Thursday, October 30, 2014

Making do with OLDER HOMES

My little 745 sq. ft. cottage was built in the early 1900's. It has a lot of personality! :-) It's not fancy and it's definitely not upgraded. But, it's comfortable and it's God's gift to me. He has entrusted this home into my care for a specific number of days that only He knows. Perhaps I will live here until I'm close to leaving for my heavenly home. Or perhaps He will move me on tomorrow. Life is full of surprises and only He knows the winding and turning of the path He has planned for me. I want to always remember that this home is His gift to us. I want to fight to cultivate a contented heart and accept it with all it's quirks and so called inconveniences.

 And he said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” Luke 12:15

Alberta is the name of the woman who previously lived in this home for 50 years into her late 90's when she fell and then moved in with a family member. I never met Alberta but I feel like I know her from the little bits and pieces that the neighbors have shared about her life. I often think of Alberta when I'm tempted to upgrade an outdated feature of this home. I'll remind myself, "Alberta lived in this home until she was 98 years old without central heat and air! Now, so can you!" Or, "Alberta lived in this home without automatic sprinklers! Now, so can you for at least one more year!"

She saved herself a lot of money over the years by not keeping up with the times (or the Jones's). She never had to incur a large electrical bill because her heating and air conditioning went on the blink! Or pay to have her garbage disposal fixed or replaced... because she didn't own one. The less things you own the less things need cleaning, repairs and maintenance and TIME. Alberta lived a simple life in this home.  I think Alberta was a smart woman! A lot of older people live this way but rarely does our generation or our children.

I recently read that a simple life is not always a contented life. I've really been chewin' on that one like a dog with a bone. I've mulled it over and over in my mind and I believe that it's very true. I don't know the state of Alberta's heart. Maybe she was contented living in this 'simple' home or maybe not. It's now my choice to decide whether I will cultivate a heart attitude of thankfulness and contentment. It's a daily choice which starts with my thought life and whether I will obey God's Word.

Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. Phil. 4:11 

So, instead of upgrading I'm focusing on maintaining what we already own. These past few months I've worked on improving the way the grout looks on my kitchen counter and also sealing the bathroom grout to help with the mold problems. I look for small little projects to do that don't cost a lot of money but help to improve the way our home is maintained. It's important to take care of what God has entrusted to me.

I passed by the field of a sluggard, by the vineyard of a man lacking sense, and behold, it was all overgrown with thorns' the ground was covered with nettles, and its stone wall was broken down. Then I saw and considered it; I looked and received instruction. A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest, and poverty will come upon you like a robber, and want like an armed man. Proverbs 24:30-34

My 'sweetheart', daughter and grandson
I know it's not a sin to upgrade and who knows but that someday we might find ourselves doing just that very thing if the need and finances present themselves. But, not for today! Today I want to enjoy my home just as it is with all it's quirks and old fashioned ways. My heart is satisfied! My heart is content!


Here are a few ways I've kept busy in my home:

1. My kitchen sink is old and made of porcelain. It has chips in it that show black spots. Last year my mother bought a kit to paint the chips white. It lasted about a year but now it looks like it did before. I have a friend who accidentally spilled nail polish in her bathroom sink and couldn't get it out. So she bought 3 different colors and dabbed them all over her sink. It looked really nice. So that gave me an idea to see if I could find white nail polish to cover the black spots on my sink. I found a bottle for around $4. Guess what? It worked! I love finding ways to make things in this old house look nice and clean.

2. I've been saving cooked chicken bones in my freezer and finally had enough to make some broth which I used to make a new Chicken Paleo Tortilla Soup recipe. I put the bones in my large crockpot and filled it with water and cooked it all day.  After it cooked I let it sit in the fridge overnight and then skimmed off the fat. The broth was then used in this soup recipe. It was so good!

Paleo Chicken Tortilla Soup

You’ll need:
  • 2 large chicken breasts, skin removed and cut into 1/2 inch strips (I used thighs)
  • 1 28oz can of diced tomatoes
  • 32 ounces organic chicken broth (homemade chicken broth)
  • 1 sweet onion, diced (less for lower carbs)
  • 2 jalepenos, de-seeded and diced
  • 2 cups of shredded carrots (1 cup to lower carbs)
  • 2 cups chopped celery
  • 1 bunch of cilantro chopped fine
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced – I always use one of these
  • 2 Tbs tomato paste
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • (I added 1 tablespoon of Chicken Tortilla seasoning mix)
  • sea salt & fresh cracked pepper to taste
  • olive oil
  • 1-2 cups water
In a crockpot or large dutch oven over med-high heat, place a dash of olive oil and about 1/4 cup chicken broth. Add onions, garlic, jalapeno, sea salt and pepper and cook until soft, adding more broth as needed.
Then add all of your remaining ingredients and enough water to fill to the top of your pot. Cover and let cook on low for about 2 hrs, adjusting salt & pepper as needed.
Once the chicken is fully cooked, you should be able to shred it very easily. I simply used the back of a wooden spoon and pressed the cooked chicken against the side of the pot. You could also use a fork or tongs to break the chicken apart and into shreds.

Top with avocado slices and fresh cilantro. I added a dallop of sour cream to my husband's bowl.

Remembering a fishing trip with some grandsons

3. I always have a lot of cilantro left from the bunch I buy for a recipe. So, this time I froze it in an ice cube tray. I picked off the leaves and put about a tablespoon in each cube and added water. Once frozen I put the cubes in a plastic bag and wrote the name on a piece of masking tape. I do this with fresh parsley, oregano and basil from my garden, too.

4. I made a batch of pie crusts and put them in the freezer for the holidays.

5. We have a winter storm heading our way tomorrow so I decided it was time to prepare for winter. I put away the summer chairs and covered them with plastic. I took down the patio table umbrella and stored it in the garage. I moved the patio table under a covering to protect it this winter and covered a wooden bench with a large piece of heavy plastic. You can buy rolls of heavy plastic at hardware stores. The window air conditioners have been covered with plastic on the outside so that the cold air won't blow through them into our house.  It's a bit too soon to fold up the hoses but those will be next. I also put extra blankets on our beds and on the cats and the dog beds. We're all as snug as a bug in a rug! I love making sure everyone is warm and comfortable for the winter (even my pets).

6.  I've been reading about 'deepening the pantry' over at Coffee, Tea and Books. It has inspired me to find ways to add to my own pantry. I added canned tuna and canned roast beef to my pantry this past month.

'Grand' birthday party with CANDY BALL played to Musical Chairs.

7. Since winter is coming I was able to cut back my watering time to once a week for the lawn and from 10 minutes down to 7 minutes. Oh, am I one happy girl that winter is almost here and I can take a break from hours of watering in the garden, flowers and lawn.

8. I had a bumper crop of peppers this year which were grown in large pots. I looked online and discovered that I could freeze the Poblano's. I roasted them and then put them in a freezer bag once they cooled. Now my husband can enjoy Chile Rellenos throughout the winter.

9. My mother and sister and I visited our favorite thrift shop. I keep an ongoing list in my purse because for the life of me I can't remember what to look for by memory. I added 'purses' to my list once I realized how expensive they have become. I was faced with spending over $30 when my last purse became worn. I figured I would keep an extra one on hand so I'm not forced to pay higher prices. I found a nice purse for $4.

 Sweet times

10.  I made homemade mac and cheese for our family gathering. My husband requested it. He eats low carb meals in between our family gatherings so I try to make what he wants on those special occasions. I took a small bite to see how it tasted and it was good!

I kept it bland since I knew the grands would be eating it. 

 Kittencals Creamy Macaroni and Cheese
    • 4 cups uncooked elbow macaroni 
    • 4 tablespoons butter ( additional 2 tablespoons to mix with cooked pasta)
    • 2 large garlic cloves, minced garlic ( optional, I didn't use)
    • 1 teaspoon onion powder (I didn't use)
    • 1 teaspoon mustard powder
    • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)(I didn't use)
    • 3 tablespoons flour
    • 3 cups half-and-half cream ( or use milk or 1-1/2 cups each)
    • 1 1/2 cups old shredded cheddar cheese (I used Monterey Jack/Cheddar)
    • 1 (16 ounce) packages Velveeta cheese ( cut into small cubes)
    • salt & freshly ground black pepper ( to taste)
    • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese (optional)(I didn't use)


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Grease a medium casserole dish.
  3. Cook the pasta in a pot of boiling salted water until al dente (do not overcook the pasta) drain but do not rinse.
  4. Place in a bowl and mix with 2 tablespoons butter to prevent sticking; set aside.
  5. Melt 4 tablespoons (1/4 cup) butter in a large saucepan over medium heat.
  6. Add in minced garlic, onion powder, mustard powder and cayenne pepper; stir with a wooden spoon for about 3-4 minutes.
  7. Add in flour and stir for 1 minute.
  8. Slowly add cream and cook stirring constantly over medium until bubbly and thickened. 
  1. Reduce heat and add in both cheeses; mix until melted and smooth.
  2. Season with salt and black pepper to taste.
  3. Add in the cooked pasta and toss to combine.
  4. Transfer to baking dish.
  5. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Bake 350 degrees for about 20-25 minutes.  
Summer fun with the grands

                                                                                                                                                Saved, Stretched and Reused:
~ I add a little bit of water to the glass before I add WHOLE milk for my husband.
~ I saved clean, previously used dishwater in the dish pan and used it to rinse the next load of dishes. 
~ Twistie ties from new measuring spoons. I always save my twistie ties. 
~ I saved the cardboard tubing from a paper towel roll. I wrap reused baggies around it.
~ Cardboard egg cartons along with cardboard tubing from toilet paper rolls (compost pile).
~ Cotton from the vitamin bottle (to remove fingernail polish). 
~ Wrapped celery in tinfoil. The celery lasts twice as long. 
~ Bacon grease. I put it in a small jar in the fridge and use it instead of oil for flavoring when frying. 
~ Washed and reused a LC tortilla bag.
~ I used 'saved' peanut oil from the last time I fried chicken. I keep it in the fridge. I can get one more frying out of it. 
~ I saved the extra coffee by putting it in mason jars and storing in the fridge to use the next few days. We never drink an entire pot. 
~ Saved tea bags. Three saved tea bags will make one more cup of tea. 
~ I've been hungry for oatmeal. I cooked some Steel Oats and divided it in 1/2 cup portions to freeze for later. 
That's all for this time. Are you ladies 'deepening' your pantry? Do you have any good tips you could share? 


* Bible version used is the ESV.


  1. Always excited to read when I see you have written one of these posts! I should consider blogging more.. I just don't do it lately at all--but these nice homey down to earth and yet full of faith blog posts-- just truly make my day!

    I love you mentioned coffee in the fridge--reminds me of an uncle who passed away a year ago--he told me that idea. And I haven't been doing it--good idea.

    I never thought of freezing oatmeal. does that work well? I love oatmeal but hate standing there over the pot for just me. What do you do then? microwave?

    I am deepening only a few areas of my pantry right now-- I collected a bunch of sale priced spaghetti sauce lately we use it in a lot of things and I do not can--my brain is not good on that it would be dangerous to make one of my little slip ups on canning! I do use my dehydrator some though. Used it today. :) (but not on food I was drying the shellac on some wood pieces I made.)

    I picked up a mini sew machine by janome for $10 and I want to remind my self how to sew. I think I may need to get a different machine though at some point--we shall see.. I will get an old one if I do. I gave my daughter several machines of mine when I wasn't using them but now I really feel its time to do this. I also was looking at how to make my own dress dress form and found this tutorial in steps --which is great because I have a box of paper tape about a dozen big rolls I got 2nd hand and I use it for making boxes out of old cardboard. Anyhow that is here: you need a friend to help you, I'm thinking Hubby may have to be my friend. ;)

    I bought some vintage patterns on etsy for unmentionables, and some easy to sew pants and tops and a long dress jacket. I need a better wardrobe but my figure does not fit right in almost anything I buy so I thought a dress form might be a good way for someone like me who needs things to be visualized to pin up my patterns and make adjustments on.

    I collect the oops paints when I visit the home depot or lowes -- I have done a lot with that stuff! Yesterday I painted some mason jars a pretty blue and put them in my bathroom. I have different sizes to hold q-tips, cotton balls, diy powdered deoderant, & diy dry hair shampoo. ( I don't like to wash it every day so I just use this and brush it out.)

    In my etsy shop I'm taking a time out --maybe permanent-- and not advertising any custom work. So I'm just going through old wood scraps and seeing what I can make to list and sell and use that up.

    I used sawdust and wood glue last week to make some wood filler. It worked good.

    Any time I can save a trip to town to get something is great.


    1. Hi Mary,
      Yes, just reheat the oatmeal in the microwave. I'll be curious to know how your patterns work. Such a great idea. I've thought about it before but never got around to it. I'd also like to buy some spaghetti sauce to use over squash. We didn't get a lot of tomatoes this year. I enjoyed reading your ideas, too.

  2. I really enjoyed this post!
    Thanks for sharing!

  3. Loved this post. Just what I needed to read right now. And always interesting to read how you keep frugal. Hugs

  4. Such good ideas for being frugal....I love the thoughts on the tea bags ...we use a lot around here for iced tea and I should save some for a cup of tea.
    We live in an older home and we love it. Seems like we do an upgrade of one of the rooms a year. Sometimes though we just make sure it doesn't fall down! Have a great day

    1. Vickie! I love what you wrote, "Sometimes though we just make sure it doesn't fall down!" Priceless!

  5. I always enjoy reading your frugal posts. I've been meaning to freeze the fresh herbs for some time now and never seem to get to it. I'm glad your post reminded me once again :-)

    1. I'd love to know which herbs you freeze when the time comes and how it works for you!

  6. This is a great post! I also live in a tiny older home, around 665 sq. ft. We moved into our little place in 1973.

    You inspire me with your frugal living.

    Have a great weekend ~ FlowerLady

    1. I think I had forgotten you live in a small home, Lorraine.

      Your faith inspires me and how you bring glory to God in how you live as a widow.

  7. it is always a nice moment when I see a new post from you :)
    your home and Alberta both sound charming, I enjoyed learning about both.

    you are so right that the more things you own, the more things you have to take care of. Sometimes it is just not worth it too.

    1. You're right, Rhonda! I've been looking at my clothes in my small little closet. They are CRAMMED in there. I don't like it so I'm praying about what to get rid of. I figure the Lord has assigned a certain amount of space and it's my job to use the space wisely. If things are crammed and don't fit well then I assume there are too many things in that assigned space. :-) It's an ongoing battle when you live small OR large! :-)

  8. Georgene-I also have an old porcelain sink--mine gets scratched but so far no chunks missing. I use a fine sand paper when I want to get the scratches out. I don't keep it shiny clean all the time-- just not a habit i have at this time--but I do clean it special now & then with a bleach & water soak & then a baking soda/vinegar scrub after the bleach is all rinsed out.

    1. Good information, Mary. I'll have to remember that you can sand paper out the scratches! I've heard about bleaching a sink but never tried it. I can't be trusted with bleach. I tend to always wreck my clothes! :-)

  9. Hello Georgene,

    I enjoyed this post; thank you. You have given me much to think about, particularly in regard to specific decisions we are making. I will be mulling this post over as we mull over our current housing situation, and do appreciate your wise words.

    I don't know if you've seen the post (I only found it in the last couple of days), but Laine has written another letter to us all and posted it on another's blog. It was full of news and updates, and the very welcome news that she is going to be getting her own blog up and running next year. What a joyful post to read! You can find her letters to us over there -->

    May the LORD make His face to shine upon you,

    1. Hi Shani,
      Thank you for thinking of me. Yes, I know about Laine's newest letters. Laine and I keep have kept in touch over the years. I am so thankful she will be writing again. I've learned so much from her over the years. Thanks again!

  10. My grandmother lived in a very small home for all her life. She was truly content with it and if she had too much stuff she gave it away to her many family & friends. I remember her saying she could not understand why so many young wives in this day & age were not happy with what they had.." a good husband with a job, children, a nice home..". Now you have to understand , to her a nice home was very small with no fancy cooking appliances or even any form of central heating.Her many granddaughters-in-law had huge new homes, yet they were not happy and grandma was. Even with a physically abusive husband , little money, and not even being a woman of faith, she was content. Puts me to shame.

    I am content, I have 3 grown children and 11 grandchildren. My husband & I have been purt near poor in the past, but never felt poor. We always had plenty of food ( I can make 3 big meals out of one puny chicken) , my husband has always made enough money to pay our bills. We truly know that being content with the blessings God has granted you IS the contentment of a life that is thankful and a life that brings abundant blessings of eternal value.( plus, it just makes you happy ! )

    Love the tips on your blog for economical recipes and other such tips. A much needed blog in these times.

    1. What a precious testimony your grandmother left. I had a very thrifty grandmother, too. Your life sounds as if it will be a testimony to your children, too. Thank you for sharing your grandmother with us. :-)

  11. Love your older home. Ours is 15 years old, and it looks like we are staying put, so I guess I will eventually have an older home! Trying to decorate in the style I love, English garden, Victorian. All from thrift shops and yard sales. I visit some large, nice homes from time to time, but what a burden a mortgage of that size must be! Yes, contentment is what we must have, I want to focus on my husband, children and grandchildren, not the size or newness of my home and it's appliances and furnishings.

    1. People are shocked when I tell them our home is only 745 sq. ft. They are equally shocked when I tell them how low our mortgage payment is. :-)

      Your focus is good... loving others... not stuff!

  12. The last 2 weeks I have:
    1. Cooked meals from pantry/freezer.
    2. Received deer, wild turkey and wild pig from my daughter's boyfriend. I have never cooked wild meat but I am going to learn. My son-in-law also hunts so that means free meat if I can just get past the image of Bambi in my head. Cooking deer tips tomorrow. Can anyone tell me if I need to brine or soak them before cooking them?
    3. Had some apples I needed to use up so I made 3 apple crisps and put in freezer.
    4. Washed baggies to reuse.
    5. Went to local thrift store. Bought 2 pillows for my couch, 8 gospel music cds, picture frame, candle holder, 2 jackets for me and 5 plates with 3 saucers for my daughter. The grand total was $5.40!!!
    6. Made cakes for a church bake sale.
    7. Cleaned out closets, not my favorite thing to do but was able to donate some things.
    8. Made tea with used tea bags from freezer.

    As always, God has provided.

    Rosa, S.C.

    1. You have a great 2 weeks! That is so awesome that you received free meat! I've never cooked deer meat so I can't help you there. You sure had fun at the thrift store! What a score! You're inspiring! Thanks for sharing!

    2. Forgot to add:
      6 sterlite stacking baskets, 300 foam plates, 192 heavy duty plastic utensils, 155 heavy duty divided paperplates, 20- 3way and 7yr light bulbs, lint remover and mosquito bracelet. Grand total $6.25!!!!
      I used the stacking baskets to organize my freezer. The plates and forks, spoons, etc. will be used for church and my family get together next week.

      God is good!!

      Rosa, S.C.

    3. Great idea about the stacking baskets to organize your freezer! You scored!

      God is good!

  13. Great tips! Thanks for sharing.

    Something we do is smooth out and save tin foil and reuse numerous times until it gets too torn to continue using.

    1. Thanks for sharing your tip! I do the same thing but haven't mentioned it in a long time! Thanks so much!

  14. Dear Georgene,
    Thank you for sharing your heart and your wisdom on this blog. I have found encouragement here to steward my resources more carefully and to live life more fully -- to bloom where I am planted! God is using you to lift up many women, both in the US and abroad; thank you for following his call.

    1. Thank you for your encouragement. Please pray that God will be glorified. Thanks, Stephanie!

    2. What a lovely post. Well they always are of course.
      We live in a small house, not sure if it is more or less than 745 sq ft though. We have lived here since it was built in 1980. It holds so many memories I can't imagine living anywhere else.
      Thank you for all your writings, I look regularly as I get so much enjoyment from them.
      Best wishes,
      Angela x

    3. Thank you, Angela. I'm intrigued that you've lived in a small house for so many years. Do you ever write about your home or experiences? I looked on your 'Google' but I couldn't find any link to a blog. I'm continually getting rid of things to stay 'fit' in our home. It's a discipline for sure. :-)

      Thank you for stopping by to visit!

  15. I too am happy to see another informative and fun post from you Georgene! I have an old sink and use what I believe Laine has mentioned she too uses. Bar Keepers Friend. That or bleach and water are the only thing that will get the tough stains out of the old very worn porcelain of my sink. I like the Bar Keepers Friend the best. A little of it goes a long way too. Sometimes only a quick scrub will do it and other times I use it and let it sit a bit before rinsing but it always works. It is not supposed to scratch either I don't need any more of the little remaining porcelain scrubbed off thank you! Sarah

  16. I love your sweet little home! It definitely has a lot of character which is something you don't see in the newer homes nowadays. :)

    A frugal tip I would like to share is re-arranging furniture/de-cluttering/re-decorating your house as a fun (FREE) activity if you have a couple of free days. I recommend enlisting the help of a few people and a friend that has an eye for design. Take all of the furniture and decor out of your house. Thoroughly clean/vacuum the floors and then put everything back in a different way. There is a theory that you own and bought the things you have because you like them and re-arranging them can create a new and refreshed look for no money!

    1. I can see how that would be such a great idea if I had the muscle power. My husband is not able to lift the furniture and I have some health problems that have developed this year that would discourage such a chore. But, it is a great thought and I'm sure someone reading will find it helpful. Thank you for sharing.


Thank you for your comment.