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Sunday, May 29, 2016

SPRING AT LAST!

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. 
Ran has been working very hard to get the garden "in".  Every day I waffle between loving or loathing my flowerbeds.  At this very moment my beloved lilacs are in bloom so I am feeling kindly toward them, but when the weeds take over and it's hot, well then, I would be quite content to plow them under.  A gardener's heart is a fickle thing!  BTW, if you can plant only one bush in your garden, I would highly recommend it be a Beauty of Moscow lilac. Now that is a thing of beauty!  And a true lilac scent to boot.  Unfortunately no picture I could take would ever do it justice, you'll just  have to Google it if you are curious.

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!

Hugs
Jane












 

16 comments:

  1. Hi Jane!!!!!! I am excited to see your post! I am glad it finally warmed up there, and I looked at that lilac variety. So pretty! I will keep it in mind. (That and the hazelnut bush!)

    I love your garage sale tips. As for the most annoying one that some people do (not many luckily)...not putting prices on...I just walk away. I even walked into a little candy shop in Harper's Ferry WV that didn't have prices. When we asked...we discovered it was very over-priced. I like your good insight into this.

    Enjoy your warmer days. I agree with your frustration over weeds in your flower beds. I have chickweed all over my vegetable garden. Some day I will get down on my knees and take care of those! Hugs, Andrea

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    1. Hi Andrea! Oh the hazelnut bush! Looks like we are finally going to get a real crop this year. When it comes to fruit and nuts, patience is the word.

      I went into a little shop this weekend that didn't have any prices too. I wasn't even what was for sale and what was just for display. Didn't buy anything. Too bad, because they had some really nice antiques, especially pewter, which is my weakness.

      You know, chickweed is edible. I once read of a chickweed quiche. It looked wonderful, but I cannot attest for the taste.

      Today we will attend the Memorial Day service, hopefully the townfolks will make a good show of support for the veterans. Looks like another beautiful day here, hoping you are having the same. All recuperated from your son's wedding?

      Hugs
      Jane

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    2. Hi Jane! It is good to know chickweed is edible (thanks) since we have so much of it! It grows so well and looks so healthy..! My husband and I went to church this a.m. We don't really live in a town to have any other services but I got a flag with a forget-me-not flower (cloth flower) that the disabled Vets Assoc. were giving for donations at stores. I have a collection of poppies from other years.

      All recouped from the wedding but we have a 2nd reception soon in Oregon. I'll let you know how that goes. We had a beautiful day at Dutch Wonderland in Lancaster, Pa (Amish area) yesterday with our grandchild. (It was so nice to not be a parent but a grandparent!) Hugs, Andrea

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    3. Oh yes! We babysat the 3 year old and the the 9 month old last month. Whew! If I ever doubt that I'm old, spending three days looking after those two little ones assured me that I certainly am. Ha!

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  2. Dear Jane ~ It is so good to see your post. I always enjoy reading about your life, your thrifty and healthy ways of living.

    Have a nice holiday today and a great week ~ FlowerLady

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    1. Hello Rainey! Are you staying cool? On Saturday we had temperatures in the 90s and I can really empathize with you after that!

      Hope you are doing something fun for the holiday weekend!

      Hugs
      Jane

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  3. YAY! You are back! So good to read your post; I have missed you.
    Love your garden, and the cute little house. Great tips on canning and yard sales; thank you!
    I'm sorry that you have had a rough time lately. I hadn't heard the saying "Living well is the best revenge" I like that! Sounds like you are living well!

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    1. Good morning Kathy! Well, the rough patch is in the past and that's where I'd like to keep it. Onward and upward!

      Hope all is going well for you!

      Hugs
      Jane

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  4. dear jane,
    i am so happy you are back. you was very busy. thanks for all the wonderful tips!
    have a nice week,
    regina

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    1. Well, for now Regina. Ha!

      Hugs
      Jane

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  5. Happy day, Jane! I was so tickled (southern for elated ;) to see this post!
    You're not alone in loathing the garden beds this spring. I'm actually doing less than usual this year just because I'm so tired of it. I'll just try to be thriftier in other ways. Yeah right, I need to do more in the garden.

    How did you know I'm having a struggle forgiving someone for what they did to me recently? Isn't it something how when you have something like that to deal with all you can think about is how they surely must have done it on purpose just to get at you. I wish my brain would just let it go. Whew, this is not fun, and it's not easy, but I'll manage it somehow with the Lord's help.

    Glad you found a new car! I enjoyed reading the whole post - so glad you were able to share with us. Hope you're having a great Memorial Day. Goodman had to work. *sigh*

    Have a great week!
    Toni

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    1. Good evening Toni! If I lived in the south, I would hate to see my garden! ONe day this week the temps. reached 90 and I know more than one day of it would be the end of the garden for me. Been trying to weed out the tall grasses in my iris bed. If only I had taken the time to prepare them properly, they wouldn't be so much work now. Haste makes waste!

      It's funny, but my family and friends are more upset and less ready to forgive my relative than I am, although I admit I did spend several sleepless nights over the grievance. Prayer helps, I can tell you this from experience.

      Hope you have a lovely week!

      Hugs
      Jane

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  6. Happy Day, Jane has a new post :) We have had such a wonderful spring. Just put the window A/C's in yesterday but only used them to see if they still worked. The kitchen one was really noisy so we swapped it out for a used one hubby picked up for free that works. He'll take the noisy one apart to see what the problem is. It is lovely yet today, in the 70's. We've had enough rain that I haven't had to water much at all but those weeds grew but I don't mind that. I like to go out and hoe after supper when it's cooler and get a bit of exercise too. I hear you about the chickweed. Luckily it is easy to pull and my chickens love it. In my flower bed areas I have just started to let it be and say it is a groundcover :) Hubby is saying he is now semi-retired, he is finding some things to sell on Craigslist and he took junk, that he's been accumulating and cleaning over to the junk buyers today and made a nice little sum. Hasn't looked for a job but as people we know have heard about him not working his old job they are asking if he's now available to do small jobs. Looks promising anyway. He is a master of fixing, remodeling and tinkerer. Enough from me. Glad you are back for now. Nannie

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    1. We had one really hot day, Nannie, but otherwise it's been pretty nice here. We do need some rain, though.

      In our area, it's ground ivy that's the problem. It makes a pretty ground cover with it's purple flowers, so it doesn't bother me too much. Guess it's better than crabgrass!

      If you are handy, there's always an opportunity to make some money or to barter, we've discovered. It helps to live in an area of lots of nice well-off widows.

      Well, I hope you are enjoying life! Hope to get another post out soon!

      Hugs
      Jane

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  7. Dear Jane,
    I just discovered your blog and have been reading through the archives. I'm enjoying it so much! When I got to your previous two posts, I said out loud, "Oh no! She stopped blogging!" But, here you are and I am very grateful. There's a few more posts to go until I am up to date but I thought I'd comment here. Your blog is wonderful and I thank you for sharing yourself with the wider world. I am sorry that people can be awful sometimes. I make my living on social media (for my church) and it can definitely be disheartening at times. But, like you, I have made so many good connections online that I try to stay focused on those.
    Again, thank you for sharing your wealth of knowledge with all of us. I am a single mom of two girls so trying to be thrifty is important. I wish you and your family well.
    God Bless,
    Dana
    (PS I don't have a blog but if you are ever on Instagram, you can find me at @NIeveandEstrellas)

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    1. Thank you Dana and welcome! I can only hope that my thrifting tips are helpful to you, which is all I really desire for this little blog. You will find that I am a bit fickle with writing it. Ha! I have a lot of starts in stops. But in the end, I really do enjoy the chance to meet people like yourself, so I plan to continue as long as someone is reading it.

      I'm sorry that I do not have an Instagram account. I'm afraid I am the must computer-illiterate person that ever wrote a blog! I once had a Facebook account but could never figure out how to use it, and got tired of reading updates about a certain friend buying sheep on Farmville all day. :) So I got rid of it. Now I'm questioning the wisdom of that move, since it would be so easy to write just a short little note daily, rather then these longish posts. Easier for my readers also, I'm afraid. As you see by this reply, being short and concise cannot be counted among my virtues!

      Glad to hear from you. Don't be a stranger!

      Jane

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