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Thursday, February 16, 2017

THE $20 EXPERIMENT: DAY 3

Hello dear friends!  Whew!  Having a busy day here today!  So far this little experiment is going pretty well.  Ran, Jamie and I were up early because we needed to drive a few villages over to take advantage of sale going on at a grocery store there.  Once a year they have a big meat sale.  We bought chicken leg quarters for 29 cents/lb. and their sirloin beef roast is $2.79/lb.  We bought about 12 pounds of the roast and I'm canning it up as we speak.  Here's the first batch:
Right now I'm sterilizing the jars for the second batch.  Been on my feet all day.  Which is why it irks me so much when people say how "lucky" we are to have such a big garden and a well-stocked pantry.  Luck had very little to do with it.  It was by the dint of the sweat on our brows that we have what we have.  When other men are out playing a round of golf, Ran is in the garden hoeing and weeding.  When ladies are sitting under the air conditioner in the Summer reading their novels, I'm sweating puddles in the kitchen canning up our harvest.  Luck has very little to do with it!

And of course, whenever you write about eating cheap, you'll get the inevitable response."Food is lot cheaper where you live!"  Which may or may not be true.  Yes, it's cheaper than in Europe and Canada, but I dare say that I could go into a grocery store in any of the states, except Alaska and Hawaii, and  find some deals.  I know!  I've traveled and one of the things I  like to do is check out groceries stores.  Some things may be higher but I wager some things will be lower.  And even in places where the food is expensive, you might have a longer growing season, so there's an availability of fresh veggies longer the five months we have here.  (Our frost date is May 31st and usually bu mid-October the our first frost hits.)  So when people tell me they "can't" I want to say, "Do you mean can't or won't?"   So there!  Thanks for letting me get that off my chest!

 BTW, the purpose of these posts isn't to show you what to buy, but to get you to think about how you eat and purchase food.  I don't expect you'll find the exact same things as I and at the exact same prices. But we can all learn how to maximize what we do have.  How to look at what we really need or what we want.

What We Had To Eat

Lunch:
We were out for all of the morning, so when we got back home we needed something that was quick so I heated up the soup for Ran and I.  Jamie treated himself to Burger King. (I was tempted to tell him to grab a few sugar packets while in there) Having  soup in your fridge keeps you from running to the fast food joints when you want to eat NOW.

Dinner:
I made a quick red beans and rice with the package of rice, 1 1/2 C. of the beans, 1/3 of the can of the fire roasted tomatoes and a squirt of that barbecue sauce.  I topped it witj a shave of the cheese.
This was not my most favorite meal I made this week, I have to admit.  The seasoned rice was very garlicky and it sure could have benefited from some sort of seasoning. But on the good side, there was plenty left over for making burritos with the remaining tortillas, if that's what I choose to do with them.  Got to say, I'd much rather have more of those quesadillas that I wrote about yesterday than use this on my tortillas.  At the end of the day, it was food and it filled us up.

Thoughts So Far

So far it's been pretty easy to live on the $20, but I'm worried that my green leafies will soon run out.  I think $5 more would make all the difference in living well, or just getting by.  For $5, I could have bought another head of lettuce, some eggs, maybe a few more oranges or sweet potatoes.  One of the things about living thriftily, is portion control.  What constitutes a serving and what we eat are often quite different.  Have a gander at the nutritional info on the side of a box once, you might be surprised.

  While we were out,we stopped at the salvage grocery store and here is something I found:


Jiffy blueberry muffin mix for 15 cents!  It was only two months past the expiration date, so I'm sure they will rise.  This had me thinking; if I were a single person, I wouldn't bother stocking up on baking supplies.  One of these little boxes of mix makes up six  muffins, that's six breakfasts for 15 cents!  Can't get much cheaper than that!  They can be made into pancakes too.  Even if you can't find these little mixes at your grocery store for this price, regularly they are 75 cents I believe.  At the store that had the meat sale, their boxes of cornbread muffin mix was 2/ 88 cents for their regular price.  So for 88 cents, you'd get enough bread to go with soup for two weeks.  Are Jiffy mixes a nationwide brand or is it just a Michigan thing?  Even if you don't have that brand, you can buy these sort of mixes for $1 at the dollar stores.  Bread is such a good filler.  BTW, I wanted you to see my other bargain at the grocery salvage store, pure maple syrup, in date for $2 for 12 oz!  It's a lower grade, but I like the flavor of it better, so it was fine with me.  Taste more mapley!


 Also, we stopped in at a thrift store and  found this beautiful lambswool LL Bean sweater for Ran for a grand total of 50 cents!
Just the thing to wear with a down vest when we are walking.  He looks very handsome in it.  Someone had given the charity a  bunch of mayonnaise that was reaching its expiration  date and they threw that in the bag for free.  I'm sure it will be fine, I haven't looked at the mayo in my fridge now, it's probably past its expiry date too.  So far we haven't died!   When people complain about the cost of living, I always say "You don't know where to shop"!  And I might add, "how to" also!

Until tomorrow!

Hugs
Jane









45 comments:

  1. Oh me word, Jane, you're right. Luck certainly has nothing to do with having a garden. While we planned for and bought enough land for a garden and animals, everyone we know got a bigger house with hardly anything to mow so it's a trade-off of sorts. And yes, those vegetables don't just pop out of the ground looking tasty and all. *eyeroll*

    We eat a lot of things past the expiration date, and we keep meds for years, too. So far, they work fine. We're not dead, either. lol
    Have a great evening.
    Toni

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    1. Growing up, did they have expiration dates on food, Toni? I can't recall. Grew up hearing "does it look funny? does it smell funny? No? then it's alright to eat." Guess I can say I've reached old age so that philosophy must have worked! Enjoy the rest of your evening!

      Hugs
      Jane

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    2. I don't remember expiration dates from my growing up years. I read that there are no regulations to even put them on containers of food. I always thought they were a gimmick to make us think we need to dump what we have and buy more, but then I've always been a skeptical soul. Love that blue sweater.

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    3. Kinda what I thought. But then I see a conspiracy lurking behind every bush!

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    4. I think expiration dates are a fairly new thing. I remember fresh milk and eggs having dates years ago but now everything has dates. Oh brother!
      I made biscuits this week with a 1/2 pint of cream I bought for Christmas cooking but still had it, it was dated Dec 30 but it was just fine the middle of Feb.
      Jane, that close to date mayo will be just fine.
      Jiffy mixes are sold in Oklahoma and Texas, so I'm guessing they are national. If they were really out of date, and didn't smell rancid, I'd just add a bit of fresh baking powder to insure a good rise.

      Prices and deals do vary but a person has to do what ever it takes to stay on budget where they live. It takes looking at different stores, cooking according to deals, maybe using coupons, gardening or gleaning, etc.

      People have told my disabled veteran husband he is "lucky" he gets VA pay and benefits. Not lucky at all -we are grateful for them but would much prefer husband was healthy and pain free.

      And I might of suggested Jamie pick up a few sugar packets too, 😂
      Jane, I am really enjoying this series.

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  2. We have always had Jiffy brand here! I was thinking (regarding yesterday's post with the pork) that we did discover recently, that pork is cheaper than chicken! So true how important it is to have a handy meal as vs. stopping for an unhealthy meal at a fast-food place. Yes an extra $5 would make a difference! I love bready-type foods, but I do tend to crave salads here and there. Beautiful sweater! And great deal on the meats. I am beginning to think these expiration dates are too conservative....I don't remember my pantry foods hitting the dates so soon in the past! Hugs, Andrea

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    1. Hmm... Could be something to it, Andrea. I know a lot of the youngster that grew up with expiration dates on everything, take the date as Gospel. Might be just a ploy to get people to throw out their food quicker and replace it. I'm always game for a good conspiracy. Ha!

      Hugs
      Jane

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  3. I was once told " You are so lucky, a lovely home, 2 cars and a boat"!!! I replied."How many mornings have you got up at 4 a.m.so your man has breakfast before he sets off in the truck , already loaded from the light before, to go to the city markets? How many times do you answer the phone or radio telephone a day? ( I once added up and it was 75). How many times have you sat at a sewing machine to make all the family clothes? I am not lucky, I have worked for so many years, to have what we have now" Good on you for trying to stick to the $20 plan. Bargains galore, but the find of the week has to be that beautiful sweater, Can you share it, one week for you, one week for Ran??? 50 cents would not buy a 1/10th of a ball of wool down here!!! Keep warm and happy.

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    1. Nor here, Jean! And don't forget, I got a free jar of mayo with that! Sounds like you two have earned everything you have. Hard work and using your wits, will always work out better than relying on luck. And conversely, I've noticed that a lot of people who claim to be unlucky, just made a lot of bad choices along the way. Hope that knee is mending!

      Hugs
      Jane

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  4. I love the quote "The harder I work the luckier I get." We have Jiffy in Ga.

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    1. Perfect, Angela! My son lives near the town that manufactures Jiffy and every year during their homecoming parade, they throw boxes of Jiffy mix out to the crowds from their float instead of candy. There's an old Penn. Dutch expression "The harder I work, the behinder I get". Ha!

      Hugs
      Jane

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  5. You found some great deals. Like you said, you have to look for them. We have Jiffy mixes here. Before I made my own cornbread, that's what I bought. I hear you about not being your favorite meal. It's like that sometimes, trying not to waste things and such. If it's really bad, the dogs or the chickens get it here :o).

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    1. This would have definitely gone to the chickens, if I had some, Laurie! But since we don't we'll just hold our noses and carry on. Ran and I were just discussing how people never even look on the bottom shelves when grocery shopping, where all the bargains are. Some people just need to try harder. Hope your week is going well!

      Hugs
      Jane

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  6. Loved the sweater! Pretty color!

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    1. Yep, it's a keeper, Annie. I find that no matter how junkie the thrift store, you can find a treasure if you dig hard enough. Have a wonderful weekend!

      Hugs
      Jane

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  7. I just had to laugh at the thought of boxes of Jiffy mixes being thrown at people in a parade. I'm sure everyone loves them, and all, but I wonder how many people have to duck quickly or get whacked with a box of mix! I just can see that sight in my mind's eye--better make sure you are friends with the people throwing the boxes.

    I also have been told "Wow, you have so much canned stuff" or "I could never do that" (either have lots of kids or can so much food or grow such a big garden or other things). I have also thought (in my head) that those things don't do themselves and the commenter could do it if they needed to. Having so many kids always meant that I needed to can a lot, and I came to love doing it. I also learned to love the garden. I always loved the idea of a garden and the idea of lots of kids, but needed to hone my skills, have determination, and the ability to do a mountain of work and stick to task before I learned to successfully grow the kids or the garden.

    I didn't learn to be successful overnight. My first few gardens were terrible, but they improved. My organizational skills were not very good either, but they are better now. I can remember being extremely good at cleaning the bathroom when I first got married because that was my job at home. The rest of the house....as most teenagers would say "wasn't my job." But, then it was because I was married, and I wasn't good at it. I had to learn to be.

    I do a lot of my gardening in the evenings. It's cooler, I'm home, and it's a pleasure for me. I do a lot of canning early in the morning, often after I pick my produce from the garden. I also can and freeze late into the night, often ending at 11 or 12. If I get too tired, my blessed husband will finish the canner load, or put things into the freezer when they are cooled enough, so it's a group project. He also tills for me, fills jars, washes jars the night before, etc. Often, one or the other or both of us need to work for money during the day. So, I'm with you--it doesn't just do itself and jump onto the shelves. We have never gone without food in our entire marriage, even when he went to college after we were married. I heard horror stories of families going hungry while their husbands were in ministry or college. I do believe that God has provided for us then and more recently. I also believe that He gave us the ability to preserve and grow food, and blessed our efforts.

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    1. I think Becky, if we are in any way blessed or lucky, it is that we have been given common sense and we know how to use it, made good marriages (again, a common sense thing) and are not afraid of hard work.
      Organization is something that I need more of in my pantry. Waste so much time moving around jars looking for that certain one. At one time Ran had it all organized like in a lab, but that didn't last long.

      Hugs
      Jane

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  8. Today I looked all over the thrift store clothing and found nothing. I stood in line to buy the hat and shirt hubby found. He kept looking around and found two tops by the expensive clothing label I love I had not even noticed on the same racks I had just looked through! I bought one of them!
    Living within budget [and hopefully under] is not easy but all the hard work is rewarding..even if it is exhausting! Lots of reading and studying and working and sweating. After you find a minute to stop and catch your breath you realize all you have accomplished and are so prayerfully grateful you were given the skills and muscle enough to do it.
    Many people we know throw out anything on it's expiration or sell by date. I wish they would throw it my way!! :-) No there were not any UPC codes or sell by or expiration dates on anything we bought in our growing up years. I am older than you Jane but probably not in your life either.Back then each grocery item was stamped with the price on it too. then they went to putting it on the shelf. There was plenty of angry people on that. Used to be with the stamp on it they sold the older shelf item still on the shelf for the lower price when the cost went up. Now they just had to change the shelf label. Plus if people put things on the wrong shelf or prices on the shelf was torn off etc who knew what price things were. We all see this happening in Stores. Back then too there were fewer items. How many kinds of Tide or ?? do we need now a days!! Things have certainly changed. But I must admit some are for the better. {lots I am not sure are better!! :-))) } Terri, at the blog I mentioned in last comments, could not afford pepper in her $20 budget. No place near her sells bulk items and cheapest pepper she could find anywhere was $2.29. I remember those first weeks of stocking the newly wed pantry. What good memories!
    :) J/Jody

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    1. We could probably live on what people throw out Jody! I remember looking on the grocery shelves for the items with the lowest price stamped on them. Usually they were way in the back. Ha! Memories! It's so true, you'll prosper if you keep your eyes open and your wits about you. Thanks for the suggestion on that blog. It would be interesting to see what she did. I'm finding the lack of seasoning, one of the hardest parts of this challenge.

      Hugs
      Jane

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  9. I hear you on the "lucky", some people think that you wave a golden wand to get a productive garden or a well stocked cupboard. You are also right about whatever the local prices there are ways and means to source cheaper food and here we are blessed being able to grow vegetables all year round, and having winter fruits such as citrus and feijoas, persimmons, and kiwi fruit etc.
    When I got married in the 70's, one of my wedding presents was a Good housekeeping Cookbook and it listed the recommended storage periods for food, I still have it, I must get it out and compare.
    I just love that colour blue, a wonderful find.

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    1. Hi Sharon! I loved your last post! Very clever of you. It would be interesting to see if the guidelines have changed. I'm still holding to the look and small one, haven't died yet. Ha!

      Hugs
      Jane

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  10. I have only just discovered your blog, and would like you to know how very much I have enjoyed it. I live in England and my husband and I, having thrifted all of our married lives were also able to retire at 55 having put both of our children through university. I had a heart attack a while ago - am now 63)and have not been able to get out as much as before but thanks to our wonderful doctors and nurses (and a strict diet :-)) have now fully recovered. I have leRnt that each day is a gift, and your blog gas certainly been a gift to me andin the current climate of doom and gloom has cheered me immeasurably. I would not usually leave such a long comment but cannot email you, and I promised myself that if I recovered I would thank people whose writing gave me pleasure.
    My very best wishes to you and to your family.
    Lesley

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    1. Oh goodness! Thank you so very much Lesley! I'll try to remember your kind words when I receive too many snarky comments and lose followers and want to give up blogging. Hope all your health problems are behind you and continues to improve. God bless!

      Hugs
      Jane

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    2. Thank you so much for taking the trouble to reply. I'm very embarrassed to see so many typo and spelling mistakes in my own post. That will teach me to proof read in future before I hit the publish button!

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    3. Oh, I'm the queen of typos, Lesley! Sometimes I even type a different word than what I meant. It's funny, you can go over and over what you wrote a gazillion times, but until you see it published and up their in the blog format, you don't see the mistakes. Sometimes I go back and correct the errors, but after a while I just let it go. If someone comes here looking for fine literature, they've come to the wrong place! Have a wonderful Sunday!

      Hugs
      Jane

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  11. Hi Jane
    Just popped over from Sue from Suffolk's blog. Great Post. If one more person tells me I'm lucky to eat like we do I might not be responsible for my actions! Sounds like your life is similar to mine (apart from the geography) I did a challenge a few years ago. it was possible but boring and I was glad to get back to "normal" whatever that is. I'm hoping to find time to visit the charity shops this weekend as I need some more working clothes (plenty of posh stuff gathering dust in the wardrobe)

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    1. Hello and welcome! You're right about the boring, there really is only so many things you can do with a handful of ingredients.But as you said, it is doable. I'll be ready for some fish when this is over. Ha! Happy thrift hunting!

      Hugs
      Jane

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  12. They said in the promo for the news last night about how they are going to change the dates on canned goods. It's all so confusing sell by and best buy. The channel got changed and I missed the story but it sounds like they need too! You are doing great so far -sweater is very nice and free mayo on top can't be beat!

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    1. Wonder what they're going to change, Vickie. Probably make them even shorter. Freebies are fun!

      Hugs
      Jane

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  13. I am so enjoying your posts. Living on a beautiful lake (in Michigan!) I watch the summer people jog or ride in their golf carts while I am pulling weeds, harvesting vegetables, fruits, and keeping the sweat out of my eyes. My exercise is pushing the lawn mower, or digging a new bed for a new variety of Phlox. But as the summer people leave as the summer wanes I gaze upon the beautiful shelves of canned homegrown produce and the freezer filled with thrifty finds and enjoy the satisfaction of the endeavor. The joy of finding a treasure of a classic skirt or sweater in the thrift store is priceless!! It really is a good life.

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    1. It truly is Joan, I wouldn't have it any other way. Where do you live? You know, I live just a few short blocks from the beach and the only time I've been to it has been when the grandkids visit on the 4th of July. But I still enjoy it's breezes!

      Hugs
      Jane

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    2. Joan of Crystalview CottageFebruary 17, 2017 at 11:20 AM

      Hi Jane, I live on Crystal Lake in Montcalm County. We are NW of Lansing about 60 miles. When I was a teen we spent a vacation in Caseville. My college roommate lives in Sebawaing.(sp?) I love our little community at all times, but it is especially nice "off season"!

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    3. Oh yes! I know where that is! You live on the posher side of the state. Ha! I think that's how you spell Sebawaing, sure could have picked an easier name to spell, like Bad Axe!

      Hugs
      Jane

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  14. Like you I get annoyed when people say I'm lucky to be able to grow veggies, have a polytunnel (it's tiny!!) and keep chickens. I have a small garden and for the last few years I've worked hard to make all these things happen including putting raised beds in my front garden. Our growing season here in Scotland is very short (frost in May and October too) so as much as I would love to grow avocados and limes I have to be sensible and grow things suited to the climate (potatoes, leeks, kale). That's not luck, it's making lots of mistakes and learning from them. I'm doing all this so that when I retire I already have an established garden. It's all about planning. People just don't plan ahead and that is where you can save so much money.

    Love that blue jumper! I was tempted in a charity shop yesterday by a beautiful pair of grey Monsoon trousers for work but put them back when I read the dry clean only label. I'm a teacher so need clothes that can be washed in a washing machine to remove glue, glitter, snot etc!!

    PS I eat loads of stuff after their date and I'm still here ;-)

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    1. You are a gal after my own heart, Ali! I wash my woolen sweaters in cold water by hand in the sink and reshape them on a towel and dry them that way. I have several wool skirts that I just spot clean, use the lint brush, and press the old-fashioned way with a pressing cloth to revive them if they are starting to look the worst for wear. This sounds terrible, but some of them haven't been actually cleaned in years. They just don't get dirty. Usually when I'm wearing wool skirts I'm doing something ladylike and not sloshing mud on them I guess!

      Hugs
      Jane

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  15. I am enjoying your challenge and how you are making it work. Got to admit, your guys are good sports. Just the other day, I bought one of those Jiffy muffin mixes - corn muffins. I don't normally like or buy prepared mixes. However, since I cook for only one person and even when I halve my corn muffin recipe, I still end up with six muffins. I usually eat one and freeze the others. The problem I have is that it takes a long time for me to use the package of cornmeal so I was standing in the aisle thinking I really should try one of those mixes and just see how it tasted. It was only about 50 cents and will make 6-8 muffins and I only need to add an egg and 1/3 cup milk. Haven't tried it yet. Hope you have a wonderful weekend. Here in Virginia, we are back on the upward swing of the rollercoaster as far as the weather is concerned - 65 today, lower 70s tomorrow and Sunday. Really a mild winter and signs of spring everywhere. Daffodils are budding and should have blooms any day.

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    1. Got to admit that they are not as good as made-from-scratch Shirley, but I guess they make up for it in economy. The Marie Callender honey cornbread mix is pretty tasty. My son Erik loves it. He asks for the recipe when I make them for him. Ha! Been a really mild Winter here too. The snowmobilers and ice fishermen must be disappointed. Must be nice to see some daffodils! Have a lovely day!

      Hugs
      Jane

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  16. Until I was 22 I lived back east and naturally wore a lot of woolen clothing. We only dry cleaned coats and blazers with linings. The rest from sox to dresses and unlined wool jackets we gently hand washed in Woolite in cold water. Sometimes we let them sit a few minutes in the Woolite to soak. They got rinsed also gently not pulling or stretching the fabric. Then they were blotted in towels gently wrapping each item and rolling the towel to get out as much moisture as possible. Then we laid them like you said Jane on towels to dry. Never had one shrink. If needed we then steam ironed them using a light touch and as low a temperature as needed. I agree people don't need to wash clothes as often as the manufactures of clothes detergent tell us!! Spot cleaning works. Many women skirts have a lining inside of them like blazers do but since they are easier to press if necessary we had no problem washing them ourselves. Hope this helps someone out there... J/ Jody

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    1. Hi Jody! I was thinking maybe I should do a post on caring for woolens. Maybe people don't know how to do it. Kind of a boring post, but probably could help someone. I remember giving my dad's suit a good pressing on Saturday night to refresh it so it would look nice for Sunday service. Got to be pretty good at it. I remember getting the winter coat drycleaned was part of the battening down the hatches process. Good memories!

      Hugs
      Jane

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  17. I live in Chelsea, Michigan home of the only Jiffy plant in the world. Yesterday, believe it or not, I went with my daughter and a group from her middle school to take yet another tour of Jiffy. We were there to talk to Community Leaders. Their nurse and their HR person talked to the group. Jiffy ships to all 50 states and to many English speaking countries too as well as to military bases. Most of the corn and wheat used in Jiffy Mixes come from a 150 mile radius of Chelsea. They also make all their own boxes. In our yearly August Summer Parade, Jiffy drives their truck and their workers pass out boxes of jiffy to all the people watching the parade. Cheers, Kelly

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  18. It's a good company Kelly! My son and daughter-in-law live near Chelsea, just outside of Stockbridge in Munith . They have a big old Victorian farmhouse. The parade they go to must be that one in Chelsea. Glad they hand out the boxes and don't throw them! A local dairy hands out cartons of chocolate milk at our 4th of July parade.

    Hugs
    Jane

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  19. Perhaps when someone uses the word "lucky", they mean fortunate or blessed. "You are fortunate (blessed)to have a garden" It does change the tone and meaning of the sentence, but "lucky" seems to be the word people use instead of "fortunate" or "blessed".

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    1. Whether I'm fortunate, blessed or lucky, the people that say this to me usually tell me this while complaining about their circumstances, as in, "I can't make ends meet, you're so lucky to have that big garden and a pantry full of food." When they have a nice yard that they could have a garden in and they could spend their time canning too. They choose not to. Sometimes you make your own luck or blessings in life. Ran and I both have arthritis and we're certainly not getting any younger. We could make excuses too, but we both believe in pulling ourselves up by our own bootstraps. I guess I don't have much sympathy for those who don't.

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  20. Re Jiffy muffin mix; my late mother always kept that on hand--I did for awhile--inexpensive and quick to make to fill out a scrappy meal. [this was in Vermont.] I seem to recall buying it in Wyoming--haven't bought it here in Kentucky--I have several muffin recipes that I make from scratch--and there's always cornbread baked in a cast iron skillet!

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    1. I'm guessing that Jiffy mix must be available nationwide, Sharon. It is handy, but nothing beats made-from-scratch biscuits and muffins.

      Hugs
      Jane

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