Monday, February 22, 2016

The Week in Review

I've been active this week, taking advantage of the nicer weather.  Yesterday it was in the low 70s (F.)  It was the perfect weather for a birthday celebration at a restaurant on the inter coastal waterways.  My kids took me out to lunch to celebrate and everyone had a great time.  The grandkids took a walk down the dock and enjoyed the nature the waterways had to offer.

I received a bag of gifts from each family, some practical and others for fun.

I scheduled Marley's surgery this morning for March 4.  I have to bring her in at 7:30 AM and she will be there the whole day, even though the surgery takes just a few minutes.

I also called the company that provides my home insurance because the rates go up every year, even though I have never filed a claim nor has anything changed in my living situation.  I asked a load of questions and found out that each year they add coverage, even if I didn't ask for it.  I was a bit put off that the minimum amount of coverage I could get on my furnishings was 15000$.  I don't have that much invested in my furnishings.  I lowered the amount to the 15000$ mark and saved 17.00 a year.  It may not seem like a lot, but the money is mine, not theirs to do with as they please.

After lunch my daughter took me to the dollar store.  The white bins I've been looking for were all gone so I left with only some tissue. (Kleenix)

I made a quiche this week and ate it for two dinners so far.  I'll have it one more time, then freeze the rest for when I have no desire to cook.




The hardwood floors got a firm scrubbing this week from the position of me on my bum checking out every corner in the rooms.

The bedding got washed along with the comforter.  It was time to rotate sheets so the second set went on and the current one will go in the linen closet until I want a change.  Nothing says comfort more than a clean set on bedding.  Since the bedding was fresh the rest of the room had to be cleaned, as well.

I made an 8x8 pan of brownies at the beginning of the week for the week.  But, I didn't finish them so they went stale.  What I should have done is freeze individual pieces for the future.  I will keep that in mind for next time.

I use a box mix that I purchase only when they are on sale.  Cake mixes are also bought the same way.  Here is some information I recently learned: Using the mixes beyond the expiration date can be dangerous because the yeast can grow spores.  Good information to remember.  I had to throw out five boxes of cake mixes that had expired.  I'm going to have to adjust my buying habits when it comes to mixes.  I don't use yeast when I make a cake from scratch, but it seems the manufacturers do.  Perhaps it's in the flour.  Who can tell?

I was talking to a friend (who has a 90% creative rate) and she came up with the word (s)of the week, without realizing it.  WORD of the WEEK:  Simple Life.  Something that doesn't involve a lot of stress.  Perfect!  That's the message I try to convey to my readers.  A person can live any where and live a simple life.  They can choose the things that help them reduce stress and choose not to do others.  As an example you know I make my cleaning products.  It's easy and takes very little time.  But, I no longer rely on this method for cleaning toilets.  I use a store bought wand and pad.  I've been cleaning toilets with my hands since I was ten years old.  I don't want to accomplish that task in that manner any longer.  I splurge on the product that does the work for me.  Stress gone.

Simple living is more a frame of mind than a location.  Anyone who chooses to follow the life style can do so right where they are.  Choices of which thing you wish to practice are there, too.  Learn what is good for you, research costs and go for it.  Choices not only should take into account saving funds, they should be enjoyable to you.

Stay safe.



 

Monday, February 15, 2016

Winter Can Bring Comfort

To know me now it would be difficult for anyone to believe I spent most of my years  in the tundra of Central New York State.  Temperatures have been known to hit 32 degrees below zero (F.), not counting the wind chill factor.  As a matter of fact while speaking with a friend who lives in that area this week, it hit 29 below zero. (F)

I've stayed in the comfort of my home all week because the temperatures were in the twenties and below.  In the house I wore sweats, three shirts and knee socks with an increased  thermostat setting.  And - I was cold.  Very cold.  My neck could hardly move, it was so seized up.  I think it may have been the cold. 

Last night we had a snow storm.  Today it's turned to rain.  That would be OK if the sun was shining.  But, it's not.  I pray the rain doesn't turn to ice when the sun sets at around six PM.  Tomorrow?  We're told to expect a temperature in the sixties.  Seems crazy, doesn't it?

I live in the one area of the East Coast that all weather fronts converge.  They meet from three directions - North, South, West, then move out to the ocean.  There you have it.  Never a dull moment.

This morning's breakfast was created out of bits and pieces from the refrigerator.  It came out quite nice so I named it 'plate quiche'.  I used all of the ingredients used in a spinach quiche, but cooked it on the stove top with salt and pepper the only seasoning.  Bread went into the toaster and was slathered with home made peach jam. 

Today I'm making a pan of peanut butter brownies to eat as my dessert this week.  I have to comb the freezer to see what I can make for meals.  I do have a ready made salad in one of those green bags so that can be for lunch with a side of canned peaches that are left over from yesterday. I put peanut butter in the brownies to add some protein.  That and a glass of cold milk should balance the carbs in the brownie.

Frugal accomplishments this week were simply no spend days all week, with the exception of one day and cooking from the pantry and anything else that was on hand.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Cinnamon Coffee Cake (Cost Effective and Yummy)

I was looking for my chocolate chip cookie recipe yesterday.  In the back of my mind I remember being lazy and not putting it back when I was done with the card.  I have yet to find it, but I did come across a recipe I forgot I had for cinnamon coffee cake.  It sure sounded good.  Only thing is I wrote it in pink and had to get the magnifying glass out to read it.  I took the time to re write it in black ink with larger printing.  It really sounded good after that so I made a batch in the seasoned cast iron pan - the bottom lined with parchment paper.  The recipe needed two bowls, one for dry ingredients then one for the 'wet' ingredients.  At the end the dry ingredients were stirred into the wet ones.

The recipe was simple, cost effective, appealing to look at, and delicious.  This was my dinner last night with a big glass of milk and coffee to follow.  Nothing else!  I do this sometimes, not eat right.  Just because I want to.  Sometimes - just once in a while - we have to buck the system to feel the freedom.  Not often, mind you, just once in a while.  I don't do things other women do for a treat, such as pedicures and makeup.  This is what I do for a treat for myself.  Right out of the oven with a touch of butter.

THE RECIPE

In a bowl, beat 1 EGG. Add 1/4 cup OIL and 1/2 cup MILK.  Set aside.
In a second bowl combine 1 1/2 cups FLOUR, 3/4 cup SUGAR, 2 teaspoons BAKING POWDER, 1/2 teaspoon SALT.
Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and stir with a fork until combined.  Pour batter into a greased pan. 

Topping
Combine 1 tablespoon MELTED BUTTER, 1 tablespoon FLOUR, 1/4 cup BROWN SUGAR, 1 teaspoon CINNAMON until well blended.  It will look crumby.  Sprinkle on top of batter.

Cook in a 375 oven, 25-30 minutes.

I didn't have brown sugar I could use (hard as a rock) so I made some using 1 cup of sugar to 1 tablespoon molasses.  It worked out great!

The bowl on the left has the wet ingredients beat together. 
The one on the right contains the dry ingredients that were
added to the wet ones.

The finished dish, minus dinner!  Warm from the oven.
Let me know if you try this recipe and how well you enjoyed it.  Or if you didn't.  I give it five out of five stars.  How many stars would you give it?

Stay safe.

Monday, February 8, 2016

New Feature and Food (And Curtains)

Monday mornings I'm always inspired to do a project around the house.  Sunday is my rest day and by the time it's over, boredom begins to set in.  The best thing on my Sundays is Downton Abbey.  Oh my, I love that show.  I have two seasons on DVD, but I'll have to get the whole series because I will watch it repeatedly.

This morning's project was scrubbing down the powder room.  I pay more attention to this bathroom because I have four grandchildren that use it and I don't want them to catch any germs in my home.  The baseboards and floor were cleaned with a solution of bleach.  The sink and toilet also received the bleach treatment.  Walls were wiped down and clean towels were hung.  All ready for little hands.

Do you remember the curtains that were ordered from Penny's?  They were in the mailbox and since my daughter was stopping by I asked her to hang them for me.  I opened the package and to my surprise there were two different color panels.  Two!  The packing slip was correct and the product was incorrect.   So now I have to go to Penny's and fix the solution.  I actually paid for shipping to my home so I didn't have to wait until I could get to the store.

I'm not sure if you can see the difference in color as well
as I can in real time.  One panel is ivory and the
other one is brown.


A few weeks ago a friend gave me a bowl of her chili.  It was so yummy I asked for the recipe on facebook.  A reply never came so I just took it she didn't want to share.  So I went on a mission to see if I could make it.  Another friend gave me her recipe and it was good, but not what I was looking for.  C was visiting with the chili friend and begged her for the recipe because I was driving everyone crazy about the recipe.  Come to find out, she never saw the message and is writing the recipe for me.
That recipe had five kinds of beans in it and was packed with protein, not to mention chocolate.  No wonder I liked it so much.

There's one more helping of the chili I made on Friday.  That'll
be my dinner tonight.  Anxiously waiting for THE recipe.


WORD of the WEEK

El-bow grease:  Hard physical work, especially polishing and cleaning.  (Something to think about!)  Definitely a calorie burner!

Friday, February 5, 2016

The Week Wraps Up

Friday is trash pick It seems the trash did not take itself out last night so this morning I popped out of bed to put it to the curb at 6 AM.  It was cold and rainy and I noticed ice forming on the driveway, so I had to check today's weather.  High of 46 (F).  OK, relax the ice will melt with the sun.  That bed looked mighty fine so in I went only to wake up at 11:45.  Holy tamoly!  I didn't know I was so tired.  I call it lazy, but since retirement is my life these days, being lazy once in a while is OK with me.

Miss Marley had to visit the vet this week because she has an eye that was seeping.  The vet discovered a benign lesion on the inside of the lid that will need to be surgically removed in the near future.  He gave me salve to help the eye feel better and as soon as I receive the cost estimate Marley will have her surgery.  Since Marley has boxer in her, moles are a common occurrence for that breed.  She is going to be mad at me when she has to wear one of those ridiculous cones around her head so she doesn't try to remove the itching the stiches will cause.

Look what I found at the Wal Mart grocery store for88 cents.  Not very sweet, but very yummy.

Who knew Goya made cookies.  My son once told me to check out
the Hispanic section at the grocery because the prices are
better.  How right he was.


I was watching a couple Valentine decorating videos this morning (afternoon) so I was inspired to bring out the sparse and frugal decorations.  For my new readers - I have a love of paper doily hearts that was fostered as a child.  I brought out the ones  I used last year, but set them up a bit differently.  The inexpensive dollar store banner I made last year went back on the fireplace and I used only three hearts on the table with candles this year.  The other two went on the front window to surprise the little ones next door.  In place of purchasing candy for my family this year I think I'll make some sugar cookie hearts for everyone, to include the three little ones next door.

The small boxes displayed came from the dollar store after Valentine
Day last year.  They were three packages of two for a dollar.  So the
remaining boxes don't go to waste, I'll offer them to S for the
little ones.

If I were to estimate the cost of this banner it would be
under $1.00.  All items came from the dollar store, but I
used partial product from the ribbon and hearts.


The impatience of waiting for the curtains I ordered from Penney's for the office is getting to me.  Impatience is not the norm for me, but I feel the wait has been much longer than I'm use to.  Most things ordered online are done so on amazon and their shipping is fast.  My son in law put up the curtain rod for me this week so everything is ready to hang the curtains.  S will come over to hang them when they arrive because they are 95 inches long and I have promised my kids I wouldn't get on a ladder with no one here to spot me.

The creative streak I've been fostering came about full force yesterday.  The cast iron pan I cleaned, but didn't put away, was on the counter.  I had a bag of apples.  I put the two together and found a smile on my face.  I'm loving it.

I think this arrangement is so cute.  It fits into my kitchen
d├ęcor nicely.


Talking about loving it, in honor of Valentine Day I want to list three things I love.  I'm not going to mention my family and friends, my readers,  or God because they are a given.  Can't live without them.

1.  Marley pup.  Such a great and sweet companion.
2.  My home which protects me and inspires me.
3.  Good healthy foods that I'm discovering and the ability to afford some of them.  I consider this quite the blessing at a time that our country is going through tough times.

What do you love in your life?  Do you feel you are creative?  Or a problem solver?  Hearing drom you is a blessing in my life.

Stay safe.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Outside of My Comfort Zone

This year I've decided (from time to time) to take short journeys outside of my comfort zone.  The first sojourn lead me to the kitchen.  I made loose meat sandwich (es).  For those of you reading in other countries it may help for you to know the USA is broken up into regions or territories, one of which is the Midwest.  Foods tend to remain in the respective regions.  I have a friend in the Midwest who has been talking about this sloppy sandwich recently.  I thought this was a good area to step out of my comfort zone so I looked up a recipe and got to cooking.  The chosen recipe comes from the Blue Mill Tavern.  I figured if they had repeat customers then the recipe had to be a winner.  It was indeed.  

The finished dish is much more appealing than the name that's been hung
 on it.  One of the detailed instructions in the recipe was to sprinkle  2 teaspoons (t.) of salt over the melted shortening.  Even though it was recommended to follow the recipe closely, I didn't.  I used 1 t. of salt.  If I had followed directions the dish would most likely have been a ten.  With my stubborn mess up I gave it an eight.  All of. the other directions were followed, right down to using a cast iron pan.

Recipe Points

*Use a cast iron pan
*Use shortening
*Steam the bread
*Eat the sandwich with mustard and dill pickles
* Cook out all of the liquid

Here's the results in pictures.

Browning the meat and onions.

Adding the 'secret' ingredients.  Mustard, sugar, vinegar.

Layering the roll with mustard and home made dill pickles.


The finished dish.  If there was an additional picture,
it would be of an empty dish!


You can find the recipe here:      http://www.food.com/recipe/the-blue-mill-tavern-loosemeat-sandwich-87075  If you decide to try this, let me know what you think.  I will be making this again, but following the directions 100%.

Stay safe.

PS:  A warm welcome goes out to new readers.  FYI:  I just found out if you sign up under 'followers' an email is sent to you when a new post goes up.  Some say it takes a day to receive the email.