Friday, December 28, 2012

What have I been up to??

Recovering from Christmas, mostly.

It’s been super chilly here the past few days, not like Florida at all!  At least we didn’t get hit with all those tornadoes like areas to our west!  That storm was bad.  Today is a little warmer here than yesterday but not much.  We’ve had the heat on higher than usual, for the baby.  He gets overheated if you put him in a heavy sleeper, starts sweating.  But in a light sleeper he gets a little chilly.  So til his body starts regulating his temp more reliably we’ll keep the heat up.

It doesn’t seem like Friday to me.  This 3 day work week threw me off.  And next week is the same.  I’m planning to see my parents over this long weekend, Ayla isn’t up to a long  drive yet so she and Zane won’t  be going with us, but Randy said if I would go on Sunday (his day off) he and Lyla will go with Drake and me.  So the plan for this weekend is to go there on Sunday, the rest of the time off will be to do as I please.  I want to use the theater GC Heather gave me to go see a movie this weekend, maybe a matinee on Monday.  Maybe do a little sewing, definitely do some cooking and housework.

Last night after we ate I froze the leftover stuffing, packaged up for 2 separate meals.   I froze the ham bone for beans or soup, there was no ham left on it so nothing there to freeze separately!!  It looked like locusts go a hold of that thing, it was so bare.  I divided the turkey into 4 packages, but each package is really enough to eat one meal of turkey, then use the leftovers from that in a casserole or soup, so at least 8 meals there.  I meant to leave out a little for tonight’s stirfry made from the veggie tray leftovers, but I forgot so that will be a vegetarian meal. No big deal.  I’ll make the turkey stock from the frozen bones this weekend, too.

I went grocery shopping last night and spent just over $40.  I need to stop at Sam’s on the way home tonight, get the big jug of laundry detergent and some spinach.  Hubby’s blood work registered too high on the Coumadin check so he needs to eat some leafy greens to bring it back down, and we’re out of spinach.  What this means to me is that we’ll be having spinach artichoke dip for New Year’s day.  Yum.  I bought a can of artichokes last night and I already had everything else.  I’d better make lots!!  That stuff goes fast at our house.   

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Introducing…

Zane Thomas.  Born yesterday, weighing 6 lb, 15 oz.  Mommy and baby are doing well.  Big brother seems to be handling things pretty well also, he slept well last night despite his parents being away.  We sat in his room and watched Cars, so that was special.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Ready…Set…GO!


You know that feeling when you’re at the top of the roller coaster, just about to go over the top and down the big plunge, plummeting headlong to your doom?  But then you survive and it turns out the whole thing was really a lot of fun?  I’m hoping I look back on the next week and remember how great it was, not that it was stressful.  But it is what it is!  And by this time tomorrow I’ll have my new grandson in my arms, probably right alongside the 2 year old.  He’s not big on sharing.  With any luck they’ll be home from the hospital by Friday, then next week is Christmas.  It’ll be pretty low-key this year, pretty much all about the baby.  But then, wasn’t it always supposed to be about a baby? 

Friday, December 7, 2012

Money Musings

I read an article a few day ago where someone from the same general area of the country as me is having a hard time feeding herself and her 4 year old daughter on $400 a month in food stamps.  If this person lived somewhere else and I wasn't familiar with what things cost there, I might not think too much about that.  But I know where she lives, I know what prices are like there.  After I stopped yelling I considered posting a comment about how maybe food stamps should pay for cookbooks, but then I remembered a friend sending me a link to the free SNAP cookbook online. 

Moral of the story?
You can give someone financial aid but you can't give them sense or good judgement.

I once knew a man who often said, in America poor people have cable.  He's right.  Contrast many of our "poor" to those of other nations and you might see a startling difference.

The only person I can control is me.  I shouldn't worry about this stuff but it's frustrating at times.  I need to focus on my own goals, and I think I've done pretty well with that lately, my savings haven't grown but I've taken on a lot more financial responsibility and still managed to keep expenses down.  Two things are coinciding my life that are typically VERY expensive, Christmas and the birth of a new baby.  Not my baby, I'm way too old for that.   But without my help, this grandchild might be coming into the world with very little.  I've spent maybe $100 or so and kitted him out pretty nicely.  Between my daughter and me, we've pulled out every trick in the book, borrowing and asking for hand-me-downs, thrift stores, etc.  He'll have everything his tiny self needs, and then some.  As for Christmas, my goal was to make most of the gifts, and most of what isn't being handmade is second-hand.  I really don't know what I've spent, since I've been sewing, knitting, etc. all year.  But I do know I haven't spent a lot, and what I did spend has been spread out so much it's been no problem at all.  No January Blues for me.             

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Thanksgiving is all about family


Well, family and food.  We had the feast on Thursday, then on Saturday I took Ayla and Drake to visit my parents, about 3 hours away.  We had a really nice visit.  I was pleased to see how well my mother is recovering from her knee replacement surgery. 

Drake discovered some fun and exciting ways to have fun in the country!  No cash needs to be spent to have a good time, just hitch a ride on somebody’s lap.
Sorry this one turned out so badly, somehow my camera had gotten the settings changed.  But it’s still cute, Drake riding on the back of Mom’s chair.
 
And finally, the tractor.  This provided hours of "driving" fun.  He pretended to run over me, he pretended to run over the dog, etc.  
 
Now, on to Christmas!  I made a paper chain to count down the days.  Beginning December 1st, we'll tear off one ring and read the bible verse printed inside.  When they're gone, it's Christmas!!
 
 

 
 

Monday, November 26, 2012

You can serve a Thanksgiving meal for 8 people for under $100!

You can serve a Thanksgiving meal for 8 people for under $100!
That was an actual headline I saw online early last week.  My reaction:

Um, what?

I know this is the time of year people tend to bust out their family heirloom recipes, and go all out for the feasts and festivities.  And yes, you can certainly feed 8 people at Thanksgiving for under $100.  But my opinion is, you can feed them for a LOT less than $100.  I didn’t even read that article, I was laughing so hard.  I really don’t know what sort of recipes they were promoting.  I planned to feed 10 adults and 3 small children.  As it turned out, and I knew beforehand that this was a possibility, several people didn’t make it.  We ended up with 5 adults and 2 toddlers, and TONS of leftovers.  In preparation for this I spent $38, which included an extra turkey since they were on sale and is now safely abiding in my freezer, along with bits and pieces of his already-cooked brethren.  Oh, and let’s not forget, add the cost of a couple extra pie crusts because we ate the chocolate pies the night before and had to make more.  I had made 2 pie crusts, we bought 4 more and used 2 of them.  The others will be saved for later.  I could have made more but I wimped out. 

Ask anyone in my family if they feel the food would have been better if I spent more.  Go on, I dare you!  Because they seemed to be enjoying it, and enjoying it, and enjoying it….  I don’t feel that spending another $60-65 would have improved our meal even a tiny fraction.  Looks good, doesn't it?


I think Ayla is now our official pie lady.  She doesn’t yet know how to make crust, but she can turn out a pumpkin or chocolate fudge pie in no time, and it’s GOOD.  Here she is, helping Drake make his very first pie:




 
 
You’d think people who are 8 months pregnant would know better than to get in the floor but she said it was easier than holding Drake up to the counter while he helped.  At least there were people around to hoist her back up.        

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Baking Bread

I keep saying I'm going to post my bread  recipe, but I never seem to have time.  So I'm giving a link to the website wher I got the recipe.

http://www.motherearthnews.com/Real-Food/Artisan-Bread-In-Five-Minutes-A-Day.aspx?page=2

I usually make rolls or rectangular loaves with this, but it can be made into bread sticks, round loaves (plopped onto a baking sheet, no pan involved), cinnamon rolls, or pizza dough, if you like a fairly thick crust.  You can add herbs to the liquid, make it sweeter if you like it that way, use water for french bread, milk for a soft bread.  I replace 1/4 cup of flour with an equal amount of potato flour to keep it soft and fresh longer.  I love this stuff, it's so versatile.

Let me know if you try it.

Everyone have a fantastic Thanksgiving, and be safe!

Monday, November 19, 2012

I finished the baby quilt!


Finally.  Life kept conspiring against me and made this take longer than expected, but it’s all good.  It turned out adorable, although to me it sort of looks like a circus tent exploded.


Here's another view, with lousy lighting:



And here are my 2 year old grandchildren, the delights of my heart:

 
They had a blast taking turns pushing each other in the car, with a little help from Shane:
 
 

Friday, November 16, 2012

Thanksgiving Dinner


In this country, we’re celebrating Thanksgiving next week.  We do a traditional dinner that day, here’s my menu:

Turkey
Dressing
Mashed potatoes
Gravy
Corn
Green bean casserole
Rolls
Pumpkin pie
Fudge pie

I’ve been thinking about how to prep foods ahead of the big day so I don’t have to do everything at once.  Of course I’ll be enlisting help from my family, and if my friend comes and brings her mom and son, she’ll pitch in.  We like cornbread dressing, so I’ll make the cornbread a few days early and give it time to dry out.  I already have quite a bit of chicken stock in my freezer, I’ll thaw that and use it for both the dressing and the gravy.  I’ll make dough this weekend for the pie crusts, it holds in the fridge for several days.  I’ll make the pies Wednesday evening.  My usual bread dough is a refrigerator dough, so I can make that at any time and it’ll be there when I need it.  Drinks will be a choice of iced tea, hot tea, coffee, water.  Juice for the toddlers.

I’ve had a couple requests for my bread dough recipe, I’ll try to post that tomorrow.  It’s amazingly easy and handy, no kneading necessary and it sits in the fridge, just waiting to be used. 

What are your Thanksgiving plans?   

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

More Baby Stuff

Unless he comes early, he'll be here 5 weeks from today.  That's the day the C section is scheduled.  I'm THISCLOSE to being finished with his quilt, I actually ran out of fabric!  I'm going tomorrow to buy 1/4 yard of one of the prints so I can finish this thing.  That's more than I need but I think that's the smallest amount Joann's will let you buy.
 
I finished his sweater, what do you think?

Monday, November 12, 2012

So How Did I Do?


I didn’t quite do everything on this list, but I did OK.  Here’s the breakdown: 

Finish the baby quilt, which will require a stop at the fabric store on my way home tonight

I got quite a bit done on the baby quilt but it’s not finished.  I hope to work on it some more tonight and have it finished this week. 

Sew a button onto a sweater, which will then be finished

                    Done.  Pix tomorrow. 

Cook a couple of meals, hopefully doubling one for the freezer

I cooked one meal, ham and pineapple with potato salad on the side, made extra potato salad so people can eat on that a few days.

Make refrigerator bread dough

                    Done.  Tonight’s supper is jambalaya, featuring a side of homemade bread.

Make a double batch of cookie dough and freeze half

                    Not even close.  I bought fudge grahams from Dollar General yesterday.

Knit a hat for a friend

                    Not only did I knit the hat for a friend, but I also knitted one for a baby, the child of Ayla’s
  friend.   

Relax!

                    This one I accomplished heartily.

Friday, November 9, 2012

The Weekend Ahead

Hubby will be out of town from about noon Saturday til about noon Sunday.  I’m going to take this opportunity to get some things done.  Here’s my list:

Finish the baby quilt, which will require a stop at the fabric store on my way home tonight

Sew a button onto a sweater, which will then be finished

Cook a couple of meals, hopefully doubling one for the freezer

Make refrigerator bread dough

Make a double batch of cookie dough and freeze half

Knit a hat for a friend

Relax!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The Whole Enchilada


Last Sunday I wasn’t feeling well, so Ayla and Tahnee offered to make dinner.  I had planned enchiladas filled with leftover pork roast, and they said they’d give it a shot.  They did a fantastic job!  I appreciate them doing that, if they hadn’t we’d probably have had hot dogs or sandwiches.  I really felt crummy.  I got a break from cooking, and they learned a new skill.  Twofer!!! 

I’ve had several requests lately for my enchilada sauce recipe.  I dislike the canned stuff very much, and my sister-in-law gave me this recipe about 25 years ago, she got it from a missionary friend.  Here it is:

3 Tablespoons vegetable oil
2 Tablespoons flour
½ Tablespoon chili powder
15oz can of tomato sauce
½ teaspoon oregano
½ teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon garlic powder
1 ½ cup beef broth

Heat oil and flour in saucepan, stirring 1 minute to make a roux.  Add remaining ingredients and simmer at least 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Chicken broth will work for this too.  I usually make my own broths, but you can use canned or even boullion in a pinch. 

Once you have the enchilada sauce, you have many options available.  We like our enchiladas made with flour tortillas, although traditionally I think they’re made with corn tortillas.  Most of my family loves them stuffed with leftover roast beef, and cheese.  Every time I cook a roast, I trim a small piece off the end before I serve it and freeze it for enchiladas.  I shred it up, dump a little sauce on it, and use that as filling for some of them.  Personally, I like cheddar cheese and finely diced onion.  IMO, that’s the perfect filling.  Simple, tasty.  No frills.  Ground beef, shredded chicken, refried beans, Spanish rice, use your imagination.  Anything you think sounds good, give it a try.  It might not be traditional but it might turn into your signature party dish!

Before assembling, I spread a little sauce in the bottom of a 9x12 baking dish.  Then I dip the tortilla in that, smear it around really good to cover the tortilla, then add fillings and roll up.  I squeeze the dish pretty full, but usually have to make a couple dishes full, because everybody will want leftovers for lunch the next day.  When I’m finished I pour the remaining enchilada sauce over everything.  Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes.  Serve with sour cream, sliced olives, salsa, whatever you want.      

A few weeks ago I made these, and I ended up with 4 small dishes of them because everybody wanted something different!  Two people needed no cheese, but wanted roast.  One person wanted roast, cheese and diced onion, one wanted roast, cheese, no onion.  And I wanted cheese and onion.  Normally I don’t cater to everyone’s whims like that but seriously, it wasn’t that big a deal. I had the assembly line going, an assistant, 4 small baking dishes, and we cranked them out in no time.  I used diced onion and cheese on the top of each pan to indicate what was in each one so we didn’t have to figure it out after baking, since many of my dishes are identical.  It was kind of nice, having my very own pan of cheese and onion enchiladas.    

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Tacos. Your way.


Last night I cooked ground beef and added packets of taco seasoning.  I normally shy away from those seasoning packets but they’re definitely easy and my kids love the taste.  I was planning on taco salad so I fried up a bunch of corn tortillas into chips, and laid out all the toppings.  Sour cream, cheddar, avocado (59 cents for a huge one!), tomato, salsa.  As it turns out, the adult children wanted soft tacos, so they got out the flour tortillas.  The little one wanted meat, diced tomato and the homemade chips.  Hubby turned his into nachos by layering it all together and throwing it into the oven for 5 minutes.  And I had taco salad.  All the same type thing, but in varying forms and everybody was happy.  I also turned the prep into a 2 for 1 deal, while half the ground beef from that package was browning for the tacos I used the other half to make itty bitty meatballs, which I froze.  They will be a quick, easy addition to a crockpot vegetable soup some day in the future.
 
Remember the flannel robe I cut up for fabric?  Here are the pajama pants made from that, Drake slept in them last night and said he likes them, and Mimi is nice for making them for him.  What a sweet kid.
    

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Macaroni and Squash


In the never-ending quest for recipes to feed my dairy-allergic people, I’m willing to try almost anything.  Some things work well, others, not so much.  One thing I’ve found that some of the non-allergic people enjoy, myself included, is a mac and cheese substitute made with butternut squash.  Pumpkin might work as well, or acorn squash, but I’ve always used butternut.  I cut and de-seed it first:


Then I roast it at 400 degrees til it’s nice and soft, this usually takes about 45 minutes.  Your mileage may vary.  Doesn’t this look yummy?!?!?!  Me, this squash, and a spoon.  That sounds like a fabulous idea.

 
Next stop, make a roux and thicken some chicken broth.  I use 2 tablespoons oil and 2 tablespoons flour per 1 cup of chicken broth.  For this recipe I used 3 cups broth, 1 pound of elbow macaroni, and half the squash.  I flavored the broth with garlic salt and a little bit of Italian seasoning.  I think poultry seasoning or sage might be good in this in place of the Italian seasoning but I haven’t tried it.  Once the chicken gravy is thickened I stir the mashed squash into it, and pour it over the cooked, drained noodles, then top with bread crumbs (totally optional but I always have a jar of homemade bread crumbs on hand).  Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes.  Enjoy.
 
 

 
I made a regular pan of mac and cheese to go with this, one of our household is no fan of squash.  He’d have eaten it if that’s all there was available but I was stocking up for the next few days since I was going out of town, and I wanted to leave plenty of leftovers in the fridge. 
I don’t know where this idea came from.  I might have invented it, or I might not, I honestly don’t remember.  I made this for the first time about a year ago, and everyone who tasted it loved it.  Even my hubby, which surprised me.  It’s good with salad, or peas.    
    
And here’s the little allergic boy, looking adorable.  Everybody say "Awwww!"

Friday, October 19, 2012

Busy, busy, busy.


Recently my mom gave me some stuff.  One item was a flannel robe that was torn.  I thought, Hmm, lots of good material there:

So I cut the back off and made a receiving blanket for the new baby: 

Then with the front, I cut out a pair of pajamas, but I haven’t sewed that yet so no pix.  The robe had pockets so I strategically placed my pattern to take advantage of them, the PJs will have deep patch pockets on the front with no extra effort from me at all.


I’ve spent a lot of time with doctors lately, and I’m really getting tired of it.  And really getting just plain tired.  We’re dealing with the fact that the medicine I take for psoriatic arthritis isn’t working as well as it should anymore, plus I’m  becoming allergic to it.  Lots if itching involved.  In addition, a recent routine exam found a problem that nobody seems to be able to figure out, so I’m being subjected to all sorts of probing and prodding and loss of dignity.  As if psoriatic arthritis alone isn’t enough to deal with, now this?  Gee, thanks. 

Being this busy and this tired makes it hard to maintain usual standards.  Tuesday Allen and I spent all day in Pensacola at various doctors appointments, we got home around 5:30.  I had taken a meal out of the freezer, and I’m pretty sure it’s the last one I had in there!  I need to start making meals I can double, then freeze half.  That night we had pork adobo, a family favorite.  I threw rice into the rice cooker, and steamed some carrots.  While I was standing there waiting for water to boil, I started rummaging thru the fridge and found a slightly mangy orange that had gotten shoved to the back and forgotten.  I zested and juiced half of it, then when the carrots were done I added the orange plus a little margarine (butter would have been so much better, but not for Drake), the last bit of brown sugar in the cabinet, and a squirt of honey.  Those carrots were SO GOOD.  I made a total pig of myself on them.  When Drake saw the orange he wanted it, so I cut off the bad spot (it was only skin deep), cut the segments out for him and added them to his plate.  I wasn’t aware he’s such an orange fan.  That’s good to know.           

Yesterday I had to leave work in the middle of the day, see a doctor, then return and work late to make sure I wasn’t falling behind.  I stopped at Sam’s to pick up my RX and grabbed a take-&-bake pizza for supper while I was there.  These are FAR better than delivery, for several reasons. Cheaper, definitely.  Plus I could rake the cheese off a small section so Drake could eat it.  I’m pretty sure you can’t order a pizza from a chain restaurant and ask for one wedge with no cheese on it.  And these pizzas taste really good, we had spinach salad with it and everybody was happy.  Especially Drake.  He kept saying “My wike pizza”.  Imagine how much he’d “wike” it if he could have cheese on it.

Ayla’s C section is scheduled for 2 months from today.  Only 2 more months til we meet our new grandson!


Friday, October 12, 2012

Free fish!!


Yesterday my oldest daughter was given several pounds of amberjack, someone she knows had caught it the day before, it was cleaned and filleted, ready to cook.  But he couldn’t keep all of it so he gave some to her, and last night she cooked it on the outdoor grill.  I don’t eat fish but everyone said it was delicious.  I know there was a LOT left over so they can eat that while I’m gone this weekend, I'll be at a Christian retreat with the ladies from my church.  My youngest is in town to celebrate her birthday, and she made onion potatoes on the grill to go with it.  These couldn’t be simpler, here’s the “recipe”:

Cut potatoes into cubes.  They can be peeled, or not, whatever you want.  Toss them with some cooking oil and a package or 2 of dry onion soup mix, you know, the kind you use to make onion dip.  Either bake in the oven or put them in a foil pouch and throw them on the grill til they’re tender.  If I do them on the grill I like to open the top of the foil near the end of the cooking time and let them crisp a little, but that isn’t necessary. 

They also threw on a few hamburgers for me.  I don’t think April eats fish either so she may have had a burger as well.    

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Sweaters and jumpers and ladybugs, oh my!


A while back, a website-friend posted a picture of some sweaters she had made.  Well, she’s British, she calls them jumpers.  Not important to the story.  What is important is this; it never occurred to me that you could embroider on a sweater, but here was the proof!
 
Armed with my newfound knowledge I decided to try it.  Here is the sweater I made for my granddaughter for Christmas:
 
It’s long because it’s meant to be worn as a dress.  Can’t you just see this with red tights and black boots?  I can.  Now I hope it gets cold enough this winter for her to wear it at least a few times!!  And I hope Polly will forgive me for shamelessly copying her original idea.   
 
 

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

We now return you to your regularly scheduled life…


This week has been crazy.  I left Friday after work to go spend the night at my parents’ house, and came home late Saturday night.  Sunday I had to fast and drink a bunch of nasty goo for a medical test on Monday.  Glad that’s over, no results yet.  Sunday, since I was avoiding food smells and therefore avoiding people who had to cook and eat, I spent some time sewing.  I don’t have a pic yet of what I sewed, but then it dawned on me, I didn’t post what I made the week before.

My philosophy is, never turn down a freebie.  It might not be what you want, but you can always pass it on to someone else, donate it, or use it for a different purpose.  That said, I was recently given 2 boxes of clothing.  In one box, most of the clothes fit and I liked them.  Two skirts, two pair of pants and a few shirts added to my work wardrobe, plus a few tees to be worn as PJs.  In the other box, not so much.  Most of it didn’t fit, those things that did fit didn’t look good on me, some were stained or torn.  But all is not lost!  I used one pair of pants as fabric to make a new pair for the kids.  They’re heather gray so either gender can wear them.  Drake will probably grow into them soon, and when he’s done Lyla can have them.  

When I finished that pair I remembered I had saved a pair of Allen’s sweat pants to use as fabric.  The elastic was shot and he was never going to wear them again.  I cut them down to make a pair of toddler sweatpants:
 
Notice how I carefully avoided the bleach spot.  Aren’t I clever.
 
Then I remembered some ribbon I had in my stash from a project a few years ago.  I’ve never done anything like this before but I decided to add the ribbon to the pants.  Due to my inexperience, the fabric rippled a little as I sewed on the ribbon.  OK, so it’s not perfect, but they can be worn as play clothes on a chilly day.  You cn'nt really tell here but the ribbon is yellow with pink dots.  Since the ribbon is a bit girly these will go straight to Lyla, although they might be too big for her this winter. 
 
I also made a dog toy.  I cut the legs of a pair of old jeans that were in the not-so-great box, here I’ve cut a long spiral strip:
 
And here, I tied knots in the strip:
 
So far Bug hasn‘t taken it upon himself to play with this on his own but he’s happy to tug-of-war with me if I start the game.              

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The best laid plans...


It’s been a while since I blogged.  Sorry about that!  Life has been pretty hectic for me the past few weeks.  Not that it isn’t usually hectic, but for some reason lately it’s been worse. 

I had to go to Biloxi, MS, over the weekend, minor emergency but it’s all taken care of now, thanks for asking.  I’d been wanting to visit Bellingrath Gardens near Mobile, AL, for quite a while so I decided on my way home from Biloxi to make an impromptu stop in Mobile, get a room for the night, and tour the Gardens on Sunday.  Granted, the $90 or so that it set me back (hotel, food, entrance into the Gardens) is money I won’t be adding to my savings account, but it was worth it.  I had a wonderful time, and it’s not like I had to spend gas money to get there, I was already passing thru! Unfortunately I didn’t get many pictures, my phone and tablet were nearly dead.  This being an impromptu stop, I didn’t have all the necessary cordage needed to keep things charged as I would have liked.  Just take my word for it, it was beautiful.

Then Monday I woke up having a massive dizzy spell.  This happens about once a year, nobody knows why.  At least it only lasts for a day, occasionally a little longer.  Again, all is well, thanks for asking.  I did have to stay home from work Monday which contributed to how busy I’ve been this week, thereby neglecting my  blogging duties!     

After work yesterday I wasn’t feeling my best.  Residual yuckiness from the dizzy spell, I’m sure.  So when I got home I asked Ayla and Shane to help with supper.  While rice was cooking in the rice cooker (my second favorite household appliance), Ayla took a baggie of beef and broth and bits of veggies left over from the last time I made a roast in the crockpot.  She nuked it til she could remove it from the baggie, then dumped it into a saucepan, along with about a cup each of frozen corn and peas.  When that was all heated thru, I showed her how to thicken it with cornstarch.  Meanwhile, I walked Shane thru making homemade honey mustard dressing.  I didn’t realize he doesn’t particularly like honey mustard dressing, but now he knows how to make it! 

So after walking them thru the basics of this meal while doing very little actual work myself, we had a lovely supper of beef and gravy over rice, with spinach salad.  And nobody had to resort to a pizza or burger run.       

If you’re interested in making honey mustard dressing yourself, it couldn’t be easier.  In a food processor or blender, combine one part honey and one part mustard.  I use plain yellow mustard but I guess you could use a fancy gourmet mustard and get a fancy gourmet dressing for the same effort.  Anyway, once those two items are blended together, drizzle two parts vegetable oil into the mixture while the blender or food processor is on.  That’s it!  By one part/two parts, I simply mean this.  If you use one cup of honey and one cup of mustard, you will use two cups of oil.  Adjust those measurements up or down to fit your needs but always keep that ratio and you’ll never go wrong.  It’s also a fantabulous dip for chicken nuggets.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Laundry


Many times during my life, I haven’t owned a dryer.  Right now, I’m glad I do.  Working full time, with 4 adults and a toddler in the house, it makes my life easier.  But off and on through-out my life I’ve used a handy-dandy solar powered dryer, a.k.a a clothesline.  I consider this no big deal, when I have time to line-dry my clothing I actually prefer to do so.  Many weekends I hang out my sheets and blankets, and I have a rack in my hallway where I always hang my work clothing to dry.  I don’t have a lot of disposable income to constantly replace my wardrobe, so I take good care of it.  What do you think all that lint is?  It’s bits of your clothing!  That you wad up and throw away every week!  I’m hard to fit anyway, so when I find nice work outfits that look good and feel good, I want to keep them as long as possible.  Line drying extends their life and that makes me, and my savings account, happy.   

I’ve never understood people’s aversion to doing laundry.  So many of my friends and acquaintances say they dislike doing laundry.  I won’t say I enjoy it, but I rarely consider it drudgery, a chore I have to force myself to do.  Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of chores I despise, but laundry is not one of them.  You throw some stuff into the washer, add detergent and other accoutrements, and turn it on.  Then walk away.  You come back later and they’re clean, so you put them in a dryer.  Maybe add a dryer sheet, then turn it on.  Walk away.  It’s not like we have to haul them down to the river and beat them on rocks.  We have a machine to do the work for us.  Did you get that, people?  We have a MACHINE.  To do the work FOR US.  How blessed are we?

And from what I’ve read, most of the things we do to get our laundry “right” are actually unnecessary and even counterproductive.  Studies have shown that using too much detergent breaks down the fibers faster and leaves residue in the fabric, which in turn attracts grime more quickly.  Fabric softeners leave a film on fibers to make them feel soft but in reality, they reduce absorption.  Want a nice soft, fluffy towel?  It might feel nice after using softener and running it thru the dryer but it’ll wear out more quickly and be less absorbent.

 Nature provides a fabric softener that has no side effects.  Add vinegar to your rinse cycle, it will help soften and deodorize fabrics.  But vinegar stinks, you say!  Once it dries, you won’t notice a smell.  No vinegar smell, and also no chemical smell that softener always leaves behind.  It’s also hypoallergenic.  I’ve never heard of anyone who is allergic to vinegar.  They might exist, but I’ve never heard of them.  However, stories of people with chemical sensitivities are common.  You hear it on the news, on the internet, people you might speak to on the street.  Some are mild, some are life-threatening.  I have first-hand experience in this area, since I have a comparatively mild chemical sensitivity.  Certain household cleaners and most perfumes and colognes affect my breathing.  Some make me feel a mild choking sensation.  Others make me break out an asthma inhaler, praying I will live long enough to get to fresh air.  Don’t believe me?  Ask my mother about the Pine Sol incident!  Yes, I’ve forgiven her.  She’s my mother, after all.

What does all this have to do with me saving money?  Maybe nothing.  I already use a concentrated all natural detergent bought in bulk and I don’t use softener, so I can’t get much cheaper on the washing of clothes unless I start making my own detergent, which I’ve done in the past.  And I’ve already said I appreciate the dryer being there for me in my current situation.  But it never hurts to re-evaluate what you’re doing, why you’re doing it, and if what you’re doing still fits your current needs.  I might get so into the habit of putting my clothes in the dryer that if my circumstances changed, I’d keep doing it even if I had time to line-dry.  It might not be a huge savings but those small amounts do add up, so it’s a good idea to stop and consider, from time to time, if your current methods are working for you.  This applies in ALL areas of your life, not just laundry!

Monday, September 17, 2012

I’m so happy!


I’ve been somewhat estranged from my youngest daughter for several months.  I know she needed this time away to get her head together but it’s been so painful, for several people.  As a mom, your heart breaks when your kid is hurting, and it’s compounded when you know her actions are hurting herself and others.  But she came home this weekend for the birthday party and will be staying a few days.  There were a good many hugs and tears last night.

As is typical of most 2 year olds, Lyla was a little overwhelmed by her birthday party.  But she and Drake were both well-rested, no cranky meltdowns, so it was good.  Of course my handmade gifts were appreciated more by the adults, she wanted to play with the noisy toys and eat the crayons.  Her cupcakes were a hit.  Here’s how they turned out:

 
 
While I was preparing the veggie tray for the birthday party, I did some double-duty work.  Here you have the carrot and yellow bell peppers cut into sticks for the tray, and also sliced and diced and packaged up to throw into the crockpot this morning for split pea soup.  About 1/3 of a pound of kielbasa got diced up too, to flavor the soup.
 
 
When I get home I'll take up a bowl of this for tomorrow's lunch.  However, I won't be eating supper at home tonight, it's Chick Night at my BFF's house.  We'll have supper at her place while watching the new episode of Bones.  I'm a cheap date.  We're splitting an order of Pad Thai.  
 

Friday, September 14, 2012

Anyone who says being a church secretary is just a job isn’t doing it right.


It’s a mission.  Or, it can be.  Yesterday I was given the opportunity to help someone, I truly made a difference in that person’s life.  The day before, I tried to help someone, I don’t know how effective my efforts were but she’ll always remember that I tried.  I try to treat every person who comes into my office equally, with the dignity they deserve.  I know, having been there myself, that when you’re down and out you aren’t always treated well.  The human race can be quite judgmental, and it’s sad when you’re on the receiving end of that judgment when the person doesn’t even know your story.  I pray I never do that to anyone who comes to me for help of any kind.  I know I have in the past but I’m part of that human race.  It’s something we all need to work on.

Now, off my soapbox…

My goal this week was to spend less than $100 and stock up for the month.  I spent $63 exactly at the discount grocery and another $1.50 at the health food store, leaving me $35 to spend at Sam’s tonight.  Right on target!  Each week the grocery store has a 49 cent special, this time it was a bag of sugar, which I needed anyway. The only other fantastic deal was a huge bag of chicken nuggets. Usually nuggets are maybe $5-7 for a 2-3 lb bag, but occasionally this place sells their store brand nuggets in a 10 lb bag for $14. They had some this week so I got that. Nuggets are an easy lunch when we’re out of leftovers or somebody doesn’t want a sandwich, I try to keep them around. Last time I bought a huge bag like this it lasted a long time, I just used the last of them this week. So that was a good deal. Oh yeah, and I got a HUGE box of cereal for Shane for $2.33, the small box of the SAME cereal was $2.98! Go figure!  So I picked the big one, naturally.  I’m not a fan of cold cereal, never considered it worth the money.  It’s expensive and you’re hungry again in no time.  But it was a good deal and he likes it, so I bought it.

That pot of Whatever we had for supper last night sure was good.  I have a roast in the crockpot for tonight’s supper.  

Tomorrow I’ll start getting ready for Lyla’s birthday party.  Here are the gifts I made for her:
 
The afghan was made entirely from yarn I had been given.  I started last year, shortly after their first birthdays, on afghans for both Lyla and Drake to use up some of my yarn stash. 
The pajama pants were supposed to be a Christmas gift but she’s grown so much recently that if I wait, they might not fit!  So they go into the birthday gift pile and I’ll make another pair before Christmas.