Sunday, July 23, 2017

Frugal Friday: Money Saving Weekly Recap and Garden Update

 Right, so I have to start with this.  *Clears throat* ready?  You can sing along if you want!

*Sings* "Oooohhhh!  One little, two little, three little broody!!!"

 Okay, I'm done, but that needed to happen *laugh*.  If you can't laugh, you cry.

Anyway, I've heard of "togetherness" but these hens are driving me nuts.  I have a clucking evil mass of chickens glaring at me from the one area they've all jammed themselves into when I open the coop (usually if chickens are broody they do NOT jam themselves into an area together, so my chickens are even baffling other chicken owners...cute), I'm getting no eggs, the coop smells so foul I went out and bought bedding to clean the coop from top to bottom this week (broody hens create some raannnnkkkk foul messes and yay me I have three of them...I've been scooping the mess into the compost pile, but it ain't cutting it) even though I really couldn't afford bedding right now.  I just can't believe the way these chickens are working out (or not in this case).  I get one solid week where at least one chicken isn't broody and then the chickens domino at different rates and go broody one after the other.  In this case they went broody within three days of each other.  The amount they are going broody is nuts.  We don't have time to process the chickens right now, so I'm kind of stuck with an evil, clucking, foul mess making, mass of chicken flesh that is costing me an arm and a leg to feed and are costing me a fortune just keeping the coop and nesting boxes clean (since that is where they are insisting on staying).  And the poor rooster is super loud and boisterous right now because he's running outside all alone and wanting least he goes to bed at a decent hour so he's not driving the neighbors crazy.  Fun times *sigh*.

Anyway *shakes head* sorry.  I have a sinus headache about a mile wide today and am really tired after not sleeping much last night, so the whole chicken situation isn't as funny as it really should be.

So onto the not "frugal fails" portion of the week!

1.  I put some vanilla extract to steeping.  A reader had suggested this in my monthly shopping goals post and I kind of was like, "Nah, I can get vanilla decently cheap at the bulk store, so I'll just do that instead of making it."  Yeah, then I WENT to the bulk store.  30.00 for a bottle smaller than the one I had bought, geez, like three years ago for 6.00 and some change?!?  And they went UP in price from there.  I just about had a heart attack.  I got a huge bottle of imitation vanilla extract for less than 5.00 and will use that in baking, reserving my gold plated bit of vanilla extract I have for things like ice cream making until the steeping process is done.  I'm hoping the extract comes out okay.  I ended up using some vanilla beans that were pretty dry from sitting around in the spice cabinet (a year past their "best by" date...I had bought 15 of them really cheap on Amazon, but had only used two for a recipe I was making, or canning...can't remember the rest had just kind of sat in the cabinet), but I split them all, put them in a pint mason jar and ended up using rum vs. vodka to make the extract since that is what I had in the house.   So, hopefully at the end of two months it'll taste good and work alright.  Fingers and toes crossed as I would hate to waste the vanilla beans and the rum on a failed project.

2.  My father-in-law made my mother-in-law rip out all of her raspberry bushes!  I wanted to cry when I went over and saw that at their place because he decided that the bushes were attracting ants (with no berries on the bushes that one baffled me).  I didn't bank on being able to pick raspberries at her place and all, but it was nice to be able to do so, so no free raspberries this year from there :(.  I looked around the yard this week and did find that the raspberries we have growing wild around the yard are producing decently well.  Mind you they are still REALLY green, but I might get as much as a quart from them this year, which would be nice.

In the meantime I went into my freezer and found the one lowly bag of raspberries I had carefully saved from my mother-in-laws bushes last year and tried to figure out something that I could make with them as there wasn't enough in the bag to make jam out of.  I THINK I came up with a solution that might work.  I'm going to make the raspberries into juice and then mix it in with the peach juice I still have in the freezer from when I processed peaches.  Raspberry peach jelly doesn't sound too bad does it?  Anyone ever tried that flavor combination before?  Any advice?

I had gotten a free thing of unsweetened ice tea and when I was using it kind of fell in love with the shape of the container.  So, when it was done, I washed it out really good and tried to figure out a way to remove the REALLY good glue they had used to put the label onto the container.  I tried everything from soap to alcohol and my husband finally took some WD-40 to the glue and THAT finally worked.  It seems like "reuse" part of the recycle pledge can be tough sometimes.  Sheesh. 

Anyway the pitcher makes an awesome container for Tang or orange juice :).  I'm happy.

4.  I rearranged our living room furniture this week.  It's amazing how you do something like that and it feels like a whole new room after a while.  It really does cheer you up to do something like that when life starts to feel a bit overwhelming :).

5.  I took advantage of a deal that was putting on for their 11 year anniversary.  They had a 20% off site wide sale (which I actually think might still be going on today, actually) with a certain code and then if you put in another code (you could stack them) you got a free audio riff of a movie we own, so it was like getting a free movie almost.  We had credits at Rifftrax, believe it or not, from the Kickstarter I donated to with them?  Yes, the 1.00 donation I did.  We owned a bunch of the riffs they had on their "free shorts" that they gave out to everyone that donated, so we ended up with credits for the riffs we owned.  So, for a 1.00 donation I actually MADE money on the transaction (which I feel kind of bad about, actually *laugh*).  I used the coupon codes to get enough shorts (they start a .99 each) to fill a DVD and got the free audio riff and got them for pretty much free.  This will really come in handy when we want something new to watch.

6.  My husband stumbled across a new to me YouTube channel that I've become somewhat addicted to.  You should check it out.  It's called "18th Century Cooking" and is by a living historian.  It can be found HERE.  I am seriously going to try the fried chicken recipe.  It sounds neat :).

7.  What do you do when you have to use up some marshmallow creme that is going grainy and separating on you?  You make Mississippi Mud!  I do it the "not quite as rich" but easy way.  Take your favorite brownies (I used a mix I had in the pantry) and bake according to package directions.  When hot straight out of the oven, smooth over a small container of marshmallow creme and then let cool completely.  Once cool top with chocolate frosting (or chocolate glaze if you want a crunchy finish), cut into small pieces (as the finished dish is pretty rich) and enjoy!  We're eating the one I made a couple of days ago slowly, but it'll get there as now the marshmallow creme is used up.
8.  The fireweed is in bloom!  For those who have NO idea what fireweed is, I snapped a picture for you :).  It's a plant that grows wild up here and not only can you make juice and jelly from the flowers when young you can harvest and eat the greens as well.  And the chickens like to eat the flowers and greens too, so double win for free food stuffs.  I harvested a few blossoms from the yard, but not many so far.  It's been rough getting things done out in the yard with the son unit this summer, so I just do what I can.  I checked on the rose hips while I was out, but they weren't ready to harvest yet and I'm not too concerned about picking them earlier than needed so far this year as the mold and slug problems haven't kicked in and gone after the wild rose bushes...yet at least.

9.    When the chickens ran out of grit in the coop (see the note about the chickens NOT leaving the nesting box area...grumble) I was going to run out and get chicken grit when I happened to be on one of the poultry groups I was a member of on Facebook and someone mentioned that buying grit was way more expensive then buying traction sand from our local lumber yard and the traction sand was the perfect size for chicken grit.  My husband has a few bags of traction sand he keeps in the back of his pickup for additional weight in the winter to help with traction, so I went and stole a bag once I asked him if it was okay.  The traction sand is lasting a LOT longer and it definitely saved me some money!

10.  I darned some socks and mended a hole in a shirt this week.

And now onto the garden update!

We've been eating salads constantly and finally used up the last of the "super huge harvest" of lettuce I got from the garden a few weeks ago, so I went out last night and harvested some more lettuce.   This week I harvested peas, lettuce and chard from the garden.

I was so thrilled to finally be able to harvest some peas (yayyyyy!!!).  I harvested them a bit early once I found that if you picked them small enough that the pods weren't stringy yet so you got an almost edible pod type of taste to the peas.  I also picked some that had peas in the as well, but I am pleased that both ways taste really good :).  I'm not really sure about the breed of peas being any quicker growing, honestly, as until they get WARM they don't seem to grow any faster than any other breed of pea I've grown.  I think next year I'm going to stick with the cold and heat hardy breed I planted last year as they took off right away.  So far, though, the production with this breed is definitely proving itself, so we shall see :).

I harvested a FEW tiny little barese chard plants last night as well just to thin them and see if I could get them to grow more.  They are still REALLY tiny, like spinach sized plants, and I'm thinking that I might be harvesting them here, planting more spinach and just buying some Alaska grown chard at the store later to put up for winter as so far there is NO WAY I'm going to get enough out of these plants to store for winter.  Disappointing to say the least, but this year has really put a damper on everything growing well.  I mean even my cabbages are taking forever, compared to how they normally grow up here, to form heads and are JUST starting to form them, so here's hoping they get a move on here.

We finally got some decent sunny weather here the last few days (of course the clouds are supposed to move back in tomorrow), which is all the rat tailed radishes needed to shoot up in all directions and start producing radish pods.  I should be able to start harvesting some of those in the next couple of days (as they are still a bit small right now).  I am looking forward to getting more of those this year as they make really good relish!

I have to say that I am happy with the way the plants are growing, especially since I've only been able to feed the garden a couple of times (due to the constant rain) and the fact that I haven't been able to combat any insect problems as once again the rain prevented me from putting insecticidal soap on the plants and had it do any good.  So, yeah, at least the garden is doing really good for essentially taking care of itself this summer :).

And there you are folks.  Some of my frugal adventures this week.  How did you do?


  1. I enjoy your blog so much. You're much younger than I am but your fighting spirit is an inspiration :) 'Just a thought, & I may be way off, but you might try getting rid of your rooster before giving up on your hens........he may be the problem. By the way, are they banties? I don't recognize the breed but they're pretty. Best wishes for you and your family.

    1. They are supposedly Icelandics, but I am thinking they might be a cross breed as they don't QUITE match the pics I see of them online.

  2. I've made peach raspberry jam lots of times. I just mashed up the raspberries and left the seeds in. By the time you mix in a bunch of peaches, the seeds are much fewer and farther between than if it was just raspberries. But, that would be up to your personal taste. What I did is 2 boxes of sure-gel light pectin (less sugar needed) and followed the recipe for 1 batch of peach, and 1 batch of raspberries and just made them both at once, mixing them together. If I didn't have enough raspberries for a whole batch, I'd just do 1/2 batch peach and 1/2 batch raspberries with 1 box pectin. Or, just mix the 2 up until there is enough pulp for one of the recipes. Does this make sense? If not, email me, or just ask here. I make cooked jam a lot, and am not nearly as worried about doing it as the package seems to indicate I should be! So far, so good. It's always worked out and set.

    Raspberry is a very strong flavor, it doesn't take much to give the flavor. Another thing I've done is make berry syrup. You'd need to strain out the juice from the berries, and could even mix it with apple juice to stretch it out and still get that raspberry flavor. Then, look on the website for the National Center for Home Food Preservation and look up berry syrup. It will tell you how much juice and how much sugar and how long to process. It's a LOT of sugar, but we eat it on pancakes.

    Good luck

    1. Cool! Thanks so much for the input. Good to know the flavors will go together. Now to get some pectin :).

    2. I made a nectarine/blackberry cobbler last week and it was delicious, so I'm thinking peaches and raspberries would be similar.

    3. Nice! Good to know :).

      I was also reading a lot of recipes that had peach and rhubarb paired together, but I don't even know what kind of pectin or how much pectin you'd have to use to get rhubarb juice to set into a jelly. Using the raspberries is definitely going to be easier (and probably taste better :).

    4. Sorry I'm late to the game in answering, but I've been very busy. I have made peach raspberry jam before and it tastes great. I also made bumbleberry jam last year with an mix of different berries (strawberries, raspberries, wild black raspberries/blackberries and blueberries) which was a HUGE hit with everyone.

      Another idea is to make raspberry applesauce. Last year I made raspberry applesauce and strawberry applesauce, which my daughter really enjoyed in her bagged school lunches. Just add some berries in when you are cooking the apples. I didn't measure, just threw in some for flavour. If you don't have many berries, make a smaller batch of applesauce to accommodate.

  3. Hi Erica,
    Actually, peach and raspberry is a classic combination. Look up peach melba :) I have a fake raspberry jam recipe that uses figs (I have plenty of those!) and raspberry jello to provide the flavor. I know that's one more ingredient, but if you're looking for more flavor, you might try adding in a small package of jello. Reduce the sugar by the amount of jello. Chris M

    1. I'll have to look into that one...using Jello as a flavor enhancer would definitely work with how powerful it is. Thanks!

  4. I have read about fireweed but have never seen it before. The internet says it will grow here so I will look for it. Be sure to share how you use it because I would like to know. When you harvest the leaves for greens, tell me if they taste good and can you freeze the greens for winter?
    The garden is looking good and that salad bowl looks delicious! Be sure to pick a few of the leaves off of the tip of the pea vines and put in the salad too. Every year you grow more and more in your garden. You keep getting better and better at utilizing the space. Way to go!!!!!


    1. I harvest the blossoms, a lot of them, boil off the blossoms to make juice and make fireweed jelly out of the juice. It has a pretty pink purple color to the jelly and tastes...well cranberry like. The greens I've never harvested myself, but others say they taste like spinach :).

  5. I just wanted to tell you how much you inspire me. Our lives are very different -- our kids are grown and gone, we both work, we aren't rich but we are comfortable. But it's easy to slip into a pattern of "Well I have the money so we might as well go out for dinner and not cook," or "It's only a couple of dollars for that movie, why not?" without thinking about stewardship and being conscious of what you are doing with what you've been given. You've inspired me to make menus, to clip coupons and be creative with food in the pantry instead of "...just run to the store for one or two things." You are my hero for what you create and achieve with what you have, and I just wanted you to know that. :o) (By the way, my name is Julie and I live in Oklahoma, but Anonymous was one of the few options that would work for me to post).

    1. I am so happy that I inspired you! Thanks for the kind words. I REALLY needed them this week :). Erika