Monday, July 31, 2017

How to Menu Plan - Side Dishes

My method of menu planning is to have a list of possible dishes to choose from that we like and that I have ingredients on hand for.  Before going to the grocery store this week, I did a little inventory of what I had on hand and made a list of ALL the possible things I could make for side dishes.

Butter Beans Cooked With Ham Bits

I was surprised at how long the list was and I could have thought of more, but was in a hurry to get out the door.

Here's what I came up with:

Green Beans cooked with ham bits
Butter Beans (Lima) cooked with ham bits
Three Bean Salad
Fruit with cottage cheese
Black Eyed Peas
Great Northern or Pinto Beans
Chips and Salsa
Broccoli and cheese
Baked Sweet Potatoes
Sweet Potato Casserole
Deviled eggs
Fruit Salad
Broccoli, rice and cheese casserole
Brown Rice cooked in chicken broth
Tomato Sandwich
Sliced Tomatoes
Fried Okra

Sweet Potato Casserole

Just having things to choose from makes menu planning so much easier.  I put this list to good use for our lunch yesterday.  We had butter beans cooked with ham bits, sweet potato casserole and beef kabobs.  I found the sirloin steak for the kabobs at Food Lion marked down.

Okra, Cherry Tomatoes, Regular Tomatoes

I've been trying to use our fresh vegetables from our small garden as much as possible.  This includes vegetable soup, fried okra, BLTs, tomato sandwiches and more.


I buy the little vacuum sealed packages of ham bits, which I call seasoning meat.  Once the package is opened, I separate it into little packs the size needed for one pot of beans and then freeze them.  I wrap each pack in plastic wrap and put them in a freezer bag.

I usually have some pecans in the freezer and can take out just enough needed for the top of the sweet potato casserole.

For menu planning I don't assign a certain food for a certain day.  I just have a list of things that I could cook.  Usually on Sunday I try to cook a little bit a head for the upcoming work week for suppers and also things to take for lunch.

And I'm always open to that unexpected offer by hubby to go out to eat!  We don't do this too much because its so much cheaper to eat at home, but we do eat out occasionally.

What side dishes do you like to cook?

Friday, July 28, 2017

Precious Moments "Love You Tons" Elephant Snow Globe Review

(Note:  I received this product for free in exchange for my honest review.  The links in this post are affiliate links and I will receive a small fee if you make a purchase by clicking through a link)

I received an email  from the Precious Moments company with the opportunity to receive this cute "Love You Tons" elephant snow globe in exchange for a review on my blog. I have a daughter in law who loves elephants and I couldn't resist the opportunity to receive it and then to give it to her as a gift.  She is an Alabama Crimson Tide Fan and loves elephants!  Can you believe she is living here in the middle of Carolina Tar Heels, NC State, Duke and Wake Forest Country?

 Here is the Snow Globe before being shaken:

The Precious Moments company is known for their collectable figurines and I'm sure you have seen them.  After visiting the website I was so pleased to see the variety of gifts of love available there.  I was especially interested in the bereavement gifts.   If you want to let someone who recently suffered the loss of a loved one know that you are thinking of them, you can find something there to fit any situation, from a miscarriage, the death of a child, spouse, a parent, or even a pet. 

The item that I was sent for review would make an excellent baby shower gift... or for the person who loves elephants.  Not only is it beautiful and magical to look at, it contains a music box and plays Brahms Lullaby when it is wound up.

In this picture you can see the glitter floating gently down after I gave it a little shake.  Its so pretty!

It was well packaged so there was no chance of it becoming damaged during shipment.

Precious Moments has thought of every possible occasion and has a gift for all of them.  Just a few:  Appreciation Gifts, Bereavement Gifts, Christmas, Anniversary, Birthday, Get Well, Graduation, First Communion and more.  If you visit their website, look at the left side and you will see all of the options.

Thank you Precious Moments for allowing me to review the "Love You Tons" elephant snow globe!

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Saturday Sewing: I made a clothespin bag!

I haven't made a clothespin bag in a quite a while. In fact I had to read my own clothespin bag tutorial to remember exactly how! My tutorial is found HERE and is one of my all time most read posts.  It still gets viewed several times a day.

If you look at the quilt in THIS POST, you will recognize the fabric!

I listed this one in my Etsy Shop HERE.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Glimpses of Home

Here are a few glimpses of home here at the farmhouse from the middle of July, 2017.

A jar full of summer:

A daily harvest.

I made some homemade BBQ sauce, but it wasn't good enough that I would want to share the recipe. So all you get is a picture of the ingredients.  I will try again.

Frying okra:

I found a good deal on Amazon for Gain refill packs. I checked and there's still a $4.25 coupon which brings down the price to $10.19 for three 48 ounce refill packs.   Click HERE to see the deal.  Using Subscribe and Save is great.  I receive a Subscribe and Save order every month.  Just remember to cancel your subscription the following month if you don't want to receive it at what ever price they are then.  In this picture I was transferring the liquid to an empty Purex jug and wanted to make sure I got every drop.

A little patriotic spot.


Chicago Peace Rose:

Little Boy is growing.  This one will be 3 next month!

Dreaming of fall, but these leaves are this color in the middle of summer.

This boy will be 4 next week.  And he fell and fractured his arm this week.  He will wear a cast on his little arm for only 2 weeks though.

In the little shade garden:

Working outside.  I need to sit on this little scooter because my knees hurt if I squat or kneel!

Petunias and Rosemary.

These Moss Roses (Portulaca) come back in pots from seeds every year.

Tractors at work.  This year we have sweet potatoes growing behind and beside us.

I hope you are enjoying your summer!

Monday, July 17, 2017

Freezing Food in Jars.Frugal - Kitchen Tip Monday

One way to save money in the kitchen is to make your own chicken broth or stock.  I purchased a package of split chicken breasts on sale and then simply boiled them with two things in mind.  Number one was to make chicken salad for lunches this week.  The second thing was to store the chicken broth.  At no extra cost, I now have 2 and 1/2 quarts of chicken broth!

Frozen Chicken Broth

Freezing things in glass jars is a new thing for me.  I've frozen chicken broth in freezer bags before, but that didn't work out too well.  It was kind of messy!  With the jars I can take a jar out of the freezer, set it in the fridge and use it as needed.  I really love the plastic lids that can be used on canning jars for storage.  I bought mine at Walmart, but you can also get them on Amazon HERE.

Tips for freezing chicken broth in jars:  1.  Leave some space at the top of the jar; 2.  Place the filled jars in the fridge overnight before freezing.

Homemade Chicken Salad
Having some items ready to grab in the morning for lunches is a real time and money saver!  I'm already envisioning some sliced summer tomatoes fresh from the garden with this chicken salad.

Homemade Sweet Pickles
These are some of my homemade sweet pickles.  Without these chicken salad isn't the same! My love and thanks go to my Mama for teaching me to make sweet pickles and chicken salad.  Also, I need to use the plastic lids on the pickle jars after they have been opened for storage in the fridge!

Have a great Monday and if its hot where you are, stay cool!

Friday, July 14, 2017

Frugal Friday - Swagbucks - Walmart Points

I was remembering all of the "Frugal Friday" posts I used to do way back when I first started blogging.  I really enjoyed coming up with those posts and so I thought I'd post some more.  It might even be fun to go back and repost some of those oldies, but goodies!

I've posted here before about swagbucks, and I'm still earning Amazon Gift Cards that way.  As I've said before, its not a get rich quick scheme, but if you are patient and consistent, you can earn some gift cards for Christmas or what ever you need them for.    I am saving mine for Christmas!

If you would like to sign up and try it, here is my referral link:  Debbie J's Swagbuck Referral Link

There are always different ways to earn points going on.   As an example, Walmart is running huge deals all week long on everything from clothing and jewelry to home electronics, grills, and toys, and Swagbucks is offering 6% cash back (in the form of SB Points) for every dollar you spend through Sunday. Whatever you need this summer, now's the time to buy it and get rewarded for doing it.      Just click HERE to take advantage of the Walmart Swagbucks points.

If you haven't signed up for Swagbucks yet, you can also do that at this page and start earning points towards your first free gift card. As a bonus, if you sign up through me and spend at least $25 shopping online through Swagbucks before the first of the month and you'll get a 200 SB bonus - that's $2 in addition to the points you get for each dollar you spend.

For some reason this year I'm getting excited about preparing for Christmas in July!  I have lots of gift ideas and am trying to earn all the "free" money I can.  I already have a $25.00 Amazon gift card earned  through Swagbucks and am well on the way to earning the second one. 

What are ways you are preparing for Christmas?  Most of the time I don't even want to think about it, but for some reason this year I am inspired to get ready early.

Monday, July 3, 2017

On a Mission at Dollar General

I went to Dollar General on Saturday on a mission to check some prices on things we buy regularly.  There are six Dollar Generals in my area, one of which is brand new and only a couple of miles away from home.  I don't want to run from store to store trying to save money, but if I am already going to be at a particular store, I think it would be smart to pick up items that we need that are a good price.  The only problem with that is that I can't remember what is a good price most of the time.  And not all items are a good price just because they are for sale at a Dollar store.

These Libby's brand canned green beans were on sale for 2 for $1.00, so I picked up 6 cans of those.

I like Petite Diced Tomatoes and was happy to see them in the Dollar General Brand, Clover Valley.   I made a pot of Chili Saturday afternoon and they were great!  They are 67 cents a can.

The Clover Valley brand of  parboiled rice was $3.75 for a 5 pound bag.  I thought this was an extremely good deal, because this is the same as the Uncle Ben's brand, which is always really expensive.   Confession time:  I thought this was brown rice until just now when I looked closer!  I do prefer brown rice for its health benefits and the fact that it is a slower burning carb.  But, we will use this rice.

I like to cook brown rice in chicken broth and then freeze it in individual serving size freezer bags.  I take one for my lunch at work and add either home cooked frozen chicken or a small can of chicken.  Makes a good lunch. 

At this particular store, they have an entire section that has only dollar items.  There are some great finds  there.  Of course everything there is not a good deal.  I bought these bottles of Salon Selectives Shampoo and conditioner and the Purpose Farmstead Apple foaming hand soap for a dollar each.  These are bonus size bottles and are safe for colored hair.

Every time you visit Dollar General you get a $5.00 of $25.00 coupon that can be used the following Saturday.  I try to wait to shop there until the following Saturday so I can make use of that coupon.  If you know what you need that is a good price there, this is a great way to save some money.  Its even better if you have manufacturer's coupons to stack with the $5.00 coupon.

Using K Cups is not the most frugal way to drink coffee.  In fact its pretty expensive.  However, Hubby and I love our Keurig and so I am always on the lookout both in stores and on Amazon for the best price on them.  I bought the machine for him for Christmas a couple of years ago without realizing that the K Cups are expensive.   So far the Dollar General (Clover Valley) K Cups are the best price I have found.  They are $4.75 for 12.  If I use my $5.00 coupon on a Saturday and buy 5 boxes, they end up being $3.75.  Of course I would have to buy some small filler items, like a couple of cans of tomatoes to reach the $25.00 amount.

There are wall stickers also in the dollar section.  I love this one. 

This is what you see when you come in our back door.  The stickers are removable and don't damage the wall.  So I figured for a dollar, it would be cute and if I decide to take it down, there would be no problems.

Sunday morning when I left church, I ran into the Food Lion and briefly compared a few prices from my scribbled notes and the verdict is that Dollar General's prices are a little lower.  For instance, a dozen eggs at Dollar General are $1.55.  At Food Lion they are $1.89.   That's not an earth shattering savings, but if I 'm already in the store, why not pick up the items that are cheaper?

My next mission is to do a detailed list of prices for items at Food Lion and get the lists from both stores organized so I can tell when a sale is really a sale.  It irritates me when the sale paper for Food Lion says "Hot Deal", and its NOT! 

My top three stores to shop at are Food Lion, Dollar General and CVS.  I rarely go to Walmart, but occasionally I do.  I never buy anything at CVS that isn't on sale, combined with a coupon!  I also buy a lot of things through Subscribe and Save on Amazon.

What stores do you shop at the most?

Glimpses of Home - A Little Bit of Fall

I've been enjoying Fall.  I love this time of year. Having a hubby who is retired is great.  He does so many things around the house. ...