Wednesday, January 31, 2024

A Fun Bite or Two

 I have made myself a fun goody once each the past couple of weeks.  Not sure what to call it!  It could be called a VERY thick shake/smoothie or a soft serve ice cream of sorts.  Call it what you like - but it sure was good and easy.  Used what I had here to make it.

I used:

1 cup of milk (whatever type you have)
some frozen fruit (about 6 strawberries) - you could use fresh fruit or even jam if no fruit (any type)
a squirt of honey
The equivalent to a small tub of yogurt (single serve) any flavor - OR you could use a big spoonful of ice cream/ice milk
8 ice cubes
Blend it all up together until smooth.  I did mine in the Ninja cup.  IF really hungry you could have it all - or it makes plenty for two
                                                      Good golly gosh - it was good!!!!

Many times we all want a treat but hate making a big amount of something.  Well, that is OK - you can freeze items for another day.  I often freeze brownies in airtight packs for the future.  Something many don't think about is frozen cheesecake.  I love it frozen - it is such a yummy treat.
Of course, there is always making pudding and placing in individual cups to last a few days or even Jello with fruit.
I like pecan pie - NO I love pecan pie!  It is so sweet and rich, not something one should eat a lot of.  There is a way to make mini pies.  I noticed an ad for mini pie shells once, then I saw some on mark-down at the store and got them.  There are 14 mini shells in a pack.  I got them on markdown for about $2.  Super-duper idea.  Now you can easily make your own - roll your pie crust just cut into smaller shells.
You can make any kind of pie, quiche, tart, etc. that you make like!  Now if you are making homemade crust and want to do this - place your crust and filling in a muffin tin and bake away.  If you need a pre-baked mini pie crust - do this like we showed last week with the biscuit bowls.  Form the crust over the back of the muffin pans and bake - then fill when cool.
Want individual cheesecakes?  Make your crumb crust as usual the pat into lightly buttered muffin tins and fill with your favorite cheesecake.  You can even use pre-made for this - just use a glass to cut out the appropriate size crust from a pre-made one.

Sometimes we just a bite or two of a goody to be satisfied.  It is easy to make smaller sizes and freeze the rest for another day.
You can think about making brownies in muffin pans as well (crispy edges all the way around!!).  Cakes (good for ice cream or fruit toppings!) and muffins too.  Those muffin tins are good for a lot of things!!!!  
Just another way of thinking outside the box a little - using what you have and making fun and tasty goodness.

Have a SWEET day!

Tuesday, January 30, 2024

It Isn't Just $$$$

 Today, I just want to clarify something that many don't understand.  Being frugal (minders of our stuff), isn't just about money!  I will say, when my journey first started many years ago, YES it was.  We both came into marriage with debt, hubs had just purchased our house (right before meeting me), and we neither made big money.  So yes, it was about the money.  We wanted to pay off the debt we had, save, do things, and update our home.
Well, after a while it became HABIT and LIFESTYLE and a CHALLENGE!  We did get that debt taken care of quickly, paid our home off at 15 years instead of 30.  Bought a brand new vehicle (which we had never had before) and paid it off in one year.
We saved and saved some more.
Best of all we HAD FUN too!!!!!  Not expensive fun - we weren't world travelers or anything.  We wondered our state from here and there, we camped with our friends (we bought a camper), and we enjoyed the simple things in life.

Sure, most people start out with a specific reason.  It may be little money, it may be debt, it may be illness, it may be loss of job........just so many reasons.

Today, I am in good shape.  We did things right - we knew there may be medical issues at some point.  G wanted to make sure I would be ok if left alone.  Well, I am OK.  
I can buy pretty much what I want.  That is the thing - I don't WANT for much of anything!

I like my quiet time and just being with friends and family.  I like my stuff.  I like being a good steward of what I have.  
I don't want to add a lot to the waste of the world.  I try to use things in new ways, so as not to have to buy the junk that is thrown at us today.  I buy food to eat and nourish my body - why would I want to throw it away?  I try to take care of the environment as best as I can.  I know one person can't do a lot - but I can DO something.  
I try to keep the heat down, and turn the lights off so as not to overuse the utilities I have been blessed with.

I want to do the good things.  I want to take care of nature and enjoy the beauty.  I want to use what I have intentionally gone out and purchased and not waste it.  Why wouldn't I?  I want to get the best deals I can get and use my finances with care.  It took work and determination to have the finances - I sure don't want to fritter them away.

You can start living the "frugal" (determined) lifestyle for any number of reasons.  But at some point, I almost guarantee you - you will be doing things without thinking about it - just because you are used to it.
That is a wonderful place to be.  

So, if you are new to this and are just starting the journey - please don't feel you being punished or that you are poor or that you are never going to get ahead.  It happens!  Slowly but surely things work out.  You just have to keep moving forward.... that is important.  Don't give up.  If you fail at something, that means you have another opportunity to try again.  
No success comes without failure!!!!!!!!!

Do what you can.  Start small.  Be conscientious about your decisions.  It all adds up.
Smile and have a good day.

Sunday, January 28, 2024

Weekly Wrap Up 1/28

 Happy Sunday to everyone.  The last Sunday of the month! Again, time flies.
It is rainy, rainy, rainy here.  Did I mention rainy?  LOL.  I sure hope this helps the drought numbers.  Goodness, it hasn't stopped since yesterday afternoon.  Looks to be in the 40's most of this coming week as highs, so not too bad.

Been watching lots of birds and squirrels in the yard.  The big old woodpecker was out there this week.  So majestic!  This morning, I saw Rocky the racoon out there!  I figured there was one around, as a couple mornings the water bowl that sits on the deck had 'dirty' water in it.  That only happens with the racoon.  And the neighbor had set a trash bag outside his back door the other night, and the next morning it was a mess - someone hunting for food!

It has been kind of quiet around here this week.  Just going with the flow,

  • Worked on cutting up some material for my gr. nieces throw/quilt she wants
  • Paid everything I had in house and mailed a package
  • Did a little more decluttering
  • Baked a butter cake - plain
  • Made some hard boiled eggs with the older eggs I had
  • Ran to the feed store for the critters!
  • While out - ran into Kroger for fresh items.  I have been craving fresh fruit and veggies.  I also got eggs - 18 count for 1.99 (2), milk, fruit, veggies all for FREE with a GC
  • Got gas while out to use up the Dec. points.  Due to buying GC's last month at Kroger I had a lot of points - saved $1 gallon, paying 1.99/gal. for gas.  I only needed $10 and some change worth.
  • Using what I have and using up leftovers
Meals this past week:
Sliders, oven potato bites
Homemade pizza (using lots of older veggies on hand)
Fried cabbage, scrambled eggs and bacon
Leftover pizza
Chicken tenders, mashed potatoes and gravy
Beef (from freezer) sandwiches and leftover potatoes
Fried green tomatoes (home canned), and a small chef salad (used leftover chicken and hard boiled eggs)

How was your week?  Have you been decluttering or spring cleaning?  Any great deals this week?  I think this may be the week that many just decided to chill a bit, from what I have been reading!  We all need a quiet week or two now and then.
I hope that all having health issues or family health issues are doing well or better.  Please know you are all in my prayers daily.

Blessings to you and yours in the coming week from my humble little home.

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with sighs too deep for words.
Romans 8:26

Lord, we pray for all things and people as best we can.  You know our hearts and you know what we need and mean.  Please help us each one to have faith larger than our fears.  Lay healing hands upon all in need.  Amen

Thursday, January 25, 2024

Use it Up Yumminess!

 Morning all!  More today about using what we have in new ways and making it all yummy and tasty.  We can all make these quick and easy recipes, generally with things we have at the house already.  Using what you have and using it up, can save a lot of money in the long run.  Keeps us out of the stores, keeps our minds fresh - getting creative, and it is tasty and different.  Hope you give one or two a try.
Always remember that you can substitute ingredients that you normally use or have - instead of what is listed.

I sure remember mom fixing these as a kid, and I still do once in a while.  I plan on doing some today as a matter of fact.  Mom always made them as a side dish with pork chops or other pork dinners.  That was good - but so is just eating as a dessert.  You can have them as is, over ice cream or over cake or cheesecake.  Just have them!
Peek core and slice up apples (I always use ones that are getting older)
Place a little butter in a pan and melt.  Throw in sliced apples, a bit of sugar or brown sugar and a sprinkle of cinnamon and sauté' until tender.  Oh yum!  Simple and easy and using up what is just laying around.
Actually, you can use different fruits as well - pears, peaches, etc.
You can save the peels and cores to make jelly with as well!

Yum.  These are easy and tasty and simple.
3 C corn kernels (canned/drained or frozen or fresh)
3/4 C flour
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 C milk
 salt and pepper to taste
Mix your dry ingredients together and then add the eggs and milk - stir until well blended.  Add the kernels in.  Drop by heaping tablespoon into hot grease and fry until golden on each side.  Approx. 1 1/2 - 2 1/2 minutes per side.
Serve with butter or sour cream.  Makes a great side dish - or if you choose just DINNER!  Great for breakfast, lunch or dinner.
*****Think about changing out from corn to other veggies.  Chopped cauliflower or broccoli, shredded carrots, etc.  Whatever you have.  Have fun with it and enjoy!

Baked potatoes can be a meal unto themselves.  They often are for me.  Top with whatever goodies you have hanging out in the frig.  Leftover chili/cheese, sloppy joe, taco meat, veggies and cheese sauce, pulled pork, stew - absolutely anything!!!!  There is no right or wrong thing to top a potato with!

Great way to utilize leftover mashed potatoes.  I often make extra just so I can make these.
2 C mashed potatoes
1 C flour
1 Egg
salt and pepper to taste
Chopped onion or shredded cheese if desired.
Mix all the ingredients together and drop by the spoonful in hot grease.  Brown about 4 minutes per side.
Top with butter or sour cream.  Great with gravy as well.
Makes a great side dish.  I sometimes add bits of bacon if I have some ready.  I can eat these as a meal with a little salad.

I love to make some toast and add peanut butter to 2 pieces of it, then add thinly sliced apples to the middle.  Or you can add banana slices.  Makes for a fun, tasty, and pretty healthy sandwich.  Apple and peanut butter sandwiches are quite filling.  Great for adults or kiddos.

Open your eyes to the fact that meals don't always have to look the same.  You don't HAVE to have a variety of foods for a meal.  You can eat one or two things and get plenty full and satisfied.  I know many don't think so, but if you are budgeting and saving - experiment a little.
There is no need to be hungry when you step outside the box a little and get creative with what you have.
I love using things in new ways and I hate waste.  I learned all these tricks and ideas when I was a kiddo and we didn't have a ton of money.  Momma was very creative using what we had - it was all good.  Many of her food/budget stretching ideas are still used often by me even after all these years.
When it's good it's good!

Have fun stretching that food and using it up.  
I hope this help someone just starting out or even those of us that have been around a while.

Have a wonderful day to everyone!

Wednesday, January 24, 2024

What is Going on in Your World?

 Good morning - Happy Wednesday.  It is a very gloomy, foggy and wet morning here.  We are getting rain again, and I am thankful it isn't snow and ice.  It is already in the lower 40's this morning.  The warmest it has been all month!

I figure we all need a bit of color and sunshine in our lives today!  Aren't these lovely?

Today I plan on working on cutting out some pieces for my gr. nieces throw - from her kiddos baby clothes.  I have the backing already, so I need to get busy and make a plan for some sort of design and get to cutting.  That is the biggest part to me.  The sewing usually goes quickly.  Plan your work and work your plan!!!!

I have sure had spring on my mind lately.  I guess we all have.  I keep thinking flowers, garden, and just yard decorating.  Many things I can change up this year, as I just need something fresh.
I am ready for warm!

The house is in good order (clean), laundry is caught up, and the pantry clean - so today will be crafting and maybe some baking.

I am also thinking about my big guy Glen a lot this week.  I always do, but today would have been our 38th anniversary.  It was such a cold and snowy evening when we married.  We both worked all day, and rushed home to get ready.  Mounds of snow everywhere.  People that knew G, were totally surprised that he didn't get called into to work that night! 
He worked for the street dept. and nothing ever stopped him from going in on snow nights!  Well, almost nothing - LOL.
We laughed about that often.
It is a sad day - but a happy one too.  I got the love of my life that day - and he still is.  We had a ton of happy, happy memories together.

What do you all have planned this week?  Are you crafting?  Shopping?  Cleaning?  Planning on spring?
Give a shout out and tell us what is going on in your life.  You may motivate some of us to something different.
Have a wonderful day and make the best of all you do!

Tuesday, January 23, 2024

Keeping Things Simple and Using What I Have

 Here it is Tuesday again.  It is a very wet morning here, but getting warmer!  I will gladly take rain over ice and snow.  This week looks to be much warmer than last.  I am liking that.

Nothing too exciting today - just an idea or two of using things around the house and keeping our lives a little simple.  You know I like simple.  I also like using things in new ways.  Sure, some (many) things in my house are conventional - but many aren't.  I am just one of those people that tries to think of how I can use something I have before buying something new.

Not necessarily less - but during these winter months when it is snowy and icy out - not everyone has a garage for their vehicle.  Keep a scraper in the house!  If the vehicle is covered with ice - you have to come up with a way to get into it - to get the scraper!!!  Keep one inside and ready.

Many people wrap their pipes to keep them from freezing.  Here is a little idea that helps.  Maybe something to think about for next year.  Pool noodles!  Cut them to the length you need  and cut open lengthwise and slide over pipes.  They work perfectly.  
Noodles also make great door draft dodgers as well - cover in an old towel or piece of material and place at the bottom the door to keep out any air drafts.

I try my best to always use my reuseable grocery bags, but sometimes I run in somewhere and forget - then I get those plastic ones.  I keep them handy in a jar I have hanging out in the kitchen.  They come in great for pet messes, trash can liners, or uses outdoors.
It is amazing how many can be crammed into this little container.  Easy to get to and a small container to store them.
I also have this little lady that my mom bought me years ago.  Made out of material with an expanded skirt with elastic at the bottom.  You stuff your bags into the skirt, and it fluffs out!  This hangs in the stairway going to the basement.  This would be easy to make - or something like it.

Use what you have for extra pantry storage.  I have things in totes, boxes, crates, shelves, baskets, etc.  Each container holds a different type of item.  
Think about using old suitcases for storage - slide under the bed. 
Utilize the space behind doors with hanging racks or the floors of closets or under stairs.
Not everyone has a big house or a basement with lots of storage.  Sometimes it takes getting creative to keep a nice pantry storage on hand and organized.
There are so many ways to store our "extras".
My silverware drawer is in an old washstand and it is a double wide drawer.  I hate opening and closing it everyday - so I store the excess in it and keep this little cup out with daily items and needs.  I put a cut piece of sponge in the bottom, to absorb dampness and keep the bottom of the cup safe.  It is sure handy to just have things at my reach.

If you get a lot of snow (lighter stuff) and hate the idea of getting out and shoveling or sweeping it - use a leaf blower.  Easy to handle (easier than a snow blower) and moves that light snow lickety-split!

I have gotten to enjoying a TV program about smaller houses around the world.  It is called Never Too Small and it is on Earth TV on Thursday evenings.  There are 2 - 30 minute shows.  It shows various very small dwellings around the world, and how they have been revitalized and refurbished to provide lodging for families with TONS of storage and a simplistic look, being the main priority.  A lot of the shows are in Asia and Australia, but there have been some from Europe and the US.  Kind of interesting.
I like watching shows about tiny housing - they are just so creative!

Do you have any unconventional way to store things?  Let us know.  I love getting new ideas to keep life simpler and using what I have.
Give us a shout out.  We can all use new ideas!

Have a blessed day and know you all stay in my prayers!

Sunday, January 21, 2024

Weekly Wrap Up 1/21

Happy Sunday all.  This month is sure flying by quickly.  It has been a cold, cold week here - as it has been in a lot of places.  We got a little snow one day - not much.  This coming week is supposed to be much warmer!  YAY!!!  Guess we are just wishing our lives away, wanting spring to get here.  It is only about 60 days away.  It sure is staying daylight longer - both later in the evening and earlier in the morning.  
The birdies and squirrels have sure been hungry!  They love the watering holes - it is the only liquid water around - and it is warmer than the air temp. so I am sure it warms them.  Poor robin has been hanging out at the birdbath as well.  

The kitties have delegated me to the center of the bed most nights.  I have one on the right and one on the left all stretched out!  They sure seem content.

My week was simple - but accomplished in my book!
  • Did a boatload of laundry
  • Started the Blazer and let it run a little on a cold day.
  • Changed out the furnace filter
  • Made sure my portable battery charger was all charged up - in case
  • Cleaned the water holes/bowls outdoors on the 'warmest' day this week
  • Stayed home all week - never left the property so NO shopping again
  • Made a gallon of berry flavored iced tea
  • Did a little more declutter and took a load out to trash bin
  • Been using what I have and using up all the leftovers in some way
  • Made a small pan of cornbread and brownies this week
  • I DID get the pantry organized and straightened up!!!!  It looks so much better
  • I froze several containers of soup for other days

  • Now on the using those leftovers and bits and pieces that accumulate
I added the last of a jar of salsa to rice this week.  
Made a small batch of soup beans using broth and ham from freezer.  Used the last of the beans and made refried beans.
Cooked up a pound of clearance sausage (.75) from the freezer.  Used part in my meal and froze 2 packs for future meals
Made a hearty pot of 'stoup' (thick soup)  - used leftover green beans/potatoes, tomatoes in freezer, broth from freezer, leftover cauliflower, carrots from veg plate, threw in the leftover rice/salsa, found about 1/2 C of split peas in a jar in pantry - added those, and added a packet of mixed leftover veggies from freezer (for soup), and used chicken I had precooked.

My meals this week:
Soup beans/ham and cornbread
Same as above
Mexican pizza - homemade
Green beans with potatoes and smoked sausage (beans from brother's garden/canned)
Sausage gravy over toast
Homemade soup and crackers
Same as above
Snacks - brownies, oranges, fruit milkshake
My 'stoup' - boy oh boy is it tasty.  Thick and rich and full of goodness.  Not a thing in it that was bad for me.
Mexican pizzas.  Don't look like Taco Bell - not that pretty - but they sure were good.

How was your week?  Are you trying to use freezer/pantry items in new ways?  Staying home and staying warm?  Please check in and let us know what is going on in your part of world.

I hope those that are having health issues and health issues with family are hanging on.  Please know you have my prayers.  Life can sure get messy in a hurry - may we all go forward in grace.
Blessings to you and yours from my humble little home.

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.
Ecclesiastes 3:1

Lord, please help guide us through the trials and matters we face daily.  Help us to understand that 'our' way is not always 'Your' way.  You answer our prayers in Your own time and way.  Help those facing sadness and grief and lift them up.  We pray for peace and happiness for all.  AMEN


Thursday, January 18, 2024

Kitchen Saving - Part 2

 This is something that will be ongoing for a while - as there are just so many ways to save in the kitchen.  I will also interject ideas for cleaning and laundry and health & beauty along the way.  Different ways to save around the house.  There is just no end to the ideas.
Those who are just starting on this journey, will be amazed at all the simple ways to save a little here and there.  Again, it may not be overwhelming for each idea, but it all adds up.
Today a few more unconventional ideas for using food items in a different way!

Biscuit bowls!  A great way to add your sausage gravy to a breakfast meal or any meal.  Fill with gravy, maybe some creamed veggies, meat topped with gravy, thick and creamy potato or broccoli soup - oh goodness, there are tons of ideas for using the biscuits bowls.  
How do you make?  As you prepare your biscuits - whether homemade or canned - lightly grease the BACKSIDE of a muffin pan - form your dough over the back.  Once baked, remove, and you have nice little bowls!
How fun is that???

Let's talk STALE bread!
Now I am not talking moldy bread, but stale.  Just because it is stale doesn't mean you throw it out!  So many uses.
Croutons, bread crumbs, cubes for dressing/stuffing
Toast and use under gravy or sauce - make great open face sandwiches
Grilled cheese
French toast
Bread pudding
Toast and use as mini pizzas - add toppings and place under broiler for a few
Any kind of 'salad' sandwich (chicken, tuna, etc.) - toast and add filling
Make Crustables for the kiddos.  Use a cutter to cut circles - fill with PB&J (or whatever you want) add second form - crimp edges and toast in oven or toaster oven or even on a griddle  (keep edges for making crumbs)
Garlic toast
Cinnamon/sugar toast - yummy treat
Toad in a hole - cut hole in bread slice, place in pan, add egg to hole and fry, grill the piece removed as well
So many uses!!!!!!  Absolutely no reason to throw away.  All it takes it getting a little creative.  Food is money!

Yesterday we talked about not needing meat every meal (some do I guess), or how to use less and to use cheaper cuts.  ALSO don't throw away bones and scraps (like fat).  This makes excellent bone broth.  You can also throw in some scraps from veggies (carrot tops, wilted veggies, limp lettuce, trimmings, you name it).  The veggies just add to the flavor.  Cover with water and simmer long and slow.  Drain and either freeze or can.  Great FREE broth to use is soups and sauces.  You can also roast the bones if you wish until dry - crack and then make your broth - that allows all the nutritious marrow to absorb into broth.  You can do this with any type of bones.

Here is a simple chart to use all those leftovers to make soup. No, you don't have to follow it precisely - wing it!  Have fun with it.  This is just a general guide on a great way to make a budget stretching meal (or meals) for your family using what is hanging around.  No waste.
****(click on the picture to enlarge for easier reading)

Here is a simple recipe chart for creating a casserole from leftovers and what you have on hand.  Pantry items, freezers items, leftovers, just use it and get creative.
****(click on picture to enlarge for easier reading)

These are just guides to give you an idea of what you can do.  There is no right or wrong way to create soup or casseroles or to use leftovers for that reason! 
Have a bunch of veggies left from a meal - either use for another meal or mix together and top some rice for a lunch or even breakfast - add a little soy sauce or spicey siracha or whatever you have.  Just use things up.  You can make easy fried rice - veggies, rice, throw in an egg, maybe meat, seasonings and you have a great meal.  Make a tasty lo mein with veggies, meat and cooked spaghetti noodles (yep, that is what I use) - toss with your flavorings - super easy.
Stir fry - veggies, meat (if you want), seasonings and top rice or pasta.
Mix leftover veggies with some sour cream, Italian dressing or whatever you like and warm, then top a baked potato!  That is a meal!!!

As you can see, there is no end to what you can do with leftovers and there is no need to waste.
Food is money - money that doesn't need to be spent AGAIN.  Money that could be used on something else.  Being wasteful is just so wrong in so many ways to me.
Be a good steward of what you have - ALWAYS.

I hope these guides & posts help someone just starting this frugal adventure.  I think they can help us all - as we all get complacent at times and just forget!
You don't have to eat badly when you are trying to save money.  Quite the contrary - you can have wonderful and wholesome meals.  You just need to get creative and USE IT ALL!
These are wonderful ideas for everyone - not just those needing to save.

Stay warm and cozy.  It looks like we have a couple more icky days coming up this weekend and then we head into a warming trend for a bit here!  YAY!!!!
Have a great and creative day!

** On Sunday wrap up I will list all the re-uses and using bits and pieces from this week, that I have done!

Wednesday, January 17, 2024

Saving a Bit in the Kitchen - Part 1

 Good day to all.  Today will be a few ideas to save a bit here and there in the kitchen.  This will be an ongoing type of post - there are just so many things to do to be able to save.
Will you save huge dollars - no.  But pennies make dollars - and it all adds up.  Saving on the grocery budget allows one to pay on something else in life.

I will NOT be telling how to spend X$ for X people for a week.  I will NOT be telling you how to buy groceries for say $10 a week.  I will not be telling you to live off the Dollar Tree (not saying they don't have some deals).  I WILL be showing you how to cut back a little, use a little less and stretch things with a whole lot of basics.

Keeping food fresh:
Your refrigerator should be at a temperature of 40* F (4C) for optimum freshness of food.  If you have one - use a vacuum sealer to protect items in your freezer.  The coldest spots in the frig are usually the lower and back parts of the frig.  That is where I keep milk - it lasts way past the sell date and tastes fresh as ever.  Utilize the produce drawers.  I like to line mine with paper towels or dish cloths to catch anything that may leak or get gunky (hopefully that doesn't happen).  That makes it easily cleanable.

PANTRY - keep food items in a cool, darker and dry area.  If you are storing in containers - make sure they are airtight.  ROTATE - oldest in should be the first out.  Always place the newest items bought to the back.  REMEMBER - the dates on food are "best if used by" dates NOT expiration dates.  The food is still good for a long while after dated - it is merely a suggestion.  Food never used to be dated.  DO NOT WASTE!

CLEAN as you go when cooking!  It really makes a difference and keeps all work surfaces clean so that you have no cross contamination.  Cooking from scratch is NOT that tough.  As far as meals - there are really no rules.  Baking is more of a science, but not so much stove top cooking.  have fun and try new combos.

Buy what you eat and eat what you buy.  I see so many people on FB ask - I have X$ to stock - what should I buy?  No one can tell you that.  Only you know what your family eats and likes.  YES, keep basics like flour, sugar, spices, maybe rice and beans (all sorts), pasta - but after that you have to get what will be eaten.

Learn to use everything - even those odd ball bits and pieces.  They can be added to soups, casseroles, rice (fried), pasta, etc.  If you have no use immediately - freeze those items and mark the containers so you know what you have.  Maybe even keep a list of the freezer door so you don't forget.

Use the computer to help, if you have no new ideas for cooking.  Lots of sites give great EASY recipes and tips to use what you have.
Try a site like this - you list what you have and it gives you ideas on ways to use them.

Today's BIG tip:
You do NOT have to have MEAT at every meal!!!!!!!!  Have meatless meals once or twice a week.  If you have meat - use it as a side - not the main course.
If you would normally add a pound of meat to a dish - use a half pound instead.  Decrease the amounts used in all dishes.
If you use a lot of ground beef - buy ground chicken, turkey or pork instead - they are generally cheaper.  You can use bouillon to add the flavor you want.
You have to buy things within your budget.  Sometimes that means a different type of meat.  Cheaper cuts are great for using in crockpots - the long cooking process, tenderizes them.  Instead of beef roast - look for a SALE on pork loins or pork butts, cheaper chicken - and always watch sales around different holidays.  Turkeys and hams are much cheaper in the winter - hotdogs, sausages, and ground beef tends to be cheaper in the summer (cookouts).  
Always pay attention to the sales.  Buy as much as you can afford when you find a great sale - wrap it so it doesn't get freezer burn and you will save a lot in the long run.  Wrap it in portion sized lots for a meal.
Check out the clearance section as well.  SOMETIMES you can find a real deal - bring it home and use it or freeze it.
If you have small bits left - add to rice and veggies and make fried rice or add to veggies for stir fry.  Add to pasta with whatever else you have (and seasonings) for lo mein.  Hot pasta salad is good and can contain leftover meat.  Use to top a homemade pizza.  Add to soups with whatever you have leftover in the frig.  I love 'clean the frig' soup!  Use to top a baked potato.  Tons of uses for leftover meat!!!!!  USE IT  in a new way!

TOMORROW - saving by using things in different ways! 

I hope you get some ideas you can use.  Let us have fun saving and using and creating.
Have a wonderful day today!  

Tuesday, January 16, 2024

Things to Think About on This Adventure

 Today we will address some ideas that those who are 'frugal' think about.  There are lots more people realizing that they need to cut back and do something different.  Prices rise on everything, and I can almost assure you that they will not be going down much - if any.  Inflation may stabilize, but prices generally don't go back down.  Something has to be done to stretch those dollars.  Pay does not go up with inflation, sadly.
**That being said - I read Aldi plans on lowering the prices of even more items than it did in the last quarter.  They said they still made profit with lower prices and will lower even more! (you don't see that often).

Many know these things - but we have new people reading all the time.  Young people starting out, people who are suddenly alone and trying to get by seniors on limited income, etc.

As stated last week - wants versus needs.  This is huge.  You need shelter, food, utilities, insurance - but you don't need the newest phone or computer or that fancy coffee or lunch out every day.
You have to set your priorities.  Much may go bye-bye for a while as you concentrate on getting ahead.  Don't continue to purchase your wants, then ask for help with your needs!!!!  YOU need to be in control.

PAY your debts!  Make as many payments and as much as possible.  Paying minimum payments will never get you ahead.  Always add extra to the minimum.  Late fees are just an absolute waste.  Pay highest interest debt off first.  QUIT charging!!!!!

Take control!  Your circumstances may not change, but you can change your perspective.  Do anything and everything you can to stay on top and be positive.  I am a firm believer that our situations or actions or reactions have a reason.  Nothing is an accident.  Things are learning moments.  Make a game of it if necessary.  I know it isn't easy - been there and done that - but the Little Engine principle really does help - "I think I can, I think I can".

Be realistic.  Sure, a big fancy home might be nice or that new vehicle - but a small fixer upper will provide lodging and is affordable, and do maintenance on vehicles - that is usually cheaper than buying new and having that big monthly payment.  It is about trade-offs.

Read, learn and practice.  NO, you won't always get it right the first time.  YES, you may fall off the wagon now and then.  But you back up and KEEP trying.  This whole way of living a simpler life is not always easy.  It does take work and determination.  You may need to downsize, sell things, use just the basics, barter, never waste things - it is a learning process.

Learn to do simple things for fun.  Reading, games, puzzles, popcorn and a movie (at home), walks or hiking, fishing, foraging, the list goes on and on.  Make it a family adventure.  Kids get their cues from adults - so if you are having fun and acting joyful - they see that and they will be too.  Enjoy your family.  Show confidence in all you do - make it fun.  Do the hard thing!

Always SAVE something.  Even if it is just a couple dollars, or change, or birthday gifts, etc.  SAVE something - for emergencies.  ie:  eating out is not an emergency!!!!

You will run into naysayers - no doubt.  We have all had that experience.  Handle them with grace!  Be kind and tell them your life is YOURS and you are making changes.  Not everyone does things the same.  Smile, be kind, and have faith you can do this.  Those things can take you a long way!
Trust me - some will call you crazy!  Most of us have heard it all.

Tomorrow & maybe Thursday will be some kitchen/home ideas to think about - things we can do to take care of our food, ways to use things in new ways, and how to stretch our food dollars and items.

Here is a fun thing - snow and cold is everywhere - may as well have fun with it!!!!
Clean, clean snow only!!!!

I hope all that are just starting this journey will know, that there are many people out there that can help you through this.  It is a journey and an adventure - it isn't always easy - but you can make it fun.
There are many, many more ideas to come and things to share - no way can it all be put in one post.  Stay tuned for ideas and tips.
We are here to help when we can.  Now go get started!!!!!!

Sunday, January 14, 2024

Weekly Wrap Up 1/14

 Happy Sunday!  Oh baby, it is cold outside!!!!!  YUCKO!  I think nature has decided to have a temper tantrum!  It is -3* (F) here this morning going to a high of 6*!  It hasn't been this cold in our area since December of  '22.  The week is going to be cold all week as well.  We got a little snow last night and overnight - maybe an inch or so.  All I can say is Brrrrrrrr.
I know there are places that it is far colder, and I feel so sorry for you all and those who are being dumped on with snow.  Just stay safe - stay in.

I am so happy (more than I can express) that my kitties are inside.  They are safe and I no longer have to worry about that situation.  Blackie is truly coming out of his shell a lot.  He slept ON my bed with me ALL night on Friday!  He comes in a sleeps a while each night - but that was an all nighter!!  Bits just plays and chatters all the time - and loves looking out the windows.

My week:
  • Well, Sunday (7th) was the family get together and it was wonderful.  So many great memories.  Shared a lot of old pictures with everyone, and that was a tremendous hit!  I think they enjoyed that more than anything.  Each one of them gave me something homemade and I also got some different items for the pantry
We all enjoy gifting odd ball things that maybe the receiver wouldn't buy.  It is fun and yummy.
  • I saved a bunch of tissue paper and pretty bags and boxes for use for next year
  • I had lots of leftovers and used them off and on in many ways this week.
  • I froze a lot of pulled pork in a couple containers.  Used one at the end of the week, after eating some at first of week.
  • Had a meeting with my financial guy this week - all looks good.  Have some new decisions to make as well.
  • One neighbor came by on Monday and we talked for a couple hours - nice visit
  • I got 3 invites for luncheons coming up in the next month and a half.  I may do 2 of them
  • I got the shovel out and ready, and brought some squirrel/bird supplies in in case the cans freeze shut
  • I received an nice unexpected check this week and ran to the bank to deposit.  While out I did run in the store for a bit of different kitty food and an extra gallon of milk (lol - yes I did)
  • I started on cleaning the pantry - started!  I just couldn't get into it this week.
  • I did a lot of resting up this week - as last week was so busy.  Lounging and reading and napping!
  • Did a scrubbing on my outdoor scruff-about slides (shoes).  Seems they agitated Blackie, as they smelled like outdoors and other cats!  They are cleaned and scrubbed and he is fine now.  Too funny.
  • House is all cleaned and all gifts put away.  Have 2 HUGE baskets I received - I am still figuring out how to utilize them - they are huge.  I may post this week for ideas!  I am thinking books and throws.

Meals this past week:
Get together dinner - pulled pork, beans & rice, veggie plate, meat/cheese platter, cheese dip, chips and crackers, buns & wraps
Beans & rice topped with pork and cheese dip
Mashed potatoes with pork/gravy and fresh veggies
Tomato soup and grilled 3 cheese sandwich 
Macaroni/cheese topped with taco seasoned meat
Broc/cheese soup (freezer) with added cauliflower/carrots/beef stick pieces & crackers
Pork/cheese/salsa soft tacos and fresh veggies
Snacking on fresh veggies, cheese/beef stick, fruit

So how are you?  Are you staying warm and cozy?  What is the weather like where you are?  Did you get any deals this week?  Working on any new projects?  
Hope this finds everyone safe and healthy.
***RITA are you OK?  If you are reading - please check in - you have been on my mind!!!!!

Coming this week - some more ideas on saving money - especially in the kitchen.  I have a bunch of ideas to share.

I hope you are each and everyone safe.  
Blessings to you and yours from me at my humble little home.

For with God nothing will be impossible.
Luke 1:37
(I love this verse)

Lord, please guide us and hold safe this coming week.  Be with all those who are alone and homeless, that they may find shelter and friendship.  Guide us all to make the best decisions for our families and for others.  May we always hold hope and love in our hearts.  AMEN

Thursday, January 11, 2024

Crud, Cold and Cozy!

 Good day to all!  Hope you are well this Thursday.
Well kids, if it isn't nasty and cold where you are - odds are that it will be in a few days.  It sounds like most of north America is going to get some kind of nasty crud to deal with.
Snow, wind, rain, tornadoes, COLD..............yeppers, winter has come to pay a visit.

Make sure you have what you need.  Most of us have enough preps on hand to cover ourselves for a long while.  That enables us to stay in and to stay safe off the roads.
IF you need to go out and get a thing or two - do it before the weather hits.  We all know what it means when they mention snow!!!!  Crazy people who go to the store and get milk, TP, bread and junk - enough to last for ages.  I guess people think they will be snowed in for months!!!!  It always amazes me.

So make sure you are prepared with enough food in the pantries and freezer.  I bet we all are.  This is part of the reason we do what we do.  Make sure you have a plan in case you lose power for a while.  If you lose power, place blankets around your pipes to protect.  Do you have meds for a few days?
Just remember that unless you are extremely rural - odds are you will not be snowed in for more than a couple days.  

I like comfort food when the weather gets frightful.  Maybe make a nice pot of soup, stew or chili.  Catch up on watching movies or reading a book.  Light was scented candle and cuddle up in a throw.  That is winter to me!
I like sweets too - I shouldn't eat them - but something about nasty weather says yummies!!!

Super simple cookies, using what you have on hand.  No special ingredients at all.  Bake at 350*.  Nice way to have cookies and not make a ton, but enough to warm the tummy.  I like to set a "Kiss" on top of each one as soon as they come out of the oven!
It truly doesn't get much easier!

Maybe make some muffins, brownies, biscuits, bread..... oh the mind goes in overdrive!
When baking brownies - I always pour some chocolate chips (or what you have) on top, as soon as they come out of the oven.  They melt, and I spread it around - instant icing (only better).

No bread - no worry.  
These are great to make and good with beans, soup, stew, basically anything.  If you don't have buttermilk that is ok, but you can add a little lemon or vinegar to your milk and use instead.  So yummy.

Throw your leftovers in a big pot, add some broth or tomato base, bits of meat (or not), add a little rice or pasta and make soup!
There is no need to go outside in the frightful weather.  USE what you have and stay safe.
Improvise and substitute if you don't have something.  You may make the next favorite thing!

I hope all stay safe and warm.
Our temps are pretty decent through tomorrow (40's), although a bit windy.  THEN the temps drop and we get cold.  I guess it is time - as much as we hate it.  It is winter!
Spring will be here before we know it.

Stay safe and stay well.  Use what you have and get creative with some goodies over the cold spell.
Have a wonderful day and weekend.

Wednesday, January 10, 2024

Makin' Do

Hope all are well.  It is cold, nasty and windy just about everywhere!  Some getting bushels of snow and others getting tons of rain.  Please stay safe and stay in if you can.  We had rain all day yesterday, and today it is very windy - the chimes are singing, and limbs are down.  Stay safe to all.

Today I want to speak briefly about making do!  Most of us, that are regulars here, know how to do that.  We may have some new viewers and those who are just starting the frugal journal.  I want to let you have a few basics - not all things by any means - but basics to get started.  You adjust as you go along, and soon it becomes a normal way of being in your life. I started being frugal as a need (as did many), and then it just became a habit and a way of life.  I don't even think about the things I do now, it is all just normal.

First is knowing your needs from your wants!!!!!` You need food, a warm bed, heat, clothes for whatever job you do, shelter, and medications.  You WANT the latest gadget, phone, vacations, etc.
Self-gratification goes bye-bye for a while if you are serious about getting out of debt or trying to get ahead.  SERIOUSLY!!!!

You need to learn very basic recipes and use basic foods for a while.  The basics are very good and can keep you full and can be made in fun and exciting ways.  No more shopping just to be shopping!  No new and latest gadgets.  No coffee stops every morning or afternoon.  No more eating out for a while.  Make a crockpot your friend, especially if you work.  It cooks while you work.  It can make easy and cheaper foods taste wonderful.  Use leftovers!
Turn down the thermostat and put on clothes or add covers.  Keep lights off if not in the room.  Don't let faucets just run, while doing dishes, or rinsing items, or even brushing teeth.  That is money (albeit a few cents) going down the drain.  Wash full loads - and only wash what is really dirty.  Do NOT shop everyday!  Shop once a week, or every two weeks and plan your meals around the sales.  No more "just going to run in for one thing" stops.  You all know it is always more than one thing.

Stop using credit cards and making minimum payments only.  If you are using cards - pay them off quickly or if possible pay them off each month.  I do use a lot of cash, but also use a CC for gas or other bigger purchases - but I pay it in full every month.  Interest can literally eat you alive.

DID YOU KNOW???  If you have $30,000 in CC debt, and you only pay minimum payments, it will take you about 40 years to pay it off!!!!  That is if you NEVER charge anything else.  You will also be paying thousands of dollars in interest!!!!!!
All for those "bargains" you found and just couldn't live without!!!!!

Make coffee at home - you can jazz it up at home too
Make your meals at home and keep them somewhat simple
Turn off the lights
STOP shopping
Keep the temps cooler - put clothes on
Run errands all at one time - to minimize gasoline use
Use the sun for extra heat
SAVE something every week
Keep cleaning supplies basic - use what you have on hand or make your own
LEARN new ways - follow blogs, Vlogs, books, etc.
Use the library - it is free
Put the word out - if you need something.  Odds are someone you know will have what you need
Barter and trade with others for items or service (it is kind of fun)!
The list goes on and on...........................

Continue to read along each week on this blog and other frugal minded blogs to learn new tricks and ideas and recipes.  We grow as we learn!  Learn to save, pay off, and be a good steward of what you have.

I understand it all seems overwhelming when starting out.  Many of us have been there and done that.  Do not be daunted - you CAN do it.  Getting out of debt, staying out of debt, and having a nice emergency fund or savings account feels FANTASTIC!!!!!!
You can have that as well.
Just start!  Yep, you will have days of failure - but you can start afresh the next day.
Pick yourself up from the failures and go forward.  Try hard to stay on the track of getting out of debt.

Let us help you and each other.  We learn together and share ideas.
Let us make it a fun journey!
Have a great day.

Tuesday, January 9, 2024

Trash to Treasure - Getting Creative

 Hello all.  Happy Tuesday.  Hope this finds you well and safe.  It is a very rainy morning here.  Breezy and rain - makes for a real chill!  Just glad it isn't snow.

You all know I had my last holiday gathering Sunday.  It was a blast.  Oh, we had some fun.  I again, got so many lovely gifts from my family.  My niece and both nephews MADE parts of my gifts.  They added in store bought - but each got creative.  I love it!
One nephew made a wreath tree.  It is something like a coat tree - not as tall and has a hanger for a lovely big wreath.  I got a wonderful homemade wreath from them a couple years back.
Another made a beautiful candle holder - wood - hand whittled and wood burned.  It almost looks ancient - like Aztec or something.  I will have to take pictures of both of these items to display at a later date.

My niece made me a gnome!
He is adorable!!!  
Now, I told her I was going to post - so others could make one too.  She used a laundry soap pods container to make.  She has also used coffee creamer bottles, Purex bottles, coffee containers, fabric softener bottles, etc.  You can use anything - depending on the size and shape you want. (you would buy baby/children hats instead of adult for skinnier ones.)

This is the back.  She painted the container white - I might have painted to match the 'hair' - but you can do it either way.  She got the caps on clearance - and the 'hair' she bought at WM and you can get at any craft store.
She added the nose (1/2 of a craft wooden ball) and the little ornamental sprig.  She has done in all colors.
Add a bit of glue to hat to hold in position.  Everything is just glued.

He is just the cutest thing.  I can leave it out all winter, not just a Christmas decoration.
I just love using one's trash to make a beautiful treasure that can be used for years to come.  I will start saving my laundry detergent bottles, (or any plastic container that could work). I want to make some of these over this coming year for gifts.
Now would be a good time to find the hats cheaply - but you could buy next fall as well.  
If you don't have bottles, have family or friends keep theirs for you.

There you have a great trash to treasure project.
Give a lovely gnome to someone as a gift!  Get creative and maybe make them to have a summer/hippy look too! ****  I am thinking colored 'hair' or a bandana - so many options!
There is no limit to what you can do!

Have a great day!

Sunday, January 7, 2024

Weekly Wrap Up 1/7

 Hello to all.  Our first Sunday of the year!  The first week in the books now.  I hope this finds everyone well.  Hoping to hear from some of you who have been missing the past few weeks.  The holidays keeps everyone busy, I know.
I kept busy this week, and I am preparing for my last family gathering today.  I am so excited to see the kids.  Even though we are in the same state, we don't get to each other very often (2 hours away).

Yesterday was the first sight of winter in our area.  Woke to a covering of white stuff!  The weather said 2" - but I had slush and a very thin layer of snow.  It was basically gone by the end of the day.  Temps this coming week will be 40's and 30's - with some mixture of precipitation.  Nothing horrible.

Kitties are doing better and better.  At 3 weeks from surgery, I noticed Blackie spitting out some stitches!  He is now back to eating more dry food (with water on it).  He likes kitty chow too.  That will be a big money saver to go back to more dry food than wet!  They have been playing and playing together.  Blackie now likes to hang out in the kitchen on the rug in there!  They are such a hoot.

My week:
  • Washed all the bedding and the rugs
  • Scoured frig and stove - cleaned frig out
  • Combined goods when possible in frig and shopped from my stock to fill in gaps
  • Scoured the bird/squirrel watering holes
  • Started a file for all my tax stuff - got my first info on the 2nd
  • Mended a bed covering (under cover)
  • Made my last batch of the season of Springerle cookies (gifting today)
  • Managed to do some big clean-up in basement/craft area on the spur of the moment.  Went looking for something and one thing led to another!!!!!
  • Have all for today's meal here at home.  Even made my own ice and tea.  Only things I bought were buns, soft street taco shells and fresh veggies to make a veggie tray with.
  • While at the store - I looked around as I wanted to get my nephew a little something extra.  I found this big dinosaur head that contains 30 different activities.  Normal price 49.99 - I paid 9.99!!  What a deal!  That is my only after Christmas buy!
  • Lots of dusting and vacuuming - just basic cleaning. 
  • Used crockpot to make corned beef - froze lots of the leftovers for later

My meals this past week:
Lasagna from freezer and salad
Corned beef, cabbage and black eyed peas 
Rueban - YUM
Angus/cheeseburger and salad
Dirty rice with meat added and veggies
Burrito (w/leftover rice) and fresh veggies
Chicken wraps

How was your first week of the year?  Did you after the holiday shop?  Eating what is on hand?  
I hope you all check in, missing some of you gals.
May you all have a wonderful week ahead and stay healthy and safe.  Winter weather is to hit a big section of the country this week - so please stay safe.  Stay in when possible.  Nothing is so important to go out in nasty weather.

Blessing to you and yours from my humble little home!

Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health and body.
Proverbs 16:24

Dear Lord, please help us to each be a better person this new year.  Help us to mind our thoughts, actions and words that they are only used for good.  May we all be the best person we can be, and may we live the best life we can.  AMEN

Thursday, January 4, 2024

Lists - They Really do Help!

 Happy Thursday my friends.  Today, let us talk a bit about LISTS!  I am huge list maker.  I make lists for everything.  Yes I do.  Now that said, I am also the person who often walks off without my list for the grocery!  Yep.  I have gotten to the point, that I try to stick it in my purse as soon as I have written it - so I don't leave it laying on the table.

Lists can be our friend.  They can be used for any number of things.  I am surrounded at the moment with no less than 4, maybe 5.  I have my notebook that contains ideas, thoughts and recipes that I want to use on the blog.  I have my daily notebook where I keep track of what I do each day.  I have a list of all the things I need to remember to do before my family gathering Sunday.  I have my list of gifts bought/made for family - so I don't forget anything.  I also have a list of scriptures that mean a lot to me, that I reread often.
I make lists of all sorts of things.  When I clean out the freezer - I always make a list of exactly what I have and put back in.  Now that becomes obsolete fairly quickly!!!!  I am notorious for making the beautiful/useful list - then not marking it up when removing or adding things!!!!!  YES I DO THAT

I have tried to list pantry items - that doesn't really work for me.  There is just too much stuff.  I do categorize by item type, veggie, fruit, mix etc. & oldest to the front.  The keeps that area of my life sort of organized.

I make lists of things to do outdoors in the yard.  Garden plants/seeds I want.  To do things around the house.  So many things.
I also keep an old-fashioned calendar on the wall in the kitchen - dates of birthdays, anniversaries, luncheon dates, appointments, etc.

I have always been a list person - it was imperative when I worked!  I made so many lists at work, as there were so many facets to my job - I couldn't forget anything.  I also kept lists for home - as working made less time at home and things fell through the cracks.

I guess I learned this from the best - my folks.  Daddy always kept precise lists of everything he planted and what he harvested.  Mom kept track of all the canning & freezing she did.  She had to - as our storage area was not easily accessible - and she canned 100's of jars every year.  She was good about keeping track.  

Some people buy fancy lists.  Some use notebooks.  Some make their own pretty lists (check out Rhonda at If You do Stuff - she makes cute sheets).  Some use those freebies that come in the mail.  I use a lot of the backs of Christmas cards.  Those are my go-to for grocery lists - they are sturdy and easy to find in my purse.  Some use envelopes from mail they have received.  Some use the backs of printer pages that are not needed (I did that all the time at work).  Anything from scraps to fancy will work and you don't have to buy anything.
My notebooks I use all are purchased at back-to-school time for pennies.  I buy many and they last for a couple years at least.

Notebooks are great for journaling as well.  That is how I got my mom started.  First, I bought her a blank 'book' as a gift to put stories in from her childhood & younger days.  She filled that in no time and went on to using notebooks (lots of notebooks).  She used them as a daily diary for her very private thoughts and feelings about things. It was very therapeutic for her.  (no one was allowed to read until she passed).
IF you have lots of feelings about your past, your current situation or about anything from life - try journaling.  It is a great way to release those feelings and thoughts.  Some things are just private.  It does help!!!!!
You are never too old to start.  Mom was in her 80's when she started journaling.
This isn't exactly a LIST but in a way it is.  It is a list of your thoughts and feelings.

Lists help keep us organized to some degree.  We all want to be organized - so give lists a try.
There is nothing that won't benefit from keeping track. 

So, make your list and check it twice and DON'T forget it!!!!!
Have a good day.