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Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Half the Effort, Half the Price

I get excited when I can save money, especially if it's as much as 50%. I also like to find ways to save time and effort. Sometimes the two work together but most times you might have to put in a little more effort for a 50% money savings. In some of the cases below you might not save exactly 50% effort but it still works out to a large savings

1. When baking a cake, I always bake 2 layers. One gets frosted and eaten and the other gets frozen for a later date. I found that we are just as satisfied with one layer of cake as with two. To freeze the cake I let it cool completely, wrap in two layers of wax paper and two layers of aluminum foil. I write on the aluminum foil with a sharpie what flavor it is and in the freezer it goes. This is like getting two cakes for the price of one. 50% money savings

2. When making mashed potatoes, I make a large pot, at least twice what we would eat in one meal. Half is used that night and the other half is either frozen or put in the fridge.  If we are going to eat mashed potatoes later in the week, I put them in the fridge, if not they go in the freezer. 50% effort savings 

3. I cut dryer sheets in half and only use one half of a sheet with each load. Since I hang most of my wash out during the summer, a large box of dryer sheets can last almost a year. 50% money savings.

4. When I cook, I plan for leftovers for lunch and put the leftovers in individual serving containers. This way I can just pull them out of the fridge and put them in our lunch boxes. 50% effort savings and way more that 50% money savings. Lunches are expensive!

5. Take the clothes out of the dryer immediately. This saves more than 50% effort, I haven't actually ironed anything in a really long time so I am going to say 98% effort savings, because it cuts so much of the ironing time out.

6. Put dirty dishes in the sink as you cook.  Every time you turn on the water or wash your hands they are getting rinsed.  And all the food doesn't get stuck on so the dishwasher can be ran on a normal load instead of pot scrubber.  This saves money and effort.

7. When using the slow cooker, I always cook a large amount of meat. Like tonight I have 5 chicken leg quarters in the slow cooker. We will eat half of them tonight then the rest will get shredded and turned into another meal later in the week. This saves nearly 50% effort and some money because you aren't using as much electricity to heat up the next meal as you would to completely cook the meal.

8. I clean my solid surface stove top with baking soda. After I scrub the stove I use the same dish cloth to scrub the sink. There is enough baking soda on the dish cloth to give the sink a good scrubbing and I am getting double duty from the baking soda. I count that as 50% money savings.

Are there any things you do that save you 50% money or effort?  I would love to hear them.

Have a great day!

Sunday, January 26, 2014


This has been the coldest winter since we moved to Kentucky. There has been more snow and more days in the single digits than I have ever experienced in my life. And I must say I have had enough! It is beautiful but all I can think about is how cold it is. I can't go outside and enjoy it and I am even finding it hard to think about spring.  Planning for the spring and summer hasn't even begun. No garden plans, no plans to do any spring cleaning, no preparations are being made, at all.  I have to get out of this funk.

This old farm house is cold. The good thing about that is it prompts up both to think about what we can do to make it warmer. Every year we think of something to do and each little thing we do helps. One day maybe we will have it all figured out. Right now we are thinking about putting new counter tops in the kitchen. You ask how is that going to make your house warmer? Well when we take out the old counter tops we can put more insulation between the cabinets and the walls. That is the worst spot in the whole house. The extra insulation would help a lot in the kitchen which is the coldest room in the house.  Just not sure I am ready to start that project.

A few blessings from this week: My daughter was traveling with work and she had safe travels even though for a little while we were afraid she would not be able to catch her flight out of Louisiana on Friday. But she finally made it home safe and sound.  My son's house has a contract on it so hopefully in a couple of months they will be moving back up to Kentucky. Our heater went out on Wednesday and it was a cheap fix.

The new recipe last week was:


1 pound ground beef
1 pound Italian sausage
1 pound penne pasta noodles
1 can spaghetti sauce
2 can Cheddar cheese soup
2 tsp. Italian seasoning
2 cups Mozzarella cheese, shredded

1. Brown ground beef and sausage in electric skillet, drain.
2. Add soup, spaghetti sauce and seasoning, heat through.
3. Cook noodles according to package directions.
4. Add cooked noodles to sauce in electric skillet.
5. Sprinkle Mozzarella cheese on top.
6. Leave on simmer until cheese is melted.
7. Serve

We really liked this, it was easy and clean up was easy. One pot for the noodles and the electric skillet. I served it with green vegetable but salad would be good, and garlic bread. I meant to take a picture but we had already eaten it when I thought about it.

Hope you have a great week.

Friday, January 17, 2014


With one of my goals for the new year being to be more financially responsible, I have been doing lots of research on budgeting. I have had a budget for several years and kept a spreadsheet in Excel. I have also been using Excel for long time, but never knew that Excel had budget sheets you download.  There are several different formats to choose from.  I chose this one: 
There was nothing wrong with the spreadsheet I made but this one just looks so much prettier.  It only took a little tweaking to make it what I wanted it to be. I wanted it to also track my savings so I made a column for savings and one for balances left on accounts like the mortgage.

We are saving for a BIG vacation to Disney World in 2015. I am trying to follow this plan:
But I am putting in more for the first weeks than $1.00. I am just sticking in whatever is leftover from our entertainment funds and a few dollars from my allowance each week.  It's turning out to be a lot more than the plan calls for. I hope that doesn't make it harder at the end. Hopefully I'll hit my mark a lot sooner than the plan calls for.

We are also trying to pay off a couple of things so extra money is going towards those bills, too.

I hope your goals are going well for the new year.

Monday, January 13, 2014

New Discovery

We eat breakfast every morning. A couple of times a week it's bacon and eggs. Sometimes we eat cereal, or frozen breakfast sandwiches. We get eggs from our chickens and need to use them up. Most of the time I scramble them because it's much faster.  We really like Wright bacon. The thick sliced bacon. 2 pieces of it is plenty for a person for breakfast. But it is expensive. When it is on sale I usually stock up but even then it's $6/pound or higher. While I hate paying that much for bacon, I justify it because it lasts us for such a long time. But this week our Kroger had Wright smoked bacon ends & pieces, 3 lbs. for $7.99.  So I grabbed up a package. I have bought ends & pieces before but not a brand name, never seen it in a store before, only a no name brand. I cooked some this morning. The pieces are small and not what you would serve guest, but it tasted just as good as the regular bacon.  I also noticed that a lot of it is just lean pieces. My husband commented that it almost looked like ham. I am going to get a little freezer bag to put the pieces that are mostly fat (which seem to be few) in to throw in the freezer to use as seasoning. For a third of the price per pound, I figured I can use all of it for something.

The sausage and pasta dish I posted turned out to be pretty good. It's probably not going to be on the menu every week but for something different it was pretty good. I liked it more than Greg did.

Blessings for this past few days were hard for me because I had a root canal done and haven't felt very well since then. But I did get to babysit Lily and Sean Friday night and that was a blessing to spend time with them. We paid off our tractor today and that is a blessing.

Have a great day!

Monday, January 6, 2014


Today is a good day already. We missed the big snowmageddon that was predicted for our area. It is still very cold but I was able to get to work today without any problem at all and we have no frozen pipes so far. Greg worked really hard yesterday getting things ready for the chickens and blocking some areas around the foundation of the house where wind can blow through and freeze pipes.

We managed to get the Christmas tree down and the inside decorations put away. I love putting the tree up and having everything looking all festive but when Christmas is over, I am sure glad to get my house put back to normal.

It is really nice to be seeing blessings every day, because I am actually keeping a list of them. We are all blessed but when we don't take time to actually look for those blessings they go unnoticed.  I hope I can keep up this goal because it puts me in a good mood when I actually list a blessing that I took the time to reflect on my day and see.

My new recipe that I am going to try this week is:

On Pan Cheesy Smoked Sausage & Pasta Skillet
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lb Hillshire Farm Smoked Sausage, sliced
  • 1 cup diced onion
  • 1 Tbsp minced garlic (about two fresh cloves)
  • 2 cups Chicken Broth
  • 1 (10 oz) can diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup milk or heavy cream
  • 8 oz dry pasta (any small pasta will do)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper, each
  • 1 cup shredded Cheddar-Jack cheese
  • 1/3 cup chopped scallions, for garnish
  1. Add olive oil to a 4-5 quart saute pan over medium high heat. Add onions and sausage and cook until lightly browned. Add garlic and cook for about 30 seconds.
  2. Add chicken broth, tomatoes, milk, pasta, and seasonings. Bring the mixture to a boil, cover, and reduce heat to low. Simmer for about 15 minutes, or until pasta is tender.
  3. Turn off the heat and stir in 1/2 cup of cheese. Sprinkle remaining cheese on top and cover for about five minutes to allow cheese to melt. Top with sliced scallions and serve.
  4. Makes about 4 servings.
I found this recipe on Pinterest and it sounds and looks really yummy and easy.

Hope you have a great week!

Friday, January 3, 2014


Can I just say I am freezing to death? Well, I am sure I won't freeze to death, but it sure feels like it. It has gotten to a balmy 8° here today.  Even with the sun shining it's doggone C.O.L.D.  I start shivering from the inside and it works its way to the outside. Yesterday on my way home I shivered so much my neck and back were hurting. And next week it's supposed to be even worse. We could see temperatures as low as -8°. Somebody tell me why I left Florida again.

Sounds like a good weekend for a pot of soup or chili. I will be taking down the Christmas tree and decorations this weekend. And trying to get my house back in order.  You would think I would have done all that while I was off, but Greg doesn't like for me to take the tree down til after New Year's day.

Counting my blessings has been easy for that last two days. Yesterday's was we both got home safe and sound and at reasonable hours during the snow storm. Today's was that I made it work in one piece, on my own.  You might not think that's a big deal, but I have never had to drive in snow.  Even though we have been up here for 10 years, I always rode to work with Greg, until I started working in the county we live in. Now I go one way and he goes another.  So it is a big deal to me.

Hope you have a great, warm weekend.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Wow! Can You Believe it's 2014!

I am having a hard time believing it myself! Where oh where does the time go? All I know is I must be having a whole lot of fun cause time is flying.

Well, a new year brings with it a time to set new goals. As I looked back at last year's new year post I realize I dropped the ball on that goal really quickly. So I am adding that goal back as my first goal this year.

1. Look for a blessing each day. Write it down if I have the time, but look for one each day.
2. Be more financially responsible. We are trying to save for a Disney vacation in 2015 so we really need to be more diligent in saving and cutting back.
3. Drop a few pounds. My first goal is 27 pounds.
4. Continue to declutter and get rid of things I don't use or have room for.
5. Try at least one new recipe a week. I am actually thinking of making one week-end day new recipe day. But don't really want to get locked into that because weekends are hectic sometimes.

Looks like I am going to be busy this year.  Guess I better get started.

Hope you have a blessed 2014.