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The Thrill of Thrift

September 18th, 2022 at 09:01 pm

There's just something immensely gratifying about saving money and having some cash in reserve. I can't imagine anyone on this site disagreeing with that!

Overall, our life is pretty darn good considering we both worked in the public sector and didn't make the salaries a lot of folks made working elsewhere. We have decent pensions. We have some investments (we won't talk about the Dow lately), and our house is paid for. There isn't a whole lot that we need that we don't already have. So, shopping isn't a recreational sport for me. 

Growing up poor I think made me consider ways to squeeze a nickel or dime or quarter as much as I could. And I still do. I don't have to look for stuff on sale, but why would I want to buy something for full price?

We watched some series on Netflix that was called "Dirty Money" and it had an episode on plastics and how the Zero Waste Movement is trying to get away from using them. So, I did some reading on this movement because I wondered about it since I had heard mention of it before. I think many of us do some of the things already because we are frugal. We use stuff. We recycle. We buy used. We do it to save money and in the long run it also helps the environment because we aren't buying a lot of new stuff and throwing away the old. 

I look at my jars of stuff I've canned. It gives me incredible pleasure. It means we'll eat well this winter as I use it. It also means I have some Christmas gifts for people since I made some different jellies. My pantry is stocked and I have put most of my grains and pastas into glass jars and recycled the boxes and paper bags. We don't have a bulk food store where you can take your own bags and jars sad to say. 

I did have to break down and buy a new Crockpot. One of mine that I used a lot died a few months ago. But I wasn't going to pay full price. I knew as soon as the holidays approach, many stores start putting them on sale. So, I scored a 6 quart Crockpot for $39.99 and tax...$20 off that store's retail price and more at another store. But, I put that new baby to work. I cook a chicken in it yesterday and used the broth to cook some noodles to go with it. Then, I put the carcass back in with some vegetables and herbs and water and let it cook down over night to make more broth which I will can and have for soups and flavorings for rice and noodles. Could I buy a box or can of broth at the grocery? Yes, but at least I know what's in my broth and I'm using what I already had. Cooking the whole chicken means at least 3 meals for us plus the benefit of the broth. So, dividing the price of the chicken by 3, then adding what it cost me buying noodles in bulk, and what it cost for the carrot seeds, and then a little bit of spices and add ons, I think our meal last night cost around $8 for the two of us. To me, that is thrilling! That wasn't adding the cost of the Crockpot in of course, but I'm glad it worked and I look for it to get quite the work out!

Our grocery had apples on sale. I took my own cloth bag for them (we use them at the grocery stores) and bought some and made more apple juice and applesauce. Fortunately I have a lot of jars and lids and rings. I also made tomato juice and canned that and diced tomatoes for the pantry. I also have been picking, washing, and drying herbs. Why buy the stuff in the store when we have it here and I can dry it? I don't put in the oven or a dehydrator; I wash and towel dry them and then set them in our sun room and let them dry naturally. I then run them through a food processor and crunch them up and put them in jars. It sure is nice seeing those knowing they are relatively fresh. 

We go once a week to the local thrift shops. That's our activity. I normally have a small list of things I'm looking for. I scored some beautiful Hallmark and Day Spring birthday cards, sympathy,  and thank you cards last week. I bought around 36 cards for a little over $8 and that included tax. As expensive as postage is and cards themselves have gone up, I was pleased with my good deal. I have scored some name brand clothing a few times and why pay full price when I can get an item for less than a third? I'm not buying junk or worn out stuff. Plus, I guess I'm helping by buying used according to the Zero Waste folks.

The hubster still pays with cash and over the past couple of years has amassed quite a few coins. I talked him into letting me have all the pennies and he said he'd give up some of the "silver" coins as well. We have about $73 to put in a savings account. It's not a lot of money, but it is far easier than trying to save big bunches at once. We have a Christmas Club account I want to put it into. We use that to buy Christmas presents as well as for Christmas tips and all that so come January, we owe nothing as far as Christmas. And the credit card company doesn't get any interest from us as well. 

I won't say I don't buy new things because I do. The Crockpot is a prime example. But honestly, if the economy depended on my shopping, it would be in worse shape than it already is. 

Do you find being thrifty thrilling? What are some of your best examples?

Tomatoes, and Peppers and Herbs...oh my!

September 11th, 2022 at 11:45 pm

The garden is starting to slow down, but we are fortunately still getting a few items. DH picked a bunch of peppers and no, I didn't pickle them! I couldn't resist...I made bell pepper soup with them. We ate some and I froze the rest. 

We had a bunch of tomatoes so I juiced them and canned the juice and realized 4 quarts and 4 pints. Hopefully I will have more to can this week.

My plans are to start picking herbs and drying them. I know some people freeze them in olive oil and honestly, I wish I had the freezer space to do that, but I don't. I just know I'm happy to have them once the weather turns and we can't have them fresh anymore. 

I know I've blogged about making jelly...I have used every jelly jar I owned I think, except for the one I just cleaned out. That's a nice feeling to have so much ready. I use a lot of the jelly as Christmas gifts. 

I did get ambitious and make some cloth Christmas bags to use instead of paper bags or wrapping paper. I've done that in the past, but sadly no one ever gives me a gift back using them. That's fine, I figure it is part of the gift. I wonder if they are using them as gift bags or what.

We received out investment statement...we lost $13K last month. It is getting depressing seeing this month after month. I get that the market is up and down, but I'd like to see a few months where it is up to offset the loss. 

Labor Day Weekend

September 4th, 2022 at 06:34 pm

Hope y'all are having a good Labor Day weekend if you live in the states. 

Most of my week was spent working with things around here. Our CSA box afforded us a few cucumbers and I made sweet relish and canned it. My husband's cherry tomato plant has been prolific so I juiced them with a couple of larger tomatoes and canned a pint of tomato juice and had a little over half of a pint in the fridge which we enjoyed with our brunch this morning. I decided to try a new recipe and made root beer jelly. I found the recipe on Pinterest and the recipe was spot on -- it came together perfectly and it is very yummy. This summer I made a variety of jellies. I will give some of it away as Christmas gifts this year so I guess I'm sort of starting my Christmas shopping already. I used all of my jelly jars and most of my half pint jars this year. With just the two of us, the quart jars are often too big for some items. I use them for apple sauce and apple juice and green beans and regular canning tomatoes, but are way too big for spaghetti sauce and tomato juice. 

Also on Pinterest was a recipe for Basil salt. I made some of that and I have some for us and a couple small jars to also give away. It was easy and since we had the Basil, I figured why not. I have started drying some of our herbs so I'll have them this winter and spring. 

I hated to spend the money, but I bought some things to make handles for the bags I'm sewing using up the material I already have. I have made handles with the extra material, but they just don't seem to hold up as well as the the commercially made stuff. I was fortunate to find it on sale though.

Not a lot planned for the holiday weekend. We are eating from the freezer as much as we can so I can use up some of the items we have, as well as eating from the pantry and supplementing from our garden and CSA box. 

News and Real Life

August 28th, 2022 at 06:00 pm

On an evening news program, there was a report about grocery prices and inflation. The reporter claimed that the department of agriculture claimed that grocery prices are coming down and that the cost of eggs has dropped 60%. Also mentioned was chicken wings had dropped down to prices of over a year and a half ago. Yes, you read that correctly, that's what they reported. I was aghast. That was broadcast Tuesday night and I planned on grocery shopping the next day.

The week before I had noticed eggs had risen 50 cents a dozen at Aldi which is usually cheaper than the other name brand store I pick up things I can't get at Aldi. I did notice a few cents drop when I went to shop in Wednesday, but it wasn't anywhere near 60%. However, I happened to pop in to Aldi yesterday because I had forgotten to buy something and noticed that eggs had increased a few cents from Wednesday. I looked at chicken wings and I didn't see any drop reduction on them either. 

I am concerned with the rising cost of food. The saltines we like has risen 14 cents. That's not huge, but when you see everything going up, or then the worst is the empty shelves, you know it could be a grim fall and winter. I was watching a Clark Howard video and he said that grocery prices were actually showing a 13% inflation rate; far higher than the overall inflation rate. 

I continue to look for sales, but honestly, the grocery stores aren't running a lot of sales, at least not on some of the things we buy. We don't buy a ton of processed foods. I can and freeze what I can. I have written companies for coupons and some are far more willing to mail coupons than others. Some flat out informed me their prices were low enough and that they don't send out coupons anymore. 

So far, we are fortunate that we can afford our groceries. But I wonder how many who are already livng paycheck to paycheck are doing it. They may be going to the food pantries, but even the food pantries are being stung by the higher costs and can get less for their money. 

So, I'm not sure where the reporter was giving his facts other than quoting the department of ag's stuff, but maybe it is better other places than here in the Midwest. Are you seeing grocery prices going down? 

Food Frolics

August 21st, 2022 at 06:25 pm

It's been a foodie sort of week.

The tomatoes are still coming, but not as many. I did have enough to make and can some pints of spaghetti sauce and make some tomato juice. I had some leftover chicken and made broth and canned it. I had some green beans from the CSA box so I canned those as well. Only realized a pint and a half pint, but this winter, they will enjoyed. I picked some lavender and made lavender jelly and then I got brave. I've commented that Pinterest can be my downfall.

I was perusing jelly recipes on Pinterest and one that caught my eye was coffee jelly. I like coffee, so I thought this might be fun.

I did make it and it's good. I know I won't be eating it after 2 p.m. on toast though with the caffeine, but how unique. 

Grocery shopping was another downfall. I didn't think my lists were substantial -- I go to two stores, Aldi being the major one. But eggs had gone up 50 cents a dozen. Saltines had risen 12 cents a box. So, I spent more than I anticipated. I fear that prices are going to continue to rise as a drought seems to be hitting so many parts of our country. I remember during the Pandemic seeing empty shelves and what was there was so expensive. I decided that if there were lots of bread loaves at the grocery when we stopped to get DH's prescriptions, I would buy a couple of loaves to stash in the freezer just in case. There was plenty of bread, so I did just that. I haven't been hoarding stuff, but I have been filling my pantry and freezer like I normally do every fall with things from the grocery and the garden. 

The Gift Goes On

August 14th, 2022 at 07:01 pm

Sandi Patty has a Christmas song titled "The Gift Goes On" and it talks about how God doing stuff and how it is paid forward. 

Today was a non Christmas gift, but truly a gift begetting another gift.

I've written before about the group at church that loom knits hats as well as knits and crochets scarves, cancer hats, and dish cloths which we donate to different places in our community. In the past few years, we have been very fortunate in receiving some monetary donations as well as donations of yarn from people, many not members of our church. We welcome nonchurch members to join us and we have had some who have joined us to help us with this ministry. Last Christmas we were given a sizeable gift from someone who had noticed my posts on the church Facebook page and those groups who received hats and scarves and dish cloths. 

Today was another sweet surprise! 

A church member told me someone he worked with gave him and his wife a handmade quilt. Knowing full well that quilts are expensive and very labor intensive, he said he felt she should receive something in return. She apparently said no, but then finally said she wanted two things. She wanted whatever change he had in his pocket, and he and his wife could then give a monetary gift to his church.

This gentleman gave it some thought. Yes, he could do both. He reached into his pocket and was sad he only had 38 cents, but he gave it to her. But, he and his wife decided that they would write a generous check to our church and earmark it to our group, Stitches of Love, honoring the lady and her quilting and knitting talents.

An unknown lady was responsible for our group getting money because of her kindness. And hopefully the items we make and donate will cause the gift to continue to go on. My heart is joyful because of this!

Spendy Couple of Weeks

August 7th, 2022 at 07:26 pm

It's been an expensive couple of weeks and I hope this is it for a bit!

After a dental visit for xrays and check up and cleaning, the dentist nicely told me that I needed a little repair and crown. I could wait, but the tooth was probably going to crack. I scheduled the appointment and I now am the (proud?) owner of a temporary crown. He didn't see any major issues under the filling and I figured that was good and cheaper than a root canal and crown.

A few months ago we had helped a friend by driving and picking him up when he took a car to his daughter. He said he would wash and wax our car this summer. He called and said he would do it Friday. Yesterday when he called to say it was finished, he said he needed to talk to me. We go to pick it up. Seems my car battery died. He and his father charged it, but said it probably needed to be replaced. So, that will be on the docket tomorrow. 

Yesterday when I finished emailing some friends, my laptop reported I was no longer online. Seems my modem/router decided to give up the ghost. So, that was another expense. A dear friend came over today and hooked it up and talked on the phone to get it connected to the cable/internet company. What a blessing that was! 

DH's lawnmower needed replaced; it was quite old so we replaced it. We gave the old one to a neighbor who will recycle the parts.

Hopefully that is it as far as big expenses for some time. Fortunately we had the money in savings, but, it seems to hit all at once! 

We had been given a gift card for a chain restaurant and since we were going to be on that side of town yesterday, we used it for breakfast. Even so, a simple breakfast with coffee for me and lemonade for DH was $28 before a tip. The gift card covered it so that was good. Honestly, I don't know how some of our friends can afford to eat out 5-6 times a week. If we eat out for lunch or supper I always get water, but it was breakfast, so I wanted coffee. Guess I could have saved some money getting water then too, but then we tend not to use the rest of the dab left on the gift card. It isn't a place we normally frequent. 

I have been doing some canning. I canned some tomatoes and spaghetti sauce and then some apple juice. I hated paying full price for the apples, but DH likes apple juice and I refuse to buy the commercially made stuff since you never know where the apples are grown. I also made Basil jelly and corn cob jelly, both are sweet. DH picked way too much Basil when I was making spaghetti sauce and I wanted to use it. I could have dried it, I guess, but we would have had to pick even more to get enough to make drying it worthwhile. That will come soon. We also picked and processed our garlic and I have it in the fridge in olive oil. So, my pantry is starting to fill up. There is something very gratifying to having a full pantry and freezer. Hopefully some of the canned goods will help us save money this fall and winter!

Use it up...

July 24th, 2022 at 06:13 pm

There's a slogan about not letting stuff go to waste, something to the effect "use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without" or something like that. That is my go to slogan lately.

My mom died a number of years ago. She was a quilter and she had all this material she had purchased and never used. I gave it away since I don't quilt. But there are lots of jokes about people with yarn, material, etc. and how much they have stashed. Or hoarded.

I have purchased some material at thrift stores and estate sales. Not huge quantities, but some. My new goal is to use it up before I buy anymore. I believe I blogged about recovering some of my hot pads. I had enough to make a new table cloth for our dining room table. I have sewn cloth bags to use for shopping as well as one for my stuff for my knitting/crocheting group for church. I had looked at bags when we were in England and the cheapest price on a bag was over 30 pounds which was even more in American dollars. I had found some new material at a thrift store that had English symbols like the red telephone booth, and the double decker bus printed on it, and it was $1.99 for it and I paid $3 to make some handles for it. A far cry from what I would have paid, and if it gets worn out by my using it, well, I don't have to regret it. 

I have also purchased some other things craft wise  like towels to do counted cross stitch on. I like doing that, and I have a couple of friends who like them, so I usually work on them and give them as gifts. But, I am not allowing myself to buy anymore until I use what I have. 

The only thing I'm allowing myself to buy is yarn for the hats, scarves, and dish cloths we make in the Stitches of Love group at church. I have used all the yarn I bought originally, so I bought a little more, and am almost through with it. I have been crocheting mostly scarves since we have so many who make hats. I can't make as many scarves as they do hats, but we promised hats and scarves to our Lutheran High School's Student Council for the number of kids they are adopting for CASA. The leftover yarn I make dish cloths and we are donating them to a local food pantry to put in the Christmas baskets. Nothing goes to waste when it comes to the yarn. 

I did a small canning yesterday since we had some extra tomatoes. I made lavender jelly earlier since our lavender was really blooming. Some of this is for us, but I use some of it for Christmas gifts. Same with grapes...made some jelly. Some for us, some for gifts. I hate to see food go to waste. 

So, are you using stuff up or wearing it out?

Fresh Food

July 19th, 2022 at 08:16 pm

Some of you have blogged about your gardens and I have as well. The tomatoes are really coming on and what a pleasure it is to enjoy them fresh from the garden. What a difference it is in taste. We are also getting some green onions as well as bell peppers and herbs.

Last year we did a half share of a CSA and we elected to do it again this year. Last week it was fresh green beans, onions, new potatoes, broccoli, corn, garlic, cabbage, and hot peppers. We gave the hot peppers away. We have enjoyed the fresh stuff with our own tomatoes. This week it was corn, potatoes, bok choy, a type of cabbage, and an onion as well as 2 green tomatoes. Lots of fresh eating.

I feel blessed to have so many wonderful fresh foods to fix and eat. I know it makes a difference in our health. I do wish more of the food pantries and government programs would encourage people to garden. Years and years and years ago after my Papa retired, we had moved to a small town north of where we live now and the government had a program called Green Thumb and his job was to help teenagers learn to garden. I wonder what happened to those kids and did they grow up and garden? As a former educator I refuse to even say schools should teach it; there are too many standards for a teacher to even cover as it is, as well as gardening. But think about how much money people could save if they could learn to garden. I see so many empty lots in our town and I wish the city would create a program that would allow people to make gardens on them to help feed themselves. I know that many of the inner city neighborhoods are basically food deserts. There's something immensely satisfying about growing and eating the food you have planted. Not to mention far healthier than the cheap processed foods many have to rely on. Anyway, that's just my take on it. 

Garden and Pantry

July 10th, 2022 at 07:21 pm

We finally received some rain Thursday and Friday. DH has been keeping the garden going with nightly watering, but natural rain is preferred to the plants. So, it was a blessing.

We've been getting a few onions. I continue to use some of our fresh herbs. We enjoyed some cherry tomatoes and DH brought in a couple larger ones that were starting to turn red; he was afraid some of the animals might go after them for the moisture in them since it has been so dry. 

I broke down and bought some fresh green beans at the market. I kept hoping they would have a sale, but I guess that isn't going to happen anymore. I washed, snapped, and cooked them in chicken broth and then canned them. I also made and canned some apple juice as well as kept some in the fridge for DH. I have been saving some of my vegetable ends and made and canned 3 quarts of vegetable broth. 

We did venture to the Amish community near us and have lunch out at a restaurant that is set up like and old fashioned soda fountain. They have a lunch special and then make homemade ice cream. DH loves ice cream. We then stopped at a meat market and bought some beef. They will package it the way I like it since there are only 2 of us. After that we stopped at a bulk food store and got a few things I was starting to run low on. On our way home we stopped at Aldi and Kroger and did our weekly grocery shopping and I was pleased to get all of this done in one day. It makes me feel a little more secure with a full freezer and pantry, especially during these uncertain times. Plus, since we were near the two grocery stores on our way home, felt like it was a good stewardship to stop.

There's something exciting about seeing my canning jars starting to accumulate with the different colors of goodness in them. Sure hope we can get lots and lots of tomatoes this year!

Hard Times

July 4th, 2022 at 08:21 pm

Apparently I'm into books about struggle. I blogged about a Depression Era book the last time. My next book was on the Dust Bowl which was Depression Times as well. The book was "The Worst Hard Time" and it was based on interviews of people who lived during the Depression and a bit of their lives before and then during and a little after the Dust Bowl. I have a lot of respect for these people for not giving up although they sufferered considerable losses and I look at our drought brown grass realizing how fortunate we are to have what we have, even if we haven't had much rain. 

Another book I read was "The Kitchen Front" and it is fiction, but based on true events in England during WWII. I had watched a series a year or so ago where two archeologists and a historian go to a farm that was operational during WWII and explain what England had to do to try and raise food since before the war, they imported so much. The premise of the story for the book was the rations and how 4 cooks vied in a contest using rations and what they could grow or forage in order to win the contest, but also provide recipes for other people in England. It was an interesting book and I really enjoyed reading it. Again, I feel so fortunate that I am not living under those conditions. A friend of mine was teasing me that I was trying to get in the mindset since some of the farmers interviewed around here are predicting food shortages this fall. I don't know if I am or not. I hope we don't have food shortages, but ever since the Pandemic, who knows what can happen. I never would have thought we would have had all the problems that came about with Covid. 

We had the first of our homegrown tomatoes. Mostly cherry ones, but one larger one and another one is almost ready. I've been using herbs and we've had two purple bell peppers as well as some green onions. I am frustrated because I have planted lettuce 3 times and it has not even tried to come up. DH had some problems with carrots. Some came up and others did not. I'm wondering if the quality of seed might be a factor; they were not cheap seeds so who knows. I may be writing the company to complain. It won't give us lettuce or carrots, but maybe they had an issue and can resolve it. 

Anyway, going back to the books I've read, although many may think we have hard times, I'm thankful our times are not as difficult as during the Depression or Dust Bowl or World War II. 

Grape Jelly

June 27th, 2022 at 03:24 pm

One of my  recent posts I commented about Pinterest and how it makes me try new things. A positive was I found a blog that mentioned some books about eating and living during the Great Depression. My parents lived through that and I remember them talking about how hard it was. As a result, I often have that Great Depression mentality of worrying about the future, reusing stuff, finding resourceful ways, and not wasting food.

Over the weekend I had the oppoortunity to go to the library and checkout a book called "A Square Meal - a culinary history of the Great Depression" by Jane Ziegelman and Andrew Coe. I wasn't sure what it would entail, but discovered it elucidated so many things during that time that I had not been fully aware. 

The book started out before the Depression, in the early 1900s and how things had changed as more of the population decided to leave the rural farm life and head to urban areas. 

Apparently even before the stock market crash, there was a bread line in New York City that was substantial, but the rub was it was open from midnight until 1 a.m. because the area businesses didn't want the line around during business hours.

After the Depression hit, the bread lines were plentiful, but only men went; it was thought it was there might be too many rough men in line for women and children. There were a few places that catered to women and their children, but many women refused to go because it would be an admittance of being not able to take care of themselves and needing a man to protect them.

Many of the cities who offered "relief" or "welfare" would publish the names of those who were on the rolls. I can only imagine what that did to the dignity of so many and probably kept some from applying. 

We often talk about someone having "spring fever" as in acting a certain way. Apparently there was something truly called spring fever: it was when people, when winter was winding down, but before spring was arrived, who no longer could have vegetables or fruit, fresh or canned, and their bodies would get weak and lethargic. This was made even more so when food was hard to come by and people were eating mostly starches to try and survive. 

Under President Herbert Hoover's administration, he wanted states and charities to step up and take care of those who were poor and hungry. Many churches and charities did, but there were so many it was impossible. The government did eventually get involved by hiring "experts" who were to talk about how to feed folks and then someone had the bright idea of giving food based on one's employment: a carpenter should receive more food since his job was far more taxing than that of a store clerk. As a result, so many people starved. Yet, Hoover's administration said the data didn't show that big of a difference in the overall health and that people losing weight was a good thing and the flu numbers weren't as high. Talk about skewing the data!

FDR, when elected, did do many beneficial things, taking charge and having the federal government start programs to feed as well as employ many. But even he and his administration made mistakes, especially withdrawing money too soon and a recession came about. The book was scary and fascinating all at the same time.

My Papa and his family were hard scrabble, yet he would say they never received a government hand out. He said his patches had patches on his overalls. His mom was the one who worked at home, cooking, cleaning, and figuring out how to get by. His father had left and I never knew why. His uncle Alex worked at a local restaurant and other odd jobs. His aunt Dorothy worked various jobs. His grandfather and grandmother lived with them and they moved often. So, all these adults and my father and his little brother trying to scratch out a living. If someone offered them something, they took it; one time a neighbor had a grape arbor and after picking what they wanted, offered the rest of the grapes to my grandmother. She and the boys went to pick them all. She made grape jelly and canned it. 

Papa told me once when I was making grape jelly he was sure it was good, but he didn't want it. He said for many days  after the grape jelly his mom made, that's all they had, bread she had baked and grape jelly for meals. It almost makes me feel guilty when I see the bowl of fruit on my island and my full pantry!

Field of Dreams

June 24th, 2022 at 07:29 pm

I'm sure y'all remember the slogan, "Build it and they will come." 

Well, it rang true. Not only in the movie, "Field of Dreams" but now for the former movie set in Dyersville, Iowa. 

Our local tour company offered a short overnight bus trip there and my husband is a big fan of the movie and he was all for it. 

We arrive in Dyersville Tuesday afternoon and are met by two ladies from the local Chamber of Commerce. We are given a short tour while on the bus and then are taken to Basilica of St. Francis Xavier there in Dyersville. Not being Catholic I was sadly ignorant of the difference between a basilica and a church, but were soon schooled in the difference. The sanctuary was magnificent and then we were treated to a tocatta on the pipe organ which was nothing short of glorious.

Another stop was the National Toy Museum -- it's Iowa so three guesses and the first two don't count on what the toys depict. Wait, did you say farm implements? If you did, you'd be correct. Many, many of them from well known John Deere and Case and Ford as well as little dioramas of farms hand made by a local man. Ertl is a toy company that once made many of these toys in the same city. 

Our next day was to the field and farmhouse. And it is outside of town in case you wondered. 

Dyersville, Iowa, is only about 4,400, but I guess they aren’t as quick to annex as other cities are, so it actually may be closer to 5000. Thirty five years ago when they were scouting for a place for Field of Dreams, one of the producers found this one place with the house and the fields and said this was it. They renovated the farm house, put on a new porch, and then built the diamond. They told the farmer they would put things back the way they were and when it was all said and done, the farmer liked the changes to the house like the porch and a/c. After the movie people started coming to see the diamond and wanted tours of the house and I think that helped the farmer decide he liked this aspect. Dyersville also was famous for those  farm equipment toys like the brand name Ertl.  Since then, the town has embraced the tourism aspect and then last year MLB built a stadium for a game and it was such a success, they plan to have another game there this year. That stadium is considered temporary  and MLB plans to build a permanent one as well as youth baseball diamonds are in the works as well. There are two small baseball museums in town, one is by the actor, Dwier Brown, who played Ray’s father in the movie. The other the town is putting together giving history about the movie and how it was made. New factories and businesses are locating there, even a Belgium cattle farmer is bringing cattle there to have local farmers raise and sell them for him. The town created incentives to the older folks to sell their homes that were in the middle price range by building beautiful 55+ communities so there would be housing for younger folks and then the town sought out grants that would help young people move and stay there. Farm land goes for around $17,000 an acre. 
 
We had a "ghost player" get on the bus and talk to us. He was one of the extras in the movie. He said that at first when he was offered the job he wasn’t sure he wanted it, but he loved baseball and thought it might be a good experience. He said because of that, it changed his life and gave him opportunities he never dreamed of. The extras helped Ray Liotta learn how to play baseball and he said the work ethic of Ray’s was amazing. He would stay in the field hours and had blisters on his hand from trying to learn how to bat. After the movie, the “ghosts" were invited to different things and they did lots of things in the past 34 years. They played baseball games with real baseball players, famous ones like Lou Brock. They toured all over the world talking about their experiences. He didn’t tell us this, but the lady at the chamber of commerce did — our ghost, Frank, and some of the others, went to visit soldiers who were stationed far from home and talked about their experiences with the move and baseball and tried to cheer up the troops. Frank said it enabled him to take his wife to places he otherwise could not have afforded. He’s retired from the post office, but still volunteers at the site because he likes people and likes sharing his story. He continued to say how blessed he was from having been given the opportunity of being a ghost or extra. 
 
 
I went to take photos and was stopped by a security guard for the MLB saying I could not take photos of the MLB stadium that is beyond the field for the movie. I wasn’t planning on taking photos of it. I wanted to take photos of the field and the house. Apparently the professional stadium will be hosting the Cubs and Reds this August, and the MLB plans to build a permanent stadium in the area soon. 
 
 
The doll museum was pretty extensive. I guess they have way over 2000 dolls, mostly donated. It is in the house of the town’s founder. We had a tea there with sweets and a cup of tea. The house was Victorian and pretty interesting. 
 
It’s impressive how this little town as really taken itself seriously and embraces progress. Just like the movie, build it and they will come, not only the ghosts, but lots of tourist to see this wonder. 

Sometimes Pinterest is my Arch Enemy

June 19th, 2022 at 06:42 pm

I will admit it, I like Pinterest. Too much. It seems to be my go to site some days when I'm not sure.

As a result, I've tried new recipes, tried new crochet patterns, and even found some cool genealogy templates. I like blue willow dishes and I have one very big "board" of all sorts of blue willow. Peter Davison is one of my favorite British actors and I have a board with stuff about him. 

I have even searched frugal living on Pinterest. There seem to be quite a few things to pin there as well, but I've noticed there are a lot of repeats. 

I can't decide if Pinterest is valuable or a time waster. Hopefully valuable since I tend to get some good info from it.

My latest project was to make an apron using men's ties. It took me two days since I sewed everything by hand. My machine is not heavy duty and sewing through ties would be too much for it. It's kind of cute. I found the ties for 10 cents each so I have 90 cents worth of ties and used some other stuff around here. I was pleased the way it turned out and plan to give it as a Christmas gift for a man who likes to cook, but hates those "girly" aprons. 

I will admit Pinterest often tempts to try new things and get involved in stuff that hopefully has some value. It just makes it way too easy to find things. That's a good thing, right?

Nice friends

June 14th, 2022 at 06:38 pm

A friend from church called this morning. He asked if we were going to be home. I said we were. He and his father brought over some aspargus and rhubarb. What an unexpected gift! Bet you know what we will be enjoying! 

A few wins

June 12th, 2022 at 07:09 pm

We don't have a lot of grocery stores where we live...Aldi, Kroger, Sav-a-lot, and Walmart are basically it. Target has some grocery items, but not a whole lot. So, we basically shop Aldi and Kroger and when Walgreens has something on sale nonperishable wise, I will go there. I felt like I had a savings win this week at Kroger -- between using some of the coupons I received after emailing some companies, using Kroger digital coupons, and buying stuff on sale, I saved over $35 -- over a third of what I would have spent. I can't do that every week, but it was nice to see that on the register tape. I then took photos for Fetch and Receipt Hog. Sadly, nothing I bought was for anything Ibotta was giving credit for.  Not extreme couponing, I know, but still a win. 

We planted some radishes earlier this spring and we had a chance to have some of them this week. We still have some that aren't quite ready, but I know the packet of seeds cost less than what a few bunches of radishes would have cost. Plus, I know when they were picked and where they were grown. We've also been enjoying some herbs. I picked our first green onion this week too. I don't know why, but I get awfully thrilled when we can enjoy some of the things in our garden. I'm going to consider this a win.

A number of years ago I wanted a Christmas tablecloth. Silly, I know. I looked at the cost of them and was gobsmacked. Plus, if I bought a cheap one, I've discovered after they are washed, they tend to shrink so using them over and over is often not possible. We were doing our weekly thrift store foray -- someone had donated some yards of Christmas fabric. It was less than $10 for quite a bit of material. I bought it, measured it, cut it, and made myself a Christmas table cloth. Plus, I had extra and made some table runners which I use on the sofa table, the pie safe, and the buffet. The other day I noticed I still had some scraps. I have been recovering my hot pads. I decided to recover one with the Christmas fabric. I looked at it and thought, maybe I could stitch around some of it and make it "pop." So, I did.  It took quite a bit of time, but it was relaxing for me to do this. I used a hot pad I had, material that was scrap, and quilting thread I had...basically using stuff up I had. I thought it turned out decently and other than my effort, wasn't expensive and I have something "new" to use. Hopefully the photo will come out below.  I'll call that a win as well. 

 

Happy Memorial Day

May 30th, 2022 at 03:33 pm

It's difficult to comprehend it is already Memorial Day. 2022 seems to be flying by.

I was very worried that our peonies were going to be bloomed out before, but there were some beautiful blossoms left. My grandmother and my mother always took peonies to the cemeteries for what was then called "Decoration Day." I have tried to continue the tradition. 

We always start with DH's mom and dad. I'm going to put it out there...whomever sold that cemetery plot to his mom knew it was a crummy one. It is on the side of steep hill, under a bunch of trees, and the way it is situated, little to no grass grows there. But moss grows on the gravestones. I spent over half and hour trying to clean the headstones and I still didn't get it all. But they looked better. I then picked up the twigs and stones around the stones and cleaned up the area. I always take a flag for DH's father's grave since he was a veteran. They used to put flags out at this cemetery for veterans, but no longer do that.  I did some research and hope to find something that will clean the stones safely and hopefully inhibit some of the lichen growth. We then went to the Lutheran cemetery where much of my maternal side is buried. I cleaned the stones there, but that was an easy task, then put out the flowers. Someone puts flags on the veterans' graves at this cemetery so that was good. I also put flowers on a the grave of a church friend; she no longer has relatives alive who live here; all are in Germany. DH always comments on the Polish and German names in the cemetery and I laugh because back when the cemetery was started, most Lutherans were German and/or Polish. My father's grave is about an hour away and we didn't get there, but plan to when we go to the nearby city for something. I would hope he'd understand that the trip with gas prices would be sort of expensive with gas prices they way they are. I would hope he'd be pleased I at least remembered him, even if I didn't visit his grave on the weekend.

The week rolling up the weekend was one spent doing chores around here. I cleaned and organized the garage. DH is not the most organized person and so if he offers to put something away, I know a mystery will often be ahead of me searching for it. But, I organized things as I tidied up. There were 5 golf balls in the garage. A number of years ago the park district decided to build a fancy golf course near us (there used to be a 9 hole small one on the other side of our subdivision away from us) and every once in a while we find a golf ball in our yard. I imagine the person who was unlucky enough to hit it over here didn't want to own up that his or her shot was that off course -- our property doesn't border the golf course so it would have been quite the wild shot. Anyway, a friend from church runs a group for veterans who like to golf, even if they are handicapped, so after I finished cleaning the garage, I aired up the tires on my bike and rode over to his house and put the bag of balls on his front porch. Maybe the guys can use them and save a couple of bucks. One of the reasons I wanted to organize the garage was to not only figure out what I have as far as canned goods, but also to make room for more. I have been stocking up here and there because I worry that come this fall, either food prices are going to skyrocket even more, or we will have shortages. I'm not hoarding, I don't think, I just buy an extra can of this and that when we go to the grocer's. 

We normally eat out Friday nights as our "date" night, but we haven't the past three weeks. Besides saving money on gas, some of the places we frequent have raised their prices so much and by the time one leaves a tip, even a cheaper meal is awfully expensive. 

I washed and detailed my car and cleaned out the inside. I try to do that at least once a year. I figure it helps save money if I keep the car looking nice as well as checking for any damage. During the winter the city and county uses a lot of salt on the roads and I like to try and get underneath the car as much as possible with the hose to make sure all the salt is washed away since it makes the car rust. 

Hope you have had a lovely weekend. I intend to grill out and have already started food prep for our meal. Do you have any Memorial Day plans?

A little canning and coupons and shopping

May 22nd, 2022 at 06:57 pm

Although I work at trying to keep the grocery bill down, even before inflation, I would buy fresh fruit, even out of season. I read that certain fruits are pretty darn healthy and I would justify it that good food helps with good health. So, each week I make a fruit salad and we have some each day. But, I often cannot use all the fruit, so I freeze the small bits. When I get enough, I make what I call multi-berry jam. I made that yesterday and realized 4 half quarts. 

Last week at the grocery I bought the smallest package of chicken, but even so, there was more than we could eat at one sitting. So, I trimmed some and used the extra to make chicken broth with some vegetables. I canned 3 quarts of that. It makes me happy to see those glass jars filled!

I think I wrote that I was writing companies asking for coupons for items we buy. So far I've received in the mail coupons from Chobani and Kimberly Clark and Yoplait emailed me some coupons. I was pleased they responded. 

I believe some of you have written that you use apps like Ibotta and Fetch. I use both and this week cashed in $50 from Fetch. I wanted a new hand mixer since mine quit working altogether. Kohls had a Kitchen Aid on sale for $59.99 and so after applying the $50, I paid around $15 and change for a mixer that is normally around $70. The one that died was a cheapie model and honestly, we got what we paid for. I decided I better upgrade and get something else. 

Overall, I felt like I had a good week on canning, coupons, and shopping. Just wish the stock market had been as positive. 

Where's the Smelling Salts?

May 18th, 2022 at 07:16 pm

DH and I did the weekly grocery trip. It seemed like everything we bought today has gone up except eggs. Eggs were down a dime. Granted, I had to buy a couple of things I haven't had to purchase in awhile, but oh my goodness, the prices! And we only bought a small package of chicken, a small pork loin, and a package of turkey sausage patties as far as meat. This was going to two stores, Aldi being one of them. We spent over $150! It's been a long time since we've spent that all at once, and normally it was a stock up trip. This was not a stock up trip! I told DH he needs to start bringing smelling salts with me in case I faint at the checkout! 

Before we left, we checked the Dow and it was down over 400. When we checked after we returned home and cleaned up after lunch, it had dropped over 1000. It looks like another losing month for our investments. 

We were watching some of the news and a couple of the commentators were saying that with the rapid increase in prices on so many things, people are not buying. I believe it. I know with the increase in gas prices, we are rethinking some of our errands and such. Today we went to the post office, and two grocery stores in one trip, trying to bunch things together. And we're lucky. We can afford to this. I honestly don't know how people who are already struggling are going to weather this. 

Extreme Couponing on the News

May 15th, 2022 at 06:22 pm

Last night there was a story that claimed it was "Extreme Couponing." That of course piqued my interest. I remember watching those shows, jealous as can be, because in our area we could never get all those things for next to nothing.

Let's just say the story wasn't really extreme couponing. It was on NBC if you want to search for it. It showed a lady who is using digital coupons from CVS to buy things and getting it for less, but not like the old days where people would get tons of stuff and pay next to nothing. The reporter went on to say gone are the days of clipping coupons since so much of it is done digitally and made a very brief mention of getting money back with companies like Ibotta. 

The news story said couponing has come back into fashion due to inflation. I wanted to say that a lot of us on the SA blogs still coupon when we can if it saves us money. 

I remember years ago watching these folks prepare for battle with their lists and getting all this stuff for little to nothing and being jealous. Of course a lot of it I don't need or use and unless it was something I could have donated to the food pantry, I wouldn't have even tried to get it. But it was fun watching them. We've never had decent coupons in our newspaper; I discovered years ago that there are different coupon sets. Our newspaper must have bought the cheapest set because the coupon inserts were mostly ads to buy stuff like Franklin Mint and things like that. DH used to get the Chicago Trib and they had better coupons, but then they quit putting them in the paper downstate. 

I check the digital coupons for the places I shop and use them whenever I can. I also use Fetch, Ibotta, and Receipt Hog, but the problem wtih these, I don't buy a lot of the things to get the credits they promote. 

I have been emailing companies and asking for coupons. Some are really very good about sending them. Chobani will send you some each month. One company informed me they keep their prices low so they don't have to provide coupons. I thought, well, maybe I'll find a company that has the same prices and provides coupons. 

DH bought some Miracle Gro soil a few weeks ago and I was happy to see they still do a rebate on it. I don't go and buy stuff to just use the coupon or send in the rebate, but will use these if it is something we would normally purchase. 

So, do you use coupons? Do you use them more now or less?

Creative Gardening and frugal cooking

May 8th, 2022 at 09:46 pm

It's spring and that time when DH usually puts in a garden. This year we are looking for different places to plant besides the normal spots. With the way prices are at the grocery, we want to make sure we use every onion set and every seed in the seed packet. 

We don't have a huge garden area per se. But today I took an old kids' wagon we have had sitting in the back and we put dirt in it and I planted radishes. It is deep enough for them. Then we dug up around this one area that wasn't too big and planted onion sets. I had planted radishes, lettuce, and carrots a week ago in some spare pots we had sitting around. 

All winter I have been saving tea our of tea bags, coffee grounds, and egg shells and putting them in our garden areas. I guess I think I'm not only eliminating some trash, but also enriching the soil. 

We had an awful lot of rain in the past week, so DH can't plant his tomatoes quite yet. I figure the rain helped put those tea, coffee, and egg shells into the ground. We had worked them in with a spade last weekend.

We went to an Amish bulk food store a couple of weeks ago and I bought some white rye flour. I mix it with all purpose flour and bake loaves of bread. I think between the flour, water, sugar, yeast, and oil, the loaves are less than a dollar each. We had invited a couple over for supper the other night and she was shocked that I had baked bread from scratch. I commented it wasn't that hard, wasn't that expensive, and I know what's in it. She looked in some of my cabinets and was equally shocked with all the stuff I had canned. We've used quite a bit of it already but we still have quite a bit. I had her try some of the lavender jelly I made last fall and she asked me why I would even think about using lavender and I said, well, DH grew some and I used it for jelly and also for an all purpose cleaner, and why not use something he grows. He planted it originally because we read it was popular with butterflies. So, we figure that is good for both the butterflies and us. 

Trip of a Lifetime

May 2nd, 2022 at 03:36 pm

For years we saved and saved and saved. We wanted to go to England. Then when we thought we were getting close enough to do so, you know what hit and shut down the world.

We decided to start planning anyway. We didn't have passports so a little over a year ago we did all the necessary stuff to get them ordered. We received them a year ago this month. We then went to a travel agent to discuss what we wanted to do. Neither of us have ever been out of the country so we wanted to go with someone who knew far more than we. We made our wish list. We didn't want to go with a tour company because we didn't want to go to Ireland or Scotland or Wales in addition to England. 

I wanted to go to Manchester because my dad's paternal side lived there in the late 1880s. I had Googled the address and the house is still around. I Googled the address of the restaurant he ran before having to file for bankruptcy and that building was also around and being used as a jewelry store. I wanted to see these places and see the city where they lived before immigration.

DH and are big fans of the series, "All Creatures Great and Small" so of course Yorkshire was also on the list. 

Then, of course, London. We emailed back and forth with the travel agent...instead of 7 days total, could we bump it up to 9 so we'd have 7 days to see things? We discussed it and said yes.

So, the Monday after Easter we started our journey, our trip of a lifetime. We were excited and scared at the same time. We had a written itinerary from our travel agent who had worked with a travel agent in England. It was very organized. 

After the many hour plane trip across "the pond" we landed at Heathrow. We then made a connecting flight to Manchester. I sat at the window of the plane and at my first glimpse of Manchester from the air, I'll admit it, I became teary. No one I know in the family still lives there, but it was unbelievable that I was going to be there. We were met by a driver who had our names on a card at the airport who drove us to our hotel. Talk about feeling like we were important! We stayed at a very nice hotel, walked around the first night, and the second day took a taxi and in 77 minutes saw both the house and the building the restaurant had once been housed in. We also saw some parts of Manchester before being dropped off and walking around a downtown area. We had afternoon tea at the hotel. And it was all good!

 

Here is the photo of us in front of the house:

The third day we took a train from Manchester to York. Finding the right platform was a bit of a challenge -- you have to either climb stairs or take the elevator or lift and go down and come back up, but we succeeded, found the right train, and could sit back and relax and watch the countryside. We walked to our hotel, left our bags, and was met by a driver/tour guide who took us around Yorkshire. We visited Thirsk which is made famous by James Herriot and visited the house/vet office. We had a lovely lunch at a wonderful place called "Upstairs Downstairs." DH and I shared a sandwich which was huge and included a small salad and coleslaw. And the tea! It was delightful. DH loved that they offered both brown sugar and white sugar and he has taken a shine to the brown sugar in his tea. We were then driven through many small villages, shown the ruins of the Bryland Abbey, and saw the lovely pastoral countryside.

Our fourth day we took a train to London and had a fancy hotel near the Palace. We had afternoon tea at the hotel and more wonderful tea as well as sandwiches and sweet treats. A Blue Badge guide met us at the hotel and we did  a walking tour. We saw Westminster Abbey, Parliment, St. Martin in the Fields, St. Paul's Cathedral, amongst other things and she dropped us off at the Tower of London. We had a private tour of the Tower of London and the Crown Jewels. It was delightful that the three guides there, one for outside, one for inside, and one for the actual jewels loved their jobs and sharing their knowledge. 

On our fifth day we took a bus tour to Windsor Castle, Stonehenge, and Oxford. The tour guide was a man after my own heart; after teaching here all these years and he knew how to guide and give us hints for the easiest and best way of doing things. It was a long day, but it was interesting seeing all the grand things at Windsor, then wondering how Stonehenge was built, then going into what is considered academia of Oxford. DH loves the Inspector Morse and Inspector Lewis series so it was wonderful to be able to walk around Oxford and recognize some of the scenes we had viewed. 

On our sixth day we started with the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace. I was amused that the band played music from "Mary Poppins" for this. This was pretty neat to see all the pageantry and tradition. As we stood by the fence, a family came up and we started talking. They were from Albany, NY, and this trip was a birthday present for their 12 year old. We talked about the best places to get our Covid tests in order to return to the U.S. We were fortunate, there was a testing site almost across the street from the hotel and we could make an appointment. They asked how much was it and I said 23 pounds each. They said the airport charged more as did the pharmacy -- the pharmacy was asking 60 pounds each and there was 4 of them. So, they were delighted to learn of the place we had an appointment with. Then there was a couple next to us on the other side and they were from Charleston, S.C. and we visited with them as we waited as well. That really was nice. They were there on a whim -- decided to hop a plane and come and see the sites. 

After the changing of the guard, we went to a 3 course lunch at the Game Bird at the Stafford. I felt like I was rich. We were waited on and served such delicious food and treated so well. We had three types of salmon that was thinly sliced served with toast. It was sliced in front of us. Then they brought out this beautiful standing beef rib roast and it was sliced in front of us and we were served roasted potatoes, roasted carrots, broccoli, cauliflower casserole, and Yorkshire pudding. Dessert was a small oval of ice cream and this type of cake ball which had a hard chocolate shell. This is an aside, but there were two other couples who were seated next to us. They came in slighty after we did. I guess we have Midwestern Manners becasue we looked our servers in the face and thanked them repeatedly and asked questions. These two couples treated the servers with aloofness. I noticed that we received the best service of the three of us, and I looked at the roast beef that was served to the table next to us, and we most certainly got the prime pieces compared to what they were brought. I guess I'm not too proud to be nice. 

Next we went to Westminster Abbey for Evensong. England is 6 hours ahead of us in Central Illinois so at 3 p.m. in London, it was 9 a.m. back home and our brothers and sisters at Mt. Calvary Lutheran were having church at the same time. It was most certainly a wonderful service. The choir and cantor were amazing and that pipe organ! The choir master knew how to use the acoustics and would have the choir end in such a way that the last note would reverberate off the walls for a delightful effect. We walked back to our hotel and discussed what a fabulous day it had been.

Lunch at the Game Bird:

Our last day was busy with getting Covid tests, touring the Japan exhibit at the Queen's Gallery, and then walking tour of the sites that were Beatle related. We visited the building the Beatles had owned and did the rooftop concert in a very fancy men's clothing district, saw the Abbey Road studios and had our photo taken crossing where the Beatles crossed. Our last evening in London was a dinner cruise on the Thames River. It was fabulous seeing London at sunset and then the lights as it became dark. 

Our crossing Abbey Road:

I know we often discuss how to save money and investments and all that, but we did not scrimp on this trip. We spent a lot. We did a lot. Am I sorry? Heck no. All those coupons, all those rebates, all those leftovers, all those times I made do, it was a way for us to be able to fully fund and pay for this trip and not go into debt. 

My only regret -- the Queen didn't invite us to tea! But, we were told she wasn't in London when we were there. OK, I'm kidding about the tea invitation, but it truly was a trip of a lifetime!

Long time no blog

April 15th, 2022 at 08:20 pm

It's been a while since I've posted. Some is because I didn't have much to say, but the biggest reason is I couldn't do anything besides call up the page -- I couldn't comment on anyone else's posts either. It is very frustrating.

Things are just going along here. DH's ornamental pear bloomed and it is a thing of beauty. It's too cold to plant anything yet, but he's eager and I'm eager to start having home grown stuff. 

I continue to work with our church's looming group. Most loom knit hats and I used to, but now I crochet scarves since we give hats and scarves to our preschool and then give scarves with the hats as we have them. We are working to have 110 hats and scarves for CASA for our Lutheran High School's Student Council to distribute. We have 70 so far. We are also making dish cloths for a local food pantry to put in the Christmas baskets. Last year we had 200 made, but I think we may surpass that this year. We already have 124 made. I did make some and put in the Easter baskets for a woman's shelter we gave "Easter baskets" to last week and we usually give some for Christmas too. One lady knits those and I crochet mine. We figure getting something new and colorful is nice in the Christmas baskets.

It should be a quiet Easter for us, but that's fine. At least this year we can have services and attend which is a blessing.

Happy Easter!

Home Fix Ups

March 27th, 2022 at 06:44 pm

Each month we put money in an account that we designate as our home fund. We have other savings accounts too, but we have used it to pay for things like a new roof, a new driveway, and a new sink. Honestly, I cannot imagine not having some savings to pay for stuff, expected or unexpected. 

We have lived in this house 24 years. When we bought it, we figured we wanted to stay since it is a ranch, has few steps to get in, and is in a decent neighborhood. But things wear out. A friend from church has a son who has a remodeling business so we contacted him for a quote on updating a tub/shower, bathroom floor, fixing the wall in the bathroom, fixing a dishwasher problem (it wasn't the dishwasher, but the installer problem), and replacing a light in the closet. We talked to him and received a quote before Christmas. Like everyting prices have gone up since the last time we had anything of any magnitude done, and we had to wait until his crew was free, as well as when he got everything ordered. So, for the past two weeks we have been under construction. The crew was respectful not only to us, but to our house. They ran into a couple of problems, and we figured them out, but the house was built in 1979, so we assumed they would find some issues. At least nothing was major. They cleaned up after themselves at the end of each day. 

DH has a light in his closet that works. We have a new tub/shower that is lower than the old tub which was quite high and we have grab bars. We have a stool that seems to work far better than the old one. There is new flooring and the squeak that was under that floor is gone with some extra bracing. And my favorite part -- my dishwasher works! It was an easy fix -- we bought the machine in August of 2020 and paid a "professional" to install it. Twice. It never worked right. We had the warranty company come out and they said it wasn't the dishwasher. The fix was there are levelers on the bottom of the dishwasher and the installer never bothered to use them so the dishwasher sat at a weird angle and wouldn't run since it wasn't balanced. 

Was this expensive? You bet! Was it worth it! Definitely! It also has a great side effect...I've been cleaning and decluttering as well. Saving that money made it far easier than getting a loan. 

Yarn, Reusing, and Gardening

February 25th, 2022 at 08:48 pm

Recently I saw a little plaque that said, "Queen of Yarn." I feel like that sometimes when I look at the yarn I brought home from church. I continue to work on scarves and dish cloths for our Stitches of Love group. We have promised 110 hats and scarves to two non profits for next year, but we will have far more hats than that. Scarves take a little longer to make than hats. The dish cloths will go to a food pantry to put in the Christmas baskets.

Besides the crocheting, I also recovered two other hot pads with the fabric remnants. So, I have three new to me hot pods. I have been saving the bags the newspaper has come in due to bad weather and plan to make a wind sock out of them for the yard. 

Am I the only one delighted when something I buy comes in a glass bottle or jar? I'm so sick of plastic stuff. I recycle everything I can, but I wonder if it truly gets recycled. A lady from church is saving the caps off of plastic bottles to give to some charity that sends them in to make park benches. So, I made a newspaper sleeve to save them in. 

I bought a book at the thrift store today about small gardens. If food prices continue to rise, we may need to plant more things this spring and summer and this book supposedly gives ideas on small area gardening. 

We lost a lot of money in our retirement investments last month. I'm sure this month will be more of the same. Kind of scary how quickly it can drop.

I think if inflation continues as the chance of even more war and conflict, we will need to tighten our belts even more and continue to looks for ways to reuse things and find more reasonable alternatives.

I am praying for Ukraine and our world leaders.

This and That

February 13th, 2022 at 10:30 pm

This is going to be a mish mash of topics. I apologize in advance.

I don't know if I'm the only one, but the news about Russia and Ukraine is unsettling me. I know like there's not much I can do to even resolve this, but pray which I have been doing, but when I feel out of control I do something to give me control and that is bake. DH always knew when I had a bad day at work because I would bake sweet muffins of some sort when I was fixing supper. I explained that although I could not control what happened in my life, I knew putting certain ingredients together following the recipe would result in the same product: muffins. There was a comfort to that. 

A friend gave me 5 books in a tearoom mystery series and the last one talked about tea breads. I researched them since there was no recipe in the book and discovered one that you make with Earl Grey tea. I like that type of tea so I was delighted to try it. Instead of one big loaf, I made 3 small ones and gave two away. Since Valentine's Day is coming up, I also made some applesauce bread and gave those away with some cards. Here is the recipe I used and it came from the Food and Wine website:

Earl Grey Tea Bread

2 single serving Earl Grey tea bags

1 1/4 cup boilng water

2 cups prunes, diced

2 large eggs

1/2 cup plus 2 T light brown sugar

1 1/2 t orange zest

2 1/2 c all purpose flour

2 1/2 t baking poweder

1/4 t salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Brew tea with tea bags and hot water. Add prunes until some tea is absorbed and prunes are softened. Pull out and discard tea bags and let cool.

Whisk together eggs in a large bowl. Add the brown sugar and orange zest. Stir in the tea and prunes. Add flour, baking powder, and salt. Gently fold in until there are no flour streaks. Pour into buttered loaf pan. Bake until skewer comes out clean approximately 1 hour to 1 hour, ten minutes). Let sit on wire rack for ten minutes and then remove from pan and let the bread cool on wire rack. Serve with softened butter. 

Optional, but I did do this suggestion and was to toast it lightly. It was amazing! 

 

Besides the bread baking, I did some frugal stuff around here. I still had some material left from the last hot pad I covered, so I sewed a cover for another one. I will say it did brighten up the drawer I keep them in; they look so much nicer and newer. I have been saving and washing bread bags and using them to store things as well as marinate meat. I'm also one of those folks who will wash and reuse foil? Are you?

Our newspaper comes in an orange plastic bag when the weather is bad and a few years ago I made a windsock out of them using an old yogurt container. I still have the old one and it is pretty beat up, so I have been saving the bags and plan to make another one for this year. I have also been looking for sites on reusing things as much as I can. We already use cloth bags for the grocery when we can. For awhile during the worst of Covid, they wouldn't let us bring them in. I wash mine frequently, but I understand, because you never know what kind of homes they come from. And I believe I've mentioned my love affair with glass jars, especially Mason jars. I am sorry so many places use plastic jars because I really don't like them. I'm sure it is cheaper, except I won't reuse them for food stuff. 

I also spent an afternoon clearing out some papers in my desk. It was long past the time I should have done that. I figured if I hadn't used or needed them in the past year, I didn't need to keep them. Many will go into the shred pile, but most went to recycling. Kind of sad how I like to hold on to silly things. But I did feel better doing some decluttering, even if it was a small space. 

This was my mish mash of the week. I kept busy as you can tell. 

 

Snow Days

February 6th, 2022 at 08:51 pm

This week was not a fun one as far as the weather. Here in Central Illinois we started with a lot of rain Tuesday afternoon, which then became ice, then it started snowing. We received over 11 inches of snow from Wednesday through Thursday and then we had high winds which meant we had huge drifts. Then, as if this wasn't enough, the temperature dropped. Sadly our city road crews did not keep up with things and we were snowbound for three days. Fortunately we did not lose power. I had already slipped to the store Monday morning when they started talking multiple inches because I wanted to avoid the panic shopping. I didn't think we'd be able to do our usual Wednesday morning grocery shopping. I didn't get fresh fruit other than bananas and tangerines since we still had some, but I did pick up a loaf of bread and a half gallon of milk as well as some yogurt. 

Because of the extreme cold and the ice under the snow, I did not even try to shovel. On Friday a kind neighbor came and used his snow blower and cleaned out our driveway. DH and I did the sidewalk from the driveway to the front door.  The city snow plow didn't come until Saturday morning around 6 a.m. Our streets were so deep, we couldn't have gotten out even with our driveway cleared.

I spent some of the time doing genealogy, but I also spent some time sewing. I am hard on pot holders. I cook a lot and I use them a lot and although I try to keep them clean, I still spill or touch something and therefore I wash them a lot. I had two that I've kept for sentimental reasons. They weren't really pretty or anything, but my mom had given them to me years and years ago. But, even after many washings, they looked kind of icky and they were getting thinner and thinner. The stuffing inside had compressed. I looked at them and being frugal, I decided I didn't want to throw them away. So, I sewed them together and then made a cover to recover them of some leftover material. I did it all by hand because I didn't want to get the sewing machine out. It kept me busy Thursday afternoon and I felt like I had made something out of nothing so I counted it as a win.

We were able to get out yesterday and to be honest, after being homebound for over 3 days, it wore me out. We did hit the store for some fresh fruit and kitty litter. We use the kitty litter on our driveway since salt is so corrosive. People were shopping like crazy and fortunately we didn't need any bread because there wasn't any on the shelf. I guess Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday during the start of the snow, the shelves were bare at most stores so it made me feel good I have canned what I did this last summer, plus I buy extra things when it is on sale. 

We have a Facebook page for our subdivision and a dad said his son wanted some money and he said this was the perfect time to go out and make some. He offered a deal for his 12 year old to come and shovel the snow at the end of our driveways for $10 that the snow plow had left. We jumped at that offer! It was darn cold out there so it was a pleasure to give this kid some work and some money. DH gave him a little more since he came on time and was police and respectful. 

I'm ready for winter to end!

Old fashioned skills

January 30th, 2022 at 07:35 pm

Handwritten notes, button sewing, and leftovers -- what do they all have in common?

I believe they are old fashioned skills.

A week or so ago, a friend and I were talking about writing thank you notes and how we still like to send and receive those thank you notes in the mail. Recently I read an opinion column where a man said writing thank you letters as well as letters to companies have resulted in some grand things for him. He complained to a CEO of a company that he had had the repair people out over and over and eventually had to fix something himself. He said he didn't get nasty or threatening, but wondered if the CEO would at least reimburse him for his doing his own repair. The CEO apologized and went a step further and not only paid what it cost the man for the parts, but gave him some of the money back he had paid them initially. 

I think we can agree with the cost of food going up due to inflation, we are trying to squeeze more and more meals out of what we buy and make. I've always used leftovers either for lunches or what I tease DH as our buffet dinners. Some of the meals you get when you out are so huge, so not bringing the leftovers home is almost wasteful. I see lots of recipes for making use of stuff and I know that is going to be the case for us tonight. I made a huge pot of vegetable soup this week. We have had one meal already. We plan to have another tonight. A couple of days ago I fixed spaghetti and I don't put the sauce with the spaghetti, but serve them separately. We didn't eat all the spaghetti so I will chop it into small pieces and will add it to the soup as well as the little bit of leftover sauce. It will make the soup a little different than what we initially had. I am predicting we will have enough soup to freeze for another meal as well. I know I keep a bag in the freezer for leftover vegetables, you know a spoonfull of cooked carrots, or a few green beans, and I often use that to make vegetable soup with the other stuff. 

I recently ran across an article about sewing on buttons. Here is the url if you want to read it: 

https://www.southernliving.com/culture/do-you-know-how-to-sew-on-a-button?utm_campaign=southernliving_southernliving&utm_content=link&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_term=61f48c445ce2c700010cd246&fbclid=IwAR1kSLiAfLIJ8czHsEJr2COkjBykeFsiZ0qogXpexr6CyA3rUB3JbMB5IhI

Anyway, I just can't imagine taking it to someone and paying them to sew on a button. I cut off buttons of stuff that is no longer wearable and keep them in case we lose a button so I can hopefully find one that will work. A few years ago a woman I worked with popped the button off her slacks. She said she would be throwing them out and buying new. I told her to bring the slacks and the button and I would sew them on, but she refused. I thought it was wasteful. Before teachers were required to do all the state testing and basically regimented on what they had to teach and when, I used to do an art project where we would "decorate" felt Christmas trees by sewing on buttons. I figured that was a sneaky way of teaching a life skill. I would ask my friends for any stray buttons they had and I would teach the kids how to thread a needle and sew on buttons. I had to stop doing that since administrators felt since it wasn't on the state test, it wasn't a worthwhile thing to teach. 

I like reading articles on different skills and what people used to do. So  many were to save money and make do with what one had. 

Food Talk

January 16th, 2022 at 08:24 pm

So many of my conversations revolve around food. Even online ones, it seems.

I was very tickled today when another couple came near to us at church (we still socially distance and wear masks), but asked if either of us liked fried mush. Well, the mister and my husband went on and on singing the praises and how much they loved fried mush with syrup. I reminded them not to drool in the pews! 

Another friend that I rarely see, but so much of our emails revolve around food; we both chuckle over that. We share recipes too. 

Turning philosophical I think food is often a manifestation of love. I know if someone is ill, I try to drop off a meal. Someone did that years ago when I had surgery and it meant a lot to me. During Covid and we couldn't do anything as far as funeral dinners at church, some of us were asked to make some food and the food was dropped off to grieving families so they at least knew they were loved and thought of. For birthdays, it's a big thing to have a favorite meal and a birthday cake. I baked my own this year and I teased my husband there's something really wrong that I have to bake my own. But, it enabled me to share some cake with friends, kind of like we used to do when we were in school and brought birthday treats. It was mostly packaging it up and leaving it for people, but that is OK too. I at least could share some. 

This goes even further when we provide money or nonperishables for food pantries so others may eat. Or providing coffee, tea, bottled water, and packaged snacks for the homeless shelter. Although one isn't telling these people they are loved, hopefully they realize someone thinks enough of them to provide these items. 

Many of our holidays and celebrations revolve around food. Thanksgiving, of course, but then again Christmas and Easter. Valentine's Day is chocolates, but we like to go out for a special dinner as well as on our anniversary. 

One of the ways I demonstrate my love for my husband is fixing him meals he likes. I hit the jackpot last week when I made chicken pot pie, including the pie crust from scratch. He went on and on about it. I was pleased he liked it.

I told DH that so much of my time is spent in the kitchen because I make so many things from scratch. So, I'm letting my actions speak louder than words, perhaps. 

Considering how many people are thinking and saying negative things to each other, I feel talking about food is a safe subject.

This and That

January 2nd, 2022 at 08:57 pm

Hope y'all had a grand New Year. We didn't do much as far as celebrating, but that was fine. We had a good dinner and then watched a DVD and headed to bed at our normal time. We aren't party people, I guess. 

I've been catching up on the blogs and I must admit most who have their resolutions or goals stated have some good ones. 

It seems a big chunk of my time is spent in the kitchen, trying to stretch our food budget as much as possible and still eat healthy. A friend gave us a fruit basket for Christmas and I used some of it to make other things. We ate some of the fancier apples outright, but I used the other apples to make applesauce and apple juice. The oranges were huge and juicy and used them and some leftover tangerines we had purchased and made orange marmalade. Some of our friends made party mix so that's been a great snack and each one is a little different. Besides cooking, I washed the cabinet doors and then used orange oil on them (we have oak cabinets that aren't painted) to revitalize them. I then cleaned off the counters and washed them and the back splash and it made everything seem so fresh. We really need to think about replacing the ceiling fan and light in the kitchen. They will be 24 years old and although they both still work, I just know it will die and we'll be hard pressed to get a replacement and someone to install it. That is the major source of light in our kitchen; our home was built in 1979 and although we replaced the light over the sink, we don't have many other lights for the kitchen. 

Yesterday the financial person from church called. I couldn't imagine why should we would be calling me on New Year's Day. She was at church working on some things and it seems that our Stitches of Love group was sent a check by a local couple as a gift to their daughter. I guess every year they have her pick out a group or charity she thinks would benefit and she chose us. I was gobsmacked to say the least. I don't know her and she doesn't attend our church. It was a sizeable check too. What a blessing!

I'm almost embarrassed to admit this, but I am struggling with getting rid of something. When I was a little girl, my grandmother gave me a pillow made of down. I quit using it years and years ago because due to allergy testing, it was found I'm allergic to it. But, I've held on to it. I was cleaning out a closet the other day and there it sat and I pulled it out and told myself I needed to get rid of it. How ridiculous is it that I struggle to get rid of it? I decided to research and it is decades past its prime so hopefully I can get it to the garbage can. I feel so foolish!

 


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