Saturday, May 31, 2008

Update on Mama

Thank you so much for your comments and prayers!

Mama is doing better, but she is having lots of ups and downs. She has been moved to the skilled nursing section of the hospital for a few days until she can regain her strength and maybe get a little Physical Therapy. She doesn't seem to have many effects from the stroke, but is weak. She has been having headaches and nausea. The hospital food leaves a lot to be desired!

I have been going to visit her before work, during lunch and after work. My siblings and I have been taking turns spending the night. The room she is in now is a semi private room and really has no where for us to sleep, so I don't know if I'll be spending the night anymore. I hope she can go home soon.

Even in bad times God's goodness is apparent. Her roommate is a lady who goes to our church! This poor lady is almost completely deaf, however. Her mail carrier accidently ran over her foot with his or her vehicle. I'm not sure how this happened, but she has had surgery and some real problems. She's pretty old and doesn't communicate well due to her deafness.

Nonetheless, its nice that her roommate is someone we know and her visitors know Mama. Our pastor can visit them both at the same time!

I feel better knowing that she isn't sleeping in a room with complete strangers!

This morning I'm trying to catch up on some laundry and bill paying. Then I'm going to Mama's house to get her some gowns and other personal items.

Have a great day!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Blogging Break

Just a note to let everyone know I won't be blogging for a few days. My mother is in the hospital due to a stroke. She doesn't appear to have any permanent disability, but is still in the hospital with other problems. I need to devote my time right now to helping her and trying to work. :o(

I covet your prayers for a full recovery and that she will be able to go home and resume the independent life she loves.

Hopefully I will be back to blogging in a couple of days!

Thanks!

Debbie J.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Yard Work


I've been neglecting our yard lately due to inside activities like SEWING!! lol

On my list of things to do today was to clean off the front porch, pot up some plants, divide my Aloe plants and cut back three clematis vines that were slowly taking over the house! These are two Geranium plants I repotted that my daughter gave me for Mother's Day.

The pot on the top has an Angel stenciled on the side. I went through a stenciling stage about 10 years ago and this is one of the remaining stenciled clay pots. I had to throw away one this morning that had cracked and fallen apart when I picked it up. :o( Notice the drainage saucer is a frisbee.

I had a milestone birthday earlier this year and this morning I think I lost another year or two! Here are a couple of God's creatures living on my front portch!





I've tried to do some odds and ends this morning like yard work, vacuuming, laundry, hanging out clothes, etc. This afternoon I plan to sew. I need to finish up a couple of special request items. Its a beautiful day outside here in North Carolina! I just might take a nap under the ceiling fan.....!

Menus and Organization

I am still trying to get organized. I keep tweaking my systems (or non-systems) trying to come up with something that will work for me over the long haul. I keep trying to use a combination of Flylady and my own systems. I had a little extra time this weekend and came up with the following:

Menus:

I'm using the monthly menu printables from the Family Homestead. Nothing is cut in stone! I am constantly marking out, switching around and adding to the menus. But, in some strange way its working. At least I have some kind of guideline. What helps it to work is knowing that I'm probably going to change it. For example, we really need to use up all of the lettuce I bought this past weekend, so we may be eating salad with every meal this week or as the meal itself! These are my tentative menus for this week.

Friday: BBQ ribs, potatoe salad, green beans.

Saturday: Spaghetti, chili, salad, homemade bread. (my son doesn't like beans, so I made a big pot of spaghetti sauce. I divided it into two containers and added beans, chili powder, etc.to ours and italian seasonings to his)

Sunday: Grilled out. Hotdogs, hamburgers, ribs, salad, fresh potaotes,

Monday: Chicken Cacciatore, salad, leftovers

Tuesday: Sloppy Joes, salad

Wednesday: Pizza, salad

Thursday: Mexican Chicken, salad


Homemaking Dreams Notebook

I have a Homemaking Dreams Notebook. Its a three ring binder with dividers and plastic sleeves in it. The first page is for emergency numbers and non-emergency information. It just occurred to me that I probably should redo it entirely to eliminate any bank account numbers and Social Security Numbers. I have one whole sheet with some of my family's ss#s, drivers' license numbers and bank account numbers. YIKES! I attended a seminar just last week with an hour of identity theft that specifically taught us never to carry these numbers around with you!

My notebook also has a list of our favorite main dishes, side dishes, menus and a list of all the grocery items we might ever buy listed in the order of the layout of our local Food Lion.

The notebook has a complete address book section and a personal section with family pictures, etc.

The newest addition to the notebook is my stockpile inventory. I've listed all the items I am purchasing for my freezer and pantry stockpile. Beside each item is the number on hand. This helps me to know what I need to be on the lookout for and what I have enough of. I just so happened to get a new library book last Friday called "Living Rich By Spending Smart", by Gregory Karp. This book has a whole section on stockpiling. He states to never shop weekly for what you need, but to shop the sales to add to your stockpile. This is the same thing as "The Pantry Principle" in the Tightwad Gazette books.

Journal and Dayminder

I received free in the mail a Dayminder 2008 book. When opened flat, there is an entire month with space to write in information on each day. It fits into my Homemaking Dreams notebook. I have a pocket sized calendar/planner that I keep in my pocketbook to write down appointments, etc. to be transferred to the notebook later.

I also purchased a small spiral bound journal at Dollar General for making notes and lists. In there I've written down the things that I want or need to get done in my day to day life. Here's my first draft of the list:

1. Devotion/Bible reading/church
2. Cleaning
3. Cooking
4. Sewing
5. Exercise
6. Blog
7. Reaching out to family members and others in need.
8. Work responsibilities
9. Yard/garden
10. Christmas planning

Then I thought about how I could manage all these on a weekly basis. I made a list of weekly cleaning jobs that I want to scatter throughout the week. I listed Flylady's cleaning zones.

Then I wrote down what I would "like" to do each night after work to accomplish some of my goals. This is a sample week. It does NOT include morning devotion, blogging, exercise, cooking, etc. that I try to do everyday without benefit of a list.

Sunday: Zone 4 this week is the living room; Write cards, call or visit those in need; Plan menus for the week, Plan any shopping for sales this week (CVS,FoodLion, Walgreens, etc.);

Monday: Declutter/clean in Zone 15 minutes, Sew 30 minutes, do one weekly cleaning chore from list.

Tuesday: Declutter/clean in zone 15 minutes, Sew 30 minutes, do one weekly cleaning chore from list.

Wednesday: Wash and dry a large load of towels, Declutter/clean in zone 15 minutes, sew 30 minutes, do one weekly cleaning chore from list.

Thursday: Declutter/clean in zone for 15 minutes, clean bathrooms, sew thirty minutes.

Friday: Visit my mother/help her with her house cleaning; weekly vacuuming.

Saturday: One hour of cleaning; Laundry; Study Sunday Bible Readings; yardwork; Sewing.

I hope to do a few loads of laundry in the mornings, and there are always lunch hours to do shopping and other errands! Whew!

A Monday Minute

Hope you are having a good Monday and if you are off work, a good Memorial Day off.

Its a thought provoking day as well as a day off work and the official start of summer. My Dad is 88 this year and I have two living uncles in their eighties who served in World War II. My oldest brother served in Vietnam and my next oldest brother was stationed in Germany at the same time. My oldest brother was drafted and persuaded the younger one to join the army at the same time to prevent the younger one from going to Vietnam. At that time the military wouldn't send two brothers to Vietnam at the same time. This was a hard time for our family, but everyone survived. My brothers' scheme may well have saved the younger one's life!
We are so blessed in our family that I can't think of anyone who has been killed in a war.

Our weekend has been good so far. Its so nice to have some extra time off work to pursue my homemaking dreams! I got off work Friday at noon and am off today. I needed some time to just "be". Part of me is yelling, "Get to work on all this stuff around here that needs doing!" and the other part is softly whispering, "Relax, you need some time to take things slowly...". AAARRGH!

My son and I went to church on Saturday night and my mother very reluctantly stayed home this time due to some health problems. Trust me, it is VERY rare for her to ever miss church!

Yesterday my daughter, son-in-law and grandson came for lunch. We grilled out hotdogs, hamburgers and country style ribs, with all the fixins. We also had more fresh potatoes and salad.

NO ONE ate any salad! There were just too many other favorite foods. We'll be eating salad this week every day to use it up I'm afraid! Food Lion had dark green leaf lettuce for $1.79 a bunch. I chose one that was 2 or 3 times as big as the others on the counter. It is so big it fills up the entire vegetable drawer in my fridge. I got out my salad spinner and washed the leaves as well as I could, dried them in the spinner and placed all the leaves in the paper towel lined vegetable drawer. This kind of lettuce is perfect for sandwiches and salad. I was going to send some home with my daughter, but forgot it!

My grandson is into everything!!! He is crawling and pulling up on everything. The only thing is he hasn't learned that you can't just let go. He's still learning about gravity! Its a job to keep your eyes on him to prevent him from getting hurt. and naps? What's that?

My digital camera totally quit working a few days ago, but my wonderful son-in-law pushed a few buttons on it, reprogrammed it a little and its working again, thank you Lord! This camera is a hand me down from my older sister, who bought a newer model. Its a great camera and I really like it, so I hope it continues to work for a long time. Here is one picture of my grandson from yesterday.


MOTHERLY LOVE

Friday, May 23, 2008

Frugal Friday - Stockpiling

I'm still doing well on limiting my grocery shopping to once every two weeks and also am loving menu planning! In yesterday's post I talked about how I feel led to stockpile for my family and the needy. Stockpiling would also help me to limit my grocery shopping trips and save money. With a well stocked stockpile, I could stretch the time between major grocery shopping trips even further. Wouldn't it be nice to go to the grocery store only once a month..... or less!!!!

Last Fall I did a couple of posts on stocking up for winter here and here. Many of the items I stocked up on are just now beginning to be depleted. It has been really nice to know that I had many of my regularly used staples on hand.

I've decided that I must love to make lists! I'm always coming up with some kind of list every day. The following are my steps to stockpiling for the future.

1. Decide what kinds of things we need and that we actually would use. There's no point in purchasing things that we don't really need just because they are on sale. I've also learned from experience, there's no point in buying things my family doesn't already like or use.

These items also need to be things that store well, either in the freezer or pantry.

2. Inventory my existing pantry, freezer and other storage areas to see what we need. We need to throw away any old and outdated items.

3. I have cabinet space in my laundry room that is being wasted because it is filled with clutter or other unneeded items. I'd like to organize this space to be used for staples, paper products and hygiene items.

4. I'd like to keep a pantry/freezer inventory sheet in my homemaking notebook so that I can always know what I have, how old it is, and if I need to be on the lookout for more of a certain item.

5. I'd like to allocate a certain amount of money each week to increasing our stockpile. Yesterday I decided I would go to Dollar General on my lunch hour and spend $10.00 on canned goods. You would be amazed at how much I was able to purchase for $10.00. This gave me a nice little start on the stockpile!

6. I'm going to diligently watch the sales papers for unbeatable sales and loss leader items to buy in bulk. I also need to be aware of what the best price actually is for each item. For instance, even though Walmart is not my favorite place to shop, I know which items sold there are the best product at the best price, so I'll make an occasional trip there to buy these in bulk.

This is also true for Dollar General. I know which brands they sell that are good, and offered there at the best price I know of. When I made my $10.00 trip there yesterday, I passed up many things that I knew weren't the best price or I wasn't sure. For example, there was apple juice that was a product of China.... no thanks!

7. This summer I would like to be on the lookout for produce that I can freeze or store. I might even try to do some home canning. My mother has always done this for all her children. She doesn't need to do this, she just likes to do it. But, she really isn't able to any more and I would like to learn this skill. My favorites would be canned tomatoes and green beans. I have a book around here somewhere on this subject. It tells what to do with your surplus garden produce.

One item that stores very well with no work involved is sweet potatoes. Recently I came across some I forgot I had that were stored since last winter. They were still in perfect condition.

Wouldn't it be nice to have a root cellar?!!! You could fill it with all kinds of potatoes, carrots, cabbages, onions, and have a place to store your canned products. I bet some of you have one of these!

8. We are not growing a big garden, although we have plenty of land we could use for this purpose. I'm very interested in a square foot type garden, which I think produces as well as using the row system. Also container gardening appeals to me. My husband has several tomatoes in pots that are really growing fast! This weekend I am off work for 3 days, so I plan to work on this gardening situation.

For more Frugal Friday tips, go to the Biblical Womanhood Blog!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Planning For the Future

Lately I feel this urgency to make plans and get organized for the remainder of the year. Its already May 22nd and the year will be half over before you know it! Do you have New Year's resolutions you need to think about..... again.....? I do.

I think I am being led to prepare for the year(s) to come. Not in a panic or in a stressful way, but slowly and methodically. We need to trust God to take care of us, but as part of that care, we need to do the things he leads us to do.

I don't want to be a lazybones! LOL (Proverbs 6:6 - Go to the ant, you lazybones; consider its ways, and be wise, Without having any chief or officer or ruler, it prepares its food in summer, and gathers its sustenance in harvest.)

My husband and I discussed the situation of the economy this morning. His job brings him face to face with the high price of gas daily and how it affects farmers and truck drivers. My friend, not only is gas going up, but there is no way around food prices going up dramatically or perhaps food shortages.

But as I stated, there is no need to panic, we just need to be wise.

I started cleaning out our freezer this morning and making a list of those foods that would be good for stocking up on. Also the need for rotating the food to use the oldest first. In the past I tended to just stock up on things, put them in a certain place and leave them there for the future.

I want to be a good steward of the food that is available by freezing it, BUT, knowing full well that the freezer depends solely on electricity to work... I'm going to put equal energy and money into non perishables, such as rice, pasta, and canned foods. I've heard many sad stories of freezers that stopped working and it was a week before the owner realized it and all the food was lost. Or in my own experience, a hurricane which knocked out the electricity for a week!

Speaking of hurricanes, hurricane season starts in a couple of weeks and we should all check to see if we have necessary supplies on hand to be prepared for that or other emergency, such as batteries, flashlights, canned food, bottled water, etc.

Luckily, I have not just started trying to be frugal and have acquired many frugal skills which will come in handy no matter what the future brings. I also have to say that this past two weeks, when I limited my grocery shopping dramatically and planned our menus, we cut our food bill dramatically! The new plan is a keeper.

I don't want to forget the needy either! If we are prepared for the future for our own families, we can much more easily help those less fortunate, or those who didn't plan for the future! :o)

I'm also thinking about Christmas. I haven't done the things I planned to prepare for Christmas 08 yet! Now's the time to be purchasing some gifts as we go along, or making them. I tend to wait to start making gifts when its too late or I'm too busy to get them done.

I'm starting two lists today: 1. Stocking up on Food; and 2. Christmas preparations.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Works For Me Wednesday

Gift Closet Ideas

Now is a good time to be restocking your gift closet!

I was invited to a party this weekend, a pig pickin to be exact, for my good friend who was turning 50 that day and for her two children who both were graduating from college. I wanted to take a little gift for each of them.

My plan was to make a tote bag for each of the two graduates and buy some chocolate for my friend who loves chocolate. I made the bags Saturday, but wasn't quite satisfied with the gifts.

So, after church on Sunday I stopped in one of my local Dollar General stores just to see what they had and found some great Christian books that would make wonderful graduation, birthday or other gifts! That's the thing about Dollar General and Dollar Tree. You never know what you'll find. Sometimes I am amazed at the things they have.

I purchased three hardback books by Max Lucado entitled, "Every Day Deserves A Chance" for $4.00 each. With this addition, my gifts turned out very nice. I folded the tote bags up to be the same size as the books, wrapped them in tissue paper and placed them in a gift bag (recycled, of course!).

I also purchased for myself two paper back Books for $3.00 each. One is called, "When God Winks At You" and the other one is a daily devotional book called "Amazing Freedom, a Women of Faith Book". I have been devouring both of these and love them.

I'm having camera problems this morning, so I can't show you a picture of the books, but I'm going to try to add them to my favorites on the Amazon Widget on the sidebar.

I am going back to Dollar General to purchase more of these books for my neighbor who just lost her brother and for another friend of mine who loves Max Lucado books. I don't want to be greedy, but I would also love to purchase some of these books for my gift closet.

They would make great gifts for someone who is sick or for someone with a death in the family or for many other occasions. Its so nice to be able to take a little gift to someone who is in the hospital or has suffered a loss of some kind, without having to go out and find it at the last minute. Just go into your gift closet and get something.

So check at your Dollar General to see if they have these books in stock. Most of the Dollar General Stores carry the same items, you just have to look around or ask the clerk if they have them.

If you don't have a Dollar General Store or if yours doesn't have these books, you could also find great gift quality books at yard sales and thrift stores to stock your gift closet with. Just keep your eyes open!

For more Works For Me Wednesday ideas, go to Rocks in My Dryer!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Kitchen Tip Tuesday - Freezer Tips

I am in the menu planning, stocking up, limiting grocery store trips MODE lately!!!

One area of my home that really needs help is my freezer. Our chest freezer is located in the garage and right now has only a few outdated and freezer burned items in the very bottom. (Old deer meat and frozen corn, YUCK!)

We are paying for the electricity to run the freezer and to be frugal and a good steward of God's provisions, I really need to start taking advantage of our freezer.

My plan is to clean it out, defrost it and start over completely. The summer months are coming which is the perfect time for stocking up the freezer with vegetables. Also any good meat deals.

These are some ideas I have:

1. Defrost and clean the freezer regularly.

2. Label and date all foods.

3. With the date on there it will be easy to keep rotating the foods in order to use the oldest ones first.

4. Double recipes for foods that freeze well.

5. Buy in bulk those meats, cheeses, etc. that are on sale at an unbeatable price.

6. Educate myself on what freezes well, how long it can be kept frozen, etc.

7. Experiment with freezer cooking until I come up with some recipes that we like from the freezer.

8. Purchase containers for freezing items at yard sales and thrift stores.

9. Organize the freezer with like items together, using plastic containers, etc.

10. I did a google search of freezer tips and came across these two sites which I plan to go back to later when time allows. Thought you'd like to visit them too:

Love Food, Hate Waste

Stella's Kitchen

Please visit Tammy's Recipes for more kitchen tips!

Monday, May 19, 2008

A Monday Minute

Its Monday again....

We had a nice weekend which included our first fresh potatoes of the year from my mother's garden.....



My brother planted the garden for her and plows it. She tends it as much as she can with a walking cane, one of those with the 4 little feet that keep it from falling over. She positions plastic yard chairs throughout the garden to sit in when she needs to.

She has been working especially hard in the potatoes and informed me yesterday morning when I picked her up for church that she had "grappled" us a "mess" of potatoes. This means that she dug gently around the potatoes to dig some out while letting the plant continue to grow and produce more potatoes.

Fresh potatoes are really good no matter how you cook them. They are great just boiled, but I followed up the boiling of these by frying them a little. I like to put a little butter and salt and pepper on mine.

For our lunch Sunday we had "planned over" chicken thief stew (I think my mother thought I was saying Chicken Feet or Beak Stew LOL) from Saturday, broccoli and cheese and these fresh potatoes. It couldn't have been any better if it had been prime rib! I'm ready for more fresh veggies. I love fresh squash, tomatoes, stringbeans and cabbage.

This is my menu for the week:

Saturday: Chicken Thief Stew, chicken salad, spaghetti

Sunday: Fresh potatoes, chicken thief stew, broccoli and cheese

Monday: Hamburger Steak, rice and gravy, green bean dish. (We never ate this last week, because we had so much food left over)

Tuesday: Mexican chicken, corn bread, left over green bean dish

Wednesday: Chili, Pizza

Thursday: Chicken Cacciatore

Friday: undecided :o) Fridays are always up in the air. Its usually just me and my hubby and we may be in the mood for just a banana sandwich.

I will use leftovers from all the above menus for my son and I to take for lunch at work.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Saturday Cooking, Sewing, Cleaning.........

Hi everyone! Hope your weekend is going well.

I made my one allowed trip for the week to the grocery store to get milk and bread and any unbeatable deals at Food Lion. I also picked up a couple of ingredients that I needed to make lasagna to take to my neighbor who had a death in the family. I only spent $18.00 this week.

One of the good deals was whole chickens at 59 cents per pound. I bought two large ones and decided to try Little PenPen's advice to cook a whole chicken in a crockpot on Saturday to use later in the week. I placed the two whole chickens in two crockpots early this morning. I simply salted and peppered them lightly, put them in the pot with one cup of water. I turned them on high for one hour and then on low for about 4 hours. The chickens were so tender the meat just fell off the bone.

The first chicken was used to make my Chicken Thief Stew recipe and some homemade chicken salad. I used the dark meat in the stew and the white meat in the chicken salad. Both were delicious. This is my bowl of Chicken Thief Stew right before I ate it! Its very similar to Brunswick stew, but has a little bite to it because it has 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper. It was very good!



I deboned the other chicken and placed the meat in the refrigerator until I can decide how I will use it. I would like to find a new recipe to use it in this week. I also have a quart of the richest broth you ever saw by pouring the liquid from the two crockpots into a quart canning jar and placing it in the refrigerator. This would make some delicious chicken flavored rice or Chicken pastry. I would have to dilute it with water because it is so rich. (And very fattening I'm sure!)

While the chickens and lasagna were cooking I mopped the kitchen floor and of course, laundry was going in the back ground. The first two loads were hung on the clothesline and the remaining ones dried in the dryer.

I love sunflowers and made this clothespin bag for my Etsy Shop. I really like the way it turned out.



I also made two grocery/tote bags for graduation gifts. I think they would be handy for a person going off to college to store things in or to carry stuff around in. I also listed two identical bags in my Etsy Shop.

My plan for tonight is to sit down with my cookbooks to come up with my menus for this week. I'm excited to continue on with only grocery shopping every two weeks. Next weekend when I buy groceries I intend to make sure I get everything I need to last two weeks. I will freeze a gallon of milk and a loaf of bread.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Heart Strings Update

I posted yesterday about the story of my neighbor, Edison, here.

I'm sad to report that Edison passed away early this morning. I got the call before leaving for work and was able to wake Jacob, tell him about it and spend a few minutes with him. He's really sad, but knows that Edison couldn't live like he was and that he wouldn't want to live like that.

I went over to my neighbor's house to give some hugs and share some Edison stories before going to work. Why do we wait until a person has died to share these things? We never knew he had so many friends or had done so many good deeds! I miss him already! It'll be sad to not ever see his truck going by again...

Thanks for your prayers!

Frugal Friday - No Grocery Shopping Update

Well I made it a whole week without going to the grocery store, not even to pick up something I forgot!!!! This is a major accomplishment for me because we are always running in the store to pick up something we forgot or to get something to cook for supper because of poor planning. AND you know that if you go in for one item, you're going to spend more money than you intended!

I was so tempted to just make a couple of little runs to the grocery store, but I managed to resist and MAKE DO!

There were a few things I ran out of or would have liked to buy, but managed to get by without going shopping as follows:

1. One of my recipes for the week called for self-rising flour. I only had plain flour on hand. I knew the only difference was baking powder and salt, but how much?! I located a cookbook that gave the amounts and I was able to complete the recipe without going to the grocery store. It turned out just as good as if I had the self rising flour.

2. I ran out of coffee filters! The first morning I folded up a paper towel and that works ok, but I don't really like to do that. I remembered that at work in the storage closet we had a stack of coffee filters someone bought a long time ago that don't fit our office coffee maker and were destined to be thrown away. I obtained the appropriate permission and took these home. Not only do they work for my coffee maker at home, they were saved from the trash can.

3. I used all the shredded Cheddar and mozzarella cheese that I had on hand in recipes this week. That's ok. I simply won't make any recipes this week that call for cheese. No lasagna, pizza or Mexican chicken! There are lots of other recipes that I can make without cheese.

4. Our milk and bread lasted all week, but I will be going today or tomorrow to restock that. Next time I will buy double and freeze one week's worth. That would have kept me out of the grocery store all together.

I'm already working on my menu for next week. I was scoping out my pantry this morning and noticed we have lots of beans and tomatoes in there so naturally we're going to be having chili at for at least one meal. Vegetable soup might be another one that I already have all the ingredients for as well!

For more Frugal Friday tips to to the BIBLICAL WOMANHOOD BLOG!

Sew Crafty Friday

For more Sew Crafty Friday posts visit the Waiting For Him Blog.

This week I have been making more clothespin bags, using a different kind of embellishment for the opening. I have been finishing the opening the same as if I were making a quilt binding. The opening ends up looking like this:



The way I did this was to cut two strips of the lining fabric three inches wide and 14 inches wide (or the width of the bag you are making)and folded them in half. With raw edges together I sewed across the edges of the fabric that form the opening of the bag. Then fold the strip over to the back, press and machine stitch straight across from the back. From the front it is about 1/4 inch from the seam. I did this for both edges of the opening before sewing the bag together. Then I zigzagged about 2 inches on each side. After that I continued on with the normal construction of the bag.

This is another clothespin bag I made with this style of opening:



I've got many plans in mind for my weekend sewing, knowing full well I won't get most of them done! This is one combination of fabric for a child's purse I would like to make soon. The Strawberry Shortcake fabric was in a box of fabric given to me by a friend and I purchased 1/2 yard of the lavender swirly fabric just because I liked it and thought it would be cute as the lining.



I have had a request for a pocketbook made with watermelon fabric with a zipper in the top. I'm not very experienced at putting in zippers but, time allowing, would like to work on that!

I also want to make a smaller bag for myself and gifts for a function I am attending this weekend for a friend. Its her 50th birthday celebration and the celebration of her two children's graduations. One is graduating from college and one is graduating from the local Community College with an associates degree and is going on to a four year college in the fall.

I don't think I'll get all this done, plus make some more clothespin bags for my shop!!!!! But it'll be fun trying....

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Heartstrings



"OUR NEIGHBORS'HOMEPLACE"

I haven't done a heartstrings post lately, but my heart strings are being pulled this week and I wanted to share this with you.

This picture shows the farm house down a lane that's located across the road from my home. Sometimes you can't even see it because the farmers plant corn between us. I've lived in this same spot for 30 years and its always been there, out my window. The residents of the farm house are a brother and sister who never married, the youngest of a family with 5 children. They have lived there all their lives. Around here we call houses like this the "home place".

The brother's name is Edison and I'll call his sister Ms. "B". They are getting on in years and their health is failing. All they have is each other and one other sister who is still living. Edison takes Ms. B to church and to get her hair "fixed". He has always bought the groceries, good old southern staples.... Ms. B. never married, held a public job or learned to drive. They both sit on the front porch and watch the goings on in the neighborhood. Ms. B has become more and more housebound of late, not even sitting on the porch much.

My son, Jacob, and Edison have a long running friendship. Edison never had any children, and Jacob seems to have a special feeling for older folks. One of my earliest memories of my son is him seeing Edison driving by in his pickup and hollering, "There goes "Medicine". He thought we were calling Edison, "Medicine". LOL

Two years ago, while sitting on their porch, Edison and Ms. B witnessed Jacob being involved in a wreck right in front of their drive way. He was turning in to visit them and was hit from behind. This impact sent his truck airborne right in front of their eyes. Everyone was terrified until they saw Jacob crawl out the window of his truck. Of course the truck was totaled and it was a while before insurance matters could be settled and a new truck bought. Edison offered Jacob the money to get a new truck. We didn't take the money, but were so touched by the thought.

Jacob and Edison have a lot in common. Both love the land they live on, love farming and country life, love to ride around in their pickup trucks. Edison understands Jacob. They both understand each other.


Last week Edison got to where he couldn't breathe and the rescue squad was called. Unless there is a miracle, Edison won't be coming back. You can see in the picture that his pickup truck is sitting where he left it after his last ride. He also had a stroke and his kidneys are failing now. He has been moved from the regular hospital to another hospital, that seems to be the holding spot for those who can't be helped.

Jacob has visited him in the hospital two times, but we're not sure if Edison knew he was there. Maybe.

I know Jacob's heart is full. It makes me so sad. Life is hard. Things change. Life goes on without those who make a difference in our lives.

I'm so proud of Jacob because he has taken on the task of checking on Ms. B. He goes over there several times a day, goes and gets her some food, checks her mail and is going to get a grocery list from her today and go pick up groceries for her. Last night Chicken Pot Pie was on my menu. It never occurred to me to take her a plate, but it did to Jacob. He fixed her a plate, wrapped it up in foil and took it over riding on his four wheeler.

I am praying for Edison. I will let you know if he comes home...or goes home....

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Works For Me Wednesday - Store Brands

Good Morning! I will be away from my computer all day today while attending a job related seminar. I have to attend a certain number of hours of education and ethics a year to keep my certification. It will be in a nearby town about 25 miles away and I have to get a move on more urgently than usual, so my post today will be brief! :o)

My works for me Wednesday tip this week is to give store brands a try. I have added the following new ones to my list of "good" store brands:

1. Dollar General brand packaging tape. I purchased a roll this weekend for $1.50. The size was 2 " X 800 " and it states on the package "Easy & Quiet Crystal Clear". This is the BEST packaging tape I have found. It does not make any noise when you are dispensing it and if it gets stuck back on itself, it is extremely easy to get it started again! This is a great product at a good price. I know this is not a very exciting item to be so excited about, but the other tapes, even brand name, that I have used nearly drive me crazy at times.

2. Dollar Tree trash bags. I bought a box of the handle tie trash bags just to try them. Usually the cheap trash bags are thin and short. These have handle ties which do well in our size kitchen trash can, they are sturdy and only $1.00 for a box. I'm not sure how many are in the box. I will definitely buy these again.

Sometimes store brands are even better than their name brand rivals. I am willing to give them a chance. If they aren't any good, I just won't buy them again!

Have a great Wednesday and I will check back tonight!

For lots of great "Works For Me Tips", visit the Rocks in my Dryer Blog!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Kitchen Tip Tuesday - Think ahead Meal Prep

Recently I have been posting about menu planning and how I've not been too successful with it. I am working in that area and am happy to say I'm doing pretty good so far. I am still on track for not grocery shopping for two weeks. My next regular grocery shopping date will be 5-23/24-08. At least that's my plan. I realized this morning that there will be no more meals that contain cheese after today, as I am about to use the last of it!

But, My Kitchen Tip for this week is to do as much of your meal preparation as you can ahead of time when you are not rushed.

I am not a big fan of freezer cooking because, Number 1: It doesn't taste good to me; and Number 2: I tend to never get around to using the frozen foods. I think part of the problem is that I haven't found the recipes that we like frozen.

So I am trying to compromise with partial ahead of time meal preparation.

These are some examples of this:

1. On tonight's menu is Mexican Rice Bake, so this morning before work I am cooking the rice. I'll put it in the fridge and when I get home I'll be way ahead of the game in getting this meal on the table. I also placed the frozen package of hamburger in the refrigerator last night so when I get home this afternoon it'll be completely thawed and ready to brown.

2. As soon as I get home from the grocery store, I could brown onions and ground beef and either freeze it or place it in the refrigerator for use in recipes that call for that, such as spaghetti, taco meat, chili, etc.

3. Last night I made honey glazed chicken legs. Next time I make this, I could freeze the chicken legs in the sauce and then just thaw it and place in the baking dish on a busy work night.

4. I could mix up the dry ingredients for certain recipes and place meal size portions in zip lock bags or plastic bowls. Examples could be Chicken flavored rice, taco seasoning, and chicken pot pie crust ingredients.

5. I am already looking ahead to the chicken pot pie recipe that's on the menu later this week. The biggest thing about this recipe is having the chicken boiled ahead of time. I plan to do that tonight, then I can put part of the recipe together the morning we are going to eat it and put the final recipe together right before cooking it.

6. Even better, I could have boiled this chicken over the weekend and placed the meat in a freezer bag specifically for recipes like chicken pot pie.

UPDATE!!!

7. I had to include Little PenPen's idea she left in the comments. Cook your chicken in the crockpot on Saturday to be used in recipes that week! I AM DEFINITELY GOING TO DO THIS ONE!!! Thanks Penny!

How do you plan ahead for your meals? Menu planning, freezer cooking, partial freezer cooking, or all of these?

For more Kitchen Tips go to Tammy's Recipes!!!

Monday, May 12, 2008

A Monday Minute

Good Morning! I thought Monday was just here. AARRGGHH!!!

We had a very nice Mother's Day weekend. I was able to spend time with my Mama. We went to church, even got lost on the way home. Never follow an 83 year's directions through the country when she hasn't been through that area in a few years... even though you both should know those back roads like the back of your hand! LOL I was trying to avoid a certain road that's hazardous to drive when its raining. I ended up back on it anyway.

Our church service was very nice. A little flower bouquet was given to the oldest mother and my Mama was too young to even come close. There were two 89 year olds there! The service ended with a male choir member sing a solo with piano music of "Ave Maria". It was so moving.

I also was able to spend time with my children and grandson. They are wonderful!

Saturday I made three clothespin/storage bags and greatly enjoyed making a little different design on the opening. One thing I like about sewing is being able to make something different every time. Just use another combination of fabrics and you've got a new end product! One of my most enjoyable experiences in quilt making was making the two sampler quilts I made when I was first learning to quilt. Every block was a different design. I got excited over every one!

I have been working on my menu for the week in an effort to stay on my "Not going to the grocery store for two weeks" plan. I'll start my week on Saturday, even though Saturday and Sunday are over.

Saturday: Lunch - Leftover homemade pizza; Supper - Homemade chicken salad, Egg Noodles cooked in the broth. My plan was to cook garden peas also, but no one wanted them. My hubby only wanted a chicken salad sandwich. My son and I need our carbs, so we ate the noodles, too. There was enough chicken salad for my son to have sandwiches in his lunch for two days and for Hubby to have one on Sunday night.

I'd give you my recipe for my chicken salad, but you can't make it. You don't have my Mama's homemade pickles, so it just wouldn't be the same. ...

Sunday: Mother's Day. We were invited over to one of my brother's house where we had a great family meal. (Pepsi Cola Ham, Pepper Steak, Rice, Corn, String beans, Collards, Deviled Eggs, Rolls, and chocolate layered desert)

Monday: Honey Glazed Chicken Legs, Broccoli and Cheese, leftover egg noodles.

Tuesday: Mexican Hamburger Rice Bake, Green bean side dish.

Wednesday: Homemade Chicken Pot Pie

Thursday: Leftovers

Friday: Hamburger Steak, rice and gravy, (I'm sure there'll be left over veggies from earlier in the week)

I plan to go through my pantry, cabinets and freezer to scope out any meals to fill in to stretch our food as much as possible. My Mama always brags that she can always come up with a meal from her cabinets. Lets see if I can do that!

Hope you have a great Monday!

Friday, May 9, 2008

Frugal Friday - No Shopping for Two Weeks

I have made the decision that I am not going back to the grocery store for two weeks! No matter what we run out of, we're going to make do. I'm going to allow us one trip, maybe for milk and bread. (or Doritos?!!) LOL

In a couple of posts this week I posted about menu planning and have decided to make a list of meals, enough to last two weeks and a grocery list of the foods I need for two weeks, after taking into account what I already have in my pantry and freezer. I've already spotted some good deals at Food Lion this week, which will be great for stretching our meals!

I've seen other bloggers who had Pantry Challenges, to see how long they could eat from their pantry and freezer before going to the grocery store. My own daughter does this from time to time. My challenge is make do for two weeks.

Who says there is a rule that you have to go to the grocery store every week, even when there is perfectly good food available already?

Ok, think of it this way: If there was a gas shortage so severe that only emergency driving were allowed, what would you buy at the grocery store?

I don't have a grocery store located near my home that I can run into often.... However, its not only the money saved in gas, it the time thing. I do want to feed my family well, but does this mean I have to go the grocery store every week or as in our case some times several times a week? This takes away valuable time from being at home taking care of my family in other ways.

My hope is that after becoming successful at only grocery shopping every two weeks, I can stretch this to a month, or more. Next week I will post my menu for the week and keep you posted on how we do "not going grocery shopping for two weeks". This will be a good discipline for me in self-control!

For more Frugal ideas, visit Biblical Womanhood.

Sew Crafty Friday



This week I celebrated Homemaking Dreams' one year anniversary and 30,000th visitor and on Monday posted about a give away of a clothespin bag.

THE WINNER IS: TERRI OF TERRI & CREW, Hearts in Service Blog! Congratulations Terri!

These are two I made from the watermelon and strawberry fabric I posted pictures of last Friday:





Close up of Strawberry bag:



I also made this pocketbook with an "airplane" theme. It seems the teller at the bank my husband uses is part owner of the local small town airport and made a special request for an airplane pocketbook. I finished it this morning so he can take it to her when he makes a deposit today.

Front:



Back:



For more Sew Crafty Friday posts, please to go: Waiting For Him Blog

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Menu Planning Progress

Wow, I had such good comments on yesterday's post about Menu Planning. I am really inspired to try the suggestions I received! Thank you Ms. Ruth, Sharon, Denise, Terri, Mom2fur, Linds, Melinda, Billie Jean and Fit Brits, so much! I can see that menu planning should work for me if I do some initial work and then it will save me time each day. I like all of the suggestions I received in the comments and will be going back to read them for more help as I go along.

If I have our menus planned for two weeks (or longer!) and the groceries bought for two weeks, the menus will be doing a lot of the work I normally do every day, for me. I think the key for this to work for me is to be flexible. For instance if I have a lot of leftovers from one of the planned meals, I can substitute that for a meal later in the week. Or, if an opportunity to go out to eat or something comes up to prevent my cooking the planned meal, it's ok.

On election day, sweetie and I went to vote after we got home from work, about 6:00 P.M. We stopped at the small town grill where we vote and grabbed a little supper. So, the supper I was going to cook that night got moved over to the next night.

This week I have been cooking some new recipes and some old favorites. I have planned the meals for a few days ahead, and writing down what we have each day on the May Menu Planning Calendar sheet I printed out. If I keep doing this and keep this sheet, I can just repeat the meals next month.

This is the menu I have had this week:

Monday: Hamburger Steak, Rice and homemade gravy, green beans
Tuesday: Ate out on Election day.
Wednesday: Chicken Cacciatore over pasta, Salad
Thursday: Italian beans, salad and homemade honey wheat bread
Friday: Homemade wheat crust pizza, salad
Saturday: Leftovers, sandwiches, etc. (undecided)
Sunday: Mother's Day: undecided

I'll write the undecided meals on my calendar sheet when they are a "done deal" so that I'll have plenty of meals to choose from on my next sheet.

The Chicken Cacciatore we had last night was wonderful!!! This is the recipe for the Chicken Cacciatore. The only change I made was to use boneless chicken breasts and to add green peppers, since I purchased a huge one to use in tonight's itialian beans recipe. When making this recipe I will use what ever chicken I have on hand. Recently,we purchased individually frozen chicken breasts on sale and I only used 6 of them. They are not very big and I was feeding four hungry appetites. I cut them into bite size pieces which made them go further. My family and I loved this recipe and it was very easy to make after work.

This is the homemade honey wheat bread I made last night to serve with the Italian Beans tonight:



This is the recipe:

Honey Wheat Bread (for bread machine)

Ingredients:
1 1/8 cups water
2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup regular flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/3 cup honey
1 tablespoon dry milk powder
1 1/2 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast

Place ingredients in bread machine pan in the order suggested by the manufacturer. Select Whole Wheat setting, Light Crust, and press Start.

Last night I also cooked the pinto beans that will go in the recipe tonight. Yesterday morning I put them in a pot to soak and when I got home I put them on to cook, placing them in the fridge before going to bed. When I get home the beans will be ready to go in the recipe and the bread will be ready!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Works for Me Wednesday - Menu Planning

This week's edition of "WORKS FOR ME WEDNESDAY" has the theme, "What DOESN'T work for me"

For me this is menu planning! I have tried many times to plan my meals for the week ahead and I feel like its a failure because we have so many leftovers, or something comes up to keep me from cooking the meal that's planned for that day, etc. I've found that I do better just planning day by day.

BUT, I'm still interested in making menu planning work for me!

WHY? Because its bound to mean less work and I'm all for less work! LOL.

So, I'm trying again. I have printed out a menu planning sheet for May found at the Family Homestead website. There is also a great article on buying groceries for two weeks at the time on the same website. My hubby has been doing the grocery shopping for a while now. I feel that this is an extra hardship for him right now due to work responsibilities. So I want to make this job more efficient for both of us.

I would like to do the grocery shopping and buy two weeks worth of food based on two weeks worth of menus. We usually base our grocery list on the Food Lion sales paper each week, but it would be easy to run into the store just to pick up any unbeatable deal that shows up on the off week. Most of the time the same sales at Food Lion just run over and over in a certain sequence anyway! If something's not on sale this week, just wait a week or two and it'll be on sale again.

In addition to buying groceries for two weeks at a time and planning a menu for two weeks at a time, I also want to focus more on "real" foods and cooking from scratch more. There has to be a compromise somewhere for the "working outside the home Mom", with time and money constraints, to be able to cook healthy meals!

I intend to make Italian Beans this week, as a first step toward healthier eating. You can find this recipe at the Family Homestead website as well.

So, wish me luck for turning something that hasn't worked for me in the past into a future "IT DOES WORK FOR ME POST!"

For more Works For Me/Doesn't Work for me Posts, go to Rocks in my Dryer!

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Kitchen Tip Tuesday - The Five Minute Rule

I recently read about the five minute rule in the newspaper. Its kind of like that rule I follow at work, "Only handle that piece of paper once".

This is how it works:

If it can be done in five minutes or less, take care of it now, rather than doing it later. By getting rid of little things immediately, you can focus on the bigger projects.

These are some things this rule could be applied to in the kitchen area:

1. Make a gallon of tea
2. Declutter the "junk" drawer
3. Unload the dishwasher
4. Plan a meal
5. File a recipe clipped from a magazine
6. Wipe off the counters
7. Clean out the coffee pot
8. Clean the kitchen sink
9. Straighten the silverware drawer and de-crumb. LOL
10. Organize the spices
11. Take out the trash
12. Wash out the pet's dish
13. Set the table for the next meal
14. Take out items for the nightly meal from the freezer
15. Fill Water pitcher for fridge
16. Straighten up cookbooks or recipe box
17. Shake the dirt out of a rug and sweep around it
18. Go ahead and freeze that meat so it won't get old! (can you tell I have failed to do this before?)LOL
19. Prep the veggies for this week's salads.
20. Start a grocery list

Some of these things can be done while waiting for someone to get dressed, or while you are chatting with your Mom on the phone. If you've got a minute (or 5) before you have to leave the house or start some other project, you can get a small job done.

You could even make a list of five minute jobs to have available for when that five minute slot of time becomes available.

We drink a gallon of tea everyday at my house and I like to get this made in the mornings before I go to work so it'll be ready and cold when I get home. This morning I brewed the tea and usually wait until the last minute as I'm walking out the door to finish it up. But this morning I applied the "five minute rule". It only took 2 or 3 minutes and it was much less stressful than waiting til the last minute.

Another 5 minute or less job I tackled this morning: I planned supper! I already have in mind what I'll make. I was passing through the kitchen and thought, it'll only take a minute to get this out of the way.

Doing these small jobs when you think of them, if they take 5 minutes or less, will help to make your life much less stressful!Take it from someone who tends to procrastinate!

For more kitchen tips, check out "Tammy's Recipes".

Monday, May 5, 2008

One Year Anniversary!

I've been posting on this blog for a year and have had almost 30,000 visitors! I know that's not as many as some blogs, but I am so pleased! When I first started blogging, I had no idea what I was doing. It has definitely been a learning process, but slowly but surely I have figured most of it out! I even received my first blog award. See my previous post!

With that being said, I love blogging!

So in celebration of my one year anniversary and my 30,000th visitor, I am giving away a clothespin/storage bag. I made this Watermelon fabric bag yesterday and will be giving it away in a drawing. However, the winner can substitute other fabric if they so choose. This is the watermelon bag:




The winner can choose from watermelons, strawberries, sheep/hearts, chickens, farm scene, blue bandannas, laundry theme, sunflowers, spring, candy stripe, poodles, cats, or special order!

Just leave a comment on this post and I will draw a winner on Friday!

Thank you to everybody who visits this blog!

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Excellent Blog Award



I received my first blog award! Toni at Amazing Grace gave me an Excellent Blog Award. Thanks Toni!

As part of accepting the award I am supposed to award it to ten more bloggers. There are so many excellent blogs out there, but here are ten I enjoy:

1. Elizabeth's Simple Journey
2. Super Mommie's Unite
3. Sort of Frugal
4. Little Pen Pen
5. The Nest Egg
6. A Home With a Smile
7. Happy Hearts at Home
8. The Happy Housewife
9. Hearts in Service
10. Wife Happens

Please pass it on!

Friday, May 2, 2008

Sew Crafty Friday

Happy Friday to each of you!!!

We have an exciting Saturday coming up with a special family celebration going on in Raleigh. To make it even more fun, my daughter lives on the way and we'll be stopping in to see her, her hubby and my grandbaby.

This is what I've been doing this week in the sewing area:

My daughter has a new couch so she was on the lookout for new curtains and pillows to match. She found some fabric shower curtains EXACTLY like the color and design she wanted. Did she let the fact that they were shower curtains stop her?!!! NO. She purchased the curtains, cut them in half and asked me to hem the cut edges. The fabric was a little stiff, so it was extremely easy to sew. I just turned the edge over twice, pressed it, and sewed. The edge I sewed looked better than the other seam that came from the factory!!! LOL.

She bought an extra curtain to make pillows from. She brought the extra curtain and one of the pillows from her old couch to me and I whipped up an envelope back pillow for it in no time.

This type of cover is wonderful because all you do is slip your pillow into it. You can take it out easily to wash the cover or change it to another cover any time you want. I do this at Christmas. I have several Christmas pillow covers and I just put them over the throw pillows I already have out. After Christmas I just take them off. They fold up flat and store easily.

All you do is cut the front square (or other shape) the size you need. On the back you will cut two pieces the same width on one side of the pillows. On the other side you will cut wide enough that they will overlap about 3 or 4 inches. Just hem the edges of the overlapping part. Then put right sides together and sew all the away around. Turn and put your pillow in there and admire your handiwork!

My daughter loved the one I did so much she wants me to cover the remaining ones. She also intends to buy a small amount of fabric in another coordinating solid color for more pillows.

I'm so mad at myself for not taking pictures, but it was last Sunday afternoon and it didn't occur to me!!!

Nonetheless, here are some pictures of other projects for the week:

A set of cloth "Sheep and Hearts" napkins for my Etsy Shop:




As you know we live in a rural farming community and my hubby's job puts him in contact with lots of farmers. He has had requests this week for clothespins bags and tote/grocery bags made from strawberries and watermelons fabric. I found this fabric yesterday and purchased 2 yards of each. I already had some fabric that I think will match for the lining and some ribbon for the trim on the clothespin bag openings. Hubby says they are a little loud, but I think the bags will turn out cute and fit the requests.



I sold 2 clothespin bags and 1 set of shopping bags in the Etsy Shop this week and I had a request for another bag like one that sold. So I'll be busy replenishing the shop tonight and this weekend. I also bought some fabric to make myself (and maybe my daughter) a small handbag. The new spring bag I made myself is great, but its really big. I need a smaller one too.

For more Sew Crafty Friday ideas please go to the "The Waiting For Him Blog".

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Thrifty Thursday

THRIFT STORE EXCITEMENT!

My favorite thrift store has a 39 cent sale 4 times a year and this weekend is the sale. This store is only open Thursday, Friday and Saturday each week. The 39 cent sale does not include large appliances, furniture, large baby items, etc., but does include every thing else in the store. Many of the items I have purchased in the past were only 25 cents to start with, but there are some things I've been waiting for the sale to purchase.

For instance, they have a huge rack of dresses, many of which have lots of buttons on them. The dresses are usually $2.50. For 39 cents I can buy a dress that has 12 buttons on it to use for sewing projects.

There's also the possibility of dresses that have good fabric to use for projects. One example would be a denim jumper I recently bought from this rack at the same thrift store. It has what seems like yards of fabric in it, with a Noah's Ark scene appliqued on the front and the back. The dress is new, without tags. I don't know anyone who wants it. I tried to sell it on EBay, but no takers! I hate to cut it up, but I think the denim fabric would make great tote bags. The sections with the Noah's Ark scenes would make a cute baby quilt or other creative ideas that I can come up with. Here is a picture of the jumper.


FRONT


BACK



AND you never know what treasure you might run across! The store closes at 5:00 each day, so maybe on Friday since I get off work at 4:00, I can get off one hour early at 3:00. It takes me thirty minutes to get to the store from where I work, so I'd have 1 and 1/2 hours to browse.

Today is Thrifty Thursday over at Comical Coupon Cents. You can read about more thriftiness at her blog!

I hope you have a great Thursday!

Anxious For Nothing - A Bible Study

I thought I would share a new On Line Bible Study that starts Monday.  Its based on the book, "Anxious For Nothing" by Max Lucado....