Sunday, January 31, 2021

Weekly Wrap-Up 1/31

 Good morning to all.  My goodness, here we are on the last day of January.  I know so many people are talking about how slow this month has gone - but to me it went pretty fast.  I mean it is over already!

We are ending the month pretty messy in our parts.
We got about 4" of snow last night and then in the early morning hours it started to rain!  We a slushy nasty mess.  The grass is still white - but the pavements were a mess.
My 6:15 this morning I had my babies all fed and all the walks, paths and drive cleared.  What a heavy job that was!  No way could a snow blower be used - and luckily I just pushed most of the slush off - not a lot of lifting.
I have been doing this for years - so kind of have it down to a science.
It is still rainy and then it will cool more today and maybe and inch or two more snow tonight.  After tomorrow it is supposed to warm up some.

It has really been a quiet week for me.  Just couldn't get myself motivated to do a lot other than normal stuff.

My week:
  • Been craving oranges and orange juice - it always happens this time of the year.  I made OJ from concentrate I had in freezer
  • Still using the ice melt that I purchased last winter - hopefully it will get me through the balance of this year
  • A friend sent me $10 worth of coupons for cat food!  YAY
  • I have been watching a young couple who lives in Russia on You Tube.  They talk about their life there.  It has been really interesting
  • Making my meals from scratch and from what I have on hand
  • Just doing all the regular cleaning & stuff around here
  • Finally got out one day and went to the store.  Purchased more pet food for stock.  I also got milk, bread and 8 lb. oranges and lots more OJ concentrate for freezer.  Got salad stuff as well.  Should be good for a few weeks
  • Made a batch of pancakes and froze extra in individual meal packets
  • I did find boxed mac and white cheddar cheese on clearance for .39 each.  I bought all they had and on Tuesday I will run them to the food pantry (only open on Tues. and Thurs.)

Meals this past week:
Cheesy tuna mac and green beans
Baked jalapeno, beef and cheese dip with crackers
Leftover dip with roast beef & veggies on roll-ups
Pancakes and bacon
Pizza pasta skillet and garlic bread
Leftover pasta and salad
Fish, fries and slaw

Snacks - oranges, cinnamon/sugar toast, trail mix

Pretty darn quiet.  Watching birds and squirrels play and watching You Tube has helped.  I have been reading as well.  Heck, I even took a couple naps this week as my nighttime sleep has been sketchy.
What has everyone been up to?
Are you staying frugal?  Get any great deals?  What are you crafting?

I hope you are all safe and well.  Praying you have a good week.
Blessings from my humble little home to yours.

The Lord is my strength and shield; in Him my heart trusts; so I am helped, and my heart exults and with my song I give thanks to Him.
Psalms 28:7

Thursday, January 28, 2021

EASY YUM from the pantry!

 We all like easy!  We all like yummy!  We all like using the pantry and freezer and using what we have!  
Here are a couple recipes that just brighten a day and can be made pretty much from things many of us keep on hand.

1 - 14 oz. can of sweetened condensed milk
Remove the label from the can.  Place unopened can in a pan of hot water - making sure the can stays covered with water!!!!!  This is important**.  Bring to a soft boil for about 3 hours (keep adding water as needed - important**).  The longer it goes, the darker the caramel.
You can also do this in the slow cooker - but it takes about 8 hours.
Safely remove can from water (it is HOT) - I use my canning tongs.  Let it cool for about 30 minutes.  Pour out of can and stir until smooth.  Pour into a canning jar and refrigerate leftovers.
Use this as you would any caramel sauce.  Over ice cream, over desserts or in baking.  YUMMO and EASY
This is basically dulce de leche.  You can purchased that in the grocery - but it costs a lot more than sweetened condensed milk.  PLUS odds are you have the sweetened milk already in your pantry!!!!

I made mine the other day from a mix - but it is very easy to do from scratch.

3 C self rising flour
1/4 C sugar
1 12 oz. beer
Mix this all together (don't over mix) and bake in a greased 9 x 5 bread pan at 350* for about 45 minutes.
*If you don't have self rising flour - make your own by adding a  little baking powder
*You can use any type beer - dark or stouts will deepen flavor of bread
This bread has a sweet yet yeasty taste.  NO beer taste at all.  It isn't the consistency of white bread - it is a bit coarser.
I have even used it for cinnamon/sugar toast!

1 - 8 oz. pkg. cream cheese (softened)
1/3 C sugar
1 small container Cool Whip (thawed)
Mix all these together until smooth.  Pour into a graham cracker crust or whatever crust you have and chill.
You can add any toppings desired.  (HMMMM - maybe caramel from above, a little chocolate syrup and nuts!)
So creamy and tasty.

**I have also mixed cream cheese with a package of instant pudding.  I will make the pudding as directed (maybe a little less milk) and then whip in the softened cream cheese.  This makes for a fluffy and flavored cheesecake 'tasting' pudding!  Super tasty.  I often serve this with a side of vanilla cookies or graham crackers.  Dip and eat!!  No need for a crust.

Hope this gives you an idea or two for a treat over the weekend.  Use what you have in new ways and ENJOY!
We can have fun, eat well, and have a varied menu using just what we have at home.

Live like a queen on pennies utilizing your own resources and skills.

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Being Frugal isn't always about NOT spending

 We all know people who turn their noses up when you say you are frugal.  They think it means you are cheap.
In my opinion that couldn't be further from the truth.  

I think frugal means buying quality over quantity.  Buy something that will last you years - not having to be replaced every year or so.  I think that about clothes, furniture, small appliances, towels, etc.  Now does that mean you have to spend a fortune?  - NO!  Watch for sales, clearance, mark downs, out of season, etc.  You can still buy second hand - just look at what you are buying.  I often see vintage items listed at a second hand store here in town and they are beautiful and in great shape.  WHY?  Because they were built to last - they are quality pieces.

Being frugal doesn't mean never buying things.  It means looking for the best prices.  It means getting the deals WHEN you find them and that saves your money in the future.  It may mean buying 'lost leader' items - you know those prices that lure you into the store?  Take advantage!!!!!!  The store is using you and trying to trick you - so turn the tables!

Look at clearance racks - my goodness you can get great deals.  At the grocery, just about every department has clearance.  Buy it - IF you will use it and you can AFFORD it at that moment.  Freeze, can, and get creative.

Just this past Sunday on Weekly Wrap-Up - Kay mentioned she had a 25% off coupon and was going to get cards to send out to others and that she had Kohl's cash to use.  This is great.  She is still getting a great deal and getting something she wants.
Frances spoke of buying a new floor lamp for her hubby and liking it enough to get one for her chair!  It would make reading and needlework easier.  Making life easier is what it is all about!!!
THIS is exactly why we are frugal.  Save your pennies where you can - so that you have have enjoyment in other areas!  You can get things you WANT now and then and you can get things you NEED and have to scrimp.

Maybe you are saving for a 'new' to you vehicle, a new coat, a new couch or rug for the house, maybe a vacation, maybe something new for the yard............ it doesn't matter.  If you are frugal in MOST aspects of life - you can save and get the frills you want in life.
It could also be as simple as watching and saving today - to pay off bills!  That is huge!  We all strive to be debt free.
You can still donate to causes - helping others is a admirable reason to save $.

Now I see people all the time (on FB) who talk about being 'preppers'.  They also talk about being 'at risk' with all the health concerns going on.  They talk about how hard life has been without as much income.  YET they go out SHOP almost every day!!!!!!  Sure they get sales - but I just have a hard time feeling compassion. (I'm bad I know).  If you are at physical risk and you have no extra money and you ALWAYS been a prepper - stay home some more than you go out!!!!!  If you are worried about paying your bills, have lost income, and just can't really afford to be spending all the time - STOP IT.  Learn to make do with what you have.
OK - judge not - I know.  They are free to do what they want - but they need to quite expecting everyone to feel sorry for them.  Just my two cents!!!  (this just gets my hackles up!! LOL)

Being frugal is all about being a good steward of what you have.
Be thoughtful and careful.  Look at prices and get the best deal you can.  Stock up when you can.  Be mindful of your other bills and debt - try to reduce where you can.
Be kind to others and help when you can.  Learn ways to re-invent things, get creative with cooking, recycle, and just be mindful.  It means using what you already have.
THEN you will have extra funds to do those fun things.  You don't have to be a hermit!!!
You can be frugal and still live a wonderful life.

Be a good steward of ALL you have.
You will then live a good and satisfying life!

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Home Blended Spice Mixes

 I love making up different spice mixes and blends.  I know many say why make them when you can just go out and buy them.
Well my answer to that is - NO modified food starch, NO MSG, No hydrogenated oils, NO preservatives.  I like that I can get or grow pure spices and herbs and blend them myself.  They just taste so much better.

Many times I can get large containers of pure spices and herbs at ethnic stores for little money.  If you are careful and keep watch you can find them at other stores.  I grow a lot of herbs myself and use them after drying.

8 Tbsp. salt  (I use pink Himalayan)
1/2 tsp. onion powder
3 Tbsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
2 Tbsp. paprika
Blend together and use as a general seasoning

2 Tbsp.  lemon zest
3 Tbsp. ground black pepper
1 Tbsp. salt
(I often make my own by using dehydrated lemon balm and adding to pepper and I have also mixed dehydrated lemon thyme with pepper - great on fish dishes)

3 Tbsp. onion flakes
2 Tbsp. garlic flakes
1 tsp. oregano
1 Tbsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. basil
1 Tbsp. onion powder
1 tsp. marjoram
Mix together and store in a dry container.  I LOVE this stuff on salads - it just takes a fresh salad to another level.
This is what the store bought looks like.  I used to find it everywhere and now hardly no one sells it.  I think the last I found was at the Christmas Tree Shoppe.  SO I decided to make my own!!!!!!!

6 tsp. chili powder
4 1/2 tsp. cumin
3 tsp. onion powder
5 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp. oregano
Mix together and store in airtight container.  You may use a little less than store bought, as it has intense flavor.

I have no exact measurement for my special blend.  I just wing it, and it varies a little each time I make it.  I make a lot at one time and keep in a dark Mason jar.
This is fantastic in soups and stews - adds so much flavor.  I have gifted it as well - and it was a hit.

Dried tomato peels - dry and crush
Home grown basil
Home grown thyme
Garlic powder
Onion powder
Dehydrated onion flakes
Home grown savory
Basically you can add whatever you like.  Start with a little (write down what you do!) and then go from there.
I use this for flavor in many things.
Never be afraid to mix things up and experiment.  You may find the next big deal for your cooking!

**I do add a desiccant  pack to my jars.  I keep the little packs that come in medical herbs/vitamins that I buy over the counter. 

There are so many fun spice mixes out there.  I will try to list more later on.
These are the basics that I use ALL the time.

You can mix as much as you like to keep on hand and always be ready.  Store in airtight containers.
Remember you can dehydrate your own onion and garlic if desired - and grind.  You can also grind your own peppercorns.  Tends to keep things more pure!

Have fun and SPICE THINGS UP a bit! 

Sunday, January 24, 2021

Weekly Wrap Up 1/24

 Good morning to all.  Hope you are all well and safe.
It has become quite a blustery morning here.  Snow has just started and it is pretty chilly.  Nothing much will probably come of the snow - as it will just be off and on this morning.  We have a chance of some sort of moisture most days this week.  Just a fact of winter.
We actually went from the warmest temperature to the coldest temperature of 2021 in about 36 hours!!!!  It got down to 14*F yesterday morning.  Brrrrr.   The day before it was right about 50*.
I have to admit - we did have sunshine for about 4 1/2 days this week!!!!!!!  That is HUGE!

One day I swear there was a squirrel apocalypse going on in the back yard!  My gosh they were every where.  On all the tree limbs up in the trees, on the feeders, all over the yard, the handrails, the neighbors yard - every place you looked.  It was really something to see.  (I need to get a movie camera).
Wednesday there were at least a dozen sets of cardinals both at dawn and at sunset.  It was beautiful!  I have even noticed  one of the woodpeckers hanging out at the front porch feeder!  I have such an assortment of birds - I just love it.

My week:
  • Got to have my sibling Christmas last Sunday!  It was so nice having a relaxing afternoon together - good food and good fellowship.  I got so many wonderful things.  I received 10 jars of home canned goods, homemade fudge (oh my it is good), kitchen towels, a GC for Kroger, soup mixes and even cash!  The best part was just being together!
Check out this cute re-usable bag that my canned goods came in.  It is from the Christmas Tree Shoppes and it is huge!  Totally vinyl.  I imagine I will use it for storage, as it's is pretty big to use for groceries!
  • Ran out of bread - so made a loaf of beer bread.  I had an old clearance mix and some old beer in frig.  I have really been enjoying it toasted.   (NO beer taste at all)
Thankfully the pan cleans up nicely after baking.  A nice scour and grease stains/spots gone!   
  • Patched the knees of a pair of jeans to use for putzing around the house and yard
  • Aired the house on Thursday when the temps got to around 50*
  • Sorted my kitchen towels and put all my new ones in the drawer.  Older ones will be used for cleaning - now in a basket out of sight
  • Fixed a couple slats on my bedroom mini blinds.  Coogy constantly pushes them aside to look out (I keep that one closed) and a couple slats bent/broke.  Used clear packing tape and it is good as new - can't even tell.
  • Did a walk about the area on the nicest day and picked up trash that had blown around the neighborhood.  Good exercise and fresh air
  • Started cleaning out some other drawers - UGH so much stuff!!!!!!
  • Laundry, cleaning, cooking from scratch - just all the normal stuff
  • NO groceries bought this week.  I stayed home all week.
  • Made a gallon of Kool-Aid for something flavorful to drink
  • Saving citrus peels to make a batch of citrus cleaner
                           LOOKY - my re-grow celery is growing!!!!!  It is just too cute.

Meals this past week:
Meal at sister's house
Lasagna, salad and pie sis sent home with me!
Small pot of beans and rice with ground beef & salad
Enchiladas made with leftover beans and rice and used my home canned enchilada sauce
Leftover enchilada, scrambled eggs & toast
Veggie soup (from freezer) and a grilled turkey/cheese sandwich
Poor man's Swiss steak and mashed potatoes - (ground beef patty and veg soup thickened)

I have been eating a lot of citrus I got before Christmas - I have been craving citrus.  I get that way this time of the year every year.  Fudge got put in frig and I am trying to not eat it quickly!!!!  It is so rich and sweet. 

How was your week?  Did you get any good deals?  Did you stay home and use what you have?  Crafting?  I love hearing what everyone has going on.

Blessings from my humble little home to yours!
Keeping you all in my prayers.

Keep your life free from the love of money, and be content with what you have; for He has said "I will never fail you nor forsake you.
Hebrews 13:5

WOW - just realized today would have been my 35th anniversary to my sweetie.  It was really cold and snowy that day as well.

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Thinking About Spring Planting - Ways to SAVE

 We are all looking at magazines for ideas on gardens - reading the seed catalogs - and thinking about growing!  It is still pretty early here to plant anything (starting seeds).  But the time will be here before we know it.  

Here are a few ideas for starting seeds and helping your plants get to growing that cost you NO money!  That is always good.

Save your toilet paper cardboard rolls - they make great starting pots for seeds.  They bio-degradable, so can be planted directly in the garden without disturbing the plants roots.
My brother does this every year.  He starts all of his plants himself and he keep TP rolls all throughout the year.  
You can use them as is - you can cut in half - or you can fold under part to make a bottom to the pot.
Not only are you recycling, but you don't have to spend money buying grow pots and they breakdown in the ground once planted.  Earth to earth.

Make grow pots out of newspaper.  Very easy to do.  You can make rolls of paper and form a bottom if you choose.  You can wrap around a can or jar (a template) and tape together to make any size pot.  Again, these are recycling, saving money and they too are bio-degradable.  Win - win.

I just love the idea of using what you have and not spending money.  Recycling at it's best.

Save popsicle sticks to use as plant markers.  Another great recycle.  Sticks from the yard can be used as well - find some nice sticks - remove bark and write name in permanent marker or paint.
You can also save and use those cardboard egg cartons to start seeds in.  I like them for starting lettuce and leafy crops in - they don't have to have a huge root system to plant - yet they have been given a nice start.  Simply cut the sections apart.

Think about using your old food tins as well.  Clean them out well and poke holes in the bottom and around the side for drainage.  They make good starter pots as well - although you do have to remove the plants from them to plant.
The pull top lids from food tins or pet food can be cleaned and kept to use as plant markers in the garden.  I do this each year with my tomatoes.  I put tomato cages around my plants and then hang a lid with the type of tomato painted on it.

These work perfectly and even have their own hanger connected!  I use a piece of twine or wire tie to attach to the tomato cage.

If you are allowed to collect water - try to find a way to produce some type of rain barrel or water storage.  Natural rain water is so much better for your plants and it is FREE.  I have one purchased rain barrel and one home made.  The homemade one is a 55 gallon cleaned plastic/rubber barrel.  I made a hose to connect the two - so overflow from one goes to the other.  
If nothing else - place totes or buckets at your downspouts to catch water - you can always dump the water into a larger container.  Plants just grow so much healthier with rain water.  **It is also handy to have in a pinch for flushing or hand washing if your water goes out.**  I use the rain water for my birdbaths and pet waterers as well in the summer.

Compost if you can.  That is wonderful for plants and gardens.
Tea  bags, coffee grounds and egg shells are very beneficial for plants.  Keep an old coffee tin under the sink for these scraps to use on your garden (or in your garage).

Make your own fertilizer out of natural products.  This one is a homemade Miracle Grow recipe.  So much better than store bought - no unnecessary chemicals
Click on recipe to enlarge and read better.

So there you have a few ideas of things you can start getting together now to help you prepare for gardening.  If you don't have the objects, I bet you know someone who will save them for you.  It gives us a bit of something to do and gets us in the spring mindset.  

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Ideas to Bust the Gloom of Winter Days

 Many of us are experiencing winter.  It is cold, snowy, wet, damp, gloomy, and just plan old blah!  Many are stuck in the house.  Outdoor activities are limited.  Winter can be the most depressing season of the year.
There are lots of little things we can all do to add a little PUNCH of cheer to our homes and our days.

  • Open your blinds and curtains - even if the sun is not shining bright, natural daylight is a mood enhancer.  It is so much better than artificial light!
  • Re-arrange furniture or pretties if at all possible.  Give yourself a different perspective and view of your home
  • Turn on FUN music and DANCE!  Super good exercise and such a mood enhancer.
  • Start that spring cleaning - yes de-clutter and super clean your home.  A clean and decluttered home is just more enjoyable and less stressful.
  • Add some color - put out some bright pillows, change out a bedspread or linens, add a colorful afghan or quilt.  Move pictures around - add some nature pictures (use something you have photographed).
  • Paint - paint isn't totally cheap, but it isn't crazy expensive either.  Changing the color of a wall or walls can change the mood totally
                         Color changes so much and just brightens a room.  (Not my picture)
  • Use boxes, baskets, frames, pots, etc. for storage for pretty, for accents.  Not only are there many pretty and interesting options out there - but the can be ever so useful.
                                                             (not my picture)
  • Use things in new ways - get creative
  • If you have ANY opportunity to let in some fresh air to the house - take it!!!!!!  Air out the musty old winter!  Germs thrive in closed up warm houses.
  • Go outside as often as you can.  No matter how cold - get outside.  I am outside at least 7-8 times EVERY day - 365 days a year.  Fresh air is healing and refreshing.  Feeling tired and sluggish?  Go out and walk around the yard or the block - it will wake you up!
  • Given the opportunity - grill something outside.  Nothing says you can only grill in the summer.
  • Get exotic!!!!!  Buy a fruit or veggie that you normally wouldn't buy and fix it.  A little splurge now and then can sure lift spirits.
  • Start planning your garden and your flowers NOW - read the seed catalogs and look at magazines for ideas
  • TURN OFF the news and social media!!!!!!!!!!  Surround yourself with happy and positive vibes
  • Read fun books and watch fun and informative (learning) videos
  • Buy yourself a bouquet of flowers from the grocery every now and then!  They don't cost much and they will sure brighten a day/home
  • Get off you butt and DO SOMETHING!  ANYTHING!  We all tend to sit and veg out during the winter.  Make a plan and get busy and creative - do something different.
  • Nature watch - that can be so entertaining - it sure beats TV
You don't have to give into the doom and gloom of winter days.  YOU have the option to change things.  DO SOMETHING - to change things up a bit.  Have a little fun (yes you still can - it isn't outlawed!!!!).  You can be safe and still have fun and joy and beauty and enlightenment in your life.


Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Making Comfort Meals - A Few Cheap & Easy Ideas

 Comfort foods - we all love them.  Why are they called comfort foods?  In my opinion because they are foods that just make you feel warm and cozy inside - like a warm hug!
They can be complicated or they can be simple - guess which I choose???

Today I will list a few ideas - mainly using your pantry and freezer supplies.  If you are one of those that keep a variety of things on hand - you have this covered.  I am going to try to list easy and frugal meals on a regular basis - using what you may have on hand.  Any way that we can add variety and yumminess to one another's lives is a good thing.

CHILI - we all have our own recipe for this.  Then if you are like me, there is NO recipe - I make it different every time.  Generally it contains, ground meat, beans, seasoning, tomato products and possibly pasta or rice.  Many just use beans to make a vegetarian chili.  It is all good.

Another thing that just happens at my house.  Soups and stews vary as much as the hairs on your head.  There is variety and they are all different.  Mix whatever veggies you have or want and broth and meat (if you choose) - make it soup-like or thicker for stew.  Soups often add pasta or rice.  However you make it, it is pure comfort!

Last weeks potato soup - a bit homemade and a bit semi-homemade.  Looks complicated, but it wasn't.  I had a package of soup mix, added a diced potato, a handful of chopped celery (in blue), sprinkled in some cheese powder & a bit of grated cheese and onion soup/dip mix and I cut up ONE of those brats.  Served with a dollop of sour cream.  Mmmmm.  Two meals for me and 2 more frozen for later.  Cheap and easy and most of all TASTY!   You can jazz up any packaged soup mix.  I got a couple more for gifts and I always try to keep a few around.  They are just such a basic ingredient that can really make a great base to a wonderful soup.

Now this is what I call goulash - and what I understand some out East call it chow mein.  Chow mein to me is an Asian dish - but it doesn't matter what you call it.  It is easy and frugal and good.
Basics include pasta, ground meat, seasonings of choice and some tomato product (chopped or diced toms, sauce, pasta sauce, etc.) and then a bit of cheese.  I always add onion (to about everything), but that is my choice.
This is so basic and easy - and most people have everything needed on hand.

I often make a simple version - rice and salsa cooked together.  Doesn't get any easier than that! Super good as a side dish for any meal.

There are so many versions of nachos.  USE WHAT YOU HAVE.  Leftover chili, taco meat, beans, refried beans, salsa, cheese, tomatoes, onions, olives..................  Top tortilla chips and you are done.  Maybe add a dollop of sour cream if you have it.  You can also use over rice or pasta or make TOTchos!!!!!  Toppings over tator tots!!!!!!
This isn't brain surgery - it is just simple basic things you have around.  It is always good and filling.

Hollow out some hoagie buns or even part of a loaf of French bread.  Add pizza fixings, hotdogs and chili sauce, meat and cheese, whatever you have.  Stuff it full.  Wrap in foil and bake at about 375* for 15 minutes or so.  Oh my goodness these are good.  **Keep that bread you pulled out to make breads crumbs.

Hotdog buns (or any bun) -  Separate  into 2 parts and brush with butter and garlic powder or parmesan cheese and bake at 450 for 7-9 minutes.  Easier version - toast your buns and top with butter and garlic powder and cheese.  Heck I even toast bread and make garlic toast.  Great to serve with a salad or with spaghetti, goulash, chili, lasagna, soup, etc.

My easy version is made with pre-made pie crust and whatever thick toppings I have on hand.  Each round of pie crust I make 2 calzones with.  I cut the round in half - add filling to HALF of each and then fold over the other half and crimp edges.   (I hope that is understandable! - your calzone LOOKS like a quarter of the round when done)  I usually use a bit of egg wash around the edges before crimping with a fork.  Make a couple slits in the top of each for a steam vent and bake at the recommended time for the crust.  You want them to be nice and golden brown.
I have stuffed with pizza toppings and I have also used stew (or leftover roast and potatoes and carrots).  You imagination is your only limit.
One of these and a salad makes a tasty meal.

There you go - todays easy comfort meals using things you have (hopefully) on hand.  Experiment a little and have fun with your food.  No need to get bored with the same old things.  
More easy and frugal comfort foods/meals later!!!

Sunday, January 17, 2021

Weekly Wrap Up 1/17

 Happy Sunday to all.  My goodness we are over half way through this month already.  Crazy!
Hope you all had a good week.
I actually got to experience sunshine for a few days this week!!!!  It was wonderful, yet somewhat odd.  It has just been so cloudy for so long.  We had a few really nice days in the 40's along with the sun.  Woke to a covering of snow on Saturday, but most was gone at the end of the day.  It is flurrying again this morning.  Looks like it will be pretty normal and in the 30's all week.

My neighbor has a light on the alley side of his garage - and every morning when I go out to feed the cats, I see a big old rabbit out by his gate.  It sure appears to be big!  I love that there is so much nature here in the burbs.
The  birds and the squirrels have sure been hungry!
Thursday morning I saw something that had me a bit unnerved. I live in the flight path of the airport and I am very used to the sights and sounds.  That morning in the dark of morn - I walked out and saw military jets flying in an unusual flight pattern out of city and at a super high rates of speed!  That was weird for sure - I just felt I wasn't supposed to see that.  Things that make you say "hmmmmm".

My week:

  • Caught up laundry for first time this year - LOL!  Hung most of it in the basement for extra humidity.  Did dry heavier items.  Have it vented (covered to catch lint/dust) into the basement for extra heat.  There are no heat vents down there
  • I did feel the call to stock a bit.  I stocked up on pet products and OTC drugs/vitamins.  I got myself milk and a huge bag of oranges.  Oh, I got myself a new hand mixer!!!!  Mine finally gave it up over the holidays after 33 years of use!  
                     My new mixer.  $14.99 at Kroger.  It will do me just fine for a long while
  • Went outside on one of the nice days a picked up a gazillion sticks that had fallen, as well as odd pieces of blowing debris
  • Cleaned out the watering holes and bird bath while it was nice
  • Made a pot of potato soup and froze 2 containers for future meals
  • Made a batch of 'special' cookies for my brother and sister - we finally get to have our "Christmas" today!!!!!
  • Paid all bills for the rest of the month and ran up to PO to drop off, since mail delivery will be short a day this week
  • Started a 'tax folder' as info is starting to come in
  • Did a root touch-up on my hair
  • I actually ordered myself a magazine subscription!  Haven't ordered magazines in ages.  Ordered Country Woman for 2 years for a grand total of $15!!!!
  • Using what I have, meals at home, just doing all the normal everyday stuff
Meals this past week:
Big juicy loaded burger and a side salad
Loaded Potato soup - 2X
Club sandwich and chips
Ham/rice/asparagus topped with cheese
Smoked sausage sandwiches (used slider buns from frig) topped with lettuce and sliced radish

How was your week?  Are you stocking?  Are you doing a no spend month?  Crafting?  Look forward to hearing from you.

I hope you are all well and safe and stay that way during this coming week.  Prayers for peace and comfort for all.  Blessings from my humble little home to yours.

Be strong and of good courage, do not fear or be in dread of them: for it is the Lord your God who goes with you; He will not fail you or forsake you.
Deuteronomy 31:6

I know I used this last week as well - it is in my heart.
Good words for our current times

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Thinking About Less

 Less is best!?  We all tend to go overboard on most things in life.  Maybe we all need to start thinking LESS!!  Less isn't a bad thing at all.  It can save your health and it can save money and it can save the environment.  It is time to look around and find out how LESS will work in your life!

We all know less STUFF seems to make our lives and our homes more manageable.  You have less stress with less junk in your home.  It is calming and serene.

Less EATING can help us manage our health.  Not many out there who couldn't lose a pound or two.  Smaller servings and one helping is sufficient most of the time.  Remember meat servings shouldn't be any larger than a fist.  Meat shouldn't be a main course, but a side like everything else.  Less fatty and junk food is healthy as well.  Eating too much has become a global problem and a global health problem.  We often eat out of boredom and truly 3 meals a day is not necessary - it is a habit.
Break those bad habits and get a healthier body and save money and resources.

Use LESS water!!!!  We are so wasteful of our water resources.  Never wash dishes with the faucet running.  Catch extra water for plants, animals or drinking when waiting for water to heat up.  Think of catching extra water when showering to flush or use on gardens, etc.  DRIPS are extremely wasteful.  A single drip of a faucet - dripping once a second - wastes thousands of gallons of water a year!!!!!!

Fixing that drip could be as simple as replacing the inner washer or you may need to replace the faucet.  They aren't that expensive and most can be replaced easily (I have done it myself).
If you are permitted - have rain barrels to catch nature's water.  That is so beneficial to gardens and plants and it works well for bird baths and animal bowls.
It can also be kept in jugs at the end of the season to use in an emergency, should municipal water go out.  You can also buy life straws and cleaning tablets that allows you to drink it in a emergency as well.

Use less POWER.  Electricity can be costly.  Think about alternative sources of light.  Lanterns, battery operated lights, solar, candles.
You can use solar lights from outdoors in a pinch if you lose power.  There are also lanterns that can be purchased that you keep near a window to draw solar power and they are great for evenings.

If you have an alternative heat source that is great as well.  Turn OFF lights when not in a room!!!!!!  There is no need to have lights on during the day and sure no need to have them on in an empty room.  Use a night light if necessary.
I have a neighbor that drives me nuts - they leave front & back porch lights on 24/7 as well as their basement light.  They use the basement for laundry only!  WHY would you need to leave on all the time?  I have a dusk to dawn light on my garage for security reasons -and I have flashlights I can use - no need for 24/7 lighting!!!!!!!!!
I open blinds during the day for light and heat from the sun - it is amazing how well it works.  All natural!

LESS A/C or HEAT - germs grow in hot environments.  The cooler your home the less germs that thrive.  I remember having a teacher in high school that always had a couple windows open even on the coldest days.  I thought he was crazy then - but he always told us about germs thriving.  It is true.  I use fresh air as much as possible in the spring/summer/fall.  I know some have allergies and can't do that - but most could.  If it gets upper 40's or 50's in winter I let fresh air in to air the house.  Keep the thermostat down a couple degrees in the winter and only use A/C if necessary in summer - it is healthy and it saves a chunk of change.

Today my recommendation is LESS - TV, NEWS, FB, SOCIAL MEDIA!!!!!!!!  Those things have become toxic to our mental well being and to our society.   Turn them off!
Read a book, take a walk, learn a craft, commune with nature, de-clutter your home, porch sit, talk with others, pray, exercise, meditate, listen to music............anything but soaking in hatred and toxic information.

Use and buy less PACKAGING.  We are so bad about recycling.  Look for items that have less plastic packaging.  Buy loose items instead of packaged items.  Buy larger packages and breakdown at home into glass or freezer or share with others.  Figure out new uses for paper or cardboard (most can be easily recycled).  Use your own shopping bags when permitted.  Make net produce bags to use at the store - they weigh basically nothing and you can use over and over and launder. (I keep those mesh bags from the produce dept.. and reuse)
Less packaging saves money (yes you pay for that packaging), save the environment and just makes good sense.

So yep - LESS can be MORE!!!!!
Using less can mean more money in your pocket, it can mean being heathier, it can mean more natural resources available for all,  it can mean less garbage on the earth, it can mean a prettier and healthier earth......... it can mean so much MORE of everything!

Start a new habit this year and use LESS of everything if you can.

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

You Have a Choice

 There are many things in this old world that we can't  get away from.  BUT there are so many things that we have a choice in and on.  
The biggest choice we have - is choosing JOY and HAPPINESS!

I am sure there are many who say "it isn't that easy".  It kind of is.  No matter what our circumstances are - we have the right to choose how we RESPOND!!!!!

I got a HUGE wake-up call in 2019.  I could have stayed down and out.  I could have stayed bitter and angry.  I could have stayed miserable.  After a while I realized that those things did not help me in any way and they sure didn't represent the memory of my beloved.  He always said if something happened - go forward and do all you can to be happy and do good for others.   I am trying.
It doesn't mean you aren't lonely, it doesn't mean you don't get sad, it doesn't mean you don't miss someone - it means you are showing respect for the life they lived and the one you are living.

Today so many things bring people down.  Health, politics, social media, news, joblessness, prices, etc.. NOW is the time to change your outlook - don't let this year bring you down.  Find joy where you can.

Live within your means
Turn things off
Try to prepare and stay ahead of the 'game'
Simplify everything about your life
Get rid of relationships that make you angry
Forgive - this is HUGE
Do what makes YOU happy
Quit trying to please everyone else
Find joy in the little things - you will soon be more aware
Work on inner peace - without that you can't expect to have peace anywhere else
Develop a relationship with nature
Create the world you want to see

You can let anything and everything going on get you down.  WHY would you?  That sure isn't enjoyable.

I have decided to remove people from my world that I deem toxic and hateful.  I don't need that negativity.  You know them too - those people who just can't shut-up and let things go.  They go out of their way to push buttons - it seems to be their mission.  My life is worth more than to continue with this negativity.
You sometimes just outgrow people and that is OK.  Change is often essential for your well being.
I have decided to simplify even more things in life.  
I have decided to share more good to the world.
I have decided to count and not be oppressed and I am moving forward in baby steps - but moving forward.

Stand up for YOU and your beliefs.  Don't compromise.  You have a right to feel as you wish.  You do and I do.  We don't have to agree and we sure don't have to explain it to anyone!!!!!
Stop trying to please everyone.  You and your home/family is your little world.  Make it happy first.  If EVERYONE worked on their little world and made it the best - the world would be a better place.

Slow down and simplify life.  Seek out the simple life.  Be more humble.  Stop the hate.  Spread more love and joy.
A smile, a kind word, a kind act can change the world for someone - maybe for just a moment - but moments make days.  Be the change you want to see amongst the world.  Lead by example.

You create your own HAPPINESS.
Wishing you all much joy and happiness.  
Go GRAB the best of life - it is out there.   And TOSS about a little joy while you are at it!

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Easy and Frugal Snacks

 We all like a good snack once in a while.  Snack food can be down right bad for you and it can be so stinking costly.  Today I am going to list a lot of things we can all munch on that we may have in our pantries or that can be made into new things.

POPCORN - most definitely the cheapest snack.  Make it from REAL popcorn - not the microwave bags.  You can use about anything to flavor or season - ranch dressing mix, Italian, powdered chees, nutritional yeast, BBQ seasoning, etc.

FRUIT - fresh or canned or frozen.  Fruit is nutritious  - many of us keep oranges, apples, pears, etc. on hand.  Canned fruit in fruit juice is is great as well.  A favorite of mine - apples and peanut butter.  Use what you and think of new ways to use it.
FRESH VEGS - carrots, radish, cukes, fresh asparagus, tomatoes, cabbage, celery.  Eat as is or with dip or cream cheese.  Ants on a log - celery with cream cheese or other spread topped with raisins - fun!
Salads of all types can be eaten for a snack.  Get creative!

YOGURT topped with fruit or granola
JELLO with fruit added
HOMEMADE PUDDING - any flavor - add crushed cookies or cereal.
HOMEMADE cookies, pie, cake, muffins, etc.
TRAIL MIX - use an assortment of what you have on hand to mix this up

ICE CREAM FLOATS - any flavor ice cream or any flavor pop!  Milkshakes or malts.
HOMEMADE potato chips - thinly slice potatoes (very thin) and fry or oven fry.  YUM
BAKED potato skins - any type of topping
CHEESE & crackers
NUTS - and handful will do you!

HUMMUS - so easy to make at home

Click on recipe to see clearer.    Tahini - sesame oil.  I have used other oils as well - whatever I have on hand.  Season with your favorites seasonings.  Serve with crackers

BAKED CHICKPEAS - roast a drained can of chickpeas.  Smear with a bit of oil and some seasoning before roasting.  Roast or bake until crispy.  These are delish!!!!!!
CREAM CHEESE and jelly over cracker.  Many use pepper jelly - but you can use what you have.

REFIED BEANS - use what you have.  Can of beans (drained), throw in a blender with a bit of oil and seasonings.  Can eat cold or heat and serve with tortilla chips
CHOCOLATE covered pretzels -super easy to make with melted chips
TUNA SALAD and crackers or EGG SALAD and crackers OR mini sandwiches of any kind

HOMEMADE tortilla chips - flour or corn tortilla's cut into strips or tri-angles, brush lightly with oil and salt - bake until crisp.  You can easily make your own tortilla's to use as well.
RICE KRISPY bars (or any type of cereal)

PIGS in a blanket
TORTILLA  roll-ups
HAM/PICKLE rolls - a piece of ham smothered with a bit of cream cheese - add a pickle spear and roll up!
PEANUT butter and crackers
PEANUT butter and FLUFF (marshmallow) sammies

SMOOTHIES - veggie or fruit
NO BAKE cookies
A HOT BOWL of oats or rice
PANCAKE - rollups with peanut butter

There is just no end to the types of snacks we can come up with.  Look around the pantry and come up with something fun and different.
There are no limits.
Snacks can be somewhat healthy and they don't have to cost a small fortune.  
If you can buy it - YOU CAN MAKE IT only better!!!!!!!


Sunday, January 10, 2021

Weekly Wrap-Up 1/10

 Good morning and day to you all.  Hope this finds you all well and safe.
It is another cold and gray morning here.  That has pretty much been the normal this week.  By cold, I am speaking of the 30's (F) for a high - which really isn't that cold I guess.  It is pretty normal for this time of the year.  Gray and clouds have also been the norm.  I must admit the sun made an appearance yesterday for part of the day and it was BEAUTIFUL!!!  What a mood changer!
The kitties outside enjoyed it as well - they were out sunning even though it was chilly.  Poor babies spend most of their time inside the greenhouse due to cold and wet - they love being outside.

Daylight is lasting a little bit longer in the evenings!!!!  Mornings are still dark till almost 8AM.  Baby steps!

AMEN.  I see so much criticism and hate and disgust being spread every where - when those very people should just work on themselves.  You can't change anyone else - only yourself.  NO ONE is perfect and Lord knows we all need to improve ourselves.  So here's hoping all people will work on themselves and quit spewing hate for others.  The end!

I have spent the first week of this new year pretty quietly.  I have rested and read and watched and learned.  Nothing much in the way of projects.   I plan to get myself in gear this next week and get back to being productive.

  • Started a new daily/weekly journal (small notebook) for the year.  Last one lasted exactly 2 years with just a couple pages left!!!
  • Met with my finance guy and made a few changes to protect myself better and also to hopefully protect my heirs (if I don't spend it first!!!)
  • Put away my little tree finally.  I have a couple 'winter' decorations out - but Christmas is down and put away.
  • Made a new bottle of FeBreeze - 1/3 liquid fabric softener and 2/3 water.  Haven't made in ages - and don't use often.  It is for when Coogy makes "stinky"!
  • Put together another bottle of shampoo (watered down)
  • Used the soda stream for carbonated water to which I added fruit juice
  • Used all leftovers in some new way
  • Stayed home all week and ZERO spending
  • Going over the craft area again and re-straightening since holidays are over.  It became the dumping ground - I need to get back into sewing.
  • Just doing all the usual everyday stuff - nothing exciting
  • Chopped and froze a bunch of celery that needed to be used
  • Cleaned the bottom end on celery bunch (any ick and scraped natural seal off the bottom and have it in water to grow my own!
That is a cat food can with water.  The celery bottom actually sits up off the bottom of can just a hair.  Once it roots well in water and starts sprouting I will transfer to dirt.  PS - I have done this before and it works!

Meals this past week:
Soft tacos
Shredded cabbage and carrots with leftover ham & soy sauce over rice
Homemade pizza - 2X
Tostadas  (scraped off topping from pizza left and added to taco meat - birds got crust treat!)
Loaded baked potato - used leftover taco stuff, sour cream and cheese & side salad
Smoked sausage links with kraut (in frig) & fried hominy/peppers/onion

Simple meals - but filling & tasty to me!

How was your week?  Did you get any deals or did you stay to zero spending as well?  Working on any new crafts?  What is going on in your frugal world?

I pray that each of you are well, healthy and safe.  May your week ahead be enjoyable and bountiful.
Blessings from my humble little home to yours.

Be strong and of good courage, do not fear or be in dread of them: for it is the Lord your God who goes with you; He will not fail you or forsake you.
Deuteronomy 31:6

Thursday, January 7, 2021

PIZZA - Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner or Dessert

 Pizza it is what to eat for any meal.  Many people get tired of pizza or think it is just always the same old thing.  NOOOOO - there are so many options that I bet many would never even think of.  It can be made for any meal and then there is dessert!

Maybe today you will see an idea to use that will change your ideas about pizza.

It can be made from all kinds of things - not just traditional pizza dough.  USE what you HAVE

Flat bread, tostada shells, buns, Italian bread, tortillas, bagels, English muffins, sandwich bread (toasted)
You can put pizza toppings on potato skins
Mix an egg and some cheese with leftover spaghetti or pasta and par bake for a few minutes and then top with pizza toppings and bake
Mix an egg & cheese with hash browns, rice or diced/riced cauliflower for a crust (lower carbs)
Your crust can be anything!!!!!!! Think outside the pizza box!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Traditional pizza is yummy - but if you are tired of that - get funky with it.
Think Mexican, Creole, Greek, Cajun, Thai, Asian, Mediterranean .....................
You can mix up flavors and sauces and ingredients to make anything at all.  How fun.

ANYTHING is a go.  Any type of veggie, meat, or cheese.  Can use any leftovers - maybe BBQ pulled pork, mac n cheese, taco meat and beans, asparagus spears, ham, turkey, chicken, sausage, beef stick, smoked sausage, hotdogs, whatever type of cheese you have, drained chili........there is NO right or wrong and NO limits to what you can use.  Yes there are even people that add pineapple to regular pizza!!!  (oh ick)

Homemade pizza on Italian bread.  One of my favorites as the the crust is crunchy.  Had the bread in the freezer - purchased on clearance for .47!

I can't tell you how many times I have had traditional pizza the day after for breakfast.  I am not picky about what and when.  Food is food in my book and anything can be eaten at any time.
BUT if you are - here is an idea:

Top your pizza with scrambled eggs and sausage or bacon (or both) and cheese and whatever type of sauce you might want.  YUM  I have also seen people top pizza with raw eggs (maybe 4) - then bake  and eat as pizza with runny eggs. (Makes me shiver as I can't do runny eggs!!  LOL)

These are made with canned crescent rolls as the crust.  Great snacks or breakfast bits.  You can also use Bisquick (like making mini pot pies) or even pie crust or any canned biscuit.  Use your imagination.

Zucchini as a crust!!  I have done this several times - very healthy and extremely tasty.  Potato slices could be used as well.  There are NO limitations.

I did mention desserts!  Yep, I have done that as well.  Such a treat  - great for any occasion or event

I make a giant sugar cookie (any kind of cookie could be used).  Top with cream cheese with a little bit of sugar added - then top with ANY type of fruit or berry your heart desires.  This is fun for a summer treat (I like to make around Easter for meals).
These are just super good.

So pizza isn't just pizza any more.  It can be had for any meal with anything you have.  It can be made into any ethnic flavor you desire.

In a rut for meals?  Do something a little different - use WHAT YOU HAVE on hand and create what may become a family favorite.

Have a fun pizza type day!!!!!!!

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

An Idea or Two - From Me to You

 I love anything that makes life easier.  I know I am not alone in this boat!  I also like things that save me money.  No sense in just throwing good money away.  If you have more dollars than you need - then donate!  Don't just waste it.

I am sure you have all seen those little terra cotta disks that you buy to put in brown sugar to keep the brown sugar soft.  They are pretty darn pricey to buy.

They come in fancy designs and in all shapes and sizes.  The cheapest I have seen is about $5 and going up into the teens of dollars.
 I came up with my own solution for pennies!  And yes it works!!!!!!!!

Yep - a tiny clay pot!  This has an opening about the size of a half dollar.  When I got it, I was looking for a 3" clay saucer and the store was out.  This cost me way less than a $1.
Wash it - then soak in a glass of warm water for 15-20 minutes - take out and dry off - place in your brown sugar.  THAT IS IT!  It will keep it soft for about 3 months - then you just repeat the soaking and drying and start over!  Will last forever.
Super practical and thrifty in more than one way!!!!! 

When purchasing lettuce at the grocery store - during those times you can't grow your own - buy "living lettuce".  My goodness does it stay fresh.  This is what I get now.  It lasts so much longer than those baggies of lettuce mix.  I often find it marked down and get it for a cheaper price.  It has flavor as well - not like ice burg lettuce.

          The lettuce is packaged as a whole plant.  You pick off leaves as you need them.
     This is the bottom - that is where it was cut and the roots are wrapped around the base.

 This is also easy to re-grow in your home.  Place the base  (after using all leaves) in a shallow container of water - keep base wet - and you will start to re-grow your own leaves.
This lettuce lasts for a long time in the frig without spoiling or getting dark and slimy.  The picture was taken 2 weeks after purchasing and it was perfect. (I bought 2 at the time of purchase).

Last TIP:
If you have trouble sleeping at night (I do) here is a little tip to help you get back to sleep.
I can't remember the last time I slept more than 2 hours without waking up.  Generally I look at the clock every hour or less.  I used to have a lot of trouble going BACK to sleep.  Now that is easier.
ALMONDS - I eat about 4 roasted almonds before going to sleep.  There is a chemical in them to help you stay calm and return to sleep easier. (any almonds will do - just no sugar coating).
I still wake up a lot - but return to sleep easily.  I find that I dream more as well!!!
This sounds silly, but it really does keep my body relaxed and makes falling back to sleep peaceful.  
I had read about this before and decided to try it.  It works for me - and YAY no chemicals.

(Another tip when waking a lot - PRAY).  I start praying every time I wake - I know I fall back to sleep before the prayer is finished - but God knows my heart and mind.

So there you have some ideas from me.  Hope maybe one or more will work for you.  Love saving money and finding new ways and things that helps make that happen!!