Thursday, July 31, 2008

Can't have your Cake and eat it too?

Well, if that is true I have found the next best thing!

I call it: Foundational Cooking because it lays the foundation for any meal you want cook over the next several days or months. I used to cook in large batches that would last for a full month and believe it or not, it stored easily in my Side-by-Side leaving room for ice, junk food, and other things.

AND, at it's root is a LOT of Free Time for catching up on what is really important in life, Your Family and your Magazine/Blog time! I had some great family time today when my guys dropped off their laundry, so Magazine/Blog time is my choice for the next hour.

I might call a friend to chit chat and I can almost hear the question: "What are you up to?" and I'll say I'm busy cooking. "Whatcha cooking?" Me: "Tacos, lasagna, stew, stir-fry, Chicken Alfredo and probably a King Ranch Chicken, not sure what else yet."

All because I threw 5 pounds of ground beef in to simmer in water. And 10 pounds of chicken are simmering in the roaster...outside, where it's already hot.

I takes less than 15 minutes getting it started and about the same time packaging the Foundational Meats. That's half an hour I'll slave away. The rest of the time I'll be reading and chatting on the phone. See that Victoria book? Oh Man, that is one fabulous book! Its by Victoria and it's called "Intimate Home". My Mom picked it up at Half Priced Books or a Thrift store for me and I love to leaf through it. I believe that style of decorating is Timeless. This is pure ME time, to unwind, dream, think.

I didn't find out about Foundational Cooking until my younger son was 13. I had tried OAMC and never had time to do the power cooking. Maybe I didn't know how to make time to power cook. You don't know what you don't know, ya know?

What I found is that Foundational Cooking gives me the best of both worlds. I actually do cook up the meats on a couple different days, sometimes 3 during the month. It is a very simple approach to avoiding eating out, or ordering pizza, or sliding by to grab something from the deli or fast food joints. PLUS, it saves MONEY like you wouldn't believe!!

Basically, I put into seasoned hot water ground beef for the week/month. I break it up into large chunks, bring to a boil, then turn heat down and let it simmer till the meat is brown. Then drain it, some ladies will want to keep the broth, I don't unless it's cool enough outside to separate the fat from the good broth. Once drained I spray the meat with the veggie sprayer to cool it so its easy to work with.

After it cools a bit, I'll pull out quality freezer bags and store enough meat in one bag for one family meal. If you have a small family, you may only want a half pound of meat, that is 1 cup of cooked ground beef, 2 cups is one pound. OR you may want to put it all in one or two Gallon size bags and measure it out when it's time to make lunch/dinner/potluck for church, etc. Find what works for you best.

Once you have the meat in the bags, let the meat finish cooling. Make sure it's cooled off so your freezer doesn't have to do that for you. Once cooled, lay the bag flat, press as much air out of it as you can, then seal. You now have flat bags that will stack perfectly on top of one another in your freezer.

It's easy to see how you can put a month's worth of meats in your Side by Side.

Same with the chicken. I usually pile Bone In Skin On Chicken Breasts into casserole dishes then place in the pre-heated roaster. Using both the bottom and top wracks. I'll get them started at 350* for about an hour, then turn heat down to 250* for another hour.

Check to make sure they are done, bring them inside, drain the casseroles, and set the chicken in a large dish to cool. I leave the skin on as protection in the freezer. Once cooled I'll place enough chicken breast in a bag for one meal. You can do the same as above and put them in a larger container and pull out one by one.
I prefer the smaller bags because the breasts can stick together when frozen.

The frozen ground beef will thaw quickly, the chicken takes a little longer. If you had the time, you could always debone the chicken and chop it or slice it, then bag and freeze. There is so much flexibility to this method!


When my ground beef was done, I bagged it and laid them flat on the counter to cool down. One of the bags is for dinner tonight, stew and corn bread. The other bags will go into the freezer. Thought it would be interesting to time myself at throwing dinner together. Keep in mind I have just rearranged half my!

It took right at 5 minutes to grab a bag of ground meat out of the freezer, put it in a clean stew pot, open 6 cans of veggies and 4 bullion cubes then add water to cover the ingredients. I reset the timer while I made corn bread from scratch and heated the butter in the oven. Total time on this meal was 16 minutes. I probably could have shaved a minute but I had to look for my bowl scrapper. If ever I find that thing again I am going to hang it on the wall!


Now, if you are still with me because you think this might be something you want to try. Then consider this....if you add taco seasoning and water to the freezer bag along with the cooked ground beef, you have saved a step for next week/month. squish it together once the bag is closed, then freezer. Just use quality freezer bags or Vacuum sealer. Think of the additions you can make at this point. Spaghetti sauce, Sloppy Joe mix. Now you have dinner minus the pasta or rice and salad. You may have to open a can or steam some veggies.

If you cube the Chicken you cooked, bagged it, then simply pour in your stir fry recipe, your teryaki recipe, fajita mix. See? This Foundation Cooking is simple and keeps you from having to ask yourself at 3:00pm. What can I cook for supper? I truly hate that question.

However, when I have a stocked freezer of Foundation meats, I am ready to cook for the pickiest eater! And now, you are too!

I hope this helps someone get a grip on the supper monster!


Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Multi-Tasking....It's Frugal!

For the most part, Multi-Tasking is a Frugal use of time. Especially in the kitchen!

Tonight for dinner we are having Tuna Sandwiches and Tater Tots with a salad. So I threw some eggs on to boil and suddenly I had nothing to do. With my boys having their own apartment now the kitchen stays pretty clean, so I wasn't loading the dishwasher and tidying up. Everything that goes into Tuna for Hubby and I was in the bowl along with mustard and mayo so I thought while the eggs boiled it would be a good time to try out a recipe a wonderful friend posted to our group yesterday.

I've been cleaning out the pantry and cabinets and had three jars of peanut butter that were almost empty. Why is that? Oh well, anyway, the recipe is for Peanut Butter Cookies. Simple as can be!

One Egg
One cup sugar
One cup Peanut Butter
Yield 12 large cookies

For me that was Two eggs, etc....totally forgetting I don't have ravenous mouths that eat cookies any more. Realized that too! They've only been gone a week and a half, so I'm still getting used to doing things differently.

Whipped up the batter...

Then plopped about 8 handsful of dough on a greased cookie sheet, made the fork marks.

And, slid the cookie sheet into a preheated 350* oven for 9 mins.

Then I peeled the eggs for the tuna, chopped those up and tossed into the bowl with the other ingredients. Threw tater tots on another cookie sheet to start thawing (saves energy).

Finally the buzzer buzzed and I tasted the cookies. They are really good!!

You'll want to try this recipe. I am thinking it is so versatile!

With HALF the sugar and baked for another minute or two, these cookies could be crumbled and put on an Asian Salad.

Next time I will add 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla and a couple pinches of cinnamon to the recipe.

Well, I'll have more to say about Multi-Tasking in the kitchen a bit later. Right now, I'm off to update my blog and munch on these cookies. Look how big they are!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Prepare, Enhance, Share, Enjoy!

Prepare. I'm a Frugalite, pure and simple. I believe in Prepping, stockpiling, storing up. I am not awaiting the great collapse of modern society, I am actually an investor. I buy low and hold a product awaiting its use at a given time during the year so when I need it, it costs less than what inflation would do. This is a hard one to get past and Inventory Control nut like my hubby. He has since condoned my investing habits. I don't prep or stockpile for longer than a year.

Enhance. Sauces and gravies enhance meal times just like a pretty pair of pearl earrings enhance your looks. Getting things at a deep discount allows me to spend my money elsewhere to further enhance my simple life.

Share. I can take my Frees or Nearly Frees to the food bank to share with others who are on the edge in this life. If you have ever truly been on that edge you know what I am talking about. It is what enhances our foods that go unbought when money is tight or non-existent.

Enjoy! I truly enjoy shaving the fat off my grocery bill and truly hate to pay full price for anything.

Because I have chosen simplicity in my life doesn't mean I do without. I simply don't pay what the majority of the people pay for an item. So I look for ways to have free or nearly free to Enhance my Simple Living.

This week has been a great money saver! Here's why:

Everyday I did about 4 loads going through things we use and no longer use and each load was hung to dry outside making use of this HOT Texas sun. *Free Energy* Mwaa-ha-ha!

I found the texture of clothing is much better when hung out to dry, it was amazing. *think Value added, Enhanced* Of course, this heat dries clothes very quickly and I was able to have one load folded and inside before the washer was done with the next load.

As a kid I hung out clothes and really hated it. Now, I look forward to the quietude and getting things dry for FREE! No dryer wear and tear, no electricity AND I like the texture of the clothing afterwards. They almost look pressed.

I also found that Egyptian cotton towels are still soft after hanging whereas cheaper cotton towels are not. Something to keep in mind if you have 'Pickies' in your family. I don't use fabric softener. With the money saved, I can afford Egyptian Cotton towels on sale. :) More Enhancing! NOT Wal Marting. Love it!

My mother, the Thrift Store Queen found a set of 8 Egyptian Cotton towel sets and gifted them to me.

ALSO, this is a great week locally for grocery store sales! Generally, they like to run their better sales when we have the least amount of money to stock least that has been my experience. That generally is the last weekend of the month or the last weekend before pay-day. So, I squirrel away some cash just for this occasion.

Remember this post? At the end I talked about turning Junk Mail into Gold. Here's how I do it.

Get those flyers out of the mail box and spread them out around you. We have 4 chain grocers within 3 miles of our home so I start at one and make a round at each store until I have stocked up on all the REAL Sale goodies. I use a cooler in this heat, you might want one too. Also, Get good freezer bags, fill with water, drop in the freezer and when you are ready to shop, you don't have to buy ice, just drop the frozen water bags in the cooler.

The little notebook where we letter each page and makes notes about the prices of the items we buy is a huge help when looking through your grocery flyers...otherwise known as Loss Leaders. The REAL sales actually cost the grocery stores, they go negative on those deep sale items in hopes of making it up on you at other areas of the store. And if you aren't on top of things you will notice you bill rarely fluctuates even though you are buying sales.

So I put each store's name a the top of a clean piece of paper. And I write down everything we use that I know to be a good price. I do this for all the stores, takes me about 10 minutes per store sometimes less.

Then I write down what we need and organize the information by store for the best price.

If TomThumb and Kroger both have Charmin on sale but one is less than the other, I mark through the higher priced Charmin and that way I know to get it at the store with the lowest price.

This will shave about 50% off your food bill.

Coupons will shave another 25+%.

For example yesterday, I bought 32 bottles of Cattleman's BBQ sauce. They were on sale for $1 each (last time I checked the EDP was $2.22/each). So I used the coupons on the sale price to get a huge savings.

Here is how the savings happens:

EDP (every day price): $2.22 X 32 = $71.04
Sale price: $1.00 X 32 = $32
Sale price + Coupon: $1 - .75 = .25 .25 X 32 = $8

You can see stocking up on the sale price saved about 50%.
Adding the coupon saved a total of 91%

Now I don't worry about running out of BBQ sauce for about a year. And by next year, there will be another sale on BBQ sauce and another coupon to use. I usually get Ketchup for .25/bottle and mustard is always free. There are many many items that you will save 90% on or get free. I call them Frees or Nearly Free.

I only buy what we use and NEVER buy what I don't use. I've heard that couponing costs more money than buying generics. NOPE, price your generic BBQ sauce next time you're at WalMart or Krogers and see if it cost less than .25/bottle. Where they get you on coupons is buying what you don't need or regularly use.

Update on my guys: It's been quite a week with them getting settled into their new place. They are COOKING! Yes, skillet, veggies, the whole! Now here is the BIG change, at least for one of them, they are CLEANING too! They have designated Friday as Cleaning day. I'm so proud of them.

My guys know how I save money, the younger one would go with me at times. But, just like making their own pizzas, they prefer mom to do it. That's fine. About middle of August they will begin a frugal journey so they not only get a University Education but a Real Life Education, as well.

Praise God for his many Blessings in your life!

Last night I was late getting home from shopping, hubby was late getting home from work and we met at the back door. He was hungry, hot, scared someone took me, and growling when he called to see where I was. Made me so nervous I could hardly back the Expedition in without running over things, of course he teased me about! I had his dinner ready but he wanted to help me drag everything in.

I told him I had canned goods in the Vintage cart, just to roll that in and I'd deal with it tomorrow (today). He said "I can't, it's too heavy with all that chit in it." I looked at him and smiled. "You mean with the beautiful abundance God has blessed us with?" He laughed and said "Yes, thank you for reminding me."

I'm so blessed with this man! My life is SO RICH!

God bless you all,

Monday, July 21, 2008

Things are changing!

Since Saturday we are officially 'empty nesters'!

Our two boys have an apartment. They are one block from campus, much closer than the parking lots assigned to those with expensive parking permits. The bus stops right in front of their small complex and I believe students ride free anywhere in the city. Not that they will use the bus...I can only hope they will once they get reconnected to the internet and learn where the stops are.

They cooked their first meal last night and I was told the Older of the two can make Rice-A-Roni as good as mine. :) It seems they have figured out how to share the chores. One is very organized the other is an adorable slob. Both are mine, so they are Fabulous! I'm so happy they are having a positive experience so quickly.

I was informed I would no longer have free slave labor. Really! I somehow managed to scoop the cats box without repeated nagging to get it done. AND It took me approx two minutes to empty the dishwasher and I didn't have to ask for it to be done over and over. Yep, I already miss that free slave!

So what do I do now that there are no more men in my house, 'cept Hubby?

I sit naked under the cool breeze of the ceiling fan and drink iced tea, read blogs on my laptop and NO one asks me what's for dinner. :)

I'm feeling rather spoiled.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Lovers to Children and Back Again

Oct. 8, 1977  was our first date.  It was a total cave-in.   

I had totally sworn off anyone with dark hair and blue eyes and decided to date anyone who asked who wasn’t off-putting.  It was SO much fun!  I was even dating my account instructor.  Was having the time of my life.

Mike had talked to me a couple times, he says, I don’t remember.  

I did think his blue eyes were amazing and the way his dark hair and lashes showed off his eyes.  that little-boy-smile....I was captivated when he introduced himself the first day of class, crazy professor insisted we do so and I was one of two females, the other being middle aged, so all the guys came to my table.  

A few weeks into the semester, he and a friend followed me and my roommate to an exhibit upstairs.  Somehow he and I ended up getting something to drink in the Student Union Building downstairs, having lost my room mate and his side kick.  Still don't know how that happened, I think it was a football distraction/maneuver to get Mary Jo (my room mate/guard dog) out of the way.  

We chatted a little bit and I am thinking ‘this guy is trouble, that hair, those eyes’.  A few minutes later he asked: “Do you want to go to the Michael Martin Murphy concert?”  I said: “Yes, I’d like to go.”  Then he said: “With me?”  And I was sitting there in the student union building, so brazen, in my Afternoon Delight tight T-shirt.  And I said: “Yes, with you.”  And he flashed that smile only a Country Boy could pull off and I was hooked.  

I told him I had just flunked my first accounting test (and I’m dating the instructor?) and he offered to help me.  Of course when he came over we didn’t even open an accounting book.  That was October 8th, 1977.

Thirty years, nine months and one week later we moved our two boys into their apartment at UNT.  

It was hard in some ways because I knew that is when a lot of marriages can get rocky if the couple doesn’t focus on common interests and it had crossed my mind. 

After getting them settled in, we left, walked down the stairs, just past some hedges he slipped his arm around me and pulled me up close to him, kissed me and said: “You wanna go see Michael Martin Murphy......with me?”  

And there was that same little boy smile and blue eyes……a little less hair.  And I knew he was telling me we were picking up right were we left off…….together.  Totally melted my heart all over again.

Those are two of the most beautiful memories I have and hold dear.


Saturday, July 12, 2008

Radiant Barriers and Sun Shades make a HUGE Difference!

It's 100* outside. Nothing new for Texas summers but geeze! Our 2 story faces West, full up West. So when it's 100* outside, that radiating heat coming through the windows is HOT and makes our AC work that much harder. Ugh!

We installed Solar Screens soon as we moved in. 90% shade upstairs and 80% downstairs. It made a difference. But not enough, we need more. I came up with the idea to wrap aluminum foil, shiny side out around cardboard. Then use packing tape on top of that as a sort of laminate. Hubs wasn't sure that would be what we wanted.

It was his idea to use another product to slip between the windows and the Solar Screens. This is the stuff. It comes 4 feet wide, 2 feet wide, 16 inches wide. We bought one of the 4 foot and one of the 2 foot rolls.


We measured inside the window frame, wall to wall. Then subtracted an inch from each side and top and bottom. So, if our window was 4 foot by 4 foot, we used 46 inches by 46 inches as our pattern. There is Reflectix tape to piece together the pieces. And I ran the ribs of this stuff horizontal on the windows that raised up and vertically on the horizontal slide windows. This allows for ease of getting it between the solar screen and the window.

We did this to all the windows upstairs. It really seemed to make a difference but we weren't sure if the boys would feel the difference with their rooms being on the west side. We didn't want to ask, we wanted it to be enough of a difference that it would be obvioius. We installed in May and waited to see if it was noticed by two college guys.

My husband's office area is in the loft by a west facing window that had been protected by the radiant barrier/Reflectix and he thought it was considerably cooler right away. However, the real test would be if the guys said something about it without us asking.

Then last week my younger son told us he thought it was much cooler in his room with the solar shades. Yay!

The draw back to this is inside the house you see the Reflectix very shiny insulation if you open the blinds. My guys could care less, the blinds are always drawn in the summer and they don't care if they can see out or not.

Here is what the Reflectix looks like from the outside of our house.

Late in the afternoon you can see more of a sparkle but certainly not garish like foil. This is the most sparkly I have seen it.

Downstairs, I really NEED to be able to see out and have light so we didn't put them in the downstairs windows. Obviously Low-E windows are the best answer but with two in college, that simply isn't an option. Therefore, the challenge was to have a radiant barrier/Reflextix AND be able to see outside in the mornings and late evenings.

Awnings would be perfect, I thought. I'd line them with Reflectix and make them of PVC, my favorite building material. However, it's already hitting 100*, it will only get hotter for days on end. I wanted something FAST! I could work out a better plan later for next year.

Rather than make an awning which would take more time, painting, more hardware and a trip to Home Depot, I made a Solar Shade out of scrap material from another project. The decorative material won't last past this summer because the sun will bleach it badly but the Reflectix will last a LONG time and can be reused next year for a better, longer lasting solution. It also gave me the opportunity to do a test run and iron out the kinks before using quality fabric that would be an investment.

So, grabbed the remnant fabric, rolled out the sewing machine and started a basic design on paper to guide me.

I cut the fabric 4 inches wider than the window, both top and sides. Made a rod pocket for my (in the garage) skinny PVC pipe to slip through. Laid out an old white sheet and laid on top of it the fabric and cut it to the same size. Stapled every foot around the edges to adhere the white backing to the wrong side of the fabric. Then overlapped and sewed down each side two inches for a finished look; then made a rod pocket at the bottom.

If you are following my directions, you know that I just sewed up my top rod pocket. So I took a seam riper and sliced open one end on the inside of the rod pocket for the PVC pipe to slide into. Now I have about 2 inches overlapping each side of my window.

I cut 2 strips one and 1/2 times the length of my finished fabric and about 4 inches wide. Find the half way point on these strips and place it right side up on the far upper 1/4 inch edge of the rod pocket; about one quarter the length in from each side, I sewed them on with a heavy back and forth zigzag. Half of the strip will fall to the back and half to the front. Make sure the decorative side is facing up when you sew it on.

Once you have finished sewing it up there is an opening remaining under the top rod pocket. It should have a few staples in it, just pop those off and slide in your Reflectix. Mine had two 2 foot wide panels and 1 foot wide panel. I put the larger pieces on the outside first. Staple each panel at the far bottom outer edge to hold it in place. Then put the second large piece and staple it to the outer corner bottom edge. Now you can place the smaller piece in the middle and even it out, then staple it to the edges over lapping the side Reflectix pieces. Just fiddle with it till it lays smooth before you staple. It doesn't need to be perfect.

Remember to run the lines horizontal, NOT Verticle, so the shade will roll up easily. I put the natural bend/curve toward the back of this shade and I roll it up toward the back as you can see in the photos. I hope that made sense.

Grabbed hubby and out we went into the blazing heat and bright light. *geeze*

We slid the PVC into the top where I used the seam ripper on the back side. Once we saw how far in it needed to go, he pulled it out about an inch and sawed it off. Popped that PVC back to hide in the rod pocket.

Repeat for bottom. Ready to hang.

Hubby positioned it on the window, with my expert eye telling him up or down a little till he was about to choke me. Then he tacked through each upper outer corner with a small nail. The material is thick here. Then, that place were the strips of fabric were zigzagged he tacked another nail through the zigzag area. There were four nails in all attaching it to the window.

Like I said, it is very basic and I'll have a year to think up how to make it better. We used a 10 foot piece of PVC and had about a six inch piece left over. All this we had on hand thus NO money out of pocket. My favorite way to do things!

Please feel free to ask a question if the directions aren't quite clear. I have been enjoying a couple Margaritas with the money I saved, LOL, I will happily help clarify anything the Margaritas overshadowed. :)

Update. Wow, this shade made a huge difference this afternoon!! It was amazing! I think if we can get these over the big bay window and the back french doors it will save HUGE as we are in the HIGH AC Use part of the summer.

Oh, and let me share a wonderful site with you! If you are thinking Solar and want some good reading you may enjoy a visit to: I have enjoyed it very much.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Small beginnings

The Bible tells us not to trivialize and shun Small Beginnings, to have patience and faith. On Earth we have seasons; seasons of friendships, of love, employment, personal growth. There are seasons of Hardship and seasons of bliss. There is a time for every purpose under Heaven. I've kept this in mind as I've read of other gardens that produce massive amounts of produce and/or flowers, I've accepted that I will have to invest, time, patience, faith and hope in the power God set forth to make a seed become a bounty and ultimately on the dinner plate as something yummy, life sustaining and enjoyable.

I wasn't going to show photos each day of my little containers thinking it might be boring but this blog is as much a Garden Diary for me as it is sharing, so I hope you will be as delighted as I am seeing the progress of the last 24 hours.

It hasn't been a full week since they were planted, the other seeds haven't made their appearance yet. Hubby assures me they have enough water. I reminded him this is 'his baby' and I trust him but I really want to water those Plants! We had a good rain couple days ago and today is cloudy. So, we shall see how they are doing by morning.

I was SO SHOCKED I didn't even think to get my camera! Right here in the Land of Concrete, too.

We have those doors with a 'lite' on either side, you know, those narrow long windows. My son was going past the front door to the stairs and stopped on a dime. "Tell me I am not seeing a Turtle walking on the sidewalk." I'm thinking, 'oh, please.' then I saw it too! This thing was big! Not giant sea turtle big but about the size of my George curled up sleeping. And he was haulin' shell on the hot sidewalk. No way can you stand bare foot on the sidewalk without getting third degree burns, seriously. So my older son got the turtle and bought him up in the shade, turned on the water and let it cool then watered the turtle.

This thing had claws! Like a bear or lion, BIG long Nine Inch Nails! And his nose, probiscus, whatever its called was pointed like a snout. According to this website, from which I obtained the photo,

these are Iowa turtles, most likely a subspecies, and the female gets up to 17 inches with the male being half that size. My guess is this was a female. But not with the pretty shell shown here:

See that nose?
Anyway, long story short, called Animal Control which assured me she would be 'relocated' to our lake. But they never showed and the little lady started haulin' shell again, across the street and toward the big street at the end of the subdivision. Car after car stopped to look at her. But she was on a mission to get somewhere. We all wondered if she made it to the creek about 1/2 mile down the road.
We did our best to get her cooled off and moist for the trip.

Oh, I was going to pick up on turning junk mail to Gold but thought you might like to see my solar oven and we'll pick up the other tomorrow....IF I get my shade finished.

(I did include a frugal tip at the bottom of this post)

Well, here it is:

We are having lots of clouds so no way it will cook anything but I wanted to see how hot it would get inside so I put in the candy thermometer (need to get oven thermometer) and after 2 hours of clouds and diffused sunlight it was about 165*.

It's 96* outside with clouds so that is about how hot the inside of a car would be in this weather. Which is why, in southern states we like cloth seats not! If it is 165* on a cloudy day, I imagine it will boil water, at least on a clear day. At 185* water is purified. Can't remember how long to leave water at that temp, need to check again. The Solar Oven will cook similar to a crock pot. So if we want an evening meal the food needs to be started around noon.

Here is a great link to a newscast out of San Antonio, TX where Monica Salyer and an associate cooked a meal for the news anchors...they also post Monica's website where you can get a lot of information.

Click here to see the short video

Before I go, let me offer a Frugal Tip or two. In the summer cook outside as much as possible. I currently have my Roaster full of 10 pounds of pork chops being BBQ'd.

We don't think much of it, or I never did, but that big roaster sitting inside puts off a lot of heat. The heat will continue being made until you turn it off. Not only that but it has to work harder to stay at 350* in a house that is 78* than it does on the patio where the temp is closer to 100*. THEN when you take that lid off, take the food out, it releases a LOT more heat that you pay to have cooled. I rather buy myself a little goodie at the thrift store or put that money toward some fabric or wall paper than cooling a roaster. Or, for that matter, the oven.

I batch cook to save even more money. I'll take the food out we are going to have for dinner and leave the rest to cool Inside the Roaster with the lid On. In an hour or so, the temp is still healthy and I bring the food in to cool down more. After that I bag up or otherwise seal for storage the cooled food and now I have a meal to heat in the Microwave for a LOT less time and money than it would have been to batch cook Inside. Bottom line, you have a choice, with minor inconvenience, how you will spend that extra money you just saved. Doesn't sound like much at first but it adds up quickly when combined with other frugal choices. It's a journey. It seems pointless but we don't need to trivialize or shun these small beginnings.

Stay cool Y'all,

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Gardens and Pricekeepers

The comments button is back and all is well.

This morning my hubby woke me up with wonderful news, he said he had a surprise for me. I knew what it was. I hopped right up, grabbed coffee on the way out to the patio and went right to the containers, there were several large pods opening and by this afternoon they were full up leaves! I rearranged the containers just a bit so the harsh sun wouldn't have full access to them. They are amazingly fast growers, squash I think and zuchini. We decided not to mark them as they were planted, we want it to be a surprise when they start to bear their fruit.

Here is what they looked like this morning, not the greatest photo, and I'll get another one tomorrow morning.

Ok, so maybe I am a little too excited about the sprouts but it is amazing to me that God placed within each of his creation the seed to reproduce its own kind. And he doesn't charge extra for them! You can save seeds each year and replant then and get a bountiful harvest. Basically, you buy or get a start from a gardener in your area and from then on it is yours. Small joys make life so rich.

Our new crepe myrtle started blooming last week. I'm hoping it will shade the west kitchen window one day...sooner than later we hope.

Earlier last year I received emails asking about my frugal ventures and the how-to, etc. My life took a detour and I was delayed getting some useful information out to you. My best suggestion about getting Frugal and organizing your frugal journey is simply to Know the price of items you buy.

Simple, yes, but it takes a bit of motivation to actually do it. My suggestion is get one of those small notebooks or a Palm Pilot and keep an alphabetical list.

I put letters in alphabetical order through the pages of the note book. Page one top right: A; page two, top right: B; go all the way to Z. Then go back and ask yourself what do we use/eat that goes with A? Apples, animal crackers, apple jelly, etc. Some pages may not have an entry others will get crowded.
If you are OCD in anyway, purpose in your heart that it is supposed to be sloppy. Sloppy is secret code for hard work. You can always redo it on the Palm Pilot or print it out or make tidy little pages with roses and vines. What ever floats your boat as long as it gets done!

Next time you go to the store, or you can sit down with your grocery store receipt if you prefer, and put the price beside the item. Apples .89/lb 7/08 That tells you what you just paid in July '08. Finish up the booklet and now you have your starting point. Put that booklet in your purse for now, or in your jeans pocket on the day you go shopping.

If you do this, you are in control of your money. If you don't 'they' are in control of your money. As they say: "Knowledge is Power". I would add, "Woman Up and TAKE the Power! It IS your number 1 mission!"

Next up: When Junk mail turns to Gold


Monday, July 7, 2008

It's the Small things that are SO irritating!

I know my comments button isn't there. Wouldn't have if you kind people hadn't emailed and brought it to my attention.

Thank You!!

I've spent two hours trying to get it back. There is code available but the html is not there to put it between like they say it is. Or I can't find it if it is there.

It's beyond irritating, however, I am working on keeping the Small things SMALL! Next time Tech Support comes down stairs I'm grabbing one of them and will withhold dinner until proper Trouble Shooting acts have been successfully performed.

There will be great whining and repeated questions about the importance of a Comment button and perhaps a tacky little statement about my mental health and that I don't have a thing of interest to say. That's OK, I still run the kitchen and Tech Support is VERY spoiled. :) Gotta love it.

Now, where's my chocolate?


Saturday, July 5, 2008

Camera is working again!

Fixed it myself! Tested it out on my sweet George. I've been decluttering the house and stacked some fabric and magazines on the window seat...then I realized it should be covered so threw a pink towel over the fabric. Sure enough, there he was, sleeping like a baby.

He's part Maine Coon and so lovable! Every night he waits till I'm comfy and tucked in bed. Then he hops up and lays down along side me and rests his head on my arm till I go to sleep. I vaguely feel him hop out of bed.

We planted a good portion of our fall garden today! Yay!

Yes, it's small, not gonna actually feed us anytime soon but we will learn how it's done and have fun with it! Little by little we will pick the tomatoes out of the garden along with squash and then, one day salads. YUM! And it will be REAL food. The kind God put here for us. You know most of our foods today are Genetically Modified, right?

We aren't talking Hybrids like we learned in school to make plants stronger or taller, we are talking Genetically fooled around with plants. Basically, putting into the gene structure (DNA) an foreign gene, like a pesticide, and cause the plant to grow with a pesticide built right into it. Genetically modified/altered/Does-my-body-believe-it-is-real foods are being sold to us in cans and produce isles across our great land.

Hubby picked me up a watermelon slice yesterday. Had it for lunch today and was cool and yummy.

Look! No Seeds! Hmmm....guessing it is genetically modified. I found ONE black seed and a hand full of immature little white slivers. For our convenience, and their assured profits, they genetically turned off the seed maturation of this plant. You can't save the seeds to grow a watermelon with the kids just for fun. Nope. Can't.

I don't like the idea of foods being fooled around with because I wonder what repercussions are there, side effects of sorts, when foods are genetically modified.

Here's a little link to explain the difference between Hybrids and GM foods.

An explanation of sorts:

I haven't lost my love for beautiful things or decorating. I still love the Shabby Chic Romantic style I have written about, but now I understand more fully what has happened to direct me in the last few years. I didn't know it had a name, didn't know I was actually practicing it. But this entry has become long so more later...

Til then,

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Oh Happy Day!

First, let me say Congratulations to the USA for the celebration of another July 4th! Today we are free, free from the oppressions that sought to bind us and limit our freedom of Religion and other freedoms. As we have stood for years on the foundation of our Constitution and sent our sons and daughters to defend the freedoms this land enjoys, we must hold dear our united history and our conviction to remain the greatest land on Earth!

Today I ran by this blog: As I read I realized we all have concerns about different things in this world. I don't believe in Global Warming because we are told in the Bible that there will be a new Heaven and a new Earth following a war called Armageddon. Basically what we know as Russia is going to march on Israel, then China will join the force and from there a huge world war climaxes with the coming of Jesus. Yay! I believe it! I look forward to it and my Hope is in HIM!

But, before all that, there will be things that really set us on edge and discourage us and push us into doing things we don't want to do, forcing us to accept a different way of life and we are told that it must come to pass and not to get our selves all worked up about it. The verse that has continued to come to mind is this one. Jesus said: My Peace I give to you; my Peace I leave with you. And so I accept my Savior's Peace and Rejoice in it!



I have a few things that concern me about what is going on in my corner of the world.

I hope you will join me, and Mrs Hoppes and make a statement for something you feel has robbed you personally or otherwise. Is it the gas prices or the resulting cost of food at your grocery store? For me it is a couple of things. Food prices, due to higher gas prices and the always high electricity.

I have long dreamed of running my air conditioner without an electric bill. Running my whole house without an electric bill, in fact. I'd love to build an Earth Sheltered home and make use of the cool of the ground to stem the intense heat of the sun. I'd have a Wind Turbine and a Solar System and be self sufficient. I also like the idea of building a Dome home and enjoying the extreme efficiency of cooling a Dome as well as being reasonably protected, due to the absence of lift on a dome home, when the Tornadoes haunt North Texas.

However, dream as I might, I am still paying that silly electric bill with the west sun blazing down on my two story home....warming up all that brick to radiate warm through the night.

Well, remember that old Indian prayer?

Lord, grant me the Serenity to accept the things I can not change.
The Courage to change the things I can
And the Wisdom to know the difference.

With that, my act of rebellion, or perhaps my act of defense in the face of Goliath is to build and use a Solar Oven. Yes, I built it after more than a year of contemplation. It is on my patio right now, on the West side of the house taking advantage of all that wonderful energy from the fierce Texas sun...and I cooked in it today and have made the commitment to CHANGE those things I can and learn how to use this thing on a routine basis!

Thank you Mrs Hoppes for your blog and your encouragement! We share a similar path to a different goal. We are however united on that path to say NO!

After cooking a nice pasta dinner in the Solar Oven my older son turned up his nose and said "Why are you doing that, you have a brand new oven?" It was the same look I remember on the day I bought him some shirts for school at the Thrift Store. Some still had tags on them. His school was a Private Christian school and he begged me "not to let Mrs. R see me there." I didn't have the heart to tell him if Mrs. R. was there, she was likely shopping, too!

So, he refused to eat my pasta meal. And he was troubled at my being over the top, this after learning yesterday I had started a compost pile, and while he was headed up the stairs I asked why it bothered him. "Cause he didn't understand WHY, I was doing this, and only saving at best a few dollars." And I said a few dollars adds up.

I didn't tell him I felt that money was OURS to do with as we pleased. I didn't tell him I sometimes feel this American Glitzy world of having the biggest, prettiest, best, sparkliest has lead us to be slaves to pay for it all. That in being those slaves we are really no different than the Israelites making bricks in the captivity of Egypt. And if I can protest in my own way, if I can make it such that I am not participating in it further, then that gives me comfort. If I can do anything without electricity, it gives me immeasurable joy!

For you it maybe the last thing you would EVER do! That's ok, we are on our own journey through this life. For me, I will continue to use my Solar Oven and fight my electric bill one meal at a time. It is a commitment I am making to myself, for my own reasons.

If you are on a journey to fight back and you have a blog, mention mine so your readers can be inspired by my journey and Mrs Hoppes' journey. We encourage each other when we see how many of us there really are.

And, as always, I would love to read your comments. If you are from the North Texas area, I'd like to know that as well. I enjoy reading Texas blogs.

To your journey,