Thursday, September 29, 2022

Thrifty Thursday: Thrift Store Finds

It's been a long time since I posted up a thrift store haul.  Honestly, it's because I just plain haven't found much at the used stores in a long time.  We don't go that often anymore is part of the reason.  We don't really NEED much is another reason and the last reason is because there just hasn't been much there the last few years.  I honestly think a lot more people have caught on to the idea of hanging on to their stuff in case they need it again or they have caught onto the idea that thrift store shopping is a great way to the save money.  Probably both if I want to be honest.  So, yeah, there just hasn't been much at the used stores the last few years, so there hasn't been much to post up.

I did however pop into the used store earlier this summer and found a few things I'd been looking for.  They've been on my list for quite a while, so I was thrilled to find them.  So, let's show off those finds :).

1.  A Tupperware potato keeper.

I have been looking for one of these suckers for a lonnnnnngggg time.  I even contemplated buying one new a few times, but I didn't want to go through all the trouble to find a Tupperware dealer person and all of that jazz.  And, of course, there was the cost to consider as well.  So, I just kept it on my list of things I was looking for and just kept my eyes open.  My husband actually came out of the used store (the son was cranky so we went in in shifts to look for things on our lists) and told me there was a bunch of Tupperware in there that day.  I went into the store excitedly as I was really looking for a Tupperware container to store my iced tea bags in (the box they came in was falling apart).  I went to where my husband said the Tupperware was and immediately saw the potato keeper sitting there.  I grabbed it without hesitation.  

Why do I want a potato keeper you might ask?  Well, my daughter has decided that she loves onions and while I was storing onions in the hanging baskets in my kitchen the baskets were starting to really deteriorate with age and I was scared of them breaking with any type of weight in them.  So, I thought a Tupperware potato keeper would hold the amount of onions I end up keeping around for my onion loving offspring now a days *laugh*.  

I then looked over and found a container for my iced tea bags too!  It was a good day!

2.  Blue lidded Tupperware container

This was JUST the perfect size to hold my iced tea bags and still fits into my lazy Susan cabinet in my kitchen well.  So, I'm super happy about it.

All totaled I spent less than 10.00 for both items and they are working out perfectly in my kitchen.  The onion/potato keeper sits on my counter now and gives me easy access to onions when I need them and my iced tea bags are well protected.  So, I think it was a really productive used store haul!

How about you?  Found anything good at the used stores/thrift stores/charity shops of late?  

Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Autumn in Alaska and What I've Been Up To

So, once again blogging got delayed (obviously).  A quick recap of events that have prevented me from doing much other than getting through life the last month:

1.  The daughter's teeth started to bug her.  Got her to the dentist, but he didn't find anything on X-ray (cavities or what not), so he thought it was because maybe that her wisdom teeth were showing up on the X-rays.  Made an appointment for a more in depth X-ray.  Wisdom teeth didn't wait and poked through the gums.  So, it was in to get the daughter's wisdom teeth removed earlier than most teenagers.  She's recovering well, but yeah that was an unexpected turn of events there.

2.  The son's medications stopped working again.  So, we are trying to come up with some other plan to help him regulate his moods and help him to sleep at night.  It's been hard, but hopefully we'll get there here soon where he's doing better.  Fingers crossed.

There was good things in the month too though.

1.  We finally, after working hard the past year, got our medical bills paid off, this time with some help from the PFD.  Between those bills (which unfortunately were on credit card), it ate the entire PFD we got this year, but at least it paid off the rest of the medical bills, so I'm not complaining at all.  Course, now I have a wisdom teeth bill to pay off, but it is a major load off of my mind to have some pretty substantial bills due to my back paid off and the wisdom teeth are on Care Credit so I have a year to pay them off before interest pops up to haunt me.

2.  We went to the local fall festival again this year.  And this year it wasn't snowing and horribly cold.  Instead we actually had sunlight that day and the temperatures were chilly, but not bad, which was great.  Unfortunately, the amount of things they had to do was severely reduced this year compared to previous years (partly due to, I'm sure, labor shortages and all), so the son went on a few tractor rides, walked around a while and was ready to go home.  The daughter did manage to decorate a pumpkin at one of the events there (seen above) and so we got a free pie pumpkin out of the day, which was cool.  It was kind of short, but the kids seemed to have a good time anyway, so that was good.

We did stop off at a local produce stand that we like (Bushes Bunches) and I was able to score a FEW turnips (it's been hard to find them this year), a nice big onion and some local potatoes.  I would have bought some veggies from the farm where the fall festival was, but their prices were crazy high (2.50 per onion as an example) compared to my budget, so I passed on buying vegetables there.

3.  We celebrated my son's birthday at home.  My mother-in-law came over to help us celebrate and it was a lot of fun.  We had home made pizza and breadsticks and it was a nice and enjoyable evening.

4.  I got my pantry and freezers organized, managed to get produce processed before it went bad (with the CSA, that wasn't as easy as you might think as the quality just was not there this year) and put up as well.  I feel pretty darned good about those accomplishments, honestly, as with the son's medications not working great, it's been hard to get things done some days.

5.  Fall has been hanging on this year, which has been wonderful for a person like me who loves autumn above all seasons :).

I was asked by a reader what fall was like in Alaska, so I thought I'd give a quick tour of what fall is like up here.

Well depending on the year we may or may not have fall at all, really.  Last year we went directly into winter pretty much from mid-September or so.  This year is much nicer.  Normally, though, we do have snow at any time after October rolls around and most years the kids are running around in snow gear when they go trick or treating and trying to not slip and slide on the ice as they go from door to door in the subdivisions.

The leaves are hanging on the trees instead of immediately dying and blowing off this year and if you look around you'll quickly see more shades of gold than you thought you'd see with the trees seeming to all change color to different shades of yellow and brown.  It is surprising the trees are holding on so well with all of the rain we've gotten, but they are and I'm super happy about it.  

The temperatures are cold at night and in the morning (shot above from a few days ago),  but by afternoon I've been able to open the windows pretty much every day to air out the house still and let in that crisp autumn air.  It's pretty warm for this time of year, another thing I'm grateful for.  

We do have the furnace on and it kicks on at night and in the mornings, but it isn't kicking on constantly yet, which is a wonderful turn of events when I think of what the heat and electric are going to cost us this winter.  

When I first moved up here I greatly missed the colors that the trees would erupt into during the fall, especially missing the foliage changes from my youth in New England, but as I've gotten older and spent a good portion of my life now in Alaska, I really do love the change to golden hues that happen up here.  If you find someplace with lots of cranberry bushes growing they will change a beautiful shade of red toward the ground as well (I couldn't find a good spot in my yard to take a picture of some to show you).  

So, Alaska has its own color palette to appreciate this time of year.

So, there you go, a quick shot of Alaska in the fall (well, my yard in the fall anyway *laugh*).  Hope you enjoyed a tour of the fall shades we are experiencing up here at the moment.  I love them and wish I had some chairs on my deck so I could sit out there and really enjoy it.

I do, in fact, have some blog posts in the wings for October, so hopefully I get to post them!  I hope you are all having a great fall (my prayers are with those impacted by the hurricane and other events, for sure) and I will hopefully see you soon!  

Thursday, September 8, 2022

A Day in My Life: Come Bake With Me

 To kick off September, I thought I'd do something a bit different and take you all along on what I did September 1st, which turned out was a baking day for me (I KNOW it's late, but hey, better late than never *laugh*).  So, let's get to it!

September 1st, 2022

After waking up (I know, stater of the obvious there *laugh*), getting dressed and heading upstairs, I take care of getting the kids breakfast and getting the daughter started on schoolwork.  The son woke up, ate a little bit and immediately went back to bed.  He hasn't been sleeping well with his allergies all flared up, so I just let him and get started on my list of things I needed to do.  I pull out the mixer and necessary materials and work on making bread to last for the next few days.  I get the first load of dishes on to wash after I get the bread into the pans to rise before baking them.  It is only then I go and get my first cup of coffee for the day.

Side note, but the above picture is how I make my coffee everyday.  Notice the cone above the mug?  That is called "the pour over coffee method" and it seriously makes the best cup of coffee I've ever had.  Been making coffee this way for years and I love it, although I have expanded to having two cones; The above one and another ceramic one...the ceramic one I actually prefer the taste of the coffee out of, but it was in the dishwasher this morning.  I love this system partially because it stops me from having to have a coffee maker on my countertop taking up room and I can just store the drip cone in the cupboard with my regular dishes and the other reason is because, of course, it makes an awesome cup of coffee :).

After I got a cup of coffee to sip on, I put the bread in the oven and I move onto my next project and that's getting dinner started in the slow cooker.  I use my electric pressure cooker for this (I bought a nice instant pot glass lid for my six quarter pressure cooker because it was WAY better quality than the one that came with my pot, in case you are wondering) because the chicken won't fit in my tiny crock pot.  I have to say that I'm not a huge fan of the slow cooker function on the electric pressure cookers.  I mean it gets the job done, but it cycles the heat on and off hard to get the items cooked and it just doesn't seem to work as well as a real crock pot.  My opinion anyway.  

Right, back to the matter at hand.  I take the half defrosted rotisserie chicken out the fridge (we bought one at Three Bears, so it's just a Costco rotisserie chicken with a substantial mark up on it) and put it on to slow cook so I could cook the meat off the bones for chicken noodle soup for dinner.  This will also give me a good opportunity to use up some carrots with bad spots and some celery that immediately went limp and sad from the CSA box the last few weeks as well as one of the sweet onions we got in our CSA a few days prior (the onions are delicious, but have no shelf life to them to speak of, so you have to freeze them or use them quickly).

After that, I pull out a block of cream cheese from the fridge and cut it in half.  I then put the cream cheese into a bowl to come to room temperature so I can make cheese Danishes for breakfast over the weekend.  I take a break to get the son a snack and work on schoolwork (the daughter has been working on hers the entire time I'm working on other things with me occasionally helping with a problem here and there).  

I take a intermission from schoolwork to get the bread out of the oven and unload the dish washer.  I reload it quickly so I can get the bread making tools ready to go again in a little bit.

Now that the bread is out of the oven, I reset the temperature for my next project, which is dessert.  My entire family loves the Krusteaz Lemon Pound Cake mix and I have a few left from the last bulk order I made that need to be used up.  So, I get that mixed up and put it in to bake.  I then pull the son back to school work and get the rest of his schoolwork done for the day right when the timer goes off.  

I take it from the oven and place it on it's serving dish to cool completely. 

I then put the temperature on the oven back to 375 degrees, put the dishes from the last load away and make sure my metal mixing bowl is cool enough and then start on making hard rolls for my son to snack on.  He now eats these instead of the store bought hotdog and hamburger buns and I could not be happier about that.  

Once the rolls are in the oven, I take the inner pot out of my pressure cooker and strain the chicken from the broth.  I put the broth back in the pressure cooker, add some seasonings, some bouillon (to up the chicken flavor a bit as the broth was a tiny bit bland) and cut up the vegetables I want in the soup and put the slow cooker back on to cook.  I'll add the chicken back in when it is cool enough to separate from the bones.

I pull the rolls from the oven and it is less than five minutes before the son grabs one and runs off with it, which makes me laugh.  I help the daughter on some math problems and we break for lunch.  I ended up pulling a salad we had made from our CSA vegetables from the fridge and eating that for lunch.  The son actually helped to cut up the vegetables as part of his home economics course I designed for the year, so I was more than a little proud to eat the salad he helped to make.  I boil a pound of pasta to have it ready to go for a quick and easy lunch.  The kids have spaghetti (the daughter) and pasta with olive oil and Parmesan cheese (one of the son's favorite meals in the universe).  After lunch I then check the chicken and find it to be cool enough to handle.  

As I pull the chicken from the bone and pull it apart into bite sized pieces, I find that the rotisserie chicken had a LOT more meat on it than I thought it would (Carrs chickens never have more than a meal's worth of meat on it, so it blew me away), so I took half the chicken and added it back to the soup and then took the other half and decided in an instant to try and make chicken salad out of it.  I find a few recipes online and then decide to just wing it.  I add some tarragon (goes well with chicken), some parsley, a bit of old bay seasoning (what?  I like Old Bay!), some salt and pepper and enough mayo to make it nice and moist, some almonds that I pull from the freezer and chop up a handful of, and then, since I don't have any fresh grapes or anything to add, I throw in some dried cherries and some raisins into the mix.  I finish up by adding some onion and some celery to the salad.  I have to say as a first real attempt to make chicken salad, this turned out really good!!!  We ended up eating the entire thing of salad, which is an accomplishment since it made way more than I was planning on!

By this point dinner is fast approaching and I'm very tired.  But, I am determined to stay the course and get the rest of my list done for the day.  

I get the easy cheese Danishes ready to go and put into the oven to bake and get the home made noodles rolled out, cut into noodles and added to the soup to cook for the last 1/2 to an hour before my husband is set to be home.  I put the glaze on the lemon pound cake, put the soup on "keep warm" after I make sure all of the noodles are done and that the seasoning on the soup is right.  Honestly, after all of that, I sat down with a glass of water and watched some of my favorite gardening and cooking YouTube channels and just appreciated the fact that I was sitting down *laugh*.

So, there you go folks.  Hope you enjoyed coming along on my baking adventures for the day and hope it wasn't too boring for you :).  

Saturday, September 3, 2022

Super Easy Fast Sandwich Bread


Okay, first before I share this recipe, quick disclaimer, this is heavily, and I mean HEAVILY, based on La Fuji Mama's Simple One Hour Bread Recipe.  I have just tweaked it a bit to make the crumb fluffier and softer and put instructions in to cook it in loaf pans so you can make standard loaves with it and my times are a bit different than hers so it'll take you a bit more time to make this.  Anyway, I definitely support the original recipe and suggest you try both ways of doing things and see which one works for you :).

I'm posting this mainly because I just keep getting e-mails once in a while asking me to share my bread recipe when I show pictures of home made bread, so I finally gave in and am sharing it.   Please let me know if I'm missing an essential element somewhere.  I have made this so many times I have it memorized and only when writing it out I realized how hard it is to type something when you aren't actively making it in front of you *laugh*.

So, here you go.  Sandwich Bread in an Hour.  Enjoy!

Super Easy Fast Sandwich Bread


  • 5 1/4 Cups Bread Flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 3 TBS sugar
  • 3 TBS Dehydrated Milk Powder
  • 1 1/2 Rounded TBS of Instant Yeast (I only use SAF Instant Yeast)
  • 1 1/2 TBS Cooking Oil (I like to use canola in mine)
  • 2 Cups Warm Water (not too hot or you'll kill your yeast)


1.  Preheat Oven to 375 degrees F.

2.  Spray two loaf pans (I use cast iron loaf pans) with non-stick cooking spray.  Set aside.

3.  Combine all dry ingredients except the yeast in the bowl of your stand mixer.  Mix the dry ingredients in the bowl together quickly (I just use the tablespoon I used for the yeast to do this) and then add the yeast on top (I do this so that the salt doesn't come in contact with the yeast and kill it).

4.  Add the oil and warm water to the bowl and attach your dough hook to the mixer.  Mix on low speed for one minutes and then scrape the sides of the bowl.  Set a timer for 5 minutes and speed up mixer to medium speed.  Mix dough for the five minutes.  When the timer goes off, stop the mixer and spray a small section of your countertop down with non-stick cooking spray.  Dump the dough onto the greased countertop (the dough will most likely be pretty sticky, this is not a bad thing) and fold the dough over to get some of the nonstick cooking spray on top of the dough.  Knead the dough a few times until you can handle it easily (it doesn't take long).  Take a bench scraper or knife (I LOVE my bench scraper for this) and cut the dough in half.  

5.  Round the dough into balls in your hands and then take the balls and shape them into loaf shapes that will fit in your pans (this might take a few tries before you get good at it and you might end up jamming your dough into your loaf pans a few times...don't worry about'll get better at it :).  Place dough into your loaf pans and put plastic wrap over loaf pans.  Set loaf pans in a warm place and set your timer for 15 minutes.  

6.  When timer goes off check your dough.  It should be pushing on the plastic wrap at this point.  Carefully remove the plastic wrap as the dough will want to stick to it a bit.  If your dough is just hitting the top of your loaf pans (which mine at this is), set your timer for about five more minutes.  Keep an eye on the dough and once the center of the dough goes over the top of the loaf pan by a bit (I'd say like an inch, but it is going to do depend on your loaf pan and I don't want you to over-proof your dough), place the pans in the preheated oven.  

7.  Bake at 375 degrees for 35 minutes.  Remove bread from pans, turn them over in your hands (use oven mitts is my suggestion) and then tap the bottom of the loaves.  The bread should sound hollow when tapped.  Place the loaves on a towel to cool (I like to place them on their sides for a bit so that the bottom cool a bit first and then flipped them so that the side can cool as well).  Once cool, enjoy as a wonderful sandwich and toasting bread.  

Honestly, since I discovered this recipe my family won't eat store bought bread anymore.  I've even found another variation that my son will eat as rolls so I don't have to buy hotdog and hamburger buns for him anymore (I'll share that recipe later).  After finding this recipe I gave away my bread maker as I didn't need it anymore.  Who needs one when you can make bread, from scratch in about an hour?  

Enjoy all!