Jan 29, 2011

More Budget Stretching Meals and Store Freebies

I want to tell you, everyone should take advantage of responding to the on-line questionnaire when you get a receipt at the store offering you a chance to win Whatever amount of money.  A while back I decided to go to Brookshire Bros. website and do the questionnaire.  Maybe I could get lucky and win the $1000 in gas or groceries.  Well, so far I haven't heard that I won anything big like that, but each week in my e-mail I get a couple of coupons from Brookshire Bros. and some yummy looking recipes.  Each week one coupon is for a FREE item.  Of course, you have to buy $10 worth of groceries to get the freebie, but when shopping the other specials in the store there is no problem getting a $10 order.  So far, I have gotten an appliance light bulb, a good sized container of Organic Chicken Broth, a large can of Cream of Mushroom soup and one of Cream of Chicken Soup, all for FREE. I have a coupon for this week for a 1 lb. chub of Angus Pride Ground Chuck.  I will be shopping at Brookshire Bros. Monday or Tuesday to take advantage of that.
Also last Saturday, I had a had a coupon for $2 off any package of Swift All Natural Pork.  It turns out the Swift Pork Country Ribs were on sale.  I was able to use the coupon and get an even better bargain.  With the $2 off, I got almost 4.5 lbs of meat for $6.33 or only $1.42 per lb.  The sale price was $1.88/lb which was a good deal anyway.

Monday's are usually Super Busy and Hectic to say the least. Makes for an excellent CrockPot cooking Day.  Because of procrastinating, or just plain taking off on Sunday there is a lot of routine housework to do, and then  I have a TOPS meeting and weigh-in, try to work out at Curves, see after Mimi, tutor after school time, shop at HEB since I'm in Lumberton anyway, and so on. Anyway, on Monday morning I pulled out the crockpot and set the Ribs to cooking.   I put salt, pepper,  and marjoram on the meat and seared it in the cast iron skillet before putting it in the crockpot. I added about half the bottle of Barbeque Sauce--happened to be honey mustard flavor, but have used most any kind--to the top of the meat. I then added the onion soup mix on top of the meat and put about 1/2 of the container of Chicken Broth in the crock pot.  I started it out on high then turned it to low and let it cook.  I was not sure if it might be too salty with the chicken broth and the onion soup mix and having salted the meat also, but it turned out delish. 

Crockpot Pork Ribs on a Budget
I baked some sweet potatoes in the microwave and by mid afternoon, we had a yummy meal of pork ribs and sweet potatoes.  I got the sweet potatoes before Christmas when they were like 17 cents a pound. Unfortunately, I should have gotten more as they are all gone now.  (Hubby did cut some sprouts off to plant in his container garden on the front porch, though.)  Anyway, the meat and the potatoes were fantastic.

And with this package of meat, we ate at least 3 full meals during the week.  One day, I made mashed potatoes to go with it. and had steamed some fresh broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots.  Another day, I fixed rice which we mixed with the gravy and what meat was left.  I think we even made sandwiches out of it once.
Sometime during the week, I fried okra.  I use the frozen cut okra when fresh okra is not in season. Another time I fried up some fresh squash that I had left in the fridge.

I hope everyone can benefit by getting the on-line coupons just by responding to a quick questionnaire.
Happy Cooking!

Jan 27, 2011

Rain, Rain, Go Away...

The ESN scavenger hunt this week is about water.  How appropriate??

We've had a couple of really rainy days here in SE Texas. And a really long stretch of cloudy dreary days.
We needed the actual rain, but truly, it is time to see the sun. It rained hard Monday, but we've had a lot of misty, drizzly, cloudy days.
It makes me think of the rhymes we used to say on rainy days.
Rain, rain Go away
come again another day
Rain rain Go Away
Little Johnny wants to Play.
It's raining, it's pouring.
The old man is snoring.
He jumped in bed and bumped his head,
and couldn't get up it the morning.

Of course, a rainy night makes for good sleeping and it's no wonder the old man couldn't get up in the morning, even without bumping his head.

And, there's
The Rain in Spain falls mainly on the Plain.

Here it seems to be falling everywhere.
So I am off to search ESN for rain gear. Anyone have a good umbrella or raincoat?  How about Galoshes? Or how about a doormat to keep from tracking with wet or muddy feet?
I found this nice coat for wind and rain at La Petit March

A handsome green pull over with 100% nylon shell
For the ladies, I found this vintage black and white parka/coat at Griffin Garb

1960's Parka/coat

And look at these cute "weather" labels from Made 4UbyFaith.
Cloud and Sun on mailing labels

Here's a nice doormat from Cleo's Collectibles to catch the drips at your back door.

This doormat features vintage wine labels, grapes and vineyards.

Since I started this the rain has gone away and we are enjoying some beautiful sunny days and a light south breeze. Just a bit cool. Like most places, the saying here is "If you don't like the weather, just wait a minute." How true that is here, especially in the winter.
Whatever the weather where you are, you can find a lot of nice items on ESN.
Just think, spring will soon be here. We are already putting seeds in peat pots to sprout for our "front porch" container garden. And the rain IS good for the gardens. 

Jan 23, 2011

Family Fun in the "old days".

The topic for ESN scavenger hunt this week has been "Children".  We all have fond memories of the days when we, ourselves ,were children.  Some of my best memories are of playing dominoes and "42" with my mama, daddy, and brother. Daddy was one who "let you win" when you were little. He was always good to tell us that such and such a domino would make a score to help us along. I think he knew if we had that one or not--Something I never got the hang of in cards and dominoes.  Bro and I and our neighbor playmates also spent a lot of time playing board games, like Monopoly and Pollyanna, and card games like Go Fish, Old Maid, and Battle.  Battle certainly was a game just for children, as it was only luck, no skill involved. Today's youngsters would probably not like it at all, but we spent hours playing Battle. We also played a game that Mama called "Smut".  It was played with regular cards including a joker. It was a variation of Old Maid and whoever ended up with the joker got their nose rubbed with the "smut" of a burnt match.

My own 5 children also played lots of board games: Monopoly, Clue, Sorry, and others. They also played a form of Rummy with their dad.  They had Authors Cards and Old Maid, and Go Fish! When they were older, they played a game called "Spoons" with their friends . I don't recall the details of "Spoons" but know it was rather boisterous and a lot of fun for the participants. Oh, and who can forget Candyland?  The little ones loved it and never tired of it.  Older siblings and Mama tired of it very soon. Lots of hours passed with these diversions out in the Piney Woods of East Texas. 

During Hurricane Rita, we evacuated to my daughter's home (which was not far enough as Rita was still a hurricane there).  While we had no electricity, out came the old and new board games.  We played with the old Clue game from 30 years ago and a newer Star Wars version of Monopoly (How even these things have changed!) and even tried our hand at Scrabble.  I think this got the 2 oldest grands into board games, at least for a while.  At any rate, board games are good for really getting to know each other and interacting as family and friends. What's the word? Bonding.

Last time two of the younger grands came to visit we spent some time playing "pick up sticks" with real wooden sticks and started a game of Sequence. I don't think I stand a chance against this 6 and 10 1/2 yr. old in any game that requires strategy. They both are serious chess players, playing in tournaments. But I had fun spending time with them.

So just for fun, I searched ESN for games, especially "old fashioned" non-electronic games. I didn"t find many.
A Heist Card Game in Original Packaging at Bargain Express fits the criteria. Must say I am not familiar with Heist.

Next I found this New 500 Piece Bear Jigsaw Puzzle at Eccentric Thrifter.  While not a game, puzzles serve the purpose of group bonding.  So I included it.

and as a last resort, I had to choose some Computer Games from a Lil Bit of This N That

Just not too many old fashioned board games out there.

Cooking on a Budget --or "making something out of nothing"

I have really enjoyed cooking (and eating) last night and today. While I'm not a great cook, I think I do pretty good.  And I do enjoy cooking and baking. Pies are my favorite thing to bake (and eat). Probably my forte in the kitchen though is putting together a tasty, somewhat balanced meal with what's on hand and doing it quickly.  I was doing 30 minute meals way before Rachael Ray was popular. Albeit, probably not as fancy as hers. Truthfully, I usually have a lot on hand that I've bought when it was "on sale".  We study the grocery store ads each week and often go to 3 different stores to stock up on the "sale items" that we use regularly.  Throw in a few coupons for further savings and we are able to eat well on a limited budget. I seldom buy items that are not on sale, unless it is staples we have run out of or something I need to make a particular dish.
I sometimes make planned-overs, also.  That is left-overs or extra food that is deliberately planned to make a different second meal.
Sometimes I tell hubby that a meal is "made from nothing".  His response is " I'm glad we had 'nothing' to make it out of."
Today I made Chicken Soup. This is one of my "something from nothing meals".  Truthfully,  I didn't intend to make Chicken Soup this week, but the Chicken Breast I got out of the freezer yesterday turned out to be the bones and skins that I had saved for soup stock. You see, when Chicken breasts are on sale for $1 per lb. I buy several packages.  I then cut the skin and bones off, leaving boneless skinless chicken breast which I put in appropriate sized packages  to freeze for use in various dishes calling for boneless skinless chicken breast.   I put the bones and skins in another package to use for soup stock. Or sometimes I cook it right then and make soup or put the stock in the freezer.

Anyway, I put the chicken on to boil after supper last night.  I put in sea salt, black  pepper, savory, some chopped bay leaf, a couple of stalks of celery, about 3/4 of an onion I had already peeled in the fridge, a small carrot chopped in large pieces and covered it all with water.  I brought it to a boil and simmered it covered for several hours. I was gone for short time and when I came back in, the house smelled so good.  Told Hubby we should start a cafe.  The smells would be so attractive.  The food might not be the best, but the aroma, ummmm!
This morning early, I removed all the bones and skin.  There was 3 to 4 cups of meat and veggies to put back in the stock.  Later, I added a can of mixed vegetables, a can of diced tomatoes, and a couple of packages of Ramen Noodles with the seasoning pack and voila! Chicken soup.  We like to crush the noodles into tiny pieces in the package before adding them to the boiling broth.  Sometimes I have fresh frozen tomatoes from a local garden, but since those are all gone, we had to revert to canned ones. Also sometimes I use frozen mixed veggies.  It just depends on what I have on hand.  In any case, the canned or frozen foods have been bought on sale and ramen noodles are cheap, cheap, so the whole big pot of soup costs very little.  This chicken soup turned out so, so yummy. I will definitely stick with the sea salt and the particular herbs I used. We ate some for lunch with whole wheat crackers and I took some to Mimi.  Then late afternoon Paul and  each had a second bowlful. UMMM Good. There is still enough for another meal.  I may freeze it to use sometime when I don't have time to cook or we may eat it tomorrow.

For supper, I pulled 2 Tombstone pizzas out of the freezer and into the oven. Added a green salad and we had a real treat for a Friday night meal and avoided the expense of going out.  I got the pizza recently on a special of 4 for $10.  We will have left over pizza for breakfast too.

We had ham for Christmas dinner.  Last week, I took the ham bone which still had a lot of ham on it and made 15 bean soup.  I buy the package of 15 bean soup mix for that. It includes a seasoning packet and has the instructions on the package.  We really enjoyed that also. I know it sounds like we do a lot of soup, but say hey, it is winter and a good bowl of hot soup is real comfort food. Of course, you could stretch the dollars a bit more by buying pinto beans or navy beans or whatever you like and seasoning them up yourself, but no more often than we have ham with the bone I sort of splurge and get the 15 bean soup package.
Happy Cooking Everyone---

This was actually written a week or so ago. I just now got the pictures put together, but hey that's okay.
Meantime I have enjoyed shopping,cooking and we have enjoyed eating a lot more good food.

Jan 14, 2011

Flowers, Flowers, Flowers....Where have all the Flowers Gone?

Here it is the dead of winter and we wonder where have all the flowers gone?  Soon it will be spring and our town will be a showcase of azaleas and other flowers as evidenced in Our Town in Spring. Actually I might say All the Flowers are gone to Silsbee.  There is always something blooming here. The beautiful spring flowers are followed by the crepe myrtles in the summer.  There are huge crepe myrtle trees of various colors in yards around town as well as the small ones in the median of Highway 327 aka as Tiger Lane. This year the fall roses were absolutely gorgeous and of course we had the October Daisies.  Now we are enjoying a pot of pansies under Mimi's carport.  And the camillas are blooming by our front porch and in Mimi's backyard.  A nice harbinger of spring is a clump of paper whites (narcisscus) blooming in our back yard.
You also might say All the Flowers are Gone to ESN.  Our scavenger hunt this week takes us on a search for flowers..flowers to help us look forward to warm spring days.  There are as usual so many to choose from.  Here are a few.
I love Daisies and here is a beautiful fabric from Lil Bit of This N That.
Isn't this cheery? 
It would be neat in a kitchen or for something for a child.
In fact, Lil Bit of This N That has more floral fabrics. It is hard to decide which one is prettiest. You might choose several if you are a "sewer".

If you are not inclined to sew or make something yourself, have a look at I M Designs for lovely floral handbags.  This beautiful flowered bag for spring is one example.
Beautiful roses, daisies, buttons and lots of pockets!
Colors of Silk has a lot of gorgeous silk scarves and pillow covers with big bold flowers. Like this one with red and blue poppies.
Big Bold Summer Flowers on rich silk.
 Hang in there. Look at the Flowers on ESN and Dream.  Spring will be here sooner than we think.

Jan 7, 2011

Keeping Warm with Colors in January!

Well, here it is January. Christmas is passed. The Year 2011 is on it's way.
The New Year's gathering of the Goodman/Wood Clan has come and gone. I must say it was a good holiday season over all. I did get pictures of the tree going up, falling down and finally decorated, but at this point getting  it taken down and stowed away for another year takes precedence over posting pictures after the fact. Maybe on facebook??  Right now I am searching for Warm colors among the ESN listings. This for the new scavenger hunt.  January is not particularly cold here but we are expecting a rather cold rainy Sunday and even colder next week.  We will need to think warm and stay warm then.  It is amazing to me how color can do so much to make us feel warm or cool or happy or sad or whatever. I know on some of the dreary, cloudy days we have here a yellow something is like a bright spot of sunshine.  It can be really cheery. I have zeroed in on some nice warm red items to cheer us and make us think and feel warm.

Here we have a tie with warm colors and with a beach motif. How warm is that?

Dynamite Silk tie with Deck Chairs. Off Island by Tommy Bahama. The Deck Chairs are blue and yellow with the background a beautiful coral with yellow is available at GriffinGarb

And here is a warm wool jacket in a nice warm red color.

Apostrophe NEW Red Wool Blend Peacoat from Gigi's Closet

And can't you just see the fire in the red of this moonstone pin?

Stunning Rare Red Moonstone Pin at Beachcat's Bargains
The possibilities are endless.  Whereever you are and how ever cold and dreary the weather you can find something to cheer you and warm you on ESN.
Hope everyone is getting off to a good start for a Happy New Year.