Saturday, October 30, 2010

Please vote

Just do it. I don't care (well, I DO care, but that's another story) who you vote for, but please do vote. It's a privilege, but it's a responsibility. If we don't run this country, no one else will. WE are the nation.

It's not right that the entire country does what a third of the people want it to do. That's how many usually vote; hopefully this year there is enough interest that we will all let our opinions be known. 

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Around and around and around it goes...

It seems like just a few days ago that we were anticipating the first freeze and the first snow of the year. That time has come again already! How fast time flies any more

It will soon be Thanksgiving, and the day after that is Christmas - or so it seems. And then we will start over again... and around and around it goes.

Are you meeting your goals with each cycle of the year? Are you ready to move ahead? It might be a good time to check the list of things you wanted to accomplish this year, while there's still time to do something about them.

I didn't achieve all of mine, but I got close and, as I said, there's still time before the wheel turns all the way back to "Start." That's also known as the New Year.

Friday, October 22, 2010

It's Pumpkin Time!

My daughter and I went to the locally famous Pumpkin Patch a few days ago. You can see what we bought on the hay bale in the foreground. It was hard to stop there... but what do you do with so many pumpkins after they've decorated the house and yard??

As if I ever had a problem with them! I love pumpkin seeds and pumpkin pie and pumpkin muffins and pumpkin bread and pumpkin soup and pumpkin... well, just about anything pumpkin.

Here's a post I made a couple of years ago on that subject:
It's almost pumpkin time again

And one from last year:
Fresh pumpkin soup

And a post about canned pumpkin this spring (I do like pumpkin!)
Shortage of canned pumpkin?

AND... here's an article I wrote explaining just how to choose the right pumpkin so you can use it for eating, too:
Have Your Halloween Jack O'Lantern and Eat It, Too! 

Happy Pumpkin Eating! :) 

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Cold weather driving

Are you ready for cold weather? I think I am... well, I mean I am, mentally. Physically, there are still some things to do. The house is in pretty good condition and today we'll do some clean up in the garden and yard. We won't get it all done because things are still growing, but we can get a good start on it.

One of the things I usually put off until the last minute is getting the car ready for winter.

Here, where freezing weather is a daily fact of life during the winter months, we need our vehicles to be trustworthy. We need to start with an oil change, and have them check the levels of antifreeze, transmission fluid and windshield washing fluid. (There's nothing worse than driving behind a mud slinging truck in freezing weather and not being able to keep the windshield clean!)

Air pressure in the tires need to be checked and checked often during cold weather. Don't check them while the tires are cold, though, because the pressure will measure lower than it will be when the tires are warmed up. Wait until you've driven a few minutes.

Beyond the car itself, if you live in cold country, be sure to have a kit for yourself and passengers. Blankets, of course, but also a good shovel, snow brush, ice scraper, flashlight, flares, first-aid kit,  jumper cables, and a fully charged cellphone and a cellphone charger. You could also add a power bar of some kind and a container half full of water, although it may be frozen solid. If it isn't, you can drink it and if it is, you can dump it and use the container to gather fresh snow, if that's your situation. Snow will melt faster than a clump of ice.

It makes sense to be prepared, no matter how easy you think the trip will be. Things happen. Yeah, I'm talking to me, too. And I WILL do it. Right now.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Never waste

Frost warning tonight! In a way, it's a relief, but in a way... it's sad. I went out and dug up a little rutgers tomato that hadn't had a chance to produce much. I put it in a container that had held peppers just days ago and put it on the shelf behind the couch. We shall see...

The rest of the tomatoes were picked and I will put them in a newspaper lined box under the bed to ripen slowly and naturally. One year we had home grown tomatoes for Christmas dinner. I don't expect that to happen this time, but maybe for Thanksgiving? 

And then, the beans. I'd already decided to let the rest of them go for soup beans (a couple of times!), but if it frosts, they'll be useless for that, too.

So... I picked beans. Again. And I was surprised at how many there were. Again. I picked big ones and little ones. A few beginning to dry and a few were just babies, but a good portion of them are just right for eating. I'll have to sort them out now: some for eating, some for soup and some for seeds, although I have quite a few seeds already.

The frugal point is this: Don't waste what your garden or your shopping has produced. Use the last of everything and when you do, you'll find your larder is fuller and your grocery money lasts longer.

I will have green beans along with the little potatoes I pulled up from soft dirt in a pot the other day. A little turkey ham for seasoning and a piece of cornbread made from cornmeal made from corn I grew last year... grown from corn bought several years ago to decorate for autumn.

Never waste. The old adage is still true: Waste not, want not.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

My own butternut squash soup recipe

With the garden winding down, it's time to pick squash! I love this time of year in the garden. The heat of the summer is just a memory and the hardest work is done. Tomatoes are ripening so slowly that I don't have to worry about keeping up with them, cucumbers can be pulled up without guilt now and the lettuce and radishes are crisp and waiting.

The vines on the winter squash are drooping and thinning in the cool nights. I'm finding squash that I didn't even see in the lush growth of summer. Acorns and butternuts are piled high in a box in the basement and it's time to eat them!

So... I went looking for butternut squash soup recipes and found tons of them, from simple to elaborate. After awhile, the sheer abundance of recipes for squash soup was confusing! After skimming through several that seemed to be similar, I decided to wing it. Here's what I came up with, after three attempts. It's so good that I had to stop myself from eating all of it.

One average butternut squash, roasted.
One half large onion, coarsely chopped
About four cups of chicken stock
A couple of tablespoons of butter.

Saute the onion in the butter and add the chicken stock. Let it simmer while you peel and chunk the squash. When the onion is tender, remove about half of it and set aside. Add the squash and heat through, then put it into your blender or use a potato masher to puree it. When it's all smooth, return to the pot and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes. Add the reserved onion back in, add salt and pepper to taste.

You could add crumbled bacon and/or chopped, cooked vegetables to it, but I like mine just the way it is.

You can freeze this for later, but don't attempt to can it. Like pureed pumpkin, it's not safe to do in a home kitchen.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

What kind of wealth?

It's interesting to skim through the list of titles under "Finances, Money Perspectives".

One of my favorites is "Poor in Money and Rich in Time"  and the other is the exact opposite, "Is Money Evil?"

Both ends of the rainbow offer satisfactory wealth for different persons. The question quickly becomes very personal. Just where on the scale do you want to land?

Do you want to be rich in goods? Or would you rather be rich in time? Or somewhere in between?

There's no "right" answer, except what's right for you.

And I'll tell you a secret. You can't get there from here until you know where "there" is.

Think about it. It's not as simple as it might seem.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Changing gears and plastic lids

I've handed the forums at Dollar Stretcher over to Brandy, who has been with us since the beginning so she understands how things work and what is required. I have faith that she will keep things rolling, but you can slip over there and let me know how she's doing now and then!

Me? I'm slowing down. Ha! How many times have I said that? Anyway, I'll still be kicking around in the background of Dollar Stretcher for awhile and I might have some news later on. Don't bank on it, it's a "might"!

Anyway, because I had a little extra time today, I rummaged around the kitchen drawers with a vague notion of cleaning them out. One thing I discovered is that there are more plastic lids than there are plastic containers to put them on.

If you know me, you know I don't like to just toss things in the trash, so I had to think about it for awhile, so... here's what I came up with:

  • Use them to form patties from bulk ground meat or mixtures like fish patties. They'll be uniform and will cook more evenly.
  • If you have a lot of lids, form ground beef patties and leave them in the lid. Put another lid on top of this and form another patty and so on, then put into the freezer. They'll stay separated and will pop right out while they're still frozen.
  • Use a plastic container lid as a spoon rest on your stove.
  • Not so classy, but they do make handy holders for wet teabags.
  • On the same note, they will hold fish bones or other discards as you eat.
  • They're easy to cut with a pair of craft scissors so you can make templates or patterns from them.
  • Cut holiday decorations from them. Use a small cookie cutter to trace hearts, Christmas trees and so on, cut out and decorate. You can make nice Christmas tree decorations this way.
Got any more ideas? There are quite a few orphan lids in that drawer.