Friday, November 1, 2013

Giving Gifts

I've known gift giving to be a blessing and a burden. There have been times in my adult years when I have wanted to give a nice gift but haven't had the money. That has been a burden. Yet, there have been other times when I have had money and gift giving was a blessing. Still other times when I have had very little money .. yet God answered my prayers and I was able to give a special gift within my budget. That was the best blessing of all.

My mother taught my sister and I to give gifts. We were encouraged to make Christmas gifts for our relatives throughout our childhood years. I learned to crochet, sew and craft through the means of gift giving. I believe my mother did the right thing by developing the habit of giving into the lives of others. Unfortunately, I twisted  it into a pressure it was never meant to be.

Our 'grandones' love to sit in our front yard tree.
Recently my curiosity has piqued over recycled projects. The internet is full of ideas. I've pinned a lot of those ideas on my Pinterest page under Re-use it.  One idea is a jean quilt from old jeans. I have quite a few squares already cut. I had two old pairs of jeans given to me recently that were not worth passing on so those will be cut up, too.  I'm also saving yarn to crochet a rug. Now this one will sound strange but I'm saving 1/2 gallon milk cartons to make a child's gift. I'll explain that one later in another post. :-)

I remember a Christmas many years ago when my oldest son was 5.  There was very little money for Christmas gifts. So the idea came up to make a race track for his Matchbox cars. Plaster was used along with molding clay to make road and ponds and then they were painted. It was his favorite gift and I image he may still remember it to this today.

The older I get the more I've come to realize that it's not always the amount of money spent on a gift but the thought that goes in to it. I've received lovely handmade gifts that cost very little and I've enjoyed them so much. I've also been on the receiving end of hand me down gifts that I've also enjoyed.


Here are a few ways ways I stretched our money this week...

1. I finally roasted the sunflower seeds and also roasted pumpkin seeds from the free pumpkins. I have one pumpkin left and plan on cutting it open for more sunflower seeds.. but I probably won't be canning the pumpkin. I'm up to my eyeballs in pumpkin. :-) Well, maybe I will can the pumpkin. I can't stand to see things go to waste. But, the seeds came out great except I think the sunflower seeds needed to dry out a bit more.

2. The wind kicked up this past weekend and there were leaves EVERYWHERE in my backyard. I swept and put them in a large garbage can to use in my composting buckets.  The leaves really tired me out last year but this year I see the leaves as a blessing since I learned that you need more 'brown' (leaves) in your compost than 'green' (food scraps).

3. I'm out of pumpkin pie spice and believe me.. I have a LOT of pumpkin in my pantry so I will be needing it soon.  I was able to find a recipe for Pumpkin Pie Spice at ALLRECIPES. I had all the ingredients on hand. Here is the link.

4.  The nights are starting to get cold. Our house was built in 1917 so there is no insulation in the walls... none.. zippo... zilch! I keep looking for ways to make our home comfortable. I have throw rugs in our bedroom since we don't have wall to wall carpeting. The throw rugs help our feet to stay warm when we get out of bed in the middle of the night. I turn the furnace down to 60 degrees when we go to bed and then turn it up to 68 around 5 am so the house will be warm when we get up.  My husband and I keep gloves and a stocking cap on our nightstands in case it gets too cold at night. I also found thick (REALLY thick) socks at Bass Pro in their hunting department that we wear to bed, too. We're snug as two bugs in a rug. Rarely does a night go by that I don't thank God for my warm and comfortable bed. I know there are so many in this world that do not have a bed to call their own.

5. We are starting to experience a few overcast and rainy days. I have started hanging my clothes in the garage when I see the clouds overhead. I have 2 lines strung in the laundry room, 2 drying racks plus 4 Amish Hangers that I use.  My clothes are dry by the next day. I just avoid hanging towels in the garage because they don't dry fast enough. I rarely use my dryer, even in the winter.

6. I started watching for sales on baking items that I'll use for Christmas. I don't bake nearly like I used to before we changed our diet to low carb but my  husband still insists on one batch of Mounds Balls. Last year I baked homemade bread (instead of candy) for extended family and neighbors. It was the perfect replacement for candy because I couldn't 'taste test'. :-) This year I plan to make Cranberry Scones to give as gifts. I'll probably bake homemade bread, too. Both are inexpensive gifts and enjoyed. I already found a large bag of dried cranberries and chocolate chips on sale at Costco. It's too expensive to wait and purchase all the baking items in December so I'll buy a few items each month.

7.  Things I didn't throw away this week:
  • Powdered sugar plastic bag (washed/reuse).
  • Brown sugar bag (washed/reuse)
  • Erythritol bag (washed/ reuse)
  • 1/2 gallon milk carton (washed/ to make a gift)
  • Dog food can (To bury and use as fertilizer for acid loving plants)
  • Plastic bags from vegetable department (reuse)
  • Coleslaw bag (washed/reuse)
  • Used canning lids (Washed and then turned upside down and put back with canning ring onto the jar to keep the jar clean)

8.  Do you know about Freecycle? It's a wonderful resource. I've met some great people through this group, too.  This past week a young lady posted that she had extra groceries to give away. I was blessed with lunch meat and canned goods. I had a lot in common with this young mother and we hope to meet for coffee soon. 

9. My mother is known for her homemade applesauce. The grandchildren love it and her home always smells so good when it's on the stove. I made a batch for our early Thanksgiving dinner which we are celebrating a few weeks early.  It's a wonderful addition to holiday meals and it's so easy to make. 

Grandma's Homemade Applesauce
6-8 Fuji apples
1 cup sugar
Pinch of cinnamon, less of nutmeg and even less of cloves

Peel apples and chop in chunks.  Put in a large sauce pan with
a small amount of water in the bottom. Bring to a boil and then turn 
down to a simmer. Watch and stir so it doesn't burn. Cook until the
apples are soft and then add the sugar and seasonings.  
Simmer for a few more minutes.

That's about all for this week!

So, I'm curious! Do you make any gifts from recycled items? :-)

I hope you have a joyful weekend!


Sunday, October 27, 2013

Monday Menus

I took my friends advice and made a list of everything in my pantry, fridge and freezer. I then made up a 3 week menu plan for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I had $70 left before next payday. I was able to come close to nearly 3 weeks of meals. Whew! That is a relief! If I'm very cautious and only spend $23.00 or less a week then I should be fine. So here is this week's menu.

Breakfast-  scrambled eggs and turkey bacon
Lunch- Bologna sandwich (husband), egg salad and celery (me)
Dinner- LC Tacos

Breakfast- LC pancakes
Lunch- Tomato soup and 1/2 turkey sandwich (husband) and turkey salad/ celery (me)
Dinner- Spaghetti sauce over spaghetti squash and carrots

Breakfast- LC biscuits and gravy
Lunch- hot link sandwich (husband), hot link and red cabbage slaw (me)
Dinner- Salmon Patties, pea salad, Italian green beans

Breakfast- scrambled eggs
Lunch- vegetable soup and 1/2 turkey sandwich (husband), turkey salad (me), pea salad
dinner- Clam chowder, sauteed kale with onion, garlic and bacon

Breakfast- LC biscuits and gravy
Lunch- fried egg sandwich (husband), fried egg and pea salad (me)
Dinner- Ham, green beans, coleslaw, deviled eggs

Breakfast- LC muffins and LC Smoothie
Lunch- hot dogs sauteed with onion and celery in butter (childhood favorite)
Dinner- Leftover ham, green beans, coleslaw, deviled eggs

Breakfast- scrambled eggs, mushrooms, kale, onion
Lunch- Freezer soup
Dinner- Leftovers