Thursday, January 31, 2019

Oh Baby.....It's Cold Out

Well those of you in the mid section of the U.S. know it is COLD outside.  Yesterday we woke to -11* and it made it's way to a high of 2*.
This morning it was -6* and it's going to "warm" up to the upper teens!!!!!  Snow coming tonight, then warming up to the upper 50's this weekend.
"Mother nature" is going through menopause I do believe.  This has been a crazy weather month for sure.  But IT IS winter!

I take good care of our pets, as I am sure you do as well.  People either bring them in, or have a nice warm place for them (garages, greenhouse, etc.).  My kitties have a nice warm heating mat under their beds in the greenhouse and they have a heater in there.  They also have a heated water bowl and they get plenty of food.

Remember whether it's pets or nature - it takes a lot more calories for them to stay warm.  They need lots of extra calories.
I have a heated birdbath and 3 heated bowls around the area.  Think about it - how much LIQUID water do you think nature can find in these frigid temps?  Not much.
I have seen more birds drinking at the birdbath in the past couple days than I have in months.  The water is above freezing, therefore probably warms their innards and  help them stay hydrated.
I have been watching sparrows, finches, cardinals, blue jays, starlings, doves, and even pigeons at the watering hole.  I even saw the woodpeckers there yesterday.

 This is from the recipe I listed on Tuesday - I made little balls for the squirrels.  They love them!!  It is so cute to watch them sit and hold them in their little paws and munch away!
 A single recipe makes 4 bird cakes as well - used plastic 'pans' I had kept.  They are a hit.  With the corn syrup and added nuts and oats (what I added) they get a lot of energy calories.
**When forming or pressing into pans - keep your hands wet - or the mixture sticks to them!!!

 This is through the window screen - sorry it's not as clear.  Squirrel getting a drink.  See the thermometer - it's ZERO - this was at 9:30 AM
                       Birdies getting a drink - They just keep taking turns.  It is so sweet.

I leave peanuts in the shell (I get at the feed store very cheaply) for the squirrels and the blue jays.  If I have stale bread this time of the year - it gets thrown out there.  Stale flake cereal, cookies (no chocolate), apple cores or peels, whatever you an give them - will get eaten.
Of course I put out finch seed and regular birdseed and sunflower seeds as well.
(Yeah, my yearly budget includes a lot of critter feed). LOL

Please don't forget about nature!  Do what you can.  I have a 'rock' that plugs in and can be used in a regular bird bath - keeps it thawed.  They are inexpensive.  I think the heated birdbath was about $19 and has lasted for years.

I have read a couple of stories of people saving birds that appeared to be froze - they took them into garage and warmed them - fed them - and gave them water.  They survived.  Water is essential to all life!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
It is exceedingly hot in some places now and animals and birds aren't getting water for a completely different reason.  I suggest that if you live in those areas - leave water as well!

I just hate it that nature doesn't have many options.  People do - they can go places and know where to get food and drink.  Nature doesn't always have such options.
We need to be kind to all of God's creatures.

We take care of each other.  We tend our plants, so they will survive.  We need to take care of wildlife as well.  They give us such enjoyment.

                                                   Thank you for your assistance!!!

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Recipes for This & That

Today I want to pass on a few recipes for some odd ball things.  I like making as much as possible myself, but it also nice to know HOW to make things just in case!
You never know when you might run out of something, and can't get out.  You never know when funds might be short.  You never know when everything might go amuck!

Here is a small variety of simple things you can do at home.

1 pack unsweetened Kool-Aid
1/2 C sugar or sweetener
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 C orange juice
2 quarts water
Mix and chill.  You can try whatever flavor of Kool-aid you like and you can use lemon or lime juice in place of OJ.  I really like this and it truly does help.  Easy to make and I always have the ingredients on hand.

This dressing is what I use on my bean salad, broccoli salad, cauliflower/pea salad, and regular side salad.  It is so good and can be used as a salad dressing or as a marinade for any kind of veggies thrown together.  Great sweet/tart taste!

1 C sugar
1 C vinegar
1/2 C veg. oil (or what you have)
1/2 tsp. salt
Combine and shake well if stored in a bottle.  If pouring over a fresh bowl of salad to marinate - let it set for a couple hours in frig. before serving.

We love this stuff.  It is hard to find around our area.  The last time I found it I bought many at the Christmas Tree Shoppes.  Then I learned how to make it!  It is so good on a salad (I often use just that on salad) or on veggies of any sort.

3 Tbsp. onion flakes
2 Tbsp. garlic flakes
1 tsp. oregano
1 Tbsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. basil
1 Tbsp. onion powder
1 tsp. marjoram
Mix together and store.  I often double and triple the recipe, as we use it a lot.

(kind of like suet cakes)
3/4 C flour
1/2 C water
1 envelope of unflavored gelatin
3 Tbsp. corn syrup  (light or dark)
4 C bird seed (or combo of bird seed, sunflower seeds, nuts, dried fruit, oats, - whatever you have)

Mix this all together and press into a pan - let it dry overnight.  Cut to fit your feeder.
You can also keep suet packs and form into those for perfect size.
I also make this and form little balls  (about walnut size) - dry and leave on railing for the squirrels (the love them)
Both birds and squirrels love this - great variety for them.  Nature needs extra calories during these cold days, just like we do.
There are 4 envelopes per box - so you can make more than one recipe with this.

**Also gelatin is good for humans as well.  Add to smoothies and fruit drinks.  My brother does this ever day and it has helped his arthritic joints in his hands and feet.
I keep this on hand at all times.  So many uses.

See - all easy peasy!  Most of us have at least 90%+ of these ingredients in our pantries. 
It is always nice to have alternatives to things we use a lot.


Sunday, January 27, 2019

Frugal Happenings 1/27

Good morning.  Here we are in the last weekend of the month.  Time flies!
We have had a roller coaster of weather this past week.  We went from frigid and snow on the ground, to fairly warm for this time of the year and downpours (we had a backyard lake), back to cold.  Woke to about an 1" of snow this morning and the temp has dropped about 5degrees since I got up.
We are going to have a couple warmer days - then we take the plunge into the polar subzero for a couple days.

It's winter, it is to be expected - guess that doesn't mean we have like it!  LOL
Never happy are we?  We are cold, cold, cold.  Southern hemisphere is hot, hot, hot.  It sure would be nice if we all got a compromise!!!!

Despite the weather we have been enjoying watching nature.  We regularly have between 10 and 12 squirrels playing and eating in the yard.  Every morning at dawn and every evening at dusk we have at least a dozen cardinals visiting,  There are 3 varieties of woodpeckers that visit as well, along with all the other pretty babies.
The outdoor kitties have their heated house and bed and spend a lot of time in there!  Smart.  They do love to come out a roll in the sunshine.

Another quiet week here.
My frugal week:
  • Kept the brine from the bean salad to use over salad
  • Been replenishing daily pantry items from basement stock
  • I had to go pick up a script for G - so I ran to the grocery.  I did spend around $20 on fresh veggies, fruit, milk and ice cream.
  • Had our 33rd anniversary this week - so we celebrated with take-out from Outback!  YUM!!  It provided us with 2 nights each of a full meal - used gift cards and it was all FREE!
                                                          Bloomin' onion!   YUMMO
  • Received 12 more individual pop bottles from the neighbor, so I cleaned and put back 12 more bottles of water
  • Made squirrel/bird treats (small suet balls of sorts) as treats for our wild babies (had everything here)
  • Saved the really nice heavy containers from take out to use for sending homemade goodies with others.
  •  I made a refrigerator type cheesecake.  Used a cheese ball mix that we received in our goody basket at Christmas.  2 packs  per box - so I can make a second at some time.  I also topped it with 1/2 jar of raspberry pie filling (had no blackberry) - froze balance of fruit topping.  It made a very tasty fruit flavored light cheesecake.
  • G ordered our kitties flea meds from Amazon this week.  W have 4 cats that need them from time to time and the Vet charges $18 each for a doze of Advantage II - we ordered them for $9 and change - each.  From the Vet 4 doses would cost $72 - we got 12 for $128 (included tax) and no shipping.  Now we have it when we need it.
  • We have been using the pantry and freezer, making our own drinks, laundry in cold, and doing all the normal things.
  • It seems I can't get warm!  I wear jeans, knee socks, and 2 tops every day - but once cold it is hard to warm up.  Not to turn up heat - my slippers help a ton and I throw and fleece throw around my shoulders while sitting around (my back between my shoulder blades gets so cold).  I seem to be able to get warmer by doing these things without costing a dime!
Meals this past week:
Grilled chicken/Swiss cheese on rye sandwiches and salad  (bread from freezer & leftover chicken)
Tuna patties, salsa mac n cheese, salad
Pork chops, leftover mac/cheese, and asparagus
Cheesy brats on buns and potato salad
Chicken and dumplings, homemade dressing and green beans

Finished up cinnamon rolls from last week and had cheesecake and also apples for desserts
Leftovers for lunch or breakfast

There you go - nothing exciting.  We just keep plugging away day by day waiting for spring!
I currently have everything out and selected to make a pot of hamburger soup today - that will last us a couple days for dinner, as well as lunches.

How did everyone do on their no/low spend January?  We ended up spending about $50 for the entire month (not counting flea meds).  That was the orchard and 1 grocery visit.  I am petty proud of that.  I think I will continue on using as much as possible from home in Feb.  I really see little difference in my stock.

I pray for your health and safety in this coming week.  Those in cold areas - please take care and stay warm and cozy.  Those in hot areas, I hope you can find relief.
I pray we can all find ways to continue to simplify our lives, instead of wanting more and that the Lord will help us be content with what we have.

Blessings from our humble homes to yours.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

When The Going Gets Tough

You all know the saying!  When the going gets tough the tough get going.  That means you do the best you can with what you have, and figure out new ways that work.  You don't give up - you get stronger and more inventive.

I am not a huge fan of A BUDGET per se'.  My idea of budget is:
You make X amount of dollars - therefore you spend less than that!  You don't spend more than you make EVER!

We always had a rule from day one of marriage - that our normal bills should never be more than one person's salary.  We pretty much made that work.  Now did we spend more than one salary?  Sure - but not on basic bills.
I had times when I got laid off from work over the years and we got by on G's wages only.  We have always been savers and had an emergency fund set aside - THIS IS HUGELY IMPORTANT for everyone!   You need to have a good 3 - 6 months saved back.

When G had to retire due to disability, it took almost a year to get retirement and disability for him.  We lived on what I made.  If we had to - we dipped into savings.  Basically, we lived no different on one paycheck than we did on two.

There are unexpected savings when you don't go to work everyday.  Vehicle maintenance and gas go down.  Laundry and clothing habits change.  You can get car insurance rates changed.  There is no lunches, snacks, or drinks being purchased.  There seems to be home cooked meals.  It seems money stays in your wallet longer!!!!!

We all have to be responsible for ourselves - we can not depend on others for our basic needs. 
Have an emergency fund
Stock a good pantry
Plan ahead - don't live beyond your means
Pay off things as quickly as possible - keep bills to a minimum
Get creative

There are so many things that will help - when you are in a dire financial pinch.
  • DON'T EVER eat out - no coffee, no bottled water or pop, no lunches, no snacks - take your own - nothing
  • DON'T use credit cards - unless you can pay off 100% each month
  • CUT SERVICES - cable, gym memberships, sports, internet, etc.  They are NOT always necessary for quality life
  • CUT BACK on utilities - turn off lights, unplug, less heat, etc.
  • Get MORE CREATIVE - look at using what you have, check out the library for options,  get inventive with recipes (you may come up with a favorite), barter with family, friends, and neighbors
  • STAY HOME - no movies, flea markets, sports events, thrift stores - nope!!!  If you need to get out go to FREE events in the community, play games at homes, entertain your own family!
  • NO SPENDING - no pay events, no clothes, no shoes, no gadgets, no snacks (make your own)
  • SELL STUFF - we all have so much stuff that we do not need.  It could be clothes, toys, gadgets, tools,  books, etc.  You can make grocery money or a utility bill money this way.
  • Use a FOOD PANTRY if necessary.  That is what they are for - to help those that truly need it.  Don't use unless you really need it - don't take from those that truly have a need.  This is a huge pet peeve of mine.  Use what is available if YOU NEED IT, but not to just get free things.  I see people doing that everyday - Grrrr.
  • IF NECESSARY get a part time job - to make a little extra for a while.  Sell your services - mow lawns, sew for others, babysit, yard work, cook meals, work from home services, etc.

If you live within your means, and save a little at a time, and keep a pantry - you should be good.
ALWAYS plan ahead. 
Misfortune can happen to any of us at any time.  No job is 100% secure - layoffs can happen and do happen - every day.  Life can deal us any number of stumbling blocks along the way.
YOU are the only person you can count on 100% of the time.
Be wise.  Live within your means = never spend more than you make,  Stock your pantries, Save for emergencies.  Get creative.


Tuesday, January 22, 2019

The Power of Powders

I like to be prepared for anything.  I know there may come a point in time that I cannot  make it to the stores, or that the stores may be empty.
Yes, we could eat, at least what I could grow.  Things may get a bit bland and I want to be prepared.  If I had only the simplest things to eat - I want them to at least have a little flavor!  That can make a huge difference.
Powders can last for years if kept dry and cool.  There are so many things that can be purchased or made into powders that will last far longer than canned or frozen.

We all think of the basics such as milk, eggs, cocoa,  flour, sugar - but there is so much more
       Eggs, protein, gravy (mixes with water), cheese, cocoa, buttermilk (store purchased and bulk)
Here are some of my must have powders:

Milk, buttermilk
Yeast ( I keep a lot in the freezer)
Seasonings - vanilla, fruit, spices, cream of tartar
Peanut butter
Protein powder - could really help a lot!
Meat flavorings
Flavored gelatin
Corn starch
Baking powder and baking soda
Gravy mixes
Flavored drink mixes (mix with water)
Flaked or powdered potatoes
Corn meal
Flour, sugar
Honey, molasses
MISC. - citric acid, powdered aspirin, powdered bleach

                Onion, garlic, nutritional yeast, horseradish, butter, peanut butter and Kool-Aid flavors
     Tomato powder, cabbage powder, tomato/herb mix, lemon peel powder and vanilla powder

There are many items that you can purchase that have been powdered.  I like the site of Spices Etc., they offer all kinds of things, from peppers to vinegar.  I have also purchased many items at Amish stores and at health food stores.
I do not yet have honey, molasses or vinegar powders - but they are on my TO BUY list in the first quarter of this year.

I make many powders.  You can dehydrate just about anything (has to be really dry), then powder it.  Fruits and veggie powders can be added to smoothies, soups, or casseroles for flavor and for extra vitamins.
I dehydrate the outer leaves of cabbage and then powder.  I dehydrate the big tough okra and powder for natural soup thickener.  Onion, garlic, potatoes, tomatoes (skins), broccoli, fruit peels, citrus zest,  etc. can been done - there really is no limit.  I figure anything that gets powdered isn't being wasted - and may help us at some point in the future.
It is also a great way to get veggies into those who don't want to eat them!

In the past I have ground dried beans (not cooked) with the coffee grinder.  Keep them on hand for any easy 'refried' type bean.  Easy to make with water and high in protein.

Everyone needs to step out of their comfort zone and try getting some powders.  They may help season up things in the future, give you needed calories to function,  and they may even help keep you healthy. 
I know a lot of people talk the SHTF days - but it is inevitable that it will happen at some point.  Maybe not in our lifetime, but maybe in the younger generations. 
I know the Lord is watching over me, but He also expects me to do what I can to stay safe and healthy.

We all need to teach others.  Teach the young ones what can be done.  If we all do some of these things - we won't starve!
I know I can make drinks or smoothies that contain vitamins and minerals, I could eat biscuits and gravy, make some simple things taste a little better, bake a little, and eat whatever I could grow.
Our lives may depend on it someday.
*(could also use to barter)

What do you keep in powdered form?  Are you prepared?
Hopefully I gave you a few useful ideas today.

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Frugal Happenings 1/20

Good morning.  Oh what a frosty morn it is in our area!

We are at 9*F this morning.  Yesterday was a nasty, nasty day.  We had rain, then ice, then 40-50 mph winds and white out snow.  Not a lot of accumulation here, but you literally couldn't see the houses across the alley last night for a couple hours.  Our high today will be 15*, and frigid cold for a couple days.
We actually had warm enough temps this week to melt last weekends snow!  Mid to upper 30's can do a lot - plus one day was all day rain.

The sun is shining this morning which is glorious - I have missed my old friend!!!
I pray you are all safe and warm - I know the weather is bad across a big part of the nation.  Those of you in the southern hemisphere stay cool!

I just cant help but think about the homeless population during this nasty weather.  It breaks my heart.
We are each so blessed compared to so many.  Make sure to say thanks today!

It has been a very quiet week.  Not a lot going on at all.
My frugal week:
  • Made a dozen hard boiled eggs
  • First part of the week - more free exercise with shoveling
  • Made a big bowl of bean/pea salad with ingredients I had on hand.  Wanted something different
  • Made cinnamon rolls
  • Used some stale buns for garlic toast
  • G's Aunt & Uncle came for a visit and they brought 2 bags of jerky for us (YUM)
  • I got my gifted copy of  Martha Stewarts Living magazine and it had a 20% off coupon in it for Bed bath & Beyond (good till March)
  • NO grocery shopping again this week.
  • Fried chicken and made extra which will be used in a meal tonight (in a new way)
  • Just doing all the regular things - made up a new bottle of shampoo and one of dish soap, have used Soda Stream with added fruit juice, made iced tea, cooking from scratch, staying home, etc.
Our house is small and there are just the 2 of us - so it never gets messy.  I keep up with dusting and vacuuming (because of cats) - but there isn't a lot to keeping it straightened.  I do need to go in the basement and de-clutter more, just not in the mood!  De-cluttering is a never ending job it seems!

Meals this past week:
Chicken tenders, corn casserole and salad
Pizza pasta casserole
Baked fish, oven fries and slaw
Ham/cream cheese/veggie roll-ups
Small pot of cheesy potato soup and garlic toast
Taco salad
Fried chicken breast and bean salad

Leftovers eaten for lunches or breakfast

How have you all been fairing this past week?  Are you staying on track with your spending or not spending?  Any good deals?

Prayers for health, happiness for you all in this coming week..  Life can change in an instant and I pray you each hug and love as often as possible.  Have no regrets!
Blessings from our humble home to yours.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Brand - Store Loyalty

Are you loyal to an particular store?
How about different brands?

I am loyal to the store that gives me the best deal on what I am in need of at a specific time!  Really!!
I shop at many stores.  Kroger, Aldi, Meijer, Wal-Mart, SavAlot, Ollies, Dollar Tree, Big Lots, you name it.  I go where the deals are.
I know 'my' BEST prices, and go to the place that can match that price or beat it.

I used to coupon a lot - back in the day.  Today, it is not profitable for me to do much of that.  The coupons we get are not things that I would buy, nor do ANY stores in our area double coupons any more. 
Stores no longer match prices here either.  The only time that happens in our area, is at Christmas time on 'things' not food.

SavAlot deals this week

Aldi specials this week

I don't purchase a lot of the things shown above  - but boy there are some deals.  If one was on a limited or super tight food budget - these would be some great deals.  Not always the healthiest - but you know if you are hungry and have little/no money - it would fill you up!
You do what you have to do at various times in your life.
I think we have all been through times that full bellies was what was most important.

Brand loyalty.  Are you loyal to certain brands?
Me not so much.  I have found that most items are processed in the same plants and just different labels are added. You really need to read you products, and you will see. 

My main loyalties are pet food - as certain brands make my cats sick and other brands they won't even think of eating (that says a lot to me).
I am pretty loyal about my lotion that helps my complexion.
Other than that - I am pretty much open.  We have tried lots of different brands, and don't often find things that we don't like. 
In my opinion - much of the taste comes from cooking/seasoning techniques - not brand.

I am not crazy about 'just eating' store brand cream of soups (rarely would eat any way), but they work fine in casseroles.  I like to make my own 'cream of' mixes - but always keep canned on hand.
Veggies seem similar and I have no problems with them - it's all about how you fix them.

As you can see I have brand name, Kroger brand, Walmart brand, Meijer and Adli brands of products.  They all work for me, and I purchase what is cheaper to supplement my home canned goods.

I have found that Walmart brand of vegetable BEEF (not just plain veggie) soup is wonderful!  I use it in many dishes.  COST is .50 a can - Campbell's is 1.49 can in our area.  What a savings and they taste exactly the same!
We love asparagus.  It isn't very affordable in fresh form (once a year only).  Canned is extremely expensive - like over $3/$4 a can.  Many times I have gotten it, and have gotten so many stems and tough pieces, that most wasn't even edible.  This brand comes from Dollar Tree and is $1.  It is whole young and tender stalks.  A can makes a nice side for the 2 of us.

I like to keep a few cans of ravioli around.  Quick lunch or great to have for helping out someone or donations.  Dollar Tree it is $1 every day (name brand) - or .89 can at WalMart (name brand).  It is generally 1.29 can and up at regular stores, unless they are having a 10/ $10 special.  You just have to pay attention.

I buy store brand peanut butter as well - usually Kroger or Aldi.  I always get it for $1 or less a jar.

So many products seem the same to us.  Maybe we do not have the refined pallet of others!  LOL 
I have tried all the special brands people talk about - tea bags, coffee (not big drinkers), peanut butter, catsup, veggies, even shampoo, dish soap, etc. and NO we don't see a big enough difference to spend 3X the dollars for products.
I water down or use less that called for of most things that aren't food - so I alter it anyway.
Toilet paper - not necessarily brand loyal - just NOT single ply, yet soft and durable.

We are just simple folks with simple tastes.
I can jazz up anything with spices and cooking technique.  IF we did try something that we thought was nasty - then no I wouldn't purchase again.  So far though, that has happened rarely in 33 years.

What say you?  I know there are going to be some brand loyal folks here - not sure about store loyalty.
Are you willing to try different things?
I am curious to hear your thoughts and experiences.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Feels Like Puberty in my 60's!!!

Many of us have made it through menopause and survived (not necessarily unscathed)!
Women's bodies sure do go through a lot of changes, when we hit certain ages.  It is NOT FUN!
All kinds of things change.

In my  experience - I NOW have a few more random aches and pains for what appears to be NO reason.  Today I may be fine and tomorrow my hand may hurt - no rhyme or reason!  My hair grays faster (that may be age) - but it also grows much faster!  It also grows in places I don't want it!!!  Then again it has stopped growing at all in other places.  My skin seems to be thinner, but I try to keep it nourished.
So many changes.

In the past year or year and a half my face has started getting blemishes - just like my teen years!  I never had what I would call acne - but I did get blemishes from time to time.
I have tried everything.  I have used aloe soap, black coal tar soap, Neutrogena soap - Aloe Vera gel, Witch Hazel - getting sun - not getting sun - you name it.  I even changed make-up brands and types - not that I wear it much.  I cut things out of my diet.
I finally found what completely takes care of the problem (totally by accident).  I have to use it daily, but it does keep my face clear!

I have had an oily complexion for years and years - suddenly most of my face is dry! WHAT??   I do believe I can thank menopause for that as well.
This stuff works like magic.  It only takes a little bit - but it sure does help.  I would never have thought that lotion would be a cure for blemishes.

So yes, here I am in my mid 60's and I feel like I am going through puberty again!!!!  It has been crazy.  Our body chemistry changes over the years and I guess maybe the PH of our skin changes as well. 
I am lucky, that a very simple thing is a fix for me.

I just wanted to share in case someone is having this problem or any other skin condition due to menopause or post menopause.
Don't give up.  Sometimes we happen upon a simple fix - and can thankfully avoid tests or doctors (and hormones in my case).

Do you have any remedies for menopause problems?
I am sure we would all appreciate any hints we can get!

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Frugal Happenings 1/13

Good morning!  Well it is finally winter in our neighborhood!!!  Out first significant snow of the winter hit yesterday.  We hit about 7".
Funny what a difference a few days make.  Monday we were at almost 60* - Tuesday we had 40 mph winds and rain and by Wednesday winter temps were back, 

It has been another very quiet week here.  It seems that there isn't a lot of news or activity in mid winter at my house!  I have many things I need to accomplish - the gray of winter just seems to always win.

My frugal week:
  • After all the wind (right at trash collection day) - I walked the alley and did another big clean-up of other peoples trash - UGH!
  • Did some yard work and picked up what seemed to be a gazillion sticks and limbs
  • I received a bunch of "me" specific coupons from Meijer.  I do NOT have an M-perk card - so they obviously track my buying by my credit card use - that is really creepy. (I use credit card to get points and pay-off each month)
  • I did spend some money!  I ran to the orchard as they are closing in a couple weeks, and they have B1G1 of any size container of apples.  I got 20lbs. of apples for the price of 10 lbs.  They will last us for a couple months.  $14.75 spent.  (Pink Lady and Granny Smith)
  • While out, I ran to gas station and filled tank.  I haven't purchased gas since the end of Nov.  I got a .20/gal. discount - $1.95/gal.
  • I used what older apples were in the crisper and made a gallette (simple apple pie)
  • Filled all the squirrel/bird bins and feeders before the snow hit
  • Made tea and cooled outside, laundry in cold, cooking from scratch and using what we have, used all leftovers
  • Got lots of FREE exercise this week.  Hauling feed bags to bins, walking alley and picking up trash and sticks, shoveling and shoveling snow!  I went out several times yesterday to shovel - it was a very wet snow (would have clogged up blower).

Meals this past week:
Mexican chicken over rice
Mex. chicken/pasta/cheese bake
Deconstructed egg rolls and fried rice
Poor mans Swiss steak and mashed potatoes
"Homemade or knock-off" KFC chicken bowls - YUM
Sloppy fries (leftover/frozen sloppy Joe over fries topped with shredded cheese)
Smoked sausage, corn casserole and salad

I will be going back outside in a few minutes to shovel yet again.  Probably another inch or two since it was cleared yesterday.
Momma and Fluffy sure don't like the snow!  They walk out of greenhouse and look around as if saying "what the....."  They shake paws as they walk.  Human Mommy has made many paths to areas for them to go potty - I mean who wants to "sit" in a snow pile!  LOL

I really need to get my bum in gear and really accomplish some things.  The dismal skies just do me in!  I do believe I am definitely affected by S.A.D.
What have you been doing to stay frugal this week?  How are you doing on spending?  De-cluttering or crafts?

I pray you are all safe and warm.  I thank you all for visiting and that we can all be friends and confidants.  May you be blessed in many ways in this coming week.

Blessings from our humble home to yours.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Substitutes CAN BE.... Frugal, Fun & Flavorful

We have all had those moments when working on a recipe or dinner and BOOM we realize that we are out of something that seems to be a key ingredient.  WHAT DO YOU DO?
Do you stop and make an extra run out to the store?
Do you scrap the whole thing?
Do you figure out a functional substitute?

I like figuring out a substitute.  I think some of my best meals/bakes have come from experimenting with a new ingredient!
Nothing is etched in stone.  Don't be afraid of trying new and different things.

  • I like to add fruit juice or Kool-Aid mix  to homemade tea to jazz up the flavor.  Fancy flavored teas cost a small fortune - and it is so easy to make your own.  You can make them as strong or light in flavor as you wish
  • Use fruit juice, leftover juice from canned fruits, stale pop, etc. as part of the liquid in Jell-O.  Gives you a new and lovely taste.
  • Remember that you can grind your oats to make oat flour if necessary for a recipe.  No need to go out and spend a lot on a bag of oat flour you may not use.
  • Add leftover (smashed) baked beans to meatloaf or meatballs.  They are yummy and they are so moist.  Also think about topping a burger with some cheese and baked beans.  Smashed baked beans can be added to chocolate cake recipes (as part of oil/liquid) for a super rich cake.  Back in the day - schools used to do this all the rime with leftovers - best cake ever!
  • DID YOU KNOW - 1/2 cup of real fruit juice is equivalent to a serving of fruit?  Yep!
  • Save leftover chips, crackers, stale bread - to grind up and use as coating when frying.  We love using cheese crackers for a bit of favor.  TRY grinding up pork rinds to coat  items for baking - they are gluten free!  Triscuit crackers are good as well and come in many flavors!
                                                          click on picture to enlarge

I actually choose to substitute an egg in baking with either a banana, applesauce, or peanut butter - depending on what I am baking.  I love the idea of using soy protein - I always have protein powder in the pantry (for SHTF stash).  I keep ground flax in the freezer all the time as well - great in muffins (good for you as well).
  • Need to thicken a pot of soup or stew?  Yes, you can use corn starch or flour - but think outside the box and add extra flavor.  A small package or equivalent  of country gravy mix is great in any creamy type soup - adds a ton of flavor.  Instant potatoes can be used to thicken and it adds hidden veggies!  A packet or equivalent of any gravy mix will add flavor and thicken up nicely (I always add to stew).  A recently new one for me is to MIX 1/3 cup Masa (corn flour - used in corn tortillas) with 1 1/3 cup milk.  Whisk until absorbed and use in creamy Mexican soup dishes or corn chowder.  This adds the best corn flavor!!!
  • Leftover rice mixed with egg and parmesan cheese packed into a pie pan makes a great crust for a quiche or a hearty/savory - meat/veggie dish - no need for a basic pie crust.
  • Leftover rice can also be added to meatloaf or meatballs - stretches meat a little further
  • Keep the crumbs from the bottom of cereal boxes and cookie containers to use as toppings on ice cream or pudding - no need for sprinkles!
  • No creamer for your coffee?  Use milk, real cream, ice cream, cool whip, whipped cream, or hot chocolate mix for a change
Over the holidays I was mixing up my 'harvest potato' casserole and came to realize I had no corn flakes (used in the topping).  I did have fruit & flake cereal - so I literally went through the amount I needed and picked out the dried fruit (returned to box) and it worked fine.  No panic - just improvised with what I had.  Truthfully any non-sweet cereal would have probably worked.

Get creative. Like I said earlier - nothing is etched in stone.  Substitute  and save money and MAYBE find a new taste sensation that your family loves!

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

One Pot Meals & Math

I absolutely LOVE one pot meals.  That is our mainstay  most of the time.  Whether it be, skillet meals, stir fry, casseroles or soups - most meals contain everything in one pot.  We may have fresh veggies or salad as a side - but we love our 'messes' as G calls them!

So what does math have to do with one pot meals?  It is easy - you just follow simple addition and you have a great meal!

Meat + Veggie + Starch + Sauce + Add-ins = DINNER


MEAT - think about ground beef, chopped chicken, ham cubed, smoked sausage, ground sausage, canned tuna, pork pieces, etc.
VEGGIE - corn, mixed veggies, green beans, chopped cabbage, peas, mushroom slices, chopped broccoli, etc.
STARCH - rice, any type pasta, canned beans, noodles, potatoes, etc.
SAUCE - Tomato soup, any cream of soups, flavored marinades, etc.
ADD-INS - salsa, shredded cheese, diced onion, spices, etc.

Mix and match any of these or any combo you can think of and you have a SKILLET DINNER
There is no right or wrong - you decide what goes in.  Many times I use whatever is leftover in the frig.  This lets you get creative and find some new yummy meals and it saves you a lot of dirty dishes!

Now doesn't that look good!  I actually used 2 pots for this particular one - as the rice was cooked separate.  However it could have all been done in one pot.


MEAT - ground beef, chopped chicken, cubed ham, smoked sausage, pork chops, turkey chopped, ham slices, etc.

VEGGIES - chopped onion, mushrooms sliced, broccoli flowerets, diced tomatoes, corn, cauliflower crowns, green beans,  etc..

STARCH - kidney beans, pasta, rice, potatoes, (sliced or chopped), noodles, etc.

SAUCE - Cream of soups (1 -2 cans), pasta sauce, cheese sauce, etc.

ADD-INS - soy sauce, spices, parmesan cheese, chili peppers, etc.

Mix up and top with cheese, crust, etc. and bake in the oven till hot and bubbly.
Serve with a side salad.

EXAMPLES - ground beef, chopped onion, canned kidney beans, tomato soup, salsa = oven chili  (we like to make this and top with a small packet of corn bread mix (follow directions on box) over the top  - bake until corn bread is done!   YUM

Chicken pieces, diced peppers, mushrooms & peas, rice, oriental sauce and soy sauce - yummy stir fry skillet dinner

Follow a simple math formula and WOOHOO you have a one pot meal with all the basics included.
Give it a try.  There are so many great combinations - you will never get bored.
(and who doesn't like less pots and pans to wash!!!!!!)

Hope this gives you some ideas and a creative license to do YOUR OWN THING!

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Frugal Happenings 1/6

Finally, here we are getting back to a normal week.  Holidays are over, things put away, aaahhhhh normal!

I want to share a thought on our local news station on New Year's Day.  The evening news was all GOOD!  They told of no problems, murders, thefts, violence, etc.  The stories for 1 1 /2 hours were of local heroes, acts of kindness, kids doing good, cute pet stories, etc.  It was wonderful!  I have always said we need a TV channel or a paper that does just that.  It was so refreshing to see about so much good!  Nice way to start the year.

The weather has still been averaging above normal temps for this time of the year.  It sure is weird.
We finally got sun on Thursday and have had it off and on since.  That always makes things better.

My frugal week:
  • I have a jar candle that was burning uneven (and it is a wonderful smell), so I cut out the non-burned part and chunked it up for my melt pots.  It works wonderfully
  • I got the upstairs pantry all straightened and cleaned up.  I can see everything again!
  • Colored my hair with 1/3 box of color
  • Started a new daily journal (notebook) for 2019.  Last one lasted me 2 full years.  I bought this on clearance a year or so ago
  • Been using all leftovers and recreating some of them into new dishes.  Made a big pot of "trash can" soup - just odds and ends left in bowls and baggies (from frig & freezer)
  • Put 2 "new" smoke detectors up in the basement near furnace and electric panel.  I received both as gifts a year ago - had batteries here
  • De-cluttering and straightening more
  • Cleaned the oven with baking soda and vinegar - it was an after holiday mess!
  • Took trash out the other night for p/u the next morning and someone had been going through cans already out and made a mess.  I was picking up trash across the alley and found a "new" graph sheet notebook that had been thrown out.  Only had 3 pages written on - I brought it in and will use as a notebook (it was totally clean)
  • I was cleaning out wallet of any receipts from last month and noticed 2 coupons wrapped in receipt from Kroger.  One for FREE dozen large eggs (no other purchase nec.) and one was for $5 off ANY purchase.
  • Being a no spend month I debated - but both coupons expired on Saturday and this was Friday.  I run up to Kroger and got FREE eggs and roll sausage was 2/$5 and I got 2 rolls for FREE.  Bought nothing else!!!!!!!  WOOHOO!!    I just could not pass up free.
  • Received another sheet of free address labels from a charity.
  • Refilled canisters  and glass storage jars from stock
  • Spent NO money this week and used NO GC's
Meals this past week:
Sausage gravy and biscuits
Shrimp (with cocktail sauce) and salad
Corned beef & cabbage, black eyed peas
Rueben sandwiches (YUM), chips
"Trash can" soup - chicken/veggies/rice - 2X
Homemade beef/onion sliders (like White Castle) and salad

Leftovers for lunches and munching on cheese, crackers, and beef stick.  Trying to cut back on sweets - but still eating a few (almost gone!)

How was your week?  Did you get any deals or save any money this week?  How are you doing IF you are doing a no spend month?  Is your home back to 'normal'?  Give us a shout out.
I am missing a few of our contributors that haven't posted in a while.  Hope you are all well.

I pray you are all safe and healthy.  Hopes that all are staying frugal, and that we are ALL given the strength and wisdom to not spend in a frivolous way.
Blessings from our humble home to yours.

Friday, January 4, 2019

A Bean by Another Name.....

Black eyed peas!  Yep, they are actually a bean, not a pea.  They have also been called cowpeas.  They are a type of shelling bean.
I had someone ask the other day "what do they taste like".  I was kind of stumped - then I got to thinking about it.  The are rather firm in texture and the have a slightly nutty, earthy and savory taste.
They are really good for you.

Most people think they have to be eaten as is, and just avoid them.  They are so many way to fix them that are just down right tasty.
When I fix them as a side dish, I add ham seasoning and cook until done.  If using canned - they don't take long at all to cook.  If using dry beans - I treat them the same as any other dry bean.  I soak over night, then cook with seasoning the next day.

1 can (15 oz.) drained black eyed peas
1 can (15 oz.) drained black beans
1 can (14 oz.) drained diced tomatoes
2 C corn kernels (recipe says frozen - I often use canned)
1/2 Medium onion diced
1/4 C finely copped green pepper
1/2 C chopped diced jalapeno
1/2 tsp. garlic salt
1 C Italian  dressing
Mix this all together and refrigerate for at least a half hour before serving.
Use like you would salsa with chips or just eat in a bowl!

1 1/2 C dry black eyed peas
1 lb. ham hock
1 onion chopped
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
4 C water
salt & pepper
1 1/2 C long grained rice
1 C shredded cheddar cheese

Place the peas and ham hock, onion, pepper and any salt and pepper in water.  Bring to a boil then reduce to medium heat and cook for 1 1/2 hours.  Remove hock and remove meat - place meat back in pot.  Stir in rice  - cover and cook until rice is tender.
Top with cheese when serving.
*You can substitute with what you have.  I have added ham seasoning to initial cook, then added ham pieces I have on hand.  You could also add tangy ground sausage, smoked sausage..... whatever you have.

Black eyed peas can be used to make vegetarian burgers along with black beans or alone.  They are great added to soups and gumbo as well.

I keep both canned and dry beans on hand.  They are always in my pantry!  Canned are great if you need them in a hurry and just don't feel like soaking or cooking for a long period.  I usually buy canned when I see them marked down.  This can has a markdown sticker on the other side for .39. 
Dry are very cheap.  Both taste good - but I really love the flavor of dry beans best.

They are a New Years tradition in many areas of the U.S. as they are thought to bring luck in the new year.  Who doesn't need extra luck?
Just remember they aren't just for New Year's tradition any more!
They are yummy and can and should be eaten all year.

Step outside of your comfort zone and give them a try.
We love both of the recipes above, and they give you a special new dish to fix that isn't just plain old black eyed peas.
Add another nutritious and cheap food to your pantry!

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

To Begin - Again

Happy 2019!!!!!
New year - new goals - new ideas - new chances - new beginnings.

I like to look at each new year as a way to begin again.    So many gave it a valiant try and then fell off the frugal wagon last year. 
Each day, each month, each year is a new one and you have a chance to start again.  You only fail - IF YOU DON'T TRY!

We need to challenge ourselves.  Try harder.  Give each other more ideas.  Work together.  There truly are no limits to what we can accomplish - if we just try!

Every job - goal - resolution - has one thing in common!  It needs to be done - and if you are going to do it - do it well!

Yep, 365 chances to save, to earn, to learn, to give, to share, to be better get it right!

I look forward to sharing things I have learned and I look forward from learning from all of you.  There are so many ways of doing things and limitless ideas to save and be thrifty.
Life is about absorbing all we can and experiencing and sharing.
I am very excited about the possibilities in 2019!

This month my big goal is to stay out of the grocery store!  I have plenty of food here - both freezer and pantry.  I want to use what I have.  I want to get creative.  I want to challenge myself to not spend and save a few dollars.
IF by some chance I do need something (I shouldn't) - I do have a couple gift cards that I can use and not actually spend cash from my wallet. 
I have plenty of milk, eggs, butter, cheese, and meat.  Pantry is more than full.  I have canned fruit if needed.

Perhaps the only thing I might want is fresh veggies for salads - but I can get creative with salads and I have slaw canned.  I can use salsa instead of tomatoes.  I can make bean salads and pasta salads.  I can use canned veggies in new ways.

So folks, let's get this rodeo started!!!! Let us challenge ourselves and each other.
Let us make this a GREAT year!