Wednesday, March 30, 2011

"And Hold the Tartar Sauce, Please."

It isn't unusual to hear honking in the queue at a restaurant drive-through. It's just that the sound is usually made by a car horn.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

This Week's Chore: Spring Cleaning the Pantry and Freezer

There was no time to do the grocery shopping this weekend unless you count the staples bought using the few dollars left from the previous week's grocery budget. That got me thinking. I wonder if I have enough food on hand to feed us this week? I wouldn't mind saving the money. And as an added bonus I could clean the freezers and shelves.

Sounded like a plan. And yes, I know it isn't original with me. But right now I'm in the mood for spring cleaning and this opportunity just naturally presented itself.

So far I have managed to clean out the upstairs cabinets and the small freezer (the one attached to the refrigerator). The chest freezer and the downstairs pantry shelves still remain (and are the ones that make me groan just thinking about them). Here are the meals that have resulted from my current efforts:

  • A single can of tuna made a nice lunch yesterday after we returned from co-op. Since we had no sliced bread thawed (at that time, anyway) we ate tuna salad on a tube of Ritz crackers.
  • Last night The Bear fixed a "found" box of macaroni and cheese as a side dish for leftover spare ribs and mixed vegetables.
  • This morning I used the last of a box of baking mix to whip up waffles which were topped with the dregs of an almost empty syrup bottle. The last few slices of bacon were microwaved also. (Since we sleep in on Tuesdays this was brunch.)
  • This afternoon we had an improvised version of "Hawaiian pork chops" using a can of pineapple chunks, some brown sugar, and a bit of flour for thickening the sauce. A package of brussel sprouts that was unearthed from the back of the freezer provided veggies. (Pastor Dad has an evening appointment so we ate an early meal.)
  • The breakfast bacon drippings were combined with remnants of corn meal and rye flour and added to the meat fats saved for making bird suet. See my recipe here. We are out of peanut butter but the woodpeckers don't seem to mind. The basket has been empty for a couple of weeks but it took mere minutes for them to discover that I'd refilled it. They must have quite the advertising system!
So far, so good! No one - not The Bear or the birds - are in any danger of starvation.

But Then That Cloud Moves!

When that Cloud moves, you better follow.
(See the book of Numbers, chapters 13 and 14)

When that Cloud speaks, you better close your mouth and open your ears.
(See Luke 9:36)

The Cloud will speak and move to fulfill His part. May we be found ready to hear and heed as we go forward to possess the things that God has promised.
But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. I Corinthians 2:9

The God who promises wonderful things for the future is the same God who promises His presence in the present.

Let your conversation be without covetousness, and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. Hebrews 13:5

Monday, March 28, 2011

Frugal Sunday Dinner, 3/20/2011

The date is not a mistake. Not only did we not eat here yesterday, but I did not have opportunity last Monday to discuss the previous day's meal. We were busy with special services at church all week so my attention was focused elsewhere.

Special services also means special guests around the Sunday dinner table. As a consequence, I spent a bit more money than usual for the meal, at least I thought that at first. But upon further inspection I discovered that I actually got more mileage out of this meal than anticipated.

Our menu was a classic dinner of roast beef with gravy, baked potatoes and fixings, baked sweet potatoes, California-style veggies, and rolls. We had hot fudge cake for dessert.

The biggest problem I encountered, besides the fact that I wanted this meal to turn out well, was that I had to buy just about everything for it because there were no roasts in my freezer or potatoes in the bin. I also had no cake mix, sour cream, or time to make rolls or hot fudge sauce from scratch. In other words, I had to buy practically every ingredient. Thankfully, that doesn't happen very often. But since it did, I know that I paid exactly $44.93 for the meal. And since I know I fed 13 people that Sunday I also know the price per person to be about $3.46. OUCH!

But that's not the whole story. We had leftovers, and lots of 'em!

On Monday, I took some of the leftover roast, gravy, California veggies, and one baked potato and combined them to make beef stew. Since we had homeschool co-op all day and little time to prepare dinner before the evening church service I was able to feed the three of us a meal made from the leftovers without it seeming like we were eating leftovers.

On Tuesday, I used two of the leftover baked potatoes and combined them with milk, sour cream, and cheese to make loaded potato soup. There were enough slices of roast left (sans the gravy) for sandwiches. This was another quick meal designed for a church night.

Since there were 13 fed on Sunday and 3 each on Monday and Tuesday, the total number of people fed from that $44.93 was actually 19. This brings the cost down to $2.36 per person which is within my target parameters for a nice Sunday dinner.

As always, I'll leave you with the directions for the dessert that was served. If you have a Shoney's, Frisch's, or other restaurant that serves a hot fudge cake, then you'll know what this looks like.


Bake a chocolate cake in a 9 x 13 inch pan according to the directions on the box. Allow cake to cool but DO NOT ICE IT! When ready to assemble, cut cake into squares. Slice each cake square horizontally to make a top and bottom layer.

Place a slice of vanilla ice cream between the cake layers sandwich-style. Heat homemade or commercially prepared hot fudge sauce and place a generous portion on top of each cake/ice cream sandwich.

Put a dollop of whipped cream over the fudge sauce and finish with a cherry on the top. Serve immediately.

Makes 15 generous servings.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Waiting For That Cloud To Move

My mind seems to be in the clouds a lot. (See here for my cloud devotion earlier this month.)  No, I'm not Joni Mitchell who has "looked at clouds from both sides now" but I do seem to be finding God in the clouds recently.  It might be because we've had so much rain lately.  No one in the Ohio Valley can help but notice the constant clouds in the sky.

This morning it was the one that led the Children of Israel through the Wilderness while they were on their way to the land that God had promised them that held my attention.  Sometimes we call where they were headed The Promised Land, you know.

I don't happen to think The Promised Land is a type of Heaven, preferring to see it as my life now that I know Christ as my savior as opposed to the years I spent wandering through the wilderness of sin. But for today, I'll gladly admit that my life sometimes seems to be spent parked in a wilderness while I await further instructions.

That's what caught my eye this morning in my Bible reading.  (We're in Numbers chapters 8 and 9 today).  The verses in the books of Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers about the Pillar of Cloud leading God's people suddenly got my attention.

They waited until the cloud moved.

Does that seem insignificant to you?

That cloud moved.It led them where they needed to go. 

And they followed blindly.

Maybe that doesn't mean much to you, but I've got a few decisions that are currently in a holding pattern.  I've got a teenager whose life's decisions are currently in a holding pattern.  I know several people whose lives are seemingly in a holding pattern.

They are waiting for the cloud to move so that they can follow to the next destination along their route.

What are the object lessons that God is teaching through His use of clouds?

  • The voice in the cloud said to listen to His beloved Son.
  • The Person in the cloud gave instructions to camp quietly until He led in the way that His people are to follow.
Do you think the Israelites ever awoke and asked each other if this was the day the cloud would move?  They were people weren't they?  I'm pretty sure they asked each other, "When are we gonna move?  Why is the cloud just sitting there?  What is it waiting for?"

But when it is all said and done, the Pillar of Cloud got them to the place they were supposed to be.  It led the Children of Israel and it will lead me, too.  I just need to wait patiently until the time that He says it is time to move.

Friday, March 18, 2011

The Original Greater Cincinnati Restaurant Week

If you're in the Greater Cincinnati area this weekend and looking for a thrifty way to appreciate a finer dining experience I have the perfect suggestion for you:  The Original Greater Cincinnati Restaurant Week.  There are 34 restaurants from which to choose and $26.11 per person gets you a 3 course meal in one of them.  I've eaten at several of the participating restaurants through the years and think I can say that you will be impressed.

Pastor Dad received a $75 gift certificate to one  and we used it last night.  We both think that it was probably the best meal we've ever enjoyed outside of something I've cooked at home.  (Bwaa! haaa! haa! ha!  Sorry!  Wait a minute while I wipe the tears from my eyes and compose myself again. Whoo boy!)   And the fact that we had a gift certificate merely added to our pleasure.  But even without a gift certificate, the meals would be a bargain. We intend to go back for our anniversary.  (Right, dear?)

Check the link for a list of participating restaurants and menus.  And hurry!  The last day is this Sunday, March 20th.

New to Me: Book Swapping

I'm a bit late to participate in Frugal Friday and the same could be said about my  participation in the whole concept of swapping books by mail but thought I'd throw this out there anyway just in case others haven't discovered this source of trading reading material.  I joined Paperback Swap last week and you know what I've been doing lately?  Mailing books!!!! 

Of the first 10 that I posted when I joined (and 2 DVDs that I posted at tbe sister site,  Swap A DVD) I've mailed 6 books and 1 movie.  That means I must've had some pretty good stuff since they were snatched up or put on hold within minutes of being added to the system. 

Several of my books (and the movie) have already reached their destinations so I have several credits to spend.

I'm like a kid in a candy shop.  :)

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

What I Want to Do for God

It doesn't really matter what I want to do for God. It only matters what God wants me to do in order that the world might hear about Him.

"It is not for us to dream our own dreams of what we want to do for God. This is never the pattern in the Scriptures. God already knows what He is purposing to do through those He calls to Himself. And He's waiting for us to adjust our lives to His purposes so He can work powerfully through us to redeem our lost world."
Henry Blackaby
What the Spirit is Saying to the Churches (page 17)

Monday, March 14, 2011

Happy Birthday!

Birthday greetings to my dad!  Wish I could be there to celebrate with you, but it can't happen today.

How about tomorrow?

I'll even bring Punch Bowl Cake, a recipe that received an enthusiastic eight thumbs up and one equally enthusiastic thumbs down.

The original recipe was either your sister's or mine. Either way, it's good. Just don't ask Buster, er, Sweet Pea. :)

Frugal Sunday Dinner 3/13/2011

Our menu yesterday consisted of
  • Oven-fried Chicken Parmesan
  • Poultry Stuffing
  • Green Beans & Potatoes
  • corn
  • biscuits
  • Punch Bowl Cake
  • ice tea and lemonade
There were 9 of us at the table yesterday.  (Baby Lili was sleeping in my bedroom.)  We had a guest preacher staying in our home also.

I wish I had taken pictures of the meal, at the very least one of the Punch Bowl Cake.  Or better yet, of Sweet Pea who sat guarding it the whole time dinner was in the oven.  Or perhaps of that moment at the table when she took a bite and started sputtering like an engine in need of a tune-up.  Until then, no one - and I mean no one - knew she didn't like coconut.  That Sweet Pea!  She sure has the potential of adding a touch of levity to any recipe!

The Punch Bowl Cake was not "Plan A" for my dessert.  I intended to serve a golden butter cake with chocolate fudge icing (the icing is my mother-in-law's recipe) but the layers fell apart coming out of their pans.  Of course!  What did I expect when there was a guest for dinner? Hence the need for "Plan B," the Punch Bowl Cake.  I think Sweet Pea wished there had been a "Plan C."   

Anyway, besides the corn that came out the freezer, the biscuits, and the drinks, I will share where I found the recipes.  You'll need to use your imagination to see it.

The Oven-Fried Chicken Parmesan recipe was from The Kraft Cookbook.  It was published in 1977 to celebrate 75 years of Kraft.  I've owned the book since we married in 1978.  I doubled this recipe and used only thighs and legs that I bought on sale a couple of weeks ago.  Every other ingredient is a staple around here, including the parmesan cheese.

The recipe for Poultry Stuffing is in the book Fix-It and Forget-It Recipes for Entertaining, a slow cooker recipe book.  This recipe was a good way of using some of the free bread that I've been blessed with in abundance in recent weeks.  I put a loaf through the food processor and we were in business!  At one point our visiting preacher joked that he thought I was making bread pudding, which means he must've thought the Punch Bowl Cake had fizzled and that I'd moved on to "Plan C" for dessert.  Very funny!  Hmm. On second thought, I wonder if Sweet Pea likes bread pudding?  Maybe we'll find out next week.

I used a recipe for Green Beans & Potatoes from Busy People's Slow Cooker Cookbook.  It was very good and used bacon bits for texture and flavor.  Canned beans are the basis for this recipe.

The Punch  Bowl Cake was also found in a cookbook, but one compiled for a fundraiser.  And since the person who submitted the recipe is my aunt, I don't think she will mind if I share it.  Come to think of it, I think she got this recipe from me in the first place because I was making this dessert several years before this cookbook was published.  Either way, no one will care that I share.

Punch Bowl Cake

1 pkg. butter recipe cake mix
2 6-serving packages of vanilla instant pudding (my store doesn't sell this size anymore so I used 3 4-serving sizes instead)
5 c. milk
3 bananas, sliced
2 (20 oz.) cans of cherry pie filling
2 (20 oz.) cans of crushed pineapple, drained
1 1/3 c. coconut (which shall be omitted in the future thanks to Sweet Pea!)
1 (16 oz.) container of frozen whipped topping
pecans, chopped (which I had already omitted because others in the family don't like nuts)

Bake the cake according to directions and allow to cool. Break into pieces (my cake did this for me, sigh)  and place in the bottom of punch bowl.  Beat pudding and milk.  Cover cake with half of pudding, half of bananas, 1 can of pie filling followed by 1 can of pineapple, half the coconut.  Repeat the layers.  Spread whipped topping over the top and garnish with nuts and more coconut if desired.  Refrigerate overnight.

The worst part about the punch bowl cake is that it takes up so much space in my already over-crowded refrigerator!  This is where the crock-pot recipes were helpful.  Many of their ingredients are shelf items and very little that had to be prepared ahead needed to be refrigerated.  And I did use both crockpots again yesterday.

It was a little bit harder to determine the cost per person for this meal.  We had left-overs of everything, including the chicken, so Pastor Dad, The Bear, and I will get another meal out of this.  Obviously this increases the number of people it will feed and diminishes the cost per serving.   My most expensive items were the chicken at about $7 (the total cost on the packages), and the canned goods for the dessert that I bought on an emergency run back to the store.    There's no way this meal cost more than $1.75 per person and I'd say that estimate is high even though the biscuits were canned (bought for less than $0.30 per can during one of the savings events of recent weeks).  

If I can keep my cost between $1.50 and $2.00 per portion each Sunday I am one happy hostess.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Why Be Frugal?

All this talk about frugality has probably made some of my friends and family wonder what has happened to move this issue front and center.

Um, nothing.

Well, not quite true. Perhaps "not much" would be closer to the truth. There was this bill that came in the mail about 6 weeks ago. If you're scientific you might think of the moment as a catalyst. If you're religious you might think of it as an epiphany. Whatever you want to call it, it got our attention and put our finances into perspective.

Most of us have had those moments. We all make choices about how to spend our money.

Anyway, that certain moment helped us decide to lower some expenditures so that we could raise others. So today, instead of giving you examples of how to be frugal I will give you reasons why to be frugal. Your list might look different than ours but this is a list of how we would choose to spend our money.

Cutting expenditures in some areas will help us increase these:

  1. Giving to our church and other ministries. We recognize that everything we have belongs to the Lord and is only on loan. We would like to have more funds available to help lay up treasures in Heaven.
  2. Sunday after-church lunches for our extended family and anyone else that the Lord directs us to bring home. We don't have a L'Abri ministry like the Shaeffers did, but we do have an open-door policy most Sundays. (I told here about the luncheon that fed 14. The next Sunday 18 were fed a meal akin to a banquet, and I posted here about the modest meal 7 of us ate last Sunday.)
  3. Our debt snowball. We dug a financial hole years ago and have worked hard to get out of it. We were originally on track to be out of debt 4 years from now. Then other costs increased and we had to use the snowball money to make ends meet. Now we're wanting to get that sphere rolling once more. Physical Science students will realize that it takes more energy to get a stationary object moving than it does to keep one moving (think overcoming static friction versus kinetic friction). Our realistic goal now is to be totally debt-free (including our house) 5 years from now. It is do-able.
  4. My time as a stay-at-home homeschooling mom. Well, actually this isn't an increase. It's just that we'd like this to be able to maintain the status quo until the last one graduates, which isn't for a couple of more years.
  5. Financially assisting our grown children. Actually, this is not an increase either, but we do want to be able to continue to help when we can and if we can.
  6. Home remodeling projects. Which, by the way, is where much of our money has gone in the last several years. We live in a nice house (which means "modest" as opposed to a ni-i-ice one). Ours hasn't quite been as expensive to keep livable as the ni-i-ice house in the old Tom Hanks-Shelley Long movie, The Money Pit, but it's had its moments.
  7. Saving for the future. Yeah, some day we'll really be old. Right now we're just practicing. :)
I'm so much happier when I voluntarily give something up in order to gain something better. It isn't what we give up but what we get instead that helps keep us on track and helps to return us to the track if we've strayed.

This post is linked to Frugal Fridays at Life as Mom.

A Voice From The Clouds

This has been a hard week. Things too numerous and private to relate.

Through it all the clouds are constantly weeping. The weather alert periodically sounds telling of floods, warning all to get to high ground. Well, I live on the high ground. An alert sounds and I am reminded of spiritual high ground. How I wish I always lived there, too!

I read Luke chapter 9 today. If you're following my Bible reading plan you know this means I am behind. I'm ashamed to say that often when I'm in the valley I neglect the very things that can help me safely navigate through it. But even thought this chapter was read later than scheduled it sounded the alarm.

The Twelve Are Sent To Preach
Hmm. My husband has been sent to preach. A great many of the difficulties we've faced this week are the result of the ministry. Okay, Lord, you've got my attention.

To paraphrase this passage, He tells his disciples not to worry about their daily provisions and to figuratively wipe their hands of those who would not listen but to take the good news elsewhere.

There is a lot to be gleaned in this message about those who don't want to listen. They hinder ministers by wasting their time and keeping them from preaching to others. We must wash our hands of some people whether we want to or not.

His Identity Is Questioned
One of the incidents that broke my heart this week involved a case of mistaken identity. My identity. Mistaken identity can ruin a reputation. Mine wasn't "stolen" but was used in a wrongful way. It has been cleared up now and I'm hoping to move beyond the hurt and restore the fellowship.

Five Thousand Are Fed
Those who were listening to Jesus did not have enough to sustain themselves so He provided it. Forget for a moment that this was physical food.

I don't have what I need to sustain myself either or even to meet the needs of those with their hands out asking me to feed them (and I'm not joking about feeding my teenager's voracious appetite; I'm referring to all the needy souls I've encountered this week who have asked me to bear their burdens and to feed them words of encouragement). I'm very heartened to see that the Lord can make an overabundant meal out of meager supplies because I personally have so little to offer. I pray He multiplies the meager crumbs I gave them.

His Identity Is Confirmed
Peter and the others had just returned from an evangelistic tour and Jesus asked them afterward who they thought He was. This sounds backwards to me. Perhaps we're so busy ministering that Jesus needs to ask us sometimes, "Excuse me! Do you know WHO I AM?" Yes, You're the Messiah.

Oh, I see!

The Burden of Ministry
The load is heavy. Self-denial and sacrifice are weighty matters. I don't want to be told that it's not all about me. But it isn't. And the next paragraph confirms this. And it hints at things to come for those who can crucify their own desires daily and make it all about Him.

The Mountaintop Experience
After Jesus told them that following Him would require self-sacrifice He took them up on the mountaintop and gave them a sneak-peek of His glory, the very glory He would eternally share with them if they would deny themselves in the temporal life! Peter, like usual, said the wrong thing. In his astonishment he had no clue what his proper response should be.

I often catch glimpses of Jesus' glory only to put my foot in my mouth, too. Even in the mountaintop experiences I fail to see what is being required of me. I want to build houses on the mountaintop (Oh, please Lord! Can I just stay here basking in your glory?) when the Lord is allowing only a glimpse of things to come. (But Lord! I don't want to go back down in the valley! I want to set up housekeeping on the spiritual mountaintop!)

The Voice From The Clouds
While he (Peter) thus spake, there came a cloud, and overshadowed them: and they feared as they entered into the cloud. And there came a voice out of the cloud, saying, This is my beloved Son: hear him. And when the voice was past, Jesus was found alone. Verses 34-36a.

I don't know about your world, but ours has been overshadowed by a heavy cloud. I feel certain that in the midst of the fog there is a voice both rebuking and encouraging.

Jesus stands alone. Jesus always stands alone. He is the way.

Get Back To Work
And it came to pass, that on the next day, when they were come down from the hill, much people met him. . . . verse 37 through the end of the chapter.

It isn't time yet to share in His eternal glory so we must get to work down in the valley. Pick up that cross daily, but do it encouraged by the glimpses of glory seen on the mountaintop: a glory that will be shared eternally.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Anthropology of Genealogy

All of my worlds are colliding these days. And that's not always a bad thing.

I just finished reading the "She Reads" monthly selection and listened to the blog audio clip interview with the author. I was struck by how much local flavor colors the writing because the author is native to the setting. So while this book was not a genealogy per se, it was somewhat of a cultural, religious, and social anthropological discourse of the author's heritage. It reminded me of my own culturally diverse roots.

In doing research for the Ohio History class that I teach I've made some interesting anthropological discoveries behind my own family tree. This could prove useful for further research or for even understanding family traditions.

Most people are unimpressed when someone mentions that they are from Ohio - unless it is getting close to presidential election time and then suddenly everyone (including the media) starts treating us with respect. But in non-election years? Not so much. And who can blame them? We seem mediocre enough: just plain ol' plain.

But actually, we're anything but! We're quite a blend of anthropology. We are the example of the proverbial American melting pot. Nothing proves this more than my own lineage.

Some of my New England Anglican ancestors were the first to arrive in the newly formed Northwest Territory. In 1797 my southern Virginia Baptist ancestors appeared and settled in the same neighborhood. If you know any church or U.S. History you know that this was a potentially hostile situation. Somehow they overcame it because a son from one family married a daughter from the other. Perhaps their mutual hatred of the British united them. Both fathers were reportedly Revolutionary War veterans and their children married during the War of 1812. Or maybe their shared wilderness experiences made them set aside any differences for the sake of survival. One way or another, their bonds were forged and children were born.

A son produced from the union of this New Englander-Southern farmer alliance went on to marry a girl of Scots-Irish ancestry. They had children.

A daughter from the union of New Englander-Southern farmer -- Scots-Irish marriage went on to marry a German Protestant boy whose parents still spoke their native language almost exclusively because they had learned very little English in the 40 years since they had immigrated from the Old Country.

Okay, stick with me now! We're on a roll!

A daughter produced from this union of New Englander-Southern farmer -Scots-Irish -- German marriage went on to marry a man of English-Jewish ancestry. The English line had only been in America for a generation or so. The Jewish line had been in America (but not Ohio) for many years. You can imagine the fireworks when the Southern Jewish girl married into the high-brow English Methodist family a generation before and then moved to Ohio as a consequence!

And this is just my mother's Ohio line! When she, the New England - Southern Virginian - Scots-Irish - German - English - Jewish girl, married my dad another set of cultural, social, and religious aspects were introduced, including some inherited from his own first settlers of Ohio roots (although another part of the state entirely). Sometimes I feel like a walking Ohio History exhibit!

And on another note, perhaps it explains why sometime I feel so mixed up. I really am! I'm not religiously confused, but the cultural and social aspects can be daunting depending on the situation. It really tends to manifest itself in reaction to negative stimuli. Which culture comes into play? I'll-blow-them-out-of-the-water-after-I've-had-my-afternoon-tea English? Or shoot-first-and-ask-questions-later Scots-Irish? Hmm.

I guess I'm not so different from my dog, Pepper. She looks and acts a whole lot like her chocolate lab roots but also somewhat like the unspecified part of her lineage (which I suspect to be some type of hound). Her confusion manifests itself when she encounters a bird in the yard. First she points at it and then she haltingly runs for it. She seems to be saying, "Do I point at it or do I retrieve it? Point? Or retrieve?" Finally, she looks at me like I'm going to give her a command (which she wouldn't understand if I did). After a long moment she makes her decision, "Oh, never mind! Let's play fetch." And she picks up a ball and brings it to me.

I couldn't agree with her more. I find the study of my own anthropology to be very fetching indeed.

Hi-ho! Hi-ho! It's to the Cincinnati Public Library I Go!

(Or soon will be, anyway.)

Nothing cheers me quite like going to the library.

AND I'm even happier if I'm there to do a bit of genealogy research.

And BONUS POINTS if someone else pays the cost of parking!

Yessirree Bob, I'm heading downtown to do a bit of research and if you'd like me to do "just a bit" (an hour or so) for you, too, I'll be glad to work it into my schedule. (And your name doesn't even need to be Bob, but it's okay if it is.)

I'd prefer to do genealogy look-ups, but it doesn't need to be that if you have some other research in mind. This is very simple, really.
  • Is there a book in the library's catalog that might have something pertaining to your genealogy research but you're not sure and won't know until someone takes a peek inside?
  • Is there a book in the library catalog that you know has information about your family but you have no way of quickly obtaining copies of particular pages?
  • Is there some other book or resource (non-genealogical) that has information that you'd like to have copied (within reason and copyright limits, of course)?
If the answer to any of these questions is Yes! then I'd be happy to be of service.  

And if the answer is I'm not sure then feel free to check out the online catalog for more information.

This could be a win-win situation for both of us!  Contact me at if you're interested.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Weathering Moods


Mood: A few happy moments, but mostly dominated by several hard experiences resulting in the shedding of tears.

Weather forecast: A few moments of intermittent sunshine but otherwise mostly cloudy with a chance of rain. Flooding in low-lying places.


Mood: Gloomy and somewhat agitated.

Weather forecast: Mostly cloudy with light, blustery winds.


Mood: Lifting somewhat, happier disposition.

Weather forecast: Milder temperatures, occasional appearance of sunshine.

It may seem that our moods are mirroring the forecast, perhaps even being influence by them. This is not true. External circumstances have determined our moods no matter what the actual weather. I just happened to notice the similarities.

We're praying for warmer, sunnier days. Might we already be feeling a change in the air?

Monday, March 7, 2011

Frugal Sunday Dinner, 3/6/11

It was a smaller crowd than usual yesterday. First, The Bear chose the menu . . . and then forgot and went home with friends, but not before giving me strict instructions that we were to save some leftovers for him! Second, Princess and her little family had a better offer. But the rest - all 7 of us  - feasted accordingly.

These were the things on yesterday's menu:

  • Mexican Chicken casserole
  • Mexican rice
  • Refried beans
  • Mock Mexican fried ice cream

One version of "Mock Fried Ice Cream" recipe can be found here. I was inspired by this recipe but then modified it to fit our tastes by using some frugal items we had on hand. Here is my version (pictured above):

Vanilla ice cream
Honey nut Cheerios (they were on sale this week) - about 2 1/2 cups crushed
Pecans - about 1/2 cup chopped
Coconut - about 1 cup shredded
Butter - 1/2 cup melted
Light corn syrup
Whipped cream

Form ice cream into balls. Crush the cereal. Mix cereal with nuts, coconut, and melted butter. Roll ice cream balls into cereal mixture.  Wrap each ball in plastic wrap and freeze until hard.

Meanwhile, mix about 1/4 of light corn syrup with 1/4 cup of honey.  When ready to serve, place one ice cream ball into serving dish.  Drizzle with honey mixture. Add a dollop of whipped cream and finish with a shake of cinnamon.   Serves about 15.

The Bear rated this an A+ (obviously we had leftovers.)

Here is the Mexican Chicken casserole that I fixed because The Bear requested it:

Cube about 1.5 lbs. of baked chicken breasts.  Place in 8 x 8 inch baking dish.  Mix 1 can of cream of chicken soup with 1 small can of red enchilada sauce.  Pour soup mixture over chicken cubes and mix well.  Crush by hand enough original flavor Dorito chips to make a crust for the top.  Place shredded cheese over the chip crust.  (The fact that I am not exact on my measurements proves that I quit measuring many years ago!)  Bake in 350 degree oven until cheese melts on top.

(I doubled this recipe for yesterday's meal.  Yes, there were leftovers enough to feed The Bear.)

This picture of the spring robin doesn't have anything to do with yesterday's meal.  It just goes to show you that I feed all my visitors well, including the birds!

Friday, March 4, 2011

More Frugal Beauty Tips

This is a continuation and expansion of a prior post found here.

I thought a bit about the frugal skin care ideas that I've used over the years and realized that I no longer have access to one of the products I mentioned as being previously free to me. What would I use now? And don't think this is purely a mental exercise! I will be returning to this skin care routine shortly but I still have no intention of buying anything! I will need to substitute something while still implementing the following inexpensive steps:
  1. baby oil
  2. wash with - oh, I don't know; we'll discuss this in a minute
  3. alcohol on 1/2 of a cotton ball
  4. moisturizer
I was taking inventory this week of potential substitutions on hand and was surprised at what I found. For Step 2 above I am amply supplied with small bars of moisturing soaps courtesy of the many hotels/motels/inns/lodges where we've stayed in recent years. I usually bring home any opened bars of soap instead of letting them be thrown away by housekeeping.

I also am equipped with a few bottles and bars of baby soap from previous babysitting days. Perhaps I'm wrong, but it seems to me that if a product is mild enough to use on a baby's delicate skin it might not be bad for using on my face either. I see no reason to let these products go to waste.

These two sources of soap shall now take the place of cleanser in Step 2. My point being that any soap would do as long as the oil and moisturizer steps are faithfully followed.

Moving on from the facial package, there is the matter of the mouth.

  • Toothpaste, teeth whitener, and mouthwash
I don't know why any frugal person might need to find a substitute for toothpaste these days but I suppose it could happen. I haven't paid for a tube of the stuff in years! It takes effort to clip coupons and watch sale papers but most frugal people do that anyway.

But what happens if you're traveling and find that you've forgotten to pack toothpaste? Okay, most places will give you a complimentary tube at the front desk if you ask, but not all of them. And I've been surprised to find that it is some of the higher-end places (where we've been deposited by the churches where Pastor Dad has been a guest speaker lest you think we're paying their exorbitant prices ourselves. Ha! Ha! Ha!) that will charge a nominal fee for forgotten items.

Forget it! Go to the nearest store and buy a package of baking soda. It will cost less than those micro sizes of toothpaste and do nicely in a pinch. Brushing with a powder isn't as sublime an experience as brushing with paste (oh, I'm really a wise-cracker today!) but it will get the job done inexpensively and will also remind you to pack better next trip. If you cannot take the box of baking soda home at the end of your stay (for instance, if you're traveling by airline) give it to someone (the host pastor's wife maybe?) or just throw it away. The money wasted will be less than on a small tube of toothpaste.

Speaking of oral hygiene, for every day teeth whitening and mouth wash, swish a very small amount hydrogen peroxide around in the mouth for 5 minutes each morning and then gargle it before spitting it out. You must use a very small amount or you'll end up looking like you're suffering a case of rabies! But a small amount is good anyway when you're striving to be thrifty!

As an added bonus, peroxide kills germs. This could potentially save the cost of a doctor bill, too. But don't swallow the stuff. Just swish, gargle, and spit it out.
  • Acne products
I feel a bit strange talking about acne products when I'm long past using them myself and have spilled the beans on my facial plan, but I've got a teenager at home who needs the help that only some of the acne products provide. There seem to be a couple of options for getting them: order by mail or pick them up at mall kiosks.

The mail option usually nets the subscriber with more product than can be used in a month. My theory is to split the order between 2 or 3 friends. Or do like my daughter did and wait to have such a backlog that the subscription can be cancelled without running out of products for a year or so.

The kiosk option is only available to those who live near enough to a mall that has one to meet the need. I checked today to see how close we are to a kiosk where we can buy them directly and it isn't that close. However, there are other purchases we can make while in that neighborhood and we are usually at this particular mall a couple of times a year. That would probably be our best option even though there is no shortage of young people who regularly visit our house to play video games with The Bear that would be potential "product-sharers." I'm not sure how kindly they and their parents would take it if I were to approach them with an offer of sharing the purchase of acne products. Sounds a bit insulting to me. Therefore, I think we'll make a trip to the closest kiosk in the next month or so.

Let me know if you have any frugal beauty tips to share. I'm always looking for new suggestions.

This post is linked to Frugal Friday at Life as Mom

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The Books of February 2011

This was not a month spent reading a lot for pleasure. This was more a month for research, specifically as it related to the Ohio History Class that I teach each Monday in our homeschool co-op. But even that netted me some reading pleasure.

This was also a month that saw me spending a great deal of time on the road for the sake of basketball. I'm one of those folks who can read just fine while riding in a car, but I've never tried to do it while actually doing the driving.

Without further ado (and whining), I will review the books I read last month. But first, I'd like to draw your attention to something. It's March! Yippee! The month that spring officially begins. :)

Okay, now that I got that out of my system, here are the books I read in February.
  • Suddenly Frugal by Leah Ingram.
You might recognize the author by her blog of the same name. I know that I did and that is one of the reasons I checked out this book from my library.

This was the book I alluded to when I said I wondered why I hadn't written it. (Well, I know the answer to that, really.)  To say that I do - and have done - probably 90% of the stuff in the book is not an exaggeration. In our case, it is not that we are suddenly frugal. It is that we are looking for more cost-cutting tips. I did find a few that were new to me and some that I knew already but needed to be reminded to do.

One of the new tips I learned was that vinegar can be used to clean laminate floors. We replaced most of the carpet in our house with a quality wood-look laminate a couple of years ago and I had found that the cheap store-brand alternatives to Swiffer mopping cloths were not worth the money I paid for them so I always used the real thing (which should make several members of my extended family who work for P and G very happy). However, I am pleased to have the vinegar and water frugal alternative. My floors look G-R-E-A-T.

If you "suddenly" find yourself needing some frugal suggestions I recommend this book. It will get you moving in the right direction. And then, for more industrial strength frugality, go borrow the bound volumes of The Tightwad Gazette (written by Amy Dacyczyn) or better yet, find them in a thrift store.

  • A Slow Burn by Mary E. Demuth
This is the second book in the Defiance Texas Trilogy. I began reading this set a year ago while in Texas (which was purely a coincidence). The first book, Daisy Chain, didn't get a fair review when I listed all of my 2010 reads in one lump sum. I said that I didn't remember much about the book, and that was true. Now that I've read the second of the trilogy I remember the first, too.

The series is about the disappearance of a girl named Daisy and is set in 1973. Book 1 is written from the perspective of her friend, Jed Pepper, a preacher's kid. Do you see any similarities to my own family yet? Well, yes, The Bear was a 14-year-old preacher's kid this time last year. Like Jed, he is also pretty trustworthy and somewhat of an introverted deep thinker. Perhaps now you see why the book disturbed me a bit too much to want to remember something written from the perspective of the tortured 14-year-old boy who feels responsible for his best friend's disappearance.

These good qualities are about all that The Bear has in common with Jed, though. The Bear's preacher-dad is NOTHING like Jed's dad, thankfully. In fact, despite the fact that I kept seeing The Bear's face as I read, the rest of the family and the people in his father's church resemble nobody that I know.

A Slow Burn picks up the story where Daisy Chain left off but the thread is picked up by Daisy's grieving mother, Emory. She is haunted by her own feelings of remorse. She wasn't a good mother to Daisy. In fact, she wasn't a good neighbor, friend, employee, or anything to anyone with whom she came in contact. This book is about her journey to find her daughter's killer (yes, Daisy is dead) and the spiritual journey she begins in spite of her desire to avoid it.

I recommend these books, but only if you have the time to read the whole trilogy because the first book left me totally deflated and this second book left me waiting for Emory to find the answers to the questions that troubled her, including the identity of the killer.

(P.S. I began the third and final book in the trilogy this month but did not finish it. I just completed it last night and will review it next month.)

  • The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
This was the audiobook presentation of the much-beloved Narnia tale. I know it is the bonafide first book in the series but I read (heard?) it following The Magician's Nephew. I've seen the movie so the story line was not a mystery to me. Still, I think it is good to actually experience a story in an author's own words.

  • "Ohio Valley History" Volume 9, Number 3, Fall 2009
This book is not a book at all. It is a magazine. But it happens to be an exceptional magazine. The magazine itself states on the inside that it is "A Journal of the History and Culture of the Ohio Valley and the Upper South, . . ." Subcriptions may be obtained here. I borrowed this copy from the library.

Why did I read this magazine? It provided research toward a lesson I was teaching in my Ohio History class. My students are 4th-6th grade homeschoolers and I think it is important that the information I present be both interesting and accurate. This particular edition had an article concerning European migration and the Kaskaskia Indians. We happened to be studying how the Native Americans in the Ohio region were influenced by French fur traders.

As an added bonus, after I returned home with this magazine I found that another article in it was written by a professor that Pastor Dad and I met last year at the conference we attended in Mississippi. And as an added added bonus the article was about the pastor of one of the churches that started the church that Pastor Dad now pastors. Okay, that's not quite as confusing as it sounds. (A certain pastor pastored a church in KY in the 1700s. That church later helped start our church.) The article was interesting to me, too, because it discussed regional and cultural biases among Baptists in the late 1700s. Ohio was a frontier microcosm of the blending between the New England  and southern cultures. Most historians are familiar with how that blending in the 13 original colonies wreaked havoc with the nerves of our Founding Fathers as they worked to coalesce the colonies into a nation. Those regional prejudices extended beyond governmental procedures and into how churches conducted their worship and missions. This, of course, was aggravated by how differing affiliations interpreted Scripture concerning church polity and its offspring, missions.

But for those of you who are not interested in Native Americans or church history, this volume also contained an article about a heinous robbery/murder and the resulting execution of the perpetrators, plus one about a steamboat of long ago. There was also a section for book reviews, which I found helpful for suggestions for further reading, particularly to adequately prepare for certain future Ohio History lessons, which was the impetus for obtaining this magazine in the first place!

So the results for this month are not that spectacular, but they are what they are:

1 non-fiction book
1 non-fiction magazine (which had more information in it than many of the non-fiction books I've read)
2 fiction books (1 via audiobook)