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 I often think of Alberta when I'm tempted to upgrade an outdated feature of this home.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.