Sunday, May 7, 2023

Frugal Accomplishments for the Last Few Weeks

Man, it's been a long couple of weeks.  The masses of snow we have on the ground are finally, nearly, almost, gone, which is definitely a sight I've been waiting to see.  We've still had snow fall the last week or so, but it didn't stay (thank goodness!) and it's now a waiting game to see if Spring/Summer is finally getting a move on or not.  With the transitioning of the seasons comes Alvah not sleeping (I've heard this is pretty common among special needs people, but the only one I can say for sure is a definite "yes" on, is Alvah), which leads to him being grumpy (and me too, honestly).  Added to that is the fact that the public pool (where he goes for Special Olympics swimming) seems to be irritating his eczema this year, so the bottom of his feet are very itchy and that doesn't put him in a good mood either.

Anyway, between that and just being super busy with the end of the school year approaching and trying to get cleaning and household projects is amazing I remember my own name *laugh*.

So, anyhoo, let's get onto some of the things I've been up to around here.

1.  One thing I have been doing is going through the pantry and cupboards to see if there are things I need to use up.  When making cookies, I realized my pure vanilla extract was running low, so I went and dug out the new 10 pack of vanilla beans I had bought for this occasion.  I strained out the old vanilla beans from my current bottle of vanilla to reuse them as well.  I added the lot to a swing top bottle I've had for years and topped it off with some of the ginormous bottle of rum we bought a few years ago.  The vanilla is now up on top of my cabinets in the kitchen steeping away.  it will hopefully be ready around Christmas when is about the time I would need it :).  Picture of said to-be vanilla seen up top there.

2.  I found that the potatoes we had bought at Wholy Living were sprouting on me, so I decided I needed to use them for something.  I had been wanting to stock up on diced hash brown potatoes to use in cooking and things (for instance I found a recipe that calls for a bag of the diced hash brown potatoes to make a really good loaded baked potato soup), but the price and availability on those types of potatoes were ridiculous, so I had kept putting off buying some.  So, I found this recipe and went to work.  The recipe turned out really good and I'm looking forward to using the potatoes in future recipes.  Seen above is when I pulled the sheet pans from the freezer and were transitioning them into freezer bags for long term storage.  I got two really full sheet pans full of diced potatoes out of the like 13 pounds of potatoes I had, so I was happy with the results :).

3.  I had some kefir starter that had been given to me and I had put off using for a while, but when I saw it was near its best by date, I decided to try and make some.  This can be chalked up into an "epic fail" for me.  I tried the first round to use some milk I had previously frozen because I needed to use it for something, but nothing, absolutely NOTHING happened after 48 hours after stirring in the culture.  The second time I tried using the yogurt function on my electric pressure canner.  After about 8, of the 12, hours the recipe I was following called for, I didn't have kefir, but I had really separated out (and not good tasting) curds and whey that was kind of like a grainy cottage cheese consistency.  Not good, let's put it that way.

After that I didn't want to waste any more fresh milk, so I just plain gave up.  I did want to try some kefir types of drinks, though, so I did get some probiotic drinkable yogurt when I went shopping.  I found I really do like it, but I'm just going to try and make my yogurt more liquidy next time I make it and see if I can get something similar that way instead of doing the kefir thing.  At least I can do yogurt *laugh*.

4.  Speaking of yogurt, I have some boxed milk I need to use up, so I took a gallon and made a batch of home made yogurt.  After straining it all, I got two quarts of Greek yogurt out of the gallon of boxed milk I was using.  I put one quart in the freezer and have been enjoying the other quart fresh for all of my yogurt needs :).  Next time I make it, I'm going to follow a reader's suggestion and try adding a bit of gelatin into the yogurt for a boost of nutrition. 

 5.  I took a cup of the hulless barley I got and cooked it in 3 1/2 cups of chicken broth on my stove for about two hours (I just turned it down to low after bringing it to a boil and let it simmer for the two hours with a lid on it), until the liquid was pretty much absorbed and the barley was done, but still a bit chewy.  I took about 1/4 of a cup of it to use in the rice pilaf I made to go with dinner that night and the rest I refrigerated and then put into a freezer bag to store for future use.  I'm going to add it when I want to add a little texture to a dish (along with some added nutrition) and especially when I make rice pilaf as I like the flavor it adds as well :).

6.  I went through things I wanted to use up and found a jar of honey we had gotten with our CSA box last year.  I also found four eggs in the fridge that I wanted to use up and decided to make some honey sweetened homemade ice cream.  I used this recipe and it turned out really good!  I am going to mess with the recipe next time and make it in different flavors, but I loved the fact that it was sweetened with honey as I do have quite a bit of honey in my food storage, so it's great to have another way to use some of it :).

7.  Some things I did that I don't have photos for include:

I mended a hole in one of my son's shirts.

8.  I went through and tightened up the drawer pulls on the kid's dressers when I had a free moment.  While there, I also started going through the son's clothes (and made the daughter go through hers) so we could start to put clothes that were too small into the donation pile.

9.  I deep cleaned my bathrooms.  I noticed that the shower curtain liners were getting grimy, but instead of purchasing new ones, I decided to gamble on seeing if I could wash them and get them clean that way.   I just put them on like regular laundry, along with the shower curtains (as those are cloth) and made sure to immediately hang up the curtain liners to dry in the showers as soon as they were out of the washing machine.  They came out nice and clean and saved me from having to spend money on new liners for a little while longer.

10.  I have been trying to budget out money to get stain to re-stain and re-seal our deck and front stairs as they are in rough shape.  I was checking my e-mail and found that our local paint place had stains and paint on sale for 30% off with an online coupon code.  I immediately ordered it as that was the best sale I'd seen on stain since I'd been looking toward doing this project!  It wasn't cheap as I bought a five gallon bucket (as we have to do the deck, the deck stairs and the front porch landing and stairs as well) and hope that is enough, but at least this will hopefully save the deck from getting completely destroyed from neglect.  Now I just need to wait for better weather and I can get to work on that!

11.  My step-mom sent me a box full of goodies she had collected for me (I swear it's like Christmas when I get these *laugh*).  I got a frog shaped turner for the kitchen (it actually seems decently sturdy, so I'm hoping it will work as a pancake flipper), a new tablecloth (which I'm hoping will fit my kitchen table) and a really awesome book on sewing called "Sewing Made Easy" from the 1950's :).  I just picked it up at the mail depot yesterday and I've already read about 1/4 of the way through the book *laugh*.  I'm hoping to learn a lot from it!

12.  I sat down and started to work on a plan to redo my master bedroom closet to work better (I'll give more information on that project as I get to it) and tried to come up with a potential budget in case I  need to buy some shelves to place in the closet for storage.  I'm going to see how far I can get with what I have around here first, though, before purchasing shelving or something, so we'll see how far I can get with what I already have.

And there you go folks.  Some of the stuff I've been up to the last little bit.  I'm hoping to get more done in the next couple of weeks, like hopefully getting some plant starts for the deck garden, but we'll see how the weather goes.  So far this is the first week we'll have temps going above freezing at night, but we'll still be in the 30's at night, so yeah...I might be putting plants in and out of the house for a good portion of the summer the way it is going so far.  We'll see how it goes.

Well, it is time for me to go and get stuff done around here, so I'm going to call that good.  Hope things are going well for you all, truly.  Hang in there.