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.
Viewing the 'Food / Groceries' Category
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.
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.
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. 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 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
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
1/4 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
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.
Each year my church has a Christmas bazaar and at the bazaar they sell cookies by the pound. Before I retired, I would bake a few to send along, but my baking time was limited. Yesterday and today I've baked 12 dozen and plan to bake more in the next couple of days. The ones I baked yesterday and today can be frozen and thawed and they come out like they are fresh.
I was just going to propose something...anyone interested in sharing cookie recipes here? I'm going to share one I got from a Joanne Fluke book. Her protagonist Hannah Swensen runs a cookie shop in Minnesota and this was one of her recipes. I've been making it for years and it is a wonderful recipe. I've even just not put in the cinnamon and rolling the dough in the cinnamon and sugar mixture and added other things like different chips (milk, semi-sweet, and even white) and it is a great all around recipe. This original recipe is like Snickerdoodles if you are familiar with them.
Cinnamon Crips Cookies
Preheat oven to 325 F
2 cups melted butter (4 sticks)
2 cups brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
2 beaten eggs (large or jumbo)
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon of baking soda
1 teaspoon of cream of tartar
1 teaspoon of salt
4 1/2 cups of all purpose flour
Cream butter and sugars, add eggs. Set aside. Mix dry ingredients together and then slowly add to wet mixture. Add vanilla at last.
Dough ball rolling mixture: 1/2 cup of white sugar, 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
Roll dough into balls, then into mixture. Bake at 325 10-15 minutes. Cool on cookie sheet for 2 minutes and then on a wire rack.
This recipe, since I made the cookies about medium size made about 7 dozen. You can half this recipe easily if you don't need or want that many cookies. They freeze well after they are fully cooled.
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
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.
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 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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
...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!
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!
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?
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.
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. 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.
I am just plain frustrated. I'm not good at waiting to begin with, but this is about to drive me crazy. My first official day of retirement was May 24, but the retirement system had to wait until the district sent the information to them. Now I'm waiting until I hear from them to pay the penalty I have to pay for early retirement. I feel like I'm playing the waiting game. I called last week and was told that if I don't get my first pension check in July, I will get it in August which sounds good, but it will have the last few days of May, June, and July on it. The taxes will take a chunk out if all of it is included. Ouch.
DH and I did the grocery shopping today. We used to do it on Friday, but I'm trying to change over to Thursday. Aldi didn't have a couple of things, but the manager was checking us out and he asked if he found everything and I told him about two things they didn't have. He asked us to wait until he checked out the next person and he would go look in the back. Sure enough he did and they did have one item we wanted. That was kind of him. Kroger sent us some coupons on things we normally buy so that helped. A couple of my friends are like me and they cook and eat home a lot. We talk about what we fix and get ideas from each other. I sometimes think we spend a lot on groceries, but then I think how much it would cost to eat out a lot like some of the people I know do.
Speaking of eating out, DH and I did eat at a relatively expensive place last night for our 26th anniversary. We each had a beef filet and it was a delicious supper. And we paid cash for it!
Today's news about the massacre in Orlando has made it sad for our country. People who left their homes to go and have a nice time were shot. Why one person's hate can destroy so much is unfathomable. My thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families. Makes me want to hug my DH and friends just a little tighter. Sigh.
DH has put in a small garden. He has planted radishes, onions, herbs, lettuce, tomatoes, bell peppers,garlic, and one cucumber plant. Our backyard is so shady so most of the garden is in the front yard. Last year I canned tomatoes and made bell pepper jelly, and dried herbs. It was a pleasure using these items throughout the year. It has saved us some money since I like cooking. DH spends a lot of time taking care of his vegetables as well as his flowers. Since I retired and we can travel when we want instead of only during the summer, we decided not to go anywhere this summer so DH can keep an eye on his plants. People look at us like we are nuts. I saw this article about raising food for your family and it said how important it was to stay around and take care of your garden. My dad grew up during the Depression and they had a garden and chickens and sometimes a cow. He said you didn't go anywhere because you couldn't leave your garden and livestock because you depended on these things for your food supply. Anyway, if you like gardening or reading about gardening, you might enjoy this article:
In six school days, I will end my career. Eight if you count next weekend. At one of the buildings, we had a potluck and a couple of young coaches asked the other lady and me how we could afford to retire. My response was "save early and save often." They laughed because that was always my response when working with our school improvement plan so we didn't lose data. Getting back to the laughter, it wasn't a chuckle because they thought it was funny. It was actually one of discomfort. I wasn't trying to make anyone uncomfortable, but so many of these young people claim they are jealous that I'm retiring because they want a carefree life, but they buy anything and everything their little hearts desire.
I won't say I have been the best saver and that I didn't buy things. I did. I bought things both which were good and some things which were just plain stupid. Hopefully I've gotten wiser. But so many of these "educated" folks don't understand money. There are about three or four of us in the group who actively save, do without things, and live as economically as we can. With the changes in the teachers' pension system for the newer hires, saving for retirement is far more important than it was when I started out.
I'm currently reading a book about not buying a lot of things in a year. It's different than the last one I read; the author says their rules are buying things they can use like food and things like that, but to be more conscious of spending money for things simply because you want something new. He said the goal is to own what you have instead of saving money. I'm curious how the book will end.
DH has been busy putting in his garden. We had a fear of frost last night, but it looks like we dodged that bullet. I hope we get lots of tomatoes this year since I like to can them and this year I won't have to rush around canning on weekends since I will be retired. Yahoo!
I've been sort of lurking around SA, but haven't had too much to say. I think it is because I'm coming home from work exhausted and after fixing supper and doing whatever else I need to do, I haven't the energy or brain power to write anything or feel like I have anything worth saying.
I finished a crocheted dresser scarf last night. I haven't crocheted for a number of years because it used to make my hands go numb. For whatever reason last summer, I found some thread tucked away and a small crochet hook and started making Christmas tree ornaments. I made one for each staff member at my school. It helped I didn't try to do them all at once. So, I thought I'd get a little brave and start a dresser scarf, just working a little at a time. It wasn't very wide because the area I wanted it wasn't very wide, but it turned out the way I had hoped and updated the look for around $4. It also kept my hands busy and I wasn't as tempted to snack if I crocheted. So, it was a cheap hobby.
I've been reading a lot. A group started a Facebook group that we post the title we read and what number for the year. The goal is to read 16 books because it is 2016. I'm at 17 and started #18. I continue to use our library so that saves money.
Yesterday was had a spring like day so DH and I went antiquing to a couple of small towns. We didn't buy anything, but had a nice time and did, as my dad used to say, "Got the stink blown off of us."
I've also been cooking a lot. Well, maybe a lot isn't the operative word. I continue to cook. I'm trying to fix stuff that we can get a couple of meals out of which makes it easier on me to get meals fixed when I get home as well as saving money. DH is fed and happy so that is what is what matters.
I rarely feel caught up on everything, but for some reason, this afternoon, I felt like I was ahead in enough things I could pull out some cookbooks and see if there were any recipes I'd like to try. I refuse to go and buy anything at the grocery so it meant finding stuff I already had in the pantry, fridge, and freezer.
I saw a recipe for chicken breasts where you marinate them in Italian salad dressing and then roll in crumbs and bake off. I had planned on having chicken, so that something I am fixing.
What I really thought I'd like trying is a Quick bread. It is a Parmesan bread.
1 1/2 cups of all purpose flour
1 T of baking powder
1/4 cup apple juice
1/4 cup of milk
1 t sugar
1 t oregano
1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese
You mix the first seven ingredients together and put in a greased 8 inch cake pan. You put the cheese on top and bake 18-20 minutes.
I changed the recipe before putting it in the pan. I added a little more milk because the dough seemed dry. But it turned out great! I think this recipe is a keeper!
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