If you do stuff, stuff gets done.......

If you do stuff, stuff gets done.......

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

taco seasoning, some cooking, grands and what's slowed me down

Taco Seasoning  I've been making this for at least 10 years and have blogged about it a number of times but it is good enough to keep talking about it.  And some of you sweet readers asked about it.
This recipe is from AllRecipes.Com and its called Taco Seasoning 1.   The original link is at the beginning in blue.
My spices are quite an assortment, aren't they?  Some are from Aldi, some from Dollar Tree and some from the military commissary.  About most things,  I am not too brand picky.  

I make the taco seasoning just like the recipe except I use a lot less black pepper.
On AllRecipes,  the recipe is just for one batch, like 1 pouch from the store.  You can multiple the recipe on their site to however many servings you like.  Mine is multiplied to 10 I think.  
I use about 1 heaping Tablespoon for each pound of meat

This funnel belonged to my husband's granddad and I use it every time I put ingredients in jars.  
I made a double batch (20 pouches worth for our pantry) and I made a batch for our daughter while I had the ingredients out  
It looks like a sand painting before the jar gets shook to mix it all up.  

Several years ago, I put this taco seasoning in little jars and gave it to our local friends as Christmas gifts.  It was very popular.  

There is nothing left growing in my husband's garden except an assortment of pepper plants.  
I didn't take a before picture but he filled up a small bucket with jalapenos, green chilis and bell peppers Monday. 
I sliced the jalapenos (wearing gloves) and put them in a jar with vinegar and sugar cooked together to make candied jalapenos.  I like them on top of a cracker spread with cream cheese. 
My husband roasted the chilis on the grill, then I peeled and seeded them and I put them cups in the freezer for Mexican dishes. 
The bell peppers were sliced, frozen on a cookie sheet and then put in a freezer bag for fajitas.  
It was a lot of work but I'm glad its done and I know will enjoy this batch of peppers all winter.  

We helped with a cookout at our church on Sunday.  I made a couple desserts and this potato salad based on this recipe from Tammys Kitchen Moms Potato Salad
I did use change it a bit and just used 1 T sugar and I topped it with deviled eggs,  like I saw somewhere else online.  We really liked this recipe,  it has mustard, mayo, vinegar and the sugar in the dressing and its tangy but just a little sweet.
Next time, I'll make enough eggs to completely cover the top.

I don't make a to do list every week but I did last week - I put to make an eye checkup appointment for me at the very top.  I even got a quick appointment and have had my checkup and ordered new glasses already.  

I'm still working on the 100 day sewing challenge from Patsy's A Working Pantry 
I'm wearing my first attempt at the Cadence top from LoveNotions.com.
It is made just like a traditional tshirt except it is sized for woven fabric that doesn't stretch as opposed the stretchy knit fabric like other tops.
Mine is a little big but I still like it and plan to sew more with this pattern.

Grandchildren fun
We were gifted a big batch of moon sand and accessories from another family that had outgrown it.
We put it in a water table and keep it on the patio.
It's a lot of fun and all the accessories are fun to have.
See the ground?  That's why the moon sand is staying on the patio....

I'm still shopping at Dollar General with their digital coupons.  Last week,  the summer things were on clearance half off and buy 1 get 2 free.  These giant bubble kits were originally $6 but the sale marked 3 sets down to just $3 total.
They work amazingly well too!
One night the 3 oldest grandsons had a boys night sleepover here.  
They all still prefer to sleep on our  living room floor. 
The 3rd boy is not too visible in the photo but he's on the right under the black/red blanket.  

I have drank lots of diet soda most all my adult life but I frankly just got tired of lugging the stuff home from the store.
So, the last time I ran out,  I didn't buy more.
Its been 10 days and to say I've felt sluggish with diet soda is an understatement.  Apparently,  all that caffeine is what has mainly fueled me.
But as of today,  my 10th day diet soda free, I think I've finally turned a corner and felt more like myself.
I do drink hot tea in the morning and unsweet iced tea at some meals but my homemade tea must have a lot less caffeine that sodas.  I also put Crystal Light lemonade and fruit punch in some drink dispensers and I've enjoyed that when I wanted something sweet.  My husband likes it too.
I'm drinking lots of plain ice water too.
So,  I'm not perfect in my drink choices and but better than I was.

Now that I'm not feeling so sluggish,  I hope to get back to getting things done!

Friday, September 15, 2017

Freezers and closets and the stuff inside them

Hello everyone,
Our new upright freezer was delivered last week and it's so nice.  It really holds a lot and it's so easy to see what is inside.
But this photo doesn't show the top shelf -

See all that orange juice?  I bought a bunch with coupons a few months ago.  I'm thankful to have a little stockpile of it because Irma pretty much wiped out Florida's orange crop and many orange trees.  

The door has lots of storage too. 

I've been freezer cooking for years- not full meals but ingredients to go in meals.  One ingredient we like is cooked pinto beans.   I had pintos stored in the pantry in a gallon jar and I ended up cooking every single one of them this week.  
I started out making a big batch of homemade refried beans and cooked pinto beans.  I prefer to cook dry beans in crock pots.  

How I make Refried Beans
we think they are  are Delicious and much cheaper than canned refried beans.

The cooked pintos will be used in chili or Mexican

They are all stored in plastic containers and labeled- ready to make quick meals 

I also cooked up almost 4 pounds of ground beef and seasoned it with my homemade taco seasoning.  This will be for tacos or rice bowls kind of like the Chipotle restaurant serves.
And I cooked about 3 pounds of plain chicken breasts to have for recipes like chicken pillows or chicken salad.
all these new containers are in the freezer part of our fridge.
Yes, we like and use lots of ice.  I think we are kind of in the minority on this though.  On blogs,  I've noticed when other homemakers show their freezers, they don't seem to use nearly as much ice as we do.
I even make homemade ice since the automatic maker broke for the 4th time.  I say that as a joke because I saw a Pinterest pin on how to make your own ice to get ready for hurricane Irma.  I had no idea that how to make ice could be a mystery.

At the Dollar Tree, I bought this little set of microwave egg cookers.  They are nice for cooking just 1 or 2 eggs.  for sure worth $1.

My biggest project this week was cleaning out and organizing my side of our closet.  
We have a big walk in closet and its actually our dressing room.  We don't have or need dressers in our bedroom as this closet is more than ample space for our clothes.  
I took out a big pile of clothes that I was pretty sure I hadn't worn one day.
Then the next day,  I folded and bagged them and reconsidered each one.
I kept back this top and did some sewing to make it over.  It had elastic at the bottom that I didn't like and ties on the sleeves that just got in the way.  So I spent an hour cutting off the ties and the elastic,  Then I rehemmed the bottom and sewed up the sleeve bottoms.  Now I like it a lot and I think I will wear it often.
This skirt is strange,  it is shorter on one side.  It has 2 layers and the top layer is sheer.
I don't know if it will work but I've cut apart the skirt and hope to sew up a sheer kimono from the fabric.  I kept out a lace overlay tank style top and hope to use that lace for the sleeves.  I'll let you all know if it works.

When the closet was straight,  I took 4 brown grocery bags full of clothes to the Goodwill.

I found 2 older pair of blue jeans that fit in the back of the closet.  When I first saw them,  I thought they looked too faded to wear.  So I looked up ways to make jeans dark again.
I read that using 1/2 a box of black dye mixed with a full box of navy dye would give a dark navy color to denim as long as the denim was woven with white threads mixed in.
My jeans seem to fit that description so I got the dye.
Then when I started dying them, they didn't look all that faded to begin with but I went ahead and dyed them anyway.
The post said if you use just navy dye,  your jeans may look purple afterward
I don't have an after photo because I finished them late last night and it was too dark to get a decent photo but both pair do look dark in a shade I like afterward.

Re-doing clothes you already own is a no-lose project.  If you don't like the clothes before you make them over,  you haven't lost anything but a little time if they don't work out.
New jeans and a new top would of cost at least $50.  I spent an hour in time and about $3.50 on the dye.  And now I have 2 pair of wearable jeans when I need jeans and a cute top.

My husband has been out of town all week and he just got home.  So I am going to sign off here and go visit with him.
Have a good weekend, homemakers

Monday, September 11, 2017

Easy coupon shopping at Dollar General, with no paper coupons

hello everyone.
Have you tried shopping at Dollar General with their great sales and electronic coupons?  I've been going there almost every week since I discovered how easy and how great the discounts are.
Saturday,  I bought all this

 And paid just $8.99 for all of it.  
I used just coupons on the Dollar General website/app.  

There are some more similar deals with this week,  
Greg the Coupon Dude  has spelled it all out in simple terms about which items to buy to get maximum savings.  He has a blog and a YouTube channel that he keeps updated.
I've also added him to my sidebar.

To get started, go online to DollarGeneral.com or download their app to your cell phone.
Set up an account and then add the digital coupons you think you want to use.
Plan your shopping ahead of time for maximum savings.
Then shop at your local Dollar General. Type in your cell phone number at the checkout.
And leave the store with a lot of products for not much money.

About Gain, the original Gain does have a very distinctive scent and I like it.  But I like the other scents even better.  The Island Fresh and Moonlight Breeze are much more subtle scents.  I think the Moonlight Breeze is very similar to Downy's scent and it's my favorite.  There may be even more scents that I'm not familiar with too.

If you make homemade laundry products and they work for you, then you are saving even more than me.  Ive tried 3 different homemade recipes for laundry soap and none of them worked in our water.  Homemade fabric softener left my dryer lint screen gummy.  

Monday, September 4, 2017

Doing stuff at home all day

Today is a holiday in the USA so all the grands were out of school and with their parents.
My husband and I stayed home all day except he was gone for 10 minutes to fill up our car.  Because of Harvey, gasoline has been in short supply in some places.  So just to be careful,  we've been keeping our tanks full.

Last night our dishwasher was making a funny squeak.  We think it was just two dishes scraping against each other but it made me remember I hadn't cleaned the inside of the dishwasher lately.
All dishwashers are different but for ours, both sets of spray arms come out easily and need cleaned as bits of stuff get caught inside.  I also took out the filter pieces and soaked them in vinegar to remover lime deposits.  Our Oklahoma water has lots of lime.
Then,  I poured that vinegar into the dishwasher and ran a short cycle with hottest water,
After, the interior was sparkly clean and there was no more funny squeak.
While I did this job, my husband worked on our slow draining bathroom sinks.  No photos, but he took the plastic drain pipes under the sinks apart and cleaned out "black gunk" with his fingers and an old toothbrush.  Ewww I know,  but I'm thankful he could and would do it.  

In the kitchen,  I made another batch of energy balls.

I cooked 4 pounds of breakfast sausage and then froze them for easy breakfasts.  Half is regular and half is hot sausage.  I put a label on the outside and a foil divider in keep them separate. 

I made a big salad that we will eat Tuesday and Wednesday, also a box of taco toppings that we had with tonight's tacos.

I talked to my daughter a few weeks ago about what clothes her children needed for winter.  One boy needs jeans and her daughter needs a coat.  I remembered this Columbia jacket I bought last year when my favorite thrift store was having their closing sale.  It's clean and soft, should fit Elizabeth fine and keep her warm.
I used a seam ripper to remove the tag that had the previous owners name on it.   Now it's ready for colder days.

My husband finished up a holster he's been working on.He has a Mares Leg pistol that looks like a short rifle.
He used an eagle belt buckle he has had for years. He kind of looks like Marshall Dillon when he modeled it.

We do live in Oklahoma and guns are very common here. But he doesn't walk around with this strapped on.  It's just something to have.
We are very safe with guns.  They are locked away and my husband had so much artillery training as a Marine, he follows every gun safety procedure.
We both enjoy making things and this was a project for him to work on leather.  

I did all our laundry today.  I use the clothes dryer some but I also hang most tops and pants to air dry on hangers.  

I also did some deep cleaning and a little decluttering in the kitchen.

On the table, are some top patterns and a few lengths of fabric. I plan to cut out 3 tops for me.
I like the other tops I've sewn up this summer so much, I don't like it when they all need laundered and I have to wear a store bought top.

This is my list of things I plan to do this week.
I made some progress but I think it will keep me busy all week.

This was a fairly normal day for us, I don't understand when people are bored.  There is always something that needs doing in our home. We have no time to be bored.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Freezers, cooking and zinnias

Good evening everyone.
This month my goal is to eat down our freezer.  We have quite a bit of frozen food on hand,
We are hoping to harvest lots of pecans at our friend's orchard in a couple months and we will store most of them in the freezer.

This is our chest freezer.

From these photos, it looks like we only have ice cream and vegetables.  

But this freezer is 3 feet deep and I promise there is more than enough meat for the month.  

I'll post an inventory later in the week as we are getting a new upright freezer delivered on Wednesday, I think.  Chest freezers are just so hard to organize.  I've been wanting an upright for awhile and have been watching the ads.  Lowes is having a great sale this weekend.  With my husband's military discount and free delivery, were getting a nice upright for about 1/2 of what it would been without careful shopping.  
This chest freezer will get passed on to a son that hunts.  

If you want a new freezer,  this blogger Fun cheap or free is giving one away.  She is doing a challenge she calls "shelf-tember" where she wants people to cook from their pantry shelves and freezer all September and only spend $25 each week on fresh produce, milk, etc.  I'm not following her challenge exactly as we've already done a big grocery shopping trip this month.  But I do plan to not shop much more in September and to cook every meal at home with ingredients we already have.  
So far,  this month we've had barbecue sandwiches and taco bowls both made with cooked roast beef in the freezer and  sausage gravy on freezer biscuits. To avoid eating out,  I packed sandwiches, drinks and snacks when we drove to the commissary to shop.  

I'm pretty most of my blog readers do this kind of scratch cooking anyway.  But I'm guilty of going to the store and buying things we really could easily do without and eating out a convenience instead because it's a special occasion.  Any of you remember when eating out was most always because of a special occasion?

Our zinnias, that I grew from seed,  are doing so well even though summer is almost over.

If you're wanting lots of color in your yard next summer,  I recommend thrifty zinnias started from seed.

I think you readers are some of the nicest people on the internet,  I've gotten so many sweet comments this month and I thank you all ❤️

Friday, September 1, 2017

DIY sewing machine tune up - and LoveNotions pattern #3

I'm not sure when I bought this Necchi sewing machine but I'm guessing it was 6-7 years ago.  I've sewed with it a lot and it's never been serviced. That last dress I made was a tight textured knit fabric and my machine did not like sewing it, the tension looked wrong and it skipped quite a few stitches.
I thought about taking this machine in for service (and sometimes that is the only way) but I really like to just do things myself.
I did some searches about the causes of my stitch goofs.  One is a dirty machine.

So, I got out the brush that came with the machine.  I opened the front door and dusted all those parts.

Then I unscrewed the cover over the bobbin and dusted all that space.

My husband removed the screws on the bottom plate and found lots more lint and dust in there.
He said some canned air would of been good for cleaning the inside too, if we'd had any.

Another cause of skipped stitches might be the wrong needles.  I was using universal needles and they weren't working so I got 2 packs of needles for knits at Joann's.

If you look close, you can see the after stitch- in red at the top of the photo.
Our dusting and $7 in needles resulted in perfect stitches on knit fabric.
This saved at least $50 and 2 trips to the next town where a shop is that services sewing machines.

I've made 2 different Lovenotions.com patterns and liked them both so much. 
Tonight, I started a 3rd- the Cadence.  It is similar to the Laundry Day Tee but it uses woven fabric. 

The patterns can be printed on a home printer and then the pieces taped together.  That's my method, because I like to do things myself.  They can also be printed at a copy place on large sheets so no taping would be involved.
I hope to start cutting out a Cadence soon and I'll post the results. 
I truly like Love Notions because their garments are stylish very easy to sew and they are so easy to fit.  
If you want to try the Laundry Day Tee pattern for free, just join this page on Facebook and you can get the code to get that pattern free.