Thursday, February 26, 2015

Just A Bit of 'Jawing'

According to the weather charts we got 6 more inches of snow last night.  Toady it rained and tonight all of it will turn to ice when the sun goes down.

This morning - to keep busy - I washed the bedding and a load of dark clothes.  While the machines were doing all the work I made 5 fire starters.  I clipped tissue paper rolls in half and filled them with the lint from the dryer.  Then I dipped them into a can of melted wax.  I'll use these in the summer when I start my outdoor stove to do the canning.  The stove uses twigs as fuel so it's friendly to the environment and my utility bill. 

Breakfast was a bowl of cereal with lots of milk.  Milk is one of my favorite foods.  Nice and cold, or warmed up before bedtime.  Either way is a good thing to me.

 It seems quite a few of my habits are old time.  My grandmother was a huge influence on me growing up.  She was from central Italy and such a wise woman.  Her marriage was arranged, as most were back then.  I could only say she got the short end of the stick.  She put up with quite a bit in her marriage, so I never saw a tear when her husband passed.  On went the black dress for an entire year, then she broke out and had fun.  Gramma D. wore light colored dresses and traveled all over the country until shortly before she passed.  The last years of her life were what she wanted them to be.

These years for me are also what I want them to be.  I really have no desire to travel like Gramma D did, though.  I thought I should want to and have struggled with this for a couple of years.  I just recently figured out I'm a home body - all the way.  The only travel I have an interest in is to see my grandchildren who live 900 miles away.  That's it for me.  My only interests are family and home.  I guess that makes me a boring soul to most people. 

Keeping with the boring theme I watched a few yoo toob videos today. (Yes, I mis-spell that on purpose.)  I watched three episodes of the show Extreme Counponing.  Then I watched a couple of short videos about the show and some of the tricks they play so the large number of coupons work.  Don't try this at home.  There really are limitations on store policies.
Dinner will be a shrimp bisque made from shrimp stock and saved shells.  I have 4 shrimp to cut up in the soup to add a bit of bulk.  Hopefully it will turn out well.

How was your day?  Anyone else snow bound?  Stay safe.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

I've So Much To Talk About Today

Good morning to you dear readers.  I've been a bit busy as Sunday was my birthday.  I am now 'older than dirt', as the saying goes.  Still moving around even if not as fast as I once was.  My career was in heath care and moving fast was half of the job.  Pushing heavy equipment also kept my muscles toned.  The last 10 years weren't as physical as I ended up as a director of a department, so not so much toning going on there.  I do some exercise at home, but it's not my favorite thing to do.  It never was, even in gym class.

It snowed here again last night with about 4 inches.  Today is sunny and bright which is melting the snow.  But, tonight we are expected to get 6 inches more.  Where I'm from in the North that's a walk in the park.  In the South it's sheer madness.  The normal temperatures in this area - for this time of the year - are in the 50s, and have been known to be as high as mid 70s (F).  It appears the term global warming needs to be altered.

Decked out in my 30 degree below jacket, ear muffs, and mittens, I ventured out to grab some milk.  Venturing out to buy one item is something I haven't done in years and years.  The need arose because the milk that was delivered by the milkman was in a glass bottle.  Since I am the first stop on his route of 156 deliveries, the milk froze and the bottle shattered.  I didn't want them to make a special delivery just to me and told them I could wait.  I had no idea all of the snow and ice we were in for.  All's well that ends well.

A trip to the dollar store again this week netted a few good finds.  I picked up Easter cards for the grandchildren who live in the North , as well as stickers to pop inside the card.  Even the 15 year old will get stickers this year!  I'm sure he'll find something constructive to do with them.



They had quite a bit of Easter decorations out in the front of the store.  I was thrilled to see a large violet colored cross that I'll hang on the pantry door.  I also found a large magnet of the Easter Bunny that I put on the dishwasher.  The refrigerator won't hold it up because it's stainless steel.  Since I fell in love with the magnet, I thought the dishwasher would work just as well.  It's in the sight line of the 2 year old.  This should be very interesting.




They also had gardening items on the shelves.  I got soil, a weed mat, and tomato fertilizer spikes for the garden.  The mat is large enough to cover the area behind the blackberry bush so I don't have to crawl back there to weed.

My total came to $12.00.

My birthday went well.  My kids took me out to dinner when we could all be together,  The service was so poor that the manager gave me a load of things to make up for it.  Two meals, a $20.00 gift card, and a dessert at no charge.  Happy birthday!

I received some nice gifts, as well.  Look below for a picture of a couple of them.
I think you may have picked up how obsessed I am with an organized pantry.  My eldest daughter found these 2 quart jars for me.  I have been looking at them for quite a while, but would not pay the shipping charge.  She found them in a local store.
Is this the cutest?  A dress to keep a potted plant warm.  A few giggles escaped when I opened this package.

A friend sent me a pair of mittens she knitted for me.  They came in handy when I popped over to a local store for milk today.



And, of course, you remember the bay plant a friend sent me a
few days earlier.  No name yet, but I am leaning towards Bobby Bay.
 

Something else that I started doing.  I bought a set of 2 journals in the clearance section of TJ Maxx for $2.25 each.  One will become my gardening journal and the other I have next to my computer to jot down notes.  No more pieces of loose paper hanging around waiting to be thrown out.

What have you been up to?  I hope you're keeping warm - or cool - depending on where you live. 

Before I leave may I ask a favor of prayer?  There is a 10 year old boy who lives in my home town who has cancer.  There is nothing more the doctors can do for him, but I know God can.  Would you keep him in your prayers for a while? He's touched my heart in a special way.  Thank you.  His name is Julian.

Stay safe.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Don't Attack My Wallet

Like many women in my age range, I have developed good shopping skills.  I have a sense of what an item's worth is to me and refuse to pay more than the predetermined price.  Looking for a while is not a problem.

Groceries are no different.  Even though we see prices rising steadily, and my predetermined price has to be altered, I won't go over my personal pre set cost.  As an example:  mayonnaise in my area sells for very close to $5.00 a jar.  To me that's highway robbery.  I won't buy it.  To complicate matters, this is one of the couple of items I use that is brand specific.  I'll go without if need be.  I suppose it's a matter of pride.  I'm not sure, I only know I will not buy it at that price.

Last year cream of mushroom soup was $1.29 to $1.59 a can in my area.  I only bought four cans the whole year with a coupon and sale.  I started making my own creamed soups when mushrooms went on sale.  I not only got enough soup for a casserole, there was enough for a side and the stems were dried and crushed to make mushroom powder.  Now all I use is my home made soup.  Don't mess with my generation.  We don't like it.  Especially when you attack what's in our wallets.

I will, however, allocate money in my budget for good meat and dairy products.  Meat comes from a butcher shop.  The smell in the shop could be more alluring, but I recognize the smell as healthy meats.  Most of the time I get my proteins from dairy or nut sources, but about twice a month I eat meat.  Chicken is no longer tolerable as that was the main meat served when my husband was with me for dietary reasons.  One day I looked at the chicken on the plate and said, 'No more'.  I will eat it in a chicken salad sandwich with celery and my favorite mayonnaise, but that's about it.  No more pot pies or chicken and biscuits.  I recently tried the pot pie thing.  Yuk!

The meat I  purchased is to make a pot of red sauce - hamburg for meatballs, pork to flavor the sauce.  That sort of thing.  I will also buy one steak and divide it into 3 meals and freeze them.  It's only been recently that I figured out what to buy to   reduce waste.  It's taken four years to train not to purchase waste.  It's not as easy as you would think to change and - most importantly - hit the target.

Another important item to me is dairy products.  So much can happen to dairy products from the animal to the table that I made a conscious decision to eat less and eat only those things without hormones or additives.  The taste is what I remembered as a child, but the price is quite a bit higher.  So I eat less in a portion than I did before.  The funny thing is, I feel more full than when I ate twice as much of the regular store bought foods.  Who knew?

I'm not advocating that you change out what you are currently doing, or to blow your budget.  My goal is to inform you so when the time comes that you can make adjustments, you'll have a starting point.  No one knows about feeding a large family like I do.  Some things are beyond the ability to institute just now.  Just keep in mind what the changes I've made are so when you want to step forward you'll know where to begin.   Balancing budget and good eats.

The soft boiled egg I was after didn't quite work out.  So I turned it into
an egg on toast rather than an egg I could dip into with the toast.  A
bit of salt and pepper and it was yummy.








Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Looking For Spring on the Kitchen Table?

In the past couple of days, sometime, I pulled a muscle in my neck.  I'm sure most of my readers have had this experience at one time or another.  It's not very pleasant, to say the least.  Despite this, I have been doing a small task here and there.  Sitting still is not for this woman.  I'm sure the future will bring with it plenty of that non activity.

The wash is done, the floors are swiffered, the counters are cleaned and polished and the Valentine decorations are down.  Dishes are washed and the bed is made.  I never forgot what my mother in law told me years ago, A clean sink and made beds will make it look like you slaved all day.  Brilliant advice! It was a stroke of genius to make the chili a couple of days ago because there's no need to cook dinners.  Of course it wasn't a planned stroke of genius, it just happened that way.

This morning I sat in front of the TV to watch one of my favorite DVDs, 'Purgatory'.  Years ago it was a made for TV movie on TNT.  I've looked for it ever since.  I finally found it a few months back.  I can't remember where, though.

The star is Sam Shepard who is one of my favorite stars.  The blurb says '..The only thing worse than being bad is spending an eternity being good.'  That's all I'm going to say.  It may be on Netflix or even yoo toob if you want to check it out.  You won't be sorry.

Since all this snow has made me yearn for a bit of spring, I made one major adjustment on the kitchen table.  The every day decoration is a set of rectangle place mats that are light in color with a set of round ones over them that are a darker green.  Both sets were purchased on sale.  The lighter ones were bought at Dillard's for 2.29 each, the other, I can't remember.  The round set has been with me for the whole time I've lived here.  It's too far back to remember much about the price or where I found them.

I thought removing the darker round ones would 'spring' up the kitchen area a bit.  A happy face appeared when I saw the results.  It really doesn't take much to make me content.

The centerpiece on the kitchen table went from this....

to this.  Just enough to make me smile.


Trying to figure out how to delete the pictures from my camera on the computer proved fruitless.  The next step was to see if they could be deleted from the camera.  Bingo.  Nearly 600 images disappeared to make room for new ones.  There was even an option to remove all of the images at one time.  Easy Peasy!

A post showing the effects of winter is in order.  They say we are getting more snow tonight.

Stay safe.  And warm.
Look what came in the mail for my birthday from my West Coast pal!  My very own bay tree plant.
This plant makes my heart sing.  Thank you, L.

It's not the snow that is holding everyone back.  It's more the ice that formed
with the rain that followed the snow.

Keeping warm though.


 


Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Clean Sheets and Recipes

To tweezle:  Thank you for the compliment and welcome to the blog.  I love my readers, as well.  I have put this message on the post because , for some reason, BlogSpot did not let me know what post you commented on.  I'll look up the recipe for orange creams for you and post it.  If you don't mind a list of ingredients without exact measurements, that is.  (Check at the end of this post.)

Yesterday morning I went to breakfast with daughter number one and her family.  While we were waiting for our food, who pulls up, but my SIL with the other two grandchildren.  After lots of hugs and kisses, I noticed how well put together the kids were.  I thought maybe my daughter had just gotten off of work and got them ready for daddy to take them out.  Then I started laughing because I noticed the part in my granddaughters pig tails was extremely crooked.  The first indicator that daddy dressed the kids.  Then my daughter pointed out the baby's coat was buttoned crookedly.  ROFL, we had a good chuckle over these things.  No, it was daddy who prepared them for their outing.

This brought back memories of how my husband put a diaper on our eldest when she was a new born.  With one pin (no disposable back then) in the front.  It did the trick, but brought a smile to my soul for the entire day.  If he had used rubber pants with the diaper, I wouldn't have noticed it until I changed her diaper.

Our weather has been unseasonably cold.  We had snow last night, then rain this morning which sealed in the snow and turned surfaces to ice.  I leave the cupboards on the outside walls open at night so the pipes don't freeze.  In the south it is uncommon to have shut off valves for the outdoor spigots.  They may need to rethink that.

This morning I took advantage of the crisp air and opened windows for a few minutes.  The fresh air is cold enough to kill any viruses that may be lurking.  In ten minutes the house temperature dropped 2 degrees (F).  Time to warm up again.

The bedding got washed this morning and the clean sheets were sprayed with lavender essential oil spray.  So nice to smell this when I settle in for a night's sleep.

The window was opened and the pillows were airing out.  I put them in the dryer
on cool air for a few minutes before I let the cold air hit them.


Last night's dinner was made in a few minutes with enough food to last four meals.  I made a quick version of what I call Italian chili.  I had some for breakfast, as well.  Not to go through it, but rather because I felt lazy.  Warmed up in the microwave was all I need to do to have a protein rich breakfast.  Who knows, I may be eating this for all three meals today.

Chili is one of the few foods I can eat over and over again.  Recipe below.


LAVERDER SPRAY
Fill a bottle half way with distilled water.  If you don't have distilled water then you can boil water for three minutes and let it cool.  This will remove any additives in faucet water.

Fill the other half of the bottle with cheapo vodka.  I mean as cheap as you can find.

Add 20 drops of essential oil.

Shake to mix and you will be so happy with the results.

The kit I bought is from KIS OILS is on  www.amazon.com   I don't know them and they don't know me.  I just happen to like the price, reviews, and quality of these oils.  I bought them for 18.95, but I think they went up 1.00 since February 5, 2015.  Still, the price is so much better than other oils on amazon.

I'd take a picture, but my camera is full.  I have to figure out how to empty what's on there to start again.


ORANGE CREAMS

I got this recipe from my husband's grandmother, so it doesn't have exact measurements.  It's fun to make and more fun to eat. (Have a glass of red wine handy!)

Dark chocolate candy pellets
Powdered fondant
Orange extract (The Dollar Tree has real orange extract.)
Candy molds
Water

Melt the pellets in the microwave, 30 seconds.  Remove and stir.  Place back in microwave if not melted.  It's important to stir because the warmed chocolate will help melt the cooler chocolate.  I start out with 1/2 cup of pellets.

Mix about one half a cup of powdered fondant with a couple of drops of water (Or orange liquor') and start with 4 drops of the orange extract.  Taste and add according to your tastes.  If liquor' is used you may not need too much extract.  (I've only used water.)

When the chocolate is melted brush a small amount on the bottom of the mold.  Add the center (fondant) and cover with more chocolate.  You don't want to use too much chocolate, just enough to cover the filling. 

Let the candy sit at least 24 hours so it can become infused and develop a bit of a liquid.

Yummy!

FAST AND EASY ITALIAN CHILI  (Feeds 4)

One pound 85% hamburg (Cooked and Drained)
12 ounces of spaghetti sauce
1 can of light red kidney beans
1/4 cup of grated parmesan cheese

Brown and drain the meat. Add the beans with the liquid.  Add the sauce and seasonings.  Simmer for twenty minutes, then sprinkle the cheese in.  Stir and serve.  I don't make a spicy chili, but you could by adding more spices to the pot.

Serve with a salad and bread.
Cook's choice of seasonings (Bay leaf, parsley, red pepper flakes)

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Valentine 'Date' With the Grands

Last night the two oldest grandchildren spent two hours with grandma while dad took mom out for a Valentine dinner.  We had lots to do and almost ran out of time.  First on the agenda was dinner.  I made grilled cheese sandwiches, mandarin orange slices, celery sticks, pretzels, and milk.  The eight year old was full, but the twelve year old was still famished.  He's been growing like a weed so I told him just go into the pantry and refrigerator and eat anything he wanted.  He chose two cookies from the pantry and a huge apple from the refrigerator.  I forgot to mention he had 2 sandwiches for dinner.

After clean up - they helped - we made cards for their mother.  I got out the doilies and glue stick for them to create cards.  After a few minutes their creativity was shining through.  The eight year old put a streamer of ribbon on the heart doily then attached a marshmallow heart to it.  I love it and I know their mom will, too.  (I was so concerned about not taking pictures of them that it didn't occur to me to take pictures of their creations.)  I'm thinking he got the idea from his older brother because he put a pack of raisinettes on the bottom of his streamer.

After we cleaned up the mess and wiped down the glass kitchen table, I made frosting for the cupcakes  that came out of the oven before they arrived.  The boys each had four cupcakes,  a bowl of cherry frosting to use, and shared the 'decorates'.  The younger boy put a series of conversation hearts on the two cupcakes that went to his mom.  Then added sprinkles.  LOL  It was a typical decorating job for an eight year old.  I'm sure mom will be removing some of the sugar before she consumes her hand made treat.

This is the result of the 'adult' made cupcakes.  Cherry juice colored and flavored the frosting. 
As an added treat cherries got chopped up and mixed in the frosting.


Since my daughter knew I purchased tulips for myself this year, she brought me a bouquet of mixed flowers.   They were, of course, beautiful and colorful.  They have gone from this:

To this.

There are times the flowers get cut low and used as a center piece on the kitchen table.
I got this from the Barefoot Contessa's show on foodtv.


The wrapper had pictures of hearts on it so one of the hearts will get cut out to be used as a template for next year.

I think I've awaken the creative side of my brain.  Even though my
'creativity' is in it's infant stage, I'm quite pleased that I
saw an opportunity to use these hearts as a template.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Happy Valentine Day

In the later years of my marriage Valentine Day was the one time my husband presented me with a bouquet of tulips.  They're my favorite flower.  When they settle in, they take on a free form rather than a formal look.  Even after he has passed, someone in my family makes sure I get tulips for Valentine Day.  This year it was me.  I found a bouquet for $4.99 when I was at Trader Joe's.  The bouquet had 4 more stems in it than the ones in the grocery stores for $5.00 less.

I love how the stems take on a life of their own when tulips get comfortable in their surroundings.


Valentine Day is for lovers.  I don't buy anything for the grandchildren because their parents take care of them.  Once in a while I will purchase something for family members who live close to me.  My prime store?  The Dollar Tree.

I bought the bags 2/1.00
Note pads, 1.00 each
Towel, 2.00 each with Kohl's cash
Small perfume spray, free with a coupon at VS
Large room spray, I can't remember where I got it, but I paid 2.00 for each
Candy, .75 each bag.  This came from TJ's, but I couldn't put it in my blog post because it was to be part of these gift bags.
Magnet, 1.00 each
TOTAL, 7.25 each bag

I had the ribbon from an earlier DT haul this month.  The cupcake holders were on sale for .25 and the bags have been in my cupboard for three years.  Funny how I can remember what I pay for something, but not where I got it.

 


Instead of having the decorations scattered, I put them all in the kitchen area.  The 'welcome' sign came from - you guessed it - the Dollar Tree.  I moved the swag off of the fireplace and swaged it on the pantry door.  Small heart stickers in the center of each doily heart are from the DT, as well.

I wish my readers true love on Valentine Day as well as throughout the year.

Stay safe.
 

Thursday, February 12, 2015

A New Home For the Trees (Trader Joe's and Dollar Tree, too)

I've recently read that there are a half billion bloggers on the internet. (Rhonda on Down to Earth)  Holy tamoly!  That's a large population of people who open their lives to others in an effort to help people be successful.  I'm sure some of them blog for other reasons, but the number of bloggers is shear amazing.

Armed with those numbers, I see that this blog is miraculously followed by a number of readers.  I'm so happy when the numbers reach 260 in a day, but I'm equally happy with the normal 100-120 readers.  It means there are people looking for positive re enforcement - the operative word being positive.  With so much going on in the world that can't be defined as positive, a respite is much needed.  At least, I know I need it.

I mentioned in my last post that I was going to transplant the olive tree and the lemon tree to bigger pots.  Since the weather was in the 60s that morning, I took them both outside on the patio and began the transformation.  The olive tree went into the new bigger pot.  The pot it was in was scrubbed out and the lemon went into it.  Both were watered and left to enjoy the warm breeze for a while.

About an hour later I went out to see if the water drained out of the pots and was surprised the temperature had dropped.  In the house they went and the heat went back on.  I'm thankful I checked on them because the temperature got so cold that afternoon that I had to bundle up in a blanket, even with the heat on. 

The one thing I don't like about my home is there is a vaulted ceiling in the living room.  If I want to sit in there a blanket comes out and the fire place goes on.  I put blankets on the loft railing in hopes to deflect some of the heat back into the living room, but I don't think they are much help.

Later that day a friend told me if I transplant the trees, I should cut off about six inches from the top so they will form thicker trunks and be healthier.  It hurt to do that because I was so proud of how big both of them got.  But, one must suffer for beauty.  I put the cut off parts into water and will use root hormone as soon as I can remember what I did with the tiny packet.






I have a statue of Mary in my bedroom that my uncle Dom gave me when I was about 8.  He began his career as a trash man for the city he lived in.  Someone had thrown it out and he recovered it for me.  I don't know why he gave it to me rather than his daughter, but I'm so thankful he did.  I have carried that statue with me for 55 years.  I put the clippings in front of the statue.

Putting flowers in front of a statue of Mary is an old time Catholic thing.  It is a show of rememberance to the woman who is the mother of Christ.  When I was little I grew pansies next to our garage so I could present them in the month of May to Our Lady.  I know the statue is just that, but it's more of a tangible way to remember someone who is in the spiritual world.  I loved to do this - and I guess - I still do.

Going in an entirely different direction I went to Trader Joe's yesterday with my daughter.  I get so excited when I go there.  I put things in my basket, then have to take some of them out before I hit the checkout. 

Organic grape tomatoes, 1 pound, 3.79
Organic mushrooms, 8 ounces,  1.99
Organic Greek yogurt, .99 (single serve)
2 Cliff bars @ .99 each (not shown)
2 organic bananas, .19 cents each
And my favorite:  A 24 ounce jar of cherries in their own juice. 2.49  They are heavenly.  The regular grocery stores sell 16 ounce cans for (drum roll) $4.49.  That's prohibitive to most of us.  No wonder they only display 3 cans on the top shelf.  No one can afford to buy them.




Today we went to the big Dollar Tree just a couple miles outside of our area.  This store had everything anyone could need or want.  I picked up a few items, but there was one thing missing - glue.  Ordinary glue.  There was the kind that holds broken things together, but none for use in paper crafts.

I won't ever use the 'tough' glue again.  The first time I used it I was pregnant for our second child.  All I remember is two of my fingers were stuck together.  When I say it took me over an hour to remove that glue using alcohol, I'm not over speaking.  What a lesson in patience that was.  Not to mention the smell of the alcohol on my pregnant stomach.



I found:
Potting soil for seeds
Twine
Spray bottle
Fertilizer sticks for indoor plants

Also:
2 skeins Wool yarn
1 Roll of two colored curling ribbon, black and white to go with the white wrapping paper in the closet
Craft paper labels
Cinnamon gum (a favorite flavor)
Jelly Belly beans for the grands






All in all, the week has been productive. 

What have you been up to this week.  Frugal or not, we want to hear about your adventures.

Monday, February 9, 2015

What a Lovely Weekend!

Weekends are normally low key this part of the South.  Most everyone else is out on the roads, so my part is to stay close to home.  There's no sense in me combating traffic if I have the opportunity to accomplish what I need to during the week.

This weekend was a bit different.  I went bridal gown shopping with my daughter and her friend.  Both of these ladies did some online research and were set on a particular gown.  Three gowns later, and the bride to be looked lovely in a different gown.  One that she didn't think would work for her.

Since this took less than an hour to accomplish we needed to decide if we would go to breakfast or wait for lunch time. Either way, our plan was to eat out.  We decided to go to TJ Maxx until lunch time.

I splurged on a new sheet set and blanket for a total of $65.00 for the queen bed.  The blanket was a king size at a reduced $25.00 in a soft grey.  I scooped it up and am glad I did.  At home the sheets and blanket went into the washer and on to the bed.  It felt so good to sleep on fresh sheets and snuggle into the warm blanket.  I forgot to mention I have been using one sheet set for close to three years.  It got washed and dried and put back on the bed.  I didn't realize how uncomfortable and ratty it had gotten.  These past two nights I have slept like the proverbial baby on the new sheets.

After a successful shopping trip the time had come for lunch.  We ate at a local pub that was near TJ Maxx.  The excitement mounted when I saw they were offering a hot dog with chili, cheese, onions, and all of the fixings of a New York dog.  My daughter only had to fork out five dollars for my lunch.  (I informed her she was treating today!  LOL)

Sunday the temperature hit 66 degrees (F) and the whole city was moved into action.  Windows flew open, cars were washed and cleaned, and laundry was hung outside.  There was activity in my quiet neighborhood as moms walked babies, neighbors sat out in lawn chairs, and pups went for brisk walks - mine included.

The garage was swept and all of the recyclables went to the big bin near the mail boxes.  All of the windows were opened wide and the floors got swiffered.  What a glorious day it was.  We are expecting the same weather today so it will be taken advantage of and the olive tree will get re potted in the larger container that's been waiting for just such a day.

This morning I saw some Valentine ideas on Pinterist and adapted one for the kitchen table.  I already had the supplies on hand so I arranged them in a pleasing setting on the table.  Not rocket science, but cute.



Friday I went to the dollar store to find they are starting to put out gardening supplies.  Seeds are four for a dollar and they had clay pots - not huge, not small, just the size I wanted for my seedlings.  Parsley, lettuce, basil, and cucumber seeds found their way into the basket.  The final item was a new pair of bright pink gardening gloves.



The next couple of days I have to finish up the foods I've started to eat.  This morning I had crackers with pistachio butter and bananas with a glass of milk.  A good balance of carbs and proteins with a fresh fruit thrown in for good measure.  The plan is to cut up some carrots and celery for snacks as well as cheese.  I have to work on the apples I got a couple of weeks ago for .50 cents a pound, too.  Keeps me out of trouble and productive.

What have you been up to?  I love reading the comments and hearing about your 'adventures' in the simple life.

Stay safe.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Just a Bunch of Topics Today

I was talking to my son when he asked if I'd ever had pistachio butter.  No, not ever.  Never thought about it.  He encouraged me to look up how to make it and give it a try.  Since his education is in food, I took him very seriously.

He was right.  In a flash, in the processor, I made pistachio butter.  It took under five minutes to get out the supplies and food processor and transform the nuts from a solid mass of pistachios to a creamy spread.  The longer you whirl it, the smoother it becomes.

Although I have purchased the garbage free peanut butter, this home made spread will go so much better with the home made bread I baked up this week.  The only thing I would change is the next time I won't use salted pistachios, I'll add my own small amount of salt.

I used small amounts because this was an experiment for the first time.  When I make it again, since I know it can be successful, the amount of nuts will be greater.

Pistachio butter ready to be stored in the fridge.



PISTACHIO ( or any peanut) BUTTER

1/2 cup pistachios (I would suggest unsalted)
Small drizzle of honey
Small drizzle of oil
Pinch of salt if you use unsalted nuts

Whirl in the processor or bullet until a smooth paste consistency.  Store in an air tight container in the refrigerator.  Any nut can be used in this recipe.   


Two days ago I went to the new Wal Mart grocery store across the road to price match two items - a head of iceberg lettuce and mayonnaise.  The lettuce section was void of most lettuce types.  I ended up grabbing a head of red lettuce because I've never had it before and it was not processed in a bag.  I remember reading an article that talked about the bagged pre cut lettuce is sprayed with something so it stays fresher longer.  Even though the name of the chemical eludes me now, my search for healthy foods steered me away from the pre cut salad mix.

Some of the red lettuce washed and drying.  I may try making salads in a jar for the week.
 I have a friend who does this and she loves the fact that it stays fresh and her prep time is
less.


Of course when I saw the Twisted Sisters cupcake van yesterday, I couldn't stay clear of that!    My excuse?  They use all natural ingredients.  Works for me.  I bought a dozen small bite sized cupcakes and I shared a decedent brownie with my daughter and her two children.  I can't do that too much, but I was already on a roll this past weekend eating all carbs, so what's one more?  The brownie was  so sweet I got a stomach ache.  Would I do it again?  You bet!  Especially since I found out they are in that lot every Wednesday.  Today and tomorrow I will concentrate on eating fruits and veggies with proteins thrown in.  Then next Wednesday I know I'll head back to the cupcake van.

I have a reason for telling my readers this.  I'd like you to see that no one is perfect when it comes to diet.  There's quite a few bloggers out there who have become rather militant about foods.  Gluten free this and sugar free that and oh they're oh so good about their diets.  No, they aren't.  They only tell you to be militant, they cheat, too.  Everyone cheats.  It's one of life's little pleasures.  If you have health issues that force you to eat gluten free, that's one thing, but a person can do serious damage to their body if they take it upon themselves to hop on the gluten free bandwagon. 

Looking for the best foods we can afford is always a good step in being or staying healthy.  As a budget loosens a bit, then adding one more healthy item is a good thing.  You may find scratch cooking is more cost effective.  No time to cook from scratch?  Bring out the grilled cheese sandwich and fresh fruit.  There's always a way to incorporate good foods in our diet.  And sneaking in a cupcake, too.

The first item to be tested in the counter top oven was toast.  It's a go.  Today 4 slices of bacon went in as part of a BLT sandwich.  I put the oven on broil finding  it took 30 minutes to cook until it was crispy.   The next thing will be something like an apple crisp to check on it's power to provide heat for baked goods.

TODAY"S MENU

Breakfast
4 crackers with pistachio butter
4 oz. milk
Half of banana
1 slice of bacon

Lunch
BLT on thinly sliced home made bread (toasted)
Clementine
Black coffee

Dinner
Chicken salad on lettuce
celery sticks
carrot sticks
Milk

That's it for today.  Stay safe, dear readers.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Make Me Some Yogurt. You Can Do That?

Yesterday was a busy kitchen day.  I worked on three projects, making a loaf of bread (bread maker), cookies, and making fresh yogurt.  Yes, I made yogurt at home.  I was fortunate that I didn't eat all the yogurt that was in the refrigerator because I needed a bit of that to start my own.  It's very important to stress the yogurt used to start your own needs to be free of any additives.  Just milk and enzymes as ingredients.  Most grocery stores offer this, but you may have to search for it in the yogurt section.  One brand that calls itself organic is Stonyfield.  I've never used this brand, but if you read the label you may find there are no additives.  After reading the label I used the yogurt I get from the milk man who delivers to my home every week.  The recipe is simple and the labor takes about 5 minutes.

Yogurt (This can be made in a larger batch using one gallon of milk and 2 tablespoons of yogurt.)

You will need
A crockpot, any size
A thermometer, Any type of kitchen thermometer works
A large towel
An oven with a light in it
2 C milk, any fat content (I used 1%)
1 t plain yogurt
A measuring cup
Measuring spoons

Place the crockpot on the 'high' setting.  Add the milk and bring up to 190 degrees (F.)  This took about 30 minutes in my crockpot.  Keep an eye on it as this may be different in yours.  Place the lid on.  It will be longer if you make a larger batch.

Turn off the crockpot when the milk heats to 190 degrees (F.)  Keep the lid on and allow the milk to cool to 110 degrees (F.)  This took about 40 minutes for my milk to cool.

Remove about 3/4 C of the milk in a small bowl and mix the yogurt in it until it dissolves.  Add this to the milk in the crockpot and gently stir it in.

Wrap the crockpot insert (lid on) in a large towel and place in the oven with the light on.  Leave over night  In the morning you will have delicious and pure yogurt.  A very small amount (1/3 C) of separation may occur, you can drain it off and use it in a baking project if you like.

Place in the refrigerator for an hour to firm it up.  Enjoy with fruit, nuts, honey, or what ever suits you.   Yummo!


From 2 cups of milk...


to delicious breakfast.  The yogurt and a slice of home made bread with peanut butter makes
a power packed breakfast.


The home made bread, sliced and ready to eat.  This loaf came out lighter and larger than those
in the past because I used the thermometer I had out for the yogurt
to bring the liquid up to 110 degrees (F).  In the past I used the touch of my finger. 
A lesson well learned.  I store this in the freezer because it has no preservatives in it.

I added walnuts and dried cranberries to the cookie mix to provide a bit of healthy
 ingredients.  I know these will be gone in a flash.  I only cooked 16 cookies
then froze the rest (3 dozen total from the batch) in preformed balls for easy
access and baking.  Pre forming them never occurred to me until a friend asked why I didn't do this.
Geez, I don't know.  It never occurred to me?  Thankfully, I have smart friends!