Monday, June 30, 2014

Last Week's Thrifty Moves

We packed a picnic, grabbed some friends and spent the day fishing and exploring the old pioneer cemetery in Idaho City.  It was a super fun day!

I did not need to buy groceries or gas this week!

We borrowed The Odd Life Of Timothy Green from the library for Family Movie Nite.

The girls turned in their Summer Reading Program sheets and received free meal coupons at some of their favorite restaurants and a free ticket to the rodeo coming up next month.  The prizes this year are pretty awesome.

I watched a show on Hulu and two on Amazon.  My oldest and I watched Jane Austen's Persuasion on Amazon as well.

I listened to music on YouTube while I worked at my laptop.  Yes, I was writing! J

We made good use of our leftovers for lunches and dinners.  We gave our kitchen scraps to the neighbor's chickens.  Unfortunately we had to toss out a bag of potatoes that went bad.

I used a little bleach and some hot water to soak my white coffee cups and remove all the coffee and tea stains.  They look brand new.

I cleaned out and reorganized my kitchen cabinets and drawers.  I purged a few things while I was at it to give us more room.  I was able to take an inventory of all my food storage supplies and determined the only thing I'll need to purchase is canning lids, which is already on my list.

On Friday night we made homemade pizza.  While we were at it we made extra dough and put away four balls of dough in the freezer.

I made pancake syrup. 

How was your thrifty week last week?

Friday, June 27, 2014

Investment Cooking - Chili Con Carne - With No Beans

I know I've mentioned before that my youngest doesn't care for legumes in any form.  Slowly she is accepting refried beans in small doses but to sit down and eat a big bowl of bean soup or chili is pure torture to her.  We were talking one day and she told me she likes the taste of the sauce in chili, just not the beans and I told her there was such a thing as chili without beans. 

Awhile back I bought her a small can of it to try and she did enjoy it very much.  So I decided, rather than buy it I would make it for her.  We realized that having a batch of beanless chili on hand could prove rather useful as an ingredient in other things like nachos or stuffed baked potatoes.  It would also be handy to have it already made and just add beans for a bowl of real chili. J

Chili Con Carne - With No Beans

1 to 2 pounds of ground beef, pork, or turkey
2 15 oz. cans tomato sauce
1 15 oz can diced tomatoes with chiles, undrained
1 envelope chili seasoning or homemade equivalent

Brown meat and drain away any fat.  Place in slow cooker.  Add tomato sauce, tomatoes and seasoning.  Stir well to completely combine.  Add lid and turn cooker on low for four to six hours to allow flavors to combine well.

After the chili had cooled I divided it amongst various size freezer containers.  Now I have a nice supply in my freezer.  So far we have thawed and used one container for nachos and used the leftovers to make chili cheese omelets.  The omelets were delicious! 

So how do you like your chili?  Beans or No Beans?

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Grocery Budget Update - June

This month was MUCH better for me staying on budget and having a better hold on things.  As you will notice I spent more on meat than I normally do by buying a pork roast, some ground pork and a very large package of lean ground beef.  Both the roast and the ground beef were used for some investment cooking I did during the month.

I spent $24.64 of our $25.00 non-food budget primarily on cat food and litter as well as freezer bags and containers for the investment cooking.  I also stocked up on dish soap purchased on sale and with coupons.

This is what I bought for groceries this month:

Fideo (3)
Fudgesicles - 20ct
Veg. juice (2)
Pork roast
Ground pork (2)
Cheese (6)
Store Coupon
Bell pepper
Ice cream bars (4)
Ice cream (2)
Ground beef - 4.75#
Vegetable oil
Store Coupon
Whole wheat flour - 10#
Store Coupon
Sugar - 8#
Tortillas (3)
Store Coupon
Tortilla chips (2)
Rice - 6#
Store Coupon
Canned tomatoes (4)
Store Coupon
Hamburger buns
Sour cream - 24oz
Eggs - 1 doz.
Hamburger patties
Butter (2)
Store Coupon
Lettuce (2)
Milk - 1 gal
Store Promotion
Eggs - 1 doz.
Store Promotion
 $  121.19

$121.19 ÷ 30 days ÷3 people = $1.35 per person per day!

My stock up items are marked in red.  How were you able to save on your groceries this month?  What super buys did you find?

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

How About It?

Have you checked out the 

facebook page yet?

Like it and follow along!  We'd sure be glad to have you!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The Author In Me Has Reawakened

As many of you know, I published my first novel last year in November.  For me, it was more than just one of those bucket list items to cross off.  It was much more than that.  I have a passion to write, have had it all  my life.  I've penned a lot of stories but until last year had not committed to finish and publish an actual novel.

For me, as with most writers I suppose, it is a work of pure passion.  Probably why I am drawn to it so much.  I quite literally fall in love with my characters and much to my surprise, when I finished my novel it almost felt as if I was going through a break up.  I was going to miss them.

When my own copy of the book arrived from the publisher I realized, however, that they weren't gone, they were right here between the covers of the book.  I could visit them every time.  But, even more surprising, I also get to visit with them every time someone asks me about my book or contacts me to let me know how much they enjoyed it.

A few months ago I received an email from a reader asking me when I was planning to write the next installment to Walk Among Us.  To be honest, I wasn’t, but I was really flattered to hear this person wanted more.  Then a friend asked me about it and I began to think about the possibility.  The thing was, I had written the book to be a one and only.  At the time I didn't want to do a sequel.

My friends and family can be persuasive, especially my oldest daughter.  I began to toss around ideas in my head.  My daughter and I bounced a ton of ideas back and forth and after a couple of months I came up with a story.  For the past week I have been fiendishly putting thought to paper in every spare moment I can find.  Hurrying to get it down before it slips away.  I have one of those brains.

My literary assistant has read the rough draft of the first three chapters and has told me to hurry up.  She wants to know what happens next.  She also wants to know what I am planning to call it but, like an expectant mother, I am waiting to announce that once it goes to the publisher.

So if I miss a few posts here and there in the coming months you'll know it is because I have been hard at work creating my new masterpiece.  Either that, or doing laundry because I didn't get it done, because I was writing. J 

Bear with me.  You guys are super important to me and so is this blog.  I promise not to be too neglectful.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Last Week's Thrifty Moves

I checked the ads online on Sunday morning and found nothing to entice me to shop this week.

My friend gave me her coupons out of the Sunday paper and I was able to clip a few I would use.

The only grocery shopping I did was at the corner market.  I stopped on the way home from work to buy a gallon of milk for $1.88 and a dozen eggs for 98¢.  It was part of their weekly store promotion if you used your store reward points.

I reorganized the toiletry bin underneath the bathroom sink and took an inventory of what we have.  Still looking good, except we are low on toothpaste.  I'll be looking for a sale to go with the coupons I have.

On a less than thrifty note we had some food waste.  A carton of sour cream with a little bit left in it didn't get used up in time and got moldy as did a good sized amount of cream cheese that was forgotten about.  I really don't like when that happens.

I filled our propane tank once again for 99¢ a gallon.

Instead of going out to dinner Friday night I stopped at the deli and picked up a fried chicken for $6.99 plus a bag of salad mix for 88¢ and we ate at home.  I used funds from our entertainment/dining budget for this purchase.

I watched a couple shows on Amazon and one on Hulu - Season premiere of Suits - Whoo hooo!

We pulled our Phantom Of The Opera DVD out and enjoyed a Family Movie Nite. 

How did your thrifty week go?

Friday, June 20, 2014

Christmas All Year Long - Christmas Music

For quite awhile we made it a tradition to purchase either a Christmas DVD or a music CD.  As a result we have amassed a pretty nice music collection.  I wax nostalgic and just love to listen to Bing Crosby, Dean Martin, Nat King Cole, Elvis, and Johnny Mathis.  It always reminds me of childhood Christmases when all of my grandparents, aunts and uncles were still alive and we could gather all together.  Oh, how I miss that.

This year I decided to share some of my favorite music with my friends.  I loaded them onto my computer so I can burn them onto blank CDs, which I happen to have several in my tote filled with extra office supplies.  I also have plenty of plastic CD cases to put them in.

Once the CDs are burned I will print out labels (which I also have) to put on them and then I'll make some kind of a little insert/cover to put in the front of the case to dress it up and make it gift worthy.  It is amazing what all you can do with a computer, some labels and a little ingenuity.  And remember, as long as you don't try to sell any of them you haven't broken any laws. 

What are some of your favorite holiday tunes?

Thursday, June 19, 2014

A Garden Update

This is probably not the update you were expecting, but I have no garden.  Despite my best efforts and intentions my seeds started out and then withered away.  I have to confess.

I am a murderer.

I just can't seem to grow anything.  My black thumb has presented itself yet again.  My pots and containers I had collected sit empty and will continue to do so I'm afraid.  When it comes to vegetable gardening, quite frankly, I suck!

Good thing I am not a farmer.  We'd all be starving.

So I will concentrate on what I do better.  I will visit the orchards and the farmers markets and purchase my produce from those who know what the heck they are doing and bring it home to can and preserve.

Sometimes you just need to accept your limitations.

On a more positive note my darling daughters don't seem to be blessed the same as I and the flowers they planted from seed are doing wonderfully.  They put them in the flower pots at the front door and I love having them to greet me every time I come home from work.  Perhaps next spring I should put them in charge of any attempts at vegetable gardening and just stay completely out of it. 

Are you growing a garden this year?

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Want To Save More On Your Grocery Bill? - Eat Soup!

Soup is not only healthy for your budget but for you as well.  Homemade soups are by far the best for nutrition and sodium content because you have full control over what you put in them.  Plus you can make as much or as little as you like.

I like to make a big pot of soup and freeze some for a meal later on down the road as most soups freeze really well.  For soups with pasta or rice I like to freeze some of the soup base before adding the rice and pasta then just add it fresh to the reheated soup so it doesn't get mushy.

I thought I'd share some of my favorite soup recipes with you again from a previous post I did called Soups On!  If you are in need of some inspiration or want to try something new perhaps one of these will fit the bill.

Taco Soup

1 lb. lean ground beef
1 medium onion, diced
2 cups cooked pinto beans
1 15oz. can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 15oz can whole kernel corn, undrained
1½ cups warm water
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 envelope taco seasoning
½ c. grated sharp cheddar cheese (optional) 

Brown beef and onions in large soup pot.  Drain fat and add all remaining ingredients except cheese.  Stir and bring to a simmer.  Cook 15 minutes on low heat.  Serve garnished with cheese on top if desired.  Makes 6 to 8 servings.

I love to serve this with a dollop of sour cream too.  Goes nicely with a fresh garden salad and warm cornbread.

Egg Drop Soup

8 cups chicken broth
4 scallions, sliced
½ cup frozen peas
1 to 2 Tbs. soy sauce
2 eggs, beaten well

In a large sauce pan bring broth, scallions, peas and soy sauce to a light boil.  Remove from heat.  While slowly stirring broth, drizzle in beaten egg.  Do not over stir, eggs should be thready.  Allow to sit 1 to 2 minutes.  Stir gently, taste and add additional soy sauce if needed.  Makes 8 servings. 

Serve with fried rice and a fresh garden salad to complete the meal. 

Italian Vegetable Soup

½ lb. Italian sausage
1 medium onion, diced
1 cup elbow macaroni, shells or other small pasta
1 15oz. can Italian style diced tomatoes, undrained
1 15oz can cut green beans, undrained
1 carrot, peeled and thinly sliced
2 cups hot water
2 gloves garlic, crushed
2 tsp. dried crushed basil

Cook pasta according to directions on package.  Brown sausage and onions in large soup pot.  Drain fat and add all remaining ingredients except pasta.  Stir and bring to a simmer.  Cook 15 minutes on low heat until carrot is tender.  Add pasta, stir and serve.  Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Pair this with a homemade loaf of French bread and a nice spinach salad.  Terrific!

Split Pea Soup

1 16oz. package split peas
4 cups chicken or turkey stock
4 cups water
1 large onion, chopped
2 medium carrots, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
Ham hock, ham bone or 2 cups diced ham
1 tsp. poultry seasoning
1 tsp rubbed sage
½ tsp black pepper
½ tsp dried basil
½ tsp salt

Combine all ingredients in a large slow cooker.  Cook on high four hours or low six to eight hours until veggies are tender.  Serve.  Makes 6 to 8 servings.

This recipe makes more than 8 servings, in my opinion, and freezes really well.  I usually serve it with corn bread and a nice coleslaw or garden salad.

I’m not a pea soup lover but I love this one!  Thanks Grandma!

Quick & Easy Tomato Soup

1 15 oz. can tomato sauce
Whole milk
½ tsp dried basil

Over medium heat empty tomato sauce into a small sauce pan.  Fill tomato sauce can with milk.  Slowly whisk milk into tomato sauce.  Add basil and continue stirring until soup is heated through.  Serves four.

I think it goes without saying that a grilled cheese sandwich is the perfect pairing with this soup and dunking is required.  You will most likely want to double this recipe because everyone will want seconds. 

What’s your favorite soup?
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