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Viewing the 'Food, glorious food' Category: My English Castle's Personal Finance Blog
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My New Love

January 26th, 2020 at 07:52 pm

Well, I hate to admit it, but I am in love--with my Instant Pot. I resisted it a long time, and we're still getting to know one another. I said, "I don't need anything new cluttering up my life and my kitchen." But we've now formed a deep and delicious bond.

Yes, I thought my life was complete. But our recent bean soup interaction has proven to me that while I thought my life was full, it has so vastly improved.

Yes, I am in love.

Doggie Dental Dollars

January 25th, 2020 at 12:06 am

Our old dog had her teeth cleaned today. I'm so glad we had it done. You may recall we spent Christmas Eve at the emergency vet with her mouth pain. And while the estimate (with x-rays) was $975, no x-rays were needed, so it was only $666. She's home now and resting.

My DH also had an ear surgery follow-up today, but since it was post-op, no co-pay. We squelched the urge to go out to lunch, came home, and continued hacking away at last Sunday's ham. It's at the bone stage now, so quiche and bean soup are in the future. I've got the beans soaking now. And he should be able to go back into work next week--perhaps midweek.

Not much other news. Looking forward to the weekend--another snowy one here.

A Fun but Cold Saturday

January 19th, 2020 at 10:23 pm

I got some course prep done Saturday morning, caught up with laundry, and thought about tackling "the drawer of death" as my husband calls it. It's where insurance papers go to die as well as articles I somehow think I need to save and coupons, school announcements, and various horrors.

That's been pushed off for during today's football game. I figure it will be a bad game for us here in Cheeseland so DH and I will work through the drawer to distract us. I'm hoping to get through it, file the flex spending, and put things in their proper files.

So what was fun about Saturday? We went to a great birthday party for a dear friend thrown by her 85-year-old dad. They're also Brits so lots of UK talk, really smart people with interesting jobs, opinions, and fun. Great food and a beautiful flat overlooking Lake Michigan too. Unfortunately on the way out, I took a tumble on the ice, smashing the cake I had in my hand, and sliding into the street. I struggled to get up and cursed the fact that DH and I took separate cars so I could pick up DD from work. I can feel the wrench to my back a bit, but it seems much better today. Then on the way into the car, I fell again. I love snow, but ice--ugh.

Got home rattled but safe and sound. And at 1am, DH and I finished our 1000-piece jigsaw of the London skyline. We're such dorks that it was way more fun than it should have been.

So today is church, lots of cooking, more course prep, football and the drawer of death. Then here comes the semester.

Yikes! Where Did the Day Go?

January 14th, 2020 at 10:46 pm

I thought I'd have a solid day to prep for my class tomorrow night and get some other things done. But straightening out a situation with an employee's contract took (ugh) 18 e-mails and half the day.

My DH is bound for ear surgery tomorrow. His first ear was done about 16 months ago treating his otosclerosis and was 100 percent successful. But it means a 4am trip or the pre-op so it'll be an early night for us tonight, and my evening class starts tomorrow night at 5:30. Look for me sleeping in on Thursday.

Today wasn't a total waste. I used up the 7 pasta shells in the cupboard to make a 1/3 batch of stuffed shells for DD's dinner. And I made a big pot of chili for DD and DH to have tomorrow night.

Freezer excavation continues. Ground beef and roasted tomatoes from the freezer went into the chili and an Italian sausage and leftover broccoli went into the shells. But I bet it will be March before we get through everything. Especially with a ham still in the fridge. But if only everyone in the world had such problems, huh? We're lucky, blessed, and grateful.

Better get back to that prep!

More Freezer Food

January 11th, 2020 at 06:23 am

Tonight's freezer feast was pork chops in a ginger peach sauce. The peach sauce came off my jam-making spree of two years ago--and the jam was still lovely. I wish I could say it's getting less crowded in there, but there's still so much. But who can complain? It's fully of lovely food just waiting to be prepared.

I spent the day grading projects. I'm doing fill-in grading for a colleague for which the university is actually managing to pay me. They're large project for advanced writing classes, and while it's decent enough pay, I don't think I'll do it again. They're time consuming, and my break is already almost gone.

Then I ran out to have coffee with a couple friends, stopping for fill-in groceries on the way home. But it was pre-football, pre-snowstorm, Friday night frenzy. They were completely out of carts!

It should be wacky tomorrow if we get the kind of snow they predict. We're scheduled to have dinner with friends, but we'll see how that works out in blizzard conditions.

More Found Jewelry and Weekend Updates

January 6th, 2020 at 06:38 pm

Thanks for your input on the ring we've found. I've posted a notice on our local FB page, but no responses yet.

In a strange coincidence, last year my DH found a Tiffany bracelet in the cafeteria at work. At the time he posted it on their company intranet, but got no responses. It sat in their lost and found for a year, and now has been returned to him. When he brought it home, I looked inside to see it was engraved with three initials. Because he's a goofball, he had not looked. So this morning we contacted a friend who works in HR at the company (a very big life insurance company) and they've found four possible matches with those initials. An engraved Tiffany bracelet like that retails for $335, and it seems like it must've been a gift. I'll bet someone is missing it. HR has now contacted all four to see if they claim it. Stay tuned for more on our missing jewelry And if you're missing something, please contact me; I likely have it!


Weekend spending was very limited. DD and I did a quick Costco trip for school lunch supplies, but the freezer excavation continues. I defrosted two lonely chicken breasts and turned one into enchiladas with the help of some leftover cream cheese from a work event, a can of Ro-tel and some veggies. The weekend's turkey stock will host the other piece of chicken for some Tex-Mex chicken soup as we're long on black beans.

One highlight was bringing our reverse Advent calendar box to church. To support local food pantries, they printed up a list of a food item to deposit in a box for every day of Advent--ranging from cereal to beans, tuna, canned fruit, etc. Twenty four items filled up the box. The congregation filled over 150 boxes! It was really fun to see all giving.

Freezer Excavation and an Odd Thing

January 5th, 2020 at 05:52 am

One of my January--maybe into February--goals is to eat through the freezer. It's been too long since it's been really emptied. So to that end today I took out two more things to cook. So we had chicken thighs for dinner and I made two enormous pots of turkey broth from the bones of a turkey I'd roasted in November. There are enough thighs for another meal this week, and I'll make soup tomorrow and freeze the other half of the stock.

I'm trying to make it fun--a freezer scavenger hunt!

Now for the odd thing. I was cleaning out a summer purse (what? it's January?) and found what I thought was a circle clasp for a key ring. I remember picking it up sometime last summer, maybe in Madison or Chicago when we were out with our French student. I was about to throw it out when I looked a little closer, and I think it's a wedding band. But I have NO idea where I picked it up. My husband says he has a vague memory of it, but can't remember where we were. So what do I do with it? If it were in Milwaukee, I'd advertise in the free lost and found, but I don't think it was. It's got a few small stones and a jeweler's mark for gold inside. And it looks like it's been run over or been through the garbage disposal. Ideas?

A No-Spend Day

January 3rd, 2020 at 03:59 pm

Yesterday was a no-spend and eat from the freezer day. We needed something simple and lighter after all the holiday food. I made potato leek soup with frozen leeks from last summer's CSA and some potatoes which were looking a little sad.

We did some cat sitting work, and I worked on my fill-in adjunct work. My DH is still really struggling with his cold, so he's just hanging on.

Today we drop off some gifts, and since it's DD's last "official" day of school holiday, we goof around.

I had a small win with DD's trip to France. The auto-pay didn't go through and they charged us a $40 (!) late fee. No idea WHY the auto-pay didn't work, but I got them to waive the late fee. Sometimes all you have to do is ask.

Battening Down

October 11th, 2019 at 02:17 am

When I got home from the university this afternoon, I put on the remaining storm windows and looked up some new soup recipes. It must be fall, eh?

We have only a few weeks left of our CSA share. Right now we have loads and loads of potatoes, onion, leeks, and squash as well as celeriac, kohlrabi, and so much more. I think it'll be leek and potato soup tomorrow--maybe a load of roasted veggies over the weekend.

It's week six of the semester, so buried in grading and work. If the weather turns out to be as nasty as they're saying, it'll be a good weekend to stay in, grade papers, and make soup.

I visited the benefits fair at the university yesterday, got my free flu shot, and investigated other health and dental plans. I think we'll probably renew what we had this year. And tomorrow my wellness incentive forms are due. I can't access them until today's activities process, so it needs to be done tomorrow.

Week One Done

September 28th, 2018 at 06:53 pm

All seems to be going well at DH's new job. He's having a bit of trouble with his fear of heights as the new office is 23 floors up. But I hope he'll gradually get used to it. And again, he loves their free lunch, And he's using his university transit pass to get him on the bus and back for free. He's become cheap to have around!
I've also been pretty cheap this week--spending only on a couple cups of coffee and not much else. We also have piles of CSA veggies so grocery spending has been minimal.

I have a large pile of grading to tackle, and instead, spent the morning on university "service" evaluating Fulbright grant applicants. It's very fun to see what other folks are doing, and I always enjoy the others on the panel.

We've got theatre tickets to see "In the Heights" tomorrow night from the season package I bought DH for his birthday. DD is a huge theatre geek, and she's going with us. It should be fun.


The autumnal weather is making me want to bake. I see a pumpkin loaf or cake in the weekend's forecast.

Happy Fridays to all of you.

Lots to Report

September 9th, 2018 at 09:21 pm

Hmm--It's been a week or so since last I blogged, and what a busy week it's been. DH had more interviews, but has taken the contract at his former employer that he left about 20 months ago. It's a great hourly rate, and honestly, he really likes it there. We think he starts on Wednesday after all the checks. Glad we got his drug test in before his surgery.

So yes, he's also had ear surgery. Last Thursday we drove to a hospital about an hour west of us at (ugh) 4:30 a.m. for his stapedectomy. He's never had any surgeries or much medical, and he was a nervous wreck. But all went well, and I think he was a bit sobered by folks getting pacemakers, stents, and much more serious things. We'll know in a few weeks how successful it's been restoring his hearing. Right now his ear is full of packing which will be removed on Friday

School started for DD; all's well there. School also started for me, and while my classes seem fine, my new administrative function is headache inducing. There are plenty of my colleagues who would rather not speak to one another, so they've decided I'm their intermediary. Because I'm in charge of class scheduling, I've had everything from pleas, to demands, to outright anger about next semester's schedule. All of a sudden I can see who the easy folks are, and who is decidedly difficult. It's going to be an interesting time.

This afternoon DD and I bought a Harry Potter package at the local theater. We got tickets for 9 shows--all the Potter movies and Fantastic Beasts for $27. We go the next eight Sundays. I really enjoyed seeing HP1 on the big screen. So much grander than DVDs at home.
It's fun for us to hang out too--if there's a week I can't go, she can always take a friend.

I've been busily using our garden and CSA veggies. Friday night it was Southern Tomato Pie, followed by Croatian Chicken last night, and tonight veggie curry.
Time to ramp up a bit of frugality. We've been too lax lately.

Unemployment Mood Lifters

August 25th, 2018 at 12:30 am

My DH is a moody soul sometimes, and unemployment has not helped him. He's still finishing up his summer independent study, and he's put WAY more into it than need be, but it's good for him to have something to focus on--especially since he really has to wait out the ear surgery before he can start anything.

And I'm busy with my back-to-school prep and our daughter's stuff too. He's been very reluctant to go into uberfrugal mode, and while I was a bit ticked off at him at first, now I see he's a person that needs a few creature comforts to help him through this. I've loosened the grocery budget, started to make a bit better meals, and started looking at UJK airfares for Christmas. He needs something other than the pre-surgery wait and the job wait. He did the presurgical physical today, and the doc filled in all the details for his annual wellness rebate. I'm in the middle of the "wellness activity" now mandated to earn the rebate of $150. The guided meditation option has almost put me to sleep the last couple days. But heck, it's $150.

We're off on a little field trip tomorrow. I'll fill in the details when we return.

A Good Sign?

August 22nd, 2018 at 04:44 am

Dh had a phone interview with his former employer of a few years ago. He did contract work for them for 15 years, and though the work was not scintillating, they're a solid place.

The plus sides are many: it's a downtown location and he LOVES the bus. And he gets free bus fare with his history tuition. They also have free lunch. Unbelievable, I know, but he ate free for years. And he knows and likes a lot of people there. He's much more social at work than I am, and he'd like to be back there. The interviewer told a mutual friend that he thought it sounded positive. Fingers crossed there's another interview.

Our DD and I went to a free event from the local theatre company. They're doing "In the Heights" in September and we got to sit in on a few songs and hear all about they're upcoming productions. And they had free food.

DH also has lunch with a contracting company tomorrow. Free food is the theme of the day!