Friday, May 29, 2009

Mish Mash

I'm participating in Frugal Friday over at Life as Mom but I always have other things to share.

Spices were the topic of discussion over there today. I used to buy in bulk from Frontier but they are a bit pricey for me. So I've switched. Mountain Rose Herb has lots and lots of organic/non irradiated spices for about half of what the other site charges. I also use Costco and I buy the 2, one pound blocks of yeast that work really well.

Fresh spices are always wonderful. Certain times of the year my chickadees live on pesto sauce and I try to freeze enough for future pizzas. Yummy! I grow dill for dips and cooking, basil, sage, and garlic. I know, garlic in FL? That's what I've been thinking, but the "books" all say it can be done.

For 2 years I've planted garlic and onions. My onions grow, but don't bulb. Still haven't figured that one out and they are the bulbing variety. Garlic, I put it in the ground and it shrivels up...So I decided it must be the garlic (it couldn't be me). Last summer I ordered seeds and organic elephant garlic. Can I just say cha ching! What was I thinking... (I know what I was thinking ..conquer!)

Anyway, the package arrived with three, count them with me 1, 2, 3 cloves (not bulbs) of garlic which equaled 1/2 pound for (drum roll please) $9.95! Yikes!

So last fall I popped them in the ground. They shot up beautifully. Nirvana! I was going to have 3 pounds of yummy garlic. Well then everything stopped. They got to be about 3 feet tall and even ended up flowering. Nothing more. I pulled one sometime in March nothing. It looked like one of my onions. Disgust and waste went through my mind!

Well last night Farm Girl and I were in the garden picking tomatoes and brussels sprouts when she asked if she could pull the garlic. Sure, it was laying dead on the ground. I told her not to be disappointed and went back to what I was doing. Next thing I hear, "look, look". Out popped a bulb of garlic and another!

So I'm going to try and replant them in the fall. Maybe I'll get 8 or bulbs next spring. Maybe I'll become the Garlic Queen of Florida!

Two great things we use to stay cool! 60 cones for $1.50 and ice cream that last and lasts!

Ice Cream Cones that won't increase your waist line!

The Little Chef taste testing Moose Tracks Frozen Yogurt.

Homemade Lime Slushies.
I don't have any pictures but here's my recipe:
- 1 peeled limes
-1 cup sugar any variety (be forewarned the natural ones change the color)
-1 cup water
- Blender crammed full of ice
- 5 to 6 strawberries or blueberries
Blend until smooth. Sip and watch out for Brain Freeze.
What's your favorite cool down recipe?

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

my rant

My life has felt like a bit of a mess lately. I have many (many,many) excuses, but in fact it boils
down to me, me, me.

Changing everything up and putting it on a summer schedule seems to be a lot to handle for an eat the same breakfast everyday kind of girl. When I was a much younger woman say 19-23. I thought change was extremely hard. I learned to deal with it, even learned to embrace it. I seemed to easily let the Lord handle it then...
Once I started having chickadees change was almost at a constant and I really thought I,I,I had it licked. Then the first chickadee started to homeschool and not realizing that she had a visual disability (regular eye exams didn't pick it up) we proceeded to try every known spelling, phonics and math program for the several years. Our daily home life was also always changing, between new babies, floods, remodels, moves and just day to day life..... All of the sudden change was killing me. BUT it didn't.

The one constant that I see is that change makes me run home to my Dad. He loves me and when I can't fix it myself (anymore) and I'm totally ready to give up and go running and screaming into the night (seriously).... Something "switches on inside of me" and I remember I can share every bit of it with him. Of course I still have to do most of the leg work (yuck), but I can go to him to scream, cry, rant and ask for directions and strength. Sometimes he'll completely take care of it and I have to do nothing.

I also feel safe and secure like being held in arms that cover, protect and shade me. He knows I can't do it alone (even though after all these many years I somehow still think I have to...i am woman hear me roar!) and I can lay it all on him. He created me for his pleasure. He will take care of me (it) and show me what I need to do. What a relief!

So I was going to rant about:
-bathing suit shopping and modesty with chickadees
-foot injuries
-exercise and food plan
-time schedules
-our whole school program

But I've already run back to him and he is putting my life back in order and changing things around!


Friday, May 22, 2009

Blueberry Jam

I wanted to wait and share this as Frugal Friday post because so many seemed interested in it last week. Although I'm not quite sure that blueberries are the most frugal of fruits to pick! Here on the Gulf Coast you - pick prices range from $3 to $12 a pound. You'll need lots of berries for jam and freezing. Well, at least we seem to.

Here's Farm Girl getting ready to sample a berry.

Here's how a commercial patch is done.
The blueberries are grown large water barrels
of mulch.

24 pounds of berries later!

Once home, I place all the blueberries in a deep cold water sink bath. Then I take them out by cups full to rinse. After that I line the counters with old bath towels and spread the berries out to dry. I do this with strawberries also.

I also roll them around a bit to make sure they are nice and dry. This doesn't take long. Watch out for berry stealer's! It's oh so tempting to eat and eat!

At this point I bag up cup fulls for freezing. I did 24 cups, enough for 24 batches of muffins.

Preparing for jam making:

-4cups of sugar
-Sure gel no sugar pectin or Ball low sugar pectin - 1 box
-6 pints or 6 cups of crushed blueberries
-6 quart pot for cooking jam
-Water bath canner, funnel and jar tongs (you can forgo this part and turn jars over for 10 minutes, then turn them back over. most of the time they will seal this way. if they do not you will have to water bath them or pop them in the freezer. i feel more comfortable with the water bath.)

1. Crush blueberries in food processor and measure into cooking pot.

2. Measure out 3 3/4 cups of sugar into 1 bowl and 1/4c of sugar in smaller bowl.
3. To the smaller bowl add 1 box of pectin (either kind of pectin). Mix well with the 1/4c of sugar.

4. Cut 1 teaspoon to 1 1/2 teaspoons of butter and place it in your cooking pot. (you can use margarine) This keeps the foaming way down while cooking the jam.

5. Stir in pectin /sugar mixture into cooking pot. Stir immediately and continuously. Place on stove. Keep stirring and bring to a rolling boil for 1 minute. Rolling Boil- is a bowl that isn't broken by continuous stirring.
6. After it as been boiling for a minute add the rest of your sugar. Bring back to a rolling boil for 1 minute. This gives the sugar a chance to melt. (if your using a larger grain of sugar like Sugar in the Raw, turn down the heat a bit so it takes longer to get to the boil stage. this type of sugar needs a bit longer to melt.)
Sorry no pictures. To hot to try and do it all!
7. Now your ready to can!
a) I take the jam off the heat at this point. I've already got my canning jars washed and ready to go (they are soaking in a pot of hot water with their lids)
b) Now I take the canning funnel and fill the jars leaving about 1/2 to and 1 inch space at the top of jar.
c)Then I wipe the mouth of the jar with a paper towel. This will make for a tight seal and no bacteria growth (ick!).]
d)At this point you have the option of turning the jars over and letting them stand for 10 minutes then righting them. You should hear a popping noise and the lid of the jars should be sucked in and non movable all within about 20 minutes of righting them. If not not you'll need to store in the fridge or freezer.
You can place them in the water bath and let them boil for 10 minutes! Pretty simple. Take out and place on a cooling rack that has a kitchen towel over it. You should hear lids suctioning in within a couple of minutes and all should be down with in 30 minutes.
e)Let jars cool and store in cool dark place. I like to use mine within a year. You do tend to lose a bit of color the longer they sit. Using a a Full 8 cup of sugar recipe tends to keep color better. But I think you lose some of the fresh berry taste. If you choose to use more sugar, make sure you buy regular pectin.
So I hope this helps! Please let me know your thoughts and any extra tips you might have.
I ended up with 17 pints of jam, 1/2 gallon syrup and 24 c of frozen blueberries from my 24. pounds.

Check out Life As Mom for more Frugal Friday tips!
Don't forget to leave me a comment!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Coupons & Silkies

It's been raining here! It feels like spring again. I actually turned off the air. I know I'll be turning back on soon but to feel cool 60 degree weather at night! Ahhhhhhhh ;)

Since it's raining, Urban Girl is feeling quite sorry for our Silkies. She said they were so wet and needed her help. So later I find out that she has enlisted her younger sisters to help. She set up a drying station on our front porch and used her hair dryer to dry the chickens! I heard they loved it and were very relaxed. 4 Sweet Sistes Chicken Spa!

They actually looked quite nice and fluffy when I took a look later.


Yesterday, while I was looking at all of the coupons the Little Chef came to me and needed scissors to help clip. So I of course took out the ones that I needed and let her have them. Superman was going through her pile of coupons and found a $5 off of a bottle of Whiskey. Anyone else clip that one out?

In these two funny incidents I can see my beautiful daughters growing into the young women the Lord wants them to be.

Hey, remember you can always make your own Vanilla with that whiskey that's on sale!



jalapenos... o how i love thee...
deep, dark green with a crispy crunch
fragrance so rare that a grown woman cries
oil so intense that it burns at the touch
spice so intense that the tongue doth water
jalapenos! jalapenos!! Why do I suffer?
Okay, so I was using the term "love" loosely here. On Saturday we went blueberry picking and processed 24 pounds of berries!!! We also went to my favorite veggie drive thru. I got cantaloupes for 50 cents, a HUGE watermelon, 25 pounds of tomatoes and 31 pounds of jalapenos! (I split the peppers with another fanatic. Actually she is worse than me!)
Last night I was making up some poppers for dinner. (I wear protective gloves when deseeding.) Well wouldn't you know it... jalapenos juice spurted up and hit me in the eye! Not good...really not good:(
I spent the next 10 minutes doing a cold water eye flush. Need I say more. Superman then brought up a pair of protective eye gear.
What I have to do for my tasty treats! Here's my jalapeno friend's recipe. You'll also see my salsa recipes if you want to give them a try!
In the next day or so I'll be posting on all those berries and jam. I do hope you'll come by.
What's your favorite "new" food?

Friday, May 15, 2009

a question about canning

Kim in TN wanted to know what a good starter book on canning might be. I would recommend any of the Ball Jar canning books. My copy is from 1959 and works just fine. When I'm looking for a new recipe I usually Google it. Look at a bunch of them, figure out what ingredients my family will like and what they won't and go from there. Especially true of pickling recipes!

For simple canning (that's what I do- anything that can be water bathed) I follow the Sure Jell or Ball jam recipe. I prefer the Sure Jell Low Sugar, but I've not been able to get it so i use my same Sure Jell recipe, but substitute the Ball Pectin. Most jam takes about 8 cups of sugar! My recipe takes 4. You can really taste the fruit and it really seems sweet! If your following Weight Watchers it's 1 point for 2 tablespoons! (Nice when your having toast in the morning.)

Other simple canning is salsa, and fruits where you use a simple syrup, water or fruit juice as the liquid to pack the fruit in.

The Pick Your Own website has a free down loadable book on canning. Click here to go directly to their site. You can usually pick up the water bath canner at Walmart for between $19 and $29, but I would see about borrowing someones and returning it with a canned treat! You can also pick up the jars, pectin, and other canning equipment there. They are usually the cheapest (in this area).

Also enlisting the help of a friend gives you an extra pair of hands that will come in handy. Two canning together is a lot more fun! And you could make short work of it for both of your households ;)

I hope this is helpful. If we pick Blueberries this weekend I'll put up a tutorial on how to can them


I'm not feeling to "frugal " this Friday, but I did want to let you know about the online Make it Lovely Conference from the Girlhood Home Companion. My older chicks have been having a nice time talking with other girls about God's grace, organic gardening, and (today) starting your own business. Very neat! You can get more info here at Remembrance Press with Jill Novak.

As promised I said I would post a picture or two of yesterdays work. We made 19 quarts of pears and a 2 1/2 quarts (6 pints) of pear butter.

This apx 36 pounds of pears!

Here's the cost breakdown. I don't count jars because I reuse them from year to year. There was a $3 off of Kerr and Ball jars in the paper a couple of weeks back. So I did invest in some new wide mouth jars. Great for fruits and pickles. Really just about anything, although I do like salsa made in the smaller mouthed jars.( It's easier to pour. )

Back to the break down:

36# Organic pears $29.80 about 83 cents per pound.

8 cups organic sugar $8

water - free

That's it! It cost about $1.51 per jar. That's pretty good for organic! Our grocery just put regular pears on sale for 79 cents a pound, but for 4 cents more a pound it was worth it to go organic!

If you can get a hold of fruit cheaper, which I'm sure many of you can. Then I would give canning a try. Start small. I started about 13 years ago with just strawberry jam. I wanted to make a low sugar recipe and know what my young ladies were eating. I like that I control the ingredients! Also make sure you can in season!

Just start somewhere! You don't have to can a years worth, start small.

For more great tips check out Life as Mom for Frugal Friday ideas!


Wednesday, May 13, 2009


At last! Yes, it is raining here in our little part of the world. Our neighborhood has been without for apx 2 months. We had nothing to wash all that nasty pollen away! But tonight, as we sat in church it came down. I wanted to run outside to play and dance! It's still raining...thank you Lord. I didn't realize how much I take those little droplets of refreshment for granted, until they were gone for so long...
So it's been a couple of days. I thought I show you a bit of what we have been up too!

Nothing like a little birdie whistling in a pie. School Girl whipped this tasty apple pie up last night! Gotta love homemade apple filing, so nice to have it on the shelf for whenever.

Here's the older two chickadees dismantling our washer and dryer........

Homeschooling at it's finest. School Girl has been itching to get mechanical. They put them all back together and they work great! ;) I'll post about my new best friends at a later date.

And last but not least. Tea Wallets are great Mother's Day gift.

Everyone seemed pleased with these little cuties.

They are really easy and would be a great starter project if your interested in machine sewing. Go here for a nice tutorial. Here's the little card I made up to go inside just in case the recipients didn't know what they were for! These would also be great if you were giving a couple of gift cards.

So that's a bit of what's happening. We are planning on canning pears tomorrow. If I don't blow up the kitchen I'll post some pics!



Monday, May 11, 2009


Gifts can mean so many different things to different people. Some think of the fruits of the Spirit or the specific gifts that the Lord gives to each one of us that makes us uniquely different. Other times we may think of monetary gifts, useful gifts, impractical, but oh so fun gifts and even crazy outlandish gifts. Like that crazy claw that massaged your scalp! I think it was called the Octopus.

Some of my favorite gifts are the unexpected from children. They want to give with all of their hearts and they usually don't have the means to buy you what they want to give. That can be a really good thing!

My little Chef was very cute this Mother's Day and so very excited about the day. She had a count down going on like it was her Birthday or Christmas. Anyway, yesterday she skipped into my room with a card she picked out for me!

The day before we had been shopping everywhere for a new washer and dryer (thank you rainy day fund). While we were out she found something that captured her heart. A brochure for Sile Stone counter tops. She brought home (un be known to Superman ) the lovely brochure that had a baby crawling across the floor. So yesterday she presented it to me. She was all about that little baby and here name which she had written above the picture! (this is one card/brochure that goes in the memory chest)

Later on at church, the Pastor asked for all the Moms to stand up. The Little Chef stood up along side of me. She then reminded me that she to is a mother of Baby Julie and Baby Tinkles A Lot.

And lastly, at my Parent's house she gave me a gift bag sewn out of strawberry fabric (strawberry picking is always a happy time) and inside was a BIG pipe cleaner ring!

So from my littlest I received her joy of being a child and learning from me to take care of her babies, a new handbag (she knows I really like purses) and something sparkly but oh so practical. Pipe cleaners can be reformed to make knew rings and have so many other wonderful uses. She learning to be thrifty and practical (heeheehee), but most importantly how to love!

I Love Being A Mom and I So Thankful and Blessed with My 4 Sweet Gifts....


Friday, May 8, 2009

Pretty Jars

Welcome to another Frugal Friday!
This is Urban Girl's idea of helping me out with my head cold... cute...very cute. Now watch, someone will put a patent on it! Is it more frugal to use toilet paper or tissues?

Here's my frugal tip for the week. Please excuse my photos...I'm sick.

I really like glass covered dishes and even decanters, but I really didn't have a purpose for them until a couple of years ago. Now I use them in our master bath and maybe when the chickadees are quite a bit older I'll let them use them.

This one is for baking soda (teeth and hair). For teeth I mix it with a bit of tooth paste.

See how pretty it looks. The others are for sea salt and plaque rinse (which looks pretty gross in this picture).

Here are some old mirror trays that Superman hung on the wall over the tub and just below is another glass dish being re purposed for tub items.

It used to hold salt until I broke the lid. So my Bocia gave me a cute sugar bowl that I also shattered the 1st week I had it. Which leads me back to being careful and only using it in the Master Bath at this point.
Have a beautiful Mother's Day weekend! Get out there and re purpose something:)
Check out more frugal tips at Life as Mom.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Gagrage Sale

Having a garage sale is not my favorite thing, but it actually went well. We did No planning, other than having the stuff pulled from all corners of our home the week before. I even forgot to make sure I had enough singles and change on hand, but that didn't effect it one bit.

One tip- we did have it on the 1st weekend of the month. A friend had told me that's the best time to have one.
Also we don't have any thru traffic so you would think paying for an add would help? NO, it doesn't seem to matter in our case. A good sale here is $75 or so. It almost makes it not worth having. So we have a secret weapon.... Our Chickadees!

They make crazy, colorful signs and Superman puts them up everywhere. Then the Chickadees stand down at the end of our block wearing lampshades and other crazy attire to bring the customers in. (another reasons to have lots of children-heehee)

In the end we got rid of a lot of stuff, doubled our usual take, donated to our church sale, stocked some of our pantry and the Chickadees had a Sonic Supper after all their hard work!

After all that:

We've got sickies in the house........another great reason for wearing a modest length skirt.... perfect burp bowl if you can't make it to the bathroom.......denim is best.....i'm just say'in...

Have a great day!