Monday, March 19, 2018

Weekend Reflections ~ 3/17/18 - 3/18/18

curious squirrel at the top of this palm
Although all the weather forecasts had called for rain all weekend, Saturday was a beautiful day!  I took advantage of the wonderful weather and decided to sit in the garden while I called my daddy to wish him a happy 76th birthday.  We enjoyed a good, hour long conversation before hanging up.  

Afterwards, while reflecting on the joy of that phone conversation, I set about preparing a pork roast that I put in the slow cooker for the rest of the day and well into the night.  I loosely followed this recipe, leaving out the onion, using 1/4 cup of water, only one tablespoon of liquid smoke and one bay leaf.  The rest of the recipe, I kept the same.

Since the pork roast wasn't intended for Saturday's meal, I made a favorite of my husband's:

there's nothing like a time worn, handwritten recipe, bearing the signs of faithful service in many a meals over the years~

I have had this recipe for over twenty years (I'm sure you couldn't tell, right?πŸ˜„).  I copied it from the book, The Tightwad Gazette when I was just a frugal tyke, learning at the knee of my sensei, Amy Dacyczyn.  I love that is so flexible and can be made in a multitude of ways.  ~*~  We like adding sweet peas (about a half a cup) to ours. ~ Hubby likes a good splash of lemon juice on top right before he digs in. ~*~  It reminds me of one of the dishes that was our assignment in home ec class many, many moons ago.  We love it so much that I always double the recipe so that we have leftovers, as it tastes as good, or better the second time around.  

For the rest of the day, I reseeded a few flower and vegetable seeds that never germinated.

Other than those few things, I read, relaxed and watched a few relaxing videos.  Thanks to a fellow blogger, Rhonda Jean,  I discovered a new Youtube channel, Li Ziqi Channel.  So many relaxing, beautiful videos!

the first "contender" green bean bloom in the garden!
red lilies preparing for a showy display 

On Sunday, I spent the day leisurely sowing more flower, herb and vegetable seeds, reading and puttering around the house.
the first husky tomatoes (one plant, two views)

After wrapping up dinner, I ended the day laying back in my outdoor chaise lounge, under the sheltering branches of our very fragrant tree and watched the sky as it turned from dove gray to charcoal.  Ducks and other assorted birds flew overhead.  I was hoping to catch a glimpse of a bat or two fluttering to and fro, searching for their evening meal, but there were none to be spotted.  The air and trees were eerily still as I listened to the distant barking of neighborhood dogs, and the occasional meow of my cat that was lounging lazily beside me.  And when the darkness overtook us, Galahad and I went inside to spend a little time with my daughter, who had just gotten in from work, and hear about her day.

Yes, it's a quiet, slow paced life that we have learned to embrace.  It's our new normal, a new season of life that we are trying to gracefully do justice to.  We are content.  We are happy.  Life is good.

I hope your weekend was fulfilling!  I'd love to hear about it.

Thanks for stopping by! ~TJ

Friday, March 16, 2018

Simple Living, Extraordinary Life ~ The Dailies 3/16/18

Today has been mostly cloudy, with momentary bits of rain and sun, each vying for it's rightful place in the spotlight.  I did my errands (Home Depot, Target, Dollar Tree, Walmart, Aldi & Walgreens.  Yeah.  The sheer memory of it exhausts me.) for the week yesterday, so today I am dividing my time between the indoor and the outdoor activities that wait patiently for me to tend to them.  Mostly though, I've been lounging.  That's the only drawback that I, personally, have with cloudy/rainy days.  They make me want to laze about.  Not that I'm complaining.  Luxuriating in laziness is my specialty.  But, there are things to do that won't be denied.  Laundry.  Meal prep.  Light housekeeping.  They will get done.  Soon.  Verrry soonπŸ˜‰.

Later that day...

The sun ended up coming out, rousing me from my cozy cocoon.  I happily set about checking on plants and seedlings and tried out my new spray nozzle that I bought at the Dollar Tree  (I got the green one~not bad for a dollar!).  I unloaded the five bags of potting soil and humus/manure mix from the back of the truck.  Rearranged some plants and empty plant pots.  I tinkered and piddled around and tinkered some more until I went inside.
photo credit:  Dollar Tree website (not affiliated with)

Indoors, I did a load of laundry, tidied the powder room and a dozen other little things that had me feeling like a busy bee, flitting from bloom to bloom.  And then my Avon order came in so I took care of that.

After a dinner of low carb turkey chili (this recipe, only with ground turkey), I settled in, contentedly, for the evening.

Whewww!  And you thought I was going to hibernate all day, lol!

Thanks for stopping by and sharing the day with me! ~TJ

Five Frugal Things ~ March 16, 2018

This past week, to flex my frugal muscles, I:

•  snipped some mint from the garden to add to tea, drinking water and just to nibble on (healthier than breath mints!).  I also snipped some parsley to add to dressings, my dog's food and also to nibble on, among other culinary uses.  Speaking of tea, I also took the little bits of tea at the bottom of my cups that I couldn't finish, and added/combined them in a canning jar and stuck it in the fridge for my later, iced tea drinking pleasure. (I mix whatever flavors I happened to be drinking to do this and have rarely had a "concoction" that I didn't care for.)
I wish I knew what this plant was.  It came with the house and has never disappointed with its showy display of snow white flowers!

•  cut and brought in some flowering branches to cheer up my housebound hubby.  (And me, I love fresh flowers!)

•  FINALLY baked the no knead French bread!  It's a keeper, and so much easier than the recipe I used to make when my dough bowl was intact (rip dough bowl😭).  I will still play around with the recipe until I get it juuuussst right for us. (I will take a picture after I have gotten it more to our liking.)

•  hung to air out my gently worn clothes after one wearing.  When the weather isn't too hot or humid, I find I am able to get more than one wear out of some garments.  I just hang them inside out so I know they have been worn.  It saves wear and tear on the garment and lightens my (laundry) load, saving water, detergent and energy (mine and utilities).

•  bought, blanched and froze 17 1/2 (*+) pounds of asparagus that I stocked up on when Kroger put them on sale for .88 lb.  Asparagus is one of my very favorite veggies and I have not seen it at this price in recent memory.
* the + is for the few stalks, here and there, that I may, or may not have, *wink* eaten as I was processing them.  I used the blanching and ice bath water (after it had come to room temp) to water plants.

I hope my frugal five encourages you, as others have encouraged me!

Speaking of encouragers, here is a favorite blog that, if you don't already follow, I thought you might enjoy.  I have been reading Miss Rhonda Jean's earthy, well rounded blog, off and on for years! >>> { Down to Earth }  Why don't you run on over there & say "howdy!"?
photo credit:  Down to Earth blog

I hope you love it as much as I do!  I'd love know what you think!

Thanks for stopping by! ~TJ

Monday, March 12, 2018

Gorgeous Weather!

Today, as much as I love a good, stormy, cloudy, cool day, is probably a reflection of my second favorite type of weather.  A weather sweet spot, if you will.

I have been busying myself with indoor tasks lately, as our weather has warmed a tad (I know, I know.  Cry me a river, my northern brethren are thinking. Yes, I feel compelled to add that disclaimer to all my grouchy weather commentary.πŸ˜‰) and with the combined humidity that makes me wilt, I thought it would be a good time to do a bit of Spring cleaning.  So, busy I have been.  Well, that and napping (did I mention this weather makes me wilt?  Oh yeah, I did.  Sorry.).

I haven't been a total garden slouch though, nor a total hermit.  I do have to go outside long enough to tend to my tender seedlings so they don't succumb to the warm winds that have been blowing things around in our yard lately.  And I have been busy planting bulbs, asparagus and blueberry bushes (to name a few).  I am determined to be more diligent in the garden this year.  Determined, I tell ya.  I am no master gardener, and am still learning.  With what feels like more failures than successes, each year I feel like throwing in the towel.  "I will never garden again!", I declare, in my minds loudest voice.  And then, after a brief sabbatical, the soil and seeds beckon me to try...One. More. Time.

Our FoodSaver is an older model but here is a similar one.
The Roll Combo Pack was purchased a few years back at Sam's Club and has lasted for.ever!  Here is a comparable pack.
Hubby and I both agree that it has been an excellent investment.

But today, OH TODAY (!!!)  our weather is perfectly PERFECT!  So, the baking (no knead bread experiment~still haven't made it. And a hubby requested cherry dump cake.) and putting up of the poundage of asparagus I snagged on sale at Kroger (.88 lb!) I planned to do today may have to wait.  (I did manage to blanch & freeze five pounds last night)  At least until the sun goes down.

Now I'm off to wander the (postage stamp) property and play with my plant babies...

Thanks for stopping by! ~TJ

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Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Rainy Day Reading

One of my favorite things about rainy days, like this morning was, is reading a good book without the nagging feeling I should be outside doing the latest necessary garden tasks.  And last night, I made a pantry inspired (read: throw together what I have on hand which was:  diced meat from a couple of chicken legs, sauce made from a can each of crushed tomatoes and petite diced tomatoes that I added a small can of mushrooms, Italian herbs, garlic powder, a pinch of sugar & salt and simmered on the stove until it thickened up a bit, and about 2/3 of a bag of a pasta trio that I cooked al dente, all stirred together with some shredded mozzarella, topped with more mozzarella then baked covered at 350°F for 30 minutes and then uncovered to bake for another 15 minutes) baked pasta dish and an easy Easy Pineapple Upside-Down Cake for dessert so I don't have to worry about making dinner tonight, as there was plenty left over for today's dinner & sweet attacks.  Therefore, I can snuggle up and read for a while.

Have you read this one?...
A Householder's Guide to the Universe by Harriet Fasenfest

I'm just getting started, but so far, I am really enjoying it!  It's a light, informative (for this amateur gardener) read.  It is sprinkled with the authors personal thoughts and experiences and so far hasn't had so much technical detail as to make my brain hurt.  (There is a bit of colorful language, so if that isn't your cup of tea, consider yourself  forewarned.)  The book is divided up by month, and each month has a "home", "garden" and "kitchen" section, with discussion of various tasks that Mrs. Fasenfest performs and/or suggests be done for that month.  Also, just by flipping through the pages quickly, it appears there are some recipes to go along with charts of what the author plants in her own garden and when.

I got mine at Goodwill for $2.99 + a 30% discount but you can find one here.

If you've read this book, I would love to hear what you thought of it!  Also, if you have any favorite books (of any genre) I would love the recommendations as I am a notorious bookworm.

Alas, all good things must come to an end.  At some point during my deep immersion in the householder "manual", the light rain stopped.  Which is just as well, as I had to go to the grocery store to stock up on a few things.  My daughter went along with me to buy some groceries for herself, which made my grocery trip extra enjoyable.  And then I got to come home and play in the garden for a little while before it got too dark!  I sowed some mesclun, moonflower and morning glory seeds and re-seeded some lettuces that never sprouted. 

It was a very nice, and relaxing day.

Thanks for stopping by! ~ TJ 

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Friday, February 23, 2018

Five Frugal Things ~February 23, 2018

Whooooowheeee!  Lawd have mercy!  Our weather has changed from chilly/cold/wintry to warm and muggy.  All in a matter of ONE DAY.  I had some Michigan in-laws that came to visit years ago, and after experiencing our high humidity, said they felt like they were suffocating.  Said they literally felt they couldn't breath easily.  So, if that gives y'all any idea of the dripping-sweat-before-you-can-dry-off-fresh-out-of-the-shower ick I am currently experiencing, there ya go.  Or, it could be hot flashes.  No. NO!  Dripping-sweat-before-you-can-dry-off-fresh-out-of-the-shower ick has been a thing the whole of my life living here.  But, I'm not complaining (as much as I could be if I really let loose). πŸ˜‰

I know from reading instagram posts (@tjssweethome should you be inclined to check it out) that there is such a wide range of weather conditions everyone is experiencing, and it seems everyone is "over it", no matter what they're weather is like.  Even though I grouse a bit, I do realize how fortunate we are here in our climate (the giant fire ants hills and mosquitoes that are already staking their claim to co-exist with us notwithstanding).

I'll let that be a segue into my Frugal Five this week:
•  I saved money by not having to go to the sauna for my steam bath and facials.

Just kidding...

•  I took some bananas that were getting all freckly and froze them, along with some apples that I "baked" in the crock pot with some cinnamon.  I'll add them to my smoothies at some point.  Or a dessert.  It all depends on if I'm feeling healthy or "in the mood for something sweet".  I also placed a small amount of leftover fresh cilantro in an ice tray and filled them with water until they were submerged.  I will throw the cubes into soups or some other yummy dish at some point.  I froze some homemade yogurt, before it got to the aforementioned "lactic acid face mask" stage, in my handy dandy ice cube trays.  They are also destined for smoothies or whatever recipe might call for yogurt (or even sour cream).

•  I have been using some expired homemade yogurt for lactic acid facial masks.

•  I have been leaving the blinds and blackout curtains closed during the sunniest and hottest parts of the day so the a/c doesn't have to work as hard.  Our weather has been in the 70's lately which doesn't sound bad until you add in our high humidity. Being a "lady of a certain age" (πŸ˜‚πŸ˜­) hasn't helped endear me to our weather either! I follow the strategically placed fans that are throughout our home, only turning them on when I am in the direct path of their glorious breeze. #followthefans

•  I picked up three cans of wet cat food using the last of the coupons that was included in Galahad's (our kitty) adoption kit.  I also had three coupons for free items at our local Randall's grocery store that I received playing their Monopoly game.  And let's not forget the free Chobani coupon I took advantage of to get a plain yogurt to start more crock pot yogurt. (I know I could've used some from my last homemade batch kinda got away from me.  Hence the frozen yogurt cubes and lactic acid face mask.  Sometimes, no matter how diligent I try to be, I miss the mark.  What can I say?

•  And last but not least, making shopping lists and sticking to them! I am getting better at not allowing myself to be distracted by all the pretty shinies that like to capture my attention like so many, trench coat clad, back alley "watch salesmen.  "Pssst! Hey, sweet-hahhht. Wanna buy a... ____fill in the blank_____".  Taking deep breaths, and thinking purchases through, before my trembling-with-excitement hand places said unlisted item in my cart has been my strategy.  My recovery even includes sometimes removing items after taking the item on a happy, breezy tour of the store.  Yes, it means I have to backtrack to put them back in their rightful place, but I try to look on that as the exercise that I so desperately need.

Now your turn!  I'd love to hear how you make those pennies, nickles and dimes clink in your change jar.

Thanks for stopping by! ~ TJ

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Focus: Garden

I mentioned in this post that I would elaborate more on each of the things I am mainly focused on right now.  Priorities,  if you will.  And one of those is the garden.
The garden began coming to life weeks before the cold weather ended.  One of the first signs were these birds.  We have resident Bluejays that visit us regularly, an occasional cardinal, and recently I noticed very small birds that are about the size of finches frequenting our yard.  (Fun fact:  I used to have a pair of finches many years ago named Lance and Lacy.  No, I don't watch soap operas, lol.)
The next inkling that Spring was on it's way was these bulbs, peeking ever so shyly from beneath fallen leaves in a bed next to the driveway.  I bought a markdown container of bulbs at Kroger last year and when they faded, I planted them.  These are those.  There were a few more bulbs, but so far only four have come up (one requested to not have me take it's picture because it was feeling homely.)

I began a project a few weeks ago called Wintersowing.  I was itching to get a head start on seed sowing but did not want seed trays and potting soil inside the house.  
Although we don't get much of a winter, and I probably should have started the experiment sooner, so far I am enjoying the results!

Since I didn't have as many gallon jugs as I needed for the number of seeds I wanted to get started, I improvised by making tiny greenhouses out of gallon zipper bags to supplement my seed sowing efforts.


a peek inside a gallon jug with spinach mustard seedlings happily growing

baby dill inside a gallon zipper "greenhouse"

Other cold weather seed sowing...
radish seeds planted in ground enjoy a moist, warm, glass canning jar incubator on a brisk day

An experiment with layer propagation of a boxwood...


I'm hoping to create more of a welcoming sanctuary for bees, birds and beneficial insects this year by having more flowers and flowering plants, and this is just the beginning of that adventure!

Do you have any gardening tips, tricks or advice you would care to share?  I'd love to hear them!

Thanks for stopping by! ~TJ


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