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.
I've been very slack about suppers this week. I made French toast tonight and told John that I think our Shabat Saturday evening suppers shall be breakfast meals, at least through these cold months ahead. It's seldom we eat a homemade breakfast on Saturday mornings, in the interest of saving me a little labor but I think Saturday evening would be ideal for made ahead casserole dishes that can cook in the oven or crockpot, and be made ahead on Friday.
I saved the remaining custard mixture from the toast to use in mixing up muffins later this week ahead.
Cooked my full meal in the oven today: roast beef, peas, cauliflower au gratin and potatoes. I put baking potatoes in to bake alongside. I'll make Twice Baked potatoes for supper later this week.
I have enough roast beef left to make sandwiches for supper and put another sandwich of same in John's lunch basket for tomorrow.
Saved the fatty scraps and the rinsing of the meat dish for the pets for their evening snack. Now that it's colder I do give them a small portion of food each evening so they have extra calories to ward off the cold.
I steamed the cauliflower in the microwave before putting in dish for au gratin. I steamed the peas in the oven. Because there was no salt added to either item when steaming, I saved that nutrient rich water to use for my African Violets.
Our breakfast this morning was bagel and cream cheese, with perfectly ripe bananas.
I used the last of the strawberries to make a dessert for our meal. These went into the hot oven when I removed the other items and cooked while we ate. I sliced strawberries into ramekins and then topped with crushed vanilla wafers (there were just a very few left in the bag) mixed with a little sugar and butter and spooned on top of the berries. It made quite a good crumble topping.
John and I have gotten into the habit of sharing a 12 ounce can of soda most afternoons. It's a nice way to cut down while we continue to enjoy a soda. I can't help but remember that initially those 16 and 20 ounce bottles of soda were meant to serve 2 or 3 and that a typical serving of Coke was 6 ounces. Sometimes it's nice to revert to 'vintage' ways.
Walked to the mail box. The purpose was to try and get a head start on a card I am late in mailing. The benefit was that Maddie and I both got some much needed exercise. It gave me a chance to check out the pecan trees closely and to pick up some trash that blew onto the property. And it was fun to see where the deer apparently 'dance' all night.
Sunday: Turned off television about an hour after John left this morning. It is doubtful it will come on again today until much later in the evening.
Turned out all unnecessary lights and opened blinds after sunrise to let in all the natural light.
Packed John's lunch, made him breakfast.
Repaired the shredder...again. I just won't let the thing quit and be broken! Got it up and running again this morning after two weeks or so being sidelined. Nice to get that big pile of papers shredded.
Pulled some apple peels and cores, frozen grapes, some raspberries I'd bought fresh and 'saved' and a few blackberries from the freezer. I'll try my hand at making a few jars of jelly. later in afternoon: 14 jars of jelly and 3 cups of juice leftover for another batch on another day...And to think this is all stuff that normally ends up in the trash! Cost to me was 1 bag of sugar or about $1.59. I had everything else on hand, including the pectin. Now to see if I end up with sealed jars of jelly or sealed jars of fruit syrup...I've heard 14 pings! Jelly or syrup? Soft Jelly...and it's good! I messed this up royally so that it decided to gel even a bit is a thrill to me. I'll read directions much much more closely next time.
Rounded up a full load of laundry to wash and hung most to dry. I put a few things in the dryer, too.
Made Chocolate Syrup. This time of year I often want hot milk but don't care for it plain and not always wanting vanilla milk either. Now I'll have a choice of hot chocolate if I choose.
Had a dinner of leftovers and some grapes.
Wiped down one row of upper kitchen cupboards inside and organized and neatened the things in them. I found only one item to toss: those oven bags you bake foods in. No clue why I had those. Don't even remember owning them!
I ate the last three oatmeal cookies. Now what shall I make next to fill that cookie jar?
As the house warmed up this afternoon I cut off all the heat and turned on a couple of fans. I pointed one at the clothes I'd hung to dry. It was too humid and too cloudy to expect them to dry outdoors.
Monday: I said I was going to cut down on how often we eat breakfast sausage (even if the bulk of it is turkey) and I'm straining hard to do just that. Today I portioned out just two little links each for us as a compliment to our breakfast of Eggs and toast. We had some of the homemade jelly on our toast. It's quite good! The apples in the juice were from those lovely Winesap apples we bought in North Georgia in October.
I didn't have a real need to do big housework today so I planned to make a few meals ahead in the kitchen. Here's what I did: I started our dinner first and then I mixed up a meatloaf. As I got the add ins prepped and set aside (mushrooms, onions, bread crumbs) I realized I wouldn't need all the meat (a half pound of turkey and a half pound of beef) to make the meatloaf, so I used about 2/3 of each. The remaining portions of each were browned in a Dutch oven and I made chili. This should serve us at least one and possibly two meals. I'll make it a freezer meal for another week when things are crazy.
The meatloaf cooked alongside our dinner entree. I plan to use a portion of this for sandwiches for supper as well as serve dinner from it tomorrow.
I made BBQ sauce for the wings from a dribble of bottled sauce, ketchup, mustard and the last of the sauce packet from the frozen Honey Chicken we ate last Monday. It really added nice sweetness and heat to the sauce.
I had a bit of coleslaw leftover. We won't eat it unless I plan it into a meal, so I'm changing up my supper plans to include Slaw dogs (cooked hot dogs in a bun topped with slaw). It's something we do like and will use the slaw up nicely.
Tuesday: It was cold last night and slated to be cold today and colder still tonight. When I got up John had two burners lit on our propane heater. I don't think we've ever cranked it up on high, we've always found medium enough on the very coldest days.
I bought tangerines this pay period. They are so sweet and delicious. They are also HUGE. John and I have been sharing one.
After breakfast John wanted to wash a load of clothes. Again we searched the house to fill the washer. This time I stripped the bed and remade it with fresh sheets. He washed a full load of clothes, hung most to dry.
I noted one corner seam of the washed fitted sheet was torn. I set it aside to repair before using again. I only have three sets of sheets for our bed, so I will definitely be repairing that shortly. I've started a small stack of mending/altering to be done. When I sit down at the sewing machine later this week I'll be able to work my way through the batch and have it all done.
John went out to winterize the faucets and pump. We buy special insulators for the faucets and we put a light in the pump house.
I went to the shed and took out a few items I needed. One was a big blue and white onion jar I wanted to use as a centerpiece on the dining table. Another was a coffee container we were given by friends who brought us coffee from Germany. I realized it would be a great storage container for my decaf pods for single cups of coffee.
Made cookies to refill the cookie jar.
My little meatloaf was enough for our dinner today and three sandwiches which was supper and part of John's work lunch.
Entered Coke points into my account at MyCokeRewards and bought a free 12 pack coupon. That should arrive in time to use when Cokes are higher in cost for winter.
Priced 30 items for the booth. This is mostly new stock that I've been holding in reserve for several months, for Christmas.
We've been pulling curtains early on these cold afternoons, especially on the non-sunny side of the house. I also let the shades stay open on the sunny side as it brings in additional warmth.
John plugged in the pumphouse light after dark.
I'd spent an hour this afternoon cleaning another upper cabinet. I tossed a few items that were expired by many many months. I also made sure to note what we needed to use up and stop 'saving' (like prunes, dried blueberries).
A little shifting of less often used but needed items, like a cast iron Dutch oven and an electric knife sharpener, into the cabinets above the fridge, gave me a little more room in my main kitchenwares cupboard.
Washed another very full load of dishes. I used the short wash cycle since I rinse dishes well before putting them in the machine.
John went to look for crackers this evening in the foodstorage cupboard and found ants. He pulled everything out and sprayed while I went into damage control mode. Fortunately these were scouting ants and none of the foodstuffs has been invaded yet, wonder of wonders. I noted that we had three open boxes of cereal. I made note of this as I was emptying them into glass and plastic storage containers. In future, new boxes of cereal will go to the pantry and we'll open them up one at a time.
Wednesday: Mama and I had dinner at Cracker Barrel. For me that is shopping and meal combined. I love to roam about looking at the items in their store. Lots of things got put back after checking prices. What I didn't put back was a necklace and a set of bracelets that will add to my current wardrobe.
Mama's turn to buy lunch, my turn to buy dessert. That came from my allowance.
I left the heat turned down when I left home this morning No need of heating a house when no one was home.
My supper was leftovers from meals this week.
Opened cabinet doors under sinks on the outside walls of the house and plugged in the pump house light.
Wanted to do a trial run of a table setting for Thanksgiving. I wasn't pleased with the centerpiece so will see why I can do to change that. I have several sets of plates I can choose from but I really hoped to use the Mandalay pattern china.
Sent off for a free magazine trial. This offer was for the Christmas issue of the magazine which is the most highly coveted one of the year. I look forward to receiving that.
Have made at least first Swagbucks goal every day.
Thursday: Went to town to work on booth. I was asked if I'd like to move to a bigger space but confessed that until I made money consistently each month (rent and a bit more) that it seemed foolish to me. The store owner offered to 'feature' some of my best stuff at the front door to draw people back to my booth. I offered to increase my footage by purchasing two more shelving units after Christmas, which will fit within the space I have but double my display area.
I was happy to have a pot of chili to put on the stove and warm when I came in. I'd planned to serve over rice, but John hadn't had Chili mac in some time, so I did that instead. There was enough chili mac for our meal and a portion for him to heat at work Sunday.
I prepped tomorrow's dinner ahead...and made my weekend menu plans. Then I sat down and figured out our little post Thanksgiving meal for the two of us. We will have it next Friday and serve up leftovers for our dinner on Saturday, which means no cooking for me, just reheating plates of food.
John washed a full load of clothes, dried them all on the line.
I made sure to unplug the pumphouse light when I went out.
We're fighting ants. I put out one of those Terro poison traps. I'm telling you that ants consider that thing party central. The theory is that they take the poison to the nest. I'd swept the bathroom twice already and kept coming in to find the floor littered with dead ants. Obviously two separate colonies were coming in and warring on the bathroom floor...So I put down the Ortho Terro poison in their path. When I went in later there was a six lane highway headed to the thing. I told John we'd leave in place overnight and see what traffic looked like in the morning...
Friday: I found the ants were moving slowly but arriving in droves and had abandoned highways and started coming in from everywhere. Phooey. They might well be taking to the colonies, but it's too slow to suit me. I put down another trap nearer what appears to be the entry point. Those 'slow moving' ants sped up to get to the new trap! I'm trying to use what I have on hand but three hours later, I'd had enough. I got the can of spray and drowned them. No fears that I was going overboard with this poison. The spray has proven virtually ineffective except for use to aim and drown. If an ant doesn't hiccup after the spray then I doubt it's going to harm a human at all...But it is effective at drowing! Ants are done and no more to be seen strewn across my bathroom floor.
We made a trip out of town to run an errand. Picked up mail, took off trash...had lunch out, too. We went to the meat market to pick up the meat for our family dinner in early December. Mama asked that I pick up some ground meat for her. I satisfied my own needs with a rotisserie chicken for tomorrow's main entree (and sandwiches from leftovers). We chose to get a steak sandwich from the deli case too and ate that in the care. We had sodas with us and just enjoyed our little picnic dinner with the autumn breezes and sunshine.
We bought a bag of ice while at the meat market. It was meant to keep the cryopacked meat cold until we got home. We put the bag in the freezer and will use it to ice down a cooler of drinks for our dinner.
I shopped at home this morning and took a turkey breast from the freezer to thaw for later next week, a loaf of bread for right now, bagels for breakfast. I won't worry about pre-packing John's lunch until early tomorrow evening, as sundown comes fairly early.
Put away the food Maddie didn't eat this morning before coming indoors. Now that the outdoor temps are warming, ants will make inroads to the pet food bowls looking for any foods they can find.
As we drove today I pointed out an oak tree in a yard along the way. "That tree trunk is HUGE. Although the tree doesn't look very tall, I think it must be very old all the same, John." He looked at it and nodded. I'm not sure John has any feeling over much about trees but I admire them, in an artistic sort of way because some just have a lovely shape or color or bark or attractively shaped leaf. I admire them in a natural way. It seems to me their lives are pretty harsh overall what with drought, flood, storms and man.
I admire them for all that they give, from fruits or nuts to leaves to shade to wood. It seems to me that trees outgive just about any other thing on this earth. Paper, food, fuel, shelter, shade come from a tree.
I'm so fond of trees that I have memories based upon various trees...
As we drove today I noted the deep gold of Hickory in the woods. Hickory trees have a broad blade like leaf and shower the ground with hickory nuts. When I was a newly married young homemaker, there was an ancient hickory tree just down the hill. I gathered those nuts and shelled them out to make cookies and cakes for gifts. I noted the deep tarnished gold color of the leaves. Now when we drive past woods in autumn, I look at the golden leaves and know which are hickory. I think of my formerly owned tree and wonder if it is still littering the ground with nuts each autumn. It's one of my favorite trees to remember.
Another favorite tree is the weeping willow that grew outside my aunt's kitchen window. Her home had a basement which is quite unusual here in the South. Her washing machine was there and the rinse water was piped up to that Weeping Willow. It was lush and green and as a child I was able to hide out of sight in the depth of it's greenery. The grass under that tree was spongy and green and thick. It was the perfect place to be.
Here on this place there is a grove of water oaks midway of the property. That area was where we played. Our 'houses' were in the clear spots between roots around each tree and we girls coveted the largest tree with the most 'rooms' surrounding it. Those of us unlucky enough to not claim that tree in a hurry had to make do with add on rooms of leaves scraped into straight lines, most unsatisfactory if it was summer and the leaves scarce or winter winds blew hard and swept our additions away. It was such a lovely grove that my brother claimed that spot and built his home when he was an adult.
At Granny's were tall water oaks planted some 30 years earlier. One was near the pasture fence. It still stands though it is now dangerously shedding large branches during storms. That tree is a good 75 years old at the least. It was at that tree that Grandaddy aimed me when he taught me to ride my first bike. I didn't know how to brake, so he told me "Take your choice...run into the barbed wire fence or the oak tree." I chose the oak tree. I knew then I'd learn to brake or choose the barbed wire fence. That tree was mighty hard!
It was another such oak in the back yard that held our plank and rope swing. I can still remember watching Grandaddy construct that swing from a piece of scrap wood and two great lengths of rope. We soared high in that swing and enjoyed it mightily. There were three trees in a row there in the back yard. The middle one was where the king snake came creeping slowly down. He showed me the bulge in the snake's body where he'd swallowed an egg from the bird nest in the tree.
I came home and opened the curtains and shades after our drive. The shadow of the Sweet Gum tree fell across the window. Just this week I sat in the craft room admiring the radiant orange glow of the leaves through the lacy curtain. Katie played often under that tree. It was where she insisted we pitch her first improvised tent for her first camping experience.
I smiled remembering the day I told John that one day those trees would be tall enough to shade our home at least for a portion of each day. We'd been here 17 years when the shadow of the pecan tree finally reached across the yard and touched the windows of the living room each evening as the summer sun set. Now the shadows of it's branches pattern the windows in autumn afternoons.
And I cannot forget my Faith tree, the male persimmon which sits in front of the house next to the front porch. The poor little thing was absolutely stunted by the unceremonious scooping up and replanting it got from my brother when he realized the front porch meant the tree had to go. He planted it with the bulldozer. It sat there and sat there and sat there all through the spring and into early summer. John kept suggesting we cut it down. I bent the twigs gently and said "No....It's living yet." John would shake his head and walk away. Finally it was July. "Face it, Terri. The tree is dead. Tomorrow I am cutting it down." I prayed over that tree then, putting my hands upon the slender trunk and walked sadly away.
The next day John went out to the shed to get his saw. He came to the front door and shouted, "Terri!" I came running, thinking he'd injured himself. "What did you do to this tree?!" "Nothing!" "Something! Just look at it." The tree had tiny little leaves all over it where there had not even been buds the day before. "I just prayed over it!" I said and John through his head back and laughed. "Well that was some powerful prayer. We'll call this the faith tree!" And so we've called it ever since. When we are renumerating the things we've seen God do in our lives we include that tree...
I for one, am awfully glad that God made trees!