Friday, January 30, 2015

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Homemade Convenience

I had several coupons for Uncle Ben's rice packs -- the kind you heat in the microwave --
and daughter and I decided to try them....just because there are several days a week right now where
lunch time is very short because of her schedule.
While they were okay, they just weren't that great.
The seasonings in each one we tried weren't really to our liking.
However, the convenience of just microwaving a few cups was nice.
In the past I've cooked big pots of rice and refrigerated it, but we have felt
obligated to eat on that all week until it was gone.
With just two of us here full time that got to be a bit old.
So today I made our own convenience microwave pouches.
In the pressure cooker I put 2 cups of rice, 1 cup of freeze dried green peas,
1/2 cup freeze dried sweet corn, 1/4 cup of dried celery, 4 heaping tablespoons of chicken
broth powder, 2 diced carrots, and a little over 4 cups of water.
Cooked it on high pressure for 13 minutes and did a quick release.
Then I spread it out in a pan to cool.
I used the food saver to seal up four bags for the freezer and I kept out the equivalent of a fifth bag to turn into fried rice for our lunch today.
With those basic add ins I have a good base for almost anything I would do with rice.
Each bag has 3 servings at 3/4 cup rice per serving.
Enough for a controlled side, for a soup add in, or as a base to add meat/veggies
for stir fry.  To make fried rice I added Oriental seasonings, ham, and eggs....very simple.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Fresh Air Does a Body Good

Even though our temps continue to be in the 30's today
unlike yesterday where we had snow, we have actually had a little sunshine today.
Grandson and I decided to soak up a little fresh air
and vitamin D while we could.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Countdown to Retirement

Angela asked if I would share what we were working toward as we begin the last five years of counting down to retirement.  I almost feel woefully unqualified to give any kind of advice about this, but I am willing to share what we've done.

First and foremost, we've always been planners.  We make a one year plan, a five year plan and a ten year plan.  Obviously the longer range are a little more vague and by nature have to be somewhat flexible, but such is life.

10 years ago we decided at what age we wanted my husband to be able to retire and we chose the age of 60.  He doesn't have to if he choses not to, but our goal is to be ready so he does have that choice.

At 10 years out we decided to make sure our home was paid off and we had no debt.  We have accomplished this and have two properties paid for -- neither are extremely fancy, but both are well maintained and each has perks and drawbacks.

In addition to our savings, retirement contributions, etc. we have calculated the fixed costs for living in each of those locations and all that remains is for us to determine which one we want to chose.  The lower cost of living area is further from medical care and we are now weighing that carefully just because that is an issue as most people age.  At present we are leaning toward retiring there though because that would allow him to retire well before he can draw social security and his retirement through work.

After we did those figures we weighed in on what was important to us.  We've set aside to buy a new vehicle at retirement.  Sounds odd, but we have determined based on our experiences and driving habits that a new vehicle well maintained should last us most of our retirement years.  We've made a list of improvements we want to do to the property over the next five years (paying as we go) so that those things are handled as we go in -- examples include upgrading some things and adding some land improvements.  We are fortunate that we will have military retiree insurance and a small pension from the military, too.  That income combined with a small portion of our savings will allow us to retire five years early if we keep our fixed costs down.

I feel like this is rambling. In reality, I think a lot of factors come into play.  We've done a lot of soul searching trying to narrow down how we want to live and what things are important to us.  Neither of us are fancy people and we don't need a glorious retirement home, where to someone else that may be important.  We want more rural life so we can garden, fish and do those kinds of things.  However, if one wanted to attend plays, be part of organizations, etc. rural life may not be what he/she would want.  I think that for us it was determining these kinds of things really helped us figure out how to "cement" our plans as best we could and that is honestly where I would start any plan with. 

A Bite of This and A Bite of That

Steak from the freezer
Onions and peppers gravy (Dollar Tree frozen veggies)
home canned string beans
mashed potatoes from food storage

Daughter's favorite stand by
field peas with snaps (from frozen)
maple syrup cornbread

A junk food splurge for us.
Kosher beef hot dogs
on purchased whole wheat buns
(I rarely buy bread, but these were $1 at Dollar Tree
and quite fresh.)

Candy cane pie (sorry for poor photo)

Lots of coffee

A fast food splurge
We finished up a #10 can of kidney beans from our food storage.

Doubling up on baking -- we made cheesecake chocolate chip muffins
and cheese/onion muffins.

taco soup made with pork

the cheesecake chocolate chip muffin with strawberries.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Mindful Monday 1.26.15

Lisa over at Happy in Dole Valley has joined in several times with Kathleen at Through Our Garden Gate for a series of posts called Mindful Mondays.  I've really enjoyed both sets of posts and thought I would join in this week.

What I am.....

:: reading- Death of a Village  by M.C. Beaton ... I have been on a bit of a Hamish Macbeth kick
and have been through several mysteries featuring him recently.  I also checked a book out called Desperation Dinners by Beverly Mills and Alicia Ross.  The book has a lot of convenience item using recipes, but I intend to try a few using homemade items and food storage supplies.

:: listening to - mostly 1940's music as I drive daughter back and forth to classes.

:: studying- as always I'm forever looking at new crocheting patterns, knitting patterns and
I am researching square foot gardening.
:: creating- sigh -- I have numerous projects going.  A quilt top is languishing because I need time
to spread it out and work on it.  My crafting time seems to be in broken bits and pieces right now, so I am mostly working on portable projects -- like a sweater vest and a granny afghan.
:: cooking- Cajun pork chops with rice and green beans for tonight. 
:: educating -  I am just supplementing if daughter has any confusion with her college classes.
So far she hasn't required much from me other than giving her reassurances that she knows what she is doing -- what I call the "warm fuzzies."

:: feeling-  tired, from a long weekend of work, but glad to be home.
:: thinking -  about how we had time to finalize our last "5 years plan" for before retirement and the goals we are working toward. I'm excited at the prospects and feeling doubly renewed in my efforts to live well on a frugal budget.

Great Buy

I stopped into Aldi to pick up milk and eggs.
They had a handwritten sign above the hams that said $8 off.
I came home with two good sized hams that are now in the freezer.