Monday, December 31, 2007

In Case You Were Wondering. Re: Auld Lang Syne

It turns out that "Auld Lang Syne" is an extremely old Scottish song that was first written down in the 1700s. Robert Burns is the person whose transcription got the most attention, so the song is associated with him.

According to this page, a good translation of the words "auld lang syne" is "times gone by." So (incorporating a couple of other translations) when we sing this song, we are saying, "We'll drink a cup of kindness yet for times gone by."

Wishing you and yours a happy, healthy and safe 2008!

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to mind ?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And auld lang syne!
For auld lang syne, my dear
For auld lang syne,
We'll take a cup o' kindness yet
For auld lang syne!
And surely ye 'll be your pint' stowp,
And surely I 'll be mine,
And we 'll take a cup o' kindness yet
For auld lang syne!
We twa hae run about the braes,
And pou'd the gowans fine,
But we 've wander'd monie a weary fit
Sin' auld lang syne.
We twa hae paidl'd in the burn
Frae morning sun till dine,
But seas between us braid hae roar'd
Sin' auld lang syne.
And there's a hand, my trusty fiere,
And gie 's a hand o' thine,
And we 'll tak a right guid-willie waught
For auld lang syne!

Homemade Pierogi (Pedeha) Recipe!

Well apparently someone DOES want to make homemade pierogi! I got an email today from a reader asking for the recipe!

Here goes!

3 Cups Flour
1 Egg
1 TBSP Melted Butter
1 Cup Water
1/4 tsp baking powder

Mix together and knead for a short time until elastic. Cover with damp (but not soaking) cloth.

2 1/2 lbs Potato, peeled, boiled and mashed
1 lb Farmers Cheese
1-2 oz Cream Cheese
2 slices American Cheese (according to my grandma this replaced something my great grandma could not get over here!)

Add all cheeses to potatoes after potatoes are mashed and still hot. Mix to combine and melt cheese a little.

Now comes the long part. First of all, it will seem like the dough will not possibly make 60 of these. It will. I promise. You need to take a little bit and roll it into a ball. Then flour your surface really well and roll the dough out with a rolling pin until it's really thin and round.

Put a good amount of the filling on one side. Fold the dough over and use a little water around the edge to help seal it. Pinch closed. Repeat 60 times..... While you are doing this keep the ones you have finished on wax paper covered with a damp cloth.

When you have made all of them bring a big pot of water to a simmer. DO NOT BOIL. If you boil these they will fall apart. Put a few in at a time and cook for about 5 minutes. You'll soon be able to tell how many you can put in your pot without them sticking together. They will rise to the top. When they do, take them out with a slotted spoon if you have one. Put them on a buttered plate or back onto the wax paper (Where you have brushed some melted butter) brush the tops with melted butter and let cool. Repeat 60 times.

When they are cool, store in an airtight container between wax paper.

To cook melt some butter and fry them up in a pan. We serve them with Sour Cream and 5 lbs of onions that my grandma has chopped and simmered in butter for a few hours. I remember a long time ago some of these were made with Sauerkraut as well. But since the kids didn't ever like those my grandma stopped making them.

This recipe can also be doubled if, god forbid, you want to make 120 of these!

Let me know how they turn out!!!!

Sunday, December 30, 2007

New Years Eve Lobster Tails

Ever since I was a little girl my family has celebrated New Years Eve with Lobster Tails! They are my FAVORITE! And I don't get them any other time of year (We will usually get whole lobsters any other time we get lobsters. The cost was $36 for 2 and they are 11oz each.

If this doesn't sound too frugal, I will tell you that my husband called every seafood place around our normal driving distance to see which one had the lowest price.

Also, I'll add that I think it's all about making choices. For instance, we hardly ever eat out. When we do, I love to go to a little Greek eatery that I have been going to for years. After 2 lunches, a glass of wine each and a tip, it's always more than $36. I'll tell you, as much as I love the Greek place, the lunch there is no match for 2 beautiful lobster tails. It's all about choices, and today I choose lobster rather than going out to lunch or ordering pizza a few times a month.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Christmas Planning 2008!

Yup, you read that right!!!!

First of all, as I stated sometime in early December, all of my Christmas shopping was done with CASH! Yeah me! It was no easy feat to be able to get to everyone on the list and stay within the budget. I worked selling A LOT on eBay and was stressed getting it all done. When I worked outside of the home, the cash for Christmas was easier to come by. It was getting time to complete the shopping and wrapping that was difficult!

Anyway, I decided that I'm not going to worry about it in December next year. I'm just going to go out and spend the money that I saved for Christmas.

That means I need to start saving-NOW.

So I took the budget from this year and divided it by 52. I have decided that come hell or high water, that amount is going into the savings account every week of the year. You may be shocked at what you need to put away each week to have your ideal Christmas. But if that number shocks you, what makes you think you'll have all of that sometime next December rather than 1/52 of that this week. Somehow I thought that was going to happen. Somehow it did! But not without some sweating and complaining by me. I'm not feeling like doing that anymore.

I'm taking the easy way out. I'm saving up!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Take A Nap!

One of my very favorite FREE things to do for myself is TAKE A NAP! I've been doing it since I was a baby and never quite got out of the habit. And (guilty confession coming,) I do it a few times a week still! Actually I shouldn't call it a guilty confession because I don't even feel guilty doing it. My body just runs better if I get a nap in once in a while.

This may seem like a silly thing to blog about but I know there are a bunch of you out there who tell me "you never nap" or "You can't nap" or "You have too much to do." Well tell me this, are you tired? Because I sure am- running after a little one all day, running my eBay business, being a wife and mommy, daughter, friend, granddaughter, running the house and my garden club and just living my life. Trust me, you'll like the world better rested.

Today when I woke my girl up from her nap she said "Mommy, I just want to keep on sleeping."

That's my girl!!!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

On Target for Christmas Shopping!

I hate procrastinating. It makes me nervous and edgy. No one has a good time around me when I'm like that. NO ONE....Procrastinating during the holidays makes me dislike the holidays so I try and avoid that. But next year I may reconsider!

Today of all days, I had to run up to Target for some non-Christmas gift items. It was busy but pleasant. Lots of registers open. I got a coffee.


Yes, all of the Christmas dresses (and let me tell you it looked like they still had every size) the wrapping paper. The Method Christmas scented hand soap, All of the decorations and wrapping paper. Heck, even the jumbo Tide I needed for $12.99, was on clearance for $6.99. I saw a lovely bird feeder that would have a been a great gift for my grandma's partner Bob, for 60%.

There were deals to be had. It kind of made me mad to tell you the truth. It's like rewarding people's bad behavior (Yes, I am one of those people who can't fathom WHY the post office would EVEN CONSIDER staying open late on April 15th.) Here I am getting all my shopping done early, and weeks later, I can get it all for 30% off!

I actually found it was like that at the mall last week when I needed to stop at Old Navy and Bath and Body works. The slippers I wanted to pick up at Old Navy were already reduced to $7 ($7, what DO These cost to make anyway?!?!?) Some of the Christmas Gift baskets at Bath and Body were already 50% off. What gives????

This actually all kind of scares me. (not in a Rachel Ray taking over the world kind of way but in a real what are we all doing with all this stuff and how cheap is it all really that it's on sale even before the holiday kind of way. And what is the real cost to us of good so cheap kind of way) And I'm getting waaaaaaayyyyyy too deep for Christmas time here.

Or maybe I'm not. Perhaps Christmas time is exactly the time to get deep about this kind of stuff.

Holiday Traditions and Rachel Ray!

So, during the 3 hours that I spent making 62 pedeha, my grandmother was apparently watching Rachel Ray.

One of the items on our Christmas Eve buffet is a dish made of sauteed mushrooms, celery and onion. It has gravy made from flour and butter to hold it all together. It's some Ukranian dish that has been on the table since before my dad was born. It's pretty good, not great, but good. But again, being a stickler for tradition, I need to have it on the table. My grandma is still making it every year at this point.

So this morning she calls to tell me that she's made the onions and mushrooms for tomorrow night already. And how am I feeling? And how did the pedeha turn out? And OH, by the way, she was watching Rachel Ray and decided that her (Rachel Ray's ) mushrooms look better than her own so she made those instead. Is nothing sacred! I'm sure she's right and I'm sure they are delish, but I just don't think Ukrainian peasants had wine to deglaze the pan with!!!!!

I tell you, that Rachel Ray is taking over the planet and frankly, it scares me.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Homemade Pierogi (Pedeha)

Last year, my grandma decided her pierogi (pedeha if you are Ukrainian like us and from now on what I will call these things) making days were over.

Being that this is something my mom has little interest in making, the task soon fell to me. Being I'm a family-history, make-things-from-scratch kind of gal, I embraced this (at least I did last year when Grandma came over to help and teach me) Well we were supposed to have a repeat performance of that but because of schedules and a nasty flu I caught (I'm better now thanks!) I was flying solo last night when I made them myself.

I made about 62. It took me 3 hours from start to finish. (OMG! I completely appreciated all the years my grandma made about 100 of these!) He's a secret. I don't even really like these things. I find them heavy and eat 1/2 of one each year. My mother-in-law told me that since I had been sick I should just hightail it over to the polish store and buy some. I couldn't do it! My dad and Brother LOVE these things. I couldn't host a Christmas Eve without having these for them. Mine don't have a fancy edge like the ones in the photo. But having homemade pedeha for my family IS a beautiful thing and I'm glad I did it. It was also really cheap (hence why poor Slavic countries have made them staples!) I would post the recipe but I don't think any of you will be making these any time soon! (If I'm wrong let me know and I'll post it!)

My Banner Is Back!

I'm not sure when it came back or how it disappeared in the first place. But it's back with no intervention from me. Sometimes procrastination does pay off!!!!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Public Service Announcement!

Today I scored my biggest frugal victory ever for another person! I saved a friend (who shall remain nameless) $260. Said friend was having a problem with sewage backing up into her basement and was having the roto-rooter guy come today to snake the drain to the tune of $260. Having gone down this road myself earlier this year I knew what to do. I advised her to call the town and they would do it for her. They did! For FREE!

I was actually told by a plumber that many towns will do this for you. This is a service which is provided by YOUR tax dollars. Most plumbers don't want you to know this and won't tell you this. The woman at the town hall confirmed this for me when I called last spring.

So please, the next time (if ever) you have raw sewage in your basement take a minute to call the town hall! You just might be surprised!

I'm thinking of calling next summer to see if they can cut the lawn too!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Goodbye Dear Edward

I'm leaving Edward...

No, Edward is not my husband. He's my dirty little secret.

(no, not THAT kind of dirty little secret) Edward is the kind of dirty little secret a frugal gal like myself just "forgets" to talk about on her blog.

Edward is a hairdresser who charges $60 a haircut and is a throwback to my two-income days. He charges much more for the highlights that I like so much. As a result I have not visited him in about 6 months (and it shows!!!)

Last weekend at the recommendation of someone I know, I gathered up my courage and visited a hairdresser who charges $25 for a haircut ($12 if you don't want a style and blow-dry) . You know what. I look pretty much the same. My hair is cut nicely and I even splurged for the highlight. The color looks exactly the same. (It was also considerably less.) I looked good when I left.

When I leave Edward I look gorgeous. Way better than I normally do. But then I go and sleep on my hair and have to do it again the next day. My own hairstyling skills work the same on a $25 cut as they do on a $60 cut.

I wasn't served coffee or tea as I am at the upscale salon. But they were nice. The hairdresser was nice and I look JUST THE SAME as I do when visiting the more expensive salon.

So for now, Edward and I have parted ways. Perhaps in the future we will reunite but for now I'll save that money and get a haircut more than once every 6 months!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Sounds Like Christmas

If you know me at all, you know when a song grabs me I listen to it about a million times (ask anyone who was around the summer that Santana's "Smooth" came out)

Anyway, I listened to this Josh Groban and Brian McKnight version of "Angels We Have Heard On High" about 25 times yesterday and I'm still not tired of it.

I don't think I ever gave this Christmas Classic much consideration until I heard it done this way. Josh Groban has possibly the most beautiful voice in the world (The man SOUNDS like an angel!!) and it blends beautifully with Brian McKnight's (Someone please tell me who Brian McKnight is anyway????)

The way they sing this song really relays the joyfulness of the angels. They do, in fact, sound completely jazzed over the birth of Christ.


Monday, December 10, 2007

The Official Cookie of My Garden Club

Well I haven't posted in over a week (a fact that hasn't escaped Jacquie's notice!) but I'm back. I literally sold about 50 things on eBay last week and while that is great for my Christmas Budget, I felt like I spent every free minute wrapping packages. Things are a little calmer this week so back to blogging!

Let's talk cookies. I'm introducing you to the official cookie of my garden club. (No, we didn't take a vote but I'm the president so I guess I can decide on our official cookie myself.) My friend Lisa, introduced me to this sinful delight and I beg her to bring them when it's her turn to to co-hostess.

And these suckers are cheap and SUPER easy (heck, you don't even have to bake, you just have to melt)

Saltine Cookies
1 c. real butter
1 c. brown sugar
1 bag (11 1/2 oz.) milk chocolate chips
1 c. chopped walnuts
1 Sleeve Saltines

Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil. (or spray with Pam) Cover with single layer saltines. Melt butter & brown sugar and cook for 1 minute. Pour over saltines. Bake at 350 degrees for 7-8 minutes or until it starts to bubble on the crackers. Remove from over and sprinkle chocolate chips. Wait a few minutes, then spread chocolate out evenly. Sprinkle with chopped nuts. Let stand 24 hours or outside for 20 minutes. (can you tell I like to eat these as soon as I can) Cut into small rectangles.

When I make them I just skip the nuts for a pure chocolate taste. You may feel a little trashy eating these-I'm not sure if it's because you're eating a cookie made out of crackers or because you'll probably eat a dozen of these at one sitting.

Don't say I didn't warn you........

The Hidden Truth Behind Hotel Drinking Glasses

Ok, this isn't really that frugal and it certainly isn't beautiful It's downright gross. I debated if I should post it because it's not really in line with my mission here but keeping you all safe from god knows what could be considered a beautiful thing.

You'll never look at your hotel room the same way again!

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Candlelight Tour

Today I hostessed at one of the houses on The Candlelight Tour, which is the annual house tour that the Seventh District Garden Clubs of New York State puts on. This year it was in a neighboring town so our club didn't have to do any of the decorating. All I had to do was stand around and talk to people who came to the house, which was a lot of fun.

I do it because I like to help out. Also, because Garden Clubs seem to be something that older women generally join. The population of the garden clubs in my city is aging, with not much of an influx of new people. (our club being the exception) and it's a tradition that I want to preserve and to flourish as the garden clubs in this area date back to George Eastman! As a result, I feel like it's my responsibility to take part in the events that the federation sponsors.
But don't let all that romantic gobbleygook fool you. I did it mostly so that I could spend some time (for free) in this lovely old home! 201 years old! The history! The molding! The floors! The decorations! They even had a bagpiper playing Christmas music! It was a wonderful.

Friday, November 30, 2007

My Last Gardening Day of The Year!

I actually worked in the garden today (ok it was for like 5 min, but still!!!)

Last week my grandma gave me some Horseradish from her garden. She swears it will be just fine to plant now (She's probably right as she has grown Horseradish for about 100 years now) Anyway, as I was getting ready to have my neighbors over for dinner tonight I came across it and ran out and popped it in the ground. I also quickly dug up the dahlias I have been neglecting! It was COLD!

And right now, as I look out the window, it is beginning to snow! (and blow!!!!)

So officially, today, my gardening season is over!

I love the idea of perennial food. Plant (and purchase) once and reap the benefits indefinitely. In my last home I had an asparagus patch! I also had a big herb garden with a bunch of perennial Herbs. I'm planning my new herb garden for next spring-I hated being without one this past year. I would also love berries and fruit trees but I don't know how that will work out with the deer. (and space required for those!)

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Grandma Ruth's Pie Crust

My grandma makes a great pie crust. Seriously, it tastes like pastry, It is that light and flaky! Recently I was talking to her about it and found out it's cheap and easy too. If you like to buy those pre-made crusts, you'll love this recipe. (well maybe you won't because maybe you're buying them because it's easy-Well this is easy too-I swear!) It makes 6-Count em', 6 crusts that can be frozen until you need them.

Pie Crust
5 Cups Flour ($.60)
2 1/2 cups of shortening-($2.39) I used the butter flavored one-Yeah I know, you don't want to use shortening, I didn't either. This is pie though, it's not a healthy food. (If you're using those pre-made shells you're eating something just as bad and probably worse-I found on another website that those crusts contain partially hydrogenated lard and wheat starch, rather than flour, is the main ingredient. It also contains sugar, rice flour, gums, preservatives, and food colors.)
pinch of salt
1 Egg
2 tsp vinegar
Mix water, egg and vinegar to make one cup.

Cream shortening and flour. Add liquid to combine. Divide into 6 patties (5 if you use a deep dish pie plate) It will feel a little greasy. Freeze. If you're going to use it right away, refrigerate for 30 min. You'll need a bunch of flour to roll this out. You can work this dough to death and it's very forgiving. I swear this is one of the easiest crusts I've ever made. Each crust ends up costing $.49! (I didn't account for the egg, vinegar or salt as you probably already have those!)

I used it for the first time yesterday to make an apple pie and it was delicious!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Split Pea Soup and Other Stuff

I'm feeling kinda compelled to post something this morning as it is Wed already and I haven't posted since Thanksgiving! And because I know Jacquie is out there waiting for her daily installment and hasn't had one all week.

I've been doing some Christmas shopping so I guess I'm not feeling all that frugal as of late. (With cash though so that's a good thing!)

Today I am house bound as the car is in the shop (NOT frugal, I know!) My girl is still sleeping but when she wakes up we will be doing some Christmas decorating and some crafts of some kind to keep her busy. Also, we will be making an apple pie to take to the in-laws for dinner with the remaining apples we have and also making my favorite frugal soup-Split Pea!

Split Pea Soup

1 Bag of dried Split peas-I like the yellow rather than the green as I think it makes the soup look a heck of a lot more appealing. ($.69)
1 Onion (I'll call this $.25 but it's probably cheaper)
1 Ham Bone-This is a necessity. Don't try and make pea soup without it. (You need to save this from when you make a ham or a least con your mother-in-law into saving hers for you-I do both. If you aren't feeling all soupy when you first get the bone then pop it in your freezer. I think I have 2 in there right now. No need to even thaw-Just throw it into the pot when you are ready for it)
1 Carrot- You can live without this if you don't have it. ($.22)
Olive oil

Rinse your split peas. Dice onion and carrot and sauté in oil until onion browns and starts to caramelize. Add peas and stir. Add ham bone and enough water to cover. Cook until ham is falling off the bone and soup cooks to the consistency you want it to be(1-1 1/2 hrs). Season with salt and pepper to taste. You can add a bay leaf when cooking if you like as well as a little thyme if you have it but a lot of times I don't do that. You can use chicken stock instead of water but only do that if you have it. This soup is great just as is. The whole pot costs $1.16 to make! Can you even stand it!

When you put it in the fridge it will solidify into a block (or whatever shape you put it in). No worries, just add a little water to thin the next time you want some. This soup freezes really well too!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thanksgiving Day Decorating

What is going on here? It's 3:19 pm. My guests are coming at 4. The turkey is cooking. My side dishes are done. I'm showered, sprayed and lipsticked. My daughter is clean. My husband is watching football. There is a fire started. I'm totally stress free 40 min before guests arrive! It's like the Thanksgiving Fairy showed up here and helped out! (actually it was my mom who kept my daughter all day yesterday so we could get ready)

Anyway, I was looking at my dining room and thought I would share my cheap dining room decorating for Thanksgiving. Here goes. I got the swags on the valances for $2 after Thanksgiving last year. The valances themselves were $2 at Linens and Things. The Tablecloth is 1/2 of a valance that I got from the same clearance pile for $2. China on the table was a set that I got at Bed, Bath and Beyond like 10 years ago. It is white with embossed fruit. The whole set probably cost $50. The centerpiece of pumpkins and gourds is made of leftovers from Halloween and sitting on a cake stand that Leighanne's mom gave me for my wedding shower! The candles are from the Christmas tree shop. The votives in the window were$1. The bench at the back was from Ikea and I painted it. If you look closely in the far corner you can see the school desk my brother re-finished for me.

The table and chairs, I'm not gonna lie to you, those were not cheap at all. (same with the chandelier) I wish you could actually see the table better because it's a beauty! But I'm mentioning them because that is where I do spend money-On things that I love and will have forever. If you don't waste money on things that don't mean much to you, then you can splurge where it counts to you! Curtains come and go, I'm gonna be buried with this dining room table!

Well I'm off to wait for my guests! Happy Thanksgiving!
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Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Thanksgiving Thoughts

I know it's only Tuesday but tomorrow I'll be working on Thanksgiving preparations for the
first Thanksgiving dinner to be served at our house!

The following is from an Ann Landers Column and I usually get it at least once a year via email. Every time I read it, it touches me. We so often fret about things in our life that aren't just so or about the things we don't have while ignoring the blessings we live with everyday.

Things to Be Thankful For

Be thankful for the clothes that fit a little too snug, because it means you have
enough to eat.

Be thankful for the mess you clean up after a party, because it means you have
been surrounded by friends.

Be thankful for the taxes you pay, because it means you're employed.

Be thankful that your lawn needs mowing and your windows need fixing, because it means you have a home.

Be thankful for your heating bill, because it means you are warm.

Be thankful for the laundry, because it means you have clothes to wear.

Be thankful for the space you find at the far end of the parking lot, because it
means you can walk.

Be thankful for the lady who sings off-key behind you in church, because it
means you can hear.

Be thankful when people complain about the government, because it means we
have freedom of speech.

Be thankful for the alarm that goes off in the early morning hours, because it
means you're alive.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Not as edgy as I think I am........

Apparently, even with all this talk about my knobs, my blog is still rated G!

Product Review: Reynolds Handi Vac

Ok, if there is one thing frugal people do, it's freeze things!

I love to buy stuff on sale and freeze it for later use. I love freezing leftovers and surplus garden produce. I love whipping out my farmers market fresh blueberries in the depths of winter when blueberries are $4 a cup at Wegmans!

I used to have a Vacuum sealer (one of those long ones with the plastic rolls) You would think I would love it! Well I did not. It was messy to use, there was a lot of wasted plastic, and it was a pain to operate. It's a good thing It was free from someone because I tossed it.

Last week at Garden Club the Reynolds Handi-Vac came up in conversation. No one had tried it. A lot of people were wondering about it. The very next day, I got a request to review it. Bingo!

I have to say, I LOVE this thing!!! It came with 3 bags to start. I sealed a steak in one and used 2 bags for diced apples. It was very easy to use, not messy at all, and used far less plastic than the old type sealer. The seal is tight!! It was so tight actually that I needed to back off a little on the apples because I could see it was squeezing some of the juice right out of the apples. (I got the hang of it after a minute.)

I checked at the store. It was $9.99! Compared to whatever that old one was (I know they were A LOT more than $9.99) that is a bargain! (even if you don't compare it, I still think it's pretty reasonable and it comes with the batteries!) Bags were a bit pricier than regular freezer bags. (about $0.22 for the quart size and $.33 for the gallon) this is about double the price. It says not to re-use them. (which I don't for any meat based product anyway) but I don't see how there would be any harm in re-using the fruit and veggie ones.

I already bought another box of bags today at the store anticipating Thanksgiving leftovers.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Crock Pot Hot Cereal

If you know me at all, then you know I'm not a morning person. The funny thing about kids, well, they all seem like morning people. (My girl is anyway) and also, kids tend to want breakfast. And like most people, don't want the same breakfast every day. So, in my attempt to provide nutritious, EASY, cheap, EASY and different meals, I stumbled upon this great crock pot hot cereal recipe:

Crock-Pot Cereal
1 c. Oatmeal
1 c. Barley
1/4 c. unflavored tvp (tvp is available in the health food section at the grocery store and is sold as texturized protein granules.) It's a pretty cheap protein and you won't even taste it.
2+ tsp. cinnamon (more or less)

In the evening, stir together dry ingredients in your crock-pot.
8 cups cold water
3+ tsp. vanilla

Stir gently, set slow-cooker to just under 3, or low on a crockpot. In the morning, stir and serve.

I usually half this recipe as it's usually just my daughter and I eating this. It's enough for 2 with a good bit leftover if you half it. This recipe is great because you can substitute any grain you have, it sneaks a great bit of protein into your breakfast, it's ready when you get up and you can serve it with any number of toppings. A few days ago I topped it with some applesauce I made and milk. It's also great with maple syrup.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Take a Look at My Knobs!

I'm sorry, I couldn't resist the title!

When we moved into our house last year I made a slide show of about 100 pictures of the house (I only sent it to people who would appreciate that kind of detail or at least not tell me I was boring them to death!) When Deanna's husband saw it he said something like "Please tell Chrissy I loved looking at all of the pictures of her knobs!"

Anyway, here is another picture of my knobs. These are not the knobs from last year though-These are my new improved knobs! These are knobs that I trash picked today! (Can you even stand it!)

While Michael was over today cutting a piece of wood to fit the seat of a bench that I trash picked last week, I noticed a huge pile of stuff over at my neighbors house. On closer inspection I found 2 1/2 antique beds and a mirror and while I was making Michael help cart those over to the house my neighbor brought out a door with these beautiful knobs attached to it! Micheal pulled out a screwdriver and popped these babies off the door for me! (and then very nicely installed them on my closet and bathroom doors in the front foyer)

So now, not only do I have my own husband doing my dirty work and carting things off the street, I also have my friend's husband helping as well. I'm sure he's sorry he stopped by!

Holiday Spud Gift Tags

Last night at Garden Club we made these adorable holiday gift tags. If you live with a child who does arts and crafts at your house and plan on making mashed potatoes for Thanksgiving, then you probably have everything you need to make these cards.

All we did was take a potato, carve a shape into it (or whittle one out of it.) spread some paint onto it and then stamp it onto card stock. We cut the cards out with scrapbooking type scissors, punched a hole in them and then tied with a bit of raffia.

They are actually pretty cute and now I don't have to buy gift tags!

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Apples, Apples, Apples!!!

Oh boy!

Today we took a drive along the lake to one of our favorite nearby small towns on the water. Once there, we stopped in an adorable little coffee/sandwich place that we love and had coffee and muffins. I mentioned that I would like to stop and get some apples on the way home as I had used all of the remaining apples we had to make applesauce!

Did I ever get apples!

We came upon a farm market that had bushels of apples for $10! What a deal. We even got to make our own bushel (which turned out to be a huge box) so we picked only nice apples and have a great mixed variety as well. When we got home I weighed them. We have 56 LBS OF APPLES! (for those of you not sitting next to your calculator that is $0.18 LB!!!) When was the last time I paid that much for apples. I'll tell you-NEVER!

Now, you have to make sure when you get a deal like this that you actually USE all of the apples so you realize your savings and don't waste food. I am planning on A LOT more applesauce, will give some apples to my parents, and will try and whip up some apple liqueur. I may also get out the dehydrator and make some apple chips. We will eat a lot of these and I plan to make some pies! Any other ideas would be well appreciated!

Friday, November 2, 2007

Homemade Applesauce

The other night Kristin and Michael had a dinner party with an apple theme. As a favor, Kristin made homemade applesauce. When my daughter got a hold of it, she ate the entire 6oz jar in one sitting! While she was eating it she kept saying "mmmmmmm...." and "mommy have some of this yummy applesauce."

So time to make applesauce I think!

I have an abundance of apples from Kelly's, so all I needed to do was go to the garage and get them! 9 apples and some water and I was good to go. I peeled the apples and took out the seeds. I cooked it until it was very mushy. While I was cooking it I added some cinnamon. Kristin had pureed it as well because her baby was going to eat it and I think that is why my girl liked it so much so I whirred it around with the hand blender for a minute or so.

It is so so good! I used about $2 worth of apples and go double what you would normally get for $2 of the Wegman's brand so this was not a huge savings. However, when I buy applesauce I always buy the natural to avoid the sugar( corn syrup) , and of course, the natural does not come with cinnamon or the smoother texture of the homemade! So I got exactly want I wanted which was also a better product for very little effort. (and less cash)

Kristin told me that you could also make applesauce in the microwave but I wanted to have all that apple cinnamon goodness bubbling away in the kitchen. It smelled heavenly as it was cooking!

Effortlessly Saving Money-Wash in Clold!

Well it's Friday again, and time for another edition of Effortlessly Saving Money.

Consider washing your clothes in cold water. Yes, they get clean! (I do wash all towels as well as undies in hot water and my girl's clothes in hot because she gets so much FOOD on them)

Sometimes I purchase the Tide Cold Water version and sometimes I don't (I think it's time for me to check out Consumer Reports and do another detergent comparison.) Depends on how much cash I feel like spending on the wash when I'm at the grocery store. Anyway, our clothes look fine and I believe conventional wisdom is that they last longer in cold.

At the very least, rinse in cold. Your clothes are already clean, they don't need additional hot water to finish the job. I have the wonderful Whirlpool front loader pictured at the top. (And I will wax poetic about front loaders in another post-17 gal of water vs 40 for a traditional machine for starters!) Anyway, that washer ONLY rinses in cold. You don't even get a choice. I figure all of Whirlpool can't be wrong. And if you are using a traditional washer the savings is even bigger!

Another tip that I would also like to add is good for the planet as well as your wallet!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

My Halloween Pumpkin!

She was so excited she could hardly eat the grilled cheese I made her before we went out. I remember that kind of excitement and love seeing it through her eyes. You can't put a price on that!

The George Eastman House

This past Friday, my girl and I headed off to The George Eastman House to drop off a wreath my garden club donated for their annual wreath auction. Jeannine made it from materials that all of the club members had and contributed (How frugal is that!)

When we arrived and presented the wreath, I noticed the gardens were still in pretty good shape for October.

My girl and I decided to take a walk. It was gorgeous! It was fun! We were the only people there and had the whole place to ourselves (Now if that doesn't make you feel rich) There is a goldfish pond. We both had a great time. I got to enjoy the gardens, which I've never seen before and my girl got to run around, which I would never have let her do had there been people there. (and hopefully she liked the gardens too!)

Best of all-Totally FREE! The gardens are free to visitors in the summer when everything is in bloom too, although for a reasonable price you can get admission to the historic home and photography museum which can easily fill an entire day!

Edited to add that I am sitting here a little sad because I'm realizing that this is probably my last garden visit for a while. I saw so many this summer and spending time in a garden is one of my favorite, restorative and (mostly) free pleasures.

Monday, October 29, 2007

My Tax Dollars at Work

I've been a bit behind writing lately (I just noticed it has been almost a week since I last posted!) I will try and play catch-up for the next few days! This topic is actually something we did last weekend but I wanted to mention it.

Over the summer my town built a walking path that goes around the lake, over a marsh and through the woods. Last weekend we checked it out. It was beautiful, well paved and A LOT of people were using it for a chilly October afternoon. Our daughterr was thrilled to be "in the forest" and on a "nature walk" and it was something that kept us all busy-And best of all, was free! (Ok perhaps not free in that I do pay taxes of course!) But this is just my reminder to everyone that you don't need to spend any money to enjoy the beautiful scenery at this time of year and there are things you have already paid for (via your taxes) where you live that you may not be taking advantage of!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Pumpkin Spice Coffee

Another great thing about October is that almost anyone who sells coffee has a version of Pumpkin Spice Coffee. Be it your local Starbucks or gas station, this flavor abounds in the month of October.

It's very easy to make at home and if you've made a pumpkin pie recently you have everything you need.

Last year I was thinking about the name-Pumpkin Spice Coffee and realized the flavor has little to do with pumpkin and more to do with pumpkin SPICE. So all I did the next time was mix a little pumpkin pie spice into my coffee after it was brewed and voila! Pumpkin Spice Coffee! Easy and cheap!

My husband actually likes to put the spice in with the grounds when brewing (about 1-1/2 tsp for a pot) but I don't get that crazy. A pinch in the coffee is enough for me.

If you want to add whipped cream and spices to top it off be my guest, but since I don't usually have whipped cream on hand, I just drink it with splenda and cream.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Product Review-Match and Win Dreamhouse Game

If you're tired of hearing me yammer away about saving money and being frugal, you may want to head on over to the Reynolds, Goya, and Tyson Match and Win Dream House game where the grand prize is a $500,000 dream house (actually, it's $500,000 in cash and there are also smaller cash prizes as well, with the next one being $50,000.)
Basically, you play by collecting game pieces on participating Goya, Tyson, and/or Reynolds products.  The game pieces show either the left or right half of a certain prize. If you collect both halves of a prize, you win.  Simple as that. The contest runs through Oct. 1, 2008.

My guess is you would need to buy A LOT of products from each of the product lines to match up any and win a prize. Face it, they aren't going to put the grand prize pieces on 2 boxes of Reynolds Wrap (which may be the only product I buy from any of the vendors) at my Wegman's.

I guess I'll just have to keep pinching pennies!

Product Review-Curves Cereal

My latest product to try and report back to you on is Curves Cereal and Granola bars. Curves, as in the exercise center. I think Curves is trying to create a brand like the Weight Watchers brand (which is very successful) But,unlike WW,which uses the point system and clearly tells you how many points each serving is, I don't know what, if any, the Curves plan is and how the product is supposed to help me.

Perhaps that isn't important. Maybe there is no Curves diet??? At any rate the cereal and granola bars are marketed to help you keep weight off. I can clearly believe that as the granola bars are VERY small. I think it was 4 bites- It would be 3 if I was really hungry. It was average as far as granola bars go. I think the portion size is the only weight loss thing going for it.

The cereal was good. It was VERY VERY hard and crunchy. (I actually liked it) It bugged my husband when I ate it. It didn't seem to me any more or less like a diet product than any other cereal (again I think portion size is the key) This portion was 1 C which is pretty large-However, you could probably get 1 cup of most cereal for the same calories. Also, I was hungry before lunch when I ate this (which does happen to me when I eat cereal. ) However, this caused me to eat more food which I think would be something the average Curves eater would want to avoid.

Even though I liked the cereal, both of these products pretty much seemed like fake food to me. If you want to save money and lose weight try something like Oatmeal-It will stick with you much longer, costs much less, and is good for you.

Planting Garlic

Jennine's Uncle Tony grows so much food in his supersize garden that I would almost call him a farmer! (At least compared to me anyway) For my birthday this year Jeannine gave me, among other things, a bunch of his Italian Garlic. When I say Italian, I don't just mean garlic=Italian, I mean it's from his father-IN ITALY! Since he plants his garlic crop right from this kind of garlic I decided not to eat mine and plant it this fall.

Typically the date to plant garlic around here is October 1st, although given the weather this year, I think I'm just fine. I put it out in the patch next to the driveway where I had the zucchini (I swear I think I'm not ever going to have grass there. Perhaps I will deem that my free food garden!) I put out about 56 cloves which should yield 56 heads of garlic. This is also hard neck garlic which means that it grows the scrapes that can be removed and eaten in the springtime.

I've never planted garlic before so this is pretty exciting for me. I don't know if I actually use 56 heads of garlic a year (we'll find out!) And I will, of course, share with friend and family!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Bushel of Squash

Last weekend we wanted to buy pumpkins. We go to a mom and pop roadside farm stand. The couple who run it are older and every year we wonder if it will be there (it is far from our house) This year when we came upon it, imagine our disappointment when there were no pumpkins and no farm stand. (I did hear it was a bad year for pumpkins so perhaps they will be back next year.) They did still have squash for sale so I bought a bushel of mixed squash for $10!!! There were 40 squash in there so they were $.25 a piece. I think this week Wegman's is asking $1.49lb! Take THAT!

However, this puts me in much the same position that I was a couple of moths ago with the zucchini. I've already given some to my mom. So far this week we have used 2.

Squash and Sausage Sautee
-1 Butternut Squash
-sausage of your choice-We used some spinach chicken sausage that I got on sale for $1.39!
-Garlic, Onions
-Olive oil, spices
-Grated Cheese

Peel and cut squash into pieces you want to eat. Microwave for 3-5 min with a little water. Meanwhile, cut sausage into rounds and cook in a little oil. Add Squash and garlic/ onions (we just use garlic) You can also throw in some chopped apple but totally not necessary. Cook until squash are the consistency you like. You may need to add a little broth or water to keep things cooking nicely. Throw in some herbs of choice (a little sage works great here) and top with some grated cheese! YUMMY

Tonight I made a very easy and basic Squash Soup

1 Butternut Squash
1 celery Stalk
Olive Oil
Chicken Stock or Water
Herbs--I used herbs De Provence because we had them. You could use parsley, sage or whatever you like or omit them completely

Peel and cut squash into pieces you want to eat. Microwave for 10 min with a little water. Dice Carrot, Celery and Onion. Cook on Med with Garlic for 10 min. I like them to caramelize a bit. Add squash. Season with Salt and Pepper and Herbs of choice. Cover with chicken stock or water. Cook 10 min more. Remove from heat and let cool a bit. Puree. (I used a hand blender.) top with grated Parmesan if you have it!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Garage Sale Decorating!

I moved into a new house a little over a year ago. We also live on one income so that doesn't leave a lot left in the budget for decorating. I sometimes long for the days when I bought new furniture and shopped in upscale window treatment stores! (Although not enough to make me go back to work until my girl is school age.) The other day I looked around the house and realized so much of what I have I either acquired for free from someone or got at a garage sale. I thought I would take you on a short tour!

The first picture is the entrance of my house. This staircase is what sold me the house. Love it. It was already painted when we moved in. The table is hard to see but I got it on clearance at Target but changed out the hardware so it looks more expensive. The vase on top is a silver plate trophy that Bridgett's mom won when she worked at Sibley's (I just turned it around so you couldn't see the writing on the cup!) The flowers were free from my brother's yard. The painting I got at a garage sale!! Can you believe it. I know it's hard to see but it's lovely and it came from a GARAGE SALE!

From the foyer you enter the kitchen. I wasn't sold on the wallpaper until Jeannine suggested yellow curtains. You should see these curtains. They are really beautiful, heavy chenille and I got 5 of them on clearance at Linens and Things for $2 each! Yup, you read that right! The shelves are from a garage sale as are all of the items (granite ware, milk glass S & P shakers, and marmalade jars. Around the top of the kitchen I have a bunch of metal painted trays that I got for $1 each!

I guess the old adage that one man's trash is another man's treasure really is true!