Experimenting with Laundry Detergent

I have been making my own laundry detergent for almost two decades. I switched to using a powdered version instead of a liquid version because it takes so little time to make and requires almost no storage room. However, in the last year or so, I have noticed a white residue on my clothes and I don’t think my homemade detergent is rinsing out.

Time to try a new variation.  Continue reading

Frugal Endeavors

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November 9, 2015 – November 16, 2015

The week started with a warm sunny day encouraging us to spend the day cleaning up the yard before winter sets in. And then rain came, followed by the snow. Winter seems to be on its way.

The cool, wet weather certainly encouraged us to stay home. With all this time we managed to get several home improvements finished. I worked on eating down the freezer. I made teriyaki using a recipe found online.  I will definately use this recipe again. I also used up some of my pumpkin in a curry recipe.  I substituted ½ of the chickpeas for cauliflower because to tempt the Man. He was a little skeptical of having a meat free meal and cauliflower is one of his favorite foods. Cauliflower was also on on sale this week. It turned out well enough that we had it for dinner the next night and froze the leftovers for a future meal. The cool, wet weather was perfect weather for sitting by the fire working on Christmas presents.

What frugal endeavors did you take on this week?

 

Frugal Endeavors

I think this once belonged to a skunk.

I think this once belonged to a skunk.

October 20 –  October 31

The second half of the month began with us sharpening our frugal skills as we received news that more than half our monthly income would disappear, immediately.  Not the worst news we could receive but not the best news we could receive either.

Our first step was to go through our fridge and see what we could use up to ensure that we could stretch our food budget.  I made Clara’s Poorman’s Meal and Autumn Sausage Casserole to use up some sausage. These meals feed us for most of the week.  We spent a day hunting and we were lucky enough to take a deer.  We will process it ourselves. I am so grateful for the food it will provide for us over the winter, especially in light of recent events.

My neighbor gave me a remarkably large pumpkin for Halloween.  I plan to bake it and freeze it for future meals.

My Sweetie made me a magazine rack out of leftover wood from other projects. I fixed another tee shirt from the mending pile. I made fabric softener and hair de-tangler from a $0.75 bottle of hair conditioner. I still have a little conditioner left in the bottle, but when the bottle is empty, I intend to use it to make a holder to hold my cell phone while it charges. Not bad for $0.75!

I planted garlic and split wood and kindling. We went for a walk on our property and I found an animal skull. I think it once belonged to a skunk.  I brought it home, soaked it in a bleach and water solution and took it next door for the neighbor boys to try and identify.

I hope you all had a frugal and happy Halloween.

 

 

Getting Ready for Winter – crochet hats

One hat in the works.

One hat in the works. The beautiful yarn bowl was a gift from my very talented friend. More of her work can be found at her website.

Despite the warm, sun kissed days we have been experiencing, I know winter is on its way. As part of my winter preparations, I took a look at my winter clothing and realized that I do not have anything to keep my head warm while working outside or for wearing inside while waiting for the heat from the wood stove to fill our house. Even though I struggle with crocheting hats, I decided to try again and dug out my hook and went through my stash of yarn. I am making my hats out of wool because I find that wool keeps me warmer and last longer.

The green wool shown above was left over from a sweater I made for myself several years ago. That yarn was found in a house that my brother had purchased and cleared out.  I searched the local thrift stores, but 100% wool yarn is hard to find. I finally went to a local fiber store and bought a skein on sale for $2.00 of a very pretty blue wool from Ireland.

Most crocheters find that hats are not hard to make with a bit of practice.  Several patterns are available for free on the internet and most libraries will have books to lend. Many libraries and yarn stores host beginner knitting or crocheting classes for those interested in learning. These are the patterns I am going to try:

Grow Creative: Shell Stitch Crochet Hat- Free Pattern: A shell stitch hat made from the scrounged green wool.

 

 

 

Amazing Grace Free Hat Pattern

An Amazing Grace Hat using the blue, on sale wool.

 

 

 

51.1.redThis pattern would be an excellent way to use up bits and pieces of leftover yarn.

 

 

Simple Crochet Beanie Hat Plus Other Matching Crocheted Accessories - Photo © Michael Solovay

I’m thinking about using a variegated yarn in my stash to make this simple beanie.

 

 

Hats usually require only a skein of yarn.  While it’s true that good yarn is expensive, there are a few ways of obtaining good quality yarn for little money.  One is to put the word out to family and friends.  Many crafters have yarn they are willing to give away to whoever will use it. Thrift stores are another resource of not only skeins of yarn but also of sweaters that can be unravelled or “frogged” and the yarn reused.  I have done this several times and have ended up with several skeins of good quality fibre for very little money. An excellent tutorial of what to look for and how to frog a sweater can be found here.

Now I am ready to meet winter head on!

How about you? How are you getting ready for winter?

Frugal Endeavors

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October 5 – 12

Another busy week but I managed a few frugal “wins.”

On Tuesday, I took in the recycling before hitting the thrift store to pick up some fabric for my winter quilt. Then I went to the library to work on a project. I discovered a new reference book and was about to check it out when the librarian advised me that an updated version was available on the “for Sale by Donation Table.” I donated $3 to the library (all the change in my wallet) and walked out with a new and very informative reference book.

On Wednesday, a friend from work sent a spaghetti squash home for me to try. I have not tried spaghetti squash yet, and I’m looking forward to trying out a few new recipes.

On Thursday, I backed a gluten free lemon loaf to pack in my lunches to eat while working a temp job. This gig will only last a few days but it could be very busy.

I worked a four-day temp position. I was scheduled for only a couple of hours but they were so busy that I stayed for the entire 8 hours (and then some).

A friend gifted us with a bag full of fish caught by his son who is an avid fisherman. This windfall included two whole salmon.

My neighbor knew I was working late at my side gig and sent over Thanksgiving leftovers including a jar full of dried apples. We have enough turkey and fixings for meals for a couple of days. And, yes, I do have wonderful friends and neighbours.

How was your week?

Making an Infused Oil – Spice Oil from Good and Cheap

Making Spice Oil

This recipe comes from Leanne Brown’s book Good and Cheap. This cookbook is an excellent resource for anyone trying to feed themselves on a budget.

I like that she includes recipes for “flavor.” A little something added to a dish of plain food can add a little love to a plain, boring dish and we can all benefit from a little extra love.

Here is the recipe:

Spice Oil

Lots of flavour here!

Lots of flavour here!

Ingredients:

1 clove garlic – crushed with the side of a knife

1 cup olive or vegetable oil (I used grapeseed oil, because I was out of everything else)

2 tbsp chili flakes or dried red chilies (Used a red chili from my overactive chili plant)

1 tsp Sichuan or regular peppercorns

1 star anise

½ tsp cumin seeds (I used ground because that is what I had on hand)

¼ tsp salt

Method:

Add all of the ingredients to a small pot.

Warm the mixture over low heat for about 10 minutes, until it starts to bubble gently and you can hear a bit of a sizzle and then turn off the heat. You want to heat it just enough to let the spices infuse into the oil, without getting so hot that the spices start to cook or fry.

Once cooked, Leanne says to remove the pot from the stovetop and put it in the fridge with a lid to allow the spices infuse for4 to 8 hours. I don’t like to put hot or warm stuff in my fridge because I think it makes the fridge work harder thus using more electricity to maintain its cool temperature. I decanted the warm oil into a glass jar, waited until it cooled on the kitchen counter and then I let the oil infuse overnight in the fridge.

Alternatively, I would use thoroughly DRIED ingredients and let this oil infuse on a windowsill, like I did to make infused comfrey oil. Using dried ingredients (especially garlic) is important to reduce the risk of botulism. If this oil turns out to be a hit and something we use, I might try making a batch using my slow cooker.

Whatever method you use, taste the oil once the infusing process is over to determine if it is spicy enough for you. If not, keep infusing. If it is, strain the oil, bottle it, and store it in the fridge. Leanne Brown recommends keeping it for only a week. I don’t think I could use that much in a week and I might be tempted to keep it longer but I certainly would throw it out after a month or if it looked or smelled off. A bout of food poisoning is never frugal!

We will be trying this oil on different dishes. Come back and see what we used it for.

 

Fiesta Corn Relish

Fiesta Corn Relish

Fiesta Corn Relish

Fresh Corn on the Cob

Fresh Corn on the Cob

 

Some time during the summer, I can expect to see someone selling corn on the side of the road.

 

 

 

Honour System

I don’t know who the someone is because they are never there.  They leave a jar on the table to collect your payment.  Its a system that seems to work.

We bought 12 ears for $10.00.  I used 8 of them to try out a new canning recipe.

I like this recipe because they provide the option of using frozen corn instead of fresh which is handy if you can’t access fresh corn on the cob or find a good sale on frozen corn. The cookbook provided two different recipes that use a jar of the canned relish. One recipe for pasta salad and one for corn chowder.  I don’t use a lot of relish though the year so the versatility of this recipe is an added bonus. It also makes a small batch thus reducing my risk if it turns out I don’t care for it.

Fiesta Corn Relish

from The Complete Book of Year Round Small-Batch Preserving

by Ellie Topp & Margaret Howard

  • 5 to 6 large ears of fresh corn or 4 cups frozen corn
  • 1 hot yellow pepper seeded and chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 ½ cup cider vinegar
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • ½ cup of chopped red onion (I used a white onion fresh from the garden)
  • ½ cup chopped sweet red pepper
  • 1/3 cup chopped green onion
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon pickling salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 Tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro (omitted)

Cook corn in a large pot for 6 minutes. Leave to cool. When cool, cut the kernels from the cob.

Yummy sunny colours cooking in my pot.

Yummy sunny colours cooking in my pot.

While your empty jars are boiling in the canner, add corn and all other ingredients (except the cilantro) to a large, heavy pot and simmer, uncovered for 20 minutes.  Add cilantro (or not) and cook for another 2 minutes.

Fill jars leaving ½ inch of headspace. Add prepared lids, rings and process in a water bath canner for 15 minutes for half pint jars, making the necessary adjustments for altitude.

Yield – about 4 ½ cups.

Finished product

Finished product