Wednesday, January 31, 2018

What I'm reading Wednesday...

The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning by Margareta Magnusson

I recently requested that my library acquire this book for me.  They were very speedy about making it available.  I just picked it up, so I will be starting it this evening.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Saturday snail mail (on Sunday)...

This has been a busy month of letter writing.  Ten letters so far.  You can tell I kept the card design simple and consistent.

Letters of appreciation.    

Letters of sympathy and letters of friendship.  

A couple of birthdays.

A pretty no-occasion card to my mother-in-law.

And I made myself a 2018 calendar tally;  I do this each year to keep track of who has received cards when.  The top sheet in the photo above is last year's, the bottom one is for 2018.  

The gold business card sized object above is a magnetic address book.  It has fan-fold pages attached inside, and with the magnets, I can enclose my folded tally sheet and a small booklet of stamps as well, so everything is always handy in my purse to drop someone a line.  

This small magnetic booklet holds only my most used addresses.  I keep my entire address list in a Word file on my computer so it is easily updated, but I print it out once a year or so and keep the pages on file.  I am always afraid of losing my addresses into the ether. 

Do you still keep a hard copy of an address book, or do you rely solely on digital address keepers?  

Friday, January 26, 2018

Frugal Friday File 2018, week 4...

1.  Working a full day of work today.

2.  After sticking close to home so much lately, I needed a day out earlier this week.  I went to Tuesday Morning and had fun browsing; and when I saw something I was interested in, I put my noggin to figuring out how to use something I already have to do the same thing.  I did buy something for a gift...I had been shopping around for this particular item quite a bit lately, and was happy with the price and design of this one.

3.  I also stopped by Dollar Tree, mostly because after shopping around and listening to people hacking and sneezing I really wanted some anti-bacterial handwipes.  While I was there I picked up a tube of Crest, a bag of caramels (and three other items which I cannot even recall) in addition to the hand wipes.  When I swiped my debit card, it was declined...twice.  I didn't want to write a check or use another card, so I just asked the cashier to cancel the purchase.  The very nice gentleman in line behind me offered to pay for my things.  It kind of embarrassed me, and I thanked him but declined.  None of the items were urgently needed, so was happy to save the $6.41.

4.   My bank called saying that there was some possible fraudulent activity on my debit card.  (Explains why it was declined at Dollar Tree.)  I verified that I had made all the charges in question, so they lifted the activity hold they had on my account.  I not only saved that $6.41 at Dollar Tree, but did not have to deal with correcting fraudulent charges!  Whew!!!  

5.  I had 'pay quarterly life insurance premium' on my to-do list this week...then I realized I had paid it last month.  Yea!

Frugal From the Kitchen This Week:
Saturday:  leftovers
Sunday:  Sunday supper at Kasey's
Monday:  *Schlotzky sandwiches
Tuesday:  Beef and rice, green beans w/ garlic & lemon butter
Wednesday:  Virginia's Taco Soup and cornbread
Thursday:  shredded beef tacos with grilled vegetables
Friday:  leftovers

(*not-frugal takeout or dinner out)

Thursday, January 25, 2018

When leftovers are better than first run...

Day before yesterday I cooked a roast in the slow cooker.  When it was done and I was slicing the meat, I separated out about a quarter of it and shredded it, then stored it in the refrigerator.

Tonight I pan grilled some sliced onions and green and yellow bell peppers.  I warmed up the shredded beef in the microwave.  Served the beef and grilled vegetables on flour tortillas with some shredded cheese and store-bought guacamole, pico de gallo, sour cream and lime wedges.  

YUM!  Sometimes the leftovers outshine the original meal.  :)

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

What I'm reading Wednesday...

The Colour of Lightning by Paulette Jiles

I enjoyed last week's book by Paulette Jiles so much, that I just checked out this previous part of the story from the library as a hard copy.  

Friday, January 19, 2018

Frugal Friday File 2018, week 3...

1.  We have a small bench in our shower that I use to hold my pump bottles of shower gel and shampoo.  It has been on its last leg (pardon the pun).  The wood was splintering, and the screws were rusted out.  With each pump of soap, I feared it was going to crumble into a pile.  I've been keeping my eyes open for over a year for a suitable replacement.  All of the choices were either very medical-equipment-ish, or were teak and expensive.  And since our shower is not large, I was afraid any of the choices would crowd the floor space.  Then last week I came across a small shower bench that looked more like a piece of modern furniture than a medical assist tool, and it was a pleasant $29.  Most importantly, it had numerous good reviews as well.  

2.  Since I was switching out the shower bench, I thought I'd clean the shower while it was empty...but I had no shower cleaner.  I found a recipe for homemade on Pinterest using equal parts vinegar and Dawn dishwashing liquid.  I sprayed it all over the shower walls and floor and left it to sit awhile to loosen soap and mineral build up.  I climbed in carefully (slippery stuff!) and used a scrub brush to go over surfaces and rinsed thoroughly.  It worked quite well.  

(In case you are wondering why you would need so much Dawn to clean the shower [I was] I read that the thickness of the Dawn makes the vinegar cling to the vertical surfaces longer so it can work.)  I accidentally had purchased a large bottle of Dawn on sale when I already had one, so I had that and vinegar both on hand, and no moolah spent for a specialized cleaning product.

Now my plan is to make a homemade daily spray to keep it clean (recipe also found on Pinterest).  The daily keep-it-clean spray uses water, hydrogen peroxide, rubbing alcohol, a tiny bit of Dawn, and some dishwasher rinse agent.  Recipe with exact measurements here.

3.  Like a lot of the rest of the country, I stayed home due to the winter weather this week.  I missed a day of work I had scheduled, but I didn't wreck my car or slip on the ice and break anything (South Texans do not know how to maneuver on ice!), either of which possibility would have been much more expensive than my missed day of wages.

4.  I booked a day of work for next week.

5.  There is a sad health development for two of my sisters.  I told my third sister that I would accompany her to assist, which would have meant time away, plane tickets, and possibly boarding the dog.  Today she called me to tell me that the other sisters' daughters had things well in hand and we weren't needed after all.  Passing the torch.  Children to be proud of.

Frugal From the Kitchen This Week:
Saturday:  hash--sausage, onion, potato, cabbage
Sunday:  Sunday family supper at Kasey's
Monday:  *Chinese
Tuesday:  Dublin Coddle
Wednesday:  leftovers
Thursday:  roast, dumplings, veg
Friday:  Goulash

(*not-frugal takeout or dinner out)

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

What I'm reading Wednesday...

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

A beautifully written memoir by Dr. Paul Kalanithi, a neurosurgeon who at age 34 was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer.  

When I need something a little lighter, I switch to...

News of the World by Paulette Jiles

Also a library ebook.   In an age when a majority of people couldn't read or didn't have access to newspapers, traveling from town to town reading the news to groups of paying listeners was a living for the Captain, an elderly former soldier turned printer.  He is in the town of Wichita Falls, in northern Texas, presenting the news, when he is approached by an acquaintance to perform a service for a reward: returning a German settler child to her family near San Antonio.  She has been living with the Kiowa as an adopted member of their tribe after being abducted in a raid years before.

It's always interesting to read about my home landscapes in a different age.

Monday, January 15, 2018

I'm a smooth(ie) operator...

My number one goal for the year is to have breakfast every day...extra points if it's healthy.  :)  I figured smoothies were something I could manage, and would add more fruits and vegetables to my day.  I've been buying fresh fruit as well as frozen and using fresh vegetables.

I just noticed that my piece of ginger root looks like a little lobster.  :)
I love the Rubbermaid Brilliance containers for keeping the fruit in the freezer.  With the lid as well as the container being clear, I can tell easily what is in each one, and the way the lid is designed they stack easily and don't tumble around every time I open the freezer drawer.  (This opinion is not sponsored, I just really like them.)  I bought these specifically for this purpose, because I didn't want my fruit in the freezer confused with Carey's work meals.  

This one has a banana, a small orange, a few slices of frozen peach, some frozen blueberries, a handful of spinach, and a piece of sliced ginger.  I pour some coconut milk and some Just Black Cherry juice (100% juice good for inflammation from arthritis) over the top as well as a scoop of organic egg white protein powder, and blend.  If it's too thick, I add some ice cubes and/or a little water and blend again.

So far I have been really good at getting this made and consumed first thing every morning, even on the mornings that I've had to be out of the house by 7 a.m. for work.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Frugal Friday File 2018, week 2...

1.  I finally got around to taking my prescription for new glasses to get filled.  I thought I'd try Costco's Optical department.  The cost was $120 after insurance for new frames and progressive lenses (trifocal) with no line, no glare, etc.  They will be in within a week to 10 days.  Hopefully the quality is as good as the service was.  I declined the $40 discount to order a second pair.  My prescription didn't change much, so my sunglasses are still fine, and in a pinch my current glasses could get me by till they could be replaced.

2.  I turned in one of my survey validations for a free drink at Sonic.

3.  I've been doing a bit of menu planning and trying to avoid the grocery store.  Taking stock of the freezer confirms that we should be well fed for quite awhile.  I have a ham and a turkey bought on sale before the holidays, and some shrimp, bacon, sausage, and frozen chicken.  That is more than enough to hold us for a good while.  The produce section is the easiest to shop, so I don't mind running in to refill the veggie drawers in our fridge.

4.  I came across a book that I wanted to read.  Not available at library.  Ugh.  And I'm determined not to buy books this month.  Rather than caving on my resolve, I entered a request at library to have them acquire it through purchase or interlibrary loan.

5.  I worked two days this week.

Frugal From the Kitchen This Week:
Saturday:  *pizza
Sunday:  Sunday family supper at Kasey's
Monday:  waffles, bacon, eggs
Tuesday:  *Tex-Mex
Wednesday:  Slow Cooker Dublin Coddle
Thursday:  *burger
Friday:  baked sweet potato

(*not-frugal takeout or dinner out)

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Slow Cooker Dublin Coddle...

I've blogged before about Dublin Coddle.  My friend LB reminded me that it needed trying in the slow cooker.  It turned out SO delicious and was so much easier since I didn't bother with the layering and oven-cooking steps.

Part of what makes it so easy is my Ninja Slow Cooker.  (This is not a sponsored recommendation, I just LOVE my Ninja.)  It has stove-top settings, which makes browning of meat in its non-stick liner so convenient, and no extra pan to wash.  I just sliced the sausage and bacon and put it in the liner and set on 'high' stove-top setting.

While the meat started cooking, I chopped the onions and sliced the potatoes.  Carey had picked up baby carrots instead of whole carrots, so I used those straight from the package.

As soon as the vegetables were prepped, I stirred them into the liner with the bacon and sausage.  The bacon and sausage weren't fully cooked yet, but that was okay since it was going to slow cook for four more hours.  

I poured a can of Campbell's Condensed French Onion Soup over the top.  Then I almost filled the empty soup can with water and poured that over the top too, twice (or about 2 cups of water).  I pushed the potatoes down into the liquid as much as possible.  The soup is salty enough that I don't even add additional salt...maybe just some ground black pepper if I think of it.

Then I added as much torn kale (with large stems removed) as I could fit into the room that was left at the top of the pot to steam.  I put the lid on, and switched from stove-top setting to the 'high - 4 hour' slow cook setting.  When it's done, I stir the kale into the rest of the ingredients before serving.

It is SO good, and it is everybody's much more flavorful than it is photogenic.  Jared said he could eat it every day, so I make it often, as I almost always have everything on hand.  And now it's even easier in the slow cooker!

1 pound smoked sausage, sliced
1/2 pound thick slicked bacon, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 onion, roughly chopped
5 to 6 potatoes, washed and sliced (I leave peel on)
3 carrots, washed and sliced (I leave peel on) or baby carrots
2 to 3 cups tightly packed torn kale, 
      washed and large stems removed
1 can Campbell's Condensed French Onion soup
2 cups water

Cook the sausage and bacon a bit.  In the slow cooker liner mix the onion, potatoes, and carrots to the meats and toss.  Pour soup and water over top.  Top with kale.  Cover and cook for 4 hours on high slow cooker setting.  Stir the kale into the rest of the ingredients before serving.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

What I'm reading Wednesday...

Twist of Faith by Ellen J. Green

I got this one for free from Kindle First Reads.  When a young woman's adoptive mother dies, she comes across a photograph of a house, and her research into finding its meaning puts her in danger and brings up family mysteries.  I'm about a third of the way through.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Breakfast for Supper...

I heard that our grocery store is reorganizing their interior...rearranging whole sections, adding more freezer cases and another are they going to squeeze them in?  I'll bet it makes me love grocery shopping even more!  Yeah, that's not going to happen.  

Word around the neighborhood is that it is a madhouse, and the renovations are expected to take a month!  I was thinking today about how to avoid it until the work is done.  I guess it's time to try ordering online and pick up curbside.

In the meantime, I had everything in the fridge to make breakfast for dinner last night.  Mmmmm...waffles!  I had Carey take the leftover waffles over to the kids.  They can warm them in the toaster for breakfast.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Making it Monday...

Today was quilting at the library day.  I went, but wasn't feeling great...not really bad, just not really feeling the sewing I came home early without sewing a thing.

It was probably more that I was tired than anything.  I've been doing well on going to bed earlier and getting up earlier, but last night I backslid.  I stayed up and made cards.

I love the tassel trend.  I thought I'd try my hand at making my own, so I used a joining ring from my box of jewelry findings and some twine.  Easy peasy.

Okay, this butterfly one is not my favorite, but I was using up scraps.

I picked up this ribbon recently.  I was going to use it with some other papers, but those will wait.  These papers jumped out as a good match.

 It looked so nice, I used it twice!  :)

There's not a bit of stamping on any of these.  I was working on the coffee table, and didn't want to be pulling out a lot of supplies and then have to put them all back when I was done, so I went pretty minimal.

I owe some letters.  I don't want to fall (too far) behind on my 52 Letter in 52 Weeks for the year.  I'm hoping to exceed 52 letters this year, as I want to send at least one letter per month to my mother-in-law, and then send my regular 52 out to the rest of my address book.  These should get me started.

Friday, January 5, 2018

Frugal Friday File 2018, week 1...

1.  I'm trying not to buy books this month.  It's not hard when the books are available through the library ebook website or if a hard copy is available in the library...even if I have to wait on the reserve list...but if I really want to read it and it's not available anywhere for free?  Ouch.  Standing firm.

2.  I took the time to complete three surveys for Sonic.  Occasionally a receipt has an offer to complete a survey within two weeks of receipt date to earn a validation ID worth a free large drink.  I used to throw receipts away without checking, or just put them in my purse and forget to follow through.  Now I spend a few minutes to complete the survey.  Usually the offers are few and far between, but for some reason I've gotten one on almost every visit over the past couple of weeks.  Three free drinks!

3.  I have work scheduled in a nearby town next week and the week after.  I had to be in that town yesterday for a medical appointment, so I made sure to swing by that branch to pick up a key so I wouldn't have to make another trip just for that purpose.

4.  I am thinking about finances and  future finances, trying to simplify some steps.  One of these involves changing which account the hub's paycheck is direct deposited into, one of them involves opening another account (free) at our credit union to use to hold budgeted funds until 'escrow' account if you will for property taxes, insurance premiums, etc., and adding our executor as  joint account holder so that they can more easily pay bills if either or both of us are unable to for whatever reason.  None of these activities have expenses involved, and hopefully they will organize things in a way to make it simpler in the future.

5.  Though I have the prescription in my purse, I haven't ordered new glasses yet...the cold weather is keeping me home (it's not unbearably cold for me, but it is hard on Rudy if left outside for long)...therefore, not much gasoline being used...or shopping being done...really not much needed...I've been thinking more about what can be donated and removed from the house.

Frugal From the Kitchen This Week:
Saturday:  steak, baked potatoes
Sunday:   Hungarian Goulash Fusion
Monday:  New Year's family supper at Kasey's
Tuesday:  leftovers
Wednesday:  *fried chicken
Thursday:  *Schlotzky sandwiches
Friday:  Dublin Coddle

(*not-frugal takeout or dinner out)

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

What I'm reading Wednesday...

In Farleigh Field by Rhys Bowen
Another WWII novel.  This one was borrowed from the library.

The One Year Bible
And I started on my year of daily readings that will take me through the Bible in its entirety.

Monday, January 1, 2018

2018 word of the year and goals...

Two thousand seventeen was not my most productive year...all that time reading, I guess.

My mother always said, "Have something to show for your time."  She was not a big fan of reading for that reason...very hard to read and knit (or sew or bake or clean) at the same time.

I had already decided not to do another reading challenge this year (not that I won't be reading).  Then I started thinking about what my focus for the year should be, and the word 'produce' popped into my head for many reasons.
  • I feel the need to be more creatively productive.  (see definition verb 1 above)
  • There are jobs needing doing around the house.  (see definition verb 2 above)
  • I need to work on my health.  (see definition noun 1 above)
With my word of the year being 'produce,' here is my goals list for the year:

Attempt to reset sleep patterns -- this means I will strive to be early(er) to bed and early(er) to rise.

Eat breakfast -- that is my main health goal for the year.  I've decided to try a breakfast smoothie as a way of getting more fruits, vegetables, vitamins/nutrients, and fiber into each day.  

Be more productive both in work and creativity -- chores and art covered by the same goal?  Yes!  Produce!

and continue 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 (It did keep me thinking about it when I knew I had to blog weekly, so I guess I will keep it up.)

Home -- Swiffer one room daily 

Reduce possessions -- Divest myself of ten large items (furniture, etc)  I can't think of one thing that I managed to get rid of in 2017.  I will list items this year.

Quilting -- complete ten quilts/quilted projects  (keeping this at ten, though I only finished 4 projects last year)

Read the One-Year Bible

52 Letters in 52 Weeks

And with that I will wish you all a very Happy and Healthy (and productive) New Year!
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