Friday, January 29, 2016

Frugal Friday File, Week 4...


1.  Cards made and sent from my stash of supplies.  Nothing purchased.

2.  Cancelled scheduled friend-date for dinner and auction.  It was rainy, I was already in city for mammogram, and didn't want to wait there for hours till meet up or waste gas to come home only to turn around and go back, so I called friend and begged off.  Coming home and crawling under the covers to read was much cozier and way more frugal.

3.  Suffered through a really awful cooking-with-leftovers experiment.  Blech...but on the other hand, no one was hungry afterwards and no $ spent.

4.  Really mild temperatures this winter have made for low heating bills.

5.  I found rolls of my favorite shelf liner tucked away in a cupboard.  Saves me buying any to line the newly painted shelves in the laundry room.  Yea!

Keep Tryings:

1.  Forgot to get cash before my mammogram appointment; wasted $4 in ATM fees using on-site ATM to get cash for parking.

2.  Ordered more quilt fabric.

Frugal From the Kitchen this week:

Saturday...Tuna Casserole, Broccoli
Sunday...Southwestern Twice-Baked Potatoes
Monday...ate leftovers out of fridge
Tuesday...(not frugal...burgers out)
Thursday...Italian Chicken Twice-Baked Potatoes
Friday...chicken something-or-other (cooked extra chicken when I was prepping potatoes last night)

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Retreat meal prep...

The quilt retreat is this weekend.  I am not ready, but I'm closer than I was.

We will be cooking ourselves.  No, that's not right.  We will be cooking FOR ourselves.  Everybody brings their own breakfast preferences, and since the numbers of lunches and dinners that we will be having there equals the number of attendees, we drew lots to see who would provide and prepare which meal.  I got Tuesday lunch.  Since we are leaving there right after lunch on Tuesday, I wanted something really easy, so I wouldn't lose Tuesday-morning productivity, and also easy to clean up after.

I found a recipe for Southwestern Twice-Baked Potatoes (not pictured) that I thought would be a possible solution.  I made them Sunday, and the family really liked them.  When I went to buy groceries today, I decided to switch up the recipe to use diced chicken, butter, sour cream, Parmesan, sliced black olives, green onions, garlic, Italian seasonings, topped with mozzarella, and after baking, topping with some extra sour cream and pesto.  I gave them a trial run for dinner tonight. (Tonight's are pictured above.  I had limited mozzarella, so I used cheddar on ours.) 

The retreat potatoes are done and in the freezer now.  Then Monday night, I'll move them from the retreat house freezer to the fridge to thaw, and just pop them in the oven to bake late Tuesday morning.  I'm also going to make some Mason Jar salads to serve with them.  

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

What I'm reading Wednesday...

The Light Between Oceans by M. L. Stedman

This one has been on my Kindle for a long while.  It has been made into a movie (being released later this year, I think), so thought I'd better get it read. 

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Think pink...

Got my mammogram today.  It had been a few years, so I am glad to have it off my conscience and to-do list.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Making it Monday...

It's January, and I already have catching up to do towards my goal of sending 52 letters in 52 weeks this year.

This first card is for a friend's birthday.  She likes Mary Engelbreit, so I used some ME papers.  

card 1 front

 The inside has a pop up greeting with the rest left blank so I could write her a nice long letter.  She is also a card maker, so I know she always closely examines and appreciates a handmade card.
card 1 inside

The second card is also for a friend's birthday (another card maker too...possibly the best I know).  Kept this one really simple...inspired by one I saw on Pinterest by Becky Jensen.
card 2

One of these, maybe both, will be late.  :(  

I'm hoping to make at least two more before I put away all the paper and punches and stamps.  Then I have to get really busy getting ready for the quilt retreat I'm attending at the weekend.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Frugal Friday File, Week 3...


1.  ZERO 'new' items purchased* (other than food) this quilt Amazon Prime

2.  Refilled foaming-hand-soap dispenser with water and Dr. Bronner's

3.  Plated individual meals from leftovers to freeze for Carey's work lunches

4.  Scheduled an overdue mammogram which is 100% covered by insurance

5.  Returned library books before due, preventing fines

Keep tryings:

1.  Three restaurant meals out this week (but I did have free water instead of $ tea with each)

* 2.  I bought a 'used' item at auction

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Buyer's remorse...

What got into me?  It's not awful.  It's missing a knob, but that is fairly easy to remedy.  Harder to remedy is the size.  It's too big.  I was hoping to use it bedside, but it's out of proportion to the three-drawer chest we use on Carey's side.  Not keeping measurements handy is a rookie mistake.

On the positive side, the drawers slide smoothly, and they don't have that stale smell inside that auction furniture quite often does.

I'll try it...and probably move it around a few times...maybe pull my hair out.  If all else fails, I may pop off the carved trim and paint the darn thing.  

I wish I could at least say it was dirt cheap.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

I keeps me promises...

Sheila's Cashew Chicken Salad from the Cheesecake Factory

See.  I told you I'd have a salad today.  Girls' dinner-and-auction night out.  

I bought something at the auction too.  I left it in the car, rather than try to wrangle it into the house in the the dark.  I hope I don't regret the purchase in the light of day.  :)  It wasn't extremely frugal, but it is something I have been needing and looking for since early last year.  I'll post a photo soon.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Frito Pie...

A winter favorite around these parts.  The really authentic kind calls for splitting the side of a snack-sized bag of Fritos, ladling canned chili onto the chips inside, topping it with cheese, and eating it right out of the bag with a plastic spoon.  Served at almost every football game and carnival in the great state of Texas.  :)  Not exactly healthy, but I make mine with homemade chili at least.  And I'm having a salad tomorrow, I promise!

I'm blaming tonight's supper on Rachel (a good Texas transplant), who texted me from her home in Kentucky a couple of weeks ago, something to the effect of, "Having Frito Pie, wish you were here."  I've been wanting it ever since.  

Hmmm...when you think about it, this one has avocado, tomato, olives (among the other innocent ingredients cough, cough...), and it's served in a it's practically a salad.  Am I right?

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Sunday desserts - No-Bake Peanut Butter and Chocolate Cookies

Last week, Caitlyn put in a special request for these 'cookies' to be our next dessert.  I've been making them forever.  My mother made them before me; she probably made them at least a hundred times.  We all loved them, and they are so easy.  They always make me think of her.

When my mother turned eighty, my sisters and I gathered for a visit at Mom's house.  I baked a pound cake, and several varieties of cookies to take with me and make it a party.  It was a nice day.

We used to talk every couple of days on the phone, and after everyone left, and she had the house to herself again, we were talking on the phone one day when she said how good everything was that I had brought, and would I please send her the recipe for those peanut butter and chocolate bars.  I told her I would, but that I was sure she had it somewhere since it was her recipe first.  She assured me that she had never made them or even tasted them before, but they sure were good, and she would like to make some sometime.

For me, that was the saddest day of our long goodbye.  She was such a good cook, and she had many recipes committed to memory, but she had come to not even recognizing an old favorite.  

Today the cookies are still being made, they are a favorite of a new generation, and Mom is still living in our hearts and traditions...and taste buds.

No-Bake Peanut Butter and Chocolate Cookies
1 cup butter (2 sticks)
1 3/4 cups graham cracker crumbs (about two sleeves)
2 1/3 cups powdered sugar
1 cup creamy peanut butter
2 10 ounce bags of chocolate chips (semi-sweet or milk chocolate)

Melt butter in a mixing bowl.  Add graham cracker crumbs, powdered sugar, and peanut butter, and stir until mixed thoroughly.  Press the peanut butter mixture into a 9" x 13" pan sprayed with non-stick cooking spray.  

Melt chocolate chips and pour over the peanut butter layer, and spread evenly with the back of a spoon. 


Allow to set at room temperature for a couple of hours (or in refrigerator for no longer than 30 to 40 minutes) before cutting into squares.  Store covered at room temperature.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Frugal Friday File, Week 2...

1.  Calendar:  In the spirit of making do.  Though that new-calendar feeling wore off way too quickly, it still meets certain important criteria:  it is here, it is paid for, it will fill the need.  Definitely a 'make it do.'

2.  I made a start at a budget.  Wrote down all my fixed expenses.  I haven't set monthly budget amounts for discretionary spending, but at least I know what broad parameters we need to stay within.

3.  I've cut down on my trips to Sonic, and will only stop for a Coke or iced tea if it is between 2 and 4 when drinks are half-price.  One night I did stop for a large cup of ice, which is my real addiction from there, after all.  It's way cheaper, and pouring my own iced tea or lemon water over it at home gives me the same happy factor.

4.  I didn't have a satellite bill to pay this month!  Woohoo!

5.  Library patronage.

6. Friend date.  We went out for our usual pre-auction dinner.  It wasn't a cheap meal, but it was a very good-for-me salad, and I ordered water with lemon (free) instead of tea ($2).  Afterwards we went to preview the items up for auction, and I found nothing I needed, so left before it even started.
1.  Concession stand at movie

2.  Quilt fabric...again

Thursday, January 14, 2016

In the soup...

The chicken I stewed on Tuesday gave us Chicken Pot Pie then.  Tonight the rest of the meat and the stock gave us a beautiful Chicken Tortilla Soup.  Yummy!

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

What I'm reading Wednesday...

I am still reading Life After Life by Kate Atkinson from last week.  A slow starter, but it grew on me, and I should be done by tonight or tomorrow.

Then I will be starting...

The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy by Rachel Joyce

I've been on the reserve list for this one at the library for awhile.  I got an email a couple of days ago that it was available for download.  Man, I love being able to check out ebooks from the library, and I don't even have to go to the library since you can browse library catalog, reserve, check out, etc. online.  I'm sure I'm repeating myself.  Sorry.  But I really do love my library.  :)


Tuesday, January 12, 2016

I love the smell of paint fumes in the morning...

Looks like Carey got the memo...
when painting, wear clothing that matches paint color so drips don't ruin garment.  :)

Long delayed laundry room redo has begun!  I chose and purchased all the paints towards the end of 2014.  Then we decided to forge ahead with the kitchen remodel, and we put the laundry room on the back burner (no pun intended).  When the kitchen was finally done, we needed a break from the disorder and drudgery.

When Carey started painting the cabinets today, I heard a lot of grumbling.  He didn't like the way the paint was going on.  I had purchased a paint specifically for cabinets that is supposed to minimize brush strokes, but apparently looks awful going on, and needs 3 or 4 coats with 24 hours drying time between each coat.

I am beyond thrilled to be saying goodbye to that horrid blonde finish on the cabinets in here.  They are also in all the bathrooms in the house, so I hope he doesn't mind that I would eventually like them all painted.  I'll wait awhile to spring that on him.

There are so many obstacles in here: washer, dryer, cabinets, water heater, water softener, freezer.  All of which he will paint behind perfectly, because that's how he is. 

I have been slowly collecting rugs and art for in here, so I look forward to getting all of that into place and out of where they've been stashed for the past year or so.  That will still be awhile, since the room won't get finished before he has to go back to work.

I'll be updating as work progresses.

To make sure he knows how much I appreciate his efforts, I baked a Chicken Pot Pie (recipe here) to reward him and keep his strength up.


Sunday, January 10, 2016

Sunday desserts - Cream Cheese Squares...

Tonight I made Cream Cheese Squares for dessert, and they were a hit...with those around the table as well as the cook.  They were very easy; the cook likes that.  :)

They are a bar cookie that taste a bit like pecan shortbread, but they have a moist creamy filling layer.

Click this link for the recipe at Chocolate, Chocolate and More.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Calendar snob...

I found a new calendar.  It wasn't on sale, but I had a 40% off coupon, and I didn't want to look any further.  It has the big, lined squares that I like, and while not exactly matte paper, it's not glossy either, so I can use a pencil on it...that's a big thing for me.

However, if I had noticed one thing about it in the store, it would NOT have come home with me.  It runs Monday through Sunday instead of Sunday through Saturday.  I made that mistake once before, and I was confused and mixing up dates all year long.

As soon as I noticed this, I sat down with a Sharpie and labels to make it conform to my preference.  Luckily it had a blank column on the left, so I moved all the Sundays.  (Wow, I feel so powerful!)  The former Sunday spaces (on the right side) are now blank, and will probably stay that way.  

I'm kind of bummed, because I really love the clean-slate look of a new, blank calendar.  This one now looks like somebody who tried to bathe a cat...all scratched up and Bandaid-ed.  I'll just live with it (sigh), but it is definitely going on next week's Frugal Friday File  as a success.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Frugal Friday File, Week 1...

Welcome to my inaugural post of the Frugal Friday File.  

Last year we made some big expenditures that cut uncomfortably into our bank balance.  

It has stirred up vivid memories of being a young mother with days left till payday, searching the house for change and counting out dimes to buy a loaf of bread and a carton of eggs to tide us over.  We haven't had to do that in a long time, and we've gotten lax in our budgetary habits.

That's not to say that we are fiscally irresponsible.  We have retirement accounts.   Our house is paid for.  But with retirement looming on the horizon, I'm beginning to anticipate the possibility of not having done enough preparation.  I fear losing the ease of the lifestyle to which I have become accustomed.  

It's time way past time to start putting some conscious thought into the small daily expenditures, as well as more conscious saving for the infrequent large expenditures, so thought I'd keep a running tally of some of my efforts.

1.  Cooking at home vs eating out.  When the kids spend the night, I often take them out for breakfast in the morning.  This past week, I decided instead to break out the waffle iron and stir up some batter, which cost only pennies and makes them very happy.  Also, when Carey asked last night if I would like to go out for dinner, I told him I would rather cook.  

2.  I stayed home for most of the week.  That means no gas spent and no impulse purchases.  I do need a 2016 wall calendar, however, so I am probably going  to see if I can find one on sale this afternoon.  I have printed my own in the past, but as mentioned before, the printer isn't working.

3.  I had a phone call this morning from a nearby branch of the company I work for to schedule me for seven days of work over the next few months.  I have a conflict for one of the days, but scheduled six.  

4.  I used the library website to reserve an ebook for free rather than purchasing elsewhere.

5.  Carey and I are going to a matinee this afternoon to see the new Leonardo DiCaprio movie The Revenant.  We will be using a theater gift card that I found in my purse recently.  

1.  I fell victim to the Kindle Daily Deal one day this week; 99¢ isn't a lot for an ebook, but it does add up.  It is so easy to click 'Buy Now With 1-Click.'

2.  Ditto for the Missouri Star Quilt Co Deal of the Day.  I have really cut back on ordering, but I did order one day this week.  Now I need to do better at using some of that fabric!

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Seven random thoughts on the 7th...

1.  I have been in a crappy mood today.  Ask anybody (e.g., Carey).

2.  I made stir-fried rice for dinner tonight.  It wasn't as good as usual, but it had more vegetables, so it was probably better for us.

3.  I have still not learned the channel numbers for the new cable system, nor have I mastered using the new remote.

4.  I still have not done anything about the printer not working.

5.  I did not leave the house today.

6.  I should probably leave it tomorrow for my own sanity, if not everyone else's (e.g., Carey).

7.  Maybe tomorrow I will go buy a powerball lottery ticket.  It's up to $700 million.  If I won, I would buy the vacant lot next door, and build a house on it so people (e.g., Carey) would not have to be around me when I am cranky.  

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

What I'm reading Wednesday...

Life After Life by Kate Atkinson

I'm having trouble sticking with this one.  I'm about a quarter of the way into it, so I'll give it a little while longer to pull me in.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Soup weather...

I am thoroughly enjoying soup weather.  It is cold and damp outside, and a pot of soup is the perfect supper to look forward to.

Tonight I pulled items from the pantry, refrigerator, and freezer and found that I had everything to make Lentil soup...yummmmmm. 

I used to hate lentils.  Well, that's not fair to say.  My sister cooked them once, and I hated them, but I freely blame her for not knowing how to cook them well.  Then years later my friend, the other Kathleen, made them for me, and I finally knew how good they could be.

Not only is this soup delicious, but it is pretty quick and easy to put together and economical too.  Tonight I even had some homemade cornbread muffins in the freezer to accompany the soup.

The recipe is on What's Cookin' 4 Miles North of Nowhere.  If you try it, please let me know.

edited to add:  I forgot to say that I linked up this week at What's For Dinner Wednesday with Cath@Home.  She has a monthly drawing for participants, and she mailed me a sweet package when she drew my name recently, so if you blog about food, consider linking up!  The button is in the right margin.  --->

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Oh, deer...

I took this photo through my living room window just this morning (so please excuse the lack of quality).  The spotted axis is a new visitor, so I thought I would text Carey.  This was only some of the herd that were brunching on our winter lawn.  I really don't like them much, but we did move into their habitat, so it is an uneasy peace that we share.

We drive pretty slowly through the and night...but this evening I was rushing home to watch the season opener of Downton Abbey.  By rushing, I mean I was driving approximately 25 miles per hour, when what to my wondering eyes did appear, but six glowing eyes of three pesky deer.  They ran right out in front of me, and I struck two of them.  They promptly got up, and continued on their way.  Hardy buggers.

There doesn't seem to be any visual damage to my car either.

These are the first ones I have hit since living here.  I did, however, have one hit me once.  It ran smack dab into the rear fender of the car.

Stupid deer.

(If deer could blog, they would end their post with, "Stupid humans."  I'm okay with that.)

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Patting myself on the back...

The Christmas tree is down and put away.

To be completely frank, the ornaments are still on the guest bed awaiting a once over to winnow out any non-essentials.  But still, a pat on the back is not uncalled for.  :)

Friday, January 1, 2016

Happy New Year!...

Last year's goals list was very streamlined...a little too streamlined.  While the simplicity did help me to concentrate on what was important, without specifics, I don't think I made as much progress as I could have.  This year I want to keep it simple, but also give myself some specifics to live up to.

Write it down -- continue with weekly listing goals and to-dos...this is the best way of keeping me on track and making progress

Finances -- focus on frugality, weekly blog post for accountability  
      2015 was a very expensive year, and cut deeply into my comfort level.

Home -- reacquaint myself with Flylady routines and continue reducing possessions

Quilting -- complete 6 quilts

Water -- drink 42 ounces of water daily (over and above other beverages consumed)

52 Letters in 52 Weeks
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