Friday, July 31, 2015
What did I do to save money this week? Well...
1. I got a great price on strawberries at Carrs (2.88 for a 2 lb package Just 4 U price), so I picked up a container.
The strawberries were very ripe, so I sliced up a bunch for a snack for us and then put the rest through the dehydrator. I'm glad to have them as buying dried strawberries is terribly expensive. This way I have some strawberries for different recipes later on. I need to dig out my vacuum sealer for mason jars to seal the lid, which I've added to my to-do list for the weekend.
2. I harvested kale, lettuce, oregano, rosemary, parsley (lots of parsley) and rhubarb from the garden. I also harvested some raspberries today as well. And I even harvested some rose hips from different areas of my yard. Not sure how much there is going to be once dehydrated, but it's a start anyway.
The garden is continuing to produce. The kale loved the rain we finally got this last week and it seemed to revitalize the lettuce a bit as well. The garlic on the other hand, I fear, is a lost cause. The stalks are starting to succumb to some type of rot and they never got very big to begin with. I'm thinking I'm just going to let them die off and I'll see if I can get garlic out of the plants next year.
The tomatoes are trying to take over the world, I swear. Tying them up is becoming near impossible, so I might be letting them fall over soon and just trying to keep the slugs off of them. The turnips are growing well so far. At this point it's a race to see what happens first when it comes to Alaska: Will I get turnips or snow first.
I did lose one parsley plant that bolted and I'm going to be pulling another lettuce plant as soon as I can harvest the remaining lettuce from it (I do use bolted lettuce. It gets very bitter, but if mixed in with other lettuce it kind of acts like a bitter green in a salad. It works for me). I am also going to have to harvest the remaining oregano out of the front raised bed as it is starting to flower and go to seed.
I have decided, after seeing how well the parsley has done planting it in the ground that I'm going to skip planting parsley in the planter next year and plant it in the ground instead. Basil, on the other hand, is definitely going to be a planter only plant from now on as it did terrible when planted in the ground.
4. Also seen in the photo above, I received our free bowl from Jolly Time Popcorn today. If you send in 5 UPC's from Jolly Time products (I THINK it's five) you can send away for a free popcorn bowl to celebrate their 100th anniversary. I buy their poly bags of popcorn from Fred Meyer to get bulk popcorn, so getting 5 UPC's with my popcorn loving kids was no problem.
I sent away for the popcorn bowl a while ago and completely spaced that it was coming. So it was cool to open the box today to find the bowl. And the best part? The bowl is metal! I haven't seen an enamel coated metal bowl in a long time, so I'm really loving this bowl. It's going to make a GREAT popcorn bowl.
5. I mended a bath towel, a dish towel and a pair of jeans.
6. We limited outings as much as possible and when we did go out we kept the outings as cheap as possible. We went to our local sports store. My husband had saved up a couple of years worth of gift cards from birthdays and other holidays and used the gift cards to get some ammunition that he'd been needing. We still have some left on the giftcards as well.
My husband also needed some motor oil so he used the Wal-Mart giftcards we'd gotten from the car dealer flyer giveaways to pay for most of the oil. He ended up paying 5.00 for 5 quarts of oil.
We went to the playground with the kids where they got to meet some other kids and play. It was a lot of fun and it was an end to a really busy day.
We went out for ice cream and used some stickers my husband had gotten from a McDonald's contest to get the sundaes for free.
7. I cooked our meals at home, which saved us money.
And there you are folks. Ways I saved money this week. How did you do?
Thursday, July 30, 2015
Unfortunately, ground turkey is well...bland. So, I came up with this recipe to up the flavor content and also the moisture content of the ground turkey.
And they turned out so well that my daughter even liked the final result.
Turkey Burgers with Honey Mustard Dressing
- 1 lb ground turkey
- 1/2 small onion, diced fine (slice other half thin and reserve)
- 1 tsp. dried tarragon
- 1/2 to 1 tsp. sriracha sauce (you can sub out regular hot sauce)
- 1 egg
- dash of salt and pepper
- 1/3 cup shredded cheddar cheese
- 1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs
Preheat broiler with grill in top 1/3 of oven. Mix all ingredients, with the exception of the reserved sliced onion, in a bowl with your (clean) hands. Shape into four large patties and place on a baking sheet.Honey Mustard Dressing
Broil 8 minutes per side or until internal temperature reaches 170 degrees F.
Serve on toasted buns with thin sliced onion, fresh lettuce and honey mustard dressing (recipe follows).
- 2 TBS spicy brown mustard (can also use Dijon)
- 1 tsp to 1 TBS honey (depending on sweetness level preferred)
Mix well in a small bowl with a spoon. Serve as condiment with turkey burgers.
Tuesday, July 28, 2015
Well, this is late due to me being busy yesterday HOPING to get a birthday gift made, but my husband ended up being home and wanted to spend time with the family instead of me sewing, which I was okay with. I told him about his gift and he said not to worry about it, but I'm still going to try and get it done and give it to him this weekend instead. It won't be on time but he'll still get it this way.
I did find out what is going on with my son. We're teething again, which with my son this means he starts to completely freak out as soon as the tooth is the least bit wiggly, obsessively chews anything in site and keeps putting your finger up to his mouth to see if you can get the wiggly tooth out NOW. I'm not sure what annoys him so much about having a loose tooth, but it does make for a miserable time for a while until he loses the tooth. So, I'm sure we're in for more fun times ahead *sigh*.
Anyway,onto the menu!
Menu for Week of 7/27/15
Monday: Chicken Cheesy Rice CasseroleDesserts: Frosted Angel Food Cake (for my husband's birthday), jello, no fry donuts (this is kind of a breakfast thing I'm planning for the weekend and might double as dessert...we'll see).
Tuesday: Shrimp with Thai Dipping Sauce, french fries, salad.
Wednesday: Turkey burgers, pasta (possibly macaroni salad).
Thursday: Pork Roast, rice, salad
Friday: BBQ chicken legs (crock pot), mashed potatoes, salad
Sunday: Crab Cakes, rice pilaf (use leftover rice), green beans
Monday, July 27, 2015
Things I accomplished last week:
1. I did get some mending done. I mended some of my clothing, which was badly in need of repair (I've been running around in holey socks a lot lately) and mended a stuffed unicorn I made for my daughter last Christmas that has seen a lot of abuse from day to day (it's a stuffed animal. What are you going to do?). I think the hand sewed mending I did on the unicorn will make it last a lot longer, which will make my daughter happy because she does love the unicorn (which honestly makes me happy).
2. I have NOT gotten my husband's birthday gift done yet. I felt so stupid. I made a pistol case, but was operating on so little sleep I forgot these wonderful things called "seam allowances" in my final measurements. As a result the pistol case was way too small for the pistol I designed it for.
So, back to the drawing board. I'm going to make a case for one of my husband's many rifles today and this time I'll remember the seam allowances *laugh*.
3. I harvested my basil plant and made pesto pucks for the freezer. By padding the basil out with parsley I was able to get enough pesto to make 6 muffin tin sized pesto pucks, which will see us through six meals worth of pesto pasta.
4. It was too hot and sticky last week to get canning done. This week we're supposed to be getting rain and cooler temperatures, so I'm hoping to get salsa canned this week. The applesauce I decided to try and just keep in the freezer for now as really it's already THERE, so there's no point in pulling it out just to can it. I'm seeing us using more applesauce here very soon as pork is one of the cheapest options for meat right now, so I'm seeing the applesauce becoming less and less of a problem when it comes to freezer space.
5. I cleaned up and neatened up my furnace room (seen up top). The furnace room has looked like a tornado hit it for about a year, so it was good to get that recovered.
6. Due to the "not so bad rabbit invasion of 2015" I ended up harvesting all of my onions last week and curing them, so that is done.
I did get some mug rugs done, though (they're like mini-quilts that you use as over sized coasters). I found these through my sister-in-law's boards on Pinterest and I LOVED them, so I made some from scrap fabric I had (including some canvas salvaged from failed gun case #1). You can see how big they are in relation to a full sized mug at the top of this post (finished dimensions are 8" x 11").
Other than that, I put off cutting out shorts for my son as I was able to find him some pairs at one of the used stores for .25 a pair and he's growing again, so I figured it might be best to put it off and see where his growth spurt ends before I make him more clothes. I did start to get his clothing transitioned to the new laundry soap, though and so far so good.
So, onto this week's goals!
1. Figure out shopping goals and monthly goals for August.And there you are folks. My goals for this week.
2. Work on cleaning up and out the den.
My den is such a mess right now. I've got a sofa, sewing area, bar area, book cases and things in there normally. And now I have tons of yard sale stuff stacked on one wall. It's driving me nuts, so it's time to reorganize and figure it out better. I've got some ideas, which might be a challenge to pull off, but I think I can do it.
3. Work on sewing projects.
4. Get Christmas list for family finalized.
5. Make husband birthday cake and finish up gift (since his birthday is toward the beginning of the week...yeah it's kind of important I get this done pronto).
6. Find containers to use as mini hampers for master bathroom (for my husband and I) and for children's rooms.
I'm tired of big hampers getting just heaped with stuff. If I can get hampers into both the kids rooms I can do one person's laundry at at a time if needed and get the big hamper out of my hallway. Seems like a good idea to me.
7. Dig out bought ahead school supplies and figure out what is needed to pad out daughter's school supply list.
I'm hoping this isn't going to cost me much this year as we don't have the money to spend tons on school supplies. I have my fingers crossed.
Friday, July 24, 2015
"The best laid plans of mice and men" as the saying goes, pretty much sums up my week. I was hoping to get my husband's birthday gift done by this point, but my son has been acting...well off this week. I kept thinking he was getting sick, so I haven't gotten near as much done in the sewing department as I'd hoped. I'm hoping to get done more over the next couple of days.
Then, I was hoping to get a decent sized onion out of my garden, only to walk outside one day to find a very fat and contented rabbit laying on top of my onions. I'm thinking it was someone's pet as my lettuce plants remained untouched, the rabbit was just sunning itself laying on top of my onions. It managed to break the onions up their stalks, so I pulled the rest of them a bit earlier than I'd hoped to. I saved the green onions from the plants (as they were broken off anyway) and have been using them in cooked dishes. I then cured the three onions (seen above)...I'm still debating whether or not to dehydrate them, use them fresh or freeze them for later use. A couple of my garlic plants might or might not make it, but I'm just going to ride it out and see what happens.
The tomato plants are huge. Nearly as tall as I am now with tons of green tomatoes on them. I'm hoping they can get up to a decent size before I need to pick them, but we'll see how it goes. No ripe ones yet, but plenty of green tomatoes.
I harvested lettuce, kale, onions (obviously), oregano, thyme, rosemary, parsley and basil this week as well. Some more of the lettuce is shortening to bolt, so I'm not sure how much longer I'm going to have lettuce.
I also noticed that my raspberry plants were ripening, so I harvested what there was. There wasn't much and by the size and number of raspberries left on the plants, I'm really not sure how many raspberries I'm going to get this year. Oh well. At least my daughter likes to snack on them.
Some other ways I saved money this week were...
1. I took my harvested basil, combined with some parsley and made pesto pucks. Instead of pine nuts, I use Blue Diamond Almonds (peanut free) and freeze portions in muffin tins, pop them out once frozen and put the pucks in a freezer bag. I got enough for six meals for my family out of my one basil plant by padding it out with the parsley.
2. I got a message from a friend of mine asking if I'd like a ham as her freezer had died. I accepted her offer and traded some things that I had that she could hopefully use as well. She ended up giving me two hams, which was a God send as I was going to budget out some money to buy a ham (thanks, Davina!).
3. I was at the store early in the week to buy milk and found some pork picnic shoulder roasts on clearance for 15.00 a piece. I got the two that were there, took them home and cut them into smaller roasts. I cut up the meat around the bones and placed it in bags with the bones so that I could use the smaller pieces of meat and the bones to make stew or some other casserole-like dish. I was able to get 7 generous meal sizes out of 30.00 worth of meat.
4. I shopped sales and used coupons as much as I could to save money. I also avoided taking multiple trips to the store by shopping one day during the week.
5. I cooked all of our meals at home, which saved us money.
6. I mended a pair of underwear, some of my socks, a shirt of mine and my daughter's stuffed unicorn.
7. I made play clay for my daughter to make sculptures out of and have fun playing with. My husband and I also got in on the fun a bit and made some things before we gave the clay to my daughter to use. She had fun and overall it was a inexpensive afternoon of entertainment.
8. As a special treat for my husband's birthday I made him some eggnog as he really likes home made eggnog. It was a way to surprise him in case I didn't get his birthday gift done in time. He's really enjoying it, which makes me happy.
And there you have it folks. Some of the ways I saved money this week. How did you do?
Monday, July 20, 2015
Menu Plan for Week of 7/20/15
Monday: Chicken Sandwiches (leftover chicken, home made bread) with baked beansDesserts: Apple pie (leftover from Sunday night), ice cream (I actually got some on sale cheap)
Tuesday: Pork Steaks (broiled), rice pilaf (leftover rice), salad
Wednesday: Hot Crab Dip (working on a new recipe), home made toast spears (use leftover home made bread), french fries (to keep children happy), salad.
Thursday: Creamed chicken and rice casserole.
Friday: Cardamom French Toast (new recipe I'm working on), bacon, eggs.
Sunday: Ham, au gratin potatoes, salad.
Sunday, July 19, 2015
Why? Well, allow me to introduce you to my "Pantry Under the Stairs". One of these days I'm seriously going to make a wooden sign to hang on the door with a Harry Potter-like wording on it for that. Seriously, it's perfect so why not use it, right ;).
I'll save the "complete tour" and just show what I did over the last couple of days. If you are looking for Pinterest pretty pantry space, this is not your show. But, if you are looking for functional space, I think I've done a decent job with this space, especially considering my pantry is under the stairs in a pretty small space and it also shares said space with my well pump and my water softening system.
The first is the shot from the doorway (above). I reorganized the shelves on the left a bit, but I moved all of my five gallon buckets of food storage and stuck them under the bottom shelf, where they fit perfectly. This makes it all easier to keep track of if nothing else. I do have a five gallon bucket of bread flour in my laundry room, but overall I was happy I was able to fit it all as before now the buckets have been taking up space in my furnace room.
Turn the corner, which you are now on your hands and knees and you'll find this. I took big cans of food storage that I don't use at all often and built shelves with the cans and some shelving material we had from bookcases that had fallen apart when we moved here. It worked really well and I was able to get a lot more space from the pantry doing it this way. Now, I just wait until I need a can of something that is holding up the bottom shelf (my luck ;).
I built another set of shelves on the opposite wall from the first (which took up the entire wall, really since there isn't much space there) and built the shelves out of the cans of food storage I could see myself needing more often than the condiment shelf I built. This shelf is housing lighter weight things so I'll be able to take the shelves apart easier in the event I need a can of something.
And there you are. Where I've spent the last couple of days. Hunched over and crawling on concrete, I'm feeling parts of myself I forgot I had, but I'm SO much happier with the space now!
I did okay on my other goals I had for last week as well.
I got some more of my canning list accomplished as well. Right now about the only things I can see needing to be canned are I need to can salsa and I also need to continue to harvest fireweed to make into jelly later on. The raspberries are just plain SAD this year. I've got raspberry BB's on my bushes right now instead of berries. The heat got to the berries so bad they just kind of scorched on the bushes. And the rose bushes are all quickly succumbing to the bright orange blight, so I'm not seeing being able to harvest enough rose hips to get anymore jelly this year. I'll instead work on budgeting some money over the next six months and getting some already cleaned rose hips online. I probably have enough rose hip jelly to last until next year anyway at this point, but we'll see how it goes.
I got all of my laundry sorted, folded and put away. This week's goal is to start washing my son's clothing and bedding in the home made laundry soap I made and see how it reacts with his skin. Fingers crossed there.
So, my goals for this week?
1. Harvest basil and make pesto pucks.
I'm not sure if I'm going to have enough basil to make many pesto pucks, but I've had decent luck in the past padding out the basil with parsley, so hopefully I can make it all work okay.
2. Can applesauce and salsa (this is going to depend on the weather and the heat levels).
3. Make husband's birthday present (I got the pieces cut out this week, now I just need to put it all together).
4. Make a couple of pillow shams for kids (these are for Christmas gifts).
5. Continue to work on mending (it's the Never Ending Chore!).
6. Cut out a couple of pairs of shorts to make for son later on.
7. Harvest and cure two onions that are ready to harvest. Dehydrate green onions (the wind we had a couple of days ago knocked two of the onions over and creased the stalk, so it's time to harvest them I think).
8. Clean up furnace room now that the food storage is out of it.
9. Wash children's shower curtain (I didn't get to this last week).
10. Work on son's room (reorganizing and redecorating).
11. Start washing and transitioning son's clothing and bedding to being washed in the new laundry detergent.And there you have it folks. My goals for this week. What are you up to this week?
Friday, July 17, 2015
1. I ordered some food storage that is safe with my son's allergies from Amazon.com and got it in the mail yesterday (seen above). I took the money out of my normal weekly food budget over the past couple of weeks so that I wouldn't feel bad about taking the money to put toward food for the pantry.
2. One of the items I ordered was some soap to make The Prudent Homemaker's Laundry Soap. I've been kind of scrambling to find some kind of laundry soap that would work with my son's eczema since the brand of laundry detergent we'd used for years had to change formulas and the new formula reacted badly with his skin. I've gone through the commercial free and clear laundry soaps and found that All Free and Clear worked...kinda. I then ran across a comment Brandy (The Prudent Homemaker) made to someone how she'd had eczema and developed her recipe for home made laundry soap to help her. So, I'm figuring it's definitely worth a shot. I got the soap she recommended and am going to give it a try. I pray, boy do I pray, that it helps my son's skin. I made one batch of the laundry soap (Brandy normally makes it in triple) to see how it works. Fingers crossed here folks!
3. I canned some Thai Dipping Sauce. I love to shake things up a bit with dinner from time to time, so I'm hoping this stuff will work as a way to switch up shrimp cocktail and stuff. I followed the directions exactly, yet my picture doesn't look anything like their picture. Ah well, it does taste good (I sampled the little bit of leftovers).
I still have a few more things to do when it comes to canning (at least until things are ready in the fall), but I'm making progress, so woot!
4. I got a windfall of bread from my sister-in-law who got a large amount from a friend of hers (thanks, Jen!). I put it into the freezer and am obscenely happy about receiving it. I will be making SO much french toast and things in the near future with it!
5. I dehydrated a ton from the garden this week. I dehydrated the two onions that were done curing including some green onions that were salvageable, loads of herbs, some carrots (these were from the store, but still needed to be done), celery (once again from the store, but I wanted to make sure it got dried before it went to waste) and I even dehydrated some orange peel that was left over after my daughter ate an orange (she ate 1/2 of it, the other 1/2 helped to stuff a chicken).
7. I only picked up essentials at the store this week, so I got out of the store pretty cheap. This was part of my, "save money to use on food storage" plan as I desperately need to recover my pantry more so I figure that working it into the regular grocery budget is going to be the best way.
8. I cooked all of our meals at home, which once again saved us money.
9. I received my electric bill to find that not only did they raise base rates this month, but that our bill was once again estimated. I went out and checked the meter (this is over a week after they'd estimated the bill, mind you) and found that my bill was "read" at five killowatt hours below what it was that DAY. So, I had better be looking at a lower electric bill next month or I'm going to be calling and complaining again. I felt good that the estimated bill was so far out of whack with our consumption and that was AFTER running an air conditioner a good portion of last month. So, all of the rest of the money saving energy reducing things I've been doing ARE working. Always a good feeling.
And there you are. A few of the ways I saved money this week. How did you do?
Monday, July 13, 2015
I'm really working on trying to make a BIT more in the way of food for dinners (as I've been shooting for no leftovers at all) so that my husband has enough to bring leftovers for lunch the next day and if he doesn't bring the leftovers, that I'll have something to eat for lunch at home instead of me skipping lunch (which I tend to do too much).
Menu Plan for Week of 7/13/15
Monday: Baked Whole Chicken with garlic toast and green beansDesserts: Apple tart (didn't get to make this last week due to lack of time), jello
Tuesday: Chicken Alfredo (made with leftover chicken meat) with peas, salad
Wednesday: Curry Pork Chops (in crock pot) with carrots and potatoes
Thursday: Lamb stew
Saturday: Sheppard's Pie (use leftover lamb stew)
Sunday: Chicken and Rice Casserole
Sunday, July 12, 2015
I didn't get done much on my weekly goal list. I had plans, lofty plans, to get a lot of sewing done, some canning and get some stuff out of the 40' van. I also wanted to harvest rose hips, harvest fireweed blossoms and other things.
Well, I ended up living on two hours of sleep a night and had a thrown out back all week from napping on the love seat in my living room to keep my son from waking up the entire household, so mucking out the 40' van more was out. Then I went to harvest rose hips to find bright florescent orange growth on them that I am assuming is a type of blight as the leaves on the plants aren't looking too keen either. Sewing ended up getting put on a back burner as I shuffled speech therapy schedules, figured out therapy schedules all around for a few days and tried to keep my children outside as much as possible as the weather turned cooler. I felt going to the playground, playing outside in the yard and watching my daughter ride her bike was just as important as my sewing goals.
I didn't get much done on my weekly goal list, but oddly enough did get some things on my monthly goals done this week. My husband fielded my son Friday night so I was able to get to sleep at a decent hour and last night my son went to sleep late, but slept pretty well overall and wasn't up till 8:00 this morning. So, due to the wonder that is sleep, I have been a decently functional human being most of the weekend and as a result I got a decent amount accomplished just this weekend.
I canned 8 pints of strawberry jam using the strawberries I've bought cheap through the season that I had cleaned and in the freezer. I froze some cherries I bought with a giftcard my mother-in-law had given me for Mother's Day last week. I was thinking of canning them, but the heat has been up and down this week and I didn't want them to go to waste before I could can them, so I froze them instead.
I canned mint jelly today. Any other mint I harvest from my mint plant this year I will dehydrate to use to make tea during the winter I think as I doubt I'm going to be getting three more cups of leaves out of my plant before it's done for the year.
I completed one hot plate.
I shampooed my den this afternoon. So, only 90% of the house to go on the shampooing carpet front *laugh*.
I also got a bit of mending done, although I still had a lot more that I wanted to get done. I will probably be taking those items to therapy with me this week to see how much of it I can get done while waiting for my son.
My goals for this week are...
1. Harvest some fireweed blooms and make juice, to make jelly later on (it takes me a while to get enough juice saved up to make a decent amount of jelly).And there you have it folks. Hopefully I can get at least most of it done this week.
2. Work on mending.
3. Measure and cut out gun case. Cut inner material and batting for project as well.
4. Work on canning what is on canning list as much as possible.
5. Dehydrate onions that were pulled from the garden.
I picked the "twin" onion in my garden as one was acting like it was ready to be harvested and since it was attached to the other one I pulled both. I was able to salvage green onions from the "not quite ready to be pulled" onion and am just going to dehydrate both onions now that they are done curing/drying. If I get some big onions I might keep a few for kitchen use, but for the most part I plan to dehydrate the onions to use in cooking later.
6. Sew handkerchiefs.
7. Sort, fold and put away laundry (I have Mt. Foldsalot going on right now). Do any necessary ironing.
8. Take down shower curtain in children's bathroom and wash it.
9. Continue to process kale as it is harvested and put into freezer.
10. Pull everything out of pantry and reorganize (this, I fear is where most of my week is going to end up. I REALLY need to do this, clean it well and get it all organized for winter).
There are many recipes out there for mint jelly. This one is mine.
This recipe is different in that it calls for powdered pectin vs. liquid because I don't HAVE liquid pectin around, so I decided to wing it and hope for the best with powdered, being careful to keep my liquid ratios somewhat low to accommodate the fact that mint doesn't have any natural pectin of it's own. And hey, it worked great. I can turn the jars upside down and the jelly stays put. That, my friends, is a good set.
So, here you go, one recipe for mint jelly!
- 3 Cups densely packed fresh mint leaves, cleaned (I used chocolate mint)
- 3 1/2 Cups Water
- 1 package powdered pectin
- 1 TBS lemon juice
- 4 Cups sugar
- Green food coloring (optional)
- Peppermint extract (optional)
Place mint leaves in a large saucepan with water. Bring to a boil. Turn off heat under pan and let mint steep in water for 20 minutes.I admit, I did add a couple of drops of green food coloring to my mixture to get the lovely green color. But, I did go against conventional wisdom and squeezed every bit of mint juice out of my mint leaves over my catch bowl. I still ended up with a nice clear jelly doing that, despite the warnings that the jelly would come out cloudy if I did it, so hey bonus!
Place a wire mesh over a catch bowl (or a regular colander with a layer of cheesecloth) and strain mint juice. Measure out 3 cups of mint juice (if you don't have enough, add water to make 3 cups).
Prepare canner, jars and lids.
Pour mint juice into a large stockpot and if using green food coloring add until the juice is the shade of green you want. Combine mint juice, pectin and lemon juice. Whisk until pectin is completely dissolved. Bring mixture to a boil.
Add sugar all at once. Whisk to incorporate sugar until sugar is completely dissolved. Bring mixture back to a boil that can not be stirred down. Boil for one full minute.
If using, add 1 tsp. peppermint extract at this point (mixture will bubble) and mix to combine (if you add this too soon it will just boil off and be no good to you, so add it last).
Ladle jelly into hot jars, leaving 1/4" headspace. Process in a water bath canner for 10 minutes. Turn off heat and remove lid from canner. Let sit an additional 5 minutes.
Remove jars from canner to a couple of tea towels to seal. Let cool completely. Test seals and use any jars that didn't seal properly immediately and store in fridge. Makes approximately 5, 1/2 pint jars (I used up every little bit and made a cute little quarter pint jar too).
Friday, July 10, 2015
We've been busy around here lately. The garden is growing and producing. The weather has been cooler, leading to more fun times outside for the kids (as I learned the hard way that my son doesn't take heat well) and more production IN the house for me.
So, some of the ways we saved money this week were...
1. My anniversary fell on a weekend this year and instead of going out to dinner and spending money we didn't have my husband came up with the idea to go to our local airfield where all of the forestry planes are taking off to fight fires in other parts of the state. My husband got some cool photos of some planes, we watched planes take off and land, watched some sky divers and had fun. My husband also called his friend who owns a hanger at the airfield. We met up with him and he gave the kids a tour of his nearly completed plane. My son especially loved sitting behind the stick. We spent several hours and had a lot of fun.
This was actually over a week ago (by a couple of days), but I just got all the photos transferred and edited, so I wanted to share as I thought they were so cute :).
2. I harvested kale, lettuce and various herbs from the garden. I dehydrated the herbs, with the exception of some mint which I turned into mint "juice" to make into jelly.
My green lettuce plant was shortening to bolt and was getting very bitter, so I pulled it. I'm thinking about putting some other seeds in the ground and seeing if I can get anything else out of the space before the snow flies, but I'm still thinking on it.
3. I canned 8 pints of strawberry jam this week.
4. I baked cookies and bread this week as well. And to the reader who asked if you could make Irish Soda Bread in a bread pan instead of on a cookie sheet? It worked for me (same cooking time and temperature). Just be sure you roll the dough into a kind of log that touches all sides of the pan before you bake it as it doesn't "rise" to fill the pan like traditional bread does.
5. I cooked all of our meals at home, which saved us money including having guests for the Fourth of July. I made hot dogs and we had fun.
6. I used a I-Tunes gift card that I had earned through some rewards program (it's been a while since I got it, so I honestly don't remember) to buy some apps that my son's new speech therapist wanted me to download. I was happy to get the 10.00 worth of apps for free.
7. I went through Amazon to buy some food storage that I needed, which beat the prices of any local store in some cases and in the case of others I was able to buy safe nuts (my son is allergic to peanuts, so finding things that are safe from peanut cross contamination is really hard) and some banana chips (occupational therapy is working on expanding his diet to incorporate actual FOOD, so I needed to get some for experimenting with him). I felt good getting things that will get used no matter what and at the same time KNOWING those foods were safe with my son's allergies. Always a good feeling.
8. I darned some socks and started repair work on some of the comforters that have holes in them (tutorial on how to darn tears in comforters and stuff hopefully coming soon).
I was disappointed to see that my rose hips aren't going to be good for harvesting this year. They have some weird bright florescent orange fungus growing on them (no joke, BRIGHT florescent orange) and I'm sure not going to take the chance on those. At least I do have green raspberries developing, so hopefully I can get at least enough raspberries to make jam out of and I can at least get dried rose hips pretty cheap online or from friends whose roses aren't looking like they were hit with toxic waste.
And there you are folks. Some ways I saved money this week. How did you do?
Monday, July 6, 2015
Well, I had a menu plan ALL planned out on Friday for this coming week with many great grilling recipes to try (ahh Pinterest), and then tragedy struck. I'm out of propane. And since we're tight on money right now, yeah, propane isn't exactly huge on my list of things to get, so I had to redo the menu plan for this week, although I am going to use the broiler instead of the grill a bit for the sake of keeping the heat down.
So, here we go. Our menu plan for this week.
Menu for Week of 7/6/15
Monday: Hotdogs, potato salad (left over)Desserts: Red, White and Blue Jello Salad (left over), apple tart, chocolate chip cookies, oatmeal cookies (baking day Wednesday)
Tuesday: Grilled (broiled) steak, left over potato salad, salad, baked beans (left over)
Wednesday: Crock Pot Chicken, salad, garlic toast
Thursday: Grilled (broiled) Pork Chops with pantry friendly fig sauce, rice, salad
Friday: Grilled (baked) fish, rice pilaf (use leftover rice), salad
Saturday: Noodle Bowl Night with leftovers (if we have any)
Sunday, July 5, 2015
1. I made curtains for my son's room.
This project turned out to be a HUGE mess. I went to close my son's curtains for the night and something caught and tore in the ancient pinch pleat curtains that he had in his room. So at six o' clock in the evening I had to figure out how to make curtains, which of COURSE when you are down to the wire is when everything goes wrong.
First the original blue material I had to make the back of the curtains ended up being about six inches too short, which blew my mind because I was using a twin sheet for the front and had bought a queen sized sheet for the back (darned shrinking sheets!!!). So, I ended up using the blue material that I'd bought as a backing as a lining for the curtains instead (which now the lining is missing in parts of the curtains, but what are you going to do?). I then had to sew three curtain panels I'd bought to hang up in my husband's and my room eventually, sew them together and then cut the now super huge curtain panel down to make two curtain backings for the two new curtains.
I used some fabric I had on hand to make the stripes down the sides of the curtains (for the extra width as the windows in my house are pretty big).
So, overall, lots of breaking thread, lots of cussing and lots of thinking to make sure I made every scrap of fabric go as far as it would go and my son now has curtains that block out the sun a LOT better than his old curtains.
Why do we need sun blocking curtains you might ask? Well, here's a shot out of my kitchen window at midnight the other night...
I did think that the curtains turned out pretty well overall though.
Please ignore the weird angle on the curtains, they are even. My son's bed kind of gets in the way and the swing will mess with your head on where the curtains end (and yes, we have a therapy swing hung in my son's room for him).
2. I managed to process the kale I had picked, so far, for the freezer, so that got done.
3. I managed to can fig jam earlier in the week and canned apricot jam today. Still got a lot of canning to do, but at least I'm making progress.
The apricot jam is seen above. It turned out well. I used unsulphured dried apricots, though (I'll share that recipe soon), so it did turn out really brown, though. Not quite as pretty as those pictures you see of canned apricot jam online.
4. I got my shopping goals for the month figured out, but ended up amending them to include apple cider vinegar and sugar (for canning).
My goals for this week are incorporating some of my goals from last week that I just plain didn't get done. For instance:
1. Mend four items.
2. Darn husband's socks.
3. Make more cloth napkins and handkerchiefs.
My other goals are...
4. Work on gun case for husband's birthday (his birthday is at the end of July, so at least I have some time to get it right).
5. Get as much canned from canning list as possible.
6. Clean out more of 40' van and find soap crock pot for making soap later.
7. Continue to harvest and process kale.
8. Pick fireweed blossoms and process into fireweed juice to use later in jelly.
9. Work on reorganizing pantry.And there you are folks. My goals for this week. What are yours?
Saturday, July 4, 2015
I had a plan for the 4th of July this year and was going to do all kinds of cool stuff for the family to celebrate the 4th.
Well, a couple of things threw a monkey wrench in that. One: My son isn't sleeping. Like at all. I'm getting, on average, about two hours of uninterrupted sleep per night right now. Two: I didn't realize we were having company for the 4th as I'd forgotten my husband had invited my in-laws over (which was fine, just doing things like studying the Declaration of Independence and making pinwheels wasn't really something I could see doing with my father-in-law over, so I had to redo my plans a bit this weekend).
Which worked out. So, instead of doing some intricate things like I'd planned, I made this salad instead as my little "nod" toward celebrating Independence Day.
And so, I give you "Red, White and Blue Jello Salad"! So simple it's pathetic, but super yummy and is a great way to transition into discussing the flag and what the colors represent.
- 2 packages raspberry jello, made to package directions (fully set)
- 2 cups (1 pint) blueberries (canned or frozen, well drained, or fresh cleaned)
- 1/2 container whipped topping (or 1 cup whipping cream, whipped and sweetened to taste)
1. When you prepare your raspberry jello prepare it in a 7x11 dish (I used good old Pyrex for this)To serve cut down through all three layers in as close to a square as you can get (if you prepare Jello jigglers like consistency, this would probably work better, but my daughter loves Jello but doesn't like the chewy texture of jigglers, so I went with the more traditional set jello) and place as prettily as you can in a bowl. And enjoy!
2. When Jello is fully set, take your blueberries (I used home canned, drained well) and spread in an even layer on top of the raspberry jello.
3. Take whipped topping (or whipped cream) and spread over the top of the blueberries.
Friday, July 3, 2015
Preserve It! by DK Publishing
I found the book at the used store and got all kinds of excited as I love ANY book that centers around preservation of food. Seriously, I could read a book on the history of pasteurization I bet. Sad, I know.
The book promoted that it covered canning, bottling (what I was actually the most excited about as I'd read a bit about "bottling" of fruits in my WWII books), curing, drying, etc. So, I figured I could find some cool stuff in the book.
Sadly, I didn't find much. It's not that there weren't some neat recipes in the book. I got the book months ago, in fact and got my recipe for making candied peel out of it (which I'm still munching on from time to time). No, the biggest problem was the fact that this was written for overseas audiences.
The canning process for jam making was...well weird compared to what I'm used to. I remember my mom used to make jam with wax disks when I was a child, but there's some weird processes going on with the recipes (like letting the jam sit for a while before you seal it) that I had a hard time wrapping my head around. For one thing the book has you making your own pectin out of apple peels, which is great if you have bushels of apples, but for those of us, like me, who have to buy pectin at the store the measurements in the recipes are going to be way off.
Here in America we have mason jars with two piece canning lids. There's a inner circle that sits on top of the jar with a sealing compound around the edge and there's a seal "tester" in the middle of the circle that sucks down with a "ping" when the jar vacuum seals. Then you have an outer ring that you screw down onto the jar to hold the lid with the sealing compound in place so that the heat from canning can melt the sealing compound, the jar can release the air it needs and then it will vacuum seal properly. The methods they used in the "Preserve It" book were well...different.
And then there is our safety standards for doing things over here that the book didn't need to adhere to because it was written in a different country. Like preserving fresh mushrooms in oil and just letting it steep at room temperature. In America that's considered a big no-no as is preserving fresh garlic in oil as botulism can survive in the water contained with fresh ingredients like that. So, I got kind of nervous that the book was being sold over here without some type of warning that safety standards differ from country to country and such because some of the recipes just out and out made me nervous.
There are some good recipes in the book, do NOT get me wrong, but the processes in the book, I think, at least over here should be greatly ignored and just everything pretty much should be stored in the fridge. It seems safer to me. But, I'm also a safety nut when it comes to canned goods now that I know more than when I first started out years ago, so be your own judge.
The photography in the book is top notch, though and some of the recipes are (I hope anyway *laugh*) safe by American standards. Like the candied peel recipe I mentioned earlier. I made a batch and it came out very well and I've been eating pieces on and off as snacks and plan to help flavor cakes and other desserts with the peel later on as well.
So, overall, if you are looking for a canning book that explains things and adheres to American food safety standards, get the Ball Book of Home Preserving (speaking of, I want to get their newest addition SO bad as it has like 75 new recipes in it!) and get this one to look at and get ideas, but don't get it and think of it as a preserving bible. Because for Americans...it isn't.
1. I ended up spending some money on groceries this week. It couldn't be helped really since I've been spending so little from week to week on groceries that eventually I just have to spend about 200.00 to make up for things that are just out and out gone. I don't regret doing it as I was able to take advantage of sales to make the most of my money and stocked up on things that normally cost a lot that my son will eat. For instance, Doritos are my son's newest culinary obsession. Those things are normally REALLY expensive (like nearly 6.00 per bag expensive), but this week they are on sale cheap due to the Fourth of July holiday, so I bought six bags to see him through for a while.
I also splurged and bought hamburger. I haven't bought beef in so long and have been just limping along on what I could find cheap and making it into stir fries or stews and such, so when I saw hamburger on sale for 4.99 lb I got six pounds of hamburger just to have some more in the freezer (and for hamburgers for the 4th of July).
2. I went to Jo-Ann fabrics today and spent some money. There was a 20% off your total shopping order coupon in the flyer through Monday, I believe, and a 40% off one regular priced item coupon. I got things I needed such as white thread (I got 1000 meters worth of Gutterman thread. I use white thread CONSTANTLY), quilt binding (which I use for a lot more than quilts), some fabric remnants (they are on sale cheap this weekend), some scrap booking paper (.20 per sheet on sale) and some scissors my husband wanted for fabric needs in the garage (10.00 about after coupons and sales). I kind of hated to spend the money, but knew I'd regret it if I didn't later on (especially the thread).
3. I filled up my gas tank for the first time in over a month. I had .80 off per gallon on gas at Carrs due to a promotion where if you spend so much money in one trip you get .30 off per gallon. I save my gas rewards anyway, but with all the promotions they've been doing lately I managed to get the .80 per gallon and couldn't pass up using it.
So, now onto the ways I saved money on the cheap *laugh*.
4. The flower my son gave me for Mother's Day that they planted at school finally bloomed (seen up top). I've never had a lot of luck with house plants (cats kill them), so I didn't hold out a lot of hope for the little geranium plant, but it made it! Both little offshoots of the plant are now blooming and I'm enjoying them a lot.
5. I got a free yogurt from Carrs with an E-Coupon (I'm thinking this might be available to most everybody, so check your E-Coupons on Safeway/Carrs folks!). Coconut was the only flavor they had left, but I was shopping today, so I thought I'd get it.
6. I got a bobblehead doll for free that I'm going to give my daughter for Christmas. It finally came in the mail today. So not going to take it out of the packaging to take a picture though as my daughter was following me around for a good hour yesterday trying to get a look at what was in the box before I could slip it into storage *laugh*.
I've got one more code that is good for another bobblehead that I'm going to request and give to my son for Christmas as he does tend to like things that bob.
7. We've played outside quite a bit and enjoyed the nice weather.
8. I harvested a LOT of lettuce and kale from the garden this week. The lettuce we're still eating (and it's ready to be harvested again *laugh*), but the kale I processed and put into the freezer for winter. I got a good four side servings, for us, out of the kale so far. Once I put all of the kale up for winter, combined with the spinach I put away earlier and the dandelion greens, we're going to be doing okay for greens this winter. Good feeling, that.
9. My old neighbor before we moved to our new house had given me some Johnny Jump Up seeds for my daughter and honestly I'd forgotten about them for the last three years. I ran into them while unloading boxes from the 40' van and my daughter and I went out and spread them where we normally get a few Johnny Jump Ups that the previous owners of our house had planted. Well, now we've got a nice little Johnny Jump Up patch that is coming up! I was surprised that the seeds were still good, but my daughter is thrilled as they are spreading into our stone wall area and making it look pretty slowly but surely. I think given a couple more years the stone wall (it's a loose stone retaining type wall on the side of our driveway) is going to look pretty cool.
10. I repaired a few of my son's toys that had some loose switches or had some "hidden" batteries that needed to be replaced.
11. I made all of our meals at home, which per saved us some money.
And now onto the garden update!
The garden is continuing to produce lettuce and kale like mad, which is great. The kale last year had done so-so, but not half as good as it is doing this year.
The garlic is continuing to grow well. Whether or not I actually SEE garlic this year is still to be seen, but I at least feel good that I've gotten it this far.
The turnips are sprouting (seen up above there)! I was thrilled to see them come up. Another week, I bet and I'll be able to thin them. Hopefully I'll be able to get a few turnips by the end of the summer.
The tomatoes are producing like mad. At this point I'm enthusiastic. Even if only half of them ripen, I'll be doing well and if I get a ton of green tomatoes I have recipes for all kinds of things, including green tomato relish that I plan on making with the leftover green tomatoes. So, go little (well not so little actually...they keep growing I'm going to be trying to figure out taller tying up arrangements) tomato plants, go!!!
|Look it's twins!!!|
The potato plant, typical of potato plants, is currently growing huge. The rhubarb plant seems to be doing better this year than in previous years, but I've also been careful to fertilize it regularly and have been working on keeping it weeded as much as I can.
The herbs in the garden are finally starting to actively do well. I will be able to start harvesting large amounts of sage, oregano, parsley (I have enough parsley juice for parsley honey now) and other herbs to dehydrate for my winter stores.
And so there you go folks. The ways I've saved money this week and how my garden is doing. How is everything going in your world?
Thursday, July 2, 2015
And so the time is here again where I get to figure out my monthly goals for this month. I'm really liking doing goals this way as I found last month that it really helped to keep me motivated and on track to have some goals written down.
July, for me, is usually a month of harvesting and preserving which continues into August. I'll be harvesting a lot from the garden and yard this month which means canning, freezing and dehydrating among other things. I started to take inventory and I might have to redo my shopping goals a bit to get all of what I am planning on getting done...well done. For instance I might need to buy additional canning lids, pectin (my biggest worry) and such, so we'll see how it goes.
So, here we go. My goals for July!
1. Shampoo carpets, all
I did this last month, but unfortunately my son discovered chocolate and marshmallows. And found that he liked stomping the above into the carpeting. I've got a lot of carpet to comb and shampoo this month. Ugh.2. Continue to Clean out Storage Spaces and Get Things Ready for Yard Sale
I was REALLY hoping to have had said yard sale by now, but having to handle all of the work alone...we might be having the yard sale kind of late this summer.3. Organize Pantry Space
I dug out three boxes of MRE's last night out of the pantry, which freed up space, but I still have so much food items around the house that need to start getting sorted into the pantry that this project is going to take a while.4. Work on getting son's room more organized.
We still need to move the old entertainment center into my son's room this month. I hope to get this done next weekend as this weekend is going to be busy.5. Work on Decorating Theme and Decorations for son's room
I talked to my step-mom and told her all of the design elements I wanted to incorporate into my son's room and she came up with a really good idea, so I want to run with that. For me, it means probably doing some artwork to hang on the walls, finding some frames and maybe sewing a few items for the room, but I think it will come out super cute when done.6. Make Soap
It's a good time of year to make soap in July, usually as I can just plug the crock pot in outside and not stink up the house (and boy do you stink up the house making soap).Canning/Preserving Goals:
1. Can Fig Jam
2. Can Apricot Jam
3. Can Apple Sauce (I need to get the apple sauce out of the freezer and just can it. I'm not using it enough in the freezer and it takes up tons of space).
4. Can Apple Pie Filling
5. Can Salsa
6. Harvest Rose Hips and Dehydrate to make Jelly
7. Can Strawberry Jam
8. Can Parsley Honey
9. Harvest Raspberries as they ripen to hopefully get enough to make jam
10. Harvest fireweed from yard and make jelly
11. Harvest herbs and dehydrate. Then store.
12. Harvest basil, if possible and make pesto pucks for freezer.
13. Harvest mint and make mint jelly
1. Make gun case for husband's birthday (uh, honey if you read this? Surprise!)And yeah, that's the list. Now whether I'll get even half of that done, we'll see *laugh*. But, I have hope I can get a good portion of it done this month.
2. Make handkerchief's for husband's birthday and start on daughter's for Christmas
3. Cut out and hopefully sew a couple pairs of shorts for son.
4. Make curtains for son's room
5. Make two hot plates.
6. Work on embroidering pillow shams for children for Christmas.
7. Make tablecloth for coffee table in living room.
8. Mend husband's jeans.
9. Start messing with sewing zippers more to be able to mend husband's jackets.
Wednesday, July 1, 2015
So it's time to make shopping goals for this month. I'm still trying very hard to save money somehow (if things would quit breaking and we stop having dentist and doctor's visits that'd be great), so my shopping goals for this month are once again going to be pretty conservative...well kind of. I'm trying really hard to rebuild food storage on top of saving money, so I do have some loftier goals in the hopes I can make some of them (food storage with allergies: Food storage ain't cheap).
I managed to get everything on my shopping goals list for last month with the exception of garlic stuffed olives and adding machine tape. The adding machine tape, since I can do math by paper and pencil, is going to wait I think until a time when I have more wiggle room with money. The garlic stuffed olives, however, are going to be a priority for me this month as my son does like them.
So, here we go!
Shopping Goals for July 2015:
- 1 Big jar garlic stuffed olives (I saw these were a LOT cheaper in bulk, so I'm hoping my son will go for them)
- 1 Block of cheddar cheese (this I might try and do three trips through Carrs for as they are on sale for 5.99 this week with an in-ad coupon, I believe, but that will depend on gas and how motivated I am to go into a store that much).
- 1 flat canned peaches
- 1 jug of olive oil
- 1 container of lemonade (my husband and I find we really like lemonade as a good alternative to water with dinner).
- 12 cans each cream of chicken and cream of mushroom soup
I don't buy Campbell's because of various reasons, but I like the store generic brand at Carrs, so I'll be going with that. I figure I'll break this down into 4 cans of each per week, so it won't make me feel odd spending like nearly 24 bucks just on canned creamed soups. I love to have these around, though, for casseroles and such, so I like to buy about a year's worth a time.
This is iffy, but if I have some wiggle room I want to get...
- Freezer Bags
- Crystalized Ginger (Amazon carries a brand called GERBS, which is top 10 food allergen free, yeah for peanut free!).
- GERBS Dried Banana Chips (I've tried to dry my own, but they always come out way too sticky and I end up with a glob of dried banana instead of chips. I'm figuring on just ordering some instead).
- Dried Figs (if the price is right, otherwise I'll watch for sales locally).
- Potatoes (a lot of the farms are liquidating last year's potato crop in preparation of getting THIS year's potato crop, so I'm hoping to run into cheap potatoes)
- Any deals on cheap fresh fruit (I keep hoping to repeat the miracle of cheap apples from last winter. I've also run into crates of fruit going for decently cheap in the past, so I'm hopeful anyway)
I didn't post this Monday because it was my Anniversary Monday and I was at a loss of what to make seeing as how my freezer is pretty much just chicken central right now and we're kind of sparse on specialty ingredients. I finally decided to just make dinner like I do every night, but went out and picked fresh lettuce right when my husband got home for dinner that night. Really fresh lettuce did up the quality of the meal and even my husband mentioned how delicious it was, so hey, I'm good!
Yesterday ended up being busy just because I was exhausted for 90% of the day and then ended up with an emergency sewing project to do last night, so I was doing that till 10:00...you get the idea.
Menu Plan for Week of 6/29/15
Monday: Baked Chicken, garlic bread, salad
Tuesday: Ham (from freezer), Au Gratin Potatoes, Salad
Wednesday: Mustard Pork Chops, biscuits, salad
Thursday: Ham salad sandwiches
Friday: Honey Chipolte Chicken, mashed potatoes, salad (seeing a pattern with the veggie *laugh*)
Saturday: 4th of July menu (coming later)
Sunday: Leftovers (of which there will be plenty I'm sure)