.

Working at keeping fresh hummingbird nectar out, and keeping lots of fresh water out for kitties, squirrels and birdies.  They sure are loving the birdbath!

It is working out nicely having our friend live next door.  He hasn't been in a home for many years (always apartments), so there are many items he needs for working on things.  We are right next door and he can borrow what he needs - in turn he has done a few projects for us to help us out.  Love barter!

My frugal week:
  • Got lots of yard work done while cooler at the beginning of week
  • Line dried laundry
  • Spilled a big glass of sweet  sticky drink first thing Monday morning in the living room.  OH MY!  Needless to say - Monday became the day to clean.  Started cleaning the mess - which led into an unintended deep clean!
  • Picked our first crops other than lettuce and rhubarb.  First pick was zucchini, peppers and okra.  I picked several more zucchini during the week!!!!
                                                                    My first harvest
  • Saw a big groundhog 2 days earlier in week.  Set live trap and he hasn't been seen since.  I think that critter has had a education on the finer points of being captured!!!!!!!  My thoughts are he has been caught before.
  • Gutters got a good cleaning during a bad storm this week!  They are all cleared out.
  • Cleaned all the woods floors.
  • Rehydrated mushrooms and onions for recipes this week
  • Refilled all the spice jars and glass storage jars with inventory from downstairs
  • Fixed the toilet.  It kept running a lot.  we had a new inner flapper, which I put in - but it still ran.  It just didn't fit like the old one.  I looked at the old one and it had a lot of buil up hardened water calcification on it.  I cleaned well and put it back in - FIXED!
  • Did all running on one day.  Local hardware for G, library to donate some books, gas station, Dollar Tree to replenish snacks, and ran by Kroger and Aldi.
  • Gas received .30/gal. discount with May points that needed used.  Most of the points came from weekend doubling and free points with surveys. Only needed a half tank.
  • Bought ice cream at  Aldi - had big tubs (1 gal +1 qt.) for 3.99
  • Bought more .39/lb.. bananas at Kroger and a head of cabbage.  There were NO sales worth stocking up on in my opinion.  Figured with the holiday coming up - there would be.
  • Made banana pudding
  • Used rain water on plants when needed
  • Broke my frame on glasses.  Found an old pair so as to see - fixing them.  I can see better at a distance with the old one!!!!  CRAZY.  I glued up the broke ones - so I am good for a while.

Meals this past week:
Crab/pasta/veg salad
Leftover salad and fried shrimp
Baked pizza casserole with a rice crust
Fried zucchini, green tomatoes (canned) and onions  -  YUM! - My summer bliss!
Fried chicken and slaw
Smoked cheesy sausages on buns with chips
Mini burgers and zucchini salad

All leftovers were used for lunches.  Had banana pudding and ice cream for snacks.


I plan on staying in as much as possible this week, as it will be a scorcher.  We are supposed to get rain maybe tonight, so hopefully I won't have to water for a day or so after that.
I guess I will get more de-cluttering done and more cleaning.  There is always a need for both!

How was your week?  Any good deals?  How are the gardens growing?

Take care my friends.  Stay cool, safe, and healthy.  May the Lord bless you and keep you in His loving arms.
Blessings from our humble home to yours.