Monday, September 27, 2010

A Resourceful Tip - Aluminum Foil Scrubber

Yes, it's another kitchen tip from All You - I seriously enjoy this magazine for the money-saving ideas as much as for the ridiculous amount of high value coupons it contains.

Anyway, instead of buying steel wool for serious scrubbing, try wadding up a small ball of aluminum foil. Just use your dishsoap like normal and scrub with your foil ball!

I also read online that foil is a good tool to remove rust.

I like this idea to avoid purchasing steel wool and for a tool when you're in a pinch. However, I am not a fan of using disposable products on a regular basis, so I will reserve this one for really tough scrubbing.

Does anyone else remember this famous foil ball?


Sunday, September 26, 2010

Bulk Peaches & Canning!

I have a friend who is part of a bulk-buying group. In August she contacted to me to find out if I wanted to buy any peaches. They had to be purchased in 25# boxes at a cost of $12 each. I could also buy #2 peaches (which means slightly off color or off size) for only $8 for a 25# box.

Always thinking I can do more than I actually can - I foolishly asked for 75 pounds. Yes, 8 months pregnant and me saying "Sure, I can take 75 pounds - I'll just can them!" Yeah, canning a bazillion peaches when I've never done it before = Fun for Katie.

I got directions from, a great site I've used in the past, and I started in one night after the kids went to bed. Three hours, about 30 pounds, and very swollen ankles later I had only 10 quart jars done. Yeah. This is a photo of the blanching stage. Blanching makes the peaches' skins basically just fall off, then I sliced them up.

A couple nights later I was at my bulk buying friend's house to babysit her kids and I saw that she had made several peach pie fillings that were just in her freezer in Ziplocs. She also had dried lots of her peaches. Note to self: Get a Food Dehydrator! And make some peach pie filling!

The next day I blanched another load of peaches with the help of DD#1 and then I sat at the kitchen table and prepared 7 Ziploc bags of peach pie filling. Won't it be nice to easily make peach pie every couple of months this year? I am looking forward to peach pie in winter! The best part was I got to do most of the work off my feet and DD#1 loved to help peel the peaches and scoop the other pie ingredients into the Ziploc bags.

I finally had to finish canning the last 20ish pounds or risk losing the peaches so one night - again - I did 8 more jars and tossed in a couple jars of green beans, too, since I had the pressure cooker out.

I ended up canning 18 quarts of peaches, making 7 pie fillings for 9" pies, and eating & giving away about 2 dozen peaches over a 10 day period. We all love peaches, so it was a treat to just eat as many as we wanted!


Saturday, September 25, 2010

A Resourcful Tip - Buttermilk Substitute

A college boyfriend's Grandma gave me a recipe for her Never-Fail Pie Crust many moons ago. It calls for 1/3 cup buttermilk which, really, who ever has on hand other than a commercial baker, right?

Anyway - her simple solution was to pour 1 Tbsp. of white vinegar into the 1/3 cup measure and fill the rest of the way with milk. This has worked every time and is truly amazing pie crust!

Another suggestion I saw recently in All You was to mix 1 cup of milk with 1 Tbsp. of lemon juice as a buttermilk substituion. I haven't tried it myself, but if I was out ouf white vinegar I'd give the lemon juice a shot.


Thursday, September 23, 2010

A Resourceful Tip - Greek Yogurt

Do you like Greek yogurt? Have you noticed how much more expensive it is than regular yogurt?

Try making your own! The September 2010 issue of All You suggests putting regular yogurt into a cheesecloth-lined sieve and chilling overnight. In the morning you'll have rich and creamy Greek-style yogurt.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

A Resourceful Tip - Untangle Jewelry

Another tip from the All You September issue - If you have a kink or a knot in a piece of jewelry lay it on a flat surface and apply a few drops of baby oil to the affected area. Gently loosen the links with your fingers or straight pins if the chain is too fine or the knot too tight.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

A Resourceful Tip - Deli Meat Alternative

I love sandwiches - Seriously, a big sandwich with a big glass of milk is one of my very favorite meals.

However, paying deli prices for sandwich meat is not one of my favorite things and I have never done it.

Instead I keep an eye out for "sliceable" meat in the larger meat department cases. Sliced deli meat is about $6/lb on sale, right? In the non-deli meat cases you might find a small turkey breast or ham portion for only $3 or $4/lb. You can take it straight over to the deli and they'll slice it for you - At No Charge!

I actually have my own meat slicer (Thanks Janet & Naomi!) that I received as a gift about 5 years ago. It's not fancy or expensive, but it does the job and I love slicing my own meat & cheese for trays of cold cuts or crackers.

I also love having sliced meat handy for my sandwich addiction and my sandwich is so much tastier knowing the meat was purchased at a great price!


Monday, September 20, 2010

Safeway Shopping Trip $40.86

Saturday night, I was at home sitting on the couch thinking, "I so don't want to go shopping. I'll just go tomorrow, but I'll make my list tonight." As I flipped throught the grocery ads I realized some of the Safeway deals were only good through Saturday! Ugh. But I got myself up and went shopping.

Best Deals:
24 double rolls of Safeway tissue - $8
12 double rolls of Cottonelle tissue - $3.20
Frozen corn, dry black beans, brown rice, salad dressing, marinade, salsa - FREE coupons
Nabisco crackers - $1.00 each
3 - 32 oz creamer - $1.46 each

I had a $10/$50 coupon so I was adding up the groceries as I shopped. When I got to the checkout around 11 there was only one lane open and there's no self check-out at the Redmond Safeway. There were 4 people in line ahead of me with 1-3 items each. Another guy with a 6 pack of beer approached as I did and I asked him to go in front of me since I had so many groceries. Then a gal came up with about 8 things in a basket so I kept my place in line. By the time the checker had finished scanning my items there were 6 people in line behind me and one woman had stormed off mumbling about not having time to wait. Finally, the checker called for another checker and then he scanned my coupons and I was able to pay and leave. I have major coupon guilt, can you tell? I hate that I probably irritated all those people in line behind me, but what am I supposed to do? I wasn't in the express lane or anything.

Thankfully the good deals I got helped me avoid feeling too bad and I was in bed by 12 which is pretty good these days.


Sunday, September 19, 2010

A Resourceful Tip - Quick Silver Polish

I don't have many silver pieces, and I have a hard time making myself buy silver polish for the tiny amount I do have.

So I was excited to see this tip in All You magazine back in April:
"Use regular (non-gel) white toothpaste to remove tarnish from silver. Squeeze a little paste onto a cloth and rub gently on moistened silver. Rinse the item and polish with a soft rag."

No special cleaning item necessary!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

A Resourceful Tip - Dual Flush Attachment

Several years ago a friend remodeled her bathroom and got this great dual flush toilet. I was impressed with this earth and budget friendly development and loved that she and her husband had chosen it. The basic is idea is that you push the little button for #1 and the big button for #2. My friend shared that she had noticed a decline in their water/sewer bill immediately after installing this new toilet.

Since that time I have planned to get a dual flush toilet should we ever remodel, but a remodel doesn't come along every day. We still have our standard toilets.

But, guess what I found out? There is a product available that essentially converts your toilet to a dual flush operation! And it only costs about $25! The item I read about is called the "Hydroright Dual Flush converter" and is carried by Home Depot, Ace, and Amazon. It's apparently easy to install, too, with no tools required. It allows you to choose a 1 gallon or 3.5 gallon flush and can save up to 15,000 gallons of water per year.

Here's a link:

I am definitely planning to check this out once we get a handle on our "new normal" as a family of 6.


Thursday, September 16, 2010

A Resourceful Tip - Corded Phones

We Americans love our gadgets and we waste a lot of energy when we leave our gadgets plugged in.

One of these "energy vampires" is a cordless phone. The whole time it's plugged in, which is 24/7, the phone is sucking energy. A corded phone uses a miniscule amount of energy that comes directly through the phone line. If you have several cordless phones in your house, consider downsizing to just one (that can be used all over the house) and converting other connections to a corded phone.

I have an old corded phone on hand for emergencies and it has come in handy! When we had a weeklong power outage back in December of 2006 we were able to plug it in and call around and find a place to stay. Nothing else in our house turned on including the furnace, pellet stove fireplace insert or cordless phones.

I looked up about this here and here.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

A Resourceful Tip - Blanching Vegetables

Having a vegetable garden has afforded me lots of opportunities to learn about preserving vegetables. Prior to having a garden I had heard of blanching, but hadn't really ever done it to anything other than chicken. So what is it?

Blanching is basically a quick steam or boil that barely cooks food. I learned that if you blanch veggies before tossing them in the freezer it helps retain color, flavor, & texture which certainly would make for more enjoyable veggies in the winter months. This is super easy with green beans and snap peas. Just blanch, put in a freezer bag or container, and that's it. It's a little harder with tomatoes because blanching makes the skins loose and you have to peel them, but I prefer to freeze tomatoes without the skins anyway so it all works out. It's much easier to chop a peeled, frozen tomato to toss into a sauce than one that still has a skin.

Here is a photo of blanching green beans:

I have also employed blanching as part of my freezer meal swap dishes from time to time if I am incuding fresh veggies. For example in a stir-fry or meat & veggie skewers for the barbeque.

Give it a try!


Tuesday, September 14, 2010

A Resourceful Tip - Strong Perfume?

Have you ever spritzed yourself one too many times?
It's happened to me in a rush, and I end up changing my shirt to tone down the scent! Well no more since I read this tip in the All You September issue:

"Dab your wrists - or wherever you overapplied - with a cotton ball soaked in alcohol."

Rubbing alcohol has a scent, too, but it's gone as soon as the alcohol dries so this is really an effective solution.


Monday, September 13, 2010

Albertsons Double Coupons!

I am pretty busy these days now that Phoebe has arrived. I'll be working to regain my balance and find our family's new "normal" over the next few weeks.

In the meantime I've loaded up several "Resourceful Tips" to post automatically so you'll still have something worthwhile to read!

I thought I wouldn't be posting at all, but I had to hop on and share my good fortune with you all! There was an Albertsons double coupon insert in yesterday's paper, but I was so excited to see that I got THREE of them. Whoo! So I can actually use 9 double coupons this week. Now I just have to figure out when to go . . .


Sunday, September 12, 2010

Resourceful Tip - Dispense Less Product

Do you use a pump dispenser for liquid soap, moisturizer or lotion? Try putting a rubber band around the stem of the nozzle to reduce the size of the pump.

I don't remember where I saw this tip, but I thought it was a good one!


Saturday, September 11, 2010

A Resourceful Tip - Baking Powder

I always get frustrated when I'm baking and find out I've run out of a spice or another imperative ingredient, especially if I've already started mixing!

I was delighted to find this tip in August 2010 All You Magazine for making your own baking powder:
If you run out of baking powder "you can substitute a mixture of two parts cream of tartar and one part each baking soda and cornstarch."

I taped this one to the inside of my spice cupboard door.


Thursday, September 9, 2010

Spring Cleaning - Master Bathroom

I never quite finished the Master Bathroom, but I am sick of staring at it as a "draft" in my queue of posts so I'm just going to publish it unfinished.

I cleaned and organized the bathroom way back in June or July but had a couple little things hanging out that kept me from "finishing" and posting about it.

Here's the original list I made:
Scrub all porcelain fixtures
Scour all faucet parts with Comet & toothbrush
Clean light fixture
Bleach spray on ceiling
Wash shower curtain
Bleach shower curtain liner
Dust cabinet tops
Pull everything out of under-sink cabinet and toss or keep
Pull everything out of wall cabinet and toss or keep
Pull everthing off the wall shelf and toss or keep
Scrub floor with green pad (usual cleaning is a swiffer dry wipe.

All of this stuff took me at least three days - one day for washing the shower curtain & liner, another day for sorting & organizing various baskets and bins of junk, and finally another day to clean. I never got to bleaching the ceiling. I did find I needed to do a couple more tasks in the process of deep cleaning.

First, our metal trash can had left some rust rings on the floor. I planned to use Rustoleum to clean those off easily, but I couldn't find my bottle and I haven't bought more yet, so those rust stains were still there a few days ago. Bless DH for cleaning the bathroom and just scrubbing those rusty spots off the floor! Who knew? I was so sure I had to buy special cleaner! But I did glue felt (from girls' craft stuff) to the bottom of the trash can. We'll see if that does the trick. Here are photos:

I also swept the fan cover in the ceiling. It was super dusty, but I never even noticed until I was really cleaning.

It feels good to have this bathroom cleaned & organized, but since it's not a public space it's less satisfying. I have been enjoying the newly organized baskets for two months, but there is no evidence of that deep cleaning anymore. Oh well. At least I know it was really scrubbed recently, even if it only looks normal now.


Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Using the Freezer Again

I plugged the freezer back in on August 25th. I am super proud of myself that we had it unplugged for almost 4 months, saving lots of energy and forcing me to use up stockpiled food.

After two weeks here's what's already in it:

1 package of tortillas
2 pounds shredded jack cheese
3 pizzas
4 packages of sausage
5 pounds of butter
6 cups shredded zucchini
7 peach pie fillings
8 pounds of broccoli
9 packages of bacon
10 gallons of frozen water (a fuller freezer is more energy efficient)
11 dinners for after Phoebe's arrival
17 pounds of boneless, skinless chicken breast
18 cups of blackberries

Those are real numbers! I realized I had all different numerals in my list, so I put them in order and voila - amusing to me.

Also amusing that I had to go back and delete "frozen" from many descriptions in the above list. Obviously, these items are frozen as they are in the Freezer.


p.s. Tomorrow is the big day!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Top Foods $5/$25 coupon on Sunday Times!

You've been seeing me post about all these great coupons I've been getting lately, but now you can have one, too! The Sunday Times had a peely on the cover Sunday for $5/$25 at Top Foods. It's only good through Tuesday so find it and use it quickly!


Meal Swap - Teriyaki Pork Kabobs

I had my meal swap again last week. This time I made Teriyaki Pork Kabobs mostly motivated by the huge number of wooden skewers on hand and the pork loin that has been on sale for $1.99/lb at several stores.

I forgot to take a picture of all the unprepared ingredients, but here's what it looked like when I was ready to assemble The beauty of assembly was that I could sit down for the whole process - at 38 weeks preggo you can imagine how valuable this is!

The first step was to make the teriyaki marinade. Combine:
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup water
2 T. lemon juice
2 T vegetable oil
2 t. brown sugar
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 t ground ginger

Reserve 1/2 for basting, & add 1.5 lbs pork loin, cut into 1" cubes, to the remaining 1/2. Then let the meat soak for 1-4 hours.

The recipe I found called for zucchini and red pepper, but I didn't have red pepper nor did I want to go to the store. I looked up several other teriyaki kabob recipes and found that cherry tomatoes and onion were used frequently so I decided to use those with the zucchini.

I wasn't sure how the zucchini would hold up in the freezer so I did a little web research and found that blanching it would do the trick. Check.

As ever, I was very aware of the math needed to put these together. I counted the cherry tomatoes and made sure I made an equal number of zucchini pieces as I was cutting it into chunks. Then I figured out how many skewers I was making and how many of each veggie would go on each skewer. Unfortunately I only had enough to make skewers for the other swap members and didn't put any in my own freezer. I did however cut up and marinate extra meat so as my garden produces more zucchini and cherry tomatoes I can quickly make my own.

Last time I made skewers the sticks were too long for the tins we use and I ended up putting them in Ziploc bags with the pointy ends poking out of the bag and dripping sauce all over. Yuck! This time I got smart and used wire cutters to trim the wooden skewers about 1/2" so they'd fit in the tins. The chunks were too big to put two layers in each tin, so each family got two tins for their 8 skewers.

Here's the cost breakdown:
6# pork loin - $12
2 c. soy sauce - $2
water, lemon juice, veg. oil, sugar, garlic, ginger - $2?
Zucchini - Free from garden
Tomatoes - Free from garden
3 Onions - $2
Skewers - Free (leftover from last time)

Total cost - $18, so each meal was $4.50.


Saturday, September 4, 2010

August Wrap-up

The big financial news for August is that we were able to pay another 23% of our timeshare debt off! That's up to 40% of the total we owed at June 30th so we're making great progress. I'm not sure we'll be able to continue at this rate because of some other big expenses coming up, but we'll keep at it.

Other August goals:
1. $200 for groceries - Ha! Between all my irresistable $5/$25 coupons, buying 75 pounds of peaches, and stocking up on formula I spent $315. We did make adjustments in our budget to allow for this increase, but it's a long way from my original goal of $200. Just think how much more it would have been if I didn't have a garden for produce!

2. Sell 5 things on eBay or Craig's List - Again, Ha! We did sell a brand-new infant life jacket on Craig's List (Thanks to DH for handling that), but otherwise nothing - even with the free listings on eBay (that is still running through Tuesday, 9/7).

3. Use the clothesline 5 times. I was doing well with this until the last week of August. I just hit a pregnancy/energy wall and DH asked me to give myself a break and use the dryer. It did help a lot to stop lugging about 10 loads of laundry a week up and down the stairs, but I miss the sense of accomplishment the clothesline provided!

4. Finish the Spring Cleaning posts - good enough. I will stop feeling guilty . . . NOW! I have one more post that's already scheduled on that topic but I'm not doing any more "Spring Cleaning." Seriously, the weak attempt I made this year is about 90% more than I've ever done before, so I'm just going to feel good about that.

5. Continue the Resourceful Gifting posts - slow, but check.

Goals for September:
1. Pay anything extra on the timeshare debt. Like I said we have some big expenses coming up so the goal is just to put any "found" money toward the timeshare. By "found" money I mean grocery rebate checks, random unexpected cashflow, and any weird savings account balances I can find floating around out there.

2. Keep up with the Resourceful Gifting posts, but don't beat myself up about posting every day. Do what I can and feel good about it!

3. $160 for groceries this month to help make up for last month. Also, I won't be making as many dinners this month as several friends have volunteered to bring meals to help out during my recovery.

4. Just stay caught up on laundry and skip the clothesline. Maybe I'll be recovered enough by October to use the stairs & carry heavy baskets of wet clothes again.

5. Have a healthy baby and a good recovery from surgery! Get on my feet fast and be the Mommy my family needs me to be!


Thursday, September 2, 2010

Cost Plus Coupon

Hi Readers,

I am not a big Cost Plus shopper, but I received a great coupon in the mail this week that I'll be happy to pass along to the first person to post and claim it.

It's "Save $10 on your purchase of $30 or more." It's good through 9/19/10 and only good at stores, not online.