Sunday, September 29, 2019

Weekly Wrap-Up 9/29

Good day everyone.  Here we are at the end of another month.  My goodness.
I have been reading about snow and frost in areas closer to the coasts - and here we are still hot and dry.  September has been one of the warmest and driest on record for years.
We did have some cooler and low humidity days earlier in the week and they were lovely.  I got to open windows and air the house.
We are back to warmer days 80's/90's for a few more days (and humidity) and then back to more normal temps by the end of the week.  Friday from morning to evening the temperature increased 40*!!
First day of October is supposed to be 92*!!!

This getting older stuff is so aggravating with robo calls!!!!!!  I will be 65 in October and I have been getting a minimum of 10 robo calls per DAY from insurance places.  I do not answer, and they don't give up!  Good grief you would think they would realize if you don't answer the first 3 times in a row that you probably won't answer the forth time either!!!  I know it is a computer - but still.  It sure is aggravating and intrusive!

This has been a sadder week here on the home front.  It was 5 months since my sweetie left for heaven and it was also his birthday on the 24th.  Well, let me tell you I tried to work my bum off and kept busy.  Got to do things that occupy the mind and tire the body.  I miss him soooooo much.  Not looking for sympathy - just stating a fact because it really is hard.

The birds and squirrels still are not as plentiful as before.  I have been seeing only 3-4 squirrels versus 10-12.  Maybe some of the older ones have passed on.  I know they don't live a lot of years.  Birds seem to come and go. We'll see how it goes this winter.  I enjoy them all so much.   Hummingbirds are gone now.

My week:
  • I did make a run to Rural King last Sunday (oh my - it was busy) for critter feed and canned cat food stock up
  • I cleaned all the bird feeders for fall/winter
  • Also cleaned out the metal trash can/bins I use for critter feed storage
  • Washed windows inside (seems weekly - kitty kisses!)
  • I cleaned out the storage area under the basement stairs.  Geesh what a mess.  I got rid of lots of stuff - have no idea why I had kept it.  FOUND  an unopened case of jelly jars and 1 unopened case of pint jars!!!!!!  WOOHOO.  ALSO found 7 gallon glass jars with lids and one half gallon glass jar with lid.  That area is all cleaned an organized now.
  • Put lots of plastic in recycle bin
  • Got to turn off AC a few days and open windows
  • Spent a couple nice mornings outside trying to do some fall clean-up.  I ended up with 3 huge black bags of rubbish for the natural green pick-up by the city
  • Picked a few tomatoes
  • Picked a bouquet of New England asters
  • I have worked on moving more store bought food storage upstairs
  • I straightened the upstairs pantry and organized better (AGAIN) and started some new storage for canned good overstock
Yes this is after!  It may look like total chaos to others - but I know what is where.  Soups together, veggies together, fruit, baking items, spices, condiments, bulk, etc.  This is the daily use pantry.  It contains basically ALL my food - kitchen cabinets contain dishes, canisters, and pots and pans. (small kitchen)
This is the 'new' area for overstock on canned goods I came up with.  Cookbooks are below.  I donated a ton of books (no longer interested in) and moved many to other locations in the house - to free this space.  I will be putting curtains over it in time.  Still more to move and do.
See why I don't need to go to grocery?  It is just me and that's a lot of food.  I will helping anyone that needs help as well.
  • Colored hair at home
  • I worked on de-cluttering a bunch more.  So many things I have no idea whey we kept.
  • I took an huge load of items to the church thrift store.  (Back seats down in Blazer and loaded to the back end).
  • I got a loaf of FREE bread from thrift store
  • No grocery store
  • Brought the bread maker upstairs for handy storage - plan on making homemade for holiday baskets
  • Using rain barrel water for plants.  I think this may be a year that I use all the water collected
  • I have a Wondering Jew plant that was my Momma's.  She passed in 2001 and had it for years before that.  It just got so nasty and spindly looking - SO I trimmed off starts and have them in water to root.  I plan on giving it a new and healthy start.
  • Using what I have, cooking from scratch, used the soda stream this week for sparkling water, laundry cold, line dried, working on organization and watched some You-Tube videos, just doing all the normal things.
My meals this past week:
Fried diced potatoes topped with beef and cheese - sliced tomato
Grilled ham & cheese
Easy chili mac - 2X
Pork chop, green beans (from freezer/cooked) and sliced tomato
Black bean/beef nachos

Easy Chili Mac - I browned ground beef with onion, added a can of chili beans and chili seasoning - served over macaroni.  Topped with shredded cheese.  Easy and tasty.

This coming week I plan of getting all my home canned goods a lot more organized and I want to inventory and organize (again) the upright freezer.  
I also have more dried goods stored downstairs that needs to be organized.
More paperwork to take care of.
I want to let you know, a relative/friend reached out to me (privately) and told me she made the Amish peanut butter that I listed recipe for - and that they loved it! Just to let you know - it is yummy and will be a hit if you decide to try it!  I think she plans on using it for gift baskets as well this year.  Thanks for letting me know Becky!

How was your week?  Did you get any deals?  So many of you impress me with all your freebies that I read about on your blogs!  You gals rock!
Are you still getting garden goodies/canning or is yours coming to an end?

Prayers for you and your families.  I hope you have health, happiness and thrift in the coming week.
Blessings from my humble little home to yours.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

A Jar by Any Other Name = Gift - #1

Today will be the first installment of some jar recipes.  I will continue to randomly post recipes as the season moves forward.
Hope this gives you some fun and new ideas for holiday gifts.  Most are pretty frugal as well.

1/2 C chopped walnuts (or pecans - whichever you like)
1/2 C white chocolate chips
1/2 C semi-sweet chocolate chips
2/3 C brown sugar, packed
1 C PLUS 2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
1/3 C baking cocoa
2/3 C granulated sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
Layer all the ingredients in order listed in a one quart - wide mouth jar, being sure to pack down after each addition.  Secure lid and attach baking instructions.

Empty brownie mix into a large bowl.  Add 3 eggs, 1/2 C oil and 1 tsp. vanilla extract.  Mix and pour into a greased 9 x 9 pan.  Bake at 350* for 22 - 25 minutes.  Cut into squares.

How cute to add a black ribbon around the top and tie as if a 'bow tie'.  Add you instructions and you have a yummy gift.  
Nice to keep several on hand as well - you will always have brownie "mix" in your pantry for a quick dessert.

2 C corn syrup
1/3 C brown sugar, packed
1/2 C water
1 1/4 C chopped pecans
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
4 (1 pint) jars and lids - sterilized  (OR 8 - 1/2 pint jars)

Combine syrup, sugar and water in a saucepan.  Bring to a boil over medium heat and boil for 1 minute.  Remove from heat; stir in pecans and vanilla.
Pour into hot jars, leaving 1/4" space at top of jar.  Secure lids, process in hot water bath for 10 minutes.  Makes 4 pints

Wouldn't this be a wonderful add to a basket - maybe an ice cream scoop and small bowls and sprinkles.  YUM

I think this would also be good to gift with pancake/waffle mix!!!!!

1 3/4 C all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 C quick-cooking oats (uncooked)
1/2 C chopped walnuts
1/3 C mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

Combine first 3 ingredients, stir.  Add remaining ingredients.  Mix well.  Store in an airtight container.  It makes 3 1/2 cups - so a quart jar would work.

Place scone mix in a large mixing bowl and cut in 1/2 cup butter until batter resembles coarse crumbles.  In a separate bowl whisk a 1/4 cup milk and 1 egg.  Add to crumble mixture, stir until moistened.  Knead gently on a lightly floured board 8 - 10 times.  Pat into an 8 inch circle on a lightly greased baking sheet.  Cut into 8 wedges, do not separate.  Bake 375* for 10-12 minutes.  Cut wedges apart and serve warm.

Too yummy, maybe gift in a basket with a nice cup and tea bags or hot chocolate mix.

So there you have three fun items to make ahead of time for your gift baskets, holiday or anytime.  These are also wonderful items to have on hand in the pantry.
I hope this gives you a few new ideas and is something you can use.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

How Low Can You Go on Christmas Expenses?

How low can you keep the Christmas budget?  You actually keep it pretty darn low or almost FREE if you start now.  There are so many tricks to get goodies for pennies or no money.

You all know my favorites - home canned goods (jams, jellies, salsa, pizza sauce, spaghetti sauce, etc.), homemade candy, cookies, muffins, breads and yummies.  All kinds of homemade goodies can be made and placed in thrift store baskets or reusable grocery bags (maybe homemade).
You can simply wrap the outside of a box with gift wrap, contact paper, fabric, whatever.  Leave the top open like a basket - use what you have.

  • Have a 2nd hand Christmas.  Check with other family members and agree to do this (many families draw names at Thanksgiving).  Make sure your gift is from a thrift store, yard sale, an heirloom, or something from your home that someone likes.  Decide if you want useful and serious gifts or fun and frivolous gifts  SET A LOW $$$$$ LIMIT.
  • MAKE jars of soup mixes, or coffee or hot chocolate mixes, cookie mixes, etc.  Use ingredients from your kitchen and if necessary buy those ingredients ONLY when on sale
  • Keep a basket of mixes or small jars of jams and jellies by the door for that unexpected company
  • Buy a box of different flavored tea bags each time at the store.  Mix them up and gift (4 or 5 per gift) with a thrifted mug and a used book, or pair of warm socks
  • Watch for those FREE coupons for product like from Bed, Bath and Body Works.  Get the FREE items.  Many stores have coupons that gives you FREE products.  $10 off coupons if you spend $10 (Kohls and Pennies do this often).  Check on-line for coupons.  
  • Bankcards gather points that can be turned into gifts or gift cards.  Check with your card and see how many you have.  You can go online and see what you can get for points
  • I know there are many sites that offer points for GC's - I see many of you blog about them.  I don't do any of them - so if you do PLEASE ADVISE us.
  • Get on sample sites - there are lots of them and they will send you FREE samples of a variety of products.  Samples are great for gift baskets.
  • Have a swap party with friends before the holidays - everyone brings items they don't need and you simply swap goods.  You can get a lot a really neat items for FREE and gift them to family
  • Think DOLLAR TREE - so many stocking stuffers.  Calendars, books, puzzles, hair accessories, bins and baskets, nail polish, candles, candies, ornaments...…….
  • Yard sales and thrift stores - GREAT places to look.  I always see brand new items at yard sales for pennies on the dollar.  
  • Think about putting together a RECIPE book of favorite family recipes for everyone.  Ask all the family for their favorite and include it for all.  Maybe add some pictures of grandma or mom or auntie - whoever the recipe came from.  Make soft copies on your own printer at home.  This could be a fun project.
  • Make homemade CALENDARS - you can download the basic date part of the calendar and print.  For the picture use old or new family pictures.  It can be the kids, recent family pictures (weddings, holidays, showers, etc.) or they can be older vintage photos.  Have fun with this.
  • Frame the kids artwork in yard sale frames.  You can even use your own artwork.  Frames can be painted or left as is.
  • Frame the front of a beautiful Christmas card (that you kept from previous year).  They make great Christmas pictures to hang during the holiday.
  • Remember that you can use recycled gift wrap, pretty boxes, bags, etc.  I love to use the comics for wrapping kids gifts.  Wrap baked goods in a pretty kitchen towel ($Tree), or colored plastic wrap.
  • Provide coupons for a monthly homecooked  dinner
  • Give coupons for shopping trips, doctor visits, or just a fun excursion for a shut-in
There are a ton of ways to spend little or NO money for the holidays.  Yes, many require you to keep your eyes open and scour around for coupons and freebie ideas.  Be looking online for sample sites and start getting samples (usually takes about 6-8 weeks).

Take time to make fun gifts - you can make anything.  Sewing, crafting, crochet, knitting, quilting, paper craft, painting, baking, canned goods  -------- there is no limit.

I know many don't want to think Christmas yet - but it is a lot closer than you care to believe!
Get started now and have FUN WITH IT!

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Weekly Wrap-Up 9/22

Happy fall to all my U.S. readers.  Tomorrow is the official start to the fall season (according to the calendar).

It is still quite warm here and feels nothing like fall.  We have been in the upper 80's and low 90's all week.  At least the humidity was a bit lower, so it didn't feel quite as bad.  Mornings are quite pleasant.  Still NO rain!  This has been the driest September for our state in about 56 years.  That may change tonight, according to the weatherman.  We sure need some.
Projections are that it may be a bit more 'normal' for the first part of the week - and then going back into the 80's and staying that way to start October.
Kind of makes me wonder what the winter will be like.  I have heard all kinds of mixed forecasts - we will wait and see!

My week:
  • I have been going through more things and adding to the donation boxes and even trashing a few things.  I have rearranged some more things.  Slowly going through stuff.
  • Cleaning out a couple more drawers
  • Got a container of Mex. chicken out of freezer to thaw for meals
  • Canned 14 pints of salsa - mainly for gifts at Christmas.  I have more than enough from the past couple years for me.  I like making new for the gift baskets.
  • Cut my hair
  • I used the scalding canning water on the fence row for weed killer
  • Using rain barrels to water plants
  • I ran out one day to run a few errands.  I first went to a yearly yard sale that raises funds for the kids of an area school.  The sale goes for 4 days and is always huge.  All I found was a super heavy hooded sweatshirt for bumming around in this winter.   The quality is fantastic.  I bet it originally cost a good $40 and I paid $1!!!  
  • I then stopped in Kroger, although I was just looking.  Hoping to find some bell peppers to freeze (mine are in between stages).  4/$5 was the going price - and that is too much for my taste.  I looked at the .99 bin and Woop-Woop I found some.  2/.99 and bigger than the regular priced ones.  I got 6 peppers for less than $3.  Those and milk is all I bought.
That is a pint jar for reference on size!  They are lovely peppers - and got chopped for the freezer.
  • Ran into the Dollar Tree to look around.  I did get 2 Bible themed color books for my nephew for Christmas.  I making him an art box of assorted items for Christmas.  He is 5.
  • Cooking from home, laundry in cold, line dried, making my drinks, using what I have in new ways - just all the normal things
  • Picking what produce I can - still getting some
  • I found a leak under the bathroom sink.  I have a container collecting for now - but my neighbor is going to come and fix it for me this week.
  • Trying to get many of my extra pantry supplies from basement sorted and moved upstairs as much as possible. (that is a job)
Meals this past week:
Tomato and lettuce sandwiches
3 breaded chicken tenders and fresh veggies
Mexican chicken (from freezer) over rice
Enchilada's (made with extra Mex. chicken/rice)
Chef salad
Crunchy tacos
Tuna salad sandwich and sliced tomatoes

So as you can see, it has been a quiet week just hanging out at the house for the most part.  The day I went out to run errands I spoke to humans for the first time in 4 days!  I talk to my kitties non stop!!  I have just been trying to do lots of odds and ends around here.  Glen was not much for change at all - and I am at a point that I NEED some changes to help me move forward.  I call it therapy.  Change is tough.

How was your week?  I know some of you are still getting tons of produce and that is just wonderful.  You will have happy bellies this winter.  What have you been doing to stay frugal?

I hope you all have a wonderful week ahead.  May the Lord be with you and yours and keep you in His loving embrace.  Health and happiness to all.
Blessings from my humble little home to yours.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

An Amish Treat you can Make

Have you ever tried Amish peanuts butter?  Commonly referred to as "church spread".
Oh my goodness - if you have not, you are truly missing out.
This is probably one of my favorite things ever.

Many years back, when I would visit the Amish store, I would always stock up.  This tasty delight came in pint jars and back then would run me about $7 a jar.  That would be a super cheap find today.  It seems to range from about $11.49 upwards.  I have actually seen it on the Web for as much as $15 a pint PLUS shipping.
You can make your own for a whole lot less.

I plan on making several jars of this to add to my holiday gift baskets.  Peanut butter stays fresh for a long time once opened - as does this wonderful spread.  I think I will make and place in half pint jars - maybe pint.  It will stay fresh for quite a while being shelf stable.

Click on picture to enlarge - Place in your canning jars until ready to use.
I have everything on hand to make this - you can buy small jars of marshmallow crème for around $1 - just look around (got mine at Dollar Tree)

This is just too yummy on hot biscuits or homemade bread, served on a sandwich, served with crackers OR just eating it with a spoon!!!!!!
Seriously, if you have never had this delicacy, you need to try it.

This is a stable at most Amish tables.  NO, it isn't calorie free - but it sure is gooey and yummy.

I am going to try to make almost everything in my Christmas baskets this year.  This will a fun addition, that will surprise and please many.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Tuesday Tips for the Fall Kitchen

It is now approaching fall in the U.S. and in Canada (not sure where else).  I know some of our readers are going into spring, but many of these tips may help them too.
Fall is that time of the year that I get excited about all those hearty comfort foods that I have avoided during the hot weather.  It is funny how we eat differently for the seasons.
It seems we eat much lighter foods in the summer, and then get into the warm and filling comfort foods in the winter.

Most of these tips will work for the whole year.  Things to think about if you are counting pennies or just can't or don't want to leave the house during the colder months.

  • Find that you are out of eggs in the middle of a recipe?  That's ok - use something else for the liquid.  Not using eggs generally will not change the texture or flavor of the recipe (unless making soufflé).  Add more milk or some mayonnaise, or fruit sauces - the recipe should turn out fine.
  • Extra coffee?  Freeze it in ice cube trays.  It can be used to cool a super hot cup of coffee.  OR use for flavoring ice cream, smoothies, or add to chocolate cake (enhances flavor) or frosting, fudge, brownies.  Add a cube or two to brown gravy as it really makes the gravy have a hearty flavor.  So many uses.  Do waste it!!!
  • No pizza or spaghetti sauce on hand?  Want to make a pizza?  That's ok - for about a 12" pizza you can use an 8 oz. can of tomato sauce and just add oregano, basil, onion/garlic powder, Italian seasoning - whatever you and your family likes and you have pizza sauce!  Those 8 oz. cans at Aldi are like .29 each.  Makes for a pretty cheap pizza, especially if adding whatever you have in the frig to your pizza.  I often use spaghetti sauce if I have no pizza sauce - pretty much the same.
  • Fall seems to be the time for corndogs (especially for kids).  I like them too - it is just a fun food.  You can make some fun corndog bites at home.  Make yourself a batch of cornbread (or use a box of Jiffy mix for pennies) and cut up a few hotdogs.  Place the cornbread batter in muffin pans (mini works super great) and place a chunk of hotdog in the center and bake as normal.  For a fuller bite of 'dog' - dice up your hotdogs and add to the batter.  You can still bake in muffin pans or just bake in a regular pan.  I like to add some chopped jalapenos for 'grown up' corndog bites.
This is a cheap and easy (fun) food for young and old alike.  Great after school snack or serve with a pot of soup beans or some mac n cheese for dinner!
  • Have leftover chili?  Use it over hotdogs as a topping or on baked potatoes, or even on top of burgers if it is thick!  Add some shredded or chunks of cheese and melt for a great dip for tortilla chips or pita bread. (super nachos)
  • Do you drive by a house each week that has an unused apple tree?  Apples falling all over the yard?  Stop and ask if you can glean them.  What is the worst that can happen?  They say no - but maybe they will say yes and you will get some free fruit!
  • Winter squash is about to be harvested.  There are many uses for it.  It should be fairly cheap this time of the year.  It is wonder in making 'cream of' soups, use in your favorite pie recipe in place of pumpkin (you will be amazed), roast chunks (oh so good).  Think about adding chunks to a hearty stew or soup recipe.  Cut in half - remove seeds - and stuff with sausage/tomato sauce/cheese (whatever you like).  Heavenly!  There are many, many varieties out there and they are so good.  Get creative and jazz up your fall recipes a bit.
  • Serve sliced apples with peanut butter and raisins - such a fall treat and healthy too.  Good to make a sandwich out of these too.  Super after school/work treat!
  • Make your own latte at home for pennies.  Heat up 1/2 cup of milk in the microwave for a couple minutes and add 1/2 cup of very strong coffee (sweeten if desired).  Sure beats going out and spending a fortune of a fancy coffee (lattes aren't really fancy - just a fancy price)
  • If you really like all things pumpkin (I can't fathom), watch for the upcoming sales and stock up.  Best bet is to get fresh pumpkins AFTER Halloween and carve, and roast and freeze your own OR watch for clearance of canned pumpkin after the holidays.  You can usually get very cheaply - so stock up (it will be good for ages).  If doing fresh - don't forget to clean and roast those seeds as well.
  • Like smores, but don't have access to a campfire?  If you have a gas stove - you are set!  I often place a big marshmallow on the end of a fork and roast - then add to your graham cracker or cookie along with your chocolate.  Think about using those shortbread cookies that are chocolate striped and have a chocolate back - they work perfectly! (or homemade chocolate chip cookies).  It is a fun treat!
  • This is a tip I use often.  I love Eckrich smoked sausage - wonderful flavor that not all others have.  It is kind of pricey unless you find a super sale.  I buy John Morrell smoked sausage and keep on hand for many dishes.  I can often get it for $1 or less for a 12 oz. package (Meijer regularly has on their 11/$10 sale).  It is great to slice up and add to spaghetti sauce, or to add to soups or stews.  Homemade Jumbalaya (sp.) or Gumbo is wonderful with it as well.  Slice super thin and add to pizza toppings.  It is much cheaper and can be used in a variety of dishes that still taste yummy with it.  Think about using different brands sometimes - especially when there is a lot of other ingredients to enhance flavors.

Here is a fun fall recipe to try.  I hope you enjoy it.

8 oz. container of thawed Cool Whip
3 1/2 oz. package of instant butterscotch pudding mix
8 oz. crushed pineapple
3 C chopped and peeled apples
1 C dry roasted peanuts
1 C mini marshmallows
Mix pudding mix, cool whip and pineapple together until well blended - then add remainder of the ingredients.  Chill until ready to use.  It is yummy!

So there you have a few fall tips for the kitchen.
I hope you find one or two you can use or it gives you a few new ideas.  ENJOY!
It's almost fall!!!!!!!!!!!

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Weekly Wrap-Up 9/15

Good morning!  Here we are mid-month again.  It still doesn't feel like fall here.  We have had 90's all week and humidity and NO rain whatsoever.  This coming week looks to be about the same.  I guess we should enjoy it while it lasts, as winter will be here before we know it.

My neighbor had his grandkids over this weekend and the oldest was having a birthday weekend.  He turns 5 on Tuesday and the other is 2.  Forget the remote car he got - they had an absolute ball playing in the leaves (as grandpa blew them around) and playing with the big box the car came in!!!!!  I laughed and laughed.  They were having so much fun.  It took my back to my childhood.  I sure enjoyed watching them.  Simple fun!  Warmed my heart.

The birds and squirrels were kind of M I A for many days.  I think they were going for different sources of food.  I keep finding empty walnut shells all over the yard - and I don't have a walnut tree!  They are back to normal now for the most part.  I still a hummy or two now and again.
The bees and butterflies are every where - they sure do love the Live Forever plants.  AND SPIDERS - did I mention spiders??????  Everywhere - I dodge webs every place I walk outside!!!!!

Oh I saw my first (in real life) hummingbird MOTH this week.  Amazing!!!!  I have seen pictures and videos, but never one in real life. I wish I had a picture of it.   It truly did look like a itty bity hummingbird - it was hanging out on my phlox. So cool.

        Love the pretty butterflies.  They are every where and loving any flower they can!

My week:
  • Accomplished a bunch more paperwork and assorted paper projects.  If you have never been left alone - you have no idea how many things there are to do.  We had everything in order and everything in both names - but my goodness there is still so much.  I now have to get things in order so my new beneficiaries are taken care of (as well as me for hopefully many, many more years). Wouldn't wish it on anyone!
  • My chest freezer stopped AGAIN!  UGH.  (2X in 6 months) The breaker was still on and the GFI wasn't tripped - so it is the freezer.  It is done.  I did lose some butter and ice cream and a small ham - not much else this time.  I found it again just in time for trash day - I got lucky.  It sure did stink!  All cleaned out and unplugged - I will either give to a scrapper or use for storage.  Not going to replace.
  • No grocery shopping this week
  • Got my jars and canning stuff ready to go - and planned to can.  Didn't!!!!  Being a sloth!
  • I was given a nice wooden glider for the front porch.  It is painted the exact color of the shutters.  I now have 2 on the porch, opposite each other.
  • Have been using rain barrels to water plants
  • Washed some of the windows (inside)
  • Working on more deep cleaning and de-clutter
  • Picked more tomatoes and so enjoying them!
  • Cooking from scratch, using what I have.  Made Kool-Aid this week - that has been a nice flavorful treat.
  • I needed to get out on Saturday and see civilization!  I ran and filled my tank up and saved .40 per gallon on gasoline with my points.
  • I then went across the street to Ollies!  Mistake!!!!!!  I couldn't resist and bought 2 books  They have the cheapest books.  I got a Taste Of Home - Shop Smart Eat Great cookbook and Fix-It and Forget-It slow cooker cookbook.  One was 2.99 and the other 3.99.  Just what I need - more cookbooks.  I may end up gifting them after I read!
My clematis is blooming again (little flowers) as is the mallow
The impatiens are still gorgeous!

My weekly meals:
Homemade bean and beef burritos
Hotdogs with homemade relish (on buns)
Beefy/cheese dip and tortilla chips  (Mixed taco meat/Velveeta/salsa together and served with chips)
Mac n cheese with leftover hotdog cut up in it and sliced tomato
Homemade Rice a Roni and sliced tomatoes
Leftover rice mixed with beef - served over open bun with American cheese (so tasty)
Spicy summer sausage/cheese chunks/crackers & veggie chunks

How was your week?  Did you get any good deals?
I need to get busy this week and can!!!!!  I also need to cut my hair again.  So many things to do.

I pray for your health and safety this week and may you received healing if so needed.
I also pray we all appreciate the earth and it's beauty in the changing seasons and that we help protect it.  Consume less and conserve more - should be our motto!
Blessings from my humble little home to yours.

I love standing and looking up through the trees.  Limbs going here and there - no 2 alike - leaves falling and the sun shining down through.  Kind of like life!
(click on pictures to enlarge)

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Frugal Lessons from the Masters of Frugal

I had this all typed and then it disappeared.  Argh!!!

I have written about the Amish many times.  I do believe I feel a definite kinship with them as I have Amish in my family lineage.  They live a much simpler lifestyle than we do.  It is a lot of hard work - but simpler.
There are so many lessons we can learn from them. They have a huge commitment to family and community.
I must admit - I do NOT approve of all the beliefs they have.  I do not believe in shunning nor some of their religious teachings.  BUT, saying that - I think there is so much we could learn and take from them.

DEBT FREE LIVING - they try to avoid debt like the plague.  They save and save and pay cash for anything and everything they can.  IF they have to take on debt - it is paid off quickly.
We could all learn from this.  No charge cards, no home improvement loans, no buying just to be buying.  Sell a home and buy down.  Go smaller, different neighborhood, fixer upper.  Keep that older vehicle.  Fixing if most often cheaper than a car payment for years!  Pay cash.  We have as a society have become immune to debt.  We believe it IS part of life.  Granted it is harder for us English (what Amish call non Amish).  We do not live as simply - we do live more in the city - we do drive.  BUT we don't need all the debt we create.  It just isn't necessary.

LEARN SKILLS - garden, sew, woodwork, crafting, crochet, knot, barter, gleaning. etc.  Their children learn "how to" from the time they can do and learn.  Heck, we don't even have home economics classes in schools any more.  In my day, there was home econ., shop, auto mechanics, metal working, etc.  We even had a trade school associated with our high school, that students could go part of the day and learn various trades.
Kids today don't seem to get those opportunities and even their parents can't train them in skills - as they don't have them either.  We need to learn and teach older skills!!!!!!!  Those skills MAY be what saves our society one day!!!!!

GROW AND PRESERVE - Amish grow huge gardens and preserve anything and everything.  They have animals for meat, milk, eggs, cheese, etc.  If they don't have something they need they trade or barter with a neighbor or family.
I realize that we can't all raise animals or have a huge garden.  There are opportunities that we can take that will help.  Grow  things on patios if need be.  Find area folks that provide us with fresh.  Learn to glean from nature and barter with neighbors.  Find wild nuts and berries.  Seek out un-used fruit trees.  Any fresh you get is healthy and less chemicals in your body. Fresh is best - your body and your pocketbook will thank you

The Amish are masters of soups and casseroles.  Yes, they have big families - but they get creative with what they have.  They make bread, noodles, home baked good, snacks of all types.  Start with simple meals.  Work into making all sweet snacks (so much better than store bought), make popcorn for evening snacks.  Start small and work into it.  It saves  ton of money and tastes so good.

SAVE - save and save more.  Save for the future.  Save for emergencies.   Save for wants.  Save for schooling.  Save for whatever may come your way.  SAVE!!!!!!!!!

SHOP AT HOME - look around and get creative with your cooking.  Always check the pantry and freezer before going to the store for the tenth time in the month!!!!!  Keep an inventory and know what you have and USE IT.
This isn't just about cooking.  Use old clothes materials for quilts, pillow, children's clothes, any project.  Old blankets are great liners for quilts or for making jackets or sweatshirts.  Scrap wood can be turned in crafts and gifts.  Home canning can be gifts.  Old pallets can be turned into beautiful objects.  Garbage can become compost.  Look for new uses for jams, jellies, sauces.  Get creative and use what you have.

BE HAPPY WITH WHAT YOU HAVE - this is huge.  It seems so many people today always want more.  They compete with one another for the best and brightest bauble.  They feel they need to keep us with the Jones.
Don't be envious of others and what they have - odds are they are in debt up to their eyeballs.  I sure wouldn't want that.  BE HAPPY for what family and friends have - no envious.
Become more of a minimalist.  Remember it is isn't about WHAT you have - but LOVING and USING what you have.  Contentment equals happiness in my book!

BUY BULK - The Amish do  stock up on things like flour, sugar, yeast, oats - things they use everyday and will continue to use everyday.  I like to have a good allotment of certain things as well.  I keep TP on hand - it doesn't go to waste and will always be needed!  Pet products are a big stock item for me.  I have plenty of sugar on hand for canning, baking,  hummingbird nectar, etc.  It is wise to stock-up on things that you WILL USE when you can get a deal on them.  NEVER stock things that your family won't use or eat.  That is just wasteful spending.  Be wise and stock up when you can on what you can.  Get the best deals available.

No it may not save you a fortune - but it does save.  Also it gets you out in the sunshine, gives you exercise, and cuts out on chemicals in your laundry and your life.  Nothing like the smell of a line dried sheet!  I realize many neighborhoods don't allow this in the U.S.  You can get drying racks that set in the sunroom, back patio or bathtub.  You could hang laundry in the basement or the garage.  Get creative and enjoy the smells of fresh air and save a bit of money.

BUY QUALITY - don't buy junk just to save money.  The Amish are great craftsmen and make much of their belongings.  No we can't always do that - but buy wise.  Make good choices.  A quality piece may be more of a cash outlay - but it WILL LAST.  I'd rather buy something of quality and spend a bit more, than buy junk and spend dollars over and over again.

So there you have a few lessons that we can all learn from the Amish.  I think many of us already follow so many of these items every day.  I try to.
A simple life isn't always the easiest life.  It can be work.  I do believe that a little hard work that shows us good results is so satisfying.

Get creative - work a little harder - save a little more and be the best steward you can be of this ONE LIFE you get.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Tips and Tricks

It is so hard to come up with ideas that haven't been mentioned over and over.  I am going to give a few money saving kitchen tips - that you may already know.  Maybe someone new here, will pick up an idea or two.  I hope so!

  • First and foremost - shop your pantry and your freezer BEFORE going to the grocery.  If money is tight - look at what you have.  Get creative and make up some recipes.  Mix and match things.  Hopefully you are always prepared for emergencies (as we all preach), and you could get by for a while without grocery shopping.  DON'T buy just to be buying!!!
  • Pre-make breakfast meals for your family.  **Make up batches of scratch pancakes or waffles and freeze individually.  Pop in the toaster or microwave for a quick breakfast.  **Make breakfast burritos and freeze.  **Think about making sausage biscuits and wrapping and freezing.  **Muffins are a great breakfast food, or make egg cheese 'muffins' in muffins pans.  There are tons of ideas out there.  **I used to make a 4 day batch of steel cut oats for hubby- always easy to heat up.  Think something different - **make a batch of rice and freeze in individual servings.  Great topped with butter and sugar or syrup - top with cheese or a scrambled egg.  Always think about leftovers for breakfast.  There is NO right or wrong food to start the day.
  • If you work, have a spouse working or kids or grands - lunch can be expensive.  DON'T buy it out.  Make and take your own.  (don't forget using leftovers).
Lunchables are super easy to make.  Those little packets can add up in price at the store.  MAKE YOUR OWN! 
Have lots of re-usable containers on hand (can be purchased at dollar stores).  Any type of crackers can be used, round, square, rectangular, snack crackers (Triscuts, etc.) mini rye bread slices, mini bagels, etc.  Take leftover chicken, ham, turkey, shredded beef, or lunchmeat - whatever you have.  Bits and pieces of cheese.  ALSO make big bowls of Jello and fruit or pudding and then repackage in small containers for a great cool treat.  Homemade cookies, cake, pie, whatever desserts you make at home.  Take your drink.  Partially freeze a bottle of water, Kool-Aid, tea (all made from home) and by lunch it should be fine to drink.  It keeps your lunch cool as well.
*Even a sandwich made and cut into quarters would give you mini bites for lunch.
NO NEED to spend $$$$ on lunches.
  • There is not much difference in a roaster and a fryer chicken - except size.  Buy which ever is cheapest.  They are interchangeable.
  • IF you have a family of BIG eaters - make soups, stews, chili, slow cooker meals, etc.  They tend to go further and they are more filling - and then add bread or a sandwich to go along with it.
  • Add starches to extend a meal - pasta, rice, potatoes.  They are cheaper alternatives, filling, and they extend a meal
  • Think about adding noodles or dumplings to soups to extend and make it more filling
  • Think about making more crockpot meals.  You can add anything to them.  You can also use CHEAPER CUTS of meats and they will become tender.  Meats can be shredded to go further and you get more servings.
  • If you have some stale or older bread (not molded) toast - top with butter and a bit of shredded cheese and top with an egg.  That makes a filling meal for any meal.
  • If you have some apples that need to be used - think about fried apples.  Peel and slice and add to a pan with a little butter.  Sprinkled with a littles sugar and cinnamon and sautee until soft.  They are so good as a side (great with pork) or as a dessert.  OR core the apple - add a bit of brown sugar, butter, and nuts (or whatever you want to add) and bake in a 350 oven until fork tender.  YUM!  No need to waste your fruit.
  • Add a little meat to pasta salad and call it a MEAL!  Chunks of hams, turkey, faux crab, baby shrimp, chicken, etc..
  • Make a leftover pizza!!!!  Pizza can be anything.  Use any type of leftovers to crust and wahla you have pizza.  Veggies can be used to make a vegetarian pizza, or add ham, BBQ, taco meat, mac n cheese (this a new thing around here).  GET CREATIVE - anything goes and there is no waste and you have created a new meal with odds and ends.
  • If you have leftover veggies that no one wants to eat - puree them and add them to soup, stews, etc.  They help add vitamins to the meals and pureed they will make a thickening agent for soups and nothing wasted! (get sneaky)
There you go - a few ideas to save some grocery dollars.  I hope you find something you can use.  What are some fun ideas you have to stretch the dollar and not waste your food?

Get creative and have fun and save!

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Weekly Wrap-Up 9/8

Good morning.  Hope this finds you all well.
We have been having some cooler weather this week, but that is coming to an end for the upcoming week.  We will be back to close to 90* this week and some rain.  It seems that summer doesn't want to give up the fight.
The daylight hours just keep getting shorter and shorter.  UGH!  Supposedly we lose over another hour of daylight this month.

It appears the hummingbirds are getting ready to move on.  The activity has dropped markedly.  I am now down to 2 birds.  So sad to see them go.
The darn racoons have been around a lot.  They are cute - but I don't want them around.  I took down all the corn that was growing (squirrel planted) and harvested it (for squirrels).  The racoons  just keep showing up to feast on it.  I put the stalks and immature corn out by the alley - they can have at it out there.  I just don't want them in the yard!  I don't trust them.

All things are still green, although I do see bits of color starting here and there in the trees.  I am still harvesting a few tomatoes, and my brothers garden is going gangbusters.

My week:
  • My brother gave me a nice big bunch of fresh green beans (3 lbs.) and cherry tomatoes.  
  • I gave my SIL a big bag of paperback books
  • Cooked all the beans up.  Shared some with my neighbor and ate on them a couple times.  Remainder went into the freezer for another day
  • I froze leftover baked beans
  • Did some fall decorating  - doors and porch (with things I already had)
  • Mowed and did a bunch of yard work.
  • Picked several tomatoes
  • Cleaning and re-arranging  a bit - there is always so much to do
  • I ended up with 400 gas points for Aug. from Kroger.  That is .40 off per gallon of gas this month.  I did not spend that much.  I got 200 points free for doing 4 surveys and our local stores had coupons to double points each visit on certain days.  
  • I ran to the church thrift store to look around.  I received FREE bread and bagels and got a new sweater for .99 (still had a partial tag on it).

This will look cute over a colored lightweight top
  • I tried going to the area Goodwill again - I truly don't know why I try.  So stinking expensive for thrift.  Seemed like a lot of junk.  Bought nothing at all.
  • I received from family - 2 books, some thread, and a ceramic lighted Christmas tree (that I made years ago).  One book was a hard copy of Complete Tightwad Gazette, the other was a book of hints and tips.
  • Did lots more paperwork
  • All normal things - drinking water, meals from scratch, AC off when possible, minimal lights, staying home a lot, etc.
Meals this past week:
Big salad of fresh garden veggie chunks (no lettuce) served with Ranch (meatless day)
Dbl. cheeseburger and baked beans
Chicken tenders and sliced tomatoes and cucumbers
Green beans, sliced tomatoes, and grilled ham & cheese sandwich
Fried smashed potatoes, green beans and sliced tomatoes (meatless day)
Cheesy/spicy zucchini and hominy skillet and chicken
Leftover beans, cheesy zuc./hominy, and sliced tomatoes (meatless day)

Zucchini/hominy - I sliced a zucchini, added a bit of onion, and a small drained can of hominy.  Sautee till tender, added about 1/4 jar of homemade spicy salsa and topped with shredded cheese.  Oh my this good.

Fried smashed potato - Microwaved one medium potato - cut in half lengthwise (when cooled a bit) and placed (cut side down) in a pan with a little oil.  Smash down with egg turner.  Fry each side until golden.  Yum.  Tastes like a thick fried potato - crunchy outside - soft inside.

How was your week?  Did you get any deals?  How are your gardens doing?  Are you harvesting  - canning - freezing?

I hope you all have a great new week.  May you and your families be healthy and safe.  Prayers for healing for all those that need it.
Blessings from my humble little home to yours.

Thursday, September 5, 2019

No Failure in Trying

I had a whole different post ready to go and got to thinking about so many things I have read and heard in the past few days (and feeling). I decided to go a different direction today.  Just wanted to add a few words of encouragement.

We have all had HUGE setbacks in life.  It is a given if you live and breath.

Marriages that didn't work
Excess silly spending and major debt
Unexpected disasters and major debt
Loss of jobs
Health issues
Not being prepared
So many bad decisions and habits
Over extending our time and self
Not accomplishing goals in YOUR timeframe
There are soooooo many reason for things going south and that huge feeling of defeat.

Life  happens and we are mortal people who make mistakes and make bad judgements sometimes.  That is normal.
I do believe WE are our own worst enemies.  WE get in our way of having the best life possible.  WE expect more of ourselves than anyone else could possibly expect.  WE create the chaos in our lives.

We all need learn to realize that s**t happens and it always will.  We need to learn to relinquish a bit of control and just LIVE.  It is funny how we think we have this total control of our lives.  Yes, we do have some (in our decisions) - but for the most part God has this.  You may not call it God - you may have another name - but we all seem to believe that there is something much greater than ourselves that is in control - and that is true!  HAVE NO DOUBT!!!

So ease up on yourself a little and understand you can't FIX everything and especially in a short period of time.  You only have so much control - the rest is out of your hands.  GIVE YOURSELF A BREAK!  (I truly need to work on this point).

Setbacks happen.  Make your plans and try to go forward as best you can, but know there will be stumbling blocks along the way.  There will be setbacks.  It is a natural part of life.  It happens to everyone.
NOTICE I did not say failures.
I don't like that word at all.

I think there are NO failures as long as you DON'T give up and as long as you AT LEAST try.
If you never try - then you have failed yourself and maybe others.
If you totally give up - then you have failed in that situation - never quit trying.

I was convinced this was my post today when I read the morning paper and saw the daily prayer.

"O God, bless all who are trying to improve their lives.  As they work to transcend past mistakes and present habits, grant them success.  Amen"

Blessings my friends.

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Boredom, Wal-Mart and Holidays

What do these three things have in common?  ME!
I was so bored on Labor Day - I had all kinds of things accomplished and it was 11:30 AM.  I got to feeling lonely, feeling sorry for myself and just plain bored (goodness knows I have things to do) - so what is a girl to do?
Go to the Wal-Mart Family Market up the road.  It is basically just a grocery store - not a lot of other stuff like the regular Wal-Mart.

My reason was I wanted something to do, it was the closest store, and I forgot orange juice!!!!  LOL
So here I go and I just meander throughout the entire store.  You know I don't really like WM - but it's close by (and I used one of the 2 full service registers).
They have been remodeling the store and of course everything is in a new spot!  SIGH!
They have a method to their madness - you have to walk every aisle to find what you want - therefore you see more and buy more.


I get really aggravated when you get used to the stores then they change them up.  Lots of aggravated people were roaming the aisles.
BUT, they did do a few good moves.  Some things now just make more sense where they are.  I never really understood why some things were where they were before.
So yes, I saw a couple things that I didn't KNOW I needed and I bought.

Now comes the holiday part.  I am planning on making several jar recipes for my goody bags this year.  Many will be dry soup mixes.  I always have a supply of ham flavored dry bouillon, as we found an outlet for that years ago.  I however, have a hard time finding chicken and beef in larger container for a reasonable price.  Most I have found are cubes or it is the paste type that needs refrigerated after opening.

The Goya products I have purchased and keep on hand all the time.  It contains small packets of chicken bouillon  which works great for adding just a bit of flavor.  They usually run around a $1 or so a box.
Yesterday I found the Maggi chicken bouillon for $2.74 for a 15.9 ounce jar.  I also got the Knorr beef bouillon for 1.98 per 7.9 ounce jar.  I got 2 of those.  (These are all on the Hispanic food aisle).
With the ham seasoning I have and these two and the homemade tomato powder I have - I am set for flavoring different types of soup mixes.

I generally have tons of rice, different types of dry beans and lots of pasta on hand as well as herbs and other seasonings (dry onion, garlic etc.).  I may need to get a bag or two of dry noodles - but I think I am ready for about any type of soup mix I want to put together.
NOW is the time to start getting prepared for these types of goodies.
I can make them up for gifts for the baskets, for those unexpected folks that might drop by, or just for myself.
I want to be ready ahead of time.

So YES, boredom can lead to shopping and that can lead to being more prepared.  Just don't over do it!
Start thinking ahead of what homemade gifts you might want to do. 
I will slowly be posting recipes for lots of fun jar recipes over the next little while.

PS - I did get the OJ too!

Sunday, September 1, 2019

Weekly Wrap Up 9/1

Well, well, well here is September.  Happy Spring to those in the southern hemisphere, and happy -'unofficial' fall to my northern friends.  It seems that Labor Day here in the U.S. is kind of considered the last hoorah for summer.  Fall will be here in a few short weeks.

Weather has been all over the place this week.  Hot, cool, chilly, rain, storms, dry and sun, humid and wonderful!
The mosquitos are horrid.  I look like I am bundled for winter when I go out back in the evening.  They just attack like crazy!  UGH
All the birds (every type) are going crazy eating up everything in sight.  I have had a racoon in the yard this week (not happy about that - it was big), opossums and the ground hog was seen the first of the week.   Squirrels and birds of course and butterflies every where.  Hummies are still drinking away too.  Spiders and spider webs are every where you step!!!  My goodness you have to really be aware of the webs.   It is a regular Eden out there!

Kind of a quiet week.
  • I went to my sisters last Sunday for a sibling dinner.  That was super nice
  • She sent leftovers home with me!
  • I got around to cutting the 2nd cantaloupe I bought last week.  Yum, just as good as the first
  • Cleaned under the frig!!!!    Aaaaackkk - what a furry, dusty mess!  Me, the vacuum hose and a yardstick and rag.  Nothing like laying on your belly and trying to see under it!  At least I had a good flashlight!
  • Had enough rain, that I didn't have to water anything.
  • Used all leftovers I had in new ways.
  • Mowed and managed to get a ton of yardwork done on decent days!  So much more to do
  • Ran to Kroger  and got the weekend special of American cheese for 1.49 pack.  I got 3 as that will last me ages.  I also bought 3 packs of Eckrich thick cut bologna for $1 each.  I know - but I like it.  That is all I got there.
  • Went to Aldi - haven't been in ages.  Found that the few things I wanted actually went down in price.  YAY!  
  • Picked a few tomatoes and a couple peppers
  • Doing all the normal stuff
  • Got all the grapes picked and in freezer till this week (for jelly)
  • Have managed to have AC off for a few days this week and windows open
Meals this week:
Dinner at sisters
Fried chicken breast, 2 biscuits and gravy, and sliced tomato (most from sis)
Steak burger and sliced tomato and cucumber and hard boiled eggs (eggs from sis)
Refried bean/salsa/cheese quesadilla
Fresh veggie chunks with ranch dressing and cheese slices
Small homemade meaty-spicy pizza 
Tostadas (mixed pizza topping and leftover refried beans) over cheese w/salsa (birds & squirrels got the crust from extra pizza)

Have eaten a lot of cantaloupe this week!  SO fresh and juicy.
*If you can't tell - I like anything that is in some way Mexican!!!  I could eat Mexican food everyday!

So as you can tell - it has been quiet here.  I just plod away day by day - doing what needs to be done.  I need to get back to doing more than JUST enough.  The holidays are coming up and I need to get busy doing some canning (for my baskets), making up jar mixes and possibly some crafts and sewing.  I hope I get the oomph I need to get it done.  It may even bring me some joy - just getting back to it!!!!  I will think about the smiles the goodies I make will bring!

How was your week?  Did you take advantage of any good deals?  How are the gardens doing?
I hope you all have a great Labor Day and time with family and friends.

May you all stay safe and healthy and frugal this coming week.  Enjoy each and every day the Lord puts in front of you.
Blessings from my humble little home to yours!