Saturday, June 4, 2016

Frugal Friday: Money Saving Weekly Recap and Garden Update

 Well, I'm behind on blogging that's for sure.  This week has been so busy I just haven't had much of a chance to do it, unfortunately.

With my son's skin doing better, he's been a bit more destructive than normal and he's normally pretty active, so it's been a struggle to keep the house from looking like a tornado hit it.  I've been able to do it with limited success (and I mean limited *laugh*).

So, let's get to some things I did this week shall we?

1.  I ended up helping a friend of a friend who was having issues with her website not showing up.  My friend asked me to help her as she knew that I had knowledge in "old school" webpage building (read:  I know how to do html *laugh*) and asked me to take a look at her website for her.  I ended up rebuilding her main page for her (the index page) when I had time over the last month and got it up and running.  She insisted on paying me for my trouble and I told her to just pay me what she thought I was worth.  She ended up paying me way more than I thought I was worth *laugh*, but the supplemental income was definitely welcome right now as we're at razor edge finances at the current time.

2.  I canned the cabbage I had bought this week (seen up top).  Per usual when I follow a recipe for canning it's like sometimes the yields are WAY off base.  This was one of those times.  I weighed out my six pounds of cabbage to the ounce, salted it just like the directions said and I found I had just the right amount of ingredients to spice the brine the way the recipe said too.  Well, of course that didn't work out.  I ended up having to reuse the one spice bag when I had to TRIPLE the brine called for in the recipe (and I packed the cabbage into those jars like you would not believe!) and made up a second one with what spices I still had plenty of (like mustard seed).

The recipe said you'd get about five pints out of the recipe.  I got nine.  But, it's done and the few pieces of cabbage that were left over tasted good, so I figure it will work out alright.

3.  While working on the pantry and getting it better organized I used some of the dissovable labels I won to label the jars.  So, that was a nice, free thing to help me figure out what was in the jars at first glance.
4.  While shopping yesterday (which I'll get to posting up my shopping trip promise) I found peaches on reduced cheap, so I grabbed as many of the 1.00 bags as I could find that were in decent shape.   Some of them were REALLY ripe, though, so I didn't want them sitting around so I came home from shopping and immediately canned them (seen above).

You'll notice the floating peaches.  When you can you'll quickly realize that you have strengths and you have weaknesses.  Some people can make beautiful cans of peaches that don't float, but can't get a jam to set to save their lives.  You can make wonderful crisp pickles but can't get cherries to sit in a jar right.  Well, I can't get peaches to NOT float no matter what I have tried throughout the years.  I've tried extra light syrup, hot pack method and cold pack method, jamming the peaches in there until I worry the syrup won't fit in the cracks...nothing works.  The peaches just float.  So I gave up on having pretty peaches in the jar *laugh*.

5.  My brother-in-law gave us a big bucket of brown rice given to him by some people who were moving and were getting rid of food storage that they didn't have room for.  He was given 100 lbs of it and asked if we wanted some.   Of course I wasn't going to turn down free food.  The rice is a bit old, you can smell it, but once rinsed and things it tastes okay.  I figure I'll use it in casseroles and save the white rice for my son who wouldn't eat brown rice if you paid him right now.

6.  The weather is milder this summer than the last couple of years, which is great for things like my rhubarb and raspberries that were suffering so much during the past couple of years.  The one bad part, though, is that bugs are EVERYWHERE in my garden right now.  I'm battling cabbage fly, millipedes, ants, you name it.  So, I spread some more diatomaceous earth around for the crawling insects and made up a batch of insecticidal soap (1 cup oil.  Add 1 TBS dish soap, not dishwashing detergent, soap, to the jar.  Shake it up before you use it every time.  Add 1 tsp mix to a spray bottle with 1 cup of warm water.  Shake well and spray on plants.  It'll help suffocate any bug with a soft body) that I sprayed on the plants today.  The way the rain has been falling lately, I might have to do this about once every three days or so, but if it'll keep the little buggers from eating my cabbages and other plants, I'll do what it takes!

7.  I used home made shower cleaner to clean the children's bathtub today.

8.  I mended one of my daughter's skirts and a hole in one of my husband's work shirts this week.

9.  I got some free samples in the mail this week including a sample of Green Mountain coffee Keurig cups.  I don't own a Keurig, but I found that if I put the coffee in my drip coffee cone, it works just fine and this way I get two free cups of coffee OR I can save the cups to put in with a Christmas gift later on.

10.  I entertained my daughter by putting on, "Victorian Farm Christmas" on my computer as it combined two of her favorite things.  Farms and Christmas *laugh*.

And now onto the garden update.

Look at my rhubarb plant!!!  I even have a baby that sprouted up by it this year (which I'll transplant come fall :).  I'm so thrilled that while smaller than a lot of rhubarb plants around, it at least looks like a rhubarb plant instead of a spindly weed this year.

I mentioned the bugs that I am killing with extreme prejudice, but luckily I also have some beneficial bugs helping me out too.  I tried to get a picture of the swarm of dragon flies that are hanging out in my garden, but my camera isn't fast enough.  I also have a ton of spiders helping me out with some pest control too.

I was thrilled at the growth in the garden this week, though.  Check out how much things have grown!

The potatoes, lettuce and cabbage "bowl" and the kohlrabi.

 The rat tailed radishes (right) and my various cabbages (you can see some of the bug damage on the row in the middle).

The lettuce and carrots (you can see them off to the left there).  I think I should be able to carefully start harvesting lettuce this week :).

Another shot of the carrot rows, the garlic with cabbages on either side, the potato plants (which I have a garlic plant growing behind one of those as well) and the bunching onions up front (which are still kind of "meh" in growth...I'm hoping they start to take off here or I might not get many this summer).

The spinach I should be able to start harvesting this week too (up front), the chard is still working on growing here, but I'm hoping as the summer progresses it starts doing better (I hoping to thin it some day soon), and the peas in the background that are going up the home made trellis nicely.

And here's my other potato plant up on my deck with my just sprouting basil and spinach hanging planter.

The front planters.  This time I took a shot of the nasturtiums that are just starting to really take off.

The front bed is still not doing too much, so I didn't bother taking it's picture right now.

So there you are folks.  My garden updates and things for the week.  How did you do?


  1. I am so jealous at your rhubarb plant, I wish I can grow it, I see it in stores sometimes for the crazy price of 4.00/ lbs, and I have to broke down and buy it.
    I bought peaches today for 67 cents / lbs, I get a bunch of them and I spend the day canning them. I also kept a bag to eat fresh until I will go grocery shopping next week.
    I even made 8 Popsicles from the peels and the small pieces left ftom canning. The kids love any fruit Popsicles I make, it is so easy to make them with whatever fruit I have available, just pure in the blender add some sugar and pour in molds and freeze.

    1. Don't feel bad. Rhubarb grows like mad up here in most people's yards and yet it's still at LEAST 2.00 lb at the store...usually 2.49 or more in season. So really 4.00 lb when it doesn't grow where you are really isn't that bad.

      I never thought to save the small pieces of peel and things from peaches to make popsicles. That's a neat idea! I'll have to try that next time I can peaches!

  2. Home canned cabbage, home canned peaches, and brown rice all added to the pantry for little money (my peaches float too, but they still taste good). Plus you were able to make some extra money! That's the way to grab up those opportunities, Erika!!!

    Your garden it looking great! Mine is about at the same stage as yours (except my lettuce is not that far along). We finally had a really good rain today, so hopefully it will all take off even more over the next week.

    My daughter seemed to like watching the Victorian farm as well. In fact, I had her watch most of the series with me. So many baby animals kept her interest, plus I loved that she was learning something at the same time.

    I didn't have too many frugal accomplishments this week, mainly because I'm working. Actually, working and not spending money is a major accomplishment, so I shouldn't complain! I cut some fresh oregano from the garden at work and tried drying it in my dehydrator for the first time. I need to harvest more because once dried it didn't make too much. It's free though, so that's good. I put the leftover stems in my veggie scrap bag in the freezer that I use to make broth (I also keep chicken bones in the freezer until I have time to boil up a batch). I cut both my daughter's and my bangs so we didn't have to go to the hairdressers. I tried soaking my bean seeds for 2 days before planting them this year (I soaked my peas as well as you're supposed to) and the results have been amazing. These are the heirloom seeds I collected last year, which may also be why they are doing so well. Regardless, I'm very happy that almost every single seed came up this year! And, last but not least, my husband and I attended a dragon boat practice this weekend for some free fun and exercise. Next weekend we will be in the dragon boat race for some more frugal fun and exercise. That's about all I can think of right now. Looking forward to reading about your grocery shopping trip!

    1. Good to know I'm not the only one with floating peaches :).

      Your daughter finds the exact same things in Victorian Farm as my daughter. Lots of baby animals and I'm also happy that she's learning a little something along the way (she has a hard time grasping that they are living like they are in the past and how far back in the past the Victorian Era is...timelines are still coming together for her).

      Working is definitely frugal. Can't get much more frugal than actually making money can you :).

      I have some parsnip seeds that say to soak them in warm water before planting and I was wondering if it would make a difference. Good to know it works that well.

      And I have to say that Oregano is like one of the most "shrinky" herbs I've run across when you dehydrate it. My favorites to dry are rosemary and sage as they seem to shrink the least and can be the most expensive for me to buy at the store. Thyme dries okay, but man the amount of stems you end up picking out of the final product can get tiresome.

  3. You accomplished a lot!! Your cabbage and peaches both look wonderful. My mom always had floating peaches, too, but they are some of my favorite home canned goods. We loved to eat them on bran flakes or wheaties, such a great combination. I haven't thought of that in a while!!

    1. I am loving the fact that so many people have had floating peaches too. It makes me feel better about my peach canning deficit *laugh*.

      My grandma and aunt Mary were some of the people in the world who were able to can perfect peaches, so I always kept thinking, "They did it. How can I not DO this???" At least the peaches still taste good ;).

  4. Your garden is doing great! The bok choy beside your rat tailed radishes looks like it is almost ready. If it is some of the seeds I sent you then it might be the dwarf variety and will only get a few inches higher. You can pick the outer leaves off now and put it in your salad. I love it because it is ready so early.
    I have also had stored rice smell bad. It probably absorbed the smell of the container. If you take it outside, spread it on a cookie sheet in the sun and leave it for a day, it will smell fine. Just make sure the birds don't get into it.
    Last year I made peach pit jelly. I considered it a success because it was from something I usually throw away.

    Yesterday was the last of the 15 hour work days. The season has ended for this year. Now I can catch my breath.
    Everything around here is a mess. I got up this morning and went to the kitchen to fix myself a cup of coffee. I sat down in a rocking chair to wait for it to brew and beside me was a pile of coupons to be cut out, newspapers to be read, mail to be opened, lunch boxes to be put away, groceries on the floor and dirty dishes in the sink. I went into the laundry room and could not even see the floor for all the clothes. It smelled like a gym locker. When I opened my bedroom closet, I noticed I still have winter clothes in there. It has been in the 90's this past week and I HAVE SWEATERS AND SWEAT PANTS!!!! I took my coffee out on the front porch just to avoid looking at the waiting chores and outside I saw seedlings to be planted, flowers needing water and caterpillars attacking everything. I am dizzy with all that needs to be done. So, my goals for this week are as follows:
    1. Sit and stare. Any direction will suffice.
    2. Make a “to do” list. Put my chores in order and just take one step at a time.
    Yes. I can take one step, do one chore...tomorrow.

    1. Your list made me laugh so hard because there are SO many days that I end up doing just that because there's so much to be done and I don't know where to start.

      I usually end up starting with the kitchen, getting it in order and the kitchen table. That way when I get overwhelmed I can just go and sit and stare at a clean kitchen and pretend that the rest of the house is walled off and dead to me while I sip my coffee *laugh*.

      Tomorrow I need to tackle Mt. Foldsalot that is taking over my master bedroom, recover what passes for my den after my son destroyed it at the last bout of speech therapy and hopefully keep on top of the rest of the house enough so I can shampoo some carpets before another bout of speech therapy tomorrow afternoon. Fun times.

      Thanks for the imput on the cabbage. I was wondering when I should harvest it (it is indeed the dwarf bok choy). Good to know I can start picking it...I'll at least get some before the bugs attack it this way :).

    2. I took your advice and cleaned off the top of my kitchen table. IT IS WOODEN!!! I had forgotten what it looked like. The problem was that I took everything and dumped it on the cabinet in the laundry room. Then I had to work on cleaning that room without putting everything back on the kitchen table, not easy.
      It went like this. I thought since the shelves were mostly empty I would wipe them down first. As I began to put things back on I noticed I had quite a few small leftover amounts of various dried beans from last years garden. I put all those in the crock pot for dinner. My son said he really liked it and could I fix that again? Nope. It was a once in a lifetime special meal I made just for him. It is a secret recipe (I am really a great Mom).
      I spent all afternoon in there and I am proud to say, “I have a four foot square clean spot in my house!” Woohoo!
      As for achieving my goals. I did make some progress.
      1. Sit and stare. Did that quite a bit and in all directions! I even had company. My husband and the dog joined me on the front porch for a while.
      2. Make a “to do” list. I got started but my hand started to cramp from writing so much.
      I suppose one out of two isn't bad. Right?

  5. I love catching up on your blog! I've been struggling without internet, and have to catch it at the library or other places, so my time is very limited.

    Your garden is looking excellent. Those boc choi plants look like they are getting close, if they are a "baby" variety. Otherwise, they will grow quite tall--depends on which kind they are. I love it in stir fry and chicken soup. If the bugs cremate the tops, you can still use the stems and throw the leafy parts away.

    I was raised on a peach farm. My camper is parked on one now. Our peaches floated, too. We do fill the jars and gently tap them on a dish towel so the peaches pack in, and that gets more in the jars. But they still have some juice on the bottom.

  6. Erika, I had the same problem with pickled cabbage. Is that the Ball Blue Book recipe? It sounds like it as I remember weighing out 6 lbs of cabbage. It was so off. Made at least double what it was supposed to so I had to make more brine. I only made it the once, never again because we ended up not liking it. We did use it up, but I've gone back to making red cabbage on an as needed basis. It just doesn't take that much time.

  7. Erika, I had the same problem with pickled cabbage. Is that the Ball Blue Book recipe? It sounds like it as I remember weighing out 6 lbs of cabbage. It was so off. Made at least double what it was supposed to so I had to make more brine. I only made it the once, never again because we ended up not liking it. We did use it up, but I've gone back to making red cabbage on an as needed basis. It just doesn't take that much time.