Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Home from winter quilt retreat...

I had a very productive weekend.  I took lots of works in progress.

(crib quilt)

(table topper)

 By the time I was on the third and largest of the binding projects, I was getting pretty tired of binding!  :)  I stuck it out by rewarding myself with one m&m each time I removed another Wonder Clip.  I worked on this one while we were all watching the Oscars, and I finished it just before the Best Picture debacle.

This one needs a border, but then it will be ready to go out for machine quilting.

Since today was a short sewing day before packing up to come home, I wanted just a little project.  Today I begged some of my fellow quilters for their scraps, and I made some fabric origami butterflies.  I've been wanting to try my hand at making them for awhile, but hadn't gotten around to it.  The antennae in the photo above were edited in since I didn't know I would be making any of these.  In addition to the one above, I made some cute ones out of St. Patrick's Day fabric.

And to share some of the gorgeous things the other quilters worked on at the retreat...

This one was made by Caroline.  I love the pink fabrics.

Laura finished up her Hunter's Star.  Can you see the arrow heads?

Debbie finished up this gorgeous blue and white one.

I'm glad to be home, and Rudy is glad I'm home too.  I think we will both go to bed early tonight!

Friday, February 24, 2017

Frugal Friday File 2017, week 8...

Oh my goodness, I almost forgot to post the Frugal Friday File!

1.  I needed some thread to take to quilt retreat this weekend.  Since I left it kind of late, I thought I would check Amazon and see if they had the brand I wanted (available with Prime shipping) and hoped for a reasonable price.  They did, and they also had a couple under "used" so I clicked on it to see what the heck that could possibly mean.  It meant that it was returned as 'damaged' and repackaged for sale as a second.  For less than half price of other websites (and with free 2-day shipping) why, yes, I was willing to take a chance.  It arrived Tuesday afternoon.  See the flaw?  Look down...down...down all the way to the bottom.  Yes, there it is; that little pin prick of spot.  I just need it for piecing, so it will be buried between layers and completely unseen.  I'm happy with great quality at a bargain price.

2.   I'm in the group making dinner for Saturday for our retreat.  We are grilling chicken (and by 'we' I mean someone else in the group).  I'm taking a big salad.  Someone's making cheesecake (yum!)  We will take our receipts, add them up, and divide equally.  Much more frugal than going into town to eat, and doesn't take as much time away from sewing.

3.  I booked another day of work for next month.

4. The hubs found out how much his annual bonus will be.  A little less than last year, but we were expecting that.  They've made a ton of cutbacks this year, so I'm happy he's still employed; a bonus is just that, a bonus.

5.  I payed all the bills on time; no late fees.  I returned my library book as soon as I finished rather than waiting and risking forgetting; no fines.  I filled up the car and checked what kind of fuel mileage I get in the new car; lots better than its predecessor.

Keep Tryings:
I ran to the fabric store to get some things just in case...pins, needles for machine and hand sewing, a little fabric for binding a project.  Oh well, at least I had coupons.

Frugal From the Kitchen This Week:
Saturday:  *barbecue sandwich
Sunday:  Sunday Family Dinner at Kasey's
Monday:  Beef Stroganoff, broccoli
Tuesday:  Chili Dogs
Wednesday:  Chicken Provolone
Thursday:  leftovers
Friday:  *Chinese

(*not-frugal takeout or dinner out)


Thursday, February 23, 2017

Playing with my food...

I was conflicted last night when it came time to prepare dinner.  I wanted to cook from ingredients on hand, but I wanted something out of the normal rotation, that was filling and that would freeze well for Carey to take to work.  I really wanted Chicken Parmesan, but had no Parmesan.

I did have boneless/skinless chicken breasts in the freezer, spaghetti in the pantry, a half sleeve of crackers, a jar of spaghetti sauce, and sliced Provolone in the fridge.
I just made it up as I went along, and Carey liked it a lot.  He specifically asked that we have it again, so I thought I'd better write it down.  I put it up on What's Cookin' 4 Miles North of Nowhere.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

What I'm reading Wednesday...

I've barely finished one book lately before getting thoroughly engrossed in another.  And I have been thoroughly enjoying them all!

I finished last week's The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and watched the movie immediately after.  I thought the book and movie each had their own merits, and I enjoyed them both for their own sakes; but they were completely, completely different!

Now on to what I've been reading since...

The War that Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

I was reading a frugality blog that I really enjoy last week, and I saw two separate commenters recommend this book very highly.  I went straight to my library's website, and it was available for immediate checkout as an ebook.  YA isn't a genre that I read a lot of, but this really was excellent and I rate it a very rare (for me) 10 out of 10 points.  

Ten-year-old Ada and her 6-year-old brother Jamie escape their abusive mother by being evacuated with other London children during World War II.  They are housed by a woman who is grieving her own losses, and together they find healing.  It is written in a way that young readers can understand, but it is beautifully written and it hardly crossed my mind that it wasn't necessarily for adults.

Blackbird House by Alice Hoffman

This one fulfilled "a book that takes place over a character's life span" category of the 2017 Reading Challenge.  In this case that 'character' is the house itself.  It was built shortly before the Revolutionary War by a Cape Cod sailor who only wanted to stay home with his family and farm.  The stories of its inhabitants through the years were beautifully told.  I could hardly put it down.  

Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World
by Vicki Myron with Bret Witter

I picked up this one (and another) at the library today and am almost halfway through it.

One would think I had nothing else to be doing.  One would be wrong.  I've just been letting everything slide, but I'd better get busy!  So many chores to catch up on around the house, not to mention quilt retreat coming up...projects to pack...laundry to wash and to purchase and prepare...aaaaack!

Friday, February 17, 2017

Frugal Friday File 2017, week 7...

1.  Several months ago I put a book on hold at my library.  I was #1 in line, so I figured it would be ready immediately.  Waited and waited.  Went in library and searched the book.  Asked librarian and was told they would look into it.  Next time I was at the library, I asked again and was told they would look into it some more.  Yesterday I got an email that my hold was ready for pickup.  I think it was lost and they finally just reordered it.  Went by today, and it has a 'new' sticker designation on it.  Then earlier tonight I was reading a blog where two commenters recommended a book so highly that I went to library website to see if it was available...yes, and as an ebook.  I have already downloaded it, and am looking forward to it as well.  Love my library!

2.  Recently I put some green beans on to heat and got distracted...burned to a crisp...and to the pan.  I scraped out what I could and put about an inch of water in the pan and added a little bit of dish liquid and put it on the stove to boil for a few minutes.  After awhile I used a metal spatula to scrape as much of the burned part off the bottom as I could, and then rinsed the pot.  Added some Bar Keeper's Friend to the pan and gave it a scrub.  It didn't take much effort at all to have it completely clean again.  The most frugal part of this story is that those pans are 40 years old...a wedding gift from my mother that I am grateful for every time I use them...which is daily.  She knew that in the long run, buying a practical gift of great quality is the frugal choice.
These are just the saucepans.  The set also includes a Dutch oven, a skillet, 
a double boiler, an electric skillet,and a really great set of knives.  Thanks, Mom!

3.  I postponed making 15 Bean Soup last Friday, because the temperatures went up and I didn't really want soup.  I made it this Tuesday instead.  Then we ate it left over.  Then last night I used what was left and added ground beef (already browned and in the freezer in recipe-size portions), corn, hominy, tomatoes, taco seasoning, and a package of dry ranch dressing mix.  Not exactly the way I usually make Taco Soup, but it was really good, easy, and fed us all without feeling like we were eating leftovers again and without needing to make a trip to the store.  Had enough left to put one serving in the freezer for Carey to take to work, and a small bowl in the fridge for somebody's lunch tomorrow.

4.  I was paying bills yesterday and noticed that the phone/internet/cable bill was not as low as I thought it should be.  I posted in December about calling to request an adjustment to a price hike and was told that they would lower it by $15 a month for a year.   Yesterday it looked as if it was only about $9 lower, and after having internet outages both last month and this month, I was not happy about the high price of unsatisfactory service.  Got back on the phone and spoke to a customer service rep, then I was transferred to a supervisor who explained that the cable fees had gone up by $6 as of January, but agreed that the person I spoke to in December should have known that would be happening and explained it to me.  Uh-huh.  The manager offered to add an additional $5 monthly credit to our bills for a year so that it was more in line with what I agreed to in December.  I verified with her that this did not constitute a contract, and in the event I continue having issues I can cancel service without penalty, and she assured me that there was no contractual obligation.  Okay then. 

5.  Not needing to heat or cool inside air.  It was warm enough to open windows and air the house out one day, and cool enough at night to still need my wool socks on before crawling under the flannel sheets and down comforter.  Wearing wool socks is more frugal than turning up the thermostat.  :)

Frugal From the Kitchen This Week:
Saturday:  *baked potato w/ barbecue
Sunday:  Sunday family dinner at Kasey's
Monday:  Tuna Casserole
Tuesday:  15 Bean Soup and Cornbread
Wednesday:  leftovers
Thursday:  Taco Soup
Friday:  ???

(*not-frugal takeout or dinner out)

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

What I'm reading Wednesday...

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel by Deborah Moggach

I started this one yesterday.  I haven't seen the movie, so I am happily reading without any preconceived notions about the characters.  I hear the book is really different than the movie, so I guess when I finish this one I will have to watch it to compare.

This one fulfills the 'book set in a hotel' category of the 2017 Reading Challenge.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Bad moon rising...

I took this photo Friday night.  It's a pretty awful photo taken with my cell phone, and I hadn't intended to use it for anything, but it has a kind of creepy vibe, and there have been some incredibly creepy vibes flying around here lately, so it found a home in today's blog post.

edit:  There were three paragraphs here describing some current events around our area.  But upon giving it some further thought, I decided I didn't want to blog about them.  It's about some criminal activity, and, though I am sure that the perpetrators would never know that I had spread word of their exploits, I would know.  I'm always saying that the press shouldn't give criminals the satisfaction of giving them so much coverage, so I think I should try to live by my ideals and not give them the power over my thoughts and writing.  And just so you know, their acts were not directed toward me or anyone I know.

In the meantime my internet has been out again...very frustrating.  Internet tech came today and replaced our router and made an adjustment to outside wiring.  Seemed fine when tech left the house, but shortly started acting a little crazy.  Another phone call to tech support, and more time waiting for them to call me back.  Received a call from someone who was able to make an adjustment remotely that seems to have things back to normal.  

We were without internet for four days just last month.  This time I told them that waiting for days was not an option if they wanted to keep my business, and they did respond pretty quickly which is akin to a miracle.  :)

Things you can't do without internet: pay bills, use Amazon Echo, watch Amazon Prime, or Netflix, look up recipes on Pinterest, write blog post drafts...all of which I made an attempt to do before realizing that they were not possible.

Things you can do without internet: read, play solitaire, swiffer the floors, vacuum the rugs, make ice, wash clothes.

I figured out pretty late in the game that I could use my phone as a wifi-hotspot for my laptop, so next time (ugh! did I just say that?  am I becoming inured to it?) it shouldn't be as awful as long as I stick to low data usage activities.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Frugal Friday File 2017, week 6...

1.  I've had the car for two weeks and haven't had to buy gasoline yet.

2.  I got a call today booking a day of work at a branch I've not worked at before.  It's not till the end of April, but it's nice to have days booked ahead.  I have half of my annual minimum  required hours for 2017 booked now.

3.  I found several bags of black-eyed peas in the freezer.    Jared hates black-eyed peas, but he loves 15 bean soup.  Since the temperatures have dipped back into 'soup weather' range, I think I will make a pot of 15 bean soup for tomorrow's supper and hide some extra black-eyed peas amongst the other 14 kinds of beans.  :)

4.  A monthly work-related expense for Carey should decrease by about $60 a month going forward.

5.  I've had 4 items in my Amazon shopping cart for weeks.  They really are things I need, but not exactly imminently, so in the mean time money stays in my pocket.

Frugal From the Kitchen This Week:
Saturday:  homemade pizza
Sunday:  Sunday family dinner at Kasey's
Monday:  *dinner out at Antlers
Tuesday:  Dublin Coddle
Wednesday:  Pineapple Chicken Stir Fry
Thursday:  *burger
Friday:  sandwich

(*not-frugal takeout or dinner out)

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Dublin Coddle with Kale...

I came across the inspiration recipe for Dublin Coddle on Pinterest, and recognized it as including several items that I knew were in my pantry, freezer, and refrigerator that needed using up.  And though it didn't call for kale, I had a BIG bag of kale that I needed to use, and I thought the flavors would meld nicely.
Slice a pound of smoked sausage and chop 1/2 pound of thick-sliced bacon.  Place in a pan and add 3 cups beef broth.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and let simmer for 10 minutes.

Wash and slice 6 potatoes into 1/4 to 1/2 inch slices.  Thinly slice 2 onions.  Peel and slice 3 large carrots (I didn't have whole carrots, but I did have shredded carrots, so I used those).  Wash the kale, discarding large stems, and chop roughly.

Spray a large casserole with cooking spray, or coat with olive oil.  Place 1/3 of potato slices in the bottom.

Top with 1/3 of the sliced onions.

Then place 1/3 of the carrots on next.

Next add 1/3 of the kale, and add a sprinkle of salt and pepper.

Then spoon 1/3 of the sausage and bacon onto the kale.  Repeat layers twice more, then pour the hot broth over all.  Cover with a lid or foil, and bake at 425° F for 40 minutes.

Remove lid.  If it looks too dry add 1/2 cup of water.  Leave uncovered and bake for 20 more minutes or until potatoes and carrots are tender.

This was quite good, and I will definitely be adding it to the recipe rotation...Irish enough to appeal to my roots, and with the greens added it was Southern enough to please my regional tastes.

I'll put a recipe with ingredients in list form up at What's Cookin' 4 Miles North of Nowhere.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Weighty subjects...

So while out in his workshop, Carey somehow managed to drop a tool into a gap that caused it to fall between the interior and exterior walls.  He armed himself with his "good" flashlight and a line of some sort and started fishing around trying to retrieve it.  

In the process he dropped his good flashlight into the gap as well.  (Picturing this is making me chuckle as I type.)

Apparently previous owners have been equally as unlucky, as he could see other objects down there too, so he set about retrieving fallen treasure.  

I asked him awhile ago if he had been able to recover his flashlight, and he proudly announced that he well as a small 3-pound dumbell which he then used to give his bum shoulder a short workout.   "But it made my shoulder ache.  Do you want a little dumbell?"

So I gave him the look and replied, "Thanks, babe, but I already have one."  To his credit, he laughs at all my jokes, even the ones that he walks right into.  

Friday, February 3, 2017

Frugal Friday File, week 5...

1.  I got a call on Monday asking if I could work on Tuesday.  Sure!  While I was working, an employee from a new branch in town (who holds the position that I fill in for) happened to drop by after a doctor's appointment next door, and I was able to get acquainted and let her know that I am available to fill in at her branch when she is out sick or on vacation.  Serendipitous networking.  :)

2. Remembered on Jan 31st that I hadn't paid a bill due on Feb 1st.  Got it done in the nick of time.  Whew!  No late fee.

3.  Chili left from one meal remade into enchilada casserole a few days later.  Leftovers don't have to be rerun as the same old boring thing.

4.  I went to see Hidden Figures this week with a friend.  Went to the matinee on a weekday and managed to resist popcorn and snacks.

5.  I've had an Amazon order in my 'shopping basket' for weeks, but haven't clicked on 'checkout' yet.

Keep Tryings:  I went by Petco this week to buy a new retractable leash for Rudy.  While there I picked up a couple of new toys for him.  It seems I am ever in search for an indestructible soft toy.  One lasted about three hours.  The other one is still being played with, but its days are numbered as two of its three sections are in shreds.

Frugal From the Kitchen This Week:
Saturday:  *Whataburger
Sunday:  Sunday family dinner at Kasey's
Monday:  roasted chicken, diy rice-a-roni, broccoli
Tuesday:  leftovers
Wednesday:  enchilada casserole, Spanish rice, guacamole
Thursday:  Thai Quinoa Salad and salmon filet
Friday:  Beef Vegetable Soup and cornbread

(*not-frugal takeout or dinner out)

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Late winter fare...

As much as I love the warmth and comfort imparted by soups and casseroles when it's cold out, as winter drags on I start craving fresh salad.  Tonight I made Thai Quinoa Salad.  It was quite good, but I will double the dressing recipe next time so that there will be extra for individuals to add more if desired.

While the salad has protein with the quinoa, edamame, and peanuts, I thought my men would prefer a little more, so I served an oven-baked salmon filet alongside. 

Tomorrow we will have beef and vegetable soup with cornbread...I'm not ready to leave winter meals behind just yet.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

What I'm reading Wednesday...

The Good Lord Bird by James McBride

Fulfills 'a book by a person of color' category of the 2017 Reading Challenge.  Story about Henry, a slave child, whose father is killed when famed abolitionist John Brown gets in a fight with his slave owner.  Brown mistakes Henry for a girl and frees 'Henrietta' by taking 'her' with him on the run with his 'army'.  'Henrietta' (later nicknamed Little Onion) continues hiding his true identity in an effort to survive, and in fact does survive when he ends up with Brown at the historic raid at Harper's Ferry.

I know it is a work of fiction, but it is interesting reading about the area that John Brown traveled.  I have very early memories of 'John Brown's Cave' on our Nebraska City visits.
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