Sunday, June 29, 2014

Weekly Savings

I have had a busy week at home.  I did a bit of grocery shopping when I went to the nursing home for the monthly birthday party.  I did not make a second trip to town saving time and money.

Kmart had flip flops on sale this past week - two pairs for $1.  This was one of the items remaining on my shoebox list.  I used the online ordering option and was able to pick them up in the store the following day.  It was very easy.  I was in and out of the store in less than 10 minutes.  Even better I received a phone call from the store manager as a follow-up to make certain I had no problems.  I love good customer service.

W dropped his cell phone into the river while fishing.  He took it apart and placed the pieces in a bowl of rice.  After a couple of days it was dried out and works perfectly.

I pulled grass and other weeds from the garden and fed them to the chickens as a treat.  The rabbits ate lettuce, kale, and Swiss chard from the garden.

W and I ate cherry and yellow pear tomatoes.  I also picked peppers.  I dug the garlic which did well for my first attempt.  I collected a few herbs.

I purchased chicken breasts in bulk.  I prepared some as chicken tenders to bake for easy meals.  Others went into the freezer for various meals.  I made yogurt and peach ice cream.  I also canned peach pie filling (more on that later in the week).  I made ranch dressing using part of my homemade yogurt.

I crocheted several wash cloths for the shoeboxes using donated yarn.

I repaired a minor problem with the church's laptop after doing a simple online search.

A neighbor dropped off some Coke bottle caps, and I gave her a stack of magazines.  I use the bottle caps to get the magazines free.

I finally broke down and started watching Downton Abbey using Amazon's Prime Video.  I was pleasantly surprised that W liked it as well.  This gives us a new show to watch together.  While I do pay for Prime, I more than get my money's worth with the free books, TV/movies, and two day shipping.  I live a good two hour drive from any big city so it is a huge savings in gas, time, and wear on a vehicle.

We ate several meat free meals this week.  I made a pasta salad using vegetables, a bit of cheese, and some ranch dressing.  We also had tomato sandwiches on homemade bread.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Operation Christmas Child Shoebox Project - Sewing Kits

Samaritan's Purse sponsors one of my favorite charity projects – Operation Christmas Child   (shoeboxes full of gifts).  My children’s group at church is hosting a packing party this year with a goal of 150 shoeboxes.  I have been shopping all year for items to go into the boxes.  One of my projects for the 10-14 girl boxes is sewing kits. 



I have included a piece of fabric (donated), buttons, sewing needles, safety pins, measuring tape, and thread in two colors.  I purchased cones of thread last year and had plenty left for this year.  I wound it onto floss bobbins.  I had purchased the measuring tapes in bulk last year and still have enough for one more year.  I am still searching for a deal on scissors.  Right now I have less than $1 in each kit.  These will make nice additions to the older girl shoeboxes!

Monday, June 23, 2014

Weekly Savings

This past week I looked after my aunt's garden while she was out of town.  She told me to pick and keep any produce that was ready.  I picked piles of squash and some cucumbers.  I did pick peppers but left those in the refrigerator for her.  I gifted some of the squash to a neighbor who was not planting a garden this year.

Since I had excess squash between my garden and hers, I dehydrated what I was not going to cook fresh.  This saved room in my freezer which had extra space for all of the squash.  The dehydrated squash takes up much less room.  I shredded zucchini and dehydrated this also.  The 21 cups of shredded zucchini amounted to 4 cups once dehydrated.  I will use the shredded zucchini in muffins.

I combined the errands I needed to run with an errand W had.  This saved gas and we were happy to spend the extra time together.  We decided to come home to eat rather than picking up takeout.  The meal was satisfying and saved money.

I purchased the rest of the toothpaste for the shoeboxes.  With coupons we actually made money on two of the tubes.  I got two tubes for tax only and spent 50 cents plus tax on the rest.  I saw a blog post that flip flops were on sale 2/$1 at Kmart.  I placed on order online for store pickup.  This ensured that I was able to get the sizes that I needed.  It will save time as I only need to stop by the store today to pick up the order rather than dig through the piles to find what I needed.

We got rain twice this past week so I did not have to water the garden.  Rain water seems to make everything grow so much better.  I had decided to plant some pumpkin seeds from 2011 and was happy to find that they have sprouted.  I am glad that I opted to try them instead of purchasing new ones.

One thing I have been doing but forget to mention is packing W's lunch stuff in reusable containers.  It means washing a few more dishes, but I do not have to purchase disposable bags.  Considering the amount of food I pack in W's lunch each week, this is a significant savings.  I am working to get a collection of higher quality reusable containers.  They pay for themselves long term and are much better than the cheap versions.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Preserving the Garden Bounty - Dehydrating Squash

Yellow squash always seem to produce more than you can use or give away.  Freezing is the way I would normally preserve my squash.  I have been looking into other ways to preserve my garden produce.  When squash started pouring in this season, I decided to try dehydrating them.  I waited until I used them to post this though.


I started by peeling the squash and then used a mandoline slicer to cut them into thin rounds.  I love the mandoline for slicing foods to be dehydrated.  The uniform slices dry more evenly.  Once all of the squash were sliced, I placed them in single layers on the dehydrator trays.



You can see from the picture that I did not have full trays.  I only did a few squash as an experiment.  It took about 6 hours to dehydrate these but much longer when I had full trays.


Once the squash were fully dehydrated, I packed them into jars.  I used pints jars as W is not thrilled about eating squash.  I knew this amount would be a good size for us.



We most commonly eat squash sautéed.  When cooking them from frozen squash, this meant that the squash needed to be thawed and most of the water squeezed out of them.  It could then take up to 45 minutes for the squash to cook down.  To make the same dish from dehydrated squash, I simply heated a pot of water.  I added the contents of one jar and let it simmer for approximately 3 minutes.  I used a slotted spoon to add the rehydrated squash to a frying pan along with a bit of butter and sliced onion.  This method only took 10 minutes for the squash to brown and be ready to serve.


I am fairly certain that I will never freeze another squash.  The jars of dehydrated squash stack nicely on my pantry shelves.  I do have to worry about them taking up space in the freezer.  Having them cook faster is a bonus, and they held their shape much better than frozen squash would.