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Sunday, August 31, 2014

Been busy

Besides work this week, I've tended to the following:


Tires rotated, approx $20.


Had my car washed, paying with one of my coupon vouchers that I buy at a discount around the holidays. No additional cash out of pocket this lean time of year, as I await my next paycheck come September 15th. I should be set for a bit, meanwhile I am setting aside funds to purchase snow tires come November. Farmer's Almanac is calling for another bad one.

This past Monday's CSA pickup: lettuce, green beans, French radishes, a bouquet of flowers, a watermelon, 2 green peppers, dill, tomatoes. In addition, at an extra cost, I bought 50 lbs of "seconds" tomatoes for canning.

 This kept me busy all of Saturday: 4 cases pint jars of tomatoes
I then cooked down the peels and chopped off bits, ran that through a food mill, boiled that down 1/3 of the way, added some dried, Italian herbs and created 8 pints of tomato sauce for the upcoming year as well. Nice tip to use what many would have just automatically tossed, or in our case, composted. I made sure to get every bit of food that I paid for!

More home furnishings and a freebie

 My list of home furnishings to acquire continues to shorten. This week, I picked up the above lamp from someone, as I was commuting back home from work. I needed another lamp for my bedroom, which is North facing and none of the rooms (except dining room, hallway and kitchen) have ceiling lights, so lamps were needed. I previously posted about other lamps that I had purchased. This lamp was posted on a local town's Facebook tagsale page for $25. I emailed the owner, asking if she'd consider $20. She accepted. Great, as $20 is my to price that I want to pay for a lamp.
 This matches beautifully with my bedroom decor. The owner stated that she thought it was a Pottery Barn lamp, but when I got home, I found out (sticker on the bottom of the lamp base) that this is actually a Laura Ashley Home lamp! My valences are LA as well, which is why this coordinated so well. I went on line, and comparable LA lamps, per their website, retail for $139. Egads! My $20 lamp suits me just fine. : )
DS #1 had a now in the military but home on leave friend stop by for a visit, T. brought me these HUGE courgettes as he calls them (he's British) from his Mum's garden, stating that he remembers that I like to bake cakes and muffins with them. Very thoughtful. Now to break out the Cuisinart and shred them, freezing the veg in 2 cup increments for another frozen asset. I may also chop some for soup, spaghetti sauces.

So what's been cooking this past week?

Another week has flown by, no posts. Sorry, getting back into the swing of things and adjusting schedules is taking longer this year.

Some of this past week's cooking:
 Last Sunday: pork chop bake using 2 sad apples and the rest of my herbed stuffing shreds; more of the DT rosemary and garlic fingerlings that I baked off in the toaster oven, fzn Prince Edward veggie medley.
 Fish on Monday: canned salmon turned into fish cakes for 6 using homemade bread crumbs and shredded carrot to bulk these out. Frozen peas were served but I don't recall what else.
  but do know that I served sliced tomatoes on the side. Yum!
 Crock Pot Tuesday and planning ahead: A batch of my calico beans cooked all day, with planned overs tucked into the freezer for a frozen asset. 28 oz cans of baked beans go for $1.39 @ Aldi's-so that is my price comparison. At last tally, I can make my own baked beans for $1/28 oz equivalent.

A hodgepodge of sausages accompanied: the rest of some that DS brought with him when he returned to the nest, a small package of 2 links that I had bought on sale with a coupon making it super cheap, and finally a package of marked down Aldi's kielbasa dogs (50 cents).
 Vegetarian Thursday brought more beans to the table, this time as black bean burgers. I used up packets of hot sauce from the kids Chinese take out up in the process, getting those out of the fridge. Sides were oven baked sweet potatoes, canned corn.

Friday was a take and bake pizza from Aldi's as I was in the city, so did my shopping then (we had run out of quite a few staples).

Saturday: leftovers or fix yourself a sandwich night. Cook's night off. I was busy canning all day.
This Sunday supper: Crock Pot "baked" meatloaf using more homemade bread crumbs and a blend of ground turkey and ground beef for health as well as economic reasons; sides: mashed potatoes, steamed carrots and steamed green beans.

This week's baking included 2 loaves of white sandwich bread as well as 24 banana-mini chocolate chip muffins. Great way to use up ripe fruit.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Car maintence


When I drove to pick up DS's GF from work last night, I noted that my tire pressure light was on. Hmmm . . .so this morning, I had DS use his tire gauge to check the tires. Sure enough, one was down to 17 psi, not good. So, I carefully drove DS to work today, and we tried 3 gas stations (no air pump, remodeling, it's broken) and I ended up driving a bit to where I knew one existed. I went inside and asked someone to help; a young kid checked the tire, and we both saw a metal nail. Darn. So, he filled up the tire, and I placed 2 phone calls to tire dealers in the area-both seem to be closed on Sunday. I then called DD and asked her to check on Sears automotive center, and luckily, they are open today. I carefully drove over there, waited about 1 hour, and fortunately they were able to plug the leak instead of replacing the tire. One could hear the hiss of the tire once I parked the car. So, $20.21 with tax plus $5 tip to aforementioned kid who helped me at the service station.

I simply didn't want to deal with it in the morning, as it would have made me late for my first day back at work. Athough it's a casual day, filled with meetings between breakfast and lunch, it still would be bad form in my book. So, I hope this is resolved for the moment. I am actively saving for a set of snows come November; the tread on the current set of tires is still very good.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

September menus


August is quickly wrapping up, we've had deliciously cooler temps here and leaves are already starting to change color. I return to work Monday, kids start school Wed. To ease the transition, and keep us in budget, I am preplanning my monthly dinner menus, incorporating what is on hand as much as possible. We will continue receiving our CSA until Thanksgiving, so vegetables will be TBA, unless there is a particular canned/frozen/cheap fresh item I was to use for a particular night. Here's the plan:

1-marinated BSCB (grilled) over a large tossed salad, macaroni salad
2-Salisbury steaks in onion-mushroom gravy (use boxed beef stock to make), roasted garlic mashed potatoes, veg
3-hamburger and macaroni, salad
4-ground turkey-pinto bean tacos on soft tortillas, refried beans, canned corn, assorted toppings (lettuce/tomato/sour cream/taco sauce/salsa/shredded cheese)
5-glazed ham meatballs (mix up sweet n sour packets with chilli sauce and/or a touch of BBQ sauce to coat and keep moist)-use ground ham in freezer; mashed potatoes, fzn peas
7-roast chicken (fzn), fzn Brussel sprouts, brown rice, cranberry sauce
8-baked salmon fillets with lemon juice and dill weed (fzn fillets), fzn oven roasted garlic and rosemary fingerling potatoes, fzn peas
9-CP turkey (diced fzn)-pinto bean chilli, Southern style corn bread
10-spaghetti with fzn meat sauce, salad, fzn  Prince Edward veggie mix
11-sloppy joes (canned sauce, fzn beef) on buns; fzn corn, fzn onion rings
12-omelettes, home fried potatoes (use canned)
14-corned beef (fzn), cabbage, potatoes, carrots; Irish soda bread
15-horseradish crusted (fzn) Tilapia, mashed potatoes, veg
16-CP Campbell's style pork beans, hot dogs (fzn), buns (fzn), coleslaw
17-planned overs: corned beef hash, Campbells style pork beans, coleslaw
18-pate chinois; apple-raisin slaw
19-homemade pizza, salad
21-baked chicken thighs/drums, boiled potatoes, veg
22-salmon cakes (use canned), coleslaw, veg
23-CP beef stew (fzn meat), onion/carrot/celery/potato
24-homemade turkey pot pie (use Aldi's crusts, fzn cubed turkey, fzn turkey stock, assorted veg)
25-homemade mac n cheese with fzn diced ham, veg
26-turkey burgers (use fzn meat) on buns (make), fzn tater tots, veg
28-meatloaf (use fzn beef and fzn turkey), mashed potatoes, beets
29-crabmeat Impossible pie aka "crustless quiche:, salad, green beans
30-kielbasa dogs (fzn), CP New England style baked beans, CP brown bread

Leftovers will continue to be offered for work lunches, Saturday is soup/sandwich day. Cool enough today so I offered (and used up) 4 cans of Campbells chicken noodle soup from DS and GF's appartment with the leftover green beans, a few stray fettucini noodles, the meat off of 2 remaining chicken thighs from last night (leftovers were corralled in one Pyrex container). Made for a heartier soup, which is also an offering to accompany a self made sandwich tonight.

My meat reserves are and will be quite low come the end of Sept, so my focus these upcoming weeks will be to seek out meat bargains for the freezer, to incorporate in October's menus. I anticipate that I will have some frozen chicken parts (no fryers/roasters), fzn kielbasa and sundried tomato sausages, canned tuna/salmon/crab/clams, assorted stray fzn fish fillets (not enough to offer everyone the same type fish for a supper, Now that we are a familly of 6, I need 6 pieces of fish vs 4, for a supper so a package naturally doesn't go as far as it used to); some fzn ham slices (precooked and fzn), some salt pork, some fzn bfst pork sausage links.

While we continue to keep a grocery list on the fridge, I also have a list of needs to complete the above menus, written on my menu planning calendar. So far, I think that I will need to buy (besides the usual): lettuce, Jack cheese, 2 pkgs hamburger buns (or make), 3 pkgs of fzn ground turkey, potatoes, carrots, onion, celery.

More household furnishings on a budget

 I previously posted about finding this oak, drop leaf table at Habitat for Humanity, for a whopping $40.
 The next day, I went back for this mate, matching table-also sold for $40.
 Good, quality, wooden furniture that probably harkens back to the '70's/80's. Lenoir House, a division of Broyhill Furniture-I know someone previously spent a tidy sum on these 2 tables. They fit nicely in our Den, next to our $300, second hand couch, love seat and ottomon. I've tried to keep with neutrals and the same color palette as I acquire posessions for our home. Being able to reuse what we have is a major money saver!

The rug that I bought 2 years ago to keep the floor under the dinette table warm, works wonderfully in this room, as well. A nice bonus.
 No price on this tall, candle stick style, chocolate brown lamp with green, gingham shade, so I had to ask: $15, sold!

Salvation Army find: a high quality, based on the materials used in the lamp shade, red/burgandy lamp for my living room. I noted that the price sticker had a Jan 2014 date so I asked if they also marked down their other furnishings besides actual furniture and was told, "Yes! How about $6.99?" Sold! Red is my accent color in the living room.

 A Frankenstein lamp: $4 silver base from Goodwill, a $10 lamp shade from Walmart. I try to keep lamps under $20/each so perfect. This is for DD's room.
DD's lone lamp already in her room was desperate for a new lampshade, which I picked up at WM while I was there. $15 but I only spent $5 on the buttercream colored, porceline ginger jar lamp 2 years ago at another thrift shop. The old shade? DS's GF expressed an interest when I asked him to place it in the donation box-she took it, replaced the too small shade on another lamp that we are using in the Den as well. 

2 mini lamp timers. There was quite a variety for sale; after reading the packages, these inexpensive options will more than meet my needs of having 2 lamps automatically turn on/off in the den and living room.

A small splurge: a yard of cotton fabric (on sale @ $8.99/yard) coupled with some cream colored, lace trim (not on sale so I could use a 50% off coupon, bringing the cost for the trim to approx $3.59) will be transformed into a set of matching cafe curtains and valence for my Master Bathroom. $12 window treatment is much more affordable than ready made curtains. The walls are a creamy beige, as are the floor tiles. White fixtures with the sink placed in a dark brown vanity; shower curtain rod, towel bars are all black with a copper accent. The vanity top is a man made "granite" that is black with beige/copper flecks. I already have a purple bath rug, a buttercream bath mat, a soft beige shower curtain, a purple trash bin. I tend to use my few purple towels in this room, if not pull from the household stock of mostly cream colored towels. This room could use a splash of color and I love this fabric!

I checked Savers, no luck on lamps but I did come home with this:

 A brand new, hanging kitchen towel in a Fall motif. Local stores are bursting with Fall decor, I can't really rationalize spending tons of money on these items, so we reuse what we have, and I allow for small treats such as this one. We use 2 daily in the kitchen, in lieu of paper towels.
What I especially liked about this one is that it is a doubled over, thick Cannon towel. Nice quality. I spent $1.05 with tax.

So, our list is smaller, and I will continue to scour the second hand market for our wants/needs:

-Dining room side board/hutch
-another lamp for my bedroom
-a bath rug for the master bath (LL left one behind, it's on it's last legs)
-a wall hanging shelving unit of some sort for the hall bath, to get the clutter off of the small vanity, allow users to store daily beauty products conveniently
-night table with drawers for DD
-a rug for DD (we're most likely ordering one from JC Penney, using a 15% off coupon)

Friday, August 22, 2014

New medical issues to address


Don't think I mentioned it, but I misstepped off the cellar stairs last weekend and fell onto the thin rug over concrete. Ever since, my right ankle has been bothering me, developed into a consistant limp. Sigh. . . so I called the orthopedist office, and had an appointment to confirm what I already knew-I have a small tear in my archilles tendon that runs from the ball of the foot up the back of the ankle. RICE: rest, ice, compression, elevation as well as high doses of generic Advil, a sample pack of Voltaren gel (a topical Advil as described to me)-if I like it, I'm to call the office and they will call a RX in. Would have to do so before Sept 1, my start date for our new year under our high deductible insurance plan. I will have to do a 6 week course of PT, however, which will quickly eat our new deductible, coupled with other, existing, medical expenses.

More urgent, however, was what happened later that evening as I was preparing supper; special needs kidlet had his first seizure, fell to the floor, cutting his head open in the process. 911 call made, a trip to the ER, numerous tests and now we will be following up with both a pediatric cardiologist (abnormal EKG) so now we need an echocardiogram, as well as a pediatric neurologist. Naturally, getting late afternoon appointments are next to impossible. I've already signed up to take a 1/2 personal day on 9/2 for the neurologist and await a call back from the cardiologist to get that appointment squared away. 5 stapes in his head, restrictions on activities, can't be left alone, etc. We got home at midnight, exhausted. He asked to sleep with Mom, and naturally the cats joined us. He doesn't remember what happened, just coming out of it, covered in blood. : (

DD baked off the chicken that I had ready to go, and later refrigerated it.

 We had yesterday's plan tonight. the kids at home made themselves something to eat out of what we had on hand. Fine.

Bulk of my time today was spent making phone calls, updating physicians/therapist/school on what happened and trying to determine what we need to do next.