Thursday, September 30, 2021

Thursday This and That

 My goodness, here we are at the end of September.  Crazy!!!  October is for sure the beginning of fall for me.  Campfires, leaves falling, cooler temps, sweatshirts............
I really do like this time of the year.  I think Spring is my favorite followed up with fall.

We had a conversation Tuesday about not having power or being without lights.  I noticed something the other day with a new neighbor.  Remember that yard I showed a while back with the full dump truck in the backyard?  (Oh that place was awful).  Well it has been cleaned up and there is a small family living there.  She obviously does not have a dryer and there is no clothes line - but that doesn't stop her!  She has figured a way to dry her clothes.  No power needed!!!!
She uses the fence rows!  Both sides.  Almost any day that is nice - you see her 'hanging' her laundry out there.  Bless her heart - she has a need and she figured out a solution until something better comes along.  So we all need to remember - "where there is a will, there is a way".  Being creative works.

I think of different foods when cooler weather comes along.  I am a seasonal type person.  I can't wait for a pot of chili!!!!
There are some inexpensive food that can be had this time of the year to stretch that budget.  Now ids cabbage time and many farm markets have it and it is usually a cheaper ingredient.  I love chopped and fried cabbage (in bacon grease).  Mmmmmm!
Another favorite is sauteed cabbage with a little ham or smoked sausage or chopped Spam with rice added.  It is so good and comforting - and very filling and frugal.
                                                                 Comfort food!              
Smores are also a fall favorite - remember you don't have to buy all kinds of ingredients.  Just keep it simple  and you can even enjoy them in the house!!!!!!
Yep, store brand fudge striped cookies and marshmallows is all you need.  Roast the marshmallows over a gas flame (on stove) or heck - even with a lighter!!!!  LOL

If you haven't tried this you need to.
1 can corn or hominy - drained
chopped peppers and chopped onion
Fry all together in butter or bacon grease (yes) until the peppers and onion are tender and corn or hominy has a lightly golden color.
A favorite of mine.  Makes for a nice side dish and something different.

1 pkg. baby carrots (16 oz.)
1/4 C apple cider
1/4 C apple jelly
1 1/2 tsp. dijon-style mustard
Place carrots and cider in a sauce pan and bring to a boil.  Simmer until carrots are tender and liquid is pretty well gone.  Add jelly and mustard.  Jelly melts and glazes.
These are so easy and tasty.

Now is the time to think about adding new and different dishes to your meal plan.  Keeps things fun and you don't get bored and your family tries new things.

Now is the time to start looking for the ingredients to make up jar recipes - whether meal or spices - coffees or teas or chocolate - so many great ideas to be had.  I will do some posts of jar recipes in coming days.  They are nice to have on the pantry shelves and they are nice to have for gifts.  Jar recipes make great gift baskets.
Super nice to have on the shelf in case that unexpected person drops by around the holidays and you want to give them something.  Makes nice hostess gifts as well.
Coming soon!!!

Now is orchard time - apples, cider and pumpkins and gourds!  I love apples and cider!  The orchard I go to has a sales building that has a huge fireplace - on a cold day a fire will be roaring!  That is their only heat and it is just so fun to go in.  
Fall is in the air!

What are your favorite fall ideas?  Favorite foods or traditions?

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

So Different - So the Same

I had a post ready for today and changed my mind at the last minute.  I don't know why I do that except that something moves me.
I get so tired of negative stuff and drama in the world.  All the negative posts we make and all the garbage we drum up isn't going to change a thing!  EVER!

I am so humbled to have so many lovely people following along on this little journey of a blog.  You guys are the best.  
We are all different - we come from different countries - we are different ethnicities - we have different religious or spiritual beliefs - some came from money - some from extreme poverty - we are ALL different!
YET - we all have things in common.  We care, we love, we share, we try - we are one.

We each take time out of our day to visit and to share.  We take time to care about one another and to pray and send good thoughts.
Will we change the world?  Maybe not - but like the pic above says - we may change it for one person!  If we all change the world for one person - well, that would make big difference.  Wouldn't that be lovely?

We can't stop the world happenings.  Stuff is going to happen as the powers that be have a plan. 
We CAN however change the world in bits and pieces.   Do good,  Be positive.  Have faith.  Spread only positive and not hate or fear or panic.  
We each have a place in this cosmic thing - and how we respond matters.  
BE WHAT YOU WANT TO SEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I thank you all for coming along on this journey with me.  I love you all and admire you all.  You have no idea how many MOMENTS you have helped me get through.  I love how we seem to be one big EXTENDED family. 

Wishing you all a blessed day and week!

PS - Your continued thoughts and prayers for Adi seem to be working.  Please don't stop!!!  Thank you.

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Don't Get Caught in the Dark

 Today is about many options we all have or could have if we had to be without power for an extended time.  It could happen and has happened for various reasons.  Weather is always a huge cause of power outages - but it could be anything.
I think we have probably ALL been without power for short periods and survived.  A long outage could be different.
Not only heat and AC - many have to worry about freezers and health issues.  
Today are just a few ideas to keep in mind should you be caught in this situation.

Lights for me, wouldn't be a big problem.  I have candles - lots of candles.  I have solar lights outside - that I could bring in.  Otherwise I would be OK.   I wouldn't have to have lights at night - I would just go to bed or sit outside.   
Candles are always a good bet - scented or plain.  Cheap solar lights (like dollar store) would be great.  They absorb light all day and bring them in and you have light at night.  I have even seen pics where you can really radiate their light by placing a plastic  (like milk) jug over them.  Oil lamps are a great source of light.  Make sure you have oil that is OK for inside and soot free.
Flashlights of course.  Big and small - they work.  Make sure you keep batteries on hand.
I have 2 or 3 battery operated candles for a nice glow.
Even something as simple as glow sticks would help and maybe make it not as scary for young-ins.
I have a couple of head lamps as well.  They would work if you just had to read or sew or do something close up.
 I also have a battery powered weather radio - and a battery powered regular radio (so music would be an option!).

There are several options.  None are super cheap, but they are things that you can get that would make life easier.
The one thing that is a great help is a generator.  A generator can help keep a freezer going, AC/fan on for a while, heat, cooking, medical aids, etc.
You could always plug in small heaters to help with cold - it may be difficult to hard wire your furnace.  Your freezer could be plugged in for a few hours every day or two - to keep things frozen.  Perhaps you would need to run a sump pump - a generator would help.  Now granted, you have to have fuel to keep it going.  Something else to think about.  But at least it would help for short periods of time to keep life somewhat normal and perhaps keep you alive.
If it is winter - you could always transfer frozen or refrigerated items to coolers in garage or outside - barring you have no major critter problem.

This is a whole house generator.  No they aren't cheap - but they are always there and ready to go.  This is directly tied into our gas line and then tied into the electrical box.  If the power goes out - this turns on within seconds.  Sure it would be expensive on the gas bill to run a household for a long period of time - but I would have power.  I would not use things as normal - like I would keep AC off unless absolutely necessary.  Heat would be kept low - most lights off.  But I WOULD have heat and my freezer would still be good!  
We invested in this to make sure that G would always be comfortable and to make sure our freezer always had power.
Now if the gas suddenly quits flowing - I have to revert to plans C, D and ..... oh crap!!!!!!!!!!

There are less expensive options as well for short periods of time.
This device sure came in handy before we had the generator.  Glen used a Bi-Pap almost ALL the time to easily breath.  This thing worked wonderfully.  It gave us 8 - 10 hours of power for his medical device.  NOTE:  we were also on the power company register for medical emergencies.  Our power pole/area would be attended quickly.  Look into that if you have extreme medical needs at your home.!!!!
If I remember correctly - this cost less than $200 back when we purchased it.  Not sure about now.  It was literally a life saver.  You keep it plugged in to keep charged and then when the need arises you have a small power station.  Like I said it worked his Bi-Pap for a good 8-10 hours, it would power a cook plate or crockpot, maybe the coffee pot or  fan or a small heater.  Many uses.
On another note - it also will jump the batteries in your vehicle!!!!  Indeed!!!  This has saved me so many times - dead of winter - no one around - Blazer needed jumped.  I did it all by myself.  I have even taken it with me in the car - when having battery problems in severe cold.  
A very good multi use gadget to have.

This is a converter that G installed in the Blazer.  It turns the vehicle power into electric power while the vehicle is running.  I use this to charge my cell phone if I notice it is low while I am out.  G installed it to actually power his Bi-Pap and still be able to go places.  We loved to wonder the back roads and this gave him the ability to be away from home for a while and still be comfortable.  (where there is a will there is a way!)
You could use it to power anything not too large for a short period.
This is the side view - where the electric plug-in is.  It is about the size of my hand out stretched and fits on the center console.  I believe it was around $50.

I have a gas stove that is electronic spark start.  Generally I can light it with a lighter, just by turning on the gas knob and lighting.
If you have any kind of generator - big or small odds are you could power a crockpot or insta-pot or a heat plate.  Think about having a way to cook that isn't power driven.  Gas or charcoal grills, fire in the back yard with a grate.  Solar oven.  Shoot, you can even cook little things or warm them on a hot sunny day in a closed vehicle (yep it gets that hot).  You could have a rocket stove or even a clay pot over a candle - can heat items up.
Have a coffee pot that doesn't require power and could be used on the grill or over a campfire.    Your home canned goods COULD be eaten from the jar!  So could many store bought items.  It may not be as good cold (not heated) - but you would have food.

IF you have a well and it requires power for a pump - think about an alternate way.  Do you have a hand pump?  Do you have water stored?  You could use a generator for periods of time to get a days worth of water.  Have alternatives.

I keep plenty of warm clothing around - generally it isn't needed - but I have it.  I NEVER get rid of blankets, quilts or comforters.  If I wouldn't need them for staying warm, perhaps a neighbor might and even my animals. (don't forget about your pets).  One could also wrap their canned (non freezer) type food in blankets or quilts to keep it warmer and not freeze.  You could cover windows and doors to prevent drafts.  You could wrap your pipes.

Lots of things to think about.  Do you have alternative sources for power?  Do you have ways or know a way to cook?  Would you stay warm (fireplace or wood stove maybe).
There are ways to survive about anything.  Some don't cost a thing and others can be a bit costly.  Start thinking about what you would do IF caught in the dark!!!!!

Sunday, September 26, 2021

Weekly Wrap-Up 9/26

 Happy Sunday my friends.  Hoping this finds you well and happy.
I have been in quite the mood this week.  I didn't seem to accomplish a lot - I slept a lot - just in a funk.  It was gloomy, wet and grey this week.  I was sad, prayerful, nostalgic, and worried. 
I have a niece who is just one - and she is a sick, sick baby.  She and her sister (age 2) have many gastro/intestinal issues and poor little Adi is really not doing well.  She was in our best children's hospital and then they sent her to Cincinnati.  Mom, Dad and Adi are there and other family is home with grandpa.  She is such a precious innocent baby - if you feel it - please say a prayer for her healing and for the doctors and nurses and researchers knowledge.  Every test comes back normal - but something is seriously wrong.
She did do a little upturn yesterday  - but still no answers.  They have said this could take weeks or longer to figure out - but they aren't giving up.  Poor baby is such a little trooper. 

We had a ton of rain this week.  It rained for 30 hours straight!  It has turned chilly.  Nights are in the 40's and 50's - but no heat on yet!!!  Days are getting back to 70's - so that is lovely.  The leaves haven't really changed yet.  Everything is still green - just a blush of color here and there.
Saw Rocky racoon again on Friday.  Dang that thing is huge and waaayyyy too friendly.  I stayed out while the cats ate that morning and then brought their food dishes in for a while.  I finally thought about setting the live trap - and by then Rocky had decided to leave!  LOL
I wouldn't worry if it weren't for the cats.
My hummingbirds have finally left the area.  No views at all this week.  So sad - I sure miss those little jewels.

My quiet week:
  • I remade crab salad into a hot dip
  • I picked a few more tomatoes and some thyme
  • Been using the soda stream for some bubbly drinks
  • I thawed some sausage and used some for a meal and then cooked a re-froze the balance
  • I did clean the back gutter - it looked like it might have a bunch of stuff in it - but wasn't bad.  A couple twigs was what I was seeing.  It is under a tree - so better safe than sorry
  • I cleaned leaves from deck, back patio area and cleaned the floor of the garage.  Did just a tiny bit of yard work - just couldn't get into it!
  • I did bring in my one houseplant from outside before it got too chilly
  • I ran to Pet Smart for more flea meds for all the kitties for the next several months
  • Stopped at Kroger on the way home as they had tuna on sale for .69/can.  I got 10 to add to stock.  I also bought a few apples and bananas.  I found a head of  cauliflower for .99
  • Just doing all the normal stuff we all do every day  - nothing exciting
  • Been using my melt pots and scraps of favorite candles for fall scent in the house
                       Some hardy stalks of thyme.  I love that stuff - I have it air drying.

Meals this past week:
Hot cheesy/jalapeno/crab dip and crackers
Baked potato topped w/bal, of crab dip and a cuke & tomato salad
Sausage gravy over toast
Green beans w/potatoes and smoked sausage - sliced tomatoes
Small homemade pizza
Leftover day - a bit of this and that
Oven baked fish, mac n cheese and sliced toms
SNACKS  fruit, apples & peanut butter, cheese & crackers

What have you all been up to?  How is the weather in your part of the world?  Are you still gardening or finding any deals?
Hey - you know we are now less than 90 days until Christmas?!  My how time flies.
I know I need to get my bum in gear this week and get busy outside.  So much to take care of and to clean up and out!

I hope you are your families are all well and safe.  Blessings from my humble little home to yours.

I need to remember this.  God is in control.  All things happen in His time.  We are His children and He loves us.  Lord I raise my worries up to You and ask for Your guidance, directions and loving presence in my life.  Thank You for each and every blessing and moment I receive each and every day.  AMEN

Thursday, September 23, 2021

GOALS - Homemade vs. Store Bought

 I think we all have this goal - at least most of us do.  YES, I have cans of veggies and soups in the pantry - you may as well.  I consider them convenience foods now.  In a hurry - they are there and available.  I have lots of frozen veggies - they are more like fresh to me.
I know not everyone cans.  That is OK.  
I know people often think buying fresh is too expensive.  It really isn't if you consider health into it.  Fresh and frozen are so much healthier.  No added ingredients!
YES - making things from scratch takes a little more time - but oh my, the taste is just so much better and the expense is really not increased.  It sure is cheaper making scratch and staying home than eating out!!!!!!

Think about making popcorn at home (not that packaged microwave stuff).  You can make you own microwave popcorn if desired!  Make cookies, cakes, brownies, muffins, sweet breads, cinnamon toast, popcorn balls, etc.  Even potato chips are pretty darn easy to make.  Roast chickpeas!  Oh what a yummy and healthy crunchy snack.
IF you desire to have store bought chips - quit buying those little bags.  Buy family sized packs and repackage yourself.  Then when GONE they are GONE until next family shopping day!! (no special trips!)

Yes, we probably all have a few boxes of cereal around.  I do, only because I have gotten them on clearance and I use them for snacks.  I do NOT eat as basic cereal for breakfast.  I also like using cereals in making trail mix type treats.
Think about making oatmeal (if you like it).  Hot rice with butter and sweetener.  Homemade granola.  Homemade pancakes, waffles, breakfast sandwiches, breakfast burritos (all can be made ahead and froze).  French toast.  SO many choices for a cheap and healthy breakfast.  Make ahead goodies and pop in the toaster or microwave for a quick heat and eat morning!
Actually I was always the person (as was Glen) who could eat whatever for breakfast.  Soup, pizza, leftovers - it didn't matter.  Who says it has to be breakfast food?  We eat breakfast food for dinner!
                              Homemade granola is easy and fun - you can add whatever you want.

Leftovers make great lunch options.  Homemade soup, chili, casserole, food remade (like potato cakes, corn fritters, leftovers turned into fried rice).  Sandwiches can be made cheaply at home.  Nothing like a yummy grilled cheese and soup.
Make your own lunch-ables if you take lunch to work.  Going out to eat everyday is expensive.  Even if you just just spend $5 a day for lunch - that is $25-$30 a week that can be spent on other things like bills, debt, or stocking up.
Use what you have.  You know what is in your food.  Think about making up some tuna salad, egg salad,  chicken salad from home.  It will last over a few days.  Make pasta salad, potato salad, fried rice, etc.  So many options.
                                  Seriously - so much healthier than the crap you buy out!

Use up all those leftovers in new ways.  Turn them into casseroles or soups.  Stretch your meat options with more veggies, whole grains and beans and pasta and rice.
AVOID eating out.  Having dinner out is NOT cheap at all!!!!!!
Get creative with your cooking.  Hopefully you can find yummy and inexpensive one pot meals that are easy to make for the entire family (I try listing them for you!).  Add bread, biscuits, tortillas, crackers and maybe a salad and you have dinner.
There is NO limit to the options you have to make dinner at home.  Utilize that crockpot or insta-pot.  That makes life so much easier.  Crockpot dinners are ready when you get home from work or after you have had a big day of working around the house.  Insta-pot dinners take no time.

Chop that leftover meat and use in stir fry, rice, pasta, soup, stew casseroles, etc.  Add veggies that left to soups and casseroles.  Add in some pasta or rice and maybe a little cheese and BOOM you are good to go and NO WASTE!

Well, what can I say?  Pop is not good for us.  I do love a fountain drink and I keep some pop on hand (mainly for company).  Water is basically free (for me).  I don't buy water - EVER.  I filter my water and use tap.  I refill bottles I have on hand.  I keep a jug of cold water in the frig.  I can add a little lemon or fruit juice to jazz it up.  I drink iced tea.  You can make tea -- hot or cold, coffee, or cold coffee, flavored water, juice for pennies.  I have a soda stream machine that makes carbonated water - and I can add flavors and it is like having a pop!  I only have this because I got it for $15 NEW at a yard sale many years back.  Once in a while I will splurge and by their flavoring - but usually I just add fruit juice or those little individual water flavor packs.

You can also make Kool-Aid for the kids or yourself.  You control the sweetness and the type of sweetener used.  There are many options other than buying pop, bottled cold brew coffees, or going out for that morning coffee.
Learn how to make your own morning coffee and add flavorings to make it special.  A store bought cup of coffee can be $5 up!  That is just CRAZY!!!!!!!

We can save so much money by just cooking at home and staying out of restaurants and buying all the junk!  
You NEED to save money for whatever your reason?  Well, rethink your spending.  We all spend on so many unnecessary things.  Just because you WANT it - doesn't mean you should BUY it!!!!!!  Seriously.
Think about your goals - your future - what is REALLY important.

I would think having an emergency fund, being debt free, and having a stocked pantry in case of whatever emergency - would be more important than instant gratification on eating out or that expensive morning coffee!!!!!!!!!
Think about it.

Your health and the welfare of your family should come first.

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Fall Food Ideas and a Few Tips

 Fall is in the air - yes it is TODAY!  Temps have dropped here and we have cooler temps for part of the week.  I like 60's and 70's - that is perfect for me.  
Makes me want to fix fall/winter dishes and bake more.  Don't get me wrong - I love summer - but fall is just refreshing.

1 lb. ground beef
1 onion - chopped
1 green pepper - chopped
1 - 14 oz. can of kidney beans (or whatever) drained
1 - 14 oz. can pork and beans
15 oz. can tomato sauce
3/4 C brown sugar - packed
1 tsp. white vinegar
2 tsp. prepared mustard
Brown your beef, onion and peppers.  Drain.  Add remaining ingredients and place in crockpot for about 3 hours on low.    Serves 6.
This is yummy with cornbread!  I have done this and used whatever beans I had on hand - and it came out great.

2 C cooked and cubed chicken
10 3/4 oz. can cream of chicken sup
14 oz. can green beans (drained)
4 oz. can mushrooms (drained)
1 C shredded American cheese - I use used several slices
1/2 C mayo
8 oz. tube refrig. biscuits  OR your own
2 Tbsp. butter - melted
1/4 C seasoned bread crumbs
Combine chicken, soup, beans, mushrooms, cheese and mayo in a saucepan.  Heat just to boil.  Pour in an ungreased 2 qt. casserole.  Arrange biscuits on top, brush with butter and sprinkle bread crumbs.  Bake at 375* until top is golden.
Serves 4 - 6   Super one dish meal - add a salad and you are good to go.

Super simple - NO rules.  Use leftover chili or goulash or pizza mix up.  Anything with some beans, tomatoes, meat - seasonings - whatever you have or want.  Top with shredded cheese and Frito's and bake until bubbly.  It doesn't get any easier than that.  There literally is no certain recipe - do what you want.  Serve with a salad or any side.  

6 peeled and cored apples (sliced)
1/2 C melted butter
3/4 C brown sugar, packed
3/4 C quick cooking oats (uncooked)
1/2  all purpose flour
1/2 tsp cinnamon
Place apples in a buttered 11x7 pan (I use smaller).  Combine butter, b. sugar, oats, flour and cinnamon - sprinkle over apples.  Bake at 350* for about 35 minutes

Make a Galette!!!!!  Super easy.  One pie crust - laid out flat.  Place apples (or whatever fruit you have) mixed with a touch of seasoning, sugar, and flour (for thickening) and chopped nuts if desired.  Place in the center of the crust and then fold the edges up and over.  I usually paint with an egg white and sprinkle a bit of sugar over crust.  Bake until crust is done.
These are so easy and yummy.  Basically just an earthy and natural pie!

I know this doesn't look fall-ish - BUT THINK - spice cake or butter pecan cake (any type of fall flavor) - then add butterscotch chips or white chocolate chips.  Maybe add some chopped nuts.  You can really FALL this up however you want.  Easy!

One of my favorite things is:
Brownie mix - made as called for and baked.  When it comes out of oven - spread chocolate chips on top - they melt - spread around like icing - then I sprinkle with coconut.  It is like eating a Mounds brownie!!  This is on the menu this week!

You can also make up brownies - pull out when 3 - 4 minutes out from being done  top with mini marshmallows and mini chips - place back in oven for about 3 minutes.  The marshmallows melt and brown a bit and chocolate melts.   OMG!  Cool and slice!  They won't last long!!!!!!

When making a white, yellow or spice cake - use apple cider as your liquid for a jazz up in flavor!  You could use OJ instead - but cider makes a great tasting cake

Stuff hollowed out (cored) apples with peanut butter and raisins for a fun and crunchy snack.  I love eating apples with peanut butter!

Make mini muffins.  They are just fun and you can eat a couple and get satisfied.  Not as many calories.  They are great for treats or lunches

Don't forget that fall mix of candy corn and salted peanuts!!  A fall favorite for me.  I love a PayDay candy bar and that is what this mix tastes like.

If decorating with pumpkins - use a marker or paint to draw faces on them.  They are then still good after Halloween to use for pie making or pumpkin butter or canning or freezing.

Now is the time to make up a couple batches of pancakes and/or waffles.  Add some chips to some, maybe some blue berries or nuts to some.  Wrap and freeze for hearty and easy breakfast meals (or dinner).  
Maybe make up sausage egg biscuits or breakfast burritos as well.  SO easy and just makes life easier n a chilly morning.  Grab and go!

Hope this gives a few easy and quick ideas for fall dishes.  I will try to do some each week.  I just love the flavors of fall - it seems so hearty and earthy!
I like easy one pot meals and simple desserts with things many of us might have on hand.
Have fun and enjoy.


Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Getting Creative - Using up the Old

 I have told you I am working on using up older items that I have in the deep dark crevices of the pantry and freezer!!  Spooky!!!!  Stuff gets shuffled around at every cleaning - and well, things start getting older.  
I have absolutely NO problems using things that are past "best by" dates.  
Most all of the meat in my freezer has been vacuumed sealed and it lasts and lasts.  Now there are a few things that have not been sealed and they need to be used or just go bad.  That is money - and I can't stand that!
I have steaks that I got for Glen - and you know that they are older!  They are vacuum sealed and look great.  I am NOT a steak eater!  I will be using those in stews and soups and crockpot meals this winter.  

So here we go.  Not all products got photographed before/after using.  Sorry.  But at least I got a pic or two.
  The crust and Cool Whip had been in freezer since early spring.  Cream cheese was just a little past date.  I added a can of peach pie filling and made a no bake cheese cake.  I didn't get a picture after - it was so good and shared it with the neighbor.

I used these ingredients with chicken and made a Mex. style chicken.  Ranch mix has been around for a while (I have a bunch) and I did remove a little freezer burn from the chicken.  It tasted wonderful when done.
Soup was shoved to the back of pantry (I have a few of them) and it was used to make a sort of enchilada.  Pudding used to make milkshake and rolls and older apples used to make tasty dessert bites.

Mex. chicken was made with the chicken - which I trimmed up - and corn, beans, salsa (homemade) and ranch dip mix in the crockpot.  I love that stuff as it can be used in many ways.
                                                           Mex. chicken over rice
                                                     Mex/ chicken used in soft tacos

I had a box of quick cook long grain and wild rice.  I decided to use it up as I have regular cook long grain in frig.  This little box of rice got used in 3 meals.
                       Chicken strips, seasoned long grain and wild rice and sliced tomatoes.
           Added a few frozen peas to some of the rice and had it with a burger and tomatoes.
Added the balance of the rice to this meal.  Beans and a little rice in tortillas - then toped with rice and that can of Progresso Chicken & Cheese Enchilada soup (above).  Topped with sour cream and chopped tomatoes.  My 'sort of' enchiladas!  Super tasty.
Froze balance for another day.

I pulled some deli turkey out of the freezer on day and made a grilled turkey and cheese sandwich (no pic) and had it with some leftover in jar - homemade slaw and sliced tomatoes.

The balance of the turkey went on my 'sort of' pizza!
Hoagie bun - turkey, a little pepperoni, chopped olives and a bit of onion, salsa left in a jar in frig and a thinly sliced tomato and  odd bits of cheese.  Baked.  It sure was tasty for just odds and ends.

Those cinnamon rolls (dated April) and a couple older apples became yummy cinnamon/apple bites.
I cut the rolls in half and sliced each apple into 8 pieces.  Wrapped the roll piece around each slice of apple and baked.  Added a little icing when done.
Tasted like a combo cinnamon roll/apple pie.
                                                           Two bites and it's gone!  

I used the sugar free pudding mix (instant) to make an unconventional milkshake. (no pic).  I used about a cup of milk - poured in part of the pack of pudding - I didn't measure (can prob. estimate 1/3).  added several ice cubes and blended.  It was quite tasty and a nice no calorie treat!  You can use any type of pudding mix - you can add a banana or fruit too - you could mix pudding flavors.  Not super duper thick, but a nice treat for sure!  Cold and creamy.

I found a bag of faux crab in the freezer.  The last one I had.  
I thawed it and made crab salad.  I added a little onion, some frozen peas, mayo, ranch dressing, seasoning.  Super easy and super good.
                      Crab salad and tomato sandwich.  Bread wasn't real big - I ate 2!!!!!!!!!!!!

Leftover crab salad got turned into hot crab dip.  I added some sour cream, a couple types of cheese (what was left of each) and a few chopped jalapenos.  Heated and I ate it with crackers one day for a meal.  Oh my - yumminess!
I then had a small baked potato topped with remainder of crab dip and a cuke and tomato salad on another day.

A couple weeks ago I took a single serving can of bean w/bacon soup and used it (as is - no water added) to top rice.  The soup had been around a while.  I have a couple more of these and will use them up this fall.  This was a tasty and quick meal.

So there you have it - my digging deep and trying to get creative.  I hate waste.  I love being creative and I am not really picky.  This has just been a few items over the past couple weeks.

Holiday sales and fall/winter sales should be starting up soon.  I always like to get those goodies - well, I can't justify to myself, if I have older stuff not being used.  So I am USING it UP!!!!
It is nice to have different meals and nice to use things and clear out some older stuff.
** Don't be put off if you have a 'little' freezer burn on meat.  Cut it off and use remainder.  I have found that if marinated or used in a nice seasoned dish - it tastes perfect.  No off taste at all.  No waste.

Dig deep in those corners and crevices and pull out the things that are in need of using.  Dig deep in that freezer.  Get creative!!  You can really have fun with this and make some new and creative meals.  Who knows - they may become family favorites!


Sunday, September 19, 2021

Weekly Wrap-Up 9/19

 Good morning my friends.  Here in the U.S. we are now on the last calendar weekend of summer!  Fall starts on Wednesday.  It is just so hard to believe how quickly this summer went.  It seems like just yesterday that I was pondering plowing the garden and planting.
Summer is going out with a bang - it hasn't given up it's hold yet.  It is still pretty darn warm here - 80's and 90's.  As fall comes in - the temps fall and I think high in 60's and 70's are predicted.  My kind of weather!!!!!

The stench of dead animal under the deck is finally dissipating some!  I kind of think it was a sickly looking opossum I had seen around.  
The hummingbirds have sure been active - I well imagine they will be leaving in the next couple weeks.  I sure have loved having them.
Butterflies are everywhere.  Monarchs are all over.  I always look forward to the New England aster blooming in the fall, as it will be covered.  Soon!   I guess my plan of collecting that pretty top of the plant growing out front (millet) isn't going to happen.  The squirrels have decided it is theirs and they have been devouring it!!

I have still been using up many of the older items from the pantry and freezer this week.  Just trying to get a little creative.  It's all good.
It has really been pretty quiet this week.

My week:
  • I live trapped another groundhog.  I am not sure if this was 8 or 9!  Good grief.  I saw it one day and got it the next.  Didn't want to take the chance of it hibernating here and maybe having young.  There sure has been a lot of them around this year.
  • Harvest more tomatoes, peppers and onions and herbs
  • Have been working on more deep cleaning and de-cluttering.  Never ending battle
  • I did a huge trim of the yard and mowed everything.  I never think it really needs it - then it looks so pretty when I am done!
  • Using up older items around here and eating from home.  
  • All the normal things - laundry in cold, line dry, fresh air when possible, scratch cooking, drinking water and tea.........
  • I did go out to Kroger one day.  Ads weren't good - but thought I would see if any markdowns.  Found a few.
EmergenC was 4.99 - reg. 9.99.  Cereal was 2.19 (for snacks) and the nutritional yeast seasoning was 1.99 ea. - reg. 5.29 ea.!  (got 5).  Those are for goody bags for Christmas (many like natural goods)
The fruit freezer bars were .25 bag (10 per bag)!!!!!! (dated 2023).  Goody stuffers for Christmas bags - got 6.  Zatarains was .59 (reg. 1.24) and the candle was 2.29 (reg. 5.29) and it smells so good!
Some how I came home with an Armenian cucumber I did not purchase!

 I really need to go and see if there are more freezer bars - silly me should have bought more.  I froze a bag of them and tried and they are good!!!  No sugar added, organic and 25 natural calories!  They weren't clearance - just an instore special w/card.

Meals this past week:
Mex. chicken (leftover) soft tacos
Grilled turkey and cheese sandwich - slaw (home canned) - sliced toms
Spaghetti (from freezer) topped with Mex. chicken
Hoagie bread 'sort of' pizza
Cheeseburger and sliced cukes and tomatoes
Fried green tomatoes and zucchini/onion/red tom saute'
Faux crab salad sandwich and fresh veggies
SNACKS:  end of cheesecake - apple cinnamon rolls* - fruit - no calories milkshake*
*will tell about these this week!

What have you been doing?  Canning?  Crafting?  Gardening?  Deals?  Fall cleaning?
Hope this finds you well and happy.  
Blessings from my humble little home to yours.

Happy is the man who finds wisdom, and the man who gets understanding, for the gain from it is better than the gain from silver and it's profit better than gold.
Proverbs 3:13-14

Help us oh Lord, to appreciate the skills, words, and ideas we can learn from one another.  Help us to understand how to not be dependent on man - but on You in all ways.    

Thursday, September 16, 2021

Thursday - Tidbits and Thoughts

 Boy does the week go by quickly.  I just remember as a kid the days seemed to last forever, summer seemed to never end and it took forever for Christmas to get here once we went back to school.
Now you turn around it is done!

This morning I have been outside twice so far, and all creatures great and small have been fed.  It seems something has gone and died under the deck (where greenhouse sits) - YUCK!  +There is no access to get to it and it is starting to smell - oh boy!  I actually sprayed a little natural mint flea spray in the greenhouse to ward of the smell wafting in there.  I even put an air freshener in there - LOL.  I changed the batteries in the little light (headlamp attached to wall) in the greenhouse.  It is dark when I go out to feed now in the mornings.  I have laundry on.  I have changed the bed linens.  Had my morning drink and watched the local news.  Got some meat out to thaw for dinner.  Opened a couple windows - it is nice and cool this morning.

I have been pondering Christmas!  I know there will be goody bags,  There will be some gift cards & cash - but there are just some I am unsure of.  I have 3 nephews, all 20+ (not married).  I usually get a gas GC for each (about $15) - but that doesn't seem to be very exciting.  Heck one of these young men makes more money in a year than the rest of the family put together!!!  Seriously!!  He is tech guy, and creates and sells computer games. There sure is great money in that!  I know none of them expect a thing - but Auntie has always done something.  IDEAS?
I am thinking of making 3 little girls napping quilts.  They get everything and they are so little, that they really don't understand!
UGGG - just my head swirling with ideas.

This sweet innocent looking baby girl (Fluffy) - who isn't really a baby any more - is a hoot!   Shoot I think she is about 11 or 12 now - but still acts like a young-in!
I look out the back window and she is jumping over the gate fence.  Now she has come from the porch out front, down the drive, jumped up on the table and then over the fence - WITH a bird in her mouth!  She trots down the sidewalk and goes to the greenhouse to show Momma!  Both come out, Momma following closely and starts back up the walk.  Fluff is looking for a spot to hide her "toy".  Blackie looks up and goes back to sleep - could care less!
Momma wants to see again - so Fluff places the bird on the walk in front of Mom - and off it flies like a bat our of hell!!!!!  Yes, it was alive and well.
You should have seen the look on their faces.  Total surprise - as if to say "what they heck just happened?
Fluffy is the birder - Momma gets involved once in a while and Blackie - not interested.
The antics never stop!


I got this email from my bank this week.  If you have coins - USE THEM or deposit them.  Seems people are not using, and that is creating a 'shortage' to speak of change again!  So many places have been discouraging using cash (don't get me started as to why) and asking for debit cards and CC.  I have never in my life used a debit card (I know) and seldom use CC's any more.  Every since they started advocating no cash - I have gone out of my way to use cash!  YES, I am a little rebel!!!!!!  I do not want to be in a cashless society.
So do your part and get those coins in circulation!!!

I have been diving head first into the deep dark corners of the pantry and the unchartered paths of the freezer this past couple weeks.  I am trying to find things that REALLY in need of being used up.  I know holiday sales will be happening soon - and well this girl just needs to use up older stuff.  It has meant getting a little more creative - but it is kind of fun.  You know I am NOT a date driven person - and I have found some older supplies that have gotten forgotten until now.
If you are curious as to any of the ideas I have come up with or older things used - let me know.
I don't want to bore with another 'use it up' or 'using my pantry' post (everyone is doing them) unless people are interested.

Well kiddos I am off.  Need to get laundry out of the washer and hung and then wash bedding.  Need to do some more de-cluttering and MAYBE cut grass when the dew dries (that remains to be seen!).  Check the garden and sweep the porch.  Nothing exciting at all.

If you have any thoughts of gifts or want to know more about pantry uses - give me a shout out!

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Fall Decor on the Cheap

 I don't decorate a lot - but I always get myself in the mood for fall with a few odds and ends.  So many things (most) I have had for years!  I buy cheap and I make or I use nature.  You can change up the look of the house with little or no money.
I love my fall scented candles!  That is a big thing for me - I know I probably shouldn't be breathing in all those scents - but fall scents are jut luscious!!!!!!   I buy after season for the next year (I also ask for them when someone wants to know what I want).
I have also been known to throw some citrus peels or apple peels, cinnamon, cloves, or pumpkin pie spice in a pot of water and left it 'brew'.  Oh the house smells good!!!!

I changed out the cover for the love seat with a throw I got at a yard sale a couple years ago.  It just looks fall to me! (I have used at Christmas as well).  Look around for pillows, throws, afghans, or even quilts that look like the season and use them.  Don't keep saving them for a special day - you woke up today - IT'S SPECIAL!

I have a couple door decorations for fall - actually I have more than a couple - but they are all old.  I switch off every other year or so.  The sunflower one I made many years ago.  Used dollar tree flowers and a wreath I got on sale at Michael's.  The pumpkins were purchased at Big Lots a few years back for like 4.99.  It is metal.

                                                                      Front door
                                                                   Kitchen door
I have a couple table covers that are placemats I got for like 2.99 each at Big Lots a few years ago.  They make cute center table covers.

I found a cute wooden sign that looked fall-ish at the Dollar Tree.  $1 - can't beat that.  It is hanging inside on the corner hutch.

Years ago I had a vase full of bittersweet.  One of my favorites!!!!  IF you can find it to buy - they charge an arm and a leg for it.  I found it while out wondering the roads with hubs years ago (growing along the road).  Yep I got out and got a bunch!  I used that vase of bittersweet every fall for years.  I would cover it with a grocery bag and gently move to basement in off season.  It finally fell apart.  I would love to find more.

Think about going through the park or neighborhood cemetery and find pinecones.  Both of those places are apt to have pine trees!  You can dry them and use in bowls of in large glass containers.  They can be spray painted for different holidays - or spray with glue and add glitter.  You can keep them simple or fancy them up and they are FREE.

Rustic pumpkin I was gifted.  Made from cut scraps of wood and painted and sanded to look old. Add a little raffia or twine and BOOM -  scraps into pretties.  A wonderful gift and I am sure it didn't cost my nephew a thing!  I was thrilled.  He knows my likes!!!!!

Do you or your neighbor have ornamental grasses in your yard?  I have been known to cut the frawns of pampas grass and put them in a large tall vase or container.  They make really pretty accents in the corner of a room.
I always find the prettiest maple leaves when they start falling and bring them in and place under the glass top on my library table.  They look pretty, stay flat, and they drive the cat crazy!
I have also picked up some sticks from the yard and used them in vases of flowers.  You can use them as is or you can paint them.  Add twinkle lights around some twisted branches for affect. 
How about pussy willows or cat tails?  Do you or your neighbors grow corn?  Corn stalks make lovely outdoor decorations - maybe at a lamp post or at the mailbox or as an accent in a flower bed.
Pumpkins, gourds or squash can be used as pretty decorations indoor or out.  (Bring in before freeze - if you want to eat pumpkin or squash).
Perhaps you can buy a couple pretty mums.  They look pretty now and can be planted to enjoy for years to come.

Table scape I have done in the past.  I painted that scarecrow well over 30 years ago (it can light up).  Other stuff is just what I had on hand.  Antiques and dollar store finds together!
                               Another door decoration I sometimes use.  Made it years ago!
Old orchard basket - gingham napkin and decorations I have had for years.  Blue mason jar with silks.

It is so simple to decorate and spend no money.  Use what you have around the house - look at things in a new way!  Use what you can find in nature.  
We can have fun and change up the look.

I am not sure what this is - the plant looks like corn (but no ears).  It grew from scraps of bird seed that fell between porch and ramp.   There is a whole row of them.  You can be sure I will cut those pretty tops before freeze!!!!!  Gifts from the birds.

You just never know where your inspiration will come from or where your materials and supplies will come from.  Look around - use baskets, metal tubs, material, Mason jars, knick-knacks, scraps of wood, nature - whatever you have.  
HAVE FUN and decorate for fall on a nickel or a penny or FREE!!!!!

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Let's Clean and Keep it Natural

 I am a huge fan of using less chemicals and using natural products.  I was asked earlier to do a post about making clean & green cleaning products.  Today I will do some basic home cleaning - and another day I will do a 'natural' health and beauty post!

What you need to have - or what I have to keep it natural!
Baking Soda (you can buy in big bags)
Hydrogen Peroxide (dollar tree or dollar stores are cheapest)
Vinegar - usually use white in cleaning
Lemon Juice - I use bottled mostly
Salt - I like using coarse salt
Microfiber cloths or natural sponges or cotton material (old t-shirts)
I like to keep some magic erasers on hand (I buy off brand, since I don't use often)

Natural soap - like Castile or Glycerin liquid.  Both are vegetable based and not tested on animals - so Vegan.  Both are bio-degradable.  It doesn't take much of either - just a little blended with water.  It doesn't suds hardly at all - but you don't need suds to clean things.
I still keep blue Dawn - no it isn't all natural - but it sure does work on stains and cuts grease.  I can't break that habit - but I guess I could be using worse things!

Scrub your wooden board with salt and lemon - this will deodorize it.  Rinse with cider vinegar or peroxide to sanitize.  Rinse with a damp rag after and air dry

To clean mildew and brighten grout without bleach combine baking soda and hydrogen peroxide or vinegar (not both!) and make a paste.  Apply to grout and let it sit for about 30 minutes- then scrub and rinse.

Scrub the bowl with baking soda (like you would cleanser) and then let it set for a bit.  Before flushing - add a little white vinegar for extra fizzing and stain lifting power.  When done - flush.

Many cleaners contain bleach and that is toxic.  Simply use a soft cloth and wipe counters and items with hydrogen peroxide or white vinegar.  These are natural and they do  not promote antibiotic resistant bacteria.

2 C water
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
3 - 4 drops of liquid soap (optional)
Spray and wipe.  If you want a streak free shine - use old newspaper to wipe the windows clean.  No lint.
You can also just use vinegar - although many don't like the smell.  In a pinch I have also just used water.

So many air fresheners contain tons of chemicals and you are releasing those into the air and breathing them in.  Keep it SIMPLE!  Open windows when possible - fresh air is the best.  Place a dish or 2 of baking soda around the house (kitchen - bath) to absorb odors.  Use peels/skins/spices in a pot of heated water for a natural wonderful smell.
I do make FeBreeze - using bottled fabric softener and water.  NO it isn't natural.  I only use about a 1/3 of a spray bottle of softener and the rest water,  I use it seldom - but do keep it on hand (for stubborn smells)

1 C baking soda
1 Tbsp. liquid soap
few drops of vinegar (if desired)
Hot water
Mix to make a thick paste.  Remove any large pieces of gunk and MAKE SURE oven is off!!!!!  Coat all the area needing cleaned and let it sit overnight!  Wipe and scrub off with warm water.

You can always use a plumber's snake (I have 2).  Even a twisted metal coat hanger - these can be used to pull out nasty globs of hair.  Pour 1/2 C or more baking soda into the drain.  Gradually add equal amount of white vinegar.  Let it set and fizz and bubble and dissolve.  Pour boiling water down drain.  Wait 30 minutes and if not clear  - repeat.  Before calling a plumber - let the drains cool off and snake again.

1 C white vinegar
1 gallon hot water
1 Tbsp. - 1/4 C liquid soap
couple Tbsp. of lemon juice
Mix together and clean floors or walls with a clean soft rag or mop.  The soap will add extra cleaning power.  If you use soap - always follow up with a clear water mop or wipe down.

STOVE FIRE (small)
Baking soda will extinguish flames in a natural way.  Ask me how I know!!!! LOL
I had a plastic spatula in oven catch fire and dousing with baking powder worked wonders.  PLEASE make sure you have a fire extinguisher handy in your kitchen - just in case of something bigger!

I use a wet magic eraser dipped in baking soda and scrub.  It cleans grease spots great.  Rinse down with a soft rag and warm water.  
You can also add a drop or 2 of liquid soap to  baking soda and water paste to act like soft scrub

**Clean you microwave by combining a 1/4 C vinegar (or lemon juice) to a cup of water and heat for 5 minutes.  Will remove odors and soften any build up - wipe clean with a damp rag
**Make a brass or copper cleaner by adding equal parts of lemon juice and vinegar.  Wipe it on with a soft cloth - let it set - then wipe clean and polish.  I like to rub this mixture on with some salt (the salt is a bit abrasive - but it works)
**Clean and freshen your garbage disposal by running a tray of ice cubes and 1/2 C vinegar through a cycle.  Do once a week.  You can also freshen it by placing citrus peels in disposal and running with water
**Add a splash of vinegar to your rinse water to keep your glasses and dishes from spotting
** I use hydrogen peroxide in my whites laundry instead of bleach!!!  It is all natural and it works wonderfully
** Add 1/2 C or so of baking soda to load of stinky clothes - cuts the odor.
**Add 1/2 C vinegar to your rinse cycle to act as a fabric softener.  Trust me - once dry - no smell!!  This also helps to remove any soap build-up on clothes and washer
**Sprinkle baking soda over your carpets or rugs and let it set for an hour or so.  Vacuum - it absorbs all those pet or damp/musty smells
**Put an old box of baking soda in the frig and maybe even the freezer - (I buy real cheap boxes for this) to absorb odors - when it is time to replace use the baking soda to clean a drain or the toilet!
NOTE - when I had a freezer go out and stuff spoil - I cleaned it out and used baking soda and coffee (pre-brewed) to help air it out.  Aired the freezer open for a couple days (in the garage) - then added both and closed it.  Smells were gone after a week or so.  **I use that freezer to store bird seed (mouse proof in garage)!!!!

These are just some of the basics.  There are other natural things, like natural herbs, that can be used and add wonderful smells.  I love using whatever I can that is natural.  I live in this house as well as my pet - so I don't want to add chemicals to my air.  Most everything we own gives off some nasty substance - so it just makes since to clean as natural as possible.
I will have more natural cleaning ideas later on and I WILL do a health and beauty natural ideas post as well.

Hope this gives you a few ideas and tips.  Using what we have on hand is frugal, and using these items is natural.  Frugal and good for your home is a WIN-WIN!