Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Mandarin Orange Cream Pie (aka Jello Pie)

·         1 package (3 ounces) orange or sparkling mandarin orange gelatin
·         1/2 cup boiling water
·         1-1/4 cups cold club soda
·         1 graham cracker crust (9 inches)
·         1/2 cup whipped topping
·         1 can (11 ounces) mandarin oranges, well drained
1.      In a bowl, dissolve gelatin in boiling water. Stir in soda. Set aside 1/2 cup at room temperature. Refrigerate remaining gelatin mixture for 20 minutes or until slightly thickened; pour into crust. Refrigerate for 30 minutes or until set.
2.      Whisk whipped topping into reserved gelatin mixture. Slowly pour into crust. Arrange orange segments over the top and press down lightly. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours or until firm. Yield: 6-8 servings.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

My Frugal 5 – The Entertainment Addition

1. I went on a book buying ban 3 yrs. ago and haven’t needed to buy a book yet. I read the books on my bookshelf that I already own. I had bought all the books at yard sales and thrift stores for $1 or less over the years.  I donated tons of books that were no long of my interest to a local thrift store charity that gives everything away for free. I donate the books after I finish reading them to someone who enjoys the same genre as I do.

2. I listen to music on YouTube instead of paying for music services or buying CD’s. My favorite music is praise and worship. I’ve listened to music from my birth year of 1972 recently for fun. I’ve listened to 80’s music too.  I watch interesting videos on many topics. I’ve heard a few inspiring TED Talks lately. We’ve used YouTube to find how-to video’s to do repairs or projects around our home including sanding floors, renovating a camper, and repairing our cars. 

3. I listen to free podcast’s on topics of my interest such as finances, homemaking, and organizing.  I’ve been listening to a lot of Organize 365 over the last month. My favorites are episodes 144, 145, 147 (3 stages of organization) and a few from the productivity series (110, 112, 114, 116, 118, 120, 124). I did the Back to School Blitz week that was featured on the facebook page last month too. It was focused on preparing for fall whether you have kids in school or not.

4. I don’t watch much TV, maybe a movie once or twice a month. I like to spend a Saturday watching Hallmark Channel movies on cable every couple months.  I've recently watched Summer in the Vineyard and Eat, Play, Love. I’ve watched a couple series/movies on Netflix recently like the Grace and Frankie series and the movie series Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life.  I must have gotten bored with my normal routine. LOL 

5. I like to craft and I try to do a project 1-2 times a month.  I went on a craft supply buying freeze 7 yrs. ago. I had bought most of my supplies at thrift stores, yard sales, and occasionally Wal-Mart. I use what I have instead of purchasing more. It takes some thought and creativity. I find project ideas for free using library books or on-line. I painted and redid my little craft/office 2 yrs. ago. I donated all the supplies, crafts, and project that I no longer want to do. I donated all the kid science and craft kits since my children are young adults. Our 3 yrs. and 5 yrs.  grandkids love to craft and it’s the first place they head to upon entering our home. 

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

August 2017 Reading List

8 Weddings and a Miracle Romance Collection
Move a Mountain by Lena Dooley
Wall of Stone by Nancy J. Farrier
Blown Away by Love by Paula Griffin
Wrong Church, Wrong Wedding
Stormy Weather by Tracie Peterson
The Bouquet by Gail Sattler
Flowers by Felicity by Janet Lee Barton
Petals of Promise by Diann Hunt
Roses in Bloom by Sandra Petit
Flowers for a Friend by Gail Sattler

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Hershey’s "PERFECTLY CHOCOLATE" Chocolate Cake

2 cups sugar

1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cup Cocoa

1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

2 eggs

1 cup milk

1/2 cup vegetable oil

 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cup boiling water


1. Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour two 9-inch round baking pans. 

2. Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed of mixer 2 minutes. Stir in boiling water (batter will be thin). Pour batter into prepared pans.

3. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely. Frost with "PERFECTLY CHOCOLATE" CHOCOLATE FROSTING. Makes 12 servings.

  • ONE-PAN CAKE: Grease and flour 13x9x2-inch baking pan. Heat oven to 350° F. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake 35 to 40 minutes. Cool completely. Frost.
  • THREE LAYER CAKE: Grease and flour three 8-inch round baking pans. Heat oven to 350°F. Pour batter into prepared pans. Bake 30 to 35 minutes. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely. Frost.
  • BUNDT CAKE: Grease and flour 12-cup fluted tube pan. Heat oven to 350°F. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake 50 to 55 minutes. Cool 15 minutes; remove from pan to wire rack. Cool completely. Frost.
  • CUPCAKES: Line muffin cups (2-1/2 inches in diameter) with paper bake cups. Heat oven to 350°F. Fill cups 2/3 full with batter. Bake 22 to 25 minutes. Cool completely. Frost. About 30 cupcakes.


1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine

2/3 cup Cocoa

3 cups powdered sugar

1/3 cup milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Melt butter. Stir in cocoa. Alternately add powdered sugar and milk, beating to spreading consistency. Add small amount additional milk, if needed. Stir in vanilla. About 2 cups frosting.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Clutter Busting Challenge August 2017

I'm purging 22 items. I've noticed that I'm purging about 30 items each month things this year. It may not seems like a lot but after being on this journey for 6 yrs. 8 months I'm thankful that I've maintained the habit of discarded unneeded items. I know that I will never have to deal with such a monster task of discarding so much again. At the height of my decluttering I was donating over 2,000 items per month for a couple years. I no longer need to go searching for thing to discard. I run across stuff randomly and add them to a bag to donate. At one time I'd spend an hour a day collecting things to discard. I don't spend anytime at all on it now. I'm happy that I never have to deal with a backlog of stuff. My home is always clutterfree.

My purge pile:

Thursday, August 24, 2017

My Frugal 5 – Camping with the Grandchildren Addition

My husband and I are taking the grandkids camping for a weekend. They are 3 yrs. and 5 yrs. which means we'll need to keep them busy.
1. We picked a State Park at $27 per night. We plan to do all the free stuff around the State Park during our weekend. They have a playground, beach, hiking trails, fossil hunting, a nature center, a wildlife rescue habitat, along with other activities. They have planned activities too like crafts, movies, and nature programs. Everything is free to park visitors.

2. I collected a few fun/crafty activities for the grandkids to do that I had in my stash of supplies. They’ll enjoy doing activities at the picnic table in the evening after dinner. I have bubbles and sidewalk chalk packed to use. I have beach toys too. We have a couple cartoon movies to watch in the evening before bedtime. I didn’t have to spend any money on any of these items, because I already own them.

3. I picked up a few clearance snacks that they will enjoy like Teddy Grahams and a trail mix. They'll have fun making a Jell-O Creations Dessert Kit S'Mores Cups on Saturday afternoon after lunch.  I have cocoa and the makings for S’mores over the campfire too.

4. We’ll keep the meals simple, cheap, and kid friendly. I’ll prepare a few things at home to take with us with food we already have like muffins for breakfast. I’ll make a fruit salad and 2 meals worth of macaroni and cheese. I could cook all the food while camping but preparing a few things will save us time. An example dinner will be grilled chicken breast, macaroni and cheese, and fruit salad. On Saturday night we’ll do a foil meal with hamburger, corn on the cob, and roasted potatoes over the campfire too. I’ll keep the food budget low by using as much as I can from home.

5. I researched things to do in the community near the campground if we need more options. I found a sculpture park $8 per adult, wet parks $3.50 per child, indoor parks $2.50 per child, and traditional parks are free. We may or may not end up using any of these options but at least we have ideas.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

My Frugal 5 – Food Addition

1. On Sunday I made Crockpot Zucchini Soup for this week’s lunches with a huge zucchini I bought for $1 at a roadside stand.  I had enough zucchini leftover that I decide to add it to my stuffing recipe for dinner too.


2.  I was craving chocolate instead of going to the store I baked a homemade Chocolate Cake. I hadn’t made a homemade cake since April for my oldest daughter birthday. I’ve been making boxed cake mixes but didn’t have any.  I saved money using what I have instead of running to the store.



3. I didn’t take care of my garden very well this summer due to going on a 3 week 25th anniversary trip. The weeds overtook my garden and a groundhog ate most of my plants. I’m thankful I got 2 cucumbers and 8 tomatoes. Free food!


4.  I love iced coffee in the summer. I brew my own coffee at home using a traditional coffee maker. I don’t usually use or buy creamer. My husband brought home a little creamer tub from work. I added about 1/3 of the creamer to a glass of ice with cold coffee. I’m having an iced coffee 3 days this week for no extra cost. It tastes so light and refreshing compared to the syrupy mess bought at coffee shops. 


5.  I bought 3 loaves of bread at Aldi on sale for 35 cents each. I used up 1 1/2 loaves by making an egg bake and Panini’s. But then our youngest son told my husband we were out of bread and he ended up buying 3 more. Our son hadn’t realized we had bought any and my husband forgot. So now we have 4 ½ loaves of bread to use up. I might be eating peanut butter and jelly for breakfast for awhile. I’ll probably make French toast this week for dinner and anything else I can think up.


Tuesday, August 15, 2017

No Bake Chocolate Cookies

2 ½ cups white sugar
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup margarine
1/2 cup milk
3 cups quick cooking oats
½ cup peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a saucepan bring sugar, cocoa, margarine, milk, and salt to a rapid boil for 1 minute. Add quick cooking oats, peanut butter, and vanilla; mix well. Working quickly, drop by teaspoonfuls onto waxed paper, and let cool.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Southern-Style Green Beans

4 slices bacon, diced
2 pounds green beans, ends snapped off and longer beans snapped in half
2 cups chicken broth
2 cups water
1 teaspoon seasoned salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon butter, optional

Brown and crisp bacon in a large pot. Remove bacon from pot and reserve. Add green beans to pot along with all remaining ingredients, except butter. Bring to a boil and then turn heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer for 1-2 hours, stirring occasionally. Drain beans and add butter if using. Check beans for seasoning and add extra salt and pepper to taste. I like lots of black pepper. Sprinkle with bacon and toss to distribute the bacon and butter.

Monday, July 31, 2017

July 2017 Reading List

Pennsylvania by Kay Cornelius
Loves’ Gentle Journey
Sign of the Bow
Sign of the Eagle
Sign of the Dove

Friday, July 28, 2017

Clutter Busting Challenge July 2017

I'm purging 45 items which includes 7 things that we forgot to take a picture of. We are passed on a few recent purchases or things that we given to us too.

My purge pile:

Basically most of these items were freebees. This includes 2 bookmarks we were gives during our trip in Gettysburg, a gift box for a necklace I bought in Gettysburg, and 4D movie glasses from Hershey. A bag from a rain coat. A bag drink that we don't want. A glass our daughter was given during a wine tasting event. A funnel that didn't work for what we wanted. A few belt that didn't fit.

These are candles bought from thrift stores over the years. I've realized that we prefer jar candles.  Lesson learned.

I'm passing on our vase and candy jar that I used for the tabelescape to celebrate our 25th Anniversary on June 6th.  You can't see it very well but they both say "Happy 25th Anniversary". I hope a couple celebrating their 25th within the next year finds them to enjoy during their celebration.

I bought these vinegar jars almost a year ago and never used them. A shirt with a hole.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

KonMari: Paper Week

I’m finished with our household papers.  I was so easy to do. I’m so happy that I spend the time over the last couple years whittling them down and organizing them. I’m finding greater productivity comes after you’ve discarded and organized. In productivity you have time to refine systems and make plans which makes life easier.

In the last round I got new folders for our household files, color coded everything, and used a label maker to label them. It took an 8 hour day to discard, file, and label everything.  It has worked out very well with the color coded files and my husband is able to find things much better.  Having everything labeled with a label maker instead of by hand has made things clearer. I was able to sort through our papers quickly this time and discard what was unneeded within an hour. 


I did a quick sort though our Legacy/Archived Files. I discarded our medical/insurance paperwork for 2016. We had planned to discard them in March but a few things hadn’t cleared up so it seems July is a good time to do that. All our medical bills for 2016 are paid along with our HSA finalized. We haven’t added much since January to our Legacy/Archived Files besides updated medical insurance and retirement benefits paperwork. We did buy a truck in March and added a file folder into our vehicle hanging folder for that loan. We gave our 25 yrs. daughter one of our cars so that file was passed over to her in March.

 We keep our Budget Notebook in the Legacy/Archived Files drawer too. We do need to sit down together in the next week to update and discuss what our goals are for the next 6 months. We’d like to go back to doing our Thursday meetings that we had started 2 yrs. ago but have fallen by the wayside over the last year. We both found them helpful. We do talk about it a bit as we're paying bills and at other times but we'd both like more focused time. My husband was saying a couple weeks ago that he’d like us to start setting 5 yrs. goals. Paper week would be a good time to discuss these things.
In our Financial/Temporary files drawer I sorted though and organized our bill box which I do every 2 weeks before paying the bills. It happened that this is a payday/bill pay week so that worked out well. My husband paid the bills after returning home from work. Yippy, he made the final payment on-line to our car loan. He made a note to call the loan company about receiving our clear title and final papers. 


In our Financial/Temporary files drawer is where we keep our activity and travel plans too. We updated our camper renovation lists. Although we finished with everything needed before the trip there are a couple things we’d still like to do to our camper. We haven’t done as much hiking as we’d wanted due to working on our camper and our trip. We hope in August to plan a hike most Saturdays until the weather turns too cool toward the end of October. We’d like to get back to our nightly 3-4 mile walks too. We need to talk about this stuff too.

My husband and I went on a 3 week trip to celebrate our 25th Anniversary June 19th –July 9th. I had made a Trip Notebook with our plans and prepaid reservations. This was the first trip that I had created a more detailed notebook but it was worth it. In the past I would have printed activity idea and attraction information and put it in a paper folder. This time I planned each day out in our notebook with section dividers and prepaid for most of our attractions and a few meal reservations. My husband and I enjoyed looking through it each day to decide what was on the agenda for the next day. We allowed for flexibility by not paying for everything so we could decide to not go to that activity if we wanted, we did 1 big thing per day along with a few smaller things if time allowed, and a few days with nothing planned at all.  As much as we enjoyed our time together it was time to take the notebook apart. I discard everything from our Pennsylvania trip. I put the empty notebook in our file drawer to use for our next adventure. I kept the travel brochures for our home state of Ohio to use for weekend or day trip ideas. We’re a modest 1 income couple with grown kids so our trips aren’t extravagant but we have a great time.  Our next trip is taking our grandkids for a weekend to a Yogi Bear's Jellystone Park Camp-Resort in August. They are 3 yrs. and 5 yrs. and I’m sure they will have a blast. I’m not sure if I’ll use the notebook yet since all the activities are at and planned by the resort. We’ll get a schedule at check-in. It’s time to start dreaming of our next weekend getaway or vacation.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Crockpot Lemon Rotisserie Chicken

1 head
  Garlic (or about 10-15 cloves)
Lemons (sliced)
1 tsp
1/2 tsp
1 tsp
Thyme (or 1 tsp dried oregano)
1 large
Whole chicken (about 3-4 pounds)
Fresh parsley, rosemary, or any fresh herbs of choice

Combine all of the spices in a small bowl and set aside. Cut the head off the garlic head and lay this and the lemon wedges from the lemons in bottom of slow cooker.

Remove insides from chicken, rinse chicken and pat dry. Season chicken well, inside and out, with the seasoning mixture. Lay chicken on top of garlic and lemon slices.
Cover crockpot and cook on high for about 4 hours or on low for 7 hours, or until chicken reaches 165 degrees. (Slow cooker cooking times vary, so use a meat thermometer to check for doneness.)When chicken has reached 165 degrees or higher, turn off slow cooker and let chicken rest for about 15 minutes.
Servings: 6 Calories per Serving: 120

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Cheesy Garlic Pork Chops

4 (4-ounce) boneless pork chops
⅛ teaspoon salt
black pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon paprika
1 tablespoon butter, melted
½ cup reduced-fat Colby Jack shredded cheese

Preheat the oven to 350° F and grease a 9x13-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Season both sides of the pork chops with the salt and pepper, then rub each pork chop evenly with the brown sugar and garlic. Sprinkle the paprika over each pork chop, then pour the melted butter evenly over all of them.

Bake until nearly done, 6-8 minutes. Sprinkle the cheese evenly over each pork chop and bake until the cheese is melted and the pork is done, an additional 3-4 minutes. Calories: 261 per serving

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

June 2017 Reading List

The Reluctant Brides Collection 
An Unexpected Surprise by Rosey Dow
Ribbon of Gold by Cathy Marie Hake
Light Beckons the Dawn by Susannah Hayden
The Reluctant Schoolmarm by Yvonne Lehman
School Bells and Wedding Bells by Colleen L. Reece
Rose Kelly by Janet Spaeth