Sunday, April 07, 2019

Spring Break 2019 Roundup

By Elizabeth Prata

I have four hours left of my Spring Break. At 1:30 I leave for 2:00 Sunday School, then Church service, then Small Group at 5:45. By the time I get home at around 8:00pm, it's time for my nighttime-closing down routine and then bed by 9. So this is it.

I had plans and goals for this week off from school. I didn't go away anywhere exotic. I stayed in my mind, which is exotic enough, lol. I wanted to rest my ACL muscle and let it recover. It had been giving me trouble. Wearing a knee brace helped, but the brace rubbed the skin off the back of my knee and I also wanted that to heal. So, not a lot of walking.

I wanted to nap and rest with the cats, which is very relaxing to me. When I get on the bed for an afternoon rest or nap, they climb on and nestle around me, purring. It's so wonderful. I lay there looking at the ceiling and letting my thoughts wander and listen to them purr.

I wanted to read some books. I have a pile. As any bibliophile knows, the reading never keeps up with the accumulation. I read three books (a disappointment since I'd set a goal of 5). The three I read are listed below. The thing is, I then bought 4 more. LOL, I'm behind once again, happily.

Banner of Truth Trust had a $3 sale. Are there any better words than that? Except Ligonier's $1 eBook sale or Ligonier's Friday $5 sale...or the elders at church piling up a stack of books the church had bought and saying "Here, take a book for free..." Our church is filled with readers.

Here's what I got at Banner of Truth's $3 sale-

Both Sides Now: Ecclesiastes and the Human Condition by Peter Barnes. I am fascinated with Ecclesiastes. I think it's because I was not saved until age 42, and I remember distinctly what it feels like to be lost. I think that is also why I'm so fascinated with grace.

Letters on Revival, by Ebenezer Porter. The author was an eyewitness to the New England revivals, and has valuable insights, warnings, and encouragements. I love the Puritans, I believe because I was raised in Rhode Island, one of the original colonies. My school history days were full of tales of Roger Williams and Anne Hutchinson and I was fascinated by people who clung to a religion so much that they would sail off in leaky boats across the Atlantic to pursue it. Their act was a powerful witness.

The Way Everlasting: A Study in Psalm 139, by E. J. Young. I'm intrigued by the Psalms. I don't really click with them for encouragement the way a lot of people do. I think it's because of my autistic brain not connecting with emotions as much. For encouragement, I like Ecclesiastes and Revelation, that is where I get my comfort, strangely. So this little book studying one Psalm, I hope will introduce me to the majesties I know the Psalm contains.

Books I Read:

Narrow Gate, Narrow Way by Paul Washer
Work and Our Labor in the Lord by James M. Hamilton
Internet Inferno: A Contemporary Warning and Reminder Regarding this Ancient Truth - "The Tongue is a Fire, the Very World of Iniquity, and is Set on Fire by Hell" James 3:6, by Michael John Beasley
Lit! Tony Reinke

I didn't finish Lit! the way I'd hoped. I had also wanted to start and finish The Believer's Joy by M'Cheyne and Idols of a Mom's Heart, two books our church recently gave away. But oh, well, the naps won out!

Things I Bought: (Must. Be. Frugal.)

File folders
Small Birdhouse
Small Planter
DampRid for the closet
All but the DampRid from The Special Store (local vintage thrift shop).

Books I Bought:

Banner of Truth $3 sale-
Both Sides Now: Ecclesiastes and the Human Condition
Letters on Revival by Ebenezer Porter
The Way Everlasting: A Study in Psalm 139 by E. J. Young

Must.Not.Be.Frugal when it comes to books...Axiom does not apply...

From Amazon-

The American Puritans by Perry Miller. One of the guys I follow on Twitter recommended the book. As mentioned, I love the Puritans, and yes, I judge a book by its cover, and I loved the cover. It's pretty. And New England-y.

Fortunately, summer is coming when I have the time off between Memorial Day and July 30, so I plan to read. I am still chugging along on the Challies Christian Book Challenge at the Avid level.

I also had a goal of organizing some things. I have one closet. My drawers were overflowing. I go through my clothes every two years or so and get rid of what I haven't worn, and make room. I was busy talking myself out of that when a friend dropped off two large trash bags of clothes she was giving me, so that rationalization ended that. I sorted hers, kept what suited and donated the rest, along with my own clothes that I needed to move along out of here. I've got one and only one closet in this place and I need to keep it manageable. So I organized the clothes in the bureau and the closet. Feels good! As well as donating.

And this might sound strange, but I also had a goal of organizing my jewelry. I don't like to wear jewelry that much. It feels funny on me, and heavy. I also leave it to the very last second when getting ready for work in the morning, and if I can't work the clasp, or if the strands are tangled, I am 100% likely to just throw it back in the box and go on with my day. I have nearly zero tolerance for jewelry frustrations. But when I do wear it, I get compliments, so obviously, it is important to look nice, or polished, or something.

I reorganized my box and untangled. I also did some surgery of removing the smaller clasps and putting larger links on them, for easier putting on or removal. Needle nose pliers and tweezers accomplished this while I was listening to Laura Twiss explain about Psalms 3-7. Still trying with the Psalms... I also took the time to clean the silver and wash the gold.

One other reorganizing project I had mentally scheduled as a goal, in addition to the clothes and jewelry, was my China display. I live in a 400 sf apartment and the kitchen is small. It has little counter space. And little wall space. I like to display my teacups and teapots in an orderly way. Doing so looks nice, because the china patterns are lovely to look at. Orderliness also affords easy access when I want to actually use them, which is practically every day. However I have some teacups doubled up and I don't like that. The china display is about 90% where I want it to be but I can't seem to get it over the top.

Those bottom two loops are not designed
for hanging cups. But I needed a spot to display them so...

Which caused the saucers to be stacked up apart from their cup

There is an unused space in the corner of the counter. It was jumbled and not used well. In a small apartment, every space counts, even space that's just a few inches. I searched for a long time for corner display shelving at Amazon and Amazon Warehouse. (Frugal tip: scroll to the very bottom of the page. See the Book Repository and Warehouse, two sections of the store that sell the items for lower prices.) Nothing. The shelf I have now actually holds a lot. I got it at a yard sale like 11 years ago for under $5.

Still, I searched for a replacement counter top shelf that maybe could hold more or in a better way. Nada. Stumped, I started thinking...what do I already have that would fit into that space? Something tall so the teapot I put on it will be displayed and not hidden. Hmmm...

Voila! I have a glass vase. It's clear so it won't make the space look crowded and just the right height to put the teapot on. I found a coaster of the right size and placed the Hall's 1920's tea pot on top. It freed up space for the Japanese cups clustered unseen in the corner and allowed me to spread out the doubled up tea cups a bit. The display is about 95% now. I still would like to display every tea cup with its saucer and another wall rack would solve that, but I simply don't have the wall space. I might have to live with this the way it is. As long as I do not buy another teacup...

The bowl is an Iroquois china, Harvest Time pattern, Mid-Century. 1958 - 1969
I use it for a fruit bowl. I have eaten all the fruit. 
I'm blessed to own 8 teapots, 11 china teacups, and three Japanese Yunomi cups. I figured out a way to display them all in my small apartment, somaybe I'm not doing so bad. I found a teabag display organizer on Amazon while I was looking for counter top china display shelving! I put it on my wish list, because the tea cupboard is the next thing I plan to organize.

I know I go on about organizing, but it is frustrating to me to see clutter. Any extra cluttr makes the place seem smaller. I also feel frustrated when I have to hunt, or wrestle things from their spaces to use them. Living tiny means extra steps anyway, you do not want to add to that with extra steps that are under your control. Example, getting a paper towel. I don't have room for it on the counter, so instead of one move, lean over and grab, I have to bend down, open cabinet under sink, take out the roll, rip one off, put back under counter, and close door. Instead of one step, there are now 6 steps. You do not want to add to that by having to reach, hunt, or reorganize, just to get one paper towel. Keep things streamlined as much as possible. Makes life easier.

Movies Watched:

Measure of a Man
East Side Sushi
The Ramen Girl
Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants
The Highwaymen
Barkley Marathons
The Polka King
Carrie Pilby

Youtube Channels Subscribed to:

Centsible Living with Money Mama (focusing on financial frugality and time saving)
Frugal Minimalist (life hack tips for saving money)
Dr. Lori Verderame (appraisals of thrift store items)
Alexandra Gater (home decor/interior design on a budget)

Sermons listened to:
Lots. Phil Johnson, John MacArthur, Mike Riccardi, Sinclair Ferguson, Steve Lawson, RC Sproul...I love these men and the way they exposit scripture. Also heard Laura Twiss for the first time (Paul Twiss's wife), teaching at the Ladies Ministry at Grace Community Church, called Every Woman's Grace.

Blogs written:

People seen or visited with:

As of Monday when I return to school, there are 31 1/2 days left with the kids, and 3 days of post-planning. We're done on May 24. So we are winding down. I can't believe another year has gone by. They do go quickly. I try to be productive and redeem the time. I sometimes feel I could do more. But can I? Should I? I can only do what I can do. I appreciate these respites from the loudness and (to me) chaos of life outside the apartment. My brain has to work so hard to just keep up with normal life. Sometimes I feel like George Jetson on the treadmill after the cat scares the dog and the treadmill speeds up to beyond his ability to keep up.

But Jesus will keep me, hold me, lift me.

Have a great Sunday and Monday everyone. Summer's a-coming!

It's the end of #sluglife. For now...

Monday, April 01, 2019

By Elizabeth Prata

This morning is the true first morning of Spring Break. I am at home, not at school. I am not hurrying to the copy room to copy the day's papers. I am not on the walkie calling for cleanup of the puke in the hall. I am not on duty in the loud lunchroom. I am not at my desk quickly reading the day's Memo of events. I am at home, even this hour at 10:30 am, in my pj's. I drank lovely coffee slowly, not gulped. I wrote a blog on The End Time about music. I have been listening to the Gaither channel on Pandora. I am content.

This is the scene:

Start the day off right, not just with coffee, but make it 'weekend special' by adding whipped cream.

My table/desk. Coffee, laptop, book in progress, and notes for next blog:

My constant companion while I write (only in the morning, in the afternoon he goes and climbs under the covers and stays in bed the rest of the day) Murray-

My afternoon plans. I'll get dressed and put away the laundry, also make the bed (hard to do with Murray in it) and then spend the afternoon reading. I have a lot of books on deck.

In case you can't see the titles on a small phone screen, they are:

  • Lit! Tony Reinke
  • Visual Guide to the Bible, Challies & Byers
  • In a Different Key: The Story of Autism, Donvan & Zucker
  • The Believer's Joy, M'Cheyne
  • It Can't Happen Here, Sinclair Lewis
  • Valley of Vision, Abbott, editor
  • Work & our Labor in the Lord, Hamilton
  • Idols of a Mother's Heart, Fox
  • Internet Inferno, Beasley
  • Banner of Truth Magazine
  • Southern Living

My food prep this week will still continue. I need to eat stuff and since I am the only one here, I have to cook it. I am working very hard not to have any processed food or any junk food etc. Meals to come:

Rice noodles with tofu and green beans
Baked spaghetti with spinach and mushrooms
Enchiladas with fresh cheese and avocado on top

Crabcake sandwich
Turkey sandwich
Green salads

Fruit (bananas, grapes, peaches, ugli fruit, plums)

I bought several gluten-free items Friday, which KILLED my budget, but I figured I'd try a few items and then frugally seed them into the occasional weekly menu. I got:

Freschetta pizza
Ezekiel sprouted grain bread
Base Camp blonde brownie
G-F spaghetti

That's $30 right there. Each gluten free item generally costs at minimum, $5. The pizza was $10. The spaghetti was on sale as was the brownie. Still. I cannot forsee buying all of these each week. Maybe one of them, once per month. But I am trying them and then keeping track of how I like them so I can make a mindful choice as to how to enhance my menus without getting sick all the time. I'll review them at some point soon.

OK I better get moving if I am to get on my schedule for reading by noon!

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Spring planting and patio decorations

By Elizabeth Prata

The pollen is too heavy outside for me to stay out long. My eyes get dry and itchy, and my nose runs. The sun is bright and the breeze is gentle, and the temps are perfect. But I scuttled back inside anyway, the pollen kills me. Here is the beginning of my refreshing the patio area. Soon when the plants and flowers are put out for sale (when freeze possibility has passed, early April) I'll get a few and plant into my pots.

My idea is to replant my small succulents into the square white planter I got. (Not pictured.) Also to have a flowering plant join the chicken on the table. I'll replant the two large pots on the ground. I might get a hanging plant for near the door.

It's not a whole lot, but it's more than I've done the last couple of years. Springtime is so fun!

Friday, March 29, 2019

Sad trombone

By Elizabeth Prata

My spring break started tonight. I celebrated by driving up to The Special Store in search of a certain teacup I'd seen on their photographic previews. The folks at the store buy estate sales, and then sell the lots that they have acquired in their store. There are many unique and beautiful things, some charming finds, and just plain useful items, too. When they get a new lot in, they often post photos from the estate to whet our appetite, though unpacking the items once they've arrived at the store's storage locker may take a week or two.

I saw this china set and fell in love with the teacup. I trust my gut when it comes to spotting things, and this one in the picture looked like it would be a good find.

Label said simply pottery set mid-century china. Special Store pic

Turns out it was. Or would have been. I found the plates, sandwich dishes, and saucers. But the teacup was not among them. No teacup? Waaah. The ladies who decorated the store and the ladies who unpacked the items had no idea about the teacup. They had not seen it.

It is from the Rhythm line, pattern "Lotus Hai" (RY-135) by Homer Laughlin Company and it was produced from circa 1945-1955 (Mid-century). HLC were the folks who brought us Fiesta Ware.

I have a soft spot for Homer Loughlin stuff. My nascent interest was birthed as a tot ambling around my grandparents' house. They had a house in the city and a house at the beach. The beach house was light and airy, and in the huge dining room with long table, was a built-in hutch with glass front. I loved the dishes stacked inside, these were the Fiesta ware items full of bright and bold colors. My favorite was the rose color, introduced in 1951.

When I grew up and started visiting yard sales, when I spotted a few Fiesta dishes it all came rushing back. I started collecting the original ones from the 1930s colors and the 1950s.

I paused the collecting for around 20 years, but when I moved to Georgia and found The Special Store I began to collect again. I stuck to looking for teacups and teapots. I can't go TOO crazy because I live in a small space.

The Homer Laughlin Company's series Rhythm is described as, 'Large Leaves, Green & White Floral, platinum trim.' Hopefully mostly lead-free, lol.

I bought a sandwich plate. I said to the ladies at the store that if they come across the teacup, I want it. I have low hopes, though. It probably broke in the transfer or unpacking, or something.

I have a Homer Laughlin Eggshell Cavalier teapot. The teapot is a mid-century style pot in Spring Song pattern. It was actively sold between 1952-1959. SO mid-century! Mine is indicated by the stamp as a 1955 period. It's large, the largest pot I own. I really like mid-century modern styles, as long as the motifs aren't overdone with the outer space patterns of galaxies and stars and stuff.

So that is how it goes. Sometimes you score, sometimes you don't. I usually score when I'm not looking for something specific. When I am, even if it from a fairly sure thing from their own photos, someone has bought it before I get there, and I miss out. I like to just go and see what's there and strikes my fancy.

I bought a square white ceramic planter to put my succulents in. I also got a sage green ceramic chicken for a patio table decoration. The aforementioned sandwich plate. And a small birdhouse. Not a lot, barely over $10, but I'm looking forward to rearranging the patio and refreshing it with some plants and flowers. It's been a few years since I did that. Picture tomorrow. The chicken is real cute.

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Don't be afraid of Ugli Fruit

By Elizabeth Prata

Our grocery store has a section where clerks place produce in a net bag and sell it for 99 cents. Normally, the fruit or vegetables are still good. For example, a tray of cherry tomatoes might have one lone moldy or squashed tomato in the entire tray, but they reduce it from $3.99 to .99. I buy it, throw out the inedible tomato, and eat the rest.

The other day there were two ugli fruits in the bag. I have never eaten them before. One advantage of my strictness with the net bag program is if there is anything on the reduced shelf even remotely palatable, I try it, even if I'm unfamiliar with the item. That way, I expand my palate and learn to eat new things. Otherwise I'd simply be eating scrambled eggs, blueberries, oatmeal, or soup every day and only those things.

I looked up on Youtube how to peel and eat an Ugli fruit. These fruits are in the family of grapefruit and tangerine. They are apparently juicy but not sour like the grapefruit, more sweet like the tangerine. Oh, ok, good to know. I never was able to get past looking at the ugly wrinkled thick skin to think of the fruit inside. Wikipedia explains this way
The Jamaican tangelo, also known by proprietary names ugli fruit, or uniq fruit, is a Jamaican form of tangelo, a citrus fruit that arose through the natural hybridization of a tangerine or orange with a grapefruit (or pomelo).
Above, two eggs getting ready to be poached and eyeing the ugli fruit for cutting

Very easy to peel. Cut off the pointy top and peel with hands
The woman describing the process in her video said that the membrane of the fruit is tough to chew and bitter, unlike a grapefruit, so I dispensed with it. Without testing it for myself I could see she was right, it was hard to pierce with a knife to open the membrane and extract the juicy fruit inside.

Break in half and tear off pith

I poked the individual segments and sliced the membrane open, extracting
the fruit inside. Half an ugli fruti was enough for me, one serving
So my breakfast Saturday was two poached eggs on gluten free toast, home fries, and half an ugli fruit. If you see an ugli fruit in the store, don't pass it up. It's juicy and tasty, and only requires a bit of work. Preparing an ugli fruit is a lot less work than an orange or a pineapple. The fruit should be without mold or dark spots, orange-ish in color at peak ripeness, or light green at just underripe. Enjoy!

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Backyard Spring 2019

By Elizabeth Prata

For some reason this week seemed to chew me up and spit me out. I had no particular issues and nothing untoward happened. It was just a busy, hectic, long week that took a toll on my body and mind.

I did write two major discernment articles this week on my other blog, one about Lori Loughlin and the College Admissions Scandal, and one about Francis Chan who seems to be sliding toward apostasy before our eyes. Those kind of articles take a toll on me.

Nevertheless, this morning is sunny, crisp, bright, and filled with birdsong. A new day to admire creation and be thankful to our Lord for the ability to go forward in joy.

I took a walk around the yard this morning, to see the flowers and hear the birds. There are many mature trees in our yard and along the quiet one-way street. There are pastures too. The birds love to fly through the yard and over the fields, alighting from tree to tree. The grass in the yard is also filled with wild flowers. As I walk I'm stepping on a springy cushion of verdant grass dotted with purple violets. I feel like a queen, being able to tread on such richness.

Here are some pictures from my short amble around the grass and bushes.

I don't know what this flower is, but I am fascinated with its perching and blooming at the very end of a long twig from the bush it's attached to-

Irises I think. There is a bush at the front of the house facing the street-

The birds like to perch on the top of the mailbox post, and anywhere else on the post, lol.

I wish I'd noticed when I took the picture that the auto focus was on the branch of the tall tree and not on the moon. The moon was slightly pink, reflecting the rising sun's pink-

Fiery start to the day. The sky was ablaze-

Nothing says weekend to me, an educator, than buses at rest. This is of the school across the street-

The sun had just peeked over the horizon and made the trees across the pasture glow-

The violets in the grass. I love them-

Have a wonderful day everyone!

Friday, March 08, 2019

Cat on a roof and broken vacuum

By Elizabeth Prata

Who dat?

On a warmish and finally a non-rainy day, I pulled in to my driveway at end of day and parked the car in the garage. Breathing a sigh of relief because the day was done, I turned from sliding the garage door down and heard the cacophony of birds in the 100 foot magnolia. The leafy foliage on the tree is too dense for me to see the birds, but I sure heard them.

I decided to sit under the tree at the picnic table for a while with my camera to see what I could shoot. The birds turned out to be a "murder of crows". Not so sweet or gentle, but they were active and the leaves were rustling as though a 20 knot breeze was blowing through. The birds make the yard so dynamic. Always something to see or hear.

Soon I noticed I was not the only observer of all this activity. A neighborhood cat had climbed on the roof and was just dying to get to the birds, who were staying just out of claw's length.

I watched for a while longer, enjoying the warm sun and cool air. No humidity. No stress. A clean and inviting apartment awaiting. There's something restorative about being outside, listening to the birds, being surprised by a cat on a roof (it wasn't hot tin, though). Foiled, he eventually departed when the crows did. The cat slithered away like smoke and the crows flew over the pasture to the next set of trees in the neighbor's yard.

This afternoon, I did my grocery shopping and I'm settled down in comfy clothes right now. I bought some salmon trimmings, a stuffed crab, two salmon patties, and some tofu for a stir fry as my proteins/main meals. Also got a lot of salad stuff. My vacuum died and my new one ordered from Amazon is due tomorrow, so I have that to look forward to this weekend, sigh. Not so glamorous. With a broken vacuum I could at least NOT vacuum guilt free for a few days, right?

For now though, my pot of black tea in a Noritake Chatham china cup is all I need. Plus the snoozing cats. I feel an early bedtime coming on.

Saturday, March 02, 2019

With the car seat warmer AND the air conditioning on...decadent!

By Elizabeth Prata

I was crazy tired but went for some retail therapy Friday afternoon anyway. There was no rain for the moment and the skies were lightening and pretty. It's a gorgeous ride in this bucolic area, so I decided to go for it. It was a busy week at school that finished with Book Character Day. Phew.

I have a seat warmer in the driver's side seat of my car and it feels so good on my back after 8 hours of walking on concrete floors. It was 68 degrees and humid, so I turned on the air conditioner too. With the gospel radio channel on, I was starting to feel luxuriously relaxed.

The owner at the shop happened to be there and moving things around to make the back room (furniture) look like a showroom. I heard before that she was taking more of a hands-on interest because she loves the shop and wanted to spend more time here. She and a friend were hard at work making the place organized, clean, and attractive. The place is usually a jumble. Sadly she did not have any step ladders, the item I went there for. The two they have they use in the shop. She said she would email me if she found one at the estate sale they were buying at this weekend.

I bought a pad of vintage paper for school, it's 5X8 and lightly colored in pastel colors and some crayons. The kids will love drawing on these blank sheets. And a throw pillow for $3, it's very pretty. I have been watching Dr Lori Verderame, a famous and knowledgeable appraiser on her own site and on Youtube, learning a lot and enjoying her videos.

She said what my mother taught me these many years ago, you collect good furniture, precious metals including jewelry, and fine art. I love fine art. At the shop I saw a wonderful oil painting still life of flowers. Wowsers. Their prices at The Special Store on art are excellent. Last summer I bought an original watercolor that I personally believe is pretty old. I can tell it's special, whoever the painter was. I have been thinking to have Dr Lori do an online appraisal of it for $59, the next time I have a spare $59 lol.

Anyway, this one was by an artist named Campos. As I looked closer at the price tag, it was listed from the estate sale they bought it from for $325, and Owner Daphne said she'd sell it for $125. Aw, man, out of my league. Back to the pillow.

I had a nice chat with the clerk that's always there, Sherry. She offered me some tea and pound cake but alas, I had to go before my fast diminishing energy drained away completely. She gave me a couple of free range chicken eggs as a parting gift. That shop is part museum, part shop, and part safe zone to just relax. I love it there.

I drove the beautiful route to the next destination, the grand opening of Family Dollar. I watch Kathryn (a Christian lady, married with family) and her DIY thrift videos called Do It On A Dime. She always goes to the Dollar Tree and comes out with interesting ideas to use the things she buys on sale. So I was interested to see what Family Dollar would have. It was not a lot different from Dollar General but it was organized and clean and the aisles were wide, unlike the mess that the Dollar G I usually frequent is in. Their prices were almost the same as Dollar General so I decided not to go out of my way to this store since there is a Dollar General located half a mile from my school or another one an eighth of a mile from my house.

I wound up at Kroger to get groceries. I've been trying Friday nights after school instead of Sunday after church, but the place is crazy busy then so I think I'll abandon that. Not many deals, but I found a few, some for the pantry at school and one or two for me. My meals this week will be veggie soup for lunches, and black bean patties and quinoa bites for dinners. I had planned to use the two free range eggs poached atop gluten free bread this morning, but I forgot to buy the bread! I was so tired by then and the clouds and thunder were rolling in that I just quit and checked out. I was in bed by 9:00.

We are supposed to get wicked storms this weekend, heavy rain and thunder, so I'm happy to be home and ready to clean and then attend to my Bible stuff.

Have a wonderful rest of the weekend everyone.

Thursday, February 28, 2019

The Story of a Frugal Dinner

By Elizabeth Prata

I scored this week on the Free Friday Download.

Kroger grocery store has a program where they have one item for free every Friday. Usually it's a small bag of candy, or chips or other snack food. Occasionally it's real food like yogurt, or this week: Queso Fresco, fresh cheese.
Queso blanco, with similar cheeses including queso fresco, is a creamy, soft, and mild unaged white cheese, commonly used in the Iberian Peninsula, several Latin American countries including Mexico, and many parts of the United States. The name queso blanco is Spanish for "white cheese", but similar cheeses are used and known throughout the world. ... It is similar to (if slightly more acidic than) pot cheese and farmer cheese.
Queso blanco is considered one of the easier cheeses to make, as it requires no careful handling and does not call for rennet or a bacterial culture. Wikipedia
Hmmm, what can I do with fresh cheese? Googling this query brought me to a recipe for cheesy enchiladas.

Being gluten free, I've tried corn tortillas before but they always taste so bad to me. Then a few weeks ago having dinner at a friend's house, corn tortillas were part of a make-your-own taco bar. I added really juicy tomatoes to my plate and when the juice mixed with the corn tortilla, it was transformed.

Seeing the recipe for enchiladas, the explanation section called for heating the tortillas, which I always did, and then giving the tortilla an oil bath or dredging it in enchilada sauce! Remembering the tonato sauce transformation, I thought Bingo! Let's do this!

I followed the recipe and added enchilada sauce to the bottom of my baking dish while my tortillas were heating on the griddle. I dredged both sides in additional enchilada sauce, and added the now crumbled fresh cheese. I placed these babies seam side down, and added chopped onion to the top, then the rest of the cheese, topping with the remaining enchilada sauce.

Bake at 350 for 25 minutes or so. You can top with avocado and sour cream, both ingredients I had on hand. A gluten free, inexpensive dinner! Win-win!

The take-away: I started with the free ingredient and made it the main ingredient. I built the dish around the cheese. Then looked for recipes featuring that ingredient where I also had most of the other indgredients on hand. The avocado, sour cream and onion were in my pantry and fridge. I only had to buy the enchilada sauce. It took a minimum of effort and time toput it together. I did it on a school night. It took 20 minutes to assemble and 25 minutes to heat through in the oven.


Fresh Cheese: $0.

Tortillas: A packet of 30 of them is $1.50, so 6 tortillas would cost 3 cents each, or for the 6 I cooked, 18 cents.

Enchilada sauce, $1.50. I used the whole can.

Onions: negligible. I  used a bit of one large onion. Shavings, really.

Avocado: on sale for .77 cents each. I used half of one with my meal.

Sour cream: on sale for 99 cents.

My serving was three enchiladas. So the cost for this meal was roughly $1.50. You can add Mexican rice to the meal as a side dish, but I figured the tortillas with the cheese and avocado were rich enough, and I had a pot of tea going on the side, so, I cut it off there. For Friday night's meal of the remaining three enchiladas, I might add rice to the festivities, but for now, it's time to eat (frugally)--

Buon Appetito!

Saturday, February 23, 2019

Errands are fun when you have scenery like this

By Elizabeth Prata

I am no fan of errands. When I finish work or school, which are the only regularly scheduled activities that draw me away from my home, I like to scuttle back ASAP. But being alive means you have to sustain yourself, and that means an occasional trip to the bank, mechanic's, hairdresser's, Dollar Store, grocery store and so on.

It's been raining non-stop here for a good few weeks. And cold. A cold rain with temps in the forties is just chilling. But I see that the rain is helping the blossoms grow. We have forsythia and dogwood and some fruit trees blooming already. We also have greened-up grass and some buds on the trees.

As I was driving home yesterday after school, I had to stop at the Bank. Although the day was a bit gray, the scenes around weren't. I love my little town and the county I'm living in. Here are a few charming scenes. I got a huge kick out of the no trespassing signs. Looks like they mean it!