Monday, June 26, 2017

Last Week's Thrifty Moves

Sunday morning found me pretty stiff and sore when I got up.  The day before the girls and I expanded our chicken coop and built a new compost bin.  I was beginning to wonder about myself because of just stiff and uncomfortable I was when my oldest daughter limped down the stairs and told me she was stiff and sore too.  Okay, so we might have overdone it a bit.

So what did we do?  We went right outside and tackled the scrap wood pile and got all the leftover wood remaining cut into lengths for the backyard fire pot.  Because it was full of staples and nails I used my reciprocating saw and we had that chore knocked out in about ten minutes.  When we were done we looked at each other and decided we'd stack it later and limped back into the house.

Later that evening I fired up the rocket stove on the back deck and cooked some chicken out there in the old cast iron skillet for our supper.  I used up a pile of sticks we had gathered up from the lawn that had fallen after a good wind blew in the week before.  If you've never used a rocket stove before, let me tell you, they work great.

After a week off from shopping I made a carefully crafted list for Albertson's, sales items and loss leaders, downloaded some digital coupons (including $5 OFF $25 purchase) onto my rewards card and printed out some coupons from Two of the coupons were for yogurt that happened to be one of the loss leaders.  I got 12 Yoplait yogurts for $3!

I pulled a small chunk of leftover pot roast, a container of split pea soup and one of the containers of refried beans out of the freezer.  I used the roast to make shredded beef tacos Tuesday night, the girls used the beans to make burritos for their lunches and we had the soup for lunches too.  We used up more leftovers in the fridge to make pizza for supper on Friday night.

I set up our portable convection/toaster oven in the garage so we can bake even when it is hot outside.  I'm actually thinking I might set it up permanently since it is far more efficient to use it instead of the one in the kitchen.

Early Saturday morning I gathered up my coupons and a carefully crafted grocery list to do a big shop at Fred Meyer.  On the way we stopped at ShopKo to see if they had put their bedding plants on clearance yet and I found that they had.  I spent ten dollars on flowers to fill my flower pot on the front porch and another one I moved into one of our flower beds.

At Fred Meyer I found a lot of good markdown items.  I was able to pick up everything on my grocery list and several more items to put away for next month, including bread and buns.  It was a very good day for bargains.  I also used several digital coupons I had downloaded and a few I had received in the mail to lower the cost of items on sale taking an additional $10 off my total.

While at Fred Meyer I picked up my three Friday Freebies I had downloaded to my rewards card.  The girls are most excited about the beef jerky.

I composted coffee grounds, egg shells, lettuce cores, onion skins, as well as banana and orange peels.

I cut a big pile of dandelion greens for the chickens and gave them our kitchen scraps.  

When I got home from grocery shopping there was another coupon booklet in the mail.

How was your thrifty week?

Friday, June 23, 2017

Our New Compost Bin

Several years ago the city switched us over from standard trash cans to using wheeled totes.  Once that happened we were left three trash cans in need of a new purpose.  We drilled one full of holes and used it as our compost bin and it worked fairly well for quite a while.  When it fell apart we emptied it into another can and continued on.  It worked and I thought it was a nice way to reuse the cans rather than put them into the landfill.  But now it's time for a real compost bin.

If it looks like I'm always wearing the same outfit for projects
you're right!  I only have one set of grungy duds just for these occasions

Unlike the Chicken Coop Expansion project this one I actually spent some money on.  I planned it after watching numerous Youtube videos on composting, compost bins and building your own.  After all was said and done I built one that will serve our needs quite nicely.

I bought two pressure treated 4 X 4s and fifteen 6 foot cedar fence boards and got to work.  I  saved the cost of a third 4 X 4 by reusing some wood I already had for the inside center vertical supports.

I won't go into details on how I built it because there are plenty of videos on Youtube to help you if you decide to build one yourself.  They go together pretty quickly too.  We spent about two hours putting this one up.

I put a layer of cardboard down in the bottom of one of the bays because apparently worms love cardboard and this will help us really get things started.  We added a little bit of soil, some chicken manure and emptied the collection container I keep under the kitchen sink into it.  A couple days later we mowed and raked the lawn and added the pile of clippings.

If it looks like I always seem to have a beer going when I'm working
on projects that's probably because I do

We'll keep adding to it and when the one bay if full we'll start on the other one and allow nature to do its thing.  By next spring we should have some pretty nice compost to spread around and add nutrients to the lawn and flowerbeds.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Chicken Coop Expansion

Saturday the girls and I took on two projects I have been itching to get done.  One of those projects was to expand the chicken coop pen area to give our ladies a bit more leg room.

Part of this project was not only to build it but to use up as much wood as possible from our scrap pile.  It was primarily comprised of old cedar fence rails and a couple old posts.  We had put our new fence up eight years ago and this was the last remains of the old one.  As luck would have it there was just enough usable wood in that pile to get the job done.

Fresh dirt was placed on top of the wire when we were done
Plenty to scratch around in

We actually started a couple weeks ago by disassembling one of the planting beds to make room for the compost bin.  I moved the big blue trash can we use as our compost bin near there and then leveled out the area.  Once that was done I laid down chicken wire to cover the area so the girls can't dig holes and predators can't dig their way in.

I used the boards from the garden bed to make the base of the pen area and then the girls helped me to frame up the walls.  I cut wood with 45° angles to make braces for extra support at the bottom and ran more rails across the top to tie it to the existing structure.

Stella is inspecting our progress

The existing wire was "re-routed" to the new walls along the front.  We added more wire from the roll we had leftover from the original build to finish it up.  My oldest did most of the stapling while I pulled it taut.

I added two 1" X 2"s crosswise to add more support for the wire.  One was already on the coop and the other I had in the garage.  We stapled the wire to each one once they were secured in place.  I also ran another 1" X 2" across the top which will help us to hold up the netting that will be stretched across the top this weekend.  It helps keep the squirrels out of the coop so they can't steal their food as well as other predators.

These ladies were constantly helping us too

Lastly, I decided to raise the door and the threshold in order to give it a little better clearance when it snows.  Of course with last year's snowfall I'd probably have to raise it up three more feet to clear that.  Hopefully though this will help make it easier to open the door in winter.

Enjoying some fresh cut dandelion greens

The ladies love their new "yard" and I love that they have this extra space.  I also love that I only had to purchase an extra 1" X 2", the one for the top, and a box of staples to complete this project.  My youngest sorted out a gob of screws from the can of miscellaneous nails and screws so we had plenty of fasteners.  Total cost came in at under $5!  Yippeeee!

Tune in tomorrow to check out the other project we completed that day.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

What We've Been Eating Lately #4

We have enjoyed some pretty darn good meals around here lately so I thought I'd better share. 

Chicken Mushroom Alfredo

Baked Ravioli

Veggie pizza on a whole wheat crust

Jumbo shells stuffed with vegetable ragout

Denver omelets stuffed with onions, mushroom, peppers and cheddar cheese

Banana chocolate chip muffins

Curry chicken salad on homemade oatmeal bread

Vegetable quiche with whole wheat crust

Pan pizzas!

Cinnamon oatmeal with blueberries

Scrambled eggs and turkey breakfast sausages

It was kind of a heavy pasta month for us as I worked through some leftovers in the freezer.  My girls love pasta so they were pretty happy about it.  We also ate lots of salads as well as plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables.

What has been your favorite meal recently?

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

More Spring Cleaning - Under The Kitchen Sink

When it comes to spring cleaning the kitchen I prefer to take it in bits and pieces rather than attacking the whole room at once.  It is the only room I actually do in increments because there are so many parts to it - appliances, cupboards and cabinets full of stuff, drawers, the pantry and then floors.

Everything out!

I've been systematically working my way through the kitchen.  Right before we went on vacation I spring cleaned the refrigerator and the pantry.  I've made it through all of the drawers and cupboards.  Now it was time to do the cabinet under the sink.  I can't believe it has just been over a year already since I renovated under there.  You can read about that in this post.

It was a super easy and I had it done in less than ten minutes.  I pulled everything out.  Sprayed down the inside of the cabinet with some Mean Green cleaner and wiped it out with a wet rag.

Then I emptied out the bin I keep my cleaning supplies in and wiped it out.  The supplies went back in all neat and organized.  I even combined a few things like the sponges into a recycled Ziploc bag.

I scrubbed out the bucket I use as a trash can and lined it with a fresh bag, tossed out the trash and added two cardboard containers and an empty vinegar jug to the recycle bin.  Then I put everything away inside and called it good!

Since renovating the cabinet last year this task is so much easier and faster to get done.  It is also stays a whole lot cleaner and nicer under there too.  I am so, so happy I decided to redo the cabinet like this.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Last Week's Thrifty Moves

Sunday I took the day off.  I was completely wiped out and in need of some serious downtime.  It was raining when I got up that day too so it provided the perfect excuse to sit back, put my feet up and just watch TV.  I haven't done that in ages.

I fired off an Amazon Pantry order with things we will be needing shortly.  Remember in January when I ordered two large bottles of Palmolive Ultra dish soap on sale for $1.87 each?  We are still using it!  Well this order included a refill size bottle of dish soap and when I did the math it was an even better deal!!

Monday it rained again, really hard.  So far I have yet to water the lawn as nature has been taking care of that for me quite nicely.

I had been missing my motorhome so Tuesday when I got home from work I grabbed my laptop and did my afterwork work out there.  It was nice to spend some time with Laverne.  I'm anxious to take her out on the road again.

Fred Meyer sent me a coupon for a FREE bag of Iams cat food.  Thank you very much!

I downloaded a book for free onto my Kindle.  I finally decided to actually use the darn thing and the verdict is still out.  For one thing, as my daughter has pointed out, books don't die on you mid chapter and need to be recharged.  So true!

I downloaded my Friday Freebie item and took another store survey to add 50 bonus fuel points to my card.

I refilled my bathroom handsoap dispenser using the cheap dishsoap I buy at the dollar store.  This stuff doesn't do the best job for washing dishes but it does work really well as liquid hand soap and for only a buck for a huge bottle it is a real bargain.  I usually only buy one of these a year.

I also stirred in 3Tbs of the dishsoap into a cup of warm water to make some solution to refill my foaming handsoap dispenser I keep at the kitchen sink.  Because the grapefruit scented dishsoap made the solution pink and the dispenser says citrus on it I decided to add one drop of yellow food coloring to see what would happen and it turned it the perfect orange color.

Here is a before shot of one of those projects
Hmmm.... wonder what they did?

Saturday we were blessed with beautiful weather so we got buys and worked on a couple big projects that were on my list.  One was practically free and one, not so much.  I'll be sharing those projects in a couple of upcoming posts.

I did not grocery shop this week.

I washed out a couple of Ziploc bags to be used again.

I composted egg shells, tea bags, coffee grounds, avocado skins and banana peels.  We gave the chickens watermelon rinds and other kitchen scraps.  I also cut them a huge pile of dandelion greens from the backyard.

How was your thrifty week?

Friday, June 16, 2017

Keep Car Thieves At Bay

Yesterday one of our neighbors had a trumpet and a french horn stolen out of their car.  I am really big on clearing out our car each day to make sure there is nothing to entice someone to break in and steal anything.  It breaks my heart they lost their instruments and I hope they get them back.

With this in mind I thought I'd share this post from almost a year ago with you.

Give it a quick read through and feel free to share your own tips in the comments.  

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