Saturday, September 7, 2013

Frugal Accomplishments

Happy nasturtiums we grew from seed.

This week is quite the patchwork of frugal living and little ways to enjoy any day.  Here's our list!

We were home a lot this week.  I like to be home.  There is plenty to do, and we don't really spend money.  We're too busy trying to keep things maintained!  I mowed until the drive belt broke, then we put on a new belt, and I mowed until it came loose (I think it must have stretched when it was hot, because that belt was on tight!).  We also completed some siding repair (hail damage) and painted the garage workshop trim, along with the day-to-day things like schooling, cooking, cleaning and laundry.  Oh, and while we had the ladders out to work on the siding, we washed the outside of the bay window.  I told Husband we will do it once every 9 years, whether it needs it or not!  (It needed it!)

Husband went about getting baseboard for the workshop in the garage we built last summer.  The price of baseboard was (well, still is) astronomical, especially when you plan to put the baseboard into a workshop.  He decided that he would buy 1x3 lumber instead.  We have a router and table, so he can round the top edge if he wants to, or just leave it as-is.  It will do the job and save us $65, easy.

Husband and I have both been walking more.  Many times, we use the treadmill, but other days we go for walks outdoors.  Better health saves money.

We recently got a lot of bottom round roast for 1.60 a pound.  I used stock-up money (money I hadn't used from the monthly grocery budget, that I set aside for deals like this) to purchase about 40 pounds.  This week we got out one of the roasts that weighed about 3.5 pounds.  I got our the meat slicer (a cheapie from Harbor Freight that we got years ago on sale and with a discount coupon) and sliced most of it into thin slices for teriyaki, which we grilled on Labor Day.  Toward the end, it's hard to get nice slices, so I took those raggedy slices and made julienne pieces to use in stir-fry later in the week.  I saved the fat cap (which was small, but still useful) for when we make ground beef.  At 1.60 a pound, it's cheaper to grind these roasts than to buy hamburger, but I'll need the fat from a couple of them so that my home-ground beef isn't too lean and dry. 

One roast made a lot of teriyaki, quite a bit of beef for stir fry (frozen for another week) and I froze
 the fat to add to another roast when I grind it up for ground beef.

I hung laundry on drying racks, per usual.  I made four gallons of homemade laundry soap.  I won't have to do that again for quite a while.

We re-arranged some furniture throughout the house, and that meant I had to move pictures and other wall hangings.  I've been spackling holes and touching up paint.  I consider maintenance a frugal thing because it keeps things looking nicer and gets repairs done while they're still minor ones.

We defrosted the chest freezer.  It will run more efficiently, having the ice removed from the edges makes it a little bigger, plus we were able to organize/prioritize some things that we ought to use sooner rather than those imitation crab legs.  Got a recipe for those?  I have four packages, and I'm running short on ideas, and Tallulah doesn't like fish. :)

Our Hummingbird Moth.  :)

We watched a hummingbird moth sip nectar from some flowers we planted from seed.  We tried to get you a good, crisp photo, but they are all blurry.  We also picked some nasturtiums for the vase on the kitchen table.

We made shave-ice at home with homemade syrups.

I gathered canning jars to take to my mom.  We have a plethora of them here, and she is running a bit low.  Additionally, they have had a 'big year' there, and she will be giving me some canning jars with food in them.  Thanks, Mama!

It was a busy week for cooking at home - teriyaki beef, macaroni salad, kimchee, hoecakes, a couple pots of rice, green beans with new potatoes, barbecued chicken and homemade slaw.  A lot of those were made with leftovers in mind, and I also pulled homemade chili from the freezer.

I made a huge pot of homegrown green beans and potatoes (with bacon and onions - yum!).
 We had them with grilled ham and hoecakes, I ate them for lunch a few times and we had them
later in the week with fish and slaw.

I dug more potatoes and picked green onion tops, a tomato and green beans from the garden, along with some beets.  Those few seeds made a lot of beets.  I thought I had run out of beet pickles, but I hadn't after all, so my friend Kelly helped me out by taking them.  Thank you, Dearie!  We're starting to pick a few carrots too, but mostly just to see if they're getting big yet.  (they are short this year!)

That same afternoon, Husband and I went out to check trees and the Liberty apple was ready to pick.  It was early this year.  It cooks down to a pink pulp, which I used to make 7 pints apple butter.  This is our light apple year, plus the deer had been by, so 7 pints is pretty good, all things considered.  We have another....oh....7 or 8 trees to get apples from, and some of those are heavy laden with fruit.

This is why I love to make apple butter from the Liberty tree - I washed, cored and cooked the apples,
ran them through the food mill and added sugar and spice.  I haven't even started 'cooking them down'  yet,
and a spatula will stand up in them. 

Seven pints of spicy goodness!

I fed the cores, peels, etc. from the apples to the hens.  They love the treats and it saves a bit on feed.

We did some price matching to save time and fuel, and combined all the errands on a day when I had an appointment in town.  I used a buy one, get one coupon at the bread outlet and got two loaves of whole grain bread for .75 each.  One of our local grocery stores had some 'if so-and-so (Broncos player) makes a touchdown' and 'if the Broncos win' freebies for Friday.  Husband picked up a free 2l. soda and a free donut. :)

We rescued two tiny sparrows who got themselves tangled into some netting we had on our grapevines.  It was an amazing experience.

I worked at the library on a day that Husband would be home with daughter.  I also went to the library on Saturday for 'Happy Needles', a crochet/knit/needlework group that meets a couple times per month.  It's great fellowship with lots of different people who share ideas, patterns and skills.  It's a lot of fun and free, too.  I've read several library books this week and Daughter has gotten books and a Wii game to play.

Well, that about sums it up for our week.  How was yours?  What did you do to save money and enjoy your days?

Shared at From the Farm Blog Hop


Sheila said...

Can you tell me what kind of meat grinder that you have? I have considered that. Also (forgive my ignorance),but how did you learn to save that fat and how much fat you need to make the hamburger?

I love staying home also. I am off on Fridays, and this Friday removed all my kitchen knobs and spray-painted them to better match the appliaces. Of course, that involved cleaning them thoroughly, cleaning and polishing the cabinets, washing and ironing the curtains, etc. But I LOVE how they look! There are 44 of them, so replacing them would have cost so much. The spray paint was $8. Well, the first paint I tried was $4, but I wasn't happy with the color, so bought another can, which brought my total to $12, but still much less than buying new.

Mari said...

I bought half bushels of tomatoes and peaches for $13 each. I didn't get to canning them for a couple days, so a few peaches and tomatoes went bad. The peach jelly didn't jell, but I have a dozen half-pints of peach sauce that tastes yummy. I made the low sugar version in two different batches and will not try that again. I an going back to the orchard next weekend and will get more peaches and make the full sugar jelly and can some peaches as soon as I get home. I also canned 14 pints of chopped tomatoes and depending on how much time I have I might get more tomatoes next weekend to make sauce

I went to my town's annual festival earlier today. I had budgeted $40 for buying whatever and spent just $7.25 ($3 for lemonade and $4.25 for a Baltimore Ravens kitchen towel to send to my daughter at college. Don't worry, we will beat Denver in the playoffs again this year! Not spending money at this is a big deal for me, especially when I actually have the money to spend!

momma-lana said...

We only ate out once this week and spent less than $5! Big thing for us. It is budgeted but sometimes we just need to eat what we have.

We had a very nice frugal thing happen on Thursday. Hubby started out for work and his check engine light was flashing. He drove to his regular auto parts store to have them check the codes and determine what was wrong. They did and actually replaced a small hose and spark plug wire and then would not take any payment! It pays to be known and use the same small town stores regularly. It was such a blessing because I had an appointment that morning and we would have been in a real mess without their help.

I have not made fresh bread all week. We determined that all the bits and ends of buns, rolls, bagels and English muffins hanging out in the freezer needed to be eaten. In another 3 days or so we will have done the job and not wasted all of those items. It is so easy to just toss things in the trash instead of eating them.

I bought peaches for 35 cents a pound at the farmer's market and canned some and will make some peach crisps for the freezer too. It is the last week for peaches here but the NC mountains apple crop is just starting.

The weather here has been absolutely beautiful and we have enjoyed many meals in our screen porch. Eating outside is just about as good as eating out to me.

We are like you with home maintenance. It really pays to keep up with it on a regular basis. It was much easier though when we had a bunch of kids here to help! I often move furniture and art work from downstairs to up or the other way around. Somehow it just looks new in a different setting.

I purchased a dining chair with arms at a thrift store for $5. My daughter spray painted it for me this week and it is already for the seat to be covered. It will go in one of our guest rooms. I did it in neutral colors so that it can move to another room whenever I get tired of it being where it will go. It ended up costing about $18 total but I will have a good sized piece of fabric leftover for another project. It was a decorator remnant fro 2.98 a yard so I had to buy a yard and a half since that was the size of the piece.

We purchased the paint for our bonus room over last weekend when Lowe's had a $5 rebate per gallon going on. This saved a bit since we needed 3 gallons. This is a long term project of taking down the wall paper bit by bit and painting. We are doing it in sections so that we can still use the room since this may take 6 months to complete.

Those roasts for 1.60 a pound were a steal! I have a grinder attachment for my Kitchen Aid but
have never used it. Is that what you are using? I have considered grinding pork and making my own sausage if I can find a good recipe.

I picked 3 red bell peppers from my deck pot plant and chopped and froze them. I planted lettuce and it is doing well if the squirrels will leave it alone. Interestingly enough the cheapie seeds I bought at Dollar General have done very well and the expensive spinach seeds I bought at Lowe's hardly germinated. Lesson learned--the 3/$1 seeds are just fine!

Yay for Moms who take care of us! We will be traveling next week to see our parents in Florida. My parents invited us to their Daytona Beach timeshare so we get a beach vacation, too! My Mom is excited to have someone to walk and swim in the ocean with since my Dad can no longer do those things.

Hope you all have a great week!

Laura said...

Sheila, I have an attachment for my Kitchenaid mixer that grinds stuff, but before that I had (and still have, and still use sometimes) an old metal hand-crank grinder. The part about saving the fat for future ground beef is just from past experience. Bottom round is a lean roast, and when I made ground beef from it before, it was too dry and lean, so I'm going to add the fat cap from a spare one (or two) until I figure out the formula. :)

I love that you were able to spruce up your kitchen so nicely with so little expense! Those sorts of accomplishments really make one feel...accomplished! Good for you! :)

Laura said...

Mari, I have gotten two tomatoes from my garden so far, so I bought canned tomatoes when I saw a really good deal. We call everything jam, even if it doesn't jell, so I know where you're coming from! :)

Laura said...

Momma-Lana, that's exactly what I'm using to grind the beef. The larger holed 'metal thingy' makes a nice grind for chili, but the smaller holed 'metal thingy' is more like ground beef from the store, just fyi. Check your library for books on sausage making - it's not so hard, and you can adjust the spices any way you like. :) You've had a busy week, and it sounds like we've had rather a lot in common, too! :)

momma-lana said...

Thanks, Laura. I need to work on figuring this out. Sausage has gotten so expensive but pork is very often a good price. We have been spoiled by buying sausage from a little family owned grocery store and it is amazing. Salty, sweet and spicy all at the same time. We gladly pay the 3.99 a pound because it is so good but I could make it for so much less.

Laura said...

When I've made sausage, I've always cooked a little quarter-size lump to taste before we package/case/freeze it. That way you know if you need to add more of something, you know before it's a problem. For sweetness in sausage, ground allspice does amazing things!

Theresa said...

Always enjoy your posts. The apple butter looks yummy.

Love that the store does the freebies for the Bronco's winning. Bet the owners are praying for a losing streak :)

Laura said...

Thanks for your kind words, Theresa! I hadn't thought of it that way, about the winning and freebies. I don't know if they'll do it all season long or if it was just that kickoff-the-season game. Time will tell. It was a nice treat, anyway, since Husband happened to be in town. :)

momma-lana said...

Thanks for the sausage making tips! I love the new blog header :)

The Moxley Family said...

Yumm apple butter!

Heres my link

Isabel P. Lima said...

Hello, I am a painter and I have liked very much your photography of the nasturtiums. Do you give me your permission to use it in one of my pictures?. Thank you.

Laura Foye said...

Sure, Isabel - I would love to see your painting with the nasturtiums some day!


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