Friday, January 20, 2017

Frugal Friday File 2017, week 3...

1.  No meals out this week.

2.  Researching prices for books.  Library is first choice since it's free; I always check library availability first.  Then I check prices for used books on Amazon.  Third choice would be to go to used book store in the city, but that takes gasoline, so I only go by if I have other errands in the city too, and they are never guaranteed to have a specific title in stock.  Last resort is buying new, and that's only IF I really, really, REALLY am yearning to read it immediately.  Last time that happened was 3 years ago.

3.  Researching price for fabric.  I'm getting ready for quilt retreat coming up.  This morning a friend texted me that she had found a specialty fabric at our favorite online shop, which of course I then wanted too.  I priced it at different online shops.  Prices were similar, but other shops sold out or didn't have as much selection.  And at our favorite shop I had gift cards which I had purchased while they were discounted in essence, my new fabric was discounted 20%.

4.  Researching cars and prices online before we start test driving.  As we were discussing different models, Carey had several items that he said he would have to find out about, and I had ready answers for him since I had already compared and read up.  Even so, I'm still not sure where we will start or what we want to end up with.

5.  I got a call yesterday morning from the local branch of the company I work for asking to book me for five work days in April.  I said yes.  Surely I will have transportation by then! 

6.  Sunday, 1/22/17, the postage rates are changing.  A one ounce stamp is going up 2¢, from 47¢ to 49¢.  Last night I purchased four books of forever stamps online, saving $1.60.  Not a fortune, but I do use stamps, and now I know I have enough for the rest of the year at least.  (For international readers: stamps designated as 'forever' stamps have a one ounce postage value even when postal rates change.)  I don't encourage anyone to invest in a lifetime supply of forever stamps, because a) it's doubtful, but postal rates could go down, and then you would have overpaid, b) the postal service could go out of business or change the 'forever' rule, or c) they could be lost, stolen, or destroyed.  But if you have been needing to purchase stamps, and you want to get them before the price increase, you can buy them at and click on 'buy stamps' on the left.

Frugal From the Kitchen This Week:
Saturday:  Crock-pot Honey Garlic Chicken
Sunday:  leftovers
Monday:  Sunday Monday family dinner at Kasey's
Tuesday:  Goulash
Wednesday:  I had a sandwich, Carey had leftovers
Thursday:  Salisbury Steak w/ noodles, veg
Friday:  fried rice?

(*not-frugal takeout or dinner out)

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

What I'm reading Wednesday...

The Violets of March: A Novel by Sarah Jio

Just finished this morning.  Meh.  It kept me reading, but it was much 'fluffier' than I usually read.  A recently divorced woman escapes to visit her great aunt on a favorite childhood-summer island.  While there she finds a diary from 1943 and begins reading.  I didn't like that the author resorted to having present-day characters go by different names in 1943 in order to keep the reader guessing.  There were a lot of characters, and many of those were too similarly named (Esther, Elliott, Emily, Evelyn, Evan)...add in the aforementioned name changes...confusing.  Also there were so many coincidences which I always find either lazy or unskilled of the writer.  Aside from the writing, the formatting made it difficult at times to recognize the switch from present day to diary entry making for some confusion and re-reading.

Little Wolves: A Novel by Thomas Maltman

This is next up on my agenda.  Not at all sure how I will get on with it.  I chose this one to fulfill the 'based on mythology' category of my 2017 Reading Challenge.

Both of this week's books were checked out from my library as ebooks.  I've been searching out books that fit the challenge reading prompts, and I am always checking the library website first to see if they are available as either ebooks or hard copies.  I have resorted to buying several used books (hard copies) on Amazon (mostly with a price of 1¢ + $3.99 shipping) when what I'm looking for isn't available through my library and the used price is less expensive than the Kindle price for the same book.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Slow Cooker Honey Garlic Chicken with Broccoli...

This is the Honey Garlic Chicken I made in the slow cooker on Saturday.  Having put the thighs in frozen solid I was shocked that they came out looking browned and glazed.  And they tasted good too!

I found the same recipe in quite a few different websites, so I can't give an original attribute.  And anyway, as usual, I adapted it to what I had on hand and what our preferences are.  My version follows:

Place 4 to 6 chicken thighs in the slow cooker. (I used boneless/skinless, and I put them in frozen.)

Whisk together:
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup ketchup
1/2 cup soy sauce
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon of sesame oil
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Pour this over the frozen thighs, covering them evenly and cook on high for 3 to 4 hours. 

 About 30 minutes before we were ready to eat, I added 2 to 3 cups broccoli florets and stirred them into the sauce.  Then I sprinkled 1/2 teaspoon sesame seeds and 1/2 teaspoon dried chives over all, covered, and continued to cook for 30 more minutes while I prepared rice.

The broccoli looks a little overcooked in the photo, but it was actually just done with a little bit of crunch still.  I'll be making this again. 

Also posting at What's Cookin' 4 Miles North of Nowhere.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Saturday and snail mail...

Saturday snail mail of the incoming variety!  What a treat to get two cards from two dear friends on the same day.  And while I was writing this post I got an email from another sweet friend I hadn't heard from for awhile!  My day is filled with awesomeness!

Yesterday was a work-around-the-house day.  I swiffered all the hard floors.  I am doing very well with my 2017 goal to swiffer one room daily, though I find it very hard to stop at one.  I mean it's so easy, and why not get more mileage out of the cloth?  Between Rudy's short hair shedding and my long hair shedding, there is always plenty to pick up.  Boy is it nice to walk through the house and not be seized with guilt from spying fuzzy corners!

I also steam cleaned the hallway floor and vacuumed the living room and laundry room rugs.  I bathed Rudy, cleaned his ears, shook out his bedding, and vacuumed his kennel.  I'll trim his nails this evening.  He was too wound up after his bath, and I was too wound down!  I needed a shower and shampoo of my own after all that.

Today I cleaned out the top drawer of my kitchen freezer.  I try to make a big container full of my 'magic' ice at a time, and I've been storing it in the laundry room freezer.  That wasn't very handy, so I wanted to have room in the kitchen freezer to store it.  The top drawer is now sparkling and holding my ice.  In the process I pulled out some long-ago-purchased frozen fruit and used it to make smoothies.  The bottom drawer is still a total disaster, but I'll worry about that tomorrow...or the next day.

I have Honey Garlic Chicken in the slow cooker, and it smells SO good!  

So though it rained overnight, and the skies have been gloomy all day, I am happily keeping busy at home.  And now I think I will go read for awhile.  :)

Friday, January 13, 2017

Frugal Friday File 2017, week 2...

1.  Menu planned and shopped while I had a chauffeur.  Prepped quite a bit for future meals and stored in freezer.

2.  Last weekend we had a hard freeze while Carey was out of town.  Sunday morning the house had just a trickle of water at the taps, so I assumed we had some frozen pipes.  At the end of the day, when we still had no water, I mentioned it to son-in-law.  He had everything up and running in short order and wouldn't accept reimbursement for the part he purchased.  It was a coincidental issue with well's water pump rather than frozen pipes.  No damage to pipes, no bill for repairs.

3.  Weather has warmed, windows open, heat off.

4.  Haven't gotten a haircut, but I'm really wishing it was short again.  Just for fun I Googled how much it would be worth if I sold it...approximately $115.  :)

5.  Still making do with one car.

Frugal From the Kitchen This Week:
Saturday:  *pizza
Sunday:  Sunday dinner at Kasey's
Monday:  *Whataburger
Tuesday:  smothered pork chops, rice, green beans
Wednesday:  Mexican Cornbread
Thursday:  beef stew (because you mentioned it Sylvia!)
Friday:  leftovers

(*not-frugal takeout or dinner out)

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Beef Stew Redo...

On our Costco run I bought a BIG package of stew meat.  This morning I seasoned, dredged, and seared all of it.  This took quite awhile, as I didn't want to overcrowd the pans...yes, I had two pans going.

I divided the browned stew meat into three batches.   Two went in the freezer for future easy meal starters (yea, me!), one went in the slow cooker for supper.

As I was assembling the vegetables for the stew, I realized the only potatoes I had were the really large baking variety, of which I bought a BUNCH to restock the freezer with twice-baked potatoes.  I decided to leave potatoes out of the stew, so I went ahead and got the stew going with carrots and mushrooms in the slow cooker.  And I washed, oiled, and salted all the potatoes and put them in to bake.

When the potatoes were done, I let them cool for a bit.  Then I cut them in half and scooped out the insides.  I mashed them with butter, sour cream, a little parmesan cheese, some chives, dried onion flakes, salt, pepper, and garlic.  Then I re-stuffed all the potatoes skins with the mash.  Most of these went into the freezer to freeze solid; then they will be taken out and individually vacuum packed tomorrow.  The others I put back in the oven to reheat.  Then I plated them individually and ladled the beef stew over them for supper.  Yum!

So in conclusion:  All of the stew meat has been browned and 2/3 stored in freezer; my freezer's supply of twice-baked potatoes has been restocked; supper was made in a new way and enjoyed; two additional individual servings of the twice-baked potato topped with stew are in the freezer for Carey's work lunches; and there is leftover stew for the weekend.

Whew!  I feel like I was in the kitchen all day long, but at least I have a lot of advance prep work done to show for it.  :)

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

What I'm reading Wednesday...

Becoming Jane Eyre by Sheila Kohler

Wednesday already?!  Being without internet all weekend, and Carey working the weekend unexpectedly, has completely messed with my inner calendar.  I did, however, get a lot of reading done.  I haven't made much of a start on this one (since the internet and Carey are both back).  

Yesterday we made a Costco run and loaded up on industrial sizes of freezer storage bags, dishwasher detergent, laundry detergent, aluminum foil, etc.  I'm not sure I bought a single food item.  Today we did the regular grocery store shop.  Menu plan is made...the pantry and freezer are both stocked up again...I'm back in business.
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