Tuesday, December 31, 2013

An Apology and Next Years Goal

I would like to apologize for being missing is action for the last month. My Mother broke a rib Thanksgiving morning and has been living with me and my family. It has been a bit challenging and has taken a bit of time to get used to but we are managing! I also was in the hospital right before Christmas. I had some chest pain and was admitted for observation and testing. My stress test was positive so I had to have an angiogram. Turns out I have a small blockage but nothing to be too worried about for now. Just need to watch my diet and start to exercise more. Also need to stop stressing about everything! Easier said than done but I am trying. I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas! Our family sure did! Too much food and lots of fun! With the new year approaching, I have been going over our budget and surprise, surprise, our budget is being challenged! Several expenses are increasing. Our mortgage escrow has increased $50.00 per month and our health insurance has gone up $70 per month. Tom received a 1.5% raise in his SSD check but that is only $17.00 per month. I will not get my raise until April and that is usually about $16.00 per week. So our expenses have increased $120.00 per month and our income is only increasing $17.00 per month so we are in the whole over $100.00 per month. We do not have an extra $100.00 per month to spare! We are strapped as it is now and I have no idea how we are going to come up with that extra cash. So that brings me to my goal for 2014- Increase our income by $200 per month and reduce our expenses by $50.00 per month in order to survive financially and get our financial life moving in the right direction. I will be trying to get my Herb and Botanicals business off the ground, but I need to generate extra money starting in January. I will be researching how to come up with cash fast and will be sharing my successes and failures. I hope you will follow along on our journey to increase our income and reduce our expenses. We are pretty frugal but we need to tighten our belts even more than we have in the past. It is going to be an interesting year! How are you and your family dealing with increasing costs? Blessings to you all in the New Year, Lisa

Monday, November 25, 2013

Last Week's Frugal Accomplishments

    Last week I was able to pack my lunch all week!! Yippee!  We were invite to lunch on Saturday by my Mother and went to Frisch's--she had 3 coupons for free Big Boy sandwiches-thanks Mom!

   I took advantage of the great sale at Kroger's--bought 4 4lb bags of sugar for $1.19 each, 4 lbs. of butter for $1.79 per lb, and  4 large bottles of Dawn Dish soap for $1.94 per bottle.  In addition, I only had to buy milk, eggs and bread. So all in all, I saved a bunch on  my grocery budget!

   I used my Benny card that I had been saving for the end of the year.  This is free money my work gives us for meeting/doing certain health care things--Health risk assessment, physical, not smoking, etc.  This is the last year they are doing this so I need to use it all up soon! So this will help save money on our prescriptions in the next 5 weeks.

   I found 2 tops for work at the Goodwill.  They were half price and both were like new!  I also found two electric candles ( the gold and white ones) for 50 cents each.  I brought them home, painted and grubbied them up with supplies I had on hand and now have 2 adorable prim little candles for my windows.

  I have been keeping the thermostat at 62 degrees.  We have a fireplace insert and will be using that as our primary source of heat as soon as we get our chimney cleaned out.  I won't build a fire before getting the chimney swept--just a safety precaution on my part.  My Mom once had a chimney fire and it scared us all to death.  We put an extra quilt on the beds and dress warmly.  Propane is expensive so we try to conserve.

    I have pared down our Thanksgiving dinner menu.  I usually make broccoli casserole, baked sweet potatoes, and cook 2-3 heads of cauliflower but the broccoli casserole has pricey ingredients and the rest can get expensive as well.  I am going to make glazed carrots in place of the sweet potatoes because I found them on sale and canned a bunch this year.  I feel we do not need as many side veggies as we are not having as many guests this year.  This will save money and make my meal prep much simpler!  We are planning on a cranberry punch instead of serving different types of soft drinks and/ or wine. 

  I usually buy an assortment of dinner rolls to serve with our meal but this year I am making the bread myself with ingredients from the pantry.  Homemade bread is better anyway!

  I am serving green beans from the freezer-my Uncle graciously planted extra for me!  So these were free!
   I am using pumpkin from the freezer for my pumpkin pies so this will save money also.  

All in all, this will be a very frugal Thanksgiving but I don't think anyone will feel that we are missing out on a thing!   Homemade from scratch is a money saver!

Frugal Blessings to you all,



Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Lisa's Low Carb Cheesecake Recipe

Here is a great recipe for diabetics!
Lisa’s Low Carb Cheesecake 

4- 8oz. pkgs. Cream Cheese
1 ½ cup Splenda
1 tsp. vanilla
4 eggs
1 heaping  Tblsp. Of flour
3/4 cup finely chopped nuts—your choice—pecans, almonds or walnuts 

Mix all ingredients except nuts in a mixer—do not over mix.
Spray a 10 inch springform pan with Pam or other cooking spray.
Pour finely chopped nuts into pan and shake to cover entire bottom and half way up the sides of the pan.  Then pour cheesecake mix into pan.  Tap to get air bubbles out and bake for 55-60 minutes on 350 degrees. Turn off oven and crack door (leave cheesecake in oven) until cool. Refrigerate. Serve with fresh berries and lite whipped topping.
  No one could feel deprived eating this!
I hope you enjoy this low carb cheesecake as much as I do!

Yummy Blessings,

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Last Week's Frugal Accomplishments

I did pack my lunch every day last week! I told you I would!! I must confess one day I didn’t take enough so I bought a piece of chicken and a scoop of mashed taters from the cafeteria. That hit the spot. I didn’t have much for breakfast that morning—lesson learned! I made my own coffee at home and didn’t buy any on my way to work or at the cafeteria! I cooked dinner each night—no ordering out! My family ate the food I batched up for breakfast this week and loved it! Sunday I batched up pancakes for this week and cooked sausage for the guys. Tom loves the Mcd’s McGriddles so I made him several for the freezer for the next two weeks. I stocked up on the diced tomatoes at Kroger—49 cents per can! We use these all of the time. Also stocked up on Campbell’s soup and Tuna—both were on sale at my stock up prices. I was able to get 2 turkeys for less than 60 cents a lb. I am still looking for several more turkeys for the freezer. I hope to bake extra at Thanksgiving and freeze the meat in meal sized portions. Toilet paper was ½ off at Meijer. I bought 4 pkgs(limit ) and my Mom got 4 for me as well. That should last a few days at my house! Lol! I found a Disney Baby Doll at the goodwill for $1.00 for my niece for Christmas!It is in perfect shape and she will love it! I bought the $10 worth of candles, flashlights and matches for my Readiness Challenge. Dollar Tree Rocks! So while I did spend more than I wanted, all groceries were at my stock up prices! My stash is looking good! What did you save on this week? Blessings, Lisa

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Readiness Challenge 3

How did you do on the Readiness Challenge 2?  Did you stock up on anything?
 Here are the supplies I purchased for about $10 for Readiness Challenge 2:

matches, candles, flashlight and batteries
Are you ready for an emergency?   As I write this severe weather is expected in my area soon and I am so glad I have been improving  my stash of emergency supplies! Would you have to depend on the government for food if there was an emergency?  You may go hungry if you do!   So The Readiness Challenge 3 is to stock up food supplies for immediate use in an emergency.  Many of you may store beans and rice and wheat and that is great, but these things will be harder to prepare under hardship conditions.  I recommend having canned goods on hand to be able to just heat and eat until you get your bearings in an emergency.  You can stock up on store bought canned foods like ravioli, soups, stews, fruits and many other items or you can stock up on your home canned foods.  Meats, soups and stews all can be home canned for daily and emergency use-home canned fruits and veggies as well.  Whichever you prefer, just stock up on something that you can just heat and eat easily. 

  Give yourself time to breathe before you must figure out the daily “how tos“ of emergency living.  Remember we are trying to stick to an amount of $10.00 per challenge.  I realize this won’t buy all of the food on your emergency needs list, but it will be a start and some is better than none!
  With prepping on a regular basis, we can feel more confident in our abilities to endure an emergency -be it terroristic or Mother Nature’s wrath.  I hope you will all continue to take responsibility for your family’s safety with my Readiness Challenges.  We can  prepare together!
Please keep those in Illinois and other areas that have suffered loss during this storm system in your prayers.
Safe Blessings,
 PS   Those supplies came in handy tonight!  We had bad storms, high winds, and power failure!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Great Price Alert!

Hi Everyone!  Just wanted to drop a short post on a great buy at Kroger--they have the buy 10 get $5.00 off sale going on now.  This includes Hunt's diced tomatoes-they are priced at 99 cents and with the 50 cents off when you buy 10, they are just 49 cents per can!  That's right!  Just 49 cents!  I don't know about you but that is in my stock up range!
   The Ronzoni pasta is included in this sale and there are printable coupons available at :  http://www.itpaystoeatpasta.com/coupons_email_landing.cfm  This is very cheap pasta folks!  69 cents plus the coupons off.  I bought 6 packs of spaghetti for $4.14 and used 4 coupons for $3.50 off--74 cents for 6 packages of pasta! Cha ching!!! Hope you can take advantage of this great buy! Blessings,

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Last Week's Frugal Accomplishments

     Last week I got a lot more done than I have in the past several months!  Doing the happy dance!! So sorry for that visual!  Lol!   But anywho, I did get quite  bit accomplished!  I packed my lunch 3 times last week.  This week I promise I am going to pack every day!  I pinky swear!
     I cooked dinner every night!  No restaurant food just good ole home cooking!   I have been cooking from the pantry and freezer and trying to get room for cheap meat--turkey and ham! Our budget is loving the freezer and pantry cooking!  Yippee!
     I found several tops at the goodwill for my niece for Christmas-both still with tags on them--brand new!
Freezer Cooking!
                                        Meatballs and Meat loaves baking in my dirty oven!
                                                               Meatballs cooling.
                        Sausage links draining on coffee filters.  I was out of paper towels. Don't judge me!!
Porcupine meatballs cooling!
Muffins disappearing and cooling!
  Sunday I did quite a bit of freezer cooking.  I made 3 batches of meatballs-2 regular meatballs and one batch of porcupine meatballs!  I made 2 meatloaves and froze them. I made a double batch of apple muffins.  We ate some and the rest are for the freezer.  Since my DH cannot cook, I went ahead and cooked some sausage links and patties to keep in the fridge for the week.  He can have toast and sausage for his breakfast.  I made several small loaves of apple bread and one large loaf of orange cranberry bread.  These will be frozen for future breakfasts.  Boy oh boy, did my  house smell yummy today!
  Using my rice cooker, I was able to batch up 2 meals--2 chicken and rice meals and one batch of plain rice for the freezer.  For the chicken and rice meal, I cook the rice as per the rice cooker instructions just adding frozen peas, and dried veggies.  I sub chicken stock for the water.  Add your cooked chicken after the rice is cooked. I let it cool and then pack it in a quart freezer baggie.  Pull out of the freezer and put in the refrigerator the day you want to have it for dinner.  Just put in a  bowl and heat in the microwave and serve with a salad.  Great easy meal.
   I found 2 cans of evaporated milk in a reduced bin at Kroger.  Dents were not on the seams so it will be fine to use.  Saving this for fudge for Christmas! 
  Was able to order my DS#2's Gifts for Christmas second hand. I cannot tell you what it is because he sometimes reads my blog!  But I think he will love it! And I saved at least 50% by finding it on ebay! 
  I just have 2 more gift cards to buy for Christmas and I am DONE-put a fork in me!   I met my goal!!  Loving not having to Christmas shop in December!  I am hoping for a stress free holiday season and I am well on my way to achieving this!
   What have you accomplished this week?
Frugal Blessings,


Monday, November 11, 2013

Readiness Challenge 2

                                           Readiness Challenge
                                    Are you ready?
   The last Readiness challenge was to increase water storage for emergency use.  I was able to buy the Coleman water container and store 5 gallons more of water.  In addition to the Coleman container,  I have been adding 2 liter bottles to my emergency stash as they become available.  Did you add to your water storage?  If not get started now and join in my readiness challenge!
  Readiness Challenge Goal 2:  Add to my emergency light supplies.  In addition to the challenge, I am limiting how much I spend per challenge to $10.  I feel this is manageable for most folks and if it isn’t then spend what you can-every little bit helps. 
  To increase your light supplies, you can add candles, matches or lighters, lamp oil and wicks for your old fashioned oil lamps, or add flashlights and batteries.  Whichever you choose will be a great help in an emergency.   Even if you only add one or two items to your light supply, it is better than nothing so I encourage you to accept this challenge and become more prepared for an emergency!
I would love to hear how you increased your emergency light storage in the comments section! 
Readiness Blessings,

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Welcome and thanks to my followers!

I would like to welcome and thank my new followers!  I am so happy to have you visiting my blog! I hope you enjoy visiting here and stop back often!  And to all of my followers old and new,  I am very lucky to have you and you are greatly appreciated! I love hearing from you and I cherish all of my dear blogging friends!   Stay tuned for an upcoming giveaway!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

It's that time of the year again!

Make your own Pumpkin Pie Spice

If you are like me, you hate to buy the spice blends--especially since you probably have most of the spices on hand anyway.  Pumpkin Pie spice is one of the most popular spice blends and is soooo easy to make your own!
Here is my recipe for it:
Pumpkin Pie Spice
  • 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • Just put all in a bowl and mix. Put in a small lidded jar to store!
    Voila...its done!  Don't forget to label it!

    Have a great day!

    Tuesday, November 5, 2013

    Last Weeks Frugal Accomplishments

        Last week wasn’t a very frugal week for our family, although we made many memories!  Tom and I splurged on a date for ourselves.  We attended Flashdance at the  Aronoff in Cincy Saturday and then went to dinner.  The movie had many special memories for us during our dating days so the play was very dear to our hearts!  Tom very much appreciated the grey cut out sweatshirt ala Flashdance that I used to wear! Lol!!!  Truth be told, I still have it in my cedar chest!  Fun reliving old times!  I look at this as an investment into our marriage of almost 29 years instead of a great expense.   He only had one seizure during the play so I consider it a Win, Win!

       I did pack my lunch 3 days last week and I bought a salad from the cafeteria and made it last for 2 lunches—it was a large salad. 

      I Made 3 crockpot meals this using food from the pantry and freezer.  Went to the grocery and only bought milk, lunch meat, bread, fruit, and cheese.   Saving some of my budgeted grocery money for this week at our Meijer.  They are having the buy 10 for $10 and get the 11th free sale.  I try to stock up on Tom’s pretzels and several other items I stock up on there during the sale.  They also have the pork tenderloins on sale for $1.79 per pound.  Cheaper than hamburger and yummy!!

       I made a table runner for my dining room table last Sunday morning.  It is simple but sweet.  I used part of a Moda charm pack and some navy fabric I had on hand.  My Mom gave me the batting to use in it and I have enough fabric squares left to make several more small projects. 

      I found several pieces of wool clothing at the St. Vincent de Paul and the Goodwill that I will be cutting up to make crafts with.  All pieces were half off so I got them very cheaply!  

       Last September when I made my apple butter, my Foley food mill broke.  So I had been pricing them online to try and find one at a reasonable cost.  I decided to wait and to try to borrow one from my Mother.  Guess what I found for half price at the Goodwill Saturday?  That’s right, a like new Foley food mill priced at $8 but on sale for $4!    I recognized a need and God brought it to me!  Thank you!  I was so happy with finding that food mill!  Little things in life I guess!

      What were you able to save money on this week?  I would love to hear from you in the comments section!

    Frugal Blessings,




    Saturday, November 2, 2013

    Fall Weekend Getaway

      My DH and I like to take our Mothers on a fall weekend getaway every year.  This year we chose to go to Jenny Wiley State Resort Park.  I was a little disappointed in the lack of color in the leaves but it was a wonderful trip anyway!  We were able to see the Jenny Wiley Story Play at the Mountain Arts Center.  That facility is truly a blessing to the community!  There was an art exhibit there that was awesome--so enjoyed that!  May Lodge is a very interesting building-very cool post and beam construction-and the employees were so sweet!  We had a very nice trip and I would recommend this lodge highly.  Here are some pics:



     Sorry for so many pics!
    Have you had a getaway this Fall?


    Thursday, October 17, 2013

    Are You Ready? Readiness Challenge Week 1

                     Readiness Challenge
                                                                Are You ready?

     With the economy in such bad shape, are you ready for it to hit the fan?  I don't know about you, but the unstableness of our country is scaring me to death.  Just look what happened in Mansfield LA Saturday night when there was a glitch in the EBT Food Stamp Card system-mass chaos and the clearing of the shelves at Wal-mart.  Yes, Wal-mart decided to let the sales go thru while the system was down in order to let people keep eating, but the situation quickly went out of control in just hours.  Police were called to help with the chaos.  People, knowing they had no balances left on the EBT cards fraudulently bought food.  Massive amounts of food.  Why would they feel like they were entitled to get away with this?  They stole massive amounts of food knowing it was wrong.  What happens if the debt ceiling isn't raised and Government stays shut down?  What happens if SS checks and disability checks are not deposited?  Mass Chaos and extreme looting!  Panic!!
      What happens if there is a natural disaster?
      Will you be one of the people panicking or will you be ready to deal with the situation?  I want to be  ready.
        I have a supply of oil lamps, wicks, and lamp oil stored.  I have many candles and boxes of matches ready.  I have purchased a hand cranked radio/flashlight.  I have a pretty nice stash of food stored.  I have some water ready, but I do need to increase the amount I have stored.  I have several guns and ammo for them--to ward off thieves and to procure food.  I have a small garden ready to plant for next year and seeds tucked away.  I have cords of fire wood cut and 2 wood stoves to heat and cook with.  My propane grill tank is full and I have 2 full spares.  I have several  flashlights and batteries for them tucked away.  I have some cash stashed away for emergencies.
       Even with the above things prepped and ready, I still feel I need to be better prepared.  Due to my husband's disability, I am responsible for my family's safety and well being and I take that responsibility seriously!  The next few weeks I am going to be making/doing small purchases/activities to be better prepared for an emergency.
      I hope you will join me in building up your stash of emergency supplies.  If I can do it you can too so I hope you take up the Readiness Challenge with me!
      This week, I challenge you to build up your water supply.  You can use Coleman water storage containers to store your water in or  inexpensive cleaned out 2 liter bottles. After filling add 2 drops of unscented regular bleach to each 2 liter bottle These can be stashed under the bed, or behind  the couch.  Easy Peasey!  Also, you can store water in those empty mason jars sitting on the shelf.          
        Remember, you need at least one gallon of drinking water per day(3 day minimum) for each person and pet. This does not include water for flushing, bathing or cleaning dishes.  That is a lot of water!
         I figure I have a 40 gallon hot water heater tank full that can be used, but that will not last long.  So, I challenge each of you to increase your water supply in order to be Ready for it to hit the fan-be it an economic or natural disaster.

    Until next week,

    Tuesday, October 15, 2013


      Last night I sat thinking about what I would write about for Gratituesday. Soon after, my DD#2  came into my room to tell me that our friends 18 year old daughter passed away.  She had been battling bone cancer for several years but recently she developed an infection that she just could not overcome.  I grieve for her parents......just could not imagine losing a child.  My heart just breaks for their loss.  So......I am so grateful to God for having been given the privilege of having my children happy and healthy.  I am so thankful, so very thankful that I have them and pray I never have to know the sorrow of losing a child. Thank you God.  Thank you so very much.
    The four loves of my life!(Several Years ago)
    Please remember the Shay family in your prayers; 
                                                        Grateful Blessings for you all,

    Monday, October 14, 2013

    My Frugal Accomplishments This Past Week

    Good Morning Everyone!
    Last week I packed my lunch 4 days out of five.  I wish I had packed all five work days, but oh well, I’ll try harder this week!  
      I was able to keep the air conditioner off pretty much most of the week—we’ve had cool nights and warm days so hopefully we can take the a/c units out of the windows next week. Yes….lower electric bills!
      I have purchased white fleece for extra insulation on our windows.  I hope to get the panels made by the first of November. The panels will be hung on 2 tension rods inside the window frame in  hopes of  keeping the bedrooms warmer this winter!
      My uncle was sweet enough to plant several rows of half runner beans for me so my youngest and I went and picked beans for hours on Saturday.  Let me tell you, I am feeling it today!  I am so sore!  I enlisted my DH’s help in breaking and stringing them on Sunday as we watched the Bengals almost lose the game—almost!  Only got about half of them broken but I put the first bunch in the crockpot.  Yummy green beans, ham and potatoes for supper!  I will be canning tonight and my Mom is going to help me break and freeze the rest. Thanks Uncle Howard!
      We had one meatless meal this week—red beans and rice. While this I not Tom’s favorite meal, he ate it!  Grumbled a bit, but he ate it!  I am trying to make at least one meatless supper per week.  After Tom gets used to it I am going to try and increase this to 2 per week.  Wish me luck!  Lol!!
      What have you done to save money this week?  Please share in the comments—I love to hear from my blogging friends!

    Tuesday, October 8, 2013

    Crockpot Recipe-- Bean Soup

    Oh my,  when I walked in my house this evening, I was met by a delicious aroma........Crockpot Bean Soup!   Hugs and kisses to the inventor of my favorite appliance!  The crockpot is the working woman's best friend!  Don't know what I would do without my workhorse of a crockpot. It is so lovely to come home to a cooked meal!  I have posted the recipe previously-you can find it here:
    http://herbandbotanicals.blogspot.com/2011/10/crock-pot-bean-soup.html.    Such an inexpensive, warm, hearty meal for the cooler crisp fall and winter days.

                                                                Mmmmm, mmmmm  good!
    Hearty Blessings to you all!


    For the last few months, I have been struggling with sadness, depression, and feelings that I need to be doing more.  More to help our finances, more to help out others, more of everything.  I have been putting pressure on myself-expecting that if I do more I would be happier and things would be better. Well, after a day of doing less this past Saturday,  and doing things that I love on Sunday (sewing, crafting and quilting), I finally felt happier than I have felt in a long time.  I think I have been suffering from severe depression since my emergency surgery in May.  I just didn’t feel like myself anymore.   I didn’t want to read(which was a passion).  We didn’t even open the pool this year and swimming is the only sport or exercise I love.  I didn’t want to do much of anything that I had enjoyed doing in the past.  I know, I know, that doesn’t make much sense but that is how I felt. 

      So, I threw myself into doing more.  I think I have been putting so much pressure on myself to accomplish more to help my family and in the mean time I had lost my joy in life.  I’m not saying that I shouldn’t try to improve my family’s situation, just not put so much pressure on myself to do so much.  I need to find time to do the things that I love to do too—reading, quilting, sewing, and decorating my home.  My soul needs the joy I find in my hobbies and crafts.  I have to help myself first so that I can help my family in the future. 

      So, today I am truly grateful for finding a little joy in my life this past weekend!  I am realizing that less is truly more!
    Grateful Blessings to you all,

    Sunday, October 6, 2013

    Project Homemade Christmas-- Cocoa Recipe

       One thing I plan on making for Christmas gifts is homemade cocoa mix. I put the mix into ziplock baggies and then into an embellished lunch bag. I fold over the top of the bag and hole punch it twice then tie a ribbon or string through to close the bag. Remember to put a tag on the tie to give the recipient the directions for use. This is a quick recipe or inexpensive gift that is just perfect for the cooler weather!

    Homemade Cocoa Mix

    1 1/2 cups nonfat instant milk powder
    1 cup powdered coffee creamer
    1 ¼ cup sugar or Splenda
    2/3 cup cocoa powder

    Add all of the above ingredients into a blender or food processor and mix until blended well. Store in a ziplock baggie or jar. Use 3-4 T per 8 oz. hot water. I love having this mix on hand for my family during the blustery cold winter! So lovely and warming!

    Homemade Blessings to you all,

    This post is shared here:
    Little Homestead on the Hill