Friday, December 2, 2011

Frugal Friday–AAA Membership

When finances are tight many people cut expenses drastically, to the point it hurts them in the long run. Unfortunately we cut expenses back September and it hurt us tonight.

Our AAA Membership was due in September and my husband decided we couldn't afford it. Tonight he started singing a different tune, after he had an accident. (He is thankfully safe and all has worked out.) The discounts and road-side assistance would have paid for the membership tonight.

We live in a very rural area, a minimum of 1 1/2 hours from a city. At least once a month, if not twice, we have to drive the 90 miles to Reno for items we can't find or afford here locally. In cases of long trips, and the possibilities of car problems AAA will pay for itself if you have a problem. This is one case where we were "penny-wise and pound-foolish". I believe we will be getting AAA again on Monday.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Frugal Friday–Leftover Turkey

This Thanksgiving we had a 30lb. turkey, which meant a lot of leftover meat. There are numerous recipes and suggestions online for leftover turkey. My uses this year for my turkey are: turkey soup, turkey stock and freezing it for later use. Simple and easy.

Turkey Soup.
Turkey Stock. 
This year was the first time I made turkey soup. I didn't follow any recipes, just made up my own.

Julia's Turkey Soup

Turkey drippings
Water-to finish filling your pot.
3 cups of turkey
1/2 bag of frozen carrots (I really like carrots.)
1/2 bag of frozen mixed vegetables
2 tsp of poultry seasonings
2 tsp salt
1/3-1/2 uncooked barley

Mix all together, cook until barley is soft. Add more poultry seasonings and salt as needed. Many recipes I read used celery.

We served the soup with corn bread and homemade canned peaches. Yummy!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Frugal Friday-Freebies

I enjoy receiving freebies. Freebies in the mail are my newest and fun way to get free stuff. I always get excited when I see one of those little boxes in the mail from a company I received a promotional incentive from.

In the past most of my freebies came from gift bags at stores I shopped from on Black Friday. Samples or rebates I receive from these stores, job and health fair giveaways or Doctor's Offices are great. Many times the samples from the Doctor's office are most helpful. The medicine samples they give, instead of writing a prescription, can save you money at the pharmacy.

The newest place, I get my free and frugal samples are from the internet. You can find blogs which focus on free stuff, coupons and store sales. My most favorite freebie blog is If you haven't checked it out you need to.

One of my new freebies. 

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Extra! Extra! Turkey Eggs

Today, as usual I went to gather chicken eggs. My girls are notorious for hiding their eggs, causing me to search different spots in order to find them all. I was making my circle and stopped to check the unused old dog house. I didn't find any chicken eggs, but to my surprise, were two turkey eggs! My husband's pet turkey, which was supposed to be Christmas dinner, had laid them.

She must be productive, I'd checked the dog house yesterday more than once for chicken eggs and the turkey eggs weren't there. This leaves me to believe she laid both of them today. The eggs are cream colored and covered in brown speckles. They are larger then chicken eggs and more oval shaped. Not sure how they taste yet. Guess I will have to find out for breakfast tomorrow.

I just had to share my new find with you because I'm just so excited!

Turkey eggs in old dog house.  
Turkey egg
Turkey egg next to chicken egg. 

Thursday, November 10, 2011

How to Start a Fire

I enjoy having a wood stove for heat. The heat penetrates and keeps me warmer than other forms of heat.
The supplies I use throughout the winter to start and maintain fires are; seasoned wood (usually Juniper), newspaper, kindling and lighters. Items I use occasionally are: lint, toilet paper rolls, cardboard, junk mail and magazines.

When I start a fire, I crumple up newspaper or other forms of paper i.e. junk mail, and place on the floor of the stove. I crumple it to allow little pockets of air which the fire needs to burn. If the paper is not crumpled it won't burn well and will burnout quickly. Sometimes I add lint which I stuffed into empty toilet paper rolls to give it a boost. Lint burns easily and quickly.

Crumpled paper.
Next I place dry, thin pieces of kindling; twigs, splintered pieces of wood from spliting wood, pieces of board from projects and even leaves. I place them in a criss-cross style to allow air to circulate through. After they are in place, I set a piece of wood on top ensuring space between it and the kindling to give the fire air. 
Wood on kindling.
Lastly, I start the paper on fire with a lighter. I leave the vent door open slightly to allow enough air to get the fire going. Then I sit back with my hot chocolate and relax. 
Fire. Wood will shift as fire burns kindling. 
Safety precautions when heating with wood:
  • Each year the chimney needs to be cleaned professionally to ensure repairs aren't needed and to prevent fires caused from collected soot. 
  • Have a working fire extinguisher handy at all times. Not next to the fire though just nearby. 
  • Do not leave lighter near fire. It can heat up and explode. 
  • Having working smoke detectors. 
  • Keep children away from the stove and all supplies, especially the lighters. 
  • Ensure the door and vent is closed to stove before you leave it unattended. 

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Winter Routine

Each year I go through the same tasks to prepare our home, family and myself for the winter. This particular year we've been busy with building projects and food preservation, leaving me behind in my pre-winter routine. Some tasks are done, others not so much. Another problem which has caused delays, is my list keeps growing as I find other things to add.

Home Preparations:
  • Have wood stove cleaned.
  • Trimming of trees and blackberry bushes.
  • Draining of all hoses and outside water pipes at each animal home site.
  • Have new fire extinguishers if others are old or don't work.
  • Put all gardening tools in storage.
  • Wrap outside faucet to prevent freezing.
  • Have working non-electric can opener.
  • Indoor-Outdoor thermometer. 
  • Change batteries in smoke and CO2 detectors.
  • Boards or plastic to cover back porch screened areas.
  • Air conditioners out of bedrooms and into storage.
  • Plastic on windows, inside and out
  • Wood for heat.
  • Small eco-friendly electric heaters for bathroom and kitchen to prevent frozen pipes. The electric bill is cheaper than repairing broken pipes. (Which happens all too frequently in this area.)
  • Winter clothes pulled from storage.
  • Summer clothes put in storage.
  • Material for sewing projects and yarn for crocheting projects.
  • Food preserved and breakfast breads baked and put in freezer.
  • Stockpiling of food, personal care products including over the counter meds and cleaning supplies. 
  • Stored water. Just in case pipes do freeze. 
  • Ensuring flashlights are working, extra batteries, working radio (preferably crank or solar). Electricity goes out frequently in our area.
  • Lighters for starting fires.
  • Extra blankets available.
  • Electric mattress pad.
  • Stockpiled food for animals.
  • Heated water bowls for outside animals.
  • Eight to ten inches of hay on chicken house floor for insulation.
  • Mulching of trees, shrubs and plants. 
  • Extra hay for bunny. 
  • Extra water for bunny to change out when other is frozen.
  • Snow shovels.
  • Boots
Car preparations:
  • Ensuring up-to-date on maintenance and re-check all fluids.
  • Inflate and rotate tires.
  • Water in car for drinking and to clean windshield if needed.
  • Food in car.
  • Sleeping bags in car.
  • First aid kit in car and other supplies in bathroom cabinet.
  • Extra gloves and hats in car.
  • Ice scrapers in car.
  • Extra winter coats in car.
  • Supplies for animals for times of travel; food, water, treats, dog sweaters, extra leashes, copy of shot records. 
  • Flashlight and batteries.
  • Tire chains.
  • Jumper cables.
  • Flashers.
  • Maps.
  • Shovel
  • Kitty litter to provide traction if you get stuck in the snow or ditch.
What do you do for winter preparation?

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Reasons Why I Grow Food

A growing number of individuals, families and neighborhoods are becoming more interested in gardening and growing their own food. The reasons vary but include: desire to save money, concern over pesticides and food-borne illnesses, sense of community (community gardens) are all just a few of the reasons.

 My list of reasons I grow our family's food are;
  •  My love of nature. I enjoy watching nature grow and produce.
  •  The feeling of accomplishment and pride from growing food.
  •  Saving money on groceries.
  •  Relaxation. I feel like I'm in another world when I garden, freeing my mind of everyday life situations.
  •  Knowing the food I cook and place on the table is free of pesticides and contamination of food-borne illnesses. 
  • Sharing what I've grown with friends, extended family and the homeless shelter. 
  • Knowing if a wide spread disaster occurred, I have a little knowledge which could keep us fed during it. 
  • I get to try new food items I've never eaten before, without spending a lot of money. 
  • After the growing season the plants become compost for my soil. Providing me with rich dirt, better in appearance and good for next season's plants. 
  • I grow food my animals like to eat too: lettuce cabbage, tomatoes, squash etc. Helps save on pet food bills.
  • Gift giving. I can some of my fruit and use for Christmas gifts. 
  • I like the way my canned goods look on my pantry and cabinet shelves. Edible home decor!
  • I get exercise when I garden. Pulling weeds, pushing a wheel barrel full of dirt or compost all add up to calories burned. 
  • The food is always fresh.
  • I also use home grown food for trade for other garden items from friends I didn't grow. 
  • And of course just for the sheer beauty of it.
What are some of the reasons you garden?

Friday, November 4, 2011

Frugal Friday–Cheap Dates

All married couples need time to focus on each other, away from other responsibilities. My husband enjoys  the movies. When there is a movie we both want to see, we go to a matinee and don't buy snacks to keep the cost down.

Our favorite date is hiking. We have numerous trails within walking distance of our home, making the cost free.

A day of hiking.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Daddy's Girl

We recently had two of our turkeys butchered, Thanksgiving Dinner and Turkey Girl. Thanksgiving Dinner was our male and he is in our freezer, all 30 LBS of him. Turkey Girl stayed with the butcher in his freezer. That left us with Christmas Dinner, who has ended up becoming my husband's pet.

Christmas Dinner ended up being a great watch "dog" turkey. She always lets us know if something is going on outside. She likes to eat out of our hand and is always interested in what we're doing outside. Notice the green paint on her chest. She got a little to close to the shed when she was watching me paint.

When she wants attention she gets pouty, drops her wings and lies down waiting for us to take notice and pet her.

Getting pouty.  
Daddy's girl getting attention, as jealous checkers watches. 

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Custom Chicken House and Shed Projects

My husband and I have been diligently working on getting "his" outside projects done. He is trying to finish before it gets too cold or the snow begins to fall. The temperatures are starting to drop down to 26˚ at night and presently it is only 52˚ outside. Still warm enough to work but not for long.

The chickens don't understand what is going on. They watch my husband build and me painting and staining. They also like to examine the tools and dig around in the screws, which they end up scattering everywhere. I think it's funny, but it frustrates my husband.

Even with the curious chickens, progress is being made on the projects. The shed has shelves, walls, a roof and is painted. It lacks the finishing on the roof, doors and the touch up painting. The chicken house roof has to be finished, inside walls, electricity installed and staining to be finished. But what is done, is very attractive in my opinion and the neighbors, (they like to visit to see what else we have going on).

New shed. 
New shed.
The chickens were curious about the shed one day and knocked over all our little yellow bins of hardware. I had to reorganize everything, and in the process found eggs on a narrow shelf and behind some garden tools. Since I've reorganized and picked up the eggs, they haven't been back. I guess they realize the shed is not a good hiding place for eggs.

New coat of paint on rabbit hutch. 
I almost forgot about our rabbit hutch. I put a new coat of paint on it for Knuckles (the rabbit) and her new roommate (a field mouse), who just recently took up residence with her. They get along well burrowing in the hay and eating out of the same dish. With the nights getting colder we will be putting more grass hay in the hutch to keep them warm.

Chicken house project.
Opening of nest boxes for cleaning and gathering eggs.
Open nest boxes. 
Roosts with a view.
Inside shot of nest boxes. 
As you can see, we still have work to do on the chicken house, but it is coming along. It is far enough along for Checkers at least.
Checkers trying out one of the new nest boxes. 

Friday, October 28, 2011

My Anxiety, God My Relief

The economy has brought about trouble and discomfort throughout the whole country. Families and individuals are facing different financial scenarios and making life changing decisions. Our family is no exception.

Two years ago I decided I needed to go back to patient care, the stress of a governmental management job was eating me alive. I found a job in hospice, (my first love for a job). The job was a an hour an a half drive away from my family, working four ten hour shifts. I found a hotel that would work with me on pricing and I stayed during my days of work. I thought this would help with decreasing stress and still give me time with my family.

Family dogs during a family outing.
Unfortunately, the economy also affected the company I was employed at. Many changes occurred, including reorganizing and shifting of nurses and selling of the company (again). In the ten months I was there I had five different positions and a few different pay rates. Agreements and promises weren't upheld. I decided I needed to leave, giving my two weeks notice once I found other employment.

My next position found me back in nursing management at a home care agency. Still another hour an a half drive away from my family one way. My family needed me home more, just as much as I needed to be home. Trying to meet everyone's need, I chose to drive back and forth each day, instead of staying at the hotel. I really didn't like the job, but I needed it and the pay was really good. The position, travel and being away from my family was once again another stressful situation for me.

Relief came from the job stress when I fractured my knee and was temporarily disabled. I was out of work for nine months, drawing disability. This was a healing time for my body and my family.

Family, Great Grandma and Grandpa and Grandma. 
Husband and wife with Max the pup.
Son with Max graduating from his first class.
After my knee healed and I had some physical therapy sessions, I went back to work this past June. Working part-time at the local surgery center. Least amount of stress I've had in a  long time. I get to spend a  lot of time at home enjoying my family, animals and my simpler life.

With part-time work comes a part-time income. With injuries comes medical bills. With a slow economy comes periods of decrease in business for many companies, my husband's included. Fortunately we're not in financial trouble. Things are tight but we're making it. Business has been better the last two weeks for my husband and surgery cases have increased recently. I'm grateful for these blessings.

With the times as they are, I've felt the need to look for full-time work. Not only for an income but also for health insurance. I have Systemic Lupus and I'm uninsurable through private health insurance. My husband has no insurance.

I've applied for three different jobs in the last month; one I haven't heard from, one was filled and one I interviewed for this past Wednesday. The interview I thought went really well. The interviewers said I would be called next week.

The job is in the local hospital in infusion therapy, with possibly cross training for surgery (per my request). I would be working three days, twelve hour shifts on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. I would still have four days off and the drive is only about ten minutes away.

Wouldn't be a family without a cat.

I've prayed about this and I'm ok with whatever the Lord wants, but I worry. I worry if I don't get the job, what does the Lord have planned instead, I worry about our needs being met if I don't get the job and also about the attitudes of the people I'll be working with.

God tells us in His word how to handle all of this. I just have hard time letting things go. In the New International Version Matthew 6:25-27 "Therfore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?"

Jeremiah 29:11 "'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the LORD, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'" NIV

Philippians 4:6 "Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God."

Ravendale, CA
Clearly looking at scripture, I see I don't have anything to worry about. And if God's word and His promises weren't enough, as I was writing this post my husband got a call about a large rush job that will bring in $360! Isn't God amazing and so worthy to be praised!! (and trusted!)

Bedtime Puppies

I love our family pets, especially our dogs. Our dogs count on routine in their lives. Each night around 8:30, they expect to go "potty" outside and then immediately go to their bedtime spots. Max sleeps with his boy, Chris, my son, and Princess sleeps on "her couch". Bedtime is definitely routine but fun with a bit of a sweet side.

Princess waiting for the lights to go off. 

Frugal Friday-Like Mother Like Son

Our local furniture store has a large trailer they load cast-off furniture into. Anyone in the community is welcome to pick up any of the items in the trailer. (They even have a sign to let you know it's ok to pickup but not to dump.)

My son, whom I've been trying to teach to be frugal, decided he had a need for the light blue recliner he found in the trailer one night. He called my husband for help with loading and transportation. Now he is the proud owner of a "free" recliner.

I've been trying to rub my frugalness onto my family, I guess it's working. (Don't you just love free stuff?)

In good condition, just needs a good cleaning. 

Friday, October 21, 2011

Frugal Friday-Trade

One way of saving (and my most favorite), which is a win-win situation for you and a friend, is trade. I have a friend who grows many different vegetables I haven't tried before. She frequently will provide me with various vegetables and herbs. My last trip to her home I came back with a Red Kuri Squash, a white colored radish (I forgot the name of it) and different types of tomatoes. In trade I give her home grown chicken eggs and fruit from my trees.

Part of my latest trade; we ate the squash already. Yummy!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Frugal Friday

I recently found a few Crab Apple Trees on the trails I hike. At my request my son went foraging for me and brought home a backpack full of apples. I already have a lot of dried apples from my own tree. I don't make apple pies (too much work) so what do I do with all the apples? Make apple bread!

Foraged Crab Apples.
Homemade bread is a frugal alterantive to store bought bread. The apple bread I made was inexpensive for several reasons, the apples were free because they were foraged, the flour and sugar were on sale for less than half the normal price and the eggs came from my own chickens.

Farm fresh eggs, straight out of the chicken, into the carton.
1/2 price flour with other ingredients for bread. 
 I used a recipe I found from

Apple Bread Recipe

3 cup All-Purpose flour
2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 cups sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 teaspoon Vanilla
2 cups apples-peeled, cored and coarsely chopped
1 cup chopped walnuts

In a bowl, combine flour, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder and salt; set aside. In large mixing bowl, place oil, sugar, eggs, vanilla and apples. Stir into flour mixture. Add walnuts and mix. Divide mixture between two greased 8" x 4" bread pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes or until bread tests done. Cool for 10 minutes on wire rack before removing from pan.

Egg mixture. 
Egg mix with apples and cinnamon applesauce. 
I made a few adjustments to my bread. I didn't use walnuts and I added 2/3 cup of cinnamon applesauce, decreasing the amount of cinnamon I used from the recipe, because the mixture wouldn't come together well due to it being so dry.

Finished apple bread. 

I made several loaves; wrapped them and put them into the freezer. Hope you enjoy this recipe.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Frugal Friday-Foraging

Foraging is a great way to save on your grocery bill. On the trails I hike, I found three apple trees loaded with apples. It was fun to pick free food. Now I'll have to decide what to do with them, dry, can or use them in a recipe; decisions, decisions!

Weighted down with apples. 
Ready to be picked.  
Fruit from my foraging. 

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Frugal Friday–Late Entry

We've been crazy busy this weekend with a yard sale. Yard sales are a frugal activity where shoppers can get bargains and sellers can make money and de-clutter. A win-win situation. Unfortunately, yard sales, as a seller is my least favorite activity. I do like them when I'm in the need of something.

This weekend's yard sale occurred at a storage unit business. All the renters were allowed to open their unit and sell their stuff. It was also open to anyone who wanted to rent a unit for just the sale, cost being $10.

One view of the sale.

My husband joined in to sell some of his office equipment. 

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Progress on Shed

The weather is cool and cloudy gray today. We've experienced a few sprinkles, enough my husband was concerned and started working on the shed, to protect our tools. My son joined in to help. They put the roof on, shelves, the back, and hinges for the doors.

They still have to hang doors, finish the shelving and trim. Plus there will be all the organizing of stuff. Which I believe will be delegated to assist with.

He asked me what color I would like to paint it? My husband's way of saying he doesn't like to paint and it's my job to do the painting. What color would you suggest?

Working hard and hardly working.
Son putting on roof, husband taking a break to watch chickens.  

My Sunday Canning Project in Steps and Pics

It is Sunday.  I went to church then came home to attempt to put a dent in all the peaches I picked. This is my second time of canning more of them. I've found canning is time consuming and laborious. I tried to develop a system this time to make it a little easier. I believe I did.

My first peach canning adventure, I canned seven quarts and 1 pint. It took four and a half hours. This time I've canned ten quarts in about three and a half hours. Progress! Still a lot of work though, I think I need a nap.

Here are the steps I used for canning this time;

  1. Gather all equipment: bowls, pots with lids, large spoons, canning funnel, jars, lids and bands, butter knife, pot holders, quilt, jar grabber, measuring spoon, and food ingredients.
  2. Wash jars, lids and bands.
  3.  Place jars in water bath canning pot, note how many can fit.
  4.  Boil jars to sterilize them.
  5. Mix your sugar and water in a pot to make your syrup. I used a medium syrup consisint of 4 cups of water and 3 cups of sugar. Simmer until mixture is clear. Set to the side.
  6.  Mix 2 tablespoons of lemon juice into 4 cups of water. This solution will prevent peaches from turning brown. 
  7. Wash peaches, cut in half lengthwise (this will make peeling easier).
  8. Boil water in large pot.
  9. Place cut peaches in pot and blanche for one minute.
  10. Remove and spread out on clean surface i.e. towel, cookie sheet.
  11. Peel peaches and remove seeds. 
  12. Place peaches in lemon water.
  13. Remove peaches from lemon water and rinse with fresh water.
  14. Place peaches in hot syrup. Simmer for 2 minutes.
  15. Have jars ready, place peaches in jars using funnel to avoid dropping peaches. Leave 1/2 inch head room.
  16. Pour syrup in jar to 1/2 inch headroom. 
  17. Take butter knife or small spatula and insert between jars and peaches, moving knife gently around the inside of the jar. This will decrease air bubbles. 
  18. Place lid and bands on jar. 
  19. Place jars in water bath canning for set amount of time, determined by size of jars and elevation of where you live. I live over 4000 feet above sea level and used quart jars. My process time for my peaches was 70 minutes. I usually leave them in another 5 minutes for safety. 
  20. After alotted time, remove jars and place where they will not be distrubed, to finish process. I place mine in a quilt to keep them warm a little longer.
  21. Once they are sealed (the center of the lid is no longer elevated) label and shelf them.
  22. Give as gifts or use for your family consumption.
Using a step by step system made it easier and more enjoyable this time to can. I'm looking forward to canning the rest of my fruit, to enjoy this winter.

Sterilze jars. 
Sugar and water for syrup. 
Lemon water. 
Wash peaches  and cut in half lengthwise.
Blanche, lay out to cool for peeling. 
After peeling place in lemon juice, then rinse with fresh water.
Place peaches in syrup to simmer 2 minutes 
Put the peaches in jars, add syrup, use butter knife to get rid of air bubbles.
Apply lids and bands. 
Process in water bath canner for appropriate time. 
After water bath, place to the side undisturbed to allow sealing
After sealed and cooled, label and shelf. 

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