Monthly Archives: March 2016

For the Love of Canning…

For the Love of Canning

It all began the first summer we were married. My husband’s grandpa called us one summer evening and offered us as many cherries as we could pick! He was going out-of-town and wasn’t going to be able to pick his cherries. The tree was loaded and he didn’t want them to go to waste. We couldn’t turn down fresh, homegrown fruit, so we headed out to his grandpa’s house to pick some cherries!

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At that point, I don’t think we had any idea of what we were going to do with all of those cherries. When we got home with them, we searched for some recipes online and settled on Cherry Jelly. As a newlywed couple, we had not tried canning anything yet. Don’t get me wrong, we both grew up canning. My mom and grandma always canned pickles, tomatoes and grape jelly. My husband’s family canned tomatoes, beans, grape juice and more! So neither of us were strangers to it, however, neither of us had ever done it on our own.

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So we made a trip to Walmart to stock up on all of our canning essentials, all of which we still use to this day. We bought a water-bath canner, jars, lids and a set of canning utensils. I don’t remember what recipe we used and I don’t even have any pictures of our first canning experience. The one thing I do know is that we have been canning up a storm ever since! We will can whatever we can get our hands on! When our garden doesn’t supply enough vegetables for our liking, we go to U-pick farms to get more!

Canning1

I enjoy canning because I know exactly what is going into each jar! I know that it is healthy with no chemicals or additives. It gives me a sense of accomplishment and pride knowing that I grew the vegetables, harvested them and preserved them to provide food for my family throughout the year! I don’t know about you, but that is worth it to me!

Do you like canning? What is your favorite memory of canning?

Spring has Sprung!

Spring has Sprung!

Spring is such a wonderful time of year! Everything is fresh and new, bright and beautiful! The air smells fresher, the sun feels warmer and there are little signs of new life springing up in every direction you look. The daffodils, tulips and hyacinths are peeking up out of the ground and buds are beginning to swell on the trees.

tree buds

To me, spring is a fresh start, a new beginning. It almost feels like New Years all over again! I like to look ahead to the future of what this year may hold. I look forward to the experiences I will have and the memories that I will make! I also look forward to the warmer weather and being outside more. I can’t wait to start working out in the yard, tending to my garden and soaking up the warm summer sun that is just around the corner!

In addition to all of the outdoor activities, there are some indoor activities that I look forward to as well. Around this time of year I get the uncontrollable urge to clean and organize everything! I like to spring clean the house from top to bottom, including scrubbing down walls, steam cleaning the carpets and washing all of the windows. I also like to organize cupboards, closets and drawers and get rid of as much clutter as possible!

SpringhasSprung2

Just like New Years, it is also a great time of year to reflect on where you are currently and make a list of goals that you want to achieve this year. These could be gardening aspirations, spring cleaning goals, or even “resolutions” that you made at the beginning of the year. Check-in with yourself and see what progress you are making. Recognize the improvements you have already made and successes you have had. Then look at your down-falls and see where you can make improvements to see even better results!

Spring Chives

Like turning over a new leaf, spring is full of new beginnings!

What is your favorite part about spring?

 

Pickled Beets & Eggs

Pickled Beets & Eggs

One of my favorite family traditions from Easter is making Pickled Beets & Eggs! As early as I can remember, this was a staple at our home every year for Easter. They are so delicious! If you have never tried them, you may think that it sounds strange. However, don’t disregard this recipe without trying it! If you want, you can always make a smaller batch just to try it out!

I don’t know about you but we always seem to have an over abundance of hard-boiled eggs after Easter and this is a great way to use them up!

Pickled Beets & Eggs

2 cans of Beets (including liquid)
1 dozen hard-boiled eggs

Combine:
1 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground coves
Mix these ingredients together and heat these until boiling.
Once boiling, add beets, cover and simmer for 5 minutes.
Place eggs in a larger jar and pour beets and liquid over.
Chill for approximately 24 hours!
Enjoy:)

Pickled Beets 2

Pickled Beets 3

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Frugal Living Tips: Buying Cheese in Bulk

Buying Cheese In Bulk

In order to be successful in your quest to be frugal, you really have to adjust your whole mindset on how you spend and save your money. Being frugal truly is a change of lifestyle. You must incorporate it into every area of your life. Now before you run the other way, let me explain a little bit. If you are doing really well with one area but you are wasting tons of money in another area, the wastefulness is kind of defeating the whole purpose. You must balance many areas in order to really see a difference in your finances! Let me break it down a little. Today we will talk about one area where you can make some changes.

Aside from your mortgage payment and loans, one of your biggest expenses is probably your food and household expenses. Am I right? With grocery prices constantly on the rise, it is important now more than ever, to watch where every penny of your grocery budget goes.

One of the most effective ways my family has found to save money and live a more frugal lifestyle is to buy in bulk. Of course, when you think of buying in bulk your mind instantly goes to the “Club” stores. Our membership to Sam’s Club is definitely a huge money saver for us and well worth the membership cost every year. But there are so many other ways to buy in bulk as well! I am always keeping my eyes open for new opportunities and new sources to make bulk purchases. We have an opportunity several times a year to participate in a bulk cheese purchase and I also like to purchase from food co-ops.

Do your research ahead of time. Before diving in to a bulk purchase, you need to make sure that it is actually a good deal for that item. I typically look at the price per ounce or per pound and compare with other local retailers or grocery stores. I have a notebook where I keep a comparison list of products that I frequently purchase and the price from the 3 stores I got to on a regular basis. I will share more about my price notebook in a future post. But for now, just keep in mind that bulk doesn’t always mean it is a good deal.

Another thing to seriously consider is do you have the proper storage space for what you are purchasing? If it is cold food, do you have the refrigerator or freezer space? If it is household or toiletry items, do you have the cupboard space? If it is pantry items, do you have the cabinet space? You do not want buying in bulk to become a burden  or make your house look messy and cluttered. You must make sure that you have a plan in place for storage of your bulk items.

Bulk Cheese1

Today, I’m going to share with you how we prepare our bulk cheese. I don’t know about you, but we eat a lot of cheese in our house! So naturally, that was a perfect place for us to start buying in bulk and saving lots of money! We buy several types of cheese in bulk from Sam’s Club. Like I shared above, we also have a great opportunity several times a year to participate in a bulk cheese purchase where we can buy large blocks of cheese.

Bulk Cheese4

There are just a few items you will want to have on hand to make prepping your bulk cheese a little easier. You will want a small kitchen scale and quart size freezer ziploc bags. Dependent on what kind of cheese you buy, you may also need a  slicer. For beginners, I advise just starting out at Sam’s club with pre-shredded/pre-sliced cheese!

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Sam’s Club’s shredded cheese comes in a 5 pound bag. So I always start out by prepping 5 ziplock bags, I write the type of cheese and the date. Then, I add 1 lb of cheese to each bag, seal it up and move onto the next bag.

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For the American cheese slices, I just split each stack into 2 smaller stacks and seal in the bags. I don’t worry about weighing them, I just “eyeball” it.

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For the block of cheese that we manually slice, I count out 10 slices per bag. The blocks of cheese that we buy are usually specialty cheeses. Last time we got horseradish and garlic, so we only need a small amount thawed at a time.

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And of course, don’t forget to add your cheese to your Freezer Inventory!

Good Luck in your bulk-buying adventures!

My Favorite Pizza Dough Recipe

MyFavoritePizzaDoughRecipe

Pizza is definitely in the top 5 favorite meals in our house! So it’s important that I have a simple recipe on hand to whip up some dough in a hurry. For the longest time, I could not find a pizza dough that both my husband and I liked. So, I resorted to buying store-bought dough and kept it in the freezer. I am trying to eliminate buying things that I could make from scratch at home. Since this was an item that I was buying almost every grocery trip, I decided it was time to start making my own. This is a recipe that my husband and I both like! I’ve been using this recipe for about 8 months now.

This recipe makes enough to fill a jelly roll sized sheet or 2 small round pizza pans. We also really like to use our pizza stone for baking this pizza. In the summer time, we even use the pizza stone right on the grill. This makes a delicious crispy crust!

Pizza Dough

Ingredients:
1 cup warm water (100°)
1 packet active dry yeast (or 1 1/2 tsp)
1/3 cup olive oil
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
3 cups flour
1 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp garlic powder

Combine the warm water and yeast. Stir until dissolved and let sit for 10 minutes.
Add the remaining ingredients and mix until thoroughly blended.
Let the dough rise in a warm place for 45 minutes. At this point you are able to freeze the dough. I typically use a smaller round pizza pan or stone, so I split the dough in half and freeze it separately. Yay…2 meals!! Otherwise, continue…
Spray your pizza pan with non-stick spray. Roll out the dough on your pan.
Then bake at 350° for 5-10 minutes prior to adding toppings.
Remove from oven, add pizza sauce and toppings.
Return the pizza to the oven for an additional 15 minutes.
Last step: Enjoy!!

Mixing Ingredients

Pizza Dough

Rising Dough

Does your family like pizza? What are their favorite toppings?