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It's Fall -- Time for Comfort Foods

October 22nd, 2016 at 02:40 pm

It's kind of cool today and it means I can start thinking of comfort foods. I love turkey. Aldi has turkey breasts reasonable and I have been stocking up. So, I decided to put one in the Crockpot to cook away.

Supper will be turkey, mashed potatoes with turkey gravy, sliced tomatoes of the few we still have, corn casserole, and fruit salad. I haven't made this corn casserole for awhile, but it is pretty good.

Corn Caserole Recipe
1 small onion, diced
6 Tbsp butter
4 Tbsp flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp dried mustard
2 cups milk
2 eggs, beaten
2 cups stuffing
1/2 tsp dried sage
4 cups corn, drained
bread crumbs

Cook onion in 4 tablespoons of butter until limp. Remove from heat and add flour, salt, and mustard. Mix well. Add milk. Stir until blended. Put back on heat and cook until thick. Remove from heat and add eggs, bread cubes, corn, sage, and remaining butter. Pour into a greased casserole. Cover with bread crumbs. Bake at 375 for 45 to 60 minutes.

I will admit I didn't use all the butter. I used a little olive oil for cooking the onion. I did add a small pat of butter for the flavor. It's baking away and my mouth is watering.

Chirp, chirp, chirp at 3 a.m.

October 21st, 2016 at 01:50 pm

I'm dreaming a decent dream and there's this weird chirping noise in my dream. As I come out of dreamland, I realize the chirp is real and I figure it is either a smoke detector or the CO2 detector telling me the battery was about to go kaput. It was the CO2. I do wonder why they always pick late at night or very early in the morning to decide to give up the ghost!?!

Newspaper Reading Frenzy

October 20th, 2016 at 01:36 pm

I truly like reading the newspaper. The paper and ink kind. I don't like reading one on a tablet or computer. I feel the same way with books too.

This morning I got up early and did some housework and then caught up on my newspaper reading. I was behind one a weekly paper we get. I'm kind of odd duck -- I like reading the classifieds. Last week's edition had the delinquent tax bills for 2015. Our tax bills come due usually June first of the following year and if you make installments, then the second installment is September 1st. I always read these not only because I'm nosy, but I also don't want to get blindsided by a bill I didn't catch.

I was shocked to see two names of folks I know. Both are gainfully employed. Neither are poor. Yet, they hadn't paid their taxes. I don't know if there is a grace period or what, but it makes me wonder how well they handle money. It is also scary. I don't know how it works, but wonder if they don't pay, if someone can redeem their property for the property taxes. These aren't shacks by any means. They are nice middle class homes.

I always save money because I estimate about what our tax bill will be so I have enough to pay it come June. I go ahead and pay it all at once so I don't have to worry about forgetting. I figure it was for the year before so they aren't really using my money per se. I guess we often think people do things the way we do.

Someone posted on Facebook that many Americans don't read. I know some of my friends don't read the paper, watch the news, or read online. I'm shocked when they seem so misinformed. I'm not talking about kids, but middle aged and older adults.

I did get caught up on all my newspaper reading, clipped some coupons, and recycled. Did some housework and did the grocery shopping for the week. DH is out picking sage that I'm going to dry. Not a bad day overall for getting things done.

A is for Applesauce

October 18th, 2016 at 01:55 pm

I've been making apple sauce the last few days. I've been scouring the ads for apples on sale. I read a recipe the other day for apple butter and they suggested using less sugar and adding maple syrup. So, I decided to try that with apple sauce. I like the depth of flavor it gives it. I peel and core apples and put them in a Crockpot with cinnamon, nutmeg, and a little sugar and with some water on low. When the apples are cooked through, if it has a lot of liquid, I spoon it out. I pour in some maple syrup and use an immersion blender to making it smoother and then can it in glass jars. I don't have a recipe per se since I basically do it by taste.

DH decided it was time to get rid of the tomato plants since they were dying back. They weren't really producing much. He pulled off the green tomatoes and I made great tomato chow chow with them and the small bell peppers we have. That's in the canner as I type.

It's pretty warm here. Yesterday it was in the upper 80s. Today is it in the upper 70s, but we are supposed to get a cold front and lower temperatures tomorrow through Friday. We've had above normal temps lately. It made it a bit warm to can today, but I have to can when I can get it done and so stuff doesn't go to waste.

Soupy Sunday and Fix It Friday

October 9th, 2016 at 02:28 pm

Soupy as I'm making soup. Lots of it. Although it's still pretty warm here in Central Illinois, a frost may be coming at some point. I'm trying to use up the many bell peppers we have as well as some other vegetables and making soup. Actually, I made a large pot of soup Friday and I'm making another today. I found celery on sale at Aldi last week and bought a bunch, and bought some other vegetables to go with it. I found an English roast marked down almost half at Kroger's so i put it in the slow cooker Friday morning and then cut it up and used half in the soup Friday and the other half today. I pulled tomato sauce I had frozen last fall to add to the soup and then also used barley and lentils. The current pot is simmering away. Once it cools, I'm going to put it in smaller portions and store in the freezer for easy and quick meals. Fortunately DH and I like soup and can eat it year round. Plus, it is a good way to use up stuff.

As for the Fix It Friday, wish it was my idea, but alas, it was not. I read an article that students in textile classes at Illinois State University set up a station and called their time "Fix It Friday" and sewed buttons on and repaired slight tears for other students who don't know how to do this. They said it is one way to keep items out of the landfills that are still perfectly OK. I know most people reading that are wondering what that is about, but I can attest, there are folks who once they lose a button, throw the garment away. I worked with a gal who had a nice pair of khakis and the button came off. I told her if we could find a needle and thread, I would sew it back on for her, but she said not to worry, she would use a binder clip to keep her pants together and throw them away when she got home. I couldn't believe it. She said she just buys a new pair when it happens.

DH and I are enjoying retirement. Last Tuesday we went on a bus trip to The Hill in St. Louis. We ate lunch at a restaurant (it was included in the trip price) walked around and looked in two of the Italian grocery stores, went on a tour of a mom and pop soap making store, enjoyed the smells of two bakeries and bought a small piece of Italian flat bread, had some gelato and when we arrived home, pulled some soup out of the freezer and heated it up for supper. Yesterday we went to Morris, Illinois, which is about 2 hours north of us. There is market the second Saturday along the Illinois and Michigan canal and they have foods, crafts, and flea market stuff. We walked around the market, bought two cinnamon rolls for breakfast today, walked around the lovely downtown, bought s small dish of ice cream (DH adores ice cream), and drove home and felt we had hit the jackpot. And you guessed it, we had soup last night too. We weren't super hungry after having the ice cream and why go out when we have soup at home?

A friend of ours says he is shocked at how we are spending money. Well, first of all, we've saved for years. All those years of scrimping on this and that and eating leftovers so we had money put away. We aren't taking major trips this year. We like the small, short ones. Plus, it gets us out and moving and walking. What we've spent so far hasn't hit one savings account so we aren't overspending. Plus, we eat at home a lot when we aren't out and about. This same friend and spouse admitted they eat out just about every meal. No thanks. It isn't special anymore. Plus, other than a few restaurants, there aren't many places we like all that well to have to eat out every meal.

Well, time to check on the soup!

A snarky rant

October 2nd, 2016 at 01:45 pm

Life is going pretty well here. DH is recovering although he is impatient and thinks he should be like he was before the surgery. Yeah, at 70, he's doing remarkably well, but Mr. Stubborn doesn't want to hear that. Smile

We went out with a couple this week to celebrate DH's birthday. Most of the time we feel like we are pond scum by the woman. I don't know why. It isn't like she has a reason, but she can be cruel. Anyway, every time we meet with them, she has to go on and on about whatever they did that was a good work. It is like we are being told they are better than us because they donated some canned goods or tithed to their church or whatever it happened to be.

I guess I look at things weird. We do things too, but feel we shouldn't brag about them. I know most of you at SA have helped people out and if you blog about it, it isn't to brag, but to inform such as those loans to the women in third world countries. Most of the people we are friends with do things for other through their church or organizations or individually. It isn't like most people are just self centered wretches.

Anyway, I feel like I can rant safely here because I'm tired of being put down by this person. So thanks for letting me express my feelings.

Thankful for Crockpots

October 1st, 2016 at 01:08 pm

I think many of us use our Crockpots. A lot. I know I do. I hate to admit this, but I have 5 of them, all different sizes. One of them is getting some age on it, but the rest aren't too old. One replaced another one I had that was about done -- the handles had chipped away. Two I have bought used.

This morning I peeled apples to put in one of the Crockpots to make applesauce to can. Put one Crockpot away from being washed that I had made chicken broth in a day or so ago.

I kind of drool over the new one that is a casserole shape, but I don't need it and truly do not have a place to store it. Can't imagine I'd use it that much either.

Speaking of storage, I'm having to go through my cabinets and go through my dishes and pots and get rid of those items I don't use very often because I need the storage for the canned good. Certainly a good motivator. We don't have a basement and I don't want to put the canned goodies in the garage. So, I guess it is a good problem to have.

Good bye, September!

September 30th, 2016 at 01:32 pm

I know the calendar says it is the final day of September, but wow, where has this month gone? Of course with DH's surgery and my colonoscopy, much of it was doctor's appointments and procedures.

I can say it was kind of spendy. I bit the bullet and bought a MacBook. My current cheapie laptop is about to bite the dust. I just finished copying files and photos. I was going to buy another cheap laptop, but DH said I should just get what I really wanted. We had the money so I did. Now, I am trying to get all the personal stuff of this laptop. If I revert back to factory settings, will it clear most of the stuff off or will I need to run a program to clear the hard drive?

DH and I volunteered at one of my former schools today. He has been reading to two classrooms for the past 8 years. So today he read to the two classrooms and I helped in one of the classrooms by working with a couple of the students who are behind with fluency words.

DH's brother is going to have surgery next month. They were talking on the phone and although DH always seems supportive about the canning and enjoys the food, he never really says too much about it. I had to chuckle yesterday. He asked me if I had a list of everything that was canned. I did so he wanted it to read to his brother, almost bragging about it. Too funny! DH's brother has always had a much larger garden, but his wife doesn't can. She says it is too much work. It is work, but most things in life are.

Hope everyone has a great weekend. Hello, October!

I'm ready for fall, y'all!

September 25th, 2016 at 12:23 pm

Another hot day here in Central Illinois. Supposedly we are to have a cold front and a little rain. I'm ready for fall and at least what is termed as normal temps and humidity. I'm glad I'm not in the unairconditioned school buildings this year, but I feel for those who are.

DH continues to improve after his surgery. He still isn't to bend much and isn't to lift much weight, but at least he isn't in a lot of pain. His 70th birthday is this Tuesday and he already has his day planned -- he wants to hit some out of town antique and thrift shops and eat at a buffet called Yoder's in Arthur. It isn't a large buffet, but has excellent food. I already promised him a chocolate cake so I will bake it tomorrow and I'm counting on it being cooler to turn on the oven!

Hot or not, I am using up vegetables and made vegetable soup. We have been blessed with bell peppers this year and I don't want them to go to waste. I've already cleaned, chopped and frozen a bunch and put them in the freezer. Today for brunch I sauteed some and then put them with scrambled eggs. I keep a bag in the freezer of vegetables we don't finish. I put them in a soup. Most of them are fresh vegetables I've cooked or roasted so it gives them a better than canned flavor anyway. So fall or not, we are feasting on soup tonight.

Retirement Reflections

September 20th, 2016 at 11:45 am

It's funny...I've been retired for awhile -- I retired the day after school was out, but with summer break, I didn't really count it until August 15, the first day of school going back in session. So, lots of people have asked me how I like retirement. I can say I like it a lot.

I'm a sort of schedule person so after the first week, DH and I got into a schedule. We go to bed about the same time every night (later than when I worked since I don't have to get up super early anymore) and we get up around the same time every day. We got into an exercise and shower routine. He walks and I ride an exercise bike. I don't handle the sun or outside due to allergies. I try to do laundry on certain days because there is a comfort to that for me. I plan to grocery shop on Thursdays because it isn't as crowded, but the stores have their aisles pretty well stocked.

Today isn't the first day that it has been such a joy being retired, but as hot as it is today, I don't have to go and work in a hotbox known as many of our elementary schools and return tonight for open house. I can't tell you what a relief that is.

Yesterday my chiropractor asked me how I liked retirement. I guess because I'm not traveling all the time, they think I'm bored. I'm not. I cook, I read, I've canned, I clean, I visit with friends, and lately, I've been taking care of my husband due to his surgery. It's just nice not having to rush around and worry about getting enough sleep and getting to work on time.

One of the ladies I used to work with was always either late or cutting it close. She posted on Facebook that it finally happened -- she and her spouse overslept and the principal came to their house to do a check. In all the years I worked at different jobs, I was not late because I overslept. I would have been so embarrassed. She wasn't -- she thought it was funny. Maybe I'm too old fashioned and strict with myself. I don't find is amusing. It annoyed me to no end when she and other folks who were always running late felt it was OK for other people to pick up the slack because they couldn't and wouldn't get to work on time. Ah, that's no longer my problem, is it? I'm retired. Smile

Mrs. High Maintenance?

September 18th, 2016 at 02:12 pm

Before I forget, I just want to say I have really enjoyed reading everyone's lists. I feel like I have gotten more insight to my SA friends. I also appreciate the kind comments on my own list.

It's been an interesting week. I won't say it has been the most spendy, but we did wind up spending on some things I hadn't planned. DH's surgery was supposed to be outpatient and we were supposed to be home in time for lunch. Nope. I had made vegetable soup to heat up when we got home for lunch and had supper planned, but the best laid plans. I wound up buying lunch at the hospital and buying something for DH because he was starving. We did have the soup that night so it wasn't all lost and I wound up fixing the meal the next night. I had planned on having leftovers for lunch on Wednesday, but DH wasn't sure he could handle it, so we had chicken noodle soup like he did when he was a kid. I keep it on hand and buy it on sale. So I wound up freezing the stuff I was going to have and we will have it tonight for supper. It has probably evened out as far as spending.

I have had a pair of potholders for over 25 years. They are my favorites. They are just the right size and thickness. But with all the use, they are fraying and are stained. I wash them frequently, but they look kind of icky. I bought some yarn the other day at the thrift store to use for something else and had some leftover so I thought maybe I could crochet a cover for each one. I finished one last night so I'm going to try it and see if it works. If not, I'm not out much.

A friend of mine was bemoaning the fact he went to some trade show and he didn't have the money to buy all the new stuff he wanted. I have a difficult time feeling sorry for him -- he makes a bigger pension than I, but is never ever happy.

I did can two more quarts of tomato juice. Most of it came from cherry tomatoes, but I don't want anything to go to waste. The garden is really slowing down so I'm only getting a few things here and there, but feel very blessed to have all we have had.

Friday night we were watching Dateline and the gal they were interviewing who was telling the story...well, I told my husband I didn't like her. She seemed like she was basically a high maintenance gal who married the guy she eventually turned in for murdering her dad, although she said she knew it before she married him. Seems she liked living the high lifestyle and when the money ran out, she no longer wanted to have anything to do with him. DH was teasing me that I was high maintenance too...and laughed. He reminded me I get more excited about canning jars than jewelry and I buy yarn from the thrift shops to do my little projects. My purses come from thrift shops and garage sales simply because I'd like to have something different, but would like to have a little money to put in the purse once I have it. So, yep, that's me, Mrs. High Maintenance...not!

My List

September 16th, 2016 at 12:27 pm

First of all, just a thank you to all of you who commented best wishes and prayed for my husband's double hernia surgery. It was Tuesday. He was given a spinal and of course, he was one in the thousands who had problems getting the numbness to wear off...we were at the hospital almost 12 hours for something that wasn't supposed to take half that long. But, he's home, he's feeling better, so that's good.

1. I have been blogging 6 years with SA.
2. I am married and have been for over 26 years.
3. I am currently (and happily) retired after teaching for over 30 years.
4. I love to read. I just finished book 77 for 2016 -- I belong to a Facebook group where we have a goal of reading a certain amount of books per year and we post what we read and if we liked it or not.
5. I love to cook. Unfortunately I love to eat as well.
6. I am a Christian and try to live my faith in such a way that others don't find me judging, but kind.
7. I grew up poor. I am not rich, but we are comfortable. I feel very blessed.
8. My parents were quite a bit older when I was born -- I was an accident and basically told that growing up.
9. I am shy.
10. I am often very sensitive and get my feelings hurt over silly things.
11. I have a slight hearing loss and it keeps me from wanting to be in crowds.
12. I really like Savannah, Georgia, and Charleston, South Carolina. I often wonder if living in Illinois (being born and raised here) was a mistake.
13. Because of my love of reading, that is how I met my husband almost 30 years ago -- he worked on the public library's bookmobile.
14. I like the idea of traveling, but really hate to be away from home. I get homesick pretty easily because of it.
15. I worked in Chicago for a year at a publishing company. (I am from Central Illinois so being in the big city was culture shock.)
16. I drive, but I hate it. I don't want to be without transportation, but don't enjoy it.
17. I really like Frank Lloyd Wright architecture and Mission Style furnishings.
18. My mother canned when I was growing up, but told me I was stupid to learn how. I taught myself how to can vegetables about three years ago.
19. I am probably unAmerican, but I don't care for sports.
20. I have not met any SA members, unfortunately.

A Couple of Busy Weeks

September 11th, 2016 at 12:51 pm

Last week was kind of busy and this week may be as well. Last week I tried to get some things done before my colonoscopy. Fortunately I did complete my list before the prep and the procedure went well. The doctor said I didn't have to come to the follow up appointment which was good news, but my complaint is why would the nurse tell you that when you are so groggy?

DH is having double hernia surgery Tuesday and if you are so inclined, I would appreciate prayers for him. It is supposed to be outpatient so hopefully he will be home Tuesday afternoon, but I imagine he will be very sore.

I asked him to pick any tomatoes that are starting to turn so we have them. I canned two quarts of juice from cherry tomatoes and the others today and our counter has quite a few tomatoes that need to ripen. I think our shorter days is making it so they don't ripen as quickly. He mowed today and has pulled up the cucumber plant, all the carrots, and one tomato plant that had basically died back. I was out of jars when I canned carrots last week so I have been scrounging pint jars. I realized I had a couple in my pantry I was using to store dry herbs and baking soda. I emptied the contents into non canning jars and washed them up. We finished a pint of pickles this week so I used that jar. So, I finished canning the carrots we had and wound up with 3 more pints and a half pint. I really didn't want to buy any more jars if I didn't have to.

I was really tired after the colonoscopy Friday, but we went to the grocery stores anyway since we didn't need a whole lot. I have our menu planned for this week so that will help. I know it is already Sunday, but I'm starting with last night since that is how I planned:

Saturday: pork chops, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, small salad, fruit

Sunday: Sloppy chicks, baked beans, chips, pickles, sliced tomatoes

Monday: chicken, mashed potatoes, green beans, fruit

Tuesday: pork roast, roasted potatoes, carrots, sliced tomatoes, cottage cheese, fruit

Wednesday: leftover pork chops, baked sweet potatoes, green beans, sliced tomatoes, cottage cheese, fruit

Thursday: scrambled eggs, leftover sausage (from Sunday brunch), toast, sliced tomatoes, fruit

Lunches will be leftover sloppy chicks, pulled pork from the pork roast, and I try to keep sliced deli turkey on hand.

We normally splurge and eat on on Friday nights.

Canning Update

September 4th, 2016 at 01:55 pm

DH has been teasing me that I get more excited about seeing Mason jars than I do jewelry. It's true. We don't go anywhere where I need fancy jewelry. I have a lovely wedding set from when we married 26 years ago and a couple of nice, but simple necklaces and I'm good for out to dinner or to church. But the sparkly Mason jars...that's what catches my eye!

Yesterday I decided to inventory what I have so far. DH has grown tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, onions, garlic, herbs, and carrots. I have purchased fresh green beans until a friend gave me a few pounds this week as they finished their garden. I wanted a list since my pie safe is full, I have some jars in the bottom of a Hoosier cabinet, and now in the bottom of the island:

51 quarts of green beans
19 pints of green beans

15 quarts of tomatoes
13 pints of tomatoes

2 pints of tomato basil salsa
1 half pint of tomato basil salsa

6 pints of onions
2 half pints of onions

6 half pints of apple jelly
6 half pints of grape jelly

13 pints of pickles
2 half pints of pickles
4 pints of relish

2 quarts of carrots
8 pints of carrots

I would have more carrots except I ran out of jars. I prefer the pints because that is about what we eat at a meal, but I punted last night and used the quarts. One of the thrift shops had pint jars really reasonable so on Tuesday I am going to stop by and see if they have them. I don't need a whole case at this point. I have about 8 quart jars left for tomatoes.

In addition, I have 3 pints of minced garlic in the fridge that DH grew and I have about 2 pounds of chopped bell peppers in the freezer.

I still need to dry herbs, but I feel like we have a good showing. I imagine before the first frost I will make green tomato relish as we scramble to pick the tomatoes. I made it last year and used it like relish and a friend liked it so much, he ate it like salsa.

I make apple juice for DH since he likes it when we have Sunday brunch. Sometimes I make far more than he will drink in a couple of weeks, so I used it to make apple jelly. Early this summer we bought grapes and although they tasted good, the skin was kind of chewy. I juiced them to make the grape jelly.

The ongoing joke around here is I tell DH I need a walk in pantry. Although it would be nice to have one, I have no idea where we would locate it and I certainly don't want to spend money. I will say that I'm going to be forced to go through my cabinets and truly purge those items I don't use such as different dishes and pots so I can make room for any other canned goods. Guess this is the initiative I needed. I tend to use the same casserole dishes and pots so it is silly to keep the ones I never use.

Hopefully all this stuff will help on the grocery bill come winter.

Misunderstood Mary

September 3rd, 2016 at 02:03 pm

Both DH and I enjoy history, and his favorite president is Abraham Lincoln. Fortunately we live less than an hour away from Lincoln's Presidential Museum, his Springfield home, and New Salem sites. I've learned more about Lincoln since being married to my husband, and there are lots of interesting facts about the man and his family.

Rumors have abounded that his wife, Mary, was crazy. Well, like many folks, I enjoy a good juicy tidbit so I have been reading up on Mary Todd Lincoln the past few years. I just finished a biography and with all the details and references, I hope the author told the real story. I truly think Mary was misunderstood. She grew up in a wealthy family, but being the third daughter, she was told they really wanted a son. When a son was born, she was sort of "forgotten" but still loved. Then her mom died and her dad married a younger woman who really didn't want anything to do with his first family. Mary was sent to a boarding school during the week although she lived close enough to ride a horse to school. But, she was well educated and made to feel appreciated. She had 12 years of formal schooling which was kind of rare for women of that time. Contrast that with Lincoln's only one year of formal schooling.

The book said she married Lincoln because not only did she love him, but she knew he had the ambition and intelligence to become president. She was quite the political figure herself and understood the workings of politics. She apparently didn't get along with the Washington ladies because she was a contrary person yet also they had little in common to talk about...most did not have the schooling and educational background she did.

Her life was pretty sad overall -- lost three children and her husband was killed in front of her and her eldest son was ashamed of her and had her tried for lunacy. Many of the rumors spread about her were actual lies to benefit the person and persons who told them according to the author. Mary wasn't without faults, but after doing all the reading I have, I don't believe she was crazy. I do think she was, as the author said, pretty narcissistic and prickly, but she wasn't a danger to herself or anyone else.

So, you are asking yourself why am I writing about Mary Todd Lincoln on a savings site. Well, although she did overspend the White House renovation budget and she did spend money, she also had some sense about her. Back at her time women rarely had the opportunity to control their finances. If there were no husband, then a grown son would, or an officer of a bank would. When they were in the White House, she saved over 50% of the president's salary. When Lincoln died, he had bonds and she kept them intact. She did buy a house in Chicago, realized she couldn't afford it, and rented it out. She then let her son purchase it at a very reasonable price and even lent him money for some of his financial deals, which most were not successful. Her net worth at her death was over $84,000 that in 2016 would be worth close to 1.8 million dollar according to an inflation site.

So, I think she was more misunderstood that crazy. She did have money. She did save. Yes, she spent money and did buy things she didn't need. But haven't we all?

Just checking in

August 28th, 2016 at 02:19 pm

It's Sunday. Can't say I have monumental happenings to report, but I have been busy.

My church has a small group of ladies who have a group called Stitches of Love. I asked about joining although my crocheting isn't super fancy and was told to come and they would show me what I needed to know. It's kind of a neat idea -- they make items and donate them. They use knitting looms and in the two hours I was there, I made and finished a hat for a preemie. One lady was working on an adult hat that will be donated to either a homeless shelter or a group home, and another lady was crocheting a lap robe for a nursing home. Other people were making different things too. This goes along with my challenge I posted about making a scarf to donate to a homeless shelter. I will admit it made me desire a loom so I did go out and buy a set (the box of looms were on sale). I have finished the scarf and even made a hat to go with it using the loom. I can now work on other stuff at home as well attend the group. The ladies told me not to buy yarn because they have a cabinet of it that has been donated so I look forward to seeing what they have.

I have also been crocheting Christmas ornaments out of crochet thread and I found a small table top Christmas tree that I'm going to decorate with them and donate them to the church for the bazaar. At a thrift shop last spring I found a brand new candlewick Christmas stocking and I finished it a few weeks ago and sewed the stocking and other than ironing it, it will be ready to donate to the bazaar this fall.

I have canned a little more this week. Since DH's garden is small, I get things in smaller increments, but I don't mind because I can a little at a time. It all adds up.

Ten years ago I visited the Teachers Retirement System to start the plan for my retirement. Because I had been hired and worked a number of years when the TRS deduction was lower, they had something that was a 2.2 upgrade. A number of years ago to help with the pension fund, the amount deducted was raised. It not only helped TRS, but also would help with one's own pension down the road. The lady I talked with suggested I pay the 2.2 upgrade for the years I worked before this rate hike. She said it was a good deal because if I didn't need it for my pension, I would get it back with interest. Not a lot of interest, but some. I received a letter stating that I would get it refunded to me and I could either take it as a payment or roll it over into a Roth. I, of course, rolled it over. So glad I paid that money a number of years ago. Although it was my money, it felt like found money when I heard I would get it refunded.

DH's birthday is coming up in September. I asked him what he wanted and one item he asked for was a pair of shoes like the ones he likes from Lands End. I scored a great deal...I had received a 30% off offer in an email and because we weren't in any hurry, also wound up with free shipping. I felt that was a very good deal. The shoes weren't supposed to arrive until the end of next week -- we received them a day after I ordered. I know that was a fluke because they probably aren't busy, but it felt like a bonus nonetheless.

Antiquing we will go!

August 23rd, 2016 at 02:36 pm

Yesterday DH and I went to a couple of big antique malls north of us. We bought a couple of things at each, spent less than $40 at both, but had a great time looking.

One was in El Paso, IL. It's a small town north of Bloomington. We've been there before and they often have different things than what we see around our town. Years ago when Mary Engelbreit was hot, DH would buy me small things for my birthday and Christmas. We didn't have a lot of places to shop for it. One vendor had more Mary Engelbreit stuff that we've ever viewed before. I didn't realize she had that much merchandise out. We didn't buy any of it, but it was fun to look.

The other antique mall was in Peru, IL. It boasts 30,000 square feet. I believe it. It was almost overwhelming to look at so much stuff. Again, we saw some different things. One thing we really liked was a Morris chair by Stickley. A big name in mission furniture. Pretty cool to look at. We didn't even entertain the notion of buying it -- it was priced at $2,500. A little much for our pocketbook. But fun, nevertheless.

It's funny seeing how things are being sold in cycles. My friend collects Platzgraff Villager stuff. Her grandmother bought her a set of it a number of years ago when it was a hot commodity to buy these dishes. I remember she broke a cup and when we were going around looking a number of years ago, she showed me one and asked me to find a replacement if I could. It wasn't easy. Well, it seems that most antique places now have tons of the stuff for sale. We found some unique items for her yesterday...I didn't tell her what, but told her she will have a surprise for Christmas!

It's wasn't a super spendy day other than the gas -- we drove a little over 200 miles for the round trip and we did eat supper out. But, a local told us a reasonable restaurant and our supper was about $20 with tip and it was a decent meal so we didn't feel like we were hurt. We also picked up an Illinois state publication that lists all the antique shops in Illinois by city. So that may be quite a find in and of itself.

Facebook challenge

August 21st, 2016 at 02:27 pm

I've been reading up a storm this summer. I finished book #67 for 2016 a few days ago. It was actually a fictional tome by John Grisham called "The Street Lawyer" and is about a very well paid attorney who decides to leave the big firm to help the homeless. I don't know why, but it truly spoke to me that perhaps I could do a little more than I do.

I put a challenge on Facebook asking people who crochet or knit to make either a hat or scarf and donate it to one of the organizations that helps our local homeless. I didn't ask for gloves because a friend of mine who manages the homeless center says that although anything is appreciated, they prefer specific lined gloves for the best protection for fingers. I did encourage anyone who didn't craft to perhaps purchase an item and donate it. I didn't want to leave anyone out.

It's kind of funny...the people who said they would get busy making something are the ones who aren't what you would call rich. Yet they are the ones who eagerly volunteered.

I found some beautiful soft yarn and started a scarf. I've made scarves before so I didn't go with a pattern. I wound up tearing it all out last night and starting over because I found an error. I really want it to be something nice for someone.

Anyway, do you respond to challenges like this? I do sometimes, but I don't like the ones that ask for a lot. Most folks I know unless they are broke don't mind donating one small thing or making one small thing.

Zucchini Recipe

August 18th, 2016 at 01:41 pm

About this time of year folks complain that they don't know what to do with zucchini. DH doesn't grow it and we don't usually get a lot of it given to us. Last week we went to an open air market and bought some zucchini. I fix it year around anyway, but found this recipe in the Chicago Tribune a couple of weeks ago in Leah Eskin's column.

Savory Zucchini Clafouti

3 pounds young zucchini, sliced into 1/4 inch thick discs
2 large shallots, chopped
2 T olive oil
1 T butter for pan
1/2 c freshly grated Parmesan cheese
3 eggs
2/3 cup whole milk
1/2 cup creme fraiche or sour cream
2 tablespoons of flour
1/2 t vanilla
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 t fresh thyme leaves
zest of 1 lemon

Toss zucchini and shallots with olive oil and roast in a single layer in a 425 degree oven, turning zucchini over once for about 35 minutes until golden brown.

Butter a 9 inch round baking pan, sprinkle with half of the cheese

Whisk together eggs, milk, cream, flour, vanilla, 1/2 t salt, and a few grinds of pepper, set aside
When vegetables are roasted, toss with thyme, zest, salt, and pepper to taste. Let cool a few minutes.

Scrape vegetables into the prepared pan. Pour in egg mixture, sprinkle with remaining cheese. Set on a rimmed baking sheet and slide onto center rack of a 425 degree oven. Bake until clafouti is brown, slightly puffed, and set (knife stabbed in the center should come out clean) 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool a bit. Enjoy warm or at room temperature.

I made this last night and DH liked it. Thought I would share.

Breakfast out

August 15th, 2016 at 12:40 pm

Today is the official day of my retirement. A group of us went out for breakfast. We met at a local place and it was funny, when this restaurant posted their lunch and dinner menu on Facebook, they congratulated me on my first official day of retirement. Kind of cool!

School Starts Tomorrow...

August 14th, 2016 at 01:34 pm

...and I'm not going! Tomorrow is when retirement truly becomes real. It has seemed like summer break for me, so when teachers and students return, it will hit me that I'm really retired.

I have had so many people ask me if I'm going to substitute teach. I don't intend to. I guess it's a way to make extra money, but if I wanted to make extra money, I would have continued working. I subbed when I first started out -- I was told I had to sub and prove myself before I could get hired full time so I subbed and worked a couple of other jobs besides to make it until I was hired full time as a classroom teacher. Then I also worked some freelancing for awhile because back then teacher salaries were pretty darn low.

The other thing that people have asked is what I intend to do with myself. I hope they are just making conversation, but do they really think I have to be accountable to them? I have worked over 30 years in education, and I've worked at outside jobs since I was 16. Before that, my folks had a used furniture business and later an antique shop and it was expected that I help with them so it isn't like I'm lazy. I'm not planning on watching videos and eating bon bons all day. But, I'd like to actually do some things fun that I couldn't do because I worked or didn't have the money.

This has been a busy week. DH and I went to a play at a nearby theatre and it was a blast. Yesterday we went to an outdoor market in a small town about two hours away and enjoyed looking around and then visiting the shops on the square. We didn't buy much, but the experience was pleasurable and something a little different. I have canned some green beans and some tomatoes this week, did some volunteer work at church, and even helped my former principal with something. And, I finished book 66 for this year Friday night.

We ate supper out last night and I told DH this is why I took my lunch all those years, took coffee to work in a Thermos, and we ate at home so much and had so many leftovers...so if we wanted to go out to a nice restaurant and enjoy the experience, we could because we had the money. I'm spending some money as we saw the play and then took the short trip. But, it is money we saved and we paid cash for stuff.

We were talking to another couple and I had posted the photo of my pantry with my canned goods on Facebook and they happened to mention it. The woman informed me she wouldn't can because it smells up the house. Granted, when I canned the small amount of onions we had, yes, it did smell some, but green beans and tomatoes aren't super stinky. I felt like she dismissed me as the poor relative. Maybe so, but I can't see all of DH's hard work in the garden go to waste and I think eating these vegetables is probably pretty healthy for us. I shouldn't let her comments get to me; she usually has something to say that I find hurtful. I'm sure having some tomatoes in a soup or chili this winter will make it all go down that much more smoothly and the hurtful remarks will hopefully be forgotten.

On to book #67! Smile

Pickles, Tomatoes, Beans, and the Pantry

August 7th, 2016 at 11:35 am

On an earlier blog, I mentioned DH's cucumber seemed to have a blight. Fortunately only one of the two plants did, and we have been getting some cucumbers. I made pickles yesterday and they are canned and in the pantry. Some we will use and some I will give away at Christmas.

Right now, our tomatoes are going very well. DH has a very small garden area, but what he does have, we are making the best use of it. We had a bunch of cherry tomatoes and when given the choice for eating, DH likes regular tomatoes sliced. So, I juiced the cherry tomatoes and canned that.

Unfortunately we don't have room for growing green beans, but someone we know does. We are going to go and buy some today. I've been buying them all along and canning them so we will have them. This may be the last go around however because the extreme heat earlier made the beans stop, then we had better weather, and it's been hot here, cooled down a couple of days, and it is supposed to heat up again.

I don't know if we truly "save" money by buying the beans, but I know I like knowing where they came from and since I don't can them with salt, I figure it is a health benefit. I have a pie safe that I am using for a pantry and it is full with beans, pickles, tomatoes, onions, and jelly. I will have to find further storage as I continue to can, but what a good problem to have!


July 30th, 2016 at 01:09 pm

Today didn't turn out the way we had a anticipated. We were supposed to see a play in St. Louis this afternoon, but DH got up with a severe tummy ache and we didn't think we could chance it. He's still pretty weak and tired. We had to lose the money, but better than getting hours from home and getting really sick.

I am trying to stay quiet while he rests so I've been doing some decluttering and organizing. I had a drawer where I kept writing paper and cards. I had gotten an accordion file free a number of years ago, so I decided to organize the birthday, thank you, sympathy, get well, and plain cards using it. I also had holiday cards, but not enough spaces to put them. But, I sorted everything before I started. How in the world I have ended up with about 25 extra envelopes is beyond me. I'm not throwing them out. I'll probably find a use for them somewhere down the road. Most of the cards I purchased at thrift stores and flea markets. One place we frequent, I had bought a package of different cards and the next time I came in, she gave me two more packets and said she noticed I bought cards the last time and since we frequently come in to look, she thought I'd like them. That was especially kind of her. I guess I'm old fashioned, but I like sending cards and notes. I write an elderly friend of mine once a week and I try to use different paper or cards so it gives her something different to look at.

A number of years ago DH and I went on a trip and he found a hand painted lighthouse clock that he liked. The clock itself was just a round clock, but when I had looked around at different shops, I couldn't find a replacement. I was looking today at a clock I had purchased at a thrift shop a couple of years ago for a dollar. While I was dusting it, the clock popped out. It made me think maybe it might fight the one DH really likes. It does and DH is a happy boy. Wish I had thought of it sooner!

Years ago I found some small pillows and my mom had made cases for them. DH uses one in each vehicle to support his back. He claims they are too soft and folds them up. I took an old shirt of his and recovered one and put more stuffing in it to make it more solid. He says he likes it, so I'm going to do the same with the other. I had been saving that shirt for a couple of months until I got around to doing it. I don't have a sewing machine so sewing it by hand takes awhile. Unfortunately DH has gone through his closet since then and has donated a bunch of clothes so I don't have another shirt. We were out thrifting yesterday and I found a shirt that I think will work. It was far cheaper to buy the shirt than it was to buy the material. The funny thing is the I bought the stuffing at a garage sale one of DH's friends was having selling her mom's stuff. The stuffing must have been purchased in the 80s or 90s because that's when the store closed. It was very clean, still sealed, and the whole bag was 50 cents. I bet I didn't even use half of it so I'll have enough to do this other pillow.

I did some canning this week. I added to the pantry by canning some green beans and tomato juice.

Supper will be bland tonight since DH isn't feeling his best. That's OK. I don't mind bland. It was kind of nice catching up on some housework and organization today.

Hope you have a great weekend.

That Feeling...

July 23rd, 2016 at 12:12 pm

I'm getting that feeling I get about this time of the year.

No, it isn't horrible, just a feeling that while I'm canning, I might run of out jars. I have stocked up, washed up, and been buying jars at garage sales.

I always think I have enough, but sometimes we get more bounty than I have jars. A good problem to have.

Part of the problem is I sometimes share stuff with folks, and I ask them to please return the jar and the ring when they are done. One couple is faithful about doing so. But so many aren't.

Am I the only one who has this issue?


July 22nd, 2016 at 01:17 pm

Like many of you, I have some projects I have on my to do list.

One of them I was dreading was the pantry. I'm glad I have a pantry. It's not huge, but helpful to have. It's a reach in, not a walk in, but I tend to get lazy and things get really unorganized. So, this time I took everything out. I got rid of some things. I moved a few things around.

I have been looking on Pinterest for organization ideas. I really didn't want to spend any more money on baskets and such. I had purchased a couple of wire racks a number of years ago and I still use them. But, I really wanted to figure out to use what I already had.

I am going to admit I love baskets. I don't buy the expensive ones, but I buy them at thrift stores. Anyway, I thought instead of going to the Dollar store and buying plastic bins and baskets, why not use what I already had. I won't say it is photographic perfect, but my little pantry sure looks a lot better and other than some elbow grease and moving stuff around, it sure looks better.

Plus, I recycled some things I no longer use and gave them to a thrift store. So, maybe it was a win-win for the thrift store and my home. Hopefully organization will help me save money by seeing what I already have.

Spent some, canned some

July 18th, 2016 at 02:13 pm

I haven't had too much to blog about lately. I'm not complaining, mind you. Just trying to figure out a routine that works.

I did wind up spending some money for a new exercise bike. We had been hitting thrift stores and garage sales, but couldn't find one. Yes, there were a couple out there, but the speedometer didn't work on either of them. I didn't care about the speed, but wanted to keep track of the miles. My former exercise bike's display quit working a couple of months ago and then it started having issues with the chain. Neither DH and I are mechanical enough to figure out the chain and since I had purchased it used a number of years ago, we figured I had gotten my money out of it. We did take it in to the place and since they sell both used and new, they gave me ten bucks for it. I felt that was a deal because I didn't have to pay the garbage man or think it would go into a landfill. Maybe someone else can fix it and get some use out of it.

Yesterday we went through kitchen cabinets and got rid of drinking glasses and mugs. DH wasn't thrilled with the prospect at first, but afterwards, he was OK with is since we can now see what we have and not have to stack glasses. I went through the pantry as well. We will be eating some things that are close to the use by date. I also got rid of some items that I could donate. A few years ago I bought a lunch Crockpot at the church rummage sale. It was handy to take lunches in. I still worked so I donated it. Donated a bunch of other stuff today as well as mugs and glasses. I like the fact the pantry is organized. I've been checking out Pinterest for ideas. The only sad thing is most of the pantries shown are walk in; mine is a reach in. But there were a few and I did get some ideas. It looks better and hopefully I can keep it tidy.

It's supposed to heat up this week. I know it is summer, but we had a hot and humid June. Fortunately we don't have any major appointments that we have to do this week.

Due to the extreme heat, no one at the Farmer's Markets has had green beans. One of the stores did get some in from Florida and they were on sale. I canned 12 quarts and one pint of green beans this week. DH dug up some of the onions he planted and I canned 7 pints of those. My pantry is starting to fill again. That makes me happy.

Finances and some canning

July 10th, 2016 at 01:10 pm

It's been an interesting financial week to say the least.

Almost 30 years ago I started a 403b. I had met this person who was a financial advisor and although I didn't know squat about retirement accounts, I knew I had to do something besides a savings account and a checking account. Since I was a teacher, he said I qualified for a 403b. It was with Lincoln Financial and through the years, it really seemed to be going OK, except when we had the huge recession.

Then the feds decided to change the rules and school districts had to do some other things. The way I understand it, they could be liable for financial things if they handled it on their own, so my district hired a company called Gatekeeper that would take care of sending my pretax 403b. Except the catch was I could no longer use Lincoln, I had to use one of the 5 companies they worked with. I wasn't happy that the first three payments didn't go to the right company that I chose and so I lost out on some interest until Gatekeeper finally got their act together and put it with the company I chose. This company hasn't had the same dividends that Lincoln did either. So, now that I'm retired, I called my financial advisor and asked if there was any way to move my 403b from this later company to Lincoln. Unfortunately, no. But, I have learned a couple of things while all these queries have taken place. First of all, because of the federal rules put in place, anytime I want to take money out of my 403b, I have to get a form filled out from the district stating I am retired and I am not working anymore. Really? This is my money. It isn't like I was going to take it out and squander it.

So, the financial advisor came up with another plan. Roll the 403b money into an IRA so we can eventually remove it from the company and park it in another IRA that makes better interest. Easier said that done, apparently. The company told the financial advisor that we had to have a letter from the district and then fill out a written request. So, they typed all that up and I took it to the payroll department. The very nice lady shook her head and said no, since Gatekeeper was the one that "handled" your money, you have to fill out this form to get permission to request to do anything with your money. Sheesh. I'm exhausted just thinking about it. So, I am going to return to my financial advisor's office with the "official" form so we can start over. Somehow the skeptic in me thinks someone somewhere got a pay off to make it so difficult to get access to what is my money. All I want to do is put it someplace that pays something.

We had our financial overview for our car and home insurance this week. Never had one before. I was afraid it was going to be one long sales pitch. I was very pleasantly surprised. We took some things off the homeowners (jewelry being one rider) since I have sold most of the jewelry I had other than my wedding set.

Unfortunately DH's cucumber plants have a blight. I have gotten a few cucumbers, but the plant is starting to look sickly. This is the first time he has tried to grow them. We purchased some cucumbers at the Farmer's Market and with the few from his plant, I made sweet pickles yesterday. I also made apple jelly. DH likes apple juice with Sunday brunch and after reading articles on store bought juice containing arsenic, especially those from apples from China, I make juice for him. I apparently have gotten overzealous and had lots of juice, so I decided to make jelly. So, I have some jars of pickles and jelly for the pantry.

Garden Goodies

July 1st, 2016 at 12:00 pm

DH's small garden is starting to produce. We had been getting lettuce and had some radishes and onions. He replanted the radishes so we are waiting on them. But, we had some cherry tomatoes, a cucumber, and a bell pepper along with lettuce yesterday. I made a nice fresh salad for supper. We have shared some of the lettuce with a couple of people since we have more than we can eat. One person begged us for any extra garden stuff. We had extra lettuce so I gave it to her husband and never heard a word from her. I finally messaged her and she hadn't gotten around to using it. Makes me think she was more in love with the idea of having fresh produce than actually eating it.

We hit the garage sales today and found some nice things. Scored a brand new in the box Cuisinart food processor for $20. Also found some table runners that were very nice and very reasonable. We went to some sales that we didn't buy anything, but we figure getting out of the car and walking around was at least good exercise.

No big July 4th plans here which is fine. The weather forecasters are calling for rain on Sunday and we need it badly. Supposedly it won't mess up the afternoon/evening festivities for the holiday, but as much as the farmers need rain, even if it did, it would be a blessing.

Still waiting on news of my pension. All the paperwork has been turned in. Supposedly pension pay day is the first weekday of the month. I checked the bank account and no money so I guess and hope it comes through in August.

Hope you all have a wonderful July 4th.

This and That

June 23rd, 2016 at 01:32 pm

It's funny how once I get used to doing something, it becomes the "new normal." We eat a lot of chicken, and I often make chicken broth and put it in the freezer. During the winter I use herbs I've dried and during the summer I use fresh herbs. Many of my friends think I'm crazy when I can just buy it. Why buy chicken broth when I can make it for next to nothing? Sheesh. Plus, I know what's in it and I don't use salt for health reasons.

I finished book 45 this morning. It was one by Joanne Fluke who has a series. I've read this one before, but it has been years and it was nice to revisit it. I really like mysteries (DH calls them cozy mysteries) and I've gotten hooked on the books that are Amish fiction. Granted, they are fairly predictable, but sometimes that's just nice to kind of let go. I perused the mystery section and found a new author I'm going to try. I've not read any by this writer and there are three in the series so I checked all three out. These aren't in the new section so it isn't like I'm keeping anyone else from reading them. I finished a newer Mary Higgins Clark over the weekend and returned it quickly because I imagine someone else will enjoy reading it.

I finally received the documentation on what I needed to pay for my penalty for my pension and we drove it over Monday afternoon. I received an email Tuesday saying it was processed and now they will take 6-8 weeks to determine what my benefits will be before depositing my first check. Fortunately we have money in savings if truly takes that long. I think about some of the folks I've worked with and many of them probably didn't have anything in savings and were desperate by the time their first check came around.

Supper is a mixture of leftover stuff. We went to Aldi and Kroger earlier today for our weekly trip, but I like using up what we have before starting new on the weekly meals.

DH has been keeping our garden going by watering. It has been extremely hot here in Central Illinois. Some parts of Illinois received a decent rain yesterday, but we only received about a tenth of an inch. This is the first year he planted two cucumber plants and it is hilarious hearing him talk about how they are taking over. He has put stakes in the ground and is training them to grow up, but he thinks the plant may be knocking on the door to get in at some point. Smile We haven't had any ripe tomatoes yet, but there are a few cherry tomatoes that are starting to turn; DH is already drooling for the taste of the first one.

Hope you are staying cool and hydrated if it is as hot where you are.

Lambs Don't Wallow

June 19th, 2016 at 04:00 pm

We attended church today and part of the message was a parable in which a lamb is talking to his father saying how jealous he was of the pigs wallowing in the cool mud on such a hot day.

Papa Sheep told the lamb not to think about getting in the mud because "lambs don't wallow."

Of course the lamb waited until papa was out of sight and jumped in the pig pen and oozed into that cool mud...but the mud not only stuck to his legs, but to his coat as well and he became stuck. He cried for help and the farmer came and rescued him and cleaned him before putting him back in the fold. The father told the lamb the reason you don't get in the mud is we aren't like pigs, we get stuck in the mud so we don't wallow like them.

The message was basically this: we need to listen to our dad's advice.

A pretty cute parable for Father's Day, don't you think?

So, what advice did your dad give you that has served you well? One thing my dad always encouraged me to do was if anyone ever offered to teach me something, let them because you never know when it will come in handy.

How true that was. Long story short, I worked for a small newspaper in the late 70s. One of the typesetters called in sick so the other one after press time asked me if I wanted to learn to typeset. I said yes, and she did. That little education helped me pay for my college because it was a skill that I could use to make money.

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