Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Frugal Decorating!

I really believe that we are all born with talents and skills and into our lives fall perks that others don't have in exactly the same way you do. Maybe you have an innate decorating sense like Deanna and Jeannine or your husband can build things like Kristin's or cooks dinner every night like mine.

Among other things, I believe I possess a, unique-to- me RADAR. Or perhaps I'm emitting some kind of vibe. Whatever it is, it causes people to put very nice things they don't want anymore in my path on the side of the road! I swear I don't know anyone with my luck in this department!

My latest find is this dresser! I had a console table there but it didn't look substantial enough to me. I was thinking how nice it would be to have a dresser there that I could put hats and gloves into.

Lo and behold this gem was on the side of the road! A first I thought I would paint it but then the yellow started to grow on me!

It looks even nicer in person!

In case you are wondering, the Tiffany style lamp on it is from a garage sale ($5) the bowl and pitcher and pictures were gifts and the hydrangea are from Bridget's yard! Even the patchwork heart on the trash picked doorknob is from a garage sale! Everything you see in the picture (except for the actual house!) cost me only $6!!!

Halloween Candy!

I'm usually not one to post links to my older stuff but as I was buying Halloween Candy yesterday I realized I should re-post my Halloween Candy Strategy in case you've forgotten or are a new reader!!!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Crockpot Applesauce

Well, I think I've finally recovered from the Squirrel Shock and I can come back and post about normal life once again.

Today I made Crockpot Applesauce. This is one of the easiest recipes ever and is perfect for this time of year.

Take as many apples as you want. Any kind you like. Wash them. If you have a hand crank food mill (and if you don't your grandma probably does) all you need to do is core them and cut them into chunks. If you don't have a food mill (old fashioned or otherwise) you may want to peel the apples. I like to cook the applesauce with the peels on because it gives the applesauce a beautiful pink color.

Put the apples in the crockpot and cook on high until they are soft. Today that was about 4 hrs on high. No water. Nothing. Just cook 'em down. When they are soft put them through the food mill to mash and remove the peels or if you have already peeled them, the mash with a fork.

You can add a little cinnamon and brown sugar but apples are so perfect this time of year that I usually don't.

I like this with oatmeal. I use it in muffins. My daughter eats it as a side dish or for dessert and I think it tastes like home.

This freezes beautifully so only put what you'll eat in a few days time in the fridge. You don't want your hard work going to waste now do you!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

How the Prairie Kicked My Ass

I'm back from my Pioneer weekend and have lots to tell.

Some parts were really really awesome. Some parts were, well, not....

We arrived Friday afternoon and fitted into outfits. Mind you, I had 4 layers which will explain why I look 30lbs heavier in the pictures than I do in real life. I churned butter and washed butter and baked cornbread in hot coals in a dutch oven.. We roped the bed Will stuffed the straw ticks and sewed them up. He also learned how to take care of the animals. I did the dishes in dishpans and learned that I must always keep the fire going with these little logs split for this purpose that burn in about 20 minutes. While I was working on something, I was ALWAYS keeping the fire going. We made up the bed. We finally ate a wonderful supper of pumpkin apple soup (which was made for us before we got there) and cornbread and butter. We were shown around the cabin and then our pioneer guide left us. We got to use the bathrooms up in first aid so we had 2 nighttime walks. The sky was clear and the moon was bright and we walked using a candle lantern. The village was gorgeous in starlight. I read by that candle lantern in front of the fire and went to bed.

Sleeping on the straw tick was not as bad as one would think but the bed was REALLY SMALL. It was a nice evening so we were not cold with all the blankets that we had and the fire (That I must always keep burning).

Morning dawned and we walked up to the bathroom. This was the best part for me. When we walked into the village we were in our outfits in the midst of all the historic buildings and it was beautiful and quiet. I turned and looked over my shoulder and could see the sun rising over the fields. I wish I had a camera but I won't ever forget that scene. For those minutes I WAS back in time. The square was full of fall color trees and everything was perfect. I was in my dream. It was really happy for me.

I made cornmeal mush for breakfast (and kept the fire going) that we ate with my butter and some maple syrup. Will took care of the animals-He even fed these ENORMOUS Oxen. I cleaned up the breakfast dishes. I kept the fire going. I went to pick vegetables in the different gardens around town. Will built a split rail fence.

When I came back our Pioneer guide had arrived. She brought a surprise. Her son had killed 2 squirrels that morning for us to SKIN AND EAT............. I backed away..... Will stepped up and skinned and disemboweled a squirrel. (for those of you who do not know my husband, this is NOT normal behavior for him) Those little rodents were washed and set in a bowl on MY TABLE IN SALT WATER WHERE THEY SAT ALL DAY WHILE I COOKED.

This is where is started to get harry. A pioneer woman, I learned, spends her entire life cooking over an open hearth and keeping the fire going. All of this while she tends to the children (luckily I did not have to do that) washes these enormous heavy pots and carries a lot of water with a yoke when her husband is off doing something . Trust me, it takes a lot of water to make a meal. It is very smoky in the cabin. (So smoky that when I cleaned my ears out later I had SOOT IN MY EARS) There were so many flies all over the food (and those soaking squirrels). I made a twirling pork roast (The squirrels were for Sunday-They were for me to FRY!!!! ) Rye and Injun bread, Mashed root vegetables and glazed carrots with herbs for the dinner (lunch) meal. It was really hot in all of the clothes. We had A LOT of visitors. Students and friends and family (My parents brought our daughter) along with the regular visitors. All of them wanted to know what I was doing/how I was doing. How did we sleep, etc, I was really excited to show them. I fell behind on the dinner prep. WAY behind. It takes A LONG time to make 4 things over one fire and let me tell you, it took me all day. When we were finally ready to eat Will was nowhere to be found. He was driving oxen around the village and bringing back a load of manure for the garden. All I had eaten was a bowl of cornmeal mush at 7 and a contraband banana from Kristin and Michael. We didn't eat until 3pm. By that time I was very hot and very tired and very hungry. I was also feeling very sick from the heat and smoke. I ate because I knew I had to. A little while later I threw up. I threw up for the next 4 hours in First Aid. It was rather embarrassing getting sick in front of museum goers and staff members.

There was a barn dance with musicians and real dancers and gaslight lanterns. I even got a pretty dress to wear because I got sick on the old one. I missed it all. :-(

The entire time I was in first aid my head was spinning and I couldn't get those squirrels out of my head (to the squirrels credit, many of the people who visited the cabin that day told me squirrel was really quite tasty. I do also realize that many people do eat squirrel. It is just not something I've ever considered eating and I was really having an issue with it)

We came home after the barn dance. I slept for 12 hours. We missed the entire day today.

I'm sad that it happened like that. I have not been this excited about something since giving birth. (I kid you not.) I would have really liked to experience the whole thing.

My friends who came back for the dance had a great time which I am grateful for as I was not there with them.

I learned a great deal which I will share over the next few days. The amount of information that our pioneer guide had was absolutely amazing-She was enthralling and can DO all of the pioneer activities that I was supposed to. She's the real deal! The people at the museum were great and even offered to let us come back next year for the whole experience.

Don't think I had a bad time. I had an awesome time. I learned a TON. I have A LOT of perspective. I got to do something most people never get to. It one of the most interesting things I've ever done. I just wish it didn't end so quickly. My husband had a GREAT time. A much better time than he imagined he would. He wished it didn't end so quickly.

At least now I know if the end of the world comes we can eat (or at least skin) the rodents in the back yard. My husband actually BROUGHT home the 2 squirrels and they now sit in my freezer.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Leftover Lunch Satue!

My husband is a teacher and doesn't leave school for lunch. Since the alternative is school cafeteria food, he takes a lunch every day. He is NOT a sandwich eater so I don't buy cold cuts at all. Usually he just makes sure that he cooks enough dinner so that there are leftovers the next day. My Mother-in-law, bless her, also makes extra on nights when we eat over and packs us a "to go" container.

Today my mother-in-law told me that we were ordering Japanese food tonight. Yeah Japanese! Boo that now I have to make a lunch. And I haven't been shopping since a small trip on Sunday. And I'm not going today either. What to do. Our fridge is BARE.

So I looked in the freezer.

3 Frozen sausage patties and a bag of frozen tomatoes.

Back to the Fridge.

1/2 an onion
1 hot pepper
1 small homegrown eggplant
1/4 of an uncooked zucchini from dinner last night
A handful of leftover assorted olives from my parents 40th Anniversary party this past weekend.
1/2 cup roasted turnips from dinner the other night.
1 container with about 1 TBSP of Pesto in it
Butter-we are out of Olive oil.

Saute it all together. Add the pesto and tomatoes near the end. The trick with this one is browning the onion a bit before adding the rest. Then cook until all the liquid is gone. Make sure it gets kind of caramelized. Top with grated cheese if you have it. Served with a side salad this will make a yummy lunch!

Mind you, you don't need all of the above to make something good. Use what you have!

This particular one may work the best if you have a husband from Brooklyn who grew up eating sausage and pepper sandwiches. (This is certainly not what I ate growing up!) However, you could do this a number of ways-Chinese if you had some left over chicken and veggies. Mexican with some leftover beef and cheese. The point is that even when you don't think you have a lot of food in the house, you can probably whip up something!!!

I made sure that I used enough veggies so that this made 2 rather large lunch servings. One is in the fridge and one is in the freezer for the next time my MIL orders Japanese food!

No New Stuff-September Edition!

For those of you still paying attention to my No New Stuff Year I am happy to report my September total as:


I don't know if it's because I've been super busy, my school takes went up $1200 or what but in September I bought nothing new! Yeah me!