Wednesday, June 29, 2016

A Mash Up of Time Lost

As my readers may have figured out, when there are no posts it's because I'm under the weather.  In this case the antibiotic treatment was ten times worse than the infection.  I have emails to catch up on as well as a million things (figuratively!) I had planned for the blog.  This post will be a mash up of things I've wanted to post.

I'd like to begin with asking if anyone is keeping up with the situation in Venezuela?  My heart is heavy with the suffering currently going on in that country.  The breakdown in the food chain appears to be the end result of socialism.  I'm no expert, thought, so if you have information to contribute to this statement, please feel free to offer it in the comment section.  Politics is not my forte, to say the least.  I have two lady friends that answer all my questions when it comes to me unable to see things clearly in this arena.  Then I think the input over without emotion.  I'm afraid emotion is clouding any judgment to be made in this area.  I hate to see anyone without food.  It was not intended for us to be without sustenance.

Things accomplished before I fell ill:

The vehicle was registered for two years.
Cleaned out the toys in the loft
Vacuumed and cleaned the loft and the office
 Did a minor cleaning of the pantry
Cleaned the master bathtub and shower using my 'swif' type mop.  Beats getting in that monster tub and cleaning it.
Picked a number of beans and ate them all!
Made a stuffed artichoke and enjoyed it to no end
Went to the grocery that carries my favorite water and bought three cases.  They also had lemons on sale for 99 cents so they jumped into my cart right next to the Italian olives and bananas.

Also accomplished was a small dollar store haul.  They now have coupons on the shelves that can only be used at the Dollar Tree stores.  I took advantage of the new large cans of Campbell's pork and beans with the 1.00 off two.  This turned out to be buy one get one free (BOGO) with an expiration date of well into 2017.  Also in the cart was national brand instant coffee, wet floor cleaning pads, and national brand dried cranberries, tissue,

The ibotta * account is up to 56.25 with the addition of butter, mayonnaise, a green pepper, bread, and cheese.

I also bought a pool towel to use in my daughter's new pool.  Pool Party!!!!  yea!

I came up with an idea for a post.  Let me know what you think.  If you are interested in learning the steps in canning with a water bath, I can post a step by step blog for you.  Which brings me to the purchase of the new Ball canning book, " The All New Ball Book of Canning and Preserving'.  I purchased it to learn about alternative ways of preserving foods such as fermenting, curing and smoking.  The only disappointing information I found was the list of thirteen items they say is needed for water bath canning.  The items are nice to have but not necessary for the novice.

An exciting (to me) thing that happened was I was able to visit a friend's chickens and see the beautiful blue and green eggs they provided.  A bonus for me was I went home with six of those eggs.  What a nice surprise.

I have two last things to talk about.  I went to the mailboxes that are located at the front of our small condo community to grab the mail.  What a gift to smell the beautiful scent of the jasmine growing nearby.  That scent represented all that the South is.

Another thankful moment was on Sunday when I hung clothes in the yard.  I felt a sense of pride to see that even though my yard is tiny it was being utilized in a number of ways.  Basil given to me from my daughter's garden was drying in the hot sun, the wash balls were being revitalized in the sunshine, the plants were growing strong and tall and the clothes were drying in the fresh air.  I was strangely satisfied with the scene.

The pickling cucumber plants now
have male and female flowers.  I
pollinated the three females I have,
hoping the results will be good.

What have you been doing this past week or so?  Inquiring minds want to know. 

Stay safe!

Friday, June 17, 2016

Reader Requested Mushroom Soup Recipe (Cheap Recipes)

A reader recently asked for my recipe for mushroom soup.  The first thing you need to know about how I cook (not bake) is I don't use a recipe.  I 'throw' things together and I either like it and do it again, or don't like it.  Next, my recipe is for two servings that I will eat two different days.  So I will give out the recipe, but you may need to amend it to your tastes.

Mushroom Soup

2 cups beef broth *(Chicken can be used, but the flavor will not be as intense.)
1/2 large stalk celery (diced)
1/4 medium onion (diced)
8 oz. sliced mushrooms
2 T olive oil
1 T butter
1/2 cup milk or heavy cream
salt and pepper to taste
parsley to taste
1/4-1/2 teaspoon paprika (Optional)
2 T red wine IF desired
2 T flour
2 T butter

On medium heat sauté onion and celery in the oil and butter until translucent.  (Butter will burn if the heat is too high.)  Remove onions and celery from pan and sauté mushrooms until well done.  About five minutes. Remove the mushrooms and return the onions and celery to the pan.  Add the 2 T butter and melt.  Add 2 T flour and mix well.  Cook flour for at least a minute so it doesn't taste raw.  Slowly add the broth stirring while adding.  Add spices.  I use a whisk to incorporate the flour rue and broth.  Let come to a boil and reduce heat. (The broth will thicken when it comes to a boil.)

Let veggies (on) simmer in the broth for about twenty minutes or until the veggies are thoroughly cooked.  Wizz with stick blender or use a food processor.  Return to pan.  Add mushrooms and warm up then add milk or cream and wine.  Stir while simmering about a minute.

Once you get the hang of the recipe it only takes about 15 minutes to make from chopping the veggies to adding the milk.

I use it as a meal, then the second serving I'll sometimes use in a recipe.  The second portion gets frozen.

* Broth can be home made, boxed, or made with bullion.

Cost for me is under 2.00 as I use on sale mushrooms and butter as well as milk or left over cream

Thursday, June 16, 2016

An Excursion with a Three Year Old

The week has flown by.  Of course this is my perception, not reality.  Since school for the grands is officially over at 11 AM E this morning we have begun making plans for summer fun.

So far there will be a trip to the North to visit my children and grandchildren for a while , a new pool being installed, and a trip to the book store at the end of this month.  I'm sure it won't end there.

As for this past week I've been busy around the house and with my 3 year old granddaughter.  Her brother had a medical appointment so we decided to have a girlie fashion show at Dillard's.  She walked away with a few outfits for summer.  Not many because she announced she was over the fashion show thing. Then we had lunch after which she announced she wanted to go to my house.  On the way to the car she saw a shop with items that interested her.  We had to stop in to look at the goodies meant to tempt little girls.  I explained to her that we could look, but the prices were too high to purchase anything.  She wasn't happy about that, but took the information like a trooper.  I did find a sparkly nail polish on sale and didn't mind paying 2.00 for it.  But, not the 6.99 they were asking for the other polishes.

She again wanted to go home.  BUT, another shop grabbed her interest.  We looked with the same rule applied.  No high cost purchases.  Her announcement came in a few minutes that she wanted to go home.

Before we left the mall we had to have a cookie from the vendor on the first floor.   Hers was covered in colorful sprinkles, mine a plain old chip cookie.

One last stop before we arrived home.  Ice cream!  Oh yes, ice cream.  This stop was a surprise to her because - the truth be known - it was I who was craving custard.

That evening we all went out for dinner.  When I told my daughter I was exhausted she asked me why I didn't stay home.  Simply because I can sleep any time, but being with those I love is a priority.

I have to say I slept like a log with no interruptions.  I woke up refreshed and ready to repeat making memories.  I feel I'm the most blessed granny on earth.  My family wants to spend time with me.  It doesn't get much better than that!

Stay safe.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Cleaning the Kitchen

I attended junior high and high school in the 1960s.  Along with core subjects in high school we could choose an elective or two.  One of my electives was Home Economics for all four years.  I always had a passion for the home front and all that was included to create a sanctuary.

Since that time - in America - HE has been renamed and revamped a few times.  I believe it's now referred to as Life Styles or something as generic as that.  No longer is it taught to clean or cook.  I think there may still be a unit on baking cookies, but that's it in the cooking department.  If I'm incorrect in that thought, please feel free to speak up in the comment section.

With this information in mind I was thinking I post what I have cleaned, but not how or when.  So I'd like to begin in the kitchen to give my readers a schedule and what I use to clean.

Wash, dry, and put away dishes (Mrs. Myers or Dawn dish soap)
Wash down counters after use (Soapy water and cloth)
Wash down stove top ( Clean cloth)
Spray sinks with home made orange cleaner and wash them
Dry all wet surfaces
Swiffer the floor
Wipe oven floor when used Cloth with soapy water wrung out)

This pump bottle is filled with Dawn dish soap.

Empty toaster crumb tray and wipe down toaster (Damp cloth)
Wipe down surfaces of appliances (Damp cloth)
Clean counters with orange spray and dry well
Wipe down all items on the counters.(Damp cloth)
Clean out refrigerator

The wax I use to protect the
counters.  As an added bonus, the
scent is nice.

Clean cabinet surfaces (Damp cloth)
Dust the tops of the cabinets with an extended duster
All of the above daily and weekly tasks
Use a counter wax to protect the surfaces (Jubilee)
Dust between the refrigerator and cabinet with the extended duster
Wipe out the refrigerator with a damp cloth and dry well
Use a baking soda and dish soap paste on the ceramic stove top

The counters and sinks are cleaned
with the home made orange
cleaner.  A warning - do NOT
use this on wood finishes.

If the kitchen is cleaned on a regular basis, then it takes but a few minutes to do the monthly cleaning.
Doing the cleaning in stages helps me to stay on track and not feel over whelmed.  The feeling of clean also gives me a feeling of freedom and accomplishment.

Friday, June 10, 2016

This Week's Accomplishments

The weather this week has been nice, with little humidity, but warm. (70s and 80s)  Not as much rain as in the past week.

It's 5:25 AM and I hear the birds have just woken up with songs in their hearts.  The sun is slowly rising, but there are strange looking clouds in the sky.  Maybe rain on the horizon.

The garden strawberries have slowed down, but there's plenty of flowers and green berries coming out.  I may have had my fill of chomping them down as soon as I pick them so maybe now I can add to the half quart I put in the freezer to make jam.

The left side of the yard is the strawberry
patch.  I started with five plant two
summers ago and it has come to this.

The blackberries are showing their buds with some of the berries on the verge of turning from red to black. I did buy some cheese cloth to cover them, but it's not enough.  Perhaps today I will purchase more so I get the berries before the birds do.

Even though the blackberries have
been trimmed, I left the one that's
taller than the six foot fence
because there are buds on it.

All of the canning supplies have been gone through and organized as well as cleaned.  The jars are sitting in the dishwasher ready to be washed and hot air dried.  The pot is clean and sitting on the stove ready for the first canning session of the season.  I have plenty of lids and pectin.

Canning supplies at the ready!

Our local grocery had green beans on sale for .99 cents a pound so I picked up a little over a pound and spent time this week blanching them and freezing them.

A few green beans ready for the
first step in the freezer.  Once frozen
they will get put in food saver bags
to keep fresh all winter long.

To help motivate me this year I purchased the new Ball Canning Blue Book.  There's a couple hundred recipes in it and they are covering all types of preserving this year.  I'm most interested in the preserving with salt as I have never done this type of preserving.

I have a pot of pickling cucumbers and needed to thin them out.  I transplanted two of them and thinned out five small ones.  I hate to discard the small ones, but I may have to if no one wants them.  One of the plants went into the garden that I had covered in the rubber mulch and the other went into a pot of it's own on the garden table.

The cucumber transplant.  He was watered
with compost tea and caged. 

One of my favorite meals I made this week is mushroom soup and green beans on the side.  When it's warm out I eat light meals because I tend to get a sick stomach if a meal is heavy.  Lunches and dinners included cold items such as tomatoes, lettuce and cheeses.

Mushroom soup and green beans for
tonights dinner.

The carrots and celery that were brought home this week from the grocery got washed in a vinegar water solution, dried, and put in the refrigerator.  One of my favorite snacks is celery with peanut butter and raisins.

I saved 5.25 using ibotta this week for a total of 47.25.  It's adding up.  I won't use ibotta every week, just when there are items I already use.  I'm hoping for at least a hundred dollars by the time Christmas gets here so I can turn in the proceeds for  four 25.00 Wal Mart or amazon gift cards.

The big cleaning I did this week is to dust all of the walls, crown molding, ceiling light fixtures, and base boards.

I had to leave the house twice this week going to the pharmacy and grocery one day and for the life of me I can't remember what else I did, but I remember I did it with my daughter S.

That was the week at this home.  What was your week like?  I hope all went well and your  health is good.  Please feel free to highlight your week in the comment section.

Stay safe.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Cheap Recipes (Can't Beat the Price) #4 And Grocery Store Veggie Codes

Maple Flavored Syrup

I have not tried this recipe recently, but I did make it a few times when the kids were little.

2 cups sugar
1 cup water
1 teaspoon maple extract

Place sugar and water in a saucepan and heat on low until the sugar melts  Remove from heat and add maple extract.  Refrigerate

Sports Drink that begins with a G
4 cups cold water
3 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup lemon juice

Gentle Deodorant
6 tablespoons coconut oil
4 tablespoons corn starch
Any essential oil
Empty deodorant container

Mix coconut oil and corn starch in a bowl until well blended.(I used a spoon)  Add essential oil of your choice.  Spoon into an empty container and let sit.  This will solidify.  I use this every day.

No aluminum or other foreign ingredients.  This may not provide odor protection for those who do heavy work all day.

Fruit and Veggie Codes

Four digits beginning with 3 or 4 - conventionally grown
Five digits beginning with 9 - organically grown
Five digits beginning with 8 - GMO  (genetically modified) grown

Cheap Recipes, Refrigerator Dill Pickles

Refrigerator Dill Pickles (Made by the jar.)

Boil 3 cups water and cool
White vinegar (1/2 cup in each jar)
2 sprigs dill ( in each jar)
2 garlic cloves (in each jar)

Place cucumbers in clean and sterile jars.  Add garlic, vinegar and dill.  Top off with boiled water leaving 1/2 inch head space.

Store in a dark area for 7 days.  First day store upright.  Second day turn upside down.  Repeat process for seven days.

Store in the refrigerator.  Because of the vinegar the shelf life is very long.  I'm not sure how long, but I think you'll find these will be gone quickly!

Saturday, June 4, 2016

This Week's Accomplishments

You may remember that I recently worked in the laundry room to make it more comfortable feeling.  Then I did a load of clothes and the washer broke.  I had to get a new one.  There was a time when Bob was alive that he would fix the problem and the machine would continue to serve our needs. Since I don't have those skills I went to find a new machine.  I wanted something with no computer parts, but all machines now come with computer parts.  I purchased the model with the least amount of bells and whistles as well as the one Consumer Reports listed as the best buy.

It so happens I ended up loving the washer.  There is no wringer in the middle and my comforter fits nicely in the tub.  A bonus is it sings to me when the load is complete.  It plays an entire tune to let me know the job is done.  I laughed out loud, but found the tune was catchy and happy sounding.

It was installed on Saturday.  I washed the comforter and a load of whites as well as darks since then.

Tuesday the carpet man came and cleaned the bedroom wall to wall carpet and the living room area rug.  I was amazed that the spot on the living room rug that Marley favored was totally removed.

Before the carpet man came I removed everything in the closet that resides on the floor and vacuumed the rugs in both rooms.

The hardwood floors were swiffered and all of the interior doors were cleaned.

The entire downstairs was dusted.  I like this idea that I saw on a video - to dust every room at one time.

A Shark vacuum was on sale plus I had a 20% coupon for a light model. (Not heavy to carry around.)  It pulls apart to a small unit so I can easily vacuum the steps.  I'll keep this upstairs because the regular size one is too heavy to cart up the stairs.

I went through ibotta before I went to Wal Mart grocery store and added 5.75 to my ibotta total.  The total is now at 42.00.  I only purchase what I normally use, passing by all the other offers.  I bought sliced cheese, butter, Glad cling wrap, among other items that have slipped memory.  I received two rebates on the butter because one was for California butter and one was for a name brand.  The name brand was made in California so they gave me both rebates on the same item.

Strawberries were picked and consumed this week.  Every one of them.  The total was half a quart!

Since the blackberry bushes are growing wildly, I trimmed the large branches that have no fruit or flowers on them.

Went to the bank to pay off the washer and found I had enough points on my credit card to purchase three more 25.00 gift cards.  These along with ibotta funds, change, and 100.00 a month will go towards gifts for birthdays and holidays.

After the bank visit I stopped in Marshall's and found a pair of house slippers and a pad of paper to jot down accomplishments to write on the blog.

I wear a pair of these to bed at night
to protect my feet when they're
rubbed with lotion. (coconut oil)

This pad has spots for each day of
the week  - Monday to Friday -
then one spot for the weekend.

Penney's sent a 10.00 off 10.00 coupon in the mail so I bought my son's birthday gifts with the coupon, combining sales and the coupon providing a savings of 49.00.  Out of pocket expense was 6.23 with tax in that total.

I made a bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwich using the lettuce that's growing in the garden pot.

I never thought planting that lettuce from the
refrigerator would amount to anything.  I'm
going to make another one today!

What are your accomplishments for the week?  I'd love to hear from you.  I sometimes read a blog not so much for the bloggers accomplishments, but for the sixty plus replies from readers.  It's a great learning experience for me. 

Stay safe.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

How Does Your Garden Grow?

This week has been rainy because there's been a tropical storm off the East Coast.  The rain has pulverized my petunias and some of the strawberries, but for the most part the garden has loved it.  In three days the blackberry bushes doubled in size.  One branch hangs over the garden wall.  I think it will be trimmed back.

I'm not sure if the petunias can
recover from all the rain, but I'll
try to save them.

This is the rose bush my daughter
gave me for Mother's Day last year.
I planted it near the strawberries
not realizing the berries would
reproduce so much.

I had to deadhead a lot of the geranium
plant, but this plant seems to like the

My monster blackberry plants.  The fence
is six feet tall and the plant is taller!

I dumped half a packet of cucumber seeds that were left from last year in a big pot thinking if I got three plants, I'd be happy.  Every seed planted has produced a plant.  When they get a bit larger I'll share them with my daughters.  I also found out that I could plant another bean plant in the pot.  I put in three seeds and hoped for one plant.  I now have three more plants from expired seeds.

Cucumber seedlings love the rain!
The large bean plant  I have been getting
three beans a day off of it.  I eat them raw.  Yum!

And that lettuce I planted that came from the refrigerator?  OM gosh!  I have a new lettuce plant that I've put on the bottom shelf of the planting table to keep it cooler.  I'm hoping to gather from it all season. 

I love when experiments show
results.  The wilted lettuce from
the refrigerator is doing great.

I've been harvesting quite a few strawberries this year.  A few have been over ripe so I had to pitch them back into the soil.  But, I've gotten a quart of them so far with lots more to come.  I can't prove I have gotten a quart because I keep eating them.  My intention was to make jam, but they are so good, I snack on them all day.  I did freeze half a quart so far, so it's not a total loss.  I'm thinking this year's jam will be mixed berry.  LOL

This is about half of yesterday's harvest.
The beans in the backgtound will
be gone this morning.

I love the garden!  Not the weeds, but I'll take care of them anyway.  Little by little as this body can bend and stretch.  What's in your garden this year?  I get a warm heart when I hear of your successes.

Stay safe.