March Declutter/Cleaning Challenge *Updated*

How did you do on February's challenge?  I didn't do one single thing.  Seriously.  I'm not going to look back or try to catch up from behind.  Nope.  I'll just move forward this coming month and be happy I can move on. 

I like this lady's calendar format and that it's meant to be done in 15 minutes each day, so I plan to keep sharing them.  Here's the link for March:

I thought some of you might be interested in a cleaning calendar geared to the same month, since the first calendar also has the task of creating daily and weekly cleaning routines.  I looked over several calendars before I found one that looked like a really good one to follow for daily cleaning.  The calendar I'm sharing is from March 2016 but keep track of the site here.  You might well find one for March 2017.   There IS a March 2017 calendar.  Kemi was good enough to share that information with me.   You will need to subscribe...

Seasonal Eating: Spring

March, April, May
from the website
Barbados Cherries
Belgian Endive
Bitter Melon
BroccoliButter LettuceCactus
Chayote Squash
Collard Greens
Fava Beans
Fiddlehead Ferns
Green Beans
Manoa Lettuce
Morel Mushrooms
Mustard Greens
Pea Pods
Purple Asparagus
Red Leaf Lettuce
Snow Peas
Spring Baby Lettuce
Swiss ChardVidalia Onions
White Asparagus

March Seasonal foods per Woman's Day:
Brussels sprouts

This Week In My Home: Ugh

This week in my home...

...I've been enjoying being at home once more.  I didn't do much of anything on Saturday which is pretty much normal, except I didn't type this post up then either, which is very normal.  Instead I went to bed and took a nice nap with the warm sun shining upon me.   It was lovely.

I don't do a load of housework on Sunday as a rule, unless John is gone off to work.  I did simple easy tasks today. I made breakfast and made the bed and fed the pets.   We went to church and then over to the grocery to pick up the free items, not one of which I could find, ugh. I wanted flowers but the only well priced ones were bouquets of fully blooming astromeria.  Nice enough but too well into bloom to last any length of time. John got a haircut. My blood sugar dropped a little too much.  Ugh.

We stopped at Sonic and ordered hot dogs.  I was disappointed that it wasn't hot.  I'm one of those sorts that wants my food HOT when it comes to me and I wait upon it to cool, not just warm and rapidly cooling before I'm done.  Ugh.  On our way home, we passed a peach orchard with the first blooms peeking out.  It's too early for them to bloom and I mean it, but they are as wooed by sun and warmth as any of the rest of us.  

Frugal Friday: Savings At Home and Away

Saturday:  I took out chicken and hamburger to thaw.  My intent being to make an entrĂ©e or two for Bess for post pregnancy. 

Bess and Sam and Josh came to visit today.  I made a Greek yogurt pizza dough.  The recipe I used was easy enough but my attempt at Greek yogurt failed to produce yogurt.  It did make a nice yogurt cheese though.  We used that on our pizza, along.

I enjoyed my time with my family and was sorry to see them go home.  At least Bess doesn't appear quite ready to give birth yet and good thing.  She's still got a month to go!

Sunday:  John off to work.  I packed his work lunch and made him breakfast.

It was a messy sort of morning. I changed sheets on our bed and dried them in the dryer. 

My get up and go went somewhere.  I accomplished some small tasks but nothing like the jobs I meant to do.

Monday:  Woke up gung ho and ready to work this morning.  I made a big breakfast to welcome John home.  Just as he walked in, Bess called.  She'd sent a text the night before to say she had gone to the hospital because she thought she should be checked but expected to go home again.  This morning's call was to say that she was in labor!  I assured her I'd head her way within the hour to tend to Josh. 

I packed up the chicken I'd thawed and some leftover vegetables from our pizza making.  I grabbed a can of spaghetti sauce, an onion and a few pieces of fruit.  It sounds odd, but I actually had a plan in mind.

Left John the packet of hamburger, since I knew he'd make burgers.  I also arranged things in the fridge so he could easily see what was left for him.

I stopped at Dairy Queen at the halfway point and bought myself a $5 lunch.

Coffee Chat: Winter, Where Art Thou?

Hello all. Coffee or Iced Tea?  Yes, I said "Iced Tea"!  Temperatures have been in the 80's this week!  Isn't that just like February?  Katie cut grass and got sunburned doing it.  Yet I know that as much as we might feel spring has sprung upon us, it is February.  It will be cold again.  It will likely be frosty at least three more times before Spring finally arrives and perhaps even once after that.  It is this time of year when some of the impatient sort make false starts with their gardens and regret their haste. 

For us here in the South it's an iffy time.  Plant now and, unless you're just starting seeds indoors or have a green house, you'll find yourself starting all over again come mid April.  But I confess my fingers are itching to DO something outdoors.  Fortunately, while I was gone muscari (grape hyachinths) bloomed their little hearts out and look just lovely.  The old white iris Debra gave me from her great grandmother's garden is blooming.  The pansies have perked up and some of the Kale (purchased at the pricier warehouse store) is doing well and some of it is not.   

But my how my dreams have turned to Spring and Summer and the promise of flowers and vegetables!   It's the weather, you see, a regular Pied Piper of sunshine and warm breezes luring me to play in the dirt.  I can't help thinking of the months to come,  when today we've a gorgeous day outdoors and open windows and I can hear the birds singing and see the bluest skies just outside the window.

Home For Us All

The baby came home yesterday.  Josh was thrilled with his baby brother as you can see.  I felt it was very important that the family settle in to being a family and hurried away.   I am home myself.   Now we all settle into our old familiar routines.  Spring is springing all about the place here with all sorts of blooms.  What a perfect time of year for new beginnings!

Interview at Life With Dee

Hi all.  I'm still busy with my grandson at his home in south Georgia, but this weekend while I was at home, I took time to answer a few interview questions.  I've mentioned Deanna Piercy's site before and shared some of her archived articles and posts with you all in the Weekend Reading section over this past fall. 

Here's the link to the interview if you'd care to stop by Dee's page and read it:

This Week In My Home: I'm Not and an Update on our new baby.

This week in my home...

...I'm going to be away for at least one more full week. 

Our baby Isaac is doing well.  He has to go across a few hurdles: manage to breathe well on his own without the nasal cannula and oxygen; come off the feeding tube and begin to nurse or take a bottle.  There's every reason to believe that all this will go smoothly and baby boy will be home with mommy and daddy and 'Big Brudder' as he calls himself, before the week ends again.

His Mama and Daddy are tired and weary.  Josh is a nice little boy and I mean that.  If anyone had reason to be upset and throw tantrums and fits.  Not for him.  He is such a trooper and I mean that.  He's done his best and I love seeing that character trait in him.  However, by Thursday evening I could tell he was at the point of giving up on being stoic and about ready to just be two.  Fortunately his parents came home Friday afternoon to spend the night at home and do laundry and gather their energy.  Their only request was that they get to spend some time alone together as a family and that I felt was reasonable.  I left early.  Bess' mom came in late Friday evening.  They had a few hours alone and it was enough.

Postscript to Not Quite Bare Cupboard Challenge

Kathy was a sport and tried the current challenge.  I got her email reply last week but as you all know I've been rather busy and away from home.  Not much time for blogging!  However, I wanted to share a few things with you and most especially her menu/shopping since she did take time to plan it out:
Thanks for another challenge. I found this one easier than the first since I had some things that would carry over to the new menu. I think that I could feed my family(2 adults & 2 teens) on $30.26/week. Now my son would not be pleased as there are more beans than he is used to eating in a week. :D
Carryover foods: tea, sugar, pb, jelly, salt, chili powder, onions, carrots, ranch dressing

breakfasts: oatmeal, $1.59 milk gallon, $2.59, 18 eggs, $1.59, butter, $2.50, blackberries .99, baking powder, $1.59, flour, $1.89
So I could make pancakes and baking powder biscuits too. Love having more variety with buying baking powder.

lunch: Rhonda's bread recipe: eggs, pb&j, baked potatoes 5lb, $2.99

The Not Quite Bare Cupboard Challenge: Final Update

Since we have officially eaten the last of the planned meals, I thought I'd do one final update with an amended list of leftovers to carry over to the next challenge and share a surprising bonus to my week.

The week went off pretty much as planned.  In reality I might have added in salads but in fact we ate what was on the menu save

We had chicken pot pie. That served us for two meals.  I went out to lunch with Mama one day and had a very light supper that evening.  I wish I could tell you what, but all I truly remember eating is berries and yogurt!

We had soup for two meals on Thursday which was cold and blustery.  The soup was tasty.  The noodles photographed were leftovers.  I let them sit overnight and put them into a jar. 

We Have Another February Birthday

Bear with me...Bess and Sam came to visit us on Saturday.  On Sunday, Bess went to get her haircut and bought a few groceries, in preparation for her nesting.  Sunday evening she went over to the hospital to just be checked and went into labor while there.  Before his aunt, or Gammy or Gramma could make it down here Isaac greeted the world.  He weight 7 pounds 1 ounce and is having just a little bit of trouble maintaining his oxygen levels so they've sent him on to NICU in Savannah where his Mama and Daddy will be joining him shortly.  They just ran home to pack a few things.  He's a beautiful boy and looks healthy but none of us have had a chance to hold him. 

So Aunt Katie and Gammy have to go back home.  Mama and Daddy have to go to Savannah and Gramma is sole Gramma on duty with Josh.  Pray for the baby please, and for Grandpa who is home on his own and for this Gramma.  I've got one post to send out which will go right behind this and then I may be silent for a little while.  Bear with me please as we see how quickly or long this goes on.

In My Home This Week: Clearing Fog

In my home this week:

One morning, Katie and I rushed out of the door to go to the bus stop.  The fog was thick and heavy.  We knew it seemed pretty much impenetrable but I don't think either of us knew just how very heavy it was until the small sweet gum tree that stood to one side of the driveway, suddenly appeared dead center of the hood of the car.  I stopped within an inch of it.  We were both badly shaken.  I backed up a bit and we started out again, but we went a lot more cautiously down our hill,  long driveway, and up the road to the bus stop.

I've been lost these last few weeks but I have the most definite feeling of  getting back on  course.  January always seems to be a sort of resting place for me.  I've fought it in years past and loathed myself because of it, but having paid attention to my own blogging posts from past years, I knew that come February I always felt ready enough to tackle the New Year.  This year, I gave myself a break.  If that was the way it's always been then there must be good reason for it.  I decided it was okay to not be project minded or driven, since in the past three years I've accomplished a great deal each year despite the January lull.

The Not Quite Bare Cupboard Update II - Plans and Substitutions


The other morning, I got up and wrote out a list of things to do.  "Strain yogurt to make Greek yogurt, make egg noodles for soup...".  Then I went out to sit on the front porch with Maddie so she'd eat her food (she's a very spoiled doggy.  She likes company at mealtimes.  The cat doesn't seem to count).  It was cold and blustery and suddenly that chicken noodle soup seemed like the absolutely only fitting meal for the day.  So when I came in, I put the yogurt in a lined strainer over a bowl, covered it and shoved it back in the fridge.  And then I forgot for a little bit about dinner and worked at other things.

One thing I am surely learning as I go about these challenges.  It takes time.  It makes work.  It's not quick.  At 10:30 I finally sat down with the cookbook and scanned the recipe for egg noodles.  3 egg yolks and 1 whole egg!  Wow.  I hadn't counted on that.  Note to self, look at recipes next time when planning meals.  But, being the substitute cook I am, I decided I could sub in 2 eggs and forget the whole business of using up four eggs (with whites leftover).  I also determined if I was going to use 2 eggs, I'd best make half a recipe, so I cut the flour in half.  Now I have half the noodles and fewer eggs than I'd planned as my leftovers.  Now, at this moment, I realize that I likely could have made the whole recipe since I was using the two whole eggs.  Another fail on my part. 

Frugal Friday: Chicken Big

My lettuce and celery ends are producing a little greenery.  I have six more lettuce butts in the house that I mean to plant outdoors this week.

Saturday:  It was an easy enough meal to make today even though I'd done no prep ahead work except to make John's birthday cake.  I roasted the chicken and stuffed the cavity with about half an onion.  I seasoned the outside and put it into a 350f oven.  I wondered how long it would have to cook but it came with a timer just as a turkey does.  Very tender chicken!  There are a ton of leftovers despite feeding five.

I roasted a pan full of potatoes in the same oven.  These were small potatoes and I roasted them whole.  They didn't seem to be getting done very quickly, so I covered them with a piece of foil which helped them both steam and roast.

Taylor does not like green beans, or so her Mama said.  Apparently Taylor DOES like green beans, at least whole fresh ones that are just steamed because she ate the two token ones her Mama put on her plate and then reached over and took more off her Daddy's plate and ate them, lol.

Eating On A Budget: Not Quite Bare challenge Update

As I was reading through my possible list of leftovers I noted a couple of errors I thought I'd corrected.  I'd listed yogurt twice, with two different amounts and forgotten to count in my yeast packets.   I also have updated my broth amount. 

To Carry Over:  Tomato paste (about 3 ounces), 2 eggs, 1 1/2 cups chicken, probably about 1 1/2 quart of broth, and I think about half the noodles I make which should be enough for another meal. At least 6 cups of yogurt will be leftover.  Of the five pounds of flour and four pounds of sugar I should have 2.5 pounds of flour left, and about 7 cups of sugar.  I think we'll have about 1/4 jar of peanut butter left, more if none is used to stuff celery,  but jelly should be nearing the end of the jar.  There may be a potato or two and certainly I will have some celery, carrots and onions left.   I'll continue to have salt/garlic powder and I still have 1/2 pound black beans, too. 2 packets of yeast. Life isn't looking nearly so bleak when you can cook a meal and have foods left in the cupboard and fridge and even put a few things away in the freezer.  If this keeps up I'll have to do a pantry/freezer  challenge!

Meals listed are based upon what I said I'd have in my scenario.  Yes, they are slightly different.  I used what I had on hand and that's more a money saver for me than using foods I might have to go out to purchase.  The point of my scenario is to teach/remind us that we can eat well on a lower budget.  I'll be honest with you, much as I'd liked to have added to my challenge list, I was still mighty impressed with how far I could make things go were it needed.

Meal one:
Roasted Chicken
Roasted Potato Chunks
Green Beans

Eating On A Budget: Not Quite Bare Cupboard Menu Plan

In my scenario, I am on week two of a very tight budget month.  We survived week one with food enough to eat three meals a day and have a few snacks.  There were even a few things leftover:

Grape Jelly
about 1 quart homemade yogurt
1 cup of dried black beans

The following items were either purchased, priced at the store or priced via online ads.   I'm assuming I got smart during that terribly tight week and signed up for the FREE Friday downloads at Kroger, because desperation should lead one to look for food at all possible sources, right?

Here are my purchases listed by store:
10 pound roaster chicken that cost $6.00
5 lbs self-rising flour $1.59
4 lbs sugar $1.59
1 lb margarine .89
15 oz. peanut butter $1.59
celery .99
milk $1.95
1 doz. eggs .89
1 6 ounce can tomato paste .33
$16.45 with tax

This Week In My Home: Another Sort of New Year

This week in my home:

...We're celebrating our birthdays. 

Which reminds me of a conversation I had on Friday with the hairstylist.  I was telling her of my lovely Bess' baby shower at her church and how nicely they were gifted even though it is their second child.  We laughed together when I told her I'd never seen so much food for a baby shower.   Then she shared with me how crazily extravagant reveal parties (where the sex of the baby is revealed to friends and family) have become among her set.  We are kindred frugal souls, she and I.  We laughed a little over this new trend but then I said to her worriedly, "But isn't it wrong don't you think?  I mean, to so extravagantly celebrate something like a reveal?  What do you do for the really big events in your life if you've gone way over the top for all the small events?"   Chastity nodded in agreement.  "You're right.... It's all part of that drive to keep getting more and building up more and more debt."

Well there's no debt building with our quiet enjoyment of our birthdays.  I ordered John's gifts last month and gave them to him shortly after they arrived.  It was some audio CDs to listen to on his way to work.  I presented him with a short list of wants: inexpensive silver earrings (all the good silver ones he's bought me have broken, so I just wanted el cheapo nickel free sort this time), and a digital thermometer to use in the kitchen.  I also asked for some underthings.  He purchased those for me a couple of weeks ago and I have used them all already. 

Frugal Friday - All I Can

He who buys what he does not need, steals from himself ~ Swedish Proverb

Saturday:  John in from work this morning.  I made Buckwheat pancakes and turkey sausage.  We've grown so accustomed to eating our oatmeal over the last three weeks that I instinctively felt it was ENOUGH.  And it was.  I made the smallest portion of buckwheat cakes I could.

It was cold.  It seemed like we couldn't quite get warm but I put water on the back of the stove to gently humidify the air and we put on extra clothing rather than increase the heat still further.

I made a new to me recipe which used up one of those 'weird' pantry items.  It was a pasta sauce made with tomato paste and herbs and garlic.  I added in spinach, artichoke hearts (that was my 'weird' ingredient) and a little chopped rotisserie chicken that was heavy on the oregano. This was very good.  Click on the link for the sauce recipe. It's really inexpensive for just the tomato sauce I think and something I think would also be good on pizza as well as on pasta.  The spinach was the last of the bag I used in the Farro Stew and the chicken was leftover from early in the week when I was alone.   

I put the rest of the chicken into the freezer for soup later.

We had leftover pasta.  I put it in the fridge with plans to serve it Monday when we returned from our weekend.

Washed a full load of clothes and a full load of dishes.  I prepacked an overnight bag for our out of town visit tomorrow.

February Declutter Challenge

Last month I shared a link to a January declutter calendar.  I was surprised at how much I was able to remove from my kitchen even though I'd just been through it early last Fall.  This month's calendar may be found here.  Remember to scroll down the page past the sign up block and there you will find both a daily listing and a printable calendar if you'd prefer to use that.

I plan to follow along with this plan.  Some of the work will be done in the kitchen again and some in other rooms of the house depending upon where you store items.   Hope you too will follow along, too. 

I'll be starting a little behind since I won't begin until Monday, but that's not too terribly late to get started especially since some of these tasks were done this past month when I sorted through the kitchen.  I can assure you all however, that I've already scanned the lists and can see that I still shall have some items to tend to.

Eating On A Tight Budget: February Challenge: The Not Quite Bare Cupboard

Last month's challenge was a toughie, wasn't it?  I attempted to feed 2 for $20 and while we would have eaten three meals a day and some snacks, we definitely would not have eaten a balanced diet overall.  We did eat several of the main dishes I shared on my menu and they were good recipes I've used over and over again.  I rounded out with salads and vegetables and fruits.  That helped increase the overall satisfaction with meals and should have kept the budget lower but not necessarily at $20/week. 

I was very mindful of how to put foods to better use for the remainder of the month.  I planted the stem ends of several lettuces.  I think I have 8 at present all of which are sprouting and would almost net enough for a salad if I served scant portions.  As Debbie pointed out one might put the roots of the green onions into water or soil and sprout those anew.  I didn't, because I had already done away with the roots at that point.  Sarah mentioned foraging and at present courtesy the rain and temperatures we've had, with little freezing, I could harvest dandelion greens from the yard to add to the bits of lettuce and there is a ton of wild onions in the yard at present, as well.   I'd  use some of this as a seasoning, as it does have a lovely onion-y garlic sort of aroma.  I've researched and yes, they are edible, but I'll stick to using the green tops and not dig up the bulbs.

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...