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Pantry Ponderings

September 22nd, 2019 at 12:43 pm

I know I'm a product of my parents' thinking. Each fall, when we had a garden, my mom would can. When she couldn't, they would hit sales and stock up to make sure we had food in case we had a bad winter and couldn't get out. I know a lot of this also came from my parents growing up during the Depression and not having enough to eat.

So, here we are in 2019 and my pantry is about to burst. Between my canning and hitting grocery sales, I have stocked up on stuff. In fact, I have run out of room for some of my canning. I am now putting it on open shelves and have moved some of Crockpots to the sunroom. These are not my kitchen cabinets, but a book shelf like thing I have. I am almost out of canning jars as well.

I am not complaining. I took photos and shared with a friend and his first comment was, "how will you eat all of that you've canned?" At first I thought it was a strange question, but then I considered he and his wife eat at least one major meal out and often two each day. I told him most suppers except one (date night!) we eat at home. I fix lots of things from scratch. He thought I was bizarre. Maybe I am. Of course this man's idea of a vegetable is either French Fries or Onion Rings.

Another couple we are friends with usually do not plan meals and instead head to the store before they fix a meal or just go out. For the past couple of years I have given them a box for Christmas and in it is a jar of homemade spaghetti sauce, a jar of canned tomatoes, a jar of canned green beans, a box of spaghetti, a jar of homemade biscuit mix, a jar of pickles, and jars of jams and jellies. They are always very appreciative and they nicely return the jars too.

Another friend also receives a box like I listed above for Christmas and he loves it because he likes to cook and loves the home canned stuff.

I think most people on SA stock up, whether it is canned at home or frozen or finding groceries on sale. Can you imagine not doing so?

Gift of Jars and 6%

September 15th, 2019 at 01:04 pm

On Thursday both DH and I were away from home. I was at the knitting group at church and he had gone to the mall to walk. Between the two of us, no one was home for about 2 hours. In that two hours, someone dropped off two of my jelly jars and a brand new case of half pint cars. They must know we have one of those doorbell cameras because they left it at the end of our driveway on the lawn and the doorbell would not pick them up because we have a steep driveway.

My detective skills must be terrible because I cannot figure out who left these jars. I have asked many people and even posted on Facebook and no one owns up to them. I would like to express my gratitude, but so far, no one wants to own this good deed.

I'm excited about the jars, and I was starting to run low on half pints. Just wish I knew who left them.

As for the 6% -- I decided to sit down and look at all our accounts, retirement, savings, investments, CDs, and see how we are doing compared to a year ago. Let me preface this with, we are very conservative when it comes to investments. But, we show a 6% increase from this time last year. Considering the up and down of the market (and our retirement accounts), we feel 6% isn't bad. Far better than being below.

Speaking (or writing) of the knitting group at church and I did, we have over 1500 hats made so far, with 98 scarves, and 89 baby hats. One of the ladies has a niece that works as the leisure times services director at the women's prison in our town, and they have joined us in crocheting scarves and hats. It makes them feel like they are contributing to our community and we are welcoming their contributions with open arms. I am pretty stoked about this. Four years ago when I joined this group, there were about 4 people coming regularly. We have about 11-14 who come twice monthly and others who contribute when they can. Instead of handing out hats wherever, we have adopted whole schools and we have people who donate gloves to go along with the hats and we also give hand sanitizer and facial tissue to the classrooms of these adopted schools for the teachers to put in their classrooms. It is pretty exciting to see how this ministry has grown in four years.

New Recipe and the Quest for Coupons

September 10th, 2019 at 12:49 pm

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

2 chicken breasts
3-4 potatoes, peeled and cubed

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

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


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

Almost finished...

September 3rd, 2019 at 01:20 pm

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

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

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

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

More Canning and Christmas Crafts

August 29th, 2019 at 08:31 am

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

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

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

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

Recycle, reuse, recover

August 27th, 2019 at 02:17 pm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Recreational Shopping and GWTW Foods

August 25th, 2019 at 11:23 am

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

golden topped biscuits
fried chicken
yams with butter
buckwheat cakes
ice cream
barbecue pork
layer cake
corn pone
sweet potato pie
corn bread
hog meat
vegetables (no specifics)
fried squash
stewed Okra
carrots in cream
chocolate layer cake
vanilla blanc mange
pound cake topped with whipped cream

New Neighbors

August 15th, 2019 at 12:35 pm

Supposedly we are to get new neighbors today. The house next to us sold. I will admit, we are apprehensive because a good neighbor or bad neighbor can really turn things one way or another.

The neighbor who sold was an excellent neighbor and although she had been here less than 2 years, she was someone you could visit with. She had been hired by a local corporation and moved down from a neighboring state. Then less than two years later they did lay offs and she was cut. She was shell shocked because there was no warning. Our cup-d-sac has been pretty stable, we have a few move in and out in the past 21 years, but life changes and so we have to go along with it.

I'm baking cinnamon crisp cookies to take over. I did meet the wife the other day and they have 4 kids. So, I know to bake lots of cookies! I guess I'm old fashioned -- I have tried to welcome new folks by baking stuff and taking it over.

Besides baking, I juiced some tomatoes and plan to can the juice. It won't amount to much, our tomatoes have slowed down a bit, but I don't want to let anything go to waste

It's about time to get the last batch of cookies out to cool. So I'm wondering: I know when we moved here 21 years ago, no one greeted us or brought anything over. Did anyone where you live?