Sunday, December 10, 2017

Playing in the dirt...

Caitlyn was overjoyed that the two months of pumpkin desserts are over for this year, and had put in her request for 'Dirt Cups' many times over the past month or so...the kind made from chocolate pudding, whipped topping, and crushed Oreos, that is.

I didn't have any gummy worms to decorate them.  I did have popsicle sticks and time on my hands, so I made some garden stakes for them instead. 

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Gnome sweet gnome...

I really enjoyed the gourd painting class at the library yesterday.  As I was choosing an unpainted gourd from the boxful, this one kept telling me, 'I'm a gnome!  I'm a gnome!'  :)  I Googled 'gnome faces' on my phone, and chose one to use as a guide.  This is how it looked when I left the library.  I had already decided to add a mustache and change the mouth a bit, but I knew I had paint at home, so I decided to wait to make the changes.

Last night I fixed him up a bit.  Here he is with his mustache and new mouth.  I also altered his hairline a bit, and defined his beard a little.  Then I used a fine-tipped sharpie to outline some of his features.  I still need to spray it with sealer

He doesn't have a hole drilled in him to make him a birdhouse.  I guess I could add one if I wanted to, but I know I won't.  I think I will just add him to my Christmas decorations.

It was a fun project, and a fun group.  He's not masterpiece, but as my first (and probably only) painted gourd, I am happy enough with him.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Frugal Friday File 2017, week 49...

1.  I'm attending a free hands-on class at the library this afternoon on making painted-gourd birdhouses...all materials supplied free too.  Love our library!

2.  I seem to have been doing a lot of shopping online.  Not great for the wallet, but I only have two more gifts and I'm done.  I guess I can say the frugal part of this is that I didn't use any gasoline, and they all had free shipping.

3.  We decided to have Chicken 'n Dumplings for Christmas Dinner for the ten of us.  I bought three whole chickens on Tuesday.  Rather than have to cook them and bone them all at once, I have cooked one every day, boned them, then packaged the meat and broth for the freezer.  I will just move them from the freezer to the fridge a couple of days before Christmas to thaw.  On Christmas I will just need to heat up the meat and broth and make the dumplings.  Simple.  

Chicken and dumplings is a favorite with my whole family, which is why we are having it, but it doesn't hurt that it is much more frugal than other traditional Christmas fare.  And doing the majority of the work well ahead of time makes for a relaxing family holiday.

4.  As usual we are making single-serving meals from each night's leftovers to store in the freezer for Carey to take to work.  Since we have started doing this, we have almost no food waste anymore.  And Carey rarely (as in I don't remember the last time) eats out while at work (not that that is much of an option where his job is located).  I try to keep the freezer full with a variety so that he doesn't have to eat the same thing more than once in a week.

This is something that I used to do for my mother when she was alive as well.  She hated cooking for one.  She would lament that, "You can't make gravy from one pork chop."  If she cooked larger amounts, she would end up eating the same thing over and over.  We lived three hours away.  After wishing I could cook for her more often, I decided I could.  She had been buying lots of frozen meals from the grocery store, and washed and stored all the containers they came in.  On one visit, I absconded with a huge stack of the plates/covers that were sitting on her pantry shelves.  Then at home after supper each night, I would make a plate (or two or three) for her and put them in the freezer labeled.  Then the next time I went to visit, usually once a month or so, I would pack a big cooler with all the frozen meals and deliver them to her freezer...and take more empty containers home with me for next time.  It was perhaps the most appreciated gift I ever gave her.  Most nights we would speak on the phone, and she would always tell me what she had for supper that I had cooked.  :)  And I felt better knowing that she was getting lots of variety in her diet.

But I digress...

5.  I have really pared back on my hobby purchases.  I think my craft room has achieved critical mess.

Frugal From the Kitchen This Week:
Saturday:  friend treated me to a late lunch, skipped supper
Sunday:  Sunday supper at Kasey's
Monday:  Vegetable Quiche with Bacon
Tuesday:  Old Fashioned Goulash
Wednesday:  No Peek Chicken, green beans
Thursday:  Meatloaf, Hot Potato Salad, corn
Friday:  leftovers

(*not-frugal takeout or dinner out)

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Texas snow storm...

Well, this is unusual, especially for early December.  It started snowing about dusk, and it is actually sticking.  
Here's the back yard.  Carey let Rudy out, and said that Rudy licked the snow all along his path.  He loves to eat ice and begs for it whenever I open the freezer, so he probably thought it rained down treats.  :)

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

What I'm reading Wednesday...

See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt

This one is based on the 1892 murders of Andrew and Abby Borden.  I've read several books on the topic, all of which stuck to the facts of the case.  This one is an imagining of what ifs, and it is written in a somewhat Gothic style.  

Today was a rainy day, and perfect for staying in and reading this one.

Unrelated, but with a somewhat similar feel was a miniseries I binge watched on Netflix Monday night: Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood.  Based on the life of Grace Marks who was a young Irish-immigrant maid living and working in Canada.  In 1843 she was convicted of murdering her employer and his housekeeper.  I thought it was very well done.  I hadn't heard of the story before, but a friend at quilting group recommended it, and once I started watching it, I couldn't stop.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Frugal Friday File 2017, week 48...

1.  I picked up a day of work this week unexpectedly.

2.  I cashed in credit card reward points for two $50 gift cards.  Our credit card doubled the reward points it gives on purchases sometime this year, so that was helpful.  Unfortunately I think that was after I charged (and immediately paid off) the car's down payment.  I also periodically check to see which businesses are currently multiplying reward points at their stores...I don't shop at most of them, but I noticed today that Michael's is offering 10 reward points on each $1 spent, and so is Starbuck's.  I have a trip planned to Michael's this afternoon, and I will be buying some Starbuck's gift cards for Christmas, so those will add a few points to the tally.

3.  On the way to Michael's I will stop at the bank to make a deposit.  The library is nextdoor to the bank, and they are having a half-off sale of the books in their used/donated book nook.  So I will also run in there and see if I can pick up some new-to-him books for Carey, and maybe the kids, for part of their Christmas presents.  Ten-cent books as gifts.  Sure!

4.  I went to the dentist yesterday, and was thrilled that it was almost entirely paid for by insurance.  Our insurance is changing at the first of the year, so my fingers are crossed that all of my current doctors will be on the new plan.  I SO appreciate having insurance coverage, but I really hate figuring out the ins and outs of it, and I really, really hate having to leave a trusted doctor if they aren't on my 'plan' and have to search out a new one who is.  I also have an appointment to see the ophthalmologist and get new glasses this month.  Trying to squeeze everything possible in before the switch.

5.  Groomed Rudy at home myself: bathed, cleaned ears, and trimmed nails.  Washed his bedding, and changed the air filter near his kennel while I was at it.  

Frugal From the Kitchen This Week:
Saturday:  *Tex-Mex
Sunday:  Sunday supper at Kasey's
Monday:  Sausage, 4 Cheese Garlic Spaghetti Squash
Tuesday:  Frito Pie
Wednesday:  leftovers
Thursday:  *late lunch out, skipped dinner
Friday:  ???

(*not-frugal takeout or dinner out)

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

What I'm reading Wednesday...

A Murder in Time by Julie McElwain

I love good time travel.  I'm about 1/3 of the way into this, and it has some...issues.  I'm going to keep reading, because counting the inconsistencies is kind of humorous.

The main character isn't at all trying to blend into the 19th century household in which she 'landed.'  She is frequently slipping modern TV-crime-fighter jargon, like 'vic' (victim) and 'unsub' (unknown subject) into her conversations with 19th century household members.  In her own time she's an FBI profiler...or is she a special agent shooting it out with a terrorist ring...or wait, she's a murder crime scene specialist.  She remembers her first case where Kentucky girls were killed and dumped on the Appalachian Trail...I suppose that is possible, but not too handy since the AT doesn't run through Kentucky.

Like I said, I love good time travel, but I don't like lazy research or laughably overused plot devices.  I will give it a bit more time, but so far, I can't recommend this one.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Making it Monday...

I had found these snowman-face images online, and I went back to try to track down their origin without success.  I don't mean to use without permission.  

These are the only four cards I will be using them on.  I needed something to make cards for the girls to write to their great-grandmother, and wanted them to have a few to choose from.  The two the girls wrote are in today's mail.  The other two were claimed by my daughter and grandson, as they decided to write to great-grandmother as well, so Ma will have a group of coordinating cards in a few days.  :)

Friday, November 24, 2017

Frugal Friday 2017, week 47...

1.  I cleaned out my 'magic' ice maker, which keeps me at home instead of going to Sonic.  I wanted to give it a good cleaning running a water/vinegar solution through it.  I have been putting it off for awhile now, and had reverted to my bad habits.  Rudy is happy as well, as it is his favorite ice too.  :)

2.  I put off buying some clear bags until I had a chance to search a bit in my craft stash, as I was sure I had quite a few left over from a previous project.  I actually managed to find enough to meet my current need (and then some) so they will get used without any further capital outlay.  

3.  Head-achy days kept me hibernating.  Not necessarily the best way to be frugal.

4.  I supplied dressing and pies only for Thanksgiving dinner.  Kasey and Beau did all the rest of the work and expense.  I will be making Christmas dinner, but it will be a Chicken and Dumpling feast, the preparation of which I hope to spread over several days (stewing chickens and boning them) and not one exhausting day of work.

5.  I've completed my 2017 Reading Challenge.  With the help of the library and used books and shopping my own bookshelves, it was a frugal goal for the year that I am now marking DONE!

oh, and...

6.  I did NOT go out shopping on this Black Friday.  I never do.  Hate the crowds and the spending frenzy.

Frugal From the Kitchen This Week:
Saturday:  leftovers
Sunday:  Sunday supper at Kasey's
Monday:  *sandwich
Tuesday:  homemade burger
Wednesday:  Mexican Cornbread casserole
Thursday:  Thanksgiving dinner at Kasey's
Friday:  leftovers

(*not-frugal takeout or dinner out)

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

What I'm reading Wednesday...

A Little Love Story by Roland Merullo
Love this author (Roland Merullo), and I liked this book, but I didn't love it.  About a carpenter/artist who falls in love with a woman who has cystic fibrosis.  The plot was interesting, the characters were likable, but the ending was very abrupt and left everything open.  It counted as 'a book you got from a used book sale' for the 2017 reading challenge.

Lucinda's Solution by Nancy Roman
I have followed the blog of Nancy Roman (author) for quite awhile.  I liked her first book.  I loved this one.  I'm not much of a crier, so if a book can move me to tears I count it as strong writing.  This one had me tearing up several times.  I believe the author based it on family history.  I don't know how much poetic license she took to flesh out the story, still it makes me think she comes from a very interesting family!  

The Diary of Mattie Spenser by Sandra Dallas
I am down to the final category of the reading challenge.  I thought it would be an easy category to choose a book for, but it proved quite troublesome for me.  'A book you've read before that never fails to make you smile.'  

I think I took this category too literally.  There are not that many books that I want to reread.  In fact, when I rate books on my 1-to-10 rating scale I only give a 10 if it is a book that I might want to reread someday.  When trying to select one of that short list for this category, I could think of only one that made me smile due to its humor...alas, I just haven't been in the mood to reread it this year.  So I decided to take the category prompt a bit more figuratively.  

The Diary of Mattie Spenser is the first book I read by Sandra Dallas, and I did rate it a 10.  I have since read the majority of her titles, and they brought me many hours of reading pleasure.  So in that way, yes, the thought of spending time with this book again does make me smile.  I started rereading it this morning.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Today is Tuesday...

toilet paper snowman - consumable gift everyone can use

Today I...

...saw the sun come up

...ran the cleaning cycle on the counter-top ice maker...repeatedly...then wiped it down inside and out

...did some laundry...but there is still more

...braved the hordes and shopped for Thanksgiving groceries...I forgot the red grapes

...put the groceries away

...ran the dishwasher

...took a nap

...had a nice long phone chat with my sister

...caught myself using the phrase 'hoity toity'  

...assembled a box full o' fun gift

...did some more laundry...but there is still more

...cleaned the bathroom sink/vanity

...had a nice long phone chat with my bff

...made ice 

...searched my craft stash for some clear bags for a craft project

...actually found said clear bags, and more than enough for project!!!

...used Paint program to draw/print snowman face for project

...assembled and photographed a prototype of project...see effort to gift consumables that will not be clutter for recipient (and with a sense of fun)...I'm pretty sure everyone could use this...thanks Pamela for the inspiration link in your Christmas in July

...cleaned up Rudy tummy expulsion...he took my tp gag gift literally  :(

...washed my hands several times

...cleaned out fridge

...took out garbage

...put new trash liners in all the waste baskets

...emailed a friend some requested information

...emptied dishwasher

Friday, November 17, 2017

Frugal Friday File 2017, week 46...

1.  Carey worked a couple of extra days this week.

2.  I worked yesterday.

3.  I received an email notification from my grocery store of special digital coupon savings for the upcoming holiday.  We only have one local grocery (well, we have a Wal*Mart but I rarely go to it, and almost never for groceries).  I loaded my phone with digital coupons for grocery shop.

4.  I'm going to the city for some Christmas shopping this afternoon, and I am picking up a reserved library book on the way.  I've been putting off the library trip till I had another reason to be in its vicinity.

5.  I've been saving water by not doing laundry.  :)

Frugal From the Kitchen This Week:
Saturday:  leftovers
Sunday:  Sunday supper at Kasey's
Monday:  Pasta Fagioli
Tuesday:  Meatball Stroganoff over noodles
Wednesday:  Spanish Rice w/ black beans and corn
Thursday:  Dublin Coddle
Friday:  *pizza

(*not-frugal takeout or dinner out)

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

What I'm reading Wednesday...

When I put library ebooks on reserve, they all seem to become available at the same time.  I laid aside Bettyville from last week for awhile since I needed to get some library ebooks read so I can turn the wifi back on to my Kindle.  (When the due date gets close for library ebooks, I turn off the wifi to my Kindle.  The books will get returned from my Amazon account, but the books stay on my Kindle and are readable until wifi to Kindle is turned back on.)

Caroline: Little House, Revisited by Sarah Miller

Caroline: Little House, Revisited is a retelling of the Little House story from Caroline Ingall's point of view.  It was authorized by the Little House Heritage Trust.  I could always sort of take or leave the Little House stories, but I do like the idea of reworked books, and this one seemed to be well researched and it was very well written.  I enjoyed it.

Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf

I wanted to read Our Souls at Night before I saw the Netflix original movie, but I broke down and watched it recently and enjoyed it.  I picked up my Kindle this morning and started the ebook, and made it halfway through, so it's a quick read.  The movie does very well at sticking close to the book.  Robert Redford and Jane Fonda did a great job, and I recommend the movie as well as the book.  I will probably finish the ebook tonight.  Then I need to get back to my 2017 Reading Challenge books.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Frugal Friday File 2017, week 45...

1.  I don't normally feel moved to complain to a home office regarding unsatisfactory conditions at a restaurant.  In fact, I have done so only once before in my life; now twice.   After visiting a well-respected family restaurant chain on our vacation, I emailed through their website with a concern.  In my snail-mailbox yesterday was a letter of apology and a gift card for dinner-for-two at one of their locations near us.  The formal letter of apology was a pleasant surprise, and restores my faith in the company's commitment to customer service.

2.  I worked a half day on Wednesday.  On Thursday the same branch phoned me and booked two more days for next month.

3.  I used another token at Sonic for a free medium soft drink.  On the receipt it showed a $0.00 charge and had a survey request at the bottom.  The survey requests only come up occassionally, and normally I just ignore them, but this time I called in and completed the survey, so now I have a future free large soft drink to look forward to.

4.  I called and booked an appointment to get my eyes checked before the end of the year, so I can get it done before we have to start meeting deductibles in the new year again.

5.  I've tallied up the gas/lodging/food bills for the trip.  They came in at 2/3 of what I had budgeted and socked away in savings for it.  Granted there were some expenses that didn't get tallied like spending money, etc., but definitely not enough to break the budget.

Frugal From the Kitchen This Week:
Saturday:  leftovers
Sunday:  Sunday dinner at Kasey's
Monday:  bagel and cream cheese
Tuesday:  *fried chicken
Wednesday:  late lunch, skipped dinner
Thursday:  goulash and garlic bread
Friday:  pork chops, mashed potatoes/gravy, broccoli

(*not-frugal takeout or dinner out)

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

What I'm reading Wednesday...

Here on Earth by Alice Hoffman

Almost done with this one.  Usually love this author, but this is not my favorite.

Bettyville by George Hodgman

Next up will be Bettyville.  It will fulfill the 'book you got from a used book sale' category of the 2017 reading challenge.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Decisions, decisions...

I couldn't motivate myself to pull fabrics to try out for borders.  Frankly if I pulled even one fabric right now a stack of junk would probably fall over on me.

So the lazy way was to take the photograph of the squares and doodle on them in different colors.  I'm still leaning towards the blues, but the black and the yellow in the top photos are not bad.

Vote for your favorite, please.  :)

Monday, November 6, 2017

Making it Monday...

Today was quilting day at the library.  For the past few months we have been making 12 1/2" blocks to exchange.  Oh, and they were to be stash-buster squares, so made only with fabric we had on hand, nothing purchased.  

Each member made two blocks per month...collected and held by our fearless leader...with there eventually being twelve in total from each person.  The photo above shows them all laid out on a table this morning awaiting the exchange process.  

We drew blocks at random from each person's contributed blocks, so each of us has at least one from every other member.  Then what was left we drew at random so that we all had twelve.

These are the blocks that I received.  I ended up with two of my own; the spool (2nd column, 2nd row) and the butterfly (bottom right corner).  We are to have all squares assembled by our next meeting on December 4th.  How we assemble them is left up to us.  I am pretty sure I will be adding sashing and borders, but I haven't even thought about colors or designs, since I wasn't sure what colors would be dominant in the squares I ended up with.  Now I'm thinking maybe blue and white for sashing and borders.

These are not necessarily in their permanent locations, but I love the way they all look together.  I'll post when it's finished.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Frugal Friday File 2017, week 44...

1.  Have scheduled a day and a half of work.

2.  Batched errands to save on fuel and impulse shopping opportunities.

3.  I resisted the fleeting thought that there might still be price-slashed Halloween candy in some stores that needed to come home with me.

4.  Returned audio book (all 30 CDs!) to library before entering the dreaded fine zone.

5.  I used a token and received a free Coke at my favorite drink stop.  I tend to hoard these to use them as a treat to tuck into a card being mailed to someone, but I was thirsty, and it wasn't happy hour, so I treated myself.  Though it says 'free medium cherry limeade' the small print adds 'or any soft drink.'

Keep Tryings:
I destroyed a semi-new wallet in my impatient attempt to remove my ID when asked for it by the bank teller at the drive thru window.  Then I kind of ranted on her for a new regulation that she, personally, had no control over.    But come on...requiring a photo ID to deposit $ into my account at the branch where the accounts are held?  Stupid rule.  I would understand completely if I had been making a withdrawal.  It's been kind of a gritchy (grumpy/bitchy) day, what can I say?

Frugal From the Kitchen This Week:
Saturday:  *Tex-Mex
Sunday:  Sunday family dinner at Kasey's
Monday:  Beef Stroganoff
Tuesday: 50¢ corn dogs at Sonic (Halloween special)
Wednesday:  Meatloaf, baked potatoes, green beans
Thursday:  Meatloaf sandwich
Friday:  *barbecue

(*not-frugal takeout or dinner out)

Thursday, November 2, 2017

October travel highlights...

Well, our two-week trip may be over, but I'm enjoying going through the photos.  Here are a few.  I decreased their size for the blog, so they may have lost some quality, but I hope they look okay.

It may be odd to start a vacation with a trip to a cemetery, but this was first on our list.  My sister (who took the journey with us) and I hadn't been to Nebraska (almost 900 miles from my home) to visit our parents' graves in a long time, so we started with that at the top of our list.

They are buried in an old cemetery along with previous generations of family, so I took the opportunity to take some photos to document dates, names, and locations.  The one above is the monument marking the graves of my dates from 1889...there is a group of little headstones near the foot of their monument belonging to their five children who died in childhood.

From there we headed east into Iowa and began seeing a bit of autumn color.  We stayed two nights in Lake Wapello State Park near Drakesville.

After that we went on to Indiana where we spent two more nights at Chain O Lakes State Park near Albion.  We took a day trip up to Shipshewana to visit their Amish and Mennonite shopping district. 

Then onward to Ohio.  We passed this landmark office building in Newark, Ohio which was (formerly?) Longaberger headquarters.  We stayed three nights at Dillon State Park near Nashport, Ohio.  As our trips progressed, the cabins we stayed in got better at each park.  We really liked the one at Dillon.  My sister and I agreed that considering some of the odd rent houses we had each lived in early in our marriages, if we had come across a little house like the cabin we stayed in to rent back then, we would have been in heaven.

We took day trips during our stay there, and saw lovely Amish communities east of Columbus.  There were great Amish thrift shops, and I wish we had been able to visit more of them, but our time was short.

We took a full day to drive up to Cleveland and visit A Christmas Story House Museum.  We love that movie so much, and this has been on my bucket list ever since I heard about it years ago.  I wouldn't describe myself as a 'fan' of very many things that would warrant making a visit a high priority, but I associate this movie with so many special memories and wonderful times with friends and family.

From Ohio, we headed south to Kentucky, and spent the night with my friend the other Kathleen.  She had dinner in the works for us, but I was a thankless guest, and asked her if we could please go out instead.  (Not that I don't like her cooking...when we lived in the same town, we used to prepare multiple meals at a time for the freezer and trade them with each other regularly to add some diversity and happy surprises to our menus.  In fact, she called me recently to tell me she had broken the last of the bowls we used to trade back and forth filled with meals.  We had shopped for the bowls together for our freezer meals, and we each had maybe four or more originally.  I still had four, two of which were in an upper cabinet never used, so I took them with me on this trip to deliver to her.)

Back to the dinner out.  Since we would only be in her town one night, I wanted to celebrate my birthday eve with my favorite sushi roll from my favorite sushi restaurant.  That's my favorite roll there wrapped in foil amid the flames!  SO good and SO much fun!  :)

On the morning of my birthday, we went to Berea, Kentucky where I started out a very lucky birthday by finding the perfect parking spot on their busy main street.  We got some shopping in at the shops featuring beautifully crafted handmade items...I only spent $9...there wasn't much room in the car for souvenirs.  Berea College is a tuition-free school, and claims a tradition of educating the head, heart, and hands of its students.  Craftsmanship, design, and marketing are alive and well, and many students work in its student crafts department.

photo credit:  Boone Tavern website
We stepped a few doors down and had lunch at the fabulous Boone Tavern. 

photo credit:  Boone Tavern website

We really weren't all that hungry, but who could pass up the opportunity to celebrate turning 60 in this luxurious setting? 

I started with a yummy cup of Creamy Pimiento Soup.  

photo credit:  Boone Tavern website

Carey and I shared a beautifully-presented Hot Brown, and he had coleslaw with his.

Then we proceeded to our last state park at Cumberland Falls inside the Daniel Boone National Forest.  The cabin I booked had 26 stairs to get to it, so I opted to change cabins.  They had a more access-friendly cabin that was two bedroom (one with two queen-sized beds which was super as the other Kathleen stayed with us one night) and two bathrooms.  It was a higher rate than the originally booked cabin, but they gave us a discount, so it was affordable and gorgeous.  And the scenery was definitely the prettiest autumn scenes we saw on the trip. 

 Beauty beckoned to photograph distant vistas...

 ...and spontaneous vignettes.

The falls were teeming, and though we weren't there during a full moon to see one of its famous moonbows, the sun played beautifully in its mists.

 We had gorgeous weather during the entire trip.  Cool and sunny, just like I'd hoped for.

To quote Anne Shirley (and L.M. Montgomery) of Green Gables fame, "I'm so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers."

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