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.