Saving Money and Life–December 31, 2016


My husband, Rob, came home from my sister’s farm the other day with a small bucket 1/2 full of kiwis.  They were from her kiwi bushes, which had a bumper crop this year.  She’s been keeping them in her garage!   It took a little while for them to ripen up all the way, but today at lunch, we enjoyed a whole bowl of tasty slices.

I cooked enchiladas using turkey frozen at Thanksgiving.  I made Mandarin chicken one night.  I’m using lots of canned and frozen items right now.

I had a really good time experimenting with my new InstantPot that I received for Christmas.  I made whole grain rice in it, using up several bits and pieces in the bottom of bags–so it was all colors.  I also made refried beans and had them in the freezer within 1-1/2 hours from when I started.  That was nice.  I think the rice still took about the same amount of time, but it was nice to push a button and be able to walk away, shower, do my hair, etc. while it cooked.  I’m sure I’m behind the times, but I had not seen one of these before, and I’m really excited about learning to use it.

We made smoothies several times with frozen berries from our freezer.  Since I did not preserve by canning or freezing last summer, everything must go!  Everything in the cupboard or freezer is over a year old now,  but still fine.  The smoothies were great!

I used frozen raspberries to make the mini cheesecakes again, this time for our family birthday party we are having tomorrow.  I will buy 1 small carton of berries to garnish with, but I’ll get them in the morning so they are super fresh.  When I tasted the sauce (juice from berries thickened with cornstarch and sugared) it tasted a lot like the raspberry syrup we have canned in the past.  Next time, I may just open a jar of that.  I have several I need to use.


I didn’t need many groceries this week, so I waited until Friday and then just bought the very few things I needed.  I am trying to empty out the fridge a bit from all the holiday food before filling it up again.  I had more time to cook this week, as both Rob and I were on vacation.  Tonight, for New Year’s Eve, Lovana decided we should have a family party at home, so she and Rob ran in and got some ice cream and chips and a Redbox movie.

While I was at the outlet mall with the girls on Tuesday, I bought a couple of things to perk up my wardrobe for really good prices.  I am being really careful to not buy too many things since I don’t have anywhere to put them.  But, since I am using fewer clothing items over and over again, they are showing signs of wear and tear more quickly than when I used to have more clothing items in my much larger closet.  I was given gift cards and $ for Christmas, so I’m looking forward to shopping later for a few more things.


I’ve been spending some of my extra time this week crocheting.  I’ve been experimenting with a new-to-me kind of yarn.  It’s Lion brand and is called Scrubby Sparkle.  The large green “lime” on the left turned out to be a big surprise.  I picked up a direction sheet from JoAnn’s when I bought the yarn.  I thought I was making a small scrubby for washing dishes.  Instead, after following directions, it turned out to be as big as a dishcloth.  So, I looked up a pattern on the internet and made a few scrubbies as well.  The multi-colored ones are done with 1 strand of white Scrubby Sparkle and one strand of leftover Lily Sugar ‘n Cream yarn from the dishcloth.  I love that I found something to do with the little bits of yarn that are always leftover.

Michael’s was running a really good sale on the Sugar ‘n Cream yarn, $1.50 a 2 or 2-1/2 ounce skein, so I went and got a big bag full today.  That’s the best price I’ve seen for a long time around here. I plan to make quite a few dishcloths in the upcoming months.  Yesterday, I also bought a 3-pack of blank dishcloths using my 50% off one item at JoAnn’s.  Because I live in town now, it’s easier to just stop in and get 1-2 things.  I love to do embroidery and people enjoy getting towels for gifts because they can always use another towel:)  I love getting the towels themselves on great sales.  So, whenever I’m in the store and have no other use for my coupon, I get a pack of towels.

We were able to go for dinner at some friends’ house on Wednesday.  It was so good to spend time with good friends.  It’s harder to see people because we have moved out of our previous area.  So, we were delighted to make it work this week.



16 thoughts on “Saving Money and Life–December 31, 2016”

  1. Becky. We live out in the country where we have a well. My kitchen towels and Dishrags were old and dingy looking. Since we are on a septic tank I try to be careful to use as little bleach as possible. To solve my problem I decided to cut up a worn bath towel that was a dark color. I cut it into 8 equal sized pieces. I used a leftover piece of double knit fabric from my stash for bindings. Then I simply bound them like I would the edge of a quilt. In less than an hour I had 8 wash rags that won’t show the normal kitchen stains. When they get tattered I just move them to my cleaning rag box and cut up another towel. I also got an instapot for Christmas. Having fun learning to use it. I use mine every day. Beef stew start to finish in less than 45 minutes! Pork chops browned on one side with fennel seed salt and pepper. Then add onions carrots and halved potatoes. Pressure for 8 minutes. Fish everything out and then stir in a tablespoon of flour to make gravy….wow. The next day I cut up leftover pork dropped in more fresh veggies plus zucchini and had a pot of soup in minutes. I do find myself still using my rice cooker…but put the two working at the same time for things like veggie stew over rice…brilliant! Have fun!

    1. That’s a great idea of how to make great dishrags! I’m sure they look much better than the dingy ones.

      I love all the ideas about the InstantPot. I know I’m going to use it a lot. I read the manual for about an hour, to get ideas, and for how to use it. It sure seems like it’s going to be versitile. I’ve never had a rice cooker and my crockpots have had trouble working, so this should be awesome. I won’t get rid of my crockpots, though. I use 2 at once often, so I will probably use this side by side sometimes.

  2. These little cheesecakes with raspberries look so delicious.
    The raspberries on top do not look frozen at all? Yummy, either way, I am sure 🙂
    Trust you enjoyed a nice family evening last night. Ice cream, chips and a movie is pretty much what we did as well.xx

    1. No, I sprung for one little carton of fresh raspberries each time. The sauce was supposed to be made with fresh, but I used my preserved berries both times for the sauce to bring the cost down.

  3. I have seen the InstantPots in stores but was not sure if they would be useful. Please keep sharing how it works on different recipes. Do you have problems with food sticking to the bottom, specifically does rice stick? And can you use it like a crock pot, set it early in the day and have food later?

    1. I will keep you posted. I had never even heard of it before, so I’ve read the manual several times already and plan to experiment often.

      You can use it for a regular crock pot, a pressure cooker, a steamer, rice cooker, soup and stew maker, yogurt maker, saute in it, and more (says the brochure).

      I used the pressure cooking mode on soaked pinto beans mixed with onions and various frozen peppers, including jalepenos to make refried beans. It does take some time to bring it up to pressure, it cooks for the time specified, then it needs to come down from the pressure. A difference from a regular canning pressure cooker is that you can release the steam early, they suggested after 10 minutes, so I did that. Then, I blended the beans with my stick blender. It was a little runnier than I wanted, so I switched it to slow cooker mode and cooked for a little more and it cooked down quickly. I was totally done within 1-1/2 hour. (I’d have to look up the exact time in the brochure) I usually do it in the crock pot and it takes all day so that seemed great to me.

      Then, I gathered up all the odds and ends of rice–brown, red, mixed, etc. and put it in with the specified amount of water. I set it for 22 minutes, as specified, and turned it on. It heated up quicker because it was still warm from the beans. I then though I’d made a mistake (silly me) and stopped it after 20 minutes and let the pressure out (I had looked at some different directions on accident the second time). The rice was not quite done absorbing the liquid. So, I put the lid back on and went about my business. It went ahead and cooked perfectly with the residual heat of the pot. It washed easily, did not stick in any way, and made rice while I took a shower, did my hair, etc. with no chance of boiling over, etc. It remains to be seen what happens when I actually follow the directions correctly. It will take a bit to eat the large amount of rice I made.

      I’m excited to see what I will make next.

  4. So excited you’re posting about the instant pot. I’ve read about these on a few other blogs (Homemaking on the Homestead, Pressure Cooking Today) and thought it looked interesting. Can yours pressure can as well?

    I’ve used my rice cooker for years. I use it to cook my morning oatmeal, too. When I was working, I would put the measured oatmeal in the pot and have the measuring cup with the water next to it and ready for the morning. When I made my coffee, I’d also start the oatmeal. By the time I had showered, breakfast was made. The rice cooker is one that goes to ‘warm’ when it’s done cooking.

    Loved reading your posts about your Christmas break and holiday celebrations even though I don’t think I commented.

    We’ve got feet of snow here and really cold weather coming. Think I’ll make a pot of soup today.

    1. Thanks! I’m excited to use it more. I will look up those blogs you suggested as I am seeking more info and Pinterest is just too much information! Hard to wade through!

      We are going to have cold weather, too, but the climate is much milder than in Canada. For us, getting the amount of snow we have gotten has been amazing to me–it doesn’t happen often!

  5. Becky. I always make a big pot of rice. We eat it plain or as a base for stir fried veggies with or without meat. Many times I make fried rice for lunch with whatever bits of leftover meat or veggies we have to use up. I also like to mix it with a little cheddar cheese to make a base for a stew pie. If there is anything left after a couple of days the dog and chickens are happy to make it disappear. There are only two of us but I buy rice in a 50 pound sack. Its a wonderful budget stretcher

    1. You guys are great rice-eaters! Our 50 lb bag has lasted for over 3 years, but we are gaining on it now. I think it’s because it’s white rice and we eat a lot of brown instead. Still, it was very inexpensive and I’ve loved having it when I’m in a huge hurry–20 minutes and it’s done. The brown takes so long.

  6. Hi Becky,

    I thought I had left a comment on this post before but who knows what happened. I may have typed it out and then got distracted by a very naughty Doofy cat and then forgot to hit post before turning off the computer. That is a very real possibility these days. 😉

    Those kiwis and little cheesecakes look so good! I have tried to grow arctic kiwis here but the heat seems to burn the plants to a crisp and I have yet to find a good place for them in the garden where this does not happen. Your dish scrubbies are so fun! I love the colors that you chose to use.

    Be blessed!

    1. My sister grows 2 kinds of kiwis. She grows little tiny ones and the regular full-sized ones. She calls the little ones “kiwi berries.” Patsy loves those. They are gone now, but the bigger ones are still storing well in her garage. She is planning to give us some more when Rob goes up there tonight. Yum!

  7. I love your little scrubbies. the little cheese cakes look amazing. Are they gluten free? Gluten and I are not friends. Do you use a recipe ? I have way less room for clothes. We moved to a condo. I have 2 sets of clothes now may sound silly but house clothes and going out clothes. I have also found turning them wrong side out before I wash then helps. Also I hang many things to dry and that helps. I started using garmet bag to wash some clothes in. I bought them on amazon and they are for the washer. Have a great new year.

    1. Patti,
      Yes, I changed a recipe from Cooking Light Magazine quite a bit to make it gluten-free. I used Bob’s Red Mill 1-1 flour in the crust and made a few other modifications. They are really good. I will try to post the changed recipe soon.

      I have always had “good” clothes and “home” clothes. I also use laundry bags to wash anything delicate. We also dry sweaters flat on top of the dryer or washer on a towel.

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