Friday, June 23, 2017

A Canning No-No

I should confess up front that I am guilty of following rules and logic on various household things that have been around for a long time.  Sometime (I believe the mid 80s) it became unsafe to home can cabbage.  I'm not sure why it magically happened, but whatever.

 So this post shared with the warning -- this is what I do.  It is NOT sanctioned by the USDA or whatever organization....

 I pressure can my cabbage.   We've always enjoyed the results, and I do boil them for 10 minutes before serving them. My $3 worth of cabbage gave me 18 pints worth.  I kept two out for eating this weekend.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

A Day of Shopping

It's funny how the phrase "a day of shopping" varies so wildly in the images it conjures up.

 My day of shopping went something like this: Aldi --  cookies, saltines, a bag of baking potatoes, 6 dozen eggs, 2 cartons of soy milk, 2 cartons of lactose free milk, 4 containers of Greek yogurt, 12 cans of cream of ...soup for the pantry storage, 2 boxes of Stevia, 2 packages of pepperoni, 2 cans of refrigerator biscuits, 1 package of chicken sausage, 1 container of hummus, guacomole, 2 bags of frozen string beans, 2 bags of frozen limas, 3 bottles of BBQ sauce, 2 bottles of marinade, 1 bottle of steak sauce, apples, 6 pink roses, patriotic themed napkins/paper plates, 4 jars of whole dill pickles, 1 jar of sandwich sliced pickles, 2 packages of chocolate instant pudding, 4 packets of brown gravy mix, a carton of ale, and a loaf of garlic bread.  I spent $85.01.

 After Aldi, I went to the Farmer's Market.  I bought radishes, 3 large cabbage, 5 plums, 3 large peaches, cilantro, and 3 large bell peppers.  Total spent $8.00.

 From there I stopped at Fred's Club, which is a regional warehouse store.  It carries more of what I would call Southern foods....like hush puppy mix, cornmeal, etc.  Everything I bought was warehouse sized.  6 packages of cornbread mix, 1 large bag of flour, 38 pounds of cat litter, an outdoor mosquito repellant candle, 40 assorted ice cream sandwiches, and Country Time Lemonade mix.  Total spent $52.14.

 We put up all the food and went out to Goodwill.  I found 2 ankle length winter skirts and 1 midi (for my height is still long lol) wool plaid skirt.  I also bought 3 summer midi length skirts and 3 blouses for myself.  My daughter found 3 fall button down shirts and a nice black jacket.  Total spent was $47.17.

 So my big day of shopping pretty much centered around food.  More than 1/4 of what was spent at Aldi went into pantry storage, which I try to add to every month.  The cabbage from the Farmer's Market will also go into storage because I will be canning them tomorrow.  The same applies to a good portion of the items from Fred's Club.  Even the Goodwill shop was mostly for the upcoming fall and winter.  I'll have a couple of nice skirts and we got a head start on my daughter's fall wardrobe.  The jacket itself would have cost the $47 or more.

So that is us - the last of the big shoppers....or maybe not.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Where did a week go?

I can't believe it has been a week since I have posted anything.  Life has just been busy.  In no particular order....

I've had guests.
I've had doctors' appointments.
I've been working on research for a project.
I've done some dehydrating.
I've helped my daughter with a school project.
I've attended a symphony on the Town Commons.
I've kept up with the housework and done a tad of grocery shopping.
I've taken the kitten back and forth to the vet.
In there I've cooked meals, finished watching a series I was hooked on, and I've tried to get 8,000 steps in a day.

It doesn't look like much when I type it all out....but that has been the flow of life.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Test Run


We tried our test run of the solar oven.

It is easy to set up, seems to heat well, and is pretty straight forward in function.

We baked brownies....unfortunately, we had to finish them in the oven for a little less than 10 minutes.

Not because of an error with the solar oven....truly operator error.

I didn't bother to check the weather to see that we would have an afternoon shower coming in.
I saw the sun and just said let's do this. 

So all in all, I am pleased with the test run.
I fully expected a bit of a learning curve and I want this now so if I ever have to use this in a time when it is a necessity I will have the kinks worked out.

Now that I have checked the weather, I see that we are looking at a week of cloudy, rainy weather.
It looks like it may be a bit before I try again.


Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Not All Canning

I love having the freezer full, but fully recognize that the loss of power can make it dangerous to keep all things in the freezer.  I love canning and having things on the shelf.  However, I grew up believing you shouldn't put all your eggs into one basket.  This weekend I took advantage of a sale on bell pepper.  





12 large bell pepper yielded me enough bell pepper pieces for a full quart jar

These will be easy to toss into soups, stews, casseroles, etc.
I can choose to rehydrate them first, or just let the cooking liquid do it.

Since I already had the dehydrator out and on the counter, I decided to dry some mushrooms, too.
Dried mushrooms are my preference over canned.
They seem to add a depth to dishes.
(However, I will eat either and keep both on hand.)

Monday, June 12, 2017

Frugal Happenings Week 1 of June

Sunday:

 -- My husband had a shirt with slightly fraying cuffs....just enough to not be office worthy... but the rest of the shirt was in excellent shape. I carefully folded a very narrow edge under and hand stitched it down.  The shirt will be good for another season of wear.

 -- We packed snacks for an outing and incorporated leftovers into our meals.

 -- I washed and hung my daughter's beddind to dry.

 -- While not frugal up front, we have decided to invest in a solar oven.  I'm hoping to not only have it for emergency cooking, but to also learn to use it during the summer weeks to help decrease the household temperatures further and in turn decrease the electric bill.

 -- I peeled and cut up a watermelon rind to try my hand at making watermelon rind preserves.  I had all the supplies on hand.

-- I checked out 2 cookbooks, 1 research (history) book, and 2 novels from the library.  My husband checked out two books on CD to listen to during his commute.  My daughter checked out a book about cats that peaked her interest.

Monday:

-- I washed and hung two quilts to dry.  (This included our picnic blanket, which we had used twice over the weekend.)

--  I made 5 jars of watermelon rind preserves.

-- I ordered some books for a research project.  After an exhaustive search, nowhere locally had these books for me to beg or borrow.  Through careful shopping I found 8 of the books I needed and spent a total of $55.35.  Finding them all used and with free shipping helped keep my costs down.

Tuesday:

-- I cooked a double batch of blueberry pancakes.  Cooking once and eating twice is a wonderful way to cut down on heating the house up, save time, and allow for economy of scale.

-- Because blueberries and strawberries were on sale I picked up some to make jams.  These will go into our food storage.  The blueberries were on sale and couponed for $1 off each package.

Wednesday:

-- Bought produce at the Farmer's Market...spent $10 for quite a good amount.

-- ordered an outdoor chair and utilized 10% off coupon.  Our summer (fold up and take to events chairs) were totally worn out an falling apart.

-- pulled together a meal for guests from our food supplies

-- tried a store brand version of one of our favorite coffees and actually prefer it

-- utilized the delay feature on the washer and had a load of clothes waiting when I got up...hung them to dry

--  My mama brought me a jar of home canned green beans.

Thursday:

-- We ended up doing a Sam's Club run.  However, I did pick up some items for our long term storage that were on sale, too.)

-- Friday and Saturday were a blur.  Even though my costs were higher for meals, we were feeding extra people. The meals had to be quick and convenience foods aren't cheap.  However, they are still less than eating out.

Meals from June 4th - June 10th

Sunday:
 Breakfast -- blueberry scones and coffee
 Lunch -- casserole using 6 crunchy taco shells, last of cajun beans and rice with added taco seasonings, and cheddar cheese
 Supper -- leftover mashed cauliflower, grilled burgers using leftover buttermilk bread slices for "buns,"
 Snacks -- musical event on the Town Commons so we packed snacks of popcorn and our individual water bottles

 Monday:
 Breakfast -- leftover bread, cheese, and spam for my daughter and an egg with cheese for me
Lunch --  sunbutter sandwiches on the last of the buttermilk bread
Supper -- taco salad with seasoned ground beef from my freezer stash
Snacks -- ice cream sandwiches

Tuesday:
Breakfast:  blueberry pancakes (cooked a double batch)
Lunch:  Boca chicken patties on sandwich thins (both from freezer)
Supper -- baked potatoes with cheese and bacon
Snacks -- cheese crackers

Wednesday:
Breakfast -- blueberry pancakes
Lunch (3 guests) -- turkey chili, crackers, shredded cheese (extra Boca chicken patty for my daughter), cornbread, garden salad
Supper -- leftover chili, crackers
Snacks -- cheese crackers, ice cream

Thursday:
Breakfast -- cereal with milk, oatmeal
Lunch -- leftover chili, protein bar (for daughter because she was on a tight schedule)
Supper --pork roast with potatoes, carrots, peas, etc., fresh blueberries/strawberries, garlic bread
Snacks -- variety of fruit

Friday:
Breakfast -- Cinnamon rolls
Lunch -- ham sandwiches with Italian bread, veggie fixings, and broccoli cheese soup, fresh fruit
Supper -- leftover pork roast
Snacks -- cinnamon rolls, fruit, etc.

Saturday:
Breakfast -- Krispy Kreme doughnuts
Lunch -- help yourself to whatever was in the fridge (mostly sandwiches and soup)
Supper -- pizza
Snacks -- gold fish, fruit, etc.

As I mentioned our plans changed for the weekend and the meals kind of reflect that.  Also on Saturday we attended my husband's 40th class reunion.  I left the crowds to fend for themselves....lol




Friday, June 9, 2017

Filling the Pantry

Blueberries and strawberries are plentiful and on sale this week.
I made jam for the pantry.
(I also set aside a jar's worth of each for the refrigerator rather than using up a jar to can them.)


The jam came out to be less than $1 per jar for the blueberry lime jam.
The strawberry worked out to be even less at 75 cents a jar.

The bonuses are that I have them ready to go, I know the ingredients, I got to spend an afternoon doing something I enjoy, and homemade jam just tastes good.


Thursday, June 8, 2017

Best Plans and All That Jazz

Life changes quickly.  Wednesday morning I went to the Farmer's Market and picked up veggies for $10.  I knew I needed cheese and milk to finish our meal plan out.   I was planning on homemade veggie pizzas, omelettes, a meal of cabbage/sausage, and of course frying the plantains.  All this was to go with our other supplies.  I also knew we would be gone for two days and I wouldn't need much extra on hand.


I was quite pleased with myself and it looked like I was going to come in at $25 instead of my alloted $50 for the week.
Fastforward to Wednesday night after 8:00....the phone rings.
My son and his family are making an emergency trip down...can they stay with us?
He knew the answer was yes, but felt like he should let us know they were coming.
My daughter in law's family has been called to her grandmother's bedside. 

After reassuring him that we would help in any way we could, I called my husband.
We've rearranged most of our plans...one thing we may do with our grandson with us.
However, I knew I didn't plan meals large enough for double our family size or more.
We decided to go ahead and do a quick foods stock up....things like sandwich meat, bread, snack items, and such.  We figure they will be coming and going at odd  hours.  She also has a large family and I wanted to be prepared to take some items over.  Just in case any of her siblings venture in with them I want to have extra food here.

I've placed an order with Sam's Club that I will be picking up tomorrow morning.
Please say a quick prayer and send up positive thoughts for her family.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Watermelon Rind Preserves

In an effort to be less wasteful, try new things, and continue to keep our pantry stocked, we decided to try watermelon rind preserves.  Since we had never had them I made a single batch. I decided that would be enough to try and to be fair, a few jars for a couple of people isn't bad.  

I used the recipe from the Ball Bluebook and I was suprised at how easy they are to make. 
I think the worst part was peeling the watermelon.


A basic recipe gave me 5 (8 ounce) jars.  I put one in the refrigerator for us to sample so I didn't bother canning it.

These will be great over the fall and winter months.


Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Renaissance Fair

Tryon Palace, located in New Bern, North Carolina, hosted a Renaissance Fair this past weekend.  We attended and had a great time. There were tons of time appropriate displays and we took far too many photos to share here.  These are a sampling of my favorites.


We attended several musical performances.
There were pirates, who demonstrated sword fighting.
 

There were farm animal displays and a pony ride.
(The turkey was my favorite, but there were lambs, ducks, chickens, and rabbits to name a few things.)


The drum and fife players also did a full performance.
I convinced this kind gentleman to pose for a photo with me.
It was a warm southern kind of day and I have great respect for anyone who could hang in all that wool.
I loved seeing so many men and women in period dress.

In addition to these:
A Shakespeare comedy group
A Celtic Bard
African Slave dances, drum ceremonies, and tent displays
Several military displays with supplies as they would have been.
A family cooking traditional (open fire) Swiss and German dishes
A spinning and weaving display
Various vendors selling local books, food, jewelry, wood working, and things of the sort
Open tours of the stables, the gardens, the Governor's Mansion, the kitchen, etc.

After the fair we headed down to the waterfront and settled under a tree for a picnic.

We had a wonderful time and I would encourage anyone who is traveling through our area to take a tour of Tryon Palace.


Monday, June 5, 2017

Blueberry Scones the Easy Way (Recipe)


One of the things we picked up on sale this week was blueberries.
We decided to make blueberry scones, but I wanted to simplify the process.
I made these in silicone muffin cups for easy prep and clean up.
They're delcious, not too sweet, and could easily be adapted into an all food storage recipe.


Preheat oven to 400F.
Grease or line a muffin tin.

In a food processor bowl with a dough hook:
3/4 cup of water
1/3 cup of powdered milk
1/2 cup of shortening (butter or coconut oil)
1 egg

Whiz until mixed.

Add in:
 2 cups of all purpose flour
2 tablespoons of sugar
3/4 teaspoon of salt
2 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder
2 teaspoons of orange zest (I use dried)

Blend until just combined.  Do not overmix.

Remove dough blade and fold in 1 cup of blueberries.
(I used fresh, but I think any dried fruit would work, too.)

Divide in muffin cups and sprinkle with a tiny bit of sugar.

Bake 25 to 30 minutes (or until toothpick test is clean).

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Buttermilk Bread (Recipe Included)


The original recipe is from a food processor book.
The version I am sharing is my adaptation of it.

In a measuring cup, mix 3/4 cup of warm water (110F approximately), a scant 1/3 cup of powdered milk, and 2 teaspoons of vinegar.
Let sit while gathering rest of the ingredients.

In the food processor bowl (fitted with dough blade):
Add "buttermilk"
2 1/4 teaspoons yeast
1 teaspoon of salt
1 lightly beaten egg
1/4 cup of oil

Whiz a few seconds to blend.

Work in three cups of flour -- either all purpose, bread, or a mix of white/whole wheat.
(Sometimes I have to add either a tiny bit more flour or a tiny bit of water depending on how the dough works up.)
When a ball forms, knead dough with machine for about 2 minutes.

Transfer to a greased bowl, cover, and let rise for about an hour (or until doubled in size).
Punch down, shape into loaf, and put in a greased 9 x 5 pan.
Cover and let rise about 30 minutes....if using a pullman pan, put the lid on after the 30 minutes.
Begin oven preheating to 375F.
Put in oven when preheated and bake for about 25 minutes...remove lid and finish baking until done.
(30 minutes roughly in my oven.)

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Easy Meals

In keeping with my June goals, I am aiming for meals that use up what we have on hand.
I didn't photograph everything we've had.
Forgive my wonky looking hot dog buns -- it was a new to me recipe and the texture of the dough was different.  I just wasn't sure how much working it would take without getting tough.
However, despite their look the taste was fabulous.
We used half the buns for BBQ sandwiches, which let me use up the last of the pork loin and some of my homemade sauce.
We ate the hot dog buns with chicken hot dogs.

I forgot to photograph it, but I made pressure cooker Cajun beans and rice for a meal and we had leftovers the next day for lunch.
I used rice from food storage, a pint of my home canned beef, a pint of my home canned beans, and seasonings from my supplies.

I went ahead and baked in preparation for our Saturday picnic -- buttermilk bread...I'll share the recipe soon.
I fried Spam for our sandwiches.  We don't want to have to drag the cooler along and the saltiness of Spam will let me make sandwiches in the morning and them keep well in a backpack.  I baked brownies for our dessert.  
We're carrying grapes and popcorn for snacking and a thermos cooler of tea.


Another easy meal was caulilfower mash -- cauliflower, cream cheese, cheddar cheese, a little chicken broth, and a tiny bit of crumbled bacon.  The rest of the buns were buttered and sprinkled with garlic powder for a quick "garlic toast."
The Italian chicken sausage was an Aldi special from a few weeks ago.


When we get back from our day trip, we will have leftovers and a salad.
Having the leftovers on hand means I won't have to rush in a prepare a meal, which makes it easier for me to make sure we don't stop and grab takeout.

Friday, June 2, 2017

June's Groceries -- Week One


My daughter had a dermatologist appointment, so I picked up groceries while we were out. 

 I have challenged myself to round out our meals for $50 a week.  I did pretty good.  I came home with lemons, limes, grapes, strawberries, blueberries, broccoli, bagged garden salad, sandwich cheese, 2 cartons of soy milk, 2 cartons of lactose free milk, 5 lbs of red potatoes, yellow squash, ice cream sandwiches, 2 boxes of Stevia, a bottle of marinade to try, and a box of cereal to snack on.  Oh! I got a watermelon, too, but forgot to photograph it.

I spent $44.55 of my alloted $50.
I don't know that I will share photos of 3 meals a day, but I will try to share photos of the big meals.
We often eat leftovers for the next day's lunch.

The fruit is pretty much open to snacking on.
The citrus fruit is to flavor water with.
I've found myself opting for less nutritious drinks because I wanted flavor so I am hoping this will encourage me to drink more water.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

June's Goals

June is shaping up to be a busy month.  

 We have two doctor's appointments scheduled, a vet appointment for our new kitten, and a meeting at the university my daughter will attend in the fall.  Every weekend has something planned as well.

We are also attending a Renaissance Fair, a Summer Festival, my husband's 40th class reunion, an orchestra event at the Town Commons, and Father's Day festivities.  

 So with this in mind my June goals are:

 1.  Continue to knit on the fall cardigan.  Ideally I'd like to at least finish the collar band.

 2.  Pack a picnic for the Renaissance Fair and pack snacks for all of the other road trips.

 3.  The freezer and pantry are full.  I'd like to try to keep grocery expenses down to $50 per week for things like milk, cheese, eggs, and incidentals.

 4.  Continue to hang laundry to dry and to work to keep the electric bill down.

 5.  Sew the dress I have cut out.

 6.  Finish my library book before it is due back.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Looking Back over May

I can't believe it is already the end of May.  I've spent the last four days down -- sick with the cold my husband had the week before.

 I thought I'd take the time to recap how I did on my May goals and try to decide on my June goals. 

For May I only really had four goals because I knew it would be a crazy month.

 Goal 1 was to sew four garments for myself.  I managed to sew a dress, a gown, a cardigan, and a pair of shorts.  I also sewed a shirt for my husband.  I cut out another dress for myself, but haven't been able to sew it yet.  

 Goal 2 was to work on a fall sweater.  I am pleased to say that I am to the point I am working on the collar band.  After I finish that portion I will have to do the sleeve ribbing.

 Goal 3 was to finish a book I was reading.  I was able to do this and find a second novel to start.

 Goal 4 was to continue to hang clothes, work on the grocery budget, and maintain my houeshold binder.  

 I've done a little drying of clothes in the dryer because we had one weekend where we were traveling.  I needed to have the laundry ready to go with my husbnad in an afternoon's time.  

 On the grocery budget, I went slightly over my $500 projected....coming in at $534.  However, that included my daughter's graduation party and some items that went into the freezer that will be consumed in June.  I'm fine with that total.

 On the household binder -- I did okay.  Not perfect, but okay.  Everyone's schedule has gotten really busy and I finally gave in and purchased a calendar to use for scheduling.  I was able to get one from May of this year through June of next and it was on sale.  Having all appointments, etc in one place and in an easy to carry along format is nice.  I have however kept up expenses, etc in the household binder.

 On the overall electric bill -- I stayed within a few dollars of the previous month, so I am happy about that.  

 Budget wise -- we went over our entertainment budget, but the expenses were alloted for future events.  We've purchased tickets to a Renaissance Fair.  I will pack a picnic to offset some of the cost of this day trip.  We also purchased tickets to attend a symphony in November.        

So all in all I consider the month of May to have been a success.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Wednesday's WIP

I've been knitting along on my sweater for this fall.

Since this photo was taken yesterday morning, I have finished the second sleeve and started on the other front panel.
 
I have just enough of a cold to not want to do much of anything, but I'm not sick enough to be down in bed.
I've spent hours watching my favorite British mysteries and knitting.
 

Monday, May 22, 2017

Monday Monday ....

My husband stayed home today...still not feeling perfect.  I had an errand to run and while I was out I stopped in at Aldi to pick up some sodas.  They had eggs for 89 cents a dozen so I picked up four dozen while I was there.  I also picked up some salsa because I was totally out.  (I had originally decided I would just do without it, but since I was there anyway I went ahead and got some.).  I managed to spend some time in the kitchen today.  I baked two loaves of French bread. The recipe was one I hadn't tried before.  The loaves aren't as pretty as I would have liked, but my family says they taste good so I consider it a win.
 
Of course, the menu changed when I found out my husband would be home.
Kind of funny, since I didn't make it through Monday.
I marinated some pork chops and grilled those.
I served them with fried cabbage, carrot sticks, and cucumber slices.
 

Weeks Flying By and Menu Plan

Two of the three of us have been sick all week.  I'm surprisingly the well one.  I've been slack in my online reading, but I'm hoping to catch up this upcoming week.  School starts back and I am expecting to get on a more even schedule.

I've decided to do a two week self imposed no grocery shopping plan.  I am allowing for eggs, milk, and cheese as needed.  We have plenty of everything else. 

In preparation for school and the upcoming eat from stock plan, I've been working in the ktichen.
I took 10 pounds of extra lean ground beef and made up items.


2 1/2 pounds of taco meat
2 1/2 pounds of meatballs
8 stuffed peppers
2 1/2 pound of meat made into hamburger steak patties

I kept out three tacos worth of taco meat, and I cooked the hamburger steaks in the slow cooker.
(The hamburger steak was for supper on Saturday night, leftovers for Sunday supper, and then some for my husband to take with him for the week.  This is his favorite meal so he wanted extra.)
Everything else went into the freezer.

This added beef to our Zaycon supplied ground turkey, pork and chicken.

Since my daughter will be on a new schedule, I decided to get a jump on breakfasts, too.
I cooked a double batch of waffles -- 20 in all.
I ended up with 15 for the freezer....some will go with my husband and some for my daughter.


Our menu plan for the week for evening meals is:

Beanless chili with quinoa
Stuffed pepper for me and a burger for my daughter
Cajun beans and rice
Mac and cheese
White Lasagna, garlic bread, peach crisp
Pork chop casserole, mashed sweet potato casserole, cauliflower
BBQ meatballs, rice, green peas

I also intend to bake some snacks, but I haven't decided if we are having brownies, cookies, or cupcakes.




   

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Healthier Meatloaf (Recipe Included)

My daughter-in-love sent me a link for this recipe for meatloaf.  I'm never one to leave things alone and much prefer to cook both to taste and based on what I have on hand.
This is my version of this meatloaf.  It was a hit!

Preheat oven to 350F.
Grease a 6 cup muffin tin and set aside.

Grate:
1 med/small carrot
1/2 of a green bell pepper
1 small yellow (crookneck) squash
1/2 of an onion (I used white)

Mix in a bowl:
The grated veggies
1 egg
1/4 cup of ketchup
1/8 tsp. Pepper
1 tsp. Salt 
Basil 
Oregano
1 pound of ground turkey breast

Fill each cup full.


Bake at 350F for approximately 30 minutes.
(I cooked a second dish at the same time and increased my cook time to 36 minutes.)

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Travel Friendly Cardigan

One of the items on my list of 13 is a cardigan.  I opted for a travel friendly fabric -- one that doesn't seem to wrinkle despite me tossing it in my bag.  I used an old pattern from the 1990s.

The fabric was a new experience for me.
It took me several tries to figure out what stitch length and machine foot were necessary to make this fabric go through the machine without puckering and waving like crazy.  

I think if I had to do it over again I would add some simple ties to the top.
However, it actually hangs well as is and if I want to fasten it, I'll add a brooch.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Easy (Portion Controlled) Cheesecake


For an easy Mother's Day dessert we made these simple cheesecake cups.
I found them on Pinterest and changed them to match my allergy allowances.

Preheat oven to 350F.
Put 6 silicone cups in a muffin tin and put 2 vanilla wafers in the bottom of each cup.

In a bowl mix, 
8 ounces of softened cream cheese
1 egg
1/3 cup of powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon of vanilla
2 teaspoons of lemon juice

Fill the muffin cups and bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until set.

Cool for about 10 minutes in the pan.  Remove from pan and refrigerate.
Serve with (or without) topping of your choice.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Free Food

I'm always a mixture of amused and grateful about the amount of produce that is given to me.  I hear from people something similar to "I know you'll do something with _______."   
When I picked up groceries this week I debated buying carrots.  I told myself that I would use up some of the canned carrots I have and went on my merry way.  
Yesterday I came home to a huge bag of fresh, local carrots.....a gift from my brother, who was given them by an elderly lady in his neighborhood.  There ended up being three that I had to toss, but I have more than enough carrots for the week now.

In fact, I just finished telling my daughter that we would be having carrots in everything.  

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Non Sewing Kind of Day


Yesterday in my hurry up and wait stge I made a quick toddler dress.

We survived another graduation and actually made it back home by 9:30.
We settled in for pizza and a movie....and when I woke up at 4:30 the house was dark lol.
I barely remember the beginning of the movie.

Today I started with a simple household chore list, but realized as I started that I really felt like doing more.
The whole house has pretty much had a quick spring clean, with the exception of my bedroom.
Not too bad for a couple of hours work.

I'll be spending the rest of the day doing things with my daughter and won't be sewing....maybe tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Chatter and Summer Nights

This is just a general chatter of what's going on and what's flowing through my mind.
  •  This week is my daughter's graduation.  I can't believe how quickly her first two years of college have flown by.  
  • I went to Aldi this week and stocked up for the next few weeks.  I spent $192. This included potting soil and all the supplies for a graduation get together.  I'm thinking other than milk and a few oddities that I won't have to shop for a month.  That's the plan anyway.
  • I finally planted the patio garden.  We have basil, oregano, Roma tomatoes, green onions, radishes, and bell pepper potted.  I also planted a "hummingbird" mix of flowers in a pot to go by the front door.
  • I'm ready for the heart monitor to be off!  Tomorrow is the day...thank goodness.  It isn't painful, but it is kind of irritating.
  • The last few days have been kind of cool temperature wise....the house has stayed in the 60s.
  • Daughter sold back a college text book. 
In the midst of general errands and life, I'm still working on my sewing projects.  Even though the temps have been cool, I know summer is coming.  I decided to go with a lightweight gown for my sleepwear portion of the challenge.

The lace, thread, and fold over elastic all came from my stash.
The floral print (reminds me of watercolor flowers) came from the remnant bin at JoAnn's.
The pattern is from an older Kwik Sew lingerie book that I am not sure is even in print anymore.
Total cost for the gown is approximately $5.
My personal challenges for this project were:
1.  Using this lace.  I had never sewn with it.  I opted to keep seams less bulky by using the fold over elastic for finishing it off.
2.  I'm still working on more professional finishing.  I overlocked all the seams and used a lovely lilac thread for stopstitching.  The inside looks like a purchased gown.

I'm not sure which piece I will work on next.  I'm torn between a skirt and the cardigan.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Somber Wear


Somber wear seems like such an odd category to me.
I rarely ever wear all black or all of one color period.
I love florals and almost all other prints.

For my somber wear, I pulled from my stash some dark navy fabric with a simple floral pattern.
I've had this fabric for a good 13 years or so.
I bought it when I was learning to sew some simple things.
Of course, it is slippery fabric and I never could bring myself to try sewing it up.
This challenge offered me the perfect excuse.

The fabric, pattern, zipper, and thread all came from my stash.
(An old pattern from before the giant box I purchased....in fact, I don't remember buying it at all so I am thinking it may have been one that was given to me.)

The detailing doesn't show up well, but the waist line has an inverted v and there are slight gathers under the bust.

In keeping with my personal challenges:

1.  The fabric is indeed slippery and a bit fiddly.  This dress took a lot of pin basting.
Then the fabric wanted to fray and I spent a lot of extra time carefully finishing each seam.

2.  I put in an invisible zipper.  It took two tries, but I finally got it.

3.  I cut two sizes larger for the top and graded down for the waist and hips.  My basic shape is an inverted triangle.
I'm broad shouldered and larger through the bust.  It took a couple of tries of fitting the waist, but I'm pleased with the results.

However, this dress does remind me of why I very rarely wear dark colors.
They just don't make me happy overall....so somehow this seems perfect for my somber wear.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Summer Days aka Shorts Weather


Summer days are fast approaching and in the South that means hot weather is on the horizon.

In the sewing challenge one of the items we could make was a pair of dress pants or slacks.
I asked for, and received, permission to substitute dress shorts and everyone was fine with that.
In my area, a pair of longer shorts made of a dressier fabric and a nice top can be worn almost anywhere.

In keeping with my personal challenge to myself I used this as an opportunity to expand my skills.

These shorts are made with a bottom weight cotton with a bit of stretch.
I cut out one size and graded down the hips to the next size.
I still kept them loose enough because my personal preference is slightly looser dress pants.
These have my first ever attempt at a mock fly and zipper.

The cost wasn't horrible on these.  I actually found the fabric on clearance at JoAnn's.
It was the end of the bolt and there wasn't any more to be found.
However, there was a perfect amount for shorts for me.

The thread, zipper, and pattern all came from my stash.
Total I have less than $7.00 in a custom fit pair of shorts, so not too bad.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Sewing for my Husband

I've never made a man's button up/down shirt before -- or hadn't until now.

Even though this isn't on my sewing challenge, it is in keeping with my desire to learn new skills. In addition to being the first try at this, I also practiced some other new skills.

 1. French seams -- not as hard and as mysterious as the name implies, but the extra edge stitching and seaming adds a lot of extra time to the garment.  However, the finished result is nice.

 2.  I also had to add length to the shirt because of my husband's height.   I am thinking about naming my seam ripper, because she and I are now on friendly terms.  I've apologized for what I said when I had to take the collar off.  It took me two tries with it, and I think it still isn't perfect.  I really didn't want to ruin the fabric by taking it on and off repeatedly.  It is more than fine to wear...just a flaw I see. It is in need of a good pressing, but all in all I am pleased with the results.

 (The lighting isn't great, but it is actually a peach color more so than a pink.)

 Oh, this one was pretty frugal, too.  The fabric, thread, and buttons were all from my stash.  (Well, frugal if we don't try to figure up a cost per hour kind of thing.  It took me a long time, but since it was my learning experience I'm okay with that.)


Thursday, May 4, 2017

Trying New Things

I'm challenging myself to try new things in my sewing.  I'm assuming sewing is like most skills....if I want to advance, I'm just going to have to jump in and do things.

 So my first project is to try sewing with chiffon.  I have my "vision" for my dress.

I started by researching dresses on Pinterest that had details I liked.  I have my fabric.  I've found a pattern that has enough of the details I liked.  Now I am left with cutting my fabric and I'm afraid to cut it.  LOL.



What I have done is cut out the same dress pattern in a different (but similar textured) fabric.
My hope is that it will become a wearable toile. 

I'm not expecting to actually get to sew on it until next week, but I have everything ready.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Sew a Long Challenge

The Facebook sewing group I am a member of does contests/challenges.  The challenge for this quarter is sew 2 items from a list of 13 wardrobe essentials in May and June and then 2 more items from the list in July and August.  The rules are you can choose any two per month divide, but cannot overlap categories.

The list is a pretty good list:

1.  Cocktail dress -- AKA the much esteemed Little Black Dress
2.  Skirt
3.  Shirt/Blouse
4.  Trench coat
5.  Blazer
6.  Dress slacks
7.  Jeans
8.  Dress
9.  Night wear or lingerie
10.  Work out Clothes
11. Blazer
12. Cardigan
13.  Accessory

There aren't really many rules past that.  The patterns can be old/new/self drafted, etc.  Reasonable interpretations are allowed.

I've been planning my list of attack.  I'd really like to make as many of the items as I can simply because I am working on expanding my skills set and each of these items offers a great opportunity to learn something new.

Amusingly I have on hand fabric and patterns for everything but the jeans.  I actually have a pattern, but not the fabric I would need.  The accessory might be an issue, too.  I'm kind of up in the air about it.

I requested permission to do a dress style shorts for the dress slacks.  I'm kind of retired and it is totally too hot in the South for me to want to wear dress pants.  Thank goodness I can get away with a nice "dressy" shorts.  So that is first on my list.

I've also planned a dress that I'll share some about tomorrow.

May's Goals

It is officially May, and I've tallied the month of April, moved my sheets to the back of the binder, and looked ahead.  I've been trying my monthly goals -- as opposed to New Year's resolutions -- and I think I much prefer this method.  It allows for the flow of life.

 May is shaping up to be another busy month.  We have birthdays, events to attend, a family reunion, and my daughter's community college graduation.  Knowing this is going to be the case, I've decided on setting some totally selfish goals.

 1.  I want to sew four garments for myself.  I have the patterns, the fabric, etc.  One is more complicated than the others, but three should be relatively quick and painless.  I just need to take the time to do them.  Each of them has some element that I want to learn more about.

 2.  I want to continue to knit a few rows a day on the sweater I am working on.  I'm hoping to have it as a fall addition to my wardrobe.

 3.  I want to finish reading a book I started back in early February.  I'm thinking I'll start over at this point, because I just wasn't very far into it.

 4. I want to continue to hang our clothes, watch the grocery budget, and use my household binder.  I'm expecting the electric bill to go up because it is a/c time here, but the other things I can control. 

That is it!  If I can accomplish those things this month I'll consider it a productive month.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Goals for April -- Review

April is a kind of nutty month for me.  Even with that I did manage to at minimum partially accomplish almost everything on my purposeful living goals for the month.  

 1.  Patio container garden -- roma tomatoes, basil, some flowers, bell pepper, oregano, cilantro.  I have my basics ready and I'm picking up potting soil tomorrow afternoon so I can finish up.  So this was a partial success.  We had so much rain last week I didn't even pretend to plant.

 2.  Sewing summer wardrobe and using supplies on hand -- I was half and half on this.  I did finish a few items (like my capris).  I did sew up some simple dresses for my niece using things on hand.  I also used up several partial spools of thread.  However, I did buy patterns.  We also had errands several towns away and as a treat my husband took me to JoAnn's.  I bought a couple of yards of various fabrics.  All but one were on discount and all were for set projects.

 3.  Using on hand supplies -- I did pull a free sweater pattern from online and yarn from my stash.  I've finished the back and one sleeve.

 4.  Christmas gift -- I didn't work on a single one.  Sad, but true.  

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Gad About

Right now I feel like we are on the road a lot.  

We had errands and meetings most of yesterday.  We had quite a to do list, but we were able to get everything accomplished.  We're continuing to prepare for retirement and almost all of our errands and meetings centered around that.  We're feeling better about our plan so that is good. 

 I did pick up some fresh fruit and veggie top offs while I was out.  Walmart Neighborhood Market was on our route so it was an easy in and out. I came home with strawberries, pineapple, bagged lettuce, mushrooms, white onions, carrots, bell pepper, cucumbers, lemon, 3 cartons of soy milk, a cake mix, and a candy bar for my daughter.  



One of my jars of sweet potatoes didn't seal, so I heated them up (added cinnamon but no sugar) for a side.
Made a quick garden salad.
I seasoned some ground turkey, made up patties, and cooked them in the air fryer.
While they were going I sauteed some onions, mushrooms, and bell pepper in a tiny bit of olive oil.
My family loved the turkey cooked that way so I'll remember it for the future. (Quite easy and little mess to clean up.)

Today is another crazy day.  I have an appointment at the Heart Center midday, and then my daughter has a meeting I am supposed to attend tonight.  I'm kind of hoping to get a few odd jobs around the house done in between the two.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Supper from Aldi

I haven't posted many food pictures lately.  I'm not really sure why.  Tonight we had an all "Aldi" meal.
 
Whole wheat pasta
Chicken, spinach and feta sausage
Eggplant
Tomatoes with white wine vinegar (used to deglaze the pan)

(Nope, I didn't stick to the menu.  Long story short, the endocrinologist has altered my medicines and I am on a strict diet once again....sigh)

Monday, April 24, 2017

Waste Not, Want Not

I was given a box full of sweet potatoes that were picked last fall.  Amusingly enough they came through two people who didn't want to deal with them and made their way to me.  It took me all day, but I have them all processed and added to our food storage.

This box held a lot more than I was expecting.

I ended up with a dehydrator full.
4 saved for a side dish of baked sweet potatoes.
14 quarts of canned sweet potatoes 
6 pints of canned sweet potatoes
10 cups of puree -- enough for 4 deep dish pies



Sunday, April 23, 2017

Menu Plans

I'm trying to get life back on a steady pace around here.   I don't believe we truly need anything from the store other than perhaps milk.

 Our week is shaping up to have a medium level of "busy ness," and I want to keep things rolling on as steady as possible.

 Monday -- I'll be trying to get the house back under control. It isn't horrible, but some areas need some detailing.  I grilled pork chops Sunday afternoon and have two left.  They'll become the base for fajitas.

 Tuesday -- I have a doctor's appointment in the morning and my daughter has a night class.  However, my husband is coming home tht evening.  I am going to cook BBQ chicken in the slow cooker.

 Wednesday -- My husband and I have a day of errands and meetings.  We will have breakfast for supper. Sausage and egg sandwiches perhaps.

 Thursday -- I have a second doctor's appointment and then an evening meeting.  I'm going to cook macaroni and cheese.

 Friday -- We are going to have a homemade pizza night, which we haven't had in a while.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Indulgences

A few years ago I lost a lot of weight and I passed on most of my sewing patterns to someone who could use them.
I was perusing Ebay -- a dangerous pastime to be sure -- when I found a huge lot of various patterns.
Careful inspection of the photos showed them to be in my size and in similar styles to what I will wear.
There was also a variety of children's patterns mixed in, which I appreciate very much because I like to sew for my nieces and nephews.


How I managed to open the box upside down is beside me, but I did it.
Even more amazing is that she had packed all these patterns in this box.
I couldn't get them all back in.


I pulled through all the patterns and separated them according to gender/age.
I found three that I am passing on to my mama.
The rest all went into my sewing room.
There were a few crafting patterns, some girls and boys patterns, a couple of men's patterns, and a slew of women's patterns.

My biggest dilemma is deciding what to make first.

I've actually ran a test on a pair of knit summer capris.
I used fabric and thread I had on hand.
My daughter is calling these my 70's pants and says she isn't sure she'll be seen with me.
I've reminded her it is a parent's job to embarrass their teenage daughter.  :-)

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Newest Frugal Addition


Our giant drying rack is together and handling her first couple of loads. 
We're affectionately referring to her as "The Beast."
She was kind of expensive, but I saved enough on the electric bills to pay for her.
All future savings will be gravy so to speak.

Up until now I could not dry towels or bedding without using the dryer. 
I'm hoping to officially cut back to only using it for emergencies.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Busy Days

I promise to catch up on my reading and my posting soon. We are having busy days, complete with a week off for my husband and my grandson is visiting.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

The Final Countdown

We're entering the final countdown of craziness to get the last few tax returns out.  This has been a weird season for me because I have only been working weekends.  That is changing this week and I'll be working pretty much daily right on up to the deadline.  However, we are cutting off on April 15th.

 I spent my last day of freedom (only answering phone lines) today.  I took advantage of it and worked on one more summer dress.

 This one is a crinkly cotton.  (I'm woefully ignorant of whether it has a proper name or not...sigh).  This was the first time I worked with it.  In all honesty, I like the pattern and the way the directions are written.  However, I would do some things differently the second time around if I were to use this fabric again. I'd double my facings, rather than try to use interfacing.  I'd also use French seams.

The fabric tends to want to fray a little.  I think those things would have made for a better finished product.

Ironically, I don't think I'll use this fabric again.  I wasn't thrilled with how it sewed and I dont like not being able to truly press things when I sew. Having said all of that.  I do like the color(s), and it does fit well.