Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Pretties From the Garden

I have been a very busy bee for the past couple days - so today I am taking it easy with some photos from the yard.
Just a bit of this and that.  ENOY!

It's a good thing we have a ramp in the front of the house, as the flowers have taken over the front walk!

Squirrel planted and approved.

Our opal basil is growing like crazy.  It is so tasty, and pretty too!

Some of our container gardening.  The cucumbers are absolutely covered with blooms.  I have a few little bity cukes on the vines!

Phlox and tiger lilies, both from starts that are way older than me.  My plants originally came from my parent's place - and they dug them out in the country before I was even thought of.  Kind of neat to have something still going from the past.

Simplicity at its best!  I just love zinnias.

Sweet and simple. My angel watches over our garden.


So there you have it - just a little tour of some of my pretties around my 'homestead'. 
I hope you all have a pleasant day.
Cheryl






Sunday, June 25, 2017

Frugal Happenings 6/25

Happy Sunday everyone!  I hope everyone is doing great on this fine morning.

We are having absolutely beautiful weather today.  Actually I am sitting next to an open window, and the breeze is down right chilly!  I couldn't say that much this past week.  We had heat and more heat and humidity and at least some rain 5 out of 7 days.  Friday was a torrential downpour and it rained all day.  We had a backyard lake my Friday evening - but thankfully it was gone Saturday morning.
It looks like nice weather much of the upcoming week as well!

I very accurately managed to smack both elbows and my shin on hard surfaces (at 3 different times) this week.  I really do it right when I do it.  My right elbow is still sore and green in color and my shin had a big lump which has finally disappeared - but it still hurts.  Can we say accident prone?

My garden is coming along nicely.  I am so thrilled.  I can hardly wait for that first tomato.

Here's a side view of the raised bed.
My week:
  • Worked on organizing and arranging the basement pantry some more.  Found all kinds of things back in cubbies I had forgotten!  You know you have too much stuff when you find clothes and utensils you have set aside who knows when.  Going to use them now.
  • Did yard work at the beginning of week when it was cooler.  Look forward to doing it this coming week.
  • Line dried laundry on those dry mornings.
  • Have had AC off 3 1/2 days this week.
  • Didn't have to water anything with all the rain
  • Helped the kids next door make a FREE fire pit.  They only had a handful of bricks and a couple of cement blocks.  I let them know it is common knowledge that anything left in the alley is FREE to whom ever needs it.  I showed them a big stack of cement chunks (flat on 2 sides).  The pieces actually look like big rocks - they got plenty and now have a very nice fire pit!  They were so happy.
  • Renewed library books on-line
  • We have another branch of a local grocery going out - stopped by and picked up a few mark downs.  I got 60 cans of cat food for .15 less per can (than I can get at cheapest).  I also bought 4 boxes of Rennet for 1.10 each (8 tabs per box).  I have never made cheese, but have decided to try this summer - so I figured I would get the rennet cheaply - that way if I am not successful I will not have wasted a ton of money.
  • I picked more lettuce, onions, basil and 3 jalapenos.
All 3 jalapenos were this size.  Nice, huh?

Mmmmmm - it won't be long!

I have started my harvest book for the year.  I keep track, generally by weight, of all I pick.  I also keep track of all canning and freezing.  This is something my Dad did forever, and my brother and I both have followed in his footsteps.  It is just fun knowing what your hard work had produced.  You can even sort of figure how much money your produce is worth!


Meals this week:
Quiche and side salad
Mexican skillet casserole & salad (2X)
Mushroom, cheese crockpot chicken and mashed potatoes
Bruschetta
BLT's
Taco salad

I made a 3 fruit crisp.  Used apples, peaches, and pineapple that I had put up in the past.  It is so yummy!

As you can see, nothing real exciting happening here - just normal day to day stuff.  To be honest - I LOVE IT!  No stress, no drama, just a simple, quiet daily life.  That is what I strive for - bliss.

HOW WAS YOUR WEEK?  HOW ARE YOU SAVING?
HOW IS YOUR GARDEN GROWING?
I look forward to hearing from you.

I pray for each of you and your families.  May you all have a blessed week.
Cheryl

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Making EXTRACTS

Today is a quick post on making our own flavored extracts.  I had a couple people requesting how it is made, and what it is used for.
I have to admit, I am an extract geek!  I LOVE flavored extracts and use them often.  Now that I have learned how incredibly easy it to make my own - well, it opens up a whole new world!

You need herbs, citrus, or what ever you are going to use for flavor.  You also need Vodka.  You also need jars or bottles.
When you purchase PURE extracts at the store, they are all made with alcohol.  You won't taste the alcohol when processing is done, and if you cook with your extracts - you will cook all the alcohol out.

Most all directions say to let the extract steep for 5 - 6 weeks.  I go at least 8 weeks.  It gives you a much richer flavor!  I simply write the date on the jar lid or jar - set in a cool place out of direct light.  Shake or tip your bottle back and forth every few days - just to thoroughly mix flavors. 
Once your time is up - strain the liquid and place in little bottles or small jars for use. 
I use my mesh strainer with a coffee filter in it and place over a bowl.  It makes it easy to do - then I funnel into jars.
I DO NEED to find some cute little bottles - for gifts!
Your extract will NEVER go bad!

VANILLA - 3 whole vanilla beans - slit own the middle.  Place in about a cup of vodka
MINT (any type of mint) - 1/2 cup leaves (bruised and torn) in about 1/2 cup vodka

ALMOND - chop raw, unsalted almonds (about 1/4 cup) and 1/2 cup vodka
WALNUT - 3/4 C toasted, unsalted walnuts chopped with 6 oz. vodka (let this set 2 months or more)
CINNAMON - Use whole cinnamon not ground!  Break up about 3 medium sticks into a 1/2 cup vodka
COCONUT - 1 1/2 C shredded coconut to 1 cup vodka
BERRY - strawberry, blueberry, raspberry - any type of berries!  About 3/4 cup berries to 1 cup vodka
CHOCOLATE - 1/4 cup cocoa powder to 1 cup vodka (definitely let this sit 8 weeks or more)
CITRUS - orange, lime, grapefruit, lemon, etc.  Zest about 1/2 an orange or grapefruit and a whole lemon or lime (no pith) add to about 1/2 cup vodka


I also used lemon balm to make mine - doing the same as mint.

Just think of the possibilities.  You can make extracts that you don't even see in the store. 
I am going to try making some rustic ones with basil, rosemary, and thyme.  These would be wonderful in making a hearty rustic type of muffin or bread!

I use extracts A LOT in baking.  Many times if the recipe calls for vanilla, I add something else, just to change up the flavor.  In my baking, I use extracts in cookies, sweet breads, muffins and cakes.  I like adding nutty ones to homemade fudge.
I also make ice cream a lot - so I have many fruit flavored ones (I have purchased in the past) to flavor the ice cream.  I also chop some fruit to add.  We love peach, raspberry, strawberry, and even buttered pecan ice cream.

There are really NO LIMITS to what type you can make.  Any fruit, herb, nut, etc. will work!!

At the grocery a 1 ounce bottle of pure extract runs any where from $3.50 - $6.  A big bottle of Vodka can be purchased for around $15 and it will make many, many bottles of extract!

I hope this helps and that you will all give it a try!  YES, it takes a while to be 'done' - but it is sure worth it.  It is so much cheaper and you can experiment with many new and exciting flavors.

**I know some instructions said 1/2 cup, 1 cup, or 6 oz. of vodka - use your own judgment!  You can use any where between 1/2 cup to 1 cup and you can add more or less flavorings.  There is nothing etched in stone.

HAVE FUN - this is such a fun and easy project.
THINK OF THE NEAT GIFTS YOU CAN MAKE!

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

"DON'T THROW THAT AWAY!"

"Don't throw that away" was a mantra at my house growing up.  My folks lived through the great depression (I don't know why they called it great), and this was the mentality most all people had.
I am sure many of your parents and grand parents went through these times as well.
It seems to be where we have all acquired of FRUGAL MINDSETS!

So today we talk about what NOT to throw away and HOW to thoroughly use something up!  I am sure you do many of these things, but some may be new to you.

  • When canning tomatoes or making tomato products - DO NOT throw away those peelings.  Dehydrate them and grind into a power.  I use a coffee grinder to grind thoroughly.  This powder is great added to soups and you can basically make your own tomato sauce or puree.  No need to buy!
  • Do NOT throw away that hard stalky part of asparagus.  Dehydrate and grind.  This adds great flavor to soups and can be added to homemade dry soup mix for a 'cream of' soup.
  • Do NOT throw away the tough stems of broccoli - peel them and cook as usual.  This is my favorite part! *You can also dehydrate the peels and grind.
  • Those big outer leaves of cabbage and broccoli plants can be used as well.  Cut into smaller pieces and dehydrate and grind (do you see a theme going here?)  LOL
  • Brown or spotted bananas - freeze and use for breads or muffins.  I don't even peel.  When thawed I cut the end off of banana and the fruit comes squishing out!
  • Blend up the banana peels with some water and use around your roses - great fertilizer.
  • Stale bread (not moldy) can be dried for croutons, crumbs or dressing cubes.
  • Peels from citrus - ZEST and freeze for future recipes.  You can also place them in a jar with vinegar to make a lovely cleaner.  Cook on the stove in water for an air freshener.
  • BONES - chicken, turkey, ham, beef, etc.  Place them in water and cook for hours to make stock/broth.  You can even add veggies scraps/peelings for extra flavor.  Can or freeze.
  • You can make stock with the shells from shrimp or any fish heads/carcasses as well.  Fish stock is expensive
  • GREENS from beets, radish, turnips, etc. can be cooked and eaten.  They are so yummy and full of vitamins.  Use carrot tops in salad or mix in smoothies.
  • Cores from pineapples - dehydrate and grind.  Great flavoring for any dessert
  • Watermelon rinds can become pickled or make preserves.
  • REGROW ITEMS - many folks only use the green top of green onion - let it continue to grow or plant the bottom (white part) from the ones you buy.  ***** Place the bottom part of celery bunch in water to root - once rooted - plant.  You can grow your own.  ***** Start the bottom end of Romaine lettuce in water - follow same directions for celery.  *****  Potato with growing eyes can be rooted and grown.  *****Pineapple tops can be rooted and grown - you will never get a FULL size pineapple, but you will get a little one.  *****Bok Choy bottom section can be rooted in water, planted and regenerated.  *****  Leeks can be done this way as well.  *****Ginger can be grown from store bought pieces.  *****Separate the pieces from a head of garlic and plant - you will grow many new heads.
  • MUSHROOM STEMS can be regrown.  I have never tried this , but I going to try.  Supposedly you plant the stem in very rich compost like dirt, so that just the top shows.  IF it regenerates it will be quickly and with abundance. (I understand this can be tricky)
  • Large onions (sandwich onions) - keep the root end and plant with a little dirt over the top.  It will generate several smaller (green onion like) onions.I planted one the other day - we'll see what happens!
  • Coffee grounds, tea grounds/bags, and egg shells are all great for the garden.  Grounds keep away crawly pests, and shells add calcium.   NEXT WEEK I WILL DO A WHOLE POST ON COFFEE GROUNDS, TEA, AND EGG SHELLS!!!!!!!! (it's more than bug control!)
  • Fruit scraps - make jelly.     Corn cobs - make jelly.  YEP that's right!

CORN COB JELLY
Save the cobs from about 12 ears of corn (keep and freeze after cutting off corn till you have enough)
Place 12 cobs into a large pot and cover with water (cobs completely covered).  Boil hard for about 30 minutes.  remove cobs and strain liquid.  You need 3 1/2 cups for a batch of jelly.
Pour that 3 1/ Cups into a clean pot, ADD 2 tsp. lemon juice and  package of pectin (dry).  Bring back to a rolling boil and add3 1/2 C sugar.  Bring back to a rolling boil for 1 minute.
Fill jelly jars leaving 1/2" head space.  Cap and water bath for 10 minutes.
Has a honey flavor.

3 1/2 C corn juice
3 1/2 C granulated sugar
2 tsp. lemon juice
1 pack pectin (like Sure Jell)
Makes 5 half pint jars.

***********************************

APPLE PEEL/CORE JELLY
Peels/cores from 15-20 apples (leftovers from sauce or canning)
6 C water (for cooking peels/cores)
1 (1 3/4 oz.) box dry pectin
9 C sugar
1-2 drops red food coloring

Cook peels/cores in 6 cups of water for 20-30 minutes.  Strain - add water if needed to obtain 7 CUPS OF LIQUID
Add pectin, stir in, and bring to a rapid boil
Add sugar, stir in, and bring back to a hard rolling boil for 1 minute.  Add food color.
Pour into sterile jars, leaving 1/4" head room.  Water bath for 5 minutes.

 

  • Keep and cool the water from boiling eggs or veggies (no salt added) - and use to water garden or plants.  It is full of nutrients.
  • All scraps/peelings from veggies are kept to add to stock making
  • Leftover cooked food - add to something else to make a new dish or pot of soup.  Blend up leftover veggies or fruit to add to muffins or bread.  Freeze in ice cube trays.  Blended fruit can be used in popsicles or homemade ice cream.
  • Leftover wine (ha ha) gets frozen in cubes to cool wine at a later date - or add to Sprite for a spritzer
NON-FOOD
  • Keep all glass jars that food is purchased in to use for leftover storage in the frig. (try to get rid of plastic)
  • Keep old clothes and scraps for quilting - pillows, lap throws, quilts (you don't need to know how to quilt to do patchwork).  Repurpose clothes into NEW clothes.
  • Keep any grocery bags you get to use in trash cans
  • Newspaper can be used for weed guard, cat litter, animal cages, and even shredded - some can be added to compost
  • Old t-shirts - cut into rags, hankies, sweat bands, blankets, etc.
  • Old bed pillows - I keep old pillows, till I have enough stuffing to make a new bed pillow or throw pillow

I could go on and on and on!!!!!!!!!!  I guess it was pounded into my head as a child - WASTE NOT WANT NOT!  I still feel that way.  I see absolutely no reason to throw something away that can be used in a new way.  We worked hard for our money - and I sure don't want to just throw it away.

When I have exhausted all safe and healthy remakes - it goes into the compost pile to make NEW soil!  It doesn't get any better than that.


WHAT DO YOU NOT THROW AWAY?  What are your favorite re-uses of items?
I hope to get some new ideas from you guys!

Have a blessed and frugal day,
Cheryl

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Frugal happenings 6/18

Howdy Ho friends!  I sure hope your week was a good one.  Can you believe that we are over half way through JUNE????  Crazy - how time flies.

We have had extreme heat, yet lots of rain this week.  The combination is making the garden plants explode!  They are all getting so big.  I have tiny jalapenos, zucchini, cucumbers and tomatoes!  I am anxiously awaiting the day I get to pick some!
It SMELLS so good outside.  Clover is growing every where, and that sweet smell just permeates the air.  It is such a heavenly smell!

We had visitors this week in state from Colorado.  My former bosses, turned really great friends, were in town.  They stopped by and we had a fantastic visit.  It was so nice seeing them in person again - we see each other on FB, but that isn't the same.

I had lunch with other old friends on Tuesday.  We hadn't seen each other in probably 33 -34 years.  We caught up over lunch (their treat).  It seemed like just yesterday that we had talked.

This week:
  • Visiting with old friends - PRICELESS
  • I started 3 - 1/2 pint jars of peppermint extract (fresh peppermint and vodka)
  • Started one 1/2 pint jar of lemon extract (using lemon balm)
  • Made a pint of mint/lavender infused water to spray in greenhouse to keep fleas away
  • Have been spreading coffee grounds around plants that are in pots (good deterrent for crawly bugs)
  • Picked a plastic grocery bag of lettuce and several green onions
  • Rain barrels are full again.  Didn't have to water at all this week due to rain!
  • Dusted broccoli and cabbage with diatomaceous earth (saw some worms munching on leaves)
  • Watched some of a marathon of "How the Earth Will End".  Encourages me to work harder on my pantry.  I think we have the potential of going through a bunch of cr*p before that happens.
  • Had a home doctor visit.  Hubs is great.
  • Found 2 volunteer petunias growing and blooming
  • Picked a pretty bouquet
  • Stopped at Dollar Tree and bought 6 more cans asparagus (3/2020), 4 cans of peach pie filling and 2 - 28 oz. cans of baked beans to add to the pantry
  • Make a quart of clover infused water, which I will be making clover jelly with
  • Stopped at Kroger to check out clearance (I didn't go last week ).    I got 6 bags of Wacky Mac - vegetable pasta for .45 each.  8 - 6 packs of jumbo franks (for cutting and BBQ at holidays) for .39 pack!!!!!!!  2 - 64 oz. bottles of cranberry juice .99 each.
 
Click on pictures to enlarge
  • I made 2 quiches.  Used leftovers in frig to throw in them.  Good eating!
Added mushroom, black olives, smoky links - cut up, Canadian bacon, cheese, onion.


Meals this week:
Italian baked pasta casserole & salad (2X)
Big salad
Mac and cheese with smoky links added and salad
Burgers with onion & mushrooms and ravioli
Garlic bread pizza (homemade)
Quiche with toast and side salad

HOW WAS YOUR WEEK?  DID YOU FIND ANY GREAT DEALS?  HOW ARE YOU SAVING MONEY?


I send out prayers for each of you that your lives and your families are safe and healthy this coming week.
Also extra prayers for those in London and China.  I always pray for our country and world, but there has been so much sadness this week.
God Bless

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Thrifty and Stretching a Dollar

THRIFTY - definition - wise economical, thriving, prosperous or successful.  Economic or frugal.
I think that describes us - huh folks?

It just makes good sense.  There are so many ways to stretch our dollars each and every day.  The old saying "waste not want not" is absolutely true.  If we take care of our pennies - the dollars will follow.
Here are some ways we can all stretch a buck and still have a fantastic and frugal lifestyle.

  • Use old cake mixes to make cookies, crisp toppings, waffles, etc.  You can add a bit of baking powder if you want to make a cake and the mix is pretty old.  Make waffles and break into fourths and then make ice cream sandwiches out of them!  IF the mix smells fine - it IS fine to use.  Don't worry about dates.
  • Use leftover chili for topping on hotdogs, over baked potatoes or over nacho chips.  Make a casserole by placing chili in pan and top with a package of corn bread mix (mix as directed).  Add a bit of cheese if desired
  • Use leftover taco meat on pizza, potatoes, fries, nachos.  Add to soup or mac and cheese
  • Flat or stale soda pop can be used to make jello or freeze it in cubes to keep drinks from being watered down.
  • Save change all through the week and use for farm market purchases or for a weekend treat for the family without breaking the budget


  • GARDEN - grow something!!!  Even if it is just green onions or lettuce or herbs.  Anything you grow will save you money at the store and it so much better for you.


  • Save the 'crumbs' in the bottom of cereal boxes and use as topping over pudding or ice cream.  Add into the topping for crisps
  • Use leftover coffee and freeze in cubes.  Will cool down that too hot cup.  Place in a jar in frig and use when making a shake - love me a mocha shake!
  • Repurpose ALL leftovers - "eat your garbage".  Sounds funny - but why throw things away when they can be re-invented into something new
  • Instead of serving each person a serving of meat - use half the meat and cut it up into a main course dish.
  • CLEARANCE is our friend!!!!  ALWAYS look for mark downs.  If you find items that you use all the time - BUY ALL THAT YOU CAN AFFORD TO BUY!
  • Don't worry about dates!  They are nothing that is etched in stone.  Things are good for ages and ages after dates
  • Catch shower water in a bucket.  I know it doesn't seem like much savings - but it will water plants or flush a toilet - and if done daily, it saves money.
  • Add pasta, potatoes or rice to stretch meals.  These are all inexpensive and will stretch a meal incredibly
  • Turn AC higher or heat lower.  When using AC, basically you need it to remove humidity from the air.  It will do that at even a higher temp - thus you will feel cooler.
  • Sale stuff you aren't wearing or using.  Unused stuff is just taking up space in your home and you can make some much needed funds.
  • Shop the Dollar Tree if you have one.  They are carrying more and more brand names and they do take coupons now.  This is THE place to buy health and beauty items and cleaning stuff.
  • Make your own lunch treats.  Make peanut butter and crackers or cheese and cracker.  Make your own Lunchables - so easy to do.  Make your pudding or Jello cups.  It is so much cheaper.
  • Learn to make yummy and filling finger foods.  there are tons of cold meals that are filling and inexpensive.  It is amazing what you can do with a loaf of Italian bread!!!!!
  • Family doesn't like veggies or you have leftovers to use up - puree them and use in soups or in muffins and breads - no one will know!
  • If you have hit on HARD TIMES - DO WHAT IS NECESSARY TO FEED YOUR FAMILY.  Go to food pantries, apply for WIC or SNAP.  Do NOT be ashamed.  These resources are there to help and the good Lord knows we have all had hard times.
  • Barter with family, neighbors or friends.  If they have excess garden - perhaps you can barter a service with them
  • Out of money?  Inventory absolutely all food items you have and put together creative meals using those ingredients.  Use your imaginations - you make creative a new family favorite!
  • Take advantage of RAINCHECKS.  If a sale item is out - ALWAYS ask for a rain check.  You can get the sale price later on.
  • Consider shutting down cable.  Neflix, Hulu, and other are much cheaper and you can watch movies and many TV shows.  You tube is great too.  It is not just a 'how to' channel anymore.
  • Check into selling home canned or home made items in your area.

Folks - FOOD IS POWER! 
It is almost as good as cash (maybe better) in many instances.  If things get bad - all your many thrifty ways WILL save yours and your families lives!

We all need to know ways to stretch our dollars, be thrifty and save NOW - then we will be able to thrive if things go south someday.

How do you stretch your dollars?  We can all use every tip we can find!!
Looking forward to learning some great new tips.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

SUCCESS

What do you call success?  We all have a different definition I am sure.

Success is so many things to me, and really none of them have anything to do with money.
I truly believe you can be a successful person if you just live life right - be respectful, happy, loving, caring, sharing, spiritual, etc..
Some of the richest people I know (monetarily) are the least successful in my book.  The almighty dollar has become their God, their friend, their lover, their life.  That is sad.


I saw this on FB a while back - and it really sums up success to me.
The one thing I disagree with - IS these things are not "little things".  They are huge.  If we have these 10 things in our life, we are far, far richer than millions of people on this planet.

I know we are all working hard at providing a good life for our families in many ways.  Gardening, preserving, frugal shopping/living, making do, recycling, re-purposing, sharing, bartering, being good stewards of all we have..........................these are the wonders of success!


I pray each day and I know He listens and answers.
I have family and friends.
I have a wonderful caring/sharing community, in my life, from all over the world, thanks to computers.
I have health.
I have shelter, food, and drink.
I HAVE ENOUGH!!!!!
I AM RICH - in so many ways!!!!

G and I used to have a standard conversation on Sunday mornings when we played the lottery.  He would say "'are we rich yet?" - My response every time was "we already are".


WHAT IS SUCCESS TO YOU?
I somehow bet we are all pretty close to being on the same page with this one!
Like minds do tend to think alike.
Blessings my friends.