Thursday, August 31, 2017

A New to Me Project

I have had the first two Alabama Chanin books for years.  I would always pull them out and look, but I never tried any of the projects.  After a few days down with a summer cold, I was feeling a bit better and wanted a quiet project.  I really kind of wanted to hang in my recliner, but I felt too good to "do nothing."  A quick perusal of my crafting bookshelf found me thumbing through my books with new interest.  I decided I could pick a hand sewing project, but the rules were I could only use supplies on hand.  Nothing like a good craft room challenge!

9 hours later I finished a fun skirt that I will get a lot of wear from.



We are supposed to attend an art exhibit reception this weekend and I'm going to wear this.

In a way, it was frugal because everything I needed came from supplies, but when I compare it to prices of ordering kits or buying finished pieces from Alabama Chanin -- wowzer!  

Even with 9 hours of labor and materials, I am estimating my skirt would cost about $120.
I opted to not reverse applique my entire skirt because I wanted the red to be an accent, but even if I had, I would estimate I would come in at around $180.

All savings aside, I had the pleasure of making it.  
It is totally a one of a kind piece made especially for me.
That is kind of hard to put a price tag on.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Purchased Loaves of Gluten Free Bread (Review)


I purchased this bread from the Walmart Neighborhood Market.
It wasn't in the gluten free section, but actually with the other breads.
The breads texture reminds me a bit of sourdough bread -- not the taste, but the actual texture.
Like most gluten free loaves, it is smaller.  
However, it makes a good sandwich.

We have tried it over the course of a few days.
We tried it untoasted with tomato slices and mayo.
We tried it with jelly and sunbutter.
We tried it toasted with cheese for hot sandwiches.
The verdict was split.
I loved it as tomato sandwiches, but I have a weakness for them.
My family likes it better toasted.

We also tried these buns.
I was busy with some project research and didn't want to stop to bake buns.
We were pleasantly surprised at how good these were.


Both of these breads were a little pricey compared to the breads that aren't gluten free.
However, I found them to be right in line with the cost of other gluten free breads.


Sunday, August 27, 2017

Under the Weather

 
I've picked up a bit of a summer head cold.
I'll be back soon.

Frugality?

A pan of cornbread we ate on for several days.

The week turned out to be a relatively inexpensive one.

 In no particular order:

1.  I was able to pull my husband's meals for the week from our food storage.  Requiring no grocery store trip!

 2.  I canned soup, which let me shift some more things from the freezer as we near hurricane season. 

3.  I was given a $100 gift card, which we used for some oddities.  We have discovered that eating on campus in the short time my daughter has between classes is impossible.  There are too many students and too few places to eat.  So we have regrouped.  She wil be taking a meal one day a week and heavy snacks for the other days.  The one day a week she can use a cooler (left in the car), but the other days items have to be totally portable.  We purchased protein bars, bottled sodas, bottled coffees, individually wrapped cookies, and some other items like that.  While these are by no means inexpensive, they are as always less than eating out.  (Several of her classrooms will allow sodas with screw on lids, but not "open" sodas.). The remainder went into extra bags of coffee for the pantry since I was down to opening the last bag.

 4.  I spent $74 on various items including: a can opener, oats, cornmeal, frozen pizzas, jelly making supplies, and bottled waters for travel.  I also bought some gluten free breads to try.  Other than the pizzas everything was to replace things that had been used up.

 5.  I hung laundry to dry.  

 6.  I checked out three library books.

 7.  I ordered some used research books on Amazon.  None of the local libraries had them.

 8.   I was given a two bags of books.  Some we are passing on, but others went on my shelf for me to read.  

Friday, August 25, 2017

The End is in Sight


Those three quarts of purple hull peas represent the last of my quart jars.
The concord grape jelly is finished and cooling.
I'm down to about 20 hodge podge smaller jars that I will fill with small batches.

One of the perks of canning -- for me anyway -- is that I have to stay with the canner.
I'm finding lots of time to crochet as a result of that.
These still need the ends worked in, and I am out of starch.
I'll get those things done and these will go in my Christmas gift pile.
The blue/white combination is for my brother.
I think I am going to keep the red, white, and blue for myself to use in July.


Thursday, August 24, 2017

Brownie Mix Review

While I am personally trying very hard to limit my sugar to once a week, with school back in I need snacks for my daughter.  Homebaked, even with a mix, are still cheaper than buying individual servings and these are allergen free so that I can sneak a tiny one, too.


These are actually fabulous.  
The mix will make 2 8"x8" pans or one 9"x13" pan.
I had no intention of heating up the house twice, so I baked the larger pan.

The upside to these is that not only do they taste good, but they slice and wrap well, too.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Frugalities of Last Week

 



  In no particular order:

 -- I cooked a large batch of blueberry waffles and whole package of bacon.  These were to serve as breakfasts for several days.  I baked brownies for my family rather than do a doughnut run.  We did a "clean out refrigerator" meal for supper.

 --  I cleaned out my closet and took stock of what I have for fall.  I'll need winter skirts and perhaps some tights, but nothing too major. I've made my thrifting list and I started looking.  (I found one velvet maxi skirt, a floral midi skirt, 2 blouses, and a jacket for $20.28.  I'm hoping to find a few more skirts and a heavy,neutral cardigan.

-- I hung a load of dress clothes to dry.

--Our supper came from the freezer and pantry.  If I am careful I think we can make it all week without grocery shopping for even dairy.

 -- I checked all the winter blankets and found one that needed mending.  I canned 4 quarts of lentil soup, which used up lentils I had on  hand and some celery/carrots/onions that needed using.  I also canned Mayacoba beans (7 quarts) and black beans (6 quarts).  I canned 12 quarts of salsa as well.

 --  My daughter had a gastroentology appointment so we combined errands while we were out.  I picked up library books and we picked up her student ID.  It was so hot walking around campus that afterwards we picked up 2 iced teas from McDonalds.  Last year the school had almost 30,000 students and we could not find parking within miles of campus.  Even worse, the school had coned off many of the streets in an attempt to control traffic flow.  Needless to say it was a crazy morning.

 --  In preparation for school, we made a Sam's Club run to pick up bottled lemonade....my daughter's go to drink.  The cost is far less and the bottles fit well in her backpack.  While there I stocked up on a few bathroom supplies and bought an extra bottle of laundry detergent.  In my recent "use up" things I have opened my last bottle.  While we were there we found her a t-shirt and some socks for this fall.

 --  We found ourselves back on campus for an 8:00 AM meeting and we packed coffees to go. 

 -- We took advantage of J.C. Penney's back to school sales and bought bras.  Our preferred brand was buy 1 and get the second for 1 penny.  I bought 4 for myself and 2 for my daughter.

 --  We went to Sears and found the rest of my daughter's fall school clothes.  Our best finds were winter peacoats for $21, a blue cardigan for $5, and several other tops in the $10 range.  We even found jeans to fit her -- they prove to be quite elusive at times.  We also bought one nice dress and a nice pair of flats (dress shoes) because I am big believer that everyone needs a go to outfit if the needs arises.  While that outfit was not frugal, I considered it to be an investment kind of like a suit is for a guy.

 -- I took advantage of Sears' sales and found 4 neutral skirts marked 40% off.  Since we have mild fall/winter/spring seasons I will be able to wear these through each.  In fall and spring I will either go bare legged or wear lighter hose and in winter I will simply use fleece lined tights.  These skirts are in a style that will allow the blouse/jacket/cardigan to determine how dressy the outfit feels so I am confident I will get a lot of wear from them.

 On the surface, I don't feel like the week was horribly frugal.  However, we were careful to not do anything that wasn't alloted for. Sadly on the utility bill I cleared my $200 mark.  The amount was $209, which still isn't bad for summer in the South.  I've also had the added usage that canning entails.  I'm hoping August will be in the same range, but I am not sure.  It has been extremely muggy and hot.                

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Baking Bread (Product Review)

After much debate and pricing individual flours, I have decided gluten free mixes for bread are the way to go.  The individual flours (some used in tiny amounts) vary greatly in price and in how long lasting (shelf stable) they are.  I cannot find pre-baked gluten free bread other than frozen.  I can certainly use that if need be, but since I also have to watch out for allergens I decided to go with the Namaste brand mix because it is free of the major allergens.  I'm buying this in bulk from Amazon because no one locally carries them. 

 The directions are straight forward. Proof your yeast, which is included.  I did add a teaspoon of sugar because I like to see that the yeast is indeed "alive."    Add oil, eggs, and egg whites.  (Con is there are several egg yolks left over, but I think I will incorporate those into a quiche.). Mix with mixer for 3 minutes.  Let rise at least 30 (in pan) and then bake.  The baking time takes a while, but all in all the bread isn't too bad.  Like all gluten free breads you have to expect the texture to be slightly different.  

Before rising the dough looks like this.  I wasn't able to smooth it perfectly.


The bread was well received by my family.
I specifically baked it for sandwiches.
The next day we used the leftover bread for cheese toast.


The overall verdict on this bread was that it was worth taking the time to bake.

Next time I will probably try running it through the gluten free cycle on my bread machine to see what the results are.


Friday, August 18, 2017

Broken Record

I feel like my posts have taken on the feel of a broken record....or maybe a scratched record.  The sound is the same over and over.

What have I been doing?  Housework, fall prep, and canning. 


12 quarts of salsa
4 quarts of pork

Housework

Errands

Repeat on Friday....lol

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Quiet Days (Recipe and Product Review)

Yesterday was a quiet day. 
We spent it at home doing some general work, as we get ready for fall weather.



I canned 4 quarts of vegetarian lentil soup.
I worked on another doily and starched some crosses that had been ordered.
We did some light house work.


My husband called me late in the afternoon and surprised me by saying he was coming home for the night.
In fact, he was already in route.
I hadn't officially planned a meal because my daughter had half a pizza left.
I had decided I would just pull together either a bowl of cereal or a fried egg wrap for myself.

Times like that, impromptu meals, are one of the reasons I like having canned goods on hand.
I pulled out a pint of corn, a pint of cabbage, and perused the refrigerator to see what we had open.




The corn went into gluten free corn fritters.  
These were delicious.  
My pithy un-recipe is as follows:

3/4 cup of gluten free flour mix (I used Namaste brand.)
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1 egg
2 tablespoons of oil
Milk to make  a decent batter.

1 pint of sweet corn, drained well
Add to batter.
(Oh, I added a dash of black pepper, too.)

Fry on medium heat until done in middle.


While they were cooking I simmered the cabbage.
A quick addition of some pickles rounded off the meal.
A simple, peasant supper if you will, but delicious none the less.


After we ate, we rode out and gassed up all the vehicles.
He wanted to drive across town and treat our daughter to a doughnut...a tradition they share.
Of course, there is nothing at a doughnut shop we needed.
When we got home I used an Aldi gluten free cake mix to make a batch of cupcakes.
They weren't perfect looking, but the taste and texture were pretty good.
I think if I were making them over again I would have divided into 15 to 18 muffins instead of the 12 it called for.

I did make a mental note for future reference that these would be great with pineapple and/or strawberries and whipped cream.
They would also be good with a teaspoon of jam in the middle.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Sweetening up my Sweetie


My husband loves apple jelly.  

On the canning front:
I only have 12 empty jelly jars left to fill.
I just haven't decided what to put in them.

It has dawned on me that I haven't made any salsa this year.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Last Hurrah of Summer

I'm working on our last hurrah of summer as far as filling the pantry for the fall/winter.


Taco Soup
Green Lima Beans
Crowder Peas


Potatoes

I'm down to making a couple of more batches of jelly.
I also want to can some beef stew and some chicken and rice soup.
As soon as apples come off  I also want to do some applesauce.

I know that canning is not always the most frugal option, but it is really a million times easier to avoid allergens if I know what is in the things I am cooking.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Second Week of August -- Anything but Typical

This week has been a pleasant week in a lot of respects.  Our household is usually a jockeying of varying schedules.  This week was one of my daughter's weeks of vacation.  Sadly she's been sick with a summer cold that turned into a chest and sinus infection.  

 Sunday -- We had a quiet day at home.  We washed and detailed the cars.  Picked up a free "icee" from the local McDonald's for my daughter in hopes it would soothe her throat.  I worked on some tatted crosses that were ordered.

 Monday through Friday 


  •  I spent a lot of the week canning various things.  I also used a coupon to help stock up some items we were running low on (for our pantry stuff) including some wheat free products for me.  
  •  We utilized the local health department to get a free vaccination that my daughter needs for college.  I'm wondering if with her immune system problems if that is what helped contribute to her current medical status despite them saying she was fine to have it. 
  •  I worked on Christmas presents.  I finished several doilies and started another. I had an order for 4 more crosses so they are in the works. 
  •  We ate leftovers and/or from our food on hand.  We had company over for one meal and used home canned items. 
  •   I dyed my own hair.  (Sigh -- the gray at the temples comes back far faster than I can justify going to a salon.)
  •  I found cat litter at half the price I normally pay for the same amount and strength. I used the drying rack, saved water for plants, etc.    
 Now for the not as frugal: 
  •  We spent $4 on bottle sodas/waters while out for her vaccinations.  Poor planning on my part.
  •  I picked up a few supplies at Michaels.  I did use coupons so that helped, but it still cost more than I had estimated. 
  •  I bought a book of Christmas ornament patterns.  I was able to use a download option so that helped on shipping.
  •  I replaced my pots and pans.  It was time.  I use some non stick items and when they begin to wear, we simply replace them to be safer.   
  •  My daughter ended up in urgent care and on two extra medications. I had to order more canning lids.  However, the end of my jars is in sight.  Probably only have 40 to 50 left.
  •  I placed an online order for some wheat free mixes.  Sadly one of the few stores here that carries what I needed has open seafood areas and I cannot go in.  I think the cost may be less online, but in order to get the lower cost I have to buy in bulk.  Of course, compared to the cost of an ER trip this is still preferrable.            
So that is how our week has been.  Other than one day I have been home all week...with the exception of a quick 30 minute run to the grocery store.  

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Kitchen Experiment

Long and complicated story short, we are having to make some dietary changes under doctor's orders.    We'll know in a bit how well they are or aren't working. Hopefully they'll work and be the end of constant back and forth to the doctor.  So with that in mind, we have been searching for a pizza crust alternative.  I think we have found one that we like just as good as traditional pizza crust. 

   Allow me to present a rice based pizza crust!



I followed the recipe fround here.
Of course, I made a few changes because I can't leave anything alone.

I started the crust cooking on the stove top and when the 15 minutes were up I transferred it to the oven under a low broil.
While the top firmed up a little more, I made sure I had my toppings ready.
(I just went with veggies and mozzarella cheese.)

When the top was dry and firm to my touch, I added my toppings and put back in the oven.

The results were a delicious pizza that was easy to cut in slices.
(The bottom corner shows a piece I deliberately flippedover to show how it crisped up.)



Friday, August 11, 2017

Canning and Reading

Do canning and reading go together?  Why yes, they do!

While there are times I groan about an open floor plan -- like when you have guests over for dinner and you feel awful about having to clean up the dishes while they watch because if not the whole house looks unkempt -- there are times when an open floor plan is nice.  Canning season is one of those times. I have to be in the room to monitor the canner.  I always do a quick clean up while the canner is going and then I find a spot to settle in.  Sometimes I crochet and sometimes I read. 

 Today I read.




I read while the pork tenderloin cubes canned.
These are simply seasoned with salt and will be perfect for a variety of dishes --
Stews, adding vinegar based barbecue sauce to, adding tomato based barbecue sauce to, taco seasoning, etc.
 I deliberately don't quite fill the jars so I have extra broth for making gravy should I decide to do so.


Mama also surprised me with a bag of tomatoes from one of my sister-in-laws.
There was enough to make a decent amount of pasta sauce.



(I promise the color isn't off -- I just have poor lighting in my kitchen, but on a totally non canning note I talked to the electrician today about rectifying that situation.  He's coming by as soon as he is in town so he can look at the three jobs we need done.)

So you see -- canning and reading are related in my world!
   

Thursday, August 10, 2017

How many days until Christmas?

I always start January with the best of intentions.  I promise myself things like "I'll make a gift each month" or some such nonsense. It just never seems to happen.  Tax season starts, other holidays roll around, birthdays come and go, and life just gets busy.   

 I saw Anne's post (found here) on how to make Christmas boxes from old cards, and I immediately asked myself how many days until Christmas.  It wasn't that I hadn't been thinking about it, because I actually had.  When my children were little we had a tradition of holding a week-long Christmas in July celebration.  We made Christmas cookies, watched Christmas movies, and listened to Christmas carols.  I don't have any little ones at home anymore, but that didn't stop me from listening to my favorite carols and crocheting. 

 I now have two people marked off of my list.  A sister-in-law and my sister.  I'm sharing a photo of the gift for my sister-in-law, but since my sister reads my blog, you'll just have to take my word on her gift until Christmas comes around.



This red doily is all starched and blocked.  One of my sister-in-laws loves the color red so this is perfect for her.

This yummy blue is called Peacock.
Truthfully, I wasn't sure about the color on the spool, but the more I crocheted with it, the more I fell in love with it.
Now I just can't decide if I want to part with it or not.

My sister's gift is just waiting to be packaged and I'll mark these two off my list.



Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Canning Up a Storm

7 quarts of 15 bean soup -- basically a veggie chili
(4 have potatoes added and 3 have corn added)
7 quarts of vegetable soup (with chickpeas added for protein)


Monday, August 7, 2017

First Week of August -- The Frugal and the Not So Frugal

The first week of August was a bit of full one.  Our grandson spent the week with us, we had additional guests more nights than not, and my husband brought home a summer cold to share with us all. So here it is -- The Frugal and the Not So Frugal

 1. Due to an increase in laundry I ran the dryer several times.  While this wasn't frugal, we were able to send everyone home with clean laundry and that was nice.

 2.  I spent about $125 on additional grocery and snack items.  The cost sounds high, but again we had larger than normal amount of mouths.  We also needed some quick food items because of the varying schedules for some of our visitors, who were in town for a wedding and all it entailed.  This comes out of our entertainment budget.

 3.  On the frugal front, we took advantage of back to school sales to pick up a few art supplies.

 4.  I used a Target coupon to get $10 back -- I purchased my grandson's fall shirts, socks, and a baseball cap.  I also bought him 3 school workbooks and a puzzle.

 5.  We used a coupon to get a free "icey" drink from McDonalds. 

6.  We paid out hundreds in co-pays for doctors' visits this week.  Yeah.  Not frugal, but better than with no insurance.  We are hoping that they've figured out what is going on with my husband.  I'll update more as time and information presents itself.

 7.  I checked a book out from the library, but haven't had time to read any.

 8.  I crocheted two doilies using patterns that were given to me.

 9.  I've continued to use up supplies whenever I could.  Household cleaners, etc are going down nicely.  I did, however, pick up a few items for canning soup and to fill in a few gaps in the pantry.  I took $87 from the grocery budget to do this.  This also included some additional items the doctor has recommended for both me and my husband.  

 10.  We ate out two meals.  Fast food ironically.  Our guests from out of state don't have access to some of the restaurants we have here.  They love a particular chicken restaurant so one meal came from there and the other was a Krispy Kreme doughnut run. That is it.

It is hard to decide if financially I considered the week to be a win, but I definitely consider it to be a success.  We had wonderful times, hopefully found a course of treatment for my husband, and I had a whole week of spoiling my grandson.  He and I did a lot of free things -- we played in a wading pool, colored pictures, baked snacks, read books, played with board games, and played hide and seek.  


Tuesday, August 1, 2017

August is Here

I can't believe it is already August and fall is just around the corner.   July's Goals are here. 
 I'm excited to say I managed them all except perfecting baking in the sun oven.  We've had more rainy and cloudy days (at least afternoons) than I was expecting, but that is okay.  August is a new month.  We also managed to do very well at eating from our storage last month and I intend to kind of continue on with that minus the first week.

 August plans are pretty simple. 

 1.  For groceries for Week 1 -- Family visiting.  I'm expecting to grocery shop this week because we will be doing some larger meals and some special requests.  However, for the rest of the month my goal is to limit to a few fresh items, milk, and eggs.  

 2.  Continue my research and online course.

 3.  My daughter starts at university this month and I am hoping to just get the household schedule adjusted to her new schedule.

 4.  Clean out my closet.  I have some "office" clothes that I no longer need.  I'm going to pick a few nice pieces and do something with the others. 

5.  Work on some handwork projects that I have going.

 6.  Try to keep the electric bill below $200.  I'm guessing this will be my tough month because even with the a/c turned up it is running as I type.

 7.  Get serious about making a Christmas gift list.

Quiet Week

This week is going to be a quiet blogging week.  We had guests over the long weekend (ranging from Wednesday to Monday for us), celebrated m...