Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Last Rose of Summer

Timely Tuesday -

I felt impressed to take my camera with me on my walk yesterday. I know the wildflower season is waning and I hoped I could get some pictures. We had a lovely, and much needed rain from about 10 PM on Friday until about 3 PM on Saturday. All the plants just soaked it up and are looking so much better. This year's flowers are not near as nice as last year's but we had so little rain that I'm not surprised. Someday I'll learn all the names of these beauties.

Rose hips

Tall purple spike - I wish I had a better camera, I didn't want to wade out into the flora for fear of ticks.

These look like the ground cherries described by Laura Ingalls Wilder

Milk Weed pods

Here it is, the last rose of summer

Very fuzzy Morning Glory

My absolute favorite - What I've always thought was wild flax is actually Chicory!
Never too old to learn something new!

Such a gorgeous color!

Blue Grass Creek

Friday, August 24, 2012

Show and Tell

Frugal Friday

This has been a busy and productive week. For a church Young Women's service project we are making pillow cases for a children's hospital in Omaha. I found wonderful instructions at MaryQuilts.com (sending a big thanks to her for her clarity!). Having found the instructions I cut out fabric for six or seven cases. This is the one I sewed with the girls as a demonstration.

Darling Hippos!
These pillowcases are a great way to use up leftovers, reduce your stash, or save money by using thrift store or yard sale sheets or fabric. The best part of sewing them is that it takes only three seams to make them with NO raw edges inside, so they are sturdy and long lasting.

In another area for frugality, I used up a leftover slice of toast and an English muffin to make bread crumbs for Salmon cakes. My goal is to eliminate waste in my kitchen. I do pretty good, but I want to reduce it even more. Here is one of my methods. After a meal I put the leftover toasted whatever into a (used) bread bag to save for processing. When I'm ready I get out my blender and tear the bread into small pieces and grind them in the blender. Maybe you have a food processor which would work also, I don't have one and have always used my blender. The crumbs can be made at the time you have the leftovers and saved in the freezer, or save the leftovers and make the crumbs as you need them. Works both ways.

(We have such lovely walls in our kitchen!)

Crumbs ready for making Salmon cakes (or patties)

Yummy - ready to be turned over to brown the other side.

Salmon Burgers (or cakes, patties, balls)
1 14.75 oz. can Salmon, drained and flaked
1 egg, slightly beaten
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 - 2 cups bread crumbs (amount depends on how many you're feeding)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon dried dillweed
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Combine ingredients, mix well with your hands, then form into patties. Pan fry in small amount of vegetable oil until browned on both sides. Serve as you would any other burger. For patties or cakes just make them smaller (see picture), for balls just make them round (you get the idea).

We enjoyed these the other night with homemade oven fries.

I like making things from scratch so I can control the ingredients. Recently I decided it was time to finally figure out how to make my own "condensed cream of . . ." soups. A google search came up with lots of ideas and recipes but the one I liked best is found at a wonderful site called Salad-In-A-Jar. I tried the recipe and was totally pleased with how fast, easy and tasty it turned out. I used it in a chicken casserole and thought it tasted better than any store bought. The recipe calls for 8 ounces of evaporated milk which is less than a full can so I looked up how to make my own so I wouldn't waste any from a can. Talk about easy! Instead of the liquid milk, just add 2/3 cup dry milk and 3/4 cup water to the blender with the other ingredients for the cream soup. It was fabulous. Also, I used canned mushrooms instead of fresh (easier to store and have on hand) and black pepper instead of white.

I recognized that this recipe was MSG free, very low sodium and easy to make but as I read all the comments on Paula's blog I realized that I needed to share this with my sister whose daughter eats a gluten-free diet. So this is a great recipe for many different applications. Huge thanks to Paula for developing it and sharing. I think this cream soup recipe would work with other things like chicken, celery, broccoli, asparagus, etc. which will make casserole cooking so much more healthy and frugal. It fits with my desire to store basic ingredients that can be used in many different ways.

Thursday, August 23, 2012


Sorry to leave you hanging without another post--I've been busy doing various church work. Check back tomorrow for some show and tell.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Choices make a difference

Timely Tuesday!

So many ways to be timely, but today I'll talk about the Post Office. I took some packages to mail today. Three were small and the choice between priority and media rates was a lot, $8 vs. $3. So right there I saved $15 choosing the media rate which takes a week instead of two days.  What I was sending was not critical or late and the recipient will be happy when it arrives.

Planning ahead for birthdays and holidays can save lots of dollars which can then buy more interesting things like food storage, or pay down a debt. Every little bit helps.

What do you do to use time instead of money?

Monday, August 20, 2012

Tightwads United

Some years ago, in another place, I tried to start a "Tightwad" group to encourage the sharing of ideas and practices. It never really got off the ground.

I'd like to try again with an internet group.

Do you know what a tightwad is?

A TIGHTWAD is . . .

T - thrifty with resources
I - inventive and creative
G - grateful for all she/he has
H - happy with homemade
T - tenacious
W - willing to experiment
A - attentive to details
D - dedicated to goals

. . . and worth her/his weight in gold!

Are you a tightwad? Do you want to be? Would you like to be part of sharing ideas and practices here at PFCMom?

I'll start and you can join in down below in the comments.

Menu Mondays

I serve a lot of cooked oatmeal here. Growing up my parents called it mush. I'd rather say that to a bunch of Huskies. I never called it that for my children because that sounds yucky. I've always called it oatmeal cereal because children (and husbands) are more willing to try something with a nice name.

Recently we had a dish for breakfast that we hadn't had for a long time; I chose it because the oven was finally fixed and I had a craving. I called everyone to breakfast saying "Time for breakfast, come on we're having cookies!"

When my husband took an unprecedented second helping I asked what made the difference. "Just calling it cookies makes it taste better."

So here's my recipe for Baked Oatmeal or Cookies for Breakfast

1 1/2 cups rolled oats (if using regular rather than quick, soak for 15 minutes in the milk)
1/2 cup milk
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup soft butter (1/2 stick)
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt

Combine ingredients and mix well. Spread evenly in a greased 9x9 inch baking pan.
Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes or until edges are dark golden brown.

Serve warm with plain or fruited yogurt; fresh, frozen, dried, or canned fruit; milk or cream.

Fruits such as raisins, craisins, fresh or frozen blueberries, chopped apples, etc., chopped nuts, chocolate chips, or coconut may be added before baking. Try it with your favorite spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger and such. This is a very versatile and forgiving dish.

Recipe can be doubled for a 9x13 inch pan.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Spread the Word

Rather than listening to soundbites on mainstream media news outlets, or other places, read what 400 economists, including five (5) Nobel Laureates, have to say about Candidate Romney's economic plans contrasted to President Obama's plans.


There is no question in my mind, especially after seeing the film, 2016: Obama's America, last night, that our current president is the wrong person to lead this nation, and if we allow him to be reelected we can kiss life as we know it, liberty, and our pursuit of happiness goodbye.

I believe Mitt Romney is the right man at the right time; raised up by God to be a righteous President. I also believe that God never forces His children, so it is up to us to act upon the circumstances that are before us. Educate yourself about Mr. Romney, his values, his morals, and his policies, both domestic and foreign. If you don't agree with something he says, ask yourself "Have I ever agreed 100% with any presidential candidate?" Don't throw away your vote on someone else (especially if they have no hope of winning) as that just means that the vote is split three ways and the incumbent can win.

I listened to Mr. Romney's book and found his world view totally refreshing. He believes in the greatness of the United States of America and that our nation has a God given destiny to shine as a beacon of liberty to the whole world, and as a protector of God given rights throughout the world. We do not go to war to conquer, or for land, or enslavement of a people; we go to war to liberate and to restore freedom, to put down tyrants who murder their own people.

We need a strong America, morally strong, financially strong, educationally strong, and militarily strong. The world is more peaceful when America is strong. When we are weak the bullies come out of the woodwork and grow stronger.

I love America! My two grandfather's immigrated here from Norway and Scotland. They came for a better life in a free nation. I'm going to vote to preserve that freedom and make America strong again.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Frugal Friday - Odds and Ends

Progress Report on floor: The old carpet must have been carpet and pad integrated and the pad must have been adhesive because it left a horrible residue on the beautiful wood floor. I used a paint scraper to get it up and in some places had to use an orbital sander to remove it. (Perhaps a chemical would have done the job, but I'm trying to be frugal here!) Now we are left with the decision "to refinish, or not". Even where the pad came up easily it left a slightly hazy residue on the floor. My feeling is that as long as the room is empty, let's refinish and then we can enjoy moving in to a room with fresh paint and a fresh floor.
Yucky residue.

Yucky residue scraped off.

Area where I used the orbital sander to remove the yucky residue.
 Now on to more fun things:

Bad photo of Tim with a piece of popcorn clinging to his side.

Calico napping in Dr. Hair's laundry hamper.

JET (purple shirt), Dr. Hair (white shirt), and two of JET's roommates
Occasion: JET's birthday on Sunday

JET, the birthday boy & PFCMom, the birthday dinner planner and provider

What's a young thing like you doing with a face like this? Where did my youth go?
Okay, now for some frugality:
What do you do when you find at the store a bag of bananas for a buck?

They aren't bad, just a little spotted on the outside. First we eat a few on cereal for breakfast, a few more in smoothies and then the rest . . .
These bananas are actually a few days after I bought them and yes they are really ripe.

are smashed up, measured and put in freezer containers with lemon juice for banana bread. 
Containers of 2 cups of mashed bananas and 2 teaspoons of lemon juice.
When I want to make some bread I take the container out of the freezer and thaw it overnight on the counter (or in the fridge, but it takes longer), then I can make bread in the morning and the house smells good all day.

Here's another little frugal practice of mine.
See that brown thing that looks like a trash can next to the night stand in my bedroom?
PFCMom's Bedroom
That brown thing is actually two paper grocery bags, one slipped inside the other with the top folded down, which I use as my trash receptacle. This one has lasted two years (see the autumn scene?). I didn't have money to buy one, couldn't find one I liked anyway, so I made one.

Repurposed paper grocery bags
A friend of mine repurposes tin cans for all sorts of things, sells them at craft fairs and gives them as gifts. These are two I use as "pencil" holders. She got the idea from a craft magazine that showed painting on terra cotta pots. She didn't want to spend money on pots and looked for an alternative. I think the cans are terrific. (When I get my Christmas stuff out I'll show you the one she made me that I think is absolutely darling.)
Repurposed painted tin can pencil holders
 And last on our tour today, a way to corral those water bottles:

Basket for bottles

I searched thrift stores for a basket deep enough to hold the tall bottles; I had tried short baskets but the bottles would topple and scatter. This one keeps them nicely corralled on top of the fridge. 
Neat and tidy bottles
Just a note on searching for things at thrift stores--Be patient and go often. Those are the keys to scoring treasures at tightwad prices. The other rule is to buy when you see it, she who hesitates is out of luck. The item won't be there next time. I have never regretted buying anything because if it doesn't work out I can always re-donate it. But I have truly regretted NOT buying items, thinking I'd go back for them later. Wrong.

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

It's Just Fine

Tomorrow is the first day of school here in Audubon, Iowa (where did the summer go?) so I gave Dr. Hair and Dandylion haircuts trims. Not my best this time (I'm so erratic), but decent enough. In our family we have a code phrase "It's just fine," which means it will do until something better comes along, or I could have done better than that.

I told Dr. Hair to use his own money for a "professional" haircut if he wasn't satisfied with my work; he liked that idea. Dandylion's hair is the slowest growing hair I've ever seen. He can go three or four months between trims.

I've been puttering around doing a little here and a little there, but not really completing anything. I need a block of time and some space to do some big projects.

Yesterday I had the boys work in the kitchen next door cleaning the cabinets, which involved taking out the old shelf paper and edge trim, along with thumb tacks and cup hooks, then vacuuming out all the debris. Today we scrubbed and washed the cabinets. I think we got the first layer of dirt off; they still look dingy to me (I hate other people's dirt) so I'll have to do them again. I also scrubbed out the second closet in the master bedroom so it's ready to paint. I'm not sure what was on the walls of the closet, it seemed like some kind of mildew; it was easy to clean off and I'm hoping the KILZ I paint on will keep it at bay. The bright white sure is fresh and nice.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Score at the Store

Today I stocked up on a pantry essential (at least in my kitchen). I found butter on sale for $1.49 per pound at HyVee, an employee owned grocery chain here and bought 10 pounds each of salted and unsalted butter. That should get me through to the new year.

I also got a dozen, plus two, cans of whole kernel corn for 39 cents a can. We go through a lot of corn. I wanted to buy more but that's all that was on the shelf and I couldn't find a clerk to get more from the back room. I get frustrated because these good deals are 30 minutes away from home and I can't just "run to the store" every time I feel like it.

So much of my grocery shopping is just restocking the "pantry" in order to have the basic ingredients for my cooking.

Beginning in September I'll be tracking my grocery spending so I can #1 see what the average is, and #2 see if I can stay on a budget. I'll have two pools of money: one for normal weekly groceries, the other for stocking up on basics, although there is some overlap in the two.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

At times like this I really miss homeschooling

Today was another big shopping day. First off to WallyWorld (Walmart) for some underwear, gym clothes and jeans. Dr. Hair is now in adult sizes which means more expensive. Dandylion had grown more than I thought he had by his birthday so he needed new boxers.  Both found two pair of jeans they liked and that fit; add to that all the right underwear and socks, plus a new zippered hoodie for Dandylion, plus gym clothes for Dr. Hair and it added up to about $141.00.

Now on to the shoe store. Dandy was the first to be measured. He'd grown TWO sizes. When he grows into his paws he is gonna be a big dog!! So instead of getting just one pair and using his old ones for gym, I bought him two new pair AND Sunday shoes as I just couldn't expect him to squeeze into his two sizes too small ones. The dress shoes are $120 Florsheim leather soled black loafers blessedly on sale for $35. I talked Dr. Hair into getting two pair also, one for school and one for gym. He is the most cost conscious of our children and is self-sacrificing to a fault. Anyway, five pair of shoes totaled $259. Guess who won't be getting new shoes this month.

When I was telling TopDad about the purchases I waxed nostalgic about the days of homeschooling when clothes didn't matter so much and we got ready for school with far less money. Actually this was the first year I bought brand new jeans for the boys, usually I look for nice ones at thrift stores throughout the summer. But this summer I didn't do that. I did lay down the law that as soon as they get home they must change out of their nice school clothes and shoes to keep them nice. That's a reasonable request, yes? Anyway, TopDad gave me a hug and complimented me for always managing to find things on sale and take good care of our needs. (I must give credit where it's due; I prayed before going shopping.)

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Countdown Begins

Two weeks from today school begins in our town! Gadzooks, where did the summer go?

We're still working on our new house, but progress is slow as we are not under any deadline to finish, and I refuse to begin a second room until the first one is completely finished. I don't want to be living in a house of unfinished rooms. So I do a little here and there and we'll see what happens.

Yesterday I had the boys sort through their clothes to see what they had and what they needed for the new school year. I got out our storage box of "grow into" clothes and found I had enough shirts to meet their needs, plus shoes, Sunday slacks and belt for Dr. Hair. SCORE! That leaves jeans for both boys, and all new underwear for Dr. Hair (Dandylion got his for his June birthday).

JET has a birthday this month and I promised him new jeans and Sunday Shoes too.

PW is registered for classes at Utah Valley University and has found an apartment and roommate so he is excited, and we are pleased that things are going well for him.

Noble is enduring through her third and final semester at Defense Language Institute in Monterey, California. She celebrated her 23rd birthday last Saturday by going to California Pizza kitchen where she had a Pear and Gorgonzola pizza, which she said was divinely yummy.

TopDad is stressing over all that needs to be done to be ready to teach classes at TWO schools this year. Enrollment is down and he is (sort of) half time at the two schools. Always a new challenge.

I'm getting ready to teach early morning seminary again this year--my two students are our two sons. We'll study the New Testament, which we read as a family last year.