Monday, September 21, 2020

Food Saver Vacuum Sealing Meat For One

Food Saver Vacuum Sealer

 Don't make the mistake of buying small packages of meat because you think you won't use it all.  It is usually much cheaper to buy the larger packages. Using the vacuum sealer made by Food Saver makes it easy for me to freeze meat and vegetables. I started out using the plastic freezer bags. Honestly, I became quite frustrated with those bags. I was careful to get all the air out of the bag. Yet every time, ice crystals built up inside the bags. In fact, ice crystals will build up inside frozen vegetables in bags that have never been opened too. 

Pull the bag down to cut size needed.

I was given my Food Saver by my boyfriend. He had one that he did not use anymore. Figuring I'd give it a try and see if I could freeze the meat without having ice crystals build up. I ordered the bags from Amazon and started watching YouTube videos on how to do it. I was doubtful at first. After a couple of times I found it very easy to do. Now I vacuum seal at least once a month. The Food Saver gives me the opportunity to purchase bulk packages of meat when on sale. So far I have not wasted any at all. I have not tried other types of food yet but plan on doing so in the future.  

Seal the bag with Food - Dry - Seal.

The first time I bought the bags they were wider. The next time those exact bags were not available so I bought ones that were not as wide by mistake. I was disappointed when they were delivered. that I am using those, I am glad they are this size. A lot less waste of the bags. I can still fit the amount of meat needed in each bag. Perfect size for one person! I did not buy the Food Saver brand bags, but the vacuum sealing bags I bought both times were off brands and worked great. 

In the bag and ready to vacuum seal.

First thing you do is to pull the bag down and slide the cutter across to make it the size you need. Now you need to seal it on one end, which you do by putting it inside the bottom door. That is where I had some difficulty at first. You need a good seal, yet you need room in the bag. Learning how much length you need is the trick, but you will learn. There is a knob on the side that you need to push down so it closes the door tightly. Wait for the light to go out on the control panel. It is done.

The ground beef being vacuum sealed.

Now you can put the meat in the bag. Careful with beef as it might have some blood dripping. There is a little tray that is inside the bottom door that catches any blood or juice that squeezes out. It is removable so you can wash it. Place the unsealed end of the bag which has the meat inside over that little tray and close the door and push the knob that tightens the door. Now on the control panel push Food - Moist - Vacuum & Seal. If it does not do anything or it does not sound normal, cancel and check the bag. Make sure it is positioned right and try again. When it is finished, I always wipe the top of the bag where it sealed as sometimes there is blood or juice in between the edges. 

A month's supply

This is a good way to save money at the store. If you have a larger freezer you can buy larger amounts of meat for several months. My freezer, which is in the top of my refrigerator is big enough for me. I know of two neighbors here who have freezers in their apartments. I could do that but would have to take out my bookcase to do so. I don't feel like I really need it since I live downtown and can always get food. Since I moved here not having a budget for groceries is a thing of the past. Sometimes I buy extra food to share with my son who lives just down the street. 

Small, but full freezer.

The final thought here is that I started using a vacuum sealer so I could buy those large packages of chicken and ground beef at good prices in the store. I hated opening a freezer bag and having it full of ice crystals. I just don't like that. Now I have all the ingredients, including meat and vegetables for putting together meals for one or two. I like to have leftovers for the next day because it gives me a rest from cooking. I like to cook again! Something I had grown to hate to do. I recommend the Food Saver vacuum sealer because it works for me. Hopefully it will for you too and save you money. 

Note: There are two links in this post that are affiliate links to Amazon. Being an affiliate means I receive a small commission for sharing their products with my readers. If you want to know more, please read my Blogging Disclosure.

Copyright © 2020 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 2020  Kathleen G. Lupole

Saturday, September 19, 2020

Scheduling My Cleaning Routine

kat's Studio

I qualified due to my age and physical condition to having an aide come in to clean for three hours a week. As soon as I knew this I applied immediately! Several of my neighbors in my building have them and I see the aides coming and going to their apartments. Thinking it would be great! My friend who lives in the country has one too. She comes in and just goes to work and cleans his home whether he is there or not. He does not have to tell her what to do and she even organized his pantry (which was badly in need of that). It did not work that well with me. I was not comfortable with someone else doing my cleaning. Not that I am overly picky, but after she left I still had to clean what she cleaned. Let's just leave it at that. There were other issues too.

Weekly & monthly chores.

My apartment is very small, a small space needs constant attention or it will get out of control very fast. I knew that the key to keeping up with it is to develop a cleaning routine. One that you do on certain days and times. There are some jobs that need to be done daily, weekly, monthly and yearly. If you let things go, over time it will become a big job. When you have physical disabilities you need to do it while it is easy. I find that I do my best work in the mornings, always have. So I start my day tackling those chores. I strive to be finished with them by noon. Noon is when I start preparing my breakfast and so after I eat and clean up I done till supper.

Keeping my chore list in sight!

One job I struggled with was vacuuming the floor. I recently replaced the old used vacuum I had been given when I moved in with a new one. What a difference it made! The first time it was used (by the aide) she had to empty it twice! It was like this apartment had never been vacuumed. I suppose it hadn't since I had to monkey around with it every time I used it. Plus it was a very heavy cleaner. Probably better quality than the new one which is very light. They are both the same brand though, Bissell. I realize it is not usually my fault I can't do something. Sometimes it is the quality of the equipment or the product I am using. My advice is to experiment with changing products or equipment and see if it works better. Or is easier to use.

Small kitchen floor.

Mopping the floor is not a job I can't do. I can do it. I think I put it off longer than I should. Now that I have a scheduled routine, I promise myself I will stick to it. I love cleaning an area and then looking at it later and thinking how great it looks. I am keeping that thought in my head so I don't skip it. The kitchen and bathroom floors are small and only take ten minutes at the most to mop. When I lived in the house I had before moving here, I had no floors that I could clean. They were dusty from firewood, carrying in water and dirt being tracked in constantly. There was no way anyone could have kept up with it. Sweeping was a constant job. This apartment is so easy after that!

A stool nearby is essential for me.

If you have limitations like I do, you have to figure out other methods to do what needs to be done. It is not impossible for me. Depends on what is wrong with you.. Standing for long periods of time is something I cannot do. I have learned to sit down before it hurts. Stand at the counter or sink doing whatever and then sit down. Then stand back up and continue. You won't get done fast, but if you stick with it the job will be done. I use a rolling walker for carrying things in and out of my apartment. I keep a tray on it when I am using it this way. I can take my garbage out or do my laundry with it making these chores easier. There is always a way but sometimes you need to think outside of the box. 

Copyright © 2020 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 2020  Kathleen G. Lupole

Thursday, August 20, 2020

It Is A Genuine Sweetheart Cedar Chest

A Sweetheart Cedar Chest

Years ago, I can't remember exactly what year it was, but after 1999, I bought a cedar chest in a local antique store. It was in the basement and priced at forty dollars! A good price even though it had water damage. I wanted to use it for storage and was not concerned with how it looked. I put it upstairs in my house and there it stayed. I stored all my afghans and other treasured items in it. They were protected from mice, bugs and dust. I used to sit on it when I was up there taking pictures of items I was listing on eBay. It was a very sturdy chest. But when I moved it around the foot on one side would fall off. So I was careful.

There is some water damage and the foot on the right side.

Finally after many years upstairs, I wanted it moved downstairs next to my bed. I was not able to go up the stairs and had a bed in the living room. I used it for my clothing and as a coffee table and night stand combination. Actually a cedar chest is a good piece of furniture to use as a stand as it can double for storage too. In 2018 when I moved from the house to my small apartment, I had to be conscious of each item I brought with me. It needed to be necessary and if possible storage items were most needed. So the cedar chest moved with me. 

Manufactured by Ed Roos Company

Now I have had a chance to really examine it. The original paper label says  "This is a Genuine Sweetheart Chest" and was manufactured by Ed Roos Company, Forest Park, Ill. They manufactured wooden hope or bridal chests, as they were called back then. The sweetheart chest and others they made were sold worldwide. The chests were made from three million feet of cedar that was cut from 1200 trees yearly. During World War II the business was shut down by the government because it was considered a luxury item. It never really bounced back after that, so it was sold in 1951. (Roos Family)


It is sturdy enough that I could put cushions on it for seating. I can't see having that many people to seat in my apartment! lol So I have put my photos and my gel pens on it. It now takes care of the problem of blocking the electric outlet from my free roaming bunny. I could always refinish it and make it more attractive. Instead I want to keep it original since I read about the company that manufactured it. They did an incredible job! 

Still stapled to the inside of the lid!

They included a three year moth insurance policy which was a hundred dollar value at that time. Well, I have never had any moth damage inside of it and it is well beyond that policy. I am sure there are many more of these chests around since they were so well made. A tribute to a hardworking responsible company! 

Copyright © 2020 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 2020  Kathleen G. Lupole

Friday, August 14, 2020

Making Room For A Recliner In A Studio Apartment

Living Room Area

Rabbit and I  spend time together in the early morning when I am having my coffee. I sit here in my rocking chair and read, write or make lists. Rabbit likes this time as it is when he awake and alert. He runs, hops and does binkys when I get up, running circles around my rolling walker. I have to be very careful not to run him over. Rabbits sleep for a long time during the day, so I didn't want to waste this time with him. I stopped getting on my computer early and started spending the time with him. I am glad I did. It has been good for me too. Starts my day off positively instead of negative vibes from social media. I feel though, I need a comfortable chair to sit in. This one hurts my arms and back if I am in it for too long. I also have no place for visitors in my apartment unless we sit at the table with my computer. 

Flat screen can be reversed from bed to living area.

I decided to change this area with that in mind. My idea is to get a new recliner so I can put my feet up. Maybe I can watch videos on my flat screen monitor that is presently only available to me from my bed. Sometimes I do not want to lay down to watch and right now that means my only option is to watch on my laptop. I studied this area for days trying to figure out the best option and use of my small space. I watched a lot of YouTube home decorating videos about studio apartments. Most are larger than mine (338 square feet).

Moving the rugs with my helper.

Moving the rugs to the area that I call my living area pretty much defined that space. In a studio apartment, one of the most valued things is furniture that is used for storage. Such as my two large dressers, the cedar chest, the old trunk, the curio cabinet, etc. I have gone through my things and gotten rid of much of it, but there are still things I cannot or do not want to part with. Maybe I will do that in time. The ceder chest fit perfectly under the window that has the air conditioner in it. I could not have anything that would block that. 

Cleaning before moving the rugs.

The small trunk, which is nothing special, not a piece of furniture but it hides my clutter for now (I am working on it!). Along side my chair, it doubles as a stand with my lamp. I need the lamp close enough to the chair so I can turn it on or off without getting up. It also has Rabbit's carrier on the back of it. I need the carrier easy to get to in an emergency (if the fire alarm goes off and we have to leave the building). It might not look pretty but it has to be there.

"Jazzy" is usually stored in the bathroom.

 I still want to have clear space in the center of the room for my rolling walker and my mobility chair (Jazzy). For Rabbit too, as he likes to hop and run around there during the night. The best way to start with this project was to move stuff around. I have many limitations due to having a free roaming rabbit. I have to keep private places available for him to hide (if someone comes to the door and startles him) or to sleep (as I said before rabbits sleep for long periods during the day). He enjoyed the process of me moving the furniture around. He is as curious as a cat! 

A new recliner will be here soon!

Copyright © 2020 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 2020  Kathleen G. Lupole

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Ten Of My Kitchen Favorites

From kat's Kitchen

One of my favorite YouTube channels, Plain Vanilla Grandma, had a list of her favorite things in her kitchen and one of her bathroom. I thought it would be fun to do it on my blog. So here is my list and they are not in the order of what is my favorite as I could not decide what order they would go in. After writing this, I realized I could write another ten. But I will save that for another day. 

1. Duxtop Induction Cook Top

I love this and use it daily. I took all the burners off the electric stove in my kitchen and have the induction cook top on it instead. They say it uses less electric and I can't really comment on that since my electric bill is very low and I pay a set amount monthly. Your pans have to be magnetic to use on it and I have gotten rid of all mine that were not. Cast iron is, but unfortunately it is too heavy for me now. I kept my small cast iron skillet and griddle and have three other pans that are induction friendly. 

2. Nuwave Oven

The Nuwave Oven is another of my favorite small cooking appliances. It works great and can bake, toast or reheat all kinds of different foods. It can be used for baking cakes, cookies, pies, etc, Just about anything you can think of. Meats, casseroles, whatever. It too, is said to be energy efficient. I can even put a frozen piece of meat, such as a hamburger or sausage in it and it cooks it perfectly. I use it to make bacon and it comes out in flat long pieces. Just the way I like it! You can cook a whole turkey or roasting chicken in it too, though I have not done that yet.

3. Instant Pot Duo

I bought the Instant Pot before I moved here. I tried to use it a few times but it was not meant to be used with limited electric from solar panels. I see people who have solar and are living in rvs and vans use it with solar. So it is possible or newer technology helps. I use it a lot here. Cooking with it is a pleasure. Food comes out cooked perfectly (once you master using it) and fast. Not like a microwave for just reheating in a couple of minutes, but I reheat leftovers in it all the time. Does not take that long at all. 

4. The Hot Pot

The hot pot is made by a company called Dash, made in China. It is plastic but it works great. I have had it for almost two years. It heats the water super fast. I use it almost daily for making herbal teas. Anytime I need hot water for a recipe or any other reason I use this. You can also cook in it. I think it was designed for college kids to cook in their dorm rooms. I do not cook in it because I do not want it to take on the smell of food or seasoning. I bought it for heating water only.

5. Vegetable Chopper

I recently bought this vegetable chopper and I have been using it  often. The only thing I do not like about it is cleaning out the squares on the cutting blades. I have been using a toothpick to do it. If someone has a better idea, please let me know. It has made chopping onions tearless. I use it mainly for onions but you can use it for almost any vegetable to need to chop. It has two blades in different sizes. It is a good tool for preparing food and saving time. You still have to cut the onion in half or quarters to fit it into the chopper. 

7. Salad Spinner

I FINALLY found one that really works! I have tried so many of these salad spinners and they didn't really work. This one I bought a few months ago and have been happily spinning ever since. No more grit on our salad or Rabbit's kale and parsley leaves. Easy to use and well made. It is plastic and made in China. 

8. Salad Keeper

I love this so much I am thinking of buying a second one. It has a little switch to turn according to what type of vegetable you are storing in it and how much air flow, or if any, is needed. I just put it on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator. Fresh produce is what I buy the most of so storing it properly is important. Rabbit and I eat a lot of fresh salad greens and herbs. This is a big help since I used to lose so much because it would go bad quickly. Now it stays fresh much longer.

9. Pantry Organizer 

In a previous post I wrote about this little space saver in Kitchen Storage Rack In A Small Kitchen. I cannot say enough good things about it! If I had a space for another one, I'd buy it in a second. It is made out of plastic but the heavy kind. As you can see, I have the quart size canning jars in it and other glass containers. No problem at all! Fits perfectly in that small space.

10. Vacuum Food Saver

It doesn't look impressive, does it? Well, I got sick and tired of the build up of frost inside those plastic freezer bags. The plastic bags for the food saver may be more money, but my opinion it is well worth it. I just can't stand seeing all the frost inside the plastic freezer bags. Now I buy the larger packages of chicken thighs and hamburger at a better price.  Then bring it home and vacuum pack the hamburger in small packages of one hamburger each. For the chicken thighs, I put two pieces in each package. I usually only eat one but like to have the other for a leftover the next day or so.

Copyright © 2020 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 2020  Kathleen G. Lupole

Thursday, July 09, 2020

What To Do If Your Social Security Is Low

The term "senior citizen" usually applies to people who are over sixty years of age. It is during that time you start considering your future. Social Security is probably the first thing you start thinking about. Most people don't stop working as soon as they are eligible, which is when they turn 62. I did though. You have to weigh your options. As for me, I wasn't working at a job and I needed the money. I felt if I didn't apply then I'd be dead by the time I was. You have to be 61 years and 9 months old before you can apply for your benefit. I applied online, which made the process easy. A representative called me back within a week or so and I was set. In March of 2014 is when I applied and my checks started coming about four months later. On Social Security's website they say you should apply four months before you want your check to start. Don't feel bad about applying for it, because you worked for it and it is your money. 

For many women, their jobs did not take out for Social Security. Being a wife and stay at home mother will not provide any credits toward your own benefit. Though you can draw it based on your husband's benefit. In the beginning I got two separate checks from Social Security. One was Social Security retirement based on my own credits. The other was from my husband's benefit and that came from Social Security Disability because that was what he was getting. When he turned 65 though, his changed to the regular retirement and so did mine. Then I started getting only one check because they combined those checks.

When people are younger they do not usually consider retirement or being a senior citizen. So many people I know have worked "under the table" or "off the books" and they will pay for that later on. Many will end up applying for Social Security Income (known as SSI) if they have no credits or never married. That is pretty low and it will be a struggle to survive on that. My advice is to keep an eye on those Social Security credits and try to build your own up based on your record, not your spouses'.  If your income falls below the 2020 monthly SSI benefit of $783.00 and you are 65, you qualify for SSI. Even if you do not have any disability. Some states will also include a monthly benefit if you qualified for the SSI. It will also qualify you for SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), formerly known as food stamps. Medicaid will also be available too. The amount you will get from SSI will be the difference between your Social Security retirement or disability check and the the SSI benefit of $783.00. Not a lot of money, but every bit counts.

I found the representatives from Social Security very helpful to me. They tried to find the best outcome for me to live comfortably on. I had been married before and they compared my divorced spouse's record with the current one to see which one I would have the most amount of money from. If you are able to work though, you can do that and receive your Social Security check also. Better check the limits on how much you can earn so as not to have your check cut. I am not sure of that information but it is on their website.  

For people who worked their whole life with no breaks there should be no problem with retiring on Social Security. Many will own houses and have pensions and possibly savings to live on. Unfortunately for people who have gone through divorces or other life events, those things may not exist anymore. Instead of getting depressed about it, start your research and see what you can do for yourself. Sometimes you have to swallow your pride and do what  you have to do. The silver lining in that cloud for me, was being able to live on my own with food, medical care and a very nice home. I did not have that before I got my Social Security. I still have physical limitations, but I am able to deal with those easier now. Good luck to you in whatever you choose to do.

 Copyright © 2020 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 2020  Kathleen G. Lupole