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.

In My Home This Week: All Routine