Building Memories: Baking with My Grandson

Oh how I love this Little Man. ❤ My grandson is a big helper, and he has mad stirring skills! Just look at him. Little Man likes to help in the kitchen sometimes, so I asked him if he would want to help me bake some chocolate zucchini cake.

I needed to make some for my coworkers, and told him I’d leave a cake at his house as well. He was good with helping so, while his mom was looking for a job not long after they moved to the area, Little Man and I baked.

He was so good about washing his hands. I measured out all of the ingredients and he showed me his crazy good dumping skills.

Little Man was very impatient while spreading the cream cheese frosting. I’d put a scoop on the cake, he’d move the butter knife over it once, then stick his hand through the frosting and into the cake to taste it. What a goober! I had to finish that part on my own.

We chatted about a lot of things while we were making this cake, and we laughed so much. I’ll always cherish our baking time. The memories will, hopefully, stay with me forever.

Little Man is a hoot to bake with. We’ll be making a chocolate mayonnaise cake with peanut butter frosting next. I know these things are not healthy, but they are a nice treat once-in-a-while, and my coworkers appreciate a treat on occasion.

Shannon

I’d Like to See More Foods Packaged for Singles

I don’t need family size packages of food now that it’s just me at home. An already refrigerated quart of almond or coconut milk would be perfect. A package with just four slices of cheese. One-quarter pound of pre-packaged ground beef. Just enough for one or two meals for one would be perfect, without the jacked up prices because you’re buying less.

There is a little of this going on, but at a cost greater than with the bigger packages. You can get three string cheese for $1.00, but you’re going to spend more per string cheese than if you bought a package of 12. Why? I won’t eat 12 string cheese quickly enough to warrant that purchase; some would go to waste.

Let’s talk spinach. It comes in a big package, and half of it goes to waste before I can use it all. Why not offer the single person half the quantity for half the price. Help a girl out.

Seriously. A girl could eat healthier more consistently if she could get half the amount for half the price. So she can have more variety. How about letting me choose how much fresh spinach I want to buy, like when I buy my cucumbers, apples, and pears.

But please, don’t make me have to pay more to get just what I need. If you can package three cucumbers for a dollar, why do I have to pay $0.68 cents just for one. I mean, it should be cheaper just because there is no packaging.

Just some ponderings from a girl who wants to save money on her grocery bill.

Have a great winter.

Shannon

Happy New Year! I Can’t Wait to Share More with You

2018 went by far too quickly. Did you notice? I didn’t have time to do so many of the things I wanted to do. For instance, I wanted to add a lot more content to this blog, experiment with new healthy recipes, and rearrange my little area. It’s okay. I’ll be doing more of those things this year. Sometimes things just get away from you.

This year’s theme word, or word-of-the-year, is FOCUS – for me, anyway. So I’m going to focus on getting some things finished up and learning more nutritional stuff. I’m going to try out new recipes, and experiment with them, to create more menu ideas for myself. Obviously, I’ll be posting recipes and such regarding the new things I find.

There will be plenty of recipes, more quick tips, and other information you will find useful in the new year.

Thank you for hanging around!

Take a look at the three New Year Goal articles I posted earlier today:

New Year Goal: Try New Recipes (Mostly Paleo)

New Year Goal: Be Healthy

New Year Goal: A New “Kitchen”

 

Shannon

 

$1.99 Sale on eCookBooks + A Freebie

Hello everyone. I’m sure you’re all as busy as I am with holiday activities and spending time with loved ones. I have a shopping trip coming up with Skye, and a Light Up the Night holiday date with Zowie’s family.

Just wanted to be sure you knew about the eCookBooks being only $1.99 right now.

And enjoy a freebie!

Frugal Ways to Save Money in the Kitchen + Frugal Recipes for the Health Conscious

Happy Holidays!

Shannon

Happy November & December! <3

Hello Everyone!

I wanted to check in with everyone, to see how you are doing and to let you know that I am taking a couple of months off from blogging and many of my other writing activities.

In November, I’ll be publishing my last fiction story of the year. I’ll also spend the next couple of months finishing up things from the 2018 to-do lists (a lot is behind-the-scenes blog stuff that I’ve been putting off), and spending time with family and friends. I may even be able to attend the Christmas Eve party my family throws, as I seem to have that night off from The Inn (so rare!).

And I’ll be planning. New material for the coming year! New goals and things to try. Fresh recipes and maybe some tricks to help you in the kitchen. I might even provide some downloadables for you.

I want each of you to enjoy the holiday season, and I’ll be back next year! And spend some time relaxing and taking care of you.

Happy Thanksgiving! Happy Yule! Merry Christmas! Happy New Year!

Warmest Wishes & Brightest Blessings,

Shannon

Frugal Recipes Happenings Issue #21: Summer Fun & Food

Just a heads up to let you know that the Frugal Recipes Happenings Newsletter Issue #21: Summer Fun & Food is now available for viewing. Full of seasonal stories and memories, and a guide to summer beverages and foods from the blog, and a few offers for readers. Check it out by clicking on the link. Summer will be here in just a couple of days!

Sign up for the newsletter when you get over there!

Shannon

Updates to the Blog

This is my grandson, whom I lovingly call Little Man. He’s enjoying a treat for Valentine’s Day. He’s getting so big! It’s hard to believe he is already more than a year-and-a-half old. ❤

Maybe you’ve noticed some changes to the blog recently. I’ve done a number of things, from cleaning up sidebars and adding a new footer, to changing up some recipes to make them healthier.

This is because I’m doing an audit of the site. Taking out some recipes, updating ones I’ve been successful at making healthier, and adding notes/updates to others. And I changed the way the spotlight posts are shown, and how the other posts are presented in the feed.

I’ve still got work to do:

  • More posts will go by the wayside.
  • Others will be updated.
  • I have plenty of new recipes and articles to share.
  • And you’ll notice a difference in the photographs.
  • I’ll also, later, add photos to posts that don’t have them yet.

It has been a busy 2017 so far, and I’m feeling good about the direction this blog is taking.

Shannon

Using After Christmas Sales, Closing Sales, and Thrift Stores to Score Items for the Kitchen

Yesterday I posted on Single Mom Family: Loving Life Together about a girls day the bestest and I had last Thursday. The article, called  A Much Needed Girls Day, covers the reasons we needed the girls day, as well as what we did: Lunch at Governor’s and shopping!

Because I live in a room, my kitchen belongings are few. All my pictures for this blog use pretty much the same dishes, bowls, etc, and I’ve wanted to switch things up for a while. I’m looking to incorporate different colors and styles, and various size items.

This means some things are going to have to go, which is fine. I don’t have enough space now for everything. My plan is to give away/donate items as I clear them from the shelves, so I know they wont be going to waste. I’m looking for interesting pieces at great deals so I can photograph food with different place settings and whatnot. And I’m allowing myself to mix and match.

I think experimentation is creative, and want that creativeness to show through in my photographs.

Photograph by Shannon L. Buck, copyright January 15, 2017. http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/shannonbuckI love the Pioneer Woman line. While the bestest and I were at Wal-Mart we checked out the clearance section. A four-pack of the Pioneer Woman Adeline Snow 10 ounce embossed sundae cups goes for $13.72. That is $3.43 each. By purchasing a single cup at $3.00, I saved $.43 on it. I only need the one cup, so it would have been wasteful to buy more.

I also found a Pioneer Woman Adeline Snow 13 ounce embossed bowl. Sold in four-packs, these cost $17.52, so one bowl would be $4.38. I paid only $3.00 for my bowl, saving $1.38.

You can somewhat see the design in the picture. They are so pretty! I’ve needed another bowl, and have wanted a sundae cup for photographing upcoming parfait recipes. Watch for the recipes to be posted this coming June.

These will help me to prettify my photographs, for sure. I’ve learned a little more about food photography, and want my photographs to reflect that learning. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised in the coming months.

I’d say my walmart shopping venture was a huge success based solely on those two purchases, and I found other wonderful deals as well.

Photograph by Shannon L. Buck, copyright January 14, 2017. http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/shannonbuckThe Macy’s in our area has already started its closing sales, so I took advantage of the deals to get a couple of small plates. These are saucer-size plates, not full size. I think they’ll make great dessert plates.

You can’t really tell by the photo, but the plates are slightly different shades of white. The Cellar White Ware Square plate is interesting, likely because I don’t have much for square items. It caught my eye right away. The plate is usually $3.00, but with the 30% discount I paid $2.10. A $.90 savings.

The round one is a White Elementals Plate. Originally $1.00, I paid $.70, a $.30 savings. Not a bad deal.

I want a number of white items so I can put them in place settings with colored items. The white will stand out from the colored pleasingly, I believe. I’m trying to use a mix of white and colors, hoping for more interesting table settings, and you’ll see me experimenting with this through my photography throughout the year.

Photograph by Shannon L. Buck, January 14, 2017. http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/shannonbuckOur last stop was the Goodwill thrift store, and I found a few items I liked while perusing the aisles.

The soup bowl is amazing and, yes, it says “SOUP” right on the front. It cost $2.00 and is well worth the price. A very sturdy bowl, it will hold a good amount of soup. I have another, not exactly the same, that I paid $5.00. The estimated savings on this item would be $3.00.

I love the square bowl, though I’m not entirely sure if it is a bowl or bakeware. Notice the size in relation to the size of the saucer; it isn’t really much bigger. I paid only $1.00 for it, but have no idea how much one would cost normally. If anyone knows if this is just a serving bowl or if it is bakeware, please let me know. For now I’m going to use it for serving.

The small bowl will add some color to a place setting. I paid $1.00 for it, and I think it is the perfect size for cereal or ice cream.

And the saucer is so pretty. The back says Vintage Fine China. I paid $1.00 for this item as well. The saucer will add a splash of color to an otherwise white setting, and I think the round white plate from above will fit over it nicely and still allow for seeing the artwork.

Photograph by Shannon L. Buck, copyright January 14, 2017. http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/shannonbuckThe mug has a more interesting design. I like the blue and white, and you can see the yellow ring near the top. This is not a full size mug by any means, but it will be perfect for a little hot cocoa or tea on a cold evening. This mug cost $1.00.

If you look closely at the pictures, you’ll see the burgundy napkins have a design cut out around the edges. Fancy! While these can obviously be used as napkins, I think they would also make good placemats for the place settings that I’ll be creating with the smaller plates, bowls, and cups. The two napkins cost $1.00.

The holiday napkins came as a three-pack, and can also be used as placemats if I want to get fancy at the holidays. The three napkins were $1.00, but I only had to pay $.50.

I can’t tell you exactly how much I saved on these items because I don’t know the regular prices for most of the items I bought at Goodwill, but I can tell you the savings on the items I do know the regular prices for. That savings would be $6.01. But I’m sure I saved quite a bit more by shopping at the thrift store.

Have you found any good deals for kitchen needs since the new year? We’d love to hear about them.

Happy shopping!

Shannon

 

 

A Healthier Year

I recently talked about two of my new year goals, Organize and Getting Back to Eating Healthy. If I’m more organized in the way I do things and store things, it will make eating healthy that much easier. So I’m organizing what bit of space I have in my ‘kitchen’. (Remember, I rent a room.) A few of the things I want to do this year:

  1. Bring in a drawer/cupboard unit, three high. This will take up only about the same space lengthwise and depth-wise as the old two-tier shelf that I’m using, will provide two long drawers for plates, bowls, utensils, etc., and two cupboards for the slow cookers, personal blender, and hand mixer. The toaster oven will still fit on top, and I’ll gain overall space for these items. ADDED BONUS: Everything will be hidden from view, making the area look better.
  2. Bring in a cabinet for food storage. I wanted to have the pantry in the closet, but it isn’t really going to work for me. I need the closet for storage, at least for a while. After I’m done going through and organizing the rest of the things I need to bring to my room, I’ll maybe be able to make the closet pantry work. This cabinet can not be very deep, because of where it needs to stand, but it should work just fine.
  3. Buy a new dorm size fridge; one that has the freezer door separate from the refrigerator door. The freezer in the existing ancient dorm fridge does not work well, and is too small. With a new, slightly bigger freezer, I’ll be able to do more, batch cooking of healthy foods (in small increments), freeze smoothie packs, and/or buy meats and other things on sale and freeze for later. It’s not as much space as I’d like, but will work better for me than the current one.

Eating healthy is so important, and I’m trying to learn the most frugal ways to pull this off to share with you. I feel so much better and have far more energy when I’m eating healthy. It’s well worth a little extra expense; I just can’t go overboard with those expenses.

I was recently inspired by Leesa mattress to share my tips on being healthy in this new year. I’ve never used one of their mattresses, but they do look comfortable. They are challenging everyone to maintain an active, healthy lifestyle outside the gym and kitchen this year. I thought about it and decided I’d love to do that for you.

There is more to being healthy than preparing and eating healthy foods.

Nutrition is only part of being healthy. I want myself and my readers to be healthy in a more well-rounded way, so I thought this article and graphic would be great for the blog. Are you a morning person?

https://www.leesa.com/

I’m extending my healthy behaviors to encompass all the parts of my life.

(Keep in mind that I work mainly evenings, and one double per week starting early morning and ending late night. These routines are done on the evenings/mornings/days I’m actually at home and not at work. All we can do is our best.)

Evening Routine:

  • I’ll be making a short to-do-list for the following day, so I can make sure I’m getting the most important things done. (This will be new for me.)
  • I’ll be having a Mini At-Home Spa Moment. (While I’ve done this on occasion, I’ll be making it a habit this year.)
  • I already enjoy a cup of chamomile tea while relaxing with a movie or a book in the evening.
  • Go to bed when I’m tired. If I try to go to bed any earlier, my mind goes into overdrive and I’m up most of the night thinking. Am I the only one?

Morning Routine:

  • I wake up naturally; and this has helped a great deal with how I feel throughout the day.
  • I make sure to drink a glass of room temperature, filtered water, with a squeeze of real lemon.
  • I do a routine of yoga, meditation, and stretching.
  • I journal, then flip through a magazine or do a little reading.
  • I will also be concentrating on the spiritual aspect of my life. (This will be new for me.)

Daily:

Throughout the Week:

  • I walk. At least three times a week this time of year, but almost daily during good weather.
  • Right now I’m doing a plank/squat/hand weight challenge. I’ll maybe find another challenge when I’m done with this one.

Throughout the Year:

  • I’m trying really hard to allow myself to take breaks. A few minutes here, a day there. A weekend once in a while. A personal retreat does wonders, and it is so important to get out and do things. I call these mental health days.
  • I try to get at least two partial vacations in a year. I visit my daughters, one per vacation. My favorite times are with my daughters and my grandson. As a matter-of-fact, I’ll be visiting with Skye in Fort Kent next month. I’m taking six days off from work. In a row. I am so proud of myself!

As you can see, I’m incorporating a lot of healthy habits into my routine, and keeping many old ones. Nutritional, physical, and mental health are all so important, and they work together to keep a person healthy and motivated.

What healthy routines do you have?

Shannon

Making Changes to the Blog

You may have noticed I changed the way the blog posts are listed on the home page, and tweaked the sidebar so I only have one. Once I got rid of some unneeded things there, two sidebars were no longer necessary. I’m still working on cutting the topics list down, and I’ve reworked the footer (please check it out!).

I’ve drafted many of the articles and recipes, meaning they’re still here but are hidden, and trashed anything unnecessary. The drafted posts will be updated and re-posted, trashed, or used in other projects at a later date, depending on how important they are and whether or not they fit in with how I want this blog to be perceived.

Don’t be surprised when you find much-loved posts disappearing. I’m trying to decide what to do with them. They may end up back here, if changed a little, or they may end up elsewhere.

This blog is taking on a healthier image, as I’m sure you’ve noticed over the past year. As I learn new things about health, and try/create new recipes, I’m posting them here. Some of the old favorites, though they may not be the healthiest, are staying, at least for now. These are the ones that evoke warm memories of time with family and friends. The recipes I still use for important family gatherings.

While I’m trying to eat healthier, the blog is still based on frugality. I can’t even afford all that health food, but I’m learning to spend wisely and I want to show you how. I’m hoping you’ll join me in my adventure.

You may have noticed some older posts showing up as new posts. This is because I’ve already tweaked those recipes and articles, and they are ready to share with you again. They are the ones I wanted to be sure everyone saw again, because they are so helpful.

Others have been tweaked but not re-posted. They are where they always have been, where everyone knows where to find them.

Please stick with me through the changes, and I think you’ll be pleased.

Thank you!

Shannon