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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?

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. 

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. 

 

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!

 

Mish Mash

September 4th, 2021 at 07:06 pm

Sadly, I think my canning is over for this year. I think we have enough, but I always like to have extra on hand. DH had a good tomato crop, but he grew more heirlooms and they don't produce as many. But they sure were tasty. 

A few months ago I found this small weaving loom at a thrift store. Someone donated some rug yarn at church and no one wanted to use it -- a couple of skeins are not going to make much of anything plus it is rough stuff to work with. I decided to use it and make a scrubby for myself. I'm almost finished. I plan to donate the loom when I finish because it is OK, but nothing I really want to use. I did use one of the skeins to make a crocheted basket and one of the other ladies wanted it so I gave it to her. 

We continue to work on hats and scarves with the church knitting group. I finished a scarf and had some yarn left over. I saw a pattern using the rings from milk jugs and have been saving a few of them. You crochet around them to make a mini wreath ornament. So, I did that since the yarn was green, then made a dish cloth and used up the rest of the yarn. We have been making dish cloths to donate to one of the food pantries and women's shelter. A friend of mine is involved with the local CASA group and asked if we could provide hats for the kids so that is one of the groups we intend to give the hats to. 

I had some yarn left over from a hat and I used it to crochet a small bag to hold soap. I guess you can put a whole bar in it, but on a couple of the frugal sites, you put in parts of bars and then use that to keep the pieces together and lather up. I made myself one a few months ago and it did work. So, the bag is going to a friend for Christmas, but I'm going to include a whole bar of soap with hers. I also crocheted a dish cloth and then a smaller dish cloth and attached it to a scrubby. I'm not making as many Christmas presents this year simply because I haven't had the initiative. A lady and I were talking about this at church. She's a big crafts person and she said lately she hasn't felt like doing much of anything either. I'm wondering if the fact the Pandemic seems to never end and if we are just getting mind weary of it all. 

We received some much needed rain here today. DH is delighted because he was worrying about the yard browning. He hopes it will bring it back. I used the time inside to clean and organize the linen closet which I have been procrastinating about. It wasn't as bad I as thought, but I still was dreading it. 

The first Tuesday of the month, our Walgreens has senior day where if you are 55 or older, you can get a percentage off of anything not on sale. This doesn't include prescriptions however. But, I often try to make a list of things we use and often are not on sale and save a bit stocking up. It's fall and I'm in my stock up mode anyway on so many levels. Anyway, I'm making my list for that. We don't need a ton, but saving a bit here and there is always pleasant. 

Summer Time Happenings

August 22nd, 2021 at 05:54 pm

It's been a great summer of eating well. Between DH's garden and our CSA share box, we've had some marvelous eats! Hopefully I will get enough canned and preseved for a good winter as well. Today, at church, one of our pew buddies said his dad picked two large zucchini and did I want them? Of course I wanted them! If nothing else, I will shred them and freeze it. I bought the share box to force myself to try new things as well as enjoy some of our favorites. I never thought DH would go along with it, but sometimes we don't have a starch for supper -- just some protein and some vegetables and fruit for dessert. That makes me happy because I think we probably eating far better.

I accidently sent a photo of one of our suppers to a friend in an email. I meant to send it to another one and autofill got me. As I hit "send" I realized it was the wrong person. So, I had to send a follow up "oops" email, but then we started talking about what we both had for supper that night. He then mentioned something to do with genealogy, which got me to thinking, and I discovered he is distantly related to my husband after doing a bunch of research. That's kind of interesting. At least to me. 

I found a new author of a mystery series. It's about someone who runs a coffee cart. It has some interesting coffee recipes in the back that I think I might want to try. I've getting a little more adventuresome when it comes to cooking, probably because I did so much of it when stuff what shut down. I fear it's going to come to that as Covid cases continue to rise. 

I did some closet cleaning yesterday and have a bunch of things to donate to a thrift store. I need to do some more decluttering too around the house. I was proud of myself yesterday. We went to an antique mall and although there was a blue willow tea pot that I did not own, I did not get it. I didn't need it and honestly, don't have room to display it. I admired it and walked on. 

DH just went to go water the garden, so I may need to get myself into the kitchen in case there are some tomatoes that need to be processed and canned. At least I hope so!

Hope your summer is going well!

April is almost history

April 28th, 2021 at 08:20 pm

I am finding it difficult to believe that April is almost over. I'm not really sure what has happened with this month or even the "new" year so far, but boy, time is just flying by. Perhaps it is my age that makes it seem like this.

I've been staying busy doing things around here. I thought I was so clever today -- I planned to vacuum, dry mop, then wet mop the hardwood and vinyl and vaccum the two rooms with carpeting, and why not kill two birds with one stone and put one of those charcoal masks on my face. Well, all that labor made me perspire so now I'm trying to cool off so the mask will harden so I can peel it off. I guess the term "Epic Fail" would ring true.  Oh, well. The charcoal mask was a freebie that came with something else I bought. 

DH planted green onions and they didn't pop up last week due to cold temps and snow, but are really peeping out now which is good. We usually do two or three plantings through the growing season. 

We donated some things to a local thrift store. It used to be you could donate 6 days a week, but due to Covid, they only have 3 days and two different times in order to donate. But, it was nice getting rid of some things. Hopefully they will be good sellers and bring in money for our charity that runs the thrift store.

My church is hoping to have a rummage sale in June. Normally they have a luncheon and offered baked goods, but cannot this year for obvious reasons. I certainly hope we do make some money to give to the charities our Ladies' Guild wants to sponsor. Last fall, since we couldn't bake cookies for our cookie walk, and baked goods to sell, we were asked to donate what we would have spent on the ingredients so our Ladies Guild at least had some money to donate to a couple of charities because as I understand it, many of them were feeling the pinch of not getting enough donations. I am doing the PR for the sale so hopefully we will gets quite a few customers. 

Well, that's basically my life in a nutshell. Hope yours is going well!

 

3 C's

February 8th, 2021 at 12:28 am

Not a whole lot of new stuff to report. Been doing the cooking/cleaning/crafting circuit mostly. 

I am spending more and more time in the kitchen it seems because for some reason, we eat. Smile OK, kidding aside. In order to keep things moving along, I am challenging myself to try and do different things. For example, yesterday I made orange marmalade. I had some extra oranges and two extra lemons and a box of pectin and some sugar, so why not? I was pleased with the results. I'm trying to make things that are healthy too. DH loves to snack after supper so I made an apple crumble so the topping was made with oatmeal. Not low calorie, but he doesn't need to watch his waistline and he would eat something sweet anyway, so figured I was helping him eat a little healthier. I made rye biscuits yesterday just to see how they would turn out. We had some with the beef stew I made yesterday and heated up for tonight's supper.

You wouldn't think with just the two of us I would need to clean as often, but it seems we tend to track in way too much stuff. Plus I'm kind of partial to clean clothes and sheets and towels. 

As far as crafting I have a big project, well for me a big one started. I bought one of those embroidery kits for a throw that after you embroider, you then quilt. I finished the embroidery part, now I am doing the quilting part. It is a bit pricey, but I am learning something different so I figure it might be worth it.  I can only do it so long before my eyes get tired. I loom knit and crochet some too. I have six scarves made for my church group. I'm trying to use up yarn I have and yarn the church has so I don't go out and buy stuff. 

I paid some bills today and was pleased we have a bit of a surplus as far as cash. Sometimes I worry that I've forgotten to pay something, but I look back and see we are where we should be. Maybe because we aren't going out and doing a whole lot it is saving us money. 

Catch Up

November 29th, 2020 at 08:45 pm

Hope everyone had a terrific Thanksgiving. It was a quiet one here, just the two of us. Our Pastor asked if we had a quiet one and I said, especially since my husband doesn't talk very much when he's eating. Pastor laughed out loud and said he was a kindred spirit.

I can't say we've honestly saved a lot of money the past few months. It seems although we aren't going anywhere on short trips or anything, other things have come up. Unexpected dentist bills and I needed new glasses -- mine were five years old and it was time -- I wasn't seeing very well. Currently our governor has said no indoor dining and although some places are offering tables outdoors, I don't like to be windblown or get super cold while trying to eat, so we aren't even doing that. We did some of the take out last spring when he instituted this rule and honestly, by the time we got the food home, it just wasn't as good, even if I reheated it. So, I'm on KP until further notice. I know our grocery bills have gone up because I have been trying to make different things so we don't get bored eating the same stuff. We did have a wild outing last week -- our grocery store choices are limited here in our city so we drove 45 minutes to Springfield and went to a large store where they have other things that our stores do not carry. It was kind of nice finding some things we like that normally cannot get. I have gotten more creative as far as reworking leftovers. I try to cook things that make more than one meal not only to save money, but also so I can save myself some time. 

My Christmas shopping is finished. Other than a few items I ordered online, most were purchased locally. I know a lot of people love the online shopping and convenience, but I guess I'm old enough to not care for it that much. Plus, I like to support local retailers. I just mailed over 50 Christmas cards. That was an ordeal -- addressing them all. For those I don't see either in person or on social media, I wrote letters in the cards. The U.S. Postal system ought to be pleased I bought so many stamps, right?

I have one more delivery for our knitting group at church. We made over 1,100 hats this year. Yes, that is less than the past couple of years, but honestly, the fact we hit over 1000 with the fact we didn't meet for months is amazing. Most of the ladies worked at home on hats.  Three schools were "adopted" and we also made 130 for a local group that puts together packages to send to soldiers. We included scarves and also bought 130 tuna packets to go in their boxes. We made some to give our cancer center for them to put out for patients to take too. We made over 200 dish cloths to go in food baskets that one of the food pantries gives out for Christmas and we also gave some to a women's homeless shelter as well as took some food there too. I need to sew buttons and beads on to some fidget sleeves and drop them off at a couple of nursing homes. So, take that Covid 2020 -- you didn't stop our group, Stitches of Love! Our ladies' group at church isn't having their holiday bazaar. We normally sell cookies by the pound and usually make quite a bit of money that we use for missions as well as other baked goods and gently used Christmas items. So, it was suggested that we donate the money we normally would have spent making the cookies and baked goods to the ladies' group so they have some money for some of the missions they support. So, other than some baking I plan to do to share with friends, most of my big Christmas stuff is done. I do need to wrap and mail two packages which I hope to get done this week. But, I have the stuff already so that shouldn't be an issue. 

I finally decided to go through two piles of papers in my area. I call my little room the bear room because I have some teddy bears there. I used to collect them. I gave away three fourths of them, but I kept some that had the most emotional hold. So, instead of my office, it's the bear room. I have a bad habit of letting papers pile up thinking I'll get to them later. Well, later was today. Yay! Lots went to the shred pile and some to recycling and my pile has diminished. 

So, that's what I've been doing. Nothing exciting, but it is the day to day living we all experience, right?

 

 

More Pantry Follies and Tackling Some Clutter

September 7th, 2020 at 09:11 pm

I'm sorry if all I seem to write about lately is the pantry, but it seems to be what takes up a lot of my thoughts and time.

Our kitchen has a small reach in pantry. I was thrilled when we moved here 22 years ago because my previous kitchen was tiny and no pantry. But like my dad said, you always grow into your space. The pantry only had three shelves and the shelves are held up by wood around the three sides and then the shelf sits on the edge of each. A few years ago I found a shelf at one of the hardware stores that would fit without having to be cut. It's not as deep as the others, but that's OK because it makes it easier to get things off the floor of the pantry.

I'm almost ashamed to admit that the pantry walls and shelves look bedraggled. The contact paper on two of the shelves was not nice. I couldn't get it off. The wood on the three original shelves was really dark. The shelves themselves seemed sturdy so I couldn't see paying to replace them. So, I ventured out into the garage to look for a can of paint I knew we had. A few years ago we painted the bathroom and when we had some work done in there, we needed some touch up paint. The paint store wouldn't let us buy a small amount or even just a pint. Nope, had to buy a whole gallon. We didn't need a gallon and I have been irritated ever since to think about that almost full gallon of paint sitting in the garage. Well, I put it to good use. I had a paint brush and a small roller and plenty of newspaper to catch the drips. It took two coats, but I think it looks far better.

I have been browsing Pinterest and I know there is no way my pantry will ever be Pinterest Pretty, but I did get some ideas on better organization. I hoped I would find some things on our weekly thrift store outing and I did! I bought 4 square soft sided containers, one small metal basket, one wire basket that attaches to a shelf, and one of those spice things that slides out and turns for $13 and tax. One place had everything half price and we spent $11 there and $2 for the wire basket. I had two baskets and a couple of other things that I washed and reused. I'm sort of proud of the pantry. I felt like I did decently for some elbow grease and very little money.

I made more applesauce last week as well as apple juice. I think I have maybe 5 wide mouth quart jars and 3 regular mouth quart jars and 5 half pints left from all the canning. I have a lot of stuff canned. So, my pie safe as well as pantry is about full and what a blessing that is!

I noticed the other day I had stupidly stuck a bunch of papers in a drawer. I made myself go through all the papers. Most of them I could recycle. I had a few that needed to get to the shred pile. I really need to stop doing that kind of stuff and just deal with these papers right away.

Pantry Procrastination

June 27th, 2020 at 08:03 pm

There are things that I tend to procrastinate about. One is the kitchen pantry. I keep telling myself that I will straighten it up, and then I don't.

Well, today was the day and I did. I had straightened it up when we were first locked down, but I'm sad to admit that a lot of times I tend to put things where it is easiest instead of putting things away like I should. I always mean well, but...

Anyway, I had been saving a few things here and there. One thing was those mesh bags that fruit comes in. I had enough to make a scrubby out of them. Hubby was laughing at me as I was putting it together wondering what I was doing with them and I said getting ready to make a scrubby. It took me about 20 minutes to cut and trim the labels off the bags, but got it put together and with a little thread, sewed it into a nice fluffy one. Basically something out of nothing.

I am a jar collector. I like buying things in glass jars because I like the option of using them later. I used some of them as well as some canning jars to put things like oatmeal and popcorn in. It does help the pantry look a lot better.

We haven't been able to use our reusable grocery bags and we have a ton of plastic bags. I asked this week at both Aldi and Kroger and they said we can bring our own bags in. Kroger said we have to bag our own groceries if we do, but that's fine. It's always a gamble when you have them bag them because sometimes you get a kid who doesn't understand that cold stuff should be all put together. I have a lined bag for that and prefer to use it. So, hopefully I can recycle the plastic bags somewhere.

So, hopefully I will do a little better, at least for awhile, in keeping things straightened up in the pantry. I'm just glad I have a small one. At our other house we didn't have a pantry or much storage. I always drool over the food network shows where the cooks have a walk in pantry, but maybe it's a good thing I don't have one...more pantry to clean!



Planning for Christmas Presents

May 17th, 2020 at 08:42 pm

As Ceejay wrote, everyone's life has been touched by the pandemic and everyone's is a little different. Yes, indeed.

DH has put in a little bigger garden as far as tomatoes this year. He had 18 last year. He has 20 this year. We've been enjoying green onions and radishes so far and a little bit of lettuce. Our cool, damp, gloomy weather has not helped. I sure hope we get some sun this week.

I took stock of my canning pantry. I noticed I was about out of sweet relish. We don't use tons of it, but I like to have some on hand for things like egg salad, tuna salad, tuna cakes, etc. So, while at Aldi I bought some cucumbers and some bell peppers. I used the green onions I had on hand. I made 2 pints and 4 half pints. The two 2 pints will be enough for us (I still have a little left from last year) and I plan on giving the half pints as part of Christmas presents. There's a meme on Facebook of people wrapping up rolls of toilet paper for Christmas presents. Funny, but a little of sad truth. I thought, perhaps I could make some food baskets for Christmas gifts this year. In the past I have shared some of our canned goods at Christmas with a couple of people, but thought maybe I could do a little more this year.

I bought some grapes and after using some for chicken salad and fruit salad, I thought I could make some grape juice and make some grape jelly. I have the grape juice made. I plan to make the jelly later this week. Again, a jar for me and the rest for Christmas gifts.

I have already crocheted a few Christmas presents. I am working on a table runner for a friend that I am embroidering. Fortunately I had everything I needed. I guess I could order stuff, but at this point, I don't need anything.

So, anyone planning for Christmas yet?

Just an update

March 26th, 2020 at 06:41 pm

The weather here in Central Illinois has been nothing short of gloomy until yesterday. We actually had an afternoon of sun after a morning of pea soup fog. DH got a chance to go out and work in the yard which delights him. He found two baby bunnies in the front yard. They've since moved which is good. He will be planning his garden and hopefully when it warms up, planting a garden and he doesn't like bunnies to use it as their personal buffet.

Illinois has been ordered to shelter in place since Saturday night. Two days ago I suggested to the Facebook group that our subdivision has that maybe we could do a zoo with stuffed animals for kids to see in windows since yesterday was supposed to be nice. One lady took the suggestion and ran with it so to speak...she made a list with street names and which animals, and it was nice seeing families going out with the checklist looking for the "zoo animals." This was not my original idea; I saw it online somewhere else. The best thing was people who normally never say anything would shout a hello if you were in the yard.

I guess one bad thing is I can see some neighbors who are not following the shelter in place order. People can still go to work if their place of employment is considered essential and that's not what I'm talking about. It's seeing people going to other people's homes and having people over or going shopping for non essential stuff. It angers me because it means they are doing this and however many other folks are doing it which is going to extend the outbreak as well as the sheltering in home.

I've kept busy doing cleaning and some crafting. I don't have the ability to make masks. So, I've worked on other items for donations later when this passes.

I think our grocery spending has increased some as some items have sort of increased. Last week there was so little bread at the store we wound up paying $4.50 for a loaf of organic. Granted, it was tasty, but, that over $2.50 more than what we would pay for a loaf. Last week the grocery stores were slammed and there were empty shelves in so many areas. When we went this week, there were many items there that were not there last week, including toilet paper. We didn't need any so we passed. Figured let those who were without get it. It was weird seeing the yogurt aisle riddled though. We eat yogurt for breakfast and although we found some for our breakfasts, not the kind we normally get, but oh, well. Guess it means we are having to be more flexible. As we walked by, we saw the ice cream case was pretty empty. I wonder if many of us will have put on weight once this is over. LOL

Hope you are all staying safe.

Doing What I Can

March 1st, 2020 at 11:30 pm

A friend and I recently were discussing ways we could cut more of our plastic consumption. I know we will never be able to totally forego it, but we figure anything we can do to help the environment helps. In an earlier post I talked about making bags. I have sewn a bunch of grocery bags for us and I even made some for some friends to use as well. And recently I have been knit looming some "market bags" that I will use for produce as well as gift bags.

I was thinking about my coffee maker. I use paper filters. Now, I know I'm going to offend some coffee experts, but I don't use a new filter each time. I'm the only one who drinks the stuff and I don't make a full pot each time. I put the coffee grounds on our garden, but throw away the filter. I thought, I wonder if there is such a thing as a reusable coffee filter out there for my machine.

There is and I bought one yesterday. I thought about sewing some, but I didn't have any muslin, so I figured maybe this would be the best bet and I can rinse it out without having to run it through a washer and dryer.

Speaking of which, I make my own laundry detergent. I've been using the same old vinegar bottle for years. It's scary how much water is really in laundry detergent. I also make my own knock off of Febreze.

I try to reuse any jars I get besides my canning ones. I use a ton of canning jars not only for canning but for other food storage. I have some Pyrex that is probably older than I am and cook and store things in them.

My friend wants to learn how to make bags. We are challenging each other to come up with ways to reduce our plastic. I was very careful with a plastic bag I had in the freezer with tomatoes. I washed it out and it looks like I can use it again. Hopefully my doing what I can will also save me some money!

Odds and ends and Snickerdoodle Bread

December 17th, 2019 at 08:09 pm

I'm happy to report that DH caught a kid who was shoveling the driveway for his girlfriend's parents and asked him if he would shovel ours. He said yes and wanted to refuse payment. DH said no, you work, you get paid. What a relief.

Just finished cleaning house. I know I'm probably anal, but I have a schedule of sorts to clean and it helps me keep on top of stuff. I have an allergy to dust so that means I need to keep things pretty clean. I'm not thrilled with the process of cleaning, but sure like it when I'm done. We received a little more snow last night, but I could clean it off today. I also dug out around the mailbox since it seemed like it was pretty deep. Our mailbox is near the road.

I was going through papers and found one of those memorial book marks for a great uncle that had his obituary. Since I've been doing some genealogy, I was thrilled with finding it. I was doing some research yesterday afterwards and may have located a very distant relative in Colorado. We promised to email after Christmas and see what we can come up with. That's pretty exciting for me!

I just pulled 5 mini loaves of Snickerdoodle bread out of the oven. I think this is the last of the baking for gifts. I was gob smacked last week at Aldi -- they were totally out of white sugar. I was not out, but I try to keep a bag in reserve. Guess lots of people were baking for the holidays. Anyway, I'm going to post the recipe for Snickerdoodle bread. It calls for cinnamon chips and none of our stores locally have them so I have to buy them at an Amish bulk food store in a small town about 30 minutes away.

Snickerdoodle bread

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F

2 1/2 cup flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 t salt
1 teaspoons cinnamon
1 cup butter, softened
2 cups sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon of vanilla
3/4 cup sour cream
1 package of cinnamon chips

topping: 3 Tablespoons of sugar
3 Tablespoons of cinnamon

Cream butter, sugar, salt, and cinnamon until fluffy. Add vanilla and sour cream and and mix well. Mix flour and baking powder in. Add cinnamon chips and stir in batter. Spoon batter into buttered loaf pans until 2/3 full. Mix the topping mix and sprinkle over the batter. Bake until toothpick comes our clean. For a mini loaf pan, between 35-40 minutes. For a larger loaf man, closer to 50-60 minutes.

Thrift store, Canning, and Hats, Hats, Hats

October 11th, 2019 at 08:06 pm

We took some things to one of the thrift stores to donate. DH had some lighthouse lamps that have been sitting on a closet shelf and never seemed to remember to get them out, but he did yesterday. He collects lighthouse stuff, but he never really liked the lamps -- they were gifts -- and he felt like that was a good thing to give away because they still worked. Maybe someone else can enjoy them.

We also had some other things to donate and it is easier to give a few things at a time...sadly the place we take them you have to climb up steps to take donations so it is a pain. Most of the volunteers are older than I am, so I don't feel like I should ask them to help either. So, doing it more often with less stuff each time seems to be the answer.

We went to our usual round of thrift stores on this cool, windy, rainy day. Did not find a thing we needed or wanted, but had a nice time looking. Of course when we donate, it makes me think how little we really need.

Yesterday I canned some applesauce and apple juice. Over the past couple of years I had given a friend some jelly and jam and had repeatedly asked that he return my jars and rings. I don't think that's much to ask -- just return them when he was done. Well, he didn't. Then he hinted he wanted more jelly. I made a comment that canning isn't free and besides paying for the stuff like fruit, sugar, petting, jars, lids, and rings cost money too. So, he made a big deal by going and buying some new jars. He bought a package of 6 and gave me three. I know this will sound like a snob, but they are not name brand. I've tried using generic jars and have not had good luck with them. I'm almost afraid to use them. I canned a jar of apple juice to see how it would work. They do not feel as heavy as my Ball or Kerr jars so I don't think I would want to use them more than once.

In other news, my knitting group at church met yesterday. We have over 1600 hats made. We are going to meet again in two weeks and that will determine our total for 2019. We will start in November knitting for 2020. We have chosen three schools, a preschool, the cancer care center, two classrooms of folks who attend our church, and a homeless shelter to receive our hats and scarves and we have a donor who buys gloves to go with the hats and scarves. I've contacted the three schools and have arranged dates to drop off the hats and show the kids the looms we use to knit. I know that is the teacher in me -- I think it never hurts to who kids how things are made.



This and That

February 19th, 2019 at 08:56 pm

Been busy around here trying to get things done. One thing was to work on decluttering. I still have a ways to go, but at least I made a little progress.

On Sunday I begged my husband to help me. I cannot get rid of towels. So, I pulled all the bath and hand towels out of the linen closet and let him go through them. There's a bag of them on the way out. The decent ones will go to the homeless shelter that allows daily showers. The decrepit ones went in the garbage.

I then got rid of some raggedy throw rugs.

Then the kitchen towels. I struggled, but I think I got rid of 5 of them. One of them I was still using. A couple went in the garage to clean up messes and the rest are history.

Yesterday I messaged a friend who had admired one of our chairs that we replaced a few months ago. I asked him if he wanted it. He did and he was over in less than 2 hours. I helped him load it and it is now in his house and he struggles with figuring out how he's going to get rid of his old chair. Better him than me, right?

The last couple of days have been spent house cleaning and laundry. The hardwood floors and laminate were vacuumed, then dust mopped, and then wet mopped. They sure look nice. I'm ready to meet DH at the door telling him he can't wear shoes inside. LOL

A couple of times a year I use orange oil on my kitchen cabinets to clean and preserve them. I think that will be a project in March. I had a brand I really liked, but can't find it, so I guess I'll have to use another type. Our cabinets are 16 years old and I don't think they look half bad. I do think taking care of them has helped.

Well, the dryer went off, so unless the laundress suddenly appeared, I guess I better go get the laundry out.

Potpourri

January 8th, 2019 at 09:26 pm

Tonight another couple is joining us for a casual dinner. I'm making goulash which is basically ground beef, onions, bell peppers, mushrooms, and tomato sauce mixed with elbow macaroni. We have garlic bread sticks and a vegetable and they are bringing dessert. It is far cheaper than going out and we enjoy being with each other so it should be a pleasure. She is already planning on what she is going to fix when we go over their house. I like this because we can have a nice time visiting and not spend a lot of money.

Speaking of spending, this weekend was sort of spendy one. It was my birthday. For Christmas we had received a gift certificate for a restaurant so we used that for my birthday dinner. DH gave me some money to buy some clothes so I did do that. I have lost a little weight and have gone down a size or two and some of my clothes are really looking big. I'm still wearing some, but I did buy a couple of things in my new size for when we go to church or I volunteer at school. I was fortunate that we had nice weather -- it was nearly 60 degrees and sunny. In past years we have had cold, cold weather and even a blizzard on my birthday so the weather was certainly a much appreciated gift.

Some of the larger items we donated to a thrift shop. Hopefully I will continue to lose weight and can declutter my closet more.

A couple we know has a trailer in a warm climate and they go there for 3 months. I'm glad for them if that is what they want to do, but his messages are what I call a brag fest -- "it was 77 today and sunny and I wore shorts and a t shirt and this is why we do this." I'm not jealous. I have no desire to have another residence nor do I want to spend extended times away from our home. Financially, they really can't afford it -- they live on loans and credit cards and his favorite hobby is shopping. In the past he has tried to make things a competition and I guess he feels this is also a competition, look what I've got and you don't. At this point, we could probably buy a small trailer outright and go there too, but I don't want to. I like my home, my friends, my church, and my community. I like going to the library and checking out books and visiting with some of the people who work there and catching up. And I most certainly would not do this to brag about what I have.

We are dreading getting our statement on our investments this month. The stock market rock and roll ride last month was crazy. Just hope we didn't lose too much.

I went and bought extra stamps since they are raising the price at the end of January to 55 cents a stamp. I know I'll eventually pay that, but I'm putting it off as long as I can. I did score some greeting cards at thrift stores last week. One place had a package of ten for a dollar. I bought 3 packages. A couple I couldn't use -- you couldn't mix or match. One is a birthday card for a son and I don't have a son. We have a box at church where we can put unused cards and they go to the women's prison here in town for the ladies so I bet someone can use that card and a couple others. I think we spent around $6 on cards, but I have birthday, anniversary, get well, sympathy, and a couple of anniversary cards for the year.

A couple other things I did to keep busy was to cut all the coupons out of the coupon flyers in Sunday's paper. I could use a couple, but most I could not. We collect the coupons and a couple sends them to some place for the military to use, even if they are expired. DH bought a Chicago Tribune last Sunday and they had lots too so I spent quite a bit of time cutting out coupons. Hopefully it can help some military families save some money.

I also cut out used postage stamps. Our ladies group collects them for some mission. I dropped the stamps, cards, and coupons off at church today when we went to fill the oil in the altar candles.

DH wasn't happy yesterday when he picked up some prescriptions. The news had been saying some prescriptions were going to go up and unfortunately some of his did. Not a huge amount for his copay, but it all adds up.

So there it is. A mish mash of activities so far in 2019.