Storing Bulk Cheese

Food storage, In the Kitchen No Comments »

Always looking for ways to save a few bucks, I grabbed one of these 2lb organic monterey jack cheese blocks from Costco. Because we typically spend quite a bit on pricey organic cheese slices, this is a definite money saver….its fast and easy too.

bulk-organic-cheese
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Homemade Peas and Potatoes Baby Food

In the Kitchen No Comments »

Our plan for introducing solids to our little one was simply to mash up some of whatever everyone else was eating and offer it. We eat healthy, unprocessed foods and thought this approach would be ideal. We did encounter a few downsides with this method: sometimes we’re in a time crunch and whatever we quickly whip up isn’t appropriate for him or we’re away from home and don’t have something appropriate to offer. Little one has also been keeping us on our toes with randomly changing his preferences so what was planned for a meal sometimes doesn’t get eaten and we need a backup to offer. All of this led me to wanting a larger stash of homemade baby food prepared for these “in a pinch” situations.

baby-food-recipe

One of the things I’ve been doing which has been helpful is baking one or 2 yams, mashing, cooling and storing in the freezer or fridge for easy meals. This has been incredibly easy but he recently stopped eating one of his staple veggie meals and I’m wanting more variety for him (especially of the non-sweet veggie type). Read the rest of this entry »

Food Grade Drum Garden Bed

Gardening No Comments »

This is a fun DIY project and probably my favorite recycling project yet. I had no hand in this project as my hands were busy with our newborn baby. Husband and Dad tackled this project one afternoon and I couldn’t be more pleased. I love the convenience of having waist-high garden beds and they were nearly free since we had the materials lying around.

homemade-raised-bed Read the rest of this entry »

Spindly Carrots

Gardening No Comments »

So, we attempted to grow some carrots this year. I’m not sure what went wrong but it was a huge disappointment. These Royal Chantenay carrots amounted to this after more than 3 months:

spindly-carrots

This variety states 60-70 days to harvest on the seed packet. After doing a few minutes of research I came up with a small list of possible causes. I think the most likely scenario is that these guys were overcrowded. A large portion of the seeded area was flooded before the seeds sprouted and only a small number of the carrots began growing. We ended up homing 2 zucchini plants nearby so the space wasn’t wasted. The zucchinis stretched out as they always do and this could’ve been the contributing factor in our sad carrot harvest. Oh well, there is always next year.

Fire Season

Weather Report No Comments »

I suppose nearly every place on earth has a drawback of some sort when it comes to weather. Ours is the ever present threat of wild fire and it is a serious threat every single year. Living in the Sierra Nevada mountains, where we rarely get any rain in the summer months and temperatures easily top 90 degrees most of the summer, it is only a matter of time before we hear the fire news rolling in. We take precautions on our property such as clearing brush and limbs that have gotten too close to structures but that provides little comfort when surrounded by a forest that could fuel a raging fire for days. Read the rest of this entry »

Local Farmers’ Market

In the Kitchen No Comments »

With my Saturday mornings no longer being occupied by my job, we’ve been able to enjoy some real treats from the local farmers’ market. The farmers’ market season runs from June through September in a beautiful park about 25 minutes from home. Living in a rural area, the size of the market is small, but I’m a believer in quality over quantity. Not only is it nice to peruse around with the family and enjoy the park, there is always a live band in the small pavilion for entertainment.

Here is a shot of the goodies we brought home this week:

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Vacuum Sealing Flour

Food storage No Comments »

I’ve used the mason jar sealer attachment for our Food Saver a few times, but only recently started using it to vacuum seal dried food goods. In the past I had placed dried food items in the Food Saver bags and preserved them in that fashion with few complaints. After sealing almond flour that way, I decided flour would be better preserved in jars to prevent the flour from caking together. I finally got around to another bulk flour preservation project and tried the mason jar technique. The jars are the way to go in my opinion. Of course the cost is higher, but they store so much more neatly and the flour doesn’t get clumped together. There is also the added benefit of the jars and lids being completely reusable. This is especially nice if for some reason you don’t get a great seal the first go round. With bags I had a few occasions where the seal was lost for one reason or another and there wasn’t enough room to reseal so the bag was tossed.

Here is what I did:
I used the largest mason jars we had (sterilized of course). Otherwise, I think this project would’ve been too tedious for my taste.
ball-canning-jars

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Sewing Curtain Valances

Craft / Handmade No Comments »

I recently posted my crib skirt project. Of course we need matching valances! I’ve used the same 3 fabrics for the curtains as I did for the crib skirt: a grey and white pin stripe, a teal solid, and Celebrate Seuss.

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Storing Dried Beans with FoodSaver Vacuum Sealer

Food storage, In the Kitchen No Comments »

We go through a fair amount of beans and buckwheat in this house. To save a bit of money to allow us to buy higher quality foods we try to buy in bulk. We’ve put our FoodSaver vacuum sealer into action to help store the larger amounts of these dry goods. I spent some time today storing this 50-lb bag of Navy Beans. Finally getting to the bottom of the bag in this picture!

We choose to vacuum seal foods when it’s appropriate to allow for longer storage in the cool, damp basement. We just don’t have room in the pantry to keep everything. Read the rest of this entry »

Homemade Fermented Sauerkraut

In the Kitchen No Comments »

I recently attended a fermentation workshop after husband started eating raw sauerkraut for it’s numerous health benefits. Raw, unpasteurized sauerkraut has been difficult for us to find locally so we’ve resorted to ordering and having it delivered. We both would much prefer to have control over the ingredients in our food so the idea of being able to whip up a batch of the hard to find fermented sauerkraut was very appealing. The short workshop opened my eyes to fermentation as a method of food preservation that requires no heat and no vinegar…score!
The health benefits of fermented, unpasteurized foods are many including aided digestion by way of digestive enzymes, improved nutrient absorption and increased beneficial bacteria in the gut.
Down to business- I started my first batch of raw sauerkraut yesterday with no spices or anything that was not essential to the process. Brace yourself for this long list of ingredients: 2 medium sized heads of organic cabbage and celtic sea salt.

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Sewing a Crib Bed Skirt

Craft / Handmade 1 Comment »

My latest project, which has taken me far too long to actually pick up, was sewing up a crib bed skirt. After spending some time looking for ready made options online I decided home made was the way to go even though I’m a novice. I couldn’t find anything in the stores that grabbed my attention enough to want to spend money on it.

We had decided on a theme for the nursery: Dr. Seuss. Oh, how I love Dr. Seuss. We bought some different Dr. Seuss fabric samples and finally decided on the Celebrate Seuss bright allover characters print with 2 accent fabrics.

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Gluten Free Blueberry Muffins

In the Kitchen No Comments »

Trust me, they’re delicious. So, husband’s been on a pretty strict diet as of late which left us with cravings for those delectable baked goods. Then, we were introduced to these marvelous little creations found in Eat Well Feel Well by Kendall Conrad.

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We’re saving money with COUPONS!

Around the house No Comments »

I’ve shared with you my new project/hobby of couponing yesterday but I also want to give you some examples of what we’ve been able to save. I don’t plan to share these deals often unless you lovely readers enjoy them (so, speak up if you do).

On Sunday I was able to score my best deals in my short 2 weeks of couponing. Raleys in our area had a fantastic buy 4 or more deal for selected varieties of General Mills cereal for $1.50 each and I was able to pair that with multiple manufacturer coupons for $1 off 2. That brought the final price of Chex and Cheerios to $1.00 a box!! Raley’s also had Colgate Toothpaste on sale for $0.99 which paired with my $0.50 off coupon. Final price was $0.49 a tube! Read the rest of this entry »

Coupons, coupons, coupons.

Around the house 2 Comments »

With the launch of TLC’s Extreme Couponing I’m sure posts like this one are commonplace. I do however feel I need to share my experience for whatever its worth. As I mentioned before, I’ve been struggling for some time with a shoulder injury that has had an enormous impact on many areas of our lives. I wont bore you with the details. In short, I’ve had to cut my pay-the-bills job down to about 1/3 of the hours I was working pre-injury which has cut a considerable portion of our “extra” funds each month.
After watching Extreme Couponing once, my interest was piqued. How can you watch shoppers save up to 95% of their bill and not want to give it a go? Of course as the title of the show suggests, you will see EXTREME cases on the show at stores which allow coupon doubling (not available in my area). I have not set my sights on a 95% savings but anything is better than nothing in my eyes. So, I set out on a new project. Read the rest of this entry »

We’re back…

Around the house No Comments »

I’ve been absent for quite some time and have missed logging our progress and obstacles we’ve encountered along the way. Lots has been happening, though not much in the way of actual progress on the house and property.  Life carries on whether we’re checking things off the to-do list or not. Our focus has been split between many things in the last 6 months or so and house and property projects have been seeing less of our time. I’ve been nursing a shoulder injury for what seems like an eternity which has dramatically limited the physical work I’m able to do around here. Between our pay-the-bills work, the house work, dogs, medical stresses, and finding a few minutes each day to enjoy the company of the people we love, this project has taken a back seat.

We are now nearing the end of December and should be in full winter mode. We’ve had 3 pitiful dustings of snow and are still seeing daytime temps in the 50’s and its dry, dry, dry. Sure doesn’t feel like Christmas is in less than 1 week.

We powered right through summer and fall in the blink of an eye and are still behind schedule on the garden area.  We lost some of our fruit plants over the summer while on a trip to visit family…watering boy didn’t do such a great job. Our garden was nothing to write home about this year and paired with the loss of 4 of 5 blueberry bushes and 1 of our fruit trees and still not having been able to complete our fencing in the backyard/garden area we’ve been feeling a bit defeated in that arena.

We have made progress on the exterior of our home. I spent a few weekends with some help prepping and painting a portion of the exterior of our house. What a difference that makes! But that project can’t be completed until some siding on the back of the house is replaced and in order to do that we need to remove the deck. Each project we’ve tackled has held true to the “opening up a can of worms” line.

One of the last posts I made was about our second dog Bee who has been with us for about 8 months now. She turned our daily routines upside down nearly from day 1. She came to us with a bad case of whip worm which wasn’t diagnosed until we had had her for 2 months. She has been improving slowly after finding a combination of worm treatment and digestive tract support. Life with Bee is starting to normalize and we’re able to sleep again!

Now that life is starting to become a bit less chaotic, I’m hoping I can find the time to keep this project up to date. Lord knows we have a million projects we’d love to be able to share but the challenge is finding the time!