Sunday, December 27, 2015

Frugal Accomplishments for the Week of Christmas

To give the Santas proper height, I have some of them up on bits of
2x4 lumber....we are fancy like that! 

We, of course, hope you had a wonderful Christmas!  Ours was really nice - peaceful and restful.  Here are a few things we did this past week to spend less, save more and make do:

We did our usual things - the wood stove helped us stay warm and we used the drying racks to dry our clothing.

Husband changed the oil in the truck, which is more cost effective than hiring someone else to do it.  He and I also fixed a broken clip on the door lock of the car.  We used a small drill bit, some jewelry making wire from my craft room and about 5 minutes of our time, and it's as good as new!

Daughter has been home on winter break - I love having her home all day! herself entertained without spending a lot of money.  And no...this is not allowed.  At least she has her in a bin.

We took issue with a decrease in service and increase in price from our internet provider.  When we called, it was made clear that they didn't really have any way to restore either better service or a better price...and they were kind of apathetic about the whole thing.  So, Husband made a few phone calls, and we found a local provider who will give us a better plan than even the previous one (before they lowered the speeds) for less money.  The new company has high ratings, we will save $80 a year, there is no contract or term, and installation is free.

I completed some Pinecone Research surveys.

I purchased a few items that were on sale, such as avocados for .48/ea.,  broccoli crowns for .99/lb., pineapples for .98/ea. and romaine lettuce for .99/head.  We bought a few candy items after Christmas when they were half price - some chocolate cherries and blueberries and some M&Ms.

I got out my rubber stamps and some other things I had on hand, to made thank-you cards to use this coming week.

I had not purchased any gift wrap or supplies (bows, ribbon, etc.) for several years.  After this year, we were low on some things.  I purchased one roll of gift wrap on the 26th, when it was half price.  It is a large roll (200 square feet) and will last us for quite a long time.

About 6 weeks ago, I bought two 'aerogarden' hydroponic setups second hand.  Actually...I bought one for $10, and the lady gave the the second one because it was working intermittently.  This means I have backup parts of everything except the water pump, so I was thrilled!  I set up one of the pods with kale seeds, and used some liquid plant food I picked up free from the hazardous materials dropoff site.  I purchased the growing medium in a 50 pack on Amazon, which was less expensive than purchasing pre-loaded baskets (one of the kits came with a set of baskets).  If this works well, it will be a fun way to learn about plant growth, as well as a way to grow some greens in the cold months.  I'll share photos once we have some sprouts!

I decided that I needed a wee table with a shelf where I could put away my tiny office when I am not working.  We had the perfect table, but we were using it in our living room.  When I was down in the basement, I brought up a wood tray table.  It works fine in the living room, and freed up the wee table for me to use.  Ultimately I would like to get something a little nicer for the living room, but this will work for now, and I can search for a thrifted table that suits our needs.  Also from the basement, I brought up a basket to store my headset, pen, sticky notes and a few other small items I need frequently when I am working.  I am really happy with the way it is all coming together.

Well, that was our week!  How was your week?  What did you do to spend less, save more and make do?

Monday, December 21, 2015

This Past Week's Frugal Accomplishments

We had a frugal week, but it was busy! is what I can remember at the end of the week.  :)

Last year, we borrowed a spare small Christmas tree from a friend, and really liked the ease and simplicity of having a smaller tree.  Last January, I picked up two 4' trees from a lady on Freecycle.  One is white, with colored lights, the other is green with white lights.  We tried them both, and even after we changed fuses, they both had areas where none of the lights worked.  Daughter liked the green one best, so I removed the damaged lights and strung on some led lights that we had purchased post-season several years ago.

This was my only Christmas tree purchase - .99 at Goodwill. 

Daughter wanted to do a bird/nature themed tree, so we went through our ornaments and chose just those ornaments.  Our little tree is really, really cute!  (I think I am going to remove the lights from the white tree and save it for when our basement is finished - it would be cute to have a tree down there, and we have other lights we could add to it if we wanted them.)

Daughter and her friend made gingerbread cookies earlier in the week.  I saved back half the dough (it was quite a bit for two girls to have to process).  I made ginger stars and glazed them with some orange glaze that was left over from some scones I made a few weeks ago.  I supplemented with a little bit of white glaze too, which made for reallly pretty, tasty cookies.  Her cookies are much cuter than mine!

I washed our clothing with homemade laundry soap and air-dried it on racks in the basement.

We heated the house with our wood stove most days.

We put flannel sheets on our beds - they make it easier to get and stay warmer on a cold night.

Daughter was beginning to run low on jeans/slacks for school.  Happily, I had some more in her size in the hand-me-down stash I keep in the basement.

I used a $10 off $10 coupon from Kohl's to pick up some small gifts.

My friend Lana gave me the heads-up that there was a 'sale' on the My Coke Rewards site.  I was able to use just 30 points per 12-pack, which is far less than the standard amount.  Thanks, Lana!

I completed training for my new job, which means I'll be working at home from now on.  This will save on fuel and time.

Daughter gets a bit tired of sandwiches for lunch at school every day, so I wanted to get a stainless steel thermos so I can send soup sometimes.  She found this thermos for 99 cents!

She didn't want the image on it - she doesn't really know who Hannah Montana is, so it's no judgement on her...daughter just thought it looked 'too girly'.  We knew from past experience that these decals scrub off with steel wool and elbow grease.  Once I got the decal removed, I gave it a final polish with some Barkeeper's Friend, and it looks great!  We put some cocoa into it and waited 5 hours - it was still warm and just right for drinking.  Stainless thermoses are pretty expensive new, but this will do the job for a lot less.

I took Taffy to the spay and neuter clinic in town for her 3 year rabies shot and the remainder of her heartworm medicine (18 mos. worth).  The cost for medicine/tests/vaccines at the clinic is much less than it would be if we went to the vet.

I've been wanting to give Taffy a bath for a little while now.  My main reason - she's stinky.  We had a warm day, after lots of cold weather, so I gave her a quick bath on the deck, which saved me the $20 it would have cost to go to a pet wash place.

I spent time with two different friends this week - one stopped at my house, and I stopped by the other friend's house.  We didn't 'go out', which saves money, and just enjoyed one another's company.

We went to the scratch and dent store and stocked up on a few items that we had tried and liked.  Cinnamon oat cereal (a store brand of cinnamon Life) was .69 a box, Milton's Bakery crackers (I adore these!) were .94 a box, and M&M's were .99 for a 10-12 oz. bag.  We also picked up some jerky...some of it is awful.  If they won't do a refund, we will use it for dog treats.

At the supermarket, we got organic oranges for .48/lb, whole pineapples for .98, broccoli for .98/lb, milk for 1.99 a gallon, organic spaghetti sauce for .99/jar, russett potatoes 10lb./99 cents and pints of jalapenos, sliced jalapenos and jalapeno relish for .99 each.

This was on the kitchen table for Daughter one weekday morning - a little trinket
given to Husband at work (tigers are the business logo), along with the
section of the newspaper that contains the comics.  What a sweet, thoughtful dad.
We stuck to our dinner menu...with the exception of one day when we were in town and decided to have Chinese food at 3pm, so we just had the leftovers for supper.  It was actually a planned treat that got planned after I'd created the menu. :)

As we get close to Christmas, I'm stocked on wrapping paper and gift bags saved from previous years, so we will not need any of those items.  We used decorations we already owned, and with one 99 cent exception (a hand-painted Christmas ornament from Goodwill), we didn't spend money on Christmas decorations.

Are you meeting your financial goals this season?  What have you been doing to spend less, save more and make do?

Monday, December 14, 2015

Last Week's Frugal Accomplishments

I am left with a choice - wait and see if I have time to add photos, or post, before this entire post gets stale.  As you can see, I have decided to post now, picture free.  Sorry, visual learners!

Daughter was in two class-written plays this past week.  She needed some costuming, which we were able to create from things we had on hand.  It has been an interesting week with regard to clutter, because there was a vest that I donated to Goodwill in the summer that would have been a good addition to one of the costumes.  In the end, her costumes were just fine, but it made me think!

We had to replace the windshield on our 10 year old car.  A rock hit the edge of the glass and it cracked in a line running across the windshield.  We don't have insurance coverage for windshield replacement, so I called around to check prices.  The price difference surprised me - my final cost was over $100 less than the highest of the 4 quotes I received.  The place we chose was fast and had great ratings as well - I was really happy with their service and speed.

Not far from the windshield 'store', there is a scratch and dent grocery store.  I had been their one time before and gotten some crackers that I really, really liked.  I stopped in to see if they had them, and they did!  The price was 30 cents less than the last time I bought them, plus they are running a 30% off promotion until the end of the year.  I purchased some crackers, a bottle of ketchup, a box of cereal, and a few other items.  I was happy to learn that they are now selling bread, because we had stopped at the bread outlet earlier in the day and they were out of bread at that location (they still had bagels, donuts and specialty items, but no standard sliced bread).

OK, so when we stopped at the bread-less bread outlet, I had my punch card, good for two free items on a particular rack.  I brought home a box of donuts and some sandwich thins.  I'm thinking those sandwich thins would make some cute little pizzas.  :)  The punch card gets filled based on the money spent in the store.  It takes us a long, long time to fill the card, but it's no trouble to get those freebies.

My friend gave me acorn and butternut squash.  I just took one of each, because I already had some at home, but she wanted to give me  I need to find some more ways to cook them before I make that level of commitment, hee hee.

Until late in the week, our weather has not been terribly cold, but cold enough to use the wood stove to heat our home.  It really saves on propane costs.  Toward the end of the week, we have had snow and wind, and the wood heat has made it nice and cozy.

I had to purchase a PC for my work this past week.  Husband helped me find the things I needed - how much memory, how much RAM, etc - and helped me find a good price for a computer that would meet my needs.  He did the purchase through Swagbucks for extra points, and paid with a card that was doing a special offer.  Both of those helped lower the price a little more.

I also needed Office on the computer, and happily, we had a previously purchased disc and key card that had one remaining licensed use on it.  I am SO glad we held onto that!  I also found 'the mouse' that we knew we'd saved, though I haven't tried it out just yet (it has been a BUSY week).  The only thing left is to get a headset for the phone.  The one I want is on Amazon, and we have a special offer there as well, that will cover the cost of the headset.

I worked about 15 hours this week, a combination of training and taking on some of the tasks I will be responsible for.  I also volunteered at Daughter's school about 7 hours this week.

A friend's family was having a really rough day.  I was able to do something nice for them (service) which didn't cost a thing, but was helpful.

We did a good job with leftovers this week.  Meaning, there aren't really any left over!  I didn't get to all the menu items we had planned, but leftovers filled in on those evenings.

I washed our clothes with homemade laundry soap and hung them on drying racks in our basement, since it is so cold now.

I popped popcorn for some snacks and did some scratch cooking.  I took a ham from the freezer, and when it thawed, I cut it into more reasonably sized chunks for our family, wrapped and froze those (except for some that we ate).

Hams were advertised this week for .98/lb.  I bought one, and I'm contemplating buying another.  Truth be told, I need to see if there is enough space in the freezer.  Milk was 1.99/gal this week.  I have a lot of fresh produce (lettuce, cabbage, celery, carrots, onions, an eggplant, red pepper, potatoes, sweet potatoes, a tomato, apples, oranges, pears and cuties) on hand from the really good sales we have had lately, so I only purchased bananas this week.  The crisper drawers are full, so I will plan menus based on the items on hand.

We chose an ornament from the giving tree at Daughter's school.  We got gifts for a 9 year old girl.  The big gift is a crafting set for making beaded jewelry.  It comes with instructions and all the supplies, but I also purchased a divided storage box to store the beads in once the box is open.  I had some soft fluffy slipper socks I purchased on clearance, and I recently purchased some really cute stocking-stuffer items from a kiosk at a supermarket - It was a $1-$2-$3 kiosk that they were clearing out before Christmas, so everything was marked 20 cents.  I also included a package of assorted color ball-point pens that I bought with coupons at back-to-school time and a blank journal.  We hope she likes her gifts!

I made some Christmas gifts this week.  In spite of multiple challenges in the process, (I had a lot of technical difficulties) it all turned out just fine.  That's really as much as I can say without family finding out what I'm up to - sorry!  I have two more make-it projects to complete, both of which really need to happen this next week.

How was your week?  What did you do to spend less, save more, or make do?

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

This Week's Frugal Accomplishments

I am going to post frugal accomplishments for this past week.  It seems to be one of the types of posts that some of you have missed (based on messages I have gotten), so I will try to keep up with them when I can.  I know I haven't posted them in a while, but we have continued to make and effort to live frugally, buy second-hand and sort out wants vs. needs.

We used the wood stove in our living room to heat our home as much as possible.  Temperatures early in the week were in the teens, so it was a big help.  We get our firewood for free - we just have to haul it, cut it to length and stack/use it, so it really is a big benefit that is low-cost for us.

We store these in the freezer (so we don't eat them so quickly!)

I used the 'bits' left after a package of frosted mini wheat cereal in some energy balls.  I made them with the cereal dust, milk powder, peanut butter, chopped raisins and cranberries and a little powdered sugar.  Daughter takes them in her lunch for lunchtime 'dessert', or has them for snacks at home.  They're really tasty and a great way to use up odds and ends.

Daughter needed to make a diorama for school.  I asked her to plan it out, then make a list of all the supplies she would need.  I then asked her to 'shop the house' for supplies, and it turned out we did not need to purchase anything for the project.

When I did laundry, I hung it to dry on the drying racks, which I set up in our basement.

I purchased a Christmas gift in like-new condition that would have been $15 new for 75 cents.

I gave Husband a haircut, trimmed Daughter's bangs, then cut my own hair.

We borrowed books and other media from the library.  I also did some subbing at the library.

We (mainly Daughter and I) decided that this year, our Christmas tree would have a bird theme.  I used Pinterest to find and pin ideas for various ornaments we can make.  We intend to do this without spending a lot of money, by using items we have on hand.  (Now, I just need to find some time to bring in the Christmas bins!)

These are so soft and squishy!

JCPenney sent out a flyer that included a $10 off a purchase of $10 or more.  I found some really soft, squishy socks for $5 per pair, so I 'purchased' two completely free.

I found whole chickens for .79 a pound, so I bought three for the freezer.  Cutie tangerines were $3.88 for 5 pounds, so I purchased some of those, along with some fresh pears for .88/lb.  Leaf and romaine lettuces were .99/head, and milk was 1.79/gal.  C&H sugar was .99/4lb., a price we haven't seen in a very long time.  I had to get a raincheck because they had run out.  I'm still watching for good ham prices so I can stock those this month, and butter/oils are on my list as well.

I planned a supper menu, which helps me use both my time and our leftovers more efficiently.

How was your week?  What did you do to spend less, save more, or make do?

Sunday, November 29, 2015

This Week's Low-Cost Menu, Grocery Spending Review.

For the month of November, I started with $170, because I had gone over by $10 in October.  Now, at the end of November, I have almost $20 remaining - $19.78, to be exact.  I did a lot of stocking up on apples and oranges, cream cheese and boneless-skinless chicken thighs.  I spent some on almonds as well, and a few 'treat' items like some crescent roll dough, and I bought a lot of cheese.  I got 40 lbs. of russet potatoes for $3.96, and I got some sweet potatoes for .48/lb.  Mostly, if there was a good sale, I bought.  We also kept romaine lettuce, milk, bread and other basics on hand.  I earned two free items at the bread outlet, but I have not picked those up.  I will probably get them in December.

We have eaten well (I just haven't blogged all of it), and our pantry and freezer are both well stocked.  We are very fortunate to live in an area where grocery prices are comparatively low.

Here is our dinner menu for this week.  I'm adding some notes that explain ways that we're using up some things that were given to us, as well as some odds and ends!

M - wild rice soup (leftover cornish hen meat from Thanksgiving, and a mix given to me by a friend), oyster crackers, sliced cucumber, cutie oranges, homemade chocolate pudding (Milk was 1.69 a gallon this week - woo hoo!)

T - smoked sausage (left over from last week) spaghetti, steamed broccoli, fresh persimmon (we got one to try - we'll see how it goes!)

W - potato chowder with ham (left over from last week) and mixed vegetables (odds and ends), homemade rolls (I think...if I have time!) sliced cucumbers, sliced apples

R - nachos deluxe, sliced oranges

F - elk steaks (given to us by a friend), baked potatoes with butter & sour cream, steamed broccoli, cherry crisp (canned cherries from our tree)

S - Domino's pizza (half price on internet orders this week!) carryout, garden salad with assorted dressings, cutie oranges

S - baked ham, baked sweet potatoes w/cinnamon butter, home-canned green beans, sliced apples (maybe baked apples - we shall see!)

This supper menu does a pretty good job of using up the odds and ends in our fridge, and it's a fairly uncomplicated week, which is lovely, as far as I'm concerned.

What's on the menu at your house this week?

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Dinner Menu - Week of Thanksgiving

I was sick for a while, and then I was puppy-dog tired for a while after that.  Thank you for your patience, I am feeling better now!  Here is our dinner menu for Thanksgiving week.

M - homemade lo mein with char siu pork, egg, green beans, bean sprouts, carrots, onion, cabbage and cilantro....sliced oranges

T - homemade breaded, oven-fried turkey nuggets with buffalo sauce, barbecue sauce or ranch dressing, baked potatoes, celery sticks, grapes

W - homemade tomato soup, bologna sandwiches on wheat with lettuce & tomato, pickles, sliced apples

Th - garden salad with sliced apple, cranberries, glazed pecans & apple cider dressing, roasted Cornish hens, stuffing, roasted potatoes, steamed broccoli, pumpkin pie with whipped cream

F - homemade ham & cheese calzones, garden salad w/vinaigrette dressing, apple slices

S - homemade cheese enchiladas, Mexican rice, frijoles, chopped lettuce/tomato/cilantro, sliced oranges

S - leftovers, or frozen pizza, veggie sticks, fruit salad

It looks like there is a lot of scratch-cooking this week, but most of the recipes are ones we have used for a while, so they are comfortable and easy for me to use.  What's on the menu this week for you?

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Removing Water Spots From Wood Furniture

Our dining room table has had a busy summer.   It was humid (for us) this year, and there were times when a glass of water overstayed its welcome on the wood, leaving a water spot.  These don't ever seem to go away on their own, but there is a fast and easy way to get rid them.

All you need is an iron, a thin piece of fabric, and a clean, dry table.  For my fabric, I chose a flour sack cloth, that, once I unfolded it, was a bit raggedy for blog photo purposes, but in reality, this is the cloth I use to iron out these water stains, so I decided to keep it real.

The cloth lets the heat pass through but keeps the iron gliding smoothly over the table.  I've always used a flour sack towel because it's thin and doesn't have it's cotton, rather than a synthetic blend.  A synthetic blend would be a poor choice - do not use!

You need to set your iron for the hottest setting, but with no steam or water.  None.  Water or steam would defeat the purpose.

Open up your towel to a single layer, and if you're blogging, photograph the part of it that doesn't have purple flecks from a dye project, or an entire un-raveled hem.

Keep the iron moving, passing it over the water marks that are visible on the surface.  Take a photo that, later, reminds you that hand lotion really needs to become a habit.

You can lift the cloth and check the spots, re-ironing as necessary.  Here are before and after photos of one of the most obvious water stains:



Once the surface is sufficiently treated, you can oil or polish it (I did neither, because I had other things on my to-do list) for an even nicer shine.  Maybe I can get to that next week!

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Goals and Dinner Menu for the Week

We are on a school break this next week (we were last week as well).  We were out of town part of last week, but this week, we will be home.  I'm really looking forward to a week when we are mostly at home, and I can go through my housekeeping routine, do some autumn/winter planning and read a book I checked out from the library!  In addition to my weekly routine, I have some 'bonus' things I'd like to get done.  Here are my goals for the week:

House & Home:
finish thank-you gifts for pet sitters
can apple butter
make corn bread mix
make kimchee
shampoo carpet (stairs)
sweep down cobwebs/dust - ceiling and walls
list items (already photographed) to sell on local facebook page
restore finish on kitchen table (photograph and blog about technique)
send photos to family
print photos from trip
blog (here!) about our trip

sweep chimney
pick up 'garden art' outside, put into shed for winter
put cover over bunny barn window
set up bird feeding station for winter feeding

That looks like a lot...we'll see how far I get!

I'm finding myself in that place where I have a full freezer and pantry, but I'm struggling to put together a supper menu.  If you have a family favorite or two that you're willing to share with me, I'd appreciate it!  You don't even have to share the recipe - I have lots of recipes, but I'm just not feeling terribly inspired when it comes to planning and ideas.  My family and I appreciate your suggestions!

I thought about the menu all day today, and after consulting Daughter and Husband, this is our list.  These are not in order yet, but we will be eating:

grilled chicken, fall harvest salad, garlic toast
vegetable soup, bacon-cheese corn muffins, apples
ham slices, macaroni & cheese, cole slaw, pineapple
king ranch chicken, garden salad, green beans, pears
mini meatloaves, mashed potatoes, brussels sprouts, apples
barbecue bacon-chicken pizzas, carrot & celery sticks, pineapple
tongkatsu chicken, rice w/nori & furikake, kimchee, slaw

What's your plan for the coming week?

Friday, October 16, 2015

Home-Made Autumn

I've found a little time to do some crafting these past few weeks.  I made these with supplies I already had on hand.  Take a look!

These aren't really fall decorations, but they are fall-inspired.  Daughter's birthday is soon, and she will need thank-you cards, so I got out a few stamps, her favorite yellow card stock and made some notes she can use to write her thank-yous.

I used a rainbow stamp pad in autumn colors, so these were really quick and easy to stamp and put together.  I like them!

A couple of weeks ago, Daughter and I did some painting together.  I had these wood forms in a drawer - I had gotten them on super-duper clearance one year (I think at Valentine's day, hee hee) for a quarter each.  We had the same form, but different ideas for them.

I love them both!  Finally, I have these two pillows that live on our couch.  I don't want to buy seasonal pillows, so I made pillow covers for them.  On the back, there is an opening - you just slip the pillow inside and then flip the flap (like most any removable pillow cover).  I had all the fabric on hand, as well as the fusible webbing and applique thread (thanks, Mom!).  I printed some templates from the internet and then whipped these up!  They are not exactly what I thought I was going to do when I started (I was going to have all the leaves clustered in the center, but it was too busy and a bit confusing), but I am happy with how they turned out.

So, those are our home-made autumn decorations.  Do you sew, paint, craft?  What have you been making lately?

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Stay Safe with Bright Lights!

I love our car.  It gets great mileage, it has been very reliable, and it is just the right size for our family.

Every now and then, though, the hard, clear covering over the headlights gets a bit yellowed and cloudy.  I suspect that has an effect on how well the head lamps can shine into the darkness, and I'm certain it makes our car look a little older than it has to look. So...this is how I fix it!

I got this at our county's household cleaners/hazardous materials drop-off site.  When people drop off items that are in the original container and still use-able, they put them on a shelf, off to the side, free for the taking, and so, when I saw this can of Brasso, I took it!  I start with clean headlights and just rub some Brasso on with an old rag, let it dry, and then buff it off.  It's just like waxing a car, but smaller and faster.

The results:

And...because I'm silly...both photos together, for comparison:

before (I know, you knew that!)

after (taa-daa!!)

I am really happy with the results, and it is a quick and easy fix!  If you don't have Brasso, there are other products that people have reported to work well, or there are kits you can buy in the automotive section of the store.  Have you polished your headlight covers?  What worked for you?

Thursday, October 1, 2015

How to Give New Life to (Slightly) Old Produce

Have you ever opened the crisper drawer and found something that was fresh and lovely has become a bit shriveled and far less appetizing?

Me too.

I'm talking about produce that is still apple that could go into a salad, celery that could be chopped into soup, but sometimes, I need these as a side with lunch or for an afternoon snack.  I found an easy way to help some of these slightly shriveled fruits and veggies re-hydrate!

This is so cool.

Here's my story:  We live in a really dry climate.  Sometimes, my potatoes in the bin in the basement get a little soft...a little wrinkly...a little dried out.  When this happens, I peel them and make mashed potatoes.

A while back, I was working on dinner a little early in the day, and I peeled the potatoes some time after breakfast.  I didn't want to cook them until about 5, so put them in a bowl and covered them completely with water (that keeps them from browning).  When I went to put them into the saucepan, they were sticking out quite a bit from the top of the water (and the tips were browning just a bit, argh).

Water wouldn't evaporate that quickly, especially in the fridge.  It took me a while to realize that my slightly shriveled potatoes had absorbed water from the bowl and rehydrated.  Sure enough, they were no longer soft, but firm and 'crisp', in the way that raw potatoes are crisp.

Last Sunday, I was preparing sides for Daughter's lunches and came upon some grapes that were a bit shriveled.  I decided to see if they would rehydrate, so I washed them and put them in some water (still on the stem) for about an hour.  They plumped back up, and when I tasted them, they did not taste watery at all.

That got me excited.  What else will refresh and rehydrate in water?  I've been experimenting a little.  In every case, I wash the item first, then put it in water.  When it has rehydrated (or when I realized nothing was happening), I removed them from the water.  Keeping fresh produce submerged in water long-term seems like a bad idea that could promote spoilage and leaching of nutrients.  I do not recommend it. 

But...a bit of a soak?  Sometimes, yes.

Apples.  That apple in the photo up above was my test apple.  It had a bit of a wrinkly appearance all over.  After some time in clean, cool water, the lower half was not wrinkled, but the upper shoulder remained about the same.  I sliced it up, Daughter and I shared it.  It was tasty and crispy inside.

Carrots.  If they are 'bendy', I put them in a glass of water with the root end (pointy tip) down.  I check after an hour, though they may need more time.  Once they are rehydrated, I remove them, dry gently and use soon.

Celery.  I decided to trim the base so the cut was new and fresh, and put that end in water (return to the fridge).  This seems to work sometimes, but not always.  It may depend on how wilted they have gotten.

Asian Pears.  We have two trees, so we had more than we managed to eat quickly, and - silly me - they were out on the counter and got a bit shriveled.  I washed them, then I soaked (and soaked, and soaked some more).  No change.  It might work if I sliced them and returned them to the water, but I have not tried that yet.

Grapes.  I just wash them like I plan to eat them, but put them in some water and return them to the fridge for about half an hour or so.  Mine lost their shriveled appearance and tasted great!

These are the fruits and vegetables I have tried.  I am only using this on small amounts of produce that were misplaced or forgotten in the crisper drawer (it happens to everyone sometimes!), and not as a regular, everyday practice.  Once I have soaked something, I use it soon - for the next meal, generally.  So far, it has been a great way to salvage a few items and make them more appetizing.  If you find something that was forgotten, you can always give it a soak and see if it helps.  If you discover additional produce items that rehydrate successfully, please leave a comment.  Thanks!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Catching Up (a little)


Two bald eagles (and lots of weird stuff on my camera lens).

The adult.

I have not posted in....weeks.

Bison....Land Between the Lakes, near Dover, TN.

I have been pondering some changes and adjustments, plus we have been busy.  So, how about a post with a bit of catching up, before I start trying a new thing here and there, OK?

The Home Place  (I love it here!)

While I've been away, we were literally away for a few days.  Daughter and I traveled back to Tennessee to visit family.  We made the arrangements for the trip before we knew that Daughter would be going to the charter school, so she had some school work to do as well.  Since Daughter is learning about various aspects and points of view related to Western Expansion, we also visited The Home Place, an 1850's farm, and Fort Donelson.  We had a nice time with family, good weather, and good travel.  We stayed with my parents and spent all our time with them and my brother.  It was a short trip, but I am glad we were able to go and be with them for a few days.

Trundle bed, circa 1850.

The weather here at home has been very dry, and the garden is mostly finished.  I had planted some seeds for a fall garden, but I think the grasshoppers ate most everything as it sprouted.  The insects have such a head start on fall plantings - I have not had much luck with a late garden here.  The summer garden has been generous, though - lots of tomatoes, green beans, squashes, sunflowers, carrots, lettuces and greens.  The herbs have been wonderful too, and I've been able to put up a few things for winter as well.  We harvested Asian pears and have been enjoying those.  They are really sweet and tasty this year.  At this point, I am picking tomatoes, but I'm letting a lot of things wind down.  The amount of water I would have to use just doesn't work out for the amount of produce we would get at this point.

The other reason to let the garden wind down is because the chicks are growing and needed a larger space.  One of my gardens is half of the chicken run, so I'm picked the last few things from that space and moved the chicks there this week.  I'm going to leave the divider up for a while, because the chicks are too small to be in with the big birds right now, but this way they will all be able to see one another and get used to the idea of being together some day.  Hopefully this will make for a good transition.

Around the 'farm', we are working at various projects.  We cut down some old lilac bushes that were over crowded and overgrown.  We have plans to remove the roots, level the soil, put in some drainage and then fence an area that will serve as a more private back yard, barbecue/patio area.  There is still a lot to do, so this will probably not be finished this year, but having the plants out has really opened up the space and gives us a sense of what will be possible.  Husband has cleaned up and moved all the patio pavers that we have on hand (they are left from when we bought them last fall to put in a walkway to the front door), and we plan to use them for walkways between the garage and the house.

Next, lilac root removal.  

We' re-roofed a shed.  When the old shingles and tar paper were been torn off, we were happy to find that the decking is in great shape, and won't need replacement.  We completed the project, including cleanup and asphalt shingle recycling (it's a real thing - yay!) in parts of 3 days.  For other upcoming projects, I have paint to re-paint our front door, and I'm planning to trim a few branches on some trees in the front yard.

This has been taken for recyling.  It was less costly and better for the planet.  Win-win!

A fine job, if I do say so myself! :)

I have been volunteering at Daughter's school, mostly helping students in her grade with reading.  I stay for a little while when I take her in the morning, so it is fairly convenient and give the students some consistency too.  I've also been subbing some in the library district, and I've applied to work as a substitute at Daughter's school as well.  Daughter is doing well in school, and making good progress with the transition from virtual school to attending school with other students.  She is on her second 'cold' right now, which turned into a double ear infection...poor baby!  She is past the worst of it and recovering quickly.  This particular cold has visited all three of us, but we're all recovering, slowly but surely.

Technically, these wild asters are weeds, but they are part of my flower gardens this year.

Laundry on the makes me happy!  I made this quilt almost 10 years ago.

We have continued to do the frugal things we do - planning a menu, sticking to our grocery budget, stocking up on sale items, making do and using what we already have.  I've gotten out some fall decorations that we had from previous years, and I've managed to avoid buying any new ones.  Fall decorations always tempt me - I think because I love the colors so much.  I was able to get a free 60 day pass to Sam's Club.  I purchased some bread flour and a canister of hot cocoa mix, and I'm considering a couple of other items.

I could probably babble on forever, but I think you get the general idea.  We've been busy...and sick...and adjusting to changes.  Thank you for your grace wh ile I was absent!'ve had all this time off too, so leave me a comment and let me know how you're doing, pretty please!