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Tore up the pantry

December 6th, 2017 at 04:24 pm

Ever have one of those times when you just know you bought something only to discover you hadn't?


Grrrr!

I was baking cookie bars using up leftover Halloween candy. The class I work with was going to give them to the police officers they have adopted. I had hoped to bake them with the kids, but the kitchen folks at the school can't have us in there during lunch and because of the early dismissal time (they go to school 7:30 to 2) there wasn't time in the afternoon after the lunches.

Anyway, I thought I'd make a pan of fudge while I was waiting for the cookie bars to finish baking.

So, I got out the ingredients and couldn't find the marshmallow creme. I just knew I had some. So, I tore up the pantry looking for it. Nope, not there. I did consolidate some things so one good thing came of it. I refused to make an extra trip to buy some, so it will have to wait until another day.

Thank you, Bluebird!

December 3rd, 2017 at 09:13 pm

A big thanks to Bluebird for the generous gift to my church's knitting group! The ladies were amazed that someone that didn't know us was so kind and thoughtful!

This has been an interesting week.

On Thursday we took a bus trip to Arlington Heights Race Track (Chicagoland) for the Lambs Farm Craft Show. We weren't sure of what to expect since we have not been to the race track or the craft show before. Apparently Lambs Farm helps developmentally disabled folks and the craft show is a huge fund raiser. The track buildings were quite large and two floors housed the craft show. It was all inside. We were intrigued by the track and I looked it up online and apparently it is owned by Churchill Downs...you know, Kentucky Derby fame. The craft show was huge. We didn't buy much and we didn't plan to. We really wanted to go for the experience. I did find some crocheted things and I was shocked at the high prices...hats like the ones we make were around $12 to $15. I saw crocheted flower pins for $8. It was a fun day and I'm glad we went. I don't think I would do it again simply because I'm not much of a shopper.

I have had a ongoing frustrating experience at our Kroger. We used to buy a certain bread and they would usually not have it. So, we found a store brand that we liked as well. Except, they now have problems keeping it on the shelves. We have to find someone to go in the back and look for it. We usually shop on Thursdays, and the trucks come in early morning Thursdays. It would usually depend on the clerk on whether we would get the bread. Those that cared would bring some out; others we think just said they went back to look. Well, we wound shopping Friday of this week due to the bus trip. Friday right after lunch before it gets crazy busy. Well, we get there and no bread. And most of the bread section was riddled. We asked someone and he claimed there was no bread. I was fed up. We paid for our other groceries and came home. I did the krogerfeedback.com thing with the id number and complained that for a store that has a computer inventorying system, they shouldn't have a lack of bread right before a weekend and whomever is in charge of stocking the bread should check it more often so it isn't half empty of all the different breads. I heard from a manager and she called on Saturday morning and said she was sorry and they had the bread in the back (how interesting it appeared less than 24 hours later) and she hoped we would return. Well, we went back yesterday and the bread section was riddled again and the kind we wanted wasn't there. Of course there was no one near that section. We went to the diary section and the nice young man said he would find someone. Well, he must have had as much trouble finding someone because he came back out and asked exactly what we wanted and he came back out with the two loaves of bread. We thanked him, especially since it wasn't his grocery section. We go to the checkout and I commented to the cashier about how frustrating this has become. Apparently the manager was within ear shot...she gave us the bread free. Guess it pays to complain.

The other thing that happened this week actually started a couple of weeks ago. DH and I really like English murder mysteries and we have been enjoying Midsomer Murders on Netflix. Anyway, a few weeks ago I discovered Midsomer Murders has a Facebook page and I liked it. They held a contest to make a bingo card with things from the show. I made one and it was a real fun thing to do. I didn't expect to win, but thought it was something interesting to do. Well, a couple of days later I get a private message through Facebook and they said I didn't win, but they wanted to send me a tea towel and I should include my address in a reply. I did, but to be honest, since I live in the United States, I didn't really expect to receive a towel. Well, I received it a couple of days ago. That was a nice surprise! Here's a photo of the towel:

84 Dozen

November 5th, 2017 at 09:28 pm

I'm talking 84 dozen cookies...let me explain. It's been a roller coaster week. A dear lady from church passed away unexpectedly. She was 89, but you wouldn't have known it to observe her. She was a whirlwind. She had a stroke, went into a coma, and then peacefully slipped away.

The funeral was quite nice and she had a huge family. I feel sorry for her husband. They were devoted to each other and I imagine he will be quite lonely.

There were many things that she was involved in at church and we are now all trying to figure out how to keep many of these things going. Our annual Christmas bazaar is coming up and we all bake cookies. One of the chairs announced we all need to step up...the lady who just passed away baked 84 dozen cookies for the bazaar. She used to bake 100 dozen, but at 88, she figured she should cut back. I can't imagine baking that many cookies. Yikes! But, some of us have talked among ourselves and we are going to try and bake far more to make up for her not being there and providing.

So, I'm currently searching for cookie recipes that can be made ahead and frozen. I really don't want to spend the week before baking dozens and dozens of cookies. I have one recipe that I know freezes well. I have been stocking up on butter, flour, and sugar. So I guess I better get busy. But, I'm not up to 84 dozen cookies.

Staying Busy in the Kitchen

October 21st, 2017 at 09:41 pm

It's been busy around here. Weather forecasters are predicting a freeze a week from today. It shouldn't be a shock, it is October, but we want to make sure certain things are completed if the forecast freeze comes to fruition.

I have been cutting herbs, washing them, and getting them ready to air dry. I had 3 herbs done before today. Today I did the last two. I think our neighbors think we are nuts, but DH loves growing herbs, I like using both fresh and dried, and with the cost of herbs in the store, I'm sure we save a bunch of money. I know the neighbor was giving me an odd look today. I was sitting in a lawn chair pulling off the best of the basil leaves. It was easier than bending over or crouching. Of course I don't think the neighbor eats much of anything that is natural.

I decided to make some sage tea with some of the leaves. I guess it is supposed to be pretty healthy. It's not bad. I don't usually put any sweetener in my tea so it is a little different straight, but I have lots of fresh sage and I'd prefer to use it.

I also chopped a bunch of bell peppers to stash in the freezer. DH picked what was left and pulled up the plants. We picked tomatoes today. It is crazy, but the plants are still producing and a couple of them even have blossoms.

I told George I felt like a medicine woman with these herbs. After reading all the great things they supposedly do, I feel like we are dealing with things holistically.

I found a nice butternut squash at Aldi. I roasted it today and am in the process of making soup. That should make a lovely meal tomorrow; it is supposed to rain most of the day. I cooked a whole chicken in the Crockpot today so I have lots of fresh broth for the soup.

Thou Shalt Not Waste

October 10th, 2017 at 08:33 pm

I think there should be an eleventh commandment: "Thou shalt not waste." I try not to waste anything.

I spent a big part of today working with sage and oregano -- cutting, cleaning, and preparing to dry them for the winter. I still have thyme, rosemary, and basil to do. Fortunately we are having a later frost so I should have plenty of time to get them dried.

DH's bell peppers ares till going strong. I am making a tomato sauce with peppers, onions, mushrooms, and tomatoes for spaghetti tonight. I still have a few quarts of tomatoes I canned last fall so I want to use them up. I picked the second to last onion in the garden.

One thing that really bothers me is the waste I see. The other day I made banana bread and I used a spatula to make sure I got all the batter out of the mixing bowl. Have you ever watched some of the cooking shows and they don't scrape the batter and there's a bunch on the bottom? It drives me crazy. Eating at many of the restaurants, there is a lot of waste. We eat at a chain Italian place often and I have asked the server if I can have smaller portions. Since we usually have the same server, he can usually ask the manager if I can do a lunch portion for whatever it is, even if they don't normally have a lunch portion. I don't want to take the food home -- so much of it doesn't taste very good after it has been reheated. It is sad how much food is thrown away at these restaurants. I'd like to beg them to make the portions smaller and charge a little less. It's not about the money so much as it is the waste.

Tomatoes, peppers, and bread...oh my!

October 8th, 2017 at 08:47 pm

It is a sunny Sunday here in Central Illinois. After church we came home and fixed brunch and cleaned up after.

Last night we had a fun night out with another couple at an Italian restaurant that is actually located in a gas station in a small town near here. We were originally going to go to a German restaurant in the same small town, but they apparently have shuttered their establishment. So, the plans changed and we did the Italian instead. We had eaten there before, but our friends hadn't, so it was fun showing them a new place. We had a lovely visit and it was a relaxing evening.

The wife had planted tomatoes this summer and she was bemoaning that they had some on the counter they couldn't eat. I told her if the wanted, I would can them for her. She brought them to church this morning and after brunch I added some to them and canned them. There weren't too many as our plants are all starting to slow down, but we realized 2 quarts, a pint, and 2 half pints. I will take them to them sometime this week so they have canned tomatoes in their pantry.

Yesterday I posted a photo of DH with some of the bell peppers he grew. I used three of them today to make bell pepper soup...used onion, mushroom, celery, and sauted them and then added homemade chicken broth, garlic,lentils, and home canned tomatoes and some macaroni. That's our supper.

We had some overripe bananas so I baked banana bread. While I was going to have the oven on, I decided to make a harvest bread...it is bread made with both whole wheat and white flour and minced onion, poultry seasoning, and celery seed. The recipe doesn't call for it, but I added some sage because I always think of sage as something to eat in the fall during Thanksgiving in dressing. I have a lovely loaf of it cooling to eat with the soup.

I made a quick trip to visit a shut in and took her a small loaf of banana bread and some sweet pickles I had canned earlier this summer. I take her our church bulletin so she can read it. Her son lives with her and they seem to like whatever I take them as far as food. I showed her the photos of our pantry and DH and his peppers. She couldn't get over the huge peppers. She wanted to know what his secret was and I said good fertilizer and keeping them watered.

I finished paying bills and balanced the checkbook this afternoon too. It's nice to see we have money leftover from paying our bills. I try to be careful. We had an unexpected bill this week with the plumber and the spigot, but we had the money to cover it and still have some left so I think we are doing OK.

I'm looking forward to that soup.

Keeping Busy

October 7th, 2017 at 07:54 pm

It seems that DH and I keep pretty busy.

Today we attended an estate sale. Pretty ritzy place and pretty nice stuff. I scored a pair of leather insulated gloves for $2, 4 chair cushions for dining room chairs for $16, and an embroidered hand quilted quilt (queen size) for $30. I have a pair of gloves like these, but I often forget to move them to my dress up coat and wind up in my dress up coat with no gloves. The chair cushions were far nicer than the ones I normally buy and although I didn't need them, I thought they would be nice to have. As for the quilt, again, not a need, but it is lovely and I use the quilts I own.

A put a Facebook post asking if anyone had baby food jars with lids. I guess I never noticed that most baby food doesn't come in glass jars anymore. Well, someone contacted me and had 22 of them and I picked them up. I felt very fortunate to have gotten them. I spent a lot of time trying to get the sticky glue from the labels off. That stuff should be used to glue anything you never want to come apart. Sheesh. But, the jars and lids are clean. I'm going to put candy corn in them, glue a green ribbon along the rim of the lid and have kids glue black construction paper faces on them to look like miniature jack-o-lanterns.

Yesterday we hit the thrift stores and I found a lot of great yarn. There are certain types i like to use when making the hats for the school kids. One place had just put out a bunch of it in colors I thought the kids would like. We bought 9 skeins of yarn for around $18. All of it still had the labels on it, so felt that was a good deal.

I'm getting really tired of the mailing and phone calls from many of the places wanting donations. One is a university that calls about every day. I earned my master's degree from it. I received no financial aid, I paid the money out of our savings for the classes, and had to pay an athletic fee on top of it. I thought that was a rip off...I attended class either one evening a week or twice a week during the summer and drove 45 miles one way to attend...I wasn't planning on taking advantage of the athletics. Well, I guess I"m a cheapskate, but I'm not planning on giving them a donation. I've told them that on the phone before, yet they still keep calling. I have more address labels and calendars than I know what to do with from these organizations that send them. I don't give them money, so I don't know why they keep sending them. I usually save the calendars and give them to a primary teacher. She uses them as rewards for her kids who can recite the calendar months.

Aldi had apples on sale so I bought a bunch and made applesauce and apple juice to add to the pantry. A friend gave me some apple butter she made so I gave her a jar of tomato preserves.

DH's garden is still going strong. He brought in 4 huge bell peppers yesterday. I will be using some of them to make bell pepper soup. I make a large pot and then we eat some and I freeze the rest.

I'm attaching photos of some of the canning I've done so far and my husband with the peppers he brought in.

Hope the weekend is going well for everyone.






Where did last week go?

October 1st, 2017 at 11:43 pm

It seems like this week flew by. Not sure where it went and looking back, I'm not sure what kept me so busy, but I was. I got behind on reading blogs so hopefully I have caught up today. I feel like I miss out on everyone's lives when I get behind.

One thing that kept me busy was planning for a fifth grade to meet the police that they are adopting this year. My friend, the teacher and I worked through this and I scheduled their visit as well as the local newspaper to come out and cover it. I unfortunately had to miss it, but here is the article if you are so inclined to read it:

http://herald-review.com/news/local/education/south-shores-elementary-fifth-grade-adopts-police-for-year/article_5041b6a4-1d56-5ad3-ac40-cdbb57baf02e.html

I have been busy knitting hats. I took our new pastor to meet the principal of the school. The principal was telling the pastor how much the hats meant to the kids last year. So, this spurred me on to getting more hats made in addition to the other ones I have been working on. In between the hats, I have been crocheting dish cloths out of the leftover yarn. I took in 31 of them for the church's bazaar that is coming up.

I also have been working on PR for the upcoming bazaar and learning to do the church's web page. I already update the church's Facebook page.

Wednesday was DH's birthday. I spent a big part of the morning baking a cake from scratch. We went out to a local restaurant that is pricey, but the food is exquisite so we felt it was worth the expense. We don't eat there often so it is a real treat.

I have also canned a few more things to add to the pantry.

One couple called and asked about going to lunch for DH's birthday. We haven't heard from them in over a month. We wound up changing some plans so we could meet with them. One thing that absolutely drives me nuts is the fact they are almost always late. The place where we were going to meet is on the other side of town for us -- it is far closer to them. But, it doesn't matter. They are usually late and this day was no exception. I guess they feel if they call and say they are on their way, that makes it OK. Yet, we have noticed they can get places on time and even early for others. It just hurts that I feel we are being taken for granted. Because this was the only time they could meet with us last week, I gave up seeing the kids and officers meet and I didn't get to attend the knitting group at church. I guess I could have been less flexible, but I know DH wanted to see his friend since the visits are getting fewer and far between.

One of my other friends was talking about the end of the month being tight for them, so we were exchanging ideas on how to try to keep this from happening with the new month. It's kind of fun brainstorming this way. It makes me rethink about some of the things we are doing and realizing I have gotten a little lax on a few ways to save money.

We had a heat spell this week and many of DH's tomatoes ripened. He brought in some yesterday and some bell peppers. I made spaghetti sauce with the tomatoes, peppers, onions, garlic, basil, and oregano from the garden and added mushrooms to the mix. I have one quart and two pints to add to the pantry.

One of our local stores had penny pincher coupons with some of what I call loss leaders. I bought some pasta (especially since i have spaghetti sauce) as well as some other items for the pantry that were far less than regular price. My pantry is getting well stocked.

Hope you all had a great weekend.

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.

80

August 31st, 2017 at 03:03 pm

Eighty. That's how many tomatoes are now resting on our kitchen counter. That doesn't include the cherry tomatoes that are sitting in the colander. Eighty glorious round orbs just waiting for me to do something with them. I see canning in my future. We did have 84, but we had four of them sliced with our supper last night.

A friend came over the other day and I was showing him our pantry of canned goods and his comment was we didn't need to go to the grocery store. Not sure about that, but with tomatoes, green beans, jam, jelly, and broth canned, we do have a nice selection. DH has a bunch of bell peppers coming on and I will chop and freeze many for the freezer so we will have that.

I'm sorry it got too warm for lettuce. We had the last of that a couple of weeks ago, but it was sure nice while it lasted.

I think I hear those tomatoes calling....

Catching Up

August 11th, 2017 at 03:18 pm

Yesterday was our meeting for our knitting group at church. I had to chuckle over the ladies because they counted the ones that were brought and it made for a total of 597 hats. Well, they wanted to know who could finish a hat before time was up for the day and said we have to have 600 before we leave. Too funny. One lady said she just had to put a pom pom on hers and another two said they had to do a little more. Not all of our members were there, but when two came in, they had a few more hats and when all was said and done, out total was 605 hats by the end of the time. That's a lot of knitted hats. That doesn't include the scarves that people have made nor the preemie hats. The preemie hats are donated to NICUs at local hospitals and to a group that helps women who are pregnant. We are small, but I think we are mighty.

An added benefit was one of the ladies brought in some produce. She had cucumbers and bell peppers. She asked if anyone could use any and some people said yes. But, when it was all said and done, hardly anyone took the cucumbers. She asked me if I could use them and I said yes. I see sweet pickles in my future.

A couple of years ago we went to a Bed And Breakfast in the Amana Colonies and part of the breakfast was Mango Juice. DH can't have orange juice since the acid really bothers him, so he tried the Mango juice. And he was smitten. Whenever Aldi has mangoes on sale, I buy them and let them sit on the counter to ripen. Actually, I prefer them overripe because they are juicier that way. I made DH a quart of it and he has been enjoying it. I looked up on the Internet on how to make it and it really isn't hard. I don't have a juicer or anything, so I do it by hand. I guess if I were making gallons it would be an issue, but it isn't. And it's a nice treat for DH. I make apple juice for him too. I refuse to purchase apple juice that has had apples grown in China. After reading some of the conditions of the growing of apple trees and other fruits and vegetables, I choose not to go there.

DH's tomato crop has been good one. We have been eating lots of fresh tomatoes and I have been canning some. I believe that is also in my future...some more canning. I don't mind and they are sure nice to have in the winter. I spoiled myself and made tomato juice the other day. Last year we didn't have quite enough for me to do that and felt I needed to can just the tomatoes. But, since DH planted more plants we have extra and I'm making myself some juice. Funny as I type this there is an ad for V8 on the bottom of the screen. I also intend to make spaghetti sauce since we have onions, bell peppers, garlic, and basil.

The other day a friend brought over some turkey he had smoked and 4 ears of sweet corn he had gotten from someone. We had over three meals off of that turkey. We don't have a smoker so it was a real treat. We are so blessed to live in a country where so many fresh foods are available, aren't we?

Cornbread

August 7th, 2017 at 05:50 pm

It is interesting how food plays an important part of our lives. Take for example our friend, Barb. Barb was a former neighbor. DH knew her years before I did since she would frequent the bookmobile he worked on. Anyway, after she was widowed, I would invite her to Thanksgiving. For a number of years she didn't attend, but made other plans with friends because she had no local family. Then she started accepting our invites. She admitted a few years ago the reason she came (besides the company) was my cornbread. She said the turkey, potatoes, and green beans were fine, but it was the homemade cornbread she liked the best. Barb died this weekend. She was 88 and when she came for dinner on Memorial Day, she was telling us how she couldn't believe she had lived that long. She gave up smoking over twenty years ago and it probably helped quite a bit. But she also went and exercised some. She kept social and kept her mind alert. And other than some arthritis, she got was slower, but still got around and did things. I just chuckle over the comment about the cornbread.

Well, I posted a photo of her on Facebook (see below) with my husband at a Thanksgiving meal. One of the guys from church commented on it and of all the food on the table, the thing he commented on was the cornbread. He wanted to know if I made it and was it Jiffy or homemade. I told him it was homemade, baked in a cast iron skillet. We discussed this at some point and then I made the offer to teach him some Sunday afternoon when he isn't golfing.

All of this just because of cornbread. Too funny.

Frugal Kitchen

August 3rd, 2017 at 03:31 pm

I cannot count the number of Frugal Chef parties I have been invited to in the past 20 years. Because people know I cook, they think I'm just overjoyed to be invited and expect me to buy tons and tons of stuff. Boy, are they ever wrong.

One look at my kitchen would tell them otherwise.

I have a few of my grandmother's things like some Pyrex and pots and pans. I have a couple of my mother's items as well.

Most of the things in my kitchen have been purchased second hand. I have quite a few Pyrex dishes in different sizes and shapes that I use constantly. Vintage stuff. Not made in China. I enjoy using it, and feel I am not only cooking more safely in stuff that is tried and true than the stuff that might have problems down the road. Plus, in my small way, I am recycling.

I have 5 Crockpots. They are all different sizes. Two are about ten years old or older. One is 3. My newest two were purchased at thrift stores. They were clean and work perfectly.

Don't get me wrong, I do buy some new things, but why spend big bucks if I can save some money and buy used? We went to an estate sale a couple of weeks ago and found a set of stainless flatware. It was vintage. The nice thing about vintage stuff is it has a bunch of the extra pieces. We paid $16 for the whole set. It wasn't my first choice in pattern, but hey, for $16 I have an extra set. I have a set I bought over 30 years ago and some of the pieces are missing. Not sure where they went to -- maybe the same hiding place as socks -- and we did buy a new set about five years ago, but there wasn't enough to get through without hand washing some stuff in between. I don't like to run the dishwasher unless it is totally full. I could hand wash stuff, and I did on occasion, but having the extra stuff is helpful and it even had pickle forks. I like pickles with my lunch so that was an added benefit.

Anyway, I was perusing Facebook and there is a site talking about saving money by buying used kitchen stuff. Guess I'm finally chic! Anyway, here is the URL for the story:

http://rootsy.org/low-cost-kitchen/

The tomatoes are coming on. Yay! DH also has bell peppers, onions, and herbs. I made a fantastic marinara sauce to serve over spaghetti the other night by cooking down some tomatoes with bell pepper, onion, mushroom, basil, and oregano, and adding some shredded Parmesan. I paired it with a small lettuce salad (lettuce, tomato, pepper, onion) for a delightful meatless meal. I thought DH would be upset over the lack of meat, but he wasn't and said it was delicious. I had purchased the pasta on sale, so I figured besides using up some of the fresh stuff we had, I made an economical meal. Oh yeah, served on some of the plates we bought second hand.

It's almost August

July 31st, 2017 at 02:58 pm

It is hard to believe today is the last day of July. The garden is going gangbusters which is good. Tomatoes! Lots and lots of them are coming on. I spent some time canning them Saturday. I looks like I will be canning some more this afternoon. No complaints about it either! I know it was sure nice this last winter to open up a jar of tomatoes and taste that fresh tomato from the summer. We have shared some tomatoes with some friends and they keep commenting on how good they are and they are.

My pie safe (where I store most of the stuff canned is starting to fill up. This past week I have canned some green beans, tomatoes, made sweet pickles, and made mixed berry jam. I buy fresh fruit every week to make a fruit salad that we have some once a day. With the extra fruit (some of the packages are larger due to it being in season) we can't eat it all so I put it in the freezer. When I get quite a bit saved, I then cook the berries together and make jam. I enjoy the jam, but I also plan to give some away at Christmas time. I make up baskets of goodies to some of my friends. Most of us don't exchange purchased gifts per se since we basically have what we need or too many knick knacks.

The garlic looks like it is about ready to be harvested too. I usually pick it and then clean and mince it and store it in olive oil in the fridge. We don't get a ton, but enough to use it throughout the year and have some extra cloves that we plant for the following year.

One of my husband's friends seems to have a problem with my husband's green thumb. It is almost to the point of jealousy. I don't know why. This person is very talented in so many areas and can do so many things. DH, and I love him dearly, isn't mechanically inclined. We usually have to outsource many jobs. But the lawn and garden are his speciality. As DH says, no one can be good at everything. Just wish his friend wouldn't have such problem with his ego and appreciate what DH can do.

Our pastor is retiring in two weeks. We will miss him dearly, but his replacement appears to be a good guy as well. The church had a retirement luncheon yesterday and a short presentation to thank our pastor for his service and caring for the congregation. It was very touching to see all the lives he has touched. I took my camera and took photos of and then uploaded them to the church's Facebook page. I then created a video to put on my page since I put in things I wanted to say.

We went to the Beef House on Wednesday over in Indiana. It is well known around here for good food and these amazing rolls. We actually did this on a bus trip and saw a play in addition to the meal. I just couldn't get over the feeding frenzy some of these people were a part of with the rolls. They are huge. Bigger than a large fist. Of course like most bread, they will bring out as many as you want. Well, so many at our table wanted to take some home. Not just one, but 2 or 3. They were snippy with the servers who didn't bring enough bags the first time. These servers were high school students donating their time in hopes of getting tips. Anyway, the ladies at our table were fawning over these rolls with that glint of greed in their eyes. The rolls were delicious when they brought them out...warm from the oven or warming drawer and very fresh. But white rolls tend to get stale very quickly. Guess these folks thought they were getting something for nothing. I wonder how many really ate those rolls or threw them out when they got home. Most of the people on the trip weren't poverty stricken, so I guess the offer of something free was too tempting. I didn't bring any home. I'm not above eating leftovers, but couldn't imagine even a few seconds in the microwave would make the rolls soft and good again. Plus, I'm trying to cut down on the carbs a bit.

Handmade

July 23rd, 2017 at 06:21 pm

When I was a kid, I remember a commercial showing a man laying bricks. I don't remember what the ad was touting, but i remember the bricklayer at his craft and was fascinated.

As an adult I'm still pretty fascinated at how things are made, both commercially as well as by hand. Growing up with a mother who crocheted I realized the work that went into many of her creations. She was a seamstress for the garment factories of many years and she could sew about anything as well. When she was in her 60s, she decided to teach herself how to quilt. I learned to appreciate fine talent.

We were watching television the other day and an ad came on for a show called "Handcrafted." I guess it is going to start a new season. I don't know if we get that network, but if we do, I hope we can catch a few of the episodes.

I am amazed at how talented so many people are with their different skills. Some people make things simply because they enjoy the craft. Others make things to save money or even sell their wares to make money.

When I was in college there was very little available funds, but I decided to crochet an afghan for one of my friends for Christmas. I scraped up enough money for the prettiest yarn I could find. I worked hard on this during the summer. It was a labor of love because we didn't have air conditioning and it's often hot and humid here in the Midwest. I was so proud of my work (My mom had taught me to crochet a few years before) and I worked hard on making it as nice as possible. I really thought she would appreciate it because it was a labor of love. It really hurt my feelings when I gave it to her and I could tell when she opened the present it wasn't anything she thought much of. A few months later I went to her unfinished basement to get something she sent me down for and there was the afghan thrown over some boxes. It still kind of bugs me because I worked so hard on something and she didn't appreciate the work. I guess I didn't know my friend very well, but she didn't take into account I didn't have a lot of money then and tried to make her something nice with what I had.

I can honestly say I make things now because I enjoy making them and give them to people I think might like them. I appreciate it when people give me handcrafted items because I know the labor involved. I give away some of the things I bake and jams and jellies because I like working on these items and think people appreciate them. I have decided that one couple will probably never get a gift like any of this again. Every time we give them something I've made or fixed, they admit that they didn't eat it, but one of the kids or grandkids did. It isn't a dietary concern. I don't give stuff to people that I know they can't and won't eat.

I wonder if we have become a society that no longer appreciates handmade items whether it is goods or foods? Yet, I have one friend who makes me feel very special. Every Christmas I give him a basket of handmade goodies and canned items. I asked him one time if he liked it and his comment was "I love everything you give me because I know you made it and gave it with me in mind." You sure can't beat that!

Monday, Monday

July 17th, 2017 at 09:07 pm

After reading Livingalmostlarge's post about the spending, I would say we often find ourselves in the same situation at times. For example, last fall we decided to fix up the hall bathroom. We ordered a new vanity and medicine cabinet. Of course a new countertop and faucet. While we were at it, a new light fixture and of course a new shower curtain and liner. Oh, don't forget the new shower rod and towel holders. Then we realized the ceiling really needed to be repairs and of course we didn't have enough touch up paint and...well, you get the picture.

Today we had someone come out to give us a quote to do the same in the "master bath." I do the quotes because it is tiny. Our house was built in the 1970s and although we are delighted to have a second bath, it's cramped. But, here we go again. We have the new vanity, countertop, faucet, medicine cabinet, light fixture and to really throw a monkey wrench into the mix...exhaust fan with a light. We've been here 19 years and this is the exhaust fan that was there when we moved in. I would like one with a light because it is sometimes dark in the shower with just the light bar over the sink.

It wasn't a no spend day either because it was a trip to the chiropractor. A $20 copay which isn't horrible so I'm not complaining and my back feels better.

Yesterday we had barbecue chicken sandwiches made with the leftover chicken from a supper last week. Saturday night we had chicken and noodles from the said chicken and so we basically got three meals from one chicken. I don't think that's too bad. I still have some chicken broth leftover and I used part of it for the turkey tenderloins I'm fixing tonight. Tomorrow night I'm doing some chicken recipe in the crockpot with potatoes and will use the remainder of the chicken broth. I would say I most certainly got my money's worth out of a chicken bought on sale for $4.31. Truly a winner, winner, chicken dinner.


When there was a scare that we might not get our August pension checks on time, I didn't put as much money into a couple of savings accounts because I didn't want the checking account to be short. Well, since there is now a state budget, that scare is over. We went to the credit union and put the rest of the money into the savings accounts.

I have one pillowcase finished that I was embroidering. I chose colors that friend likes since that is who I plan to give them to for Christmas.

Not Uber But Sort Of Frugal

July 14th, 2017 at 07:04 pm

Friday is the day we usually make a day of it. We eat lunch out and go to thrift shops and garage sales. I have been trying not to buy anything at the thrift shops for awhile since I really don't need anything. But, I succumbed at two of them. I bought two jelly jars with rings for 55 cents and at another one I bought some metal Christmas ornament hooks in a sealed package and a ceramic mini loaf pan for 53 cents. I bake sweet breads and give them away at Christmas. Last year I found enough of these ceramic loaf pans to give quite a few of them away and although I'm sure people would be OK with foil pans, I just think it makes it look nicer. I refuse to pay retail for these and most of the ones I pick up at thrift stores still have the price stickers on them. I originally had picked up a couple of greeting cards, but put them back trying to use up what I have at home before purchasing any more cards or stationery. Oh, at another place I bought 4 packs of brand new pencils for $1.32. I give them to a teacher friend since he can't keep pencils and the kids don't seem to think they need to bring them after they bring a few at the beginning of the year. I didn't spend a lot, but I can't claim I'm Uber Frugal either. Darn it.

I went to the knitting group yesterday at church. We are closing in on having almost 500 knitted hats so far. One of the ladies brought zucchini to give away so I brought one of them home and can I say I was delighted. I know there's the joke about neighbors leaving zucchini on doorsteps, but we never seem to have that problem. Wish we did. We like zucchini and if we can't eat it all before it goes bad, I shred it and put it in the freezer to bake with bananas for sweet bread.

Hot Wednesday

July 12th, 2017 at 08:28 pm

Holy Cow, it's hot. And humid. The weather forecaster says if we get to 94 it will be a record. Whatever it is, it is hot enough for me. I'm not a fan of extreme anything and heat makes it so hard for me to breathe.

It has been a NSD so far. Hopefully it will remain that way. I have been doing some housecleaning. That silly maid never ever shows up. Smile I wound up washing some walls and dusting and mopping. I would like to do some laundry, but I don't want to tax the electrical system any more than I have to with the heat and humidity. I'm just happy we have a/c. I grew up without it and believe me, what a lovely thing to have.

Yesterday I fixed a chicken in the Crockpot. We had a delightful meal with it and I have enough for some other meals. Tonight is leftover pork roast. I was going to bake sweet potatoes, but I think I'm going to peel and boil them instead and then mash them because I would prefer not heating the oven. I don't care for them microwaved.

A friend was telling me how he didn't like leftovers. Heck, so many of our meals are made up leftovers. I can't imagine not using them. It is difficult to just make enough for one meal. My chicken that I fixed yesterday was caught on sale and I got it out of the freezer. It was a decent sized one and cost $4.31. Between the meat and all the broth, it will provide more than a couple of meals. I freeze the extra broth so I have it when I fix noodles or make soup. I use some vegetables, garlic, herbs, and a few spices when I cook it so the broth and chicken are well seasoned.

We are starting to get some tomatoes. Yesterday we had a salad with DH's lettuce, onions, pepper, and tomatoes. I just love getting fresh stuff.

Hope you are staying comfortable.

Thanks and more

July 9th, 2017 at 07:32 pm

A big thank you to those who commented on my last post about losing a friend to suicide. I read somewhere that it takes three days for a person to adjust to a change and I think that is really true. There are still questions and I doubt if there will be answers. My heart goes out to the family and friends. We are going to attend the visitation and it should be a lengthy wait since he was a popular guy and his wife has many friends as well.

A friend suggested we do something different yesterday to have a mini getaway so they drove us to St. Louis. We had lunch at an Irish Pub. We've never been there and it was quite good. We went to a place called "The Hill" which is a neighborhood with Italian restaurants and stores. We shopped at an Italian grocery and viewed more types of pasta than I have ever seen in one place. We walked around to some of the other stores and bakeries and then stopped and had some gelato. We then went to another part of St. Louis where Concordia Seminary is located. I am Lutheran and in the Lutheran Church -Missouri Synod, men who are called to the ministry must attend a synodical seminary to earn their master's of divinity in order to receive a call from a congregation. We walked around the lovely campus and went into the chapel. It was a relaxing day spent with good friends. We did spend some money - we paid for our lunch and bought a couple of things at the grocery as well as purchasing the gelato, but I don't think we spent more than $50 in total. We offered our friends money for gas since they drove, but they turned us down saying that they planned on going anyway.

It looks like another hot week. I turn the thermostat up when we leave the house so the a/c doesn't work as hard and we use ceiling fans to help as well when we are home. DH mowed the front yard and did get pretty overheated. Because we haven't received much rain lately, he hadn't mowed in a few weeks because the grass was dormant. We received about half an inch over two days so the grass grew a little and became rangy.

DH picked his first bell pepper and ripe tomato on Thursday. Both were delicious. We had another ripe tomato with our brunch today and there is one for supper tonight. We will have more than one at meals when they start coming on, but they are like a treasure when they first come on. Homegrown certainly taste different than store bought.

DH has had problems with a baby bunny wanting to live in his garden and eat his carrots. He chases it out and uses something called liquid fence. It is a product that has garlic and rotten eggs that is pretty stinky. But the rain the other day washed it off and Baby Bunny decided to visit. I had to chuckle over DH's comment as he chased it -- he said that if he ever caught the little twerp he would kick it over the house. I rather doubt if he could catch it and knowing what a softy DH really is, he wouldn't kick it anyway. But the entertainment is pretty good!

Nice day to make jelly

June 7th, 2017 at 07:43 pm

It's isn't super hot and humid here today (this weekend it was horrific for the first of June) so I decided to use some of the apple juice I've made to make apple jelly.

I make our own juice and apple sauce because I don't want product grown in China. I've read about where many of the fruits and vegetables grow there and it scares me. Plus, I don't use as much sweetener for either. I use cinnamon and nutmeg while the apples cook and add a little sugar, but not much. When I make the applesauce, I put in a little maple syrup while blending it and it gives is a good flavor, but not too much sweetness. Anyway, I've made quite a bit of applesauce and I have far more apple juice than my husband can consume. So, jelly it is!

I use the jelly throughout the year and I try to make up extra to give away at Christmas. I've been kind of fortunate that I've found jelly jars at the thrift stores lately. I have a few friends who save the jars for me, but many don't, even when I ask them to. I hate to appear cheap, but besides the work, jars, lids, and rings do cost money.

It's been a productive day overall. I washed, dried, and ironed the kitchen curtains and washed the kitchen window which is a pain in the patootie for me to wash because I'm short and have to stand on a step stool to wash the windows as well as hang the curtains. I've done some laundry besides, and some cleaning, made the jelly, and penned three letters.

I think I felt like I needed to really be productive because yesterday we drove to Chicago to visit a friend of mine from college. It was a nice visit, but I'm not sure driving 3 hours each way for a two hour visit was worth it. We didn't do anything else because we had to meet my friend at a certain time and by the time we finished our lunch and visit, if we had ventured any farther, we would have had to fight rush hour. I wasn't in any mood to do that, so we came home. And I was exhausted from the driving so I was ever so glad to be home. My friend was generous and bought our lunch so our trip was basically for gas. Is wasn't the cost of the trip, but the weariness of all the driving that makes me wonder if it is worth it.

SA problems and dinner

April 16th, 2017 at 09:20 pm

Lately I have had problems accessing the Saving Advice blogs. For two days I would click on a title and would get an error message saying the page had been removed. Today it is taking forever for the pages to load. I thought it might be my computer and or router, but I'm not having problems with any other sites, so I'm going to think it is with SA.

A friend told us they weren't sure if they were going to have Easter dinner at home or out. Then mentioned that a local chain restaurant had a deal for $110 for ham, 2 sides, and bread. I looked it up and then saw our local Kroger ad and tried to determine what it would cost if one bought stuff from Kroger to feed 8-10. I think even adding a dessert, the cost would be around $54 before tax. That is still less than $110 and most of the stuff was ready made, other than heating up the ham and the rolls.

Our dinner for the two of us was more reasonable and we have leftovers. Some we will eat again tonight and the rest will find itself incorporated into other meals throughout the week.

Hope you had a lovely Easter.

A little of this...a little of that

April 12th, 2017 at 07:59 pm

Today has been quite a busy day around here. DH and I cleaned house. I am happy that we did and I like having a clean house. I just threw in a load of towels after putting fresh ones out after freshening up the bathrooms. They weren't dirty, but I have found if I do touchups here and there, they don't get bad either.

Lunch today was chicken and noodles. I had purchased a whole chicken and cooked it in the Crockpot the other night with some spices, herbs, and a few vegetables to make a good broth. We had some of the chicken for dinner, and I used the rest to make chicken and noodles with the broth. I also froze the extra broth so I will have it on hand for something else. So, we have had three meals from that chicken and I think one more is on the horizon. Not enough to make it an entree, but we may be having potluck for dinner one night with the leftover pork chops from another meal. I like having extra food because it means it is easier to put meals together. I usually have some soup in the freezer so if we need a quick meal, I can thaw and heat it up, but I used the last of it. So, that is on the list to get done.

Well, after my rant the other day, I can say a couple of things seem to be worked out. I emailed the city librarian about the fact our books weren't checked in and we were getting fines. He emailed a response and within an hour, we received a phone call from the person in charge of circulation and our books were checked in and the fines wiped out. That was a relief. DH checks out bunches of children's books because he reads to classes during the week. It's one thing to pay a fine that you truly owe because you were late and we have done that without grumbling. But it is a whole different story when you owe fines on stuff you returned on time or before. Right now DH has 24 books out and I'd hate to see what the fines would be if he returned them and they weren't checked in.

Yesterday the neighbor kids played on another street. Hopefully they will find the other street a better fit for their kickball game. I don't like being a cranky neighbor, but I don't like it when you've had to ask them more than once to stay off your property and there is so little regard for both your request and your yard and plants.

I don't know when you get the ads for your grocery stores, but we get two of them on Wednesday and one on Thursday. I do wish we'd get them all on Wednesday because I prefer to make my lists on Wednesday night. So, i have to make a tentative list and finish up on Thursdays before I go shopping. Oh, well.

I just finished a fictional tome last night. If you like Fannie Flagg books, this one is similar, but it is a Christian novel. It is "Velma Still Cooks in Leeway" by Vinita Hampton Wright.It is set in a small town and kind of an interesting outlook.

I have been working on knitting hats for my church group. We meet tomorrow and I like to have some finished before we go and work some more. I have been making Swiffer covers and dish cloths out of the leftover yarn. I have a feeling one of the dish cloths is going to be wild because I have lots of different colors, but not enough to make anything out of just a couple. One of my friends has a tea room and I have been giving her some of the Swiffer covers and the dish cloths and she is delighted. She told me she didn't care about the colors, and on the dishcloths, she intends to throw them in bleach so eventually they will all be faded out. I just like that I can use up these leftovers. I have lots of dishcloths for myself now and can use a clean one every day since I have made so many. Guess I'm rich in dishcloths. Smile I used a Swiffer cover today to polish our floors. I bought some special cleaner/polish and like the fact I'm not using a disposable pad, but can wash it when I'm finished.

It is sunny here. Not super warm, but a pleasant spring day. We had so much rain last week that is makes it seem so much more like spring when we have a couple of days of sunshine. Hope things are nice where you are too.

Today is not the day to mess with me

April 10th, 2017 at 09:41 pm

Today hasn't been a relaxing day. Actually, some of this started yesterday.

DH is very proud of his yard and garden. He has certain plants that come up every year and then he plants annuals. He babies his lawn and garden. We have repeatedly had to remind the neighbor kids to stay out of yard and driveway. Our driveway is steep and I'm sure it is fun to ride down,sled down, or skate down. But, it also has some broken areas (we are saving to replace it in the next couple of years) and there is another neighbor who parks just at the edge of it. We have bushes too, alongside the drive. It makes it difficult for people to see traffic coming into our court and for the traffic seeing anyone leaving the driveway. I have had to ask them to stay off our driveway for their own safety. I don't want anyone to get hurt either falling down on the driveway (liability issues) or getting hurt because a car or truck didn't see them race down the driveway. I do believe kids are still playing in the driveway when we aren't home because last summer when I wash washing down the garage door, it was dented about a fourth of the way down. Neither DH or I dented it and it kind of made me think something was run into the door. We have also found some of our solar lights broken around the yard. OK, lots of wordiness, but we have asked the neighbor kids to place stay off our property nicely. Yesterday they were playing kick ball and within ten minutes, five times the ball came into our yard. We have a slight hill so it isn't like the ball just casually rolled into the yard. It was kicked and it landed way up by the house. Once in DH's garden. So, then we have kids walking around in the garden and the planting to get their ball. I finally contacted a parent and asked them to have their kids stop kicking the ball in our direction. She said the wind took it and I nicely suggested they kick towards her house in the future. I didn't want to be that neighbor who had to tell the kids to stop, but today, they started in and guess what, second kick, the ball winds up in our yard. I simply went out and asked the little boy to kick in his own yard. Guess I messed up their game, and I only can imagine what they do when we aren't home.

This about capped off my day. We received our car insurance premium and we expected it to increase a little with the new car (we asked before we bought) , but it went up more. Seems someone decided to delete one of the cost savings we have on both cars. The clerk told me the new amount, I started the check, then told me a different amount since it was prorated. I wasn't happy because I had to void the check and write a new one. She then talked to me like I was stupid and said I could have just changed it and put my initials on it. Maybe I could, but I didn't want the check coming back incorrect. I don't like being spoken to like I'm an idiot.

Then, we went to the library because I received a notice I had an overdue book. It was returned before it was due, but apparently wasn't checked in. Seems the library is changing to a new system and putting in chips so books can be checked in when they are put in the return chute. But, they don't have chips in all the books so they are putting returned books on carts and doing the chip thing and not checking in books. The lady at the checkout desk claims they will backdate the check in, but as it is, both DH and I have overdue books on our records at this point.

So, I'm already not in a very good mood and then have to become the cranky neighbor with the kids. I wasn't grouchy when I asked them to stop, but it just didn't make my day go any better. Hopefully things will improve. I ate being that kind of person, but I don't like things to get torn up.

I tried a new recipe the other day. I wrote it down after seeing it in one of the magazines I was going to donate. DH liked it and I think you could change it out to use whatever you had one hand. I'm going to write it down below, but I didn't use sausage with it. I substituted bell pepper and mushrooms and DH loved it. If we had sausage I would have used it, but instead decided to use what I had.

Brunch Pizza Squares

1 pound bulk pork sausage
1 8 oz tube refrigerated crescent rolls
4 eggs
2 T milk
1/8 t pepper
3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese

In a skillet, cook sausage and drain. Unroll rolls onto a lightly greased 13 x 9 x 2 baking pan. Press dough 1/2 inch up the sides and seal seems. In a bowl, beat eggs milk, and pepper. Put sausage on rolls, then pour egg mixture over sausage. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake, uncovered at 400 for 15 minutes or until crust is golden brown and cheese is melted.

Leftovers and a vent

March 15th, 2017 at 05:10 pm

Fixed lunch a few minutes ago. Used leftover pork roast to make pulled pork. It was pretty decent. Tonight will be leftover pork chops with baked sweet potatoes and a salad. Last night we had chicken I lightly breaded and baked. The chicken breasts were so thick that I sliced them in half so we have enough for another meal. Yesterday for lunch we had chicken noodle soup which was leftover from Sunday's supper. We tend to repurpose leftovers around here. I do like the idea of cooking once and getting a couple of meals out of it. I still have so much soup left I will be freezing it for another time. A pretty good deal for a whole chicken I got for 69 cents a pound.

Now that I am retired, I try to volunteer. I was not a happy camper yesterday. State testing is going on in the public schools in Illinois and I know how stressful it can be. I volunteered to help out. That means more than just showing up. I had to watch some required videos and sign off on them before the testing. I asked what time I needed to be there yesterday and was told 8 a.m. I got there a few minutes before and the person then realized the first set of testing wouldn't start for an hour. She hadn't bothered to check her schedule. I was not pleased. I realize I am retired, but that is a waste of my time to sit around for an hour. Schools aren't exactly comfortable spots to just lounge around. She sort of apologized, but I didn't say too much. For years I had run the state testing in the buildings I was assigned to. If I had anyone kind enough to volunteer, I made sure they had the exact time they were needed, followed up if things changed, and made sure they were felt appreciated.

A few years ago my husband who is retired from the library and quite a fabulous reader of children's books volunteered to read each week in one of my schools. The two teachers decided they couldn't set a time that he could read back to back so he read at one class in the morning and one class in the afternoon. I told him not to agree to that because it wasn't a good use of his time, but he didn't want to upset anyone. So, he would show up in the morning, read for 30 minutes and then leave and show up a couple of hours later to do the same. These same teachers would conveniently forget when they were going to be gone on field trips or something else came up and he would show up and they would tell him he couldn't come in or one time they weren't even there and he walked into an empty classroom. The following year I told him not to even think about volunteering for those teachers. I lined it up for him to volunteer in another teacher's room. She stayed in the room with him (which is what teachers are supposed to do), thanked him profusely every time he read, and if something came up, told both him and me ahead of time.

Being disrespectful of a volunteer's time is one way to make sure one doesn't eagerly volunteer again. Sorry I had to just vent.

Potpourri

February 26th, 2017 at 07:10 pm

This will be a potpourri since I don't have one really important thing to say.

Every so often, we share food with a few of our friends. I enjoy cooking and I enjoy sharing food, even if we can't meet for a meal. We had a surprise this week...someone called and said they had a surprise. They had grilled pork and gave us enough for two meals of pulled pork. Yum!

Someone on Facebook posted about instead of giving up something for Lent, how about collect a plastic bag of stuff to donate each day. That sounds like a great idea, but we have been giving stuff regularly anyway, so I'm thinking maybe of finding something each day to donate instead of 40 bags.

When I retired I joined a group at church called "Stitches of Love." The purpose of the group was to knit and crochet items to donate to various places. In the past they had crocheted lap robes. They recently started working on round knitting looms and made hats. We made hats and I took them to a few schools and they were passed out. It was fine and the schools appreciated them. However, a friend and I decided to adopt a classroom this year and we made hats for the whole class and the teacher and took them in. The kids loved knowing they were made for them. So, I brought this idea to the group and it has been interesting about the reaction. We decided to try and ask other Lutheran churches to join us and suddenly there is a zeal we haven't seen. It is pretty exciting to see people wanting to get involved with this. My DH said it is like we have a new purpose. So, that is kind of cool.

As far as grocery shopping, I've just been buying fresh fruit and vegetables, bread, and dairy. I'm trying to use up things in the freezer and pantry. It has certainly made our grocery bill go down the past few weeks. I have tried to be creative in using some of the stuff too. Hopefully that is a good thing.

Sunny Sunday with a Side of Wind

February 12th, 2017 at 07:26 pm

It's a sunny, but windy Sunday here in Central Illinois! At least it is warmer. We had some pretty frigid temperatures Wednesday and Thursday. Now it seems almost like spring. I just hope it isn't getting our hopes up. I know I have been looking at a small garden area and asking DH if we should do a little fix up before planting. When we moved here almost 19 years ago, there were yard timbers outlining the small area where there were plantings. Well, like most things, they don't last forever and some are really rotting away. Neither of us are really handy, but I thought we could pull them out and replace them with some of the landscape stones or pieces to keep them separate from the lawn itself. We shall see.

We attended church and came home and did our usual brunch of scrambled eggs, cheesy grits, sausage, toast, and fruit. I'm thinking I'd like to fix some chili -- I am going to try and use more from the freezer and pantry. A friend gave me some of the beef she bought when she bought half a cow. This was for my birthday and I'm not complaining one bit. I have beans and I have canned tomatoes, so adding some onion and mushroom and spices, it should be a decent Sunday night supper. I like chili anytime and fortunately DH is a soup lover so that works out.

Because of my asthma problems, I didn't do my weekly grocery shopping which usually means Aldi then Kroger. DH and I went Friday and just did Kroger simply because after volunteering on Friday, I was tired and didn't think I could face going to two stores. Fortunately we didn't need a ton of stuff, but I do believe we spent about $20 more than if we had gotten the bulk of stuff I buy on a weekly basis at Aldi. I buy eggs, fruits and vegetables, and some dairy at Aldi.

I wasn't happy when we received our power bill. When we were gone for two weeks, we turned the heat down to 62. Our house is pretty well insulated and we have newer energy efficient windows as well as an energy efficient furnace. It was a little lower than usual, but not that much lower. I'm thinking for two weeks we didn't use as much heat and certainly not as much power since we weren't home running the washer/dryer, television, wifi, etc. I had unplugged some things like the modem and wifi as well as the television. And, we had colder temperatures the month before so I didn't think our power bill would be as much as it was. Must be all those stupid fees they tack on. Our water bill was far less since we were gone for those two weeks. I'm glad. I was going to wonder if we had someone living in our house while were away! Smile

I continue to work on the rug I'm crocheting. I think so far, I have about $2 worth of yarn in it. I'm sure it will be more since I'm not close to being finished, but when you get full skeins for 50 cents each, it does mean you aren't spending as much.

As I have blogged before, I try to use up the bits and pieces of yarn to make things. A friend of ours runs a tea room and they have a vinyl floor. I asked her if she could use Swiffer covers and she said sure. So, we gave her two yesterday and you would have thought I had given her gold! Each week we save our egg cartons, cottage cheese containers, and other plastic lidded containers for her and they reuse them. She has chickens and sells her eggs and the cartons come in handy. I told her it was always such a pleasure to bring her things because she is always so appreciative.

A couple of no spend days

February 8th, 2017 at 04:36 pm

Today looks like a no spend day. Not planning on going anywhere. DH plans to volunteer at a school where he goes each Wednesday and then walk at the mall. I intend to stay home. We had a major weather change in the past 24 hours so my asthma has kicked up. We were 63 degrees yesterday and the temperature dropped almost 30 degrees last night and they are calling for a chance of snow. Yuck.

Yesterday we dropped off some things at the thrift store we donate to. The profits support the Lutheran School Association that is near and dear to us. We went to the library and checked out some materials so that was a good day. Fixed all meals at home. And a friend I hadn't heard from in awhile called and we caught up so it was a pretty good day overall.

Monday was a spendy day to an extent. The thrift store I mentioned before had just restocked and we bought a bunch of canning jars. I mistakenly thought I had enough last fall when I was canning, so I don't want to find myself in that situation again. I also bought some yarn there...50 cents a skein. I wasn't planning on buying anymore yarn until I had used up what I had. I was close, but not quiet. But the yarn I bought i wanted it to try and crochet a bathroom rug. We also met another couple we haven't seen in awhile for dinner so it was a nice day overall.

Tomorrow will be a day to spend...grocery shopping. But it won't be too much since we have lots of stuff in the pantry and freezer. It will mostly be fresh fruits, bread, and some dairy. So, not bad spending, I guess.

Informal Lima Bean Poll

January 30th, 2017 at 10:51 pm

Since My English Castle posted about having some lima beans and the fact they are haunting them...I thought for the fun of it, I'd ask my Facebook friends what they thought. My question was simple, do you like lima beans? The results were interesting and closer than I imagined they would be: 36 said yes and 45 said no. Those who said no, were adamant they disliked them. Many of the those who said yes often added they had to be fixed a certain way or in soup.

As you can tell, I am easily amused. Smile

Baby, It's Cold Outside!

December 18th, 2016 at 09:57 pm

Here in Central Illinois it is 9 degrees with a wind chill of -6 and we have both ice on the ground and a little snow on top of it. The only good thing is it has been sunny today. I went outside to take out the garbage and it was not fun. It hurt to breathe, was slick as snot, and looking at our steep driveway made me worry how we could get out even if we wanted to.

Church was cancelled today because of the ice. Seems the ice we received Friday night has been a force many people cannot deal with. Apparently the elders decided the parking lot was too slick. I know there are those who think you should go to church even in bad weather, but sometimes you need to look at the safety issue. It is worth asking people to drive on slick streets and walk on treacherous parking lots? My one complaint is this...Food Network had been running new episodes of Barefoot Contessa at 9:30 Sunday mornings when we were in church and I had to miss it. The one Sunday I can watch, it wasn't being shown. Shoot!

One advantage of being holed up is I have gotten a lot of cleaning done. I know I have driven my husband nuts with dragging the vacuum here and there, but I want things tidy. I also balanced the check book this afternoon and didn't feel like it was taking too long. Heck, where would I go.

A disadvantage for my town is it seems like every weekend before Christmas in the past few years we have bad weather which cuts down on shopping. My shopping was done so that wasn't a problem for me, but the last weekend around here is usually a busy shopping time in my hometown. I imagine folks ordered stuff online since they were being told not to get out.

DH cannot complain he hasn't eaten well. We normally eat Friday night supper out, but we stayed in since the freezing rain was supposed to start around 3 p.m. Friday. I have to say it was probably more nutritious...i fixed fish. Last night we had pork loin roast and I'm going to use the leftover roast to make pulled pork for supper sandwiches tonight. I don't know if we have saved money because our heat is running a lot, but as far as eating out we have.

Hope you are safe and comfortable where you are tonight.

Another Cookie Recipe - Gingersnaps

December 1st, 2016 at 09:13 pm

A friend gave me a pile of cooking magazines and I saw this recipe. I like Gingersnaps and hoped it would be good. I made a batch and the cookies turned out picture perfect!

Old Fashioned Gingersnaps

3/4 cup softened butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup molasses
2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground ginger

Additional sugar

In a mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar. Add egg and molasses, beat well. Sift together dry ingredients, gradually add to creamed mixture. Mix well. Chill the dough. Roll into 1 1/4 inch balls and dip in sugar. Place 2 inches apart on ungraded cookie sheets or on parchment paper on cookie sheets. Bake at 375 for about 10 minutes or until set and surface cracks. Cool on wire racks. Yield: about 4 dozen.


Just an update: I baked 16 dozen cookies total for the church bazaar as well as 8 medium sized loaves of sweet bread. I need a break from baking before I start on the things I bake for gifts.


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