Time Out - Daydreaming

I'm going to take off a couple of weeks here.  A week away from computer and blogging and work, too comes first.  I need the break and it's high time I reacquainted myself with some of my book friends that I've ignored.  And perhaps go out for some long rides in this beautiful end of spring time while wildflowers are blooming still.

It's my 20 year anniversary week and honestly I want to celebrate it in a special way.  I couldn't afford the cruise I always thought we'd get along about now.  Such is life.  I think we'll enjoy our week anyway, since John took off a couple of days.

Then in Week 2 I'll be working double time hard trying to get a few of the projects done before it gets too too hot to consider work.  Considering it was already mid-90's Friday...Well I'll just have to work hard to get up super early and work in the cool morning hours.

Weekly Meal Plan

I don't have job plans this week.  I'm taking some time out to do what I'd like: read, ramble to my heart's content and rest.  I'll be back next week with a bigger than usual job plan because that week I mean to take another week off from blog writing, reading and computer in general after the meal/job post and knuckle down to a double time pace and get a few of these projects wiped off my list.  I think it's a great way to end one quarter and begin another don't you?  I think I feel a pantry challenge coming on for June as well, so let's get prepared for that and stock up on dairy for the month.  I am planning to purchase mostly produce this week and extra dairy.  I'll use next month's budget to fill in holes in our pantry/freezer food storage.

I realized the other day that I make my life a lot harder than it need be in failing to plan out breakfasts and suppers as well as our main meals each day.  Mind you we do eat pretty much the same thing for both those meals on a rotating basis but I don't always have ingredients on hand to make the usual selections.   Just like planning dinners, planning those other two meals HELPS.  Since school is about to let out I thought perhaps if I planned out my breakfasts and suppers it might help you as well.  So a-planning we will go!

My Frugal Week - May 17- 23

Saturday:  Whoo boy!  Save a little, spend a lot.  That's the way it goes at times isn't it? Well never mind.  We've got money to cover the spending part of the day just fine with no harm done to our account.

Received a free magazine in the mail.

Was able to turn off AC again late yesterday evening.  It was so cool, I got up and got a quilt!

Last week's savings but forgot to mention it:  While we waited on John's check to arrive at office, he was able to wash our car.  The crew keeps a bucket set up to wash the ambulances and the crew often knocks dust off their own vehicles.  In our case it was strictly pollen and took less than 5 minutes to clean off.  A nice savings over our usual stop at the car wash.

Today we were off to home improvement center.  We dropped a small pot load of money there on various things, most all of them money savers in their own ways:

Coffee Chat - The Very Long To Do List

Come in, won't you?  I've made the pie Brenda featured on her blog last week.  It's good, but I"m proudest of the crust.  I made it myself and it's so flaky and delicious.  It's a recipe I've not tried before and I think the secret to making it is that I did two things differently than I've done in the past when making a shortening crust.  I used the Kitchen Aid mixer to cut the shortening into the flour but quit well before it got too fine looking (definitely not to the cornmeal phase).  And then I added just enough water that it just began to come together with some portions remaining as crumbs.  So it wasn't a wet dough.  It held together nicely though when I pushed it all together.  No chilling, just put between waxed paper sheets and rolled it out and popped into the pie pan.  It really is the absolute nicest crust I've ever made.  It's only taken three years of making my own crusts to get a good one!

                              See that bit of crust there?  My current pride and joy, albeit a fleeting one.

Weekly Menu and Job Plans - May 18-24

Good Morning!  I'm a little bit late this week but with good reason.  We had a real proper weekEND this week and while we did keep Shabbat and do no work we weren't home.  We went out and then we had dinner out.  It was lovely, the weather so beautifully cool and sunny and the landscape so lush with wild flowers and grasses and leaves.  There were moments when the wildflowers grew so thickly they simply colored in the area with a whole swath of one color and it took my breath away.  Sigh.  Remind me how much I love spring come next autumn when I'm waxing poetic over the dying leaves and the Fall wildflowers.

Yesterday we went to church, after a round of light housework and dinner prep on my part.  Home in a rush, dinner in a rush (but oh so good!) and then off to the big city for a baby shower for my grandson to be (just weeks away from making his appearance).  I got to see Sam and Katie both, as well as the lovely Bess (mama to be), met her lovely family and then we took the slow scenic route home, a treat for Mama who got to see a good portion of town and countryside she's not seen in years upon.

We came home to freshly washed lawns and roads and  Maddie atremble with anxiety over the low, slow rumbles of thunder.  She was  relieved we were home so she could go climb in the doghouse and hide out and not do her of job of keeping watch over the house.  Bless her big red silly self, she invited herself into the house which she never does when there's no storms and only reluctantly went to her dog house.

I must say she reminds me a lot of my much loved, big gruff part Chow dog Bear.  He had a bark that sounded like a deep foghorn and a knack for saving it until you were upon his pitch black self in the pitch black dark, lol, but let one little rumble of thunder go off some 40 miles away and he was a quivery mess who'd dash into the house and head to the nursery to get under Katie's baby bed.  We always knew when a storm was over by his presence at the back door demanding to go back out again. He never ever came indoors except during a storm.  Perhaps I should fix Maddie a place at the back entry where she can stay when it's stormy...

Time to get busy with the week.  It's started without me this week!

My Frugal Week: May 10-16

Saturday:  Anticipating our morning out, I prepared dinner ahead on Friday and put in the fridge.  Tuna pasta salad is easy, inexpensive and very hearty.  John introduced me to this recipe years ago when we were employing every possible money saving food stretching idea we could.

This week the pasta salad included: chopped green olives, red bell pepper, vidalia onion, home grown carrots as well as a single can of tuna, mayonnaise and mustard, salt and pepper.

The carrots were a surprise.  I was cleaning out flower pots and went to pull up the carrot tops that I'd left in the pot all winter long.  Here's what I found when I pulled them up:
They averaged about 1 inch in diameter and four to five inches long.  I've used them in a stew, as a relish and finished them off in this dish.  I shall plant these again come autumn!

I also added in fresh chopped parsley to my pasta salad.  That is the same parsley I purchased for Passover Seder plate.  I've kept it in the fridge, in water, covered with a plastic baggie (not closed, just covered) and it's as fresh and green and appealing as it was the day I bought it.  So is the cilantro.

This dish ready made, saved us picking up take out for lunch.  We literally walked into the house and fixed plates.

Washed a full load of dishes after our dinner.

Leftover Makeover: Broccoli Rice Casserole

I haven't done a leftover makeover post in ages!  Well here's a recipe I've worked on a couple of times now using leftover rice and broccoli.  John really likes this dish, so it's a keeper makeover recipe for sure.  I usually end up with more than enough to fill two smaller casseroles for us, one for dinner right away and one goes into freezer for another meal.

                                                without cheese topping ready for freezer

Questions, Answers and Comments Oh My!

Well Hello...I have been resting.  I needed it and I'm glad I took the break.  Of course, all work didn't stop. Does it ever?  There are so many necessary things we must do.  But you know it was awfully pleasant to take a magazine to the front porch and enjoy the breeze, to take morning Bible study on the back porch with my coffee and watch the sun rise higher in the sky.  Lovely.

I thought I'd answer your questions and comments from April.  I like to let you know that I've been reading but I don't always have time to reply right away.  I know you all understand that.

My first Frugal Week post  several of you commented on my statement that I'd forgotten broccoli I'd steamed in the microwave the day before.  I'm torn between being terribly glad that I'm not alone in being forgetful...and can't help but wonder how much is busyness and how much is mid-life mind...which I truly do think is more related to busyness than any of us give credence to!  Susie & Courtney, at least I know I'm in good company!

Weekly Meal and Job Plan: May 11-17

Another week has flown past.  I have finally made out my project list.  It should take me until sometime this time next year to finish it all.  I decided to take a break from project planning and do something less tiring, like planning meals.  I have all the materials on hand for that!

The weather has heated up nicely.  We saw 90F days several times last week.  Time to start thinking of summer meals.  I even got a little sunburn one day while working outdoors.  Yep, the warm weather is here.  And warm weather makes me ready for strawberry shortcake.  I shall have one this week, a good old fashioned sort with biscuity cake and lots of juice and lovely real whipped cream.  It's a springtime favorite and once upon a time, many many years ago, I would serve a strawberry shortcake supper to my children, not a thing more and all they could eat.  When you're broke as we were, this seemed a rather glamorous and frivolous sort of meal but it wasn't really.  I mean honestly, a proper shortcake is cheap as can be to make.  Strawberries in season, about a quart of good ripe berries...the most costly thing was the whipped cream and that was cheap compared to the price of meat!

Fried Chicken, Potato Salad, Fresh Green Beans, Coleslaw
It mightn't seem a summer sort of meal but to me it is, when I can have fresh vegetables and they are fresh just now.  I don't have to fry a whole chicken for just the two of us, but a couple of extra pieces will work out nicely for a cold supper one night.

Happy Mother's Day!

My children helped make me who I am.  I love them all dearly, every single one.  They have pushed me to limits I might never have reached and not always in a good way, lol,  and taught me as many things as I taught them.  I am proud of the people they have become.  

My Frugal Week: May 3-16

I was ready for a new image for the header for this series.  How do you like it?  It's one of the frugal activities we employ.

Saturday:  Kept the breakfast meal simple and easy to serve, which also happens to be fairly frugal.  Peanut butter toast and bagels with cream cheese served up with a yogurt smoothie for the children and good hot coffee for the adults.  This meal not only a frugal breakfast but an energy saver.  I had company (hence the children) and was expecting still more and needed to prepare a meal.

My intentions had been to purchase take out fried chicken from the local diner and make the side dishes. My budget was a wee bit snug and due to get downright tight so I decided last night to thaw ground beef and make a meat loaf.  It extends nicely.  I used end pieces of frozen bread that I grated as bread crumbs in the meat mixture.

Weekly Meal and Job Plans

I'm running a little behind already this week.  I had company over the weekend and pushed myself to clean house when they left yesterday and then I was done done done.  The upside is that today I have very little that must be done and I am calling it a day of rest.  It's a beautiful day, too.  All blue and green and sweet smelling with privet and honeysuckle.  Were it not for that pecan tree out back I'd spend all day long on the back porch, which is where we spent the bulk of the weekend anyway.  I couldn't help but smile Friday afternoon and again Saturday after dinner when I saw mine and John's vision of family time on the porch come to fruition.  It was just lovely.  Now I need to get my front porch cleaned and painted fresh and make it family friendly as well.  Projects abound this time of year it seems, more than at any other.

Meatloaf, Mashed Potatoes, Steamed Green Beans, Squash Casserole, Peach Cobbler
I'd thought I'd send the kids into town to pick up chicken but after all the grocery budget was overstretched a bit last week, so I opted to use what I had.  The squash and beans were grocery purchases.  I thawed peaches from last summer for the cobbler.  Meatloaf was a hit with the four year old grandson.  He had two whole pieces and kept telling me how good it was with every bite.  I was impressed with myself for pleasing him so.
I had some meatloaf leftover and made up pizza doughs that evening, topped one with a bit of leftover meatloaf and peppers and onions, topped the other with cheese.  Daniel wanted meatloaf pizza for his supper.  This gramma must have made a very special meatloaf.  Wonder if I can ever replicate that recipe again?  I tend to just freehand meatloaf.

My Frugal Week - April 26 to May 2

Saturday:  A very relaxed day for us.  We don't normally do much on Shabat and we do even less when John's worked Friday and Shabat evening/night.   I had no clue what I'd make for breakfast but decided upon Breakfast sandwiches.  It's quick, easy, and filling.  I depress the middle of a piece of bread, place on a cookie sheet and break an egg in the middle.  I put cheese slices on a second piece of bread.  I bake at about 400 until the egg is fully set (I like them well done) and the cheese melted.  This morning I topped with cooked sausage, too.

Made sure the AC was set at daytime temps.  It was.  I'd forgotten to turn it down last night, which is a good thing.

I put a turkey breast in the crockpot to cook.  I'd meant it for dinner but even after a week in the fridge the thing was not fully thawed.  Looks like Sunday dinner...

Which meant I had to cook dinner.  We always have a splurge meal of specialty cut steaks when we go to the meat market.  Not cheap but it's a once a quarter treat for us.  However the side dishes were inexpensive or salvages.  One big baking potato, halved between us.  The remainder of the bag of salad that John brought in from work.

I poured the broth off the turkey into a gallon sized pitcher.  I put that in the fridge so the fat could congeal on top.  I'll skim it off and then pour into a jar for the freezer.

I discovered this morning that the onions had started to go bad.  I peeled them all, salvaged what I could of them.  I made onion rings from some of those slices, put the rest in the fridge to use in cooking over the week.  I used the saved pancake batter to make the onion rings.

The Week Ahead: Blooming Season

The roses began blooming yesterday.  It was a surprise to me because the previous two nights and mornings had been quite cool.  But as B...