Friday, July 23, 2021

Frugal Friday: Money Saving Weekly Recap and Garden Update

After working very hard on learning curriculum for the son for the next school year over the last two brain is tapioca.  Believe it or not, though, I also got some other stuff accomplished over the last two weeks, so let's get to that!

1.  I took some old 1/2 pint jars that I had in storage (most of them have chipped rims or flaws in the glass so I don't want to can with them anymore) and used them to redo my spice cabinets.  I had a bunch of bulk spice jars that were taking up TONS of room around my oven in different cabinets and on top of my fridge, so I filled up the mason jars from those, put some freezer tape on them for labels (I will have to get some proper labels at some point and label them properly, but this will do for now), used some old lids that I had taken off of home canned jars when I opened them (I wash the old ones and just reuse them for dried goods so they don't go to waste) or some old Tattler lids I had that were notched and voila!  Stacking spice jars that hold a decent amount, but don't take up tons of room all over the place.  

I had enough room after filling the jars to use the top shelf in my lazy Susan cabinet to hold gravy mixes and/or dry mixes (like Ranch Dressing powdered mix, different types of bouillon etc) and different types of vinegar I use in cooking.

I then moved all of my spices and baking materials to a smaller cabinet that used to house all bulk jars of spices.  I also put in my seasoning salts for cooking because I like to keep stuff like that right next to the stove on the right hand side to make my life easier.  

No more tearing most everything out of my lazy Susan cabinet to find the baking powder or the powdered ginger. 

I have to say I LOVE the new layout.

2.  I took some old cloth drawers that I found when cleaning my master bedroom closet and I decided to use them in my lower "Bermuda Triangle" cabinet.  This is a really hard cabinet to get in and out of unless what you need is RIGHT up front because of where the door is and things, so I used the drawers to make it easier to pull things out when I need them.  I stored mainly bulk spice containers in the drawers, along with a few go to dinner items I like to store in the kitchen (a can of chicken, a box of Jello pudding mix, etc) so I can grab them quick.  After I stored everything and tucked it into the cabinet it worked great.  Takes up most of the cabinet space, but I had JUST enough room left to store my mirin, cooking oils and cooking wine for easy access.  I love it as it is WORLDS above the disaster it used to be where I was lucky to find anything without tearing pretty much everything out of it.

3.  I wanted to make a recipe that called for Lipton Onion Soup mix.  Instead of going and buying some (which honestly, I haven't bought that stuff in YEARS), I used items I had on hand to make my own.  

I used this recipe and it turned out wonderfully.  I just make up a new little jar of the stuff when I use up the last batch.  I've used some in meatloaf, in a crock pot pork has come in quite handy :).

4.  I rearranged my pantry and filled in some holes in it (more on that later as I forgot to take pictures of it when it was done).  

5.  I made an appointment for next month (it was the earliest date they had) to get the septic pumped.  I was sure to mention that they had sent me a reminder postcard with a 10.00 off coupon.  I will turn that over to the driver when they come to get my discount.  I put a couple of hundred dollars into savings to cover the cost as I don't want to be caught having to put that too on credit card when the time comes.

6.  I canned the sauerkraut!  I canned it when we had a short break in the heat we were having.  I actually had to mix the sauerkraut together in a five gallon bucket this year as I had so much of it before putting it into batches into my stock pot to heat up and can.  It was pretty comical, really.  I ended up with 21 pints of sauerkraut and was really thrilled that I canned it when I did as we were down to our last two cans of sauerkraut in the pantry :).

The red cabbage sure made some pretty looking sauerkraut, I have to say.  

7.  I received a wonderful variety pack of teas in the mail, but the box the tea bags came in came pretty much destroyed.  I wanted to keep the teas organized, but wasn't sure how to do it.  I found tea boxes on Amazon, but they were kind of spendy for just organizing teas and I was worried they would be big as well as I have really limited space in my kitchen.  So, I went looking through what I had and decided to use one of the wooden cigar boxes I've collected over the years to hold my tea.  It worked wonderfully, is just small enough to fit into the cabinet with my toaster and everything stays nice and organized.  Win-win as it didn't cost me a dime to use :).

8.  I renewed my husband's driver's license online, thus saving him a trip to the DMV.

9.  I wanted to create some handwriting sheets to go with the son's core LAMP vocab we will be doing every day.  Instead of trying to make my own, which would have taken a while, I found this page that will create work sheets for you and all you have to do is type in the words and mess with the alignment a bit if needed.  I have used it a LOT over the past two weeks and have found it a wonderful resource to have.

10.  I have enjoyed watching different YouTube pages of late as Amazon has made a bunch of the movies and things I watched for years and loved, unavailable or I have to pay for them.  Depressing to say the least when your son goes to bed at 3:00 am and you are trying to find something to keep you awake.  Anyway, I started exploring YouTube a bunch as I wait for my favorite YouTubers to upload their weekly (or bi-weekly or in some cases monthly) videos and ran across some channels that I really enjoy watching and are channels that upload quite a bit, so I have a good backlog of videos to work through.  One I found that I love is the channel She's In Her Apron.  She shows her life as it is, piles of clothes and everything, which makes me feel less alone some days and she, for the most part, is a very positive and happy person, which is always a pleasure to experience in the world of negativity today :).  She also loves cookbooks and has a bit of a cookbook obsession, which I'm for that as a hobby and I may share the love of cookbooks just a tad ;).

11.  Our CSA this year is just starting to kick off, but it has been kind of neat to see what we will get every week.  We got an English cucumber in the box last week along with a ton of salad like fixings (including a HUUUUUGEEE head of lettuce), so we ate a LOT of salads last week.  This week we got kohlrabi, lettuce (I gave it to my mother-in-law as I'm starting to drown in lettuce at the moment), spinach, broccoli (which we had with home made cheese sauce the other night), green onions (which I used some of the HUGE ones we got in some dinner plans I had this week and the rest went into the freezer for miso soup and things later in the year =D) and some yummy peaches!  

Anyway, one of the things we got last week with the salad fixings was a HUGE bunch of radishes.  Knowing I wasn't going to be able to use them all in salads before they went bad, I remembered some of the Asian vloggers I watched making different kinds of pickles and things with various vegetables including daikon radishes and things.  So, I decided to give pickled radishes a try.   I used this recipe for the brine as it seemed pretty simple (honestly, most every recipe was about the same, but a lot contained things like star anise, which I DEFINITELY don't have in the cupboard at the moment).  I sliced my radishes super thin, unlike the daikon she used in the recipe, as I wanted to permeate the flavor of the brine through the slices decently well.  I got two pints worth of pickles out of the radishes I had left (after salad and all).  I let them sit in the fridge for a few days before we had them with some pork cutlets for dinner and MAN I really love these things!  The brine helped to cut the "bite" that red skinned radishes tend to have and mellowed the flavor in such a way that I could seriously eat these things straight out of the jar (and I have been found to take some out and put them on a plate to eat them straight a few times this week *laugh*).  They are a wonderful mellow refrigerator pickle and would go well with a bunch of different dishes.  I find that their recommendation of serving alongside fried foods to be a solid one as they work great as a palate cleanser, but like I said I'll eat these things by themselves as well.

Right, and now onto the garden update!

The garden is doing AWESOME so far, I have to say.  

The flowers the last few days are starting to die off, which is sad to see (I need to go and pinch off seeds to see if I can make the flowers go some more).  But, I will tell you what.  Going out onto my deck to water the plants, not having to weed tons, no slugs to worry about, and the nearest moose at least one story down?  It REALLY makes me love the container garden more than a little bit.  

I've started harvesting lettuce the last week or so.   And the little seedlings have hung onto life and I've been harvesting off of them too.  I've gotten a bunch of parsley and baby greens off of the chard and lettuce seedlings to supplement the bigger stuff.  Kind of cool, actually.

I have gotten a bunch of cherry tomatoes off of the tomato plant (with more and more appearing every day...I am SOOOOOO happy about that!!!).  I mean look at those tomatoes!!!  

And I've harvested fresh herbs a bunch to use in cooking, which has been really nice!  I now have to search for the rosemary like my own version of "Where's Waldo" as it is poking it's head out between the lettuce and the parsley plants, but it IS hanging in there and doing fine.

The pole bean finally got tall enough that it was starting to tip over, so I staked it up.  It now houses a bunch of blooms, so hopefully I'll get some beans before summer is over.  Pretty flowers either way :).

I honestly didn't have a lot of expectations when it came to a container garden this year as I've had limited success with them in the past.  But, so far, so good *knock on wood*.  

I mean even the cabbage seems happy and the cabbages are starting to form quickly now.  The chard got so big I had to move it out of the way of the tomato plant so it could get plenty of sun.  

The basil plant is still hanging in there, but is definitely not thriving, which is a shame.  I am getting a bit of basil off of it, but it is far from the robust specimen I was hoping for.  But, the catnip is super happy and doing well, so there is that anyway.  I've had to continually move it to the grill so the cats don't have enough room to jump up and eat it, but it is worth it.  I'm harvesting enough off of it to keep the cats happy and it is still growing wonderfully.

And so, there you go folks.  Some of the things I've been up to the last couple of weeks.  It has been busy, and hectic, but I feel good that I'm getting stuff done, anyway :).  How about you?  Been up to much of late?


  1. I really like your spice organization. Well done.

    Your doing great with the garden. We have been losing a lot of tomatoes to squirrels, but I've put the netting back on our raised bed, and I'm hoping to keep them out. We'll see how that goes. We have cucumber, lots of peppers, tomatoes, Greek basil, mint, tomatoes, & zucchini. I'm pickling a bunch of peppers today, which should be fun. My husband loves peppers.

    Growing but not ready, we have: tomatillos (first time growing, but want to make salsa verde), pomegranate, cantaloupe & watermelon.

  2. WOW your garden looks amazing!! Jill