Auction Finds

We love auctions. There is a local one we go to a few times a year that has auctions pretty regulary. I got my antique library table there for a hundred, my walnut drop leaf table for 75, my almost-new fridge we picked up for 80, and the best deal of all was my huge hutch in the living room (seriously, it takes up the whole wall), that we got for 150.

Once a year, the local Amish community has an auction. People from all over bring things, and they take a percentage (I will say 10…) of the sales to support their community school. There are several sales going on at once, and there is a TON of stuff. Some things go for a dollar, including some cute furniture. This year, I bought a dehydrator for five dollars and a meat slicer for 25. I also bought this little table for five dollars:

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It has an old Singer sewing machine in it. I bought this to set my sewing machine on when I am not using it. I think this is just so cute.

Auctions are such a great place to get deals, as long as you have the discipline not to keep bidding!

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Drying Sunflower Seeds

We grew sunflowers in with the corn this year. Not many came up, but we got six or seven big ones. I took one of them home and worked on drying the seeds for a snack.

First, I got all of the seeds out. Then, I soaked them in salt water overnight. The next day, I drained off the water, and put them in a bowl. I tossed them with some lemon pepper and EVOO, then put them in the dehydrator on the Nuts and Seeds setting (the second lowest) overnight.

Ta dah!

I am actually not a huge fan of sunflower seeds, but The Kid is, and when she saw them, she was dying for them. They made a pint jar, and she ended up making off with half of it. Apparently they were good.

One of the sunflowers is going towards seeds for next year, but the rest will be made into snacks…probably for the kid. 🙂

Happy homesteading!

Meal Planning in Action: Week of August 31st

Can I just tell you we LOVE this meal plan / meal prep stuff?

This is the best thing ever. People said Mister would get sick of eating the same thing, but literally every time he sits down with his meal, he says, this is the best thing ever. He looooves having food that is just ready to go.

I have fewer dishes to wash, waste way less food, and our food goes farther, especially the meat. We both are carnivores with a capital C, and if I had the pork roast I made today in its own container, it wouldn’t have lasted long. But since I portioned it out, it lasted for 10 plates. We are also eating a bit healthier. Mister isn’t reaching for Ramen noodles, and I always make two servings of veggies and one of meat, so we aren’t filling up on meat.

This week for breakfast I took another bag of breakfast burritos out of the freezer. I found the recipe on Pinterest and made them over the summer. I made eggs, added black beans and some salsa, and then wrapped them in burritos and froze. I had them last week, and they are pretty good.

Lunch I deviated a bit from the planned meal and made marinated veggies. We have these at our department potlucks, and I love them. I used some of the last tomatoes from the garden, some corn, and a jar of dilly beans. I was going to make the marinated, but looking at the ingredient list on the recipe, I remembered I had a jar of liquid I canned when I made strawberry salsa, and had liquid left over. So I used that and it had the perfect flavor. Just like what we have at the potlucks! I also found a half bag of cheese tortellini in the freezer that needed to be used, so I boiled that and added it to the veggies.

Dinner I took out a pork roast. A while back they were 99 cents a lb and I bought several. This one was 5.42, so I am guessing it was about 5.5 lbs. I popped it in the crockpot Saturday night, and it was ready for meal prep Sunday morning. I also took out some baked apples I had frozen…two years ago I believe. They were already cooked, but I put them in a baking dish and topped them with a handful of quick oats and put them in the oven. Amazing. I also had two bags of those Birds Eye veggies that really needed to be eaten (I don’t even know how old they were). These were sugar snap peas with carrots, mushrooms, and onions. Finally, I made some rice.

Food Lion gives coupons at the little magic machine. A while back I almost always got a coupon for 75 cents off any FL brand rice. A lb of white rice was 77 cents, so I bought sooooooo many bags of rice for 2 cents each. I put them in the freezer overnight to kill any bugs, and then put them in half gallon jars and stored them away. I am SO glad I did, because now I can use them in our meals and don’t have to buy rice.

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As usual, I lined up all my plates, and just started portioning everything out. I ran out of veggies, so I also opened up a jar of butter beans, and a jar of applesauce to finish out the last two plates. Last week I only made 7 plates because I knew I would eat at Mom’s a couple nights. This time I went ahead and made 10, and I had one for dinner. VERY good.

Cost breakdown: Again, jar contents aren’t totally free because we purchased the seeds and slips, but a few dollars producing hundreds of lbs of food, and it is food I paid for last year, I am not doing that math.

Breakfast

Can of black beans: 50 cents

A dozen eggs: 0 (from farm)

Tortillas: $1

Salsa: 0 (from jar)

Breakfast Total: 1.50 for 5 breakfasts, 30 cents each

Lunch:

tomatoes: 0 (from farm)

corn: 0 (from farm)

basil: 0 ( from farm)

dilly beans: 0 (from jar, beans from farm)

marinade: 0 (from jar, leftover from salsa)

half bag tortellini: $1 (bag is 2 dollars)

Lunch Total: 1 for 5 lunches, .20 each

Dinner:

Pork Roast: 5.42

Rice: .02

Sugar Snap Peas: 4 (2 bags, 2 each)

Baked apples: 0 (from freezer, apples were gifted)

Applesauce: 0 (from jar, apples were gifted)

Butterbeans: 0 (from farm)

Dinner total: 9.44 cents for ten meals, .94 cents each

Three meal weekly total: 11.94

Plus, I keep looking forward to finding new dishes to add to the meal plan rotation. 🙂

Out with the Old, In the with New!

The summer garden has been plowed up and disked under (*tear*). I had hoped to leave the green peppers for another month so we would have some to enter in the fair, and so I could freeze pepper strips for stir fry. Alas, Dad was ready to be done with, and we big adieu to Summer Garden 2015.

However, we are welcoming Cold Crops 2015~ I am very excited. Last year was the first year we tried a cold crop garden, other than greens. We did greens, broccoli, and cabbage. This year, we are doing much more broccoli (48 slips) and cabbage (48 again) and some cauliflower. I LOVE cabbage, so I am excited to have some. We only had four or five heads of cabbage last year, so this will be so much better.

The canning kitchen is almost done! Brother put the sealant on the floor for Dad today, and all that remains is a little trim work and moving in the furniture. It is really beautiful.

Next year, we are going to try a greenhouse, but this year we are a little burned out from building projects. Dad has finished the canning kitchen, and built several chicken tractors this year.

We also need to organize the cellar. We want to organize according to the type of food, as well as the year, so we can make sure we are eating up the older food first. Almost all of the jars we canned this summer are sitting in poor Mom’s dining room…and they have spilled over into the living room, so this is a project we need to work on sooner rather than later.

The new pullets are starting to lay, but just the white leghorns so far. I am ready for my Marans and Welsummers to start laying! I want those pretty eggs!

Speaking of new things…I am going to be an auntie! My brother is expecting his own little chick, due to arrive December 17th. I am VERY excited.

There are always things coming and going on the farm.

Happy homesteading!

Meal Planning in Action: Week of August 17th

Well, tomorrow is the FIRST DAY of SCHOOL! Eep!

It also starts the beginning of my new meal plan scheme, and Sunday is meal prep day. We had the Kid and I offered her TV or helping me cook, and she was very excited to cook.

We did lunch first. I made a pasta salad. I boiled water and tossed in a whole box (16oz) of shell pasta. Then, I drained a can of corn and a can of black beans and put them in a bowl with most of the cherry tomatoes (I had a BIG container, the last from the garden, that needed to be eaten). I added some lime juice and let Kid stir everything up until the pasta was done. Then we tossed in the pasta.

I got a pint of peach salsa out of the canning closet and put it in the food processor for a minute and used that for the sauce. It looks a little dry though, so I may add another jar. Ta dah! Lunch for the week!

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For dinners, I needed to make ten, five for me and five for mister. I took out two packs, about two pounds, of deer burger and added some Italian breadcrumbs. I made ten patties out and put them in a baking dish, then covered them with a cash of cream of mushroom soup. Baked in the oven for about 45 minutes at 375.

For the sides, I did different things so we weren’t eating the exact same thing for the whole week. We made some deviled eggs (The Kid had never seen them before), corn pudding, broccoli from the garden, cherry tomato crisp, and some of the mac and cheese that Kid didn’t finish (no need to waste anything)

None of these things were difficult to make. The corn pudding I mixed up right in the baking dish, but I didn’t use the sour cream. Still good. The cherry tomato crisp only took a minute to put together. The broccoli I just boiled for about ten minutes, drained and then added some butter and pepper. And deviled eggs I have been making since I was about three years old. I used mustard, light mayo, and instead of pickle juice I used the juice from my pickled jalapeno rings. Turned out great. I took out all of my dollar store sectioned containers and started filling the plates. Ta Dah! Dinner for two for a week. I went ahead and did ten even though I may eat at mom’s at least one or twice this week, so the meals may go into the weekend.

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The meal plan says trail mix for breakfast this week, but they will keep, and I have some eggs that need to be used, so instead, I did an egg bake. I sprayed an 8×8 pan, and let The Kid crack a dozen eggs (she only ruined one). I cut up the last of the tomatoes and added those, along with a handful of dried kale I did last year. I added a smidge of salt and plenty of pepper, and baked it at 375 until the eggs had set, about twenty five minutes. I cut it into six pieces and bagged up each one. Six breakfasts done!

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All together, this took about two and a half hours. That includes cooking time AND clean up. After we were done, we went ahead and fixed a pitcher of strawberry lemonade from the homemade concentrate I had canned. Everything is ready for the week, neither of us will have to cook and I won’t have to run the dishes til I run a load of our containers on Friday. I am loving this.

wpid-wp-1439774150634.jpegThe lunch box has my breakfast and lunch for tomorrow already packed. This has sooo many benefits, including making sure we make the most of the food we have put up, saving a ton on groceries, and cutting down on waste.

Plus, it is very economical. I do not pay for the deer. Dad does pay for his hunting license, and to process each deer; these are costs I do not incur. This year we want to get a grinder and do this ourselves. The vegetables I did contribute to the purchasing of slips and seeds, but as we probably spent less than 40 between the two families and got literally HUNDREDS of pounds of food, and are still harvesting, I do not feel like doing the math of how much one serving cost. I stock up on cans of corn and beans when Food lion has them on sale and I can do a coupon deal. I use canned  corn for corn pudding. I hate to use delicious garden corn in anything but plain so I can really enjoy the taste of it. Our Dollar Store started carrying Nature’s Own bread. Here is the breakdown, hopefully I did not forget anything:

  • Deer burger: Free
  • 3 cans of corn for pudding and salad: 25 cents each for .75
  • Jiffy corn mix: .50
  • Can of black beans: .25
  • Box of pasta: 1.00
  • Eggs: From the farm
  • Cherry tomatoes: farm
  • 2 slices of bread: .10 (estimate? Loaf was a dollar)
  • Spices: from garden
  • Broccoli: garden
  • Leftover Mac and Cheese: .50 (box was a dollar)
  • Salsa: made last year with ingredients from the garden
  • Mayo and mustard for deviled eggs: …50 cents worth? Less?
  • Can of cream of mushroom soup: 1.50

Total: $5.10 for five breakfasts, five lunches, and ten dinners, which brings each meal to 26 cents each.

Yes, there were a lot of work and time put into the food, but it was so worth it!

Fall Meal Plans

School’s back in session, making meal planning a necessity once again. This time, I am trying something different. Instead of different meals each day, I am now trying the same meal all of the weekdays. I am going to make an entree (like a meat) and then have various vegetables in each plate.

I found the best sectioned plates with tops at the dollar store of all places, and I bought ten of them. They stack into each other, so they don’t take up much room. Ten of them will allow me to make five meals in a week for each of us. However, I usually eat at the farm one or two nights, so I may just make eight a week.

I tried this, this past week and I thought maybe we would get sick of having the same thing for a week. Really though, I was just happy to have good food that took no work to prepare after a day of work. Mister has a bad habit of eating junk if there isn’t something ready to go in the fridge, so we both enjoyed it. And, the meals weren’t identical. Some days it was sweet potatoes and corn with the chicken, other days it was butterbeans and corn.

I also liked that I cooked once on Sunday, and that was it. It took two hours to make everything, portion it out into containers, and wash the dishes. During the week, I put our containers in the dishwasher and ran it Friday. So I only had to clean the kitchen once, and do the dishes twice. This seems to be a win-win

So, I opened up my canning talley on one tab, my pinterest recipe board (Meals on the Menu Plan, if you are following me on Pinterest), and picked and chose foods that required the fewest ingredients to be purchased. I went almost all the way through October, which is pretty good!

Week of August 17th

Breakfasts: Nuts and trail mix

Lunch: Pasta salad with tomatoes, dilly beans, and dried veggies

Dinner:

  • Hamburger steak with peppers and onions
  • butterbeans
  • cherry tomato crisp
  • broccoli
  • deviled eggs

Week of August 24th

Breakfasts: breakfast burritos

Lunch: Sweet and sour stir fry (sausage from freezer, peppers, cherry tomatoes)

Dinner:

  • Whole baked chicken
  • stuffing
  • green beans
  • roasted potatoes
  • greens.

Week of August 31st

Breakfasts: breakfast burritos

Lunch: Stuffed peppers (get peppers from garden)

Dinner:

  • Pork Shoulder (from freezer)
  • Apples
  • Rice or stuffing
  • Beans
  • Brussell Sprouts

August Shopping List

n/a

From the farm

peppers

potatoes

broccoli

Week of September 7th

Breakfasts: homemade egg mcmuffins

Lunch: mason jar salads

Dinner:

  • Jerk chicken

  • red beans and rice

  • plantains

  • snaps

Week of September 14st

Breakfasts: Egg muffin cups

Lunch: Tiken Gomen

Dinner: deer fajitas with rice and beans

Week of September 21th

Breakfasts: Boiled Eggs

Lunch: Chicken Paprikash

Dinner: Pasta (get deer sausage) with basil and tomatoes

Week of September 28th

Breakfasts: Breakfast burritos

Lunch: Marinated Veggies and rice

Dinner:

  • bbq meatballs

  • apples

  • corn

  • butterbeans

    September Shopping List:

Lettuce

english muffins

cabbage

plantains

spring rolls

marinated veggies ?

rice

From farm:

eggs

corn

deer sausage

Week of October 5th

Breakfasts: Breakfast burritos

Lunch: Mason jar salads

Dinner: Chicken parmesan casserole

Week of October 12th

Breakfasts: homemade egg mcmuffins

Lunch: Mexican cornbread

Dinner: Deer fajitas with rice and beans

Week of October 19th

Breakfasts: breakfast casserole

Lunch: salsa verde burritos

Dinner:

  • Italian chicken

  • snaps

  • sweet potatoes

  • corn

Week of October 26th

Breakfasts: breakfast burritos

Lunch: chicken cabbage stirfry

Dinner:

  • deer burgers

  • roasted potatoes

  • beans

  • deviled eggs

  • pickles

October Shopping List:

Lettuce

english muffins

cabbage

dollar store spring rolls

rice

bread

From farm:

eggs

corn

potatoes

deer sausage

Suggestions for weekend dinners:

chicken helper

bbq sammiches

burritos/enchiladas

beans with relish

quesadillas

chicken hummus pizza

spring rolls from dollar store

hot dogs

breakfast

sweet potatoes with pulled pork

Frugal Home Improvement Projects

Like everyone, there are some things I do not like about my house. I have been trying to save up to have someone fix them, but other things keep breaking. We had a bad windstorm early in the summer, and the money I had saved for other things had to go toward the deductible. THEN, my oven died, so I had to get a new one of those. I know, it is life, and it happens, and at least I had the money to do those things.

But there are so many other things I wanted done! The vinyl tile in my kitchen had started to come up, and I wanted to replace it with a single piece of linoleum, but it was pricey, and I knew I would have to pay someone to put it down. Finally, I decided I could take it no longer, and anything I did would look better than what was there. So I bought some more of the peel and stick tiles and put them down myself I just pulled up an old one, cleaned up under it well, and put a new one down. I got the boxes of tiles on Amazon, and they were on sale, so I did the whole kitchen floor for about 60 dollars. I love it. Here is a picture, but you can see I have some trim work to do:

I have also hated all of the countertops in my house. I wanted to replace them, but that is pricey. I read on Pinterest about painting laminate countertops, and decided I was going to try it in the little guest bathroom first, because I had already botched a painting project in that room, so how much worse could it look?

So, I followed the instructions from about five different blogs:

Clean the counter. Sand the counter. Wipe off the dust. Prime it (I used a spray primer). Paint the counter with acrylic craft paint and a sponge. Seal with epoxy, polycrylic, etc.

I love it! It really looks better, and I used a coupon for the sponges and the epoxy, plus I have plenty of that left over to do the other bathroom. This cost about ten dollars to do!

I also went and bought paint to paint the walls in this bathroom, since now I love the counter. I got a nice pale lilac. Lowes is running a rebate event on paint, plus I had a 10 dollars off 50 coupon, plus a Lowes gift card I had from cashing in some credit card rewards points, so I got my really nice gallon of paint and all the supplies I needed for 10 dollars!

Give me a few months, and I will have fixed everything I dislike about the house.

The Kid’s First Canning Project

We had The Kid for another three day weekend, and of course she wanted to go down to the farm. It was a rainy day, and we had a bucket of cucumbers, so of course we made pickles.

I told Kid she didn’t have to make pickles, if she would rather play, but she 1.likes to help and 2.likes to be rightthere with me, so we made pickles together.

I had some pickle mix with a recipe for Bread and Butter pickles, so that is what we used.

For every two quarts of pickles, use:

2 cups sugar

2 cups of vinegar

1/4 cup Pickle Spice mix

I sliced the cucumber on the cutting board, and she put them in the bowl. Then, I let her stuff the jars, which she thought was awesome. She took great pride in the fact she filled her jars quicker than me.

While she finished stuffing, I fixed the brine and heated it. Then, I filled each jar, and let Kid put the lid and ring on. Then, into the canner they went.

The quarts went for 15 minutes at a rolling boil, and pints for 10 minutes.

Tadah!

I told her we would put a jar in the fair, and if it wins, she can have the ribbon.

Canning Rabbit

Well, I have canned deer, (lots of deer), lamb for an article, lots of chicken, squirrel, pork, ham, and  now…Rabbit.

Dad butchered the litter than our doe came with, plus a couple freebie rabbits he picked up at a flea market. All together, there were seven rabbits to process.

I got out my waterbath canner and put in all the rabbits, then covered them with water. I let that boil for about two hours. In the meantime, I canned some snaps!

wpid-wp-1435608311366.jpegI took all the meat out of the water and into another pot so it would cool.

Then, I took my nice clean jars, and stuffed them with the shredded rabbit I pulled off the bone.

wpid-wp-1435608325055.jpegNext, I used the same broth that I boiled the rabbit in to cover the meat.

wpid-wp-1435608346489.jpegLeave a bit of headspace, and wipe the rim. If there is any grease on the rim of the jar, it can affect the seal of the jar. Then, I add the new lid, and the ring. Do not overtighten the ring. Just make the ring fingertip-tight.

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Place the jars into the canner. Make sure the rack is on the bottom. Add three quarts of water into the canner. Check the valve on the top of the canner to make sure that it is clear, and then place the top on the canner. Turn on the heat. (*Be sure to read the instructions that came with your canner!*)

Wait until the canner starts to steam, then start timing it. When it has been steaming for ten minutes, then put on the weight. Once the weight begins to rock, then start the time again. For quarts of meat, process at 10 pounds of pressure for 90 minutes, 75 minutes for pints.

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I have the rabbit on the right, and snaps on the left!

When the time is off, turn the heat off the canner, and then just leave it alone. Clean up the kitchen, have a snack, relax. When there is NO pressure on the unit and the pressure regulator has dropped, then it is safe to open the canner. I usually open the canner, and then let the jars cool a few minutes before I try to move them. Always use tongs. Jars are HOT coming out of a pressure canner.

Also, always place hot jars on a towel. Placing them on a cool counter can cause breakage. Wait for the ping. One the little button on the lid is down, they are sealed. Leave the jars alone and do not touch them until they are all sealed. This can take up to 24 hours, but usually everything is done within an hour.

Before putting the jars away, you’ll want to wipe them down. For jars of meat, I wash them in soap and water because they can get a little greasy.

wpid-wp-1435608373555.jpegI did pints and quarts in the canner, but always process for the longest time. I didn’t do much broth because i just did a LOT of chicken recently, but I had this really pretty broth and room for one more jar, so I went with that. It’s super pretty.

Be sure to label the tops of the jars with the year. I am going to have to make sure I label the rabbit as rabbit, too, because it really looks just like chicken!

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Rabbits on the right, Snaps on the left, and here I am, stuck in the middle with you. Haha. 🙂

Was very pleased with the way the rabbit turned out. We will have more to do in a few weeks!