This Week In My Home: Frugal Through the Holidays

                                            Simple pillow covers made for holiday home decor

Saturday:  We weren't home most of this day.  When we left we picked up mail, took off the trash.  We cut off all indoor lights and fans and lowered the heat.

Supper was Sausage Gravy and biscuits.  I made the biscuits from scratch.  The sausage gravy is very frugal.  I stretch two sausage patties with the milk gravy.  It is just right for the two of us.

Sunday:  Packed John's work lunch and made him breakfast.

Coffee Chat: Post Holiday Chatter

Come In!  I've already slipped beyond the holiday and have been dwelling in the New Year.  Oh I don't mean that I've stopped enjoying or failed to appreciate the spirit of the season, but simply that with our family Christmas already attended to, and John and I having exchanged small gifts early in December,  it's been all over for us for quite a while.  So I slipped ahead a bit and have been looking at the year to be and thinking of what I'd change in my home, in myself, in my finances over what I did this past year.

John has mentioned about three dozen times how much he liked our tree this year.  I thought it a little plain and homespun but he was really complimentary.  I'm so happy that it all pleased him.  I think it was the simplicity of it all.  It was not fussy looking and didn't require hours of fiddling about...well at least not that he saw, lol.  I don't think he's any idea at all how much work went into getting things to look so simple because he was only home for small portions of the decorating time. I'd meant to do a bit more as we got nearer Christmas.  I hadn't planned to leave it just as it was.  In the end?  It was fine.  I didn't like the dining table.  At. All.  I've ideas about next year.  Those are written down already, planning ahead.

In My Home This Week: Meal Plans and 2015

Wellllll...It's all done for another year isn't it?  I hate to see it go but look forward to next year, I do truly. And looking forward doesn't take long does it?  Hard to believe that by the end of this week it will be 2015! I've told John we must go get meats this next week...then I sat down and planned out meals and really we might wait another week.  My reason for going on now?  It's just easier if it doesn't interfere with grocery week.  I've tried that many times and it never does go as planned.  So I'll do a separate trip this week.  We've set aside the bulk of the money we'll spend for this and any overage will be made up from other sub accounts that are well plenished at the moment.

Christmas was nice but as I've said, I'm looking ahead to 2015.  I've already jotted down my notes about Hanukkah and Christmas and what should be done differently,  what worked really well and should be repeated.  It's a great help to go back in October or November and read my notes while I'm planning ahead.

Just For You

                Merry Christmas from my home to                                  yours!  

This Week In My Home: Christmas Week edition

We had a lovely Sabbath yesterday.  We went to visit at John's work partner's church.  Andy asked John to come be a guest and play as one of the worship service participants which was to be all musical.  I'm not unfamiliar with that little church.  My children attended Vacation Bible School there for many summers.  I've been to funerals there.  I lived in that area for nearly 20 years and the faces are familiar to me, hometown folks in a way that I've never been at home here in this little community.  It is an unusual looking church and the congregation considerably smaller than in years past.  The faces I was most familiar with are older than they were before.  Bittersweet, at first, was that visit.

But then the ones performing for the church came forward one by one and I was astonished and amazed by the talent in that small congregation.  Piano solos and songs, accordion, banjo, guitar.  There was a lovely old fashioned sort of appeal about some of it as older music was played and lovely new pieces were added to the mix as well.

This Week In My Home: Living Frugally Living Well

                               One of our improvisions to dry clothes, a tension rod in the doorway

Saturday:  We were out yesterday and I had no time to prepare meals for today.  I made sure I thawed meat last night and had a menu plan that would take less than 20 minutes prep overall.  I think I did very well.  I roasted a whole chicken, baked sweet potatoes alongside,  steamed green beans and made a salad. It took exactly the amount of time I'd allowed and no more for preparation.

We did not have breakfast for supper this week.  We opted for sandwiches, since I was already making John's work lunch for tomorrow at that time.  It saved time for me.

We did not run any lights all day long today, just opened the curtains to let in the natural sunlight and that was it.  John even turned off the TV until time for the Army Navy game!  I was surprised and pleased.

Freedom from Debt

It's been some months back that I wrote a statement in a post, "I'm frugal because living debt free is a whole lot more than just not owing someone money."   At the time Angela asked if I'd expound on that idea in a blog post.  It's taken me quite a long while, and I apologize for that, but I want to take the time now to address it.  Many will be looking at their finances this time of year and begin making resolutions and plans for next year.  Even those who choose NOT to make resolutions will no doubt be looking at their finances because we all do at this time year.  It's partly media driven and partly driven by the season of plenty and sometimes overwhelming abundance or regret we've just experienced with Christmas.

Retirement Remedies: Fighting Back Earning At Home

I learned several years ago that my ebay sales might only average $3 per sale,  but if I saved every single money order that came my way at the end of the month I had about $100 extra.  That $100 was small potatoes, but it made a deep dint in our debt repayment over the course of a year...$1200 at year's end and in two years time my 'little bits' had helped reduce our car loan by two and half years.  It paid off our always hefty balance on the credit card.  This experiment proved beyond a doubt that every little bit helps. One of John's favorite reminders is that little rivulets make up big streams.  The following are suggestions to myself to save/earn in order to net the extra cash that will ease the tight budget.

1.   Save all $1 bills by putting in the savings account.  

2.  Convert survey site cash rewards to Paypal and use for necessary purchases online or bank.

In My Home This Week: Counting Down To Christmas

John had  a lovely bit of time off, almost two whole weeks...My but it went by quickly!  Now we're back on a routine work schedule and we'll be there for some time.  No more extra days off for a bit.  It will be another schedule change for us both after all these months with an added day off here or there.  Sigh... Never a static schedule, ours.  Always changing and always weird to all but those of us who live with it.  Ah well.

We've had a lovely week of cold nights and cool days. I enjoy it a great deal, not the least because we can eat lovely slow simmered foods...

This Week In My Home: Living Frugally, Living Well

Saturday:  I used leftover hash brown casserole to make Egg Nests for our breakfast this morning.  It was a nice change of pace for a Shabat morning breakfast.

Our dinner was a heat and eat frozen entree right from our freezer, Turkey and Dressing, cranberry sauce left from our Thanksgiving meal and a salad with toasted nuts, apple slices and craisins.

We did nothing this day.  No shopping, nor driving.  We didn't even burn electricity except for the television and fridge and freezers running until late afternoon when I turned on the AC for a bit to cool the house off a bit.  A cold front is coming in tomorrow.  I for one shall be glad to see it.

I made a supper of waffles and hash browns and sausage for our company dinner tonight.  I used pancake mix for the waffles.

Coffee Chat: That Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Come in, come in...
All the while I am hurrying along doing the seasonal things I am well aware that yet another natural season is ending and the year is coming to a close.  It fills me with real sadness this year.  I feel honestly as though an era of my life is closing for good and I don't have a single thing other than feeling to back this idea up.  Well it's made me teary eyed over things, sentimental and nostalgic.  I'm not dreading the next phase, nor feeling particularly upset about it coming along, but I want to dwell a bit in the moments that are remaining, and run away from the thoughts that it's going to change, all at the same time.

I am forever hearing a bit of whining about folks not liking change...and I admit readily enough that you'll hear me doing some of that whining when changes are afoot in my life that I've had no choosing in...but I am aware too that we were never created to be stagnant people.  We might well have been formed of dirt in the beginning but 75% of our body is water and water must MOVE or it dries up and becomes nothing but...well, dirt all over again.  And truth is, that time is coming soon enough at the end of our lives so why hurry it on?

In My Home This Week: Another Fresh Start

Whew!  It was a week of work last week.  I was plenty busy decorating and cleaning and running errands. Well it's all over except the eating which will take place today and then it's all done.  I am looking forward to this day of family and food and grands.

This week promises to be busy as well.  John is off all week long so my time is at his disposal for the most part and whose to say what that means?  I never know until moments before sometimes what the plans for the day may be.  That means that meals also may be more on the fly as well...and I must be prepared for that as well.  Seems sort of useless to even make plans doesn't it?  Well I if I don't then I'll really have to prepare them on the fly and there is no fun whatsoever in that.  Besides, it's grocery week and I need to be sure I have enough to prepare meals.

Questions, Answers and Comments, Oh My!

December is well on it's way isn't it?  I haven't had a moment to spare to write this post until now but I didn't want to let this month pass without it because some of the comments and questions from November were awesome...and I do love to share what's being said amongst us all.

Let's get started...

Living Frugally post 1  Vicki M we got those two coupons which could be redeemed for either 20 ounce bottles or 2 L bottles.  We chose to buy the 2L size and had them for our family party this weekend.

Sarah said she uses a twin size blanket or spread folded at the foot of her bed.  It's just right for warming the feet and adding a bright spot to the room, too.  I exchanged the curtain panel at the foot of my guest bed for a quilt towards the end of the month.  I put out something a little more rugged when we had guests, that could withstand tugging and pulling.

In My Home This Week, Living Frugally and Well

                                           Vintage Pillowcase becomes Mixer dust cover

Saturday:  Nothing but leftovers for us all day long and it was just as good as it was on Friday.  We had leftovers of cinnamon rolls and sausages for breakfast, leftovers of turkey dinner for dinner.  Yum yum.

I made a quick hashbrown casserole as our second side dish.  I'd parboiled potatoes and chopped onion earlier in the week.  I just added half a can of mushroom soup, 1/2 cup sour cream and mixed it all up.

I put the rest of the food in to warm while the casserole cooked.

For supper tonight I made up a batch of biscuits, cooked a piece of turkey sausage and an egg for each of us.  Leftover biscuits will be saved for another meal.

Loaded the dishwasher tonight and it was FULL.  Washed on short cycle since I'd rinsed things well before putting them in.

Deck the Halls...with Canning Jars and Burlap

I've run a little behind and a little ahead this week.  Normally I have the tree up by Thanksgiving night.  This year, no.  It was partly due to the fact that I was simply worn down  that evening but also that I needed to move some furniture about and no one was at home to help.

With the advent of December I want my home to begin to seem somewhat holiday-ish.  At this point the majority of the leaves are off the trees.  Landscapes are brown and gray and deep forest green and bleached wheat blonde.  It is time to say goodbye to the flame orange and red and deep burgundy of autumn.  Time to say hello to winter and in winter we celebrate Christmas.

I normally begin to gear up for decorating about Dec 10.  This year I've moved it up because we have our family party this weekend and I really wanted the children (grown up and small) to feel they had had a holiday experience.  I've seen some great ideas on Pinterest this year and on a few blogs like The Cultivated Nest.  First was this front door idea

This Week In My Home: Menu Plan and Work Week

The weeks seem to be rushing towards the inevitable conclusion of the end of the year.  I feel truly that I've only just begun each week and it is Friday and the end all over again.  I want to wrestle with time a bit and tell it to slow down, sit on it if I must to keep it from flying away from me.  But it's like trying to wrestle with the wind...It can neither be captured nor sat upon and it will do what it will do.  Right now it seems determined to speed along and leave me reeling.

Our meat stores are seriously low, especially in the poultry department.  Never mind.  I can always purchase more of that nearby.  It's the beef we want to stretch a bit harder and that we shall do.  I've a number of dishes on a list nearby that I've thought of over the past week or two which sound lovely for cooler weather. Things like cabbage rolls and picallily over rice, Swedish meatballs and Baked Chicken and Dumplings and Pot Roast with Cherries.

In My Home This Week: Living Frugally, Living Well

                                  Homemade Chocolate Syrup...It's better than Hershey's!

Saturday:  Shabat is a restful day for us.  No big plans for meals or for work.  We do Bible study, watch a service if we find one interesting, John plays praise music.  That's our morning.  Afternoons are for the usual Saturday stuff: football and napping.  It's surprising how often and how long I can nap on a Saturday afternoon and then sleep like a top Saturday night.

Dinner was a rotisserie chicken we picked up at the meat market yesterday.  I served the leg quarters for our meal, set aside the breast meat and put the carcass in the freezer for a future broth making day.

Cut the stems from the crown of broccoli and set aside for stir fry or slaw.

Made a little too much of the wild rice mixture.  I saved it even though it wasn't only about a cup and I'd no idea what I'd do with it.

Supper on these Shabat evenings now that the weather is cooler is breakfast.  Tonight I made Pancakes and used the last of the last package of beef sausage links.

Prepared John's work lunch.  I included a chicken sandwich from the breast meat I set aside.  I could have made him a salad but he prefers the bagged stuff and I had none of that.  I made him sandwiches and included a leftover portion of Chili Mac for him to heat.

Retirement Remedies: Fighting Back Cooking for One

A couple of weeks ago I got an email from Margie asking a question about meal planning that I thought was just perfect for us folks who are empty nesters.  Here's a portion of her note:

I want to start fixing meals here at home ( I know it would save just oodles of money), but DH is away almost all of the time.  So, .... do I just go ahead and fix a regular meal just for me and try to section it out ( so I don’t pig out, LOL) or do I just do what I have been doing ( which is to pop a frozen dinner in, or have a sandwich or something like that). 

Coffee Chat: Autumn Wooing

Hello loves, it is early in the week, isn't it, but I'm ready for a bit of chatter.  Do come in and have coffee...or cocoa if you'd like...and let's have a bit of quiet time here before we begin the hectic pace of the week to come.

I have looked forward to returning to this lovely vintage A&P coffee ad.  I love the very tangible sense of fruitful harvest that is present in it, don't you?  I am puzzled by the big basket of fruits outdoors, and I don't believe I've ever in my life seen squash strung up to hang, but overall it's a beautiful photo isn't it?  My weakness for lovely china finds the coffee pot and cup especially beautiful.   So beautiful that I spent time on eBay perusing china this morning in the early hours after John left for work.   I do not need china, but I do enjoy the beauty of it and the variety of patterns.  I am impartial as to whether it's new or old.

Granny and Mama both had rose patterned plates, but Grandmama Crowley had wheat patterned plates.  I see these now and then as I'm in the thrift stores and I tell you truly that I really love the wheat pattern myself. I suppose I love it so because Grandmama actually used her china, but also because she had both china and a milk glass/fire king type plates with that wheat pattern, so I know she must have been especially fond of that.  I'll lay odds that all of Grandmama's plates were from the five and dime or grocery store incentive purchases.  She was not one to spend a load of money on things except coats and shoes.

Well, china is china is china, a passion I cannot quite afford either in cost nor in storage needs, lol, so let's move on shall we?

In My Home This Week: A Fresh Start, Menus and Work Plans

It seems fitting to post this lovely vintage magazine advertisement with pumpkin pies on the counter and turkey ready to go into the oven to roast...It is Thanksgiving week here in the U.S.  I have a turkey breast in the fridge thawing even as I write and my menu is written down, all except for 1 side dish.  I'm unsure which I shall make at the moment, but I've plenty of things to choose from.

We've just had a lovely Shabat in our home.  More and more often I find I indulge in a long nap mid-afternoon, something I don't typically allow myself, but somehow it never affects my rest Saturday night.  I always take the nap as a blessing.

You'll find fewer meals than usual on my menu this week.  John will be working tomorrow and Thursday.  I'll have dinner at my mom's, where a very small immediate family gathering is planned for Thursday and there will be leftovers for Sunday (tomorrow).  Friday I'm making a small Thanksgiving Meal for us.  I plan to have leftovers on Saturday so no menu for that day either.

In My Home This Week: Living Frugally, Living Well

Sunday in the kitchen: Challah for Shabbat, Chocolate Syrup for cocoa and Grappleberry Jelly

Saturday:    I've been looking about on Pinterest this afternoon and I must say that I gathered quite a few ideas for meals, blog posts, savings ideas, decorating and solution ideas...Oh the list just goes on and on.  I kept a piece of paper here by me and jotted down ideas I want to try immediately.  I filled it front and back! Mighty inexpensive for something that honestly most say is a waste of time.  I say use it like any other 'tool' and explore it once a week to see what you might learn!

We turned off the propane when it got too warm here in the house.  I am lobbying for a propane heater with a thermostatic sensor so that it comes on and goes off when temperature is reached.  I say it will be a savings for us and I think my gentle prodding has worked.  John told someone earlier this week that we'll likely see about this purchase next summer. In the meantime, we'll make do on these cool days (and there are plenty more to come in the next week!) with the combination of propane and electric heat.

Washed a full load of dishes this evening.

The Guest/Craft Room: Phase 1

                                                    Not exactly a warm welcome is it?

I confess it took me a few months to do anything at all with Katie's room after she moved out.  She left home in August 2010 and I don' t think I did too much just at first except fill it up with stuff that I didn't want in other areas of the house but hadn't gumption enough to take out to the shed.  I'm not sure how it is I even have this photo of the room, because honestly I can show you dozens, literally dozens, in which I have carefully cropped the photo just so that you see a single item but don't see the room at all.  This is where we began and this is how it stayed until along about January or February 2014, and then it was only marginally better.

Truth be told, I'd looked forward to being an empty nester...after all I'd been actively parenting for 30 years or so by the time Katie moved out.  But I was completely and totally blindsided by how I felt after she left. Lost.  Forlorn. Unanchored. Uncertain.  Useless...the list went on and on and it was all negative stuff!  I'd never been absorbed by my children, although I thoroughly enjoyed parenting for the most part,  but I'd no idea how very closely I identified myself with the role of mama, mumma, mom, mumsie until there was no one here calling me by those names.

Retirement Remedies: Fighting Back From the Home Front

We are so blessed to have our home fully paid for.  And thank goodness!  I cannot imagine how we would make it through our retirement years if we were still paying off our mortgage and though it was a small mortgage compared to many it was a costly one with a high interest rate.  We had the best going rate at the time we financed (at 9.75%!!).  I'm not ashamed to admit that while we consistently paid extra on our mortgage amount we paid it off because I was left a small inheritance.  It was just enough to cover what we owed on our mortgage and despite all the financial advice given by those lovely financial planners telling us that the worst thing we could do was pay off our mortgage,  we paid off the mortgage rather than invest the money.  We thought it a pretty good return on our 'investment' to finally realize our dream of being debt free.

Well being debt free is not the end of the game...staying debt free is a balancing act of figuring out what works, what doesn't and why.  I've made a reminder list of thoughts I've had over the past three weeks.  I'm putting them in my notebook and reviewing them a couple of times a month, just so I keep aware of my purpose.

1.  Repair, paint, maintain, recover, clean.  Read instruction booklets and follow a routine maintenance                schedule for all appliances, vehicles, painted surfaces, fabrics, etc.  If we don't have a manual can I find          one online?   Is there a Youtube video to show me what I need to know?

In My Home This Week: Menus and Job Plans

It was Wednesday this past week before we had a full day at home and I was more than ready for it.  I piddled about doing homely things all day long.  At the end of the day, I was tired but very satisfied.  It felt good to slip back into my home routines.  I found myself humming happily as I washed dishes.  Nothing like a good day's work doing something you love, is there?

This week I don't have big plans.  John will work two days.  I'll have one of those home alone and one out with Mama.  I am done with Phase I of the Guest/Craft Room, finally.  Now to look for items needed for Phase II.  I'd like to work on the front porch paint and decor, have bulbs and rhizomes to plant and roses to prune back hard now that cold weather is here.  I don't have any major projects ongoing indoors at present so I may actually make it out to the shed and start to really organize that area if it stays nice and cool.

In the kitchen I want to stretch out my meats to last until late December/early January.  I have enough room to purchase a couple of turkeys when I see a good price at the groceries which will help me reach that goal of stretching out meat.

Shabat Thoughts: The Process of Prayer

Saturday as we looked for the time of the University of Georgia game, we noted it was coming on at 7:15 in the evening and was a home game.  "Boy, I am glad we are not in Athens right now!  Can you imagine how crazy the traffic must be on those winding streets and it dark as well?"  John nodded.  "Ha.  Just think last year this time Katie was fighting that traffic on Saturdays to get to work or home again."  John nodded again.

I felt inclined to write Katie a quick note reminding her of the fact that she'd moved away from that fast food job that kept her tangled in traffic for an hour or more to drive the five minutes from home to work.  As I typed out my message to her, I realized that a great deal had changed in her life since last November.  She'd faced a lot of hardships and heartaches, the lifetime sort, during the last three years, but all of them seemed nothing to the suffering she went through last fall.  John and I cried out on her behalf again and again in our prayers.

Living Frugal Living Well

When I cut an onion, carrots or celery the end pieces go into this bag in the freezer.  It's perfectly handy for making broth and I'm seldom required to cut up vegetables (or to use more).

Saturday:  Company this morning for us.  I made a quick cabbage salad and had a small amount leftover.  I sent it home with Bess and Sam at the end of the day.  We are traveling tomorrow and the salad will be a mushy mess by time I could use it up.

An easy dip for corn chips was made mixing an 8 ounce package of cream cheese and half a jar of salsa.  The cream cheese was bought on sale.

We like hot dogs but we like a premium beef brand.  I don't buy them often as they are very pricey per pound...unless I can get them when they are buy one get one, as they were this week.  Then they are quite reasonable and we consider them a great treat.  I served hot dogs today to keep kitchen work at a minimum.

Washed a full load of dishes at end of day.

Set milk to thaw in the fridge while we were gone.

Packed a bag of snack foods.

Tried and True: Beef Stroganoff Soup

I very nearly put off attempting to make up this recipe once again last week.  I was dithering about which menu to attempt as the morning was fairly warm and then the weather took a turn as the morning progressed and by 10am the thermometer was dropping steadily, the breeze put on a cold shoulder and soup seemed the only possibility.  I decided it was now or never to try my hand at this inspiration.

                                                the ingredients all lined up and ready to go

I knew that if I wanted to make soup and have it taste like stroganoff, I'd have to adjust my seasonings accordingly or it would just taste bland over all.  So I increased the amounts of tomato product, sherry and beef broth.  I think that adjustment alone made this experiment a success.

Coffee Chat: Oatmeal Cookies to Warm the Heart

Hello there...Come in for coffee and specially requested Oatmeal cookies.  Katie asked me to make these and send her some.  They went out in Friday's mail.  I asked her if there was a particular reason why she wanted oatmeal cookies.  She said they made her think of fall and fall makes her want my oatmeal cookies. I use the Quaker Oats recipe but there's a secret ingredient in my cookies, and no, it's not just Mama love. It's dates.  I swap out half the raisins for dates.  I've made them just so for twenty something years.  No one ever guesses why they are different but everyone loves the additional moistness  that the dates impart to the baked cookies.  Shhhh!  We'll keep it just between us, okay?

She let me know they had arrived early this week, as they ought to have done but I had one of those slips of the brain and sent them to her under her maiden name.  Her beloved was teasing her that he couldn't eat them as they'd come under the wrong name.  He is a silly man at times and dearly loves to tease.  The truth is that I mindlessly copied out her address from my address book which is obviously not updated with her married name.  I apologized to her right away when I realized what I'd done, which was well after it was mailed of course.

The first weekend of this month,  the weather here turned off cold with a vengeance and a great blowing wind that gusted at the house and shook the walls and lifted the umbrella off the patio table and tossed it around at the opposite end of the house...I personally love blustery winds.  It makes me feel wild and alive.

My Week: November 9 - 15

Lovely weekend...Lovely week ahead, I hope.  I'm certainly looking forward to it!  It's November.  Frosty mornings in which the warmth of the heater is most welcome.  Cold nights to snuggle under the heavy weight of a lovely quilt.  Bright clear skies, beautiful trees glowing brightly in their new array.  Geese honking overhead.  Loveliest of months is November!

Time is filling up with family and friends, a little time off for working hard all the year, Harvest time, grocery shopping...all the usual things that come with each week.  No complaints from me.  Life is a bowl of lovely red apples this time of year, meant to be savored and enjoyed in season.  And I am!

Meal Plans

Breakfasts:  Butterscotch Oatmeal, Peanut Butter Toast
                      Chicken Biscuits, Tater Tots, Orange Juice
                      Apple Waffles with Maple Syrup, Turkey Bacon
                      Egg and Cheese Strata, Fruit Cocktail
                      Sausage and Cheese Toast
                      McCheney's, Grape Juice
                      Scambled Eggs with Cream Cheese and Chives,  Grits, Banana Nut Muffins

Shabat Thoughts - Stretching Exercise

There's been a painful situation in my life for several years now. As time has gone on there has been a disintegration.  I've struggled and struggled but realized I had allowed a very unhealthy mental/spiritual attitude to develop and made a major decision during the summer to ask for a pastor friend to take over prayers for me.  I found my way back to a cautious, more healthy outlook during the several weeks that he carried my baton.  For the first time in a long, long while, I felt peace.

I took back that baton this autumn.  I was rested and had prayed for direction, and I was sure it was time.  I had a better understanding of myself and where I needed to be careful. I approached it cautiously.  Nothing had changed.  The whole issue had in fact, only grown more volatile.  More and more I could see that the skirmishes had developed into a major battle that is hard and fierce.

Sunday morning I woke with a weight on my heart.  I felt I'd failed in every effort I'd made in this situation.  I cannot tell you how deeply I felt my failures.  I watched the sunrise and I prayed and prayed asking God to show me what I needed to see in this situation, asking Him how much longer it would go on and how much longer I must wait to see any results.

Living Frugal, Living Well

I try to keep our cookie jar filled with mostly homemade cookies.  These were Mexican Hot Chocolate which I really enjoyed.  Right now we've got Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip.  Yum!

Saturday:  Meals were so easy today, which I loved.  Butterscotch oatmeal for breakfast.  I measured out the oats and brown sugar, even put in the pinch of salt and set them aside in a covered dish yesterday.  I also measured out the milk and cracked the egg into it.  That went into a covered jar in the fridge.  This morning I dumped the contents of both into a saucepan and we had breakfast in a few minutes time.  It hit the spot on this cold blustery November day.

I put the pizza dough into the pan and let it rise a bit, topped it with leftover Sloppy Joe meat, a variety of vegetables and cheeses and olives.  It sure did taste good this afternoon when we ate.

What is it about apples that so appeal to kids?  I had two of the North Georgia apples left in my blue bowl and company children spied them and asked for them.  No problem, except there was three of them and just two apples.  I cut them in half and we all had a piece of apple.  I'd made mental note I needed to use them this week but thankfully the problem solved itself rather nicely.

Leftover Makeover - Shepherd's Pie

I think stretching the budget is made easier by the use of leftovers.  I had about 2 cups of mashed potatoes leftover Friday (really more of a planned ahead thing as I'd thought I'd make potato pancakes). This past weekend I made a crockpot dinner of Pot Roast with vegetables.  It was not a large piece of chuck roast, perhaps a pound before cooking and we all know how that meat shrinks when cooked.  I portioned out the meat in three pieces, and left one in the crockpot with the cooking broth. After dinner I put the meat and broth in the fridge.  I think there was about 2 cups of broth.

That was the basis of this leftover makeover of Shepherd's Pie.
                                             This is the leftover of my leftover makeover!

Questions and Answers and Comments, Oh My!

I started October with a Freezer Challenge.  I realized that no turkey, or any other purchase!, was going to fit in my freezer in November unless I got serious about eating from the freezer.  Several of you offered to join me: Rhonda, Sarah, Linda, Pam, and Glenda...and Maranda had already posted a similar challenge on her blog.  Lena was on a mission to FILL her freezer.  She's expecting twins sometime this month and she needs easy meals for the first weeks.  I'll give her a pass, lol.

I hope you all did well.  I feel I made some headway.  I went through the two chest freezers and defrosted them and organized them.  That meant purchasing baskets for the smaller freezer, something I'd meant to do but put off for too long.  Now I can easily reach in and remove a basket of like items to get to the stuff I want to find. I have a small amount of room in the back freezer, a little more room in the big chest freezer and hope to continue to make a dint this month although I have not issued any challenges for this month.  Every chance I get, I pull something from one of the freezers to use, even if it's a small item, because I figure it's that much more room I shall have for holiday needs.

Menu and Plans for November 2 - 8, 2014

The cold weather finally came in.  Right along with November 1 and time change, boom!  The winds began to gust mightily and have shaken the house a few times today.  The leaves are skittering across the lawn and into the brush at the edges of the yard.  Things have blown off the porch walls that I thought were perfectly secure where they were.  I had to bring in plants  last night.  We wore layers about the house yesterday afternoon.  A friend of the family came by with his grandchildren in tow and those three plus Maddie dancing about the yard in the wind (all frisky as puppies every single one of them!) had me convinced there were twice as many children and dogs in the yard.  I begged off after a bit of watching them and headed back indoors to shelter from the wind.  Last glimpse I had of children and dog they were running downhill, dropping in the grass and rolling part of the way, lol.  It was lovely!

Living Frugal, Living Well

                   A reminder to myself: I need to make a wreath for the front door this week.
                                                           I don't buy wreaths, I make them.   
                                                    I love having something that is uniquely mine.

Saturday: John made breakfast this morning.  I had leftover french toast and waffles that he reheated.

Washed a full load of  dishes.

We had windows open until it got stuffy about 5pm.

Made a salad from a single crown of broccoli.

Prepared John's lunch for work tomorrow.

Shopped at home: got milk from the freezer

Pulled two single serve entrees from the freezer for our supper.

Random Wondering

I was going to do another coffee chat but I don't have anything much to say that warrants a proper I thought I'd do one of my random thoughts posts instead.  I'll try to have a decent chat with you next week.


We were sitting here this afternoon watching TV when the big platter on the wall fell.  I'd noticed it was slightly askew yesterday and had decided then to ask John to straighten it for me since it was 10 feet up on the wall.  We've examined the nail which is just fine and was actually in a stud (wonder of wonders on that!). The platter, in falling, smashed the little dogs figurine I'd picked up on a whim in the flea market because I found it oddly appealing.

When I recounted the incident later in the evening on facebook, a friend said "I'd have cried."  I may have sounded a bit hard when I said I didn't cry over flea market and antique store items, but it's truth.  I always feel I'm just a temporary keeper.  I've chosen to share whatever history is in one of those pieces unlike the true family heirlooms.

I don't mind saying I shall sincerely miss the little dogs.  I'm not usually one to buy dogs at all.  I lean more towards birds but the dogs had a look of age about them that seemed to be greater than perhaps than they actually were.  They were obviously oriental.  And there was just something sweet about them, the way the puppy leaned towards the mother dog.  I can easily replace the platter if I choose.  After all there were dozens like it listed on eBay at the time I bought that.  But the dogs will be irreplaceable, not unlike the real ones that came into my life and passed on.

Retirement Remedies: Fighting Back

  Grocery Savings, Part II

In Part I, I shared food savings.  In Part II I'd like to share how I hope to save money on the rest of the grocery budget.

#1.  On a roll. Toilet paper, paper towels, aluminum foil, waxed paper, parchment paper, plastic wrap...If it's on a roll it's probably in our homes.  I tried years ago to cut down on paper towel and it worked rather well, to the point that now a 2-3 roll  package of paper towel might well last us 6 months unless we have a really big messy mess.  I started weaning us away from paper towel by putting a big bowl (you could use a basket as well), on the counter, filled it with dishcloths and put the roll of paper towel under the counter.  It worked very well and later when I found the vintage paper dispenser (it says paper towel, waxed paper and foil on the front of each holder) I removed the dish cloths and hung that.  Again out of sight and mostly out of mind.  I highly recommend hiding the roll and offering up dish cloths unless you are blessed to find one these handy vintage paper dispensers. (which abound on eBay though none are quite like mine...nor half as well priced as mine was either!).

Tried and True: Mexican Hot Chocolate Cookies

Mexican Hot Chocolate Cookies

A few years ago I had an awesome chocolate cookie recipe and somewhere along the way it got lost. I found this one on Pinterest.  I think the link said it was a Martha Stewart recipe.  Reading through it reminded me a great deal of that lost recipe, with the exception that the dough is rolled in a spicy sugar mixture.

This Week: Menu and Job Plans

  The windows have been open each day and there is something about open windows that just connects one with nature.  Here in the South this time of year, there is a soft continuous trill that goes on all afternoon long, so the day is never truly quiet.  It's an aliveness of the air, perhaps a cricket or some insect that sings, but it's just part and parcel of Fall.  A week of lovely autumn weather just behind me and frankly I am loathsome to see warm days return.  But it is indeed returning, at least for a few days and then we'll go right back to being cool.  I'll go back to AC on in the afternoons and grateful for it.

The freezer challenge continues.  I've some breathing room after this past week.  Some of the space will fill right back up when we shop for groceries this week.  I'm thinking this whole freezer thing could go on quite a bit longer and I mean that sincerely.  I've barely made a dint.

Living Frugal, Living Well

 My frugal bit of autumn decorating.  Silk picks from years past (plus one new stem) a vase that didn't sell in the booth and is temporarily having a time out here at home and a pheasant I've had for years, another thrift store pick.

Saturday:  John made breakfast this morning.  I've determined that once a month I will splurge on a can of his favorite refrigerated biscuits.  I make awesome biscuits from scratch but he considers these a real treat.   He wanted to make biscuits this morning.  I suggested he save three of the uncooked biscuits to use for our supper.

Easy dinner for today: leftover fried chicken, warm potato salad, sliced tomatoes.  It was easy, tasty and there were no leftovers.

I boiled three eggs, 1 for the potato salad, 2 to use for salad later this week.

Coffee Chat: October Blue and Gray

Coffee anyone?  Never fear...It's not quite cool enough yet to hide indoors.  We can take it on the porch again if you'd like. There  are spice cookies too. Tempt you much?  Have a seat and join me.

We're having a lovely October and I don't mean the weather.  That has been weather, which means it's been changeable as weather usually is, and is often one thing or another.  No, the lovely parts have been non-weather related.

John worked  Friday a week ago so I'm going to start there...He worked and I went off to buy two more blinds while the $10 off $50 purchase card was still good for Lowes.  I don't know about now but Lowe's has/had clearance prices on their drapes and some of them were pretty good (50%) and some were Amazing.  I couldn't find 2-6 of any one type of panel I liked to do any window/room in my house, so I looked for naught, but it was fun to imagine getting such a great buy on curtains.

It was stinking hot and the air was heavy and humid.  Ugh. I'd thought I'd do a bit of thrifting but it was so unpleasant that the idea of getting in and out of the car half a dozen times  and wandering about in humid buildings (why is the air con always on the blitz in these places?), then getting in car just long enough for the air conditioning to start cooling before the next stop was not appealing in the least.  Instead, I headed back home and stopped off at the flea market.

Retirement Remedies: Budget Battles

It's been two years of struggling and trimming and cutting back, but it finally paid off.  The past two months I've spent less than $300 on groceries for each month.   Honestly, now that I can see I've made headway, I'm more than ready to hit it all a little harder.  I don't know about you but I'm about tired of being bossed around by my budget.  I want some wiggle room!

I sat down this weekend and wrote a long list of steps to implement (some of which I've recently started doing and want to continue).  I thought perhaps some of you might be interested to see where I'm planning to try to cut back a little more. There's nothing really new or earth shattering here, but perhaps it will be a good reminder of things you might do, can change, can adjust to suit your needs, etc.  And for anyone new to trimming the budget, perhaps it will truly be a revelation and a help!

I'll start with grocery savings because that is the biggest variable area of our budget.  There are other places to trim and cut and a few places to earn, and I'll share those with you as well over the next couple of weeks. In my home, the grocery budget includes food, pet foods, paper products, cleaning products and personal care items.  It all falls into the area of spending that I am solely responsible for so I'll break the grocery category down into those areas.

The More Frugal Kitchen

Menus and Work for This Week: October 19 - 24

                                                     The Freezer Challenge Continues...

I've been wracking my brain for menu ideas for the coming week.  I'm just so undecided and admittedly a wee bit frustrated.  You see, I cleared a bit of space in all three freezers this past week...and promptly refilled those spaces on Thursday and Friday...Uhm,  this is not working quite the way that I planned it!  My food multiplication is much appreciated, truly it is, but it does seem that I am forever trying to figure out where I'll store the leftovers.  I shall not complain.  It's a wonderful thing, truly it is to take stuff from the freezer and make more stuff to refill the freezer and all the while I'm cutting back on portions and this ingredient or that and the food just increases.

Living Frugal Living Well

Sorry this is late this weekend.  I tried to send it out several times Friday evening and Saturday but blogger just wasn't cooperating.

At one time I used my own photos to head these posts.  I felt it was a good way to share how we save and live in our home.  I love this little flower bed that is a good enough replica of one I much admired so I'm going to lead off with this photo this week.

Saturday:  John worked his 24 hour shift, so I made a breakfast for us.  I made Bagel Breakfast Sandwichs, which suited his need to have a heavier than usual breakfast and filled us up until well past dinner time.

Packed for a trip we'd planned for this weekend.  We've gotten to be old hands at packing and generally know just what we need so it all comes together quickly.  I keep a zippered plastic bag of trial sized items in the overnight bag as well as a single wash load of detergent, a dryer sheet, a mini sewing kit for repairs, a nightlight, and even a spare hair brush.  All we generally have to gather is our colognes, toothbrush and whatever we feel we require extra.  It's made packing a breeze in that department and we can pack a bag for travel in about 10 minutes flat.

Our hotel fees will be covered by a small fund we keep and use for travel.  We usually put money in this account at Christmas and later when we get tax returns.  We don't contribute monthly to this fund.  So when the money in the account is gone we don't travel.

Questions, Answers, & Comments

Well here we are in another new month...they do seem to come around regular don't they?  I am not going to go on about how quickly time passes.  It does and it doesn't, if you know what I mean.  I like staying busy which makes time pass quickly, but I can be pretty relaxed at times and time seems to pass just as quickly. And the few incidents where time passed slowly, had little to do with boredom and a lot to do with awaiting news in illness or for test results and only occasionally did it slow down for good things...I'd much rather time passed at it's usual pace!

September ended being a pretty good month for me where projects and tasks were concerned.  I feel it was a productive time overall and I am happy with the results.

Another happy thing has been the number of comments, especially from long time readers who said it was their first time posting...Thank you!  Thank you all for making my ordinary day to day life appear to have some import to others.  Thank you for taking time to comment.  It means a great deal to me.

Now let's see what you had to say this past month...

Rutabagas or Swedes: An Autumn Bonus

This my dears, is a rutabaga as it is known in the U.S. or Swede, as our neighbors and friends from around the world call it.  It is from the Brassica family (cabbage) and is a root vegetable.  It takes far longer to mature than a turnip and the flesh is a pale yellow.  Rutabagas are largely grown in Canada which exports them.  You've likely seen them in the grocery store and thought they were rather ugly with their mottled and heavily waxed skin.

I've eaten rutabaga for all my life in the autumn and winter months.  In my family they were a much looked forward to seasonal food. 40 odd years ago a rutabaga was a strong tasting, almost bitter root but not so much anymore.  Katie, my most picky of all children, loved when I'd cut a rutabaga into sticks and make oven baked fries from them.  I like them served mashed with butter and pepper.  Look on your grocery shelves and you'll likely find cans of diced rutabaga which might be heated and served as they are.

In My Home This Week: All Routine