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Sunday, November 29, 2015


Hello dear friends!   Hope this post finds you all well rested and contented.   My! the days are shortening, aren't they?   The other day it was pitch black at five in the afternoon.  Now I understand the phrase, "make hay while the sun shines", because they're so many things that need to be done by the strong daylight, such as fine knitting and sewing (threading the needles), once the sun starts it's journey to the western horizon, those things have to be put away.   This little cottage was built for keeping out the winds which it does admirably, but at the same time it shuts out a lot of the sun.   I can understand why some people get depressed during this time of year, frankly, it can get a little gloomy.  So to counteract the effect of long gray days, we decorate the inside and make a cozy little sanctuary for ourselves.   This week I started to bring the winter decorations down from the attic.  First, I set up a little woodland tableau on the mantle. 
The felted celluloid deer and the vintage bottle brush trees all came from the thrift stores back in the 80s,   back then you could pick up vintage Christmas items for a dime or a quarter.  I used to find quite a few boxfuls of those Shiny Brite ornaments from the thrift stores , unfortunately I threw the  boxes out.  Now they are worth a fortune!  I also brought out my grandparents ornaments and gave them a place of honor on the china hutch.  They are getting too fragile to hang on the tree.  Some are almost a hundred years old.
They represent the only tangible things I have from some  of  my grandparents.  Looking at them brings back  many wonderful memories.  I also brought down the creche, unfortunately many of the pieces need repairing.  Joseph completely lost his head! The figures are newer  but the stable was built by my Grandpa A back during the Depression.  It's seen a lot of hard knocks over the years.  When I was a little girl, I played with it throughout the Christmas season, reenacting the Christmas story.  I love it all the more for its imperfections.


On the other spectrum of our quiet country Christmas, there's Black Friday.  To my friends in other parts of the world, Black Friday is the day after Thanksgiving, when the stores have sales to help make the final push for a profit.  In the olden days, ledgers were kept with red and black ink.  The red ink indicated that you were losing money and the black  meant you had a profit, thus the term "Black Friday" means the store has turned from a losing year to a profitable one.  Anyway, the people go nuts for these sales; camping out all hours in the cold to be the first in the doors and stampeding when the doors open.  People have even been crushed to death.  I wouldn't go near one if my life depended upon it.  Fortunately, there are many offers over the internet and I don't have to leave home.   I took advantage of the sale at Pinetree Gardens to get my seeds for the spring. They have the best prices for non-GMO heirloom seeds I've found.  The sale isn't much, just 15% off your order and free shipping on $50 (who buys that many seeds?).  Anyway, if you want to take advantage of that sale, it's still going on until midnight Sunday (the 29th) and the code is BlackFri15.

I also stocked up on vitamins and supplements at Swansons .  They have some good deals.  We use turmeric with pepper (everyone should) and I take cranberry tablets everyday.  We also buy glucosamine  for our dog.   So that was our big excitement  for the sales! Ha!  By the way, I am not being compensated in any way for endorsing these companies.  They are just two companies that I've found to have good prices and service.


By the way, lest anyway  shake their heads and mutter about Christmas being too commercial these days; it's been this way for a long time.  One of my favorite things to do in during the Yuletide season is listen to old Christmas radio programs from the 30s and 40s  on YouTube.  Almost all the story lines  center around how much to spend on gifts and who is giving what to whom.  Some things never change!

Another "blast from the past" is making Russian tea mix  for gift giving. I hope my dear Russian readers are getting a good laugh at this one!   It was a popular winter drink in the 1960s.  And it is nice and cozy, partly due to it's nostalgia.  This is the sort of thing that passed as sophisticated and urbane way back when. Ha! We bottle up jars to put it in our Christmas hampers.  It makes a lot! I would caution, though, the directions say to use two tablespoonfuls, but we only use one.  Two is just too strong. 


Well, I'm at it again!  The butcher had hamburg at it's reduced-for-quick-sale bin at $1.79/lb.  Unfortunately, she only had a little less than a pound.  So to make it the meat stretch into several meals, I added our stale bread, which had me thinking of all the ways you can use stale bread:

Add it to ground meat to make a meatloaf, of course.
Make a bread pudding.
Toast it  with olive oil and herbs to make your own croutons.
Toast it and make your own breadcrumbs.
Make an impromptu  stuffing by adding celery, onions and herbs.
Make French toast.
Make a hole in the middle and fry an egg in it for a cheap breakfast.
Use it as a thickener for soup.
Make toast points. (triangles of toasted bread)

No wonder Rachel Lynde told Anne Shirley that a sign of a good homemaker was seeing that there was no wasted bread in the breadbox!


Toast points reminded me of a meal that was popular with the boys growing up.

Mount Clemens Rarebit

1/2 lb. American cheese
1/4 C. butter
2 C. canned kidney beans
2 med. green peppers, minced

Melt the cheese in a double boiler.  Add the butter and when well-blended add the beans and green peppers.  Serve over toast points.

We served this with a big green salad.  I'm a big advocate of eating green leafies, daily.


I'm knitting mittens for the North Carolina grandchildren.  They rarely get snow, but it's good to be ready.  This is an old pattern from the 1940s and it knits up quickly, without a lot of nonsense.

Children's Mittens

size 2-4.  Sizes 4-6 and 6-8 are in prenthesis.

2 oz of worsted weight (#4) wool.

size 2 and 4 double pointed knitting needles

Gauge: 5 stitches= 1 inch

With smaller needles cast on 28 sts. (32 sts. - 36 sts.)
Join and work in ribbing K2, P2 for 2 (2 1/2) inches.
Change to larger needles and knit plain for 3/4 (1) inch.
Slip next 4 (5-6) stitches to holder.
Cast on 4 (5-6) stitches.
Join and work  and knit plain for 2 (2 1/4 - 2 1/2) inches
Decrease for tip:
K2, K 2 together. Repeat across round'
Knit 1 round.
Next round: K1, K 2 together for round.
Knit 1 round.
Next round: Knit 2 together across round.
Break yarn and leave a 7 inch end.  Thread a tapestry needle with this end and run twice through the remaining stitches. Pull stitches together and fasten off on wrong side.


Pick up 4 (5-6) stitches from holder and 4 (5-6) stitches from cast on stitches.
Divide stitches on three needles (size 4) .
Work even for 3/4 (1 inch).
Knit 2 together across round.
Finish off as mitten tip.

Work other mitten the same way.

By rearranging the furniture we were able to fit my favorite chair in the woodstove room.  Now I can sit by the fire and listening to old radio  programs on the internet and knit.   Heaven!   The best thing we ever did was to get rid of our cable TV.  I used to be quite a news junkie and would fret and worry about the world's woes.  There was  little I could do about the situations, but still it left me anxious.  Until I stopped listening to the national broadcasts, I never realized how much propaganda there is on the news.  Now, I just read several news sources from several countries, some liberal, some conservative, and I think I get a pretty picture of what's going on in the world.  I say my prayers for those poor people that are in the middle of conflicts and those that are experiencing tragedies, then I leave it to God.   Never been more at peace in my life.


Made meatloaf from reduced-for-quick-sale hamburg.

Bought our seeds for the spring at the Black Friday Sale

Stocked up on vitamins at another Black Friday Sale.

We've been trying to clean out the pantry, which makes for some interesting meals.

Made Russian tea mix for the Christmas hampers.

Restyled a $2 wreath from the thrift store and objects I had on hand to make a pretty wreath for the front door.

Made some window decorations from twigs we found in the yard.

Knitted mittens from yarn in my stash.

Heated our house with wood.  The furnace has only come on once this  season.

Cleaned out my closets for more clothes to be put aside for our annual garage sale.  Some are going to charity too.

Played board games in the evening.

Mainly, just stayed in and did a lot of putzing.

SO that's it, again!   I just wanted to tell you all, that when I count my blessing, every last one of you dear readers is among them!  I so appreciate all your support. You know, I started this little blog long ago to help others, but I've discovered along the way that perhaps the person it has helped the most is myself.  Your kindness has renewed my faith in the world!  Hope you all have a beautiful, peaceful and cozy week.

Hugs to all!


  1. Love your decorations! I think that I have similar ornaments that were my parents'. Glad that you have wonderful memories of your grandparents. That makes the decorations even more special, doesn't it.
    Great job on stocking up on the vitamins and seeds. I do love heirloom tomatoes fresh from the garden. I need to check out the tumeric and pepper and cranberry tablets...I only take D3 for my bones.
    Cute mittens! I know your grandchildren will love them. If only I could aunt tried to teach me to crochet when I was young...maybe I will try it again.
    Thanks for the thrifty meal recipe and tips. I've been meaning to try your sloppy joe bean recipe.
    Hope you have a great week.

    1. Kathy, one of the healthiest thing you can do for yourself is take a daily dosage of turmeric or as it goes by , curcumin. It's a powerful anti-inflammatory and has proven to prevent cancer. Here's a link to more information if you're interested: You need to take it with black pepper because the black pepper helps your system get the nutrients more efficiently.

      We also use chia seeds sprinkled on our daily oatmeal and stirred into a bread dough. It lowers cholesterol.

      The cranberry is just because I used to have a lot of trouble with kidney infections.

      I could never get the hang of crocheting either. My knitting style is rather unconventional because I'm self-taught.

      The very tastiest heirloom tomato we've found is one called German Strawberry. It's big, meaty and sweet. You're spoiled by them and now more modern varieties just can't compare. We also grow a variety called Opalka. Since we save our seeds from year to year, they've crossbred and now have our very own variety.


    2. Thanks for the link about tumeric; I'll be checking into it. Don't think I have ever eaten chia seeds before either; are they the same type of seeds you see for chia pets?
      I googled the German strawberry tomato, and I have never eaten one of those before. It sounds wonderful. My dad used to give me some tomatoes and seeds from an old german tomato; it was yellowish with red stripes. I do love tomatoes, and store bought ones don't have much flavor at all.

    3. Hi Kathy! Yes, the seeds are the same as chia pets. Who would have thunk it? You can usually find them in the health food section of most grocery stores.

      I sincerely hope you'll look into the turmeric. It's such a small thing to make such a difference in your life. We give them to our dog too. He has arthritis and they seem to help.

      The tomato you described sounds familiar. There's some wonderful heirloom varieties out there. It's fun to try them. We tried one this year that was supposed to be a keeper. But they didn't last for us. But perhaps it was because of the horrid hot and humid weather we had at the end of the growing season. I'll stick to my sun dried tomatoes to get my winter time tomato kick!

  2. Hi Jane! Your decorations make me feel so cozy! First of all, I re-registered my cuga recipes blog. But in your side bar, please delete my old bees and buttercups because someone else (just) snatched it up and I wouldn't trust what it is going to become.... I just bought the old PBS dvd (re-made into a dvd in 2005) "the spirit of Christmas" from 1950 by the telephone company (sponsored). (bought it from Amazon). It was such a lovely animated (by puppets) Christmas special from my childhood. I also enjoy some Jack Benny and also Red Skelton Christmas specials. I've found staying away from news (which you can't trust to hear the truth!) keeps me calm and collective! lol. Last winter since it was so cold, my husband and I played so many board games (well mostly Sorry and Aggravation!) that it helped us,andrea

  3. hate black Friday! And around here from now until after Christmas....regarding the stores. So much traffic! We purposely don't go near our mall! Andrea

    1. Hi Andrea! Glad you are starting your recipe blog again! Just in time for holiday baking! Now I can be tempted by your goodies all over again. Trying to be good this holiday season. Lost cause!

      Jack Benny is so funny. I love the Christmas one when he goes shopping and Mel Blanc is the clerk. It never grows old. I've been listening to an old radio series called The Aldrich family. Pretty good. I wish that radio was still like that. Can listen and do other things at the same time. Last year I watched a lot of old Hazel episodes. I remember watch them in reruns when I was kid. It's so funny to read the comments on YouTube. Most people that never heard of the show kept saying what a busybody she was. Guess they didn't get the premise of the show.

      We were first married, we played rummy about every night. The one game we don't play anymore is trivia. Jamie has us beats hands down. He's so smart he even knows the names of the moons on different planets. Maybe he should go on Jeopardy.

      The only "big" shopping area we have is the Walmart 17 miles away. By noon the big Black Friday rush was over with! Ha!

      Happy baking!


    2. I love the Jack Benny Christmas gift shopping one too! I love to see the old-time store with sparseness and real customer service! I watch that one over and over! We just "discovered" Walmart (providing we drive out to a safer one as the ones closer to us are in bad areas) and this one is so large and the veggies and fruits, etc are so fresh! And the prices...a small food item might be around $1 each cheaper than our grocery stores! Andrea

    3. It might be worth the trip if you can save that much Andrea. We always wait to buy our groceries in Bay City about 67 miles away. The Meijers has such great produce I'm awestruck by it. Every time we go there, I'm reminded of how guests from other countries are so dumbfounded by our grocery stores. Now I'm like that too!

      I miss those old department stores. There weren't any where I grew up, but a couple times a year we'd make a trip downstate to visit relatives and go to the J.L. Hudsons. We'd always get dressed up to go there, like it was a big outing. And it was for us country hicks! A special treat was eating lunch in the tea room. We thought we were quite the sophisticates!

      We had Johnson's Clothing in our hometown. The lady would wait on you like in the department stores. I remember it was an old building and the floors squeaked so loud. The shoe department was in the basement and I was always afraid the floor above was going to crash down upon us. Probably the only time in my life I didn't enjoy buying shoes! Ha!

    4. Exactly! Your memories are exactly like mine! Andrea :)

  4. Hi Jane, Staying home on Black Friday helps US stay in the black! I for one am so glad you came back to blogging. If it is not too personal would you share your news sites? I don't watch tv either which is mostly very good but I do feel uninformed about events sometimes- balance! Thank you, Angela

    1. Hi Angela! That's so very true! I find the older I get the less I want anyhow. Can't think of a thing I want for Christmas. What a nice place to be in life.

      We read World Net Daily, Drudge Report, Daily Caller, RT, The Huffington Post, and Haaertz. That gives you a pretty good idea of what's going on from several perspectives. Funny how they all can spin events. But always somewhere there's a middle ground that the truth lies.

      Hope you are enjoying your evening! I appreciate your kind words!


    2. Thank you Jane! I will check them out and the old radio shows to!

  5. Hi Jane! We didn't get anywhere near civilization on Black Friday! We live in a wacky world; so, I agree with you about watching so much news. Having been a news reporter in the past, I can say with great confidence that there are those who skew the news. Dangerous stuff...

    As you, we putzed around the house all week and enjoyed the quiet --- except the blasted hunters... I don't mind hunting as an activity; however, I do mind when these people ride the road looking for "prey." We have to keep the dogs in because they are large and deer coloured...

    Enjoy these slow days! Spring will be here before we know it!

    1. Hi Matty! The day I realized that the new reporters were all reading off the same script was when they were reporting on Rham Emmanuel becoming the new chief of staff. They ALL kept using the term "he has sharp elbows" which was such a strange expression, surely they must all get the marching orders from the same place. Then there was the use of the word "huberous" (which even the spellcheck doesn't recognize. Yet every channel had reports using that word on the very same day. After that I just gave up on the news.

      The hunters have been surprisingly quiet this year. I think they all got their deer on the first day, judging by how many deer I saw on the back of trucks that day. Must not be too much hunting going on, because the deer are back out, jumping in front of every other car that comes by. The other day we were out for a ride and Ran mentioned that we hadn't seen any deer on our trip, which is unusual. Well what do you know, he no longer finished his sentence when a deer strolled out onto the rode in front of us, just on cue! Our county sheriff says that if you live in Huron county, you're going to hit a deer. It's a fact of life, like dying and taxes.

      Hope spring doesn't get here too soon! I love winter and hope we get so much snow that we have to toboggan to the post office!


  6. What a cozy post! Your home sounds warm and welcoming. How wonderful to be able to have your favourite chair by the fire. I'm sure you'll enjoy many hours there over the winter.

    We also enjoy listening to old radio shows. We usually pick a comedy or two every night. They're better than anything on tv these days.

    1. Hi Sandra! Have you gotten any snow across the lake, yet?

      Isn't it funny that we never thought to move the chair into the back room before? Such a simple thing to do to make life sweeter!

      This month I'm taken with the Aldrich Family and The Great Gildersleeves. I love Jack Benny too. Oh and George and Gracie are fun. You're right it is better than anything on TV. Even the family shows now days don't seem very wholesome. I bet if the networks ever wisened up and put some nice shows on, they'd have ratings through the roof.


  7. Hi Jane! I always have a great time reading your posts, really. You're such a sensible, down-to-earch homemaker. Loved seeing your winter scene and the heirloom ornaments, they're so pretty. Black Friday is such a dismal sounding day without knowing the reason behind the name, but I never thought to explain it as you did. Good job. :)
    Eh, I commonly use stale bread in all the ways you do save putting it in soups to thicken them. We are frugal to a fault, too. (I bet you don't line wastebaskets with recycled store bags, do you? I'm shameless. LOL, just couldn't resist asking. :)
    Thank you for sharing the mittens pattern. Those are cute as a button.
    I make "Russian" Tea also, but as Goodman is diabetic I make a quart at a time with a de-caffeinated teabag, no-sugar liquid Tang and a few dashes of ground cloves and cinnamon. Not bad.
    I'll have to give the old radio shows a listen. We haven't had a tv in ages and love living tv-free.
    Have a lovely week, Jane!

    1. Hi Toni! Hope you had a lovely Thanksgiving.

      You bet I line the wastebaskets with the store bags. I've even stooped to using the plastic in those large packages of toilet paper. Now that's cheap! Anytime I get a large plastic bag such as when I buy pillows, I consider it a bonus to get the extra large shopping bag. Ha! I always exclaim, "free garbage bag!". I get some odd looks!

      That's a good idea about the diabetic Russian tea! I'll have to pass it along to my mom. My husband and I shared a cup tonight, as a matter of fact. Nothing like sharing a cup with someone you love.

      Those old radio programs are just so much fun. It's like time traveling. I even enjoy the old commercials. Who ever thought Jello was so popular back then?

      Have a joy filled week!

  8. Who just made a dozen delicious English Muffins using your recipe? This gal, that's who. I like yours better than the 2 others I have used before. And now that you also taught me the trick of the thermometer, only one got a smidge burnt. Thank you so much!
    I can't thank you enough for your words.

    1. Oh Jen! I'm so glad you liked them. They really aren't too hard are they? The thermometer trick is pretty clever. Guess my husband is making his education pay for itself. Ha!

      Have a happy!

  9. I know that we are kindred spirits :) I also buy my seeds from Pinetree and vitamins from Swanson. I used to make the Russian tea but it is too sweet and I can't do much sugar at all. I also have celiacs disease and a form of colitis so all my cooking is gluten free. I pretty much stay with the basics of meat, vegetables, some homemade yogurt, and nuts and fruit. I can't do a lot of frugal menu stretchers by adding the normal fillers but we get along pretty good on the food budget I do have. Cutting out junk foods helps the budget a lot. Even baking costs money. Today I am making a wonderful soup from the leftovers from Thanksgiving ham. Added some celery, green pepper strips and carrots we had left from the relish tray, some onion, a few black eyed peas I grew this summer and had in the freezer, a couple pints of home canned tomatoes. Can't wait until supper :) Nannie

    1. Hi Nannie! Isn't that funny? I see Pinetree has a cyber Monday sale today. Did you notice that peppermint chard on the cover of the catalog? We're going to give that a try this year.

      That soup sounds good! I love to make soup from whatever is around. Soup has got to be about the most economical thing in the world. As my pastor used to tell me, you can always add more water to the soup!

      Sorry to hear about your celiacs disease. Must be difficult, especially around this time of year when there's so many goodies to tempt a person.

      I made my Russian tea with unsweetened lemonade so it was a bit on the tangy side.

      Whew! Just got back from our hike! It was so pretty with all the Christmas lights.

      Hope you have a pleasant week!


  10. I live with a TV news addict--rather tiring.
    Like you, I read what I want to know about current events and believe most of the reporting is skewed.
    On these short cloudy days being cozy inside is important--the evenings seem very long.

    1. They sure are Sharon! It's 5:30 and it's pitch dark. I was thinking I should put my pajamas on then I looked at the clock. Does it seem like it's darker this year? Oh well! Only 19 more days until the days start to lengthen.

  11. I'm glad I'm not the only one who needs bright light to thread a needle any more!!! It sure makes it easier.

    I love your winter scene with the deer and trees. It's lovely.

    1. I'm blaming it on cheap imported needles! Ha!

      We have the real scene in our backyard. The deer around here are so spoiled the sleep under our apple trees and don't even bother to run away when our dog barks at them.


  12. Hello Jane,
    Your woodland themed decorations are so nice.
    I do remember that Russian Tea. My mom used to make it and one of my brothers likes it. I remember winter evenings having a cup of it with her and him. Seems Russian Tea was popular about the same time as Hot Dr Pepper, do you remember it? Just heat up Dr Pepper, then serve it in a tea cup with a slice of lemon.
    It gets dark here early too. Today our electricity was off from 5-8 pm and it was so dark. Thankfully I had supper already cooked in the crockpot and knew right where the lantern flashlight was.

    Have a good week!

    1. I had forgotten about the Dr. Pepper, Rhonda. The funny things we used to do back then! I love looking at the old magazines from the 40s-70s. People certainly had different taste. And the food photography was just awful. Must have been hard to sell cookbooks.

      Glad you weren't without electricity for too long. Ours have flickered off and on several times this week. It's been windy so it was probably a branch hitting the wire. I'm counting down the days until the solstice. It seems especially dark this year.


  13. Thanks for sharing your week. I'll add to your list on breadcrumbs: making black bean burgers. Yum! And such a lighter alternative than beef. Lighter on the pocket-book too.
    Looking forward to making up a little Russian tea mix to slip into gifts. I have to ship allot of gifts, so I like to add homemade goodies to the boxes. We are making lots of fudge at my house as I stocked up on the supplies while on sale before Thanksgiving.
    Thanks for your sweet words. You are such an encouragement!

    1. Hi Leslie! Oh yes! Black bean burgers are wonderful. We also make a chickpea burger with Indian spices that we love. I'll have to figure out the recipe someday, as I do a lot of improvising, and print it.

      We're in a mad rush to get everything made for shipping off this week. The post office suggest December 9th and the shipping date. Can you believe that's fast approaching?

      We'll be making fudge here too! Waiting for a less humid day so that it doesn't get too sugary. Resting up my arm for beating it. Ha! Of course you are so lucky to have so many "volunteers"!

      Hope you have a lovely week. Happy fudge making!


  14. Hello Jane, it's always so good to come over and see what's happening here. There's so much good stuff going on. We are having short days too. They seem to begin to draw in around 4pm but think that's because of the rainy days we're having.

    I have to confess that like you, I also have a bit of an obsession with vintage radio programs. Especially on winter nights I love to curl up with Radio4Xtra for all the old programs. I get such a nostalgic feeling, especially if the rain is pounding on the roof or the wind howling. I get teased badly for it.

    I made a sheepless shepherd's pie this week with left overs including stir-fry. I added lots of other vegetables like leeks and mushrooms and red cabbage along with garlic and brown puy lentils. It was amazingly delicious and just used up all the odd lonely looking vegetables.

    Thanks for the stale bread ideas. I like to make them into crumbs and mix whatever's on hand, sautéed onions and mushrooms with garlic are a favourite topping for fish. Baked in the oven they go lovely and crunchy and brown while the fish stays moist and tender...mmm...Thanks for reminding me...I must have another go.

    We haven't had time to decorate the tree yet but just like the radio programs I love the old ones best. Especially the delicate paper ones Hannah made when she was tiny. I hope to gather bits to make wreaths tomorrow and the mistletoe if it's still thriving in the garden and hasn't blown away.

    Hope you have happy, busy, peaceful thrifting days...with lots of sitting toasting your toes by the fire and listening to lovely old programs.

    1. Hi Debby! I hope you will get some sunshine soon. Today it was foggy here all day long. The sun is just peeking out now, just in time for nightfall!

      Your sheepless Shepherd's pie sounds wonderful. Those improvised meals are always the best.

      I love the anything old and tarnished. It has a story behind it. New never held any attraction to me. It must be wonderful to be able to gather mistletoe in your own garden. We trimmed the evergreens last month and used the clippings for the window box. The wind blew them all out, so I'll have to clip some more.

      Have the happiest of weeks ahead of you!