Friday, July 21, 2017

Pickling, Baking, Shopping, and Plumbing?

What do pickling, baking, shopping, and plumbing have in common?

That is how I spent my Thursday.

Mama gave me enough squash to try a small batch of squash pickles.
If they taste as good as the brine did, they'll be great.

She also brought me enough cucumbers to make a small batch.
In the past, I've had limited success with homecanned pickles.
My freezer pickles are great, but the canned ones are so so at best.
This time I tried a new to me recipe that used a different technique than I've been using.
Hopefully these will be good, too.

My husband's birthday was earlier this week, but we decided in advance to wait and celebrate at the end of the week.
I started his favorite hamburger steak in the crockpot.
For dessert, he requested apple pie.
I'm afraid I am horrible at pretty crusts, but they usually taste good.

In the mix of all this, someone came to fix the guest bathroom toilet.
It had started to lightly run water all the time.
While he was here he snaked the upstairs bathtub drain for me.

I also ran out to pick up groceries -- we didn't need much.
I had to have more sugar for canning and some onions for the pickles.
The rest was just to replace things we had used up over this month.

And that is how I spent the bulk of my day.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Looking a Season Ahead

Life is a weird mix.  I try to live in the present, but always keep the upcoming seasons in mind.  

Sometimes it is literal seasons.

Today I was up well before the sun and I canned 7 quarts of dark red kidney beans in anticipation of big pots of chili this fall.

(I was cooking chili anyway for a family get togethr and decided I may as well soak enough beans to do a canner full.)

We're also looking ahead to other seasons of life.
Our daugther starts classes at the university this fall.
Because she won't be able to run home during the day, we are planning meals and tweaking the budget to give her maximum fleixibility.
As we get another year closer to retirement, we are looking ahead to that season of life, too.
We're trying to decide if we will stay in this area or move closer to my son's family.
We're not worried about any concrete plans until we see my daughter through her master's degree so we have time.
However, I have begun to price real estate in a couple of areas we are considering.
We're researching tax rates, proximities to medical care, and a host of other things.
It may be summer now, but this morning in my head I am seasons away.


Pocket Money

I sold two tatted cross bookmarks.
Red was the requested color and both were exactly the same.
These are approximately 6.5 inches from bottom to top (not counting the dangly bits LOL).
I know this photo isn't great, but they're still drying from the starching.

I don't really charge a lot for them, but the funds will help pay for my next project.
Or perhaps I'll invest in some threads and make up some more crosses.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Successful Day

It took me 2 1/2 hours, but I finally accomplished my afternoon goal.
I had to put it together in that tight space at the end of the pantry.  
If I had put it together in the open I would have had to move the big shelf to get it in there.  NO WAY 😜 
Then I moved all the canning a few jars at a time to it and inventoried it while I went.  
While I was doing that my bread was ready for the oven.
(We have fresh cinnamon swirl bread and a loaf of plain bread.)
   Then I got all the cookbooks back on the cookbook shelf.
As I had been canning I had been temporarily moving my cookbooks to a box and putting the canning on the shelf.
I'm glad to have my cookbooks back out --
Yes, I do have a serious cookbook habit --
And all the canning is in its home.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Busy Hands

Pretty much everyone knows the saying about idle hands.  Well, I've been doing a good job at keeping out of trouble.  

I've crocheted and lightly starched a Victorian Fans Collar.  
I have my pearl buttons ready, but my eyes are tired so I am going to sew one on tomorrow.

When I finished crocheting the first collar, I hopped right onto a second one.
This is a "Daisy" patterned collar.
It has been starched and only needs a button as well.
This collar is going to my pen pal, who lives in Rhode Island.
This beautiful lady and I both share a love of Victorian things.

Since I was up extremely early today (Monday), I had finished all my chores today by 9:00 AM.
Needless to say after I finished starching and shaping my collars, I still had some time on my hands.

Another darling lady (and pen pal), who lives in Pennsylvania, has been on my mind.
I wanted to send her something, but I was kind of tired of crocheting.
I pulled out this beautiful shaded pink thread and tatted her a cross bookmark.
It is starched and ready to go.

I have one more thread project going -- a bookmark for my penpal, who lives in Texas.  
We all met via a group for ladies who love Victorian history.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Chocolate Frosting -- Grandmama Style

This simple frosting is the one I associate most with my childhood.  My grandmama almost always made a thin sheet cake and frosted it with this.  I do make mine a little thicker than she made hers.  (This is not the hardest fudge, but somewhere between.)

   Sift 4 cups of powdered sugar and set aside.    

 1 stick of butter
 4 tablespoons of cocoa powder
 1/3 cup of whole milk  

 Melt butter over a low/medium heat in a saucepan.  Whisk in cocoa powder and milk.  Bring to a boil (stirring as you go) and remove from heat.  Stir in sugar.  

 If you are frosting a layer cake this will do a large sheet pan.  If you are making a layer cake it will give generous layers of frosting.  Be forewarned, you need to be ready to frost your cake as soon as you finish mixing in the sugar because it starts to set up quickly.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

2nd Week of July

Use it Up:

So far we've been doing well on the "use it up" front.  Other than a watermelon for immediate consumption, and 2 boxes of crackers and cereal for the pantry storage, we haven't done any grocery shopping.

Meals have included things like: baked potatoes topped with cheese and pepperoni, barbecued meatballs served over rice, pancakes, scrambled egg/bacon/cheese wraps, a hamburger helper type dish, fresh baked biscuits, lasagna, BBQ porkchops, etc.  We've had various fruits and veggies to round those out.  Snacks have been an assortment of chips, popcorn, crackers, etc. We also celebrated my daughter's birthday with a cheesecake made using food storage ingredients and cream cheese, which I try to buy in bulk because it holds up quite well in the refrigerator.  I baked a cake and used food storage items for that as well.

 On the frugal front -- 

 I've played with printing my own stationery.  I've yet to decide if it is more frugal, but I do like the process. 
I've done some light canning and saved the water for my plants.

 We've planned birthday meals and desserts from items on hand.

  I also bought two books on Amazon for 30 cents each, but I did have to pay shipping, which was still a great savings over buying them new.  

 I'm continuing to try to keep the a/c turned up during the day.  It is getting harder as the heat index hits triple digits.  I am also being quite diligent about only using the dryer for towels.  

 We've used up several odd bits of cleaners that were in bottles.

 We washed and detailed our cars. I checked out a book from the library.

 I've been working on a shawl using leftover yarn from a project completed more than 10 years ago, and I am down to finishing the edging.

 I harvested my basil and green onion.  (They're dried now and in my food storage.)

We had our annual eye exams and while we were out I doubled up on trips to pick up a few household items.  I'm currently looking into whether I can order my new glasses online or if I will need to head back to my usual place.