Sunday, August 31, 2008

Just Blog Talk...

I haven't done any chatty posts lately, and thought I'd just do a quick re-cap of this past week.

Monday was groceries as you could tell from that post. I had my times mixed up for the chiropractor's office, so I didn't make it by there for my adjustment.

Tuesday resulted in a long day standing over dishpans of peaches. I canned 3 canners full (which comes to 28 quarts total) of peaches. My back, neck and shoulders were "killing me" by the time I was done, and I regretted not going back to the chiro. Monday afternoon - and even thinking that maybe I could get by with just 1 visit a week!! ha ha!!

Wednesday was a regular day. It was our first choir practice after our August break. I enjoyed being home 1 more evening in the week, but choir is fun, too.

Thursday I baked a peach pie for Daniel's dad's birthday. We took it to the cafeteria (where they eat their dinners) and surprised him with it. He gave a slice to one of the head cooks there that we sorta know (she used to come into the grocery store where I worked), and she came out, walked up to me and said "Girl! you can bake ALLLLMOST as good as I can!!" We all laughed, and after a few more comments, I said "But Amy, I'm not as old as you are, either!" That brought more laughter :) She's a great lady, always happy and cheerful (and not old by any means - probably mid 40's or so).

Friday - I DID go to the chiropractor, and it felt so good to get everything cracked and back in place!! Ahhh.... I don't think I'll skip a visit this week, I'm not sure it's worth it. Then in the afternoon I chopped up a 7 3/4 lb. pork roast that I had crock-potted all day Thursday and refrigerated overnight. I mixed up some "dump-n-stir" BBQ sauce and put it all back in the crock pot for a small-group get together Friday evening. I also made a peach cobbler to take, and homemade English Muffins for the BBQ buns. Daniel ended up having Friday off, so he did some re-wiring in the dining room, and some other remodelling related stuff. Our small group get together was fun, as always!! The one couple had to leave early (9pm), and then the other (host) couple and us stayed up and played a card game. Then Daniel and the host-husband had fun with paper airplanes and the living room ceiling fan.... for probably an hour! It was fun to watch 2 grown men tossing paper airplanes back and forth, trying to get them caught in the fan, trying to get them on TOP the fan, seeing which way the fan would make it fly.... The wife and I just visited while they were playing :) We left there right at midnight :)

Saturday Daniel pulled up the dining room floor, and I piddled around. I have pictures, but am too lazy to load them onto the computer and post them. Having him home so many days in a row spoils me!! Then we watched Robin Hood Prince Of Thieves last night for a "date". And today is Sunday!!

I'm not sure what all we'll do tomorrow, but probably some work and some play.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Showalter's Chicken Casserole

This is a very, very good chicken casserole, probably one of my favorites. It takes a little more time to make, but it is soooo good when it's done! I haven't done a price breakdown, but it can't cost too much to make, and it makes a whole 9x13 FULL.

Showalter's Chicken Casserole
1 lg. hen, cooked and picked from bone
1 1/2 cups diced celery
1 small onion, diced
1 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
4 cups chicken broth (use from cooking chicken)
2 eggs, beaten
1 can Cream of Mushroom Soup
4 cups crushed crackers (I use whatever kind I have)
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

In 9x13 baking dish (the deeper the better) layer: chicken, onion, celery and crackers (may divide each in 1/2 to repeat layers if desired).

Sprinkle cheese on top of casserole.

Combine eggs, broth, mushroom soup, salt and pepper. Pour over casserole. Bake at 350°F for 1 hour.

Check out Gayle's Blog for a whole ton of great recipes and tips!!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Thrifty Thursday - Cloth "Paper-towels"

Daniel eats his breakfast on his way to work every morning. And that means he gets an egg sandwich - every morning. He likes something wrapped around it while he carries it to his work van, and for a long time that was a paper-towel or napkin. I bought the very cheapest kind because that's all we used paper towels for, and he threw them away anyway.

Ta-da!! Over time we accumulated some of his worn out, stained or ripped work shirts (T-shirt style) that weren't wearable anymore. I thought "ok, most of this material is still good material, I don't want to just throw them away!" (you can't give them to thrift stores, donate them, etc - company policy, and that makes sense - it'd be like a Dr. giving his badge to Jo-Schmoe), so I scratched my head and came up with this:

You bet! A nice stack of "paper-towels!" I laid the shirts out on the table, and cut the sleeves off right along the shoulder seams, then cut the sleeves open along the bottom seam. Then I basically cut the main body up both sides and across the top shoulder seams, then each front/back half I cut straight up the middle, and straight across the middle.
They are not meant to be beautiful, but they are meant to be serviceable, and they are VERY serviceable. He now gets one of these around his breakfast sandwich each morning. When the pile starts to run low, I let him know, and he brings me a grocery bag full of dirty ones that have collected in his truck. They get thrown in the washer with his load of laundry, and I have a clean stack of them again.
They also double as napkins at our dinner table (unless we have company, then I do pull out real, paper napkins that are a LITTLE nicer! :) ), rags to wash the floor, rags to wipe up spills, quick hankerchiefs (for Daniel who doesn't like my Puffs Plus With Lotion tissues), and anything else that a rag or paper towel comes in handy for.
And it saves us $$ from buying and throwing away paper towels!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

What is that stuff??

The sky is overcast - that's nice - it's not as hot :) But why is my car wet? Why are the back steps wet? What is dripping off the trees? Why is the laundry that I forgot to get in last night (yeah, I was tired - didn't even notice Daniel going outside to turn the water for the garden off, and I was sitting right there on the couch with him) wetter than when I hung it out?

Wait! I've heard of this stuff called RAIN. Maybe that's what it is. I bet so! Hmm... I think I remember it raining a LONG time ago... like back in MAY?? Maybe a few showers since then, but that's the last time we've had "real" rain. And today's "rain" isn't too real... more like an occasional mist from above. I will take whatever we get, even if it means we'll have to mow our yard for the 3rd time this year.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Monday Menu and Groceries

Or is is Groceries and Menu? I can't remember... hopefully I'll get this thing to post "right" the first time and we'll have success!!

Dishwasher Gel, SB*: $2.88
Shaving Cream**: $1.28
6 boxes jar lids: $8.46
2 OJ: $2.84
2lb. carrots: $1.66
3lb. onions: $1.88
doz. eggs: $1.63
2 Dr. Pepper, 2 Pepsi, 1 Cherry Pepsi: $11.00 ($.18/can!!!!)
Total (eek!): $32.74
*SB - Store Brand

Sigh, I went over budget (by $7.74) for the first time in several weeks. Bummer.
I could blame the jar lids - I was only going to get 4 boxes, then decided to up it to 6 to be sure I had enough, and who knows when WalMart won't have them anymore this "season"?? Or I could blame the "buy 4 for $11, get the 5th one free" sale on Pepsi products. I wouldn't have done it if Pepsi and Dr. P weren't on my list this week anyway, and that, my dear, is a whole $.07 savings per can!!!! That is $.84 savings a case. And I guess I won't have to buy it for awhile, too, so that's a "plus".

Oh, on the **shaving cream. I had 2 coupons for 2 different brands of shaving cream. I compared both of them, and the "off-brand" was STILL cheaper per oz! So couponers beware of those gimmicks!

It was very tempting to gaze upon the goodies in the aisles of WalMart. Oreos, *DROOL*, Chips Ahoy, *DROOL*, chips, nuts, *drool* some more. But I STUCK TO MY LIST and made myself go down only the aisles that I needed to. It probably didn't help that I was starting to get hungry for lunch - which I promptly came home and ate!

I was a little leery of buying the store-brand dishwasher gel. The "but it might not work as well or get the dishes clean" voice in me kept trying to sway my decision, but I had to go with the less expensive and hope for the best. And if it DOES, in fact, work just as well, then I can keep on saving a few $$ on future purchases of the stuff!

Ok, enough rambling. I have a list a mile and several hours long that I need to get done today (including canning MORE peaches!! :) ), so I need to punch in my menu plan for this week. I didn't give it as careful thought and attention as I wanted to, our Saturday was busy and yesterday - well, no spare time there. I did carry over 2 meals from last week that we ended up not using.

Smoked Turkey Thighs, Corn on the Cob
Meatball Stroganoff, Broccoli
Leftover Tuna Noodle Casserole, green beans
Pork Roast w/ Raspberry sauce and a side of some kind
Pork BBQ (with leftover pork roast), a side
Deep Sea Chicken (Chicken/Rice casserole)
Snack - don't need to bake one this week, still have cookies and muffins in the freezer :)

(I just did the "spellcheck", and Oreos came up highlighted! How can they not have Oreos in their dictionary!!??)

My Wonderful Man

I wanted to post about this Saturday, but the day got too long and I was too tired, and yesterday was just busy with being at church all day (Daniel and I set up 350 chairs for a special service yesterday plus all the normal work we do), and we were exhausted last night when we got home.

Anyway... back to the reason for this post :) Saturday afternoon I was working peaches getting ready to can them. The kitchen ceiling fan was on high speed (it was warm in there with the boiling water for blanching the peaches... the hot syrup to put in the jars with the peaches... the canner full of hot water coming to a boil to waterbath the jars...), and I was standing directly under it doing my thing. I'm growing my bangs out, and mousse and hairspray usually keep them out of my face at this point, but with the fan going on high, they were blowing around and hanging in my face. Of course I have both hands messy and can't brush them out of my eyes (which they were poking, too). I made a general, in passing comment about it once while Daniel was walking through the kitchen. He didn't say anything. A minute later he came back with an "alligator" clip. He pulled my long bangs out of my face and put the alligator clip in my hair to hold them there. Aww!! Now I know I looked a little funny with an alligator clip right on top of my head sticking up, but I didn't pay any attention to it!! I no longer had hair in my eyes, thanks to my wonderful, kind husband!! Thank you, Daniel!!

And I don't know what they are really called... we just called them alligator clips when we were kids (and you can tell we still do) because they have lots of "teeth" - like an alligator!

Friday, August 22, 2008

The Past Few Days...

...Have been consumed mostly in the kitchen, either cleaning up, making a mess, or getting ready to make a mess.

This evening it was nice to not have to cook. Daniel's parents treated us to dinner at the college cafeteria (open to the public for a small fee, all you can eat) and we had a delicious, relaxing meal. Then we went to WalMart for Daniel to get a new pair of shoes for work (as the ones he has now finally have worn plum out), and I successfully got an early start on Christmas shopping!! I bought some CUTE material to make my 4 nephews each a special pillowcase (and they are not old enough to get on-line and read my blog, so I am trusting you parents to not tell them!!). I bought the pattern a few weeks ago, and I cut the pattern out this evening. I can't wait to get the material cut out and sewn up!

Here is what I've been working on in the kitchen:

The corn!! Oh, the corn!! While I am VERY, VERY thankful for this delicious, yellow, juicy, oh-so-good-I-could-eat-it-raw corn from my garden, I was a little mystified at why God created corn worms?? No kidding, there were at least 3 in every ear. It was unusual to see less than 3. It took a LONG time to husk the corn due to these little critters and the gross mess they made. And nope, I wasn't heroic like Daniel and decapitate each worm. It was way too many and it was taking long enough as it was. I think the worms ate almost as much or more corn off these ears than we will get to!!

Here is the results. I saved a dozen ears to eat later, we had about 6 that night with supper, and this is what was left that I cut off and froze. I got 5 quarts and enough to finish out a previous almost-full quart.

And the peaches :) Oh my, these are amazing! I could eat these luscious babies morning, noon and night if it didn't matter. This is 2 1/2 bushel pictured here. I thought I'd taken some "after" pictures, but they weren't on the camera, so I guess not! So far I have canned 9 quarts of "plain" peaches, and 6 quarts of pie filling. That's all that were ripe enough to do anything with yet, but I will probably do something (besides eat some for breakfast, with lunch and supper, snack and dessert....) tomorrow, and for sure will be busy Monday!
And here's what Daniel and I did a little of after we got home from town (only this is just Daniel, I was behind the camera :) ):
It is now late, and I'm about to fall asleep, so I will call it a night!! And yay! Tomorrow is Saturday and I can sleep in if nothing unplanned happens!

So: Goodnight, sleep tight, and don't let the bedbugs bite.

Homemade Tortillas

Today is Friday - that means that over at Gayle's blog is another Friday recipe swap :) Several great recipes if you're in the market for new ones to try, so check it out!

I made this tortilla recipe just yesterday for Chicken Fajitas, and they were great! From an "ingredients price list" I made about a year ago, this recipe cost $.27 in ingredients to make. It's probably a little bit more now, but to buy 12 tortillas from the store cost me $.88. So this is cheaper to make.

Flour Tortillas

Combine in mixing bowl:
2 cups unsifted flour
1 tsp. salt

Cut in with pastry blender:
1/4 cup lard or shortening

When particles are fine, add gradually:
1/2 cup lukewarm water

Toss with fork to make a stiff dough. Form into a ball and knead thoroughly on lightly floured board until smooth and flecked with air bubbles. To make dough easier to handle, grease surface, cover tightly, and refrigerate 4 - 24 hours before using. Let dough return to room temperature before rolling out.

Divide dough into 8 balls for large tortillas, or 11 balls for common 8-inch size. Roll as thin as possible on a lightly floured board, or between sheets of waxed paper. Drop onto a very hot ungreased riddle. Bake until freckled on one side. (Takes only about 20 seconds.) Lift edge, turn, and bake on second side. To serve at once, fold each limp tortilla around small lumps of margarine. Or cool tortillas, wrap airtight, and refrigerate or freeze. To serve later, place in tightly covered baking dish and warm in oven, or fry briefly in hot shallow oil.

Replace 1/2 cup flour with cornmeal or whole wheat flour.

I baked mine in a cast-iron skillet, and they baked alot faster than 20 seconds per side. I did not do the margarine thing when they were right off the skillet, and they worked fine for fajitas. I put them in a ziploc in the refrigerator to store the leftovers.

They also made GREAT peach quesadias!! Sprinkle a sliced peach with a little flour, sugar and cinnamon, spoon onto half the tortilla, fold other half over top. Warm in skillet, flip to warm other side, and enjoy!!!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Sometimes Life is Not Frugal

Sometimes you just have to squeeze your eyes shut, pinch your nose, stick your fingers in your ears and go "la la la la la!!" to keep from feeling the the effects that some things leave on the pocketbook.

We've made "major" road trips 3 times this week now. So 3+ tanks of gas paid for. Ouch. First we went to McDowell for the reception (that turned into a longer trip than planned, but so worth it!!!). Then we went back up to the Valley Tuesday evening so Daniel could spend a few hours "pickin' an' grinnin'" with Aaron (who was in for a couple days and we haven't seen for 2 yrs) and some of his cronies before coming back home that night (got home at 1:30am). And last evening we drove to Gordonsville (1 hour 1 way) to meet Mom to pick up our peaches from PA that she and Grandpa had picked. Each trip was well worth it, benefiting from time spent with friends and deepening those relationships, the time driving where Daniel and I could talk and visit and grow closer together and deeper in love, and of course the jars of pretty, delicious, yellow, canned peaches on my pantry shelf will be enjoyed until they are all (gone).

Here lately I've been finding myself going to the chiropractor twice a week. 30 smackaroos each time. BIG ouch on the pocketbook with no visual gain or benefit from writing that check each time. But a BIG sigh of relief from physical aches and pains. On the plus side - It's been about 2 years since I've been there regularly (so maybe 2 years of no chiropractic bills??), he now has an office MUCH closer so I'm not driving nearly as far, and the discomfort in my arms HAS lessened considerably. The sad realization is that I will probably need to keep on seeing him (or someone) long-term to keep things from creeping up and becoming an issue. I guess this is part of not being a kid anymore (yes, I wanted to say "getting older" but figured that most of you would just remind me that I'm not "old"). But it is aggravating when we're trying to be frugal and use our $$ the best way possible, and along comes something unplanned and unbudgeted for that will require "alot" of $$ for a while.

So yes, the trips to visit friends and to get the peaches - well worth the gas $$. The chiropractic visits? Worth it health-wise, but I wish it didn't have to be. The best part!!?? I won't need a chiropractor in Heaven and we won't have to drive to see our friends!! Woohoo!! And shucks, that's for ETERNITY, I guess I can deal with temporary here on earth :)

And now I'd best get back out to the kitchen and get started on canning peaches if I'm going to have canned peaches sitting on my pantry shelves!! :)

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

I've been tagged!!

Angie tagged me, and I'm supposed to tell 6 things about myself... I've been thinking about this and haven't come up with anything too great, but we'll see how it goes!

1. I've aided in the birth of many, many, many calves. Did you know that it's really nice and warm inside a cow in the wintertime, and really hot in the summertime? TMI? Oops, Sorry! *evil grin*

2. When I was little, somewhere around 6, I managed to ride my bike across some dried cow poo from washing out the manure spreader. I didn't realize it was just crusted over, and my bike fell in, along with myself (it was a small ditch of the stuff, so no risk of drowning for anybody non-family that reads this). It was gross, but it turned my hair CURLY for several days (which I loved!!). And of course Mom loved to show it off and tell the whole story to anybody that came by, which embarrassed me humongously.

3. Sometime later, but I wasn't much older, we were in the process of loading up young heifers* for moving them to another place. I was "guarding" the crack between the end of the horse-cart gate and the barn. In the whole goings-on, they ended up plowing through where I was guarding. I got knocked in the head with the end-gate of the horsecart as it went flying around, which threw me flat on my back - once again, in cow poo!! I'm not sure if it knocked me out, but I remember opening my eyes to see young 300-400lb heifer's hooves and stomachs flying over me and being scared that they were going to not jump high/far enough and trample me. That resulted in a monster goose-egg on my head and a headache, but no curly hair. Rats.
The lesson learned by all was to never stand BEHIND a gate - always on the END of it.

*Heifer = female bovine that has not yet had a calf. After they calve they are called "cows". A male bovine is not a "boy cow". Girl is "cow" (or heifer), boy is "bull", steer is "it", "calves" - baby bovine - general term for anything from birth to 200 - 300 lbs, or whenever you just start calling them heifers or bulls or steers.

4. Around 15 or 16 I learned the hard way that you're not supposed to have your eye up against the rifle scope. I saw stars and had a headache for a couple days (don't worry, I didn't see stars for a couple days - just when it happened), not to mention yet another ugly goose egg.

5. I never learned the proper way to let down a handy-man jack, but I did let one down with a tractor on it (after Dad changed the tire), and successfully got a bruised jaw bone from the jack handle flying up and hitting me. That's the second time I remember seeing stars, and I knew it must be wimpy of me to sob and sob from the pain when I was 17 years old!!

6. Oh yeah - don't forget about the time I fell out of "the bean tree" and it totally knocked me out and knocked the wind out of me. I was still sucking my thumb at night (I think I was 7 or 8), and was embarrassed when Mom or somebody had one of the kids run and get my blanket. Probably embarrassed because we had company visiting and I didn't want to look like a baby. Oh, but it hurt sooooo bad I almost didn't care!!!

Hmm, this has turned into bits and pieces from my school of hard knocks. After all that, I think I still have all my brains and that they function properly. Though I can't remember if it was real or did I dream it that Rascal barked and barked and barked for awhile last night?? Daniel never heard Rascal bark.

I'm supposed to tag 6 people for this, but I don't know 6 bloggers who haven't already been tagged, so I'll just let it go.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Monday's Menu and Groceries

Let's see if I can do this for the 4th or 5th try here... I still don't have this thing figured out and it keeps doing things I don't tell it to do, and won't do things I DO want it to do. ???

Rotini Noodles: $1.12
16oz. Light Sour Cream: $1.24
2 OJ: $2.84
Doz. Eggs: $1.37
Total: $6.73

Under Budget $18.43

Mon - Leftover Meatloaf, Zucchini Patties, Tomatoes
Tues - Chicken Fajitas with homemade wraps
Wed - Leftover Meatloaf, Baked Potatoes, Veg. Mix or Corn on the Cob
Thurs - Meatball Stroganoff, Broccoli
Fri- Roast Pork with Raspberry Sauce (new recipe), Veg. Mix or Corn of the Cob
Sat- Tuna Noodle Casserole, Salad
Sun- Leftovers or Sandwiches
Snack- Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Last weeks snack of Banana Nut Muffins did make 24 muffins, but I didn't want Daniel to "have" to get the same thing 24 times in a row. So I'll make the cookies, bag and freeze them similar to the muffins, and then alternate muffins and cookies.

I LOOOVE my sink!!!

When we were remodelling to make the new kitchen, I wanted to make sure it had a sink big enough that I didn't have to pour cups of water over dishpans, big pots, etc. to wash and rinse them. And to have a spigot tall enough for almost anything to fit under! I almost have FUN washing dishes in this sink! It, and the faucet, are amazing. Almost my favorite part of the kitchen.... maybe.

The only thing I've found so far that doesn't totally fit in the sink is cookie sheets. They won't lay down on the bottom, but that's ok. If that's all that doesn't fit, I'm tickled pink!!

Here is a picture of my wonderful sink in use, while I was washing my biggest pot this morning:

In response to Sally's comment to this post asking for some more details on the sink -

Nope, it's not a custom made sink. It's a Kohler, and we bought it off the shelf at Lowe's last summer. I forget what the grade of the Stainless Steel is, but it is one of the highest they had on the shelf. I haven't had any trouble with it getting all spotty and ugly in the time I've been using it.
We also found out that it's probably the biggest dimensions you can put in a regular sink cabinet - Daniel actually had to modify some of the cabinet (under the counter where you can't see) in order for the sink bowls to fit. We think this sink is probably for island cabinets.

Outer dimensions: 33"x22"

Large sink (right): 17 1/2" side to side, front to back: left side approx 15", right side approx. 17"

Small sink (left): 10 1/2" side to side, front to back: left side approx. 17", right side approx. 16"

It is 8" deep.

The FAUCET (which in itself is amazing!!) is a Price Pfister, also from Lowe's about the same time we got the sink. From the base to the top of the "arch" is about 14". From the back of the faucet to the middle of the end where the water comes out is 10 1/2". The end of the faucet is 17" from the bottom of the sink, so I can fit pretty tall stuff in there! The important thing about buying a faucet for the sink is to make sure the water lands pretty much dead center in the sink. Otherwise you have water everywhere. I've heard this from 2 people now, so it must be true! I liked this faucet anyway, but it also was a big plus that the width of the arch was so much - alot more than others they had available.

I do all my dish-washing in the right sink. I could probably get by with a single bowl sink, but having the 2nd one there is handy to have. I often end up putting big things (cookie sheets, cake pans, cutting boards, cooling racks, etc) in there to dry if the dishdrainer gets full.

And about my kitchen being so clean that I can just whip out the camera anytime and take pictures... hmm. Right now there are cobwebs growing in the least-used areas of the "toe space" under the cabinets, the floor is desperately in need of a good sweeping and washing, and there is clutter on the one section of counter that just collects clutter. Otherwise, I try to keep it cleaned up. The rest of the house can be a mess, but as long as my kitchen - which is my "world" pretty much - is clean, I can handle just about anything.

The Long Awaited for Weekend!

So if you read this post (YAYYYYY! I finally did a proper "hyperlink" Woohoo!), you know why the title of this one is what it is.

Friday evening we attended a wedding reception for Ben & Emily. Ben is a long-time friend of ours, and we were so thrilled to finally meet his beautiful bride :)
Here is the only picture I took at their reception - Daniel visiting with Joseph, a neighbor/friend of my family's growing up, and now he's all grown up!! I remember when he (and the rest of his siblings and us!!) were just LITTLE kids!!

I wanted to get a picture of Ben & Emily and Daniel & I, but it never worked out, and I didn't think about it until too late on Saturday. So our plan was to come home from the reception (it's about 2 hrs 45 min from our house) Friday night so we could pick and freeze the corn from the garden. Ben asked if we could stick around and go to breakfast with them Saturday morning. Being the random people we are, and not having any pressing plans Saturday, we said "sure!". Now... since we'd planned to come home, we had the clothes on our backs and that was it. And I was dressed up to boot (not formally, but not clothes to just hang out in). It was after 10 till we left the reception, and we decided to make the drive back across the mountains to WalMart to get clothes and find a place to spend the night. By the time we got to where cellphone signals were, it was close to 11pm. Nobody was answering phones (that I tried to call to see if we could barge in so late and catch a few winks). After getting a few clothes at Walmart (and a toothbrush!!), figuring that either the hotel or whoever's house we stayed at would have anything else we needed badly enough, we checked at the Village Inn. No rooms. So we started to head towards the Red Carpet Inn when Mom called. They had just gotten home (it was now heading towards midnight), but she said we could stop in and use the guest room. So we did! It was 1am when I checked my watch the last time before falling asleep, and the alarm went of at quarter to 7. We got up, put on our Walmart clothes, brushed our teeth with the shared toothbrush (by the way, it was super cheap and made my teeth tickle!! No more el cheapo toothbrushes!) and headed back over the mountains to meet Ben & Emily for breakfast. We ate at a little country restaurant right across from the Highland Inn, and got to spend about 1 1/2 hrs with them before they had to leave. It was really great to catch up from the last time we really spent time together - about 2 years ago, and to get to know Emily a little more.

On our way back over the mountains for the 4th time, we stopped at the top of one to check out the Confederate Breastworks and the view that we always just drove past and never stopped to see when we were kids and going back to the Rittenhouse's.

It was such a beautiful day, and the .5 mile hike was nice. Of course we love spending time together :) Scroll down faster if this is a bit much for you... :P

This is us sporting our WalMart clothes:

The most RANDOM thing we saw the whole trip was the Deerfield Post Office with a ReMax For Sale sign in it's front yard. No kidding. We wanted to get a picture of it, but figured we'd look a little too touristy if we stopped in the middle of the road for a picture of a post office. We found it rather humorous, and joked that the Government is so deep in the red that they've had to start selling their Post Offices.

Once back in the Valley, we stopped in to see Miriam S. who kindly fed us some leftovers for lunch (we had talked about stopping in possibly for lunch at the reception). I visited with her while we did the dishes, and then Daniel played the guitar for Mrs. Mary. It was a very nice visit, and we were glad we'd stopped in.

Home again, home again, jiggidy jig! Daniel picked some corn, it wasn't as ready as we thought it was, but we still got several ears. We had corn for supper, and then what we didn't eat I cut off and got almost 1 quart to freeze. I then mixed up bagels, and we had fresh out of the oven bagels to go with the corn for the rest of our meal.

It was a wonderful Saturday!! Just like we like our Saturdays, random and fun :)

Friday, August 15, 2008

Zucchini Patties Recipe

Ahh, Friday again :) And Gayle over at the is once again hosting her Friday Recipe Swap.

If you live in the country at all, you might've heard the joke "During the month of August keep your car doors locked if you don't want Zucchini". Well, here's an extremely good recipe for that "dreaded" zucchini! My sisters and I fixed these at a youth camp one year, and the kids loved them.

Zucchini Patties
2 1/2 cups shredded Zucchini
1 cup low-salt crackers, crushed (I use whatever I have on hand)
1 egg
1 Tbsp. salad dressing/mayonnaise
2 tsp. Old Bay Seasoning
1/4 - 1/3 cup Parmesan Cheese
Cornflake Crumbs for coating

Mix everything together (I use my hands, it works best that way), cover and let sit 1 hour.
Shape into patties and coat with cornflake crumbs. Place on lightly greased cookie sheet and bake at 350°F for 30 minutes. Serve plain, with sliced tomato, or also would be good with cocktail sauce.

They are a close imitation of crab cakes, so they are yummy!! I've never tried to make them using frozen shredded zucchini, but you might be able to if you squeezed the excess water out of the zucchini. Each summer I can't wait for the tomatoes and zucchini to "come in" so I can make these! They are pretty messy to make, but oh so worth it! One batch makes about 8 patties for me, though the size you make them would determine how many you get.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

A Great Snack with A Gross Banana

A few weeks ago, I had 1 banana get a little too ripe for me to just eat fresh. I chucked it in the frige, knowing I wanted to make banana nut muffins with him. I had another batch of muffins already in the freezer, so I didn't need to make muffins right away. So he chilled out (ha ha) in the frige until yesterday when I needed to restock my muffin supply. Here's what he looked like (sorry, flash probably would've made him look a little less gross):

And here's what he looked like on the inside - not too bad, I say:

And here's what I usually do with over-ripe bananas (the "fresh" banana is what you see mashed in the measuring cup) whenever I get a supply (one store will sell them for $.29/lb, so I stocked up a while back) :

Yes, that is mashed, over-ripe banana, pre-measured out in a Ziploc that I had frozen. And yes, the date you see is correct - 2 years ago. They made some really yummy muffins, I tell ya!

After the muffins were cooled, I bagged each muffin into a fold-top sandwich baggie. Then I put those all into a gallon Ziploc, and put them in the freezer. Each morning when I pack Daniel's lunch for the day, he gets a frozen muffin. It saves me time from having to bag the muffin each morning, and the frozen muffin helps with cooling his lunch box, and is thawed by the time he gets around to eating it.

I guess this is a "gross banana tip" and a "time saver tip" all rolled into one :)

Monday, August 11, 2008

Fried Rice My Way

Here's my concocted recipe for the Fried Rice we had for supper tonight. I used a basic recipe I found by Google-ing "Fried Rice", and then adapted it to my liking. I especially like it because I can make one whole meal really cheaply, and using only 1 chicken breast!

Fried Rice My Way
1 onion
2 - 3 lg. eggs
1 tsp. salt
1/4 - 1/2 tsp. pepper
4 cups cold, cooked rice (leftover, or cooked ahead)
1 - 1 1/2 Tbsp. Soy Sauce
1 - 1 1/2 Tbsp. Oyster Sauce (bought at WalMart in the Asian Foods aisle)
1 sm. squash
1 sm. carrot
1/3 lg. bag of Food Lion brand broccoli, cauliflower & carrot mix (probably about 1 1/2 cups worth)
1 sm. boneless, skinless chicken breast
Olive Oil
Pepsi, optional

-Chop onion into med - small pieces, and slice squash 1/4" thick. Put in small bowl, or set aside.
-Dice chicken breast finely, set aside.
-Slice carrot into 1/4" slices. Over almost-high heat in large, non-stick skillet, saute vegetable mix and carrot in olive oil until just starting to get tender. Set aside in a small bowl.
-Saute onion and squash the same way, putting the sauteed onion/squash in the same bowl with the other vegetables, set aside.
-Beat eggs well, pour into pan. Stir briskly with fork, scrambling into fine pieces. Scrape into vegetable mix bowl, set aside.
-Cook meat in same skillet until almost done. Add rice, continue cooking and stirring.
-Add Salt & Pepper and sauces. Add vegetables and mix well.
-Optional: Add 1/4 - 1/3 can Pepsi or Diet Pepsi. Add a little at a time to taste.
-Continue cooking and stirring until Pepsi is cooked in, and everything is heated through.

Serve on small plates so you don't feel bad getting seconds and thirds!
This makes quite a bit, but it is soooo good!
You can also add in some frozen whole-kernal corn with the onions & squash.

You can use freshly cooked rice, but it gets alittle gooey-er than using cold rice. I cooked my rice this afternoon, and after it was cooled, added in the rice I had frozen from leftovers last week, so it was cold.

Monday's Menu and Groceries

Here 'tis!

5 (12oz) OM Bologna $5.00
.69 lb Bananas $.41
2 OJ Concentrate, SB* $2.84
Red Wine Vinegar $1.52
2 lbs Carrots $1.66
1 Head Lettuce $.98
.59 lb Broccoli $.76
FF Cream Cheese, SB* $1.18
Dental Floss $.77
Total: $15.52

Under Budget: $9.48
*SB = Store Brand
This Weeks Menu:
Monday - Fried Rice w/ chicken & veggies
Tuesday - Leftover Pork Chops, Salad
Wednesday - Meatloaf, Broccoli
Thursday - Baked Chicken, Mac'n'Cheese, Zucchini
Friday - Macaroni Salad to carry-in
Saturday - Sandwiches with Homemade Bagels
Sunday - Waffles
Snack - Banana Nut Muffins made with a very sad looking banana in my frige

We don't usually buy the "expensive" OM sandwich meats, but during fresh tomato season, we eat alot of tomato sandwiches, and Daniel likes a slice of "summer bologna" on his. One store was having a 5/$5 sale on the bologna, and since it wasn't going to put me over budget, I decided to go ahead and buy all 5, and hopefully they will last through the fresh-tomato-sandwich season. I froze all but one packet, so it should stay fresh just fine.

The meatloaf on menu will be made with 1/2 beef and 1/2 pork. I was wondering how I could use the ground pork that I have in the freezer, then I saw a meatloaf recipe that used both beef and pork, so I will try that in my recipe.


This blog thingy is doing things that I don't want it to do. Like in my menu post it's leaving huge spaces between the lines. I tried to take them out, and it ran all the menu lines together. It didn't used to do that. Anybody know how I can make it stop? Or what makes it happen or not happen?


See, it's not doing it now. I wonder if I insert a picture, if it will do it or change it. Let's see.

It seems that when I type, then insert a picture, that's when it changes. Maybe I need to put in the picture, then type up the blog? I don't know. I will find out! Stay tuned for updates!

Update: Ah-ha! I think I have figured it out! I deleted my original "menu" post for today, and then I put in the picture FIRST, then I did all my typing. It worked out like a charm as you can see for yourself! Yay for me!!

Saturday, August 9, 2008

4 Saturdays In A Row

I am SO looking forwards to next Saturday. I'll probably be pooped and worn out from a wedding reception Friday night, but we have nothing, nothing, nothing planned for Saturday!!

I realized today that either Daniel or I, or both of us, have been gone for the past four Saturdays. I was visiting my sister, then Daniel was camping, then a wedding (and a cake) out of town, then today we had a pool party all afternoon at some friend's house. And our Sunday's aren't so much a "day of rest" since we open and close the church for both services, and empty the 25-hundred bathroom trashcans, replace the TP, empty the "napkin baggies" (I'm thinking on a post related to that subject...), replace the paper towels, etc.

Yes, I'm ready for a Saturday, all day, with Daniel, doing nothing but whatever we decide to do. Right now I'm tired, sleepy, and super needing to go to bed for 2 reasons:

A: to stay awake in church and be alert
B: to get left on time fully dressed and breakfast made without scrambling around like a mad chicken

Friday, August 8, 2008

Goin' On a 'Coon Hunt, Gonna Catch a 'Coon

So as if squirrels eating my tomatoes and tomato plants, and voles eating the roots of my bean plants isn't enough, I noticed that some critter had destroyed a few corn stalks in the period of one night - Wednesday night. I knew this because I was in the garden Wednesday afternoon and everything looked normal.

So what likes to eat corn and yank over the corn stalks? 'Coons! Oh, I was perturbed all right! I convinced my wonderful husband that we HAD to get Mama's Hav-a-hart trap LAST NIGHT, just in case Mr. Coon came to visit the corn patch last night. I didn't want him destroying any more corn. My garden is very precious to me. I've invested lots of sweat and hard work into it, and I intend to get all I can get from it, and don't plan on donating to varmints.

So we baited the trap with an empty tuna can (we had just happened!! to have Tuna Cheesies for supper, so we had a tuna can), and Daniel put the trap in the middle of the corn rows, hoping that the rain wouldn't keep Ole Cooney away, and that we wouldn't catch the neighbor's cat like we did the last time.

So this morning Daniel leaves for work, I get some stuff done here in the house before getting dressed to go for my walk. I decided while I was on the way to the road to walk, I might as well go by the garden and see if we'd gotten anything. What to my wondering eyes should appear...

I just laughed and laughed. You see - this is not the first time we have trapped a black and white "coon"!! Our furry friend seemed to be quite into his morning nap after a night of excitement and surprise. I went ahead and took my walk, but when I got back, I grabbed the camera and my cell phone. I took a picture with my cell phone and decided it was worth the $.25 to send this message (along with the picture) to my husband: "This one's for you, Babe!! Ha ha!!". See, we had debated tying a string to the trap last night when we put it out - and of course we didn't!

This afternoon my Hero very heroically and bravely (is there a difference in those definitions?) - and carefully - placed his "previously-used-for-the-same-purpose" plastic over the cage, managed to wrap the cage with the plastic, and haul it to the back yard where Skunky was sent to hunt corn in the Happy Hunting Grounds. All this was done successfully avoiding getting "skunked". Somehow, and I don't know how, Daniel has managed to do this twice now. I'm sure if I was carrying a trapped skunk, I'd have to soak in tomato juice for a year.

Hopefully that is the end of my corn-patch raiders. Time will tell, but I hope we don't have to repeat this episode for a third time.

As you can see, my life does exist outside my kitchen :) And that not all my posts are going to be directly related to my blog title.

Pork Chops

Gayle over at is hosting a Friday Recipe Swap. Here's a recipe my sister came up with. It is really good!!

Pork Chops
2 - 2 1/2 cups honey
1/3 - 1/2 cup lemon juice
3/4 - 1 cup mustard
1/2 tsp. liquid smoke
12 - 16 pork chops

In skillet, lightly brown pork chops on both sides in bacon grease. Salt both sides reasonably well.

Mix rest of ingredients. Place porkchops in pan, pour sauce over top. Cover and let simmer over low-med/low for 1 - 1 1/2 hours or more.

I come from a pretty large family, so feel free to cut the recipe down to size. I realize that pork chops aren't the cheapest meat, but sometimes you can find them on markdown or a good sale.

I also freeze and reuse the juice at least one more time. I know some of you might not like that idea, but that's what I do rather than just throw it away, and I've never had a problem doing it. I try to freeze it right away after we're done eating and it's cooled down a bit, so it really doesn't sit out any, either before or after the cooking.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

So I made a menu...

So the whole idea of making a menu is to save money, right? Well, let's see - it is now Thursday, and I have made ONE meal off of my menu planned for this week. Yes, one. But that's ok. I have all the stuff I need for the two meals I haven't made so far, I can make them next week. Which also means I shouldn't have to buy anything to go along with those 2 meals since I already bought whatever I needed this week.

Monday Daniel asked me out on a date. We still like to go on dates :) He had a gift card from his boss, so we spent all of $2 and some change for a nice dinner. We don't go on as many dates as we would like to, just trying to cut down on our eating out expenses, so this was a special treat :)

Yesterday (Wednesday) we ended up helping a friend move some furniture, and I left here at 5 with the truck and met Daniel. What we thought was only going to take a little bit ended up taking alot longer. So we didn't make it to church, and were pretty hungry when we got done at 8:30. We hit Wendy's for supper, and I had a kids meal. It was just as satisfying, I wasn't over-full (like a reg. meal can be), and it was $3 cheaper than the reg. combo I would've gotten.

Yesterday I made 2 loaves of bread and canned one quart of tomato sauce that I ran through the cone mill in the afternoon. Today's plans include cleaning out the vegetable freezer and seeing what all I have in there.

I also get to see if I can rescue Daniel's work shirt! He was running the fork-lift at work and got a HUGE spot of grease on his shirt about the size of a salad plate. I put it in a dishpan with OxyClean, and poured boiling water over it. It's soaking right now, but I will probably change the water and renew the OxyClean after a bit.

The shirt is clean! Well, not 100% perfect, but not very noticeable. I soaked it a 2nd time in OxyClean/Boiling Water for a while, then I scrubbed it with my hands, and it came out! Woohoo for success! I was worried I was going to have to tell him that yet another work shirt was ruined due to some impossible-to-remove stain.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

I think I have enough meat...

Today was the day. I pulled out our 2 coolers and the 2 I borrowed. I lugged them down to the shed, along with a pair of gloves, and started digging away in the meat freezer (we have 2 small chest freezers - one is meat, one is everything else). I tried to sort it out by type of meat while I emptied the freezer into the 4 coolers - beef, pork, poultry, random.

It was so hot today, it didn't take long for the ice to start melting. There wasn't too much ice, either, so getting the ice out went pretty fast. I let the rest of it melt for about an hour, then wiped it out and plugged 'er in (and hoped it came back on - they are both old and were given to us). I waited several minutes to make sure it was making cold before I started loading it back up.

I tried to organize as much as I could. I had a few boxes that some things fit in just right, so I kept those of course. As I loaded, I made a list of everything I put in, along with what date was on it, so I know what I need to use first.

I promise my blog won't always be lists! But, I was surprised at what I found: (remember that all of this is either from a huge sale, marked-down, home-butchered, or given to us)

Ground: 10 (1 lb) pks
1 Bottom Round Rump Roast
2 Rib Eye steaks

Sausage: 19 (1/2 lb) pks
Ground: 5 lbs
Roasts: 7 (2 are huge)
Ribs: 4 meals worth
Pork Chops: 13 (2 pc) pks
Ham, thin sliced: 2 gal. ziplocs
BBQ "roast": 1 (to crockpot w/ sauce)
Tenderloin: 1 small

Whole Chickens: 4
Thighs: 3 (4 pc) pks
Boneless/Skinless Breasts: 2 (4 pc) pks
Drumsticks: 2 (6 pc) pks
Wings: 1 bag of 12
Ground Turkey: 3 lbs
Smoked Turkey Thighs: 9 (2 pc) pks
Turkey Sausage: 8 (6 link) pks
Turkey Wings: 2 (2 pc) pks

HUGE venison shoulder roast (any recipe ideas, anyone??)
1 1/2 Polska Kielbaska
Sliced Turkey Ham
Sliced Pastrami
3 ham bones for soup
3 pks hot-dogs (from a butcher in PA, not your reg. hot-dog)

I did have to throw some stuff away. I found several packs of chicken thighs from 2004 on the VERY bottom, along with alot of frozen potatoes from '04 when my sister's potatoes grew extra well. I was tempted to try and do something with the potatoes, but figured I'd just regret having to throw away time, effort and ingredients since they would probably taste super freezer-burnt.

I plan to print off a list of all this stuff, and keep it handy for my menu planning. I will cross stuff off as I use it, that way I know when I need to start looking for sales or mark-downs again.

The zucchini patties are in the oven for supper, and Daniel will be home shortly, so I need to get the table ready for supper. It smells so good in here!

Monday, August 4, 2008

Monday's Menu and Groceries

Here's the menu for this week:

Fried Rice
Zucchini Patties & Tomatoes
Hamburgers & Green Beans
Tuna Cheesies
Pork Chops & Salad
Tomato Sandwiches

Chocolate Cupcakes with leftover caramel sauce to take to a carry-in.

My grocery purchases:
1 1/2 doz. eggs: $1.88
24 oz. Corn Flakes: $2.74 (cheaper than the 21 oz. box of CornFlake Crumbs)
2 Salad Dressings, (SB*): $2.44
Oyster Sauce: $1.78
2 cans Tuna: $1.34
1/2 large canteloupe: $1.89
2.01 lbs. grapes: $2.59
1.58 lbs. bananas: $.93
Cupcake Wrappers: $1.09
Total: $17.12
under budget by $7.88 - yay!

*SB = Store Brand

You maybe noticed I didn't buy any meat other than the tuna. That's because we have a freezer full of meat. I plan to defrost and organize it this week, so I know better what I have in there.

And you might wonder "what do we eat for breakfast and lunch"? Since it's just 2 of us, it's pretty simple. Daniel gets an egg/cheese sandwich (homemade) every morning with a cup of OJ - he eats on the way to work. I usually have a piece of toast and some fruit with either LF cottage cheese or LF yogurt. Daniel's lunches are usually a sandwich of sorts, with maybe a muffin or some cookies, and chips. My lunch is either some leftovers, a wrap, or here lately they have been a tomato sandwich with tomatoes from the garden :)

The Wedding Cake

I made the wedding cake for a good friend of Daniel's wedding this past Saturday. It was alot of hard work to begin with, and then it seemed nothing was going right.

My thought Friday while I was decorating the cake: I have never prayed over my own-made food as hard as I am now!

Thursday when I went to make the cakes I realized that I had loaned out my round cake pan set, and it was 2 hours away. I had the wrong Egg Beaters stuff for making the white cake. So Thursday I made 2 trips to 2 different stores to finally get my day going in the right direction.

Friday, I had to transport all 6 cakes to the reception hall 2 hours from my house. I had not put any of the cakes together, I was going to do it all there. One of the 8" cakes split into 3 pieces en route. When I was putting it together with the caramel filling, it kept wanting to slide apart. It took much doings to get it to stay together. THAT's when all the praying started!

Then I ran out of frosting. I was sure I'd made enough, but I obviously had NOT. I had 2 cakes done and a 3rd one waiting to be done. Thankfully my sister who lived in the area was able to bring me more ingredients to make more icing! I couldn't leave the reception place because the door would lock behind me and I wouldn't be able to get back in.

It all turned out beautifully, and here are a few pictures to show you :) I'm convinced that there were two invisible Hands holding the top layer together, because you would never know that it was broken in pieces from looking at the outside.

And just an up close of the details:

You can always give it a try...

You can't say you don't like it until you've tried it. So here I am, new to the world of blogs. I've just recently discovered blogs. The two that I have really been frequenting lately are Gayle's two blogs: , and

Not only are her blogs amazing (and funny!!), but she has inspired me to see if we can't cut down on our grocery budget. Our grocery budget for 2 people is the same as her grocery budget for SIX people! Yep, $50.00 a week. And we can sure go through it, too. We have no kids at this point. I grow a pretty big garden and freeze or can alot of veggies (well, I'm trying to at least). So without wanting to go cheap in the meaning of: not frugal but ridiculous, I'm interested to see if we can get by on $25.00 a week.

I don't know yet. I am used to being a "stocker". If I am running low on something, stock up on it. Get 2 cans of Miracle Whip, and when you start the last one, buy 2 more. When butter is running low, stock back up with 6 or 8 lbs. It freezes well, so why not, right? If I pass the meat section and see they have 5 lbs of hamburger marked down, I'd better get it, I might want/need it before I find more marked down, right? Well... then what happens when the TP is running low, and I don't have enough in my budget to also re-stock the TP supply because I've spent it all on butter and hamburger that I don't need near as desperately or immediately?

So, instead of trying to always have a supply of everything on hand at all times, I think I'll give menu-planning and weekly shopping trips a try. Oh yes, I will still buy my sugar and flour in the biggest bags I can possibly find - and for the best price I can possibly find, too. I do 99.9% of our baking and cooking from scratch, so some things are just a must.

I don't plan for our cupboard to go bare, but I am going to take Gayle's lead, and plan our menu around what we already have. It's not unusual to find myself talking to God about wanting to use what He's given us the best way that we can, so I figure I'd better start checking to make sure that we are!

So check out my next post later on to see what I've come up with for this week!!

And hopefully I'll have a few more blogging things figured out by then, too... like how to put pictures right into my post. And how to link to things. And how to...