Saturday, July 23, 2016

Frugal Friday: Money Saving Weekly Recap and Garden Update

So, in winter you get to see my store freebies.  In summer you get to see my canned goods.  You lucky things you *laugh*.

Sorry I didn't update much again this week.  I've just been super busy and haven't had much time to breath, let alone blog.  My son's eczema is flaring again bad after he welted/swelled up a couple of times, so he's not sleeping much either.  So, between the two things it's a miracle I got him to OT and things this last week.  And then yesterday I was dumping some garbage, did a visual inspection of my car (which I try to do each time I see it) and realized that there was a bulge in my front tire.  My husband is going to dig out whichever old summer tire is in the best of shape to replace it with and we're praying that at least two of the old de-studded winter tires will be in good enough shape to use as summer tires or I'm going to be looking at getting to new summer tires next year on TOP of getting winter tires this year.  Such is life, but ugh.

Quick garden update.  I ripped out the radish plant and the various bolting lettuce plants and also a carrot that had sent up a GINORMOUS middle woody stalk thing, but wasn't developing a shoulder at all.  It was even starting to go to seed before it actually developed a carrot.  It was the weirdest thing I've ever seen (although this is my first year actually growing carrots that are doing anything, so I'm no expert by any means).  Some of the carrots are getting big and that is definitely making me happy :).  I quickly, dodging hornets the entire time, went and planted beet and turnip seeds after amending the soil and the turnip seeds are already sprouting (yay!) and I'm going out multiple times a day now that it's raining to pick slugs off of things and kill them (boo).  Anyone got a good border protection you can put around small beds to stop slugs from getting at plants that won't wash away easily?  I'm fearing for my seedlings with how bad of a slug infestation I have this year.

The peas are continuing to produce as you watch (woot!) and so far I've gotten a couple of side dishes worth off of the plants and they are now blanched and in the freezer for winter and I have another bag of them in the fridge that I almost have enough in to blanch another bunch (and I've even been snacking on them, so that's showing you how many there are *laugh*).  The biggest challenge with the peas, which luckily the slugs aren't climbing the stems of the peas to get at higher leaves and are sticking with anything that touches the ground, is that they keep growing and are falling forward.  I had to go and scrounge around in my husband's scrap conduit pile and find a piece long enough to stick into the soil and push the peas backwards toward the house before they take the trellis down with them.  I've never seen peas grow like this.  It's amazing.  Next year I'm going to plant some in a neighboring bed and buy some actual trellis if I can afford it to put along the back of the entire garden for the climbing plants.  It seems they do like to grow in that area *laugh*.

I harvested my bigger potato planter this week.  That was kind of disappointing.  It gave me about the same amount of potatoes as my small little potato planter did overall.  But, it did give me blue potatoes so that was kind of neat *laugh*.

The swiss chard has just been dealing with too many slugs, too many aphids (to the point you can see through some of the leaves there is so much juice sucked out of them when you clean them) and too much all over the board weather.  I'm thinking that I'm going to be harvesting what is left soon as it keeps bolting and if I need supplemental greens for over winter I'm just going to have to buy some this year (which luckily at least swiss chard is relatively cheap up here this time of year).  I'd plant some Chinese cabbages or even more chard, but with the slugs I don't know if it's worth the battle.  Still debating that one.

I harvested the rest of my herbs this week (note to self:  Put them in dehydrator when done with this post) as they were not only being swarmed by slugs and hornets, but they were also going to seed.  I finally braved the hornets, which actually were very nice and left me alone for the most part and grabbed what was left of the herbs.  Considering everything the herbs were up against this year in the way of bugs they did AWESOME.  I got a really good amount of thyme and rosemary, which is my first year for that happening and my sage did well too.  I almost dug them and brought them inside to overwinter, but my cats just destroy anything resembling a house plant, so I decided "no" was the best answer for that idea.

After I harvested the herbs, I waited until it was raining (to not deal with the hornets as much) and grabbed the planters, drug them across the lawn and parked them by the front garden bed.  I then pressure washed the sidewalk where the planters were to try and get rid of even the scent of slugs if I could help it to deter the hornets.  My son has found that he loves to spray the hose directly into the ground and mess with it when outside and I was terrified he'd get stung.  His skin is so sensitive to allergens right now I don't want to know what bee stings might do to him.  And he has no fear of flying insects, so I was waiting for him to grab one to see what it felt like.  So, yeah, front planters went to an area he doesn't around around in.

I'm continuing to harvest one lowly little handful of raspberries at a time.  My daughter has been into the fresh grapes I got at the store this last week more than the raspberries so I froze a couple of small handfuls of them to use later in jam and such (only about...oh...11 1/2 more cups of raspberries to go to get enough for jam *laugh*).

Today it has finally cooled down even with the last couple of days of rain and the humidity seems to have dropped off a bit, so I'm HOPING to maybe get my cherries and rhubarb canned this weekend.  It'd be nice to not have the bags of cherries dropping on my foot every time I open the fridge freezer.

I got some stuff done in other areas of the house this week, but I'll save that for Sunday's post.

Onto the money saving adventures this week!

1.  I made rat-tailed radish relish this week (I dare you to say THAT ten times fast *laugh*).  The results are seen up top there.  I got up early one day, made sure to use the squat 1/2 pint jars so I didn't have to heat as much water in the canner and tried to make the entire experience as quick as possible for the sake of not overheating the house.

I used the recipe on Canning Homemade but instead of traditional radishes (obviously) I used the rat tailed radishes.  I did make a couple of changes.  Mainly I used about a little over a pound of the rat tailed radishes (I believe final calcs worked out to be about 19 oz) compared to two pounds of the traditional root radishes.  Why?  Because you would not BELIEVE the volume of radishes a pound of rat tails gives you!  I then pulsed the rat tailed radishes in several batches in my food processor to chop them up as grating them wouldn't work and I wasn't going to sit there all day and cut them into tiny pieces with my knife (that and honestly I think the food processor gave them more of a "relish" type of cut compared to a knife.  I also upped the onion to about 1 1/2 cups of onion to give more "crunch" to the relish as I knew the rat tailed radishes weren't going to give much other than flavor and color to the relish once they cooked down.

The rat tailed radishes, since they don't have the body structure that a traditional radish does (basically they cook down a LOT more compared to a root radish) I let the mixture cook down until reduced to a relish-like consistency (probably by a little over 1/3 the volume got boiled out).  I was curious as to how it would turn out, but it sure is tasty and the onions give it enough of a relish "crunch" that you just figure you're eating a slightly peppery relish.  And it made a goodly amount (as you can see).  I was happy that the experiment seems to have worked out pretty well.

2.  I found an AWESOME sale on beef this week.  4.99 lb for Porterhouse steaks!  That's how much I've been paying for petite sirloin steaks on sale!  I had budgeted out some money for beef only so that's where my money went to.  I also got some pork spare ribs for 1.99 lb on sale as well.  It feels good to have more than chicken in the freezer right now :).

3. I used some extra money we got in from a good pay check to buy bread flour and honey this week at the bulk store (way cheaper to get them there).  Felt good getting those things marked off of my list for now.

4.  I used the freebie Friday freebie of free soda from Fred Meyer to get some root beer.  I used it during the hotter parts of the week to make root beer floats for dessert.  It was definitely a good use of the freebie *laugh*.

5.   I passed along some excess lettuce I had to a friend.  It is nice being able to give people salad fixings this time of year when I have it to offer.  She was thrilled as she was going to go and pay for a salad for her lunch and that would save her a bunch.  Always a good feeling :).

6.  I've been decluttering a lot this week.  I am especially looking at my kitchen, pantry and sewing area lay outs to figure out what would work the best so that I actually use up things (as in the case of my kitchen and pantry) that needs to be used or make things visible so I can see what I have to work with (in the case of my sewing area).  Yesterday I tackled the sewing area and have to say I'm pretty happy with it right now (more to come on that), so onto the kitchen next :).

7.  I continued to harvest rose hips from the yard and am getting up a goodly amount.  I've actually harvested enough rose hips off of some plants that the roses are blooming again.  So, double harvest!!!  *Laugh*

8.  I did some brainstorming and came up with more ideas for Christmas gifts this week.  And I actually remembered to write said ideas down!  Yay!!!

9.  My husband's birthday is this week, so I will be spending part of my week trying my hand at making erbswurst made out of primarily materials I normally have on hand (his birthday gift, which is where the sausage casing came into play...and then, of course, I found a recipe that called for waxed paper instead of casing.  Ah well) and home made soft pretzels (really a pain in my small kitchen, so I don't make them that often, but my husband LOVES them).   And no, we won't be eating both at the same time *laugh*.

I'm sure there is more that I'm missing, but I'm tired and sore today and have a lot to do, so I'm going to call that good.  Got any frugal adventures that happened to you this week?


  1. I picked the root beer too as the freebie, thinking about floats as well.

    So my husband had me convinced up one side and down the other, the pumpkin seeds I'd planted, and had thinkgs growing on were actualy watermellons. and so when the biggest one started to turn yellow, I googled, and saw yellow watermellons mean get them off the vine quick. So I did that to the one. And only one thank goodness. Then, low and behold..turns out to be a pumpkin. So im kinda sad. a little annoyed too.

    Its been so so hot. So the kids have used the sprinkler a lot. Had some unexpected expenses, (aren't there always?!) had to take my oldest ot the doctor today, his ear has been itching him for a few weeks, so I was getting worried. Luckily, no infection or bugs inside, and she gave me a prescription for some expensive drops but suggested we try topical benedryl first, and it's helped alot! And way cheaper too. Got to put more on him in a little.

    It's just been one money thing after another here, and yet, I know how absolutely blessed we are. We always have enough, even if I end up overspending (or my husband does on junk) and then get into a bind because we bought things we don't need. Though envy does rear it's ugly head quite often!!! Most of the people we like, or tend to get along with have far more than we do, and it makes it a little tough sometimes, when we just can't do a lot of similar things they do. But oh well. I'm going to ask for the copy of the book Live Your Life, Not Theirs from Dave Ramsey's daughter for Christmas, lol. Hoping it will be a good reminder for me.

    Our strawberries are still doing good, winding down though, so they are getting smaller. We had mexican bean bugs pretty much take out the green beans but they are still fighting so we will see. My black raspberry busy officially is dead, even though I spent (wasted?) $20 on this stuff the guy at the store said would save it. Maybe it's just gone dormant. no idea. Our squash production is still really low. But this week, to help make up for the overspending and exexpected things, I just got some bare necessities at the store, and using the rest of that to apply towards a bulk order I placed, before I realized we'd spent more than I had thought.

    Hope your week is good!! I'm so sorry to hear abut your sons flare ups again. Its got to be just as bad in the summer as in the winter. My 3 year old flared up last night, and hardly slept, poor guy,and he's not nearly as bad off as your son. So you have my ultra sympathy.

  2. It's my husband's birthday this week also. Hoping to make a blueberry pie from fresh blueberries��
    A bit of a tradition for him as he loves blueberries and they are in season.

  3. I'm sorry to hear your son is struggling yet again with allergy and skin issues. Poor guy! I hope he feels better soon.

    You've had another amazing week, despite being exhausted, Erika! So glad your radish relish turned out well. It must feel so good to have such a nice selection of home canned goods this year. I'm jealous of your pea production, though. I was so hopeful for a large crop this year as I planted lots of heirloom pea seeds and most came up. But the weather has been so hot and humid, they just didn't produce much. Very sad, indeed.

    Well, I have to admit, the heat is really getting to us this summer. In fact, meal making has become a bit of a problem. We have tried to find some things to make that don’t require cooking…and succeeded some days. However, we have also caved on more than one occasion and opted for meals out or take out. Although I am not a fan of this idea, after dealing with several days working with no AC, in several layers of historic clothing, I just don’t have the energy to fight about it. I can only hope that the weather will cool down to a more comfortable temperature soon and stay that way for more than 1 or 2 days. Until then, I am reciting the serenity prayer (God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference).

    I have continued to pick raspberries from the wild bushes at work. I now have 1 medium sized freezer bag full of free berries, plus I started a second bag. Also, we were gifted a bag of fresh cheese curd by my MIL. It was so fresh, it still squeaked when you ate it! So Yummy.

    I did a huge shopping purchase this week between Costco, the farmer’s market and the grocery store, spending more than my normal budgeted amount for groceries. However, I was able to stock up on some really good deals including 2 Costco sized packs of chicken breasts on sale $4 off per pack (each pack was just over $20 with discount), 1 large tray of ground beef for $19 (divided into 6 family size servings making it $3.17/meal), a Costco sized bottle of dish detergent on sale for $7.80 (refills several regular sized dish soap bottles), 4 cans of solid white tuna for $1.88/can (normally $1.99/can), 4 bags of flavoured rice for $3/bag (DD’s favourite), 2 bottles of Bulls-Eye BBQ sauce for $1/bottle, 4 brownie mixes for $1.50/box and 4 cake mixes for $1/box (easier for autistic DD to make and encourages her to learn cooking skills), 12 tubs of margarine for $1/tub (froze for longer term storage), a 2.5kg bag of instant skim milk powder for $24 (we use this for cooking and baking to save on buying fresh milk), 6 bunches of broccoli for $1/bunch (will blanch and freeze for winter), several peaches for $1/lb, a bag of spinach marked 50% off making it $0.89, a bag of waxed beans marked 50% off making it $2 plus a basket each of green and waxed beans from the market for $5 for both (will blanch and freeze along with beans from my garden for winter), a dozen cobs of corn for $6.50/dozen (mostly for fresh eating but may freeze some for winter), a basket of farm fresh carrots for $3, 4 boxes of breaded stuffed chicken breasts for $2/2 breasts in box (DD’s favourite and quick meal option to avoid eating out), 8 packages of bacon for $3/pack, 8 smoked cheddar sausages for $1/sausage (stock up for winter as this is a seasonal item), 8 packs of English muffins for $1/6 pack (froze and pull as needed for breakfast) and a multi-pack of chewing gum marked 50% off making it $1.50/4 packs of gum (put away to use for Christmas stockings). Feels good to have my freezers filling up with meat and veggies, that's for sure!

    I'm looking forward to seeing what you have planned for Christmas presents this year. I'm already thinking of using the corn husks to make corn husk angels like you did. Such a great idea for my daughter's teacher and support staff! Thanks so much for posting that idea!!!

  4. Hi Erika,
    Looks like you had an ultra productive week. So sorry to hear about your little guy's allergies and eczema.
    Since the garden is producing and I don't need vegetables I diverted that part of the food budget to buy meat at greatly reduced prices and continue to stock the freezer. Local fruit is almost non-existent because of the late frost on the apple,peach, nectarine, etc. so fruit prices are pretty outrageous at $2.99 a pound for peaches etc. right now. Hopefully, fruit from other places that are trucked in will be lower in price, although I did get a very good deal earlier on blueberries and froze them for later use.
    I'm working on Christmas gifts as well and found a few really easy things on Pinterest that will require almost no time and will use most things I have on hand. I saw a sugar scrub, that was 2 cups of sugar, coconut oil, essential oil for fragrance and dried crushed rose petals. I'm going to gather some of my knock out roses today and dry the petals. Also bath salts and also bath fizzies, and I saw a handcream on Pinterest that is made with things bought at the dollar store and just mixed together. I have all kinds of jars that can be prettied up for containers. I think this will be the answer for gifts for my sisters and possibly my older nieces.
    I was gifted recently with 40 pounds of sugar by someone who was moving and I always have epsom salts and large bags of baking soda on hand. I'm looking forward to seeing the next gift that you've created. Dorothy

  5. I check your site every day to see if there is anything new. Once again, I have not posted because I have felt like I did not have anything worth saying. Shame on me. I will do better. I should share my "wisdom" with others.
    The knowledge you have acquired is massive. It has been so rewarding to watch how you have grown. I know that sounds dorky. But, you are so far ahead in food preparation compared to this time last year. Your family will eat so much better this winter than last winter. Next winter will be even better. Every time you add to your pantry (either in supplies or in knowledge), you improve your families lives.
    Also, thank you for all the posts of the rat-tail radish pickles. Whenever there is a picture, I carry my laptop around to everyone in the family and say "See, those are from MY seeds." They roll their eyes. Pat me on the head and say, "Good job Mom". If there is a new post, I read it to my husband on his coffee break from work. He works from home on the computer downstairs and when he comes upstairs, we sit down together and pour over your words. I do leave out details about recipe measurements and such. He just would not get it. It has, however, started such wonderful conversations between us. He will say, "She spent so much on such-and-such, what do we spend?" Or "Why is she doing it that way?" He seems to be seeing how hard it is to run a home and how EXPENSIVE it is just to survive.
    You inspire me to get up and go do something that needs to be done. Thank you.
    Now on to my advice. Slugs in the garden. I don't have much trouble because it is soooooooooo very dry here but I have had trouble before. Once, years ago we did have a wet spring and slugs were everywhere. I read an organic way to be rid of them was to bury beer in cups level with the ground and the slugs would crawl in and drown. I went straight to the liquor store and about had a heart attack at the price of beer! How can anyone afford to drink!!!!!! I poured it in cups in the garden and when I went out the next day, the cups were empty and dry. I filled them up again and checked later, the same. Filled them up again and once again nothing. At this point, we began to watch the garden closely. My son said, "Mom, what is wrong with the rooster? He looks sick." I sat down on the back deck to watch the garden and I saw the rooster fly over the fence and proceed to empty my cups of all the beer and the marinated escargot! That devil!
    My son said at college they are careful what they put in the greenhouses. He said they use copper wire on the ground around the plants. It creates a mild electric shock and so they won't crawl over it. We can't feel it but they can.
    Diatomaceous earth will work but it washes away when it rains.
    Now for aphids. I put a spoonfull of Joy brand (must be Joy) dishwashing liquid in a spray bottle and spray them every time I walk by. Get both sides of the leaves and the ground underneath. Joy is the best. I use it when the dog gets fleas. Soap him up, let it sit on him at least one minute then rinse off. Joy kills them but other brands just seems to stun them and you can see them start crawling again.
    One last thing. My brother parked his jeep in his front yard one night and the next morning it was full of them. He had parked over the hole in the ground to their nest. They would swarm him when he tried to mow the grass. They are dangerous. He finally poured gasoline down the hole after dark one night and set it on fire. He said he had explosions from the tunnels all over his front yard. It was massive. Be careful.

    1. TYPO. Last paragraph is talking about HORNETS not APHIDS. My brother had hornets not aphids crawl into his jeep. Sheesh!

    2. Yeah, I keep looking around for hornet nests and yellow jackets, but so far I've killed one small nest on the peak of our roof and that's it. It is so so weird. Everyone in our area is having issues with bees this year, though, so at least I'm not alone.

      Another trick for ground bees that my grandpa taught me, other than setting them on fire? Skunks LOVE them and will dig them out of the ground and eat the bees and the honey. If you leave a saucer full of milk by the nest to attract the skunks you'll come out one morning to find paper shreds everywhere and not a bee in sight. It's pretty neat. We don't have skunks up here, so I can't do that if I find a ground bees nest, but wanted to pass that along to others :).

      I became quite the beeaphobe when I lived in PA. Man the BEES! They were everywhere all summer long. We even had them make a nest underneath our siding one year. It was awful! The worst nest was the soccer ball sized hole that suddenly was just in our yard from a ground bees nest that appeared overnight (or so it seemed since it was only a few days after we had mowed the lawn). That got kerosene and a match that night. Nasty little buggers!

      As for your seeds, they've been doing great, thanks so much for them :). The lettuce seeds you gave me are the only lettuce that is still producing in the garden and hasn't gone completely to seed yet, so yay!!! And I just planted some of your winter keeper beet seeds, so hopefully those will pop up soon as well!

  6. It may not be feasible for those of you with slug problems, but my brother-in-law added ducks to his back yard and they eat the slugs, plus give them eggs.

    Harvested from the garden: green beans, tomatoes, cabbages, carrots, a tiny bit of lima beans, strawberries, lettuce (bolting and almost finished), a Chinese vegetable of which I forgot the name, onions (these are all harvested for this spring and are drying on the front porch), okra, tomatoes, cucumber, I am watching an eggplant and will pick it any day now.
    Saved seeds from: radish, celery, red onion, lettuce,
    Drove to the local Amish community and purchased: fresh milk $2.00 per gallon (got 8 gallons, skimmed off the cream and made butter, shared three gallons with family and froze 2 gallons, made boiled custard with the last half gallon when it began to clabber, made buttermilk to put in homemade bread), 1 HUGE orangeglo watermelon $5.50, cantaloupes $1.00 - $1.50 different sizes, purple hull peas $1.00 for a mess (“mess” Southern for “enough for tonight's dinner”, the amounts varies according to your family size), yellow and zucchini squash $.60 per pound, corn $2.50 per dozen and 2 dozen eggs for $2.00 each.
    Made 2 loaves of homemade bread using the buttermilk and from grain I ground myself.
    Purchased blueberries for $.99 a pound at Aldis. I bought 2 cases and froze them to last for the year.
    Passed a Save-a-lot while driving through another town and noticed they had roast beef for $2.99 a pound. I pulled a U-turn and went in to load up. They only had 5 but I got them all. They also had chicken leg quarters for $.39 a pound (YES REALLY). I bought all they had which was 10 pounds. I also saw pork chops on clearance for $1.50 for the container, so I bought the last two left. WE GOT TO EAT MEAT THIS WEEK! My husband was thrilled. Me, I really don't care.
    Went out on a date with my husband this week. We went to a cheap all you can eat food bar then ran an errand at the hardware store. He purchased screws, bolts and other thingys to fix what-cha-ma-call-its and I found two plants on clearance for $3.00 each. I do not NEED another flower. Oh well.
    Closed off all three bedrooms during the day to save on electricity. Everyday it has been in the upper 90's and you can really feel the house cool down when the doors are closed.
    Did a multiple Skype call between 2 sons in different cities and us here at home.
    Fixed a lunch for son #3 when he went to work.
    Picked up my Friday Freebie (I got the rootbeer)at Kroger while getting gas. We coordinated filling up my car and my son's truck at Kroger so we could both utilize the $.30 discount I had earned. We got it for $1.50 a gallon. Woohoo. We had to pull into the pump back to back to be able to purchase it under one transaction. The discount is only good for one fill-up for 40 gallons. My car holds 15 and his holds 10 gallons. When my other two sons are in town we will have a convoy to the gas station to fill up all the cars at once. Of course I end up paying the cashier for everyone. Funny how Moms end up doing that. So was that a money saver or a money loser for me?
    Plus all the usual like washing out baggies, stopping the washing machine so stuff can soak overnight, cutting out coupons, etc.