Sunday, July 15, 2012

How Single People Can Use an Extra Freezer

There are people I know that wonder why I, a lady who lives alone, has an extra freezer. I cook more at home than some folks do but food doesn't come packaged for singles or if it does, it costs way more.  Recipes make more than one serving.

Yesterday, I was shopping in our local Wal-Mart store and spotted ground pork in one pound packages for a dollar. Well, its been a long time since I've seen meat that cheap! Being the bargain shopper I try to be, my mind started thinking of ways I could use ground pork. I remembered that there are recipes that call for ground pork and ground beef. Then I figured it would work well in chili and I could make pork cutlets. A recipe for homemade breakfast sausage shouldn't be hard to find. So I loaded up with 8 pounds!

A quick Google search landed this recipe for sausage on

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2 lbs. lean ground pork
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. sage
1 cumin pepper
1/4 tsp. ginger
1 bay leaf

Combine all ingredients in large bowl; mix well, shape into 12 or 15
patties. Brown for 8 minutes on each side in skillet.
May wrap patties in foil and broil over charcoal.
I quickly made this recipe and rolled it into some waxed paper and
put in in the freezer.  In a couple hours, I will unwrap it, cut it into
sausage patties and store in a freezer bag. When its time to cook
sausage, I'll just need to take out what I need and reclose the bag.
So easy!
Then I made patties with three more pounds. I put them each
into a sandwich bag, sealed them up and put the bags into a
freezer bag. Now, I can take out the number I need when I need
them. I'm thinking I can grill them in the George Foreman as a
pork steak or bread them and make a chicken fried cutlet.
Who knows, I may come up with more ideas as time passes!
With the remaining packages, I just divided them and put roughly
a half-pound of meat in a sandwich bag then into the freezer bag.
This is the meat that I will use in recipes.
That's meats for lots of meals for a mere $8!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Wedge Salad

I've fallen in love with the wedge salad that is served in restaurants. While I enjoy eating out, I don't want to eat out often. One of these salads can cost $11 or so. I finally figured out that I can make one at home that is easy, quick and for much less.

I collected the ingredients:

Head of lettuce - $1.14
Chunky Blue Cheese Salad Dressing - $1.99
Bleu Cheese Crumbles - $2.37
Cherry Tomatoes from my Garden
Two Strips of Bacon (not pictured) - approximately $0.40

As you can see, I spent much less than I would have paid for one salad at a casual dining restaurant and will have enough for several salads!

Time-saving tip - cook the entire package of bacon and freeze. It's ready whenever you need it!

Because I eat alone, I decided to chop my lettuce. It is easier to eat than cutting the wedge while I'm sitting with a plate on my lap!

It takes a few minutes to make and oh so good!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Rag Rugs

I have discovered a new relaxing project! I am crocheting rugs from strips of old sheets. I thought I'd share.

The first step is to make the "yarn." Currently, I am using old sheets but any cotton or cotton blend woven fabric would work just fine. (Think old clothes.) Keep in mind that woven fabric will tear in a straight line - it is much faster and more even than cutting. I tear off the hems and selvage edges of the sheets and discard. To start the first strip, I cut about and inch down and then start tearing. The width of the strips are about an inch or so - there's no need to be exact so I just eyeball it!  I like to tear down the long side of the sheet to get the longest run. Stop tearing about half an inch from the end. Move over and make a cut to start the next strip. This will allow a continuous run rather than needing to connect each strip. If you miss and tear all the way, just tie the ends together and keep going.

Just keep tearing in this manner until you have a pile! I am tearing outside because this process produces tons of dust! It makes me sneeze so I got some dust masks. Unfortunately, they made me feel like I was breathing extreme heat and were extremely uncomfortable. I seemed to feel better working outdoors.

Now its time to start rolling the "yarn" into balls. I will usually make two balls from a sheet because trying to do just one makes a ball that is difficult to handle.

I love working on the deck in the early morning! I have a great view and the birds sing and I can hear the breeze through the trees.

Now I have my yarn, so it's time to construct the rug. I been doing simple rectangles in a single crochet stitch using a huge plastic hook. I'd tell you the size of the hook but it's not labeled. I cast on 30 stitches to start but you can experiment and make it the size that works best for you. I can barely crochet myself so I'm not thinking I could teach you to do it! Luckily, there are wonderful tutorials on the web as well as great books for folks learning to crochet.

I just keep working rows until it is the size I want to be. To give you an idea, one sheet makes a rug that is a good size for a doormat or small bathroom rug. I also make round rugs. I often mix  different coordinating colors to add interest.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

My Little Touch of Retro

Today I have been working in my guest room. My grandson got a new loft bed for Christmas so my daughter asked me to store his box spring. In the interest of saving space - we all know I don't have extra - I put it under the  box spring in my guest room. Now the bed is very tall as it has two box springs and a mattress! I really like tall beds. They are easier to make because all that stooping and bending isn't required. I also find it easier to get in at night and out in the morning!

I wanted to share the look I have created because I really think it's cute!

The bedspread was crocheted by my mother's loving hands and I have and will cherish is for years to come. She retired for six month one year and I have a collection! This is the one I specifically asked her to make for me. I found the little table at a thrift store for $12 and just had to have it. The lamp came from a garage sale for $2. I'll find the right piece of art to hang above the bed and it'll be even more beautiful.

It's all ready for a guest!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Container Salad Garden

I so love fresh lettuce and spinach for my salads in the springtime! So this year I decided to plant a little salad garden in a container. I had a large plastic flower pot that I decided to use. Because I wasn't going to plant anything that requires depth for the roots, I decided to tear some newspaper to put in the bottom of the pot for filler to minimize the about of soil I would need. I tore the paper in strips so that it wouldn't impede drainage. I dumped a 40-pound bag of topsoil on top of the torn paper. On one side, I planted spinach and on the other side, lettuce. Deciding to make the most of the space, I planted a few peas around the edge. We'll see how that works out! I water it almost every day if it doesn't rain. About once a week, I add plant food to the water. Today for lunch, I walked out the back door to the deck and harvested the greens for my lunch salad. YUM!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Boots for Attic Stairs

I recently had attic stairs installed in my house so I could tap into the  abundance of potential storage space. After the stairs were installed and cut to length, they weren't as stable as I would have liked them to be. While shopping for a work light to use for lighting, I ran across these wonderful boots! Their original use is to stabilize a ladder.

They are very stylish! They have little grippers on the bottoms which help hold them to the floor. They also help protect my flooring. And so much safer! This is vinyl flooring that comes in strips like laminate does. It came with the house and I'm amazed at how good it looks.

I bought 6 sheets of particle board subflooring to use in the attic. It took 24 trips up these stairs to get it up there! The nice people at Lowe's cut each 4'x8' sheet into fourths for me. This made it very manageable for me to haul home in a CR-V as well as get it up the stairs and screwed down. Quite a project! Now I can have organized storage upstairs rather than an huge pile of stuff!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Homemade Dog Food

I have some wonderful frozen boneless skinless chicken breast in my freezer. The problem is that they have been there too long and are beginning to show signs of freezer burn. I couldn't help but think it is a horrible waste to thrown them away. As I was bemoaning the wastefulness of it all, Louise and Joey came padding into the utility room.  Then it came to me - dog food!

I boiled the chicken breasts and set them aside to cool. I added rice to the broth and let it cook. Near the end of the good time, I added some frozen spinach that had turned itself into a nice hard ball. I kinda figured that dogs eat grass to keep themselves regular so the spinach should add a bit of roughage for them. As the rice was cooking I shredded the chicken and added it to the mixture. While I was in the fridge, I noticed the eggs were a couple of days from the expiration date so I stirred three of them into the mixture.

The result was I had a batch of  dog food using ingredients that were still good but not something I would probably eat! I let it cool before letting the dogs sample it. They loved it! I put about 4 days worth of food into a plastic container and refrigerated it. The remainder was scooped into service size containers for the freezer. I can let them thaw in the fridge before serving.

My plan is to continue serving dry food for one meal and the home cooked food for the other in a day. My dogs seems happy and I have salvaged food that was destined for the landfill!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Pearl Cabin: Antique Door Made Into Pot Rack

Pearl Cabin: Antique Door Made Into Pot Rack

Antique Door Made Into Pot Rack

My small kitchen has limited cabinet space so I have to use every inch of space as efficiently as possible. The pots and pans have been stacked inside a lower cabinet. Every time I want to cook its an exercise in moving stacks from front to back and stacking and unstacking to get what I want. Also, the stooping and bending is harder than it once was!

In the last and smaller house I had placed an old shelf board over the tops of the cabinets so it hung over the sink and fashioned a pot rack. I so miss having easy access to cooking vessels! So I started thinking about ways to make once suitable to this house.

I was down in the basement one day and came across an old closet door that had been removed from the antique house. I loved that house! I have now repurposed it into a pot rack.

The first step was to securely attach the door to the wall. I had help with this step. We found and marked the studs in the wall then attached a cleat (simply a scrap of wood) at the level where I wanted the bottom of the door. We sat the door on the cleat and as I held it there so it wouldn't fall, my friend attached it to the wall using four lug bolts. This was a very important because the door weighed what seemed to be 25 pounds or more!

Yep, that's a door hanging sideways on a wall! I left the paint in its shabby chic condition to preserve the character of the door. The decorative switch plate came with the house.

I bought cheap pine boards at the home improvement store for the shelves. They cut them to size for me which saved time. The top shelf runs the entire length of the door and is 10" wide. I had them cut the 8" board into three 24" lengths so I could stagger them to add interest. I brought them home and washed them with some leftover wall paint.

This was a great snowy-day project! I sprayed water on the boards, poured a little paint on them and spread it around with the sponge brush then wiped it down with a damp rag. That is my rubber glove I wore to keep my hand clean. I did both sides and all edges of the shelves.

Once they were dry, I measured and drilled holes into the boards. I put a row toward the back of the shelf and then staggered more holes to the front. Predrilling made attaching the cup hooks and eye hooks so much easier! The next step was to attach the shelves to the door. For this, I used shelf brackets for the longer top shelf and L-brackets for the shorter lower shelves. This door was solid so I just used the screws provided with the brackets.

At this point, I was beginning to wonder if my vision wasn't better than reality! I'd gone this far so decided to proceed. I have some pretty blue wine glasses I like to display so I attached a rack to the ceiling to hold them. I used anchors to make sure the rack was secure and wouldn't fall.

I fashioned crude hooks from wire because I wanted to keep the shabby chic look. Now to load the pans! I just started hanging them randomly and this is what I got. As time goes by, I rearrange them so they look and work better!