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)
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Cheap Eats

January 22nd, 2020 at 09:11 pm

Do you ever sit and figure out how much your meal cost you? I don't do it by person since it is just the two of us, but I often estimate how much we spent on what we consumed as we sit down to eat.

Last night, for example, was fairly reasonable. It was the leftover pork loin roast, leftover green beans, and I had two sweet potatoes I baked, and then cottage cheese, sliced cherry tomatoes, and fruit salad. I always try to divide stuff by the meals, not taking the whole initial cost of the pork loin roast for the first meal. I think it cost us around $7, and that is counting the fact I brewed ice tea too. That is for the two of us. Not $7 each.

Of course some meals are more expensive. I fixed wings the other night and I think the package of wings was a little under $7 and that was before I made a coating for them or added other things to go with. But still, eating at home is far cheaper than eating out, at least I think it is.

I have a friend who brags about finding cheap meals and when he talks about them, he's going to fast food. I guess if you eat off the dollar menu or whatever they have, it might be cheaper, but I can't imagine it being cheaper since most of the stuff is pretty small. Not to mention, there's a reason these items are cheaper, many are made with flavorings and preservatives. He's always talking about all his health issues and as much as I would like to say perhaps a better diet would help, I don't. I guess I'm a chicken.

He made some comments about all my canning. Granted, I could probably find canned green beans cheaper than buying fresh green beans and canning them myself, but I hope to keep canning them to get away from the salt and preservatives. DH had a good tomato crop this year and I made a lot of spaghetti sauce as well as canning some of the tomatoes. I have used quite a bit of the stuff I've canned already. This friend said he couldn't believe we would use even half of it before the next summer. There's something pretty exciting to opening the cabinet and see the jars lined up, ready to be used.

Tonight we are having pork chops. Our Kroger has a little deli counter like where you can choose the meat you want. I buy one thick boneless pork chop and then slice it in half and that makes enough of a meal for both of us. I find it more reasonable than buying the package of pork chops. Plus, it is probably healthier for us to eat less meat. I think our meal tonight will run around $7 again. I don't think that is too bad. Lunch was around $10 today. I buy a special tea to make that although it has a good, sweet flavor, it doesn't have any sugar or sweetener in it. Still far cheaper than eating out and we had plenty to eat -- soup, sandwich, applesauce, and tea.

So, what do you think -- do you do the cheap eats at home or find cheap eats elsewhere?

Busy Week

January 12th, 2020 at 08:36 pm

It's been a busy week, but not horrific. We celebrated my birthday last Sunday and had a wonderful dinner in a town about an hour away. It's always a challenge because we often get horrible weather around my birthday, but things were mild. It was nice and the food was delicious.

We had a good server. We think she was a college student. She was efficient, but not overly friendly. Since we are basically older folks, I wonder if most servers see us as those folks who eat early and want a bargain and are bad tippers. DH always leaves a generous tip, especially if we get good service. We know they are struggling and need good tips since most restaurants do not pay minimum wage or more. We chuckled on our way out as she was shocked when she saw the money (DH pays cash) and that he said keep the change and it was far more than she expected. We know one couple that no matter what the bill, they leave around two or three dollars. Most of the time, that isn't even 15% and they are the kind that want special treatment and often try to wheedle a free cup of coffee or dessert.

We had our knitting group meet this week. We are up to 272 hats already. We had a lady from another church come and give us a bunch of yarn that her church can't use. Her church makes lap afghans and they use just regular yarn, not the sports yarn, or thick yarn, or any of the fancy yarns. She also brought a bunch of dish cloth cotton yarn. I used a lot of that to make dish cloths to donate to one of the food pantries to put in their Christmas baskets last year. Another lady saw the dish cloth yarn and said she would help me make dish cloths too so that's a good thing.

Last night we met with two other couples for supper. We have been taking turns hosting. The hosts provide the main dish and one or two other things and then we all bring a couple of dishes. We feasted on roast beef, potatoes, carrots, green beans, homemade French bread, cherry pie, and apple cake. We had a delightful time until it was time to leave. It has iced and then snowed an inch over it. Driving home was not a pleasure, but we did get home and were grateful for our safety.

A couple of weeks ago I fixed a beef roast (one of the buy one get one free offers Kroger had awhile back) and had roast and broth left over. I made a large pot of vegetable soup. DH asked me if I was planning on feeding an Army. I said no, but I wanted to use up the roast and broth and the carrots, plus then I had other vegetables in the fridge that needed to be used up and so it took off from there. We had two meals from the soup and I froze the rest. Meal #3 is tonight -- I have it heating up in a Crockpot. There's still a package in the freezer for meal #4.

Recently I was doing some of my amateur genealogy and ran across a person's email on the findagrave site for a person who may or may not be a distant relative. We have since been corresponding back and forth and sharing what we have learned. She lives in Nebraska and is about my age. It's pretty cool overall and we are distantly related. That was like getting a present for me. I love doing research and when I find something like that, it just thrills me.

Hope you all have a wonderful week!

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.

Crafting, Hats, and So On

November 17th, 2019 at 07:58 pm

Looking back on the past few days, it seems like it has been a whirlwind of lots of little things.

We made some more hat deliveries. One is to a school that apparently is often forgotten, but has some high poverty kids. The secretaries and principal couldn't thank us enough. We also gave some hats and scarves to a ladies' homeless shelter and the people working there were thrilled. We have one more school to deliver to and that will be the 2018 hat season finished. We met Thursday and have started counting and we already have 91 hats completed and over 11 scarves. We have a local group that sends Christmas gifts to soldiers, many local, and we are going to make hats in the colors they suggested for them. I find if we add different groups, it keeps things interesting.

DH had his second cataract surgery on Tuesday. We never dreamed we would get such bad winter weather this early in November, but we did...very cold, snow that hit warm ground that then froze. Driving him to the surgery was not fun...I was the proverbial old lady driver poking along. I didn't have a death grip on the steering wheel, but I was not going to be hurried or rushed. We got there, he had his surgery, and we arrived home, safe and sound after lots of praying and white knuckles. Usually the surgery center is like a revolving door, but I guess they had lots cancel Tuesday morning. DH was the last one of the three that still had an appointment. But, it is over other than doing the eye drops and so far things seem to be going well.

While DH was resting when we got home, I tried to find some quiet activities. My mom used to take two dish cloths and sew them to make what looks like a jacket. It isn't really and you use three stitches to hold them together and include a poem about don't get excited, don't get misled, these are not for you, but your dishes instead. I made ten of them and am donating them for our Christmas bazaar. I also started crocheting these little red bags with white trim that I'll put some Hershey kisses in for Santa's treat bag. They might sell too for the bazaar. We normally have quite a few crafters as vendors, but I guess this year with all the shows and bazaars, we didn't have as many. We have a cookie walk that is the big draw since we sell cookies by the pound and people tend to load up for the holidays. I see lots of baking in my future.

Other than groceries, we haven't spent much. I've been buying stuff when it goes on sale either for the pantry or freezer or for the upcoming baking. Most of my Christmas is done as far as shopping and making. I have one more item to finish, but have to wait for a bright day since it is counted cross stitch. I've noticed as I get older, my eyes need the natural light for cross stitch.

GWTW Dinner and other tidbits

November 10th, 2019 at 09:18 pm

Last night we had our "Gone with the Wind" dinner. We had planned for it to be earlier, but life gets in the way. We had a delightful time and the food was great. Our final menu was:

fried chicken
mashed potatoes with pan gravy
green beans
fried cabbage
cornbread
blackberry cobbler
sweet potato pie

I looked up some trivia and we had a lot of laughs over some of these isolated facts such as there were 1400 actresses who auditioned for the role of Scarlett O'Hara.

One of the things that was brought up was how fun it was to host these dinners and how having everyone bring something meant the host didn't have to spend all day cooking a full meal, but just the main entree. It certainly is more reasonable than going out to eat, that's for sure.


We did our first hat drop off to one of our schools. I invited the local weather man from the TV station and he came with us and talked to some of the kids about the importance of wearing hats and gloves in bad weather. I took some photos of him with the classes and he showed them on his weather segment that night. I was pretty elated after we left and one of the teachers sent me a photo of the kids with the hats. We have two more schools to take hats to. One is tomorrow and the other is in a week. We also want to give hats and scarves to a woman's shelter as well as veterans.

With the colder weather, we tend to have more soup. We usually eat out on Friday nights as our date night. Guess we didn't date the past two -- I pulled soup out of the freezer two weeks ago and made soup this week. There's enough soup from Friday's batch to have at least one more meal. With DH's eye surgery and the fact it gets darker so quickly, he was happy to stay home. I don't mind either. There are only a few places we will even frequent because some of the restaurants in our town have had bad reviews from the local health department. And it isn't just once...some make the same mistakes over and over and they are major. I had food poisoning from a restaurant a number of years ago and I never want to repeat that experience.






Potpourri

October 26th, 2019 at 09:07 pm

It's a windy, rainy day here in Central Illinois. A perfect tea drinking day in fact. I like these kind of days as long as there is no storms and no flooding. I think they make me appreciate the really nice days. I have a beef roast in the Crockpot with potatoes and carrots and it is an especially good day for such a meal.

Life has been busy. DH had cataract surgery on Tuesday on his right eye. It's been an adventure since he has worn glasses for over 67 years and seeing distance has been so bad, that he could barely read the alarm clock next to his head. He could read it the next day standing 4 foot away. He cannot read close up and the eye doctor doesn't want him to wear his glasses so his left eye is still weak and he struggles with that. He has surgery scheduled in less than three weeks for it and I imagine he will wind up getting reading glasses, but wow, what a miracle this surgery is.

A couple of weeks ago I made some apple sauce and some apple peel jelly. Usually when I try a new recipe, I always follow the recipe exactly. I just thought it would be fun to try something that you make from something you would not use anyway. Anyway, I gave a jar of it to a friend as well as a jar of apple juice. He criticized the jelly because it wasn't rock solid. Well, it isn't. If I make it again, I will include more pectin. But, it is still usable and I have been eating some one my toast. It really hurt my feelings that he had to find fault. DH said not to give him anything else.

We had our last meeting of the knitting group at church before we start giving away hats. Our totals are as follows for 2019:

Hats: 1731

Scarves 157

Baby hats: 137

Not a bad total for a small group! We have three schools we are "adopting" and will give the schools enough hats for all the students plus some extras, and a few of the scarves. One of our church members purchases gloves that we include so each child will get a set of gloves. We have also given some hats to the Cancer Care Center. We plan to give two teachers who go to our church enough hats for their classrooms as well as hats, gloves, and scarves for our church's preschool. Another Lutheran Church is making Christmas baskets with food, and we will be sharing hats with them to include. We have a homeless shelter for women and their children in our town and we will be giving them a bunch of hats and scarves, and then the remainder will be going to a case manager at Lutheran Child and Family Services for Christmas. What a wonderful project that started 3 years ago with about 4 people. We have around 11-12 who come to our bimonthly meetings and it has been such a blessing that we have had people donate money or yarn to help us out.

So there is a mixture of what's going on in my life. Between eye drops for my husband and getting some things done around here, I've stayed occupied.

Pinterest is Dangerous!

October 21st, 2019 at 07:59 pm

This morning I was just nosing around Pinterest. I am having to take a break from knitting and crocheting. I was crocheting last night and my fingers started to hurt and then later my shoulder was sore which is my body's way of telling me I've overdone it. Usually if I take it easy for a day or so and don't knit or crochet, I'm OK.

Anyway, I was looking at Pinterest because I had already read all the current blogs and saw a small recipe for Lavender Jelly. We just happen to have some lavender plants that DH hasn't gotten rid of yet (they are in pots) and I asked him if he minded if I cut off the blooms to make some jelly. He said no, he was going to get rid of the plants anyway. I had used some earlier to make all purpose cleaner with vinegar and Dawn so he's used to me using stuff.

Anyway, I have four small jars of jelly. Hope it turns out. It didn't seem like an overwhelming activity and I had the jars, sugar, pectin, and lemon juice.

Spendy day and canning again

October 15th, 2019 at 08:23 pm

Today was an expensive day. We replaced the tires on my car. Ouch. But, they needed it. The car is paid for and a couple of months ago we had some big bills, and now the tires, but far better than a pricey car payment every month. I had hoped to wait a couple more months, but the forecasters are thinking we might have a bad winter so I decided to spend the money anyway just to be safe. Plus, DH is going to have cataract surgery in the next few weeks and in between the surgery and post op appointments, I may find it hard to get in and get new tires.

Also had to pick up a prescription. It is asthma medicine and this is one of the worst times of the year for me. Sadly, when I called in for the refill, they didn't have it and had to order it and I guess because it was near the weekend, it took longer to get. Good thing I don't wait until I'm out to refill.

Other than that, I spent the morning canning. I think I'm done for this year except I may make some jam later on closer to Christmas. I refuse to buy any more jars so I'm using what I have. I tried something different this time -- I was making and canning applesauce and I saw on Pinterest a recipe for apple scrap jelly. What it is is basically taking the apple peels and cooking them with water, then running the juice through cheese cloth, and adding pectin and sugar. It has a pinkish tint to it. I followed the recipe, but I don't think it called for enough pectin because it seems fairly runny, but oh, well. It tastes good. Just a good way to use up something and I like trying new stuff.

I talked with our financial advisor about something and told him about my canning. He's such a nice man and has been a friend as well as advisor. When I finished canning and came back from getting new tires, I dropped off a pint of spaghetti sauce, a half pint of the apple scrap jelly, and a quart of apple juice. You would have thought I had given him gold or something. He kept thanking me and said he knew the jars really contained love. It is nice to be appreciated.

Frost, Shopping, and the Weatherman

October 13th, 2019 at 06:21 pm

We have a new weatherman for our local station and I think he believes he is entertaining. I do not need to be entertained when watching the weather...I want the forecast basically, but he likes to think he's clever. Well, Mr. Clever kept saying we were not going to have a frost Friday night. DH happened to go outside Friday evening and came in and said he believed it would frost. So, here we are out with a flash light so he can pick bell peppers and Rosemary in case it did frost. I picked a few tomatoes that were starting to ripen just in case. Fortunately we had picked a majority of the herbs earlier that we wanted to dry.

Well, it did frost. It wasn't a killing freeze, but some of the herbs got it as well as some of the other plants and flowers. DH normally pulls up stuff when they predict a frost because he doesn't like dealing with the plants that get kind of soft and slimy after. That stupid weatherman was wrong and he assured us in the viewing area we would not have a frost. Glad DH was smart enough to go check.

We did go to an outdoor market yesterday that is about an hour and half away from us. It is in Morris, Illinois, along the Illinois-Michigan Canal. We also like to visit the downtown of Morris and go through the shops. It wasn't a huge spend day. We bought an acorn squash from the Morris FFA for $1 and some cinnamon rolls for our breakfast this morning as well as a cupcake from the local bakery to enjoy there. I had taken a Thermos of hot tea with us since it was a bit chilly and that was a nice treat. It was basically just a trip to get us out and about. I liked looking at the booths. I noticed that some had some knitting and crocheted items and I like looking at them.

When we came home I took some vegetable soup that I had in the freezer and heated that up for our supper and made herb cheesy biscuits. Not a super big spend day and we had a nice time.

I noticed that someone had posted that Christmas is 74 days away as of yesterday. I'm already thinking about all the cookies I need to bake for our church bazaar the first Saturday in December. Yikes! Most of my Christmas shopping is finished. DH picked out some clothes from Lands End that he wanted and they sent an email with a huge percentage off just that day so I took advantage of it.

DH will probably be pulling up the rest of the plants this afternoon. It supposed to warm up later this week, but you never know when the frost will be, especially with this weather man!