Friday, November 30, 2012

Anatomy Of A Turkey (Or A Chicken)

Just like a pot roast I find I can get a lot of mileage out of a roasted turkey, or chicken for that matter.  My daughters asked me why I buy such a big turkey each year and the truth is we will eat off it for a very long time. 

After brining and roasting our turkey we enjoyed our Thanksgiving meal with a huge amount of the bird still remaining.  I sliced a bit for sandwiches and leftovers but it scarcely made a dent.

I removed one whole breast and double wrapped it for the freezer for a future Thanksgiving style meal.  I then removed the wings and wrapped them up to freeze so I can make more turkey broth later in the spring or summer when we run out.  Since we are not great lovers of dark meat I remove some of the meat from the legs and then wrap them up to freeze for making broth as well. 

Once I have removed all the breast meat, both wings and both legs I get busy and remove the remaining meat from the carcass and placing it into a bowl.  This meat is a combination of dark and white and I like to chop it up and freeze in smaller packages to use in soups and casseroles later down the road.

The carcass is then placed in my slow cooker.  I like to leave a bit of meat on it so I have a very flavorful broth.  I add a small onion, a couple carrots and a few stalks of celery.  Cover with water and place on low for about 8 hours.  This year I put mine on overnight so it was ready in the morning.

Once it has cooled a bit I remove the big pieces with a slotted spoon to a colander I have set up on a medium sized mixing bowl.  I strain the broth in a larger mixing bowl, add what has dripped out of the colander, and set it in the refrigerator to chill.  Once it is chilled I skim the fat off the top and divide it into one and two cup freezer containers.  Once labeled the containers are placed in the freezer.  I use this broth for soups and in recipes that call for chicken broth as one of the ingredients. 

Sometime in the late spring or early summer I will repeat this process with the wings and later with the legs to replenish my supply.  I try to make sure that nothing goes to waste when it comes to our Thanksgiving turkey.
You may also enjoy revisiting Anatomy Of A Pot Roast.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Mission – Project #8 – My Embroidery Basket

My embroidery basket once belonged to my great-grandmother.  My grandmother, who never used it, kept it as a special remembrance of her.  When my grandmother passed away it became mine and remains a very special piece of my family heritage.

When I first got the basket I incorporated my things in with my great-grandmothers and have worked on various projects over the years.  I keep it neat, tidy and organized at all times and use it as much as I am able, which is not nearly enough in my opinion.  I hope to change that.
This is the contents of the quart size ziploc bag.
After removing the full skeins of floss I was left with this mess.
I had not intended to need to include the basket as part of my overall “mission” until I purchased that huge bag of assorted sewing and craft items at the thrift store.  Included inside was a plastic Ziploc bag filled with embroidery floss.  It was a bit of a mess, to say the least, but had a great assortment of flosses and colors.  My basket was getting a bit low on a few colors and after a lot of sorting, untangling and re-organizing I was able to fill it up pretty well.

Cards of neatly organized floss pieces ready for new projects.
I was pleased that I was able to salvage all but that small handful
of stuff (on the left).

I credit my sixth grade teacher, Mrs. Teich, with showing me how to embroider.  She also shared with me a great tip for storing your smaller pieces of used flosses.  Using an index card you cut slots, about a ½” long and ½” apart.  Wrap your flosses around the card and tuck the end in the slot.  I’ve done this ever since to keep my embroidery floss pieces organized.  It proved to be invaluable when I went through that bag from the thrift store. I didn’t have any index cards so I cut up a couple sheets of cardstock and it worked just fine.

I added quite a bit of floss to my basket.
Once all was said and done I was able to salvage pretty much all that was in that bag.  I tossed the wad of poly fill and a handful of short pieces.  I am now completely organized and restocked on a lot of the colors I was low on.  I will have plenty of flosses for future projects.
You may also enjoy revisiting Another Great Thrift Store Find.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Prepping For Thanksgiving With A Few Mishaps

I don’t think it was possible to pack anymore into last week.  When this Sunday hit I have to admit I was super happy to sit back and take a breather.  We were doing pretty good getting everything done on our overpacked schedule.  Then Wednesday arrived. 

Wednesday evening is when things started to get a little weird.  I closed the shop an hour early, we headed to the dollar store so oldest daughter could birthday shop for her sister.  Then home for reheated leftovers and to start prepping for our Thanksgiving feast on Thursday. 

First thing I started to make the brine for the turkey and while scrubbing a carrot for the veggie broth I was about to make my vegetable brush snapped in half.  Oh well, I just used the bristly part and finished scrubbing the veggies.  Not comfy, but it got the job done. 

With the brine ready it was time to rinse out the turkey and when I reached in to pull the neck out I cut the tip of my index finger on a sharp bone.  I cut it good too.  That bird bit me right back!  Wash hands, get out band-aids, go back to work.  With the turkey onto soak overnight we moved on.

I grabbed a sugar pumpkin to cut up and put on the stove to steam so I would have puree to make a pie in the morning.  While cutting into the pumpkin my big knife I use to cut veggies snapped in half right at the handle, slid sideways and pinched my left hand on the side breaking the skin.  Luckily it only bled slightly.  Thank God!  I looked at the girls and shook my head.  Maybe we aren’t supposed to be doing all this tonight? 

I really didn’t want to be one of those Thanksgiving kitchen accident statistics!  No stitches! 

We got the pumpkin onto steam and I got busy washing up dishes and cleaning up the kitchen.  Then I noticed my feet were getting wet and discovered a leak under the kitchen sink.  Grab some towels! 

We pulled everything out from under the sink and cleaned up that mess.  Then I tightened the leaking drain the best I could.  What’s that smell? 

The pumpkin was out of water and we were just about to burn.  Quick!  Add water!  Phew!  We were safe. 

My oldest took over pumpkin duty once it was done steaming and I decided it was time for me to change tactics.  I grabbed the martini shaker and fixed myself a cocktail.  I really was feeling the need at this point. 

With martini in hand youngest daughter and I decided to go ahead and bake the pie.  It was my grandma’s No Crust Pumpkin Pie so super easy.  I preheated the oven and we got the pie mixed up and ready to go.  One less thing to do tomorrow! 

When the oven beeped that it was preheated I opened the door to find I had forgotten that earlier that week I had spilled coconut cream pie filling in the bottom of the oven.  It was burning off and immediately filled the kitchen with black smoke.  Why not?! 

I flipped on the exhaust fan, put the pie in the oven, set the timer and grabbed my martini.  Break time! 

Did you have any crazy kitchen adventures at your house this year?

Monday, November 26, 2012

Last Week’s Thrifty Moves

Last week I needed to go to Michaels on Sunday night because they had a 25% off your entire purchase coupon that was only good on Sunday from 4 to 9 pm.  Since I was driving right past Walmart on my way I stopped with my coupons and my Albertson’s coupon doublers first.  This is what I got:

·         1 gallon whole milk $2.38, less $1.50 in coupons = final price 88¢!
·         1 bottle Ocean Spray cranberry juice $2.48, less $2 in coupons = final price 48¢!
·         1 half gallon TruMoo chocolate milk $2.58, less $1.10 in coupons = final price $1.48 

Once again I paid for these items with my Walmart gift card, so no out of pocket expense.  I will, however, still track them on December’s spending roster.  I am proudest of my gallon milk purchase because as you all know we “half it” so as my daughter pointed out, technically we are getting two gallons of milk for 88¢.  Good thing too because we are going through milk like crazy around here. 

The trip to Michaels netted me one T-shirt to embellish to go with a pair of flannel pajama pants I am making for a Christmas gift.  After my coupon the shirt rang in at $2.25.  The flannel was given to me and I used a pattern I already had so $2.25 makes for a very affordable gift.  I’ll post this when I get it finished. 

I gave each of my girls a haircut.

I used up every last bit, and I mean every bit, of lotion in a bottle before I put the empty bottle in the recycle bin. 

Monday a friend gave me her coupon doublers and I stopped at Walmart on the way home from her house to pick up:

·         2 boxes Stove Top stuffing 94¢ each, less $2 in coupons = final price 12¢ credit!
·         2 one pound packages of wieners 89¢ each, less $1.50 in coupons = final price 14¢ each!
·         1 jar Kraft mayonnaise $3.58, less $2 in coupons = final price $1.58 

Again I paid for these items with my Walmart gift card, so no out of pocket expense and I will also track them on December’s spending roster. 

I made two more hats for the Holiday Bazaar.  The bazaar was held on Friday and Saturday at our shop.  We offered free booth space to other crafters as a way to give back to our community and help give them a little financial boost.  We all made a little money but nothing earth shattering. 

I made a homemade coconut cream pie for my oldest daughter’s birthday and homemade chocolate cupcakes and frosting for my youngest daughter’s birthday. 

I made pumpkin puree from a sugar pumpkin out of my Mom’s garden.  I then made a pie for Thanksgiving with some of it and packaged the rest for the freezer. 

I made all of our Thanksgiving dinner from scratch with the exception of the Stove Top stuffing I got this week for free. 

I did not go Black Friday shopping.  In fact, other than my couponing I didn’t do any other shopping at all. 

I cut up the leftover turkey and packaged most of it for future meals and put it in the freezer along with a container of leftover gravy.  I put the carcass in my big slow cooker with carrots, celery, onion and more than a gallon of water.  I let it run on low overnight and once it was strained I was able to put four containers of broth in the freezer. 

I am ready for a much slower paced week now.  How was your thrifty week?  Did you get any amazing deals? 

You may enjoy revisiting Loss Leaders & Coupons.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Christmas Count Down – Only 1 Month Until Christmas!

Time flies when you are having fun!  One month from today is Christmas.  How are you doing with your preparations? 

·         Address and mail your Christmas cards.
·         Decorate your home for the holidays.
·         Finalize your holiday menu plan(s).  Do your grocery shopping.
·         Bake and make candy with your family.
·         Spend a lot of time with friends and family.
·         Enjoy your holiday! 

I set a target date of December 10th to get everything mailed that needs to be mailed.  I purchase my Christmas stamps well ahead of time and use USPS online to print shipping labels and to schedule a pick up to avoid the long lines at the post office and UPS during December.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Birthday Central

My daughters were born three years and three days apart.  This week, in addition to Thanksgiving Day, we celebrated two birthdays.  Just for fun we threw in hosting a Holiday Bazaar at our shop, just in case we didn’t have quite enough to do. 

In preparation of these birthdays we have been busy little bees.  I have spent a great amount of time with my sewing machine lately as I made them fleece bathrobes.  I also crocheted slippers to go with them and made my oldest daughter a lace scarf after seeing a similar one on Pinterest.

My youngest stitched her sister a fleece hat from fabric she found in my stash.  She also added a bag of Doritos, which she bought at the corner convenience store with a coupon for 10¢.  She is quite proud of that.  I think she is a real chip off the old block. 

In addition to the robe, scarf and slippers I was able to get a $25 gift card for the oldest one free with my rewards points and I added a “coupon” for an afternoon of shopping and a stop at Applebees for her favorite appetizer.  She said this is her favorite gift.  Time alone with Mom! 

Wednesday we stopped at the dollar store so the oldest could shop for her sister.  I parked right at the front door and we waited for her in the car.  She was able to pick up quite a few items for her to draw with plus BBQ potato chips and a Hershey bar.  I helped her round out her purchases with a few items from the School Supply box. 

Yesterday was youngest daughter’s birthday.  I ordered her an MP3 player from Amazon because I couldn’t find it for less locally.  I also picked up a 12 pack of ramen and a can of jumbo olives for her as they are her favorites.  She loved her gifts and was quite surprised by the MP3 player.  She has been wanting one for a very long time and I am grateful I was able to get it for her. 

I love the thoughtfulness my girls put in to their gifts for each other.  I love that we kept it simple, basic and affordable.  I love that they are happy and content.  I don’t love that they are growing up so quickly and I feel like time is getting away from me.  I do love that as they grow older we are able to learn more and do more together.  It’s just a little bittersweet.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Holiday Bazaar Today

We are holding a holiday bazaar at our shop today from 10-4 and tomorrow 10-2.  If you live in the area I hope you will stop by and see what our busy crafters have for sale.  We will also be having a little bake sale and a canned food drive if you want to bring by a canned food item.  All food will be donated to the Idaho Food Bank.

Our shop is located at 3302 Overland Road at the corner of Owyhee and Overland near Vista Avenue.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Counting My Blessings

There is no doubt in my mind how truly blessed I am.  All I have to do is look at my children to know that God is very good to me.  I count my blessings on a daily basis and thank God for all that I have at this moment.  I find, for me, that Thanksgiving is the perfect holiday to honor Him. 

Throughout the day we talk about what we are most thankful for while we cook wonderful foods and, all the while, I feel so blessed that I am able to do so.  Time spent with my family sharing the process of preparing our meal and setting the table with china, crystal and silver that has been passed down through the generations.  It is an event, not to be overshadowed with sales flyers and Black Friday shopping. 

We say grace and eat our wonderful supper with great conversation.  It is a special time of togetherness.  And the next day as we work through the leftovers and hang the tangled Christmas lights up outside I will continue to count my blessings every day, for I know, beyond all shadow of doubt, I am truly, truly blessed.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Our Thanksgiving Menu

I am so looking forward to a day in the kitchen preparing a wonderful meal for my family.  I expect our menu looks pretty basic and a lot like most of you will be having.  We will brine our turkey overnight on Wednesday and then roast on Thursday. I do not stuff it. 

We will be enjoying: 

·         Turkey & Gravy
·         Mashed Potatoes
·         Steamed Rice
·         Stuffing
·         Dinner Rolls & Butter
·         Whole Berry Cranberry Sauce
·         Relish Plate – assorted pickles & olives
·         Steamed Broccoli
·         Green Beans
·         Fruit Salad
·         Pumpkin Pie & Whipped Cream
·         Apple Cider
·         Chardonnay
·         Hot Coffee & Tea 

The leftovers are one of the best parts of Thanksgiving and I plan to enjoy those over the weekend.  Of course, I’ll use the turkey carcass to make broth for the freezer.  I also plan to use any leftover cranberry sauce in an apple pie later on. 

What wonderful things will you be serving this year?
You may enjoy revisiting My Grandma's No-Crust Pumpkin Pie.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Last Week’s Thrifty Moves

I started out the week with a little more double couponing last Monday at Walmart. 

·         1 bonus jar of Best Foods mayo (included a package of Knorr soup to make spinach dip with) $3.98, less $2 in coupons = final price $1.98
·         1 package mild Italian sausages $3.78, less $1 in coupons = final price $2.78
·         2 large cans premium chicken breast $2.28 each, less $2 in coupons = final price $1.28 each 

Once again I paid for my coupon items with my Walmart gift card, so no out of pocket expense.  I will, however, still track them on December’s spending roster.

Monday night I filled up my car at the Fred Meyer gas station, used my rewards card to save an additional 3¢ per gallon.  Final price was $3.54 a gallon.  First time I put gas in the car since 10/13/12! 

I did some work for my elderly next door neighbor, collected her mail and hauled her trash to the curb all month plus I raked her leaves.  She paid me $35.  I always tell her I’ll do it for free but she insists on paying me. 

I knitted four more hats for the Holiday bazaar and recruited two more people to set up a booth.  It should be interesting to see how it all works out.  I am starting to get really excited about it. 

I finished two birthday gifts for my girls this week and am thrilled with how well they turned out.  The fabric I used was given to me by a friend and the pattern I used was one I bought last summer on sale at JoAnn’s for $1.99.  I already had the thread and buttons on hand that I used too so no out of pocket expenses for these gifts.  I’ll post more about these gifts next week after their birthdays are over. 

The brackets for the eyeglasses arrived and I was able to complete my new display area, which I quickly filled with pretty ladies frames.  I am so pleased with how it turned out and I think it looks every bit as good as the ones they sell at the frame display company.  I am excited to get the next one done and put up next month. 

The girls and I went to Big Lots and picked out a new seven foot unlit artificial Christmas tree.  I did want a pre-lit one as they tend to stop lighting up after a short while and then you are stuck with a tree full of dead lights.  We happen to like untangling and re-tangling strings of lights and wrapping them around a tree.  J 

While at Big Lots we also picked up a few items to decorate our shop with.  I have a small budget set aside for this and we found quite a few things to get there including items to put together a wreath to hang up on the outside of the shop.  We spent $20 of our budget there and then on Thursday I spent another $20 at the dollar store.  We are now ready for Christmas at the shop. 

I made one meat free meal for us last week and we ate up all our leftovers so no food waste at all.  We did not eat out last week either.
All in all, I think I had a pretty good thrifty week!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

I Am In My Groove

Awhile ago I posted about how I needed to develop a new routine.  Well, let me tell you, it didn’t take me long and I am in a groove.  Knock on wood, things are running pretty smoothly and we’ve had some hairy weeks lately. 

Because my shop doesn’t open until 10:00 in the morning I have been taking full advantage of this.  Once I drop the girls off at school I have a full hour and a half before I have to be at work.  I take full advantage of this time to run errands or do my grocery shopping.  I find that I am shopping about once a week.
Also, about once a week, sometimes twice, I head back home to do housework or finish laundry.  The rest of the time I head to the shop on work on my birthday, Christmas and bazaar projects.  I am so happy I set up my workspace in the loft at the shop.  It works perfectly so I can get things done and keep myself busy in between customers.  I positioned my sewing machine so that I can see the front door if someone comes in while I am up there and they can’t see my mess from downstairs.  I almost think this building was custom designed just for me. 

I am happy to report multiple interruptions in my projects this past week as traffic is beginning to pick up.  I have had a customer come in every day for over a week now, most days two.  That is progress.  I am looking forward to being so busy I can’t get up to the loft at all during business hours. J 

With the time change from daylight savings ending we now take care of the chickens in the morning before we leave instead of the evening.  This has made us have to move a little quicker in the mornings but has freed up our supper time routine a bit, which is nice. 

So far things are running pretty smoothly.  We are staying on top of our chores and housework and managing to get it all done.  Maybe someday I’ll get to slow down a little and take a deep breath.  I probably wouldn’t know what to do it that actually happened.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Our Christmas Budget So Far

This week our Christmas budget took a major hit.   

Last spring, while purging and packing up for our failed attempt to move, we decided to donate our huge seven foot Costco Christmas tree to the thrift store.  I planned to buy a new smaller one for our new place which was also smaller than our current home.  It seemed reasonable as I was making fairly good money at my old job. 

Fast forward to the present and, as you all know, our circumstances are much different and I took on the $100 Christmas Challenge this year.  Over the weekend I climbed into our attic to see if our old four foot tree was salvageable.  I figured, despite it being wrapped in plastic, it would be dusty and that I could wash it up in the shower.  Worth a try right?

We found it intertwined in the middle of an abandoned raccoon’s nest.  Three years ago our next door neighbor had a portion of her fascia board on her side of our townhouse sag and some critters moved into her garage attic.  She had them removed and the repairs made but apparently before that happened they chewed through to our side and also set up shop.  By the condition of the nest I’d guess they didn’t have the opportunity to fully move in and other than a pile of chewed insulation they hauled over from next door they hadn’t done any harm.  Thank goodness.

Needless to say I was no longer interested in trying to salvage this tree, now full of chewed up insulation, and only God knows what else, so I placed it in our trash can and bid it a fond farewell yesterday. 

After a family meeting we decided to try to find an affordable tree to replace ours.  We discussed all options including cutting down one in the forest or at my parent’s property.  I’m not a fan of live trees for a variety of reasons, although they really smell nice, so I nixed this option almost immediately.  The girls impressed upon me that the tree was more important to them than the gifts that might go under it so I knew we needed to make this happen. 

Wednesday evening we headed over to Big Lots to see if we could find a nice looking and affordable tree and we did.  They had a seven foot unlit tree that looked really nice for only $49.  It is thinner than our old one and to me that was a bonus.  Our old one was really too big for our home.  We purchased it and used up half our budget in doing so.  I had just ordered a couple gifts for the girls from Amazon so now I am just a few dollars away from $100.   

Will we stay on budget?  No, I seriously doubt we will but I’ll try to stay close.  Should I even count the tree purchase as part of our budget?  Good question.  I probably should.  What do you think?

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Grocery Wrap Up – November – What, Already?!

Because of the great holiday sales I typically will do my grocery shopping for November right away and shop for December groceries as well.  I do this for two reasons. 

1.       I can maximize my savings by taking advantage of special holiday prices.

2.      I don’t have to grocery shop from the week leading up to Thanksgiving through New Years when grocery stores are the craziest.  I can happily skip the mobs and playing bumper carts in the crowed aisles. 

I plan to go one time in December for some fresh produce and that will be about it.  I will post December’s budget next month afterward.  Hurray!  It feels so good to have everything stocked up and ready to go. 

Crazy thing!  When I went to Winco I was expecting to get a dirt cheap turkey with minimum purchase and they didn’t have any.  I asked the customer service clerk if they were planning to get them in and she told me she didn’t think so this year.  She did tell me there were some nice ones back there for 98¢ a pound (there weren’t many of those either).  After prior years, that seems like highway robbery!  Fortunately we already have one in the freezer so I’m good to go.  We just won’t have an extra one this year and I’m really okay with that.  They take up a lot of room in the freezer anyway, right? 

Our non-food budget spent this month was $21.05 for cat food, litter, hair conditioner and light bulbs. 

Here is the final tally of everything I purchased this month:

Breakfast sausage (10)
Bulk cereal - 6.5 lbs
WW Flour - 5#
Baking powder
Pizza blend cheese - 5#
Cash & Carry
Cereal (4)
Store Coupon/Coupon
Milk - 1/2 gal (4)
Store Coupon/Coupon
Orange juice - 1/2 gal (2)
Store Coupon/Coupon
Dr Pepper - 1 ltr (2)
Chicken sausage
Italian sausage
Pork Cutlets (3)
Corn (2)
Medium Cheddar - 2#
Store Coupon
Taco shells
Crackers (2)
Iced tea mix
Less Store Rewards Coupon
Cranberry sauce (2)
Store Coupon
Store Coupon
Ground pork (4)
Mushroom soup (4)
Store Coupon/Coupon
Frozen mixed veg
Store Coupon
Bread (3)
Store Coupon
Salad mix
Store Coupon
Eggs - 12ct (4)
Store Coupon
Evaporated milk (2)
Sugar - 4#
Less Bag Refund
Weiners - (2)
Double coupon
Double coupon
Powdered Sugar
Double coupon
Brown Sugar
Double coupon
Salmon fillets
Less Gift Card
Tortillas (2)
Margarine - 2#
Split peas (2)
Garlic powder
Pineapple chunks
 $ 124.80
Do you do a big “holiday haul” this time of year?

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