Friday, May 27, 2016

Frugal Friday File, week 21...

1.  Days of staying at home reading = no spending.

2.  Needed some labels for some bins I've added to the new shelving in the laundry room.  I've always been a sucker for labelers, and I loved using one when I had access through work.  But printing out bold print on regular paper, then trimming, and adhering with clear packing tape worked perfectly fine, and cost me nothing.  And I could make the print as large as I wanted.

3.  Okay, this one sounds a little creepy-Extreme-Cheapskate-dumpster-diver, but here goes.   Walking out of the drug store yesterday, I noticed three empty Bath & Body Works gift bags lying on top of a waste bin outside the door.  Right on top, and nicely folded, was about 20 sheets of pristine matching tissue paper...really cute navy and white gingham.  I left the bags, but I picked up the tissue paper to use with plain white gift bags that I have a ton of.

4.  I cooked at home every night.

5.  Almost a month and a half, and still no fabric purchases!

Keep Tryings:
I made the mistake of trying Coffee Nut m&ms last weekend, one of the new flavors that they are test marketing.  Today I was in the city, and I decided that I would pick up a few more, as I'm sure the grandsons will like them.  Slight problem.  They were sold out, which sent me on a mad search of seven different stores looking for them.  Finally found them at number seven, and bought a hoard few bags.

Frugal From the Kitchen This Week:
Saturday:  leftovers
Sunday:  Sunday family dinner at Kasey's
Monday:  salmon/wild rice/green beans
Tuesday:  Chicken Fettuccine Alfredo
Wednesday: Tortilla Soup (not really soup weather, but easy,
                      and I had everything on hand)
Thursday:  Fish tacos
Friday:  homemade pizza

(*not-frugal takeout or dinner out)

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Sunday dessert...

Only took five minutes.  Quick and easy, AND I had a helper.  :)

Strawberry Fluff
  1 angel food cake (store bought or homemade)
  1 14 ounce can Eagle Brand sweetened condensed milk
     (may substitute one 3.4 ounce pkg of instant vanilla pudding 
      prepared as per pkg directions)
  1 cup of sour cream
10 ounces of frozen sweetened strawberries (thawed)
  1 8-ounce container of Cool Whip topping (thawed)

Tear angel food cake into large-ish bite-sized pieces and put into a deep bowl.  Mix sweetened condensed milk (or vanilla pudding) and sour cream.  Pour over torn cake.  Pour strawberries on top, and spread to cover.  Top with Cool Whip topping.  Refrigerate until served.  Can be made a day in advance.

You may notice my helper and I got the steps out of order a little.  It doesn't really hurt anything.  This kind of recipe is not an exact science.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Frugal Friday File, week 20...

1.  Previewed the auction, decided there was nothing I couldn't live without, left early.  

2.  Did not deviate from grocery list for impulse purchases.

3.  Paid bills on time, returned library books on late fees.

4.  Ordered water with lemon when dining out.

5.  Still no new fabric purchases.  *Ű*

Keep Tryings:
1.  After making the week's menu, shopping list, and trip to grocery with digital coupons on my phone, I forgot my pin# to access the coupons.    

Frugal From the Kitchen This Week:
Saturday:  Spanish rice
Sunday:  Sunday family dinner at Kasey's
Monday:  *lunch out with m-i-l, leftovers for supper
Tuesday:  meal from freezer for Carey, *friends' night out for me 
Wednesday:  *barbecue
Thursday:  Beef Koftas and Homemade Yogurt Flatbread
Friday:  Mandarin Pasta Salad

(*not-frugal takeout or dinner out)

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Outside my kitchen window...

 This harmless-looking female cardinal has been camped outside the window.

And repeatedly hurling herself at the glass...


and again...

and again.  ALL.  DAY.  LONG.

Stopping occasionally to give me the evil eye.

She's creeping me out, man!

What I'm reading Wednesday...

Happier At Home by Gretchen Rubin

I'm picking this up now and then, but need to finish it as it's borrowed from the library.  I haven't read the author's other book The Happiness Project.  I'm not sure how I'm feeling about this one.  

Book of Ages: The Life and Opinions of Jane Franklin by Jill Lepore

I've spent more time with this one, as it's on my Kindle, and I read in the car while on our road trip earlier this week.  It is based on the life-long correspondence between Jane Franklin and her famous brother, Benjamin.  It's very interesting, and I'm enjoying it, but it isn't an easy read.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Girls night out...

Girls' night out around here quite often starts with an early dinner at The Cheesecake Factory...Sheila's Chicken and Avocado Salad for me.

Then on to the auction.  I had my eye on these shutters, which had more of a beautiful blue tint than they appear in the photo, and were about 2 feet wide and about 5 feet tall.  I thought 3 of them side by side might make a cool headboard.  Sadly they were selling them in a lot of 10, and I just didn't want to deal with loading 10, not to mention figuring out what to do with the extras.

I also thought this rug would look good with the blue-shutter headboard.  But it was an inch longer than my bedroom is...and since I decided against the shutters, the point was moot.

I really, really loved this typewriter, and I TOTALLY would have bid on it...  

...but it was all Greek to me.

Since there was nothing I couldn't talk myself out of, I decided to scoot back to my little blue dot before the bad weather coming in from the west hammered us.  They were talking about another possibility for large hail.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Long day, but a good one...

We got on the road this morning at 7:00, drove 4 hours to see Carey's mom, stayed about 5 hours that included taking her out for lunch as well as having a great visit with her and Carey's younger brother, then said our adieus and drove 4 hours back home.  No packing.  No nights away from our own comfy bed.  No imposing on the hospitality of family or charging hotel bills.

I'm so glad we live close enough to make trips like this.  It was a fun day.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Sunday family dinner...

Today I made Faithy's Favorite Layered Dessert (only slightly differing measurements from Mom's Texas Delight by nixiechick on All Recipes from which I borrowed the photo above, because tonight's was eaten before I thought about photos).  I used coconut pudding and toasted coconut to garnish the top.  It was pretty popular with the troops.  The kids kept sneaking just a wee bit more while we were playing our Sunday night game of choice.

The game, by the way, was 5 Second Rule in which you have 5 seconds to name three of whatever topic is listed on the card.  Chloe (9) got this one:
To which she responded, "What's a stereo?"

Her mother feels old.  I feel ancient.  You'll have to excuse me now.  I just want to go put some music on the hi-fi.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Frugal Friday File, week 19...

1.  Had such a disappointing dinner out that I emailed a complaint to corporate office.  They emailed me a $75 gift card.

2.  Daughter texted me asking if I could pick up grandson from the high school.  Asked him if he wanted to stop for a drink or snack.  He chose Starbucks, because "they have frappuccinos half price from 3 to 5 through May 15."  Love that boy!  :)  

3.  Cooked a package of chicken breasts in the slow cooker.  Made chicken tacos.  Made chicken spaghetti.  Froze two packages for future meal starters.

4.  Staying in on Friday gas $ spent...and it's Friday the 13th, so who knows what other disasters are being averted!

5.  I haven't purchased any fabric in the last thirty days!

Keep Tryings:
I neglected filling up the gas tank when I had time, so when I was late leaving for a doctor's appointment in a neighboring town I was in a bit of a pinch.  I had enough to get there, but I had to purchase at a higher price before starting the return trip home.

Frugal From the Kitchen This Week:
Saturday:  *dinner out
Sunday:  Family dinner at Kasey's
Monday:  *take out
Tuesday:  grazed the fridge
Wednesday:  chicken tacos
Thursday:  chicken spaghetti
Friday:  *Tex Mex

(*not-frugal takeout or dinner out)

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Cooking success...

So last night I made Crockpot Chicken Tacos.  I put 6 boneless/skinless chicken breasts in the slow cooker.  I had about 16 ounces of Picante Sauce left in a large jar, so I poured a packet of Taco Seasoning into the jar, shook it up, and poured it over the chicken, and let it cook on high for 4 hours.  Shredded the chicken with two forks, and served it in flour tortillas with grated cheddar, guacamole, and sour cream.

It was easy, and well received.  And it left me with enough cooked chicken to easily make two or three more meals from it.

Which brings me to the reason for this post.  

I used some of the leftover chicken to make what I am calling Chicken Spaghetti Especiál tonight.  It was the best chicken spaghetti I have ever made, and since I kind of made it up as I went along, I wanted to document it, so I can replicate it.

12 ounces spaghetti, cooked al dente as per package directions and drained
4 Tablespoons butter
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 onion, diced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
2 Tablespoons Chicken bouillon
4 Tablespoons flour
1 cup milk
1 15 oz. can fire roasted diced tomatoes
2 cups shredded chicken (left from Crockpot Chicken Tacos)
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup Gruyere cheese, grated
3/4 cup cheddar cheese, grated


Preheat oven to 350º F.  Cook spaghetti as directed on package, and drain.

Melt 4 Tablespoons of butter in non-stick skillet.  Saute onion and green pepper till softened.  Add salt, pepper, garlic powder, and chicken bouillon, and stir through.  Add flour and stir to coat vegetables and cook flour a bit.  Pour a cup of milk into pan, and stir to make a sauce.  (I did this instead of using canned Cream of Chicken Soup, and I think it improved the flavor.)  When the sauce is smooth and thickened a bit, stir in the diced tomatoes.  Stir in sour cream, Gruyere cheese, and about 1/4 cup of the cheddar cheese.  

Pour this over the cooked spaghetti, and stir to blend.  Spray a casserole dish with cooking spray.  Pour the spaghetti into the casserole dish and top with remaining 1/2 cup of cheddar cheese.  Bake for 30 to 45 minutes.

The combination of using the chicken taco meat, making homemade sauce rather than using condensed soup, the fire roasted tomatoes, and the Gruyere cheese (which was in the fridge and needed to be used up) really upped the game of my usual run-of-the-mill chicken spaghetti.  

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Not a total waste, but close enough...

Today I:

Made the bed.

Washed and dried a load of towels (haven't folded them yet).

Contemplated what I haven't been reading (library book) or writing (blog posts).

Made a mini menu plan.

Did a mini grocery shop.

Put chicken in the slow cooker for tacos tonight and for tomorrow's casserole and a future casserole or soup too.

Checked the mail and threw it all away (nothing but junk).

Took a nap.

Put away washed/dried clothes.

Emptied the dishwasher and then started loading the next load.

The rest of the time I spent checking email and surfing the web...or in other words, wasting time.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Frugal Friday File, week 18...

1.  At Sunday family dinner, Beau asked me to trim Caitlyn's hair (if we could talk her into it).  I was just as leery of anyone coming at my hair with scissors when I was her age (ten)--I still am!--so I empathized completely with her, and I offered to let her trim mine as well.  =O  I told her we could put a length of tape across our shirts in the back as a guide, and just trim even with the tape.  She let me trim hers, but declined to reciprocate.  Only a tear or two from my sweet girl during the process, and then she was distracted by getting in the pool.  Her daddy was happy to save the $40 salon fee.  I must say I was happy she didn't want to cut mine, but if she had I would have let her.  It's long enough that it could be easily repaired.

2.  We made it through the second round of car sharing.  Jared was finally able to get his hail-damaged front and back windshields replaced yesterday.  It made for some extra planning to share rather than rent, but it saved the expense.

3.  Carey finished putting the shelving in the laundry room that I wanted.  He got frustrated with the molding, so made a plan B without consulting me.  It doesn't look exactly like I hoped it would, but he tried really hard, so I'm going to be happy with it as is.

4.  I worked an extra half day this week.  

5.  I made no fabric purchases this week either, and I steered clear of haircut expense again.

Keep Tryings:
Too many meals out. 

Frugal From the Kitchen This Week:
Saturday:  *barbecue
Sunday:  Sunday family dinner at Kasey's
Monday:  leftovers
Tuesday:  *Whataburgers
Wednesday:  roast/potatoes/carrots
Thursday:  *Tex-mex
Friday:  Spanish rice

(*not-frugal takeout or dinner out)

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

A little riddle...

I like riddles.  The sillier the better.  Somebody told me this one today at work, and I got tickled.

What's the difference between an elephant and a Zippo?
An elephant is really heavy...

...and a Zippo is a little lighter.

image credit:  Bing clip art images

Today the new hire was finally approved for the office in which I have been subbing.  She starts a week from Thursday.  That means I have two more days to work there (one this week and one next week), then I don't have anything scheduled till AUGUST!  I am really looking forward to a break, but at the same time it's kind of unnerving.  But I have already met my minimum hours for the year, and I have completed all my required annual training, so I actually don't have to work at all for the rest of the year...unless, of course, I want a pay check.  :)

But I'm just going to be happy about having some uninterrupted time at home to get some projects done.  Happy, happy, happy!

Monday, May 2, 2016

Making it Monday...

Quilting day at the library again.  I finished the crib quilt top today (above) that I started last month.  Now need to machine quilt it.  I'm planning to do it myself, but need to give it a good pressing.  Would rather nap.  :)  

Working next two or three days, so probably won't get started yet.

And sorry, Peggy, forgot to do anything about blogging about library quilt group.  There were only 4 of us there today.  Will keep it on the back burner.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Sunday desserts...

I saw these Ice Cream Sundae Cookie Cups on Pinterest quite awhile ago, and thought I'd give them a try.  I wanted really easy, so I used prepared cookie dough from the refrigerated section at the store.  I cut the roll of cookies into 12 equal slices, and placed a slice in each cup of a regular size muffin tin and baked at 350̊ till golden around rim but still somewhat soft in the middle (about ten minutes).  Removed from oven and immediately used a small spice jar to push down the center into a bowl shape.  Cooled for ten minutes, then twisted gently to remove from the muffin cup.  I used a paring knife to loosen some...they stick a little if you leave them in the pans too long.  Let the cups cool thoroughly.

Fill with ice cream, top with Magic Shell and sprinkles.  Store in freezer.  The recipe and directions are at Lovely Little Kitchen.

edit:  I couldn't find my ice cream scoop, but that would have simplified things a great deal.  While the cookie bowls were baking, I placed scoops of ice cream onto a cookie sheet, and placed the sheet in the freezer to to keep them firmly frozen until the cookie cups were baked, cooled, and ready to be filled with them.  You have to work pretty quickly.
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