Thursday, December 14, 2017

Christmas Posts Worth Revisiting


With only ten days left until Christmas I thought I'd post a few links to some old Christmas posts.  Just in case you needed a little inspiration.  Enjoy your walk down memory lane.  I know I did.



In case you needed some ideas


In case you need more ideas

We bake these every year!






Now I think I need to make some of that hot cocoa, put my feet up and admire my beautiful Christmas tree.  Hope you are having a merry time of it these days.



Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Meals We Prepped #13


This week was hectic to say the least so I was really happy to have a plan and some meal prepping done ahead.




Sunday morning I took meat out of the freezer to thaw.  I put stew meat in the microwave to thaw for a bit then put it in my medium sized slow cooker with a cup of water and a bullion packet, a chopped onion and some celery to begin cooking.  Later that afternoon I added carrots, potatoes, beef broth I'd taken out of the freezer to thaw, chopped garlic, a couple bay leaves and a packet of brown gravy stirred into a cup of water.  Once the potatoes and carrots had cooked I added part of a bag of peas and made a salad.  Dinner was served.


Sunday - Beef stew and a garden salad


Monday - Leftover Minestrone soup from Saturday


Tuesday - I put ribs in the slow cooker on low.  My daughter added BBQ sauce when she got home from school.  We served that with instant Idahoan mashed potatoes, baked beans and sautéed green beans.

Wednesday - Leftover beef stew

Thursday - Leftover ribs and baked beans


Friday - My youngest begged to make the pasta with the chipotle peppers again.  It didn't really take much to convince me.

Saturday - It was our annual Horse Doover Nite, the night we make all kinds of snacks and put up our Christmas tree.  We enjoyed chips & salsa, shrimp dip with crackers, sliced cheese with summer sausage and sausages in barbeque sauce.  The girls made dipped pretzels too.  It was very nice.  So nice, we forgot to take any pictures. 😏

We definitely didn't stick with the original menu plan, but it still worked out just fine.  Having lots of leftovers to reheat sure did make things easier.



Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Holiday Cookies! Cranberry Walnut White Chocolate Chip


This recipe is a simple adaptation to my Healthier Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe.  It turned out pretty darn good too.  Very festive and tasty.

Cranberry Walnut White Chocolate Chip Cookies

1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup shortening
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup white chocolate chips
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup chopped cranberries

Cream together butter, shortening and sugars.  Add eggs and beat well to combine.  Add remaining ingredients.  Stir well to form a stiff dough.  Drop round teaspoonsful onto light oiled baking sheet.  Bake 7 to 9 minutes in a preheated 350° oven.  Remove cookies to cooling rack.  Store in airtight container.  Makes 3 dozen.


These cookies are not too terribly sweet so if you prefer a sweeter cookie increase each of the sugars to 1/2 cup.  We liked them just like the recipe calls.  I hope you give these a try.



Monday, December 11, 2017

Last Week's Thrifty Moves


Another crazy activity filled week!  I am seriously looking forward to Christmas break, believe me!

Sunday my energy level hit a low so I took it easy as best I could.  Other than a load of laundry and some meal prepping I watched Christmas movies, did some crafting and writing, addressed my Christmas cards.  One of my crafts was to melt down some spent candle wax and make some new candles with it.  I used up some of the girl's candles from their birthday cakes for wicks as well as a couple little votive candles I had.

Not the most beautiful, but they work pretty well

Monday I picked up my youngest daughter from cheering at her game and we headed off to Walmart so she could pick up a Secret Santa gift for her Christmas party on Saturday.  While there I grabbed a couple things for a new year project (stay tuned) as well as a bunch of bananas and a bag of spinach.

Tuesday on the way to pick the youngest up from cheerleader practice I took the oldest to the dollar store to pick up a few things she needed to complete a gift and then home to eat and off once again to drop her off for pep band at the basketball game.

Stella loves to help her mama write

Wednesday I picked up the youngest from cheer practice and dropped the oldest off at BSU for robotics.  I took my laptop with me and headed over to the library to cool my heels and wait until it was time to pick her up again.  On the way home we stopped at Fred Meyer to pick up cat litter and my Friday Freebies.  I only ended up getting one freebie as they were out of the others.

Leonard loves this spot

Thursday we had NO activities!  The girls got caught up on homework and I got to relax a bit.  I enjoyed a nice glass of wine with dinner and a hot bubble bath afterward.  It was a slice of heaven.

Friday we were right back at it.  I dropped the oldest off at her basketball game and the youngest and I headed over to the mall to use my free item coupon at Bath & Body Works as well as another $10 OFF $10 coupon I got in the mail from JC Penney.


Saturday I took my youngest downtown to her Christmas party and then I went and got all of my stocking stuffer Chrismas shopping done as well as the grocery shopping.  Then home to work on my weekend project to clean and reorganize the garage.  The girls gave me a hand and because it was pretty chilly we did not dilly dally at all!

After finishing up that project it was time to prepare for Horse Doover Nite and set up our Christmas tree.  Our tree lights seemed to have issues this year.  Two of our three remaining strings refused to light up so it was a quick trip Walmart to pick up a couple new sets and then back home to finish decorating the tree.


I did something I haven't done in years.  I bought some scrapbook paper off of eBay for yet another project I have planned.  Can't wait to get that one going and share it with all of you.  Yay, yay, yay!

I ordered some office supplies from Amazon along with a bag of cat food that was on sale to add to our winter stash.

I composted coffee grounds, tea bags, eggs shells, onion skins and banana peels again.  We gave our chickens our kitchen scraps.  I also washed out a Ziploc bag to reuse.

I added water to the empty laundry detergent bottle and gave it a good shake.  Ended up with enough super soapy water to wash two loads of clothes.

How was your thrifty week?



Friday, December 8, 2017

Laverne Gets An Early Christmas Present


I had been missing my girl something awful.  It had been mid October since I'd last climbed into my motorhome and I was really feeling that sense of longing and separation.  I needed to visit Laverne.

One of the items on my list for her was an additional heat source.  Along with her standard issue Suburban propane furnace I wanted her to have an electric option.  I have a portable radiant wall unit in the house that works really well.  It comes with a stand on casters or you can mount it directly on the wall.  We used it in our travel trailer, but it isn't all that aesthetically pleasing if you get my drift.  What Laverne really needed was a fireplace.

And she got one.


This little unit is a bookshelf fireplace and it is designed to safely heat small spaces such as bedrooms or dens.  Or in this case, a gorgeous vintage motorhome.  And I had the perfect place to set it up too.  Right above the gas furnace is a countertop with an outlet.  It was preordained.


The morning I set it up it was a whopping 33° outside.  Within the first 15 minutes the motorhome was already 10° warmer and after an hour it was 55° inside.  Still chilly, but impressive nonetheless.


I made a pot of tea and grabbed the afghan from the sofa and was plenty toasty while the thermometer continued to climb.  Especially after I realized I had it set on low and subsequently switched it to high.  We were really cooking then.


Not only did it heat things up nicely it is really pretty.  And the view from the sofa is quite nice, I must say.


It isn't a unit I'd want to rely on in northern climates, but down south where I am planning to winter I think it would work great.  It would certainly enhance a primary heat source regardless of where you were at.  I found this particular one at Bed Bath & Beyond and it was highly rated by the consumers that had purchased it.  Along with the 20% Off coupon they had sent me in the mail it was a pretty good bargain at $44, I thought.

So this is my Christmas present to Laverne.  She thinks it is pretty sweet.  So do I!


 I 

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Goals For December


November was steadily busy, but I lucked out and got a one week reprieve from school activities over Thanksgiving.  I was able to catch my breath and get a few things done around the house, quite a few actually.  I'm looking forward to the Christmas and New Year holidays as well as the two week break my girls will have from school.  We plan to take advantage of the time off and slow the pace quite a bit.

I got some sewing and organizing done

With that said, this is what I have planned for this month:

1.          Make or purchase a gift for someone
2.         Send a card or letter to someone
3.         Take my children out for a thrifty date
4.         Be creative - sew or craft something
5.         Big baking day with my girls!
6.         Go to the library
7.         Learn to do something new
8.         Spring clean our living room
9.         Complete a small home improvement project
10.       Try a new recipe
11.        Mail Christmas cards & gifts by the 10th
12.        Enjoy a Family Christmas Movie Nite
13.        Enjoy a Family Game Nite!
14.       Complete a retirement/motorhome project
15.        Invite guests over for dessert, appetizers or a meal

Definitely not an overly ambitious list and that is exactly what I wanted here this month as we wind down the year.

I even cleaned my oven after Thanksgiving - very pretty!

This is how I did last month:

1.          Make or purchase a birthday gift for someone
2.         Send a card or letter to someone
3.         Take my children out for a thrifty date
4.         Be creative - sew or craft something
5.         Complete three more Christmas gifts
6.         Go to the library
7.         Learn to do something new
8.         Spring clean laundry room
9.         Complete two small home improvement projects I got one
10.       Try a new recipe tried two - gnocchi soup & chipotle pasta
11.        Complete and print our annual Christmas letter done & ready to print
12.        Enjoy a Family Movie Nite or a Family Game Nite!
13.        Complete a retirement/motorhome project
14.       Rake up leaves
15.        Invite guests over for dessert, appetizers or a meal

Adding the new weather stripping to our front door
was the only home improvement project I was able to fit in

I got most of it done and am quite satisfied.  Most of my focus last month was to complete my Christmas shopping by the end of the Thanksgiving weekend.  I'm quite happy to report - Mission Accomplished!



Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Freezer Clean Out Week #3


I thought I was pretty much done, but I found more items that needed to be used up or succumb to freezer burn.  I found pineapple juice concentrate so I made that up and used it to make our morning smoothies.  I used plenty of frozen fruit from the freezer too.



Sunday I removed the turkey from the bones.  I put the carcass in my large slow cooker with an onion, some carrots and four celery stalks and allowed it to cook on high for 6 hours.  While that cooked I place the leftover stuffing into a casserole dish, topped it with sliced turkey and then the leftover gravy.  I put that into the oven to bake at 350° for 40 minutes before wrapping up the leftover dinner rolls in foil and putting them in to warm. 




I sautéed leftover green beans and mushrooms in olive oil and a dollop of bacon fat.  I seasoned them with a little soy sauce and dinner was served.



Sunday - Delicious made over Thanksgiving leftovers.


Monday - I browned up ground beef with taco seasoning and added a container of black beans I had in the freezer.  Heated up some tortillas and made some quick tacos before heading off to drop off the oldest at Robotics and do my weekly grocery shop.


Tuesday - The last of the turkey became fried rice served up with a big green salad and some hot & sour soup.


Wednesday - Leftover taco meat became taco salad.

Kyoto Japanese Steahouse - Boise, Idaho

Thursday - I did not have to cook as we were treated to dinner out by some dear friends of ours.

Coleslaw mix, red bell pepper, green onions, sunflower seeds

Diced chicken seasoned with minced garlic and black pepper

Asian salad dressing - recipe on the side of the container
or you can get it at Pamperedchef.com

Toss the salad with some of the dressing and the chicken
Top with crunchy chow mein noodles

Friday - I had a lone chicken breast half in the freezer and a bag of coleslaw mix in the fridge that needed to be use up so the youngest and I made some Asian dressing and whipped up a quick Asian inspired chicken salad topped with crunch chow mein noodles.  Yum!


Saturday - I made minestrone soup from odds and ends I found in the pantry.  I also made a nice green salad to go with it.  It was a chilly day outside and that soup really hit the spot.


Kind of crazy all of the things I've scrounged up to fix for our supper this past four weeks.  Of course throwing in a fabulous Thanksgiving feast didn't hurt either.  I'm so thankful and grateful for the bounty we have in this house.  And always amazed at how well we do with very little $$.

Sunday I was back to official meal prepping and meal planning and began week 13.  I'll be posting our meal prep for all of you next week!



Tuesday, December 5, 2017

My Uber Thrifty Month In Review - November


I had a most excellent month last month.  Once again all of our monthly bills were paid ahead of schedule, yay!  The mortgage was paid ahead as well and the principal balance continues to drop, yay!

Our annual auto insurance bill came due and I paid it in full rather than breaking it up into installments because they charge service fees if you do that.  I put it on my credit card so I can get the rewards points and plan to pay it off with money I had set aside in savings to cover that bill.
  

I did such a great job stocking the house with food in August, September and October that I didn't need to do much in the way of grocery shopping.  In fact, the first half of the month the only thing I bought was a jug of milk.  Right before Thanksgiving I picked up fresh produce and a short list of items for baking.  I used sales and coupons I'd downloaded online to keep the cost very minimal.

I received my annual cost of living raise at work.  Like last year I just increased my 40l(k) contribution to push my raise right into that account.  Since we are doing just fine with my current net take home pay it makes more sense for me to save it now and use it later.  Plus I'll get tax benefits for doing so.


I invested $75 into a Toro leaf blower that vacuums and mulches the leaves to help us better manage the massive volume we have to deal with each year.  It will also help us to better utilize the new compost bin we built this past summer in our backyard.  Additionally, I invested $12 into some new weather stripping for our front door to keep us better insulated this winter.  I'm sure we'll recoup that investment with a lower heat bill.

I stocked up on ice melt so we are prepared for winter.  I filled up the truck with fuel, topped off the wiper fluid and anti-freeze, and put the snow chains inside so I am prepared for the winter weather.  I also stocked up on litter, cat food and an extra bag of chicken feed so I won't have to worry about buying that and getting it into the garage when the weather is nasty.


I finished up my Christmas shopping and kept that expense relatively low as well.  I took advantage of sales, coupons and stuck to my list.  It worked out perfectly.  I also used my stash of wrapping supplies to get all of my gifts wrapped up and ready to put under the tree.

And of course, I'm sure you are all curious about my Laverne "pay off" goal.  It is going AWESOME.  In fact better than expected as I was able to make two really big payments last month and I may be done much earlier than originally expect.  Whoo hooo!

So that is that.  December has arrived already and the year end approaches.  So far, so good!



Monday, December 4, 2017

Last Week's Thrifty Moves


Sunday morning I gave my youngest daughter a haircut, cutting off 6 inches!  She still has plenty left, but all of a sudden she really looks like a 14 year old to me (sigh).  Amazing what a new haircut can do.

Despite the gray skies and wind I was in a mood for a nice long walk.  My youngest joined me and we ended up taking my daypack and walking to Albertsons to pick up cheese, green onions and mushrooms that were on sale.  We put the groceries in my pack and walked back.  Saved some gas and got some exercise.


I removed the rest of the meat from the bones and put the turkey carcass into my large slow cooker with onion, carrots and celery stalks and allowed it to cook for 6 hours.  Then I removed the bones and veggies and strained the broth into my largest mixing bowl.  I put it in the refrigerator overnight to cool and allow the fat to come to the top and solidify.  Then next day I skimmed off the fat and put it into freezer containers.  Now we have plenty of good broth for soups and recipes.

Monday my oldest had a robotics meeting at BSU so I dropped her off and did some grocery shopping while I waited to pick her up.  Since Amazon has bought Whole Foods I wanted to check it out and see if the prices are really lower.  I think they are, but still above my pay grade I'm afraid.

From Trader Joe's

I decided to stick to my usual stores and headed over to Trader Joe's to pick up produce.  I also want to try some more of their meats and other things so went ahead, since I was there and did some December grocery shopping.  In addition to the produce I typically buy, I picked up a few new things to try as well as frozen raspberries, some nuts and whole wheat flour.

I finished up my November shopping at Winco and by the time I loaded my groceries into the car it was time to pick up the girl.

Winco haul - the Braeburn apples are fantastic!

Wednesday I dropped her off again and since it was an extended meeting  the youngest and I went home to rake up the yard (in the dark) and fill up our neighbor's compost bin once again.  We got that set at the curb with all of the trash and recycling.  It is really nice how the three of us neighbors have figured out a way to get all the leaves composted one way or another.

After work on Friday the girls went next door to our elderly neighbor's house and raked up another big pile of leaves.  They stuffed her compost bin as full as they could get it.  While they worked on that I raked up the last of our leaves from the front yard, mulched them and filled our blue trash can back up.  I also spread some more mulched leaves in the chicken's pen area.  Then I burned some sticks and twigs in our fire pot in the backyard and added my shreddables to it as well.

I added water to my dishsoap bottle to get every last drop
and washed dishes for another week!

Other than the grocery shopping I did on Monday I spent no other money.  That made me quite happy.

We continued with our freezer clean up as far as meals went.  I'll be going into more detail about that on Wednesday.  Lots of really good stuff!

I washed out a two gallon Ziploc bag to reuse.

How do you like my dishsoap upgrade?
I had ordered the lid & pump kit from eBay quite some time ago
and just used my own pint sized canning jar

I composted coffee grounds, tea bags, banana peels, onion skins and egg shells.  A couple weeks ago I had filled up the one half of the compost bin so it was heaped.  When I went out there on Friday it had reduced itself to 3/4 full already.  I was pretty impressed.

I gave the hens lots of produce scraps and some stale bread.

How was your thrifty week?


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