Frugal Happenings – Week of 02/23-03/01/14

Wow!  I can’t believe that we’ve already gone through 2 months of the new year!  And it’s almost spring!  Next week (March 9th) is Daylight Savings Time!  As much as I detest losing that hour of sleep, I always get excited because that means the official start of spring is right around the corner.  That means hanging laundry outside to try & gardening time!

Sunday:  Day of rest for us.  I did end up going to the grocery store that morning (we attend a home church on Saturday evenings), and I ended up picking up some fried chicken while I was out.  Not frugal, but I could feel the beginnings of a migraine coming on, so I knew that I probably would not feel like cooking (and, I’m so very glad that I did pick it up because I definitely did not feel like cooking).

Monday: An extremely busy day!  I did get up and we had a homemade breakfast of homemade pancakes, bacon, eggs, & fresh fruits!  I made a pretty good-sized lunch of creamy chicken & rice casserole, except I ended up using some precooked turkey from my freezer instead of chicken.  I also added some fresh baby bella mushrooms.  It was very good!  For supper, we had plenty of leftovers, so I didn’t cook another big meal.

Our box blade arrived while I was out running a few errands & taking Katie to math class, so now our driveway is in much better shape!  I’m hoping when I come home today, I won’t slip & slide around anymore!

Brian also started plowing the garden.  I’ll be so glad when this is done & I can start planting!  I need to get a few seeds going indoors now so that I can get a jump start on my growing season!

Our two roosters also got into a scuffle yesterday & the older one did not fair too well.  After cleaning out our smaller coop, he is now in isolation for a few days.  I’m praying he makes it.

We also went ahead and cleaned out from under the roost of the main coop.  All that we removed was taken to the garden area & spread out.  It will be plowed & tilled into the soil for some great fertilizer!  Most of it is old enough it won’t hurt anything, but what is still pretty fresh will help with killing grass/weeds!

Tuesday:  Not a whole lot of frugal happenings to report for Tuesday.

Wednesday:  Not really a whole lot today, either.  Wednesdays are pretty crazy with our homeschool & Awana schedule, so I don’t usually get a whole lot done.

Thursday:  Two of my kiddos are going to spend a couple of days with their grandparents, which means that Brian & I will had some time to ourselves. (We didn’t get a whole lot done around the house, but we did spend time together. )

Friday: Did get a little shopping done & spent some time with our oldest daughter before she went to work.

Saturday: We attended a memorial service for a sweet family that had just moved to the area that lost 2 little ones in a tragic accident.  Then we went out to eat with some of our dear friends.  Then, a movie date for Brian & I!

Last week was not particularly frugal, but Brian & I did get time together & were able to plan a bit for the garden & talk about some financial goals that we have for the year.  Now, onto a new week!

Here are a few of the goals that I have for this week:

*Can some quarts of beans:  pinto, black, & kidney.

*Make & can beef stock

*Reorganize 3 of the cabinets in the kitchen & begin working on reorganizing my pantry

*Continue planning bulk food order for this month

*All meals from home (Except for lunch on Friday when we will be out doing our big monthly shopping trip.)

*Keep heat down as much as possible (another cold snap is in store for this week)

*Keep all unnecessary lights & power strips turned off when not in use.

Frugal Happenings on the Homestead: Week of 02/16-02/22/14

I would like to start writing a weekly post about what we’ve been doing to help save money, how we’ve stretched something to make it last longer, used up something that would have otherwise gone to waste, etc.  This will also include what we’re doing to help save us money in the future, such as gardening.  I will admit that I’ve not kept a great record this week, but I plan to try to do so in the future.  It will be good for me to have a record of things, especially of things that are not working for us.  So, let me see what I can remember from last week.

Tuesday:  I cooked some chicken in the Crock Pot to make BBQ chicken.  I saved the stock to can, as well as half the chicken.  This was my first time canning chicken, but it’s so easy & it’s going to come in really handy on busy days!  I ended up with 6 pints of chicken stock & 2 pints of chicken.

Wednesday:  I began the process of slicing & dehydrating 25 lbs of carrots!  I had ordered these through Azure Standard at a great price knowing that I would be dehydrating them.  I filled all 9 trays of my dehydrator up Wednesday morning.  I usually love doing things the “old-fashioned way”  (aka by hand, using a knife & cutting board), but I did use my food processor this time.  It sure does make short work of slicing all those carrots!

Thursday:  Emptied and refilled my dehydrator with more carrots.  I also filled two 20-quart roasters will the ingredients to make chicken stock using 6 of the carcasses from some of the chickens that we culled last fall.  This will be ready to strain last Friday evening.

Friday: I emptied & refilled 5 of my trays with the last of carrots.  I filled the remaining 4 trays with some frozen peas & corn that I had. Once they were done, I had a few more bags of peas & corn left to dehydrate, so I went ahead & reloaded 4 trays.  Once I was completely done with my dehydrating, I ended up with 5 quarts of carrots, 2 quarts of corn & 2 quarts of peas.

We ordered a box blade for our farm.  It will be delivered tomorrow.  We desperately need one since the bottom of our driveway is on an incline and tends to want to wash out if we have a lot of rain, which we have had for the last several months!  This costs us a pretty penny up front, but it will save us money in the future because we can keep the driveway smooth & not have to order gravel more often.

I strained all of the chicken stock, reserving the cooked veggies for the chickens & setting the bones & any meat that had fallen off aside to be picked through.  The bones were discarded as they had given all they were going to give, & the meat was reserved to be canned. Once the stock was strained, I poured it back into the roasters, filled them the rest of the way up with fresh water, & let them simmer overnight.

I also cleaned out the last of my old basil plants & planted some more seeds.  These are on my back porch out of direct weather.  If we do get below freezing temps or snow again after they start growing, I’ll bring the pot inside.

Saturday:  My parents came to visit for a little while, so I fixed “Poor Man’s Soup” for lunch using all ingredients from my pantry – tomatoes I had canned, dehydrated veggies & carrots, potatoes from the freezer that needed to be used.  I also put out fresh fruits & veggies along with lettuce for those that would like a salad with their lunch.

With my mom’s help, I canned up 58 pints of chicken stock, 5 pints of chicken (1 seal failed & I had to discard it since it fell into my sink of soapy water), and 1 pint of water.  My supply of chicken stock is now nicely replenished!  It took us all day to get this done, but it was so worth it!

I know there are a lot of little things that I do throughout the week that I’m not thinking about, so I’m going to try to do better this week so I can see what I’m doing & maybe where I could make some improvements.

~A Goodwill Find & Makeover~

 

So, Brian & I went on a dinner date.  And we stopped into a nearby Goodwill.  I usually don’t have a lot of luck finding great bargains, but this just happened to be my lucky day!  As we were wandering around the housewares section, we stumbled upon this little gem:

 

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An all-metal spool organizer!

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Any guesses what I paid?

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No?  Okay. I guess I’ll just have to tell you.

 

Tax and all, a whopping $1.09!!

However, I didn’t care for the hideous greenish-blue color, so I grabbed a can of spray paint and…..

 

Ta da!!

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My new thread spool organizer! Unfortunately, the can of spray paint that I had didn’t have enough in it to finish my project, so I had to pickup another can. But, no worries. The remainder of the can will wait patiently for my next project!

And here it is with some lovely, colorful thread….

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sitting next to my sewing machine awaiting my next sewing project.

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Waste Not……

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After buying 54 pounds of onions, I had 18 onion bags lying there just waiting to be throw away turned into something useful.  So, I did what I’ve been doing for years.  I turned them into pot scrubbers!  These work wonderfully for scrubbing dishes, stovetops, etc., and they don’t cost a thing since you’ve already paid for them when you bought the onions. 

Here’s how you turn them into scrubbies:

First, cut both the metal ends off:

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Next, you want to gather it together and fold in half:

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Cut in half:
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Store as you see fit.  Here are all of mine that I have right now. 
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I store them in a small plastic cup under my sink that I can quickly grab a new one when I need it.  Unless you are cleaning something really greasy, each one will last quite a while.  When done, discard replace with a fresh one. As you can see, I have a few different colors.  I’ve saved any plastic bags from lemons, fruits, onions, etc. that I can cut up and reuse.  Some of the larger bags, I am able to get 4 to 8 scrubbies out of. When they are longer, I will fold in half, cut, fold in half again, cut again, etc.  But don’t cut them too small or you won’t be able to use them very well. 

This post is linked to:

Laura Williams' Musings

Long Term Onion Storage

My local Aldis had onions on sale this week – 3 pounds for $0.79!!  Great stock up price!  So, I bought 18 bags = 54 pounds of onions!  So, now what?  How in the world do you store that many onions until you can use them up without going bad?  Well, it’s simply really.  Old panty hose!  You take a pair of old panty hose, drop in an onion, tie a knot close to the top, repeat process until the legs are full, tying a knot above the last onion.  To store, simply hang in a cool, dry, dark place.  When you need an onion, simply cut below the last knot and you have your onion!  Simple.  Easy. Frugal. 
Here’s what 54 lbs of onions (minus 4 onions) looks like once they are in the panty hose. 
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They will hang in my pantry to await use.  I may eventually dehydrate some but, for now, they will simply hang in my pantry.  Stored like this, they will keep for up to 6 months!  Another great reason to take advantage of a great sale!
This post is linked to:

Laura Williams' Musings

The Morris Tribe Blog Carnival

Getting A Handle On “The Leftovers” Dilemma…

We’ve all went to the refrigerator at one time or another looking for something to eat (aka leftovers) only to pull out a dish & discover we had unknowingly started a science experiment.  YUCK!  Not only is the dish in question disgusting, but you feel guilty because it somehow slipped under the radar, was pushed to the back of the refrigerator, forgotten, & ended up being completely wasted.  So, now, you have guilt on top of the being grossed out. 
Here are a few tips to help you get a handle on using up those leftovers & not letting them become the next science experiment.
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USING UP LEFTOVERS:

1. Designate a shelf in the refrigerator just for leftovers.  Immediately after a meal, place the leftovers in a container (preferably glass) & place them on the shelf you previously designated for them.  Make sure everyone in the family knows which shelf this is so that the delicious dishes you prepared get eaten. 
2. Keep a dry erase marker next to your refrigerator and Write The Date (& Contents, if desired) On the Glass Container!  This allows you to see what dishes are nearing their end (usually within 3 to 5 days) & need to be used up quickly or frozen for future use.  AND it wipes off easily, leaving no trace behind. 
3. Have one day a week that you designate CORD, Clean Out Refrigerator Day.  That means, all of the leftovers get pulled out of the refrigerator & everyone fixes their own plates on a first come, first serve basis.  Anything that does not get eaten, gets frozen to await transformation into a new dish.
4. Divide & freeze leftovers into meal-size portions for future lunches.
5. If you can & have leftover beans/soups, can them in pint jars for future lunches! Just remember that anything with rice, milk, or pasta CANNOT be canned. 
6. Keep a container/bag in your freezer where you can place all of your little bits of leftover veggies/meat pieces/sauces (together or separate, your choice) and, once they are full, pull them out & make a delicious soup/casserole with them. 
If you find that you have a lot of leftovers but cannot get anyone to eat them, look at the amount of food that you are fixing & cut back on how much you prepare. 
I hope you find these tips helpful & useful. Even though we homeschool, our school year is always hectic  and sometimes CORD nights save me because I’ve forgotten to either place something in the Crock Pot ™ or thaw it out the night before, and we’re already tired of our quick go-to meals for a while.  If you have anymore helpful tips to help with using up leftovers & keeping food waste down, I’d love to hear from you!  I’m always looking for new ideas!

Dehydrating Tomatoes

As you already know, I absolutely LOVE my Excalibur Dehydrator!  Well, with all of those wonderful tomatoes that I had, I decided to try some “sun-dried” (aka dehydrated) tomatoes.  As a FRESH tomato lover, I have to say, “OH MY GOODNESS are they Delicious!!!”  Dehydrating them brings out the natural sweetness in them plus enhances that tomato flavor!  In fact, I love it so much, that I now have a whole gallon jar filled to the brim, just waiting for me to savor them this winter. 

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These will be delicious in dishes, but also just as a snack!  It was suggested that you could add extra virgin olive oil and salt/pepper to the slices before dehydrating, but I just dehydrated them as they were.  They really don’t need anything!  The flavor is wonderfully refreshing.  But, I might try a few different ones later on just to see what they taste like.  I’m sure they will be delicious, too. 

 

Oh, what a wonderful time we live in where it’s so easy to preserve foods for the long winter months ahead.  We will be eating well, that’s for sure!  I’m thankful to God daily for all that He is providing for us, and I’m trying my best to not let any go to waste.