Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Make do: Alternatives to trash cans

Be back soon!
   A project will be taking up all my time for a few days...more about that later.
   Meantime, I'll share something that may look goofy to many but works for me! When I needed a trashcan for our large bath and couldn't find anything I liked in our price range, I started using this old crock. Ended up liking it so well, there it sits still. (We re-use the same plastic liner over and over and over...)
   Found the little metal planter at an antique shop; it works quite nicely as a bin for the bedroom, I think.
   Incidentally, the dresser here is part of that suite Hubby inherited that does nothing for me style-wise. For years and years our bedroom furniture was a mish mash of antiques that I loved but he didn't, so now it's his turn. And the warm walnut wood does speak to me, so I can love that.
   Still in need of a receptacle for another bedroom, to replace a plastic trashcan we came upon sometime. Keeping my eyes open for an interesting alternative for that room.
   Any ideas?

If you stopped by, feel free to leave your link in the comments any time, so I and others may more easily visit your neck of the woods. Such a big, beautiful world out there, and I'm "seeing" more of it thanks to your blogs. Gotta love that!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Time to let my hair down

Think it's not worth it to cut open packaging and use every last bit? Well, I just got TWO week's worth of hair goop from this cut up container. (Stored in a plastic bag after being cut open.)
   Right now in my bath, there's also a toothpaste tube cut in two.
   Didn't always do this...used to just toss something the minute I couldn't squeeze out another drop. Until I learned about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, that is. Since then, I've learned there's a garbage patch in the Atlantic too. That's when I started paying attention to all the plastics I bring into our home. Started thinking about what packaging recycles and what doesn't. That's when I looked through my accumulated products that just stayed in the drawer and never got used as I bought and used new products that I liked better.
   Ignorance is not bliss. Ignorance doesn't do any good for the planet OR personal finances.
   Now that I'm using every last bit of every product that I've bought and also trying to use up what family members don't like, I'm saving money. (Bought the mousse from an SIL at a yard sale.)
   And when EVERY LAST BIT of these products is gone, I hope to buy only those products that are packaged in recyclable containers. More importantly, when I'm all out of the goop I'd already bought and paid for, I'll be looking for home-made alternatives to those products that require non-biodegradable packaging.
   No, I'm not as conscientious about plastic usage as Bea over at Zero Waste Home. But I aspire to be. 
   Kinda hard to use plastics these days without thinking of those HUGE swirls of trash in our oceans. Our children's children will be swimming in our trash. Heaven forbid!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Brownie pudding

Brownie Pudding is quick, SUPER easy and this version is relatively cheap to make. As always, I'm like, "where's the icing," but this is one dessert that Hubby just loves. Only differences between my recipe and this Brownie Pudding recipe over at, is that mine calls for only white sugar to be used and only 1/2 cup nuts...used walnuts this time, since they're loaded with good stuff for our bods.
   Pic at left is the first step finished and spread in pan waiting on the more liquid ingredients to be poured on top. Pic below is the brownie pudding fresh out of the oven; as you can see, the cake forms on top, and the pudding hides below.
   We polished this off a few days back and are now working on a homemade chocolate cake I'll get around to showing you one of these days. I know, I know, desserts, desserts. But life is short and these recipes are the kind of desserts that for some reason I am able to eat in moderation. Gotta love that!
   Any chocolate goodies hanging out on your counter these days?

Thursday, February 17, 2011

On My Mind: Missing the moos already

Our neighbor sold all his cows! Oh, I'm missing the moos already! Seriously, I didn't even need to watch a Nature documentary on PBS to witness the miracle of birth. Sometimes the cows hung out in the pasture directly behind our property, and they would beg at the fence for Hubby to give them apples from our tree. Somehow life is more interesting with animals around...won't be the same around here without them.

Thanks, down-to-earth, for sharing this On My Mind concept. What's on your mind today? Hope you find a minute to leave your link here or on down-to-earth.

BlogHer/GE Giveaway and Ways we save on energy and more

   BlogHer and GE have teamed up to present a giveaway...with MULTIPLE chances to win. 
   Like me, you can go to the blogs listed below and enter your comments for your chances to win an "energy smart LED GE light bulb, valued at $50. Best part for me is discovering some great new frugal/green sites and reading everyone else's comments on how they save energy in their homes.
   For more info, visit:, only open to U.S. residents.) Note: Rules state NO DUPLICATE COMMENTS, so put on your thinking cap as you go from blog to blog and write something different at each site.
   I don't think I missed the chance to leave a single comment, so I'll have several chances to win. GOOD LUCK to each of you as well!
Here's my
(My edited down comments left on each of the blog sites whose links are below)

Grocery Cart Challenge
Comment left there by DMARIE:  
Save water bills; tape into a book to reminder to use less and less!
Points of Review
Comment left there by DMARIE:  
Bake with SunOven...with back-to-back usage, cook as many as three dishes in one day with NO energy costs!
Fluid Pudding
Comment left there by DMARIE:  
In winter, program thermostat to 68/day, 65/night.
Use woodburner to keep from using electric heat during daytime.
Cook on woodburner shelf, e.g., sautéing onions, to reduce use of electricity-hog cooktop of our stove.
Swistle: Reviews
Comment left there by DMARIE:  
Make a game of reducing usage of electricity or gasoline or one-time-use products! 
Use high efficiency washing machine.
Unless the laundry is really dirty, use only 1 tablespoon of liquid detergent. 
Some things don't need to be washed with ANY soap; keep eyes open for those types of loads.
Always wash FULL loads.
Almost always wash in COLD water.
Hang-dry almost all laundry, using indoor and outdoor rods/racks.
Comment left there by DMARIE:  
Use double sheeting on bed to add warmth by trapping air without adding bulk.
Joyful Abode
Comment left there by DMARIE:
Use energy-hogging blow dryer less. Put a couple of curlers in the top and let hair air dry most of the way before finishing off with a blow dryer…takes far less time to blow dry, uses far less energy.
The Frugal Girl’s Reviews
Comment left there by DMARIE: 
Use small florescent night lights with switches in most rooms, as often only minimal light is all that's needed.  
It’s Twinsanity Reviews
Comment left there by DMARIE: 
Switch all compatable lights to CFLs.
Use halogen light fixture seldom.
Sit/eat/work near the double-windowed patio doors for natural light whenever possible.
Raising Colorado
Comment left there by DMARIE: 
When watching TV, switch off all lights (except TV) one hour before bedtime.
Bento Reviews
Comment left there by DMARIE: 
Recent addition of 10 inches of insulation to attic immediately made a BIG difference. Immediately used less wood to keep warm in daytime; now electric heat often doesn't even kick on at night. Woohoo...means less $ going to purchase coal-generated electricity and more $$ in our pockets!
Mama Says
Comment left there by DMARIE: 
Use curtains and roller shades to save energy on heating and cooling our all-electric home.
In winter, close everything at dusk to keep out the cold.
In summer, keep curtains closed wherever the sun is shining in at full strength.
When buying new, buy lined curtains.
Jo’s Country Junction
Comment left there by DMARIE: 
Because allergies keep me from hanging sheets outdoors, Hubby constructed an 8-ft. clothing rod in our attached garage, where I can hang both a fitted and flat sheet, plus the pillowcases using pants hangers. 
Garage rod is also useful for keeping laundry moisture out of the house when it's raining/humid outside.
Tormville Extra Extra
Comment left there by DMARIE: 
Address the challenge of phantom loads head on. 
Plug TV and its peripherals into a power strip that only gets turned on for the few hours we watch at night. 
Small appliances with a light or a small transformer on the cord remain unplugged until needed. 
Sometimes do a house run-through just to make sure something hasn't been left plugged in accidentally.
Hobo Mama – Reviews
Comment left there by DMARIE: 
Never run dishwasher unless it is FULL. 
Scrounge around the house for items to fill the dishwasher if it's not full. 
After cleaning out all hair, hairbrushes can go on the top shelf. Dishwasher can also be used clean light fixtures and drawers/shelves from the fridge. Anything to fill it up!
No Big Dill - Reviews
Comment left there by DMARIE:  
Turn the faucet only to the cold side whenever using it a short enough time that the hot wouldn't even reach the faucet. 
Take military showers, turning off the water while soaping up, etc. 
When washing potentially germ-ridden laundry in cold water, add non-chlorine bleach.
The Saved Quarter
Comment left there by DMARIE:  
Wear certain items more than once before laundering. This change is coming hard for me, but it used to be a way of life for folks who came through the Great Depression. That generation lived through a time when there was NO money to waste on water or anything for that matter.
Tales of Me and the Husband Reviews
Comment left there by DMARIE:  
Thaw items from the freezer in the fridge instead of on the counter. 
To keep from opening the door more than absolutely necessary, sometimes open the doors and take a picture of all the contents. Study the picture to remember the contents, plan meals. 
Fridge and freezer run most efficiently when full. Wash and fill milk cartons with water to keep in the freezer. The resulting ice works great when making homemade ice cream, but also, we're assured of having some water on hand in the event of the water being cut off (which happened for several days one time due to a water main break).

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

A little hankie panky goin' on around here

Save a tree--use a hankie!
   Okay, it's a given that the easiest way to save money is not to spend it in the first place.
   Of course, we have to buy SOME things, don't we? But where's the fun in spending money on one-time-use products like facial tissues? I'd much rather spend my greenbacks on TRAVEL or CLOTHES, for instance, wouldn't you??
   So, yeah, I use hankies or even Hubby-sized handkerchiefs instead of buying tissues. They're softer even than most paper products, which is much appreciated when there's a whole lot of blowin' goin' on!
   No, I don't always iron them, but thought you'd better be able to see my newest ones if ironed. This is one of four monogrammed hankies (may be cocktail napkins) that I bought at a yard sale for a song.
   Incidentally, the cabinet door's open here in the mudroom to show where I keep my scissors. Maybe you always knew to keep a pair in the laundry room, but I probably got the idea from Martha Stewart. Scissors in the laundry room come in so handy for cutting stray threads off of clothing...or hankies.
   Nothing risqué about HANKIE PANKY. Hankies are good for noses, good for budgets AND good for good for the environment. Win, $Win$, WIN!
   Now what would YOU rather spend your money on than facial tissues? 

Monday, February 14, 2011

Stretching a little meat into a meal: Pizza, pizza

   Pizza is sooo great for stretching a little bit of meat into a meal. This pizza has only 2 leftover cooked sausage patties and about 1/4 cup of ham cubes on it, but it was oh, so yummy!
   When we first married, I bought frozen loaves of bread dough and would plunk a frozen loaf into a 13x9 pan before heading off to work in the morning. Well greased with shortening and then covered with a towel to keep it from drying out, the loaf of frozen dough would thaw enough by the time I got home around 4-5 in the afternoon for me to spread out for a pizza. Sometimes it would be warm enough in the house for the dough to raise, raise, raise before I'd get home, but I'd just punch it down, wait 10 minutes & then press it into the pan for pizza.
   In recent years, I'd taken to buying those inexpensive little pizza dough mixes found in the baking aisle. Super cheap & just about as quick as starting with thawed bread dough.
   Still make homemade pizzas--only difference is that I make my own crusts now (unrisen dough pictured here). For the recipe, go to Google books by clicking the link here which will take you to The Berghoff Café Cookbook. Once there, go to page 119 for the Homemade Pizza Crust recipe. Three sets of instructions are given for folks working by hand, with a food processor or with a stand mixer.
   Best part about it: this recipe makes TWO crusts, so I made two pizzas yesterday. One waits in the freezer for some lazy-don't-feel-like-cookin' day. For that pizza, I prebaked the crust a bit before loading it up with the sauce, onions, peppers, etc.
   Okay, time for my pizza confession! I like dousing my slice of pizza with Frank's RedHot Cayenne Pepper Sauce before eating it. YUM! What's your pizza obsession??

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Prepare for the worst, hope for best

"Nobody knows what will happen," Pa said. 
"Prepare for the worst and then you've some grounds to hope for the best, that's all you can do."

   First thought I'd share last night's sunset, framed by our casement windows. As part of the re-do of our fixer upper home, Hubby took out the old windows back to the brick in order to install new windows, as opposed to replacement windows. Only regret? That they are not TRIPLE paned, only double paned. Otherwise, love, LOVE these windows, so very easy to clean.
   Okay, mostly I read non-fiction, and for the record, my all-time favorite novel to re-read is Jane Austin's Pride and Prejudice.
   But right now I'm re-reading Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House books. Yeah, I know it's juvenile fiction, but the can-do spirit of those books never fails to spur me to greater action. And while in the middle of reading her novel, The Long Winter, where the little Ingalls family nearly froze and nearly starved through seven long months of blizzards, I was spurred to clean out our pantry, as I wondered how we'd manage through such a winter.
   Since learning that the BPA (bisphenol-A) plastic lining in most canned goods actually LEACHES INTO THE FOOD stored in them over time, I have stopped buying up cans for long term storage. But while looking for alternatives in glass containers, we've been eating our way through the foods already stockpiled.
   And while waiting for our FDA to catch up to the science on this issue (not to mention the many other countries that have already banned BPA), I'll be buying only enough canned goods that I can use up quickly. Getting harder to save by stockpiling these days. *SIGH*
   No need to get discouraged though. This BPA business is just one more reason for me to learn how to can & put up more fresh, organically grown produce from our own garden. Surely I can learn to can and preserve something other than freezer jam & frozen chopped peppers. Surely!
   Hopefully by next winter I'll be able to show off a pantry filled to the brim with beautiful jars filled with our garden's bounty.
   I'm sure I'll be visiting many of your blogs for ideas, so wish me luck!

Friday, February 11, 2011

This moment: Old times thar be forgotten

Love the standing silverware in these two photos (of photos) of Old Natchez, Mississippi, taken during our adventures there at the end of September of 2010. Anxiously awaiting trips and new adventures in 2011 and wondering how antiquated the pictures we are taking today will look to the folks of the future.

Thanks to Soulemama for this Friday photo sharing concept. If you're so inclined, leave a link to your moment for others to visit.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

On my mind: Smoky cheese & walnut crackers

What's on my mind? Well, these crackers that are fresh out of the oven and cooling on a rack. Haven't even tried them yet, but Hubby did and he approves. Still working my way through Ina Garten's latest book, How Easy Is That? and this is my latest trial. Only, not being a fan of blue cheese, I substituted some smoked cheese and parmesan, as that's what I had on hand. Oh, and I just made half a batch, the plastic wrapped log will go into the fridge for another day. For the recipe, visit Ina at the Food Network. Happy snacking!

Thanks, down-to-earth, for sharing this On My Mind concept. What's on your mind today? Hope you find a minute to leave your link here or on down-to-earth.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Sweet dreams are made of this: Double sheets and heirloom pillowcases

   None of the sheets I can find these days seem to feel as good as I remembered the sheets were at my mamaw's house. Mamaw has long since left this world, but she left me with some great memories. And now some lovely embroidered pillowcases.
   Mamaw made and embroidered this pillowcase so very long ago. In the picture at left, you can see where my mom recently repaired a large tear in this one, and she replaced the worn out case ends with this new but old fashioned paisley material. Then she gifted the cases to me. Awww!
   Ever since a trip to Chicago for my 40th birthday (a decade ago!) and a stay at the downtown Westin there (link explains their bedding), I've been double-sheeting our bed in the wintertime. (The quilt and shams cover the pillowcases, so I can mix and match willy-nilly.) The extra sheet seems to be just as warm as an extra blanket would be without the added bulk. Gotta love that!
   Pictured above is our 1,000 thread-count 100% cotton flat sheet, a 600 thread-count 100% cotton sheet, an organic cotton blanket and the quilt. Our programmable thermostat drops the temp down to 65 degrees each night, and these covers keep us plenty warm.
   Hope you're staying warm as well. Sweet dreams!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Git 'er done cleaning: Chip away at it daily

   Okay, this is not a "which of these things doesn't belong here" kinda post. (Though it could be!). And it's not about showing off my souvenir print of canning jars bought at an art museum down in Mississippi to motivate me to can/preserve more.

   Nah, it's about cleaning. My least favorite thing to do.
   Never been about all day once a week cleaning marathons. I'm more of a clean only 1/4 of the shower stall per day (cuts down on excuses). Clean the bathroom sink every change of towels, but before taking used towels to the laundry, use one to shine up the ole faucet. Or occasionally when taking yesterday's dishcloth to the dirty clothes hamper, use it to clean the top of a door or a window sill. That's IT for my cleaning advice!
   Which is why I'm liking that cleaning site that Blessings uses. That Fly Lady cleaning site now sends me a daily e-mail which is helping me to get things done in an unexpected way. Not exactly following along & doing what Fly Lady suggests for each day, but her concept of 5, 10 and 15 minute cleanings really helps to encourage my lazy self that something is doable. Fits in perfectly with my "chip away at it daily" cleaning style.
   Now when I look at some cleaning task, I ask myself if it could conceivably be done in 5 minutes. For instance, I emptied, cleaned and refilled my spice cabinet in less than 10 minutes...something I'd been putting off took under 10 MINUTES to accomplish! Sheesh!
   And yeah, I know the spice cabinet still looks messy. Don't know what I'd do without all of them though, plus the spillover spices on the next shelf, in another cabinet, in the fridge and in the pantry. Yeah, I'm a spice junkie!
   But now I'm a spice junkie with a clean shelf!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Busy one day, lazy the next

   Have hardly lifted a finger today, but that's all right...I was busy enough yesterday.
   Still working at using up the 2010 harvest, which includes frozen strawberries (from someone else's garden). This cobbler, adapted from the book shown, is incredible when made with fresh strawberries but still worth smiling about when made with thawed frozen berries. (Pic below is the uncooked cobbler...shown here to illustrate that the dough is just glopped by the spoonful onto the berries.)
Strawberry Cobbler
5-6 cups of thawed strawberries, sweetened as desired, drained if desired
2 cups all purpose flour
2/3 cups sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
3/4 cup butter
1 cup buttermilk
Stir together dry ingredients; cut in butter; make a well in center and add buttermilk, stirring until dry ingredients are moistened. Spoon the mixture onto the fruit in a 9x13 baking dish. Bake at 375 degrees for 35 minutes, until nicely browned.
   This makes a moist, tender cobbler. Not a fan of thawed strawberries, but this recipe almost lets me forget they've been frozen. Unless the cobbler will be eaten the day it's made, pour some of the juice off the thawed berries to prevent the cake part from getting soggy.)
   Also, yesterday I baked another loaf of the easiest sandwich bread ever: No Knead Multi-Grain Bread. Though twice I have managed to cause the dough to lose its nice rise, the bread still turns out great...soft and tender to the bite. (Didn't grease my plastic cover well enough AGAIN and the risen dough fell some though I slowly removed the plastic.)
   Do NOT feel like cooking today, so we had leftover chili for lunch. We'll have spinach salad with shaved Parmesan and toasted pine-nuts for supper, topped with a balsamic vinaigrette I just made from an Emeril recipe found on the web. (I dialed back the garlic to one clove, crushed. He likes WAY more garlic than I do.)
   Busy or lazy, hope you're finding something to smile about today!

Friday, February 4, 2011

On my mind: What surprises will 2011 bring?

Sometimes you have to travel a great distance to see weird and wonderful things, sometimes you stumble across the bizarre close to home. As I anticipate our travel adventures for 2011, can't help but reminisce over some of the outings that made me smile in 2010. Of all the sights I was fortunate enough to take in last year, this tarted up mammoth ranks among the most memorable, and I only had to drive to a neighboring town to see it. Can't wait to see what surprises 2011 will bring!

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, February 3, 2011

Make over: Serving tray to computer desk

   Bet I'm not the only one sitting on her couch tapping away at a laptop that's sitting on a converted serving tray. The cushion lap desk (notebook stand) I'd bought previously worked fine for short sessions but occasionally I wanted to watch a Netflix on the computer without eventually feeling like I had a hot potato in my lap.
   This tray, which I think I got at Target, cost somewhere between $10-15 bucks. When I couldn't find anything suitable in the computer department, I found this serving tray in housewares. I figured it would fill the bill...with a minor alteration. Brought it home and had Hubby cut the front side of the tray off. (The front section came up too high and blocked access to the keyboard unless I arched my wrists.)
   Not a very classy solution, it gets put up at the end of the day, out of sight. Cheap as this sucker is, the side braces have worked their way out and had to be re-glued. And the finish is gummed up on the side pictured here...other side's finish is smoother. Still, works for me! Keeps the heat of the laptop off of my legs and provides a steady surface to boot.
   So, AM I the only one using a serving tray for a lap desk?

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

You say potato, I say potato soup

Poster source: TreeHugger 
   Proud of myself...yesterday I peeled and cut up over a dozen little, about-ready-to-shrivel-up potatoes. Last potatoes from our 2010 garden. That means I managed NOT to waste any of our potato crop. Yea!
   I cooked the potatoes on the shelf of our woodburner yesterday, warmed 'em up today on the shelf & then transferred the pan to the cooktop of our stove before smashing the potatoes and adding the seasonings to make soup. Only used the cooktop about 15-20 minutes, so I managed to save some electricity.
   Using Julia Child's Aigo Bouido (Garlic Soup) as a jumping off point, I seasoned my potatoes in their cooking liquid (chicken broth) with a couple of cloves of garlic smashed with coarse salt, a big pinch of white pepper, 1/4 tsp. each dried sage and thyme, 1 tbs. dried parsley, 1 tsp. curry powder, salt to taste and 3 tbs. or so of olive oil. I did add a thickener: about a tablespoon of flour mixed in water (scraped up this flour from the last time I made a pie crust and had been storing it in fridge).
   Though Julia's recipe makes 2 1/4 quarts of soup, I had a quart and a half or so of potatoes and cooking liquid. For that reason, I backed the garlic down to what I thought I'd like...far LESS than her recipe, which called for one to two HEADS of garlic. (Garlic breath for days, eh!)
   If you'd like a look at Julia's recipe in its entirety, go to & find Julia's Way to Cook book. Then search inside the book for her recipe for Aigo Bouido on page 30; then Provençal Garlic and Potato Soup on page 31.
   Forgot to get a pic of the soup in the pan, so after I ate a bowl & Hubby two, the little bowl pictured here is all that's left. Another successful meatless meal!
   Any other Julia Child fans out there? Any meatless meals going down at your house these days?
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