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Archive for September, 2017

Canning/freezer tally

September 24th, 2017 at 09:11 pm

I decided to start tallying what I've canned thus far. DH has a small garden and grows mostly tomatoes, bell peppers, green onions, and herbs. I've purchased green beans and fruits for jams and jellies. I make far more jams and jellies than I plan to eat since I give them as gifts. But this is the tally so far:

Green beans 28 quarts, 6 pints

Tomatoes 19 quarts, 3 pints

Tomato Juice 4 quarts, 6 pints, 2 half pints

Mixed berry jam 1 pint, 6 half pints

Tomato jam 4 half pints

Apple jelly 2 pints, 4 half pints

Strawberry preserves 6 half pints

Tomato Preserves 1 pint, 10 half pints

Applesauce 4 quarts, 3 pints

Spaghetti Sauce 3 quarts, 3 pints, 1 half pint

Grape Jelly 6 half pints

Apple juice 2 quarts

Sweet pickles 9 pints, 3 half pints

Beef broth 1 quart

If the tomatoes continue to come on, I will probably get a few more quarts. I still need to dry herbs for the winter. But all in all, not a bad total. A friend stopped by and I showed him the pantry and he was amazed. He knew I canned, but I guess he never realized that I actually had more than a jar or two of stuff. He said it must be wonderful to have all this in the pantry and not have to go to the grocery for so many things. In the past I have given him some items as well as his mom. Another friend really likes great tomato chow chow and I usually put up a couple of quarts to give him when the growing season is over and we have lots of green tomatoes.

I have about a half gallon of chopped bell peppers in the freezer as well. I will add to that total as more ripen. I also have a gallon bag of shredded zucchini in the freezer.

I have about a gallon of chicken broth in the freezer too.

I have actually made more jelly than I counted. I have given some away already. One person is very grateful and thanks me and thanks me. One couple wasn't as nice. They gave me a perfunctory thank you and then told me later that their grandkids ate it. It was like it wasn't good enough for them to try. Most are kind and return the jars and rings.

Being Crafty

September 21st, 2017 at 09:08 pm

A friend emailed me that he was a little irritated at his wife. She is very talented when it comes to crafts and sewing, but she has the bad habit of going to the craft/sewing store and buying things because she thinks she's going to do the project. She said she was going this week and he asked why when she had so many things already in her sewing room.

I know the temptation. Every time I go, I want to buy this and that and this because it is fun thinking about doing them and then having a finished project. It doesn't help that this chain also sends out coupons about every day in email. Fortunately this store is across town, so that helps curb the temptation. DH probably wouldn't care, but I care. I don't want to buy a ton of stuff that just sits around. I recently bought two skeins of yarn and some buttons because I crocheted coffee cozies for a class to give our local police department. I sewed the buttons on the cozies. The school's mascot is a star and since police officers used to have a star, I figured this would go along. It was a nice little project and then I used the smaller star buttons and glued them to index cards for the kids to write messages to the officers.

I will admit I have bought some things at the thrift stores lately for some personal projects. I bought some crochet thread that came from France -- really nice stuff -- for 99 cents a skein. I saw a towel pattern on Pinterest I thought I could use. I recently purchased a piece of material for a dollar at another thrift store and used it to make a pillow case for a pillow I have had for a long time. The other case was pretty ratty. And I also have some other crochet thread I bought at rummage sales and thrift stores that I hope to use to crochet some ornaments.

Last summer I bought a pair of pillow cases that were to be embroidered and I worked on them and have them finished. I plan to give them as a Christmas gift. They were still in a sealed package. I was delighted to get them and it was fun working on them.

Our church group is continuing to knit the hats on the looms. So far we have 680 hats made. Our intention is to adopt a couple of schools and give them the hats as well as tissue, wet wipes, and pencils. Fortunately people have donated a lot of yarn so I have used a lot of that besides buying some to fill in. I try not to bring home more yarn, either the donated stuff, or the stuff I buy, than I think I'll use. I did run out of yarn a couple of weeks ago. I use the yarn to work on the hats and then if there is some left I use the remainder to make dish cloths. I'm trying to adhere to the "Use it up" slogan.

As much as I enjoy crafts, I think they can be a hit on the budget if one would let them. I have tried to pick stuff up at rummage sales and thrift stores as much as possible. I did buy the knitting loom, but I think I've made more than a 100 hats on it since I bought it over a year ago. I had the crochet hooks so that wasn't an added expense.

My mom used to crochet and I remember she always had a ton of yarn around the house. Then, in her 60s, she decided she didn't want to crochet, and instead taught herself to quilt. No small feat by any means, but she was very talented when it came to sewing and crafting. I didn't want the yarn so we wound up donating it to the school where i worked. When she died, she had so much material that it was just a shame that she never got to finish all the quilts she had some day hoped to make.

I would prefer to use up everything. I don't know if that is possible, but that is my goal. I don't want a bunch of stuff sitting around. So, my goal is to limit myself to only having the stuff I will actually work on and finish. It sort of saves money because then I'm not as tempted to go out and buy a lot of other things.

Anyway, here is a photo of a completed cozy on a coffee cup. Sorry it is so dark, but I never can get the light to be just right.


Big Houses

September 17th, 2017 at 08:25 pm

Every week our newspaper prints the real estate transfers that happened in our county. I am always surprised to see some of the prices of the houses and wonder who has the money to buy such expensive houses and maintain them.

I know there are some wealthy folks out there. It is just here in our Central Illinois area, we are still struggling with unemployment and underemployment. According to realtor.com the median home selling price is between $77,000 and $85,000. Yet, so many are selling for over $200K. And some of the folks buying them are people I know who I didn't realize had that kind of money. I realize that many of you live where moderately sized houses go for far more. I'm just talking about prices in my area.

Our home is valued at about $130,000. which is pretty decent...it isn't huge, around 1500 square feet, in a nice neighborhood. We paid $94,000 for it over 18 years ago and we have updated things as we had the money to do so.

I just wonder how some of these people have the money to buy a house for over $200K and then I guess I don't think everyone expects to pay it off. That was our goal from the minute we signed the loan for $50,000 on our house. We paid extra every month to get it paid off. And it is paid off. I remember when we were looking at houses, we went through a house that was pretty nice. I asked the realtor why they were selling and his comment was we would be able to figure it out once we got inside. The living room was sparsely furnished, but we thought they were minimalists. The bedroom was clean and neat and had what we would consider normal amount of stuff in it. Same with the kids' rooms. but the family room...two lawn chairs. That was it. He said they bought the house and found out they couldn't afford it.

A few years ago a friend was talking about buying a house and in our discussion she said she didn't have a big down payment. I commented that we had to have 20% down to buy our first house in 1990 and she said they didn't have to put much down at all. I opened my big mouth and said I think there should be a substantial percentage put down so people don't feel free to walk away since that is one of the big problems we had when the real estate market basically crashed....too many people with too much debt and lots of underwater houses.

DH and I are not risk takers. When we bought this, our second house, we had $44K in equity in our other house so we only had to borrow $50K. The loan officer suggested we buy a bigger, more expensive house and we said no, we didn't want to be "house poor" and not be able to make the payments or save up to fix things up. Our initial house payment was far less than most rent and the interest rate then was over 7 percent. We decided this was it. We weren't planning on moving again unless health dictated it. With that in mind, we updated and probably have over improved the house, but it is to our liking. And we don't owe a penny on the house or the updates.

One of our friends has a big house. They are constantly getting loans from the equity to do things. That scares me...I wouldn't want to put our house in jeopardy to do things like vacations or buy a car. And this person complains any time something has to be done...I just comment and say big house means big bills for heating, cooling, fixing, taxes, insurance, etc.

DH and I admire those big houses. But I'm awfully glad to have a smaller one that we don't owe anything on.

Nothing exciting to report

September 6th, 2017 at 06:47 pm

Not too much new going on here which is just fine. I guess I'm not one that has to have lots going on. I just read Patient Saver's blog about feeling retired and finding plenty to do. I responded I never can understand those folks who would say they never would know what to do if they retired. I find plenty to do. I just finished a two day house cleaning. My last hardwood floor is drying as I type. There's something about appreciating what you have when you take care of things.

I've read over 76 books so far this year. Most are fiction. One or two were money non fiction books, but so many say the same thing. A couple of months ago I mentioned that the library keeps a running tally of how much using the library has saved us since last March. My tally so far is $1327.20. That doesn't count the multitude of books DH checks out on his card. I'll have to ask him what his total is. We certainly get our money's worth out of the library use.

My church group has over 665 hats knitted so far. We will meet and vote next week on how we are going to disburse them. I'm going to go to a state site and look up poverty rates for the local schools to aid in our decision.

With the leftover yarn from the hats I've knitted, I've been making dish cloths. I have given quite a few of them away and now I'm saving them to donate to the church Christmas bazaar. I've seen them at local thrift stores for sale for between $1.39 to $1.50. Mine are a little larger, but I think we should put $1 on them since most of the yarn was left over and my work doesn't count.

I haven't counted how much I've canned yet. I need to do that so I can keep track of what we have. But we have green beans, tomatoes, spaghetti sauce, tomato juice, tomato jam, sweet pickles, apple jelly, mixed fruit jelly, and grape jelly.

My next goal is to continue the decluttering project I've been working on this summer. I have a few boxes packed already. There are some other items I know I want to box up. I have been saving newspaper so I can wrap the stuff in it so it doesn't break.

One of our grocery stores puts out a monthly "Penny Pincher" coupon book. Most months there isn't much in there. This month they had sugar on sale even cheaper than Aldi. Since I bake a lot for the church bazaar, I thought I could buy the limit of 2 of them for this. There were a few more items we could use so we made a trip of it since we were on that side of town. I told a friend I feel like between canning and finding some of these bargains, I'm preparing for winter. My folks grew up in the Depression and when fall came, my mom and dad always bought stuff on sale and stock piled it in case we would have bad weather and couldn't get out. A couple of friends of mine basically shop each day or every other day so they think I'm weird. Maybe so, but there's something reassuring seeing some of this stuff in case we need it. Plus, I try to get stuff on sale.

Prayers for those who were effected by Harvey and those who will be hit by Irma.