Neighbor Nancy is eaten by her garden…instead of the other way around.


( Out of breath and holding a garden soil smudged glass of lemonade, Neighbor Nancy plops in front of the computer.)

Whew! Am I exhausted?!

Please forgive the recent drop off in quality and quantity of posts.

After a relentless week of rain and cold, my formerly beautifully tilled gardens are waist high in weeds. Okay, not waist high, but it sure as heck fire feels that way. Plus some new weed with roots in China is trying to take over the mini orchard.

I am so far behind now that it is not even funny.

Please forgive me, but you’ll have to hang out in the hammock for a couple of weeks, while I catch up. Feel free to help yourself to some strawberry lemonade and a Philadelphia sticky bun. Most of the books are in the attic. Help yourself.

Now there’s no need to take me off your blog reader.

I’m not disappearing forever. I just need a solid block of time to focus or else I’ll have to start writing about blog writing instead of real life and that just seems dreadfully mundane.

Please use the comments to ship topics you would like to see covered. Feel free to share recipes and links so we have more topics to dive into. Any quick questions can be e-mailed to kitewrite@gmail.com. I’ll try to get back to you as soon as possible.

Also, in the beginning of June, we need to start discussing canning and preserving more seriously as the strawberries ripen. So get that stuff ready. The recipes I will be teaching are mostly free of store bought pectin. Usually no more than fruit, sugar and a little lemon juice. That kind of thing … very simple. I’m going to challenge everyone to make at least one batch of jam. We’ll use the water bath method so no pressure canner needed. A pasta or stock pot will be fine. Don’t worry. It will be easy. Maybe messy, but you’ll be kicking yourself for not trying it sooner.

Now don’t forget you can use the search bar above the calendar to search for stuff, too.

I’ll be back as soon as I can. Keep those questions, recipes and frugal ideas coming.

(Neighbor Nancy contemplates washing some of the mud from her hands and the keyboard. Instead, she flies out the back door toward the garden with her apron strings fluttering behind her as the screen door slams shut.)

See you after a bit.

What would you like to read more of?

Do you have any backyard animals? chickens, goats, rabbits?

What is your favorite “making do” tip?

What is the weirdest thing you ever found a second (recycled ) use for?

Have you tried making your own bread? sourdough?

How is your garden coming?

What are you growing this year?

Do you sing while you pull weeds? ( Don’t tell, but I sometimes curse.)

What’s your favorite frugal meal?

Share these thoughts with your neighbors in the comments section. Answer once. Answer a million times. And for pity sake get to know one another. You all are wonderful friends.

Published in: on May 15, 2009 at 9:18 pm  Comments (5)  

After Hours Mischief at Neighbor Nancy’s


After the work of the day is done, the serious playing begins. When you live next door to your pop. And your pop is an antique truck fanatic. Well, let’s just say that it is charmed life I have lived. Here are a few pictures of the recent typical adventures.

One of the first adventures of Spring includes a tow to the top of the hill for an exciting roll start for the poor winter weary little Model A engine.

One of the first adventures of Spring includes one Ford pulling another to the top of the hill for an exciting roll start for the poor winter weary little Model A engine.

You know, I don’t think I ever saw the Waltons try this method. Too bad they didn’t have an F-250 to do the job.

After the tow up the hill, my pop unhooked the chain and whirled around the corner, popped the clutch and the engine roared to life. Every Spring, he tries to start it cold, but after such a long period of hibernation, he always end up doing it this way. Of course, this way is much more fun.

The towing of the Model A pick-up is a signal for me. It means Summer is coming. That the garden better be underway. That I need to stock up on chocolate chips for all the cookie requests.

“Hey, Naner, I’m headed to such-and-such truck show. Do you think you could make a batch or two for my truck buddies and I?”

“Of course, Pop.”

I don’t mind, ’cause a nicer bunch you’ll never meet.

And so it goes. Parades, auctions ( that mortify my mother as she wonders what’s coming home next ) and loads of antique truck shows. The loading, the hauling, the hearty breakfast before dawn on the road at “the best little diner” in some very specific town en route.

Did I mention that my dad knows all the best food places in a 100 mile radius of our house? Bingham’s for cream puffs, Snydersville dinner for pie, and a zillion other places each with their own specialty.

After arriving at any show, the big bustle is around the trucks as they pull in and unveil the latest of beautiful restorations. After some hand shakes, how do-you-dos and chatter about who brought what, they begin to migrate.

Oh, yes they stroll around contemplating each treasured antique, but it all leads to one eventuality. Food.

Barbaqued pulled pork or chicken, vinegar fries, funnel cakes, snow cones, popcorn from the antique popper wagon, lemonade from a barrel. And let us not forget that he still has a giant bag of “chocolate chippers” in the cab of a centrally located show truck (for easy access.) Oh, it is just marvelous!

After all that, you might as well walk the hundred or so miles home, cause you’ll never get the calories off any other way.

Of course, it’s not all about the shows. There’s a lot of just local fun to be had, too.

The big question: What is the best way to take a bunch of people to the local dairy for ice cream?

The way "little boys" of any age go for ice cream.  They might go a whopping 15 mph.  Zippy!

The way "little boys" of any age go for ice cream. They might go a whopping 15 mph. Zippy!

While I no longer wear roller skates to every show and pray there’s a pool, I do still enjoy the occasional show or a ride  for ice cream.  If for no other reason, it is fun to see my father’s world.  A world where the toys are big, the food says Summer and the friends are true. It is a fantastic way to catch a glimpse of the character that is my pop.

Neighbor Nancy’s Mysterious Labotomy


(Neighbor Nancy stares blankly at the screen with just the slightest hint of drool at the edge of her parted lips)

Nothing.

I have total writer’s block.  Ferocious, evil, mind-numbing writer’s block.

If you have a question, concern, hint, tip, kick in the seat of the pants for me, please fire away.

Questions on homesteading,budgeting, getting-by, frugality, baking, cooking,gardening, backyard livestock, a particular vegetable, fruit,critter, whatever.   I am soooooo stuck.

E-mail it. Meebo it. Skywrite it.

Somebody pass me a sticky bun and a topic, please.

(Neighbor Nancy covers her head with her apron and slumps into a quality pout.)

The Beauty of a Recession — Where to Invest Now


If you came looking for stock tips, surf on. The market is too volatile. Think tangibles.

As everything crashes around us, deals abound.

The following advice is only for those out of all debt except possibly mortgage. Otherwise, the best investment you can possibly make is to pay off all the debt you can.

Assuming your pantry is stuffed to bursting, all your bills are caught up, and your garden is growing… or about to, let’s look to the future.

Winter clothes:

The kids don’t stop growing. While cool weather gear is on clearance, consider buying for the future. Simple, classic styles a size or two ahead. This goes for you, too. Nice coats, wool sweaters are all deeply discounted, yet many sizes are still available. Warm clothing= a need

Electronics:

My mom just got a printer for less than the ink that goes in it. Keep your eyes peeled. Try woot.com that offers a new gizmo every night at midnight. Computer, DVD player or digital are dying, now is about the best price you’ll get. Electronics (used for money making purposes)= need Otherwise, like it or not, they are wants.

Furniture:

I have no idea why furniture sales go to heck. Do that many people really redecorate before their furniture literally sits them on the ground? I’ve never been that financially comfortable. Well, what ever. The prices are great. So if you’ve been wanting to replace that chair that has a funny smell that the dog has chewed to shreds, go for it. Cash, paid in full, only. The only furniture that is truly a need is a mattress that gives you good enough rest to keep trudging. For the most part, like it or lump it, furniture is a want.

Luxury:

Oh, there are deals here, but I generally consider them thoroughly in the want not even close to need category. Too bad. Surf to some other blog to learn about them.

The general theory — once you are paying for an 80% off item, you are paying less than the store did for it. Yippeee!

(Neighbor Nancy looks over her glasses and contemplates the recliner with all the exposed wood due to the cats wrong assumption that it is their clawing post. She dismisses the idea, realizing the money is still better spent on canning jars.)

(sigh)

What wonderful thing

The New Do-Hicky on the Right — help!


If your here to help, skip to the bottom.

So, for anyone unfamiliar, the big box on the right is so you can talk directly to me if I’m hanging around here somewhere.  We can chat back and forth a bit.

Noone will see anything you type there, except me.  So you can write or ask freely without fear of anyone else thinking: well that is a simple question.  An attitude I won’t tolerate here anyway.

However, some folks are shy.  This is meant to help.

I will also try to set up a weekly chat for us here, but I don’t know how to do that.

If anyone does know how please walk me through it.  Some readers have expressed an interest.  We could all get together on my back porch for coffee and sticky buns, while we visit.  I think that would be very cool.

Isn’t there some internet savvy student out there who can help me?

Published in: on March 19, 2009 at 8:55 am  Leave a Comment  
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A Very Frustrated Neighbor Nancy Throws Doughballs at a Blogging Network


(Neighbor Nancy rips off her apron, throws it over the back of a chair, and plops herself noisily into her computer chair )

I must begin with an apology to you, dear reader.  The following is completely unrelated to my usual content.  I need to vent a wee bit.

Brace yourself for a very un-lady-like post. There might be abundant cursing as I fumble for words. I am so frustrated that I could bite the tip of my rubber spatula right off!

If you are unfamiliar with this little bit of writing I do here, let me explain. I try … and I mean I try very hard to write entertaining and informative content to help readers learn to be a little more independent. A few simple skills and ideas to help you get through the difficult financial times that are engulfing our nation the entire globe. Things like how to budget, purchase wisely, grow at least some of your own food no matter where you live.

During the Great Depression years our government did this sort of thing through the medium of radio. Little shows like Aunt Sammy, offered tips and recipes. Now, the information is still out there, but not only do you have to dig for it, but it is an absolute snore to read.

I am trying to make it a little fun.

It takes courage to try something new, learn a new skill, change the patterns of your life. I write for strong, intelligent individuals, who are trying to get by and just need a little advice here and there.

(Neighbor Nancy curses, counts to ten, and takes a deep breath)

In an attempt to get this information to the people who could benefit from it, I signed up to be interviewed by a large blogging network that targets a decent portion of the people I hope to reach. I was informed that…

Wait. I don’t want to misquote here…

Ah yes, here we go.

“I don’t think you’re quite ready …(removed to protect the offending network. And, no it was not wordpress, who I love)…You’re using a free blog without your own domain name and I understand that you’re just getting your feet wet with it all.

Shout at us again when you make your move towards a full fledged blog presence! We’ll be glad to consider you then.”

I have absolutely no problem with being turned down as a newbie. After all, I only have 91 posts with only 2,802 views over my very short 50 days of existence. I am well aware that this blog is in its infancy. That excuse alone would have been fine.

How-F*%#ING-ever…

To imply that because I do not pay to publish and am therefore not worthy is offensive. That because I do not support a paid site with content swaying advertising…

Because after all, why does a thinking person trust public television, NPR or Consumer Reports?

You know what?

I’m a friggin’ frugal blog for cryin’ out loud! I encourage you do your own research. Any product or site I mention includes the proviso: couldn’t you make that yourself… or find it at a better price.

I have no problem with other personal finance bloggers choosing to advertise. That is their choice. That is how they bring in extra income. That buys food or clothing for their families. I can respect that.

But for me and the educational nature of this particular work of writing, I feel it is inapropriate and cluttered.

I will not be paying to be published. There will not be advertising. To bad if that means I do not have “full fledged blog presence.” Tough noogies!

Any book or product I mention, I have read or used and found to be truly helpful. And let’s remember books can be found for free at the library.

(sigh)

I humbly ask that if you know someone that could gain something from these writings that you pass it on to them. If you like what I write and are internet savvy, please add me to stuff like StumbleUpon or anything you can think of. I am admittedly clueless here.

After all, the spirit here is a little friendly free advice.

Last fall my husband got a job earning more than twice any past income. We are still well below the poverty level and I will be damned if I will go for food stamps until I have planted every dad-blasted inch of my lawn with a food producing garden. As long as the three of us are eating healthily, there will be no ads. My writings come from our own experiences of trying to “get by”. I practice what I preach for our own financial survival. Period.

Please take a moment to leave a comment.

Am I wrong in feeling this way?

Should I clutter the site up with ads?

Feel free to add your own rant!

( Neighbor Nancy reties her apron and leaves to hand knead some bread to get her frustrations out )

( She is heard mumbling as she marches away )

Consumerist morons. Isn’t it your friends, family or neighbors that you turn to for a little free advice or do you go ask a bloody f*%#in’ salesman?

Shouldn’t we be proud of our no-debt, non-consumerist financial independence?

Published in: on March 17, 2009 at 7:35 pm  Comments (17)  
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Getting-By Together:Little Kitchen Helpers


If you really are not used to cooking all your own meals, it can be a little tough at first. Let it be an adventure, take others with you and be prepared to laugh at your mistakes.

I always just assumed that everybody knew how to cook everything. Well, forgive my ignorance.

The reason I can cook? I helped my mom, who created everything from oatmeal bread to sticky buns, yogurt to ice cream, chicken stock to stew, cottage cheese to cheese cake. She looked at the kitchen as our own adventure in chemistry and mathematics.

By eight years old, I could double or divide any recipe in my head.

By encouraging my brother and I to “make ourselves useful,” she got help in the kitchen and we learned so much.

Check out Coach Trish’s “Kids in the Kitchen” for an idea where to start your little one.

I’ll be back shortly with my a list of my favorite cookbooks for the very young and the young at heart novice.

Begin your kitchen adventure today!

Shoe String Valentine’s Day


So, you can’t really spend the money to go out next weekend or perhaps, the restaurant you love has gone under?

Let’s try something else:

How about a romantic evening of pampering one another. Yes, I know it sounds a little…well, a bit much, perhaps. But hear me out.

On a tight budget, you can eat well, spend the evening together and relax.

No valentine? Then pamper yourself. Friends with no valentines? Make it a party.

Got kids? Well, they have to go to bed eventually.

Every day this week, I will share a spa recipe that you can make out of regular grocery store stuff that you might already have on hand.

Usually, even the most “manly” man will, at least, enjoy a massage and a quiet candle lit dinner.

Oh yeah, and for my male readers:

There is nothing in the world sexier than a man taking a turn doing the dishes. I’m not kidding! Give your partner a break from a hated chore and I just bet your Valentine will make it worth your while.

We’ll see what we can dream up. It will be an adventure.

Published in: on February 8, 2009 at 8:05 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Sprouting Disappointment


There will be no lentil sprout recipe tonight for two reasons.

1. Theoretically, lentil sprouts are nicest 2-4 days in. So, of course, 1 Tablespoon of beans didn’t amount to a hill of beans…I mean sprouts. Just a handful.

2. My son and I discovered that we detest lentil sprouts as much as just plain lentils. My husband wouldn’t even try them, after he saw our reactions.

Perhaps if you like lentils, they would be delicious. Heck, the chickens thought they were wonderful!

Also, if you are making them for a recipe you will probably need to start with, maybe more like a 1/4 cup of lentil beans.

Peas, I like little, sweet garden peas. Maybe, I will try those next. There must be a bag of those in the pantry somewhere.

Sprouting is such an economical endeavor that I am determined to figure it out.

Sprout on!

BTW- tonight’s Waiting-for Payday recipe will be a new stale bread one.

No bread? Don’t worry there are other options in the recipe.

Maybe, Saturday, you might want to visit me to learn to bake bread. It really is a snap, once you get the hang of it.

Published in: on February 5, 2009 at 6:40 pm  Comments (1)  
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Starting Your S*&% List


If everything from the bills to the house work is getting to be too much, start a S*&% list.

Here how:

1. Right down only what absolutely must get done today.
That’s it. Nothing else.

2. Break it down into tiny pieces.
Let’s say you need to clean the house. Start with the tiniest room. For example, the bathroom. Write down the toilet, sink, shower, mirror and floor as separate tasks.

3. Every so often, do one thing.
Maybe every half hour or during a commercial, tackle one mini task on your list.

4. Set a timer.
When your feeling this down, even working on a task for 10 minutes can feel Herculean. Got momentum? Keep going. No? Move on.

5. Check the task off your list.
You can feel proud as you gain momentum. Congratulate yourself. You are accomplishing something…little steps at a time.

6. Accept that some things might not get done.
Guess what? The sun goes on rising and setting, even if you didn’t accomplish everything on you list.

Tomorrow is another day. Make a fresh list, then. Keep hacking away, little bit at a time. I bet you’ll feel better soon.

Even that is too much? Start here.

If it is money problems, start here.

If it is your Swiss Cheese Underpants, start here.

If it is the groceries, start here.

If it is a trip to Super You-know-whatMart, start here.

Maybe, start with a cup of properly brewed coffee.

Good luck. I know you can do it a little at a time.

Published in: on February 1, 2009 at 10:22 pm  Leave a Comment