My Blog

My blog has morphed over the years into different things. It is a place to learn about saving money, product reviews, cooking, gardening, and homesteading. It can take you to whatever has my attention at the moment and then back to the day to day. I hope you will learn something here and come back often.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Rain Days

Ok, so we all know it's coming, right?  The forecast says rain beginning today (Friday) and ending Monday.  They are predicting 5-8 inches of rain, hail, and possibly tornadoes. So, how are you going to spend your weekend?

This morning I ran to town to do all of my errands so I don't have to get out again until this is over.  I'll be honest, I have every intention of sitting down, reading my magazines that I never have a chance to open, and then taking a long, well-deserved nap!  After that, well, that's when the work begins again.

I have done a quick inventory of my freezer and pantry.  In the freezer I have flounder, crab meat, and chicken breast strips.  I am going to create next week's menu around these items and extras that are in the pantry.  I am already planning on Chicken Cacciatore.  I will have to look around and see what I want to do with the flounder and crab meat.  I have lots of frozen veggies that will fill out the rest of the menu.

Just so you grocery budget for this month was $149!  That is really great considering I really did not do much with coupons.  My savings for the month was only 30%.  This just goes to show you that you can still feed your family well on a budget even if you don't have time to devote to coupons. 

Next month I am planning on getting back to the coupons and see how much I can save!

The next blog...MONTHLY PLANNING!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Updates and Recipes

It has been a little while since I have written so I will give you a brief update. 

I have put many hours of work into preparing the garden this year.  I finally got everything planted and decided to use this black erosion control plastic stuff in between the rows to try to cut down on weeds since I have 3 gardens going.  I hammered all of the posts in the ground and ran wire for my green beans last week.  Everything was looking great and starting to grow and then....the storms hit!  I watched all of my hard work blow around and tangle on posts, break tomato plants, and tie in knots.  I have been able to clean up a little bit but there are parts of the garden that is like quick sand to step in.  I guess it will dry out in time for rain again this weekend.

I spent the weekend making jelly out of the strawberries we bought from a local farm.  I ended up with 40 jars when I was all finished.  I used the rest of the strawberries today in Strawberries and Cream Bread.  Here is the recipe:

Strawberries and Cream Bread
 1  3/4 c. flour
1/2 t. baking powder
1/4 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. cinnamon
1/2 c. butter, softened
3/4 c. sugar
1/4 c. brown sugar
2 eggs, room temp (or straight from the chicken!  I sent the boys to the yard)
1/2 c. sour cream
1/2 t. vanilla
1  1/4 c. strawberries, chopped

Combine first 5 ingredients and set aside.  In mixer, cream butter.  Gradually add sugar.  Beat until light then add brown sugar.  Beat in eggs, one at a time.  Add sour cream and vanilla.  Add flour until just moistened.  Fold in strawberries.  Pour into greased 8 x 4.5 inch pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.  Let stand in pan for about 15 minutes.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Unable to Function

Have you ever had so much you need to do but you just cannot find the motivation to do any of it?  That's kind of where I have been since February....going through the motions every day but not really doing anything that I'm supposed to....including this blog.  I sit down to do it and just do not feel like talking.  I have my coupons neatly in a stack (I have even cut them out now) but I just don't care enough to sort them...much less shop with them.  My house needs to be cleaned but I've just done enough to scratch the surface.

I guess I have accomplished one thing.  The garden is planted!  Actually, I have several garden areas and they are all planted and I'm waiting, impatiently, for things to start sprouting.  I love being outside and hate coming in. I have enjoyed playing with the chickens, tilling the garden, planting the seeds, even weeding but I seem to shut down as soon as I come inside.

I guess this is a side effect of losing Grandmother, my dog, my neighbor.  Maybe it is a huge case of spring fever?  Whatever it is, I hope it passes soon.  I have a lot to do!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

What's New

As I am sure you can tell from the lack of blogging, I have been really busy lately.  This week we said goodbye to my parent's elderly neighbor.  We've known her for 20 years now.  Her son came and got her to move her to an assisted living facility in NC.  It was really hard seeing her go.  I usually see or talk to her every other week.  The boys have known her all of their lives.

Our beloved little dog Prancer also died this week.  She was 6.5 years old.  She was diagnosed last October with fluid around her heart.  They were able to drain the fluid but told us if it came back that she probably wouldn't live.  Well, it came back.  She died in my lap on the way to the vet Monday.  It has been very, very sad.  You know, I'm not a cryer but I cry every time I think of her and every time I come in the house.  She was such a huge part of our family to be such a little dog.

I have been busy trying to get my garden in before the rain this weekend.  I got the last of it tilled and planted today.  I just have a few small things to do then I can relax for a little bit.

I have not had time to buy groceries or sort my coupons in several weeks.  It just is not a priority right now.  We are still eating out of the pantry and freezer for most meals.  I am also trying to use up some of my canned goods to get ready for this year's canning.

I will probably host another canning class at my house in a few weeks.  I just need time to recuperate from this week and get things back in order then I will come up with a date.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Easter Lunch

This year we are having Easter Lunch - on a budget.  In years past we always went out to eat on Easter.  This year I decided to cook.

Our main dish will be ham that I purchased from Kroger for $.77/lb.  Our sides will be:  Mashed Cauliflower ($1.50/head), Creamed Leeks ($2.32 - I had purchased these earlier for a new recipe and I'm using what I had left), Green Beans (free from last year's garden) and home made buttery dinner rolls.  For dessert we are having Angel Food Cake ($2.00) and fresh Strawberries ($1.50).

As a side note, this is the first time I have tried Creamed Leeks.  It is incredible!!  It's too rich to eat often but WOW!  I also love the Mashed Cauliflower. I will post the recipe to both at the bottom of this post.

Back to the subject at hand - Our Easter Lunch should cost us no more than $15 to feed a family of 4.  We will also have lots of leftovers! 

Mashed Cauliflower - You will find various recipes online but this is the one I made up myself and we like it.
1 Head Cauliflower - cut into pcs
2 C. Chicken Broth
1/4 C. Heavy Cream (you can use milk or half & half)
Salt and Pepper

Place cauliflower and chicken broth into dutch oven.  Bring to a boil, then reduce to a high simmer.  Cook until tender.  Strain the liquid into a bowl (keep).  Place cauliflower in blender with enough of the cooking liquid to cover about 1/2 way.  Add cream, salt and pepper.  Blend until it's the consistency of mashed potatoes.

Creamed Leeks
4 Large Leeks (whites only)
2 T. Butter
1 C. Chicken Broth
1 C. Heavy Cream
1/2 t. Salt
1/4 t. Pepper
Dash Cayenne

Slice leeks into rounds and wash well.  Saute leeks in butter until wilted.  Add chicken broth and boil liquid down by half.  Add cream and remaining ingredients.  Cook until thick.

Friday, April 2, 2010


I am so tired today!  Yesterday I unloaded 2 truckloads of compost and 1 truckload of sand.  I should have done the sand first because it is a lot heavier than compost!  All of this in preparation for my garden.  My neighbor is supposed to come today and disk up the ground so it will be easier for me to till.

So, how do you prepare your soil for gardening?  The first thing you need to do is a soil test.  You can take a sample and mail it in or you can buy a cheap little test from Home Depot or Lowe's.  It will not be as detailed but it will do the job.  Once you have the results you can move on to amending the soil.

Our soil here has a lot of clay and it is acidic.  For the acidity, I add lime.  To amend the clay, I added leaf mulch, composted horse manure and sand. 

Once your soil is amended it's time to till.  You will get the best results from ground that is tilled as deep as you can get it.  This will loosen all of the hard ground and make it easier for your plants to thrive.  Once tilled you will have to go through and pull out any grass and weeds.  You want to be as thorough as you can in this step because the more you do now, the less you will have to do later.  And's going to be really hot!!

I usually do not plant until after April 15 but I have decided that I will plant on any sunny day after the garden is prepared.  Last year we had so much rain that I thought I would not have a garden at all!

Are you trying your hand at gardening this year?  If you don't have a lot of land to garden, use a small part of your flower bed and just plant 1 or 2 items that your family really enjoys.  You can also try container gardening.  You will be amazed at how much money you can save on tomatoes with the purchase of just 1 plant.