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Garden, Groceries, and Spending

July 21st, 2019 at 01:59 pm

DH's tomatoes have been going along pretty well. He brought in quite a few this week and I cooked them with bell peppers, onions, mushrooms, Basil, Oregano, Rosemary, and garlic and made spaghetti sauce. I canned 10 pints yesterday. DH grew the tomatoes, peppers, onions, garlic, and the herbs.

Every week I make a fruit salad and often there is more fruit that what we will use. I freeze the extra. Yesterday I pulled all the small containers out of the freezer and made mixed berry jam and canned it as well. I realized about 6 half pints of it.

I've been using both the Ibotta app and the Fetch app and have been collecting points or whatever we collect. I don't buy a lot of the stuff that owe get a lot of credit for, but I figure it is basically free money.

I've been doing some embroidery and I really wanted a new lamp to sit by chair that would bring more direct light. i was looking at our local sewing shop and they had one which was plastic and it was on clearance for $40. I just couldn't see paying that. We were doing our thrift store run on Friday and there was a nice metal one exactly what I wanted for $5. We bought it and I tried it out and it works great. I'm hoping this better light will help with eye strain. As far as the embroidery, I did have to purchase a skein of embroidery floss since the pattern calls for three colors of yellow. I had two of the three. I bet the clerk was shocked I spent exactly 62 cents. I am trying not to buy any more craft items for myself until I finish the stuff I have.

I did buy some graph paper because I have some counted cross stitch I want to graph out. I also bought some school supplies to put in the box at church for a local school. We buy pencils, hand sanitizer, and facial tissue because those are things that go quickly and are used up and teachers often have to buy them out of their own money.

We have our dental checkups this week. I think this one is going to be pricey because I need a new retainer. I wear retainers every night to keep my teeth from moving. After spending thousands of dollars to get teeth pulled and braces in my 40s, I don't want things to go back to disarray.

The Heat Is On!

July 13th, 2019 at 02:35 pm

This spring was cool and wet. Well, July is more than making up for it! It is 90, high humidity and after all the rain we received this spring, you wouldn't know it because there are cracks in the yard. DH is out watering his garden and I know it will be another round of very sweaty clothes to deal with.

One advantage of the sun and heat is we are getting tomatoes. DH brought in quite a few today. We will be enjoying them. Not enough to can or anything at this point, but there is nothing like a fresh sliced tomato with a little salt and pepper.

We have had issues with Dutch Elm Disease in our town and many trees are succumbing to it. Our neighbor has a huge tree in the front yard. He's out there today trying to cut down big limbs by himself. One limb he cut was probably the size of a small tree. It's a good thing he's handy -- he put on the roof a few years ago -- they have the biggest house in the court and it took him three years to do the whole roof by himself.

I have a chuck roast in the Crockpot with potatoes and carrots. Kroger had a sale on them this week, buy one, get one the same size or less for free. So, we are going to enjoy one and the other is wrapped up in the freezer. I think we are going to have two or three meals from this one. Better to use the Crockpot than to heat up the house and oven.

I have been reading a series called "Needlecraft Mysteries" and it is by Monica Ferris. The main character is Betsy who inherits a craft shop from her sister called "Crewel World." Betsy is an amateur sleuth and helps solve murders while running her craft shop. I've learned a lot about different things reading this since she uses information on cross stitch and embroidery as well as knitting and needlepoint. I am currently embroidering a dresser scarf and I am thinking I'm going to go crazy before I finish it -- the flowers have three different colors of yellow! But, I bet it will turn out nice if I get it done.

Last year my knitting group at church made 1202 hats total. As of Thursday, our total is 1214 hats and here it is the first of July. We have 41 scarves and 60 baby hats too. It won't be long when we will be looking at places to donate the hats and scarves. Last year I looked up the poverty rates at our local schools and we did the schools that had the highest rates. I imagine I will do that this year. We also, as a church, adopted a local school and we made sure they had hats and gloves for every child as well as some scarves and we are donating to the food pantry for the school too. We feel it is a good way to help others around us in our town.

This and That

July 7th, 2019 at 05:32 pm

I've sort of been out of it this past week. I'm trying to catch up on reading the blogs, but my mind and heart were not into earlier. Two people I worked with at a school died from cancer. On the same day. Then my sister -in-law passed as well, so it has been sort of a sad yet reflective week. Although none were a shock, it is still hard on one.

We've had extreme heat and humidity and it really takes it out of me. I struggle with asthma and it makes it difficult for me to breathe so I've also been feeling a bit tired.

But enough with the morose. We've been eating lighter due to the heat. DH is starting to get a few more tomatoes so we are enjoying them. He has lots of Basil and other herbs as well as onions. I made a Tomato Basil salad that is chopped red onion, chopped Basil, sliced cherry tomatoes, red wine vinegar, some olive oil, and then added Feta cheese after it was all mixed. We've also been enjoying some lettuce that DH planted. He has planted radishes twice and the first time we had so much rain, they didn't do well and this time, it got really hot right when they started coming up so we figure they won't do well. Oh, well.

On the money front we haven't been going crazy spending. I'm happiest at home reading or making scarves and hats for my church group so I don't have to get out in the heat. DH used to work on a bookmobile and there is a new mystery series about a lady who drives a bookmobile so we both read it and then had fun discussing it. Staying home certainly saves money!

Baking for the Sale

June 6th, 2019 at 08:18 am

Once a year my church does an annual rummage sale. There is also a bake sale. Yesterday I spent some time in kitchen baking some small loaves of sweet breads and two 7 x 7 pans of carrot cake. I actually did 3 carrot cake, but one I kept for DH. I haven't made carrot cake for awhile so he was very pleased and when he got home from walking, he wanted a piece right then. I'm glad because I wanted to make sure it was good enough to donate.

A month or so ago we had some clementines that weren't moldy, but had started to get a little shriveled. I decided to search for a recipe to make orange bread. I figured there was one out there and there was. I tried and DH loved it. Hopefully the folks at the sale will feel the same way since I made some for the sale.

Here's the recipe in case you are interested:

Orange loaf

1/2 cup softened butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 T orange zest
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
2 cups flour
2 t baking powder
1/2 t salt

Cream together butter, sugar, eggs, zest and juice. Add dry ingredients slowly until mixed. Add to greased pans and bake at 350 degrees until toothpick comes out clean. Brush with glaze after you take from oven.

I made the small pans and started checking them after 20 minutes. I think a bigger loaf is closer to 40, depending on humidity and oven temp.

Glaze: 1/2 cup orange juice and 1/4 to 1/2 cup powdered sugar. Blend together and brush on top of warm bread.

Gas Tax and Day to Day Stuff

June 2nd, 2019 at 11:34 am

I live in Illinois and doubling the gas tax is just about a sure fire bet. The General Assembly has passed it, so that means our gas tax will double to 38 cents a gallon. Ouch. I understand that we need it for roads and such, but if the legislators hadn't allowed the powers to be to take money from the original road account, I think we would have been in better shape and had more money.

Fortunately DH and I don't have to drive to work so our driving is for appointments as well as things we choose to do. But I worry about those people who are already having a time of it making ends meet and now this.

The Governor is also wanting to legalize Marijuana so I imagine that will go through with flying colors. I am torn on this issue. First of all, if it is legal, then maybe people won't treat it like they did when there was prohibition. Yet, I'm also worried we will have people using it and driving and being a bigger menace on the roads. Of course, maybe they won't be driving with the higher gas tax.

I just feel like all Illinois is wanting is more money. I understand why we need it, but I also wonder if there are ways to cut some of the spending like we have to do in our own personal budgets.

I do think DH and I will do a little less driving. We enjoy going to some of the area towns to visit. We may not go as often. I don't think the towns will miss us horribly, but I'm sure every dollar we spend helps their economy. Get enough people going and spending, it does make a difference. Perhaps I'm just too simple minded on the whole tax thing.

In other news, DH's garden is growing. He has some small green tomatoes on a few of his plants. If we could just get less rain and more sun, it would sure help. So many of the area farmers are struggling to even get their crops in. And so many in the heartland are facing the devastating effects of flooding. I picked some lettuce and a couple of green onions yesterday to make part of a salad tonight. I really like having fresh from the garden vegetables.

A couple of weeks ago I planted the end of celery in a pot. It is growing. I had to put it in a tall pot because last year when I did it, a bunny decided it was for his buffet.

I bought a weaving loom at a thrift store a couple of weeks ago. One can make scarves and other things. I finished my second scarf. I paid $5 for the loom and I feel I did OK with it. I like learning new things and I can actually use some different yarns with it that it is easier to weave with than crochet with so I feel that is good stewardship.

Aldi had blueberries on sale this week so I bought extra and made some blueberry jam and canned it. I think it is my favorite type so I was excited about that. A friend is kidding me about filling my pantry, and yeah, I do that. There's a satisfaction to having stuff in the pantry when I want it, especially knowing what's in it like the jam.

Whirlwind Week

May 23rd, 2019 at 08:38 am

Ever since I retired, it seems like the days and months go by very quickly. This week especially.

We reconnected with a teacher I worked with a number of years ago. He and his wife and another couple and my dh and I went out to eat and then back to their house for dessert. Two of us provided dessert as a way to save a little moolah. I imagine we will get together more often and take turns cooking as the summer progresses. Anyway, they gave us a tour of their home. it's beautiful and large. They have a condo. Newish cars. As well as lots of hobbies. Long story short -- they are retired, but still working and didn't plan for retirement and now worry how they will make ends meet. Ouch.

The next day we met another couple to celebrate her birthday. We decided years ago to quit giving gifts. They buy whatever they want when they want it and how can you deal with that.

Last night we invited a friend to join us for supper; his wife and daughters were out of town. It was nice catching up.

In between this, I canned some green beans, crocheted and knitted, and did some house cleaning.

The weekend is soon upon us. We don't do big stuff for the Memorial Day weekend, but do put flowers on the graves of our loved ones. I was concerned because our peonies looked like they would b open and gone before this weekend, but it looks like we might be OK. My family always used flowers from the garden when we could. DH's mom would buy a big live display for her husband's grave, but didn't decorate anything else. So, DH wants live stuff on the graves.

I can't say this was the most frugal week, but we don't go out that often with people so it was a nice way to catch up.

DH has two small bell peppers already on two of his plants and the tomatoes are have blossoms. Here's to hoping for a good garden. Our damp, cool weather hasn't been good for the garden and the lettuce, radishes, and onions haven't grown much because of all the rain. Hopefully things will dry out by next week (we received rain the last two nights).

Catching Up

May 12th, 2019 at 11:08 am

I keep meaning to blog, but not sure I had anything of great interest to write about, so it will just be a few items to catch up.

My knitting group at church has a total of 861 hats so far for this year. We are way ahead of our total from this time last year and the year before. We also have 31 baby hats and 12 scarves. Not very many scarves so I'm going to work on making scarves instead of hats, but they take longer so I guess that is why people prefer to make hats.

I'm using the leftover yarn to crochet dish cloths. My goal is to make over 200 and donate them to a local food pantry to put them in the Christmas baskets. I made 100 last year and most of them right before, so I'd like to double that and make them as I can and also use up the yarn. I try to make them with nice colors so they don't look like leftovers.

My personal goal is to also make things for anyone who has a baby at my church. So far I've cross stitched some baby bibs and I have crocheted a bib and crocheted a baby blanket. I feel that although this isn't a huge thing, I would hope that the parents realize that people in the church do care.

DH planted his tomatoes, bell peppers, and herbs last week. We had one day of sunshine since then and rain almost every day. Hopefully the plants won't drown before they get a good start.

We took a day bus trip to two small towns here in Illinois. One is Moonshine that boasts a population of 2. Apparently this couple bought this small general store a number of years ago and started making Moonshine burgers and it has become a tourist destination. After sampling their burger, I can see why the locals come to get one -- nice thick burger made with quality beef and cooked perfectly. It was a delight. We then visited Casey which is a small town that is famous for its oversized items like a mailbox, pencil, knitting needles, crochet hook, rocking chair, and golf tee. It made for a good day trip and we toured things we have not seen before.

It's damp and dreary so I'm looking forward to our soup for supper tonight. Since I was going to chop vegetables for stir fry last night, I decided to chop a few others and made Italian wedding soup. I like to fix soup the day before and then put it in the fridge and heat it the next day. For some reason it seems to taste a little better the second day. It will be at least two meals and I used some of the tomatoes and chicken broth I canned last fall.


May 2nd, 2019 at 07:49 am

Yesterday was an expensive day at the grocery stores.

I shop at two: Aldi and Kroger. We also have a Sav-A-Lot and Wal-Mart, but I would prefer not going to Wal-Mart. People tell me that they are cheaper, and perhaps they are, but I call it the "evil empire" because of the way they go into small towns, drive all the other businesses out, and then raise their prices. Now a couple of the small towns where this happened has had them pull out and there is no store there. Plus, a few years ago PBS' Front Line did a show on how Wal-Mart basically tells businesses where they will have factories and how much they will charge. At least they did. So, if I can avoid them, I do.

Anyway, my goal the past couple of months has been to eat what we have in the pantry and freezer. I still have some things in the freezer, but the pantry was starting to get bare as far as crackers and chips. DH wanted a particular type of cracker a couple of months ago and he hasn't touched the box. I don't like them per se, but I opened the box to have some with my sandwich for lunch. Anyway, after I finish this box, we can move on to something else. Perhaps the fact I don't really like them will keep me from overeating. I did stock up on some other crackers and some chips for lunches. I won't open the other boxes of crackers until we finish this one.

Kroger has had fresh green beans on sale for 99 cents a pound. I have been buying some and canning them. DH doesn't have the room to grow green beans, and sadly, the folks who sell them at Farmer's Market are three to four times the price when they are in season. I prefer canning them because I like fixing them without a lot of salt.

Kroger also had apples on sale so I bought a bunch and made applesauce. I realize I spent more than what it would have cost me to buy commercial applesauce, but the brands we can get here, some of the apples come from China. I read a report that says that some of the fruit grown in China is basically grown in sewage. No thanks. I don't add a lot of sugar, but do add some maple syrup right before I put the immersion blender in to give it a nice flavor.

We had some bananas that were beginning to get overripe and they are perfect for banana bread. I made four small loaves. Two went in the freezer. DH loves banana bread and when he came in, he asked if any of it was for him. I told him it was all for him, but two were going in the freezer because he wouldn't be able to eat it all before it would spoil.

We've had so much rain here that the farmers cannot get in the fields. It is getting to the point where they may not be able to plant corn. A couple of days ago our weather man said we are 7 inches above normal and we've received 2 inches of rain since then. Although I'm not thrilled with so much rain, I sure hope come this summer we don't have a drought. I think the farmers can plant soybeans later, but that will probably drive the price of soybeans down if there is a glut in the market.

Happy Easter!

April 21st, 2019 at 12:33 pm

It seems like spring has finally arrived and here it is sunny and beautiful on a Sunday. That hasn't happened in months. It seems like every Sunday lately has been horrid as far as weather.

We had Easter services today. Our Pastor always has a children's sermon and today the kids were so excited he had a hard time keeping them on topic. But he has a good sense of humor and I do think the congregation enjoys the kids and their enthusiasm.

Normally on Sunday when we get home I fix brunch which is usually scrambled eggs with chopped vegetables, cheesy grits, toast, and fruit salad. Today we had ham, scalloped potatoes, creamed corn, peas, cornbread, deviled eggs, and a cheesecake like dessert. Some of the items I prepared yesterday to make it go faster. My husband must have been hungry because he was ready to eat 30 minutes before our meal was ready.

Yesterday I made chicken stir fry for supper and since there is usually more chicken than what we can eat, I make chicken broth with the leftovers. Why buy it when I can make it at home and I know what goes into it?

DH worked on planting onion sets, radish and lettuce seeds yesterday. We've had so much rain that he worries the soil was too wet, but he hopes that yesterday and day helped dry it out a bit before our next set of rain storms this week.

I've been reading the Agatha Raisin series by M.C. Beaton. I get them at the library. We did go to a bookstore yesterday that handles used books and just for grins I looked to see if they had any. They did, but they were the ones I have already read and the price was way more than I would have spent on a book I only plan to read once. I am so glad we have a great library.

Hope you have a wonderful Sunday!