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A Major Prize

September 12th, 2019 at 08:06 am

Do you remember in the movie "A Christmas Story" when the dad was so excited because he won "a major prize?"

Dateline September 11, 2019, and I won a major prize from the library's reading club!

I enjoy reading and was eager to do the weekly check ins and the reviews. My hope was to win a $10 gift certificate to one of the restaurants we like because I knew they had gifted the library ten $10 gift certificates.

Yesterday I received an email stating I had a prize waiting for me so I wended my way down to the library and picked it up. I was really surprised to learn it was a West Bend Theatre Crazy Popcorn Machine and a box of popcorn and oil. It's a great prize and went along with the movie theme for the contest.

Not exactly sure what I'm going to do with it however. I don't sell on Ebay and to be honest, not really sure I want to deal with the mess and clean up for popcorn for me. DH doesn't eat popcorn very often. But it was fun to win something!


New Recipe and the Quest for Coupons

September 10th, 2019 at 12:49 pm

We tend to eat quite a bit of chicken, at least we have it once or twice a week and to be honest, I get tired of making it the same old way. I was looking around on Pinterest and found a Crockpot recipe yesterday that I wanted to try. The recipe didn't give any measurements as making the sauce so I punted, but I am happy to report it came out pretty tasty. I used two chicken breasts so if you do more, you may have to adjust, but here's the recipe as I made it:

2 chicken breasts
3-4 potatoes, peeled and cubed

In a half pint jar mix lemon juice and olive oil, Oregano, chopped onion, and minced garlic. The original recipe called for these items, but I added Sage and some mustard. I mixed it all up. I sprayed the Crockpot with cooking spray, then put the potatoes down and then the chicken, but you could probably put them side by side. My Crockpot was deeper than wider. I then poured the sauce over everything. I tried to make the chicken low enough that was mostly covered with the sauce so it didn't dry out. I cooked it on low for about 7 hours. The recipe said that or on high for 4. I did spoon some sauce over the chicken part way through since there were some tops not quite covered. But, it was really good and an easy meal. The original recipe also called for fresh greens beans to be cooked alongside the potatoes and chicken. All my green beans are cooked so I thought I would do that some other time. But DH said this recipe was a keeper so I was pleased.

Also while perusing Pinterest I saw something that said companies that will send you coupons. Our paper has the worst coupons. I do digital coupons for Kroger and Walgreens, but they don't always have coupons for stuff we buy. So, I emailed 4 companies that we use. Three answered back and said they would send coupons. One told me to check my paper's coupons. I guess I realized a few years ago when DH used to buy the Chicago Trib, there are different sets of coupons -- same companies, but the Trip always had more coupons than the cheapie ones our paper had. They had some of the same, but not all the same. Anyway, if you are interested, here is the url for the coupon site:

https://www.livingrichwithcoupons.com/got-coupons-master-list?utm_medium=social&utm_source=pinterest&utm_campaign=tailwind_tribes&utm_content=tribes&utm_term=460192300_16058684_109399&fbclid=IwAR0wwgStLkjW0v-RGgX4j531g5WFu8u130G8ymWlrfK7YFmsU9rR9lOidxA

We went to Walgreens to pick up some things on sale. I had to get a rain check for toilet paper, but we got some other things. After some of the coupons and sale prices, the bill came to $29.97. I asked if I could use some of my bonus point credit and they let me use $20. I felt like that was a success.

Bank Loyalty and Interest

September 8th, 2019 at 12:54 pm

Years ago, bank loyalty was normal. You opened up your checking and savings and stayed with them. Got your mortgage there, usually.

Well, loyalty on both sides has changed. I can't tell you how many times our mortgage had been sold. Our house has been paid off for way over a decade and it wasn't fun trying to get a loan payoff and then rushing to get it paid before the business day ended. Glad that saga of our life is over.

A number of years ago, before we married, DH did not have a checking account. So, when the library said he had to have an account for direct deposit, the bank opened a special account for him. When we married, he refused to change over and have his check direct deposited into our joint checking account, instead he would move it by going to a teller and having it done. I never could figure out his thinking. Well, it blew up for us because when he went to transfer money, he gave the paper to the teller and instead of taking the money out of that account and depositing it into checking, it basically was "redeposited" into the same account. Now, why the teller didn't catch it is beyond me. But it resulted in quite a few problems. I paid bills and although the bank paid the bills, we were considered overdrawn and had to pay big fees. This was before you could get text alerts and check stuff online. A week later, I get the first letter informing me we had all these problems and how much we were losing in fees. After I left work, I went to the bank, found an experienced personal banker who looked into it, and discovered the problem. She forgave some of the fees and penalties because I came in so quickly and moved money into savings into we could get it straightened out. But not all. Why a teller would think it was OK to basically not move money or to check with him is beyond me. I was not happy and told DH that something had to change because we could do that again. We weren't living entirely paycheck to paycheck back then, but there were times when it was close.

Then, when we had more money, we realized we were getting next to nothing in interest on our savings and I started looking around. Found a bank that was paying decent CD rates. I talked to the first bank's president and asked if he could do any better and match the rates and he shook his head no, and I said I was sorry, but we were going to go where the interest was.

When my mom died over 13 years ago, I decided I had had enough of this bank. I never could get the bank statements to reconcile with my checkbook. One month it would say we had more than $100 in our checking than I had. Another month it was a few hundred. Fortunately it never said we had less, but it was frustrating. I was dealing with my mom's accounts, our account, and I said enough was enough. DH wasn't happy, but since I am the one who paid the bills and did the reconciling, I wanted something better. So, we changed. And funny thing...when we went to close the checking account, when they told me how much we had, it matched my checkbook balance. So, it wasn't me all that time! Overall, I'm pleased with where we have our checking and one of our Money Market accounts. We have money in a credit union. And we have moved money into CDs around wherever the money gets more as well as moving money into different Money markets as more interest gets paid. Sorry, loyalty doesn't pay interest.

I'm sad that loyalty is a thing of the past on both sides -- the institution and on my side, but few banks and credit unions seem to keep the same folks very long. However, I am glad that I have the money to actually think about where can I get the most interest.

Almost finished...

September 3rd, 2019 at 01:20 pm

My crafting for Christmas is almost finished! Woo hoo! I made a hat and am crocheting a matching scarf and as soon as it is finished, then I will have all my planned presents made. Yay!

I did some more canning yesterday. Made more spaghetti sauce and then cooked down a bunch of tomato juice into tomato sauce. Some friends of mine said they made ketchup once and between all the cooking down and the ingredients, they were disappointed that there wasn't much after all that work. I don't think I'll try that. There are still tomatoes out there and we are getting a few ripe ones here and there. The bulk of what I yesterday for the juice were the cherry tomatoes and the very small Early Girl.

On Friday when we ran through the thrift shops, I found some green plaid material. DH loves plaids and I asked if he thought he would like that for a table cloth. He said yes, so we paid $3.99 for it. I cut and pinned the table cloth and had enough to make two grocery bags as well. They are finished. I dug through my button stash to sew buttons on for decoration. That was two gifts I had planned to make.

The maid and cook didn't show up again so I spent quite a bit of time cleaning and cooking the past few days. I need to make some laundry detergent because I'm starting to run low. I'm amazed at how cheap it is to make. I know it does a great job and I'd rather spend a few cents per load instead of the big bucks.

More Canning and Christmas Crafts

August 29th, 2019 at 08:31 am

DH picked tomatoes on Tuesday so I did some canning yesterday. I made some spaghetti sauce. I guess I've canned more this year than in the past because I'm running out of rings for my canning jars. I think I'm using more pint jars because that seems to be the best size for the spaghetti sauce. I realized 2 quarts and three pints of spaghetti sauce and 1 quart and almost a quart of tomato juice. I am going to wait on the almost quart until I can make some more and can it as a quart. I like having it for soups and stews.

While at Aldi yesterday, I picked up three nice size cucumbers. They were 49 cents each. I made sweet pickles with them to add to the ones I made with the freebie last week. I don't need a ton of pickles, but I do like having some around. I also give some away at Christmas. I make baskets of stuff for a couple of people. It really is kind of sad how expensive pickles are when they can be made so reasonably. I realize there is the cost of jars, labels, man power, etc., but still...

Living in the Midwest winter is always a dreaded aspect at least from my point of view. Farmer's Almanac is claiming a cold, snowy winter. I guess another weather forecast is calling for the same. I like to have a full pantry just in case and pray we don't lose power.

I finished another Christmas present this week. I saw on Facebook that Christmas is less than 4 months away. Between the canning and my crafting, I have the bulk of my Christmas done for others. DH is my biggest one and he usually tells me what he wants. That comes later. We have a Christmas Club Account so the money is already saved for what he wants and it is usually clothes. So, are you getting ready for Christmas?

Recycle, reuse, recover

August 27th, 2019 at 02:17 pm

I wish I could say I was so very frugal that I reuse and recycle everything. Sadly, I don't. But I'm working on it.

A couple of years ago I bought some blue plaid material. It was very reasonable. My goal was to make some cottage set curtains for my bathroom because the curtains I had were actually some I had before and I sort of reworked them. I washed them and donated them because they really didn't work for what I wanted. Anyway, I made a nice set of curtains for my bathroom window and there was plenty of material left over. I thought, well, why not see if there is enough to make a cottage set of kitchen curtains. There was, I did, and I really like them. But, that material...there was still plenty. All said and done, I just finished sewing a table cloth for our dining room table. I've also made 4 table runners and covered two pot holders. This material was found at a thrift store and it was $9 and I know there was way over ten yards of it. I pick up thread at thrift stores for a quarter a spool so I don't feel like I've got a lot invested in everything. I use these table runners for my coffee table, end table, flat surface of my Hoosier cabinet, and kitchen island. I use them on tables not only for decoration, but also to help protect the top surface. I have some other material that I plan to use to make matching scarves for our night stands and DH's chest of drawers. I plan then to donate the ones I currently have and that will kind of declutter a bit. Most of the things I've purchased at rummage sales and thrift stores so it's not like I've spent big money, but to be honest, I'd like things to match. I know matchy matchy isn't "in" but I honestly don't care. Of course some people don't believe in having dresser scarves and such, but I like to protect the top of my furniture.

A friend was surprised when I said I was recovering some hot pads. They are older and they are thicker than most of the ones I find in stores now days. I use mine a lot and wash them a lot and they have seen better days. I did find some other material to cover some of the others too. I think I spent less than $2 for it. And when I replaced our mattress pad, I washed it and cut it up to make myself some hot pads and sewed covers on that too. I'm rich in hot pads, but since I cook a lot, I tend to spill on them and that way I always have some available if I have some in the wash.

I went to our knitting group last week and one of the ladies had brought in zucchini and cucumbers. One zucchini was huge and no one wanted it. I told her I would love to have it and everyone looked at me. Well, I have plans for it. I washed it and shredded it and put it in the freezer. We have a Christmas bazaar at church and I intend to use the shredded zucchini in sweet breads. She gave me a very long cucumber since it too was orphaned and I used it to make three small jars of sweet pickles.

DH keeps asking me why I haven't been buying a lot of material, other than the stuff from a couple of weeks ago where we sort of had it given to us. I told him I need to use up what I have. The stuff from two weeks ago was stronger than regular cotton and I wanted it for grocery bags which I made and also made two table cloths. I'm not a fancy person, I am not doing fancy table cloths, but mainly want to protect the top of the table. Our old dining room table I scratched by accident when I dropped something on it and I would prefer not to do that. This one isn't new, but so far, it is scratch free. I remember when my mom died, she had loads of material she had purchased intending to make quilts out of it. She was a smoker and I really had no desire to deal with it so when I sold the household furnishings, it was part of the deal. I'm trying very hard to use up any yarn I've bought as well before I buy anymore, but I'm getting to the point where I'm having to get creative with some of the colors I have since I don't have enough of some to make a whole hat or whole scarf. I don't want to be one of those ladies who has quite the stash and keeps buying.

I made some more spaghetti sauce last week and canned it and I'm getting to the point where I'm starting to run low on pint jars. I still have quart ones and I will use them, but a pint is just the ideal size for one meal for us. My jars do get a work out, that's for sure.

So, that's my days in a nutshell. I'm trying hard to keep from buying a lot of new stuff. What do you do to reuse what you have?

Recreational Shopping and GWTW Foods

August 25th, 2019 at 11:23 am

DH and I try to only eat one supper out a week, and it usually is Friday night. I won't say we stick to that hard and fast rule, but it is sort of date night for us.

Anyway, if we are going to eat with others, we try to schedule it so we can eat out on Friday if at all possible. Often, if we have to change, we will eat out on another night and eat at home Friday.

Besides the financial aspect of it, we try to eat at home for supper, since that is our large meal of the day, because we feel we eat more nutritiously.

Anyway, we ate with another couple and as we were going to leave, the Mrs. asked if we were going to go shopping. I said no, we no longer grocery shop on Friday nights since we are retired; we go during the week in the morning. She said no, not grocery shopping, but going to the mall and other stores around the restaurant. I said no, we didn't need anything. She looked at me like I was an alien.

I have a feeling they are part of society that uses shopping as recreation. I guess that is fine if you have the money, but I don't want to be tempted. I did go to a fabric store on Thursday and bought a skein of embroidery floss to finish a project and some extra bobbins for my machine. I looked at stuff, but my sole purpose for shopping there were those two items and that's what I bought. I guess our recreational shopping is our weekly thrift store foray. But even then, I usually have a list in mind of what I want or what others have asked me to look for. I scored a new package of light bulbs that fit our dining room light fixture for $1.50. That was a good find because I am about out of them. I found a Thanksgiving garden flag to replace one that is worn out. But to shop just to shop, I don't think so.

Years ago I probably would have loved to do the recreational shopping except we didn't have the money. It's funny how one's priorities change -- I have money to buy just about anything I want or need, but there isn't a whole lot I want or need. I know I am incredibly blessed in that aspect.

Anyway, enough of the shopping chatter...awhile ago I posted that two other couples were going to join us and have a meal based on foods in "Gone With the Wind." I reread the book and I made a list of foods that were mentioned. Just a side note, most of the foods were listed were during the first half of the book. I wonder if Margaret Mitchell did that on purpose -- a lot of the foods listed were memories of when Scarlett was young and Tara was prosperous. The last half of the book, not too much mention of food, but lots of brandy and spirits. Maybe once Scarlett was no longer poor, food didn't come up. I did a little background reading on Mitchell, and apparently the book was a way to pass time when she was laid up from an injury. Anyway, in case you are interested, here is my list of foods from the book:

golden topped biscuits
fried chicken
yams with butter
buckwheat cakes
ham
ice cream
pork
chicken
mutton
barbecue pork
hoecakes
layer cake
waffles
rice
corn pone
chitlins
bacon
radish
sweet potato pie
corn bread
rolls
hog meat
vegetables (no specifics)
butter
tea
fried squash
stewed Okra
carrots in cream
chocolate layer cake
vanilla blanc mange
pound cake topped with whipped cream
dressing
peas
rice

August 25th, 2019 at 11:14 am

DH and I try to only eat one supper out a week, and it usually is Friday night. I won't say we stick to that hard and fast rule, but it is sort of date night for us.

Anyway, if we are going to eat with others, we try to schedule it so we can eat out on Friday if at all possible. Often, if we have to change, we will eat out on another night and eat at home Friday.

Besides the financial aspect of it, we try to eat at home for supper, since that is our large meal of the day, because we feel we eat more nutritiously.

Anyway, we ate with another couple and as we were going to leave, the Mrs. asked if we were going to go shopping. I said no, we no longer grocery shop on Friday nights since we are retired; we go during the week in the morning. She said no, not grocery shopping, but going to the mall and other stores around the restaurant. I said no, we didn't need anything. She looked at me like I was an alien.

I have a feeling they are part of the group that uses shopping as recreation. I guess that is fine if you have the money, but I don't want to be tempted. I did go to a fabric store on Thursday and bought a skein of embroidery floss to finish a project and some extra bobbins for my machine. I looked at stuff, but my sole purpose for shopping there were those two items and that's what I bought. I guess our recreational shopping is our weekly thrift store foray. But even then, I usually have a list in mind of what I want or what others have asked me to look for. I scored a new package of light bulbs that fight our dining room light fixture for $1.50. That wa a good find because I am about out of them. I found a Thanksgiving garden flag to replace one that is worn out. But to shop just to shop, I don't think so.

Estate Sale Finds

August 20th, 2019 at 02:18 pm

DH and I attended an estate sale last weekend. I found two beautiful quilts that didn't have stains, were beautifully pieced and the quilting was exquisite. They had a lamp that is a reproduction Tiffany style that a friend was looking for. Plus there was a bunch of material. The material was "fill up a bag for $3." DH fell in love with some of the material and encouraged me to get it. We wound up buying the quilts and the lamp as well. The prices, in total, would have been $233 for it all, but they charged us $140. We asked our friend for $20 for the lamp. It was originally marked $40 and she was willing to pay that, but since they gave us a deal, we gave her a deal. The cashier said she just gave us the material. I'm sort of thinking they hadn't made a lot of sales and it is sad because there was lots of good stuff at decent prices including Fiesta ware and name brand pots and pans. I didn't need any of that stuff although it was lovely. Lots of Christmas decorations as well. The sale was really fun to look through.

I looked at the material after we got home and decided to sew some more grocery bags. Some of the ones I had from years ago are really starting to show wear and tear and although I mend them, they aren't in the best shape. I had some material as well and since I have been buying thread at thrift stores for a quarter a spool, I have plenty of it. So, over the course of three afternoons I took out the material and did some measuring and cutting and pinning. The result was two table cloths for our dining room table and 13 grocery bags and then I used the leftover material to make smaller bags I'll use for gift bags. The material I had at home was about $5 in total -- again thrift store finds. I had meant to use it for bags originally, but had put it off. I used some of one to add to some of the material I bought to trim the table cloth. I think all in all, if I had paid the $3 for the material at the last estate sale, I would have spent around $10 for everything. I gave a bag away to a neighbor. She had stopped by to give us some cooking magazines. She loves buying them and hates to see them sitting around. She gives them to me. I enjoy looking through them and I then give them to another lady who enjoys looking through them as does her mother and then they pass them on.

DH and I have been studying these quilts and they are nothing short of amazing. I'm thinking that the lady must have made them because the hand quilting is exquisite. I didn't need them, but boy, are they lovely. I do so appreciate handiwork.