Shabat Thoughts - An Open Heart Exam

We had a visitor the other day.  He's gruff and bristly at times and he's hurt our feelings on more than one occasion. He makes my introverted ways look positively social butterfly-ish.  He's refused many an invitation to stop by and made it plain he prefers to have no visitors.  He's also shown up to take care of an emergency repair or three and refused a penny or so much as a soda for his time.  I know him to be tender-hearted with animals and he's had quite an assortment of strays who were loved and cared for.  He is often harsh in his assessment of humans.  He plays well with children but anyone over 7 is likely to discover he's stern almost to the extreme. He's incredibly skilled with his hands and believes that his work reveals his integrity.   He often does kindnesses for others simply because he has the skills or the tools and materials to do them and he gets almost angry if you thank him.  He never tells what he's done for others but word gets around.  He has struggles.  Don't we all?  He is my brother and I love him.

A Year of Savings: 2013

Nov 23:  Electric bill came in. We saved $40 over last month's bill.

Forgot to mention last Wednesday(?) I got an email from MyCokeRewards that the special of the week was a FREE 12 pack of soda coupon for 30 MyCoke points. I grabbed the deal.  That is a savings of $4.99.

Earned $10 gift card with a survey group, earned 2 $5 cards from Swagbucks.  All are being added to my Amazon account for help in purchasing Christmas gifts.

Weekly Meal Plan - Thankful!

Well here it is Thanksgiving Week!  Have you been as busy as I've been?  I didn't get nearly as much accomplished last week as I'd have liked, since I missed my Monday Kitchen day.  I mean to remedy that this week and do a little extra in the kitchen on Sunday and Monday both.  Then come Thursday all I shall do is routine meal prep.  We've already got our traditional canned danish and cinnamon rolls in the fridge.  I just need to make sausage balls (note to self: thaw the turkey sausage).

We'll have a very small gathering of two at our table, but no regrets on my part.  As I shared in the thrift store on Friday with the chatty owner, holidays only come around a few times each year.  I'm not going to spoil anyone's by demanding they show up at my home EVER.  I'd LOVE to have them here, but when there are two of you and multiple family gatherings to go to it gets to be a struggle.  I daresay I've only had about two Thanksgiving or Christmas that weren't a pain in the rear for all the grief given me to come here and go there and why can't you be where I want you!  Nope, I hope every one of my children enjoys there holiday meal wherever they are having it and know full well that I love them regardless of where they eat their turkey.

Morning Coffee - O.R. (Operation Recovery)

Hello dears, do come in.  There's a fresh pot of coffee ready and waiting.  What do you say to crisp cinnamon toast this morning to go with it?  It sort of suits the weather don't you think?  Many years ago when I worked, I used to leave my oldest daughter ( a teen at the time) a detailed list of how to go about preparing dinner which was ready to be warmed or cooked.  Bless her, she was always more interested in reading or music and failed more often than not at the whole supper business...BUT her redeeming gift on cold rainy days was that she'd make coffee or hot cocoa and cinnamon toast.  I cannot begin to tell you how much that little booster helped restore me after a hard day at work.  She might fail with dinner but she could make cinnamon toast that was perfection: crisp, buttery, with a slight crunch and a generous dusting of cinnamon.  So good!

A Year of Savings: 2013

Nov 16:  Shabbat for us. I know we'll be traveling tomorrow and wanted to reduce our expenses as much as possible before hand.  I left an easy to heat meal of homemade chili in the fridge.  Savings $10.

We took advantage of free time to rest well in preparation for the trip tomorrow.

Nov 17:  We packed our bags which included a bottle of milk I'd frozen last night (savings $1.49), several bottles of water (savings $10), and snacks (savings $5).

Weekly Meal Plan

I've been busy this past week, hence my low postings. The annual headlong rush into the holidays is upon me this coming week.  I'm going to try to keep up with at least meal plans, A Year of Savings, and Morning Coffee posts but the Home Ec series may well be put on hold until the end of the year.  I've got several postings I want to make in that series and several articles to scan for even more but I'm just not sure I'm going to have time to spare.

I'm going to try hard to keep meals as economical as possible.  Tis the season for spending you know and we've several things coming up in addition to the holidays.  I don't mind cutting down on grocery spending this time of year when we've the pleasure of holiday meals to look forward to.  I'll also be working on food inventory lists while I'm dividing myself among all the other tasks before me.  I want to start the New Year with a clear idea of what we have, what we're NOT using as I thought we would.  We all have those items we purchase because they seem a good buy or we think we'll save money and then we don't...I know there are a couple of such items in my freezers and perhaps on my shelves. I'm going to be diligent about figuring out how to use those items and careful to note which ones NOT to buy.

A Year of Savings: 2013

Nov 9:  Shabat dinner was easily prepared.  I mixed up a meatloaf yesterday, baked today.  No work at all.  I stacked dishes and waited until evening to load the dishwasher.

Nov 10:  Planned meals for week last night.  Had company for dinner today.  I meant to have meat balls and spaghetti.  Meatballs were in the freezer, sauce was a mixture using canned spaghetti sauce bought on sale, and additional vegetables.  I had leftovers for supper.

Discovered I was out of spaghetti.  I substituted bow tie pasta.  It worked every bit as well.

Washed a full load of dishes this evening.

I received an email coupon from JCP for $10 off a $25 purchase. I've been looking for new nightgowns for months now.  I like a certain brand and style that are difficult to find, but they LAST. I found the brand on the JCP site on sale.  Two nighties, ended up costing me about what ONE usually costs.  Even after adding in taxes and shipping I can count savings: $18.

Morning Coffee - Savoring November

Hello hello...No I didn't mean to skip our visit last week.  Come on in and I'll share all about it.  There are Magic Cookie Bars to go with our coffee.  I used to reserve these for just holidays but I noted I had an awful lot of chips in the cabinet: chocolate, caramel nibs, peanut butter.  This recipe is adaptable for any flavor of chip you might want to use up.  I really like the caramel flavor of the condensed milk in the cookie with my coffee.

Every now and then I don't want milk in my coffee.  I'll open a can of evaporated milk or sweetened condensed milk and have that in my coffee instead.  I can't seem to find a half and half product very often any longer that doesn't have Carrageenan in it.  That is a seaweed extract and I am apparently allergic to it.  It's a sneaky thing, in that I can have a cup of coffee one day with half and half  and it's fine but after two or three days I develop the most irritating hoarseness and short cough. Ditto for ice cream, too, by the way. Even organic brands often have this ingredient.  I do buy Publix brand half and half when I'm in the store, but haven't been in quite a while.  Now I'm not in the habit of scaring anyone about ingredients in food.  I'm not a health nut per se, but when something upsets my system I want to know why.  If you click on the word you can see what Dr. Weil has to say about this particular ingredient.

A Year of Savings: 2013

Nov 1:  A long day.  Or so it felt with the early rising and early morning, as well.  We moved our usual grocery day since John had a meeting at work.  It was a bigger circle than usual that we made today!  However, combining errands is always the way to go.  We carried off trash, bagged up the aluminum cans I save for a man in John's work area (his granddaughter gets the cash earned from the aluminum as her college money!).  John got a haircut and I shopped for groceries.  We filled up the car with gasoline.  It's my goal to keep usage to about 1 tank per month for my car and even with the extra ride over to the mountain this past week, we still managed to keep to that goal.

I used a gift card to buy a Gingerbread Latte at the coffee shop.  Savings $3.48.

Weekly Meal Plan

I've been mulling over meal possibilities for tomorrow for the past twenty-four hours, ever since Sam texted to say he and Bess would be down to visit.  John kept asking me this afternoon if I meant to make 'a big meal' and the answer I kept giving him was "I mean to make dinner."  Not Thanksgiving or Occasion sized dinner, but a routine every day dinner.  I just want something tasty, good and that makes plenty.  I have three choices at present but I think I've made up my mind.

I usually try to do these meal plans on Saturday evenings so that I can get out whatever might need to thaw for Sunday and let it thaw overnight...and so I can plan baking as well because Sunday is my baking day per the new schedule.  Well again, the new schedule slides a bit, lol.  I won't be baking tomorrow, I'll be visiting.  I think I can give the kitchen a decent cleaning prior to company's arrival and dinner can simmer on the stove while I clean.   Everything else can wait.  Gracious, I've never yet had any housework get up and leave simply because I hadn't tackled it!

Questions and Answers and Comments, Oh My!

I didn't want to let a lot of time pass again before I acknowledge/answered comments, so I'm going to try to make this a once a month feature.  I get interesting mail, and I mean that sincerely.  Sometimes you ask questions that make me stop and really think or that inspire a post.  Sometimes you share a tip that helps me in my home.  Sometimes you're funny and sometimes you share your heart.  I enjoy these comments a great deal and I thank each of you who take time to leave a comment.

I wanted to start with this hint from Angela:  Sleep/ menopause- I have recently read and been trying the lavender oil on the soles of your feet at bedtime. Seems to be helping.  Now, I confess I haven't tried it on my feet...but I have been using lavender oil on my pillow and it does help. In the past, I've reserved the use of lavender oil for colds and migraines.  But yes, it does help most nights to soothe me to sleep, so give it a try!  note:  I did try the lavender oil on my feet.  I can't weigh in on this.  I had a horrid night that night but it might well have been the influence of a late afternoon Dr. Pepper...or the cheese and crackers snack we had close to bedtime.

The Modern Home Economist: How to Make a Checkerboard Cake

I don't know about you, but I've always loved to see checkerboard cakes rather than the old fashioned and more common marble cake layers.  There was just something special about seeing a cut cake reveal a checkerboard pattern.  

I've seen specialized pans, but I have a kitchen rule: If it serves only ONE purpose, it doesn't belong.  This rule began way back when I had extremely limited storage space.  It teaches you to be frugal in many ways when you've no place to store things.  Even after moving into a home with plenty of storage I've stuck to my old rules.  They made sense...but checkerboard cakes!

Weekly Meal Plan - Change of Plan

Here I am, late to be sure. And why?  Because after sitting down this morning and working out my menu for this week, I realized that I don't want a single thing on it.   It's boring.  It's just a repeat of what I've been making and I'm tired of it.  So I start again, from scratch.  I do have a few leftovers from today's meal to plan into the rest of the week's menu.

I've been working doubly hard on food waste over the last few months.  Here of late, I've slipped up a little more each week.  I can't afford to throw away food.  That's why I try to work so especially hard to remake leftovers into new meals.  Food tossed is money lost.  Here lately, my fridge has been so full I can't find all the foodstuffs in it.  I will be cleaning out the fridge this week, wiping down surfaces and such.  Here's hoping the losses are minimal!

A Year of Savings: 2013

Oct 26:  Every two weeks I make two loaves of Challah bread for Shabat.  At the end of every single week I throw away a small portion.  This week I was determined to use every last bit of Challah.  I started by using Challah as a base for our Turkey Sausage Gravy this morning.  It tasted as well as any biscuits would have and used up a large portion of the bread.    The leftovers became garlic bread to go with our Spaghetti Pie (freezer entree) dinner.  Bread used UP.  Nothing wasted.

Making Sausage Gravy may seem a splurge but it isn't really.  I use the gravy to stretch the meat.  Two slices of that good turkey sausage is just enough meat to flavor that gravy nicely.  Two slices is a single serving!  The sausage is not inexpensive at $.50 each patty, but it's considerably less expensive to use in this way.  Savings $1.

Our salad today was from our own little potted garden.

In My Home This Week: All Routine