Monday, December 31, 2012


 Yep.  It's still snowing.
 Erica and Small T heading outside to play.
The "start" of the snow ball war!

Quick Chicken and Dumplings

Due to the 24 Hour Snow Event that is happening, I have to change my dinner plans.  I won't be going to the grocery store or anywhere else today.  In fact, it's snowing like crazy at this very moment.  With that said, we will be having a "new" favorite stand by for dinner....Quick Chicken and Dumplings.

Quick Chicken and Dumplings
1 1/2 c. milk (I use 1%)
1 c. frozen green peas and carrots (I use the Country Blend...corn, green beans and carrots)
1 c. cut up cooked chicken (I use the canned chicken breast for this)
1 can (10 3/4 oz) cream of chicken soup (I use the Healthy Request version)
1 c. Bisquick mix (I use the Heart Smart version of Bisquick)
1/3 c. milk (I use 1%)

Heat 1 1/2 cups milk, the frozen vegetables, chicken and chicken soup to boiling in a 3 quart saucepan, stirring frequently.
Stir Bisquick mix and 1/3 cup milk until a soft dough forms.  Drop dough by 8 spoonfuls onto chicken mixture (do not drop directly into liquid).
Cook uncovered over low heat 10 minutes.  Cover and cook 10 minutes longer.
Makes 4 servings.

Note:  I double this recipe and cook it in my great big pot.  :)  It's really good.

Snow Event

We are supposed to have a 24 Hour "Snow Event" today, beginning at 6 am.
I think it started out on time, because this is what I saw this morning when I went out on the front porch.
You can't tell in the photos, but it's still "lightly snowing".
 We've got a great streets crew here in town....the roads are clear already!
 Part of my front yard.  The part where you can't see all the other houses!  lol
This is a "just because" photo.  I love the starkness of the tree branches covered in snow.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

More Progress....

This is the current state of my Stained Glass Afghan.
I have to go to work here in a bit and just finished up the 3rd row or segment. 
I've laid out the colors (and wrote them down) for the next row.
Since I forgot to add the black between the rows, I may have to start calling this my Crazy Afghan.  lol
I do love the way it's turning out though.
Edited to Add:
Color sequence for Row 3:  (with black between the colors) Pumpkin, Shocking Pink, Soft Navy, White, Orchid, Cherry Red, Perfect Pink, Amethyst, Turqua, Petal Pink, Light Blue and Pale Yellow.

Low Calorie Crock Pot Pineapple Chicken

(tonight's dinner)

1 package (3 lb.) boneless, skinless chicken breasts
20 oz. can of pineapple tidbits, drained (I'm not draining my pineapple as I want the juice)
2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp. Soy Sauce
1 garlic clove, minced

Put chicken in crock pot.
Sprinkle with Pepper.
Mix soy sauce, pineapple and mustard.  Pour over chicken.
Add garlic.
Cook on low 7 to 9 hours.

I will serve this with white rice and brussel sprouts.
Edit:  Apparently the guys couldn't find the brussel sprouts in the freezer, so they made broccoli crowns instead.  And...they did leave me all the dirty dishes to wash when I got home at 9 pm last night.  My whole crowd said this was a FABULOUS recipe, so it's another keeper.

Book Review - The Perks of Being a Wallflower

On a whim, I bought this book for Small T for Christmas.
How was I to know that it was one she was "dying" to read.  
High Five to me.
She sped through it in a day.  Then asked me to read it.
I read the book yesterday and loved it!
Here is the book review from :
Parents need to know that this coming-of-age classic features a lot of mature material including an abortion, repressed memories of sexual abuse, and men having sex with one another (sometimes anonymously). Characters, including the teen narrator, drink, smoke, and use drugs. Even so, it has become a classic of sorts because of its tender coming-of-age story that's easy to compare to The Catcher in the Rye. Parents who are concerned about the mature material may want to consider reading it along with their kids.

Is it any good?

Teens who love The Catcher in the Rye will find this to be an excellent sequel of sorts. Charlie shares Holden's overwhelming sensitivity -- and struggles with psychological issues -- and readers will find themselves quickly feeling sorry for the protagonist and worrying about him throughout his transformative journey. There's lots of mature content here, from sexual material to Charlie's repressed memories of being abused; parents may want to read along with their teens so they can help them with any questions. Alternately, Simon & Schuster has a reading guide that can help them think through some of the plot points and deeper issues.

**Edited to add.....
The main character in this book, Charlie, is given extra reading by his English teacher throughout the school year.  These books are:
On The Road
Naked Lunch
The Stranger
This Side Of Paradise
Peter Pan
A Separate Peace
To Kill A Mockingbird
The Catcher In The Rye
The Great Gatsby
The Fountainhead
I have read several of this books over the course of my lifetime, but not all of them.  Small T has stated that she would like to add them to her reading list.  So..."we" will be reading them together.  My next step will be to purchase these books, one at a time, as soon as the new year starts.
I know that most of these books are controversial, but...I'm a controversial type of parent.  I talk with my kids about everything possible because I want them to be prepared for life.  In some ways, I have sheltered them, but since they are subjected to many different things over the course of life, I feel they need to read about things as well as talking about them.  I'm sorry if any of my views hit a bad note with others, but ... that's life as well.  

Crock Pot Sweet 'N Sour Pork

(this was last night's dinner and the recipe is going into my permanent recipe's good)

2 lbs. cubed pork (I used pork loin chops I had in the freezer)
3 Tbsp. soy sauce
1/4 c. vinegar
1 small onion, sliced
2 Tbsp. corn starch
1/4 tsp. ginger
1/4 c. brown sugar
2 tomatoes, sliced
2 green peppers, cut in strips

In crock pot, mix pork with corn starch.
Mix in rest of ingredients except tomatoes and green peppers.
Cook on low 8 hours.
Add tomatoes and green peppers.  Cook on high 10 minutes.

**Note:  My family won't eat the tomatoes and green peppers, so I left this step out.  I served this with white rice and a vegetable.**

Friday, December 28, 2012


Here's my progress on the Stained Glass Afghan.
I finished the top two portions of the first row last night and have completed the second row now as well.
Edited to add:  I should have checked the pattern before adding the second strip.  I have screwed up and didn't add the black outline.  Dang.  But, my husband and I have talked it over and we really like the way it's looking now.  So...I won't be ripping it out and doing it right.  I will just keep on plugging away at it.
**Edited again....sorry.  The colors so far, starting at the bottom left and working up in strips are:
Row 1: (with black between each color) Pretty N Pink, Spring Green, White, Amethyst, Cherry Red, Light Blue, Pale Yellow, Shocking Pink, White, Soft Navy, Aruba Sea, and Light Coral.
Row 2: (with black between each color) Delft Blue, Petal Pink, Bright Yellow, Coral, Real Teal, White, ? (light mint), Pale Plum, Bright Yellow, Amethyst, Pretty N Pink, and Cherry Red.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Shopping and Saving with Coupons

Back before Christmas, Big Daddy and I made another trip to Wal-Mart to buy presents.  I spent some time  making a list and seeing if I had any coupons for what I was going to buy.
Here's what I bought:
5 boxes of candy at $1 each
2 boxes of Christmas candy at $2.50 each (coupon for $1 off 2 of these)
1 skein of yarn at $3.47
2 bags of candy at $2.78 each (coupon for $1 off 2 bags)
crochet set (hooks and book) for $3.77
3 craft books at $4.97 each
2 pkg. of Venus razors at $7.47 each (buy 1 get 1 coupon was $7.47)
Axe Set at $9.84 (coupon for $3.75 off)
Axe Shower Gel (coupon for $2 off)
Tootsie Roll Bank at $1.00
Chewing Gum Tin full of gum $3.18
Shaving Cream at $2.97 (coupon for $1 off)
Shaving Cream at $2.44 (coupon for 55 cents off)
2 afghan hooks at $2.97 each
1 crochet hook at $1.28
3 pc. crochet hook set at $3.47
clothing on clearance 2 at $5
clothing on clearance 1 at $3
snow bibs $17.47
mens PJ pants $6
xlg t-shirt $3.47
2 t-shirts at $5.72 each
crochet hook at $1.28
socks $2.97
Axe body spray $3.97 (coupon for $1 off)
Adidas body spray $3.47
Shampoo and Conditioner at $2.97 each ($1 coupon off 2)
Disney Princess Barbie $9.97
Shaving Cream at $2.44 (coupon for 55 cents off)
Adidas Cologne $8
Degree Deodorant $3.83
2 Toothbrushes at $2.88 each (coupons for 50 cents off each)
something for $4.50 (can't remember what it was.....duh)
Men's razors $6.97 (buy 1 get one free....saved $6.97)
degree 2 pack of women's deodorant $3.97 (coupon for $1 off)
Colgate Optic White toothpaste (coupon for $2 off)
Whitening toothpaste *can't remember brand*  (coupon for $2 off)

I used $31.79 in coupons and my total out of pocket was $200.20.
I always give my kids things they can toothpaste, toothbrushes, shampoo & conditioner, body sprays, shaving cream and razors, etc. in their Christmas stockings.  It's stuff they always need.
The coupons on candy was a bonus.  I shared this candy with one of my sisters' (for her kids).
The crochet hooks, craft books, and yarn were all gifts for crafty family members.  I find that I enjoy buying these type of gifts as they are "useful".
That was my last Wal-Mart trip for Christmas shopping.  There were 3 during the shopping season.

Rancheros Casserole

I'm sharing a recipe that my friend, Timna, requested.  I would post where I found it, but I've had this recipe for a very long time and have no idea where I got it from.

Rancheros Casserole

1 box of Betty Crocker Au Gratin Potatoes
2 1/4 c. boiling water
1 c. canned corn, drained
2/3 c. milk
1/2 lb. lean ground beef, cooked and drained
1 c. (4 oz.) shredded taco cheese

** I usually double this for my family so we have leftovers.**

Heat oven to 400 degrees F.  Mix potatoes, sauce mix, water, corn and milk.
Pour into an ungreased 2 qt. casserole dish.  (When I double it, I use a 9x13 baking dish)
Stir in beef and 3/4 c. of cheese.
Bake uncovered for 30 to 35 minutes or until top is golden brown.
Sprinkle with remaining cheese.  Let stand a few minutes.
You can serve this with tortilla chips and sour cream, if you desire.

Stained Glass Afghan

I started the Stained Glass Afghan just before Thanksgiving.  It was pushed to the back burner while I worked on a few last minute Christmas gifts.  Today, I broke out the basket of yarn and what I had done on the afghan so I can start working on it once again.  If you are interested in making one of these for yourself, here's the link .   I chose this pattern because I'm using up a lot of partial skeins of yarn.  I tend to gather a lot of these partial skeins in my stash, so I have to use them up every now and then.

Prep Time

Today, I'm spending some time getting ready for my new segment that starts in January.  It's the "Grocery Challenge" segment.  I'm going to set a limit on my weekly grocery money and then post what I bought and what meals I made out of it.  I've been researching and compiling recipes as well as saving my store sale circulars for the month of December so I can hopefully track sale items.  I will also list what items I have in my pantry and freezers at the start of this segment.  In the photo above, you can see my pile of sale circulars.  I am working on my "price book" today.  I'm writing down all the items we normally use and then listing any sales on them by week.  This will be a learning challenge for me as well as a savings challenge.  I hope to learn a lot by doing this as well as helping others save some money too.

The "Dart Gun"

What happens when Santa brings an 18 year old boy a dart gun for Christmas?
 He gets tired of shooting himself.
 And aims at his mom.
*After crawling up the basement stairs and shooting his sister in the butt while she's straightening her hair and causes a huge fight.*
Then gets the bad news that the dart gun will be taken away if he shoots me with it.

CAL Afghan Finished

Do you remember the CAL I started back in October?  If not, you can find all the details about it here .  I didn't like how I was putting it together, so I bagged it all up in early November and put it off to the side while I worked on other projects.  A couple of days ago, when I was thinking of starting something new, I spied the bag with the squares in it and decided that it was high time I finished this CAL afghan.
 So...I laid everything out and figured out where I wanted to put it all.
And this is the finished project.  Completed last night while watching TV with Big Daddy.  I don't hate it as much as I did.  I have to admit that.  In fact, it just might grow on me.

Orange Beef Teriyaki

Since our traveling plans were cancelled, we were at home for Christmas this year.  I had not planned on cooking a big meal, obviously, so we needed to come up with something "special" or something that we don't have very often.  Small T suggested the "orange beef teriyaki" since everyone likes it and we seldom have it.
 This is what it looked like, right before dishing it up.
This is the recipe.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Living Room Afghan

The Living Room Afghan is finished!  Yay!  I got in done in time!
In fact, it's already headed to its new owner.
This is a close up of the stitch detail.
I used Red Heart WW yarn in White and a size P crochet hook.  I know it called for a different size hook, but I really like how this turned out.  In fact, I like it so well, I plan on making one for myself now.

First Snow

We had our first snow (and ice storm) on Dec. 20th.  This is the beginning of it.

Of course, I had to go to the grocery store so that meant cleaning everything off and braving the icy roads.


Small T's Poinsettias are just not growing!  It's so frustrating!  The holiday season is going to be over and we're going to have a whole lot of poinsettias left over.  She's a little bit upset.  Her SAE project should have done much better.  With that said, we've learned a lot from this and now have valuable information for next year.  So, there's a silver lining to this whole situation.

Sweet Memories...

Kenny cleaned out his wallet recently, and found these photos.  Wow!  I hadn't seen some of them in AGES!  These really bring back some MEMORIES.  Hope you enjoy a quick tour of the kids, when they were younger.
 Small T (1 year old)
 Big C (3 years old)
 Medium J (age?)
 Big C and Medium J (aged 1 and 7)
 Big C (aged 5 or 6?)
Small T (age 3 or 4)


We've had a lot of fog in the mornings lately.
 The "main drag" in our small town.  I was in the grocery store parking lot.  That's why the tree is so close.
 One of the bed and breakfast inns in our town.  Eerie looking, right?  Scary movie type of thing.
Heading home down the highway, which is our "main drag".

Hats And Wrist Warmers

Previously, I had made 2 sets of these for my niece, D-Ray, to give as gifts to her bestest friends.  Well, she called me with a request for two more sets.  How could I say no????????
 Black and White....for a teen guy....
Pretty 'N Pink, Turqua and White.....for a teen girl.....
The wrist warmer pattern is my own.  You can find it here .
I made these two sets during the past two weeks.  I can't remember the exact dates though.  I think I finished them BEFORE the flu epidemic though.  :)  

Good Morning!

It's so good to be back posting on here.  It feels like I've been gone for AGES.
I'm sharing the photo below, which I call "The Flu 2012".  This started off the last two weeks of craziness in our household.  In the photo, they are exhausted from being so sick and couldn't stand another minute of being in their rooms alone.  They needed some "mommy time" even though they were sound asleep.
I didn't have a single clue that the flu was getting ready to hit our house "big time".  Big C and I had to attend a scholarship and grants workshop after school on that Wednesday, and by the time we got home, Big C was quite ill.  He'd been vomiting, etc. for about 2 hours when Small T started in.  I swear, I haven't cleaned so much vomit since they were little kids.  It was horrible!  They had to attend school on that Friday since both of them were in the school play on Saturday, but it was a real stretch trying to get them to be able to go to school without being ill.
I started feeling sickly on that Thursday evening.  By that Saturday morning, in the wee hours of the night, I was so sick that I wanted to crawl in a hole and die.  Then Big Daddy started being sick as well.  It was about 7 am that morning, during a vomiting episode, that Big Daddy had a heart attack.  I won't go into the details, but it was extremely scary.  Big Daddy has been home since this past Wednesday.  He's still not feeling well at all, but at least he's not a long way away from us anymore.  We are doing our absolute best to take care of him.  We'd like to keep him around for many, many years yet.
Anyway, that's my update on my family and illness during the past two weeks.  I've got to travel for a bit today, but once I get back home, I hope to catch up on a few more posts.  See you soon!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012


I'm sorry I've been away for so long.
I've been busy out at the farm and also with school activities.
We've all had the flu and my husband had a heart attack this past Saturday.
So....with all of that....I will be back soon.  Promise.
Until then, take care....and have a wonderful holiday season.
Merry Christmas.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Living Room Afghan

The "Living Room Afghan" is increasing in size.  Finally.  I managed to get the first skein of yarn worked in and have started on a second skein.  I just might get this finished in time for Christmas, after all.

Saturday, December 1, 2012


The tabs are on and this tapestry is FINISHED!  Woo Hoo!
One more gift ready to go.


Since I'm working on a few smaller projects today, I figured I should also "finish" up a few items as well.  Currently, I'm putting the tabs on the tapestry I made.  Once I get this done, a wooden dowel will go through the tabs for hanging.  I'm using this method because I don't want any sagging along the tapestry.
To make the tabs, I did the following:
ch 10.  hdc in the 2nd ch from hook.  hdc in each ch across. next 2, turn.  hdc in each st across.  repeat this row until you have 12 rows.  finish off.

The Red "T"

 Last night, I finished up the first side of the "T".
This morning, I made the second side.
Then I sewed the two sides together and stuffed it with fiber-fill.
This is the finished product.
A "T" pillow for my nephew, Tyreese.
A last minute Christmas gift.
You can find the link to the pattern in a previous post.  Otherwise, you can find the pattern on the Ravelry site.  Just look up alphabet pillows.

Friday, November 30, 2012

The Week in Review...

As always, it's been another busy week.
 Sunday night, Small T and Big Daddy worked on decorating the house for Christmas.
Since we'll be away for the holiday, we aren't putting the big tree up (for the very first time).
Instead, we're using the small, white tree that Small T insisted on buying last year.
It looks cute!
 On Monday, it snowed for the first time this winter.
This is the only photo where it "sort of" showed up.
I was greatly disappointed.  In both the photo and the snow.
 Here I am enjoying my nightly cup of hot chocolate.
My use of the "naughty" cup instigated a Facebook war between Small T and I.  Apparently, she thinks this is her cup and I have the "nice" cup.  LOL  I say it depends on the day, the person's mood, and the circumstances as to who gets the naughty cup.
 Wednesday, one of my nieces asked me to make two sets of hats and wrist warmers for her to give as gifts.
This is the red set.
 This is the navy blue set.  I made it on Thursday.
I made her 5 of these hat and wrist warmer sets last year to give as gifts.  Apparently, they are popular with her friends.
The wrist warmer pattern is my own.  It can be found here
 This is the beginning of an afghan that I was hoping to make for a Christmas gift.  I've been working on this on and off for a couple of weeks now.  I don't think I'll be able to get it finished though.  It might have to wait until next year.  Here's the link to the pattern
 This project was started tonight.  It's going to be a "T" pillow.  I have made these before.  You can find the free pattern here
Tonight, I dropped in to visit a friend (Timna).  While I was there, she gave me this super cool Christmas tree that she made.  I love it!  I brought it home and placed it on the fireplace mantle.
Well...that's been my week in review.  Other than fighting some ear problems and ear aches, I also had a short stay in the Emergency Room for an allergic reaction to the medication for my ears.  *sigh*  It's definitely been "one of those weeks" for me.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Shopping....and saving with coupons...

Today, I skipped working at the farm and went to the doctor for the dreaded ear ache (in both ears).  I needed to pick up a prescription and that involved a trip out of town.  So, when going out of town, we try to do everything possible in that one trip.  Today, Big Daddy and I decided to use my down time for a bit of Christmas shopping after the pharmacy trip.  I brought along my meager stash of coupons (that I will use) and with that in mind, we bought several gifts and saved money at the same time.
Here's what we bought at Dollar General:
1 pair of slippers at $6
1 package of Christmas lights at $6
2 pairs of earbuds at $3 each
2 boxes of Christmas cards at $1 each
2 pairs of slippers at $8 each minus $1.60 off each
2 pairs of thick heavy wool socks at $4 total minus 80 cents off
1 arctic knit hat at $5
20 pack of batteries at $5
2 packages of mini glass ornaments for our tiny tree at $1 each
3 (9 volt) batteries for the smoke detectors at $1 each
Total: $54.75 saved $4.00 on sale items (I did not use coupons at this store).  The only gifts out of this trip are the slippers and the earbuds.  The socks and hat are for me since I work outside in the cold and I'm freezing to death right now.  The batteries are essential, especially the ones for the smoke detectors.  It's that time of year to change them.

Then we went to Wal-Mart.  I cleaned up with my coupons here.
I bought:
Gillette Fusion razor and cartridge set for $5 (I could not use my coupon...but it was still cheaper than buying the items separately even using the coupon.  The cartridges are normally $13+ and the razor is around $7)
Dove for Men gift set $15
Olay Body Wash $2.97 and I had a $1.00 off coupon
Herbal Essences Hairspray and Heat Styling Gel at $3.37 each with a $1.00 off coupon when you buy 2
Playboy Miami Body Spray $3.97
Degree for Men Anti-Perspirant $2.32
2 boxes of Tampax Pearl Tampons at $4.18 each with a $2.50 coupon when you buy 2
2 packs of Gillette Venus Razors for Her at $7.47 each with a buy one get one free coupon
2 bottles of soda (20 oz.) for the trip home at $1.58 each
2 bottles of Preferred Stock cologne at $3.00 each
1 shave set including cup, brush and soap at $8.67
1 Peacoat for Small T at $39.96
My total was $114.46 and I saved $11.97 with the coupons.  Everything I bought, minus the soda and the tampons, will be included in my kids' Christmas gifts.  Plus, they were all things that we normally use.  All in all, I'm happy with everything that we bought....and I'm thrilled that I saved money while doing so.

This evening, Big Daddy and Medium J went to the grocery store for me since I'm not feeling well.  Era is on sale for $1.99 with a limit of 2.  I sent them both with enough money to buy 4 each (making 2 trips in and out).  The store didn't have any more on the shelf, or they would have bought a few more.  I'll have them try again tomorrow.  Era is the only laundry soap we can use due to allergies.  I try to only buy it when there's a sale like this.  Then, we'll buy 10 or more bottles and hope that it lasts until the next sale.  Era is normally $5.69 or more a bottle here in town.  With this trip, I'm saving $3.70 per bottle and with buying the 8 bottles we saved $29.60 and we only spent $15.92 plus tax.  Woo Hoo!

Recipe - Quick Grape Jelly

In a quest to find more frugal alternatives to items that I would normally purchase, I have come across a recipe for grape jelly.  We use a lot of this.  With grocery prices getting higher and higher, this is something I would consider making regularly.  I'm sharing the recipe and will do a price breakdown later in the week once I stop at the grocery store and price their jars of jelly.  I want to make sure I'm saving money by making my own.

Quick Grape Jelly

4 c. 100% grape juice
1 tbsp. powdered pectin
2 c. sugar

Bring juice to simmer over medium-high heat in a large saucepan.  Whisk in pectin and cook, whisking occasionally, 3 minutes.  Lower heat to medium-low; add sugar, whisking until dissolved, about 5 minutes.  Let cool slightly before pouring into jars and refrigerating.
Makes about 2 pints.

Recipe - Easy Scones

Since bread and bread items are still so scarce in our vicinity, I'm on a mission to find recipes to make my own items.  Here is a recipe that I found for Easy Scones.  I will definitely give it a try.  I plan to use the recipe to make my own Heavy Cream as well.  It's not something I keep on hand.

Easy Scones

3 c. self-rising flour
3/4 c. lemon-lime soda (such as Sprite)
3/4 c. heavy cream

*note....If you don't keep heavy cream on hand, you can make your own.  
This measurements will be equal to one cup of heavy cream.
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup butter
Melt the butter.
Mix milk with butter & stir well.
Use in place of one cup of heavy cream
 *This will not "whip", so isn't suitable for that purpose.

1.  Heat oven to 400 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2.  Place the flour in a large bowl and make a well in the center.  With a fork, gently stir in the soda and the cream, mixing until incorporated (do not over mix).

3.  Drop 8 large spoonfuls of dough onto the prepared baking sheet.  Sprinkle with raw or granulated sugar, if desired, and bake until golden brown, 18 to 20 minutes.  Serve warm with butter and honey or jam.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Sunday Paper - Coupons

You know, I never buy a Sunday Paper.  Ever.  Today, I thought...why not.  I dished out my $2.15 then came home to check out the coupons.  I didn't think there would be enough coupons in the circular to cover the money I spent on the paper.  Boy, was I wrong!  I found:
$1 off 2 Herbal Essences products (that's what we use)
$2.50 off 2 Tampax Pearl products (that's what Small T uses)
a Buy one get one coupon on Gillette female disposable razors (that's what we use)
25 cents off Bounty towels (maybe)
$1 off one Olay body wash (maybe)
and several other coupons on men's razors (maybe) the long run, even if I only use the coupons for Herbal Essences and Tampax Pearl, I'm still ahead $1.35 after paying for the paper.  Guess I'll start buying the paper more often!

Recipe - Skillet Jam

You know, jellies and jams are quite expensive and seldom on sale in my local grocery store.  I came across a recipe that makes about 2 cups of jam and that's just the right amount for my household as we don't eat a lot of it, but like to have some in the refrigerator just in case we want it.  I'm going to drop by the grocery store this afternoon and check on prices for the ingredients and also check the jelly and jam prices to see which is more economical.  However, fresh jam would be a definite "treat" to have around and you could change up the flavor pretty fast without needing to wait until the whole jar of store bought jam is gone.

Skillet Jam
1 pint blueberries, mashed; OR 2 1/4 cups of raspberries; OR 1 lb. ripe peaches, peeled and mashed
2 Tbsp. powdered fruit pectin
1 c. sugar
2 tsp. fresh lemon juice

1.  In a large skillet, heat fruit and pectin over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until mixture is hot and bubbly.  Stir in sugar and lemon juice; heat to boiling.  Boil 1 minute, stirring; remove from heat.

2.  Carefully pour hot jam into clean half-pint jars (about 3) with tight-fitting lids.  Cover and refrigerate until jam is set and cold, about 4 hours.

Makes about 2 cups.

Edited to add:
I did some research at the local grocery store.
Jars of jam are selling for:
Peach 18 oz. $2.89
Strawberry 32 oz. $4.19
Apricot 18 oz. $3.89
Blackberry 12 oz. $3.39
Raspberry 12 oz. $3.69

If I were to make the above recipe, prices are as follows:
Frozen Peaches or Strawberries 16 oz. $3.09
Powdered Pectin $2.69 (I would get 4 uses out of this box) so price per use would be 68 cents
Sugar 4lb. bag normal price is $3.29 (I would get 8 or 9 uses out of this bag) so price per use would be 42 cents for each use based on 8 uses
Lemon Juice 4 oz. for $1.19 (I would get 12 uses) so price per use would be 10 cents
This makes the cost per batch $4.29.  
2 cups in a batch is approx. 16 oz so depending on what flavor (for Blackberry it would work out to be $4.52 for 16 oz. if bought from the store) I would save approx. 23 cents by making my own jam.  If I could purchase the necessary items on sale (such as sugar) I could reap more savings.  Since I always buy my sugar on sale (this week it's $1.89 per 4 lb. bag) I could see that making my own would pay off unless there was a big sale on jams and jellies and I was able to stock up then.

How to convert a recipe into a crock pot recipe...

*I like to use my crock pot or slow cookers much more than what I actually do.  I find that I get less use of them simply because I don't have enough recipes for foods to cook in them.  I found this tip on how to convert a recipe into a crock pot recipe, so hopefully I will be able to use the crock pot more often.*

If a recipe calls for cooking the dish covered in the oven or on the stove top at a long low simmer, it's probably great for a slow cooker.  This includes foods like beef stew, pot roast, chili, or anything using a tougher cut of meat such as pork shoulder, beef chuck, brisket or lamb shoulder.

  • Layer ingredients.  Root vegetables like carrots, turnips, potatoes and parsnips take longer to cook than meat because they are harder, so put them in the bottom of the slow cooker, then put the meat on top.
  • Change the cooking time.  Recipes that cook for 2 to 4 hours in the oven or stove top will cook in the slow cooker or crock pot on high for 4 to 6 hours or on low for 7 to 9 hours. All slow cookers are different, so check the progress regularly.
  • Go light on spice.  Start with a moderate amount of seasoning and add extra flavor after cooking has finished.  Hot spices like cayenne, curries and some chili powders can become more intense during slow cooking, while fresh herbs, such as basil, chives or parsley, can become flavorless.  Adjusting the flavors at the end means that the finished dish will be just as you like it.  Make sure to cook any added dry spices for 5 minutes before serving.
  • Use less liquid.  Liquid doesn't evaporate in a slow cooker the way it does on the stove top or in the oven, so start with less.  A half cup of liquid, such as stock, wine or water, should be enough to create steam and start everything cooking.  For soups and stews, however, the slow cooker should be two thirds full.  Add all of the dry ingredients first, then add enough liquid to reach the correct level.
  • Reduce the liquid.  Leave the lid off for the last half hour of cooking so excess liquid can evaporate.  If the end result still has too much liquid, spoon it into a small saucepan and whisk in a slurry (2 tsp cornstarch dissolved in 1 Tbsp of cooking liquid).  Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer the mixture until thickened.  Add the thickened mixture back to the slow cooker before serving.

Year Round Savings - Shopping Tip

Grocery Stores have certain products that cycle through regular sales.
Here is a "when to buy" guide.

January -
Low fat or low carb items including frozen meals, granola bars, diet sodas.
Super bowl favorites such as frozen appetizers, chips, dips, sodas and beer.
Boxed teas and soups.

February -
Canned foods including soups, fruits and vegetables.
Medicines, cold remedies and vitamins.

March -
Peanut butter and other peanut products.
Frozen meals, vegetables and fruits.

April -
Soy products like milk, burgers, tofu and bars.

May -
Memorial Day staples such as barbecue foods, soda, chips, condiments, buns, grilling spices and salad dressing; paper goods like plates, napkins and cups.
After Mother's Day, kitchen appliances, toasters, microwaves, food processors, mixers.

June -
Cheese, milk, cream, yogurt and other dairy products.
Ice cream, including bars, sandwiches and cones.

July -
Hot dogs, frozen hamburger patties and ground meat for the 4th of July, as well as condiments and barbeque staples.
School supplies.

August -
Back to school items like juice boxes, granola bars, canned fruit and other snacks.
Sunscreen and lotions.

September -
Breakfast foods including hot and cold cereals, oatmeal, frozen breakfast pastries, frozen breakfast sandwiches and pancake mix.
Labor Day staples like barbeque and party foods.

October -
Pasta and frozen pizza.
Pet food, grooming supplies and toys.

November -
Thanksgiving foods such as turkey, stuffing mix, soups, cranberries, canned veggies and yams.
Baking goods including flour, baking soda, sugar, cake mixes, frosting, pie crusts and frozen pies.

December -
Disposable containers, foil, wax paper and plastic wrap.

Laundry Tip

A bar of Ivory soap will remove stubborn stains on white clothes when detergent won't get rid of them.
(from Woman's Day magazine, June 2012)

Upcoming Segment

Beginning at the New Year, I will be adding a weekly segment to my blog.  It's going to be a weekly grocery challenge.  I worked for several hours on this yesterday, getting some of the preparation for the segment finished.  I pulled out a lot of my basic recipes along with some quick and easy recipes, crock pot recipes and recipes I've been wanting to try out.  These recipes will be the back bone of my kitchen frugality and keeping to them is going to be important otherwise I won't be able to live within the guidelines I'm setting up for myself in regards to the grocery spending.
I will also be cooking more items from scratch.  Particularly bread items.  With Hostess going out of business, our local grocery store has been without bread items for 2 weeks now.  It's a 30 mile drive to a store to purchase bread.  I refuse to make this trip unless I'm already going to this town for an appointment or something and that's maybe once a month.
The reason I'm adding this segment to my blog is that I am all about living a more frugal life but I have posted very little about this topic on my blog.  To go with that, the Winter, along with the beginning of the New Year is always a struggle for us financially.  So I'm really going to have to watch my budget in order to keep the family afloat during those tough months.
I would like to have others follow along with me.  If you are interested in doing so, please send me a post.  I would love to follow your progress as well.  My basic prep work before starting this involves setting up my basic recipe file and then the day before I start I will take an inventory of what I have in my pantry, freezers and refrigerator.  I've also started saving my weekly sales ad (beginning this week)  from the grocery store so I can see if there is a pattern to the sales each week.  I have one grocery store available to me, which is our local one called Prenger's.  IF we are ever in another town where there is an Aldi's or a Wal-Mart, I will do a bit of shopping there as well.  Otherwise, I will be shopping exclusively at Prenger's for our food.  They have some good sales each week, and for the most part, that's all that I purchase.  For those that are doing the challenge with me, you'll have other stores available to you and I look forward to seeing the great deals you'll be getting.
So....with all that said, I hope this challenge will turn out well.  I'm sure I'll get tired of it at one point, but you never know.  In any event, I'm going to stick to it.  That will be my New Year's Resolution.  :)


I've spent my time off during the holiday weekend working on Christmas gifts.  In particular, the "notebooks" that I will be giving out to select family members and friends.  While working on them, I came across some various color inspirations and a quote.
 I need this quote in my kitchen.  I'm all about good cooking, not gourmet cooking.  I don't like spending forever in the kitchen to get a meal on the table.
 Then I took a few photos of color combo's that I like.
Future inspiration for my crochet.
The blueish color and white or cream.
 I love this.  Lilac, Raspberry and Cherry.  Sort of.
 Red, white and cream.  Maybe?
 BOLD color stripes.
 Another bold palette.
This is like a burnt orange, black and cream.  Interesting.
For some strange reason, this color combo calls to me.