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.
Viewing the 'Food / Groceries' Category
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.
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!
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. 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.
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.
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.
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?
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 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.
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.
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