Sunday, April 24, 2016

A Simple Life?


 'Living a simple life' is a hot topic among women in our culture who are looking for a way to lessen the stress of their days.  I think we all know what is important in life and that is loving God and others. When life goes spiraling out of control and those priorities get pushed to a back burner then our conscience knows something needs to change.  A simpler way of  life can hold great appeal to a weary and stressed out woman.

White Coconut Cake for Easter
  
 Simplifying  can also help those who deal with limited strength due to chronic illness. When we can't keep up then it's necessary to find ways to cut back on the non-essentials. This is my current motive for simplifying my days. The old grey mare she ain't what she used to be! 


A dear friend recommended I make a list of my primary daily responsibilities and then another list of occasional responsibilities (grands spending the night, taking mom to a doctor visit, etc.) and a final list of want to's.  I took these lists and then ran it through the grid of Scriptures in my heart to see if my priorities matched God's priorities.



We had our first artichoke for dinner


I'll give you an example. I am an older woman so the Scripture below is a direct command to me (it's also for younger women, too).  I looked at my daily and occasional responsibilities and asked if these priorities were listed. 

Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to:
- teach what is good, and so
- train the young women to
- love their husbands
- and children,
- to be self-controlled, pure,
- working at home,
- kind, and
- submissive to their own husbands,
that the word of God may not be reviled.  Titus 2:3

You're  never too old to hunt for eggs!

As I look back over last week I began asking myself, "Was my schedule so crammed with my own agenda that it hindered me from teaching these things to younger women...if they asked? (And if I am to teach these things to younger women then I must ask if I am obeying these commands personally). Am I loving (phileo means affection) my husband? Am I practicing self-control (in the way I order my days,etc.) 

How can I change my priorities to obey God's Word?

He will ALWAYS give us enough time to do His will. I've already found some non-essentials that I have set aside so I can use my strength for the essentials.

Ordering my daily schedule around God's commands is the greatest simplifier I know!



Lovely flowers from a sweet friend to brighten my day!

*~*~*~*~*~*

Just a few things to write about this past month...

1. I love THE KITCHN! If you enjoy working in your kitchen (or WANT to enjoy it) then you might like this website. It's a great resource and I have learned quite a few new things. I like to find ways to be encouraged in the kitchen because it's so easy to get in a rut.
                                                                               





2. I try to frequent our local thrift stores because I have found out that they rarely have what I need at the last minute. I keep an ongoing list in my purse which includes every day tops for myself and shirts for my husband. I always check the book section for gifts (I found 2 brand new FOOD NETWORK cookbooks last year that I gave for gifts). I browse games for the grands, small appliances and greeting cards and dishes. This past month I found 3 nice blouses and only paid $8.00. A 25% off coupon comes in our local paper so I cut it out and immediately put it in my purse. I also keep other coupons in the car. I have greater success of using them if I see them in the car while I am shopping. The Goodwill store sends out reminders when they have $1 sales.

3. Our city is on a watering schedule because of the drought. Our public works department gives away a bag full of water conserving items such an hand held spray nozzle to wash the car, low flow shower heads and a faucet attachment that goes on the kitchen or bath faucet to slow water usage! All free! The kitchen sink faucet thingie has a lever to flip that slows down the water so you don't have to turn off your water completely. There were also some pencils, pens and paper tablets. You might want to check and see if your city has similar offers.


My grandson just couldn't wait to swim in APRIL! LOL!!! Poor baby! 

4. I've shared how I save my used tinfoil but sometimes it's not in the greatest shape.  I decided to use the tinfoil to line the drip plate that fits under the stove burner instead of using a new piece of foil. Hard as I try I can never keep those pans looking brand new.

5. I have gone back to checking the library first before I order a book through Amazon. I saved $20 by checking out a desired book through my library. I was glad I did because it wasn't a book I would have wanted to save for my personal library.


A couple new varieties of tomatoes


6. I cooked my turkey the day before Easter since I was baking a ham on Easter morning. I used this tutorial to carve and reheat it! I sure wish I had seen this years ago.

Make Ahead Turkey

7. Spring has sprung in my neck of the woods. I have small flowers popping up all over my yard. I had some sweet violets in a vegetable bed so I transplanted them to the front yard. It didn't cost me a thing except a little time and it's brought joy being able to see them thriving in a new spot. Spring is the perfect time of the year to check with neighbors and friends to see if they have seedlings or cuttings they plan on throwing away. It's free and if your friends are like me they would rather pass the plants on than throw them in the garbage.


My lilac bushes were so pretty this year!
8. Did you know that a fertilized lawn needs less water? I always dread spending the money on fertilizer for our lawns but my husband likes a green lawn. I felt better when a clerk at Home Depot told me that a healthy fertilized lawn uses less water.

9. I throw the change from my purse into a glass jar. Last summer I let my granddaughters use it to go thrift store shopping. A few weeks ago the grands used it to play games at Bass Pro. This is a great way to do something extra without it taxing my pocketbook. One time our saved change added up to $500.

10. My grandchildren love ice cream Blizzards and sundaes but it's hard on my budget at $3 and $4 a pop. So, we made our own. I bought the ice cream on sale and their favorite candy bar. We refrigerated the candy bars and then cut them in pieces and folded them into the ice cream. They loved it and it was a fraction of the cost.

*~*~*~*~*

You will still be eating last years harvest when you will have to move it out to make room for the new.
Lev. 26:10 NIV

*~*~*~*~*



Our berry bushes are loaded with blossoms
SAVED, REUSED AND REPURPOSED
- Bread wrappers (washed and reused)
- Paper Towel cardboard tube (reused to wrap plastic bags around)
- Rubber bands (from newspapers)
- Newspapers (layered in vegetable garden for composting)
- Black plastic tray from frozen meal (drawer organizer)
- Paper bag from grocery store (reused to ripen fruit)

PANTRY STOCKING
- 1 roll of garbage bags
- 1 can of chicken and tuna
- 2 gallons of water 
- Toilet Paper 
- Propane tank filled
(This is my 5 week pay period so I don't buy many extras this month)



How about you? What could you eliminate from your daily schedule that would give you more time to obey His commands?

Blessed to be home,
Georgene











Sunday, February 14, 2016

A Prepared Pantry

The thought of a PREPARED PANTRY has seemed overwhelming at times. But in recent months I have found a renewed interest to forge ahead and put into practice what I'm learning. Once I made the decision to take a few baby steps then the rest has been easier.

 

I see a Prepared Pantry as just another way of caring for my family's needs.  How many ways do we already prepare for possible future problems or needs? Healthy meals, brushing our teeth, buying insurance and even shopping for next weeks groceries are just a few. A Prepared Pantry is an extension of what we are already doing for our family.

 I, personally, have 3 reasons why I want to keep a well stocked prepared pantry:

1. Personal trials (sickness, unexpected loss of income)
2. Uncertain economy (national debt concerns, inflation)
3. Natural disasters (earthquake, floods, blizzards, etc.)

Our government even recommends to set aside 3 days to 2 weeks worth of food and water.
Department of Homeland Security: Be ready

Two year old artichoke plant
So, I've sat down and made a 2 week list for my Prepared Pantry. The food from this list will be different from my basic pantry that meets our daily needs. I've marked through the items that I already have purchased. Some months I may only have an extra $5 to build my Prepared Pantry...but something is better than nothing.

-Prepare a 2 week menu using only non-perishable foods. Include water.
-Purchase 4 gallons of water each month until I reach a 2 week water supply for my husband, myself and
  my mother (she is 84 years old and not prepping). I drink 100 ounces of water a day so that needs to be
  taken into account.
-Purchase a 2 week supply of lamp oil, wicks, candles and matches. I already have an oil lamp.
-Canned meats (tuna, chicken, beef, salmon, roast)
-Canned vegetables and canned no sugar, lower carb and low oxalate fruit (not sure there is such a thing!)
-Canned soups
-Canned chili (no beans)
-Soup making items (broth, etc.)
-Toilet paper (I set aside a few rolls every month)
-Large bottle of hand sanitizer (in case there is no water)
-Items to make my own hand wipes (paper towels, dish soap, baby oil, rubbing alcohol). Store bought hand wipes will dry out over time.
-Liquid laundry detergent, clean plunger and a large clean bucket (no electricity means no washing machine so these items will provide an alternative)
-Large trash bags, 5 gallon bucket (toilet)
-Board games (no electricity = no TV for entertainment)
-Encouraging missionary stories,etc.
-Bible tracts (hopeful opportunities to share Jesus with others)
-First Aid kit
-Canning lids, jars, pectin (a means to preserve food in the freezer/fridge if the electricity is out for too long)



Pruned raspberry canes



Faith and food storage are not at odds with one another. Here are just a few examples of those who stored up food.

Noah
Joseph
The wise store up choice food and olive oil. Proverbs 21:20

 I would feel horrible if my family suffered because I didn't take the opportunity to prepare.

I often feel anxious when I read prepping blogs because they offer no hope other than the physical. I'm thankful for their practical advice (and I do take it to heart) but frankly I don't want to imagine a future without God and His Word.  I could build a huge food pantry that could be lost in a single hour. But, nothing can steal God's Word in my heart.  Learning and knowing God's Word is one of the most important ways to prepare for an uncertain tomorrow. I'm currently memorizing Psalm 139 which will be one of many heart treasures that can never be affected by a failing economy or a natural disaster.

“‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” Matthew 4:4 ESV

Don't let the thought of preparing your pantry overwhelm you.  Pray and ask the Lord to guide you then do what you can to deepen your pantry a little each paycheck.

Blessed to be home,

Georgene

*~*~*

He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Romans 8:32   ESV

~*~*~*

My 'floating' vase for Camelia's
“The man who has God for his treasure has all things in One.  Many ordinary treasures may be denied him, or if he is allowed to have them, the enjoyment of them will be so tempered that they will never be necessary to his happiness.  Or if he must see them go, one after one, he will scarcely feel a sense of loss, for having the Source of all things, he has in One all satisfaction, all pleasure, all delight.  Whatever he may lose he has actually lost nothing, for he now has it all in One, and he has it purely, legitimately, forever.”  A. W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God
 








Here are a few things happening in our neck of the woods:

1. My orange tree is full this year. I've never made marmalade jam before but my daughter in love inspired me by her own efforts. I made 2 batches and hope to make a couple more once I regain some strength. The first was a low sugar batch for our household and the second batch will be saved for Christmas gifts. Both recipes came from the Sure Jell package.


2. Our electric and gas bill were the highest they have ever been. I'm so thankful I saved the leftover money from the lower bills throughout the year.

3. My 5 week pay periods are always a challenge and oftentimes catch me off guard. I've been thinking of ways to be better prepared so I went through my calendar and marked the 5 week pay periods. I also went back and marked a month in advance so I can check supplies and stock up on essentials ahead of time.

4. I'm starting to prepare the garden for Spring. The apricot tree has been pruned along with the raspberry canes, grape vines, apple tree and asparagus growth (oh, and we already harvested 14 asparagus stalks with more sprouting up). Next, I need to prune the berry bush. It never ceases to amaze me how much food we can harvest from our small city lot. We purchased another white nectarine to cross pollinate with the one we already own. It's full of hopeful buds!

5. I have a lovely bedroom dresser of my grandmothers. It always brings back sweet memories of staying with her when I was a child. One of the handles broke so we used Super Glue to piece it back together and let it sit overnight. It looks brand new and is strong! Super glue was also used to repair a hair clip that otherwise would be thrown away.

Lettuce

6. I received my heirloom seed order. Heirloom seeds are a good value because you can save the seeds from the harvested plant. It will save us money in the long run. I purchased a few new varieties of tomato seeds which should be fun to try.

7. My old kitchen counters are pretty pitiful. The grout is so old and it always looks dirty. I've tried so many things to make it look better but nothing has worked. The only thing that works is to use Bar Keepers friend with an old toothbrush and work it into the grout. I also tear out the old grout around the sink each year and replace with new caulking. I do this around the bathroom tub, too. I may not have a new kitchen but there is always something I can do to make things look better.

8. I have been blessed with a neighbor who shares her Meyer lemons with me.  I continue to fill ice cube trays with lemon juice and freeze. Once frozen I put the cubes into a freezer bag and place in the freezer. I love making a sugar free Lemon Curd  or Lemon Supreme Bars for a family gathering. (see recipe below)
Low sugar jam

9. My very smart (and handsome) husband unplugged our bathroom sink. It plugged up right after Christmas and I knew our funds were low. I boiled a pot of water and poured it down the sink and my sweetheart used a plunger. I boiled a second pot of water and with more plunging it broke through whatever was stopped up. Boy, was I praising God and complimenting my husband's efforts!

10.  We had our taxes done for free at a local library. We have done this for the past two years. They even filed an amendment necessary for last year's taxes. The program is called VITA. 
*~*~*

"Neighborhood Watch Cat" ( the covers are easier to wash than shampooing my couch)
Lemon Supreme Bars

Sift together:
2 cups flour
1/2 cup powdered sugar
Cut in:
1 cup butter
Press into 9x13 pan. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes. 
Beat together:
4 eggs
2 cups sugar
1/3 cup lemon juice (I use fresh lemon juice)
Sift together:
1/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
Add to the egg mixture and mix together. Pour over crust and bake 25 minutes more.
Sprinkle with powdered sugar. Cool. Cut in squares.  



Houston Chicken

Boneless Chicken (pound flat)
Bacon
Barbecue sauce (sugar free works, too)
Cheddar cheese, shredded

Put sauce and bacon on chicken. Bake at 400 degrees for 8-10 minutes. Bacon won't be done. Then broil 3-4 minutes. Sprinkle cheese and broil 1-2 minutes until melted. Check to make sure chicken is done inside.

Sweet Chicken Bacon Wraps by Paula Deen 

I made these appetizer for the Super Bowl and they were a hit!

    • 1 1/2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts
    • 1 (1 lb) package sliced bacon
    • 3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar (or Brown Sugar Twin for lower sugar)
    • 2 tablespoons chili powder
Preheat oven to 350°F.
  1. Cut chicken breasts into 1-inch cubes.
  2. Cut each bacon slice into thirds. Wrap each chicken cube with bacon and secure with a wooden pick inserted on the diagonal starting where bacon seam overlaps.
  3. Stir together brown sugar and chili powder. Dredge wrapped chicken in mixture.
  4. Coat a rack and broiler pan with non-stick cooking spray. Place chicken on rack in broiler pan.
  5. Bake at 350°F for 30 to 35 minutes, or until bacon is crisp.

 *~*~*



Saved, ReUsed or Repurposed
-Patio screen (Rolled up and stored for a future need )
-Bread wrapper (storage bag)
-Toothbrush (detail cleaning around sinks)
-Tinfoil washed and reused
-Plastic bag a shirt came in (garbage can liner)
-Paper plate plastic bag (garbage can liner,etc.)
-Rubber bands from newspaper
-Old manila files (reused by placing a new file label over previous name)
-Newspapers (under litter box or to layer in the vegetable garden for weed control) 
-Butter wrappers (I put these in a baggie in the fridge to use instead of parchment paper...thanks to an idea found at House of Simple)

Preparing my Pantry (purchased this month)

-Box of Matches
-Lamp oil
-4 gallons of water
-Wick for oil lamp
-Chicken, canned 
-Garbage bags
 
What's new in your neck of the woods?

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Answers to a Reader's Questions on Frugality

I recently received a few questions from a friend who is suddenly living on less money.  I started to put some thoughts down on paper but then decided to turn it into a post hoping my answers might help someone else. We could all use help these days (myself included) with grocery prices rising and no end in sight. I have not 'arrived' but continue to learn from trial and error how to live within the confines of a lower income.





So, here are a few of her questions:

1. What has been the largest area (monetarily) you have had to learn and practice frugality? (groceries, utilities, extras, etc.)

I would say that my grocery budget has been the largest area I've had to learn and practice frugality. 
If I exceed my monthly budget it's almost ALWAYS in the grocery area. Not monitoring my expenditures close enough is my main problem. But, if I work hard at tracking my spending then this is also an area that I can save money.




 


2. What has been the most difficult area for you to bring under control / practice frugality in?

Again....groceries!  I still don't feel like I have as much control in this area as I'd like to. I made the mistake this month of shopping on 2 different days without catching up in my checkbook. I sat down to enter my receipts into Quick Books and found that I had overspent. *sigh* 

My 5 week pay periods are the hardest. I had a victory though this past month. I normally keep a running grocery list on my fridge. This 5 week pay period I went through the list and only bought bare necessities. I also relied heavily on what I have in my pantry.


A PRICE BOOK is very helpful. You can add any information for an item that will help you personally. I like to keep track of the date, weight and where I purchased it along with the brand. 

 I take advantage of the store's reward programs, too. Walmart's Savings Catcher program will match competitive store prices in their weekly ads and if they find a lower price they will give  the difference in an e card. I have a $10 balance. I also buy some hard to find items through Amazon and use their credit card which gives me reward points that can be used toward future purchases. Most credit cards offer rewards. Just be careful to track your credit card spending for groceries from your checkbook as if you were writing a check or you can get yourself in trouble by the time the bill arrives.



 


 3. What is your best piece of advice for frugality?


Plan ahead for known/and possible unknown expenses and work these into your monthly budget.

 Make a list of all the categories in your checkbook ledger over the past year. Most will be monthly expenses and others may be quarterly or yearly. You will get yourself in trouble if you only plan for monthly expenses without planning for the quarterly and yearly expenses. Divide those quarterly and yearly expenses by the months needed to save and then add the category to your monthly budget.  You can 'hide' the money for quarterly/yearly expenses in your checkbook under that category name or start an envelope system. For instance, I have a 'dental fund' that I hide in my register of Quick Books. I add my monthly budgeted amount for dental to the previous months total. This way I have enough to pay for our cleaning by the next quarterly visit.




Here are just a few examples of quarterly and yearly expenses:

 Quarterly expenses:

- Hair appointment (I save $25 a month and get my hair done on the 3rd paycheck)
- Dental cleanings (I save $25 a month to clean our teeth several times a year)
- Oil Change (I save $10 a month. Oil changes are approx. every 3 to 4 months) 

Yearly Expenses:
- Dog license (I save $10 a month which goes into a Vet Savings for office visits, vaccinations or dog license)
- Christmas (I have the bank transfer money every month from my checking into a special savings account)
- I used to save for accountant fees so this may be an area you need to set a side for monthly. Now we qualify for the free tax preparation at our local library. 
- DMV ( I save $15 a month for my yearly DMV fees) 





Second best advice is to save something, no matter how small, every month for unexpected expenses (car repairs, appliances, etc.)  If you can't save then you need to find some place to cut back. Seriously! Nearly everyone can find somewhere they can cut back. Check impulsive spending such as fast food expenditures, extra snacks at the grocery store, Starbucks, entertainment, etc. If not, then look for ways to bring money into the home. Swagbucks is a fun way to earn and never leave your home.  Living paycheck to paycheck without saving for unexpected expenses is a recipe for disaster which usual means credit card debt.








 
This past summer we had an unexpected plumbing expense that cost more than $500. I had set aside a small amount for quite some time in my household expense fund and by God's grace I had enough to cover the expense. If not, then I would have had to put it on a credit card which would have put a monthly burden on us until we paid  it off.


Here is an example of what I save each month: 

- I take $18 out a month for house expense (filters, garden fertilizer,etc.). Why $18? That is what I had left over at the end of my monthly budget. *smile* (Put this last)

- I put aside another $30 a month for a larger house expense (plumber, new fridge or washing machine, etc.).

- I save $10 a month for vet bills. My goal is for $300 or more since it's nearly impossible to get out of an office visit for less. Yearly license fees and vaccinations also come out of this account. This year I hope to add another $100.

Your savings plan won't work if you get into your savings. Just remind yourself what your goals are! Write them down if necessary. 



It seems like I am always changing my budget because new expenses come up or prices rise and I have to adjust the previous amounts. I will be paying a higher amount for my medical insurance starting in January so I readjusted my budget this afternoon. I have a budget spreadsheet on my Microsoft program which I love! My cable bill went up... I negotiated a lower price but it will change my budget.






I saved the best advice for last... put your trust in the Lord and not your budget or savings. No matter how diligently we plan and save there is always that unknown factor that can throw our best made plans out of whack. Last month I made a mistake in one area for my 'envelopes'.  I panicked! Thankfully, the Lord had mercy on me and had already made provision through another mistake I had made in my checkbook which was to my advantage. (can we say OLD brain!)  Boy, did I praise Him for His mercy.

Remember to give to the Lord's work. Be a cheerful giver as an act of worship. Give to others. There are so many ways we can give...even if we don't have anything left over at the end of the month. Prayer, our time, a phone call, small acts of kindness. 

So that is about it. Can you help my friend and add to what I have already shared?  Is there anything you can think of that I missed? We both would greatly appreciate it. 


*~*~*~*~*

A Typical Frugal Day 

So, here are a few things I've done in my home this month.

1. I am still watching for ways to stretch meat since it's so expensive. I cut the 1 pound bacon packages in 1/4's and use 1 section per week. I either use it in a Frittata or in a veggie scramble or on the side with fried eggs. This way my hubby doesn't feel deprived and it doesn't put a strain on my grocery budget. 


Time to dry SF cranberries, again!
  2. I ran out of my homemade cleaners all at once. Homemade cleaners can save a lot of money in my grocery budget. Here are my favorite cleaning recipes: 

Bathroom Cleaner

I fill a spray bottle with half white vinegar and half water and use this to clean the sink and toilet.

Laminate Floor and/or Window Cleaner
Put in a spray bottle and spray onto mop.

1/3 c.  water
1/3 c. rubbing alcohol
1/3 c. white vinegar
3 drops liquid dish washing soap
5-10 drops lemon essential oil (opt.)


Spot Remover

I keep this spot remover in a small plastic container with a lid and I use an old toothbrush to apply it on the stain

2/3 c. Dawn dish soap
2/3 c. ammonia
6 Tbsp. baking soda
2 cps. warm water


A few laundry soap ingredients
NO GRATE Homemade Laundry Soap

I decided to make a MEGA BATCH of laundry soap. I've seen this recipe in many places on the web but basically it's a huge batch similar to what I've made for years.

3 bars of soap, cut up in pieces before you put it in the food processor (I use 3 bars of Fels Naptha or 1 bar of Zote)
1 box Washing Soda (NOT baking soda)
1 box Borax
2 cups of baking soda
3 pounds of Oxyclean (I use a cheaper brand like Sun Oxy)
1 bottle of Gain Fireworks or similar product (Optional for fragrance)

Use food processor and add in the order given above. Be sure to cut up the soap before you put it in the food processor. You may need to add Borax to the Zote  in the food processor so it won't stick to the blades.  Use 2 tbsp. per load in your wash. I'm hoping this will last at least 9 months for our family of 2 and 3 pets bedding. I'll track it on my calendar.

I spend $1 a month on Fabric Softener from the dollar store. I need to cost this out to see if I'm getting a good deal. I've tried using vinegar but it doesn't get the towels soft enough since I hang them on the clothes line.


Spot Remover
 3. I normally don't reuse tinfoil that has been used for dairy, meat or egg products. But, I had an idea recently to use the opposite side of the tinfoil after it's washed. I mark with an X which side to not use.
 
4. I reorganized my freezer so I can keep better track of what I have. I have  2 'meat only' shelves and vegetables, fruit, etc. on separate shelves. This will also save time in the long run. 

5. I'm so excited that I found a way to dry my clothes faster this winter. I put a drying rack in front of my gas heater in the living room. My wet clothes dry in no time. I keep checking them throughout the day and move the ones that are already dried to the back rung.  If company comes to the door then I throw a towel over the rack and remind myself that this is a 'working home' not a show place. I can't wait to see how this helps on my utility bill this month since I had an increase last month because I used the dryer on damp, cold days.

6. I started a 'soup' container in the freezer of bit and pieces of vegetables, tomato products, meat, etc. that normally would have been thrown away. It's such an inexpensive meal. I love to make a pot of soup each week for lunch. My hubby likes any soup I make as long as I throw a Habanero pepper in. 

7. I've continued to knit dishcloths for Christmas gifts in the evenings while watching TV. This way I get a head jump on next year's Christmas. A friend has been teaching me how to make beanies on a loom. Such fun!




This barn was our home for 1 year while waiting to be approved for disability. We loved it!

8.  I squish my toilet paper roll before I put it on the roll dispenser. This practice helps slow down the speed of the roll. This is especially helpful if you have young children at home who like to play with the toilet paper. :-) 

9. I made Jalapeno Jelly from our garden surplus of jalapenos which I gave for Christmas gifts. Ritz sells a box of crackers with small individual wrapped tubes. I also found small tubs of cream cheese at the dollar store. I was able to give all 3 together as a gift. 




10. I love to cook and bake recipes in bulk and then freeze for later.  I made up 2 batches of homemade pie crusts to put in the freezer. I love to have pie crusts on hand to take a quick Chicken Pot Pie meal for someone who is sick. My mama loves them, too. I also made up a low carb pie crust for us.  I like to make a big meal on Saturday so that I don't have to cook on Sunday. It's my one day of the week that I like to take a break from cooking. I  made a huge batch of meatloaf and froze 3 of them. I fried up 3 pounds of hamburger and divided in 3 freezer bags to use in future meals. I also cooked and then froze a batch of coconut flour pancakes for my low carb diet. Last night I made Egg Muffins to put in the freezer for a quick breakfast.  I like to think of my freezer as my 'fast food' drive through. :-)





*~*~*~*~*

Here are a few new recipes (and an old favorite) I made this month: 

Spicy Roasted Butternut Squash
We really liked this new recipe.  It will become a regular. 

1 large butternut squash, peeled and cut in 1 inch cubes (warm squash in microwave for 4 minutes to make it easier to peel)
1 tsp. smoked sweet paprika
1 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 to 1 tsp. onion salt or seasoned salt
1 tsp. white pepper or black pepper
1-2  tsp. balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp. olive oil

375 for 50 minutes. You can turn half way if you'd like.


My orange tree is full this year!
Cowboy 'Caviar'
A great recipe to take to your  parties.  

2 cans of black eyed peas, drained
4-5 ripe tomatoes (or a can of drained, diced tomatoes)
3 avocados, diced
garlic salt to taste
minced yellow onion
1/3 jar of La Victoria Salsa (medium heat)
1/4 cup Italian Dressing
3-4 tablespoons red wine vinegar

Mix and let it sit overnight. Eat with tortilla chips.  

Oatmeal in a Jar 
I've been trying to add small amounts of carbs to my diet to help discourage kidney stone formation. I've especially missed oatmeal since going lower carb 4 years ago.  I put one serving of instant oats (rolled oats would be better but the instant oats were free) in a canning jar and poured coconut milk (you can use cow's milk instead)  to cover the oats. You can add nuts, raisins, coconut, etc. You can even add seasons like a little cinnamon and a sweetener.  Let it sit overnight and it's ready to eat the next morning. I heated mine in the microwave but you can eat it cold, too. Great idea to make ahead for busy mornings with school age children.


Bapa playing checkers with an older grandson

Julia Child's Braised Red Cabbage

1/4 lb. bacon
1/2 cup thinly sliced carrots
1 cup slice onion
3 Tbsp. butter
2 lbs (6 or 7 cups) red cabbage, cut into 1/2" slices
2 cups diced tart apples
2 cloves mashed garlic
1/4 tsp ground bay leaf
1/8 tsp clove
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
2 cups good, young red wine (Bordeaux, Chianti) or more beef stock
2 cups beef stock
24 peeled chestnuts (I didn't use these)


Salt and pepper to taste Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Cut bacon into strips 1 1/2" long and 1/4" across. Simmer for 10 minutes in 1 quart of water. Drain. Cook the bacon, carrots and onion in the butter slowly in an oven-proof pan for 10 minutes without browning. Stir in the cabbage leaves and when well covered with the butter and vegetables, cook slowly for 10 minutes. Add all additional ingredients (except for the chestnuts). Bring to a simmer on top of the stove. Cover and place in middle of preheated oven. I used an enamel Dutch Oven pot. Regulate heat so cabbage bubbles slowly for 3 to 3 1/2 hours. Add the chestnuts, cover and return pan to oven for 1 to 1 1/2 hours more, or until the chestnuts are tender and all the liquid has been absorbed by the cabbage. Taste carefully for seasoning. Can be made ahead - this is even better when reheated the next day! Serves 6 people. Next time I'll cut it in half for the 2 of us.



Snoopy thinks if he stares at me long enough that I will feed him early.


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Save, Repurposed,Stretched or Reused! 

- Baggies, storage bags, most plastic bags (reused: washed and reused)
- Coffee (stretched: replaced coffee taken out of pot that morning with more water. I pour the rest of the coffee into pint canning jars and refrigerate)
-Small paper bags from grocery store (I save these to ripen fruit)
-Rubber bands off of newspapers
-Plastic bags from grocery store (reused for garbage cans)
-Newspaper (Lasagna Composting by adding grass clippings and leaves on top)
-Toilet Paper (I'm saving the very end of the paper on the roll. I take it off the cardboard, fold it and save to wipe down the toilet. It normally was thrown away. As soon as the weather warms up I'll start saving the cardboard roll for my compost pile).


Deepening the Pantry (or prepping)

-1 bottle of lamp oil
-Canned chicken and tuna (3 each)
-Bottled Water (2 gallons)
-Toilet Paper (I'm buying the largest package and then putting aside 4 rolls each month) 
-Canned soup (5) 
-Beanless chili (1)
-Box of matches (1)

Oh... and I heard that Blogger has changed things so that it's necessary to sign up with Google in order to post? I hope I understood correctly. You can always sign up for emails through a link on the side of this blog or join my Facebook page. It really doesn't take long to join Google from what I remember. 

I miss hearing from you girls and what you are doing in your homes. You always teach me so much. Anything new? How was your Christmas and New Years? Any New Year's Resolutions?

Blessed to be home!
Georgene




Monday, December 21, 2015

A Month in Pictures

Hello and Merry Christ-mas!

The beginning of the month started off like a whirlwind and I felt like I was being swept down the current of Christmas insanity. I just didn't know quite how to unleash myself from all the busyness. So, I prayed and asked the Lord to rearrange my schedule and slow things down... and HE DID! I was SO thankful He did because I had lost my joy for the season. Now, I'm actually looking forward to Christmas, family and celebrating the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ.

I've been working on a post for nearly a month. Yep, a month! It's not going to be finished before Christmas so I decided to post a few pictures of our month, instead!  It's been a very full month with grandchildren's school performances and two birthdays (and another one after Christmas) and just life in general.

Here are just a few delights:


                 

A Christ honoring Carolfest with our older grandson singing at a state college, no less! PTL! My grandson is in the middle of the back row. I think he is the tallest one. We attended another grandson's band concert but I wasn't able to get a good picture of his performance.

A fun day baking with my daughter!




 
 A few of the grands spent the night and made gingerbread houses!

One of the highlights of the month is 
studying God's Word in a warm bed. 




Miss Sassy loves our devotional time, too! 


It's hard to believe that 2015 is nearly gone. It's been a good year that has been FULL of wonderful times and memories.





Merry Christ-mas from our home to yours! May your celebration be filled with the knowledge of God's great love for you that is found in Christ Jesus the Lord!


“An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord'” (Luke 2:9-11)
 NIV




Until next year! (Lord willing!)

Georgene



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The idea for this post came from Coffee Tea Books and Me posts called, My World this Week!
 Thanks, Brenda!!!