Monday, February 29, 2016

Spice it up...

Quick post, because I am tired and my back aches.  I had to take a muscle relaxer to make it through the work day today.  I wasn't sure I could stand at the stove and cook tonight, but I had groceries that needed to be cooked, so I did.  And it reminded me that I've been meaning to post about this.

This is Picaringa...

...and this is Tajίn.  They are both blends of lime and chile, and are usually sold in the produce section of supermarkets.  They are marketed as a fruit seasoning, and they are quite tasty on fruit.

But I am here to tell you that if you can get your hands on either of them, try it on a baked sweet potato!!!   Love it!  Love!  It!

That is my public service announcement recommendation for today.  You can thank me later.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Frugal Friday File, Week 8...

1.  Booked three more days of work over the next month or so.  (Very happy they called me, as this was the office where I had to cancel at the very, very last minute when my car wouldn't run!)

2.  Food prepped / vacuum packed / freezer full...happy sigh

3.  Found three tee-shirts at Goodwill for a craft project, and one for dear son (because its funny printed design just begged to be his).

4.  Found a solution for a much needed family mail center.  It did involve purchasing a sectioned wire basket, but it was 40% off.

5.  Every meal cooked at home also put meals from leftovers in freezer for husband to take to work.

Keep Tryings:
1.  I made an ebay purchase last weekend.  It was something I've been wanting/looking for for a long time, and it was a good price, but still...

2.  Then I bought something on Amazon to go with it.  Again, something that I had researched and been thinking about.  I think it will prove frugal in the end, but still hard to think of the $ spent now.  

Frugal From the Kitchen This Week:
Saturday:  (not frugal take-out)
Sunday:  Sunday family dinner at Kasey's
Monday:  Swiss Steak in slow cooker
Tuesday:  No-Peek Chicken and Rice
Wednesday:  Secret Ingredient Meatloaf, Baked Potatoes, Broccoli 
Thursday:  Roast & Dumplings, Green Beans
Friday:  ?

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Prior proper preparation prevents piss-poor performance...

I learned the 7 P's from a dear friend...actually I learned to practice them from my parents, but I learned the alliterative adage from my friend...who learned it in his career as a U.S. Army officer.  I always think of him when I find myself putting special effort into planning and preparation, because those 7 P's always pop into my head.

Today the planning and prep called for putting a couple of my favorite tools into action.

A roast went into the Ninja slow cooker.  I LOVE my Ninja.  I know I've said that before, but it bears repeating.  The insert is metal, and the Ninja has stove-top (and oven) settings in addition to low and high slow-cook settings, so when a recipe calls for browning meat before putting in the slow cooker, I can do it all in just the one.  Tonight I wanted dumplings, so after the roast was cooked, I removed it, turned the settings back to stove top, and cooked the dumplings.  One pan.  One.  

And, no, I have not been compensated in any way by Ninja, I just love it.  :)

Once I got the roast started, I put together and vacuum sealed:
2 Secret-Ingredient Meatloaves
2 pounds browned and seasoned ground beef, and
1 roast (a second one, not the one from the slow cooker)

Now they are all resting in my freezer, awaiting easy starts to future meals.  My future me will be SO grateful that I did this.  :)

And when the roast for tonight was done, this is the beautiful dinner we had:
Roast (with horseradish), Dumplings, Green Beans

I'll be putting the recipe up over at What's Cookin' 4 Miles North of Nowhere.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

What I'm reading Wednesday...

Sweet Salt Air: A Novel by Barbara Delinsky

Monday, February 22, 2016

Making it Monday...

Swiss Steak

This isn't a terribly pretty picture...but I was hungry!  :)

It's another one of those recipes that reminds me of my childhood.  My mother always bought a round steak and cut it into serving size pieces before cooking.  I couldn't even find a 'round steak' in the meats section of the grocery store, so I used a tenderized cut.

I'll put the recipe at What's Cookin' 4 Miles North of Nowhere.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Cutting back and running wild...

Caloric frugality and monetary frugality are a lot alike.  When you have been practicing unhealthy habits, trying to reign them in can be challenging.  At first you go along feeling good...feeling strong...and then something comes along to play on your weakness.  You fall flat on your tuchus, and it's hard to get back on your feet. 

As far as my spending diet goes, that stumbling block came a few days ago in the form of my car not running, we were low on groceries in the house and balancing different work schedules.  We resorted to bringing in prepared food.  That snowballed into many meals out...and maybe a minor avalanche of online purchases slipped past my defenses.

Today I grabbed my menu plan and grocery list.  I climbed back on the wagon, and filled it with groceries for the next couple of weeks.  Having the grocery budget back under control, will help the rest of the budget categories fall back into line too.  I hope.

I apologize if my frugality posts are less than scintillating reading.  I write them to keep myself accountable and my eyes on the goal.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Frugal Friday File, Week 7...

1.  I took my lunch to work.

2.  I filled up on my way home from work at a station that was 10¢ per gallon less than the least expensive station close to home.

3.  When making a recipe that called for a can of diced tomatoes, I found the cupboard was bare.  So I diced up some fresh tomatoes that were needing to be used anyway.  No food waste, no gas spent acquiring exact ingredient called for.

4.  Started car to head to work on Wednesday, and it would not shift into gear.  I missed that day of work (not frugal).  Carey was able to find problem, but not able to get necessary part.  He was, however, able to improvise a solution that he feels is safe and durable enough to hold until the part can be obtained from a dealer, so I won't miss a second day of work (frugal).  Choosing a mechanically savvy husband...very, VERY frugal.

5.  Hmmmm...

Keep Tryings:
1.  Between bum knee and car refusing to move from driveway, we ate out or carried in WAY more than we should have

Frugal From the Kitchen This Week:
Saturday:  (not so frugal takeout)
Sunday:  Sunday family dinner at Kasey's
Monday:  Homemade pizza
Tuesday:  Spanish Rice
Wednesday:  (not so frugal takeout)
Thursday:  (not so frugal dinner out at our favorite local Tex-Mex)
Friday:  ?

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

What I'm reading Wednesday...

Crow Hollow by Michael Wallace

A Puritan widow is abducted by Native Americans.  She escapes/is rescued, but is forced to leave her young daughter behind.  Desperate to find her daughter, the widow joins forces with an English spy who is looking into...  Well, I'm a third of the way into the book, and I don't really know what the heck the spy is looking into yet.  :)

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Tip of the week...

I'm not really a single-purpose gadget person, so since I rarely make a recipe where it is vital to sift flour, I don't own a sifter.  

I keep my all-purpose flour in a two gallon glass jar on my counter top.  When I need to sift flour for a recipe, I take my whisk, and whisk the flour in the canister really well all the way to the bottom.  Then I have nicely 'sifted' flour ready to measure out for whatever is on the menu.  

Monday, February 15, 2016

Monday, Monday...

Poor, poor Mama Granny Bear.  She looks as old and bedraggled as I feel today.  

This past weekend was a tough one.  I needed to be productive, and I was not.  Today is a national holiday (President's Day), so I'm not working, but I am working tomorrow, Wednesday, and Friday--all at offices out of town--so I won't get much done in the next few days either, I am sure.

I have had a non-stop headache and muscle tension since early last hazard of notoriously uncomfortable desk chairs...ergonomic first world problem.  Over the weekend my right knee gave a tremendous--and tremendously painful--POP!  Now it has restricted mobility, and if I forget and bend it too far the pain rages back.  But I am able to walk and drive fine as long as I am mindful of bending...or not bending.

I slept fitfully, and obviously my aches and pains followed me into my dreams.  I dreamt that I was attending a Disney-run science-y experience venue with my BFF, when I was diagnosed with distemper (yes, a canine disease) and placed under quarantine.  I can only imagine that my subconscious was telling me I am dog tired, going to the dogs, or sick as a dog.  :)

Today I stepped out to the garage to take out some garbage, and I was reminded of boxes that my husband placed there at my request.  Carey is truly OCD about a tidy garage, so there will be no long-term storage of possessions there.  After we moved, I did not get all boxes emptied, so he eventually moved them out of his beloved garage and into a rented storage unit, for which we have been paying monthly ever since.  I am determined to be free of that monthly bill and the unwanted items.  But that means I have to go through all of the boxes, because some of them house family heirlooms.  He reluctantly agreed to bring a few home at a time, into my parking space, for me to have access.   This will be an ongoing effort, but I hope to have it done before the temperatures soar too high.

I opened one of the boxes today, and the first thing I see is the vintage mechanical Mama Bear toy.  I think I got it for Christmas when I was about six.  If you flip its switch, the baby bear moves and squeaks, and Mama puts the bottle in its mouth for a few seconds, then takes it out and the sequence starts over.  Not the most exciting of toys, but I absolutely loved it.  I've been wondering lately if it was in a box somewhere, or if I had disposed of it long ago.  Its unexpected appearance brightened my Monday.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Frugal Friday File, Week 6...


1.  Picked up prescriptions from Costco. Monetarily frugal, but it costs me a lot in frustration.

2.  Scheduled 5 1/2  workdays over this week and next.

3.  During a slow time at work, I was able to go in and change my paycheck deductions to be more in line with current situation.

4.  Since Carey is working Valentine's Day, we went out for a pre-Valentine's Day dinner.  Two gift cards that have been in my purse for awhile covered all but the tip.

5.  Today at work I researched and was rewarded to find that since my commute was over 30 miles one way today (and 3 more days to come this week and next) the miles over 30 are eligible for mileage reimbursement.   This is a teeny perk of being on call, and should put another $7.20 (x 4 days = $28.80) in the old bank account.

Keep Tryings:

1.  I have not packed my lunches to take to work.

Frugal From the Kitchen This Week:

Saturday:  Chili Frito Pie
Sunday:  Sunday family dinner at Kasey's
Monday:  Homemade Pizza
Tuesday:  dinner out using gift cards
Wednesday:  Roast in the slow cooker
Thursday:  Baked potato
Friday:  probably something from the freezer


Thursday, February 11, 2016

It's rodeo time...

photo credit: Seguin Gazette (2014)

Encountering a trail ride was a pleasant break from my frustration with the more modern drivers on the roads during this morning's commute.  Trail riders are on their annual trek to the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo.  This photo was from a couple of years ago.  

They have gorgeous weather this year.  We were sunny and 80° F today.   

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

What I'm reading Wednesday...

The Space Between: An Outlander Novella by Diana Gabaldon

Saw this on the library's ebook list, so I checked it out.  I loved her first book so much, but since then...  This one is about extended family members, so I thought I would give it a try.  Haven't made a lot of headway.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Making it Monday...

Boy, again, I did NOT want to cook today.  Carey made the trip to see his mom, I stayed home.  And did absolutely nothing.  I am SO fatigued lately...walking through molasses.  

I knew he would be home in time for dinner.  I had some ground beef in the fridge, but I couldn't think of a thing to prepare with it.  I really wanted to order pizza and have it delivered, but my frugal goals won the day.

I knew I had flour and yeast, so I figured I could cobble something pizza-like together as long as I had some sauce in the cupboard.  I did, but boy is the pantry getting bare.  Definitely need to go to the market...soon.

I made the crust using a recipe found on Pinterest.  Other than the sauce, I only had cheddar, Parmesan, green and black olives, half an onion, and the ground beef.

It turned out pretty good.  And pretty darn frugal.  Worth overcoming my malaise.

I'm going to the doctor to have prescriptions renewed tomorrow.  I will definitely bring up the fatigue.  Carey suggested I might need Geritol (do they still make that?), then I reminded him that I have to have blood removed due to high iron levels, so I don't think Geritol is a good idea.  :)

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Sunday Desserts - Inside Out German Chocolate Bundt Cake...

A fellow quilter was telling us about this cake at the recent retreat.  It sounded too easy not to give it a try.  I followed this recipe that I found on Pinterest.

Mine did not come out of the pan cleanly, and I carefully scooped out the parts that stuck to the pan and placed them back onto the cake.  After that I wanted to cover up the flaws pretty it up a little.

I took a second tub of Coconut Pecan Frosting, removed the lid and foil seal and heated it in the microwave for about a minute, stirred it, and put it back in the microwave for about ten more seconds.  When thin enough, I spooned about half of the tub over the cake as a glaze and let it drip down the sides.  (I'm storing the remainder of the tub in the fridge for later.)  Then I placed some chocolate chips in a glass bowl and melted them in the microwave.  I stirred them until they were smooth, and placed the melted chocolate in a plastic bag, snipped off a corner, and drizzled over the cake.

It turned out well.  Next week I think we are due a hearty cobbler or a dense pound cake.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

What song is running through your head?...

Hello, Kindle, my old friend.
I've come to read with you again,
because innkeepers found you by peeping
where you fell hidden while I was sleeping.
And the sorrow that was planted in my heart
did barely start
till the return of Kindle.

Yes.  I know.  I'm a dork.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Frugal Friday File, Week 5...


1.  Quilt retreat was a very frugal one...nearby, lower fee than any others, we provide our own I used up only supplies on hand.

2.  I lost my Kindle on the last day of the retreat.  After turning the place upside down, I had to come home without it.  Happily the owner has found it, and I should be able to drive over this weekend to retrieve it.  A quarter tank of gas for the trip to pick it up is cheaper than replacing it.

3.  I've toyed with the idea of cutting my hair short again, but the nice thing about keeping it long is that it doesn't need constant trimming every six weeks.  I'm not ruling it out completely, but I'm putting it off awhile longer.

4.  We considered going to the movies, but there are none playing that we want to see.  Frugal win.

5.  Eating out of pantry and freezer.

Keep Tryings:

1.  ordered yet more fabric today

Frugal From the Kitchen This Week:

Saturday:  I was fed at retreat...Carey ate leftovers at work
Sunday:  I was fed at retreat...Carey ate leftovers at work
Monday:  I was fed at retreat...Carey ate leftovers at work
Tuesday:  (not so frugal - friend date, salad out)
Wednesday:  Twice Baked Potato from freezer and salad
Thursday:  Sweet Potato Hash with Sausage and Eggs
Friday:  Beans and Cornbread

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Some assembly required...

Last summer I joined in on the Midnight Mystery Quilt by Meadow Mist Designs.  Each month instructions arrived by email.  The photo above shows the fabrics I selected for this project.

I made some progress, but I didn't keep up with the monthly schedule.  Since January's instructions were for finishing (!), I decided that this HAD to be the project that I took to work on at the quilting retreat.

Here is one finished block.

Here are all the finished but unassembled pieces up on the design wall at the retreat center.  I finished sewing the top with about ten minutes to spare  before heading back home this afternoon.

 Once I got home, I laid it across the guest room bed.  I can't wait to take it to be machine quilted!  

Yay me!  Yay 2016 Goals progress!

The retreat was SO fun!  Tonight I am stiff from sitting over the sewing machine for the past 4 days, exhausted (and looking forward to sleeping in my own comfy bed tonight), and happy from all the shared laughter and ideas with excellent company.  :)
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