As stated in my previous post, things have been busy around here of late. A mixed bag, per usual, but there are some frugal things to report, which is nice!
Warning: This post is going to be long, for obvious reasons (passage of time and all *laugh*).
First, thanks to Sensadyne and time, my tooth is feeling better, so that is definitely something good to report! Next up, let's get to the frugal stuff!
1. Now that we aren't buried under a goodly amount of snow, my husband and I decided it was time to start working on things around the house. So, we went out to our storage van and decided it was time to start cleaning that out and getting rid of things we don't use anymore, and (for me) it was also an opportunity to look for things in random boxes that I haven't seen since we moved and had been looking for. We pulled in the dollhouse my grandfather made for me when I was a young child and my daughter and I have been working on fixing it up (the freeze and thaw over the years with the humidity on top of it, wasn't overly kind to the poor thing, so it has needed some repairs), but I also went looking for household things I haven't seen in years.
And for once, I found some of them!!!
I pulled in some random boxes that looked like they held household things and went through them. I was able to find my French bread/baguette pan (woot!), my egg holder (which, with my small amount of countertop has come in super handy when baking so I don't have an entire dozen eggs sitting on the counter at one time and I can wash it afterwards, which is super handy as well), and the pewter salad bowl that my sister-in-law gave me as a gift years ago and I've always found it to be so pretty. Note: This is modern pewter, made past the point that pewter contained lead, so I don't worry about using it :). It took some scrubbing to get the tarnish off of the bowl, but I did it and then I went over it with a coating of cooking oil just to see if I could hold off the tarnish for a while. I put the egg holder and the bowl on the shelf above my sink and just moved my coffee and sugar bowl back to their places on my counter. Not totally ideal, but it was the one spot I could find to put them where they would be handy, but out of the way. I was also able to dig out the accessories for my Viking immersion blender (which is nice for a back up if my electric mixer bites the big one or something) and got those cleaned up and stored with their main counterpart.
Speaking of scrubbing, I was down in my furnace area (I'm gutting my den to redo it...it's a complete disaster of bags of boxes going to different spots right now, so no picture, but yeah...I've been busy) and FINALLY figured out where in the heck I had stored my cast iron Dutch oven! My mother-in-law gave me it as a Christmas gift years ago, but I rarely used it compared to other pots and pans, so I ended up putting it in storage when we moved into our current house as I didn't have room for it in my kitchen. Well, since the earthquake, I have more room than I used to and I really want to start trying my hand at making no-knead bread, so I pulled it out of storage and scrubbed a LOT of old oil and things off of it, re-seasoned it and then put it on my stove for the time being. I'm going to try and find a better spot for it, but the one cabinet where I had planned to store it...the bottom is bowing and I didn't want to add that much weight to it, so I'll have to think of "plan b" here.
2. On the "mixed" end of things, I was making coffee one morning last week and heard a dripping sound from under my kitchen sink, which is NEVER a good sound. I opened the cabinet and found that the sprayer for my sink was actively leaking down into the cabinet. It had been dripping for a while, but I had been trying to mitigate it by doing a few tricks to the sprayer when I'd use it to stop the thing from leaking. Obviously, my luck had warn off in that area. I had bought a under the sink shelf to try out in the kitchen cabinet to see if I could find things under it better and hopefully stop the middle of the cabinet from caving in (it's the one sink cabinet that hasn't been replaced and it is a MESS. At some point every sink leaked bad in this house and the previous owners to "fix" the problem had put a fake bottom over the rotten bottom of the cabinet instead of actually fixing it...so under the kitchen sink in the back has never been good since we moved in), but I quickly realized that the shelf wasn't going to work. The cabinet is just too caved in and warped and bowing everywhere that a shelf wasn't going to sit right. So, I ended up getting a box and putting any cleaning things in it that weighed anything much and put it downstairs in the laundry room and then, after my husband installed the new sprayer, put things back in the cabinet at the front of the cabinet only as much as possible to stop the weight from caving the cabinet in worse in the back. It turned out decently well and will hopefully see us through until we can afford to redo the kitchen.
I did figure out a kind of neat little thing to put under the sink. I had been trying to figure out how to get my scrubbing brushes and things up and off the floor of my cabinet and decided to repurpose the metal container I used to put on the back of the sink to hold my sponge and dish soap. I took an old, very cheap, over the door wreath hanger and just bent it over the cabinet and then worked it into the metal slats of the container to hold it stable. Worked like a charm and then I filled it up with my straw brushes, my cast iron chain mail cleaning thingy and my scrubbing brush. I was even able to use some old rice measuring cups that I had in a drawer (more on that organization later) and repurposed them to hold my potato scrubbing brush and the straw brushes and things. I found a spot to hang my rubber gloves where they will be out of the way of things and threw my floor scrubbing brush in for good measure. I was happy how it turned out.
3. This one is kind of cute and I just had to share. My kids are really into the movie "My Neighbor Totoro" right now. One of the things I found in my random boxes from storage was some old sandwich cutters of various shapes that I had bought years ago when I was trying to do bento boxes for my daughter and trying to get both kids to eat sandwiches (I've had limited success with the daughter over the years, but neither kid has gotten into sandwiches like I did when I was a kid, unfortunately). I decided to wash them all in the dishwasher and find room to store them in the house just because I didn't want to put them back out into storage. I had put them out to dry and I heard my daughter say all excited, "Mom! I didn't know we had a Totoro cookie cutter!" I blinked in confusion and then looked over her shoulder to see what she was looking at.
Turns out she was looking a a Millennium Falcon sandwich cutter I had gotten with a lunch box for like 2.00 on Williams Sonoma years and years ago and had never used. But, she was looking at it vertically, not horizontally and she was right. It did look like Totoro like that! Here, I'll show you...
I have since laughed a lot at this as it reminds me of that painting where you look at it one way and it's a face and then if you look at it another you see a vase.
So, yeah, we made Totoro cookies yesterday (and frog cookies as I found my big frog cookie cutter in storage too and had to use it...I collect cute frog things, so I was thrilled to find it *laugh*). Next time I really want to do a more decorative icing on the cookies so I can draw the face and details as I think it will look really cool, but yeah...we have Totoro cookies *laugh*. My daughter is thrilled.
4. I was trying to figure out different ways to use up the shelf stable/UHT milk we have around the house as we bought a bunch during quarantine last year to help pump up our milk supply in case we couldn't get much fresh milk (which that milk did come in handy from time to time for sure). I've been using it for baking, but I wanted more ideas. I was online and found out that the shelf stable milk makes quick and easy homemade yogurt as you don't have to do the "heat milk to this temperature and then wait for it to cool to this temperature before adding your yogurt culture to it" finicky steps as the milk is already pre-sterilized. So, I took a carton, put it in my electric pressure cooker, mixed in about a 1/2 cup of yogurt (live and active cultured, remember that part!) and let her rip for 10 hours on the yogurt cycle.
I then took the very loose yogurt that resulted and strained it overnight in the fridge and what came out was really delicious, smooth, not overly tangy, Greek style yogurt!
I saved the whey, of which there was a lot (I ended up with a pint of yogurt at the end) and used it to bake bread and make waffles one night. I'm using the yogurt for a bunch of different purposes, like I used it in a dressing that called for sour cream the other day and then used it to make gyro sauce as well for dinner the other night. Delicious and so darned easy!!!
5. I have mended a LOT the last month. I took my yellow comforter from my bed that I love dearly and mended tons and tons of tears in it (including the above tear which was about 18" long. My plan, now that I've finally started to dig out my sewing table in the den, is to attach some loops to it and make the comforter into a duvet and then make a duvet cover out of some sheets I found at the used store. Here's hoping it works out alright as I really do love the weight of the comforter and things, but it needs to be protected from further damage as much as possible.
The lesson? One, don't bake when exhausted and two, read twice measure once or you might end up with some interesting culinary results *laugh*.
7. Let's talk the yearly Monopoly game shall we? I decided at the beginning of Monopoly season this year that I wasn't going to really "play" the game as I didn't have time to mess with it, and frankly, I didn't really have the energy either. Fate, however, had other plans. One day when I went to the store last week the cashier was FAST pulling out those tickets and shoving them into my bag before I even knew he did it, so I went and opened the tickets and played the tickets I had. I was kind of shocked at how much I won with a mere 13 tickets. Then, I went online to put coupons on my card for the week and found that I was offered some E-Coupons for a free container of croissants from the bakery and a free bag of organic frozen pot stickers (I didn't take a picture of the pot stickers as they are a load bearing bag in my downstairs freezer now and I didn't want a broken toe to take a picture *laugh*).
So, yeah, last week I ended up with a free bottle of Ibuprofen, a free container of hamburger buns, a free box of tissues, a free spice mix packet (which I didn't pick up as all they had was taco seasoning, which I don't need) and I won 2.00 off of my next shopping trip.
I also picked up my free pot stickers and my free croissants. I froze the croissants in their original shell case and then pulled them out today, pulled three our for breakfast tomorrow and then put them in groups of three in freezer bags. I then put the bags back into the original croissant container and put it back into the freezer so that the croissants will have a decent amount of protection from getting beat up in the freezer. I'll pull them out 3 at a time so the husband, daughter and I will have enough for breakfast. That way they won't go bad on us (the son won't eat them, so I'm going with groups of three versus four) and they'll be readily available to grab for a "fancy" breakfast in the coming month or so.
Yesterday, I asked my husband to stop off at the store on his way home from work and pick up groceries. He ended up with 96 tickets since it is the last week of the Monopoly game. So, I went cross eyed last night inputing codes online and opening tickets. We actually won quite a bit, most of which I can actually use (which is always nice), so I'll have to see if I can make it to the store to get the son's prescription this weekend and see how many freebies I can grab before the game officially ends.
The limes I'll use to make Brazilian Lemonade as we really love that as a summertime drink.
9. While watching some of my favorite Japanese and Korean vlogs, I found a neat recipe for preserving lemons in honey. I had a good personalized price on lemons and had plenty of honey in food storage, so I decided to give "honey lemon pickles" a shot. Basically, you scrub off the wax from the lemons, slice them into slices, remove the seeds and then stack them alternatively into a jar with layers of honey covering them. You then store them in the fridge for at least a week before eating and they'll keep for about six months in the fridge. It was a perfect solution for me as I LOVE lemons, but always end up buying too many and scramble to use them before they go bad on me.
I have to say that I am in love with the lemon pickles! I have been fighting allergies something fierce with all of the cleaning and things I'm doing, so I've been putting a few slices of the lemons into a cup of tea and it helps a raw throat and a congested head SO much! And just putting some into a glass with some sparkling water makes an awesome drink!
I also stumbled across a vlogger who puts her nuts in a jar and covers them with honey and just leaves them out on the counter to use on ice cream and things. I, who am forced to buy peanut free nuts in bulk online (as that is the only way to get them in a lot of cases) was intrigued, so I went and looked into it and found that preserving nuts in honey pretty much preserves them indefinitely and is a good way to store them. So, I made up a few jars of walnuts (after roasting them) and a jar of pecans in the honey. Oh my GOSH are these good! I have been eating them on yogurt in the morning with some fruit and things and all I can say is "YUM!".
10. I have been managing to plan my meals so that I'm am sure to use up all left overs one way or the other. Like the other night I took leftover hamburgers (I've been grilling a lot now that the sun is out and the snow is gone, which I am thrilled about *laugh*), crumbled them up and threw them into spaghetti sauce. The family was happy with it and I was happy that I didn't end up throwing away two leftover hamburgers :).
And, yeah, I'm going to leave it there as it is getting late and I have other household stuff to do, but, yeah, I've been busy and I have to say I'm pleased with a lot of it. How about you? Been up to anything lately?