Saturday, August 6, 2016

Frugal Friday: Money Saving Weekly Recap and Garden Update

 Wow, it's been a busy week and a super busy weekend as we're working on getting everything ready for my husband to go out of town tomorrow night.  I'm already dealing with a depressed daughter and a cranky son and dad hasn't even left yet.  So, so not looking forward to this.

First a quick garden update.  The summer garden, with the exception of any peas that might still grow (which so far, so good) is pretty much done for the year.  I harvested what I could out of all beds earlier in the week (seen up top there).  The chocolate mint grew kind of this year, but not great.  All I could harvest I have in that picture, although it IS still growing, so I'm hoping to get more before the growing season is officially done.  I'm hoping next year will be better for it as it took FOREVER to get started this year and I'm not really sure why.  I'd hate to think that it will do this poorly year after year when it did so well it's first year (last year).  I guess only time will tell.

I pulled all the bunching onions as with how much rain we've been getting they were starting to turn yellow (that and the colder weather I'm sure).  I sliced them up and put them immediately into the dehydrator.  The chard (the best leaves are actually on top of that pile, unfortunately) got cleaned really well and blanched and frozen, same with the peas (with a few reserved to have in salad).  I dehydrated the mint and put it into a jar to add to tea this winter when I'm feeling under the weather.

The weather is growing colder and leaves are starting to fall from the trees already.  Looking around I see fall occurring pretty much everywhere.  So, of course, my mind is immediately turning toward the impending winter with lack of snow tires yet in my budget and I get a bit worried, but I'm hoping that the snow will hold off until October (which is when our "normal" winter starts, usually, although the last three years had spoiled us all).  Soon things like carrots and potatoes and other root vegetables will start coming due for harvest and sale, so I am hoping to pad out some stores with cheap local produce and I'm counting down the days until good cider is once again available in the stores as I actually put some money aside to pick up some this year (yay!!!!).

In the meantime, let's get to what I managed to accomplish this week for money saving things shall we?
1.  I made rose hip fruit leather earlier in the week (seen above).  I finally had enough rose hips to make it  (you need 6 cups of rose hips to make 3 cups of puree about and 6 cups of wild rose hips?  Yeah, that's a lot!) and I am still harvesting more as I find them ripe in the yard.  I'm still trying to figure out a way to climb down into our "ditch area" by our driveway as I have a TON of them down there, without killing myself...that's the hard part *laugh*.  My daughter tried a piece of the leather and liked it, so I was doubly happy with that.  I made 3 cups of rose hip puree and mixed it with 3 cups of applesauce from the pantry, added a bit of honey to sweeten (since the applesauce was unsweetened too, so it was a bit tart from the rose hips) and then dried.  The cooperative extension service said fruit leather, if properly dry, should keep for 4 months to a year if you keep it in a cupboard, the cooler the better.  The way the weather has been, the front of the pantry is definitely remaining cool, so I'm hoping I can put off storing it in the fridge or freezer for a while and just let it sit on the shelf.  This will be a great nutritionally loaded snack (rose hips are packed with vitamin C), to add to my daughter's school lunches.

2.  I baked the outback copycat rolls this week.  The recipe was just a disaster from step one, but the frugal part (to me) is that I saved it!  For one, the dough comes out REALLY dense, like super duper dense, but only calls for 4 tsp of yeast.  I'm not sure if part of this was due to my freshly ground wheat flour (I ground it in my coffee grinder as I didn't feel like pulling out my manual grain grinder), but I had bad feelings about the yeast right away.  Fast forward 2 hours later and the dough still hadn't risen.  At all.  And I even used instant yeast!  So, I dumped all the dough back into my stand mixer, mixed in another tablespoon and a half of instant yeast, mixed it all together and waited.  A half an hour later (which seriously shows how dense that dough was!) and the rolls were ready for the oven.   The rolls were a bit sweet for my liking, although my daughter loves them and says they tasted like cake (which gives you an idea of the sweetness level I suppose) and they ARE very filling with how dense they turn out.  But, I have to say while I might tweak a whole wheat roll recipe to add a little molasses and cocoa in the future, I'll just skip this recipe.  I'm suspecting these might turn out lighter with store bought whole wheat flour though as the flour is more processed and thus might give you a lighter dough...maybe?

3.  I hit sales this week harder than I have in a long time.  I actually had budgeted out some money for pantry "pump up" as I was calling it (and yes, I actually wrote it down that way in my column *laugh*) and I used all of it Carrs on Wednesday to get tons of things super cheap that will last a long time in the pantry.  My son's favorite popcorn was on sale for 1.25 a box if you bought 5 of them, and I had a bunch of 1.00/1 coupons (bwahahahaha!) that Jolly Time had sent me for being a customer.  So, I was able to get popcorn (I bought the only 6 boxes they had on the shelf) for .25 a box!  Wooohoo!!!  That was a high to my week for sure as I like to send the microwave popcorn packages into my son's class as a treat for him and the other kids as all the kids in his class are popcorn lovers.  At home we mainly eat home made popcorn (popcorn with olive oil and just ground up kosher salt for popcorn salt) so it's a real treat for him to get microwave popcorn in class (and it is a good reinforcer for him to do work :). 

4.  I mended various holes in blankets and comforters this week.  Still have a ton of mending to do, but at least some of the bigger and bulkier items are done now.
5.  I canned the rest of the rhubarb and the cherries from the freezer this week.  Once the cherries were canned and cooled a bit, I was able to give one can of cherries to a friend of mine who works seven days a week and loves home canned goods, but obviously doesn't have time to do it herself.  She was super duper thrilled to receive it and I was happy to give it to her as she works herself HARD (I took the picture after I had given her the jar of cherries, so there were actually four jars originally :).  I am amazed how many cherries I got this year.  I've got cherry pie filling, cherry jam and tons of just canned cherries in the pantry now.  I'm kind of in awe as cherries are usually a major luxury item around here.  So to have so many of them...I feel like I have gold bouillon sitting on the shelf instead of cherries. 

6.  I continued to work on rearranging the pantry and kitchen this week and it is coming together slowly but surely.  It's not costing me anything to do since all I'm doing is moving things I already have around.

7.  It has been kind of cold, wet and dreary this week, but so far I've managed to keep the heat turned down and we haven't been too cold without it kicking on. 

8.  I have had a blast on You Tube this week when my kids wouldn't go to bed.  I watched "Tudor Monastery Farm" all the way through and actually found it really fascinating to watch once I got into it as the group covers a bunch of different skills and things of the age.  I have to admit my favorite part was watching how to build a book from start to finish as repairing books has always been on my "skills to learn" list and I'd love to get into doing that one day.

I also started watching "Secrets of the Castle" which is just as fascinating to watch as I've always LOVED castles since I was a little kid.  Not so much about the romanticism surrounding them, but just how solid and huge they are and what had to have gone into building them.  So watching them work on building one?  I could watch that all day.  It's really a cool series.

I stopped myself from watching "Tudor Monastery Farm Christmas" until...well...closer to Christmastime.  I'm hoping to maybe convince my husband to burn some of the Farm Christmas specials to DVD so I can play them for my daughter as it's a really sneaky way to teach her things.

9.  While watching the specials, to avoid wasting time not doing anything (since I'm not sleeping and need to stay awake) I knit or crochet.  It helps to keep my hands busy and convinces me I'm doing something useful while I'm watching things.  I have found that I had about four stores of yarn around the house when I went searching for fabric, so I have started conglomerating them together and making projects out of them.  My goal is to get my yarn down to one big basket full of yarn.  That will be enough to make a decent sized project, but without taking up tons of space all over the place.  Like the project I'm working on now is baby yarn and I had a GIANT skein that was taking up a good portion of a drawer.  Better to be knitted into a project and give me back the room it was taking up.

10.  I tightened up some screws on my daughter's chair (she has the "odd man out" chair at the kitchen table that we have to replace one that was broken).  I have to do this periodically or it gets really loose, so I was happy that I remembered to do it before it got really wobbly.  Note to self:  Ask husband for spare square head bit as I don't have one for my screw driver.

11.  My husband has continued to pick raspberries over at my mother-in-law's for me.  I'm thrilled as I am pretty sure we've got enough or nearly enough to make jam now :).  Anything after this can be used to make muffins and things during the winter, so I'm hoping to get more, but still.  Yay!!!

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


  1. I'm up super early this morning as the dehydrator has been running all night with shredded potatoes and I need to swap them out before church. I love seeing all of your canned goods,and how beautiful to share with a friend. Also great save on the rolls. The rosehip leather sounds so interesting. I wonder if it was vacuum packed if it would last longer on the shelf?

    Yesterday I went out to the garden to harvest. At first I was ecstatic, there were tons of okra on the stalks which is one of my husbands favorite vegetables and they go for at least $4 a pound here when fresh and $3 for a small bag of frozen, and T-H-E-N I noticed that the beetles were 6 to 8 deep just reproducing like mad and munching away on the blossoms. When I checked the zucchini, overnight powdery mold had appeared on the leaves and the squash bugs and stink bugs had arrived, also found triangles of eggs that were laid on the underside of some of the leaves. I was homicidal with all of the bugs and cut the eggs off the leaves. I hope that saves the plants. Thankfully, they hadn't found the cucumbers yet. But who knows what today will bring. They surprise of surprises I went to check the crooknecked squash in the containers and the ants that I got rid of in the inground garden had moved their headquarters to the container gardens. After harvesting a couple of squashes, it was time to lay down coffee grounds in the containers and try to get rid of them.

    As for frugal accomplishments, worked on the pantry, dehydrated some water chesnuts that were on the shelf and made more room for other things, did a big grocery shop that will give us lots of variety for dinners. Did meal planning for the week, which was a good thing to do as we're having some unexpected overnight guests 3 nights this week. Got some sprouting seeds and lentils to make fresh sprouts to add to salads and sandwiches this winter, went through craft supplies and found wired ribbon, rick rack, and odds and ends that I forgot I had, and some terra cotta flower pots all things that can be made into Christmas gifts. I'm hoping to root some of my rosemary and pot it to make minature Christmas trees for gifts. Also the aloe plant always has "babies" that could be separated and repotted as a gift. I found an unused bag of potting soil in the garage, so, again, no expenditure. We are mothers of invention. Dorothy

    1. The mini Christmas trees sounds so cute!!! I wish rosemary would grow during the winter up here (I've tried...we just don't get enough light :) as I'd do stuff like that in a heartbeat. I love rosemary anyway, but mini Christmas trees sounds so, so cute! Great idea!!!

      Nice find on the potting soil too. I was about as thrilled when I found the box of fertilizer this Spring.

      We've gotten so much rain at this point I think we're growing more mushrooms than grass. It's nuts. I wish I'd studied fungi extensively as it would be a great year for fungi harvesting, but something about not wanting to kill my family for the sake of a mushroom stops me from even trying *laugh*.

    2. Dorothy, please think twice about sprouting. I gave myself food poisoning this summer with sprouts I'd sprouted myself. After researching it, I found that most sites recommend only eating cooked sprouts. It's so easy to get sick from sprouts because the conditions for sprouting are the same conditions for bacteria growth: warm and moist. Just wanted to pass this on. I had a miserable night that I'd like you and your guests to avoid.

    3. Hi again, Erika,
      Have you ever tried simulating daylight to grow herbs indoors. Rather than buying a grow light if you put together one incandescent light bulb and one florescent light bulb you will simulate the full spectrum for daylight. Or if you have an Ott light for crafts that also simulates daylight. 12 hours of light and 12 hours of darkness is the usual formula. Dorothy

    4. Dorothy, an easy way to get the squash bug eggs off is to take a piece of duck/duct tape and wrap it in a circle with the sticky part out. Put your hand through the center and wear it and put it on the leaves to pull the eggs off. This is fast way when you have been over run with the eggs.
      As for powdery mildew, I make a spray with a spoonful of Joy dish washing liquid and baking soda. Then spray until the water drips off. The Joy seems to "wash" the plant and the baking soda seems to keep the mildew from regrowing for a few days.
      Oh, and I dehydrate my okra. Slice it up. It will dehydrate down to nothing. I put it in a saute pan with olive oil and add water. I cook it until it soaks up the water then gets crispy. I also throw it into soups. The slime will return even after you have dried it which is hard to believe!

  2. I don't expect cold weather till the end of October at least. I never realized that Alaska started fall in August, that is so unfair to you. We had a mild winter compared to the two years before and I try to do a stock up. We are lucky to not get too much snow, and within a day or two the roads are clear enough to drive on. Cheryl

    1. You learn very quickly to appreciate every single moment of summer when you move here. August is normally when leaves start falling from the trees and then September is usually rainy, windy and cold before we start to get snowfall in October. We're getting so much rain at this point I'm KIND of hoping we have a sudden reversal of weather and have a nice mild and at least clear September so we can enjoy fall to a point here. The summer had so much rain and then just out and out hot weather in between that we didn't get out much this summer up here, which means depression rates this winter will be up (SAD is a huge problem up here) and the winter will seem even longer and colder than normal. I'm kind of hoping we can get a month of weather where we can go out and play and enjoy the weather. As is I'm off today to try and find rain boots and other rain gear for the kids, which is out of season as normally we buy stuff like that up here in the Spring. Argh.

  3. Dorothy,
    I'm curious about your dehydrated shredded potatoes. Do you reconstitute them first and then just fry them up. I love to dehydrate but I don't always know how to use it afterward.

    And to Erica, I LOVE your blog. I find it fascinating to hear and see about all you do. I wish you made daily entries. I find them very motivating. Thanks!

    1. Lynn
      I reconstitute first and the fry them up. Check your library or Amazon for "The Ultimate Dehydrator Cookbook" which will give you great instructions for not only dehydrating, but also recipes to use your dehydrated food. Youtube also has a wealth of videos on using dehydrated foods. Hope this helps. Dorothy.

  4. Your canned cherries and rhubarb look delicious, you will enjoyed in the winter for sure, I also canned cherries, I try to do that every year.
    Rose hip fruit leather sounds good to, and really healthy, it will help to bust the imune sistem in the long winter. It's funny I grow up with similar fruits and vegetables that grow in the cold weather and when I see you were talking about rose hips, I remember eating it quite a lot, usually made in marmelade ( a type of jam ) or dried and used in hot tea in the winter.
    I am still harvesting from my garden green beans and cucumbers and basil and try to spend less in the grocery stores.
    I still have lots of canning to do, pear sauce, apple sauce later this fall, continue to make fermented dill pickles, and hopping to can some grapes and maybe salsa.
    My shopping trips every 2 weeks are still holding up good it really help not to over send and help use everything we have in the freezers and fridge. This next week I will try to stretch it to 3 weeks, since I did a quick trip to the farmers market and still harvesting from the garden. We are not big milk drinkers, one galon last us more than one week, and I am making all the breads or buy in the store and freeze.

  5. Ericka, wow! I am so impressed with all you harvested from the garden. You did good! Every little bit makes a difference. You just keep learning more and more. Thanks for the picture of your garden success. It made my day.
    Talking about Fall of the year right now seems so very odd. It dropped down to 70* degrees one night last week and we sat out on the front porch for the first time in forever. I get up at sunrise just to be able to go out in the garden. By 9:00 am I am exhausted from the heat and have to come in from fear of heat stroke. We still have five more weeks of this. Normally the weather will break the second week of September. I am in lower middle Tennessee.
    I found the rose hip fruit leather very interesting. It was a first for me.
    Now on to my money saving this week:
    *Harvested from the garden: tomatoes, okra, lima beans, zipper peas, green beans, melon and one eggplant
    *Harvested herbs: oregano, mint, St. John's Wort, skullcap, feverfew and saved the silks off of corncobs. I saw corn silk tea for sale at the health food store and did not realize it was medicinal. Who knew?
    *Harvested celery and carrot seeds. I don't know if the carrot seeds will be any good. There is a field next to my house full of Queen's Anne's Lace and I fear it cross pollinated with my carrots. This will be a big experiment.
    *Let son #3 use my Kroger $.10 reward off of gas and told son #1 to use my Mom's Kroger $.10 reward off of gas. It is not worth trying to organize a convoy to the gas station to just save 10 cents.
    *Stopped at a peach orchard and bought the world's best peaches. I have made peach ice cream, dehydrated peaches, tried making peach butter using apple juice concentrate to avoid sugar. It was awful. I think I will make more ice cream using the peach butter. Sugar definitely improves it. I also made peach muffins using the failed peach butter.
    * I am saving all the pits from the peaches I bought this past week to make peach pit jelly. Last year I tried it and it was interesting. It had an almond flavor to it. Just boil the pits until it looks like tea then strain it and follow the instructions on the surejell box.
    *Son #3 works in agriculture and his work clothes are beyond nasty. I make my own stain remover by pouring Tide stain remover liquid detergent into a spray bottle and adding enough water so it will spray. I then spray all of his clothes (every inch is filthy) and let them soak in the washer overnight. I will sometimes have the machine agitate, then stop it and agitate again.
    *Also made my weekly trip to the Amish to get milk, eggs, cantaloupes, cucumbers (my spring cucumber plants have quit producing and my second plantings have not started producing yet) plus I also got one gallon of honey for $45 (what a killer buy).
    *At Kroger we got a year's supply (25 jars) of Jiff peanut butter because it was on sale for $.99.
    *At Aldis I got grapes for $.79 and bananas for $.29 per pound. I might end up dehydrating them because I can't stop eating the peaches.
    * I also colored my hair myself instead of going to the beauty parlor. (Don't tell anyone I color my hair. It is a secret.)

    1. Hi Jeannie,
      Many thanks for the gardening tips, I so appreciate them. I have used the duct tape method for taking lint off clothes but never thought about using it in the garden. Great idea. I was wondering if I could use Dawn instead of Joy for the powdery mildew? My grandmother always made jelly from the peach pits and peels, and also with apple cores and peels. I do the same thing. I also slice up and dehydrate the okra as well as most of my garden vegetables. Right now there's a few trays of cauliflower and okra in the dehydrator that will be ready in a couple of hours. I 'm further north than you are but our temps have been in the upper 90's with about the same number in humidity, making very early morning the best time to do anything outside.

    2. Dorothy,
      NO to using Dawn. I have seen it used as a weed killer so be careful. Joy has never hurt any of my plants. I also use it on my dog for fleas. Soap him up then rinse him off. The fleas will be dead but when I used a generic brand, the fleas would just be stunned and then start crawling around.
      I have never tried using the peels or cores on apples to make jelly. Since I am not growing them, I wonder if there would be poison still stuck to the them?
      I have never dehydrated cauliflower. It is just something I haven't thought about. How do you cook with it?

    3. Jeannie,
      Thanks for letting me know about the Dawn. I only make the apple core jelly if I have organic apples. I usually buy a half a bushel of seconds toward the end of the season from an organic orchard and dehydrate the apples and then use the cores and peels for the jelly. This is the first time I've dehydrated cauliflower. My book says it can be rehydrated and roasted with a ittle olive oil, as well as rehydrated and sauteed. I thought I would try it. I would suspect that once rehydrated it could also be pureed for cream of cauliflower soup Dorothy

    4. Dorothy,
      whenever you do try using the dehydrated cauliflower, post an update as to how it worked. I am curious as to how it turns out.

  6. Sounds like you had yet another very productive week. Awesome price on the popcorn! I love when I find excellent deals like that. It just makes my day.

    So glad your daughter liked the rose hip fruit leather. They will be excellent school lunch items. The canned cherries and rhubarb look great, too. I'm glad you were able to share some of your bounty with your friend. It feels good to help others, doesn't it?

    Thanks for sharing your experiences with the buns. I think I will pass on trying those. I will, however, check out "Secrets of the Castle". I still haven't watched all the episodes of Tudor Monastery Farm...maybe once I'm done working I can find time to binge watch it.

    As for my frugal accomplishments, I already shared my sugar and pineapple scores. However, I then bought 6 more pineapples for $1.49 each at another store! I bought a can of pineapple juice so I could can them on my next day off (looking forward to having variety of canned fruit this winter). I also bought 1 package each of Genoa salami and cooked, seasoned roast beef “end pieces” (sliced sandwich meat) for $3/1 kg (2.2lb) pack. I will divide the meat into smaller amounts, pack them up with the food saver and freeze it for later use. Other deals I found included 2 packages of hot crossed buns on 50% discount making them $1.25/pack of 8, 1 pack of hamburger buns for $1, 3 packages of sliced Swiss cheese for $2/100g pack and 2 bags of potato wedge fries for $6/1.8 kg bag.

  7. To get those rose hips, is there anything sturdy that you can use as an anchor, then a long rope or some such you could use to climb down and back up?

    Your leather Looks good! Makes me wish I had a dehydrater, all you dehydrate!

    This week, going to try and start back into bread making, the last year I've been buying it at a few places that often have the good heavy breads for around a dollar, but the price has creeped up, this last week was $1.49. So I'm going to supplement with my bread machine.

    Our tomotoes are overwhelming. The squash is dying. Strawberries still going strong!

    Today its cool so airing out the house and coolin g it down too.

    I made some awesome Christmas gifts im proud of, birthday boards, and when I took the time to actually look around the store, I fou d something better to use, and mqde three awesome gufts for less than $5 each.

    1. You can dehydrate without a dehydrator. Look up "Our Best Bites Fruit Leather" (I think they called it that instead of Fruit Roll Ups) and they walk you through how to use your oven to make it. I'm not sure how COST effective it would be to do it that way, but it is an option.

      I used to love the little stove we had in our first apartment as the pilot light for the burners was SO hot that it would melt things if you left them on the stove, but more importantly the pilot light burned hot enough that I could park a cookie sheet with some veggies on it on top of the hot spot and I'd have dehydrated veggies by morning *laugh*.

      I did manage to get the rose hips today. I put on my good hiking boots/winter boots and carefully found a good spot to go down the bank into the ditch and grabbed as many rose hips as I could without getting caught in some of the massive bushes down there. Probably got 3 cups of rose hips, though, so it was definitely worth it :).

    2. Erika,
      you must take a picture of the great cavern you conquered to procure the elusive rose hips!

  8. It sounds like you had a productive week. I posted my list here. :)