Monday, December 31, 2012

New name,,,, again, LOL


It has been such a very long time since I have written a post.  I need to catch you up on my often busy, crazy life, LOL.  When last I wrote I was living life on the road in a camper and having the time of my life.  I truly enjoyed my time at Ft. Bellefonte Campground in Bellefonte, PA.  Actually, I had planned on being there quite a while but God showed me he had other plans for me.

On September 30th I returned back to Clinton, IL to open a General Store.  I had actually been in contact with the Dewitt County Development Council from the campground and was pretty much sold on the building I wound up renting.  Mark from DCDC took pictures and drew up a floor plan for me and emailed them to me.  He, Ruth and I were in continual contact via email, facebook and phone.  I actually knew exactly what I wanted the store to look like when I was done remodeling and decorating it when I was still in PA.  It has surpassed my expectations!

On October 1st I met the building owner and signed a rental agreement with him.  I immediately started working on the building.  A lot needed to be done and I wanted to open by November 13th.  Many said it could not be done, I would never open the doors in a month and a half.  Many did not know me!!  I was determined!!  With the help of a neighbor, a lot of long days and shear will power we had the grand open and ribbon cutting ceremony on November 13th!

Actually, owning and old fashioned general store was a long time dream that I had once given up and thought would never happen.  When it comes to God's plans for our lives we must learn to never say never.  There is absolutely no doubt in my mind this was God's plan for my life.  I will share my reasoning for my belief in another post.  Those of you who know me, know I am a person of strong faith.  No, I am not perfect and make many mistakes in my life, but my faith is strong.

Christians will understand when I say, the more we try to walk in God's will and plan for our lives the more Satan will try to derail us.  This has been no exception.  I have been plagued with 2 big illnesses since I opened the store, the first one, a gallbladder attack on Thanksgiving Day, which had me quite ill for almost a week.  The second came last week on Christmas Day, a very bad case of the flu which is still not letting go and has had me quite ill again.  In between that has been a personal problem with a man I had hoped to do business with.  I won't go into detail on that as it is ongoing  at this time. The devil will come at you from any direction, but I intend to hold strong because I know this store is God's will for me and therefore He is with me.

I truly love the store, I love my customers and the folks that happen to come in.  I love the work I do, the long hours I put in each and every day.  It is all a tremendous blessing to me.  Like any business it will take a long time to truly be established and I can draw an income from it, but that is not discouraging to me.  It is a labor of love!!

I never set out to be a "bakery" but baking has become a big part of the business.  I love to bake and I believe it shows in the items I make.  I enjoy taking the time to cut designs in the pie tops, they always look so pretty.  I love to try different things and as I am starting to fall into a bit of a pattern I believe Saturdays will be my experimenting days.  In the beginning I baked every day but now have cut it back to just 3 days a week.  Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.  After all, I have to leave some time for book work, ordering, organizing, restocking, etc.  I work alone so I wear many hats.  :-)

I was planning a "Taste of Italy" day for late in January but I might push that back into February due to this flu having me behind the eight ball.  I hate being closed and away from the store due to illness.  I imagine it bothers me much more than any of my customers.  I have some of the most wonderful, understanding customers!!  When health issues were not plaguing me I usually spent 7 days a week in the store or doing business for the store even on the days it was closed.  It does not seem like work when you love what you are doing!!  God gave me a wonderful blessing with this store and I will always give it and Him 100%.

There are a ton of things I want to write about but I will save them for other posts.  I do not know at this point how often I will write but I hope to write at least a few times a week.  I have a ton of pictures to share, especially for those who have not seen them on facebook. 

In closing I would just like to once again thank the folks at DCDC for their help.  Not only in getting me started but they continue to be my advisers, sounding boards and confidants.  They are so easy to talk to and run ideas by.  I am always thinking of ways to improve the store, add on new items and grow my business and they are always able to give me sound advice and tips.  If I have any business related questions I know I can call on them and often do.  Thanks so much Mark and Ruth!!

Until next time,,,,,,,,,,Blessings!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Greetings from Ft. Bellefonte Campground!!


I am back at Fort Bellefonte campground and Bill is with me.  Our original plans were to just spend a few days and then head west to meet up with Bill's sister and the carnival.  Our plans have changed!!  After just one day back here we were offered a position as camp hosts/workers so we are staying!

Actually at some point we are going to have to leave for about a week and go out to Clinton to pick a few things up.  I have to get some winter gear, the permanent plate for the camper, my WiFi in motion booster antenna and a few odds and ends.  Looks like we will be wintering here at the campground.  I am looking forward to it.  Bill has plans to go hunting on the property this winter so I think we will be buying a freezer to put deer meat in.

I am setting up their new web site as well as facebook page.  A lot of work but I do really enjoy that sort of thing.  The web site address is  check it out and you can find the facebook page by searching "Gram and Paps Ft. Bellefonte Campground" on facebook.

Today we will be doing some mowing and trimming.  Need to spruce up the place as Woodalls is coming Thursday to review the campground.  Not that it needs a lot of work but you always want to put your best food forward.

This is not a big camper so Bill and I have been trying to find creative ways to store things, food, pet food, and gear we might need as well as odds and ends.  I am definitely glad I did not go with a smaller camper, especially with 2 people, a dog and a cat, LOL.  It's cramped enough!!  We are doing OK though and that is the main thing.

I feel God has really blessed us leading us here.  I love the area!!  The scenery is so pretty, the people are friendly, and there is plenty to do to keep us busy.  :-)

You won't get rich living on the road and working at a campground,  but it does give you time to stop and smell the roses.  :-)  For two people that are semi retired or fully retired this lifestyle is great!!

We are well connected with cell phones, WiFi etc.  The campground also has cable TV which is great on those rainy days and you are not outside keeping busy.  There are some state parks not far from here, a beautiful little town and shopping galore.  Football season starts at the end of the month and then the place will be packed and jumping as campers come in for Penn State football.  There is always something to do.  We both enjoy a nice campfire in the evening with a cup of coffee and just relax as well.  Life is good!!

Until next time,,,,,,,,,Blessings!!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Tri State Campground

Greetings from Matamoras, PA!!

There are actually 3 businesses at this location, Tri State Campground, Riverview Inn and Charlie Shay's BBQ.  All owned and run by the same couple.  The Riverview Inn seems to cater a lot to weddings and private parties.  Charlie Shay's BBQ is open Friday, Saturday and Sunday under the Pavilion on the premises here.

The campground seems to be an ideal location for one night campers as they get off of Interstate 84 for the night on their way up to the New England states.  I personally would not recommend it for long term camping for those who are not familiar with the area.  There are very few amenities for the camper located on site.  There is a shower house, laundry room and office.  No place to purchase camping supplies on site and you would be hard pressed to find them in local stores, depending on what you need.

The campground is in need of repair and updating.  Many sites do not have fire rings or picnic tables.  Limited 50amp sites for the big rigs.  The grass is not mowed on a regular basis either.  At least not in the campground itself.  Land-scaping in the campground leaves a lot to be desired. And there are no activities for children.

If you are fortunate enough to have a fire ring at your site you will be hard pressed to find firewood here at the campground and many places today do not want you to bring in your own firewood due to possibly transporting bugs with you.  The picnic table I got, by dragging it over from another site is in such sad shape I thought about burning it in the fire ring.  Perhaps that is why so few picnic tables can be found today?  Others may have actually acted on my thoughts, LOL.  If you sleep with your windows open, you will hear the traffic on I-84 all night too.

For all the negative the campground seems to have just take a walk on the rest of the property and down to the river and things begin to change.  The grounds by the bbq tent and the Riverview in are well maintained and absolutely beautiful!!  This site sits on the Delaware River.  Canadian geese seem to love to visit here and can often be seen walking out from the fields to the river in the morning.  Sadly, I did not get the pictures taken until later in the day when they were off hiding in the shade someplace.

If you are here over a weekend do plan on eating at Charlie Shay's BBQ the food is exceptional!!

There are several stores nearby for shopping, Wal-Mart, K-Mart, Price Choppers, Staples, etc.  There is cable TV with limited channels and WiFi available here at the campground.

I have ordered a WiFi system for my camper which I will write about in my next blog.  We are hoping for delivery by Wednesday so we have time to install it before we take off on Friday.  We are going back to Fort Bellefonte Campground that I wrote about in my last post.  Look for more from there as well!!

Here are some pictures of Tri State Campground along with Charlie Shay's BBQ and the exterior of the Riverview Inn.

Until next time,,,,,,,Blessings!!

My rig and camping spot
Looking towards the BBQ tent from the campground
Not many here this morning, but it was pretty full for the weekend.  BTW beware of resident's and owner's dogs running loose.  The rules say pets must be leashed but apparently that does not pertain to owners and employees.
Enjoy the BBQ!!
Office, laundy and showers are contained in this building
The Riverview Inn
Nice landscaping with relaxing places to sit
Walking down to the Delaware River
What a beautiful site!  Great place to go fishing!
This place is gorgeous in the fall.
The water on the shoreline is so clear you can see the rocks on the bottom
Interstate 84 bridge which crosses over the river to NY and NJ and also provides for the traffic noise that is prevailant in the campground.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Fort Bellefonte Campground

Greetings from Fort Bellefonte Campground!!

Located in Bellefonte, PA this is a very beautiful place to spend some time on your next camping vacation!!  You will be greeted by very friendly and helpful Bobbie, Duff and Willie the camphost dog.  They have reasonable rates and everything you could possibly need during your stay.  Enjoy free wifi with your hookup!!  They have full hook up sites with 30/50 amp service, cable tv hookup and wifi!!  And Willie wants you to know they LOVE pets!!

Also available are Pavilions, Mini Golf and Shuffleboard at no extra charge for campers.  Explore a nearby Amish Community,  Victorian Downtown Bellefonte and Bald Eagle State Park.

Rates run from $38 to $48 a night or you can even rent a cabin ranging from $65 - $75 a night. Check out their web site at for more information.  Take advantage of a special they are currently running.  Stay 3 nights or more, first night pay full price, second night half price and third night is free!!!  You can also email for more information at or  and tell them Alice sent you!

Here are some pictures of the campground.  Such a beautiful place, you don't want to miss stopping here during your travels!!

Willie, your camphost dog

Willie, Bobbie and Duff, they will make you right at home

Many wood carvings and tons of beautiful landscaping!
Gorgeous scenery
You will enjoy sitting on the patio and walking through the gardens
Take time to smell the roses, then play some mini golf or shuffleboard
Just a peaceful place to visit
Love the sound of the water flowing over the rocks, so peaceful!
You can't ask for a prettier place to stay in PA
No RV? No problem!!  They rent cabins too!!
Rusty says, This is a cool place!!

For more information on this campground call 814-355-9820, visit their web site at or email or

Until next time,,,,,,,,,,,,,,blessings!!

New name again, LOL

Just to let you all know I am now living on the road for a while so I changed the name of the blog to reflect that.  I will be traveling with my best friend growing up and first husband Bill.  We find ourselves alone and both wanting to travel for a while so have joined forces to go together.  :-)

We have with us Rusty and Faxon, my dog and cat.

I am currently in Bellefonte, PA at a campground and on my way to pick up Bill in NY state.  I will be staying at a campground in Matamoras, PA just across the river from Port Jervis, NY.

Look for pictures and posts from my travels when I have wifi available to post.  :-)  I also have tips on camping on the cheap side of things, cooking on the road, and just whatever crosses my mind.

Until next time,, blessings!!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Hit and miss,,,,,,,,


I missed posting again last week.  Sorry folks but I am afraid that is how it will be probably most of the summer.

I have taken on a major task this year and the work is just now beginning!  As many of you know I finally got my 12 yr old work comp case settled.  After a lot of "house hunting" I decided to stay here at Win's and we came to an agreement.  As I am to inherit the house anyway I will be making major improvements and staying here.  The mortgage will get paid off and my name added to the deed. 

I am having a new roof put on, new windows, gutters with covers, the house rewired and the kitchen and bath updated just to name a few things.  The guy comes tomorrow to measure the windows to get an exact fit.  They already measured the roof and are just waiting for me to tell them when to start.  Before I turn them loose on the work I have some prep work to do first.  I want to rip out the old fence and have several trees either cut completely down or trimmed back.  That will get a lot of stuff out of the way for them to work and make the property look much nicer in the end.  I also have to pack up everything hanging on the walls for protection while they are working.

Then I will be tearing up carpet while they are working on the roof.  I have a ton of "extra stuff" in the house that it is time to dispose of.  It is not really used and is just taking up space and cluttering things up.  After they are done with roof, gutters, windows and new doors I will have the electrician come in and rewire the house.  While he is doing that, I will be installing a storage shed, fence and gate.  And hopefully a small above ground pool if finances allow.

Once the outside is completed and the wiring is done I plan on gutting the kitchen and totally re-doing it.  I can't wait!!  I already have it planned out, just need to take exact measurements and buy the new cabinets, counters and ceramic floor tile.  It will be beautiful!!  More importantly it will be practical and designed for a person, (me) who loves to cook and bake.  :-)

Then I will move on to the bathroom.  It will not be completed this year.  First I have to rip up the old flooring and let it dry out.  The hardwood underneath has gotten a lot of moisture on it trapped between it and the tiles on top.  It needs to be aired out and dried before I start the remodel in there, which is fine.  After all the other work, I am sure I will need a break before I start it.  But when I do remodel the bathroom my goal is to make it handicapped accessible.  I am thinking about my old age.  I already have bad back problems which make it difficult for me to step into the shower over the side of the tub so it will be a walk in shower with no tub.

In fact all the work I am doing is designed to make it easier on me when I get old and cannot do a lot of things any more.  Everything I am purchasing for the home repairs will have life time guarantees so they will never have to be done again.  Yes, it costs a bit more but will be well worth it in the long run.  Double hung, double thermal pane windows will not only cut down heating and cooling costs but will be easier to clean with both top and bottom windows tilting in for cleaning.  The roof I picked out is energy star rated and guaranteed for life. The windows are also energy star rated and guaranteed for life.   I am going to shoot foam insulation in the basement walls to also help in energy savings.  Even the basement windows will be replaced.  As my ceramic shop is in the basement I want to make it as comfortable as possible in there. 

I expect to cut my utility bills by at least $50 a month if not more.  That will of course help in my old age too, when income is a lot less it will be easier to keep my utilities paid.

Anyway, my postings will be hit and miss probably for the summer but I will try to get on here and post, "before, during and after" pictures of the work being done.  I think this is the best investment I could make with my money.  It will secure me a good place to live for the rest of my life with no mortgage or home improvement loans to worry about having to pay off.  Living debt free is being very frugal, LOL.

I have often talked about the bible telling us to be "good stewards" of what God provides to us, and everything we have is provided by God.  It took me a while to realize this option would be the best stewardship of the money God is providing to me by this settlement but I am now confident I have made the right decisions.

Until next time,,,,,,,,,Blessings!!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Going with the flow,,,,,,,,


Sorry I missed posting last week, I have been having a crazy time here, LOL.

My dad, as I am sure many parents, had a lot of favorite sayings, one being, "go with the flow", or "roll with the punches".  He was right, if we do not learn to "go with the flow" of life's constant changes we will soon drive ourselves crazy.  We can become extremely stressed over little things that really should not matter.  I am guilty of that myself at times.  So, I am trying to get back on track and just go with the flow.  :-)

Over the last few weeks I have spent a lot of time looking for a house to buy, both online and going out with Realtors.  Looking for a house should be fun.  But it became very stressful for me.  You see I am finally getting my work comp settlement after a nearly 12 year battle.  It is no big fortune by any means and I feel I only have one shot at making the right decisions.

Finding a house that would both fit my business needs and my lifestyle has been extremely difficult.  I need a good, usable basement for the ceramic business.  I'd like a decent size house but not one so big I can't take care of it or the utility bills would be so huge to heat and cool it I would be strapped financially.  I looked at both "ready to move in" and those "needing TLC".  I looked at my high end of the budget as well as at the low end and every where in between.  And I don't want one so small I feel cramped and don't have room for my things.

I guess we all want the perfect house, don't we?

I watch HGTV often and especially "Holmes on Homes" and "Holmes Inspections".  I am grateful I have.  I am no expert by any stretch of the imagination but the shows certainly have taught me a lot of things to watch out for.  And I am grateful for that education.

Finally last week I made a decision.  This was not my first choice but it is probably the best choice financially speaking.  I am going to stay where I am at, which is staying with an ex-husband and friend.  I am going to pay off the mortgage and my name will be added to the deed.  Then I will make repairs and upgrades to the house and invest money into getting my business up and running in earnest.

The ceramic business is already here in the basement and aside from organizing and rearranging things it will be easier to get things going with it.  Glad I don't have to move 2000+ plaster molds.  Whew, what a job that would have been!!  I plan on putting a new roof on the house which is much needed, new double hung windows and have the house electric rewired.  I'll also do some other upgrading and decorating in the house.

I am to inherit the house anyway after Win passes so rather than have two houses to deal with I have decided to invest in my future with this one.  Besides, we already know the pros and cons of this house, we have lived in it 26 years.

Truthfully, I had no idea how much repairs and upgrades would cost.  A bit of sticker shock when getting estimates on roofs, windows and wiring but this will be a good investment that will last my lifetime.  You can bet I am paying attention and making sure the jobs get done right.

Very soon I will have to hit the floor running to get the prep work done in the house.  There is a lot to go through, some will be disposed of in one fashion or another and organizing.  I am going to take everything down from the walls and pack it up until the work is completed.  Carpet will be torn up and some replaced.  I am hoping to have enough to totally renovate the kitchen and bath as well.  (Time will tell on that as the roof, windows and wiring have to come first.)  In short there is a lot of work to do before I can even start on the ceramic business but I hope to have it completed before the summer is over so I can take advantage of holiday sales.

So, going with the flow for me right now is staying here and making the best of it.  House hunting was just not working for me.  I could not find a house that was better laid out than this one.  Going with the flow also means letting go and letting God take control.  I believe God has been leading me to stay here and work this deal out with Win.  Win can use the help as his health is getting worse and I will be here to do that.  Plus, I could not possibly handle the responsibility of two houses while one was being sold.  So this truly is the best solution, financially.  Thank you God for always getting me back on the right track!!  And I know that even if it is not the decision I would make for myself, Your decisions always turn out to be the best!!

Until next time,,,,,,,,,,Blessings!!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Life moves fast,,,,,,,,


Sometimes life seems to just move so fast it is hard to keep up.  My life is no different lately.  Me who enjoys a slower passed life seems to be running full boar and not getting much accomplished.  I am afraid it is only going to get worse over the next few months.

I am going to have to put my business on hold as I am currently looking for a house to buy and plan to be moving in a month or two.  In fact I made an offer on one house already but there was another offer on the table and they offered more than me so I did not get that one.  I believe with all my heart God will lead me to the one that is right for me, so I am not panicking, LOL.

I have my eye on another one.  It will need some cosmetic work.  Painting inside and a little sprucing up on the outside.  It has a nice deck on the back which will be enjoyable to use for cookouts.  It has a 2 car garage that will make a splendid ceramic shop with a little bit of prep work.  And the price is right.  So we shall see.

But then again, I might just chuck it all and go live in some retirement village some where, LOL.  Just kidding, I am too young to retire!!

I am still doing some spring cleaning in between trying to figure out how to pack and move the ceramic shop.  That will be a huge undertaking as I have over 2000 molds and a lot of equipment.  Once moved though I will be able to get the business up and running in earnest.  I am looking forward to that so much!!  It will be so nice to finally get my life back on track after all these years, and no one to hold me back any more.

My church life keeps me busy too, but I really enjoy it.  Saturday we had a cook out at one of the state parks nearby.  It was a lot of fun in spite of the weather.  A couple of the guys from the church made fried chicken and everyone brought a covered dish.  We had some games and just truly enjoyed fellowshipping with one another.  We will be expanding our food pantry to provide food for a nearby town and that will keep us busy too.  But it is so wonderful to be able to bless those in need with food each month.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, all your mind and all your strength and He will never leave you nor forsake you!  I wake up every morning and put all my trust in Him each and every day.  Sometimes that is not easy because our human nature wants us to be able to do it ourselves but the truth is, we can do nothing nor have nothing without Him.  He holds it all in the palm of His hand.  Thank you Jesus for always being there for me!!

Until next time,,,,,,,Blessings!!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Forgiveness and repentance,,,,,


Recently I have received some emails asking me about true forgiveness and repentance.  Basically they wanted to know when it is OK to forgive and do you have to allow that person in your life again if you forgive and of course, what about God?

First off, I think it is always OK to forgive.  God expects us to forgive others, especially if we want him to forgive us.  But forgiveness and repentance should go hand in hand.  So, what is repentance?  Repentance is truly being sorry for the sin or offense to the other person or to God.  And trying hard not to commit the same offense again.

Here is an example:  Let's say I sinned against you or offended you in some way.  I first need to apologize.  But what if my apology is half-hearted?  What if I say something like, "I'm sorry I hurt you BUT so and so ticked me off and I blamed it on you".  Is that true repentance?  NO!!  Not accepting responsibility for my own actions and trying to blame someone else is not true repentance.  It should not matter if someone else ticked me off.  That did not give me the right to hurt you in some way.  So and so did not put a gun to my head and make me take my frustrations out on you!!

Instead, if I were really sincere and repentant of what I did my apology should go something along these lines:  "I am sorry for what I did to you, I will try not to behave that way again, please accept my apology."  No buts, no excuses, no putting the blame elsewhere.  I am truly apologizing for my actions.

The bottom line is we cannot control someone else's actions but we can control our own.  And we must strive to control our "re-actions".  People tend to have "re-actions" to different situations.  Most of the time without thinking them or the consequences through first.  If we have a "re-action" to something it is still our responsibility.  Either think it through first or deal with the consequences later.

This is how we deal with other people, we also deal with God in much the same manner.  You must be sincere in asking forgiveness, take responsibility for your actions and re-actions and be repentful in your heart.  Does it mean you will never make the same mistake again?  Not necessarily.  But the difference is if the same situation arises and you were truly repentant after the first time, you might think it through before acting.  Practicing to control your emotions and re-actions will help you in each situation.  We are not perfect.  It takes time.  But people and even God will eventually get tired of you doing the same thing over and over and then apologizing without a repentant heart.

I also do not think it is always necessary to allow a person who has sinned against you back in your life.  But each situation is different.  For example, the person who abused me will never be a part of my life again.  I do not think God would require me to put myself in danger.  But as a Christian, I can forgive and love that person from afar by praying for them to turn from their evil ways and to give their life to God.  And there are the times where the sin was a one time thing and although it hurt it was relatively mild in the grand scheme of things and you feel comfortable trying again.  Either way, once there is forgiveness you should not carry a grudge.  Move on with your life, either with or without that person.

I hope this has answered some of your questions.  If not, just message me.

Until next time,,,,,,Blessings!!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Roast beef,,,,,,,,,


Well this week I decided to continue on with the "good stewards" theme and show you how I saved a bunch of money with a roast beef.  I don't know about in your area but deli meats have skyrocketed in price here.  We eat a sandwich every day at the noon hour and with the price of deli meats so high I have been making my own for several months now.  To buy roast beef from the deli for sandwiches is running $7.99 lb on sale these days.  Last week when I canned the ham I had also sliced some of the ham into lunch meat, enough for almost a week.  This week I bought an eye of round roast and did the same.  I have pictures below.

Yesterday I cooked the roast in the oven and we first had a nice roast beef dinner last night.  I paid $3.59 lb for the roast, just around half of what a pound of deli roast would be, give or take a few cents.  After dinner I wrapped the roast in foil and set it in the fridge for slicing today.  My home sized meat slicer is just about 30 years old.  It has seen better days and I will probably replace it this year and upgrade to a commercial sized slicer.  I believe it will be worth the investment as the cost of food continues to rise.

I did a little research online before writing this blog and found you can pay anywhere from around $50 for a good home slicer up to a few hundred for a good commercial slicer.  There is one I spotted that looked perfect in size for about $250 that I will probably buy.  That might seem like a lot of money but if taken care of it will last a long time and pay you back in tons of money saved at the grocery store deli.  As I said, I have had this slicer for about 30 years, so I definitely got my money's worth.

My roast was about 2 1/2 lbs and cost $9 and change.  I got one nice dinner and just a little over 2 lbs of lunch meat from it.  The lunch meat alone from the deli would have cost me around $16 or a little over, so I saved about $8.50 total.

In the morning I marinated the roast in worstchesire sauce and chopped onions.  This added a nice flavor and helped to make the beef more tender.

We prefer our beef pretty rare so I roasted it in a 375F oven for about an hour and 15 minutes

I let the beef sit after roasting for about 15 or 20 minutes while preparing the other food to go with it for dinner.  This helps to stop the cooking process and lock in the juices.  Always better to let it sit a while before cutting.

I like to use an electric knife to cut most meats.  You can get the slices thin and even that way.  As you can see it is pretty rare and you might prefer your's more done.  Just add some time to the cooking if you do.  This is less than a half pound sliced up for dinner.  That is plenty for 2 people and a dog to get a taste, LOL.

Like I said in my post, after dinner I wrapped up the remainder of the meat in foil and put it in the fridge.  Now I am getting ready to slice it for lunch meat.  I like to use parchement paper under the slicer.  It keeps things neater and makes clean up easier.

The meat is on the slicer and I will adjust the blade to the thickness I want.  I prefer my lunch meat pretty thin.

Just as soon as you can put the finger guard in place and use it to hold the meat.  You don't want to risk running fingers into the blade.  Safety should always come first.  Also just a reminder, if you get meat caught up under the blade make sure you shut the slicer off before removing it.  That does happen from time to time so please do always think of safety first!!

Getting some nice slices of meat!!

Just a tick over 2 lbs of lunch meat.  The bigger chunks in the background are from not slicing to the very end which is almost impossible to do without getting a finger in the way.  I usually grind those up with celery and onions to make a meat spread for sandwiches but since there were not very many I will give them to my best buddy Rusty as a treat.

Now that the slicing is done I will put the lunch meat in a zip lock back in the fridge for sandwiches this week, give Rusty his treat and take apart my slicer for clean up.

All bagged and ready to go in the fridge.  It is such a joy to know how to stretch the food budget!!  Being frugal in this way is being a good steward in biblical terms.  The money I save in the kitchen can go to other needs or to helping the needy in my community.  I feel so blessed!!

Until next time,,,,,,,Blessings!!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Canning chicken,,,,,,,


As promised I have some pictures from canning chicken this past week.  As you know my big deep freezer decided to die on me leaving with a mess of food to deal with.  I stuffed the refrigerator freezer full, an electric cooler full and a back up small fridge/freezer in effort to save everything until I could get to canning.  Alas, the electric cooler stopped running and eventually so did the old back up fridge/freezer.  I did lose some food but not much and not any meat which is so darned expensive!!

Before I post the pictures I want to talk to you a little bit about forgiveness.  We all have times in our lives when we need to forgive someone for something hurtful they said or did.  Carrying a grudge does you no good.  The bible tells us that we must forgive others if we expect God to forgive us.  I hold true to this and can forgive anyone.  However, I do not believe we are expected to put ourselves back in harms way if we feel the offense would happen again.

Recently I was the receiver of some very hurtful words.  It was not the first time.  The offender said, "it was just a joke".  That is a poor excuse to me.  Those kinds of jokes hurt!  They cut deep and not easily forgotten, especially by someone who has been the victim of verbal and mental abuse.  I did forgive this person in my heart but have chosen to cut the ties, at least for now.  I do not want the added stress in my life.  There is a lot on my plate that no one knows about but me and God.  Had it been a one time thing I probably would have chalked it up to the person having a bad day.  After all, we all have them. (In fact that is what I did the first couple of times it happened and never said a word to this person.  Perhaps that was my mistake and I should have said something sooner?)   However, this was becoming a recurring habit that I have no desire to subject myself to again.  Is it OK to choose not to have ties with a person that hurt you even after you have forgiven them in your heart?  I believe it is.  Take the person who has been brutally beaten, they still need to forgive but should they then continue a relationship with that person?  I don't think so!!  Hurtful words can often be much worse than bruises from a beating.  Those words never fade away like bruises do.  Don't be a bully then excuse it off!!

OK, enough said, I'll get off my soap box now and get to the real subject at hand, canning, LOL.

Put about 2 inches of water in your pressure canner.

Get your meat and other supplies ready.  My meat was pre-cooked and needs to be heated as I plan on putting it in hot broth and a pre-heated canner.

This was from the drippings when I roasted the chickens.  The fat rose to the the top and will be scooped out and thrown away as I do not want all that fat in my canned product.  The remaining broth will be drizzled over the chicken when I put it in the pans to heat in the oven.  I will also cover the pans with foil so it holds the moisture in and the chicken won't dry out.

I have two pans of meat ready to heat in the oven.  On low about 300F.  It will be heating while I heat chicken broth and the canner water.

Heating up my chicken broth.  This will be used to ladle over the chicken in the jars.

All my jars were washed thoroughly and kept in scalding water until ready to fill.  I use a rubber spatula to work out any air pockets that might form while filling the jars.  I pack the jars tight with meat then slowly ladle in the broth.  Leave about 1/2 inch of head-space in the jars.  Work out the air bubbles then wipe the rim to get any food or moisture removed.  Then put on the lid and band and place in the canner.

When loading the canner make sure you leave space between the jars so the water can move freely when boiling.  Don't over load the canner so the jars touch!!

Secure the lid to the canner.  Once steam starts to come out of the top where the pressure gauge goes you can then place the gauge for the amount of pressure recommended in the recipe.  This was at 10lbs pressure.

Once the gauge starts to rattle that it has reached the 10lbs of pressure turn down the heat so it rattles slow but steady.  Once you have the pressure regulated start timing.  Pints need about 1 hour and 15 minutes in the canner.  Once the time is done, turn off the heat.  It will take and hour or two to cool down enough to safely remove the gauge and open the canner.  If there is still pressure in the canner when you open it, it could blow up in your face so take caution and do not rush it!!  Before opening the canner, jiggle the regulator gauge, if no steam comes out you are safe to open but still open slowly, lifting the lid away from you as you do.  It will still be very hot.

The jars will still be very hot.  Handle with caution!!  I always set my jars on a towel away from drafts.  A cold counter or a cold draft can cause your jars to crack.  Let them cool completely.  Then remove the bands and check the seals to make sure they are tight.  Wash the jars and bands off, label with date they were canned.  No need to put the rings back on.  Store in a cool dark place until ready to use.

Canned foods can last a lifetime but will start to lose their flavor after 3 years.  By dating the label you will know when you need to rotate out your inventory if you still have some left.

This chicken will be used in stews, soups, chicken and noodles, chicken and dumplings or drained and made into a chicken salad, just to name a few things.  I canned two big batches of chicken that day and am very happy the meat did not go to waste.

The wonderful thing about having canned goods in the pantry is you do not need electricity to store them!!  Tomorrow I am going to can some left over ham.  I got a great bargain on a whole ham but it is way too much meat for two people to eat at one time.  If you have never canned before but want to try, I recommend "The Ball Blue Book of Canning".  It costs about $10 and can be found most places canning supplies are sold.  It is filled with recipes and "how to's" for the beginning canner.  I actually used this book to learn how to can and still have it today.

Until next time,,,,,,,,,,Blessings!!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Things to come,,,,,,,,


This will be a short post today, I have so much to get done.  As I told you last week my freezer died with a large amount of food in it.  I managed to get get most of the food into the freezer in the refrigerator, a back up small refrigerator and my electric cooler.  I did give away a few things to some folks who could really use the help.  Yesterday I roasted 6 whole chickens and picked the meat off the bones.  I saved the broth and refrigerated both it and the meat.  Today I am washing canning jars and my pressure canner to get it ready for canning tomorrow.  I hope to remember to take some pictures of the process for posting next week.

Once the chicken is done I will be working on the tomatoes.  I had several bags of Roma tomatoes from my garden last year that I had frozen.  I did not have time to can them last year as I was in the process of moving.  Now I have no choice.  They are thawing and need something done with them.  I plan on making spaghetti sauce and perhaps some stewed tomatoes to can.  Again I will try to take some pictures of the process and post them.

I was going to start canning the chicken today and then remembered I need to make a trip to the grocery store as it is discount day and I can use that extra 10%.  I did not want to have a mess in the kitchen and have to go out so decided to wait until tomorrow to can.  Besides, it is a hot humid day today and tomorrow is predicted to be much cooler.

So, the things to come are pictures and descriptions of canning meat and tomatoes, LOL.

About a half hour ago the monthly emergency siren test was sounded.  It reminded me of how many emergencies can come up in our lives each day.  And how important it is to always be prepared.  I have a basic first aid kit in the car and one in the house for minor injuries.  There is always extra food stocked up in the pantry that is rotated out so it does not go out of date.  I also have water stored in large jugs to use for cooking, cleaning and drinking.  The water is also rotated out so it does not get stale or go rancid.  I feel blessed to have a good sized pantry room in my basement to stock up for emergencies.  I have extra soaps, detergents, paper products, bleach, shampoo, etc.  Every need can be met for several months if need be.  Including supplies for my pets.

The area that I live in in Illinois is subject to tornadoes, ice storms and sometimes large amounts of snow, also flooding, so being prepared is surely a necessary.  A few years back an ice storm left some of my neighbors without utilities for 2 weeks.  Because of the ice it was difficult to get around for a few days and to go shopping for food and supplies.  I did not have to worry because I had a full pantry and a back up plan!!  I hope everyone is prepared when need be.

Until next time,,,,,,,Blessings!!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Being prepared,,,,,,


I know I have written about this subject before but being prepared for any type of emergency is essential and it is also being a good steward of the things God gives you.  This past Sunday on John Hagee Ministries Pastor Hagee gave a sermon on this very subject.  I found it most interesting but I do believe he left out some important details.

Pastor Hagee was discussing the need to be prepared in case of a national disaster or heaven forbid a war.  He talked about having a good supply of food on hand, an alternative way to heat and cook your meals, a good supply of water, etc.  He mentioned you should know how to garden and have a place to do so to raise food for yourself.  He missed on how to save seed from one year to the next or you might not have anything to grow and he only lightly touched on how to store that food.

Granted I realize his time is limited on each program and getting into such details might be difficult or might need to be done in other episodes, but these are really important things to think about.

I am reminded of this all too well this morning as my deep freezer died last night and it is filled with food!!  I am not panicking yet, LOL.  I will get as much in the refrigerator freezer as possible.  I also have an electric cooler that I plugged in that will keep it frozen for a while giving me time to take care of the food.  My plan?  I am going to can as much of it as possible.  It will be a process that will take several days to complete.  I was planning on doing this anyway but had other projects in the works first.  So, my plans are changed a bit.

This was totally unexpected.  I was going along just fine with my other projects and at the bat of an eye, I have a little emergency.  Isn't life that way?  Emergencies tend to happen rather suddenly and unexpectedly.  I guess that is why they call them "emergencies".  Being prepared for emergencies can save you a lot of heartache.  Luckily I am a firm believer in being prepared!!  I have plenty of canning supplies to get the job done without having to run to the store to pick some up.  What if it were a war or natural disaster instead?  I might not be able to go to the store to buy the supplies I need.  Always good to have supplies on hand!!  Being prepared saves time, effort and lots of worry.

Pastor Hagee was also talking about Biblical Prophesy and what we can expect in the coming months and years as we rush towards the "end of the ages".  Things are going to get really rough folks.  We are already in an economic crisis which is only going to get worse.  The weather is changing drastically as predicted in the bible.  There are more natural disasters and more frequently as well.  Maybe you have not been directly effected by one yet, but you have been indirectly with the rising costs of food, fuel, shipping etc.  When things really come crashing down will you be prepared?

Over the coming weeks I will be posting ideas to help you prepare for any emergency.  There are things that can be done to help you through the rough times, even if you live in an apartment.  So please watch for those posts and in the meantime, start making your own preparedness plan.

Until next time,,,,,,,,Blessings!!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

There is none so blind as he who will not see,,,,,,,,,,


There is none so blind as he who will not see,,,, sounds like familar words to an old song but it actually originated in the bible.  But what does it mean??  When you "turn a blind eye" to something because you just don't want to deal with it means you are refusing to "see".  Some parents refuse to see the trouble their children are getting into.  "My son or daughter would never do that" is often heard when a child does something wrong.  Or we might often refuse to learn from other's mistakes because we have  an attitude of, "oh, that will never happen to me" or "I won't get caught, I'm smarter than him."  Of course there are many other scenarios that this can be applied to but what about biblically speaking?

When God is leading you down a path do you turn a blind eye and try to make your own path?  Perhaps you do not like where He is leading you?  Or maybe you just don't think you can do what He wants you to do?

I believe that God is always working in our lives but we don't always see it for various reasons.  I know I have been guilty of this many times.  More often than not I am just not really paying attention.  And then there are the times that I question whether something is really from God or not.  I am not doubting God, but doubting myself.  I have made several bad choices in my life so now I find myself doubting any decision I make.  Second guessing myself became the norm for a long time brought on mostly by a very low self esteem.  That low self esteem came on over a period of years of verbal and mental abuse but none the less I had it.

It took a lot of battling and a lot of talking to God to get to where I am today.  But I often "test God" (as some would call it) asking God if this is really from you, please give me a sign that I will recognize so I know I am on the right track.  Is it wrong to "test God" in such a way?  Some would say yes because Jesus answered Satan when he was being tempted in the wilderness, "Thou shalt not tempt the Lord your God."  But, I believe it depends on the circumstance and how you are testing.  Gideon, "tested God" when he asked God for a sign that he would know it was really from God.  He was quite specific in the sign he asked for and God did give him that sign.  But Gideon was not unsure of God when he asked for the sign, he was unsure of his ability to do what God was asking him to do.

In the book of Matthew it says, "Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and all His righteousness."  I believe if we are truly seeking God first in our lives and want to do His will before our own, then God does not mind us "testing Him" to make sure we are staying on the right path.  After all, we are making sure we are understanding and doing His will.

As I continue to grow in my faith and seek God first I am finding it much easier to see the signs that God gives me without having to ask Him for them, but occasionally I still find myself asking.  Then when He answers in a most obvious way it brings a smile on my face to know there is no doubt He is in control.  I like the peace I get when I know without doubt, God is in control and everything is going to be alright.  I don't have to worry, He is taking care of everything!!

God is taking me down a path now that will fulfill a long time dream of mine.  As He reveals more and more to me I feel a greater peace growing inside of me.  I can hear Him whisper in my ear, "don't worry child, everything is going to be OK, just be patient a little while longer, I'm working it all out for you."  I cannot describe the great joy I feel inside knowing God is working in my life and all I have to do is trust and obey Him and He will always provide a way for me.  That is such a wonderful feeling!!  It doesn't matter what is going on in the world around me, I have a God who loves me and will always take care of me!!

If you do not know the kind of peace that surpasses all understanding, if you do not know Jesus as your Lord and Saviour I urge you to find a good Bible based church and get to know the Lord.  You too can find peace and true joy in your life when you seek His Kingdom first.  Put aside the things of this world they are worthless without Jesus in your life!!

Until next time,,,,,,,,Blessings!!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

We live in a throw away world,,,,,,,,


I was over on facebook playing games and wondering what I was going to write about this morning when God laid it on my heart as He usually does.  This ties in with the subject of "being good stewards" as I have written about many times before.

My folks, as I am sure many others, had a phrase when I was a kid, "take care of ________________(fill in the blank)  and it will take care of you."  I can remember in one particular case, my brother Leon bought me my first bicycle, my father said, "take care of that bike and it will take care of you."  I didn't fully understand how a bike could take care of me but I knew I had better take care of it!!  I washed it regularly, never left it out in the rain, greased the chain when it needed it, kept the tires filled properly with air and so on. 

As I got older I began to understand what my father was saying, if we take care of something it will last a long time.  I learned by watching my father's example with his car.  He changed the oil regularly, always checked the fluids, air pressure in the tires and had regular maintenance done to the car.  It lasted many years.

Mom was the same way, she took care of things in the house.  A good example that comes to mind with her is the toaster.  I remember weekly she would thoroughly clean the toaster.  She would dump out all the toast crumbs that would linger in the bottom, clean the toaster and check for any loose wires or heating elements.  She had dad change the plug on it twice over the years as I recall and tighten the heating elements when necessary.  That old toaster lasted decades!!

Today we often say, "they don't make things as good as they used to".  Is that really the case?  Or do we find it easier to just throw it out and buy a new one?  I believe too often we will throw it out and buy new.  Toasters are a very common thing to throw away when really all they need is a little maintenance.  How many times do you clean your toaster, check the plug and heating elements?  I remember learning at a young age how to change a plug on a small kitchen appliance, and tighten heating elements in a toaster.

Until just a few years ago I was still using the same Dormyer Stand Mixer that my mom had used since 1946 when it was given to her as a wedding gift.  The plug had frayed and needed replacing.  I let my husband at the time take it to change the plug but he wound up destroying the mixer in the process.  What a shame!!  It was the greatest mixer I had ever owned!!  I felt like I lost an old friend.  Ah, such is life!!  At any rate, being a good steward had kept that mixer in the family for over 60 years.  Imagine that!!

I have found brand new microwave ovens thrown out with the trash only to find they either needed a little tightening of a wire or a fuse in it.  Not long ago an electric mitre saw was in the garbage, not a thing wrong with it except it needed a new blade!!  I have seen window air conditioners throw out and all they needed was a good cleaning to get the dirt and dust out that had built up over the years and slowed the motor down.  The latest thing I saw along the curb lately is the older, boxy style TVs.  People want the flat screens and will throw out a perfectly good TV because they want the latest style!!  Such a waste!!

Spring cleaning is now under-way at my house.  That is also part of "taking care of things" and "being a good steward".  If we don't thoroughly clean things they begin to not work as well or look as nice.  I don't know exactly when spring cleaning actually became a tradition but I do remember a story when I was young that spring cleaning was actually a time to take apart your wood burners, which was your main source of heating, and clean them and make any repairs so they would be in good shape when cooler weather returned.  You also washed the soot from the walls, ceilings, floors, furniture and everything else in the home.  This thorough cleaning insure that everything was in good working order.

I think this is a good tradition that many people have gotten away from, at least in part.  Oh, we give it a lick and a prayer as some say.  People might take curtains down and washed them, shampoo the carpets, polish the furniture, etc. But do you take the time to check and clean each appliance in the house, repair any loose wires and plugs?  What about cleaning and flushing all the drains in the house?  Clean the gutters?  How many things do you throw away each year that with a little extra time spent on maintaining them they would last a little longer?

Learn how to sharpen your kitchen knives rather than buying new.  I cannot tell you how many people I personally know who have no clue how to sharpen a knife!!

With the economy as uncertain as it is, I think it would be good to really get back to the old way of doing things.  You can really save a lot of money by doing a little maintenance rather than throwing away and buying new!!

Until next time,,,,,,,Blessings!!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

What are they thinking,,,,,,,,


Every few days I get a private message or two on facebook from men I don't know.  They tell me they think I am beautiful, or they love my smile or some other compliments always with statements of wanting to meet and get to know me.  My privacy settings are set pretty high and some have even admitted they were unable to see my profile, but "they fell in love with my smile".  Each of them have a similar message, "come to me and I will take care of you and make you happy".  Umm, yeah right!!!

What are they thinking???  Do they think because I am in my 50s and single I must be desperate?  Do they think I am so stupid I would just run off and meet them based on some smooth talk?  Is it me they think is desperate or is it them?  Do they really think they can "make" someone be happy?  Do they really think some "mature" woman is just going to leave her home, her life and go running to them because they told her to?

Let me set the record straight, I am single and happy.  I am not against a relationship but I will not look for one in this way.  I am NOT desperate to have a man in my life, if it happens, it happens but on mine and God's terms.  I don't feel lonely and rejected, I am at peace in my life.  If I may be so bold as to borrow the words from a song I heard recently sung by the Farm Hands Quartet, (I might be single) "there's just the 4 of us, I've got company, there's just the 4 of us, I'm not alone you see, there's the Father, there's the Son, the Holy Ghost and me, well it may look to you that I'm all alone but there's 3 walking with me to my Heavenly Home, there's the Father, there's the Son, the Holy Ghost and me!!!"

OK, if you get the point, I'm not lonely and I am not desperate because I am never really alone.  I have peace in my heart and I am very happy.

Please go peddle your garbage some place else and while you are at it,  get with the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost and maybe you won't be so dog gone desperate!!

Until next time,,,,,Blessings!!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Being frugal,,,,,,,


The bible teaches us to be "good stewards" of the things given to us.  First we must realize that "everything" is given to us by God.  Were it not for Him we would have nothing!  Once you look at every aspect of your life as a precious gift from your Heavenly Father you can begin to appreciate it more and have the desire to take care of it better or to be a "good steward".

I believe that being "frugal" is a vital part of being a "good steward".  If I am frugal with my grocery budget for example, then I can share some of that budget with others in need.  We are also commanded to help others.  So this is one way I can do it.

Part of being frugal with my grocery budget is being a bargain shopper.  But if you are going to bargain shop you need to know what to do with those bargains to make the best use out of them.  After all, it isn't really a bargain if you don't use it or you let it go to waste.

Recently I made a trip to the local grocery store to buy some ground beef that was on sale.  I was lucky to find 3 packages that were coming close to the expiration date and had mark down coupons on them of $3 each.  Each package was on sale for $6 and change so with the coupons I paid $3 and change each.  That is a bargain in this day and age and I was not going to pass it up!!

Of course that was also a lot of meat so I had to do something with it and fast before the expiration date and the meat went bad.  Bringing it home and throwing it in the fridge was not an option.  It would have definitely spoiled before I used all that.  So, I made hamburgers, meatballs and divided some for use with hamburger helper or some other quick meal project and froze them all for use later.

Below is a picture slide show of what I did with the meat.  All total I got about 8 or 9 meals out of those 3 packages and paid about $10 for the meat.  That's a bargain and that is being frugal!!

I call this blog "The Frugal Homestead" because any home, any where is your homestead whether you live in the country or the city.  With a little planning you can have a "frugal homestead" too.  There are many ways you can cut corners, trim a little from your budget here and there and be frugal and a good steward.  I am a Christian so I try to base my life on biblical principles.  I am old fashioned by today's standards.  I believe in cooking from scratch, taking care of my home and family first.  Some say I am an oddity, I say I wish more people would get back to the old ways of doing things.  The world would be a much better place!!

I hope you enjoy the little presentation and it gives you some ideas about being frugal and a good steward.  This will open in a new window, be patient in takes a little time to load up.  You can click the pause button and advance one page at a time if you want.  You can also mouse over a picture and click on it to enlarge it, click one more time to bring it back to original size.

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Until next time,,,,,,,Blessings!!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Making butter,,,,,,


I hope my picture book loads up OK and you can get a good idea about making butter.  The pictures are not the greatest, but they should give you a good view into the process.  If you have any questions please feel free to post them here in the comments section.  :-)

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Still making butter!!  I have a ton of it to do up.  Today I am going to go to one of the ladies from church's house to help her make butter for the first time.  It ought to be fun!!

Until next time,,,,,,,Blessings!!