Category Archives: Saving Money

Saving Money- Week ending on December 20

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As I was stitching some last minute embroidery projects, I realized I was getting low on green floss.  I remembered Rob’s mom telling me that she had been given some x-stitching supplies, by someone who was moving, to share between his sisters and myself.  I asked him to stop by and see if there was any green in the mixture.  He brought home a couple of boxes of supplies and I got to choose whatever I could use.  It ended up being about a gallon of floss of all colors, including green! I chose the loose floss and a few tubes of x-stitch fabric.  I sent back the rest and I think we will let the children use it for bracelets and crafts after people take what the can use.  I am very excited to get so much floss.  I like to do embroidery and work on projects all year long.

We were invited to a friend’s house for dinner and enjoyed ourselves very much.  I was able to make a mixed-berry crisp and use up several little baggies of frozen berries that needed to be used while they were still tasty.  It turned out very good and had raspberries, blueberries and a few blackberries in it.

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We attended Ja’Ana’s choir concert Friday night and a church choir presentation with singing and drama last night.  They were both beautiful and put me in a Christmas mood.  After J’s concert, we wanted to celebrate with her, so we took her to the store and let her choose any kind of ice cream she wanted.  While we were doing that, I saw a pizza sign indicating that pizza was $5 for the take and bake “special” of the day.  Lovana ran over and got one, and to my surprise, it was for a fairly good sized one.  I already had sandwich ingredients prepared at home, so we had a combination of sandwiches and pizza and ice cream for our celebration!  (The pizza was not gluten-free, so it went farther since I can’t have any).

Rob accidentally broke the glass in the wood stove when he was loading it up so he could leave to drive Ja’Ana to choir practice.  I was giving a piano lesson, and my student and I heard this big sound of breaking glass.  The house filled with smoke, the alarms went off, and it was quite exciting for a while as Rob carried flaming logs out and threw them off the porch into the soggy flower beds.  All the while, I’m trying to carry on like there is nothing unusual about him pouring water all over the hearth (and my kitchen floor),putting out the flames on one log, carrying out others, and trying to get the glass to not fall out of the frame where it was hanging in the balance.  Ja’Ana got the smoke alarms to quit wailing, all was safe, and she and Rob took off for the last choir practice.  I got back to my lesson, and  finished with that student.

Meanwhile, my phone was bringing in texts, asking if there was some confusion about Rob picking up J’s friend.  I answered, “no-he’s on his way” and I went on with lessons. The house phone kept ringing and I continued ignoring it, as I do when working.   Half-way through the 2nd lesson, Patsy was supposed to get off  the bus with another boy who was coming for a lesson.  He came.  She didn’t.  I start frantically texting Rob, asking him to call the school.  In the meanwhile, student #2 is playing away and I’m pretending to listen.  She’s one of my older ones, and was not fooled for a moment, but was gracious while I had my mini-crisis.  I finally get a quick call–everything’s fine–she missed the bus home–he would drop the girls at choir and then go get her.  Whew– because I surely can’t leave someone else’s child home alone at my house while I go get her–and there were 2 of them there by then!  On with lessons.  Never a dull moment at my house–that’s for sure.

The stove door was fixable.  It cost us $125.  We had to run the furnace for 2 days, which will be costly on our next power bill.  In the big picture, though, this stove has been a real money saver.  We use it constantly for heat, using firewood we get for “free,” with our labor and fuel costs being the price we pay.  It was a discard from someone else years ago, and we have used it all winter for heat for the last 8 years.  A new one would be over $2,000 and our power bill would be astronomical.  Afternoons like Wednesday are frustrating (but funny afterwards), but it’s the price we pay for using things that are second-hand, old, wearing out, etc. It’s worth it to us when we look at the big picture.

Rob got bread for the pigs–the back of the van full for $25.  We paid the girls a little something to unwrap it all and it is ready to feed the pigs.  We also have been giving them melons we got last week.  They were spoiling when we got them–they are awful now, but the pigs still seem to love them.  They are almost all gone now.  They are mostly raised on a natural feed from a local feed store, but the do love their treats!  They are growing nicely and so far, all 7 have survived.  (We got 2 more than the original 5 when people indicated they wanted to buy them.)

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Patsy had a birth-mom visit last week.  We made these mountain bar cookies together and took some along.  They were easy, quick and fun for Patsy to decorate with the mini M and M’s I got on sale for $2/bag a while back.  We also took a few other modest presents and ate fast food together while we visited.  I thought it went well.

 

 

Saving Money-Week ending in December 13

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This week was full of a nice mixture of work and play.  I was able to save money in several ways.

At dinner, this evening, we had popcorn and cheese slices for dinner.  We had a lot to eat earlier at my sister’s house and then attended a birthday party for a dear little friend of ours, and ate some more!  We weren’t very hungry, so this was a great choice.  Some people didn’t even eat any cheese, I just have to have some protein with each meal, so I did.

I was able to get a doll dress, doll p.j.’s and the doll sleeping bag and pillow done for her gift.  She really likes playing with her dolls, so I know she’s going to enjoy them.  They were all made from materials I had on hand, so that was a very frugal, but very satisfying present.

This was the week for Christmas parties.  On Friday, we had our annual 4H Christmas party.  We played the usual games–unwrapping the package wrapped in multiple layers of wrapping when the music stopped and White Elephant gift exchange. It is amazing to me how much fun they can have with these games.  Other games may be added in, but these remain.  Each younger set of children has learned these games from their older counterparts, and never tire of playing them.  Rob and I have been leaders for over 25 years, and the kids still choose the same games year after year.  The older junior leaders choose the games, and they always choose these.  It’s awesome to see how much fun inexpensive or free games can be.

Then they worked on community service projects.

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They packaged up beans and rice for a local organization to hand out.  They made candy canes with the story of the candy cane attached, also for handing out.  The third project was making Chex mix and Rice Krispie Treats and cards for servicemen and women.  We have 2 former members serving in the armed forces at this time, and a close relative of a member, so we chose those 3 to focus on.  We rotated the kids through the stations, with each child getting a chance to do every activity.  In the picture, Ja’Ana is figuring out the recipe, since the junior leaders were the “brains” of the stations, keeping people on task, even when the people switched stations! No small task!  The rice, beans, ingredients for the treats, and card-making supplies were all donated by the families in the club.  The postage will come out of the club funds, or be donated.

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The kids also gathered around the tree and one mom read a story containing the true meaning of Christmas to them.  We had a potluck as well, and then it was time for them to go home.  A great day for everyone!

Patsy had a party with her Sunday School class.  It was over an hour from our house to the party.  Rob and I went on a date while she enjoyed the party.  We got to enjoy going out to dinner, as we clearly weren’t going to run home in-between.  We also picked up a few groceries from specialty stores (one thing was gluten-free Worchestershire sauce–hard to find, spendy, but I don’t use it very fast).  It was great to be able to get away alone.  That hasn’t happened much lately.

On Saturday, she had a party with the Royal Family Kids’ Camp organization that helps foster children enjoy camp each summer, and a party at Christmas.  She received some shoes, yarn for her Knifty Knitter, and some sewing supplies, as she is learning to sew in 4H.  They are so kind to take the time to find out what each child really wants, and give them such nice presents.  She made this cute food craft with an ice-cream cone, a cupcake and frosting.  She promptly had Rob eat it, since they were sure it wouldn’t make it home.

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Rob was able to combine driving the children and several errands to save $ on gas.

We cooked most meals at home, except the dinner when we went out, or when we were eating at my sister’s house.  I made meatballs and pasta,  soup, leftovers a couple of times, and spent the first 1/2 of the week using up the chicken I got for 50c/lb last week in things like chicken salad sandwiches, chicken enchiladas, and plain chicken on a plate.  That 10 pound bag made a LOT of chicken!  We used home-canned and home-frozen fruit, vegetables, enchilada sauce, and blueberries.  I used up a little container of pesto I froze last summer.

 

FullSizeRender I burned a lot of trash, eliminiating the need to pay for an extra bag. I made a lot of potholders from scraps and Insul-Bright filling.  They will be Christmas gifts.  I was able to buy some more Insul-Bright today, using my 40% off coupon at JoAnn’s.

We were able to get a pickup load of honeydew melons that were no good for people to eat, for our pigs.  We were given 4 melons that were good to eat, so have been enjoying them.

We did all of the usual things:  burned firewood in our stove for heat, turned off lights when not in rooms, etc.

Rob also got new tires for the car, using savings for money (not store credit or credit card) , since ours were long-overdue.  He bought neither the cheapest, or the most expensive, instead choosing ones that were middle of the road in price.

 

 

Garden Tomatoes in December

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I was very excited to have a garden tomato on my sandwich today for lunch!  This year, we tried (as we have before) to get some tomatoes to ripen in the garage for us to eat during the fall.  We are very excited, because, this year–it worked!

Here, where I live in Oregon, our garden has already succumbed to killing frost.  There is a little Swiss Chard still alive down there, but very little else.  A few herbs have survived in my herb planter box.

In late October, before the killing frost, I picked as many green tomatoes as I could.  I only saved the ones that did not have a bad spot, a bit of blight starting, or any other thing that might make them go bad quickly.

Rob and I tried 2 different methods.  The first method was to wrap each nice green tomato in a white napkin and place them single layer in a box.  We got several good tomatoes from that box over the last few weeks.

The second method was easier.  We simply placed a bunch of green and ripening tomatoes in a cardboard box.  They were mostly Romas and we grabbed the ones that were turning red out of the box as they turned or rotted.  Some were also placed on cookie sheets because we had so many.

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By now, on December 10, they are looking pretty sad.  All of the ones that are wrapped, and on cookie sheets are either eaten or rotten.  The quality of the tomatoes is going down.  I have to cut out little spots of the “good” ones, and the texture is a little mushier than when truly fresh.  Clearly, I need to clean out this box as well.  I will get the ones that still look good out of there and either compost the rest of feed them to the pigs.  If you look closely, there are still a few good ones in there as well.  I don’t think that the green ones in there are going to ripen, but I’ll give them a few more days.

In our opinion, our experiment was a huge success.  We have had tomatoes for tacos, sandwiches and salads galore, for about 6-8 weeks after  our garden was finished.  I noticed that the Romas are better keepers and that it didn’t seem to make a difference if we wrapped them or not.  This was a good garden year, and there wasn’t much disease on the tomatoes, which helped, I’m sure.  I know this experiment is pretty well finished, but I sure enjoyed my sandwich today, knowing that the tomato I was eating was from my own garden, and that I haven’t had to buy tomatoes for quite a few weeks into the fall.  It was definitely worth the effort.  Success, any way I look at it!

Saving Money–Week Ending December 6, 2015

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I am still enjoying my zinnias from last summer–just in pictures now.  This peppermint-stiped one makes me think of candy canes, with it’s beautiful stripes.

I was pretty sick for the first half of the week, and am still coughing a bit.  I had to skip work for the most part, and only ended up giving one lesson the entire week.  That made it even more important to be careful with my money for the rest of the week.  Being self-employed means that if I don’t work, I don’t get paid.

I soaked white navy beans last Sunday.  On Monday, I found I had soaked way too many!  I ended up making ham and beans, and white bean chicken chili.  We ate those for several days and I froze enough for 2 meals, at least.

I was able to get several of my hoped-for grocery items. At Fred Meyers,  I got mini chocolate chips for $2/bag, milk for 99c for 1/2 gallon, oj for the same price,  and some M & M’s for $2/bag, some spices from the bulk section, and a few other things I needed.  I did pay $1.25 for a few cream cheeses, and then, of course, it came on for 99c today!

At Safeway, I had a $10/off $50 that I used.  I got 2 large laundry soaps,  4 apple juices for $1.25 each, 2 puddings and 2 jellos and a free bag of sugar with those items.  The last jello lasted us about 4 years.  We don’t use it much, so it will be nice to have it if a recipe calls for it.  The best thing was 10 lb bags of frozen thighs and drumsticks for $5.  That is 50 cents a pound–by far the best price I’ve seen here for years!  I got 3 of those and a few other things. I thawed and cooked one right away. With the coupon, it came in around $50, so I got around $60 worth of groceries at that store.

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I watched a lot of Andy Griffith shows on library DVD’s.  I embroidered dish towels while I did that.  I used a LOT of  tissues someone gave us for free a while back.  I also drank a lot of fizzy seltzer water the same person gave us.  I just put a little bit of juice or lemonade in the glass with ice, and filled it with seltzer.  It is like fake pop to me, and kept me drinking all day long.

I made a roast, the bean soups, used the rest of the turkey from Thanksgiving in turkey salad for sandwiches or salads, served some hot dogs that have been around a while. I did not make pizza as our menu plan called for, as we had enough food without it.  I did made  lasagna from some ricotta I had hanging around and took it to my sister’s today.  I buy ricotta from Cash and Carry.  It is much less expensive, but you get a LOT.  There was a little left from the last container I bought  about 6 weeks ago.  It lasts a long time as long as I am careful to not get anything in it that would contaminate it.

I did quite a bit of sewing.  I got Michaela’s pajamas done.  I sewed a pillowcase for a service project.  We tied a blanket for the service project, and Patsy made one for herself. I made a doll dress and a doll sleeping bag. I cut out pajamas for Lovana.  I have a lot left, but I will be working this week, so I’ll do my best.

Rob and the girls visited a cut-your-own Christmas tree farm and got ours for only $10.

Ja’Ana was able to sell a few pies for a fundraiser she participated in to start earning money for a retreat at church she wants to attend.  I’m still waiting to see how much she gets towards her trip.

I hope you were able to find some ways to save money this week, as well.  What did you do?

 

 

Saving Money–Week of November 30

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You may notice there is no dead tree in this picture.   It’s gone, and along with it, Rob’s worries  about it falling on our house, cars, and especially, Lovana’s bedroom!  It was a significant savings, too.  The loggers would not touch it, they said it was a  “widow-maker” and we should get a tree service to bring it down right away.  The first company wanted to charge us $1,200 to bring it down, and really weren’t very interested in the job–looked too dangerous.  On Wednesday, Rob drove by a tree service working in a neighbor’s yard.  He stopped and talked to them, and they drove right over and looked and quoted us $600.  They told him to call on Thanksgiving to finalize plans, so he did and they came Friday and took care of it!  What a blessing.  The pieces are laying on the ground, but that is no problem for us!  It was cheaper that way.

I planned menus for the week.

I did not shop for Thanksgiving.  Everything was from the freezer, pantry, etc. or other people brought it. I did spend about $50 on Saturday at Grocery Outlet to get a few things I needed, including gluten-free pretzels for an upcoming 4H community service project.  I will buy milk and butter if it comes on a good sale, otherwise, I’m done.

I made gluten-free stuffing with apples and water chestnuts.  I figure I saved about $15 by making my own stuffing croutons instead of buying 4 boxes for gluten-free stuffing mix for about $5 per box.IMG_1755 I got some flour sack dish towels to embroider at Walmart–10 towels for about $8.  I seldom go to Walmart as it is out of my way.  I was delighted that they were still very reasonable to buy there.  I love to embroider on them, compared to other towels,  since they wipe dishes so well.  They are pretty and very useful as gifts.

I got some good bargains at JoAnn’s, but did not over-do it.  I got a couple of craft kits/items to use as gifts for 50% off.  I was able to use several pieces of my fabric stash I already had at home for gifts, children’s projects, etc.  I still have quite a few gifts to work on.   I have a bad cold today, so stayed home from work.  I hope to sew a little in-between drinking tea and resting.  It’s just a cold, but it’s hard to teach piano when you are having trouble talking, since that’s all I do all day when I teach:)

I cooked another squash.  We were blessed with so many.

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Menu Plan–Week of Nov. 29-Dec.5, 2015

IMG_4698This week is going to  be another busy one around here!  All of our weeks are busy, but this one has some things to do that are unusual and interesting.   On Monday, our 18 turkeys are going to be butchered.  We had 1 left from the last time we butchered that we used on Thanksgiving, so we were ok with waiting until after the big holiday for our appointment.  Rob and Ja’Ana will drive 1-1/2 hours to the butchering company we use, after her guitar lesson in the morning, and get that done.  We have freezers to rearrange this afternoon to make sure they will all fit in.  Several of these turkeys are gifts for people for Christmas, so he will deliver some tomorrow after they are processed so we have less to fit into our freezers.  We are talking about a LOT of turkey. We are borrowing a grinder, and will spend quite a bit of time Tuesday grinding turkey burger from the breasts and thighs, and making  broth, if we can possibly find enough energy.

I work Monday and Wednesday this week.  Ja’Ana has her homeschool to do.  I need to work with her quite a bit on Tuesday and Thursday on that. I set her up for independent work on the days I’m teaching piano, and then do more math explanations, etc. on the days when I’m not.  Patsy goes to school Monday-Thursday, as usual, and we have some appointments on Friday, as we often do.  Then, there is youth group, dance classes, and an extra choir practice for the girls as well, plus that fact that Lovana works 30 minutes from home and doesn’t drive, so some days we can combine trips, but often drive 2 extra hours a day to take her to and from work. To top it off, I have quite a few projects in the works that I need to make progress on for Christmas.

So, this week’s meals need to be quick, use lots of freezer ingredients to make space for turkeys, or cook in the slow cooker so the food is ready in a hurry each evening.  Although eggs are a choice each morning, everyone doesn’t always choose to eat them.  I actually let them choose leftovers, if they prefer.  I also have cereal; most of us don’t enjoy it, but it is a choice, if desired.

Sunday:  Fried potatoes, eggs, turkey bacon l.o. from 4H

Dinner with extended family after church

Leftovers from Thanksgiving

Monday:   eggs, muffins from freezer, canned fruit

Pack lunches:  salad or sandwiches topped with l.o. ham, cheese, turkey, etc., carrot sticks, etc.

Ham and beans in the crockpot from Thanksgiving ham bone

salad or green beans

Tuesday:  eggs, fried ham

leftover ham and beans (pack Patsy’s lunch)

roast beef in crock pot, carrots, potatoes, salad

Wednesday:  eggs, pumpkin muffins, fruit

Salad or sandwiches (pack lunch for Patsy)

leftovers

Thursday: eggs, oatmeal, toast or more pumpkin muffins

leftover soup (pack lunch for Patsy)

(dance night–home at 6:30):Turkey-rice soup in crock pot

Friday:  yogurt, cereal, egg (if desired)

leftovers, salad or sandwiches

pizza (make 2 so we have leftovers)

Saturday:  choice of eggs, cereal, toast or muffins

leftovers (pizza, roast, soups, ham and beans)

leftovers (more of the above, or make French dip with roast)

If there are not enough leftovers for Saturday, I might make a vegetable-beef soup with the rest of the roast.  I will also grind the leftover roast beef in the food processor, mix with mayonnaise and relish, and make sandwiches from it, so I’ll see how the week goes and what’s left by Saturday.  We have quite a few hot dogs I can pull out in case we are burning another pile next weekend and want to roast them.

I cook vegetables each night, sometimes 2 different ones.  I will pull from home-canned green beans, home frozen cauliflower, broccoli or corn, carrots from the garden (in fridge)and salad ingredients (boughten), which I have.  We still have a few tomatoes ripening in the garage from the green ones I picked a month ago, but they are mostly gone.

To make:  pumpkin muffins, using squash I cooked the day before Thanksgiving.

To buy:  If milk or butter comes on sale, I will buy that.  Otherwise, I have enough of everything for the week.

Saving money–week of Nov. 16

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One of the things we spent a lot of time doing is working on our slash piles.  Recently, we had some logging done, and the piles that remain are our responsibility.  We could pay someone to burn them, but that would cost us quite a lot of money so we are attempting to do it ourselves.  We are having a hard time.  Rob spent a good deal of time on Friday to no avail.  On Saturday, he was able to get one pile burning well, and by evening it was burned down pretty well.  Pile #2 was difficult.  We both worked for several hours but it would never catch.

On Sunday, we had a sick child, so stayed home from church.  Our oldest daughter and husband came over when they heard burning was an activity they could join in on and we had another try at the 2nd pile.  At times, we had 2 large blazes going, on 2 different parts of the pile, and we though it was going to take off.  Sadly, it began to pour rain, drenching the fires.  After about 4 hours, we gave up, went inside and cooked a great meal and enjoyed each others’ company.  (Rob took J to the doctor today and she is fine–just a bad cold.)

We have 15 piles.  There are still 14 unburned.  It keeps raining.  The wood is wet.  We must burn them soon, so we can replant in time to save the forest deferment we have on our taxes.  H-m-m-m-m.  I’ll keep you posted!  We have high hopes, though.  We will save thousands of dollars by burning, and by paying lower taxes on the forested land.

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I enjoyed watching leaves change and fall.  It won’t be long until they are all down on the ground.  I also loved watching the woodpecker that has now pecked out large portions of the dead tree in his search for insects.  In fact, it is a little worrisome how much he has dented that tree!

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We cooked many meals from scratch.  Rob made this ham on the grill.  It was really good.  We also made crock pot meals and many recipes at 4H club.  We are still eating leftovers from that!

I’ve been drinking more water instead of other drinks.

My husband found my daughter a formal dinner dress at Goodwill for $12.99.  It was brand new and fit her.  All we are going to have to do is choose which sweater/cape/shawl, etc. she will wear with it. There is the faux fur one I made her last year.  It might work.   It saved me hours and hours to not have to sew one, and quite a bit of money as well.  The last one I made cost me at least $50-$60 in materials alone (which is cheaper than buying one, but still…)

We used some hazelnuts we were given and roasted them.

IMG_1711We were given some crab  and totally enjoyed that as well. All in all, it was a pretty good week!

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Lemon Loaf

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For the last couple of days, I have been drooling over the Simple Lemon Cake on the blog, Debt Free, Cashed Up and Laughing.  It looks so good.  I wanted to make it.  But, silly me, I did not know what SR flour was.  I am gluten-free, so maybe it was sweet rice flour?  I just didn’t know, but that loaf looked yummy!  After waiting patiently, I got the reply that it was self-rising flour.  That made sense.  Well, sweet rice flour would have fit into my gluten-free diet better, but that loaf still looked really, really good.  I still didn’t know what another ingredient was:  jelly crystals.  I wondered–pectin?  Who knew?  So, I asked again and it was…….Jello.  Sounded interesting, but I didn’t have any lemon jello on hand and I wanted to eat that cake tonight!!

Once that answer was received, Patsy and I set to work changing the recipe entirely to make it fit the ingredients in our pantry, and to make it gluten free.    If you want to make the original recipe, go to her blog.  Or, try this version.  It’s really good, too.  I save money every time I make my own gluten-free baked goods.  To buy one gluten-free muffin can cost a couple of dollars, minimum.   Even though gluten-free flour is expensive, it’s way less to make my own.  I also had a lemon languishing in the refrigerator drawer that needed to be used.

Mini Lemon Loaves

2 Cups 1-to-1 Flour (from Bob’s Red Mill)

3/4 cup sugar

1-1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

zest of 1 lemon

1/2 cup melted butter

4 eggs

3 Tablespoons lemon juice

1/2 cup milk

Glaze:  1 cup powdered sugar

2-4 Tablespoons lemon juice (start with the 2 Tablespoons, and add more as needed to make a glaze)

Mix the dry ingredients together in a bowl, including the lemon zest.  Mix the butter, eggs, lemon juice and milk in another bowl.  Pour the wet ingredients into the dry mixture and stir until well blended.  Spray 3 mini loaf pans (4″ x 2″) with non-stick spray.  Divide the batter evenly between the pans.  Bake in a 350 degree oven for 30-35 minutes, or until cooked through and slightly browned on top.     When the loaves are removed from the oven, set them on a cooling rack.  Pour the glaze onto the hot loaves, still in their pans.  Let set for 10 minutes.  Remove the loaves from the pans, and finish cooling on a wire rack.  The glaze will be cooled enough to stay on the loaves.  Makes 3 mini loaves.  Keep leftovers in freezer.

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Slow Cooker Swiss Steak

FullSizeRenderWhen I need dinner in a hurry, I turn to my slow cooker.  This happens several times a week, because I am always in a hurry!

Recently, someone gave us some round steak.  So, I decided to make Swiss Steak.  I cut the steak into cutlets and laid them in the bottom of the crock pot.  I seasoned it with salt and pepper.  I chopped one small onion and 2 tomatoes onto the top.  I still have a few tomatoes left from the garden, so I used those.  When I don’t have any from the garden, I use canned.  I put a carton of cream of mushroom soup on top and turned it on to low for 8 hours.  My sister had ordered a case from Amazon, and shared several cartons with me.  I can’t tolerate any gluten, so the Pacific Foods brand is the one I use.

That evening, we had the Swiss Steak with cauliflower from the huge box a friend gave me a couple of weeks ago.   Tonight, I thickened the juices with sweet rice flour to make gravy and we had the rest of it with mashed potatoes and home-canned green beans.  I’m looking for ways to use the 50 pounds of red potatoes I bought for $10 a week ago.  I was delighted to get 2 dinners for almost free and they were really tasty, too.IMG_1651

Frugal Accomplishments for the Week of November 2, 2015

There were many green tomatoes left in the garden to find a good use for!
There were many green tomatoes left in the garden to find a good use for!

I have the ability to work more around my home from Thursday-Saturday each week due to my homeschool schedule and my part-time job of teaching piano lessons.  This week I had the pleasure of sharing most of those days with a good friend who came to visit.  She lives about 8 hours away from me and her visits are treasured.

We both love to can and preserve food.  So, she picked green tomatoes from her garden, grabbed some jars, and drove over here to where gardens grow much better than where she lives, and we got to work.  She spent the time when I was busy with the children visiting her relatives and friends who live around here and shopping for items she cannot get in her remote town.

We made salsa verde, zucchini relish and chow-chow, which is a mixed vegetable relish.  I had quite a few green tomatoes, various peppers, cabbage, and onions from my garden.  I was given lots of cauliflower last Tuesday, which is also an ingredient of chow-chow. We experimented with agave nectar instead of sugar because my friend is super-allergic to many things and she tolerates agave better than other sweeteners.  The relish and the chow-chow both tasted good with that substitution.

I processed 30 quart bags of cauliflower Tuesday.  A friend gave it to me.  We saved out a bunch and used it for the chow-chow as well as having it for meals twice so far.

I walked on the treadmill most evenings.

I bought some netting and a ribbon for one daughter’s Halloween costume.   She used it to make an overskirt to tie on over a fancy dress I made a few years ago and it fits no one at this time.  It was pinned to make it work for this occasion.  The youngest was a detective with a trench coat, notebook, and magnifying glass (for a while until she lost it).   We didn’t want to spend much on costumes because, well, they are costumes!

I bought 50 pounds of red potatoes at Cash and Carry for a little under $10.  That’s 20 cents/lb.  I also chose to buy a gallon of gluten-free soy sauce for under $6.  One little jar of the SanJ brand is about that much!  I just keep filling my small bottle.  We use it to make marinade as well, and it keeps for a long time.  I got large bottles of salad dressing there as well along with a mega package of lettuce.   We have still been eating tomatoes from the garden.  I got 6 snap peas and put them into a stir-fry.

I started a new piano student.

We went to the library and checked out more books.  More importantly, we returned our old ones before we got fines:)

I washed eggs, put them in cartons, and began cooking with them.
I washed eggs, put them in cartons, and began cooking with them.

All in all, it was a frugal week on many levels.   Some weeks are about putting more food away when it is available.  There will be many other weeks where I rack my brains figuring out what exactly to cook from all of this marvelous preserved food. It’s always a project, but it is so worth it to me.  Being stocked up makes a tremendous difference.

If you had asked me during the summer if my husband was in danger of losing his job, I would have laughed and said, “no way after 18 -1/2 years.”  But, sadly, it happened at the end of September.  I’m thankful for all we have.  It’s going to come in handy before this issue is resolved, I think!  He and I are still praying, thinking and wondering what the next step is.  Right now, we feel at peace with waiting until it comes clear to us.  He has gone to many people for advice and we’ve been advised to treat this as a death and allow ourselves enough time to work through the process of grief and mourning.  Because our personal lives as a family were so enmeshed with his job as a children’s and family pastor, it has tremendously affected the entire family.  The children are mourning the loss of their friends and the only place they have ever gone to church.  We are grieving the  loss of helping people we have cared about and helped for so many years. Because it was the decision of a very small handful of people, people are upset.  They are still calling, writing, and visiting to show their support, and to talk to Rob about things, as they have done for so many years.  This will taper off as they start to process this and move on with their lives.  It just takes time.

Grief and mourning are not a fun or popular time of life.  None of us want to do it.  I don’t want to do it.  I hate that I’m bursting into tears at the drop of a hat!  But, if we don’t, we won’t be able to come out on the other side as  healthy, whole people.  One prayer I frequently have prayed through this, and other extremely difficult situations, is that I will not turn into a bitter old woman.  We are praying that God will help us handle the unfair way that this was done with grace.  How we handle this will affect our children’s lives forever, as well as our own.  So far, we know that our actions and words have been appropriate to the best of our ability.  We want to be able to hold our heads high and not be ashamed of how we acted through this.  It’s not easy, but we have a great God who can help us each and every day!