Hello dear friends! It has been such a long time since I last wrote, that I had quite forgotten how to post on here. I hope that you all are having a lovely Memorial Day weekend. It is downright hot here. And dry. Just a few short weeks ago we were wondering if spring would ever arrive; the leaves on the trees were so slow to bud. But all it took was a gust of warm weather and we are right back on track.
Well! Since we last met I have had quite a time of it and all I want to say is that I am overjoyed to close the door on Spring 2016! Fortunately, the love of my dear husband and sons and the concern and care of some very dear friends have made the journey easier. Life is too short to go about feeling sad and gloomy. Forgive those that have done you wrong or at the very least file those thoughts away in the back of the cabinet. Who was it that said living well is the best revenge?
In between the trials and tribulation, or LIFE, I've been canning like mad. Mainly meat; hamburg, breakfast sausage and chicken breasts. To can the hamburg, I form the meat into patties the size to fit into a wide-mouthed canning jar. Use the canning ring to make them the perfect size. You want them to be on the thinnish side to ensure that they will be heated through when canning. Then I brown them and place them in a 350 degree oven until just done and just slightly pinkish in the center. Next stack the patties into a clean sterilized jar (4-5 for pints 8-10 for quarts). Pour about 1/2 inch of boiling water into the jars (this keeps them really moist), wipe done the rims, place the lids and caps on and process for 90 minutes under 10 pounds of pressure. (Always check the weight of the pressure needed for your area). Breakfast sausage can be made up the same way. For the chicken breasts, I just cube them into 1 inch pieces and pack them raw into jars. Process for the same amount of time and pressure. Oh! Also when cold packing thing to pressure can, always start with hot but not boiling water in your canner or you jars might crack. Gently bring the water to a boil after putting the jars in. Now when we want a super quick meal, we just open a can of hamburgers, heat them in the toaster oven until heated through (about 15 minutes) and have a nice burger in less time than you can say "fast food! No defrosting required. No freezer aftertaste either. I'd say that canning brings out the flavor of the beef. I impressed myself! Ha!
This brings me to one of my thriftiest of thrift tips. When you find a good sale on something that you use often, figure out how much you use in a year and buy a year's supply. Try to never pay full price for anything, if you can help it. We like to have burgers about twice a month, so I canned 24 pints. Last week we discovered a shampoo that we really liked that was on clearance sale, so we bought enough to last a year. It may be a bit of an expenditure up front, but once you have it, you can strike that item off your shopping list. Always budget for these types of things. Almost every month has some staple on sale.
Of course my thriftiest tip is to start a garden. Learn to garden, can, cook and bake from scratch, do simple repair work, and forage. That will see you through tough times. You'd be surprised at how little money you really need if you are clever.
Yesterday we held our "annual" garage sale. I never intended for it to be an annual event, but each passing year I find that I want less and less, so every year we hold a sale to get rid of things. It was another success, selling out within three hours. Some hints for a successful garage sale:
1. Hold you sale during a busy time for your area. Some towns have city-wide sales days, and many have some sort of festival during the summer. It's pretty obvious that you get the most traffic when the most people are in town
2. Price things cheaply. If your intention is to get rid of things, then price them accordingly. If you want to recoup your money then selling on Etsy or Ebay is a better bet. People that go to garage sales are looking for a bargain.
3. Clean your items. Nothing is worst than a bunch of grimy things. Besides a clean item indicates a well-cared for item.
4. Take advantage of free advertising. Advertise your sale on Craigs list and on garage sale websites. Put up notices on community bulletin boards.
5. Make your signs visible. Use brightly colored poster board and write the address in big block letters so people driving past can read it from within their car as the drive past. Big arrows pointing the salers in the direction of your sale help too.
6. Lead with your best. Place the most desirable items closest to the street so those driving past can see them. Big sellers in our area are nice wooden furniture and antiques, cute household items such as lamps and decorative items. I will and know a lot of people that will just drive past if all I see is a lot of baby things and toys, also a lot of plastic cups, stained clothing and old electronics. It's best to just throw those things out. It just cheapens the look of your sale and no one ever buys those things anyway.
7. Be friendly but don't pester the buyers. When to a few the past weekend where the people were pointing out every item they had for sale. Buyers like to talk about the weather but they don't want to be harangued .
8. Clearly price everything. Personally, I never buy from sales that don't have the prices marked. I always get the feeling that the seller is eyeing you up to see how much they think they can get out of you. You don't have to price everything individually either, you can have a sign that states all clothes are $1.00 or books are 50 cents. BTW, if you have a lot of items such as books, you can always have a bargain such as books 50 cent each or 3/$1. That gives buyers an incentive to haul away more.
9. Have lots of change on hand. No one wants to be held up while the seller tries to find change for that $20. Have at least $100 in fives and ones on hands and lots of quarters, dimes and nickles.
10. Make it a fun atmosphere. Hang banners, play quiet music, be friendly. Give out free cookies if you bake. Let the curious have a peek of your gardens. The nicest compliment I got on Saturday was a young woman that said that my sale was so relaxing that she could spend all day there (and she did spend about an hour). The longer the customers stay the more likely they are to buy something. Plus shy customers seem happier when they are part of a crowd. Having a lot of customers just makes your sale look like a success.
THRIFTY THINGS WE DID THE PAST FEW WEEKS
Bought a car. A combination of research and haggling netted us a $3000 savings on the next lowest price car in our area.
Harvested pounds and pounds of asparagus.
Swapped some of our asparagus for plants.
Canned hamburgers, sausage patties and chicken breasts. Hamburg was purchased at $2.37/ lb, Jimmy Dean sausage 99cents/lb, and boneless, skinless chicken breast for 99 cents/ lb.
Started our garden from plants started from seeds saved from last year.
Held a garage sale.
Sewed an apron from fabric from an old skirt.
Knitted a hat and mittens from the yarn stash.
Found several items on our "shopping" list at garage sales.
Bought an old bench at an estate sale for $15 and painted it Chinese red for my garden. Now it's a focal part of my garden. (I have Chinese style lanterns hanging near it. Pretty!)
Bought a Japanese maple tree on sale for our garden ($14).
"Vacationed" out at our shed/guest cottage several times.
Hung the laundry outside to dry many, many times.
And countless little things such as clicking the lights off when leaving the room, going without instead of running to the store, reusing the dishwater to water the flowers, etc. Little things that don't seem like much, but add up to substantial savings when the accumulate.
Well! I've prattled on here quite a while. I hope that you all are doing well and enjoying life!