Sunday, August 30, 2015

Frugal Happenings 8/30

Hello there to everyone.  Hope you have all had a good week.
Can you believe that August is virtually over?  This summer has just flown by.  The holidays will be here before we know it.

Has anyone done anything extra frugal this week?  I pretty much do all the same things each and every week, which to some may seem weird, but my lifestyle is just normal to me.  Frugal is just a state of mind and a way of life.

  • I did thoroughly clean out the frig and the frig's freezer.  I found several items in the freezer that I had forgotten about
  • Not necessarily frugal - but I gave the stove a tremendously good cleaning.  Getting ready for the fall and winter
  • I did a major stock up at Aldi this week.  Used a $5 off coupon for entire purchase, and probably spent half of what I would have at another store
  • I made an apple/zucchini crisp.  I only had 2 apples, so I added sliced zucchini to the mix.  It was so yummy.  Couldn't tell the difference between the apples and the zucchini
  • Cut G's and my hair
  • Colored my hair with supplies from home
  • Cleaned out and re-organized the pantry.  Things are much easier to find and use.
  • Still doing some garden picking and still picking grapes.
  • No AC for 5 1/2 days!  The heat is back, so it looks like AC will be in use for at least the next week.
  • I bought gas for the Blazer this week at a good price.  First gas purchase in 7 weeks
  • Still using gasoline I bought last fall for mowing.  I will have enough to finish up this year
I sure did love the fall temperatures we had most of the week.  It made for some good sleeping weather.  It could have stayed that way till Spring as far as I am concerned!

I have heard from some sources that this winter is going to be bad, when others say not so much.  I have always heard that white wooly worms are a sign of a mild winter - well I have seen a ton of them around here.  Here's hoping!!
We have tons of spiders and spider webs every where - does that mean something? (other than we have tons of spiders.) Haha

Well kiddos, I hope you all have a wonderful and blessed week.
Let us know what you are up to.

Thursday, August 27, 2015


Pantry basics are ESSENTIAL in case of lien times or uncertainty with weather or world/country problems.
Many people consider a pantry as just food items, and others consider it to be everything you would need whether edible or not.

There are just some basics that each and everyone of us should ALWAYS have on hand.  In good times, these items can just expand our eating pleasure.  In bad times, these items WILL sustain you!

  • Rice - this can be used in all sorts of dishes (casseroles, soups, or alone).  If possible keep a few types on hand, but remember that brown rice will go rancid non-refrigerated after a while.  All other rice should be kept dry and sealed, and it will last a long time
  • Dried beans and lentils - beans can be made into any type of meal, alone or with other ingredients.  Think chili, soups, soup beans, beans for salads, pasta, soup, casseroles, etc.  They are also a great source of protein
  • Pasta - again, there are so many uses for this ingredient.  There are many types of pasta - try to keep several on hand.  Keep dry and in unopened or sealed containers.
  • Applesauce - it's cheap, it's fruit for your diet, and it has a very long shelf life.  It can also be used in baking (in place of oil), and mixed in breads and muffins and breakfast foods
  • Potatoes - so versatile.  Just sitting here, I can think of probably 20 different ways to fix them - so I know there has to be 100's!  They are really cheap (especially in the fall/winter) and are very filling.  Just remember to keep in a cool, dark, dry place and not the refrigerator.
  • Oats - essential in cooking and baking.  Oats can be used as a ground meat extender, a breakfast food, and are wonderful in baking.  Filling, good fiber, and good for you.
  • Peanut butter - super source of protein.  Can be used in baking, breakfast foods, sandwiches, and my favorite way - on a spoon!!!!  It is so very filling as well.
  • Tomato products - canned tomatoes, spaghetti sauce, salsa, pizza sauce, etc.  Tomato products are great in casseroles, soups, pastas, you name it!  Very versatile!!!!!
  • Eggs - protein and healthy food.  Hopefully you can keep fresh eggs on hand, but if not try to get some dried eggs to rehydrate.  Maybe you can even freeze some, when you find them cheap - so you will have them for a rainy day  (this was covered in an earlier post)
  •   Flour, sugar, sweeteners, salt, pepper, baking soda, baking powder, yeast, oil, and any other seasonings and herbs you like.  With these ingredients you will be able to make biscuits, bread, pancakes, waffles, sweets, muffins, gravy, crust for pies, oh the list goes on and on and on........
  • Canned meats - in case you are stuck at home, stores aren't open, you have no extra money, etc. you can have meat.  Keep on hand tuna, canned chicken and/or beef, products like Spam, corned beef, those tiny little hams (they are good in soup beans).  If you so desire even Vienna sausages or potted meat.  CONSIDER meat as an ingredient and not a main course.
I also like to keep a variety of cheeses on hand as it can really spiff up a meal and add so much more flavor when working with just basics.  Hard cheese (like cheddar, mozzarella) can be kept in the frig for a long time.  It also freezes well if you will be using in cooking.  I only buy cheese when it's on sale, and then I buy several.

I know it seems over whelming - but you can add these items each and every week to have on hand, and really none of them are expensive foods.  With the above items - you would be able to eat well, survive, and probably even flourish in the roughest of times.

Water - I hate to advocate buying bottles of water (not eco friendly), buy jugs of water.  Water is essential to life - not just yours but your pets.  It is used in cleaning, flushing, cooking, and drinking.  If the faucet quit working, would you have water?  You can use rain water and gray water (from dishes, baths, etc.) for flushing.

Health items are also important.  You will need soap, toothpaste, deodorant, shampoo, laundry detergent, dish soap, etc.  In a worse case scenario - shampoo, dish soap, body soap can be inter-changeable.  Laundry can be done by hand with any of those soaps.  Toilet paper is also an essential!
Medicines are hugely important.  Both prescription and over the counter.

Pet food - make sure you keep a surplus of pet food on hand as well as food for yourself.

Ok, I think we have covered most of the essential items we should all have on hand in case of an emergency.  I am sure you will all be able to ad items to the list, that I have forgotten.  Please let us all know, what you think we can't do without!!!

Work on your stock-up plan slowly.  Add a couple items each and every week.  You surely want your family to be prepared for the worst.
Take care dear friends.
I look forward to hearing your plans!

Monday, August 24, 2015

WHAT IF............

Today I am addressing a "what if" scenario.  I don't mean to sound political or anything.   I just want everyone to think about something for a while.  Think about it seriously.

We have all heard about the banks closing in Greece and the chaos it caused.  We have all heard about the financial situation in Puerto Rico.  We have all heard about the devalued money in China (hmmm, that sounds familiar).  The list goes on and on.
We all like to think that these things do not affect us here in the good old U.S.A..  Well guess what?  They do.

What would you do, if the banks closed here for a week, a month, 2 months.....???
Folks it has happened before, so don't think it can't again.  Seriously, would you be able to survive?

Do you have plenty of food, health supplies, cleaning aids, pet food, etc. on hand to last for significant amount of time.   Do you have cash on hand at home?  Do you keep 5/10 gallons or so of extra gasoline on hand (just in case)?
Remember - you may not be able to get money for a while!  If you aren't prepared at home, you may do without.  If banks are closed, stores and gas stations may have a hard time getting new orders (no bank no credit, no bank no deposits, etc.)  At least with cash on hand - you could barter with others, or patronize those few places that may be open.

It is scary to think about, but folks it's something that each and every American needs think long and hard about.
I have been listening to financial experts, politicians, religious leaders, and many just pretty darn intelligent lay people, and almost all are predicting some HUGE financial problems for this country as soon as September.  That's to say bigger problems than we have right now!

I am not saying to panic.  I am saying you just need to be prepared for anything at anytime. 
A side note to prepping - don't tell people to what extent you have prepared.  Desperate people do desperate things.
Take care and make a PLAN!

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Frugal happenings 8/23

Howdy friends.  Hope you all have had a wonderful week.
Much of mine has been the usual stuff.  That is fine with me, as I'd rather be accused of living a boring life, than one filled with all the drama that I see some folks have!

This weeks frugals were;
  • AC off at least half of the week.  Should be off most of next week as well.  Getting some lovely fall temps here.
  • Still picking (veggies) and grinning!!  Garden is really starting to slow down.
  • Froze 5 quarts of beans, made 5 quarts of kraut, 6 quarts of grape juice, 6 quarts of garden/cabbage soup and 4 pints (for gifts), and 6 pints of salsa
  • Bought NO groceries at all this week.
  • Most meals at home, and did a few different things.  Baked potato night, breakfast for dinner, freezer leftovers (turkey & broth) made into turkey and noodles, catch all casserole.  Did order Chinese last night (first time in 2 months) and it will be dinner again tonight.  G had a real craving for it.
  • Line dried laundry 2 days
  • Watered when needed from the rain barrels.
  • Dried more herbs from the yard
I guess trapping and releasing the groundhog was frugal too - as my beans and zucchini and really doing good again, and starting to grow more. 
Not frugal, but I did save (at least for the time being) 3 birds this week.  They couldn't fly and I was afraid the cats would get them (could be why they couldn't fly!) or the dogs next door would get them.  I caught and moved them many doors down, where no one has pets for several houses.  Maybe they will heal and fly again - I hope so.  They didn't look damaged, and could get about a foot in the air.  Just call me the "animal whisperer"!  LOL
I do love me some nature!

What have you all been up too?  Please share your tips and ideas and ways.
Have a great one!
May the Lord bless you all in this coming week.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Mr. Hog

Now this is how I expect to see a good groundhog!!!!!  I did it!  I caught that dang thing this AM.  In case you need to know, non-mature tender corn on the cob with shucks and all.  He just couldn't resist!
He now resides in a nice big woods behind the cemetery!
I sure hope we don't see any more.  I am pretty sure it was just the one.

He really is kind of cute!

On a different note - here's a picture of one days picking from one bush on those sweet yummy cherry toms!
Dang I love these things.  I can't walk by without grabbing several.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Frugal happenings 8/16

Howdy, howdy, howdy all!  Can you believe this month is half over?  It's a flyin' by!
Hope you all had a great and successful week.  What have you all been up to?

I have just been doing the same old, same old.
Let's see this week brought about;
  • Lots more canning and freezing of garden produce.  We sure have been blessed
  • We received a $150 FREE debit card from phone/tv/internet provider!   WOOHOO!!!!
  • I received a $5/$30 coupon from Aldi this week.  They never have coupons around here.  I will be using before the end of the month.
  • We had 2 glorious days of weather this week, which enabled me to get out and do a ton of yard work, without having heat stroke!  FREE exercise.
  • Also got to have 2 days no AC this week
  • I ran to the Dollar Tree (needed to get out), and got some things for stock up.  I got 3 shelf stable milk, 2 cans coconut milk, 2 large cans of black olives, 6 bottles of baby aspirin
  • Ran to Kroger for .99/lb. chicken thighs for freezer.  Also got a few things on the clearance isle.
  • Grapes are just starting to ripen.  I picked a some today and canned 4 quarts of juice.  Hoping for a lot more - the grapes are hanging thick out there!!
This was on clearance for $2.89 box (regular 5.69).    You use 1 1/2 tsp. of this with 2 Tbsp. of water to replace one egg in cooking/baking.  This box is equivalent  to over 9 dozen eggs!!!!!  Sure can't beat the price.  Dated 2018!!  Too bad they only had one box - I would have bought a bunch for other people.
It's made from potato starch, tapioca flour and cream of tartar.

We have eaten lots of goodies from the garden this week.  I made bruschetta Saturday evening with items from the garden and a .99/loaf of clearance Italian bread.  It was yummy.  Tonight was homemade pizza with lots of fresh veggies.  Doesn't get much better.

I pray you all have a safe and wonderful week.
Check in and let us know what's happening in your neck of the woods.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

RECIPES for lean times

We have all had those times when money was low and so were groceries!  Here are a few recipes that will help you stretch your dollars and supplies.
Hope these help - feel free to copy and keep.

2 C sugar
1 C water
1 tsp. maple extract (or whatever flavor you have or want)
Bring water and sugar to a slow boil over low heat, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat before it comes to a rolling boiling (boil that won't break when stirring).  Add flavoring as it is cooling.  Store in the frig.
This will cost about 1/10 the price of buying syrup.
For thicker syrup replace half the water with corn syrup.  
**  Always remember that you can heat jelly and pour over pancakes or waffles as well.

2 C nonfat dry milk
3/4 C cornstarch
1/4 C instant chicken bouillon
1 tsp. onion powder
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1/2 tsp. dried basil
1/4 tsp. pepper
Combine ingredients and store in an airtight container.  To use for soup - combine 1/3 cup of mix to  1 1/2 cups of water.
Add a veggie for more flavor, diced celery (cream of celery), diced mushrooms (cream of mushroom), diced broccoli (cream of broccoli).
**To use in a recipe calling for a can of cream of soup mix 1/3 cup of mix to 1 3/4 cups of water.  Boil for a few minutes, stirring often.

1 Tbsp. butter
1 onion - chopped
2 Tbsp. flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
1 C. water
2 C milk
1 C leftover mashed potatoes
1/2 C grated (shredded) cheese

In a saucepan melt butter and sauté onion until light brown.  Stir in flour and salt and pepper.  Stir forming a roux paste.  Add water, stirring constantly.  When mixed, add the rest of the ingredients.  Stir until thickened and cheese melts.
Great use of leftovers for something new.

1/2 to 1 lb. of ground beef (depending on people feeding)
1 large can of vegetable beef soup
1/2 tsp. thyme (optional) - I like the flavor
Make you burgers and fry until almost done.  Drain grease from pan.  Add the soup (and about 1/4 can water) and thyme, and continue to heat.
Vegetable BEEF if the way to go - it tastes so much better than using vegetarian soup.

Serve with mash potatoes.  Place a burger on each plate with potatoes, and top with the soup mixture.
Serve with a side salad.  YUM
I had this a lot growing up, as it was cheaper than round steak.  I loved it then, and still do.  I make it about once a month during the winter.

It's always nice to have a variety of ideas for food when times get tough.  I will try to regularly list cost saving recipes.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Storage - always an issue!

Do you have room for everything in your home?  Do you have too much stuff?  Do you know how to get creative with storage?

We are fortunate to have a basement, as our home is small.  But, there is still way too much stuff in this house!  I have worked hard this year on de-cluttering, but I am no where close to being done.

Do you all have room for your stockpiles of food and supplies for prepping?  I am hoping you have a backlog of supplies for the time that SHTF (sh** hits the fan!)  Of course that is another post altogether!

Get creative with storage.  Many people seem to over look the obvious - under the beds!  I keep paper goods under ours.  You can store under the couches and chairs and behind them as well.

Most closets have a shelf over the hanging racks - then nothing to the ceiling!  What's with that?  Install milk crates (open side facing the door) and go UP!  I have added crates and fastened the first row down to the wooden shelf, then add another crate atop those and wire tie together.  This gives you so much more storage upward and you can compartmentalize your stuff.

Add an extra clothes rod to your closets about half way up.  You can hang shirts/blouses/jackets on one and slacks on the other.
Add a shallow bookshelf to the floor of your closet.  It gives you extra shelving and is out of the way.

Add cloth/plastic shoes bags to the back of closets doors, especially in bathroom and basement.  There is no limit to the amount of small items you can store there.  Shampoo, razors, hair ties, small packets of spices and seasoning, boxes of freezer bags,  kids toys, etc.

Do you have a basement?  Utilize the space under the stairs.  There are generally wooden posts going from the top to the floor under the stairs (braces).  Using T-brackets, make shelves going from behind each step back to those posts.
If you have a basement with ceiling rafters showing, add some metal shelves between some of the rafters for over head storage.

Use the space between appliances and cabinets/walls.  I keep all cookie sheets and muffin tins between the frig and wall and frig and cabinet.  Things slide right in.
Rubbermaid drawer stacks are also quite useful.

Use Mason jars for storage in the bath and kitchen.  Great for mixes, pasta, rice, etc. in the kitchen.  Use in bath for cotton balls, q-tips, combs/brushes, etc.  I use the pretty vintage blue ones in my bath.

Add extra shelving to your pantry.  Many pantries have shelving that is very far apart - I have never understood that.  Add extra shelves and maybe alter the depth of shelves for easier accessibility.  I have a custom made spice rack inside my pantry door.  My nephew made it just to fit.  It sure gives me a lot of extra space for spices.

Old suitcases and trunks make great storage, and they can be decorative as well.
Plastic totes can be filled and stacked in closets or basements, but they can be slightly costly.

If you get the opportunity to get second hand cabinets from someone's tear out - get them for use in the basement or garage.

Think, think, think when it comes to storage.  There are so many options and hiding places in your home, if you just look around.
Get creative!  Do you have any different or unusual storage tips that you can offer to the rest of us?
Happy storing!

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Frugal Happenings 8/9

Happy Sunday everyone.
It looks like we all made it through another week, one way or another!  I am sure some had a great week and others just so-so.  I guess I would have to call mine great, as nothing bad happened, and we were blessed with lots of goodies from our garden.  I got to talk to a niece and two nephews that live out of town, and that was nice.

I have really gotten into watching programs about the new "tiny house" movement.  I find it so encouraging that folks can live and live well in less than 500 sq. ft.  I always thought we were original tiny house owners (950 sq. ft.) - but ours isn't that small compared to some (plus we have a full basement).  It is fun to see how creative people are with their storage.

My week was frugal as usual.  We had all meals from scratch, filtered water and made tea, did laundry in cold water, etc.
  • I made many batches of salsa, pasta and pizza sauces and canned it.  For those that don't can, always remember that you can make sauces and freeze in appropriate size containers.
  • Dried all the tomato peels and powdered.  Tomato bullion is very expensive at the store.
  • Cut and froze chives for the winter
  • Used the scalding blanching and canning water on weeds
  • Picked lots and lots of garden veggies and used in many ways
  • Froze more bell peppers for winter
  • Got to have AC off for a couple days
  • Used rain water when I needed to water garden and pots
  • Stayed home 6 days
  • Replanted lettuce and cucumbers. Cukes are on their last legs and we still should have 60+ days before frost.  Here's hoping!
Out tomatoes are probably at their peak right now.  I am picking 10 lbs. plus a day.  Not too shabby for 10 plants.  We have just had tons of cherry tomatoes.  The bell peppers are really producing wonderfully.  This is actually the first time we have had this many peppers.

This is dehydrated tomato peels along with the grinder I use.  At the left you see the jar that I keep the powder in.  It really does add a lot of flavor to dishes in the winter.
I have 2 grinders (both bought for $1 each at yard sales).  One is used for herbs and anything I need to grind that is mild.  The 2nd is marked and is strictly for hot peppers!

Not sure how well you can see this picture (just couldn't get the light right).  It is an old individual pop bottle I saved for storage of chives in the freezer.  I cut and chop the chives, then place them in the bottle.  Keep in the freezer.  In the winter I can have 'fresh' chives for cooking - simply shake out what I need!  Make sure you put them in the bottle dry.
I just keep adding to the bottle as I cut chives.

Guess that is about it for me this week.  How did you do?  If you have any unusual things you do to save $ please let us know.  We all love to learn!!
Have a wonderful and blessed week!

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Saving $$$$$$$

School supplies are so incredibly cheap at the moment.  Now is the time to buy enough supplies for the entire year!  Many stores also price match, so you don't have to spend extra money driving from one place to other.
Think about home and work as well, and buy what supplies you may need for the next year.
If you don't have kids or grands, don't need supplies for home or office, PLEASE take $5 or $10 and buy supplies and donate them to the local school.  Not all kids will be able to afford supplies even at the cheap prices.

School clothes are also on sale now.  Most retail stores are having clearances on summer items.  August is also vision month for kids and many eye clinics are having back to school specials.

Most people don't realize how much heat light bulbs put out.  ONE 65 Watt light bulb gets to about 170*!!  Now stop and think about those chandeliers in the house - that's a lot of heat.  Change bulbs to the new fluorescent ones - they are much cooler.  Better yet, keep all lights off.  I can't remember the last time I turned on a light - these long summer days really come in handy for light.

Keep the water heater turned down to 120* or lower.  Anything higher is really a waste and is dangerous.

Use a dehumidifier in your basements/house even if you have AC.  You will be amazed at how much more water a dehumidifier takes out of the air.

Keep your shades and blinds closed on the sunny side of the house.  You may have to alternate opening and closing blinds for best effect.  Keeping the sun out of the house, keeps the house cooler.

Make sure you keep your AC unit clean.  Hose down the outside unit regularly.  Make sure the filter is nice and clean as well.  Everything works so much more efficiently when clean.

Utilize ceiling fans if you have them.  They keep the air moving.

Those who have Kroger or affiliate grocery chains in their town, know that using your Kroger reward card gives you cents off at the gas pump.  Most of the summer, they were doubling points on weekends.  That has ended, at least here in Indiana.  Kroger is now also offering .03/per gallon discount with the reward card.  That is .03 per gallon any day of the week, whether you have made Kroger purchases or not.  So just for having the card, you can SAVE when purchasing gas at their stations.

Farmer markets are going full blast now just about everywhere around the country.  If you are not growing your own produce, I sure hope you are utilizing the markets for fresh goods.  One hint I like to pass along, is to shop close to the end of the day.  Yes, there may not be as many items to pick from, but odds are what you DO get will be cheaper.  Most vendors don't want to have to pack up supplies, so they often let you dicker on price, just to get rid of produce.  It can't hurt to ask!!!!
Get as much fresh produce this summer as possible, whether it be from growing, barter, or buying.  Can or freeze for the future.  Home grown is so much better for you and your family.  You will be mighty happy to eat those wonderful goodies this winter, when all good freshness is gone!

Hope this helps you save a few dollars somewhere along the line!

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Frugal happenings 8/2

Howdy everyone.
Sorry I have been AWOL this week.  I had another week that didn't go as planned!  We all know what they say about "the best laid plans".

We have finally had a week with no rain.  I have been using rain water from the barrels for the plants.

NO I still haven't managed to wrangle that darn old groundhog - it is one smart animal.  I have caught 2 opossums and have taken them to the woods for release.  Oh, I also caught one of my kitties!  She wasn't happy.  I had bought a bigger trap - and she was curious - OOPSY!  I found her pretty quick.  She walks way around it now!  Lesson learned.

My frugal happenings this week other than normal things were;
  • Line drying laundry again - gee I love the smell
  • I canned 11 pints of pickles (bread & butter and kosher) from brine that I had left over from last week.   I used some of the misshaped cukes for this.   Pints will make nice gifts this holiday season.
  • Picking and using LOTS of garden produce.  Sharing it as well.
  • I did a sewing project for my brother - he was thrilled with the results
  • I managed to take advantage of a good sale at Kroger this week.  Got 5 jars of JIF peanut butter for .99/jar for the stockpile.  I also found 5 - 1 lb. boxes of big name pasta on clearance for .49/box.  Use date of 2017!
  • I did buy a larger trap for $26, but it will last a lifetime.
  • Stayed home 5 days.  No money or gas spent/used.
How was your week?  Did you save any money?  Were you good boys and girls?

This is a volunteer tomato plant (squirrel planted), that is growing in a 4" space between my driveway and the fence (in rock).  It has gotten huge and goes through the fence, so the neighbor and I share!  I am not sure if you can tell in the 2nd picture, but the plant is loaded with cherry tomatoes!  If there is one tomato or bloom there must be a 1,000 or more.
I sure do love those things - they are like candy to me.  I can't pass the bowl without grabbing 2 or 6 to eat!!

I hope you all have a wonderfully productive and safe week.
God bless.