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.

Friday, November 23, 2012


my family is vegging out.  We're watching movies.  So far, we've seen "Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter", "Blackhawk Down", "Lockout", and we still have to watch "The Raven".  I spent a short amount of time during one of the movies crocheting three coasters for the new table.  I used Simply Soft yarn in Autumn Red and a size F crochet hook.  The coasters are simple.  Chain 22, hdc in the 3rd chain from the hook and in each chain across.  Chain 2, turn, hdc in each st across.  Repeat this for 12 rows total.  Then, sc around the entire edge of the coaster, putting 3 sc in each corner.  That's it.  I would have done a fourth coaster but I ran out of yarn.

Thursday (Thanksgiving)...

We had a lot of family at our house for Thanksgiving Dinner.  It was wonderful!
As soon as they left, the kids started in with their usual arguing and fighting.  But, this time, they were playing, for the most part.  Luckily.
 Big C hiding from Small T.  
 Big C and Small T getting some licks in, after Small T bombarded him with rolls of toliet paper.
 Medium J getting in on the act, and being walloped by Big C.  Small T is walking away after getting a few licks in herself.
 Then I was rewarded by an unexpected gift.  A package of photos that my ex-husband found.
It included my graduation photos (from high school).
I can't believe how young I looked.
I also found this great bit of black mail.
A photo that included my four younger sisters.
I've already started the black mail process.  Ha!
Thursday evening, we hit the 8 pm sale at Wal-Mart.  Big Daddy, Big C, Small T and I went.  It was Small T's first year of going shopping on Black Friday.  We got everything we went there for and spent $167.64 which was well under my allotted budget.  Here's what we got:
4 pairs of Wrangler Jeans at $9.50 each
2 pairs of Rustler Jeans at $6 each
undershirts for $8
boxers for $8
17 movies at $1.96 each
5 TV series boxed sets at $9.96 each
and four 20 ounce soda's at $1.58 each for the thirsty shoppers
Overall, we saved $107.84 on our purchases.
Job well done!  And worth the chaos!


Tuesday night, we had some company arrive for a short stay.  They were all gone by 10:30 the next morning.
 Rose and Baby E (Rose is Baby E's mom and is standing next to the wall behind Grandma, my mom, and Baby E is sitting on my sister Dea's lap) and Grandma and my sister Lea and her friend Sis.  Wednesday morning, my sister Dea arrived for a quick visit before work.  Baby E is shown here opening her Christmas present since they won't see her before the holiday.  She got a teddy bear that sings the Army song (since her dad, my nephew, is in the army) and she did not like it.  She's shown pushing the bear back to Grandma.
 Baby E loves to have her photo taken and every time my flash would go off, she would turn to me and smile.  LOL
 Big Daddy was finishing the thawing process of the two twenty pound turkey's in my bath tub.  Hmmm...
I'm happy to say, it worked.  He had both turkey's thawed and cooked in record time.  We do all our cooking that's possible the day before the holiday.  In fact, we cooked 2 turkey's, 2 bone-in ham's, 144 dinner rolls (the kind that need to rise), 4 pumpkin pies, 24 hour salad, and a jello cake.  That left the mashed potatoes, gravy, noodles, stuffing, and vegetable for the next day, which was Thanksgiving.
 Wednesday, while I was out and about running a few quick errands, Small T needed to stop at the greenhouse and water her poinsetta's.
 They are growing well.  And starting to turn red too.  They will be ready in about 2 weeks time.
 Small T also wanted to try out a recipe for the holiday dinner.  She made a Coca-Cola Cake.  It was something new to us.
Here's the finished product.  I'm happy to report that it was GREAT!  And I detest chocolate cake.
The link to the cake can be found here

The "Table"

When I came home from school Tuesday, this is what I found.  I knew that Big Daddy was making me a table to go in the corner section of the sectional couch (where we don't have the middle seat at anymore because we don't like it).  The table is fabulous!  Much better than I ever expected!  I mean...he's good with woodworking, but still...this looks professional.  Plus it fits in the corner area wonderfully.  I've exclaimed over it many times since it's been put there and I know he has appreciated how much I like it.  Thanks a lot for the terrific table Big Daddy!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

What's Been Happening....

Here's an update of what's been happening in my neck of the woods since my last post.
 The Senior Class at school put on a great Veteran's Day Assembly.
Big C recited a poem.
 A photo from the photo shoot I did of Small T and a friend that's moving.
This is Small T.
 And this is Small T and her friend.
 Last Sunday, I sat down and made this Conehat.  It's a free pattern and can be found here .
I used some Simply Soft yarn that I had on hand.  I do not know the color name though.  I also didn't put the tassel on the end.  Just because I didn't want to.  No other reason.
 Tuesday, the 13th, was Big C's 18th birthday.
 I couldn't believe it.  He blew out all 18 candles in one breath!  I hope he gets his wish!
 Friday, I got my hair done.
I really needed it.
 I also started the Stained Glass Afghan on Friday.
I'm using up my scrap yarn for this project.  All of it Red Heart Super Saver.
 Friday night was "Meet the Wildcats". 
It's the opening ceremony for the High School Basketball Teams.
Small T is a cheerleader.
She's the one with her pom-pom's in the air.
 I really wish this photo had turned out.
But I think you can see the idea behind it.
Big C is the only senior boy on the basketball team.
They start out announcing the team from the lowest grade to the highest grade.
So...when it was Big C's turn....the announcer says in his best WWE announcer's voice....and the lone senior is Chance Whitney.....and Big C steps forward and raises his arms in the air....and the crowd roars!!!!!
It was soooooooo exciting! I love it!
 So, the boys divided into two teams and scrimmaged against each other for the crowd.
Big C was one the white team.
He started the game.
 Here's Big C guarding Quade.
And all four senior's participating in Basketball and Cheer.....Chelsea, Rebecca, Chance and Katie.
A man and his entourage.  LOL  Just kidding.

Sunday, November 11, 2012


My sister, Lea, needed another Christmas stocking this year.  I can't believe this.  She needed 10 for her clan last year.  Oh well.  I'm more than happy to oblige and I finished this up yesterday.  So...this stocking is for Anna.  She loves the color purple.  Therefore, it's Amethyst and Black....Red Heart Super Saver yarn.  As always, I used this pattern .  I'm sorry it's not coming up as a link.  I'm not sure why.  Just select and paste to your browser.  It will work that way too.


Friday night's sunset while on our short road trip.
A photo just can't do it justice!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

So Far....

this is what my CAL blanket looks like.
I'm still putting it together, but this is basically the inner rectangle.  I need to add a colored border yet.  Then I can start on the outer squares.  I still don't really like it, but it's getting better.  I think it's the blank or white spots that are bothering me so much.

Apple Cinnamon Cake

I've been baking again. 
It's my turn to bring dessert out at the farm tomorrow.
So...I tried out a new recipe.
Apple Cinnamon Cake.
Off Pinterest.
It's one box of Angel Food Cake mix, 1 can of Apple Pie Filling and some Cinnamon.
Bake at 350 for 20 minutes.
I'm hoping it turns out to be ok.  Since I've never made it before.  I'd hate for it to be a flop.

CAL- Putting it together...

I learned something today....
As much as I love these squares....
And doing the CAL....
I do not like squares of different sizes...when it comes to putting them together.
I DO NOT like what I've done so far.
 Can you see the "ugly"?
 I am finally getting the sides more even....but still....
This is my current status on the blanket.
It's looking better, but I still don't like it.
I wonder how everyone else got their squares to go together so nicely.
Mine are really different in sizes.
Maybe it's how I placed them together.
In any event, I'm not frogging this.
I'm keeping it as is.
I'm also keeping my mind open.
Surely, it will look better when I get more of the squares added.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

CAL Squares

 Week 11 (part 1)
 Week 11 (part 2)
 Week 12
 Week 13
Week 14
I'm caught up on squares now (I think).  The next step is to assemble the inner rectangle.  I will work on that tomorrow since I finally have a day at home.  I've enjoyed working on all of these squares tonight.  I haven't had any crochet time at all this week.  Plus, these squares were all unique and I liked watching them unfurl before my eyes.  It's nice to see and learn new things sometimes.