Sunday, March 27, 2011

Working on some new stuff...

I have been busy working on some new stuff this past week.  We always seem to get out of the habbit of being less wasteful.  Nothing big, but we need to get back on track.  I made some more cloth napkins this week.  We also finished out last roll of paper towels, so it is back to using cloth towels.  Sometimes you really do need paper towels though, especially when it comes to food.  For instance, patting a whole chicken dry with a cloth towel always leaves fuzzies.  The bad thing is, if we have the paper towels we will use them for everything.  Kind of an all or nothing type deal.  I am going to try and go without them again and see how it works.  I have also been wanting to replace ziploc baggies for awhile now.  I always reuse them, and recycle them when they are too worn out, but I wanted something that I could send to school with my son that wouldn't get thrown out.  Since most of our containers are glass, I decided to make some reusable snack bags.

I wanted to make something that was waterproof so I could send stuff like strawberries or grapes.  I did some research, but there doesn't seem to be any reliable information about the safety of using ripstop nylon or PUL.  I settled for unbleached linen instead.  It works for snacks like pretzels, raisins, and peanuts, and I prefer the idea of using cotton.  I still wouldn't mind having a few bags that could be used for wet snacks so if anyone does know of a place that sells food safe nylon material please let me know :)  They are super easy to make and require little materials so I hope to have a tutorial up on the website by next week!

This week whole chickens were only .85 lb. so that was the focus of my meal planning this week.  I made a roast chicken last night (that turned out awesome!), and chicken salad, and chicken stock today.  Tonight I will use the stock to make chicken noodle soup and the chicken salad will be dinner for tomorrow.   I finished a new page for the website, so check it out if you would like to learn how to make 3 meals from one chicken

Our grocery bill has been a bit out of control the last month or so.  Still trying to get back on track with that as well.  One thing I am working on is serving more whole grain, dry bean, and potato side dishes as well as a veggies side dish with every meal.  This seems to help stretch meals.  Always more things to try and areas to improve I guess!  Hope you enjoy the new page!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Making your own shampoo...

I recently decided that I wanted to stop buying shampoo and start making my own.  I hate all the packaging that comes with store bought shampoo.  Plus all that garbage that gets absorbed into our skin and then goes into our water is just gross.  So I started researching it and there are some really easy and cheap alternatives to shampoo. 

My favorite is a combination of baking soda and apple cider vinegar.  You can find the full page at my website.  Enjoy!!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Finally some nice weather!

This has been the longest winter ever!  This last couple of weeks have been really rough on all of us here.  It has been especially hard on my little boy who loves to be outside.  My husband took Friday off of work so we could get some planting done and it was great to be outside!  We have all felt so much better.  Even my little girl who is only 18 months has been so much happier this weekend.  We went up to the farm Friday to get some stuff done.

The day was so nice!  Blue skies and 65.  A perfect day to do some planting.

My little boy had so much fun helping out.  He planted all of the fingeling poatoes.

We really expanded our garlic patch this year.  We only had 2 rows last year and we have 6 this year.  I also planted a half row of spring garlic. 

Last year we planted arugula for the first time and it is like a weed in the garden now! 

We also had quite a few turnips in the ground still.  Some were baseball sized.

I also found an arrowhead in the garden.  This is the third one I have found in the garden.  This one looks to be in good shape, just missing the tip. 
Today we had some stuff to do around the house.  We are expanding our side garden and I cleaned out the back garden.  We also bought a pound of snap peas that we are planting along all of our fences (aka chicken wire to keep the dog out) to maximize space.

This is actually a lot bigger than it looks.  We planted snap peas all along the fence here.

I found what I suspect (note the word suspect.  As in I don't know for sure so don't take my word for it!) is bittercress.  I can't find a good source for identifying it online, so I am going to pick up Peterson's Field Guide to wild edibles.

We also have a lot of things coming back on their own.  Here is some spinach...

and mustard greens...

And Starbor Kale that we overwintered.  We should get seeds this year from the kale and the mustard greens as it is their second year.  We really enjoy this type of kale.  It has a mild flavor and is great in smoothies.  It is really nice to have all this stuff coming back that we don't have to do anything to!  We also have rhubarb, lavender, ground cherries, cress, horehound, strawberries and other stuff I am forgetting, that will come back on their own.  We still have a lot of planting to do so hopefully the weather will continue to stay nice!  

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

I love thrifting!!!

I am super lucky to live in the midwest where there are a ton of great thrift stores.  I literally have to pass up great deals all the time because I don't have the room, and so far haven't taken the time to open an Etsy shop.  I stopped by my favorite store today to see if they had shorts for my son.  Of course I left with stuff that I had no intention of buying!  I just couldn't pass them up...

This little metal rooster wind-up toy still works.  I always buy this stuff with the intention of selling it, but I don't know if I can part with this.  I have no practical use for it, but it is so cool!

I also found these adorable vintage metal Easter eggs.  Once again, can't decide if I should keep them or sell them.  Oh well!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Doing some sewing...

Of all the crafts I like, sewing in not my favorite.  Now every once in awhile I find a pattern I really like and that changes things a bit.

I picked this up awhile ago when JoAnn's was having a 5 for 5 sale on their patterns.  I mean you can't pass up a deal like that!  Especially when the patterns are usually 6 or 7 bucks each.  This was the first pattern I have made buttonholes with.  I am glad to say it wasn't as hard as I thought it would be.  I was half tempted to just use some velcro, but am glad I didn't.

My daughter is all girl.  As soon as she saw the dress she started pulling on it.  I asked her if she wanted to wear it and she got all excited.  You should have seen her strutting her stuff around the house.  Lol!  I think I am going to try the shirt/shorts combo next.  We got quite a few hand-me-downs, but I don't think they will fit her because of her cloth diapers.  She usually has to wear the next size up in clothes to accomodate the bulk.  I think we might ran to JoAnn's today.  I am thinking about making some reusable snack bags, so I want to search for some organic cotton fabric.  I will keep you posted :)

Sunday, March 6, 2011

New recipe and a new page on growing plants from seed...

I have been working on some new stuff for the website.  I recently added my recipe for chicken enchiladas.  It uses dry beans which really help make this a frugal recipe.  Dry beans are a great way to stretch meat dishes.  You can find the recipe here.

We have also started most of our seeds for this year.  Growing plants from seed saves us a ton of money every year and is not as hard as it sounds.  There is not much of an investment and you can be sure the quality of the plants will be great!  We have had bad experiences with plants purchased from large home improvement stores.  We have a couple of nice greenhouses in town but would go broke pretty quick if we bought all of our plants from them!  I have written a page on how we start our plants from seed.  If you are interested in trying it you should check it out :)

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Kitchen herb garden...

I planted some basil at the beginning of January.  I was desperate to plant something.  I took this a couple of weeks ago.  It is doing really well now.  I actually picked a couple of leaves to use in my spaghetti sauce last night.  We have also started most of our plants.  It is a little early, but we always seem to have small plants so we decided to go a bit earlier this year.  Of course the plants are huge this year, so no idea where the heck we are going to keep them all!  We had to go out and buy another light yesterday.

This really doesn't do justice to the sheer amount of seeds we have.  We probably have 100 different kinds!  We are going to try some really fun things this year and we are really excited.  Hopefully we will have some dry days here so we can get out there and plant some stuff.  I want to direct seed some spinach, corn salad, radishes, and shallots now.  What are you planting this year?