Saturday, September 29, 2012

We Have A New Family Member

I read online the other day that the Idaho Humane Society had extended their 9 Lives for $9 Adoption Fee promotion for another week.  That usually means they have too many kitties in need of a home and they really want to place them. 

I have a soft spot when it comes to kitties.  I just adore them.  Last year, at the end of August, we had to put my son’s cat to sleep when he went into kidney failure.  He was only 8 years old and it was so sudden and unexpected.  It broke our hearts and we miss him every day.  He was such a quirky little dude.

After a year of mourning I’ve been feeling the tug to get another kitty.  I checked out the lengthy list of available adoptees on the IHS website and slept on it for a few days.  Yesterday we took the plunge. 

After work we headed up there to visit with the kitties.  I wanted to get an adult cat, because everyone seems to want the kittens making the adults harder to place, and I also wanted a female this time.  As we checked them all out no one seemed to really bond with us.   

I like for my kitties to pick us, rather than for us to pick them.  I was about to give up and consider coming back the next day when this little girl reach out and literally grabbed us.  She was in one of the bottom cages and we had completely overlooked her. 

Well, long story short, she was the one, absolutely perfect for us.  Sweet, loveable, adorable, what more could we ask for?  When we got home she immediately made herself right at home and made friends with my old man Henry.  She is pretty mellow and just seems to go with the flow.
Introducing herself to Henry

I am glad we decided to add a new member to the family and, of course, leave it to me to do it in a thrifty way.  $9 instead of their regular $50 adoption fee is quite a bargain.
We still miss our George

Friday, September 28, 2012

Delicious Pear Jam

I think we have a new favorite jam this year!  So flavorful and delicious, I was pretty impressed.  It is also really easy to make.  You don’t even need to peel the pears. 

Pear Jam 

8 cups diced pears
1 cup apple juice or water
1 box pectin
5 cups granulated sugar
2 Tbs. pure vanilla extract 

In a large heavy bottom pan place pears and water.  Stir in pectin and bring to a full boil.  Add sugar and return to a full rolling boil.  Boil for one minute and remove from heat.  Skim foam.  Stir in vanilla.  Ladle into hot sterile jelly jars.  Clean jar rims and add sterile lids and rings.  Process in a hot water bath for 10 minutes.  Remove to cool.  Makes about 10 half pint jars of jam. 

I definitely recommend this one!  Wonderful on biscuits, cornbread and toast.  Terrific on pancakes and waffles.  This jam won’t last long in our house. 

You might enjoy revisiting Easy Apple Butter.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Should You Have A Grocery Stockpile?

In my humble opinion the answer to this question is yes, without a doubt.  Why?  Well, because you never know when you might encounter an unexpected expense or hardship.  How much of a stockpile and what goes into it is strictly up to you. 

When I first started mine it was with the idea that should “worse come to worse” I would have enough food on hand to feed my family for three months.  Now that I have started a new business and money is tighter I felt it prudent to increase my stockpile and add on an additional three months supply.  I have worked at it all summer. 

I have a stockpile for peace of mind.  A freezer full of meat, butter and veggies sits in my garage.  Flour, onions and potatoes sit in my refrigerator in the garage.  I have four cases of canned fruit in my bedroom closet.  Our pantry is fully stocked with canned and dry goods of all varieties and I have already purchased the seeds for next year’s garden. 

If I am careful, I can adequately prepare simple, basic, healthy meals for my family with minimal purchases from the grocery store should I the need arise, and it may.  I would be foolish to think it might not.  You never know what could happen. 

Whether you are single, a couple or a family a stockpile of basic foods is a good idea: 

·         Rice
·         Dried beans
·         Pasta
·         Flour
·         Sugar
·         Yeast
·         Baking powder
·         Canned fruit & vegetables
·         Canned soup
·         Canned meats – tuna, clams, chicken, etc.
·         Canned or powdered milk
·         Root vegetables – potatoes, onions, carrots, etc.
·         Squash
·         Frozen meats
·         Frozen vegetables
·         Frozen cheese 

With these items on hand you can prepare some pretty basic meals.  You can add additional items to this list, of course.  Currently I rotate items and use them to avoid expiration and freezer burn, then replace the items I use. 

Do you have a stockpile in your home?  What are your thoughts?

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Christmas Count Down – Only 3 Months Until Christmas!

Can you believe it?  Three months from today is Christmas.  How are you doing with your preparations? 

·         Continue to shop for bargains.  Tweak your list if it looks like a certain item may be a budget buster.  Check your spending against your budget to stay on track.

·         Make gift tags, gift bags and gift wrap as another family project.  Before getting started take an inventory of what you have on hand so you know what you need to focus on.

·         Stop by the $ store to pick up tissue paper and tape.

·         Finalize your baking list.  Start incorporating the supplies you need into your current grocery budget to help your Christmas budget stretch a little further. 

You might enjoy revisiting Making Gift Bags & Gift Tags and Stocking Stuffers.

Monday, September 24, 2012

We Got Rain!

We finally got rainfall yesterday.  Not just a burst of rain that only lasts a few minutes but a real rain that soaked everything so nicely and even seems to have helped clear the air a bit. I am truly thankful. 

It was a little hard to tell if it was overcast or just the smoke.  Plus there wasn’t any rain forecasted.  I am glad the weather forecasters were wrong.  I hope this helps with the forest fires in our great state.  That combined with the cooler temperatures should make a difference in getting us closer to putting them out. 

Not to sound greedy but I’d welcome some more.  J


Christmas Gift Idea – Pie!

One of my favorite gifts to give at Christmas, or anytime for that matter, is a pie.  Not just the pie but the pie plate too. 

I love to find a pretty vintage pie plate at a thrift store or yard sale, bake up a great pie and present it with a beautiful handmade card.  I always note in the card that the pie plate is part of the gift as well so they don't feel like they are expected to return it. 

This idea works well for any baking dish, really.  You could bake up a pan of brownies or bar cookies in a nice 9" X 13" glass baking pan.  Even a lasagna would work.  Or how about presenting a cake or cupcakes on a pretty cake stand?  A cast iron skillet filled with cornbread? 

Enclosing the recipe in with the card might be a nice touch as well.  The possibilities are endless.  What do you think?

Saturday, September 22, 2012

How This Working Mom Gets Her Canning Done

Last night the girls and I spent our Friday evening canning pears.  We did the peaches on Wednesday because they couldn’t wait.  We canned a total of 20 pints of peaches and 18 pints of pears.  We lost one jar of peaches when it broke in the canner.  I think I over packed it.  Dang it!  I ran out of pint jars so I stopped canning pears and we will be making the rest into jam.  Not quite enough left for pear butter but enough for jam. 

As a working mom I have found through trial and error the best way to get things done is in smaller increments.  I can smaller batches of fruit and I try not to do it all on the same day.  Sometimes ripening fruit can ruin the best of plans but for the most part it works out. 

I do try to plan ahead a little bit.  On Wednesday morning I knew I needed to can those peaches that evening so before I went to work I loaded the jars and rings into the dishwasher and ran it so they would be clean and sterile when I got home.  I also set everything out we needed to use to get the job done.  As soon as supper was finished we were ready to rock and roll. 

Having my helpers makes it much less of a task than it used to be.  I absolutely love the fact that they can actively participate and I appreciate their help tremendously.  They even help with the clean up afterward!  I’m a lucky Mom! 

We all take turns peeling and slicing fruit, making sugar syrup, filling jars and putting on the lids and rings.  While the first batch processes in the canner we clean up the majority of the mess.  While the rest of the jars process we do other tasks and put away the air dried dishes. 

One batch out, one batch in and one batch waiting.

I wait until the next morning to remove the rings and wash the jars.  I want them to be completely cooled.  Once the jars are all dry then I write the date on the lids and put the fruit away in storage. 

The pears after this mornings bubble bath.

Today I will make up the pear jam and then our canning will be officially complete for the season.  I’ll be able to get all the canning equipment put away in the garage too.  I have to admit I am really looking forward to getting that box of canning supplies off of the top of the refrigerator. 

I still have tomatoes to preserve but they will be stewed and then bagged and frozen.  I will be grating up some zucchini too. 

So far we have canned: 

12 pints salsa
10 half-pints rhubarb jam
3 pints bread & butter pickles
20 pints of peaches
18 pints of pears 

Plus 10 pints of raspberries in the freezer 

We still have some pears, peaches, applesauce and zucchini relish leftover from last year.  We’ll use those up first before we eat this year’s bounty. J  We are not huge fruit eaters so this is plenty for us.  Add the fresh fruit we plan to buy – bananas, oranges and apples - and we’ll be in great shape.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Grocery Wrap Up – September

I’m done shopping for the month so I thought I’d go ahead and share how I did. 

Boy, did I blow the budget this month by $78.21!  And I did it on purpose!  I pretty much do every September as I prepare for winter and get my canning done.  My 20 pound purchase of lean ground beef and the boxes of peaches and pears sent me soaring over my normal budgeted amount. 
I don’t feel bad about it at all, however.  As I reviewed my monthly totals for the year so far I am happy with the results.  My average spent on food each month sits at $112.00 with my total spent for the year resting at $1007.00.  I know that my yearly total so far is easily what a lot of people spend every month for their groceries.  I am so grateful that isn’t my food bill. 

September 2012
Pinto Beans
Black Beans
Navy Beans
Margarine 3#
Gelatin (3)
Canola oil
Milk-1/2 gal (10)
Store Coupon
Cereal (3)
Store Coupon/Coupon
Ground Beef 20#
Boneless Ham 11#
Sour cream
Powdered sugar 2#
String cheese - 24ct
Fideo (3)
Tortillas - corn
Tortillas - flour
Tortillas - flour
Canned tomatoes (2)
Mushroom soup (2)
Chicken soup
Instant pudding (4)
Pudding cups (4)
Graham crackers
Vanilla wafers
Non-stick spray
Chile dip (2)
Whipped topping (2)
Diced jalapenos
Cream cheese (2)
Black Beans
Red beans
Snack crackers (2)
Tortilla chips (2)
Wheat flour 5#
Tomato sauce (4)
Eggs - 18ct
Waterchestnuts (2)
Canned chicken (2)
Avacado (2)
Bell peppers (6)
Mandarin oranges (2)
Dill rye bread
Oat bran bread
Orange juice - 1/2 gal
Hamburger buns
Mung bean noodles
 $ 203.21

My total non-food bill came in at $8.78 for canned catfood and litter.
How did you do this month?

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