Tuesday, May 31, 2011


I'm back online!!!!  Wwhhhhew.  My advise for today is... keep up to date with your anti-virus if you want to remain a PC user.  I have always been very meticulous about keeping virus scans, updates, software and subscriptions current but given the current status of my bank account I opted out.  Not a good decision.  I could have lost it all!  Luckily... I have a computer angel who saved my files and my little laptop.  What a jewel to have someone like that!

It turns out that I contacted a virus on May 21st that totally took over and hid all of my files and programs and pictures and bloggy material on May 23rd.  I noticed something was wrong but it totally kicked me off and in to recovery mode. 

Today, I am back up and running although it took me almost an hour to find my internet connection.  The virus put all of my programs and files into "Hidden" mode.  So whatever my wizard did not unlock I have to find along the way and fix myself.  I almost called him a while ago and thought nope... I can figure this out myself.  And I did.

So right now I have all of these blog post wonders swirling around in my head.  I have begun a Summer Reading Program that I want to share, along with a recipe or two but I feel as if I need to attach pictures of what I am talking about within my posts.  So until I find my uploader... it's good to be back!

Happy Late Memorial Day!  I hope you had a good one!  My was camping in the Blazer under the stars with wonderful friends and PC free... kinda like the old days!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Jiffy Granola Bars

On a recent browse down the baking aisle at WalMart I spied a couple of new items on the bottom shelf.  I have always been a fan of Jiffy brand mixes.  Once on a bus trip to the basket factory in Ohio with my sister, we popped into a small town grocery store to get out of the rain.  I was so excited when I found several different boxes of Jiffy mixes.  I had no idea they made more then yellow cake and cornbread mixes.  There was a whole Jiffy world out there I knew nothing about.  I wrote to the company and they sent me a couple of cook books.  One of them being a camping cook book using all Jiffy mixes in the recipes.  I was thrilled and to this day I still have them and have written to the company for updated books since then and have them too.

On my grocery trip last week I found that our local WalMart has started carrying chocolate chip cookie and oatmeal cookie mixes.  I snatched up a couple of each.  Jiffy mixes are very handy to have.  One, they are cheap and two, they don't make a ton of cookies or cake or muffins.  When cooking and baking for a two person household, these mixes work out fabulously because by the time the twelve to fifteen cookies are gone we're pretty much over them for the day anyway. 

While using the oatmeal cookie mix last week I got to thinking that I could make granola out of it somehow.  What I came up with wasn't granola but granola bars!  My loving husband likes to have granola bars for a snack in his lunch box and I'll generally carry one in my packed lunch as well.  They are easy to make and very versatile because you can add raisins, chocolate chips, almonds, etc.  The possibilities are almost endless.  Have fun!

Jiffy Granola Bars

1 box Jiffy brand Oatmeal Cookie Mix
1/2 cup cereal (granola, corn flakes, whatever you have)
1/3 cup honey
1 beaten egg
3 Tablespoons canola oil
1/4 cup fun stuff like chocolate chips, dried cranberries, chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Line an 8x8 inch pan with aluminum foil and spray lightly with cooking spray or brush with oil.  Mix all ingredients in a bowl and spoon into prepared pan.  Spread/press mixture throughout pan.  Bake for 30 minutes or until light brown around the edges.  Allow to cool on a wire rack.  Lift foil and goods out and remove the foil.  Cut once down the middle and five times across to make ten bars total.  Wrap each bar in plastic wrap and store in a Ziploc bag.  Eat whenever!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Jam Session's Almost Here

EEEEEEEEE!  I am so excited to teach this class!!  My Jam Session books are finished, notes and outline complete, goodies from the Jarden Company, Ball and freshpreserving.com are here and tomorrow... it's strawberry picking time!  If you seriously want to learn how to can it's not too late to get your name in the pot for this class. 

Saturday Morning Jam Session is this Saturday, May 14th from 9:00 A.M. until 12:00 P.M.  I have a lot planned for the morning.  It's going to be a little bit of work and a whole lot of fun!

Send me an email if you would like to sign up! 

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

10 Tips to Thrift

Being the avid thrift store shopper that I am, I feel as if I need to pass on a few thrifting tips to those who wish to indulge in thrifty shopping.  Mind you in the last year and a half I can only recollect clothes shopping outside of a thrift store three times.  Once at Ann Taylor when I started my new job, a trip to WalMart for shirts to craft on and one time at the GAP meeting my friend Jenn, I had a printed tee suck me right in.  Do keep in mind that I do buy undergarments new, in case you were wondering.  Of course while these products are available at thrift stores, I choose not to.. that's just me.

Now on to the tips.  I have ten tips to share but since I wrote this blog I have come up with more so there may be a Tips to Thrift Part Deux.

1.  Do not be afraid.  These clothes are not nasty, dirty, stinky or all bent out of shape and not all clothes are from the seventies and eighties in here.  Most stores thoroughly inspect all clothes and pass up anything completely undesirable.  Picture the clothing coming from your own closet or the closet of a friend or big sister.  I have always thought that I thrift well because of being the fourth child and used to hand-me-downs but I have friends that are not from one girl families or one child families that are excellent thrifters so... you can do it!  I know it's not all NEW.  Get over it!
2.  Find a thrift store close to where you live or work.  A store that you could visit at least once a week.  It has been my experience that the turn over in my favorite thrift store is high.  If I don't frequent it I miss it.  Someone (and it just had to be same person) dropped off a whole bunch of Ann Taylor dresses and BCBG and I wound up buying three for super prices but I know there was more!

3.  Stick to a moderate budget.  Only allot yourself ten dollars per visit.  Pick up a flowy floral skirt and a top or a nice pair of work slacks and a vintage scarf.  Just make sure not to go over your budget.  If it's not under ten dollars you can't have it.

4.  Always check the shoes.  While I am not really a big fan of used shoes, there is a big difference between worn and barely worn shoes.  I have purchased brand new shoes from time to time.  My favorite pair that I get tons of compliments on are a pair of Nine West, slip on, cow hide fur print boots that I got at my loving thrift. 

5.  Watch for Half Off sales.  Thrift stores generally color code the product tags as to what day they are put out.  Each day a different color tag, and sometimes two, will be the half off color of the day.  Hint: if you find something that catches your eye but is priced a tad too high you can ask what day the color will be on sale and try your luck by visiting back on that day.  If it is not still there you probably didn't need it anyway.  I have purchased a few items this way... the cow boots were one of them.
6.  Housewares - take it or leave it?  I always skim the housewares department.  I have managed to find deals on things from canning jars to antiques, like a vintage wooden water ski I bought to make a shelf out of (half eye roll from the husband.)  But I have found items lately like metal pots to plant in.  Keep your mind open as to how you decorate your home to the way you look at items.

7.  Costume Jewelry - most of the time in a case.  Although I do not often buy jewelry unless it absolutely intrigues me, I will say that one of my all time favorite necklaces came from a Goodwill store and purchased when I was nineteen.  Be selective.

8.  Time constraints can be a good thing.  I find that I buy less when I have less time to to be selective.  Rather, I am quick to say no to something if I have less time to decide.  For this reason I located a thrift shop close to my office and go there and back usually within thirty minutes.  Five to six minutes to drive there, fifteen minutes to look and five to six minutes to drive back leaving me with just enough time for a quick browse.  Even if I don't hit all the departments I make sure to scan the area I am most interested in that day.  If I feel like a new dress I'll head straight for the dress rack.  If I need a frame for a craft project I'll head to housewares.
9.  Don't look by the current look of apparel.  Or don't judge a book by it's cover.  Keep your own personal style in  mind while browsing.  If you spy a springy blouse picture which scarf at home you could pair it with or which heels you could wear with that cutesy dress.  You do have a style of your own.  Find which pieces can add to your wardrobe. 

10.  As always in living frugally - do not buy it if you don't need it.  Bargains can be found, extremely low pricing located and deals scored but face the facts, do you need  another Scrabble game (Laurie?)  Know when to say NO to yourself.

Finally, don't forget to donate.  It helps the cause of the thrift store to donate items from your own closet just as much as it helps to shop there. 

Monday, May 2, 2011

Six Hogs and a Sow

The new hogs are here, the new hogs are here!  Quick, name that movie.  Not the exact same line but just picture me jumping up and down while saying it.
Yesterday we got our yearly hogs.  Last year we had two that I have been everly grateful to and for since the day we met.  This year we have seven.  Needless to say if you live close and want to save your scraps... DO!  Bring them over, dump them over the fence.  I have to say that I, along with Granny, had gotten so used to saving scraps from egg shells to chicken bones and leftovers that I felt guilty all winter long about having to throw them away.  I even thought about composting, which I cannot grasp how to do. 

Part of having a farm and animals is their proper care and when you are raising pigs for food there are certain things that you have to do.  I admit I don't fully understand why but the hogs have to be castrated and all tails snipped.  The castration to keep the meat from becoming too strong and too tough once they come in to their own (nicely put) and the tails because apparently it is a proven fact that it takes more to feed them with the tails on.  Something around eight bushels more per season per pig.  Regardless it is what is done here. 

So yesterday was the big day.  When Shaun and Nick arrived with the pigs the surgery had to begin before they went in to the pen.  (Not that it wouldn't have been amusing to see the pigs being chased around the farm for a while.)  I, like the country girl I signed up to be, got in the trailer with them, in my good Ann Taylor jeans like a D.A., grabbed the iodine and the syringe and jumped right in to help without a second thought.  (I am leery on how graphic to get)  I felt helpful and was helpful.  They could have gotten it done but castrating nine hogs, cutting twelve pigs tails and remembering to give the shots for de-worming and de-pesting is a lot for two people.

I did wind up getting blood on my jeans, wound up with not enough juice in the needle for all twelve pigs (luckily Nick had more... I  must have squeezed some out in all the fury,) and got hog bit.  Not real hard and I can't say I blame him.  But I do give my props to the 19.99 rain boots from TSC.  The pig did not bite through and if I hadn't had them on it would have hurt.  I also learned how to clean, (ready?!?!) and fry pig nuts.  So after an afternoon of doing what we had to do, we had turnip greens, black-eyed peas, cornbread and fried pig nuggets for supper.  Now how do you feel.  I feel pretty dang country.

P.S. the blood came out of my jeans with a little ivory soap, everyone is healing nicely, they are eating well, apparently are thrilled because they've never seen grass before (they came from a true hog farm which is what this one will look like with seven of them) and the movie is The Jerk, starring Steve Martin.  And if you are truly interested and want a more in depth "how to" on castrating, pouring iodine, cutting tails, or frying pig nuts I'm your gal!  Shoot me an email.