Thursday, June 26, 2014

Million Dollar Rain and the Farmers Say Amen!

   I woke up this morning to the soothing sound of rain hitting our metal roof.  I love that sound.  It takes me back to my childhood and the blessing that rain is.  Now that I live in the rural and rich farmlands of the Palouse, I more fully understand why rain is such a blessing.  The acres and acres of rolling hills, planted with wheat, peas, lentils, garbanzos and other crops desperately need the rain.  Our farmers depend on it to water their crops and increase their yields. 

   As for me, I am loving the break from watering the garden and taking full advantage of this cooler and wet day.  It is also giving me a break from having to weed the garden. ;)  I know it will still be there for me tomorrow to do.  I pulled some grated zucchini out of the freezer and am going to make zucchini bread to go along with the sandwich bread that I already have going in the bread maker.  While that bakes, I think I will curl up with a good book and read for awhile before it is time to once again go down and do some volunteer work.  Oh how I love the blessing of rainy Summer days. :)

Thursday, June 19, 2014

A Bucket a Day or Setting Daily Goals

   Have you ever noticed how quickly things in your home can get messy or the weeds in your garden can take over?  Left unchecked, it can become overwhelming.  I try to set daily goals for myself as a way to keep up with it all.  As I made my "to do" list for the day, I looked out at my garden where the weeds have had a hay day with all our rain and realized that if I did not get out there and do something, my poor plants would perish under all those weeds.  I set a goal for myself to fill one 5 gallon bucket a day with weeds.  Since I tend to get overwhelmed by huge messes, I thought this would be a way to get things done without being discouraged.  Looking out there now, I can see a huge area that is now weeded and looking good and that motivates me to go out again tomorrow and fill yet another bucket.

   One of the things that I love about this time of year is being able to line dry my laundry.  It not only saves money, but the smell of freshly air dried clothing and bedding has to be one of my favorite "perfumes" in the world.  I was so blessed to find a old fashioned laundry line set up in our backyard when we moved here 21 years ago.  Getting my laundry going either the night before or early in the morning allows me to get it all hung out in the morning and have it dry by early afternoon at the latest.


   Baking was on my daily goals list today.  I had some leftover homemade bread that needed to be made into croutons and some over-ripe bananas that needed to be used up.  Homemade croutons are one of the things that my hubby loves most in life and I try to keep him supplied.  The over-ripe bananas were transformed into 3 delicious loaves of banana bread and while they baked, I threw 4 potatoes in the oven with them.  They will be used to make a baked potato salad later.

     While getting out ingredients from the refrigerator for the banana bread, I noticed that we were low on syrup.  Jeff and I like to have pancakes on the weekends so a refill of that was in order.  I got a heavy sugar syrup going and let that simmer while I cleaned the kitchen.  When it had reduced down, I added some Maple flavoring and let it cool before I filled our syrup bottle back up.

    I checked my list and saw that I had some green onions to plant.  Did you know you can plant the bottom part of the green onions you buy at the store and they will keep producing more and more onions for you?  I have a pot full of them in the backyard and was running out of space there, so these ended up being planted in the freshly weeded area of the garden.  We go through a lot of green onions here during the warmer months in salads and on pizzas and during the colder months in soups and casseroles.

    The last goal I set for myself today was to literally stop and smell the roses. ;)  These roses sit right under my living room window and their perfume is so delicate.  Each year I look forward to their blooming and realize that there is just a short time frame to enjoy them.  I don't want to get so caught up in the busy-ness of life that I miss out on one of life's simple pleasures.   What a nice reward they are after a busy day!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Savings and Deconstructing Deli Trays

The school year is over and I am officially on Summer Break.  YAY!!!!  I really enjoy the perks of being a substitute teacher. ;)
I do however really miss the income that my job brings into our household so I really try to concentrate on ways to cut back on our expenses even more during the Summer and early Fall while I wait for my next paycheck to arrive. 

Luckily for us, we live near 2 major college towns and when the students leave for the Summer, great deals can be found in the grocery stores.  The stores need to get rid of excess merchandise and this includes food items.  Two days ago I stumbled on a half off the last clearance price on frozen foods deal at one of the local Walmarts.  I was shocked to see Sara Lee Pumpkin pies marked down to $1 each and even more shocked to realize that it would be even cheaper with 50% off that.  So I spend a whopping .50 on the pie above and made hubby a very happy man. :)

Another place I look for mark downs year round is in the meat section.  I found trays of boneless, skinless chicken breasts marked at half off.  I bought 1 tray of them and packaged each breast up in a sandwich sized bag and then put those in a heavy duty freezer ziplock bag.  I would have bought more, but my freezer is pretty packed at the moment.  Jeff and I will use one breast to make meals like Orange Chicken, Lemon Chicken and Pasta, Chicken Kabobs, etc..

One of the most overlooked areas in the grocery store where I feel you can save the most money is in the deli section.  I have found some great deals there including marked down whole baked chickens, salads, prepared meals like tamales and Chinese style dishes.  Within the past few weeks I have found some amazing deals on prepared deli trays.  Last week I bought 2 Pretzel Pizza trays for $2.49 each.  We had one for dinner when our grandson Bradley spent the night and I froze the other one for a future meal.  This week I found fruit trays and meat and cheese trays marked at half off  their original price.  These I deconstructed and ended up with bags of grapes, fresh pineapple, cantaloupe, honeydew, and watermelon for a fraction of the price that I would have paid to by them in the produce section.  I also separated and bagged up the deli dry salami, pepper jack, colby jack, cheddar, and Swiss cheese, the lettuce that was used to line the trays (it was still in great shape and perked back up after a rinse in cool water) and set aside the sleeves of crackers.  These make for great snacking or a quick lunch.  Today I had watermelon, some Swiss cheese and some of the salami for lunch.  It was really good and I loved that I was able to save money and have a delicious and varied lunch.


Friday, June 13, 2014

Summer Colds and Appreciating the Beauty Around Me

I finally succumbed to  hubby's cold that he has been fighting for a couple of weeks now.  He felt so bad that I got sick and did the sweetest thing for me.  He surprised me with some daytime cold meds and a Snickers candy bar.  He knows what I needed and also what would put a smile on my face.  I love that man!

Our garden is starting to produce and I got harvested these beauties yesterday afternoon.   They are really mild tasting, with just a hint of peppery heat to them.  The lettuce and spinach are also looking like they are about ready to start cutting and eating.  I love being able to go out and cut lettuce from the garden and making a fresh salad for lunch or dinner.

Our Columbine plants have just multiplied so much this year and are providing us with a profusion of blooms to enjoy!  I dug up a huge clump and sent it home with my mother for her garden and you can't even tell that I did it. :)

Just look at the detail on those beauties!  I think they are one of the prettiest flowers around and bring me such great joy.

Every year I pick a different color of geranium to have in pots on the front porch.  This year I found such a great deal on geraniums that I was able to have 4 huge pots of these delicate flowers.  I have one pot on my front porch and 3 lining the breezeway in the back near out hot tub.  They just make me smile every time I see them. :)


  One of my friends handles the annual plant sale that is a fund raiser for the local Grange.  She hand picks all the plants that they are going to sell and she tries to get a really nice variety of flowers, herbs, fruits and veggies.  This year she was able to score a limited number, seven to be exact, gorgeous fuchsia plants.  I bought seven of them as soon as she opened for business because I knew they would go fast.  I asked if she was going to be able to get any more and she said that was all she would be getting.  I am so glad I went early and got the three that I did!   The hummingbirds have been loving them and I of course love watching the hummingbirds.

I think that it is so important to appreciate all the beauty around us and the wonderful people who do those special little things for us that make our life easier. No matter what is going on in our lives, big or small, we can all need to take a moment to focus on our blessings. 


Monday, June 9, 2014

A Few Items on the Menu from the Past Weeks

Baked salmon with butter and lemon, boiled new potatoes with butter and fresh parsley from the garden, watermelon and a nice glass of wine.

Garlic and herb pork roast, baked potatoes, strawberries.

Cheeseburger over potatoes casserole inspired by Trisha Yearwood's cooking show.

My family's favorite pasta salad minus the cheese this time.

My husband's favorite tuna pasta salad with green onions and green peppers.

Comfort food:  Teriyaki venison steaks, rice with furikaki, corn and watermelon.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Cheap and Free DVDs

The Summer months bring lots and lots of reruns on TV and quite frankly, I get bored with them.  I am always on the lookout for free or cheap DVDs to add to our collection for us and for the grandkids.  I have been having great luck lately finding some screaming deals!

First up, for your viewing pleasure, is Handy Manny: Fixing It Right.  I joined the Disney Movie Rewards Club and enter codes from movies I buy online at their site.  When I have enough points, I trade them in for a free DVD.  I just got this one in last month and ordered another in the series for free yesterday.  Bradley loves Handy Manny and Isaiah is starting to get into it also. :)

Next up in the free movie category are some of my favorite movies from the 80's.  I do the Swagbucks program and earn points there that I cash in for gift cards.  The two places that I usually cash in for are Walmart and Amazon.  I was able to get Pretty in Pink, and the Brat Pack set that includes The Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles and Weird Science all for free after using my gift cards.  Woohoo!

 Up next is my .25 movie that I found in the clearance section at Bed Bath and Beyond.  Brewster Place is one that Oprah Winfrey did and I am looking forward to seeing it.

 You see that huge stack or DVDs.  I found all of them at one of my favorite thrift stores for $2 each.  I am beyond thrilled to have found The Cat From Outer Space since it was one of my favorite childhood movies!  There are fun movies for me and "guy movies" for Jeff. ;)

 Last but not least was one of my biggest scores DVD wise.  I found multi movie packs for $2 each.  The Classic Movie Musicals had 4 dvds with a total of 20 movies.  I love the old musicals and am so looking forward to watching these!  The Holiday Family Classics also has 4 dvds and features 12 Holiday movies and 27 Christmas cartoons.  I'm not sure who was more thrilled with this purchase, Jeff or I, because it means we can whittle down some of our single dvd movies of the same titles. :)  I know it may seem strange, but I love to watch Christmas movies on hot Summer helps me not feel the heat so much if that makes any sense at all.

 I think these DVDs, along with some other ones that we own and have not watched yet, will keep us entertained through the entire Summer.   That does not mean however that I will not be on the lookout for more! ;)

Tutu and Grandpa Came to Play!

My parents recently came for a visit.  What they thought would be a relaxing trip turned into anything but...

Thursday evening found us on a picnic up at Kamiak Butte where the view is great and there are fun paths to explore and a great playground area for the little ones.  It was a nice way to spend the early evening with family.

Chris sprained his ankle badly so my mother, father and I took him to the emergency room early on Friday morning.  That was not in the plans at all.  We went out to breakfast after that and the grandkids joined us there.  Tammy, their other wonderful Grandma brought them into town for us.

Saturday found us packing Jaysn and Rachel's apartment up and bringing the rest of their things out here to store in our garage until they closed on the home they are buying.  They moved in with us until they were able to pick up their keys yesterday.  That was the fastest closing I have ever seen or heard of in  my life and we are thrilled for them to be homeowners!  They worked hard to make it all happen. :)  Chris, Heather and the boys came over for a BBQ that evening.  Jaysn and Rachel were busy cleaning their apartment, so they did not make it in time for dinner.  Something to know about Tutu and Grandpa is that they always come bearing gifts and blessing us all!  That night we all got our birthday presents from them and as you can see, their great grandsons were especially pleased with their wonderful gifts!  Bradley kept saying "I love my moose, I love my moose!" and Isaiah was just doing his cute little happy wiggle that involves his whole body! :)

Thanks Mom and Dad for always being willing to pitch in with everything at any time.  We love you and we hope that when we come over there for a visit, we can help you out with projects that need doing as you have helped us!