Thursday, December 30, 2010

Handmade Christmas Gifts in 2011



AND..........



A GREAT JOINT VENTURE!

Every year I "plan" to sew some Christmas presents and every year I end up with ... not much done.

This year I'm hoping that I will be inspired by the Sewn With Grace Blog and the Handmade by Heidi Blog to make at least one gift each month all year.

The third Monday of each Month, Sewn with Grace will feature a different Christmas gift idea.

I think a great idea would be if I dedicated my "Friday Night Sew In" projects to Christmas, 2011!

This is just one more way to be consistent in 2011.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Being Consistent with Upromise Savings

I guess I am a little slow, but I just realized last week that funds earned in a Upromise account can be invested into an online savings account, CD or 529 plan. The thing that is nice about the savings account is that you have control over the account now and not just when a child is going off to college. You can use the money anyway you wish and can request a withdrawal of the money directly from UPromise. You do not have to designate a beneficiary of the money. You can also transfer money into the account yourself in addition to the Upromise funds going into it.

Upromise will invest the money in your account for you monthly, as long as the dollar amount is at least $10.00. I was very excited to discover this and have opened up an online Sallie Mae savings account, which is easy to do by going to the Upromise website. The interest rate on the account is 1.5%. In addition to the Upromise money going into the new account, You can link the Sally Mae Savings account to a local bank account and set up a small monthly transfer, which would be a great way of investing for a child or grandchild's future.

One small way to add funds to this account is by taking advantage of Upromise's Grocery Ecoupons. Each month a new group of Ecoupons is available on the Upromise website. Just go through the selection of Ecoupons and choose the ones you want to take advantage of. When you buy these items using your CVS card, Food Lion MVP card or other card that you have registered with Upromise, the amount of the Ecoupon will be deposited in your UPromise account. It would probably be advantageous to just choose all of the Ecoupons, and then if you buy any of those items, you will be covered.

The good thing about using the Ecoupons is that you can also use manufacturer's coupons on the items! I try to catch the items on sale, use a mfg coupon AND use the Upromise ECoupon.

For example: In December Charmin Basic was available as a Upromise Ecoupon. If you purchase Charmin basic, $1.00 would be deposited into your Upromise account. There was a $1.00 off Charmin Basic coupon in the December P&G coupon insert. This week the 12 packs of Charmin Basic are on sale at CVS for $4.99 and you would earn a $1.00extra buck. So that's $4.99, less the $1.00 mfg coupon, less the $1.00 CVS EB and $1.00 would be deposited into your UPromise account.

Now, I know the amounts that go into the Upromise account are small. But if earned CONSISTENTLY over time, this will add up. The ECoupon money would definitely add up faster than the 1.5% interest rate!

These are examples of the Upromise Ecoupons that I have taken advantage of during the month of December:

Fleischmann's yeast strip on sale for $1.50, less .40 mfg coupon, earned .40 in Upromise account.

Sister Schubert yeast rolls on sale for $2.99, less .50 mfg coupon, earned .75 in Upromise account

Charmin Basic Mega Roll on sale for $4.99, less $1.00 mfg coupon, less $1.00 extra buck and $1.00 earned in Upromise account

2 jars of Ragu Pasta Sauce on sale for $1.67 each, earned $1.00 in Upromise account.

1 large tub of Country Crock Spread, on sale for $2.50, less $1.25 mfg coupon, earned .40 in Upromise account

These are items that I would normally buy anyway. There are many more Ecoupons available on the site. The ones you might use would probably be different than the ones I use.

So remember that the current month's Upromise Ecoupons are only good through December 31st, so if you want to take advantage of them, you must do it soon. But, new ones will be available January 1st, and the first of each month thereafter, so it's never to late to start saving this way.








Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Some Etsy Shop Sewing

One of my goals for 2011 is to restock my Etsy Shop. I am avoiding the word, "resolution". If I consistently sew items on a regular basis, it will add up over time.

I know the weather outside is frightful, but it never hurts to plan ahead for sunnier days. I was able to make two clothespin bags for my Etsy Shop while enjoying being inside during our recent snow event.

This one is made from Debbie Mumm fabric with a coffee theme. The fabric trim on the opening is blue with little brown coffee beans on it. I think this fabric would make a cute apron too.



I guess I must be looking past the storm, since this is what my clothesline looked like Sunday!



Have a great Tuesday!

Monday, December 27, 2010

The Menu Planning Recipe Binder

As I posted last week HERE, my theme for 2011 is being consistent. Eileen said it much better than I did in her comment. I agree that I'm not seeking perfection in 2011, I'm just trying to be consistent in the areas that I need to improve.

One of the items on my to do list is to organize my recipes in such a way that I only keep the ones that I will truly use or those that have sentimental value. This will help me to plan menus, make grocery lists and to finally be able to find the recipes I need when I need them.

I hope to do better at menu planning in 2011! The way I look at it, you can come up with some kind of menu plan ahead of time, or you will pay for it later. This doesn't mean that I have to stick to a rigid menu plan for each day, but that I need to have some kind of plan in place.

There are lots of methods for menu planning. Some of you don't think you make a menu plan, but you really do. It could be as simple as figuring out what you are having for supper the night before or that morning. It DOES NOT mean that you walk in the door from work and have no idea what you are cooking, which is what happens to me often.

For me, I think if I make a list of possible meals for a given week and have my pantry stocked with items I know I can use, that I can stay ahead of the menu planning task. Or if you love to be really organized, you can make a detailed menu for each day of the week or even for a whole month.

My menu planning recipe binder is an on going project and will evolve over time, based on how I like any new recipes and that kind of thing. I plan to add the recipes for every thing I cook, even if its something simple that I cook from memory. This could come in handy if I am coming home late from work or am sick, to help my hubby or other family member get supper on the table. Here's how its going so far. Its not perfect, but is a work in progress.

I had already thrown out a big stack of internet recipes and so I started out with some recipes that I really wanted to keep



I am using an old binder we had on hand that is perfectly serviceable, but not pretty. On another day, maybe I'll make this thing pretty!. But remember, we aren't seeking perfection, just consistency, so the important thing was that I stuck to my plan. Pretty can come later. :o)



I used some index dividers I already had in a previous attempt at organizing my recipes.



I also used some lists that I had typed up some time in the past.

Here is a list of side dishes and a list of some possible menus. I need to make changes and add things to them, but they are fine for now.



This one is a list of main dishes. Again I need to make changes.



This is a list of grocery items, which is one of the best homemaking tools you can ever have. I have to thank my hubby for this one! At one time he did all of the grocery shopping for our home, but I was in charge of making the grocery list. He requested that I make the list in the order that our grocery store was set up and so this list evolved. I added every single item to the list that we would ever need, but the important part was to put the items down in the order you come to them in your grocery store.

This is helpful in 2 ways. First, when you need to make a grocery list, you can scan this list as a reminder of what you might be out of. This is easier than going through your pantry or trying to make the list from memory.

Secondly, when you make the list it will be in the order of your store and so when you get to the store, you just pick up each item as you come to it. This is easier than studying your grocery list on each isle of the store trying to make sure you got everything. I always end up backtracking the store 2 or 3 times, if I don't make the list in the order of the store.

It may seem like a small thing, but it really helps to make grocery shopping easier. Of course if you shop at more than one store, your list wouldn't exactly fit all stores. My list is based on the store we frequent the most.



This is a menu planning sheet that is available from the Family Homestead each month. I often print it out and use it as a guide. As you can see, I wasn't too consistent with it in December!



These are examples of some of the recipes in my book, so far. I have made notes on some and some were handwritten by loved ones. A few have food spatters on them. For me, that gives the book character.







Also in the front of the binder is a pocket that is convenient for holding a shopping list pad. So now when I get ready to make a grocery list, or plan menus, there will be paper available for that.

I hope some of these ideas will be helpful to you. I will keep tweaking the lists and recipes and hopefully this Menu Planning Recipe Binder will help me to be consistent in 2011!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Words of Comfort In Any Season



Here is a passage from my Bible study this morning that touched my heart and I hope will touch yours.

2 Samuel 7:9 I have been with you wherever you went

A comforting Bible verse that reminds us that God is with us through all our days, no matter what the season!

Merry Christmas and may you have many blessings in 2011.

I will be back on Monday with updates on getting organized in 2011!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Being Consistent in 2011


Happy week before Christmas, 2010!

Everyone is busy getting ready for Christmas and the blog world is very quiet right now. But, here's a little bit of what's going on this week on the home front here. I hope to post more detail on my 2011 projects next week.

1. My theme for 2011 is to be consistent! Small steps consistently made will achieve great results. Whether this is applied to cleaning house, Bible study, sewing, couponing, menu planning, gardening or what ever it is you want to make progress toward.

2. I am continuing to organize my coupons as I described in my previous post. Since I have a box full of coupon inserts, I need to find the most recent ones, write the date on the front and file them in the accordion file. I am excited to consistently use coupons in 2011.

3. I have made some headway with organizing my favorite recipes into a binder. I threw away a HUGE stack of recipes printed out from the internet. It was a relief to let them go, keeping the ones I know I will use. I plan to have the binder ready to go by January 1st, 2011, complete with a list of menus, main dishes, side dishes and a grocery shopping list. I feel this will help me tremendously to plan menus, make grocery lists, etc. I want to post more detail next week.

4. I have been consistently earning Swagbucks every day. I've already earned a $5.00 Amazon gift card for Christmas, 2011, and am well on the way to a second one! If you are so inclined, please click HERE TO SIGN UP. Or come back later and click on the Swagbucks picture on my sidebar and sign up through there. This would give me a referral. Once you sign up, start searching using the Swagbucks search engine. When you win bucks, I would win bucks, up to 100. Thanks!

I am even more sure now that you only need to use the Swagbucks search engine about 3 times a day. First thing in the morning, in the afternoon and at night. You will only win swagbucks about that many times a day. Just be CONSISTENT! You will be amazed at what you will have at the end of 2011. I will keep a running total on my side bar in 2011 of how many $5.00 Amazon gift cards I have accumulated.

5. Are you feeling stressed out right about now? Remember: Cast all your anxiety on Him because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7. My theme for 2010 was Trust.... need more of that in 2011 too!

6. Our weather forecast includes a possible white Christmas. This is a very rare occurrence here. We get snow, but not on Christmas. I'll keep you posted!

Have a very Merry Christmas and after the festivities are over, we will move forward into 2011 with a new purpose! Do any of you have an area you want to become more organized in for the new year? Lets make small steps over time CONSISTENTLY to achieve our goals. I would like to be able to say that I continued with my goals all year, and not just until the end of January, 2011.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

We Love Couponing in 2011



I'm planning ahead to 2011 for another area of my life that I not only enjoy, but will also benefit me financially. I posted MY SIMPLE COUPON ORGANIZATION METHOD in July.

A couple of days ago I was so excited to see a video by Jenny on Southern Savers.Com that described a NO CLIP (!) coupon organization method that is similar to mine, but much better. If you are interested in becoming serious about couponing in 2011, but want to be a normal person at the grocery store, PLEASE CLICK HERE AND WATCH.

Southern Savers has been one of my favorite deal blogs for a while, but now it has taken on a whole new meaning for me. There is so much great information on there. One thing that impresses me the most is that using the ideas found there I can use coupons without becoming obsessive about it. If I miss a deal, it won't be the end of the world, but if I am consistent I will save money in a stress free way.

Just today I needed to go to Food Lion for groceries, so I visited Southern Savers. In the search box I typed in "Food Lion". A post came up with the best sales prices with coupon match ups. I planned to buy a spiral sliced ham for our Christmas dinner. On the list was the spiral sliced ham and it told me where to find a coupon. The coupon was in the All You magazine that I subscribe to. I was able to find the coupon, along with several others, without having to spend huge amounts of time clipping and organizing coupons.

Above is my new purple accordion file and my old coupon organizer. Each week's coupon inserts will be filed in the accordion file after I have written the date on the front. It holds 13 weeks, so since most coupons expire after that length of time anyway, the oldest one is thrown away each week. Any unexpired ones that may be of use will be filed in the coupon organizer. The video recommends a check file for the coupons that you get from the store, or other places, but my old coupon organizer will work just fine for now.

Here are the things I like about the Southern Savers system:

1. No more Sunday afternoons doing a marathon CLIPPING, FILING AND PURGING OUT OF DATE COUPONS.

2. The posts on Southern Savers only include the items that are REALLY on sale. I don't have to wonder if its really a good price. Jenny stresses that the items go on sale regularly and we should only buy items when they are at their best prices.

3. I can put in any product in the data base search box to see if there is a coupon available. For instance if I need peanut butter, I can see if there is a coupon, even if its not on sale that week.

4. It a simple way of staying on top of the coupon monster.

5. I can go to the grocery store and behave like a normal person, which means I don't spend lots of time roaming up and down isles going through stacks of coupons to see if I can get a good deal.

Friday, December 17, 2010

More Plans for 2011

I am really looking forward to 2011 and am thinking about the things I would like to accomplish. I have lots of little things in mind that I want to work on.

I posted about organizing my recipes and working on menu planning HERE.

I also want to work on some ways to make extra money in 2011. I enjoyed being able to shop on line this year using my Paypal account and also Swagbucks Amazon Gift Cards. When I sell anything on EBay, Etsy, or earn money doing surveys, the money goes into my Paypal account. It adds up slowly, but by the end of the year it does make a difference. Taking a Pine Cone Research survey only earns me $3.00, but look at it this way. I average 2 surveys a month, so $6.00 a month would be $72.00 a year that goes into the Paypal account.

Right now my Etsy Shop is empty and I'm definitely not a power seller on EBay. But I have high hopes that in 2011 I can be more successful in these endeavors. As soon as my busy life slows down I plan to sew some projects for the Etsy Shop and dabble a bit in selling on EBay.

I couldn't help sharing with you THIS POST , on the EBay Selling Coach's blog that shows one item that is selling well on EBay right now. This just goes to show that you never know what people will buy. I guess I just don't understand the dynamics of what the public wants! Imagine paying more than $40.00 for an "Ugly Christmas Sweater". Amazing!

One tip I have learned from my limited experience in selling on EBay is that timing is everything. I sold several exercise dvds in January a couple of years ago. I doubt they would have sold very well in December, but as soon as January 1st gets here, everyone will be trying to keep their New Year's resolution to exercise! The same thing goes for the Ugly Christmas Sweater. After December 25th, I doubt anyone will be interested.

As for Swagbucks, this is the tip I have for you. I don't spend a lot of time worrying about earning these. I just use the Swagbucks search engine every time I do a search. I have come to the conclusion that you only earn swagbucks a couple of times a day. I always earn some Swagbucks the first or second search of the day. Then several hours will go by before I earn any more. So I think the best way to routinely add Swagbucks to your account is to do searches first thing in the morning and then again at the end of the day. Also there are 4 Swagbucks that are free each day. These add up VERY slowly, but they will make a difference over time.

I've heard from many blog readers that are turned off by blogs that are full of money making ads and the like. I am limiting any ads to the Swagbucks Widget and Etsy Shop Widget on my side bar Other than those my blog doesn't have any advertisements on it and I don't consider it a money making blog. I am reluctant to push my Etsy Shop too much on here. But, I was thinking that I will do a weekly post that shows any new items listed in my Etsy Shop. It will be titled something like this: Weekly Etsy Shop Update. This way anyone who isn't interested will see the title and just skip it.

I hope you'll join me in preparing for 2011!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

A Soft and Cozy Place to Land

This is the soft and cozy spot I land on before and after work. On these cold winter mornings you can find me in my Snuggie enjoying a warm cup of coffee flavored with fat free hazelnut creamer brought to me by my hubby.



Most mornings I read, watch the news and if time allows write a blog post. Recently I have been reading the Women of Faith Study Bible and Daily Advent Devotions. Books from the library include an updated version of "Miserly Moms", a short novel called "An Amish Christmas", and some various decorating books.

Also on the book pile are a couple of old gardening books good for dreaming about next Spring's yard and garden. Seed catalogs should be coming soon. All those 90 plus degree days from the Summer of 2010 are a distant memory now and its time to enjoy days of cocooning inside on cold days.



This lamp with its toile lamp shade and the chicken at the base sits on the table to the right of "my spot". During this season there are 2 Christmas coasters to sit my coffee or Diet Coke on.



Do you have a soft place to land? I'd love to hear about your "spot".

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Frugal Christmas Wreaths

I recently posted about how I recover pillows to fit each season. Another way I use what I have on hand through all the seasons is to redecorate these grapevine wreaths. I made them years ago and they have taken on many different looks and have been hung in several different parts of our home. My mother has grape vines, so I was able to get the vines from her. If you don't have access to grape vines, the ready made wreaths aren't too expensive, considering that you can use them over and over.

This one is hanging on one side of the mantel and book cases that run the entire length of one wall in our living room. I used floral/pine cone picks purchased at a local discount store that cost 2 for $1.00. The "wish" star thingie was found on clearance for $3.50. The neat thing is that I can pull these decorations off the wreath and store them until next year. Then after Christmas, probably as Spring approaches, I could redecorate the wreath with another look. Or I can just store it as it is to be used again and again.



Here's another larger one using larger floral pics and this twiggy primitive looking snowman, purchased at Dollar General. A little secret is that I used bread twist ties to hold him on securely. They are orange, blue, white and green, but they don't show on the front of the wreath. It hangs on the front door.



That snowman is almost a little scary, but I like him!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Recipe Organization and A Menu Planning Lightbulb Moment

I'm already looking forward to 2011 and one thing I'd like to do is to organize my recipes. Here are pictures of my messy recipe binders"







I love cookbooks! I have quite a few and often receive them as gifts which I love. I also often use recipes that I find on recipe sites on the internet. I love to enter a dish that I want to make in my Swagbucks search box and see what comes up.

The mistake I have made in the past is printing out the recipes I find and sticking them.... where ever! Its really hard to make a certain dish when the paper it was printed on is stuck in unknown places.

Another problem with this is that I tend to print out recipes and never get around to trying them. . I often wonder if after I'm gone that my loved ones will find all these recipes and think they are tried and true recipes that I really used!

To correct this problem I am going to start keeping only the tried and true recipes that I really use in a binder. In addition to those, I want to also add favorite recipes that are found in my cookbooks. Also, the priceless handwritten recipes passed on to me from friends and family would definitely be included, even if they are ones I don't use often. There are certain recipes that are favorites of certain family members, since each and everyone of them has different likes and dislikes. I can see these being labeled as being the person's favorite. I could hand write notes about some of the recipes.

While working on this post, I realized that what I'm really trying to create is my own personal cookbook. This would be a wonderful item to be passed down to my children and grandchildren. It would be a work in progress and continue to evolve as time goes on, only being finished when I am reaching the end of my time here on earth.

I have made an attempt at this years ago with these notebooks. I even went so far as to put in divider indexes labeling the different sections. This is all well and good, but the notebooks are so full of recipes that I can never find the one I want and will probably never cook 95% of them. So, I will go through these books and get rid of the junk and only keep the good stuff.

Recent recipes that will make it into the Debbie J Hall of Fame Cookbook are Slow Cooker Shepard's Pie, Shrimp or Chicken Fried Rice and Family Homestead Beef Stew. These are winners and I really want to cook them again and again.

Here's the Menu Planning lightbulb! Won't it be nice to plan menus with this new and improved binder in hand? There will only be tried and true favorite recipes in my new binder. I could even hand it to my hubby and let him pick what he wants to eat that week. I will regularly try new recipes from my many cookbooks and from recipe sites ont he internet. If they pass the test, they will be included in the recipe binder. If not, they will not clutter up my binder, ever again.

I already have a list of menus, main dishes and side dishes in my planner/notebook. Some of these are really not things I ever cook, so I am going to redo these lists, basing them on recipes in my new recipe binder. I really think this will make menu planning so much easier and just might be the answer to my menu planning failures in the past! A copy of these lists will be placed in the front of the recipe binder, as well as in my planner.

One of the best resources that I have access to for these tried and true recipes is my own blog! I just need to do click on the Recipes link and print out the ones I want to include in the recipe binder.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Cooking Ahead and Menus For the Week

I did a bit of planning ahead for the week this weekend and here's what I came up with.

Friday:

Pan fried steak, baked potatoes, fruit and veggie salad.

Chuck eye steaks were on sale at Food Lion this week. These are a relatively tender steak and when on sale are just a couple of dollars each. I bought a package of 5 for $10.00, cooked two for hubby and me and froze the remaining three.

Our grill was in the storage building, it was dark outside and it was cold, so I opted for pan frying the steaks. I just heated a small amount of oil in a pan, seasoned the steaks and threw them in. I turned them once, cooking each side until brown and then let them sit for about 5 minutes.

Saturday:

Southern style chicken and pastry; chicken salad

I don't roll out pastry the way my mother and grandmother did. You can buy this stuff at the grocery store in the frozen section in my part of the South. All you have to do is boil the chicken and then cook the pastry in the broth. I made chicken salad from the boiled chicken.

Sunday:

Stew beef with vegetables served over rice; fruit and veggie salad

This is the best beef stew I ever made! The meat was so tender that it almost melted in our mouths. I used THIS RECIPE found on the Family Homestead blog.



As most of you know, the secret is cooking the stew on a very low temperature for several hours. I cooked mine at 300 degrees for 3 hours and then for about 1` hour at 200 degrees and then cut the oven off and let it sit for a little while longer in the warm oven. Dusting the ingredients with flour help the liquid to thicken into a wonderful gravy.

The recipe says to use chuck roast instead of stew beef. This worked out well, since chuck roasts were also on sale this week at Food Lion. I cut the roast into bite size pieces. I put the fatty pieces in a pot of water to boil. This made a pot of beef broth to be used in vegetable soup later on in the week. I pulled the lean bits of beef from the fat and then discarded the fat.

I also cooked extra rice to be used in another recipe this week.

The fruit and veggie salad is made up of whatever you have on hand. This version contained banana, apple, raisins, broccoli, bell pepper, cheese, grated carrot and a heaping tablespoon of light mayo. Mix it all up and its a really good way to get some servings of fruits and vegetables in



Monday:

Lasagna, Green beans.

I browned the ground beef on Saturday to be used in this. I plan to put the lasagna together in the morning before going to work, then pop it into the oven as soon as I walk in the door from work.

Tuesday:

Chicken Fried Rice with garden peas

I will use boneless chicken from the freezer that was bought on sale. This is where the extra rice cooked on Sunday will come in handy!

Wednesday: Shepherd's Pie

I plan to make the mashed potatoes that are spread on top ahead of time, either the night before or Wednesday morning.

Thursday: Vegetable Beef Soup

I will use the beef broth with beef bits with vegetables added.

Friday: Chicken Potato Soup

Another Family Homestead recipe found HERE:

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Farm House Menus and Cooking ahead for the week of December 4-9, 2010

Here's what cooking at the farmhouse this week:

Friday:

Pan fried steak, baked potatoes, fruit and veggie salad.

Chuck eye steaks were on sale at Food Lion this week. These are a relatively tender steak and when on sale are just a couple of dollars each. I bought a packagge of 5 for $10.00, cooked two for hubby and me and froze the remaining three.

Our grill was in the storage building, it was dark outside and it was cold, so I opted for pan frying the steaks. I just heated a small amount of oil in a pan, seasoned the steaks and threw them in. I turned them once, cooking each side until brown and then let them sit for about 5 minutes.

Saturday:

Southern style chicken and pastry; chicken salad

No, I don't roll out pastry the way my mother and grandmother did. You can buy this stuff at the grocery store in the frozen section in my part of the South. All you have to do is boil the chicken and then cook the pastry in the broth. I made chicken salad from the boiled chicken.

Sunday:

Stew beef with vegetables served over rice; fruit and veggie salad

This is the best beef stew I ever made! The meat was so tender that it almost melted in our mouths. I used THIS RECIPE found on the Family Homestead blog.

As most of you know, the secret is cooking the stew on a very low temperature for several hours. I cooked mine at 300 degrees for 3 hours and then for about 1` hour at 200 degrees and then cut the oven off and let it sit for a little while longer in the wam oven. Dusting the ingredients with flour help the liquid to thicken into a wonderful gravy.

The recipe says to use chuck roast instead of stew beef. This worked out well, since chuck roasts were also on sale this week at Food Lion. I cut the roast into bite size pieces. I put the fatty pieces in a pot of water to boil. This made a pot of beef broth to be used in vegetable soup later on in the week. I pulled the lean bits of beef from the fat and then discarded the fat.

I also cooked extra rice to be used in another recipe this week.

The fruit and veggie salad is made up of whatever you have on hand. This version contained banana, apple, raisins, broccoli, bell pepper, cheese, grated carrot and a heaping tablespoon of light mayo. Mix it all up and its a really good way to get some servings of fruits and vegetables in


Monday:

Lasagna, Green beans.

I browned the ground beef on Saturday to be used in this. I plan to put the lasagana together in the morning before going to work, then pop it into the oven as soon as I walk inthe door from work.

Tuesday:

Chicken Fried Rice with garden peas

I will use boneless chicken from the freezer that was bought on sale. This is where the extra rice cooked on Sunday will come in handy!

Wednesday: Shephard's Pie

I plan to make the mashed potatoes that are spread on top ahead of time, either the night before or Wednesday morning.

Thursday: Vegetable Beef Soup

I will use the beef broth with beef bits with vegetables added.

Friday: Chicken Potatoe Soup

Another Family Homestead r ecipe found HERE:

Melissa, Doug and Swagbucks

A great Christmas frugal hint for NEXT YEAR is to use Swagbucks as your search engine and earn Amazon gift cards. I earned $40.00 during 2010, without really spending a lot of time or trying to work the system. I'm sure that's much less than many people earned, but it was so nice to be able to order my grandson some Christmas presents on Amazon at no cost, using the gift cards.

On Friday Amazon had a good sale on Melissa and Doug toys. Since my youngest child is now 23 (I think I'll swoon), I have never heard of Melissa and Doug toys. But after looking at the selection on Amazon, I decided these toys would be a nice departure from the standard toys found in the toy department at your neighborhood superstore. They are made from quality materials, are educational and just plain old different than most toys for sale nowadays.

But, as a final note, I did a quick search on Wikipedia to check out the Melissa and Doug Company, and was saddened to find out that while this company is an American company founded in the owners' basement in 1988 and the toys started out being manufactured in America, NOW the toys are manufactured in China. In 2006, the Melissa and Doug company had only 200 employees in America and 1000 employees in China. What does one do? Its nearly impossible to buy our children and grandchildren any toys that are American made.

Friday, December 3, 2010

In the Sewing Room This Morning

Well.... Jeopardy won out last night, but I was up early this morning and worked on 4 more Christmas napkins. Here's one that I completed. The other three will only take a few minutes to finish.



After hearing me complain about having to stop and fill bobbins all the time, my hubby bought me this for our anniversary. It will also come in handy because recently my sewing machine's bobbin winder wanted to act up!



Can you believe this huge tote is completely full of just Christmas fabrics?



My sewing chair was beginning to scratch the hard wood floors in here, so I picked up a rug at Dollar General.



Happy Friday to all of you!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Cloth Napkins, but no Jeopardy...

After work last night I summoned up enough energy to visit the sewing room and made another table runner and 4 napkins. I'd like to have a dozen napkins, so I should make four more a night for the next 2 nights.

As I've said in the past, if I just get started, I can get some things done at night. A body in motion tends to stay in motion. If a body lays down on the couch to watch Jeopardy with hubby, the body tends to STOP!



Wednesday, December 1, 2010

A Fussy Cut Mug Rug

I always called them coasters, but nowadays they are sometimes called mug rugs. But maybe mug rugs are technically little quilts with a binding and everything, so maybe this is really just a plain old coaster.

Anyway, as part of my simple farmhouse Christmas, I am making coasters and napkins this week using some Debbie Mumm rustic looking fabric.

Just cut your squares the size you want. Mine are about 6 inches. You need a top fabric, scrap of quilt batting and a bottom fabric.



This is the first one that I whipped up and the corners are a little wonky, but I hope to do better on the rest of them. My old sewing machine doesn't want to do those corners, but with practice I can improve.



I hope to show you some more coasters/mug rugs and the napkins later this week.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Haul out the.... dishcloths



One simple thing I enjoy each year at Christmas is using my supply of Christmas dish towels, pot holders and oven mitts. Over the years I have received them as gifts and bought some myself. As you can see I have a drawer full of them. I just switched out my regular dish towels and pot holders with the Christmas ones. A Christmassy touch that takes about 5 minutes.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Monday's Simple Christmas Idea

As I've gotten older and my children have grown up, I have less desire to spend a lot of time doing Christmas decorating. I love the decorations, but its a lot of work, especially when its time to take it down.

So as part of my simple farmhouse Christmas this year, I want to simplify decorating. I have been thinking about what kind of things I want to use and what can be left in the box in storage. I will definitely put out some Nativity scenes that I have collected over the years, because they depict the real meaning of Christmas.

Do you have some out of season pillows laying around? I do! I have Fall themed pillows that will go into a box until a later time.... unless.... I can figure out how to incorporate them into my simple Christmas theme.

A no-sew option would be to simply turn the pillows over. If you check some of yours, you may be pleasantly surprised to find that they are a solid red, green, gold or beige/cream color. If so, just flip them.

I flip this "sister" pillow during Christmas every year. Here's the front:



And here's the back, a perfect Christmas green.



Also, with a minimum of sewing skills you can make removable pillow covers to use through the holiday season. After Christmas, just take them off, fold them up and store them until next year. There is a simple tutorial for one way to make a removable cover listed under "Tutorials" on the left side bar of my blog, or just cover the pillow the traditional way and after Christmas, carefully remove enough stitches to remove the cover from the pillow.

Measuring:



Covered:



The back with an envelope opening:



Two covered pillows:



The insides of the smaller one:



I am incorporating a few touches of Christmas into the farmhouse and haven't even opened a box of Christmas decorations yet.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Simple Farmhouse Christmas Plans and Organization

Christmas Table Runners:



I recently purchased a kit for making an easy and quick table runner. It was so simple that I made another one.

Also, now that Thanksgiving, 2010 is a memory, my efforts have turned to getting organized and preparing my home for Winter. This means that I am organizing my personal life, homemaking and Christmas plans

I pulled out my organizer/notebook and updated it by purchasing a few items from the Dollar Store. Some folders with pockets, a pretty composition book, a shopping/to-do-list pad, a zipper pouch and a 2011 calendar.

The folders with pockets will be used for organizing bills to be paid. I like to budget and organize bills by the week. I find that certain bills are due each of the 4 weeks of each month. I have a list of the bills that should be paid each week in each folder. When a bill comes in I put the part that gets mailed along with its envelope in the appropriate folder. If the bill is drafted or paid on line, the list helps me to make sure the amount is written down in the checkbook.

One pocket folder will be used for Christmas receipts, shopping lists and to do lists. Each year I list all the people on my shopping list, items purchased with the cost, and if its been wrapped. I also like to write down a plan for our Christmas menu and to do lists for things like decorating and handmade gifts.

My organizer/notebook also contains menu ideas, a grocery shopping list, phone numbers and addresses.

First thing this morning I made a list of things I wanted to do today in the composition book. I would say I finished 75% of the things on the list. Completed items included: finishing laundry, including putting it away; deep cleaning and decluttering the living room in preparation for Christmas, vacuuming all the floors, cleaning out the shade garden, watering houseplants, cleaning bathrooms.

I plan to keep Christmas decorating very simple this year. I want to use some handmade things such as the table runners shown above, pillows, wall hangings, holiday themed napkins and coasters.




Well, that's what's going on at the farmhouse this week. I hope to post pictures of some more simple handmade Christmas items this week.

A Slice of My Life October 9, 2017

Good Morning! I worked in the sewing room on Saturday and completed two more of the small monogrammed tote bags that I am working on for C...