Monday, January 31, 2011

Barefoot Contessa's Chipolte & Rosemary Roasted Nuts...well, sort of...

   I know, I know, who am I to mess with any recipe of the ultimate food goddess, the Barefoot Contessa? However, having accepted the "eat from your own pantry" in January challenge, I had to make do instead of going out and buying the missing ingredients for the Contessa's Chipolte & Rosemary Roasted Nuts.
   Fortunately, the basic premise of her recipe (linked above) is highly adaptable, meaning even my version using pimentón and dried rosemary turned out highly edible. The end result is that we'll be snacking on something healthier than chips around here for awhile.
   While I'm on the subject of nuts, I have to tell you about my little antique food chopper that I thought I'd ruined yesterday. Lucky for me, Hubby and I make a great team--I break things and he fixes them! How was I to know the spring would SPROING if I dared to chop nuts without the li'l wooden disk in the bottom? Hubby had already fixed this for me once before when I'd attempted to chop something hard as rocks, I guess, and he had to weld the little chopper blades back together. Moral to this story is to be gentler on your nut chopper than I am!
   And if you have a minute to satisfy my curiosity, what kind of healthy snack foods are hanging around your house?
Update: These nuts were VERY much enjoyed by the both of us, and they got even better after a few days. I will definitely use the Contessa's recipe as the basis for future variations! 

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Homemade dishwashing detergent: Cheaper and greener

   Because we cook and eat mostly at home, our dishwasher fills up at least once a day. As I write this, the salad spinner, a colander and the crock from the slow cooker are taking up considerable room in there.
   There's an ongoing debate over which is more efficient, the dishwasher or hand-washing, but I turn off the dry cycle and like the fact that the dishwasher removes germs better and rinses more efficiently than I can.
   (Incidentally, the little metal spout off the now empty salt box is pictured here because it will go into Hubby's scrap metal bin and eventually be recycled.)
   Recently discovered the magazine All You at our public library that contained a recipe that I will be using every FIFTH load, as I've read elsewhere that homemade products sometimes result in filming. Still, saving money even only every fifth load counts, eh?
Dishwasher Detergent
1 cup borax
1 cup baking soda
1/2 cup kosher salt
  Anyone else using homemade stuff? Getting good results?

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Made by Joel: Box Dollhouse for Duck Duck Green

Couldn't resist a 2nd post to share an incredibly creative site. This guy Joel is amazing. Love that he makes something out of practically nothing. Thanks to Not Working for the head's up about Made by Joel. There's some great repurposing going on over there!

Made by Joel: Box Dollhouse for Duck Duck Green: "Here's another dollhouse! Duck Duck Green asked me to create a craft for their packaging. The box looked so much like a house already, I cou..."

Insulation dreams do come true!

   Bet there aren't too many women like me whose hearts beat a little faster when the talk turns to insulation!
   Finally talked Hubby into adding more insulation to the attic...or he finally got around to it one. Whatever the reason, Hubby spent the better part of a day buying & hauling home two loads of insulation, carrying the gajillion rolls up into the attic, stuffing insulation into crevices to plug any possible leaks (e.g., around a bathroom fan vent) and then trimming and laying down roll after roll until the entire attic over our living space was covered, including the mudroom at the back of our attached garage. Pretty much like laying sod, I'd guess.
   And presto magico, I'm feeling warmer already. Seriously!
   When we had to go into town the next day, I noted how much snow was melted off of folks' roofs, so just imagine how tickled I was to return home to find our roof was still completely covered in snow. That translates to more heat staying IN our house and less $$ going out the roof. Wahoo!
    Using less electricity to heat or cool our home will save us money in the long run, but just as important is the part where our using less electricity means less emissions will be going into the atmosphere from the local coal-powered utility plant. Gotta love that!
   Anything get your heart beating faster when it comes to energy savings? Anyone else dreaming of living off the grid?

Friday, January 28, 2011

On my mind: Fat, salt & sugar call my name

Y'know how some foods just call your name? All. Day. Long. These no-bake cookies I made yesterday are annoyingly LOUD. Former surgeon general Dr. Kessler, in his book "The End of Overeating," uncovered the nasty truth of how the combination of fat, salt and sugar stimulates our brains, causing us to eat more. His concept explains why some restaurant foods leave me with food cravings for days afterward. Well, this time I've cooked up the toxic trio myself. I love, LOVE homemade desserts but even my favorite cakes and pies don't leave me craving them all hours of the day. Since I'm always trying to eat healthier, it's time now to chuck any recipes for foods that leave me with food cravings and annoyingly stay ON MY MIND.

Thanks, SouleMama and down---to---earth, for starting this Friday photo sharing. If you stopped by, please leave your link so I can return the favor.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Cheap salsa gets an upgrade

   Americans spend more $ dinero on salsa than we do on ketchup these days. Which means, if your household is anything like ours when it comes to scarfing down the chips and salsa, there are some savings to be had here. Okay, maybe not mega-savings, more in the category of every-little-bit-counts savings.
   First of all, please forgive the camera flash that makes the end result at right look less's actually only slightly less deeply colored than the original salsa. I must learn to take better pictures!
   Starting with the cheapest salsa I can find, I add a 14.5 ounce can of diced tomatoes and then some pepper jelly to taste. (One batch of pepper jelly freezer jam I made never set up so it finds its way into salsas and soups...gotta use it up somehow!) If I didn't have any pepper jelly on hand, I'd probably stir or smush-in whatever flavor jam happened to be opened in the fridge, as I'm a fan of slightly sweet heat. I usually buy medium heat salsa & end up with something just barely hotter than mild, but if hot salsa happens to be all I can find on sale, that works for me too.
   If avocados are in season, I'll cut one up and add it to a little of the salsa, making sure to end up with only what can be eaten in one or two days before the avocado turns. And of course, when our garden's in full force, we make fresh salsas, but in wintertime, this'll do.
   Next harvest, I'm hoping to spend some time dicing tomatoes for the freezer, so I won't have to buy the canned tomatoes all winter, but with a generic 14.5 oz. can of diced tomatoes going for around 63 cents, unadorned canned tomatoes are still cheaper per ounce than salsa. Incidentally, for anyone concerned with their salt intake, adding no-salt tomatoes helps lower a salsa's salt content.
   Okay, that's one of my little easy-peasy ways to stretch our grocery dollars. Anything being stretched in your kitchen these days?

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Winter's white calls for cherries red

   Woke up to a winter wonderland today. That and fresh cherry jam made only yesterday.
   This "eat from your own pantry" challenge has me looking into the freezer to see what needs to be used. Our neighbors have the most beautiful cherry trees, and it kills my soul to see the trees laden with fruit that no one seems interested in picking. Last year, as the year before, Hubby asked and received permission to pick, so he came home with LOADS of beautiful Bing cherries that we pitted and froze 5 cups to a bag. Just enough to make many a pie, I thought. But with Cane Syrup Cake already on the counter needing to be eaten, yesterday I decided we had enough dessert and made jam with the cherries instead. (Just used the recipe in the box of powdered pectin I had on hand.)
   And on another note, after learning of it through Blessings' website, I've joined and will be cleaning along with the FlyLady. For me, it's a misery loves company kinda thing...might be more fun cleaning house knowing that lots of other folks are doing the same thing. Okay, maybe fun's not the word, but hopefully cleaning along with FlyLady will be more motivating than going it alone. Here's hoping!!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Lazy alternative to price book

   First learned about the idea of keeping a price book from the ultimate frugal mentor Amy Dacyczyn, author of the Tightwad Gazette books. Loved the idea of keeping track of the best buys on groceries, so I'd know for a fact when the sales are unbeatable and it's time to stock up.
   I even made my own price book and recorded prices/stores in it. Trouble is, I never got into the habit of updating the record, so my makeshift price book languishes in my "wish I had done that" file.
   Here you see my lazy man's way of keeping track of the prices of groceries. I know, I know, this looks terribly tacky, so I wouldn't show my groceries to just anybody! (Hopefully here I'll find a few like-minded folks who may not agree with my methods but will surely sympathize with my intentions.)
   Having to look at the price every time I look at the package means I'm more likely to remember what I last paid for something when I run out. So next time I shop and pass the organic flour, for instance, I'll be putting some in the cart if the price is $3.69 or less.
   Any price book keepers among you? If not, how do you figure out if a grocery item has the best price for stocking up?

Monday, January 24, 2011

Make do: The big cover-up

   I love antiques... They have so much more of a back story than new furniture, plus none of the off-gassing that we're hearing about these days.
   This old rocker was inherited from my Great Aunt M, who lived to be 96 and died over a decade ago. I can still picture my tiny little auntie sitting in it, with her pink nightgown draped across the back as she got her things ready for bed.
   As you can see, the rocker seat's frayed. I'd always meant to get it recovered...just never got around to it. When I was working, there never seemed to be enough time to go choose a material, even though I had the name of a good upholsterer.
   As the years have passed, recovering this old rocker still doesn't rank high on my list of priorities. Besides, this quilt cover-up suits me so well, I just may never get around to it.
   Somehow our home seems more homey with this less-than-perfect, creaky old rocker around. Know what I mean?
   Any big cover-ups over at your place?

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Link love: Sites to save us $$ on gas

   Forgive the dirty car tire, just wanted to share something I've just gleaned from reading Wise Bread's book 10,001 Ways to Live Large on a Small Budget. Did you know that keeping car tires inflated properly can "improve fuel economy by up to 5%"? I'd heard this before but didn't realize the savings could be that much. Gotta love that!
   I'm going to try to remember to check my tires' pressure once a week. Can't hurt, might help, eh?
   Check out this website for more info on gas savings:, like how we should make sure to remove any weight that doesn't need to be in our car/trunk. Nothing new maybe, but if you're like me, a reminder may be in order.
   Something I didn't know is that " need special attention during the winter. Cold temperatures decrease the air pressure in tires." And under-inflated tires means more gas is being used, less $$ for me! Found this out on a Canadian site mentioned on Wise Bread. If interested in learning more, visit
   If you haven't visited Wise Bread lately, they're always worth the time spent to look around.
   Temperatures below freezing here, but fortunately, the roads have mostly been cleared of the white stuff that fell a couple of days ago.
   How's the driving in your neck of the woods?

Saturday, January 22, 2011

My favorite pumpkin bread recipe

This recipe makes a whopping big pumpkin bread. Love that...means I don't have to figure out "what's for breakfast?" anytime soon.
Pumpkin Bread
Mix in large bowl:
2 2/3 cups sugar
3 1/2 cups all purpose flour (for the bread pictured here, I replaced 1/2 c. all purpose flour with 1/2 cup whole wheat)
1/2 tsp. cloves
1/2 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
Then add:
4 eggs
3/4 cup canola oil
2 cups pumpkin (1 can)
2/3 cup water
2/3 cup chopped nuts (used walnuts today)
Blend until thoroughly mixed. Pour into LARGE Bundt pan, greased and floured if needed. Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 1 hour.
   This bread took about 70 minutes. This recipe is such a large, dense version of pumpkin bread that I used an instant thermometer to be sure it was completely done before removing the bread from the oven. But if I don't want to bother with that, we eat the bread even if it didn't get all the way done in the center, even like it that way.
   In the interest of getting the most out of my oven, I did a back-to-back baking by popping a Whole Wheat Date bread into the oven after this one came out. That loaf went into the freezer.
   What's cooking up at your house today?

Friday, January 21, 2011

On my mind: Saving the dog's food

Snowy, icy and 4F degrees here in Kentucky this morn, but I braved the cold to take a pic of our dog's house. Cracks me up every time I look out there and see this turkey decoy. Tired of watching the birds literally eat all our dog's food, Hubby had moved her bowl to several different locations. But the birds always found it, even inside the garage! Finally, he put out this decoy. It sways in the wind & the birds won't come anywhere near it for some reason. So, let the neighbors wonder why we've decorated our yard this winter, Hubby has saved the day with his ingenious little "scarecrow."

Thanks, SouleMama and down---to---earth, for inviting me into this Friday photo sharing. Share your link here, on SouleMama or on down---to---earth. TGIF!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

We Support an Organic Future

Thought a 2nd post of the day might be in order, in case anyone out there is as concerned as I am about genetically modified foods. I received an e-mail from Stonyfield Farms, the organic yogurt makers, about this issue which stated in part:

If you care about being able to choose organic foods...We each need to get a message to our congressperson right away.

Within the next few days, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will announce its policy on genetically-engineered (GE) alfalfa. There are lots of reasons to be concerned about GE crops including compelling evidence that these crops lead to herbicide-resistant super-weeds and require the use of more toxic herbicides. But the biggest potential problem posed by GE alfalfa is the likely contamination of organic alfalfa which is used as feed by most organic dairies.

The USDA is now considering whether to approve full deregulation, giving biotech a green light to use GE-alfalfa without any restrictions OR deregulation with restrictions through a policy of "coexistence" which would mandate the protection of organic.

If you agree that consumers deserve to be able to choose to buy organic foods free of GE contamination, your voice is needed today. We are joining with the National Cooperative Grocers Association and others to ask that you take this step:

Please ask your Congressperson to contact House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas to express support for Secretary Vilsack's coexistence option. To find your Congressperson, visit:

COPY of my letter to our congressman:

My husband and I believe organic foods are essential to healthy living. All consumers deserve to be able to choose to buy organic foods free of GE contamination.

Please contact House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas to express support for Secretary Vilsack's coexistence option.

Thank you for your consideration of this vital request.

For more info, click here: We Support an Organic Future

Ice, Ice baby: Homemade ice cream in January

   Homemade ice cream in January? You betcha! Cheaper than buying the luxury brands; better tasting than the cheaper brands.
   And no need to be perfect...because toppings can be added for extra flavor. In the strawberry ice cream pictured here, my frozen strawberries, once thawed, didn't end up being 3 cups, so the strawberry flavor didn't have as much force as I'd have liked. No problem, I just blended more strawberries with a little water to make a strawberry topping that added all the strawberry goodness needed.
   (Ice looks dirty because of the rock salt we use.)
Easy, No-cook Homemade Ice Cream
1 can Eagle Brand sweetened condensed milk (OMIT for a fruit-flavored ice cream, if you prefer a less sweet ice cream)
1 - 12 oz. can evaporated milk
1 pint whipping cream
1 cup sugar
3 tsp. vanilla
Mix all ingredients. And proceed as indicated for desired flavor below.
VANILLA Ice Cream:
Pour mixture into 1 gallon freezer container; fill freezer rest of the way with whole milk.
CHERRY Ice Cream
Add 1 large jar of cherries, chopped, with juice. Blend into mixture before topping off with milk.
Add 3 cups chopped strawberries, blending into mixture before adding milk
BANANA Ice Cream
Add 6 ripe bananas, blending into mixture before adding milk

NOTE: Any leftover ice cream must be removed from the freezer & left to soften 15 minutes or more before serving. Still experimenting with this recipe to develop an ice cream that will be less icy once the leftovers are completely frozen. Meanwhile, softening & stirring the leftovers takes care of that problem.
   For curiosity's sake, what flavor ice cream calls your name??

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Lions and tigers and $53/mos. increases, OH, MY!

   With the mail the other day came the MOST unpleasant news that our health insurance is going up to the tune of $53 smackers a month. Yikes!
   When Hubby took an early retirement in 2009 just a couple of weeks shy of his 49th birthday, I quit work that same year, so we could travel whenever we wanted and not be held back by my job constraints. I didn't retire...I quit, meaning no lovely pension for me. Which means, we are effectively on a fixed income. Which means, getting the most out of our $$ is my full-time job.
   So, though some may laugh at my small economies, they make perfect sense to me. I spend as little money as possible on the things with short-lived value (like one-time use products, utility bills, etc.), so we will have as much money as possible to spend on the things we do value, like family and travel. I know, I know, I've said this before--it's my MANTRA!
   So, here you find me, more dedicated than ever before to frugal living. Thanks for whichever of you wonderful people recently reminded me of the value of making double, even triple batches. Here you see what's left after lunch, what was a full veggie lasagna. Previously I'd have just made half of that. Two containers of lasagna are headed for the freezer, for those "don't-feel-like-cooking-days." Gonna have to be extra cautious not to get caught without options when it comes to dinner, so no eating out because there's nothing in the house to eat.
   Now, where can I cut $53 out of the ole monthly budget and not feel it? I'll be needing all the help I can get on this one!
UPDATE: Hubby has since informed me that the $53 buck increase was for both TAXES as well as health insurance increases. Regardless, the total decrease to our take-home income is $53/month.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Don't feel like cooking: Tortilla pizzas

   Okay, whether you're struggling to get through a cold, got home late for work, PMS-ing, or just feeling plain lazy, sometimes you just don't FEEL like cooking. That's when it's especially nice to have a few ingredients on hand that lend themselves to quick cooking. Like flour tortillas.
   My Tortilla Pizzas are modified from a recipe found on Everyday Foods for Thinnest Crust Pizza, which uses whole wheat sandwich wraps.
   Their recipe calls for the pizzas to be baked on parchment paper, but I prefer the silicone mats you see here, as they're re-usable.
   I used flour tortillas, 'cause that's what was in the pantry, and they crisped up beautifully. Had to suit my toppings to what was on hand as well.
   Brushed the tortillas on both sides with a little olive oil, topped each with: grated Parmesan cheese, dollops of ricotta cheese, thinly sliced onion & coarsely chopped orange bell pepper both sautéed in olive oil & sprinkled with oregano, and finally, slices of roasted red pepper, sautéed lightly. Top with salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. (Sautéed the onion 'cause I'm not a fan of raw yellow onion; sautéed the orange peppers and roasted red peppers because they were frozen & I wanted to make sure the pizza wouldn't get soggy. If I'd had fresh red onion and thinly sliced mushrooms, maybe I could've skipped this step.) Bake in a 400 degree oven 'til slightly browned and crispy.
   Tortilla pizzas...the perfect antidote for a don't-feel-much-like-cookin' day.

P.S. Many, many thanks for the well wishes...still working on getting over my cold & appreciate all the advice! I made these pizzas a couple of nights ago, but last night when I didn't feel like doing ANYTHING, Hubby made me a tortilla pizza with just the cheeses & some crabmeat on top & it was good too.

Friday, January 14, 2011

This is on my mind: Tomorrow never comes?

Nothing like getting a common cold to remind me that I should exercise regularly, eat right and reduce stress. To remind me that I bought this meditation cushion for more than just to add a pop of color to our guest bedroom. Gotta start taking better care of my health. And I will. You know...tomorrow!

Thanks, SouleMama and down---to---earth, for inviting me into this Friday photo sharing. Hope to see your link here, on SouleMama or on down---to---earth. TGIF!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Less $$ for electric company, more for us!

  Though our television (TV) and its peripherals were already plugged into a powerstrip, I finally talked Hubby into placing the strip somewhere easily accessible, so it could be turned off after each use.
   As pictured here, our powerstrip's now attached at the top back of the TV instead of on the floor, unreachable. That means, instead of a phantom load running and costing us money 24/7, our TV, DVD, stereo, converter box and woofer only get power when the TV's actually on (a couple of hours each night).
   There is an alternative for folks who don't want to turn off the power to all components, like the cable box, but I don't know the full story. From what I've read, you can either buy a kill-switch powerstrip that would turn off the TV's companions each time the remote turns off the TV or place the TV/cable box on one powerstrip and the peripherals on another.
   This isn't an issue for us since we don't use cable; therefore, we don't lose any programming. No need for us to even bother to reset the time.

   Recently read that not finding ways to save on electricity amounts to making a monthly charitable contribution to the power company. As the electric company is not my idea of a worthwhile recipient of our charitable giving, I'm thrilled with this little, do-able change!
   Have you made any little, doable changes to reduce your monthly "contributions" to the electric company?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Look sharp!

   Hubby doesn't like the way I sharpen our knives, so he does it. (Guess what? Works for me!)
   Keeping the knives sharp helps to make cooking easier. When cooking is easy, there are fewer reasons to eat out.
    For more on sharpening knives, check out this article on Mother Earth News. Apparently Hubby was right: I wasn't keeping the knife at the right angle.
   Care to share something you do to make cooking at home easier?

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Did ignorance kill our freezer?

   Spent instead of saved yesterday & for one of my least favorite reasons: replacing something that broke. While Hubby had been jonesing for an upright freezer for awhile, I was hoping our little chest-type freezer had a few more years on it.
   Anyway, we phoned a couple of stores for prices, then hit three stores within close range of one another to come up with the best deal we could find. This upright style should make it easier to find things at a glance, so hopefully less foods will be lost to freezer burn. And I vow to open it and take a picture periodically, so I can see at a glance (in the picture) all that lies within...without standing with the door open, wasting energy.
   We went with a non-defrosting type, 'cause it costs $20 bucks less to operate per year. We'll have to be extra vigilant to defrost it, since I've recently learned that frost makes a freezer work harder, wasting energy.
   Always looking for ways to save money, go greener, I've always got some book cracked open. Currently reading the book "Tight Living for Tough Times" by Frank Nellis and ironically came across a section this morn about the importance of cleaning air filters and condensers. In his experience with outdoor freezer chests, "half the time a unit went down it was due to a dirty condenser." (Click for Frank's website) As we keep our freezer in an attached garage that also houses my car, I'd for some reason never even considered pulling the thing out to vacuum the back of it, like we do with the coils on our inside refrigerator/freezer. I'll know better next time!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Cut 20-50% of your expenses!

   Okay, this is the 2nd post of the day for two days in a row, but when I come across something worthwhile, I just have to share.
   For anyone serious about spending less and saving more in 2011, the book "Your Money or Your Life" by Joe Dominguez & Vicki Robin just may change your life. It changed mine.
   Those who follow the "Your Money or Your Life" program can expect to cut an average of 20 to 50% off of their expenses. Even though I never actually followed "the program" depicted in the book, it caused me to question every expenditure for its VALUE to my life, thus saving us untold $$$$ in the several years since I first read it. That meant questioning every dollar spent eating out, for instance, and particularly those $ spent on one-time-use products like detergents and paper products.

   Thanks to TreeHugger for the head's up to a Peak Moment interview of co-author Vicki Robin. The interview covers a broad range of topics, including our responsibility to steward the earth's resources, but those without the 27+ minutes to watch it in its entirety will surely appreciate spending a few moments gazing at the OH-WOW flower garden in which the interview takes place:

Going crackers!

Here lies the opening salvo of my latest recipe cookoff: a quest for the perfect homemade crackers. (Trying to incorporate more organic foods into our diets, but balking at the cost of organic crackers. Besides, making my own, with organic flour, will save on packaging waste.)
   Though enjoyable and somewhat quirky, the cumin-cheddar crackers pictured here were not crisp enough to suit everyday purposes. (Recipe from Great Bar Food at Home by Kate Heyhoe.) But I did like that the dough could be made ahead, refrigerated and used later. Hope to find other recipes that work that way, to allow for freshly baked crackers on demand. Oh, and you can see that I didn't take the time to make mine round, just tapped somewhat flat edges into the roll of dough.
   Tried this recipe because I had some cheddar that needed to be used up, but will be looking for a recipe without cheese. Frugal Girl is also searching for the perfect recipe for homemade crackers, so hopefully she will come up with something and save me some time.
   If you have a recipe for a yummy, beautifully crispy homemade cracker, I'd love to hear about it!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Green Washing by Kelly Shea — YES! Magazine

For anyone with high-efficiency front-load washing machines, the VERY high cost of HE laundry detergents seems to somewhat offset the energy savings. Not a problem according to the article linked below. Yes, I will now be using just a tablespoon of soap for loads of laundry that are only minimally dirty. Favorite quote from the article: "Generally, a tablespoon is enough for a load.... Any excess could result in mildew and damage to your machine."
YES! But How?: Green Washing by Kelly Shea — YES! Magazine

Soap marriage, like real marriage, takes patience

   Yeah, count this among the frugal things I hate but do anyway: marry a sliver of soap to another soap, so the sliver doesn't go to waste. If anyone has a quicker way to get two soaps to stick together, I'd love to hear it. Takes all my patience to wait for the two soaps to meld. Seems to go quicker if I only use the sliver/bar once a day, so I use another bar meantimes, which is why there are two bars on my sink here.
   The soap holder is an old milk glass dish Hubby scavenged from a golf course dump when he was just a kid. (Back in the 60s, dumps were everywhere!) The milk glass has some stains I can't get out--that's NOT mold on my soap dish. But the stains are minimal, so the dish works fine for this not as publicly used bath.
   Oh, the plant in the top photo is just there to relieve the boredom of all the white. It usually rests in the plant holder pictured at right. Got the holder, then rusted & forlorn, at an antique shop for $5 bucks. You guessed it...5 bucks IS my magic number for buying junk that I'm not sure will work in my home. Hubby scrubbed this of its rust & painted it a nice black for me, and now it brightens our little master bath nicely.
   The plant needs little water; good thing 'cause I forget to water it!
How'm I doin' with spending less, saving more in 2011?
  • Thinking ahead, I bought a few Christmas presents for 75% off and enough ornaments at 50% off for the next two Christmases, for grandgirls' and daughter's stockings.
  • Bought candy canes for my 2011 Christmas tree at 90% off (24 canes for 20 cents!). Plan to let the grandgirls decorate the tree this coming Xmas, with strung popcorn & homemade ornaments. The candy canes will add to the homey look of it, I think.
  • Asked Hubby to clean our furnace filter, so it will work more efficiently.
  • Shop from my pantry challenge: Soft Currant Drop cookies are on the agenda today, using whole spelt flour and currants--two items from my pantry that I had never gotten around to using.
How 'you doin'????

Friday, January 7, 2011

This is on my mind: USE those foodie foods!

Even before accepting the January "shop only from your own pantry" challenge, I'd vowed to finally USE the foodie foodstuffs that I buy but seldom or never use. (Anchovies...what was I thinking?!) Not included in the pic are the curry pastes and coconut oil in the fridge, to name a few. Some items pictured here I just idea of souvenirs from recent travels. Yes, I will be making my own pasta and tortillas in 2011. I WILL!

Thanks, SouleMama and down---to---earth, for inviting me into this Friday photo sharing. What’s on your mind this moment? Hope to see your link here, on SouleMama or on down---to---earth. TGIF!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Make do: I used to hate my bed!

   While the rich walnut woodgrain of this bed appeals to me, the design of the headboard leaves me cold. I'm stuck with it though. As it's an heirloom from Hubby's paternal grandparents, it's not going anywhere. To make it work, I asked my mum to make us a quilt & some pillow shams. My only contribution was to say I wanted "rainbow colors." The end result is the quilt you see here, what Mom calls her "wonky" quilt. I call it BEAUTIFUL and a funky, creative piece of quilt-art. Art that camouflages or at least somewhat obscures the part of this bed that I don't like. Yet another case where making do can turn out even better than expected.
   Don't you love it when that happens?

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Failed recipe experiment: Ate it anyway!

   Okay, make that two failed experiments, and still eating on them, but I really wanted to say "ate it anyway," because it reminds me of that old Found a Peanut song. Baked a pineapple upside down cake and veggie potpie on Monday. The cake is dry--cough, cough dry, NOT gag, gag dry. Know what? Still tastes better than a mix. Just started buying organic butter and because it's more expensive, trying to cut back on the butter in our favorite recipes. Well, this cut-back didn't cut it. Always next time.
   The potpie is actually my friend's beef tenderloin potpie recipe that I modified into a chicken potpie that we love. (Secret ingredient: a heaping tablespoon of yellow mustard in the milk/butter gravy...yum!) But since I'm trying to buy humanely raised organic meats, they are so very EXPENSIVE that I'm trying to change some of our favorites into vegetarian entrées.
   Anyone have an idea of what to put in a veggie potpie in place of the chicken? Lookin' for the classic potpie taste, don'cha'know, with potatoes, green beans and corn. I like the garbanzos as a substitute but Hubby not so much.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

January's "spend less" focus: Eat from pantry; use less electricity

   Fearless frugalista that I am, I accepted an "eat from the cupboard" challenge over at Greenhab (exceptions: can buy fresh dairy/produce). And before my bravery could flag, when Being Frugal threw down a challenge to pick one month to use less electricity, I chose January.
   Hopefully challenging myself to a particular focus on electricity and shopping my own pantry this month will increase my chances of success with my resolution to spend less, save more in 2011. And it's not taking on too much with these types of challenges...even if every day doesn't breed success, the days that do will add up.
   How'm I doin' so far?
  • There's a load of laundry out hanging on the line. 
  • Lunch was veggie soup cooked entirely on the shelf of our woodburner. (No woodburner? A crockpot would turn the trick.)
  • Pictured above are some onions slowly simmering in butter and olive oil (in the same pan the soup was cooked in). No prob if it takes all afternoon for the onions to caramelize, since this is a step-ahead for a future meal.
  • And I air-dried my hair. Yeah, it looks air-dried, but I'm not going anywhere today. 
   I've been stewing over how to reduce my blow drier and cooktop usage ever since reading a post on EcoMama: Be PowerWise. Did I mention this before? Her post contains a link to an energy calculator that gives a ballpark estimate of how much energy (read $$) common household appliances/electronics use. Even if my appliances are more energy efficient than the ones used for the calculations, the estimates create a powerful picture of my dollars going down the drain (also picturing a bigger carbon footprint).
   Although I value quick cooking and having good hair days, I do NOT value spending money on one-time-use products like electricity!
   If you vowed to spend less, save more, how 'you doin' so far?

Monday, January 3, 2011

A new year to spend less, save more

   Ringing in the New Year here with the 2000 calendar, which has the same calendar layout as 2011. Each year a new calendar goes up in the kitchen but an old, previously used calendar works fine in the room where we keep Hubby's elliptical trainer. (Incidentally, the bell shined up fine after being smothered in ketchup for an hour as you recommended, Sarina. Thx!)
   Caught a news report that stated 13% of Americans resolve to spend less, save more in 2011--count me in! Yup, I made New Year's resolutions this year, mainly because resolutions help me to refocus on my financial/personal goals in life. Hey, if BIG money man Warren Buffett credits "focus" as the most important factor in his success, there's gotta be something to it.
   So, I hereby resolve to spend less, save more in 2011, and hopefully this blog will help me to stay focused on this and my other resolutions. Are you in?
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