This Week In My Home

Hello!  Did you survive the first holiday of the holiday season?  There's plenty more ahead.  I was amazed at all that happened here in a week's time, all because I had a list of sorts to help me think. Guess who found Christmas cards as soon as all the newly purchased ones were addressed and stamped?  Yep.  That rule about 'A place for everything and every thing in it's place.'  I fudged a bit on it and stuck them in an odd spot.  So odd that I did a stumble upon after I was done.   Guess who has cards in the card file ready for next year? That would be me.

This week in my home, I:

Continue the freezer challenge.  
I didn't get into the big freezer last week very much.  I did pull out two items that had been there awhile.  And I'm going to go ahead and declare a bit of A Pantry Challenge for myself as well. Mama is always giving me an item she'd seen a TV chef use or that she's found in a store.  She buys two, one for her and one for me.  One of those items was currants.  I'd never used currants, never had a recipe that called for them.  I happened across one the other day and so I pulled out the currants...and they expired in 2013, which I think is about when she gave them to me.  Now I have no troubles using expired foods but these were no good anymore.  I took one look and dumped the entire box in the trash. 

I planned a meal from the leftover turkey last week, then we decided to have our Thanksgiving meal on Friday.  So Turkey Fried Rice never happened last week.  I have another idea for this week.

Plan meals for the week:

Leftover Makeover: Thanksgiving Leftovers

I have heard people say time and again how much they dislike leftovers.  Don't count me in!  I like leftovers for the possibilities they offer for future dishes.  I believe in transforming them so they become a different dish/meal.  I have the convenience of starting with a cooked item that cuts down on my preparation and cooking time.  My family seldom realizes they are leftovers.  I never heard many complaints about leftovers in my house.

I don't have photos to go with these recipes and ideas but I thought some of you might appreciate having an idea of how to use up Thanksgiving meal leftovers.  Especially if you did like I did and cooked a whole turkey and a full Thanksgiving dinner for two.  Some of these are tried and true and I'll be sure to let you know which of these are, and some are just inspirations I've had today while I was putting away my own leftovers.

Turkey Fried Rice (TNT):  It's best to start with leftover cooked rice.  I have rice in the freezer which I will thaw and use and by the way rice is one item that freezes beautifully.  When we used to get Chinese take out for the family, we'd always have more rice than we needed.  I'd just pop the cardboard container into a zippered bag and freeze it.  All that aside, start with leftover rice.

I use whatever vegetables I have in the refrigerator.  Here's a great way to use up a crudite platter of vegetables by the way.  Broccoli, carrots, cabbage, onion, snow peas, any color of bell peppers, green peas, celery, broccoli stems (especially nice by the way, if sliced), etc.   Dice about 1 cup of leftover turkey and about 2 cups of vegetables.  You'll want about 2 cups of rice as well by the way.  And 1 egg.  For seasonings: minced garlic, grated fresh ginger root and soy sauce.

My Savings This Week

Another of my 'trash' to foodstuffs.  Here I have used pieces of leftover dried bread, end pieces and odd shaped slices to make breadcrumbs,  crostini and croutons.  Five and a half quarts from a month or so of pieces many people just toss in the trash.  Oh and I have enough slices of slightly dry bread frozen. It will be perfect to French Toast.

Saturday:  My last job last night was to wash a full load of dishes.

Rinsed dishes and stacked for the day today.

John suggested we have fried chicken from the local diner for our dinner.  I made the side dishes at home.  He paid for the chicken from his allowance.  We had our meal and had enough for lunches tomorrow from the leftovers.

Sunday:  Saw John off to work this morning.  He had his packed lunch and his breakfast before going off.

I washed a full load of clothes and hung the bulk of them to dry here in the house (since they were done well before sunrise).  I dried undies and dishcloths in the dryer as I had less room for hanging those smaller items.

Colored my hair this morning.  I used 1/3 of the solutions.  This was a bit trickier than using half of each.  I measured with a ruler and divided by 3s.  It worked very well, my color turned out just fine and my hair was well saturated.  This stretches my current supply of hair color so that it will last me through 2017.

Went through the bill box and wrote out checks for tomorrow's Harvest day.  As I worked on my half payments, I realized I could push the electric bill and one other half payment over to the medical bills account, which allowed me to pay another portion of a good sized bill.  I will knock this one out a bit at a time, without borrowing or touching savings.  I had a portion of money left in that fund that will start the payment for December.

This Week In My Home

I plan a Freezer Challenge:

Two good reasons for this challenge: I have found my freezers are all three packed to the gills.  That means I need to use some of what is in them.  I hope to clear out some old things in there as well, provided I have time this week.  I might end up making freezer meals from a few of the items but I need to have a few of those on hand anyway.

I am also hoping to pick up one or two or three turkeys while the prices are so very low.  I cannot beat these prices at all, haven't seen anything like them in years upon years and it seems to me that turkeys (which keep frozen up to a year) are space worthy and very budget friendly.

I plan a Thanksgiving dinner for John and I:

We're simple folks and that is all there is to it.  Our menu seldom varies and the reason for that is my husband leans strong on tradition when it comes to his Thanksgiving meal.  He wants what he wants and turkey sandwiches to follow up with.  Normally for the two of us I purchase a breast only but with the excellent prices on whole turkeys and John's love of stuffing, which works best in a whole bird, this was the better option this year.

Green Bean Casserole
Broccoli or Brussels Sprouts in Cheese Sauce
Twice Baked Sweet Potatoes with Marshmallow Topping
Cranberry sauce and Cranberry Relish
Pumpkin Pie

I have all but the canned fried onions on hand.  I thought I'd just make my own onion rings.  It takes next to no time and can be done ahead since I will be putting them in the bean casserole to bake anyway.  I plan to 'work ahead' this weekend, since our dinner will be either Wednesday or Friday depending upon John's preference.  The turkey has been thawing in the fridge since Wedneday when I bought it.  I'll bake the sweet potato, make my onion rings and make my Pumpkin Pie today.  I plan to get my stuffing breads crumbled and onions and celery chopped.  I have broth thawing for gravy and stuffing.  

We determined we'd stick with our traditional holiday breakfast of  canned cinnamon rolls with a less fatty side and we'll have that on the proper day itself.  We'll at least have that much of a tradition for the day proper.

I plan meals for the rest of the week:

Coffee Chat: My Forgotten Mantra

Hello there!  Now isn't that heavy silver coffee pot just something?  I never really noticed it before when I'd used this photo but it came up very large just at first when loading in today and the ornamentation of that spout was something to behold.  And then I realized the heavy silver coffee pot, the wide gold bands on the cup and saucer, and the rare coin collection were all about the precious metals.  Ha.  It only took a few years of looking at this image over and over again, to gather all that information that came to me in a mere moment today

A lot like reading the Bible, is that photo.  I'll read over something dozens of times and all of a sudden 'click' and there is a revelation I've never had before.  It's kinda awesome.  I had such a moment this past week.  I've begun a daily Torah reading again, which is just working my way through the first five chapters of the Bible and then repeating as I finish it up.  Why?  Because there is a verse which says something to the effect 'I shall study Torah every day and be blessed',(why can I not find this verse at the moment?  And isn't that always the way?) and a whole lot of other verses which mention the importance of hearing or studying Torah...which happens to tie right in with the verse in Deuteronomy 6 which says:

 6And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. 7Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up. 8Tie them to your hands and wear them on your forehead as reminders. 9Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

My Weekly Savings

A practice run Thanksgiving table possibility...using what I have had for years mixed with the Brockaway amber glass I bought this year.

Saturday:  Poured cereal into a glass jar for storage.  This keeps pests at bay and means that we are the ones who eat the food we bought and paid for.  I save jars but also have purchased 1/2 gallon sized canning jars just for this purpose.

Saved the cereal bag to use to wrap meats in.  I have determined I shall forgo using zippered bags for this purpose in the future as it is an unnecessary expense.  I also emptied out several bread sacks and saved those.  I rinsed well and hung to dry in the laundry area, using a hanger and some clothespins.

Reused an empty canister to store brown rice I'd bought this week.  I put a label on the canister and wrote instructions for cooking a standard measure of brown rice (1 cup).

I don't have very dressy clothes but I needed something to wear to my niece's wedding. This brought about another closet clean out.  Nearly all my things are just too big.  I have no dress trousers at all. Thankfully Katie came down for the wedding and put together a nice outfit for me but it really pointed up my need to actively shop for a few key items.  Fun part was her creative use of accessories to go with my outfit today.  I wouldn't have paired up the bracelets she did but I could see right away how sophisticated it looked.

Katie gifted me another lipstick.  I won't need to buy any new fall/winter colors courtesy of her generosity.

The roast beef I cooked today netted me lots of leftovers.  I've planned leftovers into one meal this week but shall also be packing some of this into the freezer for future meals.  I cooked the beef only to rare, which will make it possible to reheat and prevent drying out the meat.

BOOK REVIEW: When Lions Roar, The Churchills and The Kennedys

With my interest in history overall, and having become a little fascinated with Winston Churchill (courtesy the BBC productions such as "Wartime Kitchen and Garden" and PBS "Homefires") and the fondness the British people held for him, I couldn't resist this title, which includes the Kennedys, another family I've only recently become interested in.  I was not disappointed in this book at all.

The book covers decades, starting with the Franklin D Roosevelt years in the White House and going beyond John F. Kennedy's assasination.  The Kennedy family ties to Winston Churchill first began in 1933 when Joseph Kennedy brought his family to England and spent some time at the Churchill home.  There began a long and sometimes tenuous association between two great families in two great countries.

The book is a tell all story, but not written in a trashy sensational manner.  It is however, an accurate accounting of the real and public lives of two families with enormous political influence in the world as well as in their own countries and the connected power influenced history in each other's country as well.

This is a hefty read at 643 pages but so fascinating that it hardly seems a lengthy book at all!  I highly recommend it if you are interested in historical and personal accounts of the Kennedys or the Churchills.

Planning Ahead, Starting Behind

This past Saturday, we attended my niece's wedding.  I had company over the weekend and mentioned a 'save the date' event coming up for my immediate which my daughter replied that it was just a month away.  I didn't panic right away but it occurred to me Sunday afternoon when the guests were gone that indeed in the next five weeks or so I have no less than ten events before the year ends and that every single one of them requires some effort on my part to pull them off.  True several of those holidays will be just John and I on our own but I do like to do things for us, too.  And thus far, I have done nothing...  YIKES!

I felt downright lousy Sunday.   I greatly enjoyed the wedding but it was outdoors Saturday evening, which was a cold evening.  Brrrr...And the cold came back with a vengeance.  Not a lot I could do while feeling bad...but I had to do something.

So I started making lists.  We have agreed to do family gifts for each family group but we do purchase items for one another and Mama.  I've bought nothing thus far.  I don't even have Christmas cards, having failed to purchase cards last year at end of season sales.

I started with the Thanksgiving holiday.  I must purchase several of the components for a holiday meal.  I've nothing at present but cranberry sauce and pumpkin.  And there's that holiday breakfast thing.  No canned cinnamon rolls this year but we must have a nice diabetic friendly but special holiday meal.  Oh dear.  I do, at least, have an idea of what I'd like to do with the table for mine and John's Thanksgiving meal.  I haven't done a trial run of it yet, but will try to get that done tomorrow.

Then we'll have visitors before November is over and done. I'd like to have items ready to send off with them, so I must hurry and purchase that and gather the other items .

This Week In My Home: Format Change

I decided this past week, while I was still recovering, that I'd like to change up the format a little bit. So the title of this post each week will simply be "This Week In My Home".  I'll divide the post into meals, jobs, plans (not work but appointments, etc) and play.

I did very slightly better in using planned menus this week, but not as well as I ought.  This was partly due to creatively using leftovers and partly due to a sandwich we bought for our lunch that proved so hefty it served us supper as well.  My appetite is off.  I get plenty hungry and then I want something to eat nearly immediately but I could have cared less about making meals overall, so that too threw me off.  However, I am feeling better and mean to get back on the better path of making and following menu plans.

I've just been over at A Tray of Bliss to read this post  on menu planning.  I love the format she's used for her form and that it has a separate block solely for prepping for the next day.  Love that bit of time savings she plans into her day.  I was duly impressed, and I'd say I've pretty much seen every form of planner/planning available out there over my years as a homemaker.  This is just genius as far as I'm concerned, right up there with planning twice a week (to insure you use up all the leftovers).

So here we go with our new version of "This Week In My Home"...

In My Home This Week: Time and Money Saved

It doesn't look like much yet, but it will be lovely very soon.  I know exactly what color I mean to use to paint this old bed.  I'm showing it again because this is a case in point...The biggest way I save money is to wait.  I've been asking for a bit over two years now about a bed in town that is much like this one but at the price asked I couldn't even afford a good counter offer.  $10 was far more in line with my budget.  And here's another thing:  the bed wasn't even part of the sale but I saw it and asked about it and that was the price because it had no rails.  Now it happens I have rails in the shed I could use but I mean to attach my current bed frame to these pieces.

Saturday:  Last night before sundown I pulled all the bread sacks with  one or two pieces in them from the freezer.  First I found two perfectly nice Hawaiian rolls.  One of those made a Shabat 'loaf' for one.  I combined all the pieces into one sack. I had so much more bread than I'd thought.  Again these are those end pieces, or the last couple of pieces that got a little too dry to be tasty.  I typically make bread crumbs and croutons from them but I can't make that many croutons!  I decided to make a breakfast Strata casserole.  I cut up too many bread cubes and so I ended freezing half the meat/veg/bread cubes/cheese mixture for a future casserole.  I'll just mix up milk and eggs when I get ready to make that casserole.

Today's dinner is leftovers from the week past.  I added a freshly prepared salad, and a Pineapple cobbler.  This was  sort of makeover of a 1950's recipe I had sometime ago.  I made this cobbler using juice packed fruit and making a cheddar streusel sort of topping rather than a full pastry crust. Pineapple is good for coughs and colds.  I drank the juice leftover from the cubes.

Rinsed and stacked dishes.

The only medication we have in house to help alleviate coughs and make them more productive happens to dry me out horribly.  As John took his pill this evening, I noted that they were scored...I took half a pill, which seems to be the right dosage for me.  It brought relief from the unrelenting cough and wheezing.

John received a statement from his insurance related to the doctor visit he'd just had.  The doctor he's seeing is not covered but...after reading his statement and realizing how very much his deductible out of pocket amount is for doctors within the network...I told him he may as well see the doctor of choice.  We're going to pay out less for him to see him now and then than we will to try and meet that deductible!

Coffee Chat: Sunshine and Shadow

Hello Hello and come on in...but keep your distance too.  I'd offer up a spot outdoors but here's where my summer seating arrangements prove to be less than cool season friendly.  Not one spot to sit where the sun is shining and that is so necessary just at the moment because otherwise it's a tiny bit cool for sitting in the shade even with a cup of coffee in hand.  Ah well, we'll have it here indoors and consider it just as well since everything outdoors is still wet as can be.  The sun has only shown an hour today and I'm afraid it won't do much about drying things up before it goes off to bed.

I am hoping there's a temporary glitch with blogger...I went to load up a photo for this chat and it tells me I have no photos.  Oddly enough I had plenty last night when I was looking for something new and fresh to put up as a header on the blog.

So I'm still coughing.  It only happens if I get the tiniest bit too cool or the least little bit warm.  In other words, I am coughing nearly all the time.  I seem to have a good day and then a tough one and then a good one which is an improvement.  There for the first 8 or 9 days of this mess it was all one long very bad day every day.

I went out this morning to pay bills, deposit a check, get our pay period cash for groceries and allowances and run by CVS.  I still had those Extra Cash Bucks I hadn't cashed out and we were down to the dregs of the shampoo bottle.  I looked long and hard at the sales ad, used coupons, printed off more store coupons at the kiosk and did rather well overall.  My first total was $34, coupons and ECBS lowered that to $19 and I earned $7 more in ECBS.  I felt I'd done rather well.  That netted me two toothpaste, two big bottles of shampoo, two bottles of Magnesium citrate, a big bottle of store brand coated low dosage aspirin, a card, and a gallon of milk.  I had $9.50 in ECBS when I walked in so to come out with $7 seemed fair enough to me.

I coughed myself silly while in CVS.  I guess I was on the too warm side, so I slipped off my jacket and loosened my scarf and soon calmed down.  I felt like such a heel though, really, because I appeared to have come away from home while deeply sick and all too willing to spread about my germs.  Truth was when I left home this morning I'd barely coughed in 5 hours!

In My Home This Week: Better and Better

Well here I am.  I'm not gonna tell a story:  this was a tough cold and it took a hard toll on me.  This woman, who enjoys working hard and is usually hard at work doing something, sat in her chair and did as little as possible for the bulk of a full week, yet.   It was all I could do just to be sick and I mean that.  Along about Friday I started to feel myself once more.  Whew!  It was a brief reprieve with Saturday finding me miserably backslidden.  Never mind all that.  This morning I was up early and the first thing I did was declare war on germs.  I've had enough!  I opened the windows and aired the house for over an hour.  I wiped and sprayed disinfectant on every surface we'd touched over the past month.  Enough, I say, enough!

Meal plans went kaplooey last week.  I don't think I made more than one of the meals on my plan. That's the way it goes some weeks, you know.  So I just used what I had on hand as we wanted to use it and didn't worry about whether it was on the plan, didn't plan to use a thing we didn't already have.  Meals were simple overall and most all included as much extra Vitamin C as I could include.  We had enough leftovers to serve us weekend meals.  Since these were not planned meals for last week I'll include those menus here this week.

In My Home This Week: Savings Now And Later On

It looks like just so much trash really and technically that's what it is.  I save the end pieces and outer skins (not the papery skins) from onions, the root end and leaves of celery stalks, and odd pieces of carrots including tops and tips to season stock.  I'm making something from odds and ends that normally might be thrown away.  It's one of the ones I try to make the most of the dollars spent on food in my kitchen.

Saturday:  Just before sundown last night I earned a $25 gift card from Swagbucks.

Used a bucket with a broken lid to store potting soil.  Ants may get in it but they can't do any real damage and it will keep it from spilling all over the porch.

Ordered supplements and went through a Swagbucks Shop and Earn e-store.  I don't know why I've failed to do that in recent orders but I'm determined to make my shopping count for as much as I can!

Took note that MyCokeRewards is offering double points on all bottle caps November 3 through November 5.  This allows me to get 150 points rather than the usual 75 allowed weekly.  I am saving for a gift card to Walmart which will cover a portion of my household shopping and diabetic supplies (test strips).

Reheated leftovers of the Moroccan Spiced Chicken for dinner.  Added butter beans and coleslaw to extend the skimpy leftovers.

Today's slaw was prepped ahead yesterday.  I grated broccoli stems with a bit of cabbage and a carrot.  Another good use for broccoli stems is to save to slice into stir fry or fried rice.  And of course you can always steam and make into broccoli cheese soup.  In the year ahead I mean to try and use every bit of food that comes into my household and get the most I can for my food dollars.  It will take a lot of thinking, planning and most of all doing.  I can plan and think all I want but unless I actually do it I've gained nothing.

Felt a scratchy throat starting up.  With John unwell just now it is a cinch I have been exposed.  I took Zinc, Vitamin C and am spraying my throat with the Pro-Silver.  I feel much better than I felt last night  and that's just a few doses in with the Pro-Silver.  I'll keep it up for a couple of days to insure I fully head off the symptoms.

Questions, Answers and Comments, Oh My! October

Can you believe it?  October gone and here's November teasing us with the year end.  There's two months and then we'll be in a brand new year all over again.  I don't want to hurry this year out but I confess I can't wait to see what next year holds!

This month I'm listing posts/comments in order of posting.  I'm too strained with foggy brain to figure out how to make sure I get them all in the right category this month.

I started this month with a Savings post.  These two comments I especially wanted to make note of here.  First from Lana  came a very good hint, sort of hidden like a gem in her posted comment.  She was telling how this past spring, rather than buy cut flowers for dinner parties, she used baskets filled with bulk purchased six packs of annuals.  After the party, she planted the flowers in her yard.  So smart!

And Erika  was pleased to discover that I found the canned potatoes froze better in prepared ahead entrees or soups.  They never seem to take on the soggy texture that fresh potatoes do.  I confess I'm not fond overall of canned potatoes but they are handy for Canned Vegetable Soup (that's multiple cans of vegetables dumped in a pan and heated with broth) and if you happen to have enough leftover to freeze, you never have to pick out the potatoes.  I've also used them in pot pies or stews I wanted to freeze.   psst....check out Erika's blog.

Settling Into A New Budget Season Sarah and Lana recommended a blog:  She is experimenting with meals and such from 1943.  If you garden you'll enjoy seeing her victory garden, too!

Georgene the series was BBC's Wartime Kitchen and Garden.  The link will take you to all 8 episodes.  Kathy this link is for you, too.  As for your question about whether I feel the need of stocking up check out my post, State of the Union Address, the Economy this week.

Vicki  I thought the broken pot would be cute on it's side, too.  I even bought the pansies to go in it but the two halves are too shallow for plants on their own and the doggone thing will not stay together unless it's sitting upright, so it's a broken upright pot.

Coffee Chat: Meet Blossom

Come on in and let's have a quick coffee...Let's keep it cyber today though.  I have a cold (ugh) and don't want to pass anything on.

Each year I do an annual 'summing up' of the year behind me.  Personal changes, family changes, family dramas and traumas.  And then, when the reflection is over, I look hard at the year ahead and where I hope to be at the end of it.  It is a daunting thing some years and this one...well it  just really didn't bear reviewing.  I mean who can forget a family drama such as ours or the health scare or the birth of a littlest girl to our littlest girl?  Who can forget all the worries that turned out to be nothings and all the suspicions that turned out worst than one would think?  Enough.  This year shall be done and I've had enough of it.  I'm ready to do the part where I look ahead and just turn away from the year.  Not that's it all been horrible/awful/sorrowful.  There have been far, far more things that made us grateful, but the drama and trauma part were unusually dramatic/traumatic this year, that's all.

Speaking of the front porch, there's another 'dog house' on the front porch now.  It's a garbage can on it's side and it works great for Blossom.  I cannot deny it's inconvenient to have pet housing on the front porch of all places.  Ideally I'd have them all set up in the kennel but at present the front porch offers a bit more shelter than the kennel does.  John keeps suggesting getting a shed of sorts and making it a dog house, which is not a bad idea but not in the budget at present.

Oh you must meet Blossom!  She's really very sweet and has shown so much joy in being a country dog.  She and Maddie have interacted some, mostly in playing chase.  Maddie seems a bit puzzled that this little dog can run so hard and so fast and so enthusiastically on her short little legs.  I've watched Maddie gear down when they are playing chase rather than run Blossom over.

This Week In My Home: Looking Behind To Plan Ahead

This week I'm spending my time looking back at the year past and planning ahead.  I'm planning ahead to next year (and taking a long hard look at the year just past as I'm doing it!).  I'm planning ahead for the holidays.  I always seem to lack something I really want/need to accomplish the table settings I want or the meals I want for the holidays and I want to take a bit of time to plan and then prepare.  After all, I've got Thanksgiving, Chanukah and Christmas in a short 5 week span of time.  And we won't even mention New Year's Eve. (Since we seldom do anything why mention it?  We do however, often try to do something special on New Year's Day, so there is that.)

I feel, given the year I've had, that I've gotten quite a lot done this year.  I think sheer determination is 90% of the success I've experienced in the past few months.  I was just doggone determined to make this year (or what remained of it) a year of accomplishment. Today I reviewed the original resolutions for 2015 and the home projects I wanted to accomplish.  Wow.  That's all I can say, just wow.  I accomplished many of them and really stretched my dollars doing it.  And then I threw in the back porch decor for good measure.

First and foremost, let's get this meal plan knocked out.  I was really disappointed in the Moroccan Chicken recipe last week.  In theory it sounded really good.  It did tweak my imagination about using a spicy seasoning on oven roasted sweet potato fries in future, but otherwise...not so much.  I want to experiment and add in some new flavors but this week I'll return to TNTs, tried and true recipes.  I plan to go through my recipe files and look for new ideas to introduce in the next menu cycles...a little more planning ahead.

I'm finding that though I plan a full week of menus most weeks (five days this time since John is working two days), it's best to stop on Thursday afternoon and plan again.  It allows me to use up any leftovers that might otherwise end being waste.    So what is here for Sunday through Thursday is usually about right and Friday/Saturday is prone to change most weeks.

In My Home This Week: All Routine