Guess what I'm doing today? Spring cleaning! It finally looks like winter and I'm thinking ahead to the next season. Ran went downstate to help our oldest son build chicken coops for his business and he took Georgie with him. Which means it's the perfect time to clean and run the vacuum all day. Corgis are notorious for the dislike of the vacuum cleaner. I think they are trying to herd them. Oh my! Was this ever the year for the cobwebs! Here's a corner of my spotlessly clean kitchen bathed in the last of the evening sun:
This is also the week that the local thrift store starts their big winter clearance. Most of the clothes were 87 cents! This is the time that I start to look for interesting fabrics and buttons on clothing and nice sweaters to unravel for the yarn. I found a very pretty plaid shirt with a zillion buttons on it. How much does a card of four buttons cost these days? Probably more than 87 cents! Plus the fabric was 100% cotton and very soft. I made three handkerchiefs from it and monogrammed them. Yes, we use handkerchiefs at our house. You don't think I'd spend money on Kleenexes do you? So for 87 cents, I got three handkerchiefs and a dozen pretty buttons.
Speaking of knitting, while cleaning, I found my pattern for how to knit a ripple afghan. These are great for using all those bits of skeins left over from other projects.
Cast on 210 stitches on your longest size 7 circular needles.
Row 1: Knit
Row 2: Purl
Row 3: Knit 6 place a marker then * K2 together three times, Yarn over, Knit 1 six times, Knit 2 together three times* repeat between the *s 11 times. Place marker. Knit 6.
Row 4: Purl 6. Knit to the last six stitches (the marker) and Purl 6.
Repeat these 4 rows until you have reached the length you desire, ending in row 1 and 2. Change the colors of yarn as often as you want. 8 rows per color is nice.
Another little project I just finished up this week is this cute little guy:
The directions on how to make him can be found in How To Sew Little Felt Animals by Sue Quinn. He's just a trial sample, I couldn't find cotter pins in the right size. I discovered that those little brass thingamajigs that you buy at the stationary store to attache several pages together work great in place of the cotter pins. I hope to make an entire woodland family for my granddaughter for Christmas, but this little guy has some problems, so he'll be staying with us.
SCRAPBAGS AND BUTTON BOXES
One of the most economical and fun things to do is to start a scrapbag and button box. Any time you have a piece of clothing that is no longer wearable, rip it apart at the seams, cut out the areas with stains and remove the buttons. The pretty pieces go into a bag for making patchwork, sewing doll clothes and potholders and making cute little guys like the one above for free. The ugly and stained stuff goes into another bag for using to clean up spills and in the workshop. ( I don't buy paper towels either) All the buttons go into a button box. I don't think we ever bought buttons when growing up. My grandmother gave us her button box and it supplied us with buttons for over four decades of sewing. Living through the Great Depression, she knew the meaning of "use it up". She even meticulously picked out all the stitches and saved all the zippers and hem binding. I sort my fabrics into two scrapbags; one for cottons and one for woolens. Here's my pretty woolens just waiting for me to start a new project.
The winds were wicked last week. You could feel them slamming against the house. Being in direct alignment with the lake, we get some pretty brutal weather as the wind travels across the great expanse of Lake Huron. But one advantage for us, was that it downed a lot of branches, some pretty big, including some white pine, which gave us the opportunity to make some white pine salve. (I'm sorry I called it a tincture last week. For some reason I always think of salves as tinctures, perhaps because I'm thinking of tin-ctures, something you put in a tin. A tincture is an alcoholic extract of a plant, btw.) Anywho, to make the salve, gather the inner, white bark of a white pine. Place the bark in a pan along with a handful of the needles and pour enough olive oil over just to cover the bark. Gently warm the oil for around 24 hours or until the white bark starts to turn a rusty brown color and the pine needles lose their color. We do this by placing the pan atop our woodstove. The oil should just be warmed, never simmered or boiled
HOW TO FEED A CROWD CHEAPLY
The other day while shopping I noticed a package of boneless pork chops on sale for $2.09. It was slightly less than a pound. Not enough for everyone but a great opportunity to make one of my son's favorite dishes, pork fried rice. This recipe makes a lot and it tastes just as good as any you'd get in a Chinese restaurant. The secret is in marinading the pork. Here's the recipe:
First prepare the pork but cutting it into thin strips.
Next prepare the marinade:
Combine together in a quart sized zip-lock bag:
3 tbsp. brown sugar
1 tsp. ground ginger
a dash of pepper
1 tsp. paprika
1 tbsp. rice wine vinegar
2 tbsp. ketchup
1 tbsp. soy sauce
1/2 tsp. sesame oil
2 tbsp. Hoisin sauce
1 tsp. garlic powder
and 1 tbsp. or so of hot water, just to thin the marinade a bit.
Add the pork strips and marinade over night.
The next day prepare the rice:
Cook 2 C. of white rice in 4 C. of beef broth until the rice is tender. You may need to add more water (I also add some of my stealth health in the way of some powder kale, purslane and broccoli)
While the rice is cooling prepare the sauce by combining:
1 tsp. sesame oil
2 tbsp. soy sauce
1 tsp. honey
Combine and set aside.
Next stir fry the marinated pork in a wok or large frying pan over high heat with a couple tablespoons of oil. Remove the meat and add vegetables of your choice. I use what I have on hand, mushrooms, green onions, carrots and celery. Bean sprouts are great too, if you have some sprouted. Other vegetables that work are peas, bamboo shoots, water chestnuts, and broccoli. Use as much and as many vegetables as you want. The more you add the farther the dish stretches. Stir fry the vegetables until the are cooked but still crisp. Add the meat back in with the vegetables. Add the rice and heat it through. Now add the sauce and continue to stir fry until the sauce is incorporated and the rice starts to get crispy in spots. Add salt and pepper to taste. There you have it! Pork fried rice and did I mention that it tastes better the second day? Make it a big meal by adding some vegetable egg rolls that a posted about a few weeks back.
I just saw on YouTube a great way to save over $1400 this year. It's really pretty simple. Just get out your calendar and number all the Saturdays of the year, one through 53 (there's 53 Saturdays this year) . Now get out a coffee tin or other container and every Saturday put in the dollar amount that corresponds with that Saturday. You'll have to play catch-up bit that's pretty easy because so far it's only something like $15. Of course it will be harder to make the deposits when it nears the end of the year, when you have to put in 50 - 53 dollars a week, but by then you should become accustom to saving and are making adjustments to reach your goals. Just knowing that you have to save $50 a week in December, with Christmas and property taxes coming due, ought to keep you from getting caught up in all the crazy spending that happens that time of the year.
THRIFTY THINGS WE DID THIS WEEK
Made pine bark salve from a fallen branch
Sewed a little doll from my scrapbag.
Unraveld a thrifted 87 cent sweater for the wool.
Made enough food from $2.00 worth of meat and vegetables that needed using up to last for three meals.
Made handkerchiefs from another 87 cent garment. Salvaged a dozen buttons.
Found a frame at a thrift store for my sampler for $1.50.
Paid cash at the doctor's office and received a 10% discount.
Didn't celebrate Valentines Day
Got some free pallets for firewood. Nice hardwood ones that burned for hours.
Got free shipping when ordering some plants from a mail order source.
Basically stayed home and therfore, didn't spend any money.
So that's it for this week! Hope you all are enjoying the day and have a fun-filled and thrifty week!