...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!
Viewing the 'Food / Groceries' Category
...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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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
Pork tenderloin roast with carrots, onions, celery, and mushrooms and baked sweet potatoes and roasted potatoes
Chicken and rice soup
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.
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!
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
Leftover pork roast and I'll probably roast some potatoes
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!
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.
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?
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