Monday, October 26, 2009

Cooking From the Pantry

  • She is like the merchant's ships, she bringeth her food from afar
  • She rises while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens
  • She looketh well to the ways of her household

Last week I posted a recipe and linked to the Pantry Party at The Thrifty Countrywoman. This week she has a really good post about her challenge to herself to feed herself and her husband using the budget they had when they first married--$17.50 a week!

Now I didn't do anything nearly that dramatic, but as I already mentioned, we are working on tightening our budget and really holding ourselves accountable to stick to it, which I thought I was already doing, but discovered that I'd been nickel and diming (or more realistically, $5 & $10) myself right outside the boundaries I set each week. Last payday we made a concerted effort to set an amount and stick to it--we drew out what we wanted to spend for the next two weeks and put it in envelopes, which we labeled--gas, groceries, etc. As we spent, we put the receipts inside the envelope and kept a decreasing running total on the outside of how much we had left to spend.

Let me tell you, knowing that you have only $xx.xx amount left to spend on groceries will stop you in your tracks when you start cooking and decide you need to run to the store for "just one or two more items". As a result, I've been creative and much more serious about using what I have on hand in my pantry, fridge, and freezer. And to make it even more challenging, we've only been back in Georgia about three weeks, so my stockpile is not what it usually is.

And yet....we ate quite well, with just a little forethought and planning.

Day 1, I baked some chicken--boneless skinless thighs with a little lemon-pepper seasoning. We had this with some oven roasted asparagus, peas from my parents garden this summer (via the freezer) some leftover mashed potatoes that I had in the fridge.

Day 2, Tacos--1 lb of hamburger meat, seasoned with a packet of taco seasoning, taco shells, lettuce, tomatoes, peppers. I forgot to buy grated cheese last week, so we used sliced American cheese that I had on hand.

Day 3, Baked chicken again, along with the leftover asparagus and peas, and some au gratin potatoes (nothing exciting, I admit it, these were from a box that I got on sale for about $.40 (with a coupon, of course!)

Day 4, I cooked a package of pinto beans, adding the leftover taco meat. Because I'm from Louisiana and we eat everything over rice, I made some rice and a pan of cornbread.

Day 5, Leftover beans and rice and cornbread

Day 6, I made chili with 1 lb of hamburger, 3 small cans of tomato sauce, chili seasoning, and the rest of the pinto beans. We ate this also over rice, and the last of the cornbread.

Day 7, We had chili dogs, using the leftover chili from the day before

And for a treat this past week, I made the Crumb Cake recipe that I got from the pantry party last week! It was delicious, and from basic ingredients, so I can make it again anytime I need a little lagniappe to round out my menu.

This week's menu holds smothered round steak, baked chicken, and stove-top barbecue, breakfast for dinner and probably hot dogs again for the weekend--and I'm looking forward to seeing what I can come up for that little something extra!

This post is linked to:

Meal Plan Monday at I'm an Organizing Junkie

Penny Pinching Party at The Thrifty Home

Frugal Friday at Life as Mom

Until next time...

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Vintage Thingie Thursday--Sewing Machine Table

Twelve years ago when we bought the house my grandparents had lived in, we "inherited" several pieces of furniture that no one in the family needed or had room for, one of which is this vintage sewing machine table. I'm not sure how old it is, but they had a house fire in the late 1950's and this piece survived that.

As you can see, it suffered quite a bit of damage--the varnish and veneer are badly blistered on the top.

The inside, while still damaged, gives a hint of how smooth and shiny it once was.

If you click on this picture and enlarge it, you can clearly see the water stains in the soot. (All underneath a thick coating of dust--I should have least tried to clean it up a little before I took this picture!)

At one time you could still lift the sewing machine up and lock it into place. The metal parts are all still there, but the rubber and electrical components are melted. We took it loose from the fasteners once, trying to see if my hand-me-down sewing machine, circa 1960's, could be put in it's place, but the hardware didn't match up. I hope to correct that--someday!

One thing that I thought was unique about this particular machine set-up, is that it doesn't have a foot pedal--there's a metal thingie underneath it that you fold down, and you pressed it with your knee or thigh to make the sewing machine go. (It's underneath the machine, and without it being fastened I just couldn't figure how to lift it up and hold it and take a picture of that part by myself!)

These drawers (sorry too full of junk to photograph opened) are completely unscathed inside--one of them has little pegs built in along one side to organize thread.

In my grandmother's day, she used this as a sort of end table next to her favorite chair, and the drawers held whatever quilt pieces she was currently working on, along with her crossword and word search puzzle books. The top was usually covered by a pretty towel, which always had needles stuck in the end that hung over beside her, and a table lamp that she used when she was "piecing scraps" or reading her Bible or doing her puzzle books.

It's currently in my kitchen at home, decorated and used during the holidays as the "goodie" table; the rest of year as a "landing pad" to drop mail and whatever other odds and ends we bring into the house. The drawers hold everything from old buttons to an extra pair of scissors to miscellaneous office supplies (at one time I used it as my bill-paying station).

As I mentioned earlier, this is one of my "someday" projects--I have a feeling it could get quite complicated with the blistered veneer on top, and the hardware to change out, but it's a solid piece and heavy as a rock, and I'm hopeful that one of these days I'll be able to open it up and use it as a sewing table again.

When I can get new batteries for my camera, I'll share pictures of my sewing machine--circa 1960's and still working, it belonged to my mother-in-law, who passed it on to me when she got a fancy new machine back in the 80's.

Meanwhile, I'm linking this post to:

Vintage Thingie Thursday
at Coloradolady

Until next time...

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Doors of Welcome Mini Series-October Installment

Welcome to the first installment of the Doors of Welcome mini-series, hosted by Karen at Some Days are Diamonds!

(click on any of the picutres to see them closer; then click on the 'back' button on your browser to return)

October finds me 625 miles from my rural home, living in a furnished apartment in a small city while my husband completes a work project here. Some of the decorations are mine that I brought from home, one item is 'borrowed' from the apartment, and one item is new.

This is the wreath that I brought from home--I just love the simple lines. I've had it for several years, and because I know I bought it in our small hometown, it had to have come from either Dollar General, Family Dollar, or Wal-mart.

This pretty little trunk-looking box is "borrowed" from the apartment decor--it usually sits, closed, on top of the entertainment armoire. I opened it up and filled it with assorted garlands and fall picks, most of which I already had; one of these was leftover from the wreath I made at home last month, all of them are from Dollar Tree and Dollar General.

And last but not least, the one new item I bought, the rug came from Dollar General and was $5.00.

As you can see, I don't have much space. We have one neighbor literally right next door, a quiet elderly gentleman...

...and we are inset quite a bit from the breezeway opening. There are two other apartments directly across from these, but we are on an upper level, so luckily we don't get a lot of "thru traffic"!

I hope you enjoyed this glimpse of my "door of welcome"; for links to more beautiful decorations, click on the "Doors of Welcome" picture above and see the list of links on her left sidebar!

Until next time...

Monday, October 12, 2009

Three or More--Animals I've Seen in My Travels

I was born and raised in Louisiana, and except for a very brief stint in Kansas in the early days of our marriage, I lived there all of my adult life. Three years ago I was able to finally able to start travelling some with my husband as he moves around with his job. I've seen some beautiful places I wouldn't have ever had the opportunity to see, but even better than the places are the the glimpses of wildlife that I'd only ever seen in pictures or on television.

Like buffalo...

...and wild horses running along the highway...

...or a black bear, who stopped and just looked at us while we snapped away.

I'll never forget the first moose I saw...

...or the caribou at the reindeer farm at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

Swans on the lake, starting to migrate south in the fall...

...or a snowbunny that already turned from brown to white, right before the snow started falling in earnest.

Buffalo in the snow beside the highway...

...foraging under the snow...

Migrating elk...
...cute little prairie dogs that I wanted to pet...
...more elk...
an antelope...
...a herd of antelope...

deer in Colorado...

and last but not least---camels, in northwest Texas. Yes, Texas.

I'm linking this post to Three-or-More Tuesday at The Gypsy's corner. Go on over the click some links and see what everyone else is sharing.

Until next time...

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Note to Subscribers

From the very beginning of my blog, I've had Google Ad Sense ads on my site. From time to time I have other select ads, as well. I've never gone overboard trying to promote the products--on occasion I mention something if it's something I really use and can recommend, but I am not pushy with it. I'm not a big name blogger, I don't have a tremendous amount of traffic, but I'll be honest, I would love to have enough of a following to eventually get some actual income from ad revenue, however small. (I do need to feed my drugstore deal habit, after all!)

Those of you have been subscribers to A Virtuous Woman from the very beginning, whether via email or feed, have realized by now that I changed my feed options some time ago from a "partial" feed to a "full" feed. That means instead of seeing only the headline of a blog post, and having to click to see the actual post, the full text, including pictures, of the blog post comes to you on the feed. As a result, my "click-through" rate has dropped significantly. I think you're still reading (!) just not clicking through to the actual site to do so. And as a result of the click-throughs dropping, the number of "page impressions" and clicks on the ads have dropped, too.

And so, in an attempt to get the page impressions and ad clicks to increase enough so that I could actually get a few pennies in the far, far distant future, I am adding Google Ad Sense ads to my feeds.

At this point, this is just an experiment. If you, the subscribers, don't like it, please send me an email, or leave me a comment. You can find my email on my profile page, or click through, just this once (!) and leave a comment on this post. (See at the bottom, where it says "Thoughtful responses--Your $.02 worth"? Click there and you can leave a comment.

Until next time...

Thursday, October 8, 2009

My Pitiful Baking Day

  • She rises while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household
  • She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness

All around the blogosphere and on twitter, to paraphrase a song, "There's been a whole lotta bakin' goin' on!" The idea is to do as much baking and cooking as you can in one day, so you only have to pull everything out and dirty up your kitchen once, but you have lots of things made in advance to feed your family later.

There were women making all kinds of good and healthy things to freeze and feed their families, from homemade breads and cookies and muffins, to pots of soup and casseroles of all shapes and sizes. Some of them have baked and brewed and cooked and stewed for two solid days.

I wanted to participate, I really did! But we just got back to Georgia on Monday night after being at home in Louisiana for two months, and my supplies are, to say the least, depleted. I left a few staples here, and my husband made a quick trip to the store that first night for cereal, milk, and things for his work lunches, but I have yet to replenish our perishables. And lest you think we are starving this week, we brought back frozen beef and vegetables from home. Farm raised beef, and home grown vegetables from my parent's garden, frozen at the peak of flavor. Ummm.

But nothing much I could bake with. No butter. No eggs. Very little sugar.

Ant then, at the very last minute, way in the back of the pantry, I spied it.

One little lone packet of Martha White chocolate chip muffin mix that had these magic words on the package--"Just Add Milk".

And so here is my contribution to Baking Day


  • 1 pkg Martha White chocolate chip muffin mix
  • 1/2 c milk

Mix together. Put in muffin pan. Bake. (for specific instructions, see the package)

And Voila' !

And thus ends my very first participation in baking day.

I am linking this to Cupcake Tuesday at Hoosier Homemade. Sorry, all of you serious bakers, I couldn't resist!

Until next time...

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Two Thrifty Fall Wreaths

  • She worketh willingly with her hands...

I was so pleased at the way my thrifty wreath (click for step-by-step directions) came out...

...I hounded my mother into letting me help her make one for her door, too.
We bought the ribbon, garland, and leaves at Dollar Tree for $1 each.
The hardest thing was finding a wreath--since Walmart quit carrying fabric and notions and has such a small crafts department now, small town shoppers don't have many options. We ended up going to Nicholls Department Store in Leesville--I love that store--they have everything from hunting supplies to kitchen gadgets, and has some of the most beautiful home decor "doings and makings". We chose a slightly larger one since her door is larger and much farther back from the road than mine, it was $6.XX (I can't remember the cents).
Even paying "retail" for the wreath, we came out at less than $10! She wrapped the ribbon first, then we wired the garland to the front with little twist tie thingies. The leaves are the ones with wire stems, just like I used, so those we were able to just push into the wreath and bend the stems around a bit to hold them.
And we finished just in time, too, since the lows got all the way down into the 60's last night! It was at least 10 o'clock this morning before my air conditioner clicked on, and the high today is only in the 80's.. Perfect Southern fall weather!
What fall craftiness have you been up to so far? For more links and ideas, click over to It's Fall, Ya'll! hosted by Rhoda at Southern Hospitality, the Monthly Craft Challenge at Blue Eyed Blessings, and the Fall Virtual Tour of Homes at the Tip Junkie.
Until next time...


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