Monday, June 18, 2018

Change of Plans

DH packed up and brought the food to the lake but DD2 and I stayed home. She wasn't feeling well and needed sleep after having little the last week. I got caught up in a few tasks, worked a bit, and was fine dodging the intermittent rain from home. There's a long story with the second lake cabin I'll share sometime. DH was fine with us staying home as he wasn't sure if the nutty Uncle was going to be causing issues. He never came, but still fine we stayed home.

Later, we brought pup over to our friends to introduce him to their dogs at their place. They offered to take him while we are gone in August, but we're not sure he's not too difficult. We'll acclimate over next month and then let them feel they can back out if too much for them. He loves other dogs a bit too much and gets guardy if that's a word.

We ended night with watching the newer Jumanji from a Red Box. It was a pretty entertaining movie. I'm trying to write this from my phone. I'm stopping at Best Buy tonight after work and see my options for a new laptop. Our router needs replacing as well. Have a great week. Mine is starting now.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Another Frugal Fast Food Contribution

DD2 got home yesterday, a day earlier than originally thought because the house rental our family friends had ended on Friday, not Saturday as they had in their head. That was great as I was really missing her, but changed my day a bit. We had another grad party to stop at plus were meeting friends later Saturday evening. She and I had laundry to catch up on. Since today is Father's Day and DH's day, we are going to the lake, though I'm bringing work with and plan to hold up in a quiet area. Sort of a test to re-enter the extended family world, with a valid excuse to retreat! Not wanting to disrupt my plans for getting assorted tasks done yesterday, I didn't run to the grocery store despite our plans, so scoured pantry, fridge, and freezer for take alongs for today. 

We have a package of frozen Italian sausage, so I'll toss those in the cooler.  I found a cake mix hiding in the pantry I that didn't know was there the other day, and found 1/2 bag of chocolate chips. Not having any oil, I made a modified chocolate chip bar/cake with the mix, chips, two eggs, and last stick of margarine I had on hand. I made a pasta salad with a remaining 8 ounce of rotini pasta, a rinsed can of garbanzo beans, a can of dices tomatoes, a handful of baby carrots dice up, and the last few florets of broccoli lingering in the crisper. I generously added pepper, garlic powder, onion flakes, and just a touch of salt. I mixed up a little balsamic vinegar and olive oil and tossed that on top. It still tasted a bit bland, so on top went a few squirts of Italian dressing-now it had flavor. I have an extra sour cream and onion chip dip from last weeks shop, so on route, we'll pick up a bag of potato chips and  hot dog buns for the sausage. Added with the assorted meat for the grill and other salads and sides families will bring, we will have an ample Father's Day barbecue. 

Menu+ others
Italian Sausage on buns
Pasta Salad
Chips and dip
Chocolate chip desert

DD2 is now home for lunch every day, though she will be volunteering a couple days a week with the Loaves and Fishes program so having lunch at church. I think I can stretch the cupboards at least to Monday night as I don't want to shop tonight. It sounds like she ate very well and very heartily, so some lighter fare and cleaning up the leftovers should be just fine with my kid.I'm reading a lot of posts of folks cleaning out and eating down their pantries. What creative meals have you come up with so far? Has anyone else brought food along or hosted with entirely scrounged food? Was anyone the wiser?

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Frugal Fast Party Food Hack

In an effort to get back to the theme of my blog, finding that intersection of time, money, and good food, I'm sharing a little hack I've developed over the last few years to help with larger quantities of food for parties and events. My friend E's daughter, also a show choir and vocal jazz girl's graduation party was last night. E is one of my three birth friends, an incredibly generous soul, giving of her time and talents to all she knows. She lost her husband almost four years ago after a long battle with brain cancer, widowed at 48, still with a 14 year old, the now graduate at home. Her older daughter, a classmate of DD1's, was there to help with the party but with two children under 18 months, a 15 year old foster child, and a four year old step daughter, her hands were overwhelmingly full. Assorted friends and family, as is the Minnesota tradition with graduation parties, step in to lend a hand. I was on dessert bar duty and had planned a pan of brownies and a pan of lemon bars. 

I thought I had ingredients for both on hand, but realized Wednesday night I did not. It was also incredibly warm this past week, so I didn't want to heat up the oven at night before trying to sleep since I already battle sleeping comfortably and am ready to move a cot next to the freezer. Enter my hack. On the way home Thursday, I stopped into the dollar store and bought a yellow and chocolate cake mix, a can of vanilla frosting, and a bottle of lemon juice. I also bought a two pack of disposable 9 by 13 baking pans. I had eggs at home and thought I had oil, but only had about 1/3 of a cup left. This is where having a basic knowledge of baking really helps. Here is what I did to end up with both a pan of lemon bars and brownies, made Friday morning in under an hour.

Lemon bars:
1 yellow cake mix with 1 tsp baking powder added
2 eggs
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/3 cup oil.
Mix all together to a thick batter/dough, spread in a sprayed 9 by 13 pan
mix 1 cup powdered sugar with 1 Tablespoon lemon juice and drizzle over the dough.
Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes, watching at about 17 to make sure to not over bake
 When cool, frost.

The extra baking soda is needed to counter the acid in the lemon juice. If I had had lemon extract, none at the dollar store and I didn't want to stop again, I would have used that in the mix instead of juice. 

1 Chocolate cake mix
two eggs
1 stick butter melted or at least extremely soft (because I had no oil left, I used butter, but 1/3 to 1/2 cup of oil or margarine works. The butter made these brownies very indulgent!)
Mix all, and bake at 350 for about 20 minutes, again watching at 17 to be sure it doesn't over cook.

These made a thickish bar and I cut into 24 squares, which seemed about the right size for a desert buffet. Including the pans, I estimate I had a grand total cost of under $7.50. Not too shabby considering how easy both were to make. The mixes were even Pillsbury and not some odd brand no one ever heard of. I'll do the same next week when I'm helping another friend, this one with no nearby family to pitch in. I don't even need to buy more lemon juice so the cost will be even less. Life takes a village, and I am eternally grateful for these friends in my life. I'm happy to be able to contribute to their celebrations of sweet young women.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Update to Update

You are all so kind and I appreciated the supportive words, recommendations, and just "hang in there!'s". First, I am under doctor care and most likely some of the crud I am feeling is a combination of my vitamin D levels at rock bottom, stomach and head ache issues/incompatibility with the acid blocker I am on, and just plain fatigue from the RA. Iron and thyroid are just fine. I'm on a mega dose of Vitamin D for the next few weeks and the omeprazole will be cut back to 20 mg rather than 40. I'm working on the core exercises to build my strength up, so doing what I can to battle the physical  side of my funk.

A short session yesterday with the counselor unpacked some grief I have probably been holding in, resurfacing but not fully owned. Both A's daughter and M's daughter (the friend who died last spring unexpectantly from a brain aneurysm) graduated this spring, and pictures abound of the two with neither of their mama's in the frame. Mixed with my feelings of my own kids growing up and all being on their own, she  (counselor) told me to give myself permission to just have down days and feel sad. Then there are unresolved conflicts with my husbands family which now have a name, Value Conflict. Again, the counselor is just helping me understand that it is OK to feel  anxious around people who may not share the same values. Continuing to build coping mechanisms that let me be part of the family, but not have to physically join in when I just need time away, as well as giving myself permission to be contrary if the situation merits it. It really seemed to be a productive 30 minutes, and more to think about before next week. 

The post the other day was written earlier in the week but not shared until yesterday. I am feeling a bit stronger today. Maybe by July, I'll be more myself and ready to jump into a new month. If not, I have to give myself time and accept small steps forward.