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Cookbook Wandering

January 2nd, 2016 at 02:57 pm

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 egg
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!

Catching up

November 15th, 2015 at 02:53 pm

It's been awhile since I've posted. Wish it was because I was so busy doing so many exciting things, but alas, it wasn't. The past few weeks have been a struggle because with my allergies and asthma, I've been not feeling the best. I think the worst of it is over and I feel better.

It seems like we've been spending a lot lately and I think we have. Granted, most of it was planned. We put away money all year in a Christmas account and last weekend we journeyed to a large mall where DH picked out what he wanted for Christmas. This past year we lost both our Penney's and our Sears so other than Kohls, we don't have many stores that have good bargain prices. I also bought a few things for other presents and have the majority of my shopping finished. I am planning on getting the envelopes addressed for Christmas cards, and in the next couple of weeks, will need to be doing some baking for our church's Christmas bazaar. We sell cookies by the pound so we need a lot of different types of cookies. It is a major fundraiser for our women's group and they give part of the money to missions and use the remainder for projects they have locally.

We did splurge and buy some new towels. I haven't had new towels in about a decade so that was a nice treat.

I wasn't happy that my router is going out. But, after 6 years, I guess I'm lucky it lasted this long.

I have a family night this week so I had to plan a meal that I could eat early and DH could heat up on his own. I made a huge pot of soup yesterday for tonight's supper and there should be plenty for at least one more meal and maybe a could of lunches.

Last night I made something I hadn't tried before. There is probably a recipe for it somewhere, but I was trying to chop vegetables for the soup, so I chopped onion, bell pepper, and mushrooms and sauted them in a little olive oil. Then I cut up some boneless, skinless chicken breasts and sauted them. I added a can of cream of chicken soup. While I was doing this, I was boiling spaghetti. I used some of the pasta water to add to the soup/meat mixture and let it cook down, then added a little more and added the spaghetti and let it cook together for a couple of minutes. I added some shredded cheese, mixed it all together and served it in a bowl. DH loved it. We also had enough leftover for two lunches after he had four helpings. Smile Cheap meal and basically I was already chopping vegetables and I only used spaghetti because I had some left in a box. I could have used any pasta I think.

We are looking forward to Thanksgiving. I have been posting on Facebook something I'm grateful every day, many so I think about how good my life is. I am grateful for my SA friends because I feel we help each other and support each other.


October 18th, 2015 at 01:13 pm

Lots of things going on at our house.

We had a projected killing frost this weekend, so a lot of time was spent getting tomatoes, peppers, carrots, and onions picked. DH pulled up a lot of the plants Friday night and the rest yesterday, including his flowers and the herbs. I spent a big part of Friday night cleaning vegetables and yesterday I did some canning. The pantry is looking pretty nice. We had bought some apples on sale too, so I canned some apple juice, apple jelly, and apple sauce, and I made some bell pepper soup. We will have some of the soup tonight and I canned 3 quarts and a pint of it for the pantry. A fellow who does landscaping stopped by to talk to us and he was saying his wife has gotten caught up in the blood moon conspiracy theory and has gone crazy canning since she is afraid there won't be food available. Funny, there was something on a program saying if Martial Law would go into effect, we would be hard pressed to find food. I don't subscribe to all this, but it could be scary if you thought about it and believed it. I just like to save money and know where our food is coming from.

My school district has this wellness program where they encourage you to get a screening during certain days they have set up. The screening can be as simple as a blood test for the basics, or you can pay for extra stuff, and they included a free flu shot. I had already gotten my flu shot, but I did the basic screening. Supposedly if you signed up by a certain time, at the end of the year you will get a $75 "refund" since we pay a portion of our health insurance. I like to keep track of my vitals, so the blood test wasn't a problem and the refund this spring will be a nice bonus.

This was my payday so I finished paying bills and then figured out what goes into savings. This is the last month to put money in Christmas club since they send us the check the first of November. We have a decent amount in it. So, in November I will start over for the next Christmas. We are also saving up for a new roof. We have a few years, but figure we should have the money so we can negotiate when the time comes. I truly believe "cash is king" when it comes to these matters. When we met with our financial adviser last summer, I was afraid he would get upset over our different savings accounts. He actually applauded us for saving up for things. We have a vacation account as well and then we have regular savings. It isn't like we are actually losing a lot of interest since interest rates aren't paying squat anywhere. I like having the different accounts because it makes it easier for us to keep track. We also don't have all of our bank accounts at the same bank.

We received our water bill and there is a flyer with it. On the back of it was a photo of a rain barrel...it looks like our rain barrel! The flyer said there could be a credit if you use something like this for storm water run off. So, I need to call the city to find out if we can get that credit at some point. Every little bit helps.

DH has been fighting some squirrels. They like to dig up his front yard because they are burying nuts for the winter. DH loves his front yard and doesn't want a bunch of holes. So, I am being entertained by him running out the front door to chase the squirrels and it gives him some exercise too.

Pantry Ponderings

October 12th, 2015 at 08:21 am

I did a count last night...My pantry has 19 quarts of tomatoes, 12 pints of tomatoes, 5 half pints of tomatoes, 17 pints of beans, 4 pints of beans, 1 half pint of beans, 3 quarts of corn, 2 pints of corn, 1 half pint corn, 14 half pints sweet pepper jelly, 2 quarts of sweet pickles, 5 half pints of sweet pickles, 1 quart of applesauce, 1 half pint applesauce, and 4 pints of bread and butter pickles...not bad, eh? Especially since we have a very small spot for the garden. I taught myself to can last year and didn't can a ton, but have really ventured out this year. The green beans were from a friend and the corn was a combination of a gift and some we bought. I haven't made the apple jelly yet and I was thinking of green tomato chow chow since we have quite a few green tomatoes. We will probably get a frost in the next couple of weeks so I'm trying to figure out what to do before then. I hate for stuff to go to waste. I am proud of what we have put up. I posted a photo on Facebook last night and did get quite a bit of validation.

Planning for Christmas

October 11th, 2015 at 02:05 pm

I have been working on a project at work and sent it in for a presentation for our school board. The IT person replied to my principal and me that since I did such a good job, I should get Monday off. Yeah, that was a joke...we have no school tomorrow in observance of Columbus Day. However, my ever witty boss said if I continue to work so hard, in ten weeks he will give me some time off for Christmas break. Ten weeks. Suddenly I started seeing the same time frame on Facebook that Christmas is ten weeks away.

Last summer I started making some things for Christmas. I have been working steadily. On Facebook this past week, someone had a meme that said a homemade gift really isn't a cheap gift and pointed out if someone knitted or crocheted an afghan how many skeins of yarn are needed, how much a typical skein of yarn is, and how many hours was put into it. All very true. It's sad that people think that because something is homemade it is cheap. Homemade foods aren't cheap either. I have spent hours today in the kitchen canning and making jelly. Plus there is the cost of the jars, lids, rings, and whatever else is needed. When I bake there is the cost of the ingredients as well as whatever else is used to store and/or transport.

Yesterday we hit some thrift shops and I found some jelly jars very reasonable. I snatched them up because I'm about out. Good thing because today I made 6 half pints of Sweet Pepper Jelly. I have been using it on toast simply because the last time I made some I had a little left over -- not enough to can, but too much to throw out. One way it is really good is over cream cheese and serve it either on crackers or celery. Right now we have quite a few bell peppers so I figured I might as well make use of them. Below is the original recipe, but when I made it a second time, I changed it by adding more peppers. I thought the amount they had was kind of skimpy.

Sweet Pepper Jelly
3/4 cup finely chopped red pepper
3/4 cup finally chopped green pepper
1 1/2 cup white vinegar
6 1/2 cup white sugar
6 Tablespoons pectin

3 pint sized canning jars or 6-7 half pint jars, sterilized and hot

Combine the first 4 ingredients in a large stainless steel sauce pan. bring mixture to a boil and boil for 6 minutes. Add pectin and boil for an additional 3 minutes. Remove from heat and skim off and discard foam. Ladle the jelly into the prepard jars. Wipe off rims and apply the lids. Place the jars in a large pot of water and bring to boil for 10 minutes. Carefully remove from water and let cool. Make sure lids have sealed. Refrigerate after opening.

I'm toying with the idea of making some apple jelly. I made apple juice yesterday and I'd like to see if I can also make apple jelly.

We hit the grocery store Friday night and found some baking ingredients on sale. I was pleased because we have a church bazaar and our church is known for selling all different kinds of cookies by the pound.

Ten weeks. Don't forget! Or are you all ready?

What a weekend

October 4th, 2015 at 02:33 pm

This has been a busy weekend. After getting off work, we drove about 45 minutes to pick up a bookcase we ordered to replace one. I'm trying to get things bought that we want before I retire such as furniture. We had saved for it so it wasn't an unexpected expense, but it came sooner than they said. So, I left work, we went to pick it up, ate supper, unloaded the piece, and then went to the first of two nights of celebration for my husband's class reunion. He had a wonderful time and was so happy we went. Of the two evenings, it was very reasonable -- we each bought an ice tea so that was the cost. He was a little worried that when we got home I was in bed by 10 p.m. I tried to explain after working all week and getting things done at home in the evenings I wasn't ill, just exhausted.

Saturday was busy doing some of the things I normally do on Friday night like grocery shop and laundry. We had the nice dinner for his reunion and it was a very nice evening. We dressed up. A friend teased me I needed to buy a new "frock" for the gala event, and we laughed and laughed at that. I said I didn't think they had a frock department. We both wore things we already owned. So other than paying for the dinner which we did earlier this summer, we didn't spend anything else.

Today was church and then brunch, then house cleaning and moving the new bookcase in and the old one out. After brunch I put a whole chicken I got on sale yesterday in the Crockpot. I had a bag of navy beans in the pantry that I soaked overnight. White chicken chili sounded good for a supper one night this week and then we will have enough for lunches. I made sweet pepper soup yesterday for tonight's supper and lunch tomorrow. We still have bell peppers coming on and I figure why not make use of them?

I think I'm a little crazy, but I enjoy cooking and it some ways it relaxes me when I can put things together and have something good to eat. One of the local restaurants advertised Sunday brunch for $12.99 each. I guess that isn't too expensive; we haven't eaten brunch out in years because after church we come home and I fix sausage, scrambled eggs, toast, cheesy grits, and fruit salad. I tease DH we could go out, but he loves what we have on Sundays and we figure we save a wad of money eating in.

It's Easier to Complain

September 6th, 2015 at 02:54 pm

It is easier to complain than to do something.

OK, that isn't a novel idea, is it? Personally, I'm just about fed up with the whining and complaining of some of the people who call themselves friends. Maybe it is because I'm just tired. Between work and home, I've been very busy and with the extreme hot temperatures, my patience is thin.

Every time we see one couple, they have to go into great detail about their illnesses. Even when we receive an email it is a laundry list of this and that. The gentleman tends to exaggerate his problems...it is like when he is tested for cancer, he wants to have cancer. If a doctor says something could turn into cancer, he brags he is a cancer survivor. I think it is ridiculous; we have friends who are cancer survivors who fought bravely and some lost the battle. I think his is more attention seeking. As we age, I know our bodies start breaking down. I am not denying that, but some of the problems they have could be prevented by making other choices. They, of course, do not want to hear that. I wish I could find a nice way to say I don't want graphic details of their health issues. There is another couple we associate with that if she doesn't turn the conversation to how much she hurts, she must consider it a waste of a conversation. I no longer ask these people how they are because I don't want to hear more details than I can handle. Yet they persist in telling me. So, I have the struggle of being a friend and listening yet inside I'm screaming, "Noooo. Don't tell me anymore!"

This is the same with with money issues. One couple always complains they have studied their budget and they need to save money. So, they use coupons when they eat out. Of course they eat out every day. It has gotten to the point it is embarrassing to eat with them because they want to use a coupon and press the server in letting them use it even if they don't follow the standards the coupon states. I don't mind the use of coupons -- I just don't like people to try and cheat by using them. If I suggest they eat at home, I get excuses on why they need to eat out.

We know this other family that is always complaining they need more money -- she left for the weekend to go to a party in Chicago. Meanwhile they need some major home repairs and she will soon be whining about that. Her justification is she needed to get away and be with the girls.

For so many, Facebook has become Whinebook.

OK, rant over. Thanks for reading. sorry I whined.

In other news I have been figuring out new ways to use bell peppers. DH planted just a few plants, but have they gone to town. What a great problem to have, right? Supper tonight is sweet pepper and tomato soup. Last night I made sweet pepper jelly (found the recipe on Pinterest) and we will be having it over cream cheese and having crackers. We have shared some of the peppers with friends too.

My pantry is filling up. I canned one quart and two half pints of tomato juice last night, as well as having some of the juice for our soup tonight. Last weekend I canned 3 quarts of sweet pickles -- I gave one quart to the lady who shared the cucumbers with me.

One of the local stores had quite a flyer out on sale items. We bought quite a few things to stock the pantry on things we normally buy. I spent a couple evenings last week inventorying what I already had and then matching coupons to stuff on sale.

No school tomorrow so that is a wonderful holiday to look forward to. Plus, the stock market won't be open which the way it has been dropping, that might be a good thing.

Hope you all are having a wonderful weekend.

Out and About

July 31st, 2015 at 01:48 pm

DH and I went to the Amana Colonies on Monday. It is about 4 hours away from our home here in Illinois. We stayed at a lovely bed and breakfast and enjoyed two meals in Amana. Breakfast the following morning included two different types of quiche, toast made from homemade bread, oatmeal, muffins, and fruit. They had two different juices available: mango and orange. DH cannot drink orange juice because of his acid reflux so he tried the mango and really liked it. We were back home Tuesday in time to have supper. It was a nice getaway and we had saved the money to go and fortunately gas prices weren't too expensive. Here is a photo of our room:

Since being back, I told a friend that I wish I could make some mango juice. The next day she messaged me that Kroger had mangoes on sale for 99 cents. I bought some and made two quarts...DH said it was just like what he had and was delighted.

DH harvest our garlic and I cleaned and minced it last night and packed it with some olive oil. A friend gave us some a few years ago to plant and we've been doing it ever since. I keep the minced stuff in the fridge.

I decided to try and make some more pickles and followed the recipe for bread and butter ones. It said to wait for a few weeks before eating them so they can get the full flavor. I canned 5 pints and one half pint.

I also canned two more quarts of tomato juice this week. Unfortunately with the lack of rain and the heat, our tomatoes are starting to slow down. Hope we get some more before this fall because I'd like to have a few more to can and have on hand.

Yesterday I pulled up the remainder of the radishes. DH had tried a second planting and we got a few, but the excessive heat kept them from growing like they should. We have had a bunny eating the lettuce so there isn't too much left. I did pick some yesterday and wash and put it in the fridge before he got the rest.

One of our local stores (it is a chain around here) sends out a coupon book at the first of every month. Usually it is for things we don't buy, but this month they had potatoes as part of the coupon. I used quite a few coupons this time for things we normally use...the prices are really cheap. I bought two boxes of tissue for 69 cents each. I need it for school because I leave it out on my desk so at that reasonable price, it isn't too expensive. Our grocery bills continue to be lower since we are using so much produce either DH has grown or has been given to us.

The friend I wrote about early did a nice surprise...she took some of the bell peppers we have been sharing with her and stuffed them and gave them back so we could have them for supper. There was enough for a couple of meals.

Another hot weekend scheduled. I don't think we will be going too far. I'm happy to be home and read a library book.

Meow Tomatoes and other Vegetables

July 26th, 2015 at 11:46 am

No, I haven't found a new hybrid of tomatoes...it comes from that mixed blessing auto-correct.

My friend has a garden and DH has a garden. Her tomatoes aren't doing very well due to her gardening flooding in June, but she has been sharing green beans with us. So, we've been sharing tomatoes and bell peppers with her. I emailed her the other day to ask if she needed some more tomatoes, but auto-correct changed it to meow tomatoes so that has been the joke around here lately.

Speaking of produce, I've canned 2 quarts and 1 pint of tomato juice and 2 quarts of tomatoes. A friend gave us some sweet corn and I canned it and have 2 quarts. My before mentioned friend gave us some green beans and I canned 3 pints of them in addition to having some for the table.

There's a small town near us called Arthur that is well known for having many Amish residents. There is a bulk food store called Beachy's. We go there and purchase sausage patties, spices, and when needed different types of flour. They had a container of small cucumbers that looked ideal for pickles. Mind you, I've never made pickles, but the cost of the cucumbers was 75 cents and I had salt, vinegar and sugar at home as well as mustard and celery seed. I found a recipe in all recipes for sweet pickles, followed it and wound up with almost a quart in the fridge and 3 pints canned of sweet pickles. I'm a little bit proud of myself for this because I've never made them before. My mom, when I asked her to let me help or show me how to can, told me I was too stupid to do it. I taught myself to can last summer with tomatoes, applesauce, and green beans. So, I'm venturing out.

Another friend gifted us with a large yellow squash and zucchini. I sliced and roasted the squash with some onions and extra virgin olive oil. I made zucchini patties out of the large zucchini. The recipe is simple -- grate the zucchini, grate a small onion and piece of bell pepper with it. Add an egg and bread crumbs to make patties and saute in hot oil, browning both sides. I added a little cumin and tumeric to the patties while I was mixing it, but I'm sure you can add whatever you want. DH loves them and I hadn't made them in quite awhile and he asked for them again tonight. Good thing that was a large zucchini!

With all the garden stuff, our grocery bill was pretty reasonable -- less than $50 which is pretty low since we eat a lot of meals at home.

Sunny Sunday

July 5th, 2015 at 11:51 am

Here in Central Illinois, we were wondering if we had suddenly hit Monsoon season, but fortunately not. We also have had hazy days due to the smoke from Canada, but yesterday and today seem nice and bright.

Lots of odd jobs have been taking up a lot of my free time. It seems a lot of things need a coat of paint. I used up a small can of paint the other day and wanted to buy another small can as well as a small can of blue paint. Sheesh, what an ordeal. Went to one place and they didn't have anything in small cans except paint for metal...this was wood, so I didn't need it. And blue apparently isn't a big color to ask for because I had to resort in getting a sample bottle mixed. But, that part of painting is completed and so that is good.

We mulched around our sun room and it looks far better.

The garden has been producing. DH has a small garden because we don't have a large area. He has what I call a one hit wonder for a bell pepper plant -- the bell pepper growing on it is almost as tall as the small plant. No other blooms, so it is the little plant that could.

Hope to get out and pick some lettuce and radishes...nothing like a crisp salad with fresh veggies and a lovely day to enjoy it in.

Save some to spend some

May 24th, 2015 at 12:13 pm

We've been spending money at the local garden center. DH has a decent vegetable garden for the small space available and yesterday he bought some flowers. He enjoys gardening so it is relaxing for him and the vegetables are pretty darn tasty.

Yesterday's plants were a bit pricey and he probably could have gotten fewer and less expensive ones. I pointed out that we save money on other things so we can spend it on things we really want.

A couple we know love to spend. Last fall he was telling us how they had custom made curtains for their kitchen windows. Two windows. Not picture windows or extra tall windows. Just basic kitchen windows. And the tally: $1500. We've viewed these pieces of cloth at the window -- they are nice curtains, but I can't see where they are worth $1500. But that is how they roll -- all the curtains and drapes are custom made and cost thousands of dollars. Yet, they moan and gripe about being short of money. They hit the home equity quite a bit and have taken out personal loans to finance vacations and other odds and ends.

I like nice things too, but last year I hit a garage sale and found two brand new in the package sheers that matched the curtains I found on sale. All in all, I spent about $32 for curtains and sheers and was pleased. This friend told my husband I must not care about him since I spent so little on the window coverings. DH looked at me and said he didn't think that was so; he thought they looked OK. What a strange mindset.

So this weekend, other than buying the flowers, we are working around here. I'm getting ready to pick some radishes that are a little larger than we prefer for raw eating. I saw a recipe on roasting them and it looked pretty good. Here is the url:


Supper is pork loin, mashed potatoes, carrots, radishes, and cottage cheese. The pork loin and carrots will make up another meal later this week. Yet another way to save money so we have it for other things...and those other things WILL NOT be $1500 custom curtains!

Dibs and Dabs

May 3rd, 2015 at 12:07 pm

Almost every Sunday I fix the same thing for supper: sloppy chicks which are like sloppy joes made with ground chicken. Not exciting, but DH likes them and it means we have a hot meal and he has a couple of lunches besides.

Being frugal, I have noticed that there are times when DH doesn't use all of the sloppy chick mixture. There usually isn't enough for him to have a good sized sandwich. So, I usually put it in a small container and put it in the freezer. Yesterday, I decided to see how many of these containers I had and if there was enough for a meal. So, after taking all the dibs and dabs out, I had enough for a meal and leftovers too.

Before church I put some beans to cook in the Crockpot. I soaked them overnight. I thought they would be a nice addition to sloppy chicks. Actually what gave me the idea was I saw some baked beans on sale in the grocery flyer and thought I should use up some of the dried beans I had in the pantry.

It is beautiful here in Central Illinois. Actually fairly warm...feels like early summer instead of spring. DH worked very hard to put in 9 tomato plants, 2 rosemary plants, and 2 sage plants yesterday. Normally he plants on Mother's Day weekend, but since the forecast is calling for temps in the 80s this week, he thought it was safe to plant this weekend and give them a head start. His radishes, onions, and lettuce are all up and his carrots are just beginning to pop through. Hopefully it will be a productive gardening year!

I was thinking about how much we save by repurposing some of our leftovers. We spent around $142 this week at Aldi and County Market. A couple of things weren't food items, but cleaning items that were on sale and I had coupons. Considering that money goes for 7 breakfasts, 6 lunches and 6 suppers, plus snacks, I don't think that is too bad. We eat a balanced diet with plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. We have cut down on our meat consumption...I may buy a small pork tenderloin roast and it will make up 2-3 meals. And the freezer and Crockpot are my good friends as they store and cook for me.

How did I make that????

April 26th, 2015 at 02:57 pm

At lunch Friday we were talking about meals. Food is a big topic at lunch, imagine that!

One lady was talking about making a casserole...she has to eat gluten free so it is tricky to find things. She said she added a dash of this and that and when she finished, it was so good her husband told her she could make that any time she wanted. She laughed and said she just started pulling things out of the pantry and fridge.

I made vegetable soup last week and DH said it was best he's had in a while, and that wasn't a reflection on bad soup on my part. He said it just seemed to have lots more flavor.

I admitted the chances of making it again the same were pretty slim. The overall idea would be the same, and I used tomatoes I canned which made it different. That is a given. I had been using stuff in the pantry as far as tomato things that needed to be used before they got too close to the use by date. But that isn't the reason.

You see, my secret was for the past couple of months I've been saving those bits and pieces of vegetables we didn't eat. How many times did we have green beans where we had so few left over that it wouldn't be enough for a serving, but...

Same thing with some the roasts...I kept the onions, carrots, celery, mushrooms that were let over. The same with zucchini and squash that I had roasted. I had a decent sized bag of leftover vegetables that had been cooked and we didn't eat all of, but not enough for another meal.So, I bought some beef on sale and browned it. I dumped all vegetables in the soup, added some fresh onions and some other vegetables and cooked it with chicken broth I also had in the freezer. Added the tomatoes and barley and yowza...what a soup.

We had two and half meals out of that soup and considering most of it was leftover vegetables, I felt like we saved money, not to mention eating healthy.

Oops...grabbed the wrong jar!

March 29th, 2015 at 04:12 pm

As I was fixing supper tonight -- our typical Sunday night staple of "Sloppy chicks" -- I went to get a jar of frozen tomato sauce I had made last summer. My mind was on other things and I grabbed the wrong jar. Defrosted that puppy, never even looked at it when I added it to the onions, bell pepper, and mushrooms and ground chicken...it was leftover chili! So we had sloppy chick chili mac. It was kind of soupy and I had made mashed potatoes last night and we had leftovers. I added them to thicken it. But you know, it wasn't bad! DH said he enjoyed it and that is all what matters!

A Little "Catch Up"

March 16th, 2015 at 04:42 pm

Life seems to be flying by lately. We are doing PARCC testing and my days at work seem to be getting longer and longer as I go in even earlier to get the computer lab ready before we begin testing. Testing means walking and monitoring and trying to keep both students and teachers calm. It almost seems like my life is a little out of control since I am so busy with the testing and can't get too much else done. I'm coming home totally beat and my back and legs are tired and sore. I've been wearing sneakers and have two different pair I alternate.

This weekend I was trying to play "catch up" with stuff at home. I haven't felt like doing a lot of cleaning or laundry during the week so it means I'm trying to do all of this on the weekend. I've done fairly well on keeping dinner on the table most nights. It means a lot of planning which I don't mind.

Yesterday I was so tired and achy that after church and brunch I relaxed on the couch for an hour and took some Ibuprofen. Right now strep throat and the flu seem to be taking our school by storm and I don't want to get ill for a number of reasons, one being my missing testing would be a big problem since there doesn't seem to be anyone who would step up to manage it. Fortunately the rest and the meds seemed to help. I was still tired, but less achy and I did get my housework and laundry completed. I also put together the dough for some homemade bread. And I put short ribs in the Crockpot for tonight's supper and I can say they were delicious.

I was thinking last night about a neighbor of mine. When I was three, my folks moved from a country setting to the city and bought an old store building. My dad worked for Coke, but he also wanted to run a furniture store. So we moved and I stood in the back yard (not really a yard because it was all gravel) calling "Simon! Simon! Simon!"

The Chipmunks were popular when I was younger. A neighbor thought at first I had a brother, but when none showed, she finally said, "Yes!" and she became Simon to me for the rest of her life.

She was quite the blessing to me -- taught me many things including how to cook.

Every week she would bake bread. She had a certain recipe that she baked for her husband because he was diabetic. I remember smelling the wonderful aroma and if I were lucky that day, she would cut off part of the end, or heel, and butter it, and that would be our treat. It was wonderful and she was wonderful.

Yesterday as I put together the ingredients for some bread, I thought how fortunate I was to have had her in my life and the fact that I watched her and learned how to bake bread. A friend of ours had a bread machine and she said she couldn't get a decent loaf out of it. DH says he is amazed how easy I make it look. I've even demonstrated bread making for some of our classes at school because we think it is important for our children to realize bread doesn't just come from the store.

My friend, Simon, also taught me about making use of things and not wasting and stocking up when things are on sale.

More importantly, she loved me and made me feel like I had worth. I just hope that I do the same for someone else.

Sunny Sunday

February 22nd, 2015 at 12:32 pm

After yesterday's snow storm, today it is clear and sunny, but cold. Hey's it's winter in the midwest and I'm blessed to have a snug little home with central heating! Yesterday was certainly a no spend day because we didn't leave the place.

Tomorrow DH goes to make the last car payment on his vehicle. We did get a loan for three years, paid it off in two, simply because we figured we better have some kind of loan to keep our credit scores going. After this month, the car "payment" goes into savings so we have money for a good down payment on the next vehicle down the road.We haven't had a mortgage for a number of years so we thought we ought to "borrow" a bit of money for a little bit of time.

I was glad to see the stock market closed up on Friday due to Greece working out some financial deal. It sure would be nice to get some money on investments since interest rates for savings and CDs are so darn low.

After church we had brunch and then we did some house cleaning. I try to clean by a certain schedule and touch up in between.

After cleaning it is bill paying then I reward myself with some email, Facebook, and SA time.

I check my spam folder every so often to make sure something hasn't gotten in there that shouldn't before I clean it out. I have to chuckle at some of the things in that folder...I guess the spammers must think I'm a guy because there are lots of emails for enlargement of a piece of anatomy I don't currently possess, "ladies" wanting to meet and marry me, women wanting to date me and sleep with me, as well as the usual garbage of credit, insurance, Dr. Oz treatments, and printer ink. I often wonder how these folks get my email since I'm not visiting singles' sites, insurance sites, or ink sites. It would be amusing if it really wasn't so sad...I haven't gotten any from the contests lately...for awhile I was getting bombarded with I was a winner. I don't enter many contests so I don't think I'll fall for any of that.

Supper will be sloppy chicks. I have two after school/evening meetings this week, so I had to think what I could fix that DH could heat up for himself and I could take and heat up at work for my menu. The pork roast and the soup will make up two meals for us so the menu looks sparse:

Scrambled eggs, sausage, grits, toast, fruit salad
Sloppy chicks
Pork tenderloin roast with carrots, onions, celery, and mushrooms and baked sweet potatoes and roasted potatoes
Chicken and rice soup

Snowy Saturday

February 21st, 2015 at 12:16 pm

Here in Central Illinois we received quite a bit of snow overnight. Well, Boston and New England might disagree, but we received between 7-10 inches. Our cul-d-sac is pretty deep. A neighbor so kindly used his snow blower to do our driveway and bless his kind soul!

Yesterday I put a whole chicken in the Crockpot. I bought the chicken Thursday since school was called due to cold temps, and I did the grocery shopping a day early since I had seen the forecast and thought we might have bad weather Friday night into Saturday. I don't do the grocery store scare shopping -- we shop every week so this was just our normal shopping experience. I heard last night that our grocery stores were crazy busy as the snow started. Glad I missed that mess. I bet lots of people were buying things out of fear instead of necessity.

Anyway, back to the chicken. I put it in the Crockpot with some vegetables so I would have a rich broth. Last night I pulled the meat off the bones and then strained the broth and put it in the fridge. I could then skim off the fat after it was chilled.

So today, I used some of the chicken to make chicken salad for sandwiches for lunch. I have a pot of chicken and rice soup going and I have enough chicken leftover for chicken and noodles. I used some of the broth also for ham and beans. I'm trying to use things I have in my freezer so they don't get freezer burn or too old. So, that chicken will be providing the basis for three meals and helped with a fourth. Not too bad. The house smells pretty good with the ham and beans cooking.

DH is a bit under the weather so I hope after his rest he feels better. I'm trying to stay quiet as to not disturb him.

Penny Pinching Purchases

February 16th, 2015 at 12:09 pm

We had new grocery open up and I feel like we are reaping the benefits. It is a second store for one group and the coupons have really started coming out. They had a coupon of a box of Creamette spaghetti for 59 cents with the coupon, limit of 2. I didn't need spaghetti, but we bought them and they are stored in the freezer for when we do.

Since this company has had a lot of sales and such, the other large grocery company has stepped up with sales and coupons. I am no longer loyal to one store. I have decided I am loyal to us and saving us money. This store sent me coupons for some free items based on what I've bought in the past as well as cents off coupons for things. Between their savings and Aldi, we have spent less than $60 on groceries for this week. I really like this penny pinching!

Catching Up

February 15th, 2015 at 05:19 pm

It's Sunday again. This week was one of lots of stress and lots of work and...well, it seemed to go on forever at some points and sped by at others. I was glad when Friday night came, but I was so exhausted, I could barely think. DH hit Aldi and we picked up a few things at a local grocery. This store had sent some coupons and we got some good deals on things we usually buy so no complaints here.

Yesterday we ran errands and hit thrift shops. We did eat dinner out at a nice restaurant for Valentine's Day.Both food and service were great, so it was quite the treat.

After church today it was house cleaning, laundry, and cooking. I tried a recipe for snickerdoodle bread someone posted on Facebook. I didn't have the cinnamon chips, but made it like the recipe for everything else. DH loves snickerdoodles and he really liked the bread. It was a nice treat for him. I baked two loaves of white bread. I will be sharing my bread bounty with a friend. A couple of weeks ago she made two apple pies and gave us one so I'd like to do something back for her.

My little group of gals has grown to be a little larger group of gals who are bringing their lunches on Thursdays and we are talking about finances. Last week, as a lark, I emailed them an assignment to list 5 things they do personally to save money. They laughed and kidded me about the "homework." So, while we ate, we shared our five things. We made a master list and put it on Google docs so everyone could add if they wished and we had a nice time. One of the other ladies is going to come up with an assignment for this week. We decided to trade off so no one feels like anyone is really in charge. We started a Facebook page for our group so we can share articles so we don't fill up our email boxes.

Last Thursday I found a dime in the parking lot of one of the buildings I frequent. I posted about it and said it put me up to 17 cents. I got a lot of ribbing about it, all good natured, and today at church, one of our friends dropped a penny on the floor and picked it up and said I had found it. He proceeded to put a penny in the pew where we sit and gave me one more before he left just laughing. I call him my penny angel and I'm now up to 20 cents. Hey, it all adds up.

This is going to be a weird week as far as meals. A couple of weeks ago I made a huge batch of soup and froze half of it for this week. I have parent-teacher conferences Tuesday and Thursday nights from 4-7 so I will take some soup with me to heat up at school and DH can heat some up for himself on Tuesday. I plan on making mini quiches so we can do the same thing on Thursday.

My menu plan for this week:

Scrambled eggs, sausage, grits, toast, fruit
Pork loin roast with carrots, onions, mushrooms, and celery, mashed potatoes, cottage cheese, bread
Vegetable soup
Leftover pork roast and I'll probably roast some potatoes
Mini quiches

It's cold here, but we might get up to an inch or so of snow tonight into tomorrow. I am not going to complain too loudly. Last winter was horrendous with the frigid temps and all the snow, and even that isn't as bad as what New England is experiencing. Got to count our blessings when we can!

Etc., Etc., Etc.

January 25th, 2015 at 12:12 pm

Remember the movie "The King and I" where the king learns all about Etc.! Well, that's sort of my thinking today...this and that and etc.

Paid some bills, balanced the checkbook, and guess I'm ready for another week. We had an unexpected expense in the last month. Our garage door spring broke. Neither of us are handy so we had to pay to have it replaced. Believe me when I tell you, it would have cost more in medical bills if we had even attempted it. But, fortunately we have the money to do so.

A planned expense was some home repairs. Seems our exhaust fans in our bathrooms were never vented outside. So, the humidity was sent to the attic. This caused problems with this so we had to have the attic treated and then pay someone to have the fans vented outside. Our next step is to get more insulation both in the attic and in the crawl space. We had an energy audit last fall and these were things he suggested. Part of having a house is keeping things up, but it is never easy. Besides the expenditures, it is always a challenge to get someone out to work on stuff. I don't get it. Our little city is still having big unemployment so lots of folks are putting off having things done so you'd think it would be easier to get folks out to do work. In a word, no. I call and leave messages and no one returns the call. It is frustrating. It's not like we don't pay them. Oh, well. The first stage is taken care of and onto the next.

We went to church and came home and fixed brunch. After brunch I went to work on chopping vegetables for three different meals this week: pork loin roast, sloppy chicks, and Italian Wedding Soup. The pork loin will actually be two meals because we always have leftover meat and vegetables. It is easier to chop everything at one time so that worked out. So, in about an hour, I have the legwork done. Not bad. I teased my husband that I'd have more time to read and goof off if I didn't cook so much and perhaps we could eat out every night. Fortunately he knows I was kidding because I'm cheap and I like knowing what we are eating.

A friend at church gave me some cooking magazines she didn't want. I'm looking forward to perusing them after awhile and then will pass them on.

Hope your Sunday is wonderful.

Grocery shopping schedules

January 24th, 2015 at 01:00 pm

Thursday night after supper I commented our fridge looked bare. It usually does and by Friday, it is almost scary. Friday lunches around here (I take mine to work and DH fixes his at home) are normally what we haven't eaten so far and we are finishing up. During the summer Friday lunches often look like a poor buffet...a little of this and a little of that. I hate to waste food and I try to plan carefully so that we use what we have.

That being said (or written in this case), I posted on Facebook the query of when do you grocery shop...a schedule or when you run out of things. The answers were all over the place. A couple said before retirement they planned and scheduled it every week. A few said they go weekly and shop by what's on sale. Then there were a few who go when they run out of things.

I am not a spontaneous person. I'm not sure whether that is good or bad. For me, I have to know what I'm doing and what we are eating and I look at the sales and plan my grocery lists by what is available, what we need, and what is on sale that we can stock up on. I then make my menu plan based on that list or lists. This week was a three grocery store shopping spree.

Every week DH hits Aldi for the basics...eggs, milk, fruits, vegetables, dairy, and chicken and pork roast. I supplement with the other two stores, County Market and Kroger. Well, between these two days, we bought something at all three, due to sales and need. I think I shop on a schedule for two reasons...I like to plan and know what we are eating and I like to save money by watching sales.

The late Mike Royko wrote in his Chicago newspaper column that he used to go the store and buy the same things each week, and he and the kids would fix the easy stuff and leave the harder stuff. He claimed he decided they wouldn't go to the store until all the frozen chicken was eaten, the flour used, and the eggs and onions were devoured. He said there were some creative, but strange meals, but he felt like he taught his kids something -- be creative or marry someone who can cook.

So, do you shop on a schedule or go when you run out of everything?

Music and Misc.

January 18th, 2015 at 02:14 pm

Last night a friend treated us to tickets to a play put on by our local theatre group. It was well done and an amusing way to spend the evening. In the play, one of the characters celebrated every holiday by dressing up and writing a song -- the lyrics were set to a well known song. It was funny and it was also fascinating how knowing the tune made it even funnier.

It got me to thinking when I was in college in a Chicago suburb, one of the music classes I was enrolled in required we attend a concert. I had the opportunity to attend the Chicago Symphony conducted by Sir Georg Solti. It was a sweet deal...you wait until the day of the concert and get a voucher for an unsold seat for a very reasonable price. I remember sitting in seats which seemed very close to the ceiling (read: nosebleed) and enjoying the music. A lady sitting a row ahead of me was bedecked in fur and jewels (I wonder now why she was sitting so high up) starting crying during one of the movements of a piece. I thought it was odd, but never forgot it.

Two summers ago a group took a bus trip to New York City. We had a chance to see a Broadway show and we chose "Jersey Boys." We sat in balcony seats and when the first vocal harmonies came through on the first song, tears streamed down my face. The beauty of the harmony as it rang off the walls was such a sensory pleasure. I understand, over 30 years later, why the lady at the concert cried. It is fascinating how music can effect us.

In other news, DH and I have been throwing pennies into a pickle jar. We also add a few other change. Last summer when we took our coins into the credit union to deposit into an account, there was a couple ahead of us who had a large glass jar with change. DH said he wanted to save change for a year and see how much we get. We don't have a huge jar, so I'm using our pickle jars.

After church we cleaned house and DH is working in the yard. I'm getting ready to go back in the kitchen and start supper. I am still working on organizing the kitchen and I thought maybe I should figure out a way to get the plastic spatulas out of the drawer and into a container. I already have a container with wooden utensil sitting near the stove. I found one of those ceramic wine coolers a couple of years ago for $3 ... perfect height and I didn't have much invested. But, I didn't want to buy anything. I kept looking around and I thought why not use the extra glass pitcher I have sitting on top of the fridge? I use glass pitchers to make iced tea. I have three I use regularly and I had this one when I made lemonade last summer. So, it is now housing our spatulas. It also gave me an excuse to clean and tidy up the area near the stove. Now I have more room in a drawer.

Menu planning for this week:

Scrambled eggs, grits, sausage, toast, and fruit salad
Sloppy chicks with potato chips
Pork loin roast, carrots, onions, sweet potatoes, cottage cheese, apple sauce
Skillet chicken lasagna with cottage cheese and fruit salad
Short ribs and rice, green beans, cottage cheese, fruit salad
Tuna cakes, mashed potatoes, green beans, and peas

I had hoped to buy tilipia this week, but I refuse to buy it if it comes from China. No such luck.

Is Planning Your Meals Fun?

January 10th, 2015 at 04:09 pm

It's back to work Monday for me. So, Wednesday and Thursday nights I went through the grocery ads to help plan my grocery lists and menus for the week. We normally shop at least two stores...one is Aldi and we get eggs, milk, dairy, fruit, and fresh vegetables there. In fact we buy the bulk of our groceries at Aldi. Then I shop at one of the bigger stores usually consulting the ad. Sometimes we hit all three, but that isn't normal. DH buys the Chicago Tribune on Sunday and they have far better coupons that our local paper so I scored $15 off in coupons for things we normally buy this week. We also went to an Amish bulk food store yesterday and stocked up on a few things we get there. So, for now, I'm pretty well stockpiled on a number of items.

For my birthday a friend shared some hamburger, sirloin, and chuck steak with us. She and her husband purchase a cow with a daughter in her family. So, I look forward to use this. For Christmas this same friend gave me some of her homegrown and home canned green beans. Nice friend, eh?

Some of the meals I have planned include:

- Meatloaf, mashed potatoes, green beans
- Scrambled eggs, sausage, cheesy grits, toast
- Sloppy chicks and potato patties (made with left over mashed potatoes sauted in a little oil with Panko
- Oven baked chicken, cous cous, honey glazed carrots
- Italian vegetable soup (made with ground beef, vegetables, pasta)
-Pork tenderloin roast, roasted potatoes, carrots

The pleasure of cooking some of these things is I have leftovers. I peeled extra potatoes to cook and mash so I could make the patties. The extra meatloaf will make meatloaf sandwiches for lunches. The pork roast usually winds up being either pork stew or pork stir fry, or another pork supper as I heat the pork back up and then put barbecue sauce on it before serving. The sloppy chicks can also be lunches or I can add a little more tomato sauce and serve it over pasta. DH talks about how many ways I use leftovers. But he doesn't seem to mind; he says he eats like a king.

Each week I make a fruit salad and we have it at least for one meal.

Different couples we know complain how cooking is just too hard. Then they go out. Then they complain they are broke. One couple doesn't go to the store until they have nothing left in their pantry or fridge. So, that means multiple meals eaten out.

It takes planning. I know it does. But it is kind of fun too. What can I find that is on sale that we like? How can I save a few pennies here and a dollar or so there? Sometimes I try to figure up what a meal cost us and then compare it to what we would have spent if we had eaten out. I try to make it a game...how much money can I save us without compromising on healthy food? Or what did we save that can be spent on something else?

I do believe that people who don't bother to plan for their meals also don't plan for other things in their lives, like their retirement. Two people I know are always eating out and then complain how they can't make it on their pension and/or Social Security. I think most of the people at SA are planners. I read your blogs and the forums. I learn from them and I hope you learn from mine.

Not a cheap day

January 5th, 2015 at 05:29 pm

Today has not been a no spend day.

It hasn't been a bargain day either.

It has been one of those days you save up for.

Today is my birthday. DH took me shopping at a clothing store that had sent me a 15% off card for my birthday. I found some items that were 40% off and using the 15% and then using my credit card, also received 5% off. That was nice, but it still cost money. But, I did find some new clothes.

We went to a pricey restaurant for my meal. No balloons, no singing waiters, just an excellent dinner with fabulous service. It was nice and relaxing and wonderful.

I didn't worry about the cost or saving money or feeling guilty. All those days I scrimped and saved...all those overworked leftovers...all those coupons clipped and sales studied...it enabled me to be like a queen today.

Now tomorrow...I go back to being ordinary penny pinching me!

A little this and that on a cold January day

January 4th, 2015 at 02:31 pm

It's cold here in Central Illinois with a few snow flurries. Guess it is to be expected since we are truly in winter.

Here are the books I've read so far in 2015:

Book #1: "Almost True Confessions" by Jane O'Connor. Murder mystery by the same author of the "Fancy Nancy" series.

Book #2: "Kitchen Organization Tips and Secrets" by Deniece Schofield.

Book #3: "Top Secret Twenty One" by Janet Evanovich.

I won't finish a book today. After church, spent most of the day doing housework. That darn maid, laundress, and cook did not show up at the house yet again! Smile

We did make it to the library yesterday and I checked out a couple more books and some magazines. I most certainly get my tax dollars' worth out of the library.

I did splurge this week. I wanted new curtains for my bathroom. It has a small window. I was very frustrated that so many places don't carry anything but 84 inch panels. I refuse to go to Wal-Mart because I consider it the evil empire. Our K-Mart is barely hanging in there, but they did have a set of two short panels and valance for the pricely sum of $13 with tax. I think I paid $9 for the ones I had been using over 10 years ago, so I think I got my money's worth out of them. I shoved them in the laundry and they will be washed, dried, and folded in case I want or need them for something else.

Last summer we went to a garage sale and someone had two sets of sheers for $1 each. They were just what I was looking for to put in my husband's den. I tend to re-purpose our curtains. The ones in our computer room had at one time been in the living room for a number of years. I still have some of them in the linen closet in case I need them for something else. A couple we know thinks we are super stingy when it comes to spending. I spend money, I just hate to spend it foolishly. They had their curtains custom made to the tune of $1500. Wow...I told them I don't think I've spent $1500 on all the curtains in my house, including the ones sitting in the linen closet. Of course this couple complains about not having money...golly, wonder why!

A friend of mine also does a lot of cooking like I do. We were comparing notes about menus and it was funny, we both planned a couple of the same meals. Maybe great minds do think alike!

Hubby is Excited

December 30th, 2014 at 01:25 pm

My husband is all excited. Thrilled.

DH is one happy boy. We took an adventure today...to the meat market!

My boy loves his food. I often wonder if he married me because I can cook. He says "It helped." I tease him he isn't very romantic.

But, I digress. Yep, we journeyed to one of our local meat markets. I haven't been there for awhile. Unfortunately my meals have been sort of stuck in a rut as well.

We are ushering in the New Year with steaks. We used to go out to eat on New Year's and it usually was crazy. Not to mention expensive. Seems like some restaurants would have a special menu which would jack up the prices.

So, in the calm of our home, we plan to have steaks and baked potatoes with salad and homemade bread on New Year's Eve. The steaks were on special.

For New Year's we hope to have baby back ribs. Unfortunately the ribs were not on special. However, I think eating at home is more economical than eating out for the same types of food.

Lunches are leftovers reworked from previous meals. Today was a bonus day...a friend had made a ton of sloppy joe mix and she gave us some with some buns...we added chips and fruit salad and had a tasty meal.

As you can tell we are not party animals. I'm not apologizing for this. We enjoy a good video or a fine book for entertainment and good food is always a blessing.

I just have to chuckle over my husband. Some men collect fine wines. He prefers a good steak!

It Sparkles! It Shines!

December 26th, 2014 at 03:44 pm

Yes, indeedy, it sparkles and shines, and cools and freezes. Since the fridge was starting to look bare, I took the time to pull everything out and clean everything. It wasn't bad, but it made me feel like I had accomplished something. While I was doing this, sent DH to Aldi for our weekly run so when he got home, I had things organized and it looked tidy.

I used some of our left over ham and made ham and beans. I had left over cornbread so it made a nice supper.

Since I'm still recovering from whatever it was (or is) I didn't leave the house. I really had no desire to fight the crowds for the returning or the sales. I took down a bunch of the decorations, did some breathing treatments, and rested in between. I have some books and magazines that are due tomorrow at the library, so I wanted to finish those so I can return them. It would have been a no spend day if we hadn't had the Aldi run, but that's OK. It was a planned expenditure.

Had an interesting phone call yesterday from a relative. Seems they wanted to bake an apple pie, but had no apples and wanted to know if the local grocery was open. Really? On Christmas Day? All I can say is everything is done last minute and then mews when things don't work out. We are sort of put on the spot because they claim to have little savings, lots of bills, and we have so much. I will agree, we are blessed. But I am a planner. I plan meals. I plan shopping. I plan savings for Christmas. So, I know this makes me sound like Scrooge, but I have trouble feeling a lot of sorrow for their predicament.

Hope you had a good day after Christmas and Boxing Day for those of you who celebrate it.

Wish I Could Meet The Barefoot Contessa Ina Garten

October 26th, 2014 at 01:54 pm

It's Sunday and there's a pot of soup simmering on my stove. We went outside for a few minutes and came back and let's just say the house smells wonderful!

One of my favorite celebrity cooks is Ina Garten and Parade has an article about her and her new cookbook about making things ahead.

I have never met Ina Garten and would like to. Apparently she will be in Chicago in November making an appearance and signing cookbooks. Alas, it is a school day/night and I just can't justify taking off time and the expense.

The article said she is very kind and thoughtful and from what I've seen on television on her show, "Barefoot Contessa" she appears to be that way and I picture her that way. It would be wonderful to meet her.

I have learned some things from watching her program and I have tried some things I might not have tried if she hadn't demonstrated them on her show. I own a few of her cookbooks and I check her others out from the library.

There is something about her voice, demeanor, and manner that tends to relax me when I watch. I know I will never have a cocktail party or own a specialty shop, but it certain is fun watching her.

I like the idea of making things ahead. The soup bubbling away on my stove is for a supper and a couple of lunches this week. I have whole wheat bread baking in the oven for some meals, and I used up the rest of our tomatoes to make a tomato sauce to pair with spaghetti for another meal.

So, although I won't be meeting Mrs. Garten anytime soon, I do think her common sense manner and ease in the kitchen have made an impression.

End of the Season Soup

October 5th, 2014 at 01:57 pm

Last night the weather forecaster said there was a chance of frost. That meant DH and I got busy in the garden getting stuff out just in case.

DH planted some large pots with carrots. He did that because the bunnies kept eating them when they were planted in the ground. Wow, did he get a bunch...Bugs would be envious!

Last spring on Facebook someone shared something about taking the end of celery and putting it in water for a couple of days and then planting it. We figured why not try it since it didn't cost anything. We did get celery out of it. It wasn't as large or thick as the original, but not bad for something basically free.

DH also planted bell peppers and he picked them. He only had 3 plants and we've been enjoying them off and one the past few weeks, but he picked what was there and there were over 15.

We also picked the few tomatoes that were on the vines and the onions that were still in the ground and the small squash.

And, I cut some herbs so I could dry them.

Fortunately it didn't frost so we can still get a few things we didn't pick (there are some green tomatoes we left just in case) and I will still use the herbs until they freeze.

But, this afternoon, soup was started. So much of it came from DH's garden. It contains garlic we harvested earlier, onions, squash, tomatoes, celery, peppers, carrots, and some of the herbs. I am going to add some green beans and some barley. I am making a huge pot so we have it for a meal and some to freeze for another meal.

I was teasing my husband...how about getting a cow next year so we can beef and vegetable soup? He didn't think the city or the neighbors would approve.

In the paper's cartoons today, Blondie and Dagwood invite the new neighbors over for supper. These newbies were highly critical of the food and decor and said to come over anytime they wanted some food suggestions. Ironic? Yes, since Blondie has her own catering business. It reminded me of a couple we invited over for supper a few years ago. I never professed to be a fancy cook, but most of the meal was made from scratch. The wife informed me she had a better recipe for meatloaf and that her cornbread was better than mine because she used Jiffy. She would then tell me how she would fix this and that and how good it was. I wonder if they realize they have never been invited back.

Birthday Boy

September 27th, 2014 at 03:06 pm

Today is my husband's birthday. Normally we eat out on birthdays, but when I asked him what he wanted, he asked if I minded fixing him a nice meal at home. I said no, and that is our plan. We decided to splurge and get steak and I have tenderized and marinated them and will put them on in a bit and we will have baked potatoes and a salad and fruit. Last night I baked a chocolate cake because that is his favorite.

He did ask for a couple of things for presents, but nothing crazy. I wrapped them up and he opened them and the card and he liked what he received -- he should, he asked for it!

Today we went out and about going to an estate sale, a flea market, and some thrift shops. Nothing grand, but fun nonetheless.

Other than the steak, the meal is pretty reasonable. If we ate out, the meal would be far more than what we would spend and there's no tip. Wait, maybe I need to tell him to leave me one!

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