Category Archives: Saving Money

Saving money–week of Nov. 16

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One of the things we spent a lot of time doing is working on our slash piles.  Recently, we had some logging done, and the piles that remain are our responsibility.  We could pay someone to burn them, but that would cost us quite a lot of money so we are attempting to do it ourselves.  We are having a hard time.  Rob spent a good deal of time on Friday to no avail.  On Saturday, he was able to get one pile burning well, and by evening it was burned down pretty well.  Pile #2 was difficult.  We both worked for several hours but it would never catch.

On Sunday, we had a sick child, so stayed home from church.  Our oldest daughter and husband came over when they heard burning was an activity they could join in on and we had another try at the 2nd pile.  At times, we had 2 large blazes going, on 2 different parts of the pile, and we though it was going to take off.  Sadly, it began to pour rain, drenching the fires.  After about 4 hours, we gave up, went inside and cooked a great meal and enjoyed each others’ company.  (Rob took J to the doctor today and she is fine–just a bad cold.)

We have 15 piles.  There are still 14 unburned.  It keeps raining.  The wood is wet.  We must burn them soon, so we can replant in time to save the forest deferment we have on our taxes.  H-m-m-m-m.  I’ll keep you posted!  We have high hopes, though.  We will save thousands of dollars by burning, and by paying lower taxes on the forested land.

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I enjoyed watching leaves change and fall.  It won’t be long until they are all down on the ground.  I also loved watching the woodpecker that has now pecked out large portions of the dead tree in his search for insects.  In fact, it is a little worrisome how much he has dented that tree!

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We cooked many meals from scratch.  Rob made this ham on the grill.  It was really good.  We also made crock pot meals and many recipes at 4H club.  We are still eating leftovers from that!

I’ve been drinking more water instead of other drinks.

My husband found my daughter a formal dinner dress at Goodwill for $12.99.  It was brand new and fit her.  All we are going to have to do is choose which sweater/cape/shawl, etc. she will wear with it. There is the faux fur one I made her last year.  It might work.   It saved me hours and hours to not have to sew one, and quite a bit of money as well.  The last one I made cost me at least $50-$60 in materials alone (which is cheaper than buying one, but still…)

We used some hazelnuts we were given and roasted them.

IMG_1711We were given some crab  and totally enjoyed that as well. All in all, it was a pretty good week!

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Lemon Loaf

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For the last couple of days, I have been drooling over the Simple Lemon Cake on the blog, Debt Free, Cashed Up and Laughing.  It looks so good.  I wanted to make it.  But, silly me, I did not know what SR flour was.  I am gluten-free, so maybe it was sweet rice flour?  I just didn’t know, but that loaf looked yummy!  After waiting patiently, I got the reply that it was self-rising flour.  That made sense.  Well, sweet rice flour would have fit into my gluten-free diet better, but that loaf still looked really, really good.  I still didn’t know what another ingredient was:  jelly crystals.  I wondered–pectin?  Who knew?  So, I asked again and it was…….Jello.  Sounded interesting, but I didn’t have any lemon jello on hand and I wanted to eat that cake tonight!!

Once that answer was received, Patsy and I set to work changing the recipe entirely to make it fit the ingredients in our pantry, and to make it gluten free.    If you want to make the original recipe, go to her blog.  Or, try this version.  It’s really good, too.  I save money every time I make my own gluten-free baked goods.  To buy one gluten-free muffin can cost a couple of dollars, minimum.   Even though gluten-free flour is expensive, it’s way less to make my own.  I also had a lemon languishing in the refrigerator drawer that needed to be used.

Mini Lemon Loaves

2 Cups 1-to-1 Flour (from Bob’s Red Mill)

3/4 cup sugar

1-1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

zest of 1 lemon

1/2 cup melted butter

4 eggs

3 Tablespoons lemon juice

1/2 cup milk

Glaze:  1 cup powdered sugar

2-4 Tablespoons lemon juice (start with the 2 Tablespoons, and add more as needed to make a glaze)

Mix the dry ingredients together in a bowl, including the lemon zest.  Mix the butter, eggs, lemon juice and milk in another bowl.  Pour the wet ingredients into the dry mixture and stir until well blended.  Spray 3 mini loaf pans (4″ x 2″) with non-stick spray.  Divide the batter evenly between the pans.  Bake in a 350 degree oven for 30-35 minutes, or until cooked through and slightly browned on top.     When the loaves are removed from the oven, set them on a cooling rack.  Pour the glaze onto the hot loaves, still in their pans.  Let set for 10 minutes.  Remove the loaves from the pans, and finish cooling on a wire rack.  The glaze will be cooled enough to stay on the loaves.  Makes 3 mini loaves.  Keep leftovers in freezer.

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Slow Cooker Swiss Steak

FullSizeRenderWhen I need dinner in a hurry, I turn to my slow cooker.  This happens several times a week, because I am always in a hurry!

Recently, someone gave us some round steak.  So, I decided to make Swiss Steak.  I cut the steak into cutlets and laid them in the bottom of the crock pot.  I seasoned it with salt and pepper.  I chopped one small onion and 2 tomatoes onto the top.  I still have a few tomatoes left from the garden, so I used those.  When I don’t have any from the garden, I use canned.  I put a carton of cream of mushroom soup on top and turned it on to low for 8 hours.  My sister had ordered a case from Amazon, and shared several cartons with me.  I can’t tolerate any gluten, so the Pacific Foods brand is the one I use.

That evening, we had the Swiss Steak with cauliflower from the huge box a friend gave me a couple of weeks ago.   Tonight, I thickened the juices with sweet rice flour to make gravy and we had the rest of it with mashed potatoes and home-canned green beans.  I’m looking for ways to use the 50 pounds of red potatoes I bought for $10 a week ago.  I was delighted to get 2 dinners for almost free and they were really tasty, too.IMG_1651

Frugal Accomplishments for the Week of November 2, 2015

There were many green tomatoes left in the garden to find a good use for!
There were many green tomatoes left in the garden to find a good use for!

I have the ability to work more around my home from Thursday-Saturday each week due to my homeschool schedule and my part-time job of teaching piano lessons.  This week I had the pleasure of sharing most of those days with a good friend who came to visit.  She lives about 8 hours away from me and her visits are treasured.

We both love to can and preserve food.  So, she picked green tomatoes from her garden, grabbed some jars, and drove over here to where gardens grow much better than where she lives, and we got to work.  She spent the time when I was busy with the children visiting her relatives and friends who live around here and shopping for items she cannot get in her remote town.

We made salsa verde, zucchini relish and chow-chow, which is a mixed vegetable relish.  I had quite a few green tomatoes, various peppers, cabbage, and onions from my garden.  I was given lots of cauliflower last Tuesday, which is also an ingredient of chow-chow. We experimented with agave nectar instead of sugar because my friend is super-allergic to many things and she tolerates agave better than other sweeteners.  The relish and the chow-chow both tasted good with that substitution.

I processed 30 quart bags of cauliflower Tuesday.  A friend gave it to me.  We saved out a bunch and used it for the chow-chow as well as having it for meals twice so far.

I walked on the treadmill most evenings.

I bought some netting and a ribbon for one daughter’s Halloween costume.   She used it to make an overskirt to tie on over a fancy dress I made a few years ago and it fits no one at this time.  It was pinned to make it work for this occasion.  The youngest was a detective with a trench coat, notebook, and magnifying glass (for a while until she lost it).   We didn’t want to spend much on costumes because, well, they are costumes!

I bought 50 pounds of red potatoes at Cash and Carry for a little under $10.  That’s 20 cents/lb.  I also chose to buy a gallon of gluten-free soy sauce for under $6.  One little jar of the SanJ brand is about that much!  I just keep filling my small bottle.  We use it to make marinade as well, and it keeps for a long time.  I got large bottles of salad dressing there as well along with a mega package of lettuce.   We have still been eating tomatoes from the garden.  I got 6 snap peas and put them into a stir-fry.

I started a new piano student.

We went to the library and checked out more books.  More importantly, we returned our old ones before we got fines:)

I washed eggs, put them in cartons, and began cooking with them.
I washed eggs, put them in cartons, and began cooking with them.

All in all, it was a frugal week on many levels.   Some weeks are about putting more food away when it is available.  There will be many other weeks where I rack my brains figuring out what exactly to cook from all of this marvelous preserved food. It’s always a project, but it is so worth it to me.  Being stocked up makes a tremendous difference.

If you had asked me during the summer if my husband was in danger of losing his job, I would have laughed and said, “no way after 18 -1/2 years.”  But, sadly, it happened at the end of September.  I’m thankful for all we have.  It’s going to come in handy before this issue is resolved, I think!  He and I are still praying, thinking and wondering what the next step is.  Right now, we feel at peace with waiting until it comes clear to us.  He has gone to many people for advice and we’ve been advised to treat this as a death and allow ourselves enough time to work through the process of grief and mourning.  Because our personal lives as a family were so enmeshed with his job as a children’s and family pastor, it has tremendously affected the entire family.  The children are mourning the loss of their friends and the only place they have ever gone to church.  We are grieving the  loss of helping people we have cared about and helped for so many years. Because it was the decision of a very small handful of people, people are upset.  They are still calling, writing, and visiting to show their support, and to talk to Rob about things, as they have done for so many years.  This will taper off as they start to process this and move on with their lives.  It just takes time.

Grief and mourning are not a fun or popular time of life.  None of us want to do it.  I don’t want to do it.  I hate that I’m bursting into tears at the drop of a hat!  But, if we don’t, we won’t be able to come out on the other side as  healthy, whole people.  One prayer I frequently have prayed through this, and other extremely difficult situations, is that I will not turn into a bitter old woman.  We are praying that God will help us handle the unfair way that this was done with grace.  How we handle this will affect our children’s lives forever, as well as our own.  So far, we know that our actions and words have been appropriate to the best of our ability.  We want to be able to hold our heads high and not be ashamed of how we acted through this.  It’s not easy, but we have a great God who can help us each and every day!

Frugal Accomplishments This Week

IMG_4686The garden is winding down, but I still got a few things this week.  I picked some zucchini, a few peas and pea pods, some strawberries, a few ripe tomatoes, peppers, and a lot of green tomatoes.  We harvested sweetmeat squash, and have plans to can salsa verde tomorrow.

IMG_1570I have gained so much pleasure from these zinnias this summer.  The seeds were purchased from the dollar store–4/packs for $1.  Since you don’t get very many seeds per package, I bought a handful.  I think I remember planting around 8 packs in my flowerbed.  They grew profusely.  We picked many bouquets and enjoyed looking at them outside my kitchen window.  I feel like I really got my $2 worth and will miss them when it frosts.

IMG_1522We had a wonderful vacation at Sunriver, Oregon.  My aunt kindly invited us to be her guest at her time share.  We took our 3 youngest children and a friend, filling our 6-person unit with fun and laughter.  Our children loved watching tv channels, as we don’t pay for cable at home.  We hiked around the paths, rode the bikes that came with the unit, and the kids swam in the pool.  We took sandwiches for the trip over, and cooked in the unit for the most part.  Each night for dinner, we ate together with my mom and aunt.  Sometimes they cooked, and sometimes we did.    We got the kids a few burritos at Taco Bell, and ate out on the way home, making the trip very affordable.  I took some projects with me and worked on them during my down time.

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A friend thought of us and gave me a banana box of cauliflower she gleaned.  We have several heads to eat fresh and froze 30 quart-sized zip-top bags full.  I wrote a post about how we did it here.

It was a good week.