Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Saving at the Grocery

 Good morning.  It is a blustery cool and cloudy day here.  Sure fills like fall.

I know we have talked about saving at the grocery before, and come up with all kinds of ways to save money while stocking our pantries.  I am going to post some reminders - as I think a lot of people are truly getting worried about things again - and looking for the best ways to stock up on little money.

GARDEN - we all know that helps.  Those that can, have a jump up on saving.  
FARM STANDS - if we can't garden - we can often get deals at farm markets or straight from the farms.  It is good to go at the end of the day, as you MAY get some good deals.  They usually don't  want to take things back home - so sell cheaper.
ORCHARDS - take advantage of getting fresh from the orchards.  Apples, pumpkins, squash, grapes, pears, peaches, etc.  Get what you can.  
Buying local is great for you, the farmer and the community.

Shop the SALES - most items regularly go on sale at 6 - 9 week intervals.  Keep an eye open for those specials and always stock up.  IF you can utilize a coupon with a sale - all the better.

CLEARANCE - is our friend!!!!  Keep an eye open for marked down meats and all forms of other clearance at the grocery.  Just because things are on clearance (other than meat) doesn't mean they are close to 'best' by date.  I recently found pasta on clearance for .49/lb. dated 2023!  ALWAYS  look for markdowns.  Many stores have a produce clearance section - that is great for getting items to freeze and can for pennies.

SKIP convenience foods.  They are expensive!!!!!  Make your own.  By keeping basic items in the pantry, you can make about anything and save.

COOK from SCRATCH - not only does the food taste better - but it is a great use of simple ingredients.  It is healthier than pre-packaged and saves from convenience food.

USE LESS - meat is an ingredient - not necessarily a major course.  Smaller portions and eating slower - aids in feeling full quicker.  
SOUPS/CASSEROLES - stretches meat and veggies greatly - add a grain or pasta to stretch it out.  Pasta and rice are GREAT extenders.  You can use much less meat and add more extenders and veggies.  Remember carbs are needed in your diet just as protein is.

SHOP BULK - if you have a way to store items.  Many times you get a much greater price buying in bulk.  IF you can't reasonably use all the product - go in with another person and spit the price and product.  Win-win!

Add BREAD - BISCUITS - CRACKERS to a meal.  It is filling and gets you full quicker.  Bread can often be found for pennies on discount - freeze it until needed or bake your own.  Bread can be used in many ways - bread pudding, grilling, garlic toast, French toast, toast, mini pizzas, dried and made into croutons or dressing/stuffing mix......  Biscuits cost virtually nothing to make and they are just so easy.  Crackers are great with soups and stews and chilis.  
Nothing like a hot bowl of soup and a sandwich or warm buttered biscuit.

BASICS  - you need to keep basics that can be used in many, many ways!  Canned beans, dried beans, rice, pasta, flour, sugar, honey, peanut butter and a variety of veggies.  MEAT IS NOT needed for every meal!!!!!  Have some meatless meals to stretch budget.

FROZEN - look for frozen veggies or fruit IF you have the room.  Frozen is picked and generally flash frozen immediately.  Therefore they are just fresher tasting than professionally canned.

STOCK UP - I keep seeing people ask on FB "what should I stock?".  You stock what YOU USE!  ALWAYS.  Figure what you use a week - times that per month and then times that per 52 weeks (or time frame you want) - that is what you STOCK.  For every item you have on hand - the less you have to worry about going out.
If you know how to glean from fields or nature - do so.  If you are in need and have an abundance of something else - think about bartering.

Just remember - if you get a "deal" and then don't use it or waste - it was NOT a deal!!!!!!!  Be mindful and use what you have.
IF you need to - keep an inventory - don't be wasteful.
ROTATE - and use the oldest product first.
Get CREATIVE with your pantry.
And remember - ANYTHING can be a meal - if it fills you up and you are satisfied - that is ALL that matters.

REMEMBER there are NO EXPIRATIONS DATES!!!!!!  I truly can't reiterate that enough.  The dates  are "best if used by" meaning peak of taste.  Or "sell by: which is strictly for store use.
Products are good for months and often times years past 'best' dates.  The stuff in the can has NO IDEA what the date is!!!!!  LOL
If you ever get hungry  - you will be glad you didn't waste food and throw it out.

I am a firm believer that every item I get ahead and I get cheaply or grow IS money in the bank!  Money that can be used for other things.

Hope these reminders help you get organized and hope they save you a little money and frustration in the future.

The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance, but every one who is hasty comes only to want.
Proverbs 21:5

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

I Wonder What our Ancestors Would Think

 We live in a time of instant gratification.  We can do about anything today with little effort.  We have fancy phones that also entertain with TV, movies and the Internet.  We have cars that can get us anywhere in no time at all.  We have appliances that do absolutely everything - cook, clean, sweep, mix, chop, blend, wash and dry.......... you name it.
We can buy a fancy home pre-made and fill it with furniture with little effort.  We have our grocery stores that sell food and other items from all over the world.  We buy clothes and household items and linens in beautiful colors. 
We have access to EVERYTHING!

Voo-Doo or magic is what some distant ancestors would think!!!!
Remember - there was a time when there were no towns, cities or commercial areas.  Someone had to come through an area and clear the land just to make a hap-hazard road.  Someone had to build that rural village.

I think about how life had to be - and honestly I can't even imagine.
They cleared the way for roads - they cut trees to clear land to build.  They looked for areas with a water source.  They built their  own homes from the trees that were cut.  They made furniture.  
They used wood for heat and cooking.  
They had to create everything!!!!
The hunted and fished.  They grew what they could.  
At some point in time - everyone lived only with what they and the land could provide.

Slowly areas grew and small towns started.  Some items began to get traded, bartered and bought.  Even today, some folks live very far off the beaten track and live off the grid and very simply.
I have tremendous respect for all my ancestors.  If they had not persisted and worked hard - I wouldn't be here today - nor YOU!

Just think about it.  They built their homes with the wood of the land.  They chopped wood for heat and cooking.  They used wash boards and the creek to launder clothes (and body).
They had to raise grain for feed for livestock and to grind for themselves.  
They had to grind their own corn.
The gardened and canned, preserved, smoked and salted whatever they could.

They had to make everything.  Clothes and bedding.  Soap to clean themselves and their laundry.  They cooked over fire.  
They churned butter.  They tapped trees for syrup (sugar).    They spun wool.  They wasted absolutely nothing!!!!!!  They couldn't - everything was needed to survive or for their animals to survive.
Ever heard of fish head soup?  Head cheese?  They ate every part of an animal (including all organs).  They used the hides for warmth, clothing, shoes, etc.
People died - they had to make coffins (if used), dig graves and make markers.

Women and children had to work just as hard as men.  No one was exempt.  Children learned to hunt and fish and trap at an early age.  They learned to help with gardens.  Women did a bunch of of the gardening, the preserving and even dispatching of farm animals (to ready to eat).  Women often took care of everything at the home while men went on long hunts or worked in mines or logged for a living.

Gardens were often terraced on hill/mountain sides - as folks lived in the valleys for protection and water.  Many still do this today in the Appalachia area.
They learned to glean the land - hunting for nuts, berries, mushrooms, animals, fruit......

For entertainment the sang and played instruments.  They read their Bibles.  They grew tobacco and learned to make moonshine!  Heck, everyone in this world has had vices - and these ventures often provided good income!

I just can't imagine what they would think today.  The first settlors were so primitive (in all countries) and had a work ethic that didn't stop.  They couldn't stop or they would die.
They had tremendous faith.  They had to - to set off on such adventures and not know what was ahead.

Today we are soft.  Life is truly easy.  We are spoiled.  Yes, there are still poor people and people who live in areas that are not modernized - but for most of us - we truly want for nothing.

We complain when an item is out of stock at the store.  Oh no, no pumpkin!  Oh no, no TP!  Oh no, no tomatoes!  It seems most people don't take the time to think of an alternative to situations.
If the car breaks down - what will we do?  My goodness, we have so many alternatives and none that those folks could even imagine.  They walked or rode a horse for miles and miles.
I don't want to cook - run to the fast food joint.
I can buy anything - furniture, clothes, pretties, food, medicine, animal feed, etc.

I have had this all on my mind for a few days.  I heard someone belly aching about absolutely everything in their life and how unfair it all was - and the truth be known - they are just flipping lazy and want it all handed to them. (the situation I heard).
Ticks me off to no end.

Self and instant gratification seems to be the way of the world today.  I find this so sad.
I am guilty too.  We all like our luxury and ease of getting things.

I have such great admiration for the first settlers who learned everything the hard way and yet survived.  Life was never easy and the work was difficult and never ending. (could be why no one smiled in pictures!).  Sacrifice was made daily - just to survive.
Thanks to them - we are here today - living a wildly good life!!!!

Thanks for reading.  Just have had these wonderful people on my mind lately.  This is my way of celebrating them!

(pictures are not mine - stock pictures)

Sunday, September 27, 2020

Weekly Wrap-Up 9/27

 Hello to all.  Happy Sunday and last weekend of September.  The time is just flying by this year.
We have had really nice weather this week.  Pretty much perfect in my opinion.  70's during the day and 50's at night.  Still absolutely no rain!  Driest September in decades.  The weather folks are saying perhaps we will get some rain later tonight.

It seems this will be what happens here this coming week.  High's are supposed to be only in the 60's and lows in the 40's.  It appears fall has come around.  There is still a lot of green to be seen on the trees around here.  No bright colors yet.  I imagine after some rain and colder temps that colors will appear.

I accomplished some this week, but I was just in a very reflective mood.  This would have been the week of Glen's 65th birthday (the 24th).  Instead of getting to give him grief about 65 (LOL) - he had his 2nd heavenly birthday.  I sure do miss him, but I know he is enjoying the bliss and wonderments of heaven - something we can only try to imagine.  

I want to thank you all for participating this week and giving so many stories and ideas on budgeting.  I think there were many great ideas - and I can almost guarantee that your answers helped someone who is struggling.  THANK YOU

My week:
  • Still picking tomatoes.  I think this week I may pull out the regular plants and harvest everything to ripen inside.
  • Did more yard work - here and there.  Just deadheading lots of plants.
  • Froze the balance of the chili for another day
  • Chopped up some tiny colored peppers I had and froze for future use
  • Cleaned out the bedroom closet (again).  I had an added shelf that was moving - so I screwed that in for safety - and just got rid of a lot of stuff
  • Dropped 4 boxes and a big bag of stuff at the church thrift store
  • Picked up a FREE loaf of thick cut bread at thrift store 
  • AC off 95% of the week.  I turned on for one cycle on 2 different late afternoons
  • I ran to Kroger when out.  They had ground beef on sale for 1.77/lb.  I needed a few refrigerator items.  GOOD NEWS - ALL shelves were well stocked and full.  There was canned goods galore and lots of tomato products, pumpkin in cans, paper goods and cleaning supplies, soda pop of all kinds (had hardly nothing for well over 2 months - can problem?), lots of variety of meat and no limits on anything,  There were also assorted sizes of canning jars!!  It looked like the good old days!!!!!  (I understand not all areas are so blessed yet).  Just trying to give some encouragement.
Checked clearance area and found this pasta.  Basically bow tie!  .49/lb. box and dated 2023!!!  Got 7 boxes - all that was left.
  • Did a decent clean up of the main part of garage.  Looks so much better.  Need to work on de-cluttering out there at some point and work on the shelves.  AT least the floor area is clear!
  • Brought in all items that might be freezable - paint and such
  • Started working in basement - OH MY GOODNESS!  I did get the craft table cleaned off.  I went through a huge tote and sorted saved jars (not canning).  I cleaned the little hall between laundry room and living area.  I brought up a lot of things to just trash. (at least I started this project)
  • I went through what items I have purchased for Christmas baskets.  Not as much as I thought.  I need to get busy with that.
  • Used rain barrels to water plants
  • Doing all the basics - cooking from home, laundry in cold, line drying, airing house, drinking water - porch sitting!
Meals this past week:
Mushroom/Swiss steak burger and macaroni w/tomatoes
Grilled cheese and tomato soup
Breakfast - waffle (last from freezer), sausage patties and fried egg
Beef/bean/cheese  Frito casserole
Leftover casserole and salad
Pork chops, kraut and fried smashed potato
Broccoli/tuna macaroni with cheese

Now that the weather is cooling I am thinking about all the comfort foods!  
I am proud I finally started working in cleaning the clutter in the basement.  It is a very daunting project - and I usually just go look and walk away.  At least I have started!  Baby steps!!!!!

The kitties are enjoying the cooler temps.  The squirrels are now eating lots more around here.  I still see them running around with walnuts - but they are back to eating corn, sunflower seeds and peanuts!  Birds still seem a bit scarce - but they will be back soon.  My hummies are gone!  Haven't even seen a stray. 😢

So tell us - how was your week?  Gardens, canning, freezing??  Deals??  
Are you doing any fall cleaning?  Look forward to hearing from you all.

May you and yours be safe and healthy in the coming week.
Blessings from my humble little home to yours.

I can do all things in Him who strengthens me.
Philippians 4:13

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Budgeting - What Do You Do?

 Good morning.  We all have set budgets and have done budgeting in some form over the years.  I really hate the word!!!  LOL - It sounds so intimidating.  I know there are many methods that people have used.  Maybe you guys can share some of the methods you have used.
I know many have used Dave Ramsey, the envelope method and many other methods.

At my house we kept it pretty darn simple.  We made XX dollars.  10%+ was saved back first.  Bills were paid and then we spent on whatever.  We kept our bills to a level that was manageable.  Most times we tried to keep expenses to a point that ONE of us could cover the basic bills, should the other be out of work.  We both invested the max we could to pre-tax accounts like 401K (it virtually made no difference in our take home pay).
Luckily we didn't have any major medical expenses in our years together and we had decent insurance.  I know that not everyone has that.
Our logic was to always spend less than we made.  If nothing was left over - we didn't play!

As we got ourselves on a good track - then we started stocking up and preparing for emergencies.  I was lucky to have a husband that was onboard with that and even encouraged me.  I gardened a lot and preserved.  We loved yard sales and thrift stores and thought nothing of utilizing them.  I was encouraged when I "FOUND" couponing - back when you could double and triple.  I had a period of time that I spent almost nothing on groceries.
We had fun - but it was simple fun that didn't cost a fortune.  We camped, got with friends and family, and wondered Indiana.
We drove older vehicles for a big part of our lives together.  Luckily my Glen was a mechanic, and he took care of everything.  We didn't get our FIRST new (to either of us) car until the house was paid in full.  We paid the Blazer off in 2 years. (we got it in 2001 and I still drive it).
We knew that Glen had a great probability of having physical/medical problems and may not be able to work until retirement age.  We worked our butts off to be prepared for that!  That was our goal.

I know we have been blessed.  Not everyone has had the same job and health insurance opportunities we had.
Life can make a lot of detours and success can look like the chart above.  NEVER give up or give in.
Always remember - slow and steady wins the race.  You aren't out to beat anyone else in getting your life and budget together.  Your life is your life.  Do what is important and necessary for you.

Write your goals and plans down.  Keep that somewhere you can see it.  It gives you incentive.  Work hard.  Make a plan with your finances and TRY your darndest to keep on track.

Life will surely place obstacles in front of each of us along the way.  Slowly and methodically dig your way out.

What has been your method of budgeting?  What worked for you?
There are lots of people reading here and many may benefit or get that one idea that works from seeing what someone else has done.
Let us help one another.  Please share your tips and tricks.

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Info and Recipes - Misc.

 Today I am just showing a couple things that may come in handy this time of the year.  It is fall and winter will be here before we know it.  I think many are working on making holiday gifts and looking to cook comfort foods.  

YUMMO.  I can imagine this being made with about any canned fruit - fruit cocktail, pears, cherries..... Super easy and dessert is always comforting.
(reminder you can make your own buttermilk and can substitute butter for margarine)  
This is kind of a pantry ready recipe.

Click on picture to easily see the measurements.  This is a great guide to use when making pretty fleece  throws or blankets this season.

Super easy to make and so good.  This is one part of Chinese food that I love.  I like fried rice and lo mein but that is about it.  These are so good.  I have made them.  (I found a little egg wash helps the wrappers stick together when folded up)

Here is a good guide for those who are getting ready to put apples.  Fall is the time!  It is always hard to try to figure what you need.  I always figure a quart of apples for one pie.
Hope this helps someone.  Click on picture to easily read.

Just a thing or two today.  Hope this helps someone with crafting, canning, baking, etc.
Have a blessed day my friends.

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

It Is All About Perspective

I saw this story on FB and it really resonated with me.  What is poor?  What is rich?  Everyone has their own opinions and truthfully it is all a matter of perspective.

I have had people jokingly (I think) say "if I had your money - I'd...."  - I laugh.  I know we worked hard to have what there is now.  Diligently we worked to pay everything off and be debt free.  We invested some money and we saved.  I am in no way rich financially - but I am so very rich in other ways.  I am comfortable  and I have enough!  Enough is good.  I pay my bills and have some left.  I can help others when need be.  I am good.

I know people who have a ton of money, pay cash for everything and travel the world.  Glad for them - but are they truly happy?  I wonder sometimes.  Some people I know really covet money - and I don't think they are really aware of that.  But their world revolves around money - getting more - and never seeming to have enough. 

We Are So Poor

One day a father and his rich family

took his son to a trip to the country
with the firm purpose to show him
how poor people can be.
They spent a day and a night
in the farm of a very poor family.
When they got back from their trip
the father asked his son,
"How was the trip?"
"Very good Dad!"
"Did you see how poor people can be?"
the father asked.
"And what did you learn?"
The son answered,
"I saw that we have a dog at home,
and they have four.
We have a pool that reaches
to the middle of the garden,
they have a creek that has no end.
We have imported lamps in the garden,
they have the stars. Our patio reaches
to the front yard, they have a whole horizon."
When the little boy was finishing,
his father was speechless.
His son added,
"Thanks Dad for showing me how poor we are!"

I love this. Yes indeed, those country folks were rich. There is so much more to life than money. Health, family, friends, pets, home, food for the table, enough to take care of things, warmth.... all the basics we have come to take for granted.
Take some time to be thankful for your riches. They are far greater than your bank account and investments.
I am thankful for so much. I give my thanks to my creator every morning and every evening and sometimes many times in between. He really has blessed me in so many ways. I am thankful to have you all to share with and to learn with and from. You are part of my blessings.
Take care my friends. YOU ARE BLESSED

Sunday, September 20, 2020

Weekly Wrap-Up 9/20

 Good morning to everyone.  This coming week is the official start to fall in our area.  It sure has come around quickly, considering how little we all did this year!!  You would think all the staying home would have made the time seem slower - but it sure seems like it went by quickly.

We are really getting the feel of fall.  Mornings have been in the upper 40's and low 50's.  Days 60's and 70'sF.  I love it.  No furnace yet - but no AC needed either.  It is supposed to get back to 80* this week.   Mornings are dark, when I go out to feed the cats, and all I hear are crickets and a far off call of the rooster.  So quiet.
Today I put on my first sweatshirt of the season and got out my slippers!!!  EEK

I do believe the hummingbirds have gone to warmer destinations in the past couple days.  I saw a couple on Thursday and haven't seen one since.  I am going to put new nectar out today  just in case we get some strays flying south!  I will sure miss my little flying jewels.

We are back to having blue skies and calm.  It was quite breezy for the past 3 days.  Earlier in the week, the skies never had blue, just a haze and the sun looked red when it came up in the morning.  Weather guy said it was from the smoke from out west that got caught up in the jet stream.

We are now to have the sunniest, clearest stretch of weather that we have had in months.  Absolutely no rain in sight (ugh).  Things are so dry.  Sunshine and blue skies are appreciated though!

My week: (was kind of quiet)
  • Still picking tomatoes and eating them every day
  • Did a lot more yard work -  deadheading flowers, trimmed bushes out back for the final time this year, weed whacked - the grass is basically dormant so all there was around was the occasional pop up weeds, started cutting back the peonies (trash bin full) - lots of odds and ends
  • Made a batch of beans and rice and used in different ways
  • Changed the bed quilt to a heavier one for fall
  • Windows open most of the week
  • Laundered what seemed like everything!!!  Clothes, bedding, throw rugs, table toppers, furniture covers - you name it
  • Turned off the ceiling fans for the first time in MONTHS
  • My brother came by to get some ham seasoning I have and he brought me peppers - YUM
                            Aren't they pretty?  The longest green one is 8" long!  Happy dance!!!!!
  • Ran up the road to the library.  Got a couple new books
  • Been watering everything with water from rain barrels
  • Washed ALL the bedding for the kitties in the greenhouse (ready for cool weather) and sprayed the greenhouse with natural flea spray - kitties got their flea meds as well
  • Made my first chili of the season!
  • Washed the full glass panels in the security doors - inside and out
  • I have been doing more de-cluttering and packed another box
  • NO grocery shopping or shopping of any sort 
  • Just doing all the normal stuff we all do - nothing too exciting
Meals this past week:
Chicken chunks/asparagus stir fry over noodles
Beans and rice with ground beef, sliced tomatoes
Burritos (used rice/beans) cheese, salsa & ranch dressing
Chili with crackers/butter - (tossed in leftover beans/rice)
Stuffed pepper skillet & cheesy bread
Chili w/cheese & sour cream and crackers
Leftover stuffed pepper skillet with a baked potato
Tomatoes every day at some time during the day!!!!!

I am ready for comfort food, reading books and nesting all snuggled up in a throw!  Sounds crazy probably - most of us have nested all summer - but there is something different about cooler weather and the beauty of the season.
Yesterday I was tired after working outside and came in and laid down on the bed, and Coogy came in and snuggled with me.  Those are the times I just smile and feel calm!

How was your week?  Are you all ready for the autumn weather?  Have you done any stocking up this  week (in any form)?

I hope you are all well and safe.  I look forward to hearing from everyone - it makes my day!  May I say, we have such a good group here - so sharing and caring - I love it!

BLESSINGS from my humble little home to yours.

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Fall - Harvest Time

 Those of us in the northern hemisphere are approaching the fall harvest season.  Crazy I know - it seems like it can't be that time already.
Now is the time to take advantage of many fresh and yummy items that are abundant and cheaper during this time.  
The days are getting shorter and the nights are cooler.  It is that time.  I am not crazy about what happens next in line (winter), but I do absolutely LOVE fall harvest time.
Take advantage while you can.  Visit orchards, farm markets, road side stands - barter and glean.  

Gardens are slowing down and coming close to the end of harvest time.  Tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers will soon be a thing of the past (for fresh and tasty).  Get what you can now.  Can or freeze whatever you can for winter - you will miss them, I can assure you!

Now is the time to reap the benefits of getting beans, greens of all kinds, carrots, radish, sweet potatoes, potatoes, onions, Brussel sprouts (soon), cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, squash and PUMPKINS!!!

I keep hearing people say "pumpkin in cans is no where to be found" this year. (I see it all the time)
FIRST - it isn't the season quite yet - so chill.
SECOND - I read a quote from Libby that said production slowed this summer due to pandemic and they are back and producing and shelves will be stocked soon!!!!!
THIRD - use fresh!!!!  Get small pumpkins and bake them down and use the pulp to make your own.  You can easily freeze it.  You can also substitute sweet potatoes or winter squash in pies and baked goods.  Don't be one of those who creates panic - there are many substitutes and there are worse problems in the world!!!!!!
(OK - off my soap box)

Apples are big this time of the year as are pears.  So many fresh and yummy options out there.  We had a big freeze in May that damaged a lot of buds that had set, but the orchards still have plenty available.  Cider is another wonderful side product of apples.
Now is the time to get apples for making applesauce, for baking, frying, canning, freezing  and plain good time eating!!!!!!
You can use pears in just about all the same ways as apples.

Nuts are starting to fall from trees.  Take advantage of gleaning if you have the chance.  Many folks have walnut or hickory nut trees - get those yummy nuts before the critters do!  It sure will save money come holiday time when even though plentiful they jack up the price.
If you live in the country or around vacant homes - there may be fruit trees that you can glean from.

There are things like persimmons and  paw-paws as well in many areas.  We have both here in Indiana.  Let them be ripe - before trying to use.  You will surely know if they aren't ripe!!!!!  Pucker doesn't even begin to define the result!!!!!!  LOL
Grapes are ready in many areas.
I know every region has their fall fruit options - take advantage while you can.

I don't consider food the only harvest of fall.  Look around at the stores and get whatever deals you can find for yourself or gifts.  Summer clothes and items are marked down, school supplies are being marked down already, camping gear, gear for outdoor activities (games and fun), and gardening items.  Think ahead to gifts you need to get.  A gift doesn't have to be about winter - get something the recipient can use next summer!

It is cookout/campfire  time - so look for deals on hotdogs, condiments, hamburgers and chili ingredients, smore ingredients - the list goes on.

My brother has a cookout each fall - to celebrate fall birthdays - and it is always a fall food delight.  There is a big pot of thick chili, hotdogs and all the fixings, smores and cider - chips, dip, etc.  It is always wonderful!  Sitting around a fire with family and eating good food.

So if you have the opportunity to go visit a farm stand or farm market - now is the time.  Most will end in a month or so.  Healthy, fresh food is available.  Check with your family and friends and see if they have any surplus they can share.  
Get your fall 'harvest' on and stock up for the days ahead.
Enjoy the first days of a new season - winter is around the corner.

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Inexpensive, Easy and In A Pinch Meals

 I think most that read this blog do pretty good as far as stretching their dollars and their pantries.  I know many read that don't comment, and we all need new ideas.  I like reminders, alternatives, and just different choices sometimes.  How about you?

Whether you are short on dollars, or the pantry is getting low, or weather is bad and you need to stay in, or you choose to stay home because of illness, or you are just bored - here are some frugal and easy ideas to stretch the budget and the pantry.

  • MACARONI AND CHEESE - pasta is very cheap and a staple in most pantries.  Cheese is a protein - so add meat or not.  If you do - chopped up hotdogs, ground beef or sausage, ham pieces, smoked sausage, tuna, leftover taco meat.............. whatever you have.  This can be a meal in itself or add a veggie as a side.   You can also add veggies to the mac - broccoli, peas, tomatoes or salsa, asparagus, etc.
  • ONE POT MEALS - can be anything.  Chicken, pork, ham, smoked sausage with potatoes, carrots, onion, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, peas...................  Put what you have in a crockpot and let it simmer together for a yummy combo.  Your imagination is the only limit to what you can fix.
  • RICE & BEANS - add meat or not.  Beans are protein.  I can make a meal of beans and rice, maybe add a biscuit or bread and a salad.  You can add corn, hominy, mushrooms, onion - anything you want.   **Use in burritos, enchiladas, put leftovers in soup or chili
  • VEGGIE SOUP - always an easy throw together pot of goodness.  Whatever you have leftover in frig - add pasta or rice to extend if needed - add meat or not - add a few cans of this or that - and season.  No limits whatsoever and it can be added to over days and can make many meals!  Hearty food!!!!  
  • FRIED RICE - super easy and tasty.  Add egg, meat or not, and any kind of veggie you have.  There are no rules.  Add a bit of soy sauce or make your own sauce.  Super good and very filling!!   ******You can do the same thing with spaghetti and turn it into lo mein!  One of my favorites
  • BAKED POTATOES - NO limits whatsoever.  Top with anything you have and make a meal of it.  I do this about once a month or more.  So good and cheap!
  • BREAKFAST - another favorite.  You can do anything and mix and match.  Eggs, waffles, pancakes, French toast, toast, biscuits and gravy, egg sandwiches, quiche, bread pudding - all cheap and easy things to make.  Cereal or oats or granola are good options.  Add fruit (canned or fresh) if you have it.
  • ROAST VEGGIES - YUM.  One or a variety - have fun with it.  Can add a small side of meat if you choose - or serve with pasta or rice.  OR make stuffed peppers with whatever you have on hand.

  • SALAD - tuna, ham, chicken, egg, pasta, rice, lettuce, potato, pea, bean, corn - salads can be hot or cold.  Many, many meals here have been salad - serve with toast or crackers for a super inexpensive meal.  Salads can be any combination of food you desire
  • PATTIES OR FRITTERS - tuna, salmon, mackerel, corn fritters, potato cakes, zucchini fritter, dressing/stuffing fritters. bean burgers - there is just no limit to what you can put together.
  • FOIL PACKETS - can be done in the oven or on the grill.  Generally  meat and whatever veggies you have - a little seasoning or butter and wrap it up and cook.  Great for camping.  Easy and no clean-up!
  • OTHER SOUPS - chili is a fall/winter favorite.  Make with meat or not.  Add pasta to stretch it or serve over rice.  Add cheese or sour cream - so many options.    Potato soup is super frugal and easy to make.  Any kind of cream of soup - broccoli, asparagus, corn, etc.   I am sure we all have canned soups on hand as well - don't dilute much - pour over pasta or rice or add them to the soup.  Jazz up a normal can of soup with cheese or sour cream - whatever you have.
  • BEANS - soup beans, green beans, any kind of beans!  Protein, flavorful and frugal.  Add some corn bread and you have one super delicious dinner.
  • SPAGHETTI OR ANY PASTA MEAL - spaghetti is about as easy as it gets.  You can add whatever you want to pasta sauce to make it more hearty - veggies or meat.  Lasagna, casseroles,  goulash, etc.  Pasta of any kind can be used for any dish - it is just pasta after all.  If you don't have one kind - substitute another type.
  • EGGS - hard boiled eggs are a yummy and filling addition to a meal.  Scrambles, soft boiled, over easy, fried, frittata's, quiche.  Add to salads.  Eat as a side dish.  Make a meals of hard boiled eggs, cheese cubes, maybe a little meat, some fresh veggies and crackers.  YUM

I think we all tend to make things too difficult.  Change things up a bit and look outside the box.  There is so much you can make with WHATEVER you have on hand - spend NO money - and eat WELL.
So no matter the reason for using your pantry and freezer and using only that - no shopping - have fun!!

Experiment - do new and fun foods - remember a meal doesn't need to be 3 courses - a meal is what you have and what fills you up.  IT CAN BE ANYTHING!

I hope this inspires someone in a time when they feel they need it.  You can always whip something tasty up with what you have.  

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

De-Clutter and Help Others

 My home - so full of stuff!  I am slowly and deliberately getting rid of stuff.  I am making progress - albeit slow progress.  Main floor is coming along pretty good.  When done there, then it will be the dreaded basement.  There is so much storage down there - things that haven't been touched in years.  WHY?????

Well I have decided to donate things instead of selling them.  I thought about a yard sale - but not many are happening this year, and that is just way more work than I care to do.  I have a wonderful place that is close to donate to and they are thankful.  Last load I took in - they started going through the boxes before I left the shop (I was looking around) - and they just kept saying how nice it all was and how easily it would sell.  They have 3 different locations in and out of town and they do good for the communities.  The money they raise FEEDS people!  That is a win in my book!

They also receive loads of different kinds of breads, bagels, donuts, etc.  every week that they give to ANY ONE that needs it for FREE.  No need to buy anything - just go in and get bread.  
Most clothes and knick-knacks are .99 each.  They do have a boutique area for extra nice clothing, coats and specialty household items that cost more - but still very affordable.

My thinking lately:  How many small appliances do I need?
How many things do I want to clean?
How many things that I have never used nor will I use - do I need to keep?

I have a set of china that was Glen's paternal grandmas.  We received it like 25 years ago and never used.  I won't use it.  I contacted his only aunt on that side of the family (she has several kids and grands) and asked her if she wanted.  She was so excited - she didn't know where it had gone.  Packed and ready for her.  It needs to stay with his Dad's family.

I donated an electric orange/citrus squeezer.  Haven't used it in years - I buy OJ in concentrate.
I donated a veggie steamer.  I have a colander that fits over a pan.  All I need for me.
I donated blender.  I donated an electric chopper - I have a Ninja that does everything.
I donated an electric sandwich maker.  I use a griddle to grill sandwiches.
I donated lots of odds and ends of glasses and cups.  I kept the nice ones - and have plenty.
I donated odd and end dishes - only need one set.
I donated old mismatched and dinged up Tupperware.  I have plenty of nice storage containers.
I donated a ton of storage lids that went to nothing I have anymore!  (Really - why in the world?)
That's just the kitchen!!!!!!

I kept my George Foreman grill (thinking of getting rid of outdoor grill I don't use), I kept waffle iron and Quesedilla maker and of course my NINJA which mixes, blends, chops and does dough.  (I use the Ninja every day).
I have my crockpots (2 big and a tiny).
Most  items can be used for more than one purpose - it is time to get back to simplifying life.

I can also cook over a fire outside if need be.  I have no problem with that.  I can chop, and mix anything I want the 'old fashioned' non-electric way!!!  I have an egg beater, knives out the wazoo, and cooking spoons of all types. My can opener is manual.  
GOOD GRIEF we are spoiled.  SO many gadgets.  I am taking a stand to go to a more simplified life.

It just amazes me as I go through closets, drawers and cabinets.  I keep saying WHY did I keep that?  WHY did I buy that?  Why did I ever think I needed that?

I have decided to bless others with these things.  Someone out there can't afford to get a new --------.
Maybe they can't afford a gift.  Maybe their hands don't work good any more and they need something to make life easier.  Maybe they are starting over.
Whatever it is - maybe my contributions will bless them.

The money the store makes will bless those who are hungry.  The store gets reduced rent and only pays utilities - all workers are volunteers.  They don't need much to operate and it all goes to food pantries for those in need.  ANYONE in need at NO cost.
(I have seen them GIVE a coat and gloves to homeless many times)

Not only is this doing good for others - BUT I am getting older.  Someday, someone will have to come in here and clean this place out!  Been there and done that - oh my.  It is no fun.  The more there is, the more work you cause and the more someone wonders "what were they thinking"!

Have you thought about what a blessing your excess could be for others?
Things that may not be useful for you - could change another person's life.


Sunday, September 13, 2020

Weekly Wrap-Up 9/13

 Happy Sunday everyone.  My goodness, we are almost half way through this month already!  Crazy - how time flies.

This morning I went out to pick-up the kitty dishes (wet food) to wash and there was this bright glowing orb in the skies - it scared me!!!!  LOL.  I haven't seen a clear view of the sun in days - it has been so cloudy.  That has kept the heat down - which is good.
It was supposed to rain overnight and was sorely needed - but all we got here was sprinkles.
Next week is supposed to be low humidity and 70's - aaaahhhhhh.

The hummingbirds are still here and drinking lots and lots.  I see formations of geese about 4X every morning and evening.  They go west each morning and then back east in the evening - honking all along the way!
The blue jays and woodpeckers haven't been around much lately.  Miss their antics.
The outside kitties sure do like the cooler weather - lounging in their chairs and in the greenhouse - and not having to hide in the shade.  Momma is doing much better.
Mr. groundhog is sure getting fat!  I am still not sure where he is living.  I see him in my yard, neighbors yard and the one behind me.  He scurries under decks and buildings in all places - guess he has a lot of homes!

This week:
  • Used leftover refried beans in a lasagna I made - added protein, didn't waste, but you couldn't even tell it was there
  • Used dehumidifier water in laundry
  • Cut a bunch of stuff from the back fence - some small wild trees coming up and lots of spent flowers
  • Picking tomatoes - still getting tons of cherry toms.  I checked out the price of organic cherry tomatoes this week - boy have I raised a fortune!!!!  They were 5.99 for a 12 oz. container.  YIKES
  • Watered plants with water from rain barrels
  • I ran to Kroger and Ollies - just because this week (had to get out).  I wanted seedless grapes that were on sale and sale cheese (4/$5 - for 8 oz. pkg.).  I got a bunch of DEALS!!
Cauliflower and onions - both .99 ea.!!!!  Markdowns bags.  Ground beef - 85% lean was clearance at 1.99/lb.  They had lesser lean on sale for 1.88 - decided to get this (that is 12 meals for me - .50 meal for meat).  

Diced tomatoes with garlic - .49 can (12 cans) and 4 cans of southwest pinto beans for .49 each
Multi packs of cookie sprinkles - .99 ea.  Honey mustard sauce - 1.29 and 4 packs of smoky mac n  cheese (instant - for just in case) for .39 each
                                        My FAVORITE flavor of ice cream!!!!!!!!  1.29 each!
Look at the size of these grapes!  Compare to my thumb nail - huge!!! Pictured is just one stem of grapes - more in the bag.  Juicy and sweet too!
Lastly - Ollie's had spices on sale.  Every kind you could imagine.  Not those tiny jars either - these are the bigger bottles - it fills up my hand.  .97 EACH!!!!!  I got stocked up.  They even had this size jar of dehydrated onions and garlic for .97.  Surely can't dehydrate my own that cheap.
  • Cleaned out all the upper kitchen cabinets and loaded up 3 boxes of stuff to donate.  I cleaned the tops of the cabinets as well - I have storage up there too.  3 boxes so far to deliver to thrift on Tuesday (closed Mon.) and 2 bags of trash!  UGH. It is amazing what we accumulate and keep!  I mean how many small appliances does one person need?
  • I received a letter this week!  A snail mail letter - doesn't happen much today.  I also wrote one in return!
  • I organized spice and baking cabinet
  • Using what I have, cooking from home, just doing all the normal stuff
  • Got to have the windows open some and fresh air!
Meals this week:
Lasagna and garlic toast
Lasagna and salad - (froze  remainder)
Ground steak burger, baked beans and fries
Ground turkey burger (reheated from freezer), macaroni and sliced tomatoes
Fried green tomatoes and dressing/turkey fritters (last ones from freezer)
Ham and cheese sandwich and salad
Slice of pizza (from freezer) and salad

I started the week slowly - lost my oomph!  Cooler days prevailed and helped boost me.  I ended the week on a roll.  So much to do - just minimizing stuff.  I feel so much happier to open a cabinet and see it neat and orderly - with far less in it.

How was your week?  What has everyone been up to?

PLEASE pray for all those being affected by fires and smoke.  Many of our friends here are  in that area.  It is so terribly sad and heart breaking.  Many people have lost everything.  Sadly we heard about this months ago with our Australian friends and now our west coast friends are being hurt.
Prayers that fires are contained and put out soon.  Prayers for rain.  Prayers for comfort.
I can not even fathom.

I pray that this week we can all live and act more 'Christ like'.  We need to be kind and caring and loving.  May the hate and nastiness stop immediately - it only causes more division.  PLEASE  pray for our world - prayers are surely needed.
Blessings from my humble little home to yours.
God bless.

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Let's DIP Into Fall

 Oh heck, who am I kidding?  I love dips of all kinds all year.  I don't need a special holiday, a season, or a reason to make and eat dip!
I like savory dips and I like sweet dips - I have never been too picky!

I would like to share a few easy dips for you to try - no matter the season!

8 oz. pkg. cream cheese - softened
3/4 C brown sugar - packed
1/2 C butter, melted
1 tsp. vanilla
Combine all ingredients together, stir well.  Refrigerate for 2 hours.  Makes about 2 cups.
So stinking good with apple or pear wedges.  Takes those apple to the caramel  apple level!
Use with any fruit you desire. 

8 oz. pkg. cream cheese softened
2 C powdered sugar
15 oz. can pumpkin
1tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. allspice
2 tsp. cinnamon
Blend cream cheese and sugar together - stir in other ingredients.  Makes about 3 cups.
Serve with ginger snap cookies or graham crackers.
I have friends that rave about this - I can not attest.  I am not a pumpkin person!

8 oz. cream cheese - softened
7 oz. jar marshmallow cream
1/4 C sugar
Mix together until smooth, cover and refrigerate.  Makes about 2 cups.
I LOVE this stuff - good with any fruit.  I like it with bananas and apples - grapes or pears.  I used to make this when we went camping - it was always a hit.

1 jar cheese dip
1/2 - 1 pint of salsa
This is my go to.  I love the taste combo of cheese and tomato.    Adjust salsa to your desired taste.  
I mix this up and (if it lasts) I can refrigerate and eat on it over a couple days.  Serve with tortilla chips or Fritos.
Fun to add to tacos, burritos or tostadas as well.

8 oz. cream cheese - softened
1 C sour cream
1/2 C mayonnaise
1 oz. pkg. ranch dressing mix
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
2 C shredded cheddar cheese
1/3 C bacon bits (about 6 slices fried and crumbled)
Mix first 5 ingredients together.  Add most of the cheese and bacon and stir in.  Use the balance as a topping.  Maybe add some diced green onions or chives as a garnish.
Serve with any type of cracker or tortilla chip.  
Very addictive - make plenty if serving to company!!!!

I love all kinds of dips.
Velveeta and salsa or chili mixed together and melted.
Cooked ground sausage - cheese and salsa mix
Baked cream cheese, sour cream cheese, jalapenos, garlic powder & cheddar - Oh my!
Cream cheese, seasoning, chipped beef (diced) and sour cream - yum
Hummus - homemade - can be made simply and flavored as desired

There is just no limits to what can be a dip.  It isn't just ranch or onion any more!
I have to admit that there have been times that I have made one of the savory dips and with crackers or chips have made it DINNER!
Great for after school or work snacks.

Dip doesn't have to complicated to be tasty.  Always makes a great appetizer (or dinner in my case!).
Just mix and eat.  Experiment a little - you may find the next new thing!

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Easy Jar Meals - For the Pantry or Gifting

As promised, I am going to start to post some jar recipes that are just wonderful to have on hand in the pantry and they are also fantastic for a great gift.
I like soups in the winter, and my brother and sister always rave about getting soup "jars" in their Christmas baskets.  That is one of their favorite things.
It makes for a different meal or two - and they don't have to think about what to mix together.

Today we will do soups.  All 3 of these are going in my baskets this year.  I have everything here to make them.

2 3/4 oz. pkg. of country gravy mix (or equivalent of bulk gravy mix)
1 1/2 Tbs. chicken bouillon
2 tsp. dried minced onion
2 tsp. dried celery flakes
1 tsp. parsley
1/4 C instant wild rice (uncooked)
2 Tbsp. dried mushrooms, chopped
Pour gravy mix in a one pint jar.  Combine bouillon, onion, celery and parsley - pour over gravy mix.  Layer rice and mushrooms - seal with lid.
Empty into a large saucepan.   Add 7 cups of water, bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and cover and simmer for 25-30 minutes - until rice is tender.
Serves 6

1/3 C dried yellow split peas
1/3 C dried green split peas
1/3 C dry lima beans
1/3 C dry pinto beans
1/3 C dry kidney beans
1/3 C dry great northern beans
1/4 C dried minced onion
3 tsp. chicken bouillon
1/4 tsp. cumin
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/8 tsp. dried oregano
Combine all the ingredients together in an airtight container.
Combine 8 cups of water and soup in a large pot.  Bring to a boil, remove from heat and let it set for an hour.  Return pot to heat and stir in 2 chopped carrots and 2 chopped celery stalks.
****ADD ham hocks or ham (if desired).  Cover and simmer for 2 hours until beans are tender.
Remove hocks and tear meat from bone, chop and return to soup.  Serves 10.
****I plan on gifting this jar recipe with a can of diced ham.

Graphics from Gooseberry Patch cookbooks!  I love those books.  Make your own drawings and/or labels for instructions of soup mixes.  Use a recipe card, an index card, a stick-on label or draw up something cute and copy for multiple jars.

1 3/4 C instant mashed potatoes
1 1/2 C powdered milk
2 Tbsp. chicken bouillon
2 tsp. minced dried onion
1 tsp. dried parsley
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp. dried thyme
1/8 tsp. turmeric
2 tsp. seasoned salt
Combine all ingredients together.  Place in a quart size jar or baggie.
Place 1/2 C soup mix in a bowl and add 1 C boiling water.  Stir until smooth.
Great to serve for a quick meal or with a sandwich!

Easy peasy!  I plan of gifting  all three of these along with some other things.
You can always gift with a couple soup bowls or mugs to jazz up the gift.  Maybe add a box of crackers or a bag/box of oyster crackers.
I would love to receive 2 or 3 of these as a gift.  Food is always appreciated.  WE ALL HAVE TO EAT!  I like getting different things like this.

Hope this gives you some ideas.
More later!

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Tid-Bits of a Ho-hum Holiday

Well, Labor day has come and gone here in the U.S.  The last 3 day holiday weekend for quite a while for the working citizens.  The summers last hoorah. 
We used to always spend Labor Day weekend camping with friends.  Lots of cooking over a fire, smores, good cheer, craziness and shopping!!!  Yes, the town that was closest to our campground had an entire town flea market and yard sales for 3 days!!!!.
We always spent Sunday - going to town and walking the entire town looking for that special bargain.  Always had to get a bag (or 2 or 3)of fresh fried pork rinds and lemonade shake-ups.  I always went to the grain mill and got a bag or fresh corn meal.
We would go back to the campground and have dinner all together.  Someone (who didn't like to shop) always stayed back and made a huge pot of soup beans or stew over the fire - cooking it all day.
Lots of fun.

Now it is another day - just one with no mail delivery!!!!  No big deal.  After we both retired, Glen used to joke "hey, we get a three day weekend".  LOL - like they all weren't!!!!!
Now it is just another day.

I did get to visit with an old neighbor, who used to live next door.  He and his family were in town, and came by for a short visit.  That was nice.  Got to see his new baby in person, instead of pictures.  Why are baby feet so grab-able?????

Saw an ad that made me laugh out loud.  My goodness, I have a small fortune in my refrigerator.
I sure never knew they commercially sold bacon grease!  I guess it makes since - they sell everything else.  I currently have 2 pint jars in the frig that are full!  This ad was from Rural King.

I picked tomatoes early.  I went out and filled up a bowl of cherry tomatoes in about 10 minutes - came in and emptied it to a bigger bowl and went out and picked that many more.  I also picked larger toms.  I managed to get myself bit about 7 times from mosquitos!!!  I figured morning in the cool would be better than evening - not so much.

Momma kitty hasn't felt good for a few days.  She has a kitty cold/flue and is congested.  I have been giving her natural remedies in her food.  She gets echinacea, Vit. E and CBD added to her food at different times.  She is improving.  It usually lasts about 7-10 days.  She ate a lot yesterday, and today she is back to napping in her usual spot instead of secluding herself.  I feel much better about it today - she is getting up there in age - so I worry about her.

Birds - I have been watching them.  The birds all come at once to the porch feeder.  None will be there - then they all show up.  They are so well mannered!
                            Looking through the glass door - the feeder is the middle of the pic (hanging)

They line up and wait their turn.  Once one flies off the feeder, another one jumps on.  Too bad people can't be so patient and well mannered!
I have pigeons that visit out back.  UGH - not a fan, but they are here.  They DO clean up a lot of the corn hulls that the squirrels drop - so I guess they can be helpful.
I have NEVER seen a pigeon at the birdbath.  I know that sounds crazy - but it is always the little birds and the cardinals and blue jays.  I guess because it has been so dry - we have no puddles any where around - so a pigeon has to do what a pigeon has to do.
There was one in the birdbath and 6 lined up on the handrail waiting their turn!!!  It was hilarious.  I watched and watched (as did Coogy) and when the last one was there - it just sat down in the water and seemed to doze off.  I wish I had gotten a picture.

I also found a new You Tube series to watch.  I first saw it on the TV menu board - and I tried to record - but I guess that isn't possible.  Not a regular channel.  SO I looked it up and there it is on You Tube.

This guy is good.  He is a young, energetic  and kind of funny guy.  Supposedly he is an award winning cook.  I believe he has like 150 short episodes covering all kinds of food.  It is all about cooking with little or no money and planning ahead.
Struggle Meals with Frankie Celenza - there are many others now trying to use the name - but his were the best!  You might want to check it out.
I enjoyed watching several episodes - learned a few tips as well.  I subscribed to his channel for new videos.

I did some more sorting and cleaning.  Did laundry.  WOW - can you stand all the excitement???
So there you have a ho-hum holiday weekend!  LOL
At least it was peaceful and frugal!

How was your weekend?