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Thursday, September 1, 2016

Silly me! I almost forgot to plan something

Happy September! Oh my goodness, it's September, already!

I was driving home from Dollar Tree, yesterday, and I realized that I almost forgot to plan for Labor Day. I was forgetting that it is a holiday for everyone in my family, and they will be anticipating (with significant glee, I presume) doing something together. At least I think they will. At this age, you just never know if your kids will have their own plans or be thinking to spend time with family.

After finding out that all 3 kids will be around, I checked our weather. Monday actually looks like it will be the warmest of the 3 days, with a storm rolling in on Tuesday. Here in Seattle, that means a storm could be rolling in on Monday, at this point. Those weathermen can be overly optimistic, here!

I've been thinking about some of the comments, about a week ago, to make foil meal packets, in place of roasting hot dogs. It'll be fun for everyone to make their own packet, and easy clean-up for me. Of course, weather permitting, we'll make s'mores afterwards.

And as it looks like it could either be chilly or even sprinkle, I'm thinking of picking up a dvd or 2 from the library, to watch in the evening. Or maybe a game. Any good games you can recommend?

How about you and your family? Are you planning anything for Labor Day? Any suggestions on what we can put into the foil meal packets?


  1. We've mostly done the foil packets with veggies, though I know many do meat that way as well. We like yellow squash, onions, cabbage, and potatoes, personally.

    You are ahead of me in planning! My family are all off Friday and Monday and I have nothing at all planned so far. Feels like school just barely started though yesterday was the 3 week mark--doesn't seem right to have a four day weekend already, lol. DH has a government job so is taking off the Friday as not much is going on on post then with the soldiers all off.

    1. Hi Cat,
      A 4-day weekend. That sounds wonderful. But also a little extra work for you.
      Thanks for the suggestions on the packets.

  2. I'm going to have long weekend off from work beginning on Friday. It's also my 30th anniversary on Monday and we have NO plans. I think all the kids are gone since they moved into their apartments and classes begin on Tuesday. I think my weekend will be cleaning the house especially in the kids' room after they have moved out, possibly try to burn some twigs in my little burner out back, and maybe mow the lawn.

    I have no idea what to plan for meals. Perhaps something from the freezer to grill or maybe a reduced steak at the store if we get to a store.

    I am so looking forward to the long weekend off!


    1. Hi Alice,
      Happy Anniversary! 30 years is pretty significant. A long weekend for your anniversary -- now that sounds nice! Enjoy the time off.

  3. We like packets of these : diced chicken breast, potatoes and green beans...or Spam with pineapple pieces, diced sweet potato and sometimes green pepper strips.....or use smoked sausage pieces the same way.
    A good dessert packet is to take a banana still in its peel.....make a spit in it and stuff it with mini -marshmallows and chocolate chips. Wrapnup the foil and grill until "melty " with a a yummy warm banana split.

    1. Oh, thanks for the suggestions for the foil packets. They sound so yummy! And have given me some more ideas. We've done the banana ones before. Those are good.

  4. I don't work on Fridays, so I will be having a four day weekend! I'm so looking forward to it. August was busy with a family vacation in the mountains of Western North Carolina, a benefit for a friend's mother, and a three day trip to Berlin, OH for my husband's company picnic.

    As for our plans, my husband has requested a fire with hot dogs and S'mores. We will most likely do that Saturday or Sunday night. I think we will grill something on Monday. Based on what is in the freezer, it will either be hamburgers or BBQ chicken. BBQ chicken sounds good to me!

    My 20 year old son is in college, works part-time (fast food), and lives in an apartment year round. He doesn't have his work schedule yet for Monday, so I don't know if he and his girlfriend will join us for Labor Day. I'm hoping he'll have some time off work to come over during the long weekend, though. Meanwhile, I'm trying to treasure all of the available moments with my youngest son (14 1/2) while he's still home. Some days I wonder where the time has gone!

    I think we might play corn hole on Monday if it's not too hot. Have you and your family played Sequence (board game)? My family really enjoys that one. I'd never heard of it until we visited my husband's grandpa/step-grandma a few years ago, and we played it with them. My family enjoyed it so much that we ordered it off of Amazon.

    Hope you enjoy your holiday weekend!

    1. Hi Angie,
      Okay, so first off, I didn't know what corn hole was. So I googled it. We played bean bag toss games when I was little. Now I get it. And I've never played Sequence. I'll look into it. If it's dry, I may get out the croquet and horseshoes, for the afternoon.

      Your plans sound nice and low key. I do hope for you, that your son and his GF can come over. You're right about time just slipping past so quickly.

      Have a great long weekend, Angie! It sounds like you need a restful break.

  5. Sounds like a lovely weekend. I just finished dinner for tonight while it is cool. My daughter will be out of town for the long weekend. Her and her girl friends have rented a house up the coast. She is bringing ice cream cone S'Mores for her treat to share you put an ice cream cone on the foil and then add various treats.
    She has marshmallows mini and regular,peanut butter, chocolate chips, M and M's,fruit,Reeses peanut butter cups and some fancy chocolate. She put all the fillings in cupcake pans,so it is organized and cute it is really fun and a great way to use up odds and ends.
    Don't worry she also has graham crackers and roasting wands for the purest. When she took this to the beach she put it all in a basket to keep it organized.
    Lili I know you are not a fish person but I put fish potatoes and veggies in the foil packets.It would be a good way to keep the fish smell out of the house.:)I like to put a piece of parchment paper in the foil packets to keep the savory food contained and I looks fancy. I have also done breakfast burritos in the foil
    packs for using up left overs like already cooked eggs potatoes,beans and some salsa or what ever sauce you have and you have a fun meal. Have a fun weekend and enjoy your family. I have some sewing waiting to be transformed. I will work on that this weekend.

    1. Hi Patti,
      oh those ice cream cone s'mores sound so cute! I'm definitely going to steal that idea in the future.
      Yeah, me and fish don't get along. I was at a church dinner last night, and they served salmon. Okay. I know practically everyone there loved it, but to me, I kept smelling something that had gone bad. But I can see how fish in foil packets would work well, a lot like fish in parchment. Thank you for the ideas. I agree -- they do sound like a good way to use up leftovers.

      I hope you enjoy your time for sewing, and you have cool enough temps to be doing that work.

  6. We were planning on having our three grandsons over this long weekend, but a hurricane is headed our way and is projected to bring some nasty weather conditions if not worse. So I will be surprised if they do make it over here. We heard our grandkids were so looking forward to spending some time with us (for a break from their strict no kindle time rules), I'm sure they are bummed. So we are still hoping for good news about the weather. We've been through so many misses, that a hurricane just doesn't raise any fears...but we shouldn't be so complacent because we're overdue for another direct hit.

    I have not totalled our August grocery spend, but I do know we've probably exceeded $200 again. That amount is a bit too low since we've been spending a lot on garden soils and supplies. I want to keep garden with food in our budget to gauge whether growing our own vegetables is a budget saver, but so far not.

    Another adjustment I'm having to concern myself about is getting more fiber in my diet. I'm at crises level on this since my diverticular disease has progressed so badly (according to the discharge attendant, I can't be constipated even once was his very words,) So that has altered my focus from saving money to taking care of our health in terms of priority for now. I found a nice way to consume psyllium, adding a teaspoon in our coconut gelatin. Because psyllium swells and turns gelatinous, I've even been able to reduce the amount of gelatin needed to half of a T per 2 cups liquid. I pour the coconut gelatin in serving cups so they don't need to be extra firm. So there is a way to meld savings and dietary concerns lol

    Have a wonderful Labor Day celebration!!


    1. Stay safe out there, YHF, and hope the grandsons get to come afterall. :)

      Great idea about the psyllium in gelatin. I used chia meal in smoothies/coconut-milk shakes the same way... takes less frozen fruit to get a nice thick result. :)

      I can relate to what you said about needing to shift from thrift at all costs to health as a priority. I've found that there are definitely ways to accomplish both at the same time; but when push comes to shove, sometimes I realize I have to scrimp on something other than food. That's when I'm extra-glad we're not big consumers! :)

      Be careful out there in paradise! Sara :)

    2. Thanks for your kind thoughts, Sara.

      Looks like we will miss a direct hit again this time. We made a few preparations for an extended power outage, reshuffled items in our freezers so the items we would like to save most are packed in the better insulated freezer. Items we can quickly use up if thawed are in the less insulated older freezer, and we will use our chest freezer as a cooler. Fortunately there is a lot of frost buildup, and we are making additional blocks of ice to store in that freezer to use as backup water. We planned to defrost that freezer anyway, so the hurricane just pushed this task forward.

      Interesting about chia meal. It is surprising how well the psyllium dissolves in gelatin, however I do detect that psyllium after taste just a wee bit, but that is true no matter how you consume it, like adding it in flavored drinks.

      Stay safe too, and have a wonderful weekend!!


    3. Glad you're prepared for whatever comes, YHF. If nothing else, you have that freezer chore going! :) Take care-- Sara

    4. Interesting that you mentioned about scrimping in other areas...I guess that is why we all have different priorities to spending. What may seem extravagant to one person is a necessity to another. We are all so different. There are even psychological reasons besides the physical, you just never know...also, scrimping in all areas has been a way of life for such a long time, so hopefully I can now spend where I have to on our aging needs. Mentally I have set the clock to be frugal up to age 75, by then I hope I have scrimped enough because I sure don't want to worry about finances then. But for now, I still have the desire and mental alertness.


    5. YHF--

      Hope your plan will work, and you won't have to scrimp always! :) I'm working on reducing our long-term overhead for the same reasons.

      We actually have always said that (home-cooked) food came first (even when there were no health problems), and we could skimp on other costs more easily -- clothing, gasoline, toys, entertainment, etc. -- and sometimes in bigger chunks.

      As time's gone on, I've gotten better at making my grocery dollars stretch, too, which makes us a LOT thriftier than most people we know. But if I also use food as medicine, where possible, it's still cheaper to invest in good quality food ingredients than the nutritional supplements and/or medicine and/or doctors' visits they replace. :)

      Keep working that plan, YHF. Sounds like you guys are doing great! Sara

    6. Hi YHF,
      First of all, I didn't know there was a hurricane coming your way. My prayer is that no one is injured as a result of it. It sounds like you did some work to prepare for worst-case scenario. Better to be prepared and not need it. As it's not a direct hit, does this mean your grandkids can come for the weekend? I hope so. I think they must be a treasure to have visit.

      Like Sara said, sometimes you have to spend more on groceries. Health comes first. And by the sounds of it, you do have enough to afford the right foods for yourselves. Although it sounds like I'm super thrifty with the grocery spending, I think there is still enough to cover all that we need for good health. Keep in mind, when figuring whether keeping a garden is a savings or not, home-grown, fresh picked vegetables have more nutrients than much of what you buy in the store, plus you may be more inclined to grow healthier veggies than what you might want to buy, and more of your diet may be produce as a result of having a garden. Plus, gardening is a hobby with benefits. You could be spending that same time doing something more costly. Anyways, the bottom line is not always as clear as it seems.

      Good for you for taking your diverticulitis so seriously, and being proactive in your own health. The psyllium in the gelatin sounds like a really good camouflage for it. A great way to make it a regular part of your diet.

      Have a great weekend, YHF!

    7. Yes, our grandsons will be over this weekend since the storm moved more northerly, and weakened from a Category 3 yesterday. Thank you for you kind thoughts and prayers, Lili.

      I think I will always have a garden even though I don't like the higher water bill, and the extra bags of soil and fertilizer needed since our soil is depleted of organic matter from the years it laid dormant. In time I hope to supply more compost from our kitchen scraps. Gardening is fun and good exercise. I think if I'm out and about in the yard squatting over the garden beds, that will help my other problem...not doing enough squatting may be the biggest reason I have it more difficult since we retired. At our jobs, I did most of the floor level work while husband did the ladder uppers. I sure did my share of standing and squatting all day back then and now zilch.


    8. Gardening can be a great exercise. Yes, the squatting and stretching, as well as using a shovel, all good exercise that I'd otherwise not get. Sometimes I groan to myself over "having" to be the one to pick all the apples or pears. But at least all that stretching is good for my body. It's pouring rain, here, today. Otherwise, I'd be out there picking plums this afternoon.

      Speaking of plums, they are especially good for regularity. And I believe there are some no-chill varieties which would grow where you live, if you ever think about planting a fruit tree. The dwarf trees mature to fruiting stage earlier than standard or semi-dwarf, just so you know. In as few as 3 or 4 years, you can be harvesting plums.

      Kitchen scrap compost is great. Although it's never nearly as much as you'd think it would be. have you ever used any fish scraps in the soil? I know some gardeners burying a couple of pieces of fish skin in their garden soil, at the beginning of each spring.

      I'm glad your grandsons get to come after all. have a fund time with them!

    9. Thank you for all your good ideas. I never heard of or seen no-chill plums before, but a quick google brought up an interesting article about a project to introduce such fruits to the islands, since imported plums and peaches do not ripen nicely since they are picked too early. That's the reason I hardly buy this fruit. Good idea about buying dwarf fruit trees. I would love to bury fish skins for fertilizer, but we have a feral cat problem and don't want to encourage more to find their way here.

      Our grandsons should be coming any minute!!


  7. We generally put hamburger (we prefer the cheap stuff for foil dinners--the extra fat makes them more moist), diced potatoes and onions, and green beans in them, but you have many different options.

    We aren't big game players, but we do enjoy Spot It. It's a card game (the cards are round, with different pictures on each one) and the object is to find the matching pictures on the card. Whoever gets the most cards, wins. It can be as long or as short of a game as you like ... although if you have good weather, I vote for croquet, personally!

    Our weekend will be quiet. I'm scheduled to work Monday. It's been a little too busy lately, so I'm good with that. Hubby will grill something tasty, I'm sure! :) We had a b-day party for my son this past Sunday, so I'm partied out.

    1. Hi Kris,
      I'm going to do hamburger patties, as that's what I have right now. And some veggies and potatoes from the garden, I think, whatever is ready and plentiful. These should be interesting!

      Spot it is another game I've not heard of. I'll check that out, too.

      Happy birthday to your son! But, yes, probably ready for a quiet weekend, right? I hope work will be low-key for you on Monday.

      Have a great weekend, Kris!

  8. Lili--

    Someone (I'm sorry I don't which of your nice regulars it was) mentioned the other day about using a dutch oven.

    I just wanted to expand on that a little. I seldom use aluminum foil for anything, but we like some things in the packets. (I think it even makes FISH taste delicious, and it's really not my favorite, either.)

    We always use parchment in the oven at home, but if we're cooking over the fire, you can do the parchment packets in the dutch oven pretty well, without them burning up. :)

    We also have a couple of styles of pie irons in which we make all sorts of things, including some of those meat-veggie kind of things you might make in the foil packets. They were gifts I bought the family which have been really well-used and -enjoyed. :) Not as thrifty as your fabulous skewers; but for a one-time gift that will probably last our lifetimes, I thought a good investment.

    Sara :)

    1. I think it was probably me who mentioned the Dutch oven. We also have pie irons--my husband got them for me for Christmas a few years ago (at my request!). We have enjoyed using them and have been working on expanding our repertoire for both the Dutch oven as well as the pie irons.

      I like your idea of using parchment paper in the Dutch oven. I would have worried about them burning--good to know you've had good luck with them.

    2. Hi, Kris--

      I actually thought it was you, but didn't want to guess and diss any other contributor. :)

      My favorite pie iron thing is hash -- some kind of meat, potatoes, sweet potatoes, onions, apples, tomatoes, herbs, or whatever we happen to have -- and I cook it long, so everything's really brown and the flavors really melded. But we've done a lot with burritos (a HUGE hit the first time we tried those!) and quesadillas, biscuit dough or cornbread batter, and of course lots of kinds of sandwiches and sandwich-type items with various on-hand items on different trips.

      We also have a waffle iron, and a hamburger griller iron in the family. Definitely they've been a gift that's kept on giving!

      I just used up my last box of parchment and threw the box out, but I think I recall that 420 degrees is the recommended upper heat limit for it. I have a dutch oven thermometer (another handy item I received as a gift), but usually don't pay a lot of attention to the heat. But clearly, when you're using parchment, you'll want to do it with well-banked-down coals, rotate the packets some to avoid the same packets staying on the hottest spots, and check frequently to make sure they aren't getting too hot. Once the dutch oven is heated up, though, the good news is that it really DOES act like an oven; so if right in the coals is too hot, it ought to keep cooking off to the side, if necessary.

      We notice, though, that cooking over the fire is a very variable timing thing. Do you and your family sometimes end up snacking a little when dinner takes longer than expected to cook, or sometimes skipping the appetizers when it goes really fast?! We do! :)

      Man, all this talk is making me want to go camping! Have fun this weekend, even though you have to work Monday. Quiet holidays are good, too. :) Sara

    3. We use the Dutch oven over charcoal coals--you can regulate the temperature with them--my hubby does the actual charcoal part of the cooking--a certain number of coals on top and underneath will bring your oven to a certain temperature, so it's easier to time your meals. I'd like to try it over fire coals sometime but we haven't yet gotten that ambitious.

      How do you make the hash? We have always made everything in a pie iron so that it fits inside 2 slices of bread (pizzas, for example) and I am envisioning all the hash falling out when you open the irons. We like hash, so that could be a fun addition to our camping meals. Except for boy scout campouts, we are done with camping for the season. I'm ready for fall, but the end of summer is always a little bittersweet for me.

    4. Kris--

      We just rub the pie iron with butter, mound in all the bits and pieces for the hash, roast it over the fire, turning it over every little while for even browning, and then be sure to have plates ready for when it's done. We just flop it out onto the plates, and haven't had too much trouble with losing any. :)

      If you have something really juicy or greasy in it, it'll drip some into the fire. We almost always use fully- or pre-cooked meat for ours; so if you use raw, just be sure to cook longer.

      If you like your onion or other ingredients less-cooked, you could add those later in the process; but we find that if everything is cubed not-to-big, we like the result with it all cooked the same amount of time.

      If you like biscuits, cornbread, cobbler or any dough like that, you can make good "pies" with those as well as bread. We've also baked just plain old cornbread in our pie irons. Delicious! Our kids like the effect of things roasted in flour tortillas, too. A lot of butter on the iron keeps them a little softer, but the dry pan-fried burrito effect is tasty, too.

      Sara :)

    5. Hi Sara,
      The pie iron meals sound like a lot of fun, especially for camping. I have this iron called a croque-monsieur. It's an iron to use on the stove, but I bet it could be used in the fire/on coals. It makes really pretty grilled ham and cheese sandwiches. I think it could be used as Kris mentions, with putting any filling between 2 slices of bread. I also have my first waffle iron, which is also an iron for the stove-top, and not electric. It could be used over coals, as well, I think. I'll have to dig those out and start using them again.

      Thanks, Kris and Sara, for reminding me about these. I think fall cooking is going to look different this year.

    6. Thanks, Sara! I bet we would enjoy camping together. :)

      Lili, your outdoor picnics sound fun.

    7. Kris, your camp-out adventures sound fun, too. :)

      After I posted yesterday, I remembered another thing that we've seen recipes for with pie irons, but haven't done. Fajita fillings.

      Now, I don't care for fajitas, but do like carne asada. Seems like you could do the latter as easily as the former, though I wonder if the marinades would eat at the seasoning of the pie irons? Maybe not if you were sure to wipe them out pretty quickly afterwards?

      Anyway, one of the things we like about the pie irons, besides we just like cooking things in the fire, is that they tend to limit one of the problems of camping food -- things getting cold easily. If you're making your own hot dog, marshmallow, burrito, hash, whatever, it's up to you (or a helpful family member between courses) to have whatever you need ready so you can eat your meal piping hot (if that's what you prefer). It's the one time we don't stick to the rule of waiting until everyone's at the table to eat. :) And for something, like fajitas, that are best eaten super-duper fresh and hot and at just the "doneness" you prefer, seems like the individual pie iron cooking would be optimal. Seconds, also, would always be just the right temperature and doneness.

      Oh, and if any of you who might read this don't have pie irons yet, we have a big one, which fits big bread or burritos well; but it's also nice because, if you're not super-heavy eaters, it'll also make enough hash, cornbread, etc., to feed two. (Actually, it makes enough cornbread for normally three of us, which is great, because three of us like cornbread the most.)

      Kris, do you bring some of your ingredients pre-prepared to make it easier to cook better stuff? We've had good luck the past several camping trips with pre-mixing dough or seasoning ingredients, marinating meat ahead, and/or cooking something, freezing it, bringing it frozen, and then heating it up. ("Pulled" meat in sauce for barbecue sandwiches as worked great this last way! And so satisfying after a long day of hiking, fishing, etc.!)

      Best, Sara

      PS... Lili, you might need to rig up longer handles for the croque-monsieur and waffle iron, but their irons ought to take the heat from the coals of your fire, I'd think. Let us know!


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