Monday, December 28, 2015

Apparently Motivation is the key

Both for Money saved and blogs posted!  This challenge of saving for a roof replacement has opened up a slew (that's "a lot" for all you non- southerners) of blog posts due to all the frugal things I have to rave about.

This morning found me in the kitchen (big surprise) making things I had been planning to get at the store.  Bagels, Loaf bread (well I was still going to make that), Hamburger buns, and English muffins are on the roster today and some are in progress.  If I can keep my motivation going,  I will mix up freezer biscuits (freeze now, bake later )and make Chex Mix.  Tonight's dinner is venison stew and biscuits.  I have some buttermilk that needs using up and that's why the biscuits.  I also have some cooked red potatoes I need to use up, so hence the venison stew.

I thought I would share the "grocery list" for this coming month to give you an idea of how minimal our needs are.  Having a pantry on hand comes in handy for challenges such as these.  So here's my list.

2- 50 lb bags of Chicken Feed-  Feed = eggs.
2- 25 lb bags Dog food
1- 12 lb bag cat food
1- cat litter
4- 32 load laundry soap
1- 20 bar pack of bath soap (Sams)
2- Shampoo
2- Dish washing liquid
1- 80 oz container of powdered coffee creamer- (we all have our weaknesses)
1- 5 lb pkg of turkey lunch meat-  This comes to $1.45 lb at Sams.  I can't get turkey breast that cheap.  Plus I had already promised Rubic I would buy some.
4-Gallons Whole milk- I mix this half and half with water since my kids are grown.  It reduces the fat and calorie content without having to buy Skim (Yuck).  Taste like 2%.  Plus I get 8 gallons for the price of 4.  I use it full strength when making yogurt.
1- 5 lb pkg of 93% lean ground turkey-  This will serve multiple functions not only for dinners, but I will use this for my breakfast sausage.
5- 48 oz jars of unsweetened applesauce- Einstein eats this stuff by the bowl full and I am happy to have him eat something relatively healthy.  It is amazing how much you learn by taking a microscope to your grocery purchases.  Canned peaches are at least half water/syrup.  By purchasing unsweetened applesauce I am getting  much more for the money.  Even a side by side comparison without factoring in the water/syrup issue I come out ahead.  Cans of peaches at Aldi are .89 cents for a just under 15 oz size.  I get that same amount in applesauce for $.58.
2-4 lb bags Navel Oranges-  This will get me something I can stick in Dh lunches.
7 lbs of Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast-  This is on sale this week at Aldi.

So that's it.  That is my list for the month.  A challenge to be sure.  I'm a little nervous, but up to the challenge.  Good thing I like my kitchen cause I will be in there a lot.

Fast forward a few hours and...

Sunday, December 27, 2015

EEEEERRRRRRRRRRT (that was a screeching stop for those who need to know)

So change of plans.  The roofer came out today to give an estimate on the removal of a cracked skylight and the patching of the roof in its place.  Then they were able to do the repair as well!  Yay! I am happy to say we were able to write a check for this repair because of our roof fund.  That's the good news.  Other good news is we can get half of the cost of the repair, about $225 back if we use this roofer to replace the whole roof within the next 120 days.  Right now we have about $50 in our roof fund and a little less than $2000 in our emergency fund.  We want to try to do this and add insulation to boot to help with the summer power bill.  This would mean funding about another $1500 dollars in between now and the end of April.  That is ambitious on what DH brings home, but we are gonna try.  We think we can do it, but we will definitely be pulling out all the stops to do it.  I feel like it will be worth it in the end.  This means my grocery budget for the next 4 months will be cut...a lot....really....a lot.  Ummm down to $150.00.  This gets us essentials and no frills.  Our pantry will sustain us with flour, sugar, oils, etc.  Everything one needs to make all other things.  So any thoughts I had about buying convenience foods has gone out the window.  My pantry levels will definitely fall.  Just think of all the closet space we'll have!  Netflix is going to be cancelled for now since we still have Amazon.  I know it's only $8 a month, but every little bit helps.  Tomorrow I will begin calling around to make sure our cable/Internet is the cheapest I can get and still be usable.  I'm also planning to call about our car insurance.  Contributions to our power bill and water bill fund will be put on hold and the money instead will be diverted to the roof fund.  The Car Repair fund, Car Tags Fund, and Car Insurance fund will still be funded each pay period until they reach their goal.

As for the whole healthier lifestyle thing, I think if we are all getting our exercise and not eating or making things we shouldn't , we should be good to go and probably make some progress.  Who knows.  So there you have it.  All the best laid plans of mice and men.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Time to pick and choose.

Don't think I've gone over to the dark side, but it is time to get back on the straight and narrow when it comes to weight loss.  When I left my job to come home, my doctor was the first to expect the best from this.  My yearly appointment with her in September included her wish list for me for the coming year; healthy eating, regular exercise, and at least a little weight loss.  She would like 12 lbs in a year.  While she's happy with my lab results and lack of weight gain every year, she knows the risk excess weight holds for me as a person with Hypothyroidism.  I am more susceptible to Diabetes among other things.   For that reason she has always encouraged me to lose at least a little weight but has never done it in a pushy or mean way.  Can you tell I really like my doctor?  Anyway,couple that reason for healthier eating with the rest of my family wanting to get on the band wagon and we have a go.

While not a lot will change grocery buying wise, there are certain things I am going to opt to buy rather than make.  Yes it will cost me a little more in some cases, but time for me becomes a factor.  If I am to include a 45 min workout each day, I want to save that time somewhere else.  Granola and Wheat bread are two things I will still make.  Granola bars, Yogurt, and cookies are things I don't plan on making.  Granola bars and yogurt take time to make and plus my sons prefer the cartons they can grab.  They don't like having to sweeten or flavor their own yogurt.  Whatever I can do to encourage them I will do.  Cookies are too much of a temptation.  At least homemade ones are.  The dough is another stumbling block.  I LOVE CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIE DOUGH!  Other things going on my "buy don't make" list are Hamburger buns, Bagels, and English muffins.  Mainly because of time, but also, I can get the Natures Own Bagels, English Muffins, and Hamburger buns for fewer calories than my homemade counterparts, and they still don't have a lot of crazy stuff added.  Plus I can get them at the Bread store cheap(Yay!).

With overall price increases in groceries these days, and the fact that I am still on a budget: I need to get all the bang for my buck I can.  For that reason I've started looking closely at the nutritional information of the protein sources I use.  I've discovered that boneless pork loin is a power house of protein compared to eggs, or even ground turkey.  If I purchase boneless pork loin when on sale and have some of it ground for me, I can then use the ground pork for my breakfast sausage recipe.  The pork loin is a little more per serving than eggs, but, my son can eat it for breakfast (he's allergic to eggs), little to no waste left in the pan, and about 2 times the protein as eggs.  This means it will stay with us longer, and the calories are about the same as eggs.  I look for boneless pork lion for $1.99 lb or less.  I had been buying the 1 lb bullet packs of Ground Turkey at Aldi.  It's 85% lean.  I compared it to the 93% lean ground Turkey I can get at Sams and realized I have a lot of waste left in the pan in the form of fat that we neither want or need.  So I'm going to start using only the 93% lean at Sams.  I will actually be saving 9 cents a lb.

I still intend for any weight loss I achieve to be with normal food.  There will be no "Fisher Price Foods" as my mom says.  No artificially fat free, sugar free items will be on my list.  Well with the exception of a stray Diet Dr Pepper.  I do love those.  Don't drink them often mainly cause I can't afford them all the time.  We also like our Kool aid, but we mix it with 3/4 cup Stevia and 1/4 cup sugar.

So here we go.  Back on the straight and narrow.  We'll take it one day at a time.  I will succeed and I will fail from day to day, but the important thing is to keep going.  So what about you?  Any Resolutions or changes coming your way?

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Thoughts of long ago.

Christmas Eve, makes me remember when I was a child and December 24th would arrive.  I think Christmas Eve has always been my favorite.  Don't get me wrong.  Presents have always been great so Christmas Morning was the ultimate, but Christmas Morning was the last day.  Once the gifts were unwrapped, the anticipation was over.  Christmas Eve, however, was the height of anticipation.  There was electricity in the air!  As a child I felt like Christmas Day would never come and Christmas Eve seemed to last forever.  But it was fun.  We always got a gift on Christmas Eve.  Some little something to take the edge off so to speak.  Ironically the one gift I remember the best from a childhood Christmas Eve was the one I received in bed because I had the stomach flu.  Stomach flu had gone thru just about everyone and I was one of the last on the roster.  I had recovered by Christmas Day, but was still shaky.  Anyway, I got a Charlie would you say?  It was like a magnetic board, but it wasn't magnetic.  It was slick and it had little slick Charlie Brown Characters you could attach in any way you wanted in order to create a scene.  Not a big elaborate gift, but it did the trick.

Christmas Eve was the best after bed time.  The one time of year children will willingly go to bed and try to sleep.  In order to keep us 5 kids in line, Christmas Eve was the time all the kids slept in the same room with our oldest sister watching us.  We had electric candles in the window and my mom would have multiple colors of lights in them.  We got to leave the candles on and the result was surreal.  There was little to no sleep....for us or our parents.  My poor parents were up just about the whole night getting everything out.  I (We, Daddy I wasn't the only one regardless of what they say) was up the whole night worrying my parents were still going to be awake and Santa wouldn't stop (Bad parents!  lol), or sneaking out to the hall to peer into the darkness (again Daddy I wasn't the only one) in the hopes we could see something after our parents turned the lights off and went to bed.  Needless to say 5 am was a perfectly logical time to drag my sister and subsequently our parents out of the bed to start Christmas Day.

As the years have passed my Christmases have changed.  No longer a child myself, I would see Christmas through the eyes of my children.   Wide eyed wonder at the lights, Santa, the presents, etc.  Now my Children are adults themselves.  My daughter and her husband have the joy of seeing Christmas in their children's eyes.  Christmas has changed for us again.  Now it is really more of a spiritual celebration.  I still love the giving and receiving of gifts, but my focus turns more toward why we give those gifts.

This year, as I laid out the Nativity, it just so happened O Holy Night was playing on Pandora.  The Nativity ended up being laid out with tears. I couldn't help but Praise God for this precious gift.  Over 2000 years ago, on another Christmas Eve, the world held its breath in anticipation of the child to be born on Christmas Day.  I guess anticipation has always been a major part of Christmas, only the first Christmas never ended with the coming of Christmas day.  Instead it became the beginning of everything.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

All things Christmas

GOOD MORNING WORLD!  Hmm well now that I think about it that sounds a little lofty.  GOOD MORNING THOSE WHO HONOR ME WITH READING MY BLOG!  That's better.

This morning finds me enjoying a cup of coffee with pumpkin pie spice added(yum) while waiting on bread dough to do its first rise.  In a minute or two I will leave my laptop and venture back into the kitchen to punch down the dough (though it won't need it too much)and set it for its second rising.  I do two 30 minute risings before I shape it into loaves to do the final rise.  The first rise doesn't really rise too much, but by the time the second thirty minutes is over it is nice and voluminous.  This bread I'm making is for a customer.  I love saying customer!  Makes me feel all entrepreneury.  While my little side business isn't going gang busters, I am getting some regular orders and it's enough to give us a little extra.  Plus I'm doing what I love.

This past week has been a Hodgepodge of baking.  I've made Bread, Granola, Chex mix, Sausage Cheese balls, Sausage Crescent rolls, German Chocolate cake layers (to be iced tomorrow night), and German Chocolate pie.  Some stuff is for our Christmas Breakfast, some for DH birthday, some for normal family use, and some for orders.  I  still have a loooong list of things still to make for most of the above reasons:  Gorilla Bread, Cinnamon Rolls, Dinner Rolls, Sugar Cookies, Coconut Pecan Icing, Blueberry Dump Cobbler, a Cheese Ball, Bread, and Granola,  I know this sounds like a lot, and it is, but this is for multiple events.  I will say this, come December 26th we are back to healthier eating.  I guess that's why people have weight loss or healthy eating as a New Years resolution.  After eating rich food for a month it's easier to make the switch.  I know it is for me.  By the time Christmas is here I'm having a hard time looking at rich food much less eating it.  This is our last hurrah for the holiday.

I'm excited for this weekend though.  I'm off today to go to my parents house for the newly traditional Buffington Family Christmas.  It started last year and was such a hit we decided to try and do it every year.  The rest of my family will join me tomorrow for the whole clan Christmas party.  Tonight though, and tomorrow morning, will be just myself, my siblings, and our parents.  I'm very excited about the gifts I made for everyone.  I hope they like them.  I'm pretty proud of them.

Well you didn't know it, but I have left you, punched down the dough, and returned.  I'm sneaky like that.  Today is the first day of a crazy busy week.  It will be a whirlwind of events, family, gifts, eating bad, etc.  Afterward I may just sit and stare at the wall for a bit.  Crazy, Crazy, but I love it.  I love it all.  It can be hard getting in the spirit of Christmas.  We are bombarded with Black Friday Brawls, Red Cup Controversies, Happy Holidays vs Merry Christmas, etc.  This year here in Georgia we've had a warmer winter ( an no that is not abnormal.  Abnormal is the cold winters we have had the past three years).  All these things can make it hard to get into the Christmas spirit.  When those things happen, perform Christmas actions regardless.  Give a gift expecting nothing in return; Surprise someone in the checkout line and pay for their groceries (if you can), Donate toys, coats, etc.  Give of yourself.  Once you start acting in the Christmas spirit, the rest will fall into place regardless of what is going on around you.

Almost 20 years ago, it doesn't seem like that long ago, the older of my two younger brothers was  killed in a motorcycle accident the day before Easter.  The following Christmas no one would have faulted my mother if she didn't celebrate.  She put her decorations up and we celebrated Christmas because, she said she had hope.  She was celebrating the hope she had because of Christmas that she would see my brother again.  We have that hope because a loving God sent His son in the most humble fashion to save us from sin and grant us life.  Eternal life.  That alone is Christmas.  The rest is just the icing on the cake.  Focus on Him this Christmas.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Mind Blowing tip of the day!

Well for me anyway.  Definitely life changing at least.  Let me share.  My mom and I were talking the other day via phone and she told me how when she uses butter in cookies they spread out.  She said they taste great, but aren't pretty like she likes them.  I'm like "I have the same problem"!  So armed with that thought I gave myself a mission (Should I choose to accept it ((and I did)).  To see if you can reduce the amount of butter to get the cookies just so, but not affect the taste.  Well I have succeeded!  I have made a batch of cookies with 1 stick of butter in place of the 2 sticks called for in the recipe, and without the texture of the cookies or the taste being affected.  Einstein says he tastes no difference.  So I have discovered when using butter in place of margarine in cookies, use 1 stick of butter for the 2 sticks of margarine called for in the recipe.  You can, and probably should, also reduce the number of eggs by one.  Not only does this reduce the amount of fat in your recipe, but it also reduces the cost of ingredients.  I love me some money (and calorie) savings.  In this recipe I also reduces the sugar used by 1/3 without affecting the taste.  So here is my chocolate chip cookie revamp.

My Chocolate Chip Cookie Revamp

1 Stick butter softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup Brown sugar
1 ts vanilla
1 large egg
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 cup chocolate chips (although I used 1/2 cup and chopped them up)

Beat butter 30 seconds.  Add sugars and mix with your mixer until fluffy.  Add vanilla, Egg, soda, and baking powder.  Mix well.  Add flour 1 cup at a time ending with the quarter cup.  Stir in chips.  Bake 325 for 10 min.  Remove from oven and let cool just a minute or too then remove from cookie sheet to a cooling rack to finish cooling.  Amounts vary depending on size of cookie, but would probably make 3-4 dozen easy.

Saturday, December 12, 2015


That's it.  Woohoo.   What's with the woohoo?  Well I'll tell ya.  I am done with gift buying/making.  Here I am on a Saturday and thinking "Hmm I have nothing I have to do, or nothing I have to buy".  My last task before Christmas is getting the groceries for our Christmas festivities.  This is nice.  Let me just bask in the moment..........

Okay, enough basking.

This has been a week filled with plenty of baking, and sewing.  Santa's workshop was in overdrive because I had a fear I wouldn't be done in time.  So imagine my surprise when I got done early.  Funny though.  It sure doesn't feel like Christmas is around the corner.  Today's high is due to be 70 degrees.  We've had these temps before in December (Like when I was a child) so welcome to Georgia.  Next weekend will be more Christmas like.  Then we will have lows in the low low thirties and highs in the upper 40's and low 50's.  But for today I am resisting the urge to go work in the garden.  I did however order my seeds and they have shipped!  See this is what happens when I have my Christmas stuff in order.  I start thinking of the new year and spring planting.

I will share an new recipe I discovered this week.  I made my moms pumpkin bread recipe, however, I decided after I had all the dry ingredients together that I only needed one loaf and so I stored half of the dry ingredients for later.  I also tried my hand at making cranberry juice.  It was pretty good, but I had these left over cranberries I wanted to find a use for.

 *** on a side note:  Just buy your cranberry juice when it is on sale B1G1F at Publix.  It's similar in price.

So first of all, if you want to try your hand at making Cranberry juice, simply put equal amounts of water to cranberries; i.e 1 quart of cranberries, 1 quart of water.  Slowly simmer the cranberries until soft then pour into a clean cloth and let drain over night.  I ended up having to add about 1/2 cup sugar for each quart of juice I ended up with.

So armed with the spent cranberries from 2 quarts of juice, I formulated a plan/recipe.  Here tis:

Cranberry Orange Quick Bread

1 cup plus 2 TBS flour
1.1/4 cups sugar
3/4 ts salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup milk
2 TBS oil
1 Egg
1-2 TBS grated orange peel
1 1/2 cups spent cranberries (you can probably soften dried cranberries to add)

Mix together dry ingredients then add the milk, oil, egg, and orange peel.  Mix well then stir in the cranberries.  You can add nuts also, but I didn't.  Pour all into a loaf pan and bake 325 degree for an hour or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

This bread is soooo good if I do say so myself.  I made it yesterday morning for breakfast and it was gone by nightfall.

Well, I know this is no barn burner, but you did get a recipe of sorts out of it.  I hope this post find you well and your Christmas plans are moving along.  Just remember why we celebrate this season.  Don't let the stress of the holiday take your focus on the greatest gift we ever received; Jesus

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Makin my list and Checkin it twice

In this case I'm not talking about my Christmas list, although that is coming along.  I've been knocking out the homemade gifts as well as supplying my little store.  No I'm taking about my garden seed list.  You see I am getting ready to put an order in for seeds for this coming spring.  Crazy right.  Well not really.  I plan on starting cool weather seeds Dec 23rd.  I have planted seedlings that go out end of Feb and march, but it seems to get to warm too fast for them to be as successful as they can be.  So this year I am starting my own seeds and am hoping to have my Cool weather things in the ground come Feb.  We'll see,  My list consists of Broccoli, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Lettuce, Spinach, and Cucumbers (but the cucumbers are for warmer weather).  I already have seeds for Snow peas, Beets, Radishes, and carrots.  Wow!  I would love for all these things to produce in abundance.  Nice crisp raw veggie sound so good during this season of sweet, rich, goodies (although the goodies are mighty good).  So I have my list and armed with that I am off to buy my seeds.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Joys of the holiday

I thought of putting in a disclaimer on the frustrations of the holiday too, but in actuality, I have had very few of those so far.  One situation I did have and I won't let it affect my Christmas.  I had a gift damaged in transit and am having to have it replaced.  Kudos to Amazon for quick service so it really hasn't been a big deal. One of the reasons for my relaxed state is the fact that we are doing this holiday on a budget.  Many people look at budgets and say they are restrictive.  Dave Ramsey says Budgets are freeing and I believe it.  Instead of falling into the frenzy of shopping during the holiday season, forgetting things until the last minute, feeling like I'm behind the eight ball and dreading the arrival of the January credit card bill, I started my Christmas shopping with our Christmas fund and have deducted each purchase as it takes place.  Because of this I carefully planned each purchase and watched for sales prior to Black Friday (which by the way is not necessarily a good day to shop). As a result, I am 99.9 percent done with my shopping.  I have a few odds and ends such as postage to deal with, but the gifts are got.  This budget was a God Send and we are still $140 under budget.  The best part is there is no bill waiting at the end and putting a damper on a holiday that is supposed to be joyful.  Instead, in January, we get to anticipate tax filing season.  I know everyone deals with that, but at least we will only be dealing with that.  So anyway, my decorations are up and once I get the boxes and stuff put away, I will take a pic and show them here.  I know you guys are waiting with baited breath.

My focus now turns to the craft part of my Christmas gifting.  I'm hoping to start that tomorrow as I have a few gifts that need to be completed for loved ones.  Making some of my gifts has helped with the staying in budget.  I highly recommend it.  I would post my gift list, but since the recipients will be reading my blog, prudence says I shouldn't.   I can say some will be sewn, and some will be eaten.  Homemade gifts are awesome I believe.  If you have a talent for something consider using it as a gift.  You don't have to sew, crochet, or wood work to give a gift.  Those are nice things, but the idea is to give of yourself.  If you cook, then bake cookies, a cake, candy, or give a coupon for a dinner made by you.  If you're a clean freak, offer a coupon for a certain number of hours cleaning someones house who may need the help.  The idea is to give of yourself.  True meaning to "it's the thought that counts".   The time it takes to create a gift for a loved one is a huge expression of how much they mean to you.  Pace yourself.  Not every homemade gift is cheap.  If you have never sewn or have nothing to start with, then starting with all new stuff can be pricey.  Instead don't attempt something you aren't already well versed in  (and well stocked for that matter).  Only you know what you are best at.  Give it a thought.  If homemade gifts are out of range to start right now, plan for next year.

So the holiday season has started.  We spent Thanksgiving surrounded by family giving thanks for all we have and now the time has come to give.  This holiday is about giving, not getting.  That is the fun part.  It's the hiding gifts, sneaking in time to shop or create, and the anticipation of the recipients reaction to your hard work.

I hope you had an amazing Thanksgiving.  I wish for you all the Joys of the season, and the joy that comes from knowing the greatest gift of all, Jesus Christ.  We give because He gave.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Update on my Olympic grocery shopping...

Hello all!  I've been gettin the sales and stocking up.  I wanted to share a few of the deals I've found. So far I've found butter for $1.99 or $2 a lb at Kroger or Publix.  Publix had huge turkeys for .59lb.  I bought the biggest one I could find and will cook it up, de-bone, and freeze in 2-3 cup containers to use in recipes calling for cooked chicken.  Publix also had domino sugar 4 lb bag for $1.50.  Kroger has their brand of cooking oil, 48 oz bottle, for $1.49 with one of their digital coupons.  They also had 4 lb bags of  their brand of sugar for $1.49 with a digital coupon, and sour cream!  Sour cream for .79 for a 16 oz container.  Aldi has, and will have, Brown and powdered sugar 2 lb bag for $1.09 each, Milk is $1.99 a gallon, Chocolate Chips, 12 oz bag, for $1.49.  Sams has their 2 lb bag of shelled walnuts for $12.

I'm hopeful these are not the last of the great deals.

During this holiday season, I needed to have ready cash for sales when they come.  I knew they would be different each week and wanted to have cash on hand for the deals.  For that reason I altered how I was budgeting grocery money during the holiday season.  Dh gets paid every 2 weeks.  I budget $172 every 2 weeks for groceries.  This is equal to $400 a month.  I have 3 paychecks in between now and Jan.  I went ahead and gave myself all that budgeted money which totals $516.  My priority before deals is making sure things we use regularly and that won't go on sale were taken care of for the next 6 weeks.  These are things like pet food, Chicken feed, laundry soap, etc.  Once those things were in place I knew how much I would have for the good buys, and I have been getting the good buys.

Now before everyone thinks "How will you store all of that stuff?".  Well I'll tell ya.  I bout 10 sour cream at that .79 price.  In my defense I use sour cream for more than just topping.  I use it in home made ranch dressing, and cooking.  It still takes me a bit to go thru 10, but I will, and before it goes bad.   When I buy, I will get the latest expiration date and then store them upside down in my fridge.  You can do this same thing with cottage cheese and yogurt.  Milk, butter and hard cheese can be frozen.  Don't freeze cream cheese unless you just plan to cook with it.  Most cream cheese has a long expiration date.  I will freeze flour and other grains for a few days before putting them in an airtight container.  This takes care of any buggies that might be hiding in the package.  I know.  Gross.  Most of the time it's probably fine, but better to be safe than sorry.

So I will reiterate that now is a great time to stock up on all of those staple items we use every day.  I promise you, the price will go up once Christmas is tucked away.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

About to wrap it up.

We had our first cold snap last night down to 38 degrees and tonight is down to 34.  We've had lows in the 40's for a few days, but nothing too bad mainly due to all the rain we have been getting.  We have had I think Dh said 7 inches or so since the beginning of November.  I know at least 5 inches.  Don't quote me on that.  It's a lot regardless.  My poor chickens were in a muddy mess.  It's been an ongoing battle since we started keeping chickens trying to keep them dry and comfortable.  Finally DH and I discussed it and we came to the conclusion we needed to get this resolved.  We need to either get it set up where it isn't such a mess or just not raise chickens.  I began to search the internet for an answer.  Enter, River sand; or construction sand either will do well, but no play sand.  I read an article on The Chicken-Chick website espousing the wonders of sand in chicken coops and runs.  Tired of the never ending glob of spent hay, pine shavings, or pine straw, I decided to give it a try.  That's what I have spent this past week on.  I feel better today, but during the process everything hurt and what didn't hurt didn't work let me tell ya.  I had to dig a bed the size of each run ( one bed 3x6 and another 4x8) about 4 inches deep.  That dirt will be added to my garden.  I replaced the dirt with the sand and then moved the run back over it.  I did this to two runs.  In addition I thoroughly cleaned both coops and put in sand.  One final move of both coops into their new permanent spot and I was done.  I also altered where the laying boxes,food,and water were placed to cut down on the birds knocking things over or rain getting to it.  I'm very pleased with the result.  Maintenance has been significantly cut down and the birds seem to like it.  The chickens feet stay cleaner and as a result so do the eggs.  Two of the ladies have buried themselves in the sand taking their dust bath.  The food and water are staying put and not getting turned over.  All in all a good weeks work.  As I finished up I put away tools for the season, organized what needed to stay near the coops, and collected any trash so now my back yard looks nice and ready for the on-coming winter.

I have pictures of the Chicken Subdivision.  Feast you eyes!

 These top three pics are of Queen Victoria's coop/run.  I have the feed hanging on the wall inside.  The water as you can see hangs outside because they keep bumping into it  in the coop.  The laying box is in the door which makes it easy to give feed and collect eggs at the same time.

These two pics are of Garris and Miss Priss in their retirement villa.  Their food and water is able to be inside.  The food is on the door and the laying box is inside the coop instead of on the door.  These two are what is left of our original flock.  She's getting older and won't lay for much longer.  Garris is DH's arch nemesis and source of entertainment so He has longevity because Dh can't get rid of him.  There will come a time, but for now they stay put.

This is the pic of the two coops together; my chicken subdivision.

One more thing we have to address.  We have 1 rooster and two hens (no longer laying and not in these pictures) who need to go in the freezer.  That is how I will spend my Saturday.  Not anything I'm looking forward to, but necessary none the less.  I can't afford to feed non productive animals.  We will still have another rooster to go in the freezer once he's old enough, but for now he's too small.  He will be separated from the flock and fed a different diet to add some weight.

( 9 Hours Later.....)

 Well I now have 3 chickens cooking.  Two are on the stove and one is in the crock pot.  I will be the first to say I am not at a point in this process where I can do a how to.  I am still learning and trying to gain confidence.  I can say this go round went better than I thought and I am not traumatized thinking I caused undo suffering.  My hands would beg to differ though as I have multiple cuts on them from trying to get the birds processed..  But all's well that ends well.

So there you have it.  The summer wrap up.  Now my focus turns inward to holiday stuff and normal house maintenance.  That is until around Dec 26th when my thoughts turn once again to the garden.

Have a great day!

Saturday, November 7, 2015

My Computerized Envelopes.

I've mentioned before (countless times) how we are participating in the FPU or Financial Peace University Baby Steps.  As a result of our participation we were out of all debt with the exception of Mortgage as of August 14 2015.  We figure we paid about $32,000 dollars of debt over the course of 4 years.  Not as lofty as some debt free screams; ours was more of a Woohoo, a debt free hollar at least.  Since that time I've been able to leave my job and stay home.  I still deal with times of "Should I have left my job", but Dh has reassured me this is the best.  It has alleviated some of his responsibilities at home which has been good because lately he's had to work more hours.  It's also helped in having to cart everyone all over creation.  Since I've left my away from home job I've had to deal with a shower repair, a refinance of our home, a roof repair, and other various things which would have required me to be home certain days of the week.  This tells me I made the right decision.

Even though I'm convinced this is the best thing, I still have the need to make sure all financial needs are met and then some.  We can't just get by.  We have to be able to save for emergencies as well as retirement.  As a result of those concerns, I have taken Dave Ramsey's envelope system to heart but with a twist.  I made use of our Quicken program to set up "envelope accounts".  My checking account and budget cover the essentials of food, shelter, utilities, gas, etc; although within that Checking account, food and gas have an envelope of their own.  I deduct from my checking account the amount budgeted for food and gas.  As we use our debit card for food or gas purchases, I alter the amount deducted from the checking account (after I add the transaction of course).  Let me explain.  I budget $100 for gas every two weeks.  I will then deduct that $100 from my Quicken Checking account.  It becomes a place holder so to speak.  The amount has been taken out technically in my Quicken Checking Account, but it still physically remains in my actual bank account.  Say I then go to the gas station and fill the gas tank up for $20 using my Debit card.  I come home and deduct that transaction like I normally would a debit to the account, but I then adjust my initial "set aside" of $100 to $80.  I do this same thing for my grocery money. The "Envelope Accounts"s are for other things we will need to be saving for.  I have one for Car Insurance, Emergency Fund, Income tax, Clothing, Vet visits, Tags for the car, Car Repair, Power bill, and Water Bill.  We even have a Roof Fund account to save to replace the roof.  Each payday, once the budgeted bills are covered: I then transfer the left over funds to our savings account at the actual bank.  In my Quicken account those funds are first transferred to our savings account and then divided into the "Envelope Accounts".  

Now some of you might have read thru my list of accounts and noticed a "Power bill" and a "Water bill" account.  Those items are part of normal budgeting of utilities so why have a separate envelope for them?  Well I have an answer.  We do our own budget billing for those bills.  I took an average of each bill over the course of the year.  Our power bill averages $235 a month and our water bill averages $50 a month.  I budget that amount every month.  If the bill falls under that I transfer the difference to our savings account and place it in the appropriate account.  If the bill comes in over that, I pull the needed funds from that account back into the checking account to cover the difference.  On the anniversary of the budget billing for each account, the funds left over (if any) are moved permanently to the emergency fund to stay.  The yearly average will be reconfigured and a new budgeted amount will be created( again if needed).  This gives me an incentive to keep these bills down so I come in below and have money left over.  The advantage of doing my own budget billing as opposed to setting something up with the power company, is that I have control over my money.  I earn interest on the money I'm holding back and in the case of an emergency I have access to the funds instead of waiting for the power company to send me a refund at the end of the year.  Not to mention the fact that having the money in my possession at all times makes me want to keep cost down rather than not caring what the power use is because my bill will be the same.  It makes me more cognizant of the dollars leaving my hands, much like when you use cash to make purchases.

Needless to say I am a bit of a bill nerd, but so far so good.  Each family has to do what's best for them.  We have discovered this is working for us.  I hope I haven't confused you too much.  If I can clear anything up, let me know.  What are some ways you handle your budget?

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

If you're here for the yogurt How to,

Look in the How to section of the blog.  Top Tab!  Have a great day!

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Nov 1st the Olympic grocery shopping time begins

At least for me that is.  Since baking is a good portion of my daily life, this time of year offers the best deals on what I need.  Everyone is on the baking band wagon during the holidays so the stores are competing for everyone's attention.  Butter, sugar, flour, corn syrup, nuts, chocolate chips, other forms of chocolate, are available at the best price you may see all year.  Not just on those items, but any type of baking need could see a reduction in price this time of year.  Now is when you stock up.  I am looking for butter to be about $2 lb and if I get that price I am planning on buying and storing in my freezer enough for a year,   With the best price now at $2.89 lb and that is at Sams, my chances of getting $2 lb any other time of the year are slim.  No sign of the reduced price on butter yet, but I still look.   I noticed Sams also has the 2 lb bag of Walnuts for $12 which is $6 lb.  If no better price presents itself I will stock up on those for the year too.  Turkeys usually go on sale this time of year, but with the Bird flu that messed with a lot of flocks across america, the price is due to go up.  Not sure what I will do about that.

I'm also looking for eggs.  Our egg production is falling off.  Somehow we have ended up with 2 adult hens, 1 pullet hen, and 4 roosters.  We also have 3 older hens who are laying sparingly.  So we are looking to put the extra roosters and non- laying hens in the freezer.  That would mean 3  hens to lay eggs; 2 of which are now 18 mths old.  This could pose a problem.  We will need to collect many eggs in the spring and hope we can get some hatched that become hens.  In the mean time I need to supplement our eggs produced here with ones bought at the store.  Right now Sams has the x large eggs 3 dz for $6 which I am sad to say is a good price.  (sigh) I long for the days of .99 eggs.

In anticipation if the Grocery Olympics, I'm taking the things out of my freezer that need canning or jamming (jamming the art of making jam) to make room.  This also includes defrosting my freezer, cleaning/ organizing the fridge, and making a list of what I have on hand.

Fast forward a few days and....


Kroger has a buy 10 save $5 deal starting Wednesday.

Land O Lakes Butter for $1.99
Kroger Sour Cream for $.79
Green Giant Vegetables $.49-  Sweet peas are something my oldest son will eat but I can't seem to grow here so this will come in handy.
Campbells cream soup $.49-  This is a may or may not purchase, because I have a cream soup mix recipe.  But it is a good price for those who are interested.
Delmonte Tomatoes $.49- I have to say the Basil flavored ones are awesome and I have a recipe that uses them.  In addition my tomato harvest this season was ho hum so this will help.
Delmonte Fruit- $.89
Ronzoni Pasta- $.49

Aldi has lowered their prices on Chocolate chips, Brown Sugar, cream cheese,and Powdered sugar.


Saturday, October 24, 2015

Oooo, Ahh, OUCH! Sssst

All the best laid plans..... My goal today was a little ambitious in that I wanted to get everything done in the yard except pressure washing the house.  Leeettle bit ambitious.  I gave it a valiant effort though.  I moved all of the fencing in my garden into place for next season.  I put down edging on one side of the garden, helped Dh with the burning, moved the brid feeder where we can see it even when the garden is fully grown and staked two fruit trees which were leaning.  One of the trees was leaning because with all the rain we've had the ground was soft and the kudzu grapped it and was pulling it over.  HOW DARE HE!  I cut the kudzu back and staked the tree up also removing any residual kudzu on the branches.  mess with my fruit trees!  The nerve!  Anyway, we also move the chicken coop again to give the chickens some fresh grass.  I still need to cover the garden in black plastic, put away all of my stakes, garden tools, etc, and pressure wash the house.  I'm hopeful Dh and I can get all of the outside stuff done this next week (avoiding the three straight days of rain Mon-Wed) and then starting Nov 1st turning my focus indoors to home management, holiday prep, sewing, canning, and general store stuff.  I can't believe Christmas is only 8 weeks 6 days away from today.  YIKES!  I hope The month of November and 25 days in December is enough time to get all I want to do done.

So anyway, I got a good bit done today and have discovered at my age everything hurts and what doesn't hurt doesn't work.  I still have things I can do tomorrow, Thursday, Friday, and Sat.  My cut off is Nov 1st.  What isn't done by then will have to wait until after Christmas.  I'll just keep my curtains closed so I can't see it during the winter.(smile).

I have decided the garden is going to be smaller next year.  Yea I can hear you saying "I'll believe it when I see it", but I am really planning that!  Promise!  I know, I know.  The gardening bug hasn't bit yet for next season.  So the summer wrap up continues and the holidays are fast approaching.  I wish I had a more stellar post this go round, but the writers block prevails.  Hows your summer wrap up going?

Sunday, October 18, 2015

In memory of my cousin

Years ago (more than I want to count), I counted among my playmates, my cousin Allison.  I would go spend the night at her house, or she mine.  We only got to do this a a couple of times a year.  Added to that are the family events where we could reconnect.  She was then, and is today, a light in my life.  Years passed and we grew up.  Our own lives, families, jobs, took over, and we lost that connection in the hustle.  But I never lost my love for Allison.  The knowledge that Allison was out in the world doing her own thing was one of the things that made my world complete.  Everything was right.  We reconnected thru Face Book in the past few years.  It was nice to be in touch, but as often happens, we talked about meeting for lunch or something but it never happened.  It was during this time she was diagnosed with breast cancer.  I watched her fight; the victories and the losses over the past couple of years until the end of September when she lost that battle.  The cancer won in her physical body.  Her spirit never wavered.  Now Allison has moved away to a new home.  She is in the same neighborhood  I suspect as my brother, my grandmother, and many other members of her and my family.  That is how I think of Allison.  It's how I think of my brother and anyone else in my family who has passed on.  She has moved to a city I can't get to yet.  There will come a time when I need to move, but for now I need to stay put.  I do know the living is pretty sweet there.

Allison was larger than life.  As children she led, I followed.  That was the way.  She always knew the coolest things to do.  She never lost that spirit..  She could walk into a room and simply change the atmosphere by her arrival.  Her smile lit up the room.  She loved her family, especially her son, fiercely.  I wouldn't want to be the poor schmuck that got between her and her son.  She loved children in general and was such an amazing teacher the children, in her honor, used their little fingerprints to create flowers in art work used at her memorial service.  She loved dogs, she loved life.  

She loved life.  John 10:10 states " The thief comes to steal, kill, and destroy, but I have come that they may have life. and that they might have it more abundantly".  The thief came to steal from Allison.  He might have taken this earthly shell, but she has life more abundant than ever before thru Christ.  That life the thief can never take away.  We mourn for Allison.  I know what her family is going thru and my insufficient words here will do little to ease that pain, but it's how I feel.  It is my own tribute to my friend.

Life is short,  We are not promised tomorrow.  Don't lose those close connections to friends, and family.  Make the time.  Not face book or email, but real physical time.  Put down your phones, computers, whatever, and enjoy precious time with those you love. You may not have another chance.

In the meantime.  Allison, SEE YOU LATER ALLIGATOR!  Love you!

Thursday, October 8, 2015

A Gardening Discovery

Every year I struggle against Mexican Bean Beatles.  I can usually get one harvest of beans before the little buggers strip the plants bare.  I have tried spray in the past but to no avail (and I hate spraying).  The eggs are laid on the underside of the leaves so the spray rarely gets to them.  I have also tried diotomaceous earth and so no real success.  I have even squashed them bare handed and left their corpse there as a warning to the other.  All to no avail.  They grow by the hundreds and so impossible to control.  At least for me.  This year I tried something different.  Once my first run of beans was done, and the beatles were arriving in force, I picked the last of the beans, pulled the plants up and planted nothing in that area for the rest of the summer.  Once the first of August came around, I replanted more beans to get one more harvest.  Since it was experimental, I didn't invest many bean seeds.  I planted about 3 15 ft rows.  I planted the seeds in the same area as the earlier beans.  Yesterday I went out to pick beans.  I picked 6 lbs of beans in one picking.  The plants are green and happy.  I am not seeing the beatles.  So far I'm thinking this is a successful experiment.

The success of this experiment has made me change my gardening plan for next season.  Since I also have problems with tomatoes wilting in the heat, I will be planting beans early/late and tomatoes late.  My entire garden in spring will be beans, both pole and bush.  At the same time I will start my tomato seeds in seed pots, but outdoors.  Once the beans have had their run, the garden will be cleaned out and my tomatoes will be planted in their place.  Having a run of beans first will also add nitrogen to the soil., and allow  me a good harvest of beans before the beatles really get started.  Also, it will allow me to focus on one item at a time.  Beans first, then Blueberries, Blackberries, Tomatoes, then Beans again in fall.  Best of all I don't  have to try and use pest control products.  My planting schedule is my pest control.  I'm also hopeful by planting my tomato plants later, they will besetting fruit once the weather cools some and will continue to set fruit til the first frost.  Right now they set fruit once then wilt and die back when the heat comes on.  They then recover and start to set fruit again when it cools, but I see very few tomatoes because the frost comes first.  An alternative is to start my tomato plants early (like December) and plant them larger.  That would nix my bean plan though.  This is still a work in progress, but then most all of gardening is trial and error.  

If anyone has thoughts on this I would love more input.  My goal is to get the most from my garden without using sprays and such.  Any input is greatly desired.  Thanks

Monday, October 5, 2015

Where have I been? Well I'll tell ya

I have been sewing like a crazy person.  If you want to see what I have been up to you can check out my new page of doll clothes to see my latest offerings.  My Dh has been appropriately supportive in that he has been gushing over each item as I make it cause you know I have to show him how cute they are!  I am finishing up things today because we were without power yesterday until 3 am this morning.  So I am catching up now.  The sun is out today and so once all the rain dries up I will be back outside.  Actually will be doing double duty cause I have more doll clothes to make.  In other words busy, busy.  So take a look at my doll page.  More will be added as soon as I can.  Draw backs to starting from the ground floor.  You guys have a great day!

Saturday, September 26, 2015


Whew! After having to order a new battery for our digital camera ( and it's working very well thank you very much!), make all of the items I sell (Well except for the doll clothes.  They will come later), and make pics of everything, I finally have my store page complete (for  now).  I will add other items as they come along, but it's a start.  I hope you enjoy the page.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Delayed but not forgotten. The belated update.

I know, I know.  I'm posting my weekly (which technically is supposed to be daily but...) blog post.  I'm late,  but there was a good reason.  We were somewhat lazy today.  Laid around drinking coffee, eating breakfast and , if you can believe it, watched some old Loony Tunes Saturday morning cartoons.  Once we dropped Rubic off at his job we went to a local city festival to see what we could see.  Some cute booths.  It gave me some ideas of how to set up my own booths one day soon.  We ate totally bad; a corn dog each,  lemonade, and we shared a funnel cake.  I know.  It's bad, but we were at a fair!  I mean that's the norm for a fair right.  We were tempted by deep fried Oreos, but stuck with a funnel cake cause its what you eat at a fair.  I have accomplished a little house maintenance, but it required very little.  We are also having homemade pizza for dinner so there is that.

One other thing we did today was to head up to Lowes and pick up some mulch for the yard.  This week, with the house pretty much under control, I have turned my focus to the front yard.  I wish I could have a picture of what it looked like before,  but lets just suffice it to say it was bad.  I have two flower beds in my front yard.  Both were so overgrown with weeds you couldn't see the flowers underneath.  The first bed took me 5 hours of digging, pulling, turning under, replanting etc.  I literally could not move by the end of the day.  Day two was about the same, but since this bed was smaller it only took 3 hours.  I have also put edging (that I already had on hand) around both beds and am putting mulch down to hopefully keep the weeds down next year.  My rose bushes have been freed from weeds, fertilized as an apology, and watered.  My knock out rose bush has had all the dead blooms removed, pruned some, and is happy as a clam.  I trimmed back around the base of the house, shed, and fence.  My house no longer looks abandoned.  This past year my only time had to be spent in the vegetable garden which left the poor flower beds neglected.  With more time, I can now focus on my yard.  No longer am I mortified for someone to come over.  Joy!  I told Dh I am bucking for the cities "Yard of the month" sign.  (Smile).  I still have more to do in the front and then my attention will turn to the back yard.  I really want to get things cleaned up before the temps get too cold.  Right now it's beautiful weather and a joy to work outside.

There's a method to my madness.  We are able to refinance our home and bring the interest rate down to 4.125 from 7.9 %.  This is awesome.  We have never been where we could refinance our home because we live in a mobile home.  The newest company that has our mortgage does refinance mobile homes!  We are going to keep the payment the same and pay this bad boy off early.  Our Goal is 10 years instead of the 15 we have refinanced.  That will coincide with DH retirement.  As part of the process we are having the house appraised.  I want everything spiffy so we get a good appraisal.  It's a personal thing for me.  It won't affect our refinance, but I want to have as much equity as I can get in our house.  So anyway, next week will be a whirl wind.  I have the appraiser to follow up on, a handy man coming out to estimate some repairs we need to have done, I am to follow up on a money market account for our emergency fund, as well as my other projects.   I must say i'm not bored with being home yet.

So, I don't know if I mentioned this before, but we have been having an ongoing difference of opinion when it comes to our state tax man.  Back in 2012 I failed to send in the Schedule A for our itemized deductions.  Totally my fault, and that set in motion a "you owe us" and our response "no we don't" situation.  I can now say that we have finally received the all clear and we don't owe.  I submitted everything they said we needed and they are satisfied.  It took HR Block to finally call them and say "Just what do you need".  It's amazing how fast things get resolved when you speak to an actual person.

Frugality has not gone the way of the do do in all this activity.  I have been able to keep up with bread making and other baking.  Our only eat out escapade was today's fair.  We have been keeping up with our budget and watching our power and water use.  The cooler weather has helped in that we can now go without the air conditioner for a few days.   I've been able to do some much needed mending which is great because it has just been accumulating.  

So that's all the update from my neck of the woods.  How are things with you?  I would love to hear from you.

Monday, September 14, 2015

The art of the remake.

Have you noticed how lately Hollywood has this desire to remake movies rather than create something new.  Now in the case of movies I'm like "been there done that, move on", but there really is an art to remaking or re-purposing something.  Today I speak of recreating something new from leftovers.

LEFTOVERS!!!!  No one wants leftovers!  But you would be wrong.  People do want left overs....they just don't know it yet.  The idea is to let nothing go to waste.

1) So you only have a spoonful of green beans left in the pan.  Keep a container in the fridge and place all your leftover bits of veggies.  Once full it becomes veggie soup.  I usually match the meat to the broth in the veggies.  If I used chicken bouillon in my veggies initial preparation, then I will add chicken and make chicken vegetable soup. The same goes for beef and ham.

2)  1 Cup of leftover ground meat, a left over meat patty, left over meat loaf, etc, becomes the ground meat used in chili or spaghetti.  A piece of left over chicken is used in casseroles, or chicken pot pie.

3)  Left over mashed potatoes become voila!  Potato soup.  I chop 2 celery stalks and 1 med onion and cook them in 2 cups of chicken bouillon.  Once soft I puree them in the broth then add 2 cups of mashed potatoes.  Mix well.  If your soup is still thick add a little milk to get it to the consistency you want.  Once you have it to the consistency you like, add chives, cheese, sour cream and hot sauce! Salt and pepper to taste.   Serve with a crusty bread.  YUM!

4) Left over egg/milk from making french toast becomes the egg and milk needed in muffins or other baked good.  May have to add a little more milk, but it works.

The idea is to rethink your leftovers and not throw them away.  Tonight we're having chili and I did just what I normally do.  I had leftover taco meat and it was used in the chili.  Turned out well.  Compliments all round.  What recreations do you perform?

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Re-thinking my options

Did you read that title and think I was re-thinking being home?  NO WAY!  SO far so good as they say.  I am however re-thinking how I do things.  Let me explain.

There is a little fact out there that no matter your income, whether $30, 000 or $100,000, the normal family will live paycheck to paycheck.  In other words, your bills will rise to meet a pay increase.  It takes a lot of discipline to keep that from happening.  Mainly because it happens without our being aware of it.  We get a mentality of  "Oh I will go ahead and get that cause I can afford it now", or "I can splurge a little cause I have this extra".  Sometimes it's just the fact that because you have the money to buy something new, you never consider just fixing whats broken.  That is where I am now.  Even with living off DH income for the past 6 months, we still had the cushion of my check.  As a result, if we needed something we would buy first and think later.  Now, while ends meet and then some, we know our income has been cut a lot.  It's changing my mindset.  This past week I have rethought 3 different needs.

1)  We have a Sony Cybershot digital camera.  We've had it a while.  Currently duct tape holds the battery/memory card compartment closed so it can function.  Not aesthetically pleasing, but functional.  That is until this week.  Now the battery has died.  My first thought was we needed to by another one.   Those cameras right now are about $100.  More than I want to spend at this moment.  I need the camera in order to get my "Frugal Maven Country Store" set up.  DH's MP3 player takes pics, but not very clear ones, and our cell phone is a cheap pre-pay.  I really didn't want to spend that money right now.  We have greater priorities.  Then it hits me.  Can I replace just the battery?.  Well it turns out I can.  In fact the battery, shipping and all has cost me $5.77

2)  We have lived here for a little over 19 years.  We have the same mailbox we had when we came here.  The box itself is faded, and the post is slanted back some and so when it rains the mail gets wet.  Our first thought was to buy a new everything and replace it.  Now I'm not saying we won't replace everything, but before we do, we're going to dig it up, see if the wood post is still good and if everything is still good, I will re paint it and we will re install it instead of replacing it.

3)  I called our cable company this week to cancel our HBO.  We don't watch anything on HBO and so didn't need to be paying the extra $10 a month.  While on the phone with the customer service agent, I asked about a basic cable plan.  Well, if there is ever a time when you may cancel service, the "promotions" come out of the wood work.  I ended up saving $30 a month, with the exact same service we have now, just in a promotion.  Good for a y ear, but at the end of that year I can call and if the promotion is still in effect we can re enter the promotion.

4)  Not really in the repair mode, butt definitely in the rethinking options mode;  We turned off the AC yesterday (yay) and went to put box fans in the windows to cool the house when needed.  Problem is two of our box fans were no longer working.  These I can't fix and so we had to buy two more box fans.  Yes and initial outlay of money, but it will pay for itself when our power bill is less.  Anyway, last night Rubic tells me his fan didn't have a power cord in the box.  Now I'm looking at having to turn the AC back on so he can sleep and making a trip back to the store to exchange the fan.  Then I think about the broken fan.  Sure enough the power cord from the broken fan fits the new fan.  Problem solved, the AC stayed off.

My point is to rethink your options.  Regardless of your income.  The splurges, thoughtless purchases, and "I'm worth it" expenses can keep you from your eventual goal especially if that goal is transitioning to one income, retiring, or paying down debt.  You can "Nickle and Dime" yourself out of success.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

So how's it feel to not work?

Hmmmmm.  One thing I've noticed is many people understand the idea of staying at home when the kids are little.  I mean those are the formidable years right?  Not to mention the cost of daycare is off the chain!  They would be right to think that way.  There is a greater need to stay home with small children.  We managed over the past 22 years of marriage to either work opposite shifts with my being part time and Dh being full time, or my staying home while simultaneously running an in home daycare.  There were, aside from the advantages, disadvantages to both.  Opposite shifts meant Dh and I saw each other in passing.  We might have had a day off here and there but for the most part it was "Hi and Bye".  In addition, what work on the house that I accomplished when off was not maintained when I was gone to work.  No ones fault.  Dh had his own things to care for.  The daycare was some better except I had a houseful of kids (11 at the highest, counting my kids) Mon- Fri.  Needless to say running errands were few and far between.  That meant Sat was the day to clean, grocery shop, etc.  Not much time for fun stuff.  I always felt pressured for time.  When I was somewhere fun it was at the cost of something being left undone that week.  I know I should have been able to let that go, but lets face it, in this day and age you are supposed to be a super mom.  I'm not.  Right or not, that was my feeling.  I 'm grateful, don't get me wrong, for the ability to work from home or work part time over the years, but even doing that meant I was working a full time job at home and a part time job outside the home.

Now I'm getting to be home and yet my kids are older.  I say all this to say there are more reasons than young children for one parent/spouse to stay home.

 1) When one person stays home and takes over the management of the home, it takes that weight off the other spouse/ parent enabling them to focus primarily on their job.  All errands, doctor visits, chauffeur service, etc falls under the home management title.  I won't go so far as to say which of the team needs to be the stay at home designee, but whoever has that distinction needs to understand this is a full time job as well.

 2)  It is more cost effective.  So daycare isn't needed anymore.  We never used that to begin with except for a short time when my oldest was a toddler.  What I'm talking about is less gas used, less eating out, less convenience food, fewer taxes owed.  In addition this frees time up to meal plan, bake, shop smart, garden, etc.  These things save money.

3) Stress reduction.  Not all schedules have to be hectic.  Because there is a parent whose schedule is open and flexible, things fall into place.  The house stays better maintained, whoever needs to be where ever happens much easier..  Especially in our case where we have two sons in technical college with differing schedules and Rubic has a job after school.  The stay at home parent handles all business dealings in regards to the home finances or home maintenance.

4) More time for your marriage.  I work around and for the home from the time DH leaves for work and until he comes home.  I take breaks just like he does at work,  When he is home from work, I am done for the day.  Well excepting dinner prep and clean up.  When Dh is home from work, he is done for the day,  He can come home and enjoy the down time to ready for the next day.  In much the same way, because I addressed what needed addressing that day,my day is done and I can enjoy needed down time.  Great thing is we can enjoy that together.  Our weekends are now our weekends.  We can go somewhere, or not, up to us.  We have the time.

Now I will put in this disclaimer.  Anything that is greater than an 8 hour day is a shared responsibility for both parents.   For example, Dh is off today and so technically so am I , but there are still things that need to be done.  These become the shared responsibility of both of us.  I cooked breakfast and he saw to the chickens and fed the dogs.  He's also going with me to a friends house to help feed their animals while they are out of town.

I have been home for the past 4 days.  Shock of shockers my house is being put back in order.  I have 2 rooms left to clean and organize.  Then I will address the outside.  In addition, rooms I cleaned on Tuesday have been easily maintained through out this week even though I have been focusing on other rooms.  Each morning I am able to go over the previous days rooms and make sure everything is in order before turning my focus elsewhere.  I've been able to run errands, walk, read my Bible (Gasp!), sew, etc without feeling the pressure of time. Today we will be going out as a family to have a little fun.  The plan is to have a leisurely breakfast, go check on my neighbors animals, and off we go possibly to some antique shops because youngest son wants to look for vinyl records.  I'm looking forward to it.  No thoughts on what is left undone.  If something still needs doing I have Monday.  My focus is time with my family.  I love it.  Dh says he's lovin it.  My sons are amazed at how nice and clean the house is.  Less stress for everyone.

I'm home now because I can be.  Debt kept that from being a possibility until now.  "The borrower is slave to the lender".  The choices we made to get into debt kept an ideal situation from coming to fruition.  Our own fault.  Had we stayed out of debt from the get go, this could have happened a long time ago.  If you are in debt, get out.  If you aren't in debt, stay out.   Best advice I could ever give.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

The Big Wrap up

I can't believe it's finally here.  My last day at my away from home job is Monday.  I had my exit interview today.  Cleaned out my desk yesterday to make room for my replacement, and now am getting ready for the last hurrah on Monday.

When I tell you I work with some of the most precious people around, you can believe it.  From the office staff, nurses, aids, social workers, chaplains, massage therapists, musicians, bereavement counselors, and volunteers; all of these people devote their heart, time, and energy to each and every patient and family member.  I've watched them in amazement as they hold the hand of parents brave enough to carry their child to term and bring it into the world, knowing their child won't survive.  Parents saying good bye to a child young or old.  Children saying good by to their parent all too soon.  And through it all this hospice staff carries them through.  They are under staffed, over worked, and stressed, but carry on none the less because they are called.  Called to serve in a way many can't and/ or won't do.  I am honored to have worked with them and am proud to call each of them "friend".  The Bible says " a man makes his plans, but God guides his foot steps".  Each of us is placed where God wants us in every time in our life.  Sometimes it's to serve, and other times its to learn.  I pray I served God and others well during this time in my life, but I know for a fact I have learned from this experience.  I will miss them greatly.

Now I face another adventure.  I'm nervous.  Very.  Oh but so excited.  The challenge is put before me.  Not just to be frugal.  I'm not called to do that alone.  It's a part of who I am, but I'm still called to touch others in Jesus name.  To do so, my walk with Him must get closer.  I pray it will.  It will.  My youngest two children will be leaving to go on their own way soon and I don't want to miss the few years with them I have left.  They grow up all to soon.  What am I saying, they're already grown, but they're still home while they go to school, and until they go off on their own. I want to savor this time.  Another thing I've learned these past few years in Hospice is that no one is promised tomorrow.  I want to cherish everyday I have with my family.  So I'm excited.  Excited to start this new chapter.  This choice isn't for everyone, but it's mine and I relish what lies in store.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Wa, Wa, Waaaaaa

Very excited this morning to make bread again. So excited I was up at 4:30 making it.  Ever heard the term "have a hand"?  It's a term used when referring to a skill you have perfected over time and now comes easy.  Well the other side of that is to "Lose your hand" at something.  In other words, one becomes less adept at that particular skill due to a length of time not using that skill.  This is a long drawn out way of saying I am a bit rusty when it comes to bread making.  I haven't made bread in a long while.  Today's loaves taste good and make great toast, but not the pretty sandwich bread I'm used to.  Hence the title to my post.  It's just a minor set back.  We will focus on having awesome grill cheese sandwiches, or toast for breakfast for a few weeks until I get used to the bread making again.  It's a hard job but someone has to do it.  (smile).  In addition to the bread I made two pizza crust for dinner tonight and they seem fine.

Sooooo excited to be starting my last week in my outside the home job.  Nervous too.  It is a big step.  I have a peace about it, but it is a little unnerving.  I would say the planning has already started, but that would be wrong.  The planning started 5 months ago when we decided to take this step.  We have successfully lived off of Dh income alone for the past 5 months.  My income has gone to get other things paid off.  Now the rubber is hitting the road as we will be doing this for real.  Other planning started 5 months ago as well.  I would go to sleep and wake up planning what I would do when I have the time; from the garden, baking, sewing etc, to additional things like saving on electricity, groceries, water, etc.  My full time job will be to make the income Dh brings in go further.  In addition, I will be the main errand runner, chauffeur, accountant, etc.  I want my home to become the sanctuary it should be for my entire family (including me).   That is the desire of my heart.

One thing I'm not looking forward to is my yearly doctor visit in September.  This past year has been horrible toward my health.  I am up a few pounds, as are Dh, Rubic, and Einstein.   Between the guys having class, both Dh and my full time job, and having only one car for a while, there was very little time for health.  In addition, in preparation for leaving my job, our garden had to go in and we had to live as if we had only one income.  That took even more time.  The house suffered as well.  I can feel the difference in myself and I don't like it.  Come September 1st that changes.  We are all refocusing to a healthier lifestyle, and the house will get the attention it deserves.  Not sure if the changes in my health will be reflected in my lab results by the end of September, but I will know it is on the right track.  Was all of this worth it?  Yes, yes, a thousand times yes!  Would I do it again.  YES!  We knew going into this past 5 months it would be hard.  Now we get to reap the rewards of that sacrifice.

Update on my daughter and her family.  No big surprise the stay at home parent plan is working well for them as well.  She has told me there is even more money freed up than she originally imagined.  Both my daughter and son in law are finding they have more time for the kids and each other.  The kids seem more even keeled.  My daughter says she actually finds herself looking for something to do (and she is the working outside the home parent).  I have told her she needs to take up her crocheting or reading again.   It works!  I understand not everyone has the ability or desire to do this, but I will tell those who want to or can do this.  It works!  It can be done!

Monday, August 17, 2015

The Big Reveal!

Okay, so real cool for me anyway cause I am hopeful this is helpful for my readers.  I've had readers in the past comment how hard it is to search for a recipe or other topic and so I hope this helps.

Notice just above the title of this post and you will see tabs for pages.  Each page contains helpful info from previous blog posts.  All, I believe, of the recipes I have posted over the years are now under the "Recipes" tab to make finding them easy.  Within that page I have divided the recipes by category.  Any posts I have done in the past of the tutorial nature are under "How To's" and the Country Store will contain all my Country store items for sale (sooner rather than later).  For now that last page is still under construction.  I'll be preparing the "Stock" once I'm home for good.  Really all of the pages are a work in progress because I will be adding to them as needed.

I really do hope this is something you guys will find positive.  Any feed back is appreciated whether is a comments about existing pages or ideas for new pages (cause that will be forth coming)


Saturday, August 15, 2015

We interrupted this blog post for a special bulletin

No real blog post today or maybe this week.  I am tweeking some things in my blog site which my readers may find helpful.  As soon as I have it set up I will reveal it!!!!  oooOOOooo very exciting!  See ya next time!


Saturday, August 8, 2015

Updates from The Ole Homestead

Yea, no lofty little tidbits of frugality to share.  This is just a post about the goings on in our little corner of the world.  Which reminds me of a joke:

God once told men he would place good obedient women in all four corners of the world.  Then He made the world round and laughed and laughed.

But anyway, I digress.

This past week I finally managed to can 24.5 cans of tomato sauce.  I also tried an experimental blackberry butter recipe.  It's pretty good, but the next go round I'll use 6 cups of sugar instead of 4.  Once I get this down, I'll share my findings and my recipe.  I still have about 1 gallon of blackberries left in the freezer so this will be soon I promise.

One of the temptations I have in the summer with the heat, canning, gardening, and this summer working full time; is eating out.  Not anything expensive mind you; Subway or Little Caesars. I am happy to say that while I have had a few lapses, I have managed to get dinner on the table instead.  Now dinner may be grilled cheese or waffles, but everyone has eaten.  Not my healthiest offerings, but definitely my cheapest.  Once I have more time, dinner will be less hit or miss and better for us. I did have one exception and that was today as the family went out and about thrift store shopping.  As a part of our excursion we stopped for an ice cream.  Aside from that we bought pizza and baked it at home for dinner tonight.

Our morning was spent finishing a remake of the old PVC coop using the PVC and poultry netting we had on hand.  The only expense was a bag of zip ties for putting everything together.  Yes we've separated the coops again and each one has its own run again.  With the addition of 4 new birds, our flock is now 11 and so the previous set up was getting more cramped by the day as the babies grew.

So there's the update in our neck of the woods.  Not anything great and lofty, but its all I have for now.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Domestic Tips Learned from "The Godfather"

I know right?  Who Knew! But it's true.  There are domestic things one can glean from watching this movie.   It's not only, as Tom Hanks puts it in "You've Got Mail" the "Movie equivalent of the I Ching--the epitome of wisdom.  If anyone has a problem the answer can be found in "The Godfather"".  Yes ladies "The Godfather" is not just for guys.

So what can you learn from "The Godfather"?  Well let me tell you!

1)  How to make an awesome Italian Pasta sauce to feed a crowd.  I got this recipe from The Food Network.  The comments in parenthesis are my own.

The Godfather's Clemenza's Spaghetti Sauce

"Come here kid and learn something.  you might have to cook for 20 guys someday"

Clemenza's Spaghetti Sauce

2 Tbs Olive Oil
2-4 cloves of garlic chopped (I would go for 4 cause I like garlic.  Keeps vampires and people away)
2 Large cans of Tomatoes
Tomato Paste (I would use a 12 oz can, but you may want to start with a 6 oz can and see if it is as thick as you like)
3-4 Italian Sausage links grilled and chopped
1 lb Cooked Meat balls.
1/4 cup Sugar
Red Wine (this is for cooking unless you've had a very trying day and then....well....)

To Make:

Heat the olive oil over med heat.  Add the chopped garlic and saute a few minutes making sure not to burn the garlic.  Add the tomatoes and tomato paste and stir well until a smooth consistency.  Add the sausages and  meatballs.  Stir to cover the meats well.  Add a splash of red wine (I said splash not glug) and the sugar to taste.  Turn down the heat and let simmer at least 20 minutes.  If you must salt, do so to taste.  Serve over noodles (Duh)

2) Never, never, never attempt to have a conversation on the phone with a crying baby in your arms.  Now I have to state that I valiantly, valiantly searched long and hard for a photo image depicting this scene, but to no avail.  Those of you who have seen "The Godfather" will remember the phone call in which Sonny finds out his sister has been beat up yet again by her husband.  This scene is the set up for Sonny's eventual demise and so I am shocked, SHOCKED there is no image anywhere on the net.  Anyway, the call comes in and Carmela Corleone (The Corleone Matriarch) answers the phone with a screaming baby in her arms.  She then states "I can't hear you the baby is crying" and hands the phone off to Sonny.  What cracks me up is she attempts to hear what the caller is saying through the screams of the baby.  Now disappointed as I am at the lack of image, my point is still made so...moving on.

3)  A Gardening tip!  How to protect tomatoes from Sun Scald!

I'm actually trying it this year.  I have had to cut  back some of my tomato plants.  All of the dead branches have been cut away, leaving only what has new growth.  The problem with doing this is that it leaves what tomatoes left on the vine exposed to the direct sunlight.  To mitigate this problem, I have placed a white cloth covering over my plants such as you see here.  We will see if this really works for them.  I hope so.  I really did get the idea of doing this from this movie.  This is one of DH favorite movies so I've seen it a lot.  Well I have to admit I like it too; the first two anyway.

I do have to admit I like these movies.  I like the era they are depicted in, the cinematography, just everything.  Well except the graphic violence.  It is a classic though, but now we can look at it from a totally new perspective; Home Economics.  Oh and we can't forget the most important tip we can learn from this movie.

4)  The importance of bringing home after work what your wife asked you to pick up.  Please!

Friday, July 31, 2015

A Wrench in the Works

OMG she is posting during the week!  Alert the media!  Well what can I say, when the muse strikes I write.

Off from work today and so it will be a full day of stuff to do.  Making the most of this time.  No one has to be anywhere except Dh and that's good cause the little Honda had to go into the shop for today.  I have to give him (the little Honda) kudos cause he waited til we had the truck back, but little guy needed breaks and rotors on the front end.  Our mechanic is near here so I dropped the car off this morning and Dh brought me back before going to work.  Fortunately, if this had to happen, I'm glad it happened  now. We have three paychecks this month, we had money in the car fund, the truck is back, and no one needs to go anywhere today.  The final bill for this repair was only $203.00.  My original plan, cause you get driven to pay it off, was to muster every available cent, including the car fund, to pay it off.  I then would have paid the car fund back with the next check.  This won't happen now, but it will still be paid off on time.  Just not early.  Oh well "All the best laid plans" you know.  But it's all good.

My dtr and I were talking yesterday about budgeting and such.  I told her to make sure she budgeted for bad things to happen.  Dave Ramsey says if you budget for Murphy he will leave you alone and bother your neighbor.  So I am budgeting for Murphy.  I told her she should as well.  One of the best feelings in the world is to be able to not sweat the unexpected because you are ready for it.  No one knows when an unexpected event will know...cause...they're unexpected.  You can guarantee they will happen, so plan for it.

On the gardening front.  Let me tell you, there is such a sense of satisfaction in harvesting food from your back yard.  Not just satisfaction, but...dare I say it?....well, yes, outright defiance.  A shaking of your fist to "the man".  To know you can skip buying things at the grocery store and paying their prices because you took the time to grow it at home.  It's a great feeling to be sure.  Yesterday I went out to the garden and brought in corn, tomatoes (of course) and eggs from our chickens.  It's neat!  Really!  Now I can't be totally defiant cause there are still things I need at the store (shhh so don't tell them what I said.  Lol), but little by little I make more things at home and buy less things at the store.  That is awesome!

In addition to saving at the grocery store, I am proud to announce our power bill was $50 less this year than last year, and that is with this summer being hotter (way hotter) than last year.  My goal each month is to keep that power bill down even more.  Next month, when home, I will begin to hang clothes on the line again.  Love doing that anyway.  Makes me feel so Pioneery.

My ultimate goal is to make the income Dh brings in go farther.  Pinch that penny til he screams!  I can't wait for the ultimate frugal challenge to begin.  Me vs the bills.  Epic!  Epic!  I can confidently say I will win, the question is by how much!

So there you go.  What's going on with you?

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Got the truck back can I get a Hallelujah!

Finally!  After 2 months of waiting and waiting we finally, on Thursday,  got our truck back from the mechanic.  They ended up rebuilding the engine to the tune of $2600.  Still cheaper than going into debt to buy another car.  The mechanic feels like the truck is in really good shape.  Aside from the engine rebuild he found nothing else really wrong with the truck.  He had done some work on the truck for the previous owner, but had no record of any transmission service being done.  As a result he thought it prudent to have a service done on the transmission just to make sure.  Aside from that we're good.  He says it's running great.  We still have money set aside for the truck and so will look into the transmission service and getting new tires.  I have no delusions about the future in regards to our motor vehicles.  I know things break and the time comes to purchase another new(to us) car.  We don't buy brand new.  Just doesn't happen.  We buy used cars so I have no need to save tens of thousands of dollars.  However, my goal now and in the foreseeable future is to put back some of our savings each month to a car account.   This account will be used for either car repairs or a car purchase further down the line.  My goal is to never go into debt to purchase another car.  I make no promises, but that is my goal.

My life is work and tomatoes.  More tomatoes than anything else.  I have just come in from about 4 hours in the garden picking, weeding, tying up and cutting back tomatoes.  Some of my plants have out and out died due to the hot weather we've been having.  This is par for the course.  Happens every year.  They will start to come back in August as the temps moderate a little, and then I will have these large gorgeous tomatoes that never get a chance to ripen.  For this reason, if there is no new growth on the plants right now, I get the good tomatoes and up it comes to make way for something else productive.  Ironically the tomato plants with new growth are the one type of plant I really don't need...namely cherry tomatoes.  They love all this weather and have no problem continuing to produce.  Corn is starting to come in and I need to pick it yesterday.  It was on my list of things to do today.  I will get to it I hope tonight when it cools off some.

My gardening "second wave" will begin August 15th.  That day I plan to plant more beans both green beans and pinto beans, and  more squash.  I will be starting cabbage plants sooner than that.  Sept first will be my day to plant spinach, lettuce, and my cabbage seedlings.  The tomatoes will still be going as well until the first frost (Oct 31st) and right before our first freeze I will be digging sweet potatoes.  I can keep this gardening thing going a while if I have the time and inclination.  Probably by the first freeze I will be ready for a break.  Christmas will be on the way and that takes a lot of my time as well.