20 December 2007

A Random Christmas Meme

I've been tagged by Erika (who, by the way, makes some fantastic stuff. I love her diaper balm and her fiber lover's hand balm and for a barter she dyed me some yarn, too, that I can't wait to knit it!) Plus she is a really great friend, too!

13 Random things about me and Christmas

1. My all-time favorite Christmas music is The Roger Whittaker Christmas Album. When I was a kid, my parents would always put it on first when we came into the Christmas tree to open presents. When I was a grown-up, I bought it on CD and my kids like it now, too.

2. The year I was 12, it got really cold where I lived (in Houston!) and our pipes froze and burst. We didn't have water for 3 days. My mom was really sick with a virus of some sort, and I remember wrapping a lot of the presents for her and then a plumber came on Christmas Day and fixed the water. Those are the kind of Christmases you don't forget.

3. Fake trees don't offend me. We have a pre-lit slim tree since our house is small.

4. My youngest child is 2 and I still haven't sewn her stocking yet. It's cut out, but not sewn. She uses my old one in the meantime.

5. I don't like raisins in cinnamon rolls. My mother made them both ways to eat on Christmas morning.

6. The last couple years I haven't started wrapping until Christmas Eve when the kids go to bed.

7. I got married 2 days before Christmas. (Happy Anniversary honey!)

8. I like to eat ham for Christmas dinner.

9. It's harder than you think to come up with 13 random Christmas things.

10. In fact, so hard that I started writing this two days ago and couldn't get past 2.

11. Tomorrow I have to go shopping and get the last gift. It's hard to hide a bike for a 7-year-old.

12. We have one of those Fisher Price Little People Nativity sets. Three Christmases ago when we got out the decorations, baby Jesus was missing from the set. He's never turned up, so I finally bought a new one the year before last. I imagine that someday, I will find baby Jesus behind some shelves in the garage and I will have a really good story about "How I found Jesus."

13. We have colored lights on our tree. And usually on the outside of the house. But other projects have pre-empted the outdoor light installation this year.

I can't in good conscience tag anyone this close to Christmas, so do it if you want and leave a comment so I can come read!

07 December 2007

When being frugal bites you in the backside

Yesterday I spent half the day making a triple batch of egg rolls and then I also made beef and broccoli stir fry. I deep fry the egg rolls and make sweet and sour sauce and they are SO good! And I put 3 meals worth in the freezer. Plus the stir-fry is also to die for. The downside is it makes a lot of dirty dishes. And it makes a mess of the stove.

Last night as I was cleaning the stove and the drip pans and washing all the dishes, I realized that being frugal once bit me in the backside.

My long time fans will remember that this house came up for sale the same day that we got an offer on our old house. When we bought this house, we closed on it 3 weeks before we closed the sale of our old house to give us time to move stuff over gradually. Once I came here to do some deep cleaning and I took the drip pans of the stove home with me to the old house to clean there. I have this great trick to clean them; I put them in a pot with some dishwasher detergent and boil them on the stove for a while. When you take them out, the grime just wipes right off. As I walked into the house from the garage, I dropped all the drip pans and three of them got dents on the edges and the paint chipped off. I priced replacements at the home center and they were 5 or 6 dollars a piece. I didn't buy them, and figured I could find them cheaper elsewhere.

Well, I was wrong. I never found them cheaper elsewhere, and now, four years later, I can't even find the same color drip pans. So every time I clean my stove and see those chipped edges, I am reminded that I should have just forked over the $20 to get new ones.

Has something like that ever happened to you?

06 December 2007

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas...

Over at Majestic Congo! All of today's items just went live, so go snatch up some soft-soled leather baby shoes or some beautiful stitch markers or some hand dyed yarn!

21 November 2007

Good, better, best

I have so many interests and hobbies (and children and animals and chores) and I am trying to find a balance, where I can get the things that need to be done finished, in addition to doing something that I want to do.

In October general conference, Dallin H. Oaks gave a talk entitled Good, Better, Best where he talks about how we need to choose the best things to grow closer to God. There are a lot of good things in the world, but they aren't always the best things to occupy our time.

I have know for quite a while that the internet is a huge time-suck for me. I try to show good self-discipline but I often waste time online. The last few days I've kept my computer off and spent my time doing other things. I'm not giving it up completely, but you'll see a lot less of me from now on. Don't forget to check the renovation blog for updates and every two weeks I'll be stocking my leather shoes and other handcrafted goodies at Majestic Congo. My past items will be available at my Etsy shop until I get my website up and running.

On a related note, we stock at Majestic on Friday at noon eastern. Come check out the hand-dyed yarn, beautiful stitch markers, leather shoes, diapers, and other great items made by these talented women whom I am glad to call my friends.

10 November 2007

More cloth shopping bags.

Sorry for the lack of creative, humorous blogging. I did take a picture of my new shopping bags, though.
Shopping bags

07 November 2007

Shoes, shoes, shoes

I have joined the Majestic Congo at Hyena Cart. We stock Thursday November 8th at noon eastern. Come see what all these talented mamas have to offer! I know all these women personally and they have become a wonderful support group. Keep watching my website for when I get it up and running.

04 November 2007

Reusable Shopping Bags

Though I take my plastic shopping bags back to the grocery store for recycling, I still hate bringing them home! Last week I sewed up a dozen cloth shopping bags.

Tomorrow I'll put them to good use when my favorite grocery chain opens a new store just 10 minutes from my house. So long to 30-minute-drives to the store. I will actually be able to buy frozen foods in the summer without taking a cooler packed with ice.

For a tutorial on how to sew cloth shopping bags, visit my Flickr tutorial.

24 October 2007

Who doesn't want to be a winner?

I know I posted about my new vacuum and totally trashed the Dyson, but hey, if I win one, I'll have one to keep in the basement of the new house so I won't have to carry my Hoover downstairs. Go here to enter. Thanks to Stacy for the link!

A Cheesy Title

Yesterday I made a quick trip to the grocery store and while there, I waltzed by the deli aisle to check for markdowns. Sometimes I find cheese marked down to $2 a pound because it's close to its pull date. I found 5 2-lb packages of Cache Valley Medium cheddar for $1.99 each. That's a dollar a pound, people! I don't know if I've ever bought cheese that inexpensively. It's pull date was today, but the packages were still nice and tight, so the medium cheddar will probably be sharp cheddar by the time the last of it is eaten, but sharp cheddar costs more, so my savings will just increase!

19 October 2007

Dog vomit and dead chickens

I really enjoy reading Meredith's blog Like Merchant Ships. She exudes positive energy as she practices cheerful frugality. It's blogs like hers that help remind me that no matter what happens, your attitude can still be positive and you can be happy.

So, despite the fact that I was awakened multiple times during the night by a crabby 2 year-old, it's raining (and mud is being tracked into the house constantly) and by 9am I had already cleaned up dog vomit and disposed of a dead chicken, I know it's going to be a good day.

We've got roof trusses and roof decking going up as I type, and I promise to update the renovation blog by the end of the day.

16 October 2007


This meme was on my friend Erika's blog (go buy some of her diaper balm...it is the best stuff on earth!) , and I thought it looked like fun. Do it if you want and leave a comment so I can come read yours!

1. YOUR ROCK STAR NAME: (first pet & current car) Tawny Sienna

2.YOUR GANGSTA NAME: (fave ice cream flavor, favorite cookie) Chocolate Ginger Snap

3. YOUR “FLY Guy/Girl” NAME: (first initial of first name, first three letters of your last name) MBut

4. YOUR DETECTIVE NAME: (favorite color, favorite animal) Pink chicken

5. YOUR SOAP OPERA NAME: (middle name, hospital where you were born) Nada Midland Memorial (I don't have a middle name!)

6. YOUR STAR WARS NAME: (the first 3 letters of your last name, first 2 letters of your first) Butmo

7. SUPERHERO NAME: (”The” + 2nd favorite color, favorite drink) The Purple Sprite with Lime

8. NASCAR NAME: (the first names of your grandfathers) Kelly James

9.WITNESS PROTECTION NAME: (mother’s & father’s middle names ) Nada Floyd (again, Mom with no middle name!)

10. TV WEATHER ANCHOR NAME: (Your 5th grade teacher’s last name, a major city that starts with the same letter) Watkins Wilmington

11. SPY NAME: (your favorite season/holiday, flower) Autumn Tulip

12. CARTOON NAME: (favorite fruit, article of clothing you’re wearing right now + “ie” or “y”) Strawberry flip floppy

13. HIPPIE NAME: (What you ate for breakfast, your favorite tree) Muffin Maple

14. YOUR ROCKSTAR TOUR NAME: (”The” + Your fave hobby/craft, fave weather element + “Tour”) The "all things fiber" snowstorm tour...As in Tawny Sienna and the All Things Fiber Snowstorm Tour!

Ok, some of them were kind of hokey, but it was fun!

12 October 2007

10 October 2007

Works for me!

Works For Me Wednesday!

Folding towels

I realized that if I sit in front of the towel cupboard (my kitchen lacks drawers) and fold the towels and put them directly into the cupboard, I save myself the task of putting them in a basket and carrying them to be put away. This also works with my cloth diapers. It makes it a little easier to accomplish the job.

08 October 2007


Is breast-cancer awareness month. Take a minute to do your self-exam, and then go enter to win a free digital camera at 5 Minutes for Mom.

04 October 2007

Mommy, will you play with me? Or, how to trick your kids into working

Last week the two older kids had a day off from school because it was parent/teacher conference days. Frugalgirl2 is used to being at home by herself (well, Frugalbaby is here too, but she's not the same caliber of playmate as the older kids). Frugalgirl wanted to play Barbies but her older sister was doing something else and wasn't interested. Since I had to go the school for a conference with a teacher, I was trying to get as much housework done as possible before I left. She came into the kitchen and said "Mommy, will you play with me?"

I said, "Sure, what are we playing?" The answer was Barbies. So I took the dolls little arms and pinched them together around a spoon from the drainer and said that she was helping me put away dishes. To my surprise, Frugalgirl2 thought this was pretty funny and started using her own doll's arms as tongs to put away utensils. After we emptied the dish drainer and moved on to the dishwasher, I said Barbie was tired from all the work and laid her down in the utensil rack.

Then I decided that there was no way I couldn't take a picture.

Barbie is taking a nap

25 September 2007

Is it really free?

One of the only classes I ever got a B in while going to college was Economics. The whole concept of opportunity cost always perplexed me. But as I've gotten older and had more life experience, the idea of opportunity cost is becoming clearer to me.

A couple weeks ago the phone rang. It was one of those surveys. The gal wanted to know if anyone in the household smoked, or had allergies, and what kind of vacuum we have. And that I was entered in the weekly drawing.

Then last week, the phone rang again and it was someone telling me that I had won the drawing! My prize was a set of kitchen knives and a free vacation for 2 adults and 2 kids. The catch? I had to let a guy come over for an hour and give me a sales pitch for an air cleaner.

While the renovation is making this house dirtier than ever and I'm doing my best to keep up with the dirt, the thought of sitting for an hour listening to someone try to convince me to part with my money for something I don't have room for that will surely cost something to maintain.

I told the lady on the phone that I wasn't interested.

I wonder how many people turn down their prizes? Some people will take anything that's free, even if they have no need for it nor a place to store it. Other people don't value their time. While I don't profess to be someone who doesn't procrastinate, I certainly know that I don't want to listen to an hour of sales pitch only to decline the offer.

Then this morning on Frugal Hacks, Kim posted a free offer for pearls from Overstock.com. It turns out that you actually have to sign up for the email notification club from Overstock. I happen to own a strand of pearls already that my parents gave me when I graduated from college. So, since I don't need another strand of pearls, and I'd just delete every email that Overstock ever sent me, I didn't sign up. Just because it was free, it doesn't mean it comes without a cost. If I needed a gift for someone or I really liked ordering from Overstock.com, then maybe this would have been a great deal. But for me, trying to cram 6 people and a dog into 1400 square feet in the midst of a remodel, the last thing I need is more stuff to do and more stuff to take care of.

I've noticed that when I don't see the sales flyers from places like Target, I don't see things that I "need" as often. When I'm living my day-to-day life and I notice we're short on tissues, I write it on the shopping list on the fridge. Then, if I happen to be shopping and find a sale on tissue, I stock up. If we run out before I find a sale, I buy one box at a time until I find a better deal. It's dollar-cost-averaging.

Frugal living doesn't just mean finding the cheapest price on anything and everything. It's about deciding what you really need and what you can live without. I can live without a new strand of pearls, and I can live without a set of kitchen knives. I like the knives I have, thank you very much.

24 September 2007

And my heart skipped a beat

Late last night I went outside with a bucket of food scraps to dump in the chicken coop. I noticed that the water was empty but since it was night, I resolved to go out early in the morning and fill the water up.

This morning about 7:00, I heard a chicken making a racket outside. Often after they lay an egg, they cluck and cluck until I go out and give them some encouragement (Good chicken! Thanks for laying an egg!), but they will often make a racket if they are out of water. Some neighbors of ours once ignored an early-morning chicken racket and went outside to discover that the coop door had been left open and all the chickens had been eaten by raccoons. Since I knew they were out of water, I dragged my bum out of bed. In the back of my mind, I was worried that a raccoon was out there terrorizing them. Just yesterday two chickens had squeezed out of the tiny hole in the chicken wire where the water dish is. I turned on the hose and went around to the coop. I filled the water bucket, fed them, and then counted. And counted again. Checked the roost and the egg boxes and counted again. We were short a chicken. It was Midnight, a Black Star who lays brown eggs. I started looking around for her remains. I was sure that if she was out, that raccoons would have gotten her for sure. Frugalboy came out and I told him she was missing. We looked over near the addition, and there she was! Strutting around, oblivious to the fact that she had nearly met her demise. The dog was out with us. Tawny is an excellent chicken herder. Unlike Border Collies or Cattle dogs (heelers), she doesn't nip at what she's trying to herd. She can usually round up the chickens and send them back to their coop without even touching them. For a while the chickens were trained to head back to the coop if they even saw the dog outside. I haven't let the chickens out at all this summer though, to preserve the harvest in the garden, so Midnight was out of the habit of heading home when she saw the dog. Instead of going back to the coop, she hid in a juniper bush. I was able to pick her up and carry her back to the coop.

I made an attempt to secure the water dish in the opening of the chicken wire and I hope that no more chickens try to escape. These hens are kind of like pets. They all have names, and to think of losing one made me panic just a little!

Which brings me to my dilemma. We got 5 chicks last spring to replace a few of the older hens. Ideally, I'd have 6 or 7 chickens, maybe 8, but not 10. It is too many eggs for us to eat without getting tired of eggs. I haven't decided which older chickens will be the first to go, because they all seem to be laying. In the meantime, I'm feeding 10 chickens. we've been going through about 100 pounds of feed in a little over a month. I am sure that it is more expensive than buying eggs. I don't keep track of egg production, nor do I raise chickens to save money on eggs. I raise them more for the self-sufficiency aspect. But to spend $20 a month of chicken feed seems to be a little expensive! Right now I feed them Purina Layena because it has the calcium in it to help the shells be hard. A lot of commercial feeds don't provide the calcium so you have to supplement with oyster shells or something else. When I raised chickens for meat, the man who did our processing recommended that I drive to a farm town about an hour away to their local grain mill and buy what was called 4H pig feed. The mill blends it especially for the local 4H kids and it was just a mix of wheat and corn with a protein content of 17%. We mixed the pig feed with the meat grower ration and it lowered our feed cost for raising the birds. It slowed their growth down enough that we could put off processing for a week or so. I also think it made the chickens taste better than the year before. It is much cheaper (almost half the price) and comes in 100 lb sacks. I guess I need to do some research and find out if I can feed that pig ration to the laying hens as long as I throw in some calcium. Anyone have some experience and could you offer advice?

16 September 2007


Here's a picture of before, and here is after.
Sewing table, mostly clean

It's not perfect, but every time I walk by, I want to sit down and sew.

10 September 2007

I've been tagged...

by Lena.


What is his name?


How long have you been together?
almost 12 years, married almost 11

How long did you date?
just under a year

How old is he?

Who eats more?

Who said I love you first?
Honestly, I can't remember!

Who is taller?
He is.

Who sings better?

Who is smarter?
I am pretty dang smart but he is smarter

Whose temper is worse?

Who does the laundry?

Who does the dishes?

Who sleeps on the right side of the bed?

Who pays the bills?
Both of us do

Who mows the lawn?
usually him

Who cooks dinner?

Who drives when you are together?
Usually him

Who is more stubborn?
Me Him me

Who is the first to admit when they are wrong?

Whose parents do you see the most?

Who kissed who first?
He kissed me

Who asked who out?
It's kind of a complicated story, so I don't know.

Who proposed?

Who is more sensitive?

Who has more friends?
Probably me, but he has more "old friends" from the past. I have lost touch with most people

Who has more siblings?
me, I have 4 and he has 3

Who wears the pants in the family?
We share things pretty equally but he's the big bad boss

I don't know if anyone reads my blog who hasn't already been tagged, so considered yourself tagged if you read this, then comment so I can come read yours.

31 August 2007

Another Yogurt Update

Yesterday I successfully cultured vanilla yogurt! I am so stoked. Before I stirred the milk into the starter, I added sugar and vanilla extract. It's quite sweet so I'll cut back on the sugar next time, but I added 1 cup of sugar and 1 tbsp vanilla extract to 1 quart of milk. Next attempt? Lemon.

30 August 2007

Yogurt tutorial

I added pictures to my instructions on how to make yogurt.

Lately I've been making whole milk yogurt because it makes such delicious smoothies. They are almost like milkshake made with ice cream!

20 August 2007

Finally growing up

It's about time. Maybe it's because I turned 30 this year. But I'm finally able to can and have all my jars seal, sew things that don't look homemade, and be satisfied with my handwriting.

18 August 2007

I can't think of a good title for this one

But I know I've been a slacker blogger lately and it's because I have been too busy to upload photos and spend time writing clever blog entries for you to laugh over.

But, in a nutshell, I have been canning green beans, supervising construction, picking a bushel of peaches, playing referee to 4 kids, keeping up with the laundry, not keeping up with the dishes, trying to pawn off extra zucchini, and moving hoses around my parched yard.

Two and a half weeks until the three older ones are in school, and we still want to make it to all the touristy things we haven't done yet this summer.

10 August 2007

Amateur photography

A couple days ago we discovered a pair of fawns waiting for their mother in one of our neighbor's yards. They stayed there all day! I saw them again tonight and went home and got the camera. They weren't as close to the road as they were when I first saw them, but I think I still got some decent shots.
playing with the sepia feature

New Flickr uploader

I just uploaded 19 pictures to flickr and it was SO much easier than it ever has been. I'm not excited about downloading free software that might corrupt the hard drive so I'd never used the uploading tools before. Wheee!

07 August 2007

Filling The Hollow Tree

I'm adding the Hollow Tree back to the sidebar. I am teaching some of my friends to can this summer so I planted extra green beans to share. I'll add the teaching-to-can sessions to the Hollow Tree list but the jars will be going home with the "students."

01 August 2007

Let's get to the short of it

In the midst of all the renovation going on, we made a quick trip over to eastern Idaho last weekend to see my sister's first baby be blessed in church. I made significant progress on these shorts for Frugalbaby and it took me over a week to knit the last inch and get them finished. The yarn is Kool-aid dyed by my friend Sarah and I received it in our recent Magic Yarn Ball swap. Heidi detailed the events over at her blog. If you scroll down to Tami's picture you'll see the yarn I did, which there are pictures of up on Flickr but I never got around to blogging it.

30 July 2007

25 July 2007

How to Can Green Beans

8 weeks to the day after I plant green bean seeds, I am usually able to go out and harvest beans for the first time. Every few days in the summer I end up canning beans. Want to know how? Read on. Make sure you follow the direction for your own pressure canner, though, and for your own altitude.

First, you'll need one of these. For low-acid foods like vegetables and meats, you have to use one. It gets hotter than boiling so the food is preserved properly.

The Pressure Canner

You'll want to read through the directions that come with your canner to familiarize yourself with them, but they are all similar.

Then, I get some clean jars in the clean sink and let them sit in hot water until I'm ready to fill them. If the jars are hot, they are less likely to break when you add hot liquid. I didn't use to do this until one summer half of the beans I did didn't seal. I don't worry about it for fruits, though.

Heating up the jars

Then you'll want to put some water in your canner and start heating it up. Mine wants about 3 quarts.

Water in the pressure canner

You'll also need some vinegar and some salt. The vinegar helps white mineral deposits from parking themselves on your jars when you pull them out of the canner (especially if you have hard water like me) and the salt is for the beans. You'll want canning/pickling salt because it doesn't have the anti-caking agents that table salt has that can make the liquid in your jars cloudy.

Vinegar and Salt

Before you start all this other stuff, you'll want to prepare the beans. Wash them, snap off both ends, and break them into the lengths you want. Smaller pieces fit better into the jars but take longer to prepare. Mine are about 2 inch pieces.

Prepare the beans

You also want to get a big pot of water on to boil. This is for filling the jars with after we put in the beans. This method of canning is called raw pack. The beans are raw when we put them in the jars. Hot pack would be if we cooked the beans in water and then packed them in the jars.

Boil some water

The next pot you need to get on the stove is a small pan with a little water in it and the flat lids. Follow the directions on the package, but typically you bring the water to a simmer and let the lids sit until you're ready for them.

Canning really heats up the kitchen. Look at all these pots!

If you can't stand the heat...

Next you want to start putting the beans into the empty jars. Shake them down a little as you go to fill in any big pockets. But then leave an inch of room at the top. This is called headspace and will help the jar seal.

Fill jars with beans

After you have all the jars filled, put some salt in each jar. I use 1/2 teaspoon per pint. You can use less or more or none. That is one of the nice things about preserving your own food.

Add salt

I put the salt in after the beans so I know which jars have salt in them. Also, if you preload the jars with salt and you've under- or over-estimated how many jars you'll need, that's another thing to remember.

All seasoned

Now add boiling water to each jar, leaving about an inch of headspace (it's not critical to be exact at this point). You can use a wide-necked funnel but when it's just water, I don't mind spilling. For sticky stuff I definitely use the funnel.

Adding boiling water to jars

Next you'll take a thin plastic utensil--either a knife or the handle of a spatula (there is a special tool made for this, too, I think) and run it around the edges of the jar to release any air bubbles that may still be trapped. Plastic won't accidentally break a jar like metal could.

Remove air bubbles

Now measure your headspace again. It needs to be an inch. If you need more, use a spoon to borrow water from the next jar over that looks like it has too much. Or ladle more from the big pot of water. If you have too much, spoon it out.

Measuring headspace

Almost done! Now get a clean rag or washcloth and get it wet and wipe the rims of the jars. This makes sure that nothing gets in the way of the seal.

Wiping the rims

Now it's time for lids. If you don't have one of these nifty magnetic wands, use some tongs or something because you will burn your fingers.

Don't burn your fingers!

Center the lid on the jar.

Lids on jars

Don't forget that you need to work quickly but don't rush and forget something. Screw the ring on over the lid. When you start to meet some resistance, give it a little more twist. Don't screw them on tight or the air can't escape and let the jar seal.

Screw the ring on

Now put the jars into the canner that has the boiling water in it. These jar tongs are very helpful.

Putting jars into the canner

All the jars in the canner. In a pressure canner, it's all right if the jars touch each other. You can even stack small jars on top of each other. I had to cram these in to get them to fit.

All the jars in the canner

Now I put the lid on and twist it so it locks. Your canner may be different but it will be similar.

Put the lid on tightly

When the steam starts coming out of the vent in a steady stream, set the timer for 7-10 minutes. This exhausts all the air out of the canner.

venting the steam

When the time is up, you put the pressure regulator on. This will allow the pressure to build up inside. The little button on the lid of this canner pops up to let you know there's pressure in there.

Put the pressure weight on

The dial will start turning. When it gets to 12 pounds, I start the timer. Most instructions in canning books are for 10 pounds. Then you add pounds to adjust for altitude. Here in the Boise area we can at 12 pounds. Set the time for 20 minutes. If the dial should happen to go below 12, stop timing and restart again when it gets back to 12. I always reduce the heat because the dial keeps going up. I haven't perfected it yet to keep it at 12, but too much pressure is fine.

Dial has reached 12 pounds

When the timer rings, remove the canner carefully from the heat. Now let it sit until the dial reaches 0 and the little button drops, indicating there's no pressure left in the canner. Don't try to let any pressure out by tipping the regulator or cool it quickly by putting it in water. You'll just break the jars and probably burn yourself.

Remove from heat

When the pressure is gone and the button drops, remove the regulator and carefully open the canner away from you.

Remove the pressure weight

Lift the jars out one at a time, trying to keep them level.

Removing the jars

Put the jars on clean towels at least an inch apart so they can cool. Leave them until they are completely cool.

Place jars at least an inch apart on towels

Now let them cool for up to 24 hours. Usually I wait 10 or 12. They'll be room temperature.


When they're all cool, wipe the jars off if they're dirty (not usually with beans, but peaches will practically require a bath) and write the date on the lids. If you did more than one batch in a day, label the batches with numbers or letters so you know which is which. Also check to make sure that the center of each lid is down (it doesn't pop up and down when you press it) to check the seal of each jar. I have found that the longer it takes me to get the jars out of the canner, the better they seal. I had to run a quick errand while these beans were depressurizing so I didn't take them out right away. They had all sealed before I even opened the canner. But if you rush to get the lid off, then get them out quickly, they are more likely to not seal. So go check your email before you take the jars out of the canner. Also, before you store the jars, remove the rings.

If you have some jars that didn't seal, you can either re-process them with new lids and rings or you can put them in the fridge and eat them in the next couple days.

Date the jars

When you're ready to eat them, as an extra precaution, it is recommended to boil the beans for at least 10 minutes since they are low-acid. I add a pat of butter and serve them to my hungry kiddos!

24 July 2007

Another Birthday!

Back on July 9 the first Frugalgirl turned 7! She had a butterfly cake.
Butterfly cake

I promised her that the next thing I sewed would be a tutu just like her sister's, but I haven't had time yet to sew anything.

I've uploaded tons of demolition photos to flickr and I'm stealing a minute here and there to update the renovation blog. Soon, I promise!

17 July 2007

With a capital C

Life around here is about to get c.r.a.z.y.

With a capital C.

In the morning, my excavator guy is coming to dig a new drainfield for our septic system.

When he's done, he's going to use his backhoe to pull down our existing family room, and dig a basement.

The next day, a concrete guy is coming to pour the footings and foundation for said basement.

Then, Frugaldad and I will work during every free minute to build and enclose the addition before the winter.

I created a new blog for updates. Check it out!

15 July 2007

Snack update

After a week of my new snack program, here's my opinions.

Three yellow snack tickets per day is way too many. Some of the kids used them up exactly but some had some leftover. I did notice that they were much more aware of their snacking habits and it was easier to limit portion size (i.e., 2 graham crackers per ticket), they had enough yellow tickets that they never ate green snacks. After a trip to the grocery store on Thursday, there was a lot of fresh fruit so Frugalgirl1 often chose an apricot instead of something else, but for the most part, they didn't change their eating habits.

The number of red tickets that I handed out was perfect. I gave them each three for the whole week. We usually have what we call "candy bar Friday," where they get to have a candy bar in their lunch box or for an afternoon snack. I told them they had to pay for their candy bars, so they had to keep one red ticket in reserve for the whole week.

Tomorrow when I dole out the tickets, I am reducing the number of yellows by half. They'll each get 10 tickets to last until next Monday. They'll still get 3 red tickets. The hardest part for me will be keeping the green snacks appealing by having ripe fresh fruit, but in the summer that is a lot easier to do.

13 July 2007

Making something from nothing

These days I feel like I spend so much time washing dishes and wiping counters, and weeding and moving hoses, which allows for a lot of introspection but not a lot of time for blogging. After I made dinner a couple times this week, I realized that I had been creating something out of nothing. Saturday afternoon I hit the grocery store to look for some dinner inspiration and boneless pork chops were on sale for "buy one, get one free." This made the per-pound price only $2 which is a bargain for any type of boneless meat these days. I picked up two packages, put one in the freezer, and left the other in the fridge for Sunday's dinner (what did I get for Saturday's dinner, you ask? BOGO tilapia fillets which I fried up in a pan. Came to $3/pound which might be the cheapest tilapia I've ever seen) Sunday night I sauteed the pork chops and made a creamy gravy with the drippings. There were two chops left over, plus some sauce, so I thinly sliced them, put them in a container with the gravy and put them in the fridge for a future dinner.

The designated leftover night arrived, and I cooked the remainder of a package of fettucini that I found in the pantry (I weighed it and it was a little more than 5 oz). Then I mixed the sliced pork and gravy with a can of cream of celery soup, about 1/2 cup sour cream, 1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese, and the cooked noodles. I put it all in a greased 10x8 baking dish, sprinkled more cheese on top, and baked it until it started to bubble on the edges, maybe 20 minutes. It turned out really yummy!

Then the next night, I happened to have leftover cooked shredded chicken in the fridge, as well as a bag of mixed greens from the garden. They had been in there for 10 (!) days but had been washed and spun dry, so they were still crisp and fresh. I also cut up some tomato, cucumber, and onion, and had some pita bread so we ate chicken salad pitas for dinner. They were delicious. And there was enough left that I got one for lunch the next day.

Both of these dinners were created with leftovers that were used in a completely different way than they had been served the first time. I certainly don't expect you to ever be able to reproduce them (I'll never even be able to reproduce the pork casserole because I didn't measure anything when I made the gravy or the casserole) but this is the sort of living that reduces waste and encourages creativity with what you have. And I think that is the definition of being frugal.

09 July 2007

Snack Attack!

About a month ago I had this fantabulous idea about how to encourage my kids to eat more healthy snacks. One day I had given the kids a granola bar for their morning snack, and Frugalgirl1 (who is turning 7 today! Happy Birthday!) had the gall to ask me "How many granola bars can we have?"

I had always limited things like that to one per day anyway, but I had a brainstorm that I finally put into practice today. I'll report back on the progress.

I've divided up snack foods into 3 categories--green, yellow, and red. Green snacks are unlimited. At snack time, they can choose any green snack. Green snacks are fruits and veggies. Now, some people may disagree with my choice, but I have also included cheese and bread in the green snack category. The bread can't be covered in jam or honey; it has to be plain or with butter.

Yellow snacks have to be purchased with a yellow snack ticket. I have alloted the kids 3 yellow snack tickets per day. I handed out a week's worth. I am encouraging them to limit their yellow snacks to 3 per day so they will still have yellow tickets at the end of the week. Yellow snacks include almost everything. Granola bars, crackers, popsicles, muffins, etc. They are generally healthy foods but not the best choice.

Red snacks are the things I don't want them to have every day, like candy, marshmallows, cupcakes, etc. I have given them 3 red tickets for the whole week.

Maybe I should have given out fewer yellow tickets to begin with, but I am kind of hoping they learn to eat fruits and veggies instead of crackers.

on to other random topics...

haying time

We had the hay cut, baled, and sold in a period of 4 days.


This picture was also taken on July 3 and this morning I picked the first zucchini. There will be more in a day or two. Let the grilling of vegetables begin! I can't even wait!

07 July 2007


Why on earth would anyone need more than one way to carry a baby around?

This is what I used to think, until I was introduced to all the fabulous ways to wear your baby. I have sewn two ring slings, a pouch, a gauze wrap, and I'm itching to do a Mei Tai.

Now I've found another one...and it will be even better if it's free! Go enter here to win a carrier made by Jenn of All Natural Mommies. Thanks to Erika for the heads up on this contest!

Knee High by the 4th of July

Knee High by the 4th of July

15 June 2007

Better than fruit snacks

better than fruit snacks
What more could you ask for?

14 June 2007

All a flutter

This picture is to tempt Heidi, who won the contest. As soon as I get these adorable little shoes packaged up, they'll be in the mail!
Butterfly shoes

05 June 2007


Bird shoes

These shoes were also a gift.

I have been sewing for more than half my life, and more than half my stuff turns out looking sloppy because I hadn't really learned how to make it look neat. But I am figuring it out!

01 June 2007

What's up?

I love walking out to the garden to see what has come up since yesterday! Since I last reported, here's what's up:

Yellow squash
Butternut squash

The only thing that hasn't come up yet is the honeydew. This morning I planted cilantro, basil, and parsley in the herb bed. I can hardly wait!

30 May 2007

Yooooooou're out!

These adorable little shoes are a gift for a friend of mine who recently had a baby boy.
Baseball shoes

29 May 2007

One more picture, and a contest!

Here's one more shot of something growing in my yard. The first person to correctly identify it wins their choice of a pair of soft-soled shoes or a skein of hand-painted yarn. The only hint I'll give is that those buds are about to be flowers, not fruit. Good luck!

eta: not to sound confusing, but the flowers will be fruit eventually, but to me the picture looks like berries right now.

guess this plant

28 May 2007

A Birthday!

I can't believe she's four! She wanted another Barbie cake and volunteered her own doll for the cake when I told her I didn't have one.
Barbie cake
And has been asking for months for ballet clothes, so that's what she got.