Saturday, November 16, 2013


After much thought this summer I decided this blog name didn't quite fit me anymore and so I've started another one at  Come join me as we adjust to our new home here in North Dakota.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013


Menu planning the past week has been a day by day thing due to my work schedule being all over the place.  An early night gets me home about 6 pm and my late night gets me home after 9 pm.  Sometimes Matt gets hungry and doesn't want to wait until 9 or after to eat, which is understandable.  There are nights when I get home at 8 or after where I'm just too tried to eat even if he has kindly waited for me to get home.  There were nights he'd wait for me to get home and then we'd have to figure out what to eat and neither of us wanted to cook so drive thru eating occurred several times which was a huge waste of money although we have managed to figure out how to do drive thru for about $10 for the both of us. 

So my challenge for myself this week has been to devise a menu that is flexible and keeps us from ordering pizza or running through the drive thru windows. I may switch up days but I'm pretty sure I can stick with this. 

Monday (Off) - Corn beef, potatoes, cabbage, carrots
Tuesday (9-6) - Corn beef sandwiches & fries
Wednesday (10-7) Dirty rice & green beans
Thursday (Off) - CP Orange Chicken & rice
Friday (11-8) French toast and fruit salad

Saturday I may splurge depending on the weather and possibly grill some rib eye steaks if I can find some marked down ones at work or I may have him take me out to eat.

Update:  I wrote this a two weeks ago and followed it pretty closely, or at least tried to.  The corn beef shrank so much I was only able to get one meal and a lunch for myself out of it.  I made the CP chicken as per the recipe to come home to burned orange chicken.  Not a pleasant odor to walk into.  We also ended up doing pancakes instead of french toast because I couldn't find any Texas Toast at the store.

Monday, May 27, 2013


Happy Memorial Day everybody!  This year Memorial Day has a little bit deeper meaning for me with my son being in the military and having nearly been killed over a year ago while in Afghanistan.  I notice I'm tearing up looking at pictures of military cemeteries and watching celebrations this year.  The thankfulness that I have that my son isn't in one of those graves cannot be expressed, yet I feel for all the mother's who have lost a military son or daughter.  My indebtedness to my military comrades goes deep.

Growing up I have vivid memories of my grandmother and aunt taking me with them to visit relatives graves all over Indiana to put flowers on their headstones.  These pilgrimages were events for me as we typically would load up the car with all the flowers, water, and shovels and drive all over to the different cemeteries.  Grandma would give me a name to look for and tell me approximately where she thought the stone was and I had to go scout for it.  Once I found it we would then dig and plant the flowers and give it a good drink of water before leaving.  We'd either stop for lunch somewhere, which was a big event for me back then since we rarely ate out, or we would take a picnic lunch with and eat at one of the cemeteries.  I remember several had picnic tables scattered through the cemeteries, typically under large trees, for this purpose.  In some ways I think these yearly pilgrimages are why I've never had bad emotions or memories associated with cemeteries. I find them fascinating and love to look at all the old headstones.  Living in other states as an adult I was unable to continue helping with our family plots and none of my children have  had the experience.  I hope one of these summers I can get back and have my aunt take me around to all the graves so I know where they all are.  Memorial Day weekend was celebrated with parades that our bands marched in and backyard barbecues with the family. 

One observation I can make is that while living in Metro Detroit area is that the pet cemetery that I worked at probably had more decorated grave sites then the local human cemeteries.  Sad, but my true opinion.  There was one cemetery that put small flags on each grave Memorial Day weekend but they weren't decorated by family or friends with flowers like I remember my family doing.  The pet graves frequently had benches added so owners could come visit, sometimes decorative fences surrounding the grave, and frequently flowers or grave blankets on the sites.  Thinking about it, I can't help wonder if the possible shift is due to the breakdown of families and how much closer people to their pets then their own relatives.  By the time we moved from Michigan it was almost like Memorial Day was an inconvenience to people getting on with their lives.  The soldiers I worked with enjoyed it because they typically received a 4 day weekend holiday.

This being our first one in North Dakota has been uneventful.  Fortunately I had the day off.  Matt and I grilled hot dogs and I made my tasty baked beans for lunch.  We used my indoor grill since it's looking like rain again.  I finished up a book and took a nap.  For supper I'm planning on sticky chicken and potato salad.  I haven't been reading the paper online so I'm not sure if they had a parade or not.  Matt's friend that he's pit crew for was racing out of the area and Matt isn't traveling with him so we didn't have a car race either.  The neat thing I have seen is how many people have been buying plants, fake flowers, and other items to put on grave sites this weekend.  One of the neat things I saw them purchasing were solar powered angels and crosses to put by the graves.  Several people have stated that they were not spending as much this year on items since there's been a rash of thefts at the cemetery and they'd be lucky if the items they left were there the next day.  I can't imagine what type of person feels stealing from a grave site is acceptable.  One can only hope Karma catches up with them for their crimes.

Overall this Memorial Day has been a nice relaxing day.  It has restored my faith that people still put an importance on family that has pasted away.

Friday, May 17, 2013


So far this week I've spent just over $50 and $25 of that was for clothes I needed to work at Walmart's - so $25 in grocery items.  Matt did go out today and buy the groceries for Wednesday since his brother is arriving for a two day visit.  I'm not sure how much he spent but I'd say probably around $12 although the potatoes can be used for several other meals.  I'd be at approximately $45 with what he bought for the week - at least I'm getting it back within my $50/wk goal. I've been using items in the freezer and pantry along with a few purchases to stretch what we had on hand.  I had hoped to pick up some marked down meat Friday when I went to the store but they didn't have anything I felt was a big enough deal.  I did learn not to shop on Fridays for meat if I want mark down deals.

Friday: Homemade pizza with prosciutto, caramelized onions and mozzarella slices
Saturday:  Buffalo chicken sandwiches and steak fries
Sunday:  Pork Roast with carrots and potatoes
Monday:  MYO Manwiches and steak fries
Tuesday:  Chicken leg quarters, wild rice, and green beans
Wednesday: Pork Chops, asparagus wrapped with bacon and mashed potatoes (Matt's purchase)
Thursday: Out To Eat (Matt's treat with his Brother)

This recipe is so easy and quick to make.  Obviously if you don't like Worcestershire sauce don't use it. Use whatever type of mustard you have on hand if you don't have spicy brown, regular yellow works fine.

MYO Manwiches

1 pound hamburger
1 small green pepper
1 small onion
1 tsp garlic, chopped
Fry all together until hamburger is done

1/2 - 1 cup ketchup
1 tsp of spicy brown mustard
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
salt & pepper
Simmer until warmed through and serve on buns.

We don't have a Wendy's here and I've been missing my Spicy Chicken Sandwich so I decided to try making my own.  These were super easy and will definitely be reappearing on the menus.

Buffalo Chicken Sandwiches

Chicken Breast for each person
small onion, sliced
Bottle of buffalo sauce/marinade or make your own with Frank's Hot Sauce and butter (I think the recipe is on the bottle) - I had a bottle of Buffalo Sauce & Marinade that I hadn't used.
Bleu Cheese or Ranch dressing - I used the leftover bleu cheese dressing from my homemade wings experiment last week.

Turn oven to 350'.  Tear off foil pieces to wrap breasts in.  Put a chicken breast on each piece of foil, add buffalo sauce, flip chicken, and add more buffalo sauce to other side.  Divide onion between breasts.  Fold up foil to form packets.  Put packets on a cookie sheet or other pan so if sauce leaks out it won't drip in oven.  Bake for 45-60 minutes depending on thickness of breasts.  Serve on buns.  Can serve with Ranch or Bleu Cheese dressing, lettuce, tomato, Monterrey jack cheese, or jalapeno slices if desired.  This would be good sliced up and served on a salad also.

Monday, May 13, 2013


I've been focusing on budget cookbooks this week to try and get budget meal ideas.  It surprises me frequently that books that claim to be budget orientated are anything but in my opinion.  Some claim to be budget minded if they spend $10 per meal.  I think it would be more budget worthy to spend $5 per meal or $10 a day for the family.  That being said, I realize not everybody is on the same page as I am and they have to start someplace.  If they think nothing of paying $20-$30 for a meal at home then $10 is budget worthy for them. 

These are all Kindle versions that I looked at this week and they all were free when I bought them.  Some may be on Nook or on Smashbox, you'll need to check.  In appreciation for their offering these up free I think it's only fair I give credit where credit is due.  These were not bootleg or stolen copies (a common problem for authors at this time).  If you're new to Kindle (or any e-reader books) you can typically check out part of the book before buying so you can see if it's worth your money.  Definitely check out the Table of Contents on a book and index if they have one before purchasing and if possible download a sample of it.  Prices I give are at the time of posting and obviously are subject to change by Amazon/Kindle at any time.

Eat Like a Farmgirl - 90+ 3 Ingredient Plant Based Recipes by Jennifer Prince (Currently $4.99)

This book was probably my second favorite of all the books this week.  She had some really unique recipes and ideas that got my brain cells working on possibilities.  I love books like this!   She gives a good list of basic pantry supplies to keep on hand so you can use with any produce you have on hand.    Although she eats these recipes as a main dish as she eats a primarily vegetarian diet, I think they'd be good with a side of meat or with meat added to the recipe.  I like the unique recipes like roasted asparagus, pickled turnips & pumpkin seeds and raspberries, rose petals & oak leaf lettuce.  She also includes condiment recipes for the pickled turnips along with salsa and several other items.  One of the ideas that she uses is cooking items in vegetable or fruit juices.  I'd never considered cooking rice with vegetable juices to enhance the flavors or to use teas as a base for cooking different items.  She also has some tasty vegetable cake recipes.  186 pages. 

Meals Under $10 - 51 Delicious Meals That Won't Break the Bank by Joan Johnson (Currently 99c)

This is a good beginner book.  The recipes were pretty basic for me but there are a few that I plan to try in the future.  She does include recipes for egg drop soup, Texas style enchiladas, and Swiss style  meatballs.  The Swiss style meatballs is a recipe I definitely plan on trying.  For 99c it's a cheap download if you're a beginner in budget meal planning.  94 pages

Thrifty Cook Main Meals by Tessa Patterson (Currently $2.99)

This book was on the shorter side but had a couple good recipes in it.  I'll be honest and say I doubt I would have downloaded it for the $2.99 but it's a decent cookbook.  She does have a lot of really basic recipes which would be great for beginners.  She also had some interesting recipes thrown into the mix like sticky chicken thighs in plum sauce and chilli beef with chocolate that got my attention.  She also had odd pancake recipes like spinach & mushroom pancakes that sounded really bizarre to me and wouldn't be something I would try.   Overall it's not a bad cookbook.  106 pages.

Breakfast Mug Menus by K.H. Gardner (Currently $2.99)

This was my favorite book this week.  I LOVE mug meals.  So easy, size controlled, and typically made in a matter of minutes.  She has everything from the basic egg mug to interesting ones like blueberry oat breakfast muffin mug, simple french toast breakfast mug, and chocolate banana cake mug.  She also threw a couple regular meal type mug recipes in including meatloaf mug.  Even though the book is only 57 pages it is packed with recipes.

The Economy Driven Cookbook by Nicole Lyddy (currently $2.99)

Another fairly basic beginner cookbook although she had a couple recipes that I hope to try out including oatmeal patties, sweat & sour meatballs, and easy chocolate caramel apple cake.  This would be a great beginner book as it probably has the most recipes to get started with.  264 pages.

Dog Treat Recipes by Amanda Lewis ($3.49)

So as not to forget my fur kids I include a dog treat recipe book.  She has some good lists including one of foods to never give your dog, ones to avoid giving your dog, and some safe alternatives.  I also really like the fact that she gives good information on how to prepare and dry these.  Some of the recipes I plan to make soon are Bacon Bites and Bad Breath Cookies.  I might be trying the Carob & Pumpkin Treats as Tip loves his fake chocolate treats (carob).  This is probably the smallest book with 79 pages but considering the possible savings and the better ingredients I can definitely say it's worth the $3.49 download.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013


I started on a baby afghan after we got back from Puerto Rico in March.  I was a little over half way done when I realized that I'd been adding extra stitches somehow.  There was a huge shift on the one edge and it caused the baubles to be irregular instead of in straight rows.  I saw no way to fix it but to start over again.  I might have been able to pull it out but I would have had to pull out about 2/3's of what I'd completed so I decided it would be easier to just restart it.  Depressing to say the least.  This is the first time I've done Tunisian crochet so my beginning rows were not the prettiest making the decision to totally start over easier.  Tunisian crochet is similar to regular crochet except the hook is the size of a large knitting needle and you pick up stitches from an entire row to work similar to knitting.  I'm a perfectionist so I couldn't leave it even though there's a possibility nobody would have noticed - I knew about it.  Here's a picture of what it looked like. I've been working on it for just over a week and have made considerable progress and I'm really glad I did restart it because it looks so much better.

It's hard to justify working on craft projects like this when one is broke but there are several ways to handle it financially and there are health reasons to so.  I'll start with health - knitting and crocheting product the same relaxing effect to the brain that yoga does. What that means is that 30 minutes of knitting/crocheting provides the same relaxing benefits to the brain as 30 minutes of yoga would.  (You should still do your yoga too for the physical benefits.) This is very important for someone that is stressed for any reason.  For those who already have high blood pressure or other issues it can help by relaxing the person to prevent higher spikes in blood pressure. I'm also the type of person that does best when I have something in my hands to work on - it just relaxes me more then sitting doing nothing. 

Yes knitting and crocheting, or other crafts, can be expensive.   One should probably not be buying $50/skein yarn if one is unemployed or having problems financially unless you know you can absolutely sell it.  If you want to make a gift use cheaper yarn then you ordinarily would.  When I'm strapped for cash I buy crafting items at Walmart's or with coupons at Michael's and JoAnn Fabrics.  Sometimes Dollar Tree and similar types of stores have cheap crafting items.  I've also seen yarn at Salvation Army, Goodwill, Craigslist's free section and yard sales. 

Recent finds were an unopened cross stitch kit at a yard sale last weekend for 25c and it came with a pre-cut matching framing mat!  I was also able to pick up 8 spools of thread for crocheting that I use for tatting for $2.  Typically a spool would run about $3 or more.  Today I picked up several yards of netting to use to make pot scrubbers with some cotton yarn that I already have on hand - cost was $1.25 which is about what I would have paid for just one yard.  You could buy various yarns over a period of time at yard sales and thrift stores and then plan a project around what you were able to accumulate.  Granny squares or scrap projects are great for a variety of yarns and colors.  

I started the afghan before I lost my job otherwise I might not have started it.  I do have yarn that I could have used for some type of scrap yarn project instead to keep myself busy.  I wasn't sure how much yarn this afghan project would take so I bought 3 skeins of yarn that were less than $4/skein and then bought another 3 skeins a couple weeks later when I knew I'd need more.  This works because I bought yarn that was from a name brand and they have standard dye lots so if you have to buy more later there won't be a noticeable difference in the color - don't wait years though because dyes are deleted, yarns fade, and dyes are reformulated so it won't be as easy to find a match.  If need be buy a skein a paycheck or per month until the project is finished.  Another option is to put money away on a regular basis until you have enough to buy all the crafting items needed at one time. For states that have bottle deposits/returns you could use any money you get back that way or use the money saved with coupons to save for supplies.

Be extremely careful about buying crafting items with the idea you'll sell them to make money.  I've seen way to many people do this and never sell anything then ending up in more financial problems because of the money they'd spent.  If you want to venture into selling crafts of any type start small and as money starts to come in then increase.  Also consider the size of the project and the pattern.  This particular afghan is made with baubles (repeated stitches made in the same stitch) so it uses a lot more yarn then a basic pattern.  This might have only been a 4 skein yarn project if I'd used a more basic pattern. 

Personally if I were desperate for an influx of cash I would attempt to sell some of my soaps and possibly make more if I could afford to order supplies.  Another option is my stash of beeswax that I could use to make candles with or simply resell the wax.  Candles would bring more profit obviously.  I haven't had much luck selling dish clothes.  Although people like them they don't want to pay for them.  Scarves in the winter would be a good option - unfortunately we're heading for the summer season so they wouldn't sell well right now.  Mittens are a good option.  I know several people that re-purpose sweaters and fleece items into mittens.  People love homemade socks but for me they aren't cost effective due to taking so much time to make them and the cost of the yarn.  In the summer consider selling herbs and vegetables surplus.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013


Matt bought me The Hunger Games for Christmas after the movie came out (2 years ago?) and I never got around to reading it.  Recently Kindle had the entire set of books for I think $3.99, it was a SUPER deal.  It would have cost me more then that to buy the next book in the series and I still would have had to purchase the last book.  Last weekend I finished the first book in the trilogy, The Hunger Games, and I'm almost done with the second book, Catching Fire.  Based on my reading the first book and having seen the first movie I will make an astonishing statement - I preferred the movie over the book.  I don't think I've EVER made that statement before.  I'll be interested to see if it holds true for the rest of the movies.

I've finished off two mysteries this week.  Both were from Paperback Book Swap.  First was Embroidered Truths by Monica Ferris.  If you like a nice light mystery and or a crafting mystery this is a good series to cuddle up with.  I enjoyed the main characters and the bond they'd developed.  I'm pretty sure I read the first book in this series, Crewel Yule, quite a few years ago.  This one stood on its own so I didn't feel like I was missing anything.  Unlike some of the crafting mystery series, this one has several crafts in it so if embroidery isn't your cut of tea they talk about other crafts also.  I've read a couple of Monica's books and have liked them.  I have another one of her mysteries, Blackwork, that I have in my stash to read hopefully this week.

The second book was an Amish mystery, Too Many Crooks Spoil the Broth by Tamar Myers.  Overall it wasn't a bad mystery, it was a light read similar to Embroidered Truths.  My issues with this book were that they weren't consistent with the Amish/Mennonite that I know.   The main character, Mennonite, just didn't come across as that likeable, she was crabby to say the least.  The cook, Amish, was just nasty, vindictive, and bad tempered - so un-Amish!   The main character calls a phone number of one of the murdered guest to discover it was a chicken takeout place and gets into a flirty conversation with the guy that answered.  This unknown guy at the end of the book calls her back and sets up a date with her even though they live 200 miles apart.  I can't see any Amish woman doing this especially when it's doubtful from the description given of this guy that he was either Mennonite or Amish (in other words he's English).  Some may find the dialogue between the main character and the cook funny but I personally did not find it to my taste. It did contain recipes and a couple of them I might try.  

Overall this book wasn't my cup of tea not because it wasn't a good mystery but I felt it portrayed the Amish incorrectly.  I was looking for a quaint cozy Amish mystery and this didn't fit the bill for me.  If she had taken the religious aspect out of the book and just had it as a crabby innkeeper, her lazy sister, and her stubborn cook it would have gone over a lot better for me.  Yes, I know all Amish (or other religious people for that matter) don't act true to their religion but when you're marketing to a specific genre I would think you'd want to be a little bit closer to what people expect out of the Amish genre.  I had hoped I'd like this series since there are several more books but I doubt I'll order any more of them.


I do read things other then fiction.  I started this a couple months ago and just finished it yesterday.  Overall it was an okay book but it was so basic it wasn't grabbing my interest well.  I was specifically looking for a book using Ayurvedic medicine for female issues.  This was a good introduction but I was looking for something more in depth.  She did have some useful information for additional reading which I plan to check out and she did have a little bit different slant on the mind/body types that was interesting.  I have another book that I plan to read that I think has the more in depth information I'm looking for though.