Friday, September 22, 2017

I've now moved!

I did start a new blog, but not on frugality.  It's on healthy eating and all that goes with it.  The right way!  No processed food should apply.  Come see me!

https://dineagain.blogspot.com/

Sunday, June 25, 2017

In the words of Carol Burnett...

357.  357, this makes 358 posts in this one blog.  I blogged on another sight for a few years, but this one has been my longest run.  I've always been frugal maven from the get go; only my location changed.

We're coming up on a year since my dad passed: 2 weeks from tomorrow.  All of us in the family have started the "a year ago we were", because he was still with us then.  Now he's gone on, and we won't be able to say that for much longer.  After he passed, I considered ending my blog.  If you look at my list of "followers", Daddy was two of them: three if you count the account he set up for Mama, and I was one (by accident).  I never really gained a following, and that's fine.  This blog served it's purpose.  It kept my dad entertained at any rate, and, well, I hope I was able to give a few tips to help someone save money in the future.

It's gotten harder and harder to find things to write about.  To be honest, I don't think my heart has really been in it since Daddy passed.  Over the past year, I've watched as fewer and fewer people tuned into what I had to say.  It doesn't bother me in the least though.  It just points out to me that maybe now would be a good time to move on to other things.  Will I blog again?  Hmmmm maybe.  Who knows.  Etsy is taking a lot of my focus as well as the running of my home.  My boys are almost on their own.  It's a season of changes.  Not sure what the future holds, but I know the man who does.

I want to thank each and every one of you who read my blog; once or consistently.  If you commented here or in person, Thank you.  If you never commented, but I saw where you tuned in, you made my day as well.  I hope in some way, this blog helped someone.   It was my journal of sorts.   It would be nice if it also shared more than just the thoughts of one woman.

So thanks!  I appreciate your support more than you would believe, and in the words of Carol Burnett





"I'm so glad we had this time together
Just to have a laugh or sing a song
Seems we just get started and before you know it
Comes the time we have to say so long"

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

I Love Yellow Wax Beans!

This is the first year I've planted yellow wax beans in the garden.  It was purely by accident.  I went to the feed store to get green beans, and, well; one should always have their glasses on when shopping.  That's all I'm sayin.  By the time I realized my mistake, they were sprouting.  So I let them go.  I have yet to can any.  Not because we aren't getting them coming in, but because we have discovered roasted beans.   The clouds parted and the angels were singing!  It takes a lot of beans to roast, and you will eat every one I promise.  Just toss them with a little olive oil and salt and pepper.  Preheat your oven to  450.  Spread them out even on a cookie sheet.  Bake in the 450 degree oven for 15 minutes.  Toss once about half way through the time.  Enjoy!

I always knew about roasted potatoes.  Who doesn't.  Then I learned about roasted carrots.  Now roasted beans.  I'm thinking this roasting thing is going to be my new go to.  I still need to can beans for winter, but I think I'm gonna keep them whole and try roasting them from the jar.  It's an experiment in the making.

The squash is covering me up.  I have grated Zucchini, and sauteed Zucchini and put them in the freezer.  I've made Zucchini relish.  I've also sauteed yellow squash for the freezer.  We've had it for dinner multiple times as well.  In fact I will cook some for just myself some lunches.  I still have it coming in.

So far I have about 4.5 lbs of blueberries which is more than I thought I would get.  The blackberries are coming in as well.  All in all, I'm very pleased with the results.

I have to say I like the "Back to Eden" garden.  I know it isn't at it's full potential this year, but it has seriously cut down on the amount of maintenance needed for my garden.  I can't wait to get all I want covered in wood chips done.

So do you have a garden this year?  How's it going?  Share your stories or pics!  I would love to see them!




Thursday, June 8, 2017

Uppin My Game

My latest book read is "Folks this ain't Normal" by Joel Salatin; owner of Polyface farms in Virginia.  Highly recommend this book.  He's a big proponent of not just local eating, but scratch cooking, old skills, hard work etc.  Anyway, he got me to thinking and so I started looking around for local sources as well as organic, free range, pastured sources for food.  Here is what I know.  I can't do it all.  So if I am going to be able to buy truly local and organic foods I will need to grow most of it.  Next on my list is raising pastured  chicken cause that is out of my range too, but I digress.

As a result of my new found determination to grow as much of my produce as I can, My garden is slated to be in over drive for the season.  I'm fortunate that we have a long growing season.  Our first frost usually isn't until Oct 21st and we normally don't get brutally cold (teens and twenties) until Jan.  This give me extra time for cold weather crops to come in.  Currently there is no more room in my garden for anything else, but as things play out and are pulled out, I will be replacing them with something else.

Squash- The first to go.  I currently have 9 squash plants growing.  These were all planted a few weeks behind each other.  The first set of three is about done.  They will be pulled out and some volunteer lima beans will take their place.  The volunteers are currently growing next to my decks bottom step.  Green beans( bush) will more than likely replace the other squash plants.

Cucumbers-  These are only the first 3 sets planted.  I have four more that haven't started producing yet.  Okra will go there

Corn-  The corn is going gang busters!  Once these beds are done, I'll plant more green beans.  Corn is a heavy feeder and so before I plant the beans, my plan is to mix in more compost and let the beds sit a few weeks.  I will plant these beans about August 1st.  Beans take nitrogen out of the air and put it into the ground through their roots.  It will continue to replenish the soil.

Yellow Wax, and Lima Beans- These are currently growing and beginning to set pods.  As these finish, I will begin planting my cool weather crops: Beets, carrots, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflowers, spinach, and lettuce,

Cherry tomatoes_ despite my no volunteer pledge, I finally got to the point where I had to let some stay.  The are relegated to one main branch,  however.  As these die back, the plants will be pulled out and maybe snow peas will be added.  The cherry tomatoes will be dehydrated (I hope).

Roma tomatoes-  Once they die back they're done.  I'm not gonna try to let them keep going.  I'll replace them with snow peas if possible.

When my slicing tomatoes die back, they will be allow to stay.  When it cools off, they will come back and make the prettiest tomatoes.  These I will pick green and can fried green tomatoes for the pantry.

How cool will it be to have a garden last until Dec or Jan?  AWESOME!


Saturday, June 3, 2017

Garden Update

The Garden is in full swing now.  Things are starting to bloom and I'm finally getting some squash.


Not sure if the "romance" worked or if my problem was one of a pest causing the squash to not produce.  I went to an area farmers market and, while there, talked to a very nice farmer who recommended I remove all of the babies and spray with an organic spray.  Desperate to try anything, I went home and did just that.  Well I did almost that.  I removed all of the affected babies; those that were no longer viable.  So not sure if the assisted romance worked or if his idea worked, but something did and for that I am thankful.  You want something good to eat?  Melt a little butter and chop up a yellow squash and some onion.  Saute it all in the butter with a little salt and pepper until the onions are kinda caramelized and the squash is soft.  Oh YUM!



This is one of my favorite beds.  I have no idea why I took this picture without putting that flat cinder block back in place, but it is what it is so just disregard that and feast your eyes on the pretty plants!  Tomatoes are all along the back.  Then from left to right we have Parsley, Marigolds, Basil, Bell Peppers, More Marigolds, More Basil, More Bell Pepper, and last but not least, More parsley.  By the Way, far left you see something growing out of the cinder block.  That isn't a weed.  It's Marigolds.  I let them stay where they landed and they are thriving.  Go figure.


The corn has sent up it's tassels and is currently taller than me.  It's over 6 ft at this point.  At least this bed is.  This is my first batch of corn.  There are 3 more beds behind this one in development.  Ironically all of the seeds were planted in the bed you see before you.  The subsequent beds of corn were transplanted in place to thin this area.  Once you transplant a plant, it sets it back a bit because the plants has to re-establish itself.  That takes time so the regular growth is interrupted for a bit.  This is a great way to succession plant without having to pull out the seeds each time.  I planted them all at once, then moved what I needed to.  You can go to my "How to" page to see a tutorial on transplanting successfully.  Here's the link to the page :

Click Here

So here is the organic garden spray recipe I use:

1 onion, chopped
4 gloves garlic (you can use garlic powder)
2 cups fresh mint leaves
2 TBS cayenne pepper
1 TBS dish soap
Enough water to make a gallon.

I start with putting everything but the water and soap in a 2 quart jar and adding just enough warm water cover it all.  Then Pulse it in my blender.  I let it sit over night "steeping".  In the morning I strain out the "stuff", leaving the liquid.  Add the rest of the water to make a gallon and the TBS of soap.  Put in a spray bottle and go.  Spray either early in the morning or in the evening.  Try not to spray in the heat of the day.

This has served me well so far and is so inexpensive I don't mind having to reapply if needed after a rain storm.

Hope this serves you well as well.  Have a great day!  BTW aren't my free wood chips so pretty!


Thursday, May 25, 2017

The art of romance

Ahem... never thought I would have ever done this, but a gardeners gotta do, what a gardeners gotta do.

I have three huge yellow squash plants and two huge zucchini plants all covered with baby fruit.   And I do mean covered.  I should be covered up with squash coming in right now.   Problem is, though they are covered with baby fruit, these fruit will grow no more unless pollinated by bees.     I could not figure out for the life of me why this wasn't happening.  I went out this morning to investigate.   At first I thought is was a lack of bees, but I don't believe now that was the case.  Something, probably bunnies (who are getting less cute by the minute) is eating the male flowers.  Not cool.  There were maybe two male flowers left between the two zucchini plants.  So quieting the voice in my head that said "give them some privacy",  I took the male flowers off, opened them up, and went around to the rest of the viable fruits (some had already started dying.  Nothing to do about that.) and pollinated the fruit (female flowers) by hand.  I did the same with the yellow squash.  I will more than likely have to continue this for now, each day.   I now have a keen knowledge of what a male flower and a female flower looks like with their petals off.  I know, I know.  Just feels wrong somehow.  But it had to be done.  Below are the squash flowers.  Left is male, right is female.  See how it is attached to the fruit?



On the wood chip front, I am off this morning for another load of free wood chips.  The ones I have already laid down are doing great!  The plants are thriving.  In fact, I thought we were done with asparagus for the season, but we have more coming up now that they are protected from heat, and have plenty of moisture.  We received a lot of rain these past three days and so the garden is exploding.  After the plants dry some, It is back to pulling off tomato suckers, cutting herbs, and other various garden maintenance.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Two totally awesome gardening tips I never knew!

Well, that title sounds like I know everything.  That is soooooo not the case.  The old adage of "You learn something new everyday" is really true.  That is if you are willing to learn.  That is a sermon for another day, so ON TO THE TIPS!

1)  Milk spray-  Yes.  That is milk like you get at the store.  While walking through my garden the other day, I noticed a lot of white spots on my cucumbers.  So, I went to the computer to ask why.  Well it's called "Powdery Mildew" and it is prevalent among the squash family.  In an effort to keep my garden as organic as possible, I looked up organic treatments for "Powdery Mildew".  I found many articles on milk spray.  Basically it's 1 part milk to 2 parts water.  You can use any type milk you want.  It's the protein in the milk that does the trick.  Something about the reaction created when the sun hits the milk.  It creates an environment that the fungus can't handle.  I sprayed yesterday.  You should spray in full sun when the leaves are dry.  When I went out this morning to check on things, I noticed the spots are fading and, in some cases, disappearing.   I'll spray again in 10 days or if it rains.

2) Back to Eden Gardening-  In a nut shell, deep mulch gardening.  Here is a link for the info.  It's kind of lengthy, as it's a documentary, but I watched the whole thing. Very informative.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6rPPUmStKQ4



***  check with your local landfill or tree service to obtain wood chips.  I should have some being delivered this week or next by a tree service, but I also took my little truck to our landfill and they had wood chips for days.  They filled my little truck to the tippy top of the bed.  The last two days I have been putting wood chips in my garden beds, flower pots, window boxes, etc.

Here's my garden so far with the chips added.  I need more chips to cover the last four beds and plan to put chips in between my beds as well which will get rid of the rock walkway.





Friday, May 12, 2017

Eating as nature intended...and on a budget

Long ago I began the process of moving our family to a healthier way of eating.  It all started with Rubic being diagnosed with multiple allergies, both environmental and food, but primarily corn.  Corn especially in the form of High Fructose corn syrup.  That stuff could set him off in hives faster than anything.  In my enthusiasm to help my son I spent all of our grocery money at a health food store, and received very little food as a result.  It was just too expensive.  So I then thought I would just have to read labels to get all the allergens out of his diet.  This also began my foray into ultimate scratch baking.  Anyway, It was while reading labels and baking something that made me about give up.  Corn is in baking powder.  I know right!  I didn't give up entirely, but I did have to moderate my expectations some.  HFCS was the main culprit.  I had to make sure that was out, but the other stuff I just had to do the best I could.  Money was tight.  Whole corn products seemed to have less effect on him, so HFCS was my primary focus.

15 years later, I'm still not where I can do everything I would like, but I have made progress and feel we are in a better place now.  Eating organic has become "all the rage", and so you really need to be able to get the most bang for your buck if you're going to try it.  While his allergies opened my eyes to better eating options, It's been a work in progress.  Changes have been made in steps rather than all at once, and that is my first point.

1)  Small changes over time-  Ours started with trying to remove High Fructose Corn Syrup out of our diet.  I wasn't worried about organic or all natural at the time.  I was just wanting to buy items my family would eat that didn't have that stuff in it.  If I could, I avoided corn in general, but primarily HFCS.  Funny though, while trying to remove the HFCS, I found we were eating items on a healthier scale.  If I bought boxed cereal, it was rice, wheat, or oats.  Nothing sweetened because that meant HFCS.  It was a minuscule  change in the big scheme of things, but a change.  Then I began to read about margarine and how it wasn't such a good idea.  We switched to butter.  I buy it when on sale and stock up (Usually around the holidays).  Dh was dealing with high blood pressure and cholesterol.  We switched to Extra virgin olive oil (I buy it at Sams).  Both butter and Olive oil are more expensive.  You can't fry with Olive oil so, guess what, we ate less fried foods.  Each small step we took led to another small step we tried.

2)  Make your own-  In my effort to not only get HFCS out of Rubic's (and my families) life as well as save money to afford the changes I was making; I began to do a lot of scratch baking.  There were items my kids liked that I wanted them to enjoy, but the store version was not a good option.  It's a real eye opener once you start to read labels.  Boxed cereal was replaced with homemade granola.  Cookies, granola bars, bread, Chocolate syrup, etc; are now made at home.

3)  Learn -  This can be used multiple ways.  Learn a new skill:  canning, bread making, gardening, and cooking in general.  Also, learn about the food you purchase and how it affects you and your family.  Look up those unpronounceable ingredients.  In a world of google,  information is at your finger tips.  As I have learned about what goes into the foods we buy, I have felt compelled to make the changes where I can.   On that same note, and not to only make it look like I'm picking on processed food, Just because something says "organic", "whole grain", or "all natural", doesn't mean it's good for you.  If you buy organic boxed macaroni and cheese, you are still dealing with powdered cheese, white pasta, etc.  My main pet peeve right now is Kroger's "Simple Truth" chicken.  You really need to watch the label.  Their "simple truth" chickens are labeled "organic"or "all natural", but the labels are identical and both types are in the same bin.  Both are priced higher than the other brands.  The organic I can understand, but all chickens are"all natural'.  Good Grief!  You need to know about what what you're buying, especially if your dollars are precious and you are trying to spend wisely.  Be an informed consumer.

4)  Grow what you can-  I have been gardening pretty much since we have lived here (bout 20 years).  My garden has expanded from just a garden to a garden, fruit trees, blueberry bushes, blackberry bushes, strawberries, and herbs.  When I first began gardening, I used pesticides because that's what I knew.  Over the years I have made a move away from pesticides in favor of companion planting, or scheduling my planting in such a way as to mitigate the damage from pests.  I've moved away from using commercial fertilizers to using compost and chicken manure.  Having chickens has provided us with farm fresh eggs, and a better garden.  While I don't (yet) grow everything we eat, I do grow a good chunk of it.  What I have grown in the past 2 years has had no pesticides or commercial fertilizers.  While I am not certified organic with a label and everything, it's good enough for us.

 5)  Buy local.  You can call your county extension office, or just google where the nearest farmers market will be.  We have several in our area.  Prices tend to be the same here in Georgia as the prices are set by the Dept of agriculture.  That is up to a point.  If you're buying a large amount to can or freeze, many farmers can set their own price.  It's worth it if you will put these items up.  Also, they will tend to reduce their prices near the end of the day.  You can also google local produces of honey, milk, eggs, etc.  Just keep an eye out.  If someone offers you eggs or veggies, or even plants, thank them very much and enjoy your prize.  What they have given you is priceless.

Here are the changes we have made over time.  This list might help some of you in starting out.

1)  No more HFCS-  there are alternatives just as cheap.  In fact many companies are moving away from using it now.  Never assume it isn't in something.  Read your labels.

2)  No processed foods-  Three exceptions; turkey bacon (Einstein likes it and it's cheap), powdered coffee creamer, and chips for Dh lunches.

3)  Butter replaced margarine, and olive oil replaces other oils.

4)  No more American Cheese-  I buy Cheddar, Mozzarella, or other hard cheeses.  No low fat or nonfat cheese.

5)  No artificial sweeteners or anything with them in it.-  we use Stevia or sugar or a mixture of both.  True confessions.  Once in a blue moon I still succumb to a Diet Dr Pepper.  But that is more the exception than the rule.  Rare, maybe 2 a ear if that, but I want to be honest.  But I know it needs to be never.

6)  Whole milk, and whole milk products-  No more skim milk or other non fat dairy.  Skim milk used to be the waste from milk processing.  It is blue normally.  Chalk is added to whiten it.  YUCK!  I can't afford organic and if I could I would opt for raw milk (Unpasteurized).  That is only sold in Georgia for Ahem pet consumption(eye roll).  I buy whole milk and mix half and half with water.  Reduces fat and calorie content and tastes like 2%.

7)  Whole wheat flour- I use mostly in baking bread in about a 4 to 1 ratio with all purpose.  It's used entirely in cookies, crackers, and quick breads.

8) Farm fresh eggs- some what free range with our chicken tractor, but not totally because of predators and my garden.

9)  Pesticide and chemical free fruits and veggies from the garden.  If I buy organic, it has to be a price I can handle.  I also don't buy organic for things where the peeling is discarded (like bananas).


Changes I want to make:

1)  Buy more organic meats when possible.  Eventually I want to raise pastured chickens for meat.  We thought about this year but there was a bird flu out break close to Georgia and we decided to wait rather than bring any new birds into our yard.  Those organic whole fryers I bought a few weeks ago made the best broth and the most flavorful and tender meat.  Sold me!  I just can't afford the prices all the time, but when I can, I will.

2)  Try and begin to use raw milk when possible.  I'm hopeful when we do this, the powdered creamer can go.

3) Master the art of bread making where no white flour is used.





The idea is to start where you are making small changes as you can, and adding new changes when you can.  It's taken many years to get to this point in my grocery buying, and I still have things to change.  You can make the changes too.  A little along.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Frugal maven and the story of the Fowl affair

Now that I have had my shower and am no longer covered in grime, I can sit and spin a yarn about my Saturday morning....er and afternoon.

Saturday was the biannual cleaning out of the old sand from the chicken coops and runs.  We learned a year or so ago that sand: contractor or river sand, is the better choice when it comes to chicken litter.  The reason for it's superiority are as follows:

1)  Makes for cleaner eggs
2)  Keeps their nails "manicured"
3)  Easier for them to "Dust Bathe"
4)  Easier to clean out chicken poo-  Sand dries quickly and causes the chicken poo to dry out as well.  This makes it easier to scoop out the poo with a cat litter scoop.  Because we can do this, we can use the sand much longer than if we used pine shavings or saw dust, etc.  It cost less over all.
5)  It composts well-  It takes time and energy for compost to break down things like pine shavings or saw dust.  Putting only chicken litter with a little sand in a compost pile gives more bang for your buck (cluck?)

In between the big cleanings, we do a coop scoop about every three days or so, putting it all in the compost pile.  Today's biannual cleaning cost about $15 for the sand.  We used about half of it.  The rest will be used for little cleaning jobs over the next 6 months.  In the fall we'll do this again before the winter comes.  Compare that to the 3 packages of pine shavings we used to use each month:  about $14 each month.  That's a huge savings besides all the other benefits.  It's a win, win.

Our big cleanings basically include:

We tip the large run on its side and scoop all of the old sand out of the 4 X 8 trench in which the run sits.  Once all of the sand is out, we refill the run with the new sand.  We put about 3/4 of the sand in, then tip the run back in place.  Any adjustments we want to make are made at this time.  This go around we fixed (I hope) a water problem.  They are constantly knocking the water over.  We now have the water on a concrete block, but attached by baling twine to the roof of the run.  Fingers crossed to see if this works.  We also added a laying box in the run.  Right now we are getting about 5 eggs a day.  By adding a laying box, we hope they won't have to wait in line if they really gotta go.  Once done with the run, we clean all the old sand out of the coops.  There are two coops on either end of the run.  Anything needing to be cleaned is cleaned.  Once that's done we refill the coops with fresh sand as well.

It's always comical when we do these big clean outs.  We put the chicken in the PVC run and let them roam around the back yard (we can move it around so they get the benefit of free range without the danger to them or my garden).  While they do that we get to work.  Once finished and everything cleaned up and ready to go, we bring them back to the coop.  It's like watching an episode of Extreme makeover home edition.  We can hear them in the coop clucking or crowing like they just found something new.  They have to go all through it and look at every new thing.  Kinda funny.

Then we collect the eggs, add the feed (their water is done before we bring them back), put our tools away, and go get a shower.  Let me tell you, we need it!  And a Banana smoothie!  YUM!


Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Squeezing out every last bit of use

I think one of the best weapons in your frugal arsenal is making the most of everything you have.   With every new use, the initial price goes down.  Granted the uses get smaller as more of the item is utilized, but you're still getting more bang for your buck.

Here's a good example.  A week ago I came across three organic whole chickens, marked down at my local grocery store.  They were marked down to $1,74 lb because they were nearing their expiration date.  Now that's about twice what I would normally pay for a whole chicken, but in my range when it came to buying organic.  I can't afford to buy organic very often, so when the opportunity arises, I try.  I bought all three and took them home.  Once home, I immediately removed them from their packaging and put them all in a crock pot to cook.  By using the crock pot, I didn't have to add additional water.  I was very please to see there was not a lot of additional juices added to these birds like when you by the standard birds.  I was also pleased to see the gizzards and organs were included.

***Dh fishes and the gizzards and organs make great bait for him.  These were immediately frozen for him to use when fishing time comes around.  It will keep him from having to buy bait separately.

Anyhoo, The chickens cooked, cooled and then I deboned them, putting about 8-12 oz in each freezer bag.

I then took all of the bones, 2 large carrots, the tops and bottom off of the celery in one package (including the leaves), the tops and bottoms of two large onions (skin included).I reserved the rest of the onions in the fridge for later use in other recipes, and the rest of the celery was chopped and frozen.  BTW, it goes without saying that I washed the veggies first!  I put all of this in the larger crock pot along with 1 tsp salt, 2 Tbs of vinegar, and water to cover all.  I turned the crock pot on low and it cooked for about a day to a day and a half.  I checked it periodically to make sure it wasn't boiling, or to see if the bones had softened.  The vinegar draws the minerals out of the bones and puts it into the stock.  Once the bones are soft, you can take up the stock.  Once the stock was finished, I strained out the veggies and other scraps.  The broth was allowed to cool and then frozen.  Once somewhat frozen, I removed the stock and removed the fat from the top.  I then reheated the stock to thaw it out and then divided it into 2 cup (pints) portions.

***I ended  up with 7 pints of stock in my freezer.

Not done yet, I took the fat I scrapped off the stock, and added it to my doggies "cookies" as she knows them.  I used the fat instead of the oil called for in the recipe.  You can find the recipe in my "recipe" page.  Oh. plu she got the leftover veggies from the broth.  A very happy dog.

*** The recipe made 16 large "cookies for her".  She was pretty comical.  She had no idea what I was making, I think, but as I started making them, she came out and laid on the kitchen floor watching my every move, until they were done.



Mona waiting for "cookie" dough.

So to sum up, from three whole birds I got

3 fishing trips
6-7 bags of chicken
7 pints of all natural, unfooled around with broth
16 large doggie treats.

Well worth the time and cost of three initial birds.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Homemade Graham Crackers

Yes!  She went there!  Yesterday I made homemade graham crackers.  I have to say the internet is a great tool when it comes to finding recipes or how to's.  Not a big techno geek, but I will give them that.  I found a recipe  for graham crackers.  I had tried it a week or so ago and found the recipe was much like snicker doodles, just flat.  They were good, but they weren't graham crackers.  They did, however, give me a base to make the recipe my own.  I have since tweaked the recipe more to my liking and decided to share it with you.  So here goes.

12 Tbs butter softened ( 1 1/2 sticks )
1 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup honey
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour (white wheat)
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda

In a small mixing bowl, place all your dry ingredients, except brown sugar, and mix well.  Set aside.  In medium mixing bowl, beat the butter, sugar, and honey til fluffy.  Add the eggs and mix well.  Add the dry ingredients.  You may need to mix this with a large spoon or even your clean hands.  The dough will be dryer than cookie dough, but it will still stick together well.  Refrigerate the dough for at least an hour.

Preheat your oven to 350.  Using about 1/8th of the dough at a time, place dough onto a well floured (use all purpose) sheet of wax paper.  Mash hard with your hand to flatten some.  Dust the top of the dough well with more flour and cover the top with wax paper.  Roll the dough between the sheets of wax paper, turning periodically to kind of square things up.
*** Note, you may need to pull the top sheet of wax paper back and dust will more flour in order to keep the dough from sticking.

Once flat ( like 1/4 of an inch at most), you can be obsessive like me and cut it with a pizza cutter into nice neat squares, or you can just cut it into pieces in whatever shape it happens to be in.  Your choice.  Either way, it needs to be "Crackers".  Brush the top of the cracker with a little water.  This will also remove some of the flour.  Then sprinkle with sugar.  Bake 6 minutes.  Cool on a wire rake.  I store ours in the freezer, using a few at a time.




Options:  You can add 1 ts cinnamon to the mix, and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar for the cinnamon graham crackers.

I take two of the homemade graham squares and put good spoonful of cool whip in between.  Then freeze for some really good ice cream sandwiches.

***  If you are so industrious, you can try this recipe, but I will say that graham crackers, especially if bought at Aldi , are really cheap when it comes right down to it.  I will also say the homemade crackers make the best ice cream sandwiches.  So, again, your choice.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Tomato plants are curious things, and other ramblings

Yesterday was a glorious day and, of course, I was outside the vast majority of it.  I am about to wrap up getting every thing in.  The last thing to go in was a replant of green beans.  I've had a time getting them to germinate.  We had a warmer winter this year and, yet, I was able to get my beans in and growing a month earlier last year compared to this year.  It's a mystery.  The next try is in now so we will see.

Everything else is going gang busters.  My strawberry bed is COVERED with baby berries.  If I can keep the critters out of them, it should be a good harvest.  I'm also happy to report that the late hard freeze a month or so ago, didn't take out my entire blueberry harvest.  I found baby blue berries yesterday and still have blooms coming in.  It won't be my normal harvest, but if the blackberries and strawberries do well, it may not matter.

Funny thing, I planted a lot of corn seeds due to the lack of germination with the beans.  I wanted to make sure enough germinated.  Well they ALL did I think.  I finally got the last one transplanted into a new spot yesterday.  I try not to thin plants, but will give them a fighting chance to grow up in my garden should they choose to take it.  Ones that would normally be pulled to thin the rows, are, instead, transplanted to a new spot in the garden.  I ended up moving a lot of corn.  Final tally of corn stalks in my garden?  180.  That's a lot of corn.

Everything's getting mulched due to our current drought.  My original plan this year was to not have a garden because of the drought.  Then we started getting good amounts of rain and I thought "Okay garden time".  Now it seems we are getting a little dry again.  The gutters on my house have helped in water collection, but I have now used up my water stores.  We are supposed to get rain on Monday, so I hope that helps in replenishing them.

It was while I was mulching everything that I noticed the tomato plant I originally thought dead from wind or hail.  Apparently he was only "mostly dead" ( "Princess Bride" reference).  He was saying I'm sure "I'm not dead yet, I don't want to go in the cart!" (Monty Python "Holy Grail" reference).  He had just enough stem left in-tacked to allow him to still be kicken.  The top of the plant was lying on the ground.  Tomatoes will root  where ever the branch contacts the ground.  I covered the part of the branch at ground contact, and watered it well.  I then mulched the whole bed as planned.  We'll see what he does.  I have done all I can.  I have to give these 10 plants kudos.  They have withstood being tossed across a room, planted early, subjected to three days of temps below 40 (one night 38), high winds(very high), and hail.  They're still here.  Gotta give'em credit for perseverance.

This morning included another trip to collect cinder blocks for raised beds.  We gathered enough to finish one bed and create one more.  I have 4 blocks left, and plan to go back for more.  Thank you E and J.

After unloading the cinder blocks, Dh and I sat on the back porch steps and just enjoyed the morning for a bit before back to work.  I looked around at everything with immense satisfaction.  I have to smile to myself when I see everything and know how much I enjoy all of it.  My mom once told me of all her children I was the last one she ever thought would have a garden.  Now look at me.  I have a garden, chickens, fruit tress, fruit bushes, etc.  It makes me smile because I know the fact that I do all of this always tickled my dad.  I makes me sad because he would read about all my adventures and I want to share them with him again. Bitter sweet I guess is the term.  I like to think he still gets to see all my goings on.  I at least know he's told about them.

Sorry,didn't mean to get all sentimental. Comes with the territory I guess, but lest I leave you forlorn, here is what greeted me this morning as I woke up.


Tuesday, April 11, 2017

A side benefit of starting my tomato seeds early

A funny thing happened on the way to the garden.....by way of my tomato seedlings that is.

I started my seeds this year the last week in December in order to have larger plants for spring planting.  I had 50, then the great fall, then there were only ten.  9 still live.  We lost one last week to either hail or wind.  Not sure, but I digress.  About 2 months ago, I had 10 pretty large plants that needed a bigger pot and something to hold them up.  Being ever so clever, I thought "I know!  I'll use those branches from pruning my fruit trees!"(Weeks Before!).  Well I did.  Those branches have stayed with their companion tomato plant for a while now, even going with them to their spot in the garden until they could reach the fence on their own.  Last week we had a late cold snap and I needed to cover my plants.  While working on covering the little darlings, I noticed something on one of the "Stakes"....a bloom.  YEP!  A bloom.  I checked all of the stakes I used, four total, and they all have blooms and now leaves.  They are all apple.  You can see the bloom just to left of center in the picture.  I now have 4 new apple trees I can plant. It will be a while before they are even close to producing anything, but give me a few years and I could actually have apples!  Hah!  Who knew!

















Sunday, April 9, 2017

Recipe Time!

Good Morning all! Not to repeat myself from last week, as I am working on some other blog entries, but I thought to list again my frugal adventures and add a few new things.  For instance, a new recipe!  That's below at the end of my post.  I guess I will start out with the frugal stuff, but never fear, I have other things as well!

Frugal things this week

Collected Eggs - 21 for the week.  I think the ladies are starting to lay again with the longer days.  Yay!
Made bread.granola, sandwich buns, granola bars, graham crackers, brown sugar, ranch dressing, coffee creamer, and cookies
Made and listed 1 Etsy item
Sold 3 Etsy items
Cut out new scrubs for Dh
Cut out a new shirt for me
Hung out 5 loads of clothes
Created a new recipe using dried beans ( see below)
Picked spinach and lettuce out of the garden, multiple times!


Sausage and Blackeyed Peas ( would be Great at New Years!

Sausage

8 oz ground pork
1/2 tsp dried minced onion
1/2 tsp basil
1/2 tsp thyme
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp ground sage
1/4 tsp dried parsley
1/8 tsp salt

I toss everything into the freezer bag the now thawed ground pork resides, but you can toss everything into a bowl.  Mix everything together well (better to use your hands, hence the reason I use a freezer bag cause I can mix it and not get it on my hands).  Let sit in the fridge a while.  You could make this in the morning and let it sit in the fridge til the beans are ready.  This would also make great breakfast sausage.  FYI

The great thing about black eyed peas is they tend to cook faster than many other dried beans.  No need to soak.  Yay!

What you need:

8 oz ground sausage (you can use store bought) or the above recipe.
1 lb black-eyed peas  covered in water and cooked with 2 1/2 tsp salt.  Once finished cooking, don't drain!
2 TBS Olive Oil
1 cup chopped carrots
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped celery
1 tsp Thyme
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 can of diced tomatoes (plain or with chilies if you like it spicy)

Saute the onion, carrots, and celery in the olive oil til the onion is soft.  Add the ground sausage and brown it along with the veggies.  Take the sausage/veggie mixture and add all of it to the un-drained cooked black-eyed peas.  Add your spices and the can of tomatoes. Simmer on low about a hour til the carrots are soft and the flavors have had time to meld. Serve with a crusty bread or cornbread.


Hope you enjoy!
Have a blessed day!





Saturday, April 1, 2017

Frugal things I've done this week....

There are everyday things we all do to save money. I thought, rather than just find one thing frugal to write about, I would throw out there a list of many of the frugal things I do.  Since we all watch our pennies, I would love to hear your tips and tricks too.  Maybe, just maybe, we can save even more pennies.  I'm starting this post at the beginning of the week and listing my things as I go.  Just be aware this spans many days.

SO LET'S GET STARTED!

1)  Canned carrots I needed to use.  In my love of roasted carrots, I bought a 25 lb bag for a good deal last month.  Unfortunately these types of carrots aren't as good roasted, but are plenty good in stews.  With the warmer weather coming on, soups and stew will be rare.  So they were canned to use next winter.  Waste not, want not.  Total canned, 9 pints, but I had 4 pints worth left that I used for part of my lunch Monday and Tuesday and Dinner Monday night.

2)  I began the process of making me some new spring clothes with fabric I already have on hand.  With my weight loss, I find I have nothing to wear (the burden I bare).  Well I have nothing to wear for church anyway.  I have jeans and t shirts.  I find I lack dressy casual clothes and pajamas (no, I do not wear pajamas to church).  Yesterday I began work on a pencil skirt.  I have ideas for some other things to make as well.  I'm keeping my eye out for patterns to go on sale for .99 somewhere for other spring summer things (and pj's). *** Edited to add:  Well Joann's did have patterns on sale, but the Simplicity patterns didn't have anything I liked.  The McCalls patterns (Which were NOT on sale) had a lot of things I liked.  So I am rephrasing to say I am keeping my eye out for McCalls patterns on sale.
 
3)  Made Bread.  Oh and I made bread again.  We go thru bread.

4) Made Dog Biscuits:  I used some bacon grease I had on hand instead of the oil called for in the recipe.  Needless to say, Mona is thrilled.  I put them in an already existing dog biscuit box.


5) Picked Spinach, and Asparagus from the garden and collected Eggs (10 by Friday).

6)  I ordered a Reel Mower sharpening kit from Amazon rather than pay to have the blades sharpened.  In case you don't know, a reel mower is a non-motorized push mower.  The old fashioned way of grass cutting.  Cuts grass, gives workout, uses no gas.  $10 is a small investment for the return.  And yes, I've used the reel mower (this season too), so this isn't a pipe dream.  *** Edited to add:  I attempted to do the sharpening yesterday, but am having some difficulty getting the screws turned that raise and lower the cutting bar.  We will see what happens.

7) Hung out 3 loads of clothes.

8)  Weeded the garden; planted Corn, Sage, and Marigolds.

9)  Sold 7 items on Etsy this week which added some extra dollars to our budget.  A budget, I might add, I'm following like a fanatic.  The only way I would've been able to benefit from the sale at Joann's is if I sold some items on Etsy.  Aside from the patterns I'll get for me, my purchases will be mostly fabric and notions to go back into my Etsy shop.  I was also able to add a work shirt for Einstein from Goodwill for $6.

So there are my frugal things for this week.  It was our anniversary this week, so I was unfrugal yesterday and today.  Eh!  It's only once a year and after 24 years, splurge  little!

What frugal things did you do this week?

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Well It's a wait and see...

It seems every year I come up with a new garden experiment.  It's the process with everyone who gardens.  At the end of each season you analyze what you need to change and set about figuring a way to do it.  Last year my experiment was green beans.  Every year I had fought to control Mexican bean beetles, but was losing the battle.  Those little buggers would strip my plants clean.  There was no chance of succession planting working.  The new set of plants would pop out of the ground only to be eaten before they had a chance to grow much.  I really try to stay away from pesticides if possible, but it seemed the only way to control them even a little was to use Sevin, a common garden pesticide.  Last year I hypothesized that maybe if I planted my beans, all of my beans, early and all at one time, maybe they would have a chance to produce before the beetles could get to them.  So I did, and they did.  My plants had a chance to produce beautiful green beans before the beetles could get them.


Just as I was pulling the plants up, I noticed a few beetles starting to arrive.  The plants were pulled and tossed into the compost pile and any beetle scragglers were rounded up.  It was my best bean harvest in years.

This year I'm addressing another common problem I have.  We have some pretty hot summers here in the Georgia area.  Once the temp get above 95 degrees, my tomato plants stop blooming (so do I quite frankly), and begin to wilt.  By the time the "Dog Days of summer" end, my plants look dead.  If I leave them there, I've found, once the temps cool a little in August, I will begin to see new growth.  By October I have lush green tomato plants with huge green tomatoes that never have a chance to ripen before the first frost.   My experiment this year is to plant larger tomato plants in the early spring and see if I get a better harvest before it gets so hot.  I started seeds the end of December 2016.  I had 50 seedlings, but you guys remember the "Great fall of 2017" where I tripped carrying them out for some sun and plants flew everywhere.  Well 10 survived that ordeal.  They are my experimental group (cause that's all I have left).  I replanted more seedlings in the normal time frame for zone 7.  They are my control group.  See how scientific I sound?  My experimental plants are about 18 inches tall right now.  in fact one plant has the beginnings of blooms.  There really was no waiting longer to put them in the ground.  They were hard enough to get in the ground at the size they are now.  Yesterday was a cloudy day with the promise of rain overnight.  No better time.  I checked the 10 day forecast and saw no really cold temps, so I took the plunge.  Now it's a wait and see if they can make it thru any weird April chills, and if they produce a better harvest. I now have cucumbers, pumpkins, and yellow squash plants in the ground, and have planted my bean, zucchini seeds, and onion sets in the ground as well.  Now we wait.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

WELL!

Yes I'm still here.  Aside from the past three or four days, I've been outside "playing" in the yard.  It's been great; blissful  if one would coin a phrase.  Ah but all good things must come to an end they say.  This week our early spring became a harsh winter; a reminder, if you will, that we ain't at spring yet and things happen.  Georgia weather don't cha know.  Our low's for three straight days stayed around 22, 23 degrees.  Now, I know that isn't cold in some necks of the woods, but in ours, it most assuredly is.  Especially when your blueberry bushes are in full bloom as well as your lone peach tree.   Fortunately my apple trees haven't bloomed yet.  Amazingly, my peach tree still has about 10 living blooms on it.  Not enough to write home about, but considering the temps, admirable.  I lost a chunk of blueberries even with them close to the house.  What part of the blueberry bushes were closest to the house seemed to fare okay, but the further away from the house the branches were, the more damage was done.  I will (I hope) get some blueberries, but not the amount I was hoping for.  I'll take what I get.  There are two good things I focus on.  The first is, with the cold days, I will get blackberries, so yay!  The second thing is that when I went to uncover my strawberry beds after the freeze (they did fine by the way), I noticed two baby blueberry bushes I thought were dead.  Apparently not.  They won't produce for a while, but it's nice to see them there.

Everything else made it through fine.  I've actually been picking spinach and one asparagus spear.  The early tomato plants I started in December are chomping at the bit to get outside, but not yet....not yet.  I went ahead and replanted more tomato plants.  I was within the recommended "Start indoor" time on them, so I won't need to buy any.  I also started cucumber, yellow squash, pumpkin, and sage (a replant).  Everyone came up!  They will start their trek outside today to harden off.  No one goes into the ground until after March.  Never know if we will have another cold snap.

I am luvin being outside.  That is my spot, my element.  It keeps me active, interested, and out of the fridge. That's good for my waist line.  I can not wait til I can post a picture of my back yard this year.  The new (to us) fencing is installed.  A decent job if I do say so myself. Once all is in full swing, I'll take a pic.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

New gardening season is off (not quite rolling)

Starting to get excited with the progress of the garden thus far.  The spinach is almost big enough to start picking off a few leaves.  I hope my family enjoys fresh spinach cause apparently I planted a bunch(pardon the pun).  The lettuce is also coming up nicely.  I didn't plant as much of that, but it sure looks like salads will be in our near future.  In addition it looks like all of my herbs made a return debut this season.  And finally my beets did make an appearance!  Hopefully the deer will stay out.

Out of the 50 some odd tomato plants I started in December, only 10 survived "The Great Fall of 2017".  Those 10, however, are thriving and have already been hardened off.  They'll make for a good experimental group.  I will still be buying tomato plants though.  We will see how it goes with the bigger guys this year.  The basil plants also survived, but rather than have them in pots this  year, they will go directly into the garden.

We've had a warmer than normal fall and winter and so my blueberries are blooming as well as my lone peach tree.  I'm not really that worried about my blueberries, because they're against the house on a south facing wall.  As long as we don't have a really long hard freeze, they should be fine.  My peach tree, though, is in the middle of my back yard.  It's in full bloom and even sports a few green leaves.  Tomorrow nights lows are supposed to be 33.  That's a little too close for comfort for me, but there isn't anything to do about it, but pray.  I have been diligent in spraying my fruit trees.  I really want some peaches!





Speaking of fruit trees and blueberries.  For the past week or so I've been working on more than just spraying the fruit trees.  Starting with my peach tree, I've been removing any grass from around the tree, and adding more compost and lime.  In addition, I've begun to put edging around the trees in order to plant companion plants at the base of each one.  Mint, which I have in abundance, goes well with apple trees and so I have one tree complete and the mint planted with it.  Marigolds will be my companion for the peach tree.  I have those seeds started, but can't plant them outside yet.  My blueberry beds are getting somewhat the same treatment.  They're already in a bed, but I have split up my chive plant into 4 smaller plants and  have put two in each blueberry bed in between each blueberry bush.  I may transplant my Lemon Thyme into the blueberry bushes as well.

I finished the crawl space area.  I love, love, love it!  I smile every time I open the door.  The gutters are working like gutters should.  It is an awesome thing to behold.  It's the little things in life!  So how are things on your homestead?


Saturday, February 18, 2017

A Sense of Accomplishment

Since I last posted my to do list, I've been a woman on a mission.  Some of my accomplishments I paid to have done, but many I, or Dh and I, have accomplished.  I've marked through the items completed so far.

Replace the hinges on our bathroom door
Add gutters to the house
Pressure wash house (Before adding the gutters)
Level and patch "foundation" (lack of gutters has cause erosion to affect the "foundation")
Re-frame crawl space door (it will be framed with 4x4)
Build deep (4 inch) crawl space door with shelves added for storage under the house).
Level entry area of crawl space
Add gravel to entry area of crawl space (mower and tiller will then be stored under there)
Paint the "Foundation"
Measure, purchase and hang a new storm door for the front door.
Rebuild at least one deck (We have three,  but I am not crazy enough to think I can do all of them.  Well.......)
Another trip to the Landfill
Re- Paint  Einsteins room.
Pick up concrete blocks from my mom (Who wants them gone) and make yet another concrete raised bed (Yay).
Pick up vinyl fencing from my mom and install it, decoratively, among my black berry bushes


We hired a company to hang the gutters.  I would rather have it done right.  I was very pleased with the end result.  In addition to hanging the gutters, we also paid them to fix the "foundation" wall in the back.  It was leaning out a lot and needed to be put back in place before it fell on my blueberry bushes.  Not only did they fix the wall, pouring a new footer and everything, but they re-framed the crawlspace door for me and hung the door as well.  He does recommend a thicker plywood door, so we will get that.

Funny thing is, lists get added to, and this one was no exception.  In addition to the above items I've marked thru, I've also

Cleaned the yard (pick up trash etc)
Sprayed and pruned the fruit trees
Pruned blackberry bushes.
Turned under and mulched both blueberry beds.
Moved the compost barrel to a spot in the garden, and have started over with another compost mix
Moved the bird feeder so it is more visible from our bedroom windows.
Repaired and refinished a bird feeder destined for the landfill.  TAADAA!


Painted a wall in the gym in need of a fresh coat (using the color and paints we already had on hand)
Hung a curtain rod (and subsequently a curtain I had) on the window of my laundry room door.
Hung a rack to keep brooms, mops, etc hung up and off the floor of my little laundry room
Patched nail holes in the laundry room (cause I plan to paint soon)
Swept all decks
Started Marigold seeds


While much has been accomplished, the list never seems to reach a conclusion.  When it comes to being a homeowner, and in this case, a homesteader, the list is really ongoing.  That list will continue to grow even as I continue to check things off.  I love it.

So what things are on your spring list?  Has the spring cleaning bug bit you yet?





Saturday, February 11, 2017

Date night doesn't need to break the bank

I hear tell the powers that be "They" say that a date  night is a must for a successful marriage.  Problem is "They" also say that financial issues are the number one cause of divorce.  So does this mean that only the rich have a chance for a successful marriage?  I mean seriously, who can afford to pay a sitter plus pay for dinner and a movie or something. It's an impossible task right?  I say NO!!!

Here's why!

Date nights do not have to entail an actual date.  I know I thought that was crazy too.  Rather this is time.  Time together, just the two of you.  Doesn't matter where or when, just take the time to be together and reconnect.

Dh and my weekdays are not good times for us. By the time he gets home from work, we have dinner, other commitments, etc, there isn't much more time for anything else, and our kids are grown!  Saturdays are our days.  Mainly Saturday mornings.  I will get up and make a pot of coffee.  Our bedroom windows face the back yard where we have a few bird feeders.  Granted the view isn't much in the winter, but come spring and summer it is wonderful.  Saturday mornings we lay around in bed drinking coffee and enjoy the view out our windows.  As the sun rises we have conversations about the kids, work, things we want to do around the house, and most of all memories.  We have a lot of those in the almost 24 years we've been married.  Today was no different.  We finally got our day actually started around 10:45.  I had some take and bake made up biscuits that I baked with some turkeu bacon zapped in the microwave.  Add some cheese and we had some awesome bacon cheddar biscuits in bed with our coffee.  Once we got started with our day it was off to drop off a mower to be repaired, and onto my  parents house to collect some cinder block she was giving us.  While there, and after we loaded the blocks,  we enjoyed a glass of tea on the back deck and talked more while watching her dog, Rusty,play.  She and her sister were out on the town.  We knew this going in.  Once home we shared lunch on the back porch and proceeded to unload the blocks from the truck.  Both of us agreed this was a great day.  We had fun, reconnected, but also accomplished a lot!   Now I know our kids are grown and if you have kids that are small this can be hard.  Hey, We've been there.  You find the time.  You may go to bed later or wake up early.  You may need to get a sitter, but go somewhere you can actually carry on a conversation.  Preferably free.

Our date night is always Saturday mornings for us.  Work comes later.  We're together.  Doesn't matter where, doesn't matter what we're doing. Just make that time with each other a priority.


Saturday, February 4, 2017

What to do, what to do?

Now comes the time of year where things start to get a little nuts.  I don't know what it is about this time of year.  Maybe its the knowledge that spring is just around the corner, but I start to get....ideas.  Yes I start to make plans for projects.  Probably more projects than I can accomplish and yet still I add more.  I wrote down my project list for the next 2 months and, well, it's longer than I thought.  Take a gander:

Replace the hinges on our bathroom door
Add gutters to the house
Pressure wash house (Before adding the gutters)
Level and patch "foundation" (lack of gutters has cause erosion to affect the "foundation")
Re-frame crawl space door (it will be framed with 4x4)
Build a deep (4 inch) crawl space doors with shelves added for storage under the house).
Level entry area of crawl space
Add gravel to entry area of crawl space (mower and tiller will then be stored under there)
Paint the "Foundation"
Measure, purchase and hang a new storm door for the front door.
Rebuild at least one deck (We have three,  but I am not crazy enough to think I can do all of them.  Well.......)
Another trip to the Landfill
Re- Paint  Einsteins room.
Pick up concrete blocks from my mom (Who wants them gone) and make yet another concrete raised bed (Yay).
Pick up vinyl fencing from my mom and install it, decoratively, among my black berry bushes


Now some of these will be quick and some...not so much.  Some I can do alone, and others I will need help from DH.  I will do what I can, when I can.  It goes without saying Etsy is being left alone right now.  The return on this investment in our property far outweighs what I will make from my store right now.

If you are a little confused about how a crawl space can be a storage shed (my goal), we live in a Mobile home and our "Crawl space" is high enough where one can walk in hunched over.  You can't see the door in this picture.  It is in between the 6 blueberry bushes there against the house.  It will be perfect for storing outdoor/garden items.  This will free up space in our actual shed for more important things, and make the items used most frequently in the garden, more accessible.



Like wise, our "foundation" is not really foundational, but rather a permanent structure type of "skirting" that  permanently attaches the home to the land.  It's much better than skirting, however.

A lot of these things require gutters added to the house first, so that is first on our list.  These items have been a long time coming.  Not sure what will be accomplished, and Dh will be there to help on the weekends.  These items are not just for sprucing up the home.  The idea of having more storage space without having to buy another storage shed is awesome!  The idea of mitigating the damage brought on by bad drainage is another fabulous idea.  Right now we don't know if we will retire here or eventually move.  That's still up in the air.  It doesn't hurt,either way, to invest in our home to help it maintain its value.

By the way if anyone has some tips or tricks to help in this endeavor, shout out!  What things are on your to do list?  Has the bug bit you yet?








Sunday, January 29, 2017

All the best laid plans

Hello!  How ya doin?  How's your family?  Glad you dropped in.

Things are normal here.  I did get to the grocery store.  Remember all those wonderful organization tips I gave in my last post?  Yea...well, I got some of them done.  I got my pantry organized, my fridge wiped out/organized, and a list made up.  I wasn't able to get my freezer defrosted or bread made.  Rubic had the flu so we spent about three hours at the..ahem Quick care center Thursday morning finding out that he had the flu and getting him a doctors excuse for work.  That set me back some.  Still the things I was able to do, made it pretty simple to bring home a months worth of groceries and get them put away.  I was then able to get some bread made for sandwiches and pizza crust made for dinner (thank you bread machine).  So all in all a good trip and planning helped.

I did have a bit of a set back which had nothing to do with my grocery shopping trip.  Back the end of December I started some tomato seeds for this years gardening season.  The plan being I would start the season off with larger plants and hopefully have them produce more before getting taken down by our rather hot summers.  Well, they sprouted and were thriving.  We've had some warmer than normal weather and so I have been taking them outside to get some good sunlight.  I don't have great windows for sunlight in my house.  Things were going swimmingly until, while taking them out for their morning sun bathing, I tripped.  Yep!  I tripped.  Seedlings went flying, across the room to land on the floor.  I lost about half of them immediately and about half again since then. The ones still living are not very happy.  THWARTED AGAIN!

Last on my list; this weekend marks a year since I started my weight loss journey.  My goal for the year was at least 52 pounds lost.  I figured that would be a pound a week.  Alas I fell short by three pounds.  My total is 49 pounds lost.  You know what?  I'll take it.  So I didn't make my goal.  I lost.  I helped care for my dad.  I lost my dad.  I started a new venture in my Etsy shop.  The holidays came just like they do every year, but these were a little tougher.  "Life" Happened.  There were many other intrusions that kept me from obtaining the goal I set for myself.  Funny how life happens.  Life happening is not an excuse we use to not workout as some would have us believe.  It's just a fact.  You adapt.  All the best laid plans you know.  The difference between now and then when it comes to life's intrusions was the fact that I didn't stop or give up.  Each  day was a new start and I made the most of those days.  I accepted the consequences of my actions and moved on.  That's why whatever you chose to do to lose weight, needs to be something easily adapted to YOUR LIFE.

All our lives are different and what we need to accomplish our goals is also different.  We're individuals after all.  Adaptability is the key.  To find that silver lining in mistakes you might have made and learn from them, grow from them, not to repeat them. To take lemons life hands you and make lemonade from it so to speak.

So I will keep plugging along.  I'm not going back.  I am told the longer it takes for weight to come off, means it will stay off longer.  Yay!  So I will keep on keeping on.  I'll get the rest of the weight off in due time.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Taking Inventory

So this coming Friday is my normal monthly grocery gettin day.   If you can ever get to the point of monthly grocery shopping, I highly recommend it.  Anyhoo, because of said grocery gettin day, I will begin the process of inventorying what I have on hand and what I need.  I would love to be the organized woman who keeps a list near the fridge or something, adding to it as needed, but that is not the case.  I can make a note of something I need mentally, but it never quite gets to paper.  So!  I inventory.

In a way, this is good because while I inventory I clean out my pantry, refrigerator and freezer.  I also go through a "Use it up" week where I make things based on what I need to finish up before grocery day.  Cleaning out the fridge also means using up leftovers.  I can either serve them as is or turn them into something new.  Case in point, I currently have in my oven a loaf of sweet potato bread; like pumpkin, just with sweet potatoes.  We had sweet potatoes as a side last night and had some, but not enough to serve again.  I made the bread this morning with the left over sweet potatoes as well as the syrup they were canned in.  We also had some left over corn and green beans, but those are in a container (together) in the freezer to await my next veggie soup night (Probably next week).  This will be added to as the week goes on until all the tidbits are ready for soup.  I have some fresh spinach that will be turned into a quiche for breakfast probably tomorrow, and some left over chicken that will be turned into a chicken casserole more than likely tomorrow night.



Fast forward a few days......well I made all the things I planned with the exception of veggie soup.  That will more than likely be tomorrow night since I now have two patients in the house in the form of DH and Rubic.  Bless their hearts they have some kind of bad cold or flu.  Rubic has the worst I'm thinking.  Tonight I'm making a batch of cough syrup for both of them.

I'm nearly out of bread so before I shop on Friday, I want to bake about 4 loaves and 2 batches of hamburger buns.  That way they will already be in place in the freezer before I have things to put in there.  It insures I don't end up with something left out of the freezer.  If I have time I will clean out the freezer, and wipe down the fridge.   I know all of this sounds like a lot of work, but it really isn't.  By taking these steps before I go to the store, I have less to take out or move around and, since everything will be organized, it will be a simple matter of putting things away once I get home.

Whatever your method, a little organization can go a long way in making a rather tedious chore rather ...less tedious.  I can buy groceries nine ways to Sunday, it's the putting them up that's the problem.  Whatever I can do to make that easier is a plus.  I hope maybe something in here might help you in doing the same thing.  Have a great day!


Saturday, January 14, 2017

A thrift store date kinda day

Hubby and I went on a date!  Well sorta.  The two of us went out to paint the town beige.  We set off this morning and drove to the Ric Rac in  Dawsonville Georgia.  If you have never been there, you need to remedy that.  Anyway, there is no way we out did the time spent by my sister and I when we go to the Ric Rac, but we gave it a valiant effort.  We were there about 1.5 hours give or take.  During the course of our stay we found a set of 6 heavy duty glasses for $1.50 for all.  DH found three men's shirts in great shape.  I think two were new.  I found three shirts as well as a denim vest.  I have to say, being 48 lbs lighter has made trying on clothes FUN!!!!!  I actually found many more shirts, but settled on the three I choose.  I had to have the vest though.  It's fitted and cute as all get out.  I also came away with a white toy chest.



It's in pretty good shape.  Especially for $20!  It's all real wood.  None of that particle stuff.   I'm gonna use my paint remover gun on it and see if I can stain and varnish it.  Instead of a toy chest, it will soon be a trunk to store blankets and such in.  I will post a picture after it's done.  It will take up residence at the end of my bed where my makeshift Table stood before.  That one didn't last too long, but then it wasn't supposed to.  It also wasn't supposed to be sat on and my son didn't realize that soooo.


I found some other odds and ends, but the trunk is my main find.  We also had lunch out.  Not very frugal mind you, but a date none the less.  We don't get these days too often so it was a great time out and a great day to do it.  If you can believe it,   It's 70 degrees outside today this Jan 14th.  Welcome to Georgia.

So that's my day.  How has yours been?


Sunday, January 8, 2017

Just now have my head above water

As of last night I am finally caught up with what is listed in my Etsy shop.  I put the final snaps on three little slip sets.  Now my focus can change to making the little creative outfits I truly enjoy.  I have a few of those in the works.  My store stock fell to 13 items from 30 and that was with me continuing to add items.  The last week before Christmas, however, I put the sewing away and focused on the holiday with the family.

I made 110 sales before New Years Eve this year.  It is my first year on Etsy.  Not to shabby.  My bread and butter were the doll diapers.  I sold 57 sets of those in various sizes.  My goal for the coming year is to have 65 diaper sets of various sizes in stock going into next years Christmas season.  That's 185 diapers ya'll.   Yikes!  In addition, I would like to have my store stock level be at about 50 if possible.

Lest you think all I would talk about is Etsy (My sons says I'm a spokesperson), I have ventured into a few normal things again.  I've started making bread for us again.  There for a while it was too crazy and I bought bread at a local bread thrift store near us.  Still not as cheap as making bread, but cheaper than at the grocery store.  I am bummed to hear the Sams is no longer carrying the 80 oz packages of regular honey.   Now all they carry is the raw honey half that size, but the same price of 13.98.  I know why, apparently raw honey is all the rage.  I get that, but if you are baking with it, then you might as well use the regular.  Once raw honey is heated up past 95 degrees, all those wonderful attributes go away.  I use raw honey to make our cough syrup (Which is never heated up), but other than that, I use honey for bread and granola.

Here is the cough syrup recipe lest I forget:

COUGH SYRUP

3 TBS FRESH THYME-  I use lemon thyme, but you can use whatever you have on hand.  I just like the lemony taste with the honey.
1/3 CUP RAW HONEY
2 CUPS WATER

BRING THE 2 CUPS WATER TO BOIL.  ADD THE THYME AND REMOVE FROM HEAT.  LET STEEP AND COOL DOWN TO BELOW 95 DEGREES.  POUR THE TEA THROUGH A STRAINER TO REMOVE THE LEAVES.  ADD THE RAW HONEY TO THE TEA AND MIX WELL.  YOU CAN ADD EXTRA LEMON JUICE OR CHOP A FRESH LEMON TO PUT IN THE JAR.  STORE IN THE FRIDGE FOR UP TO 3 MONTHS.

The best thing about this cough syrup, is it is non toxic.  You can give it to small children, just not children under two if you use raw honey.  If you make this with regular honey, you can give it to any child, though many of the benefits are lost if you aren't using raw honey.  The Thyme is still medicinal.

In addition to the few things I've managed to accomplish aside from sewing, I have managed to start some of my seeds for gardening in 2017.  The tomatoes are doing fine.  I have about 36-40 plants right now.  I had to replant the broccoli and cabbage and a few snow peas.  The cold weather stuff I'm hoping I can start hardening off soon.  Soon will be the time of warmer weather.  With a temp of 15 degrees this morning and a projected low tonight of 9, I will take whatever warms thoughts I can get.

So not a barn burner, but hopefully this post is a start back on a new year.  How are things in your neck of the woods?