Hello dear friends! Sorry I've been absent lately, between gardening and canning and working on some personal goals, there simply aren't enough hours in a day. Missed you all.
This has been a very dry summer. And hot! But it hasn't deterred the garden any, thanks to Ran's never ending watering. Going to hate to see our water bill. Those free little raspberry canes I wrote about earlier have really produced and we picked, ate and froze several quarts and still managed to have enough to make up half a dozen jars of jelly. Now we are moving on to the blueberries, with blackberries soon to follow. And would you believe it? We already are picking tomatoes! For years we have been crossbreeding a special tomato that is a mixture of German Strawberry and Opalka. Each year we pick the earliest ripening, meatiest and largest to save the seeds from, and it looks like it's paying off! It appears the garlic can be harvested early this year too. We finally got through the cauliflower, which is a blessing as we were running out of ideas on what to do with them. And of course there's zucchini. Isn't there always?
CANNING AND PRESERVING
Canning must be done in spite of the heat. That's life! I canned several half-pints of zucchini relish, raspberry jelly, and some broth from some lamb that was in the freezer.
There was a great sale on pork loins, so I canned nine pints of that. We are freezing berries and peas as they ripen. Our freezer is full.
ORGANIZING AND PLANNING AHEAD
Which brings me to my main point, that of organization and planning; two things a person needs to win at the thrift game. I have several old family friends that love to can; every year they can hundreds of jars of green beans, tomatoes and pickles. Hundreds, not dozens. And a quick peruse of their pantry shelves will find jars that are at least a decade old that haven't been touched. To my thrifty way of thinking it is folly to can when you already have more than enough on your shelves at the present. You always must allow extra just in case you have a bad year and your garden doesn't produce, but such excess is just wasting valuable time and energy. Personally, I've had to toss jars of jams that just weren't being used, and I know the temptation to can because you don't want to waste anything. But what good does it do to have jars just sitting on the shelves , wasting space and gathering dust? Really, how many jars of pickles does a family eat in one year? Each spring I take stock of our pantry and note what we are getting low on, and what we eat and don't and plan my garden accordingly. Some things, I've discovered will never be eaten unless I make a concerted effort to use them, such as eggplant, so I'm not going to can that anymore. I try to figure out how many times a month we eat certain things an plan accordingly. For instance, in the fall and winter I know we go through at least one jar of carrots a week, so each month that equals 4 time the months of October through April, which is 7; therefore 4X7=28 jars of carrots, plus a few extra, just in case. We only eat green beans about once a month, so I only need a dozen. During the cold months we can go through several jars of those little half and quarter pints of jams and jellies a week, as toast with jam is one of our favorite thrifty snacks, so I keep a good supply and try to have a lot of varieties, but sometimes I get carried away. How I hate to throw out old canned goods! I know that the extension office has done research on home canned goods and discovered that even after decades they are still safe to eat if prepared and stored properly, but psychologically, I don't think I could eat anything that is over three years old. That's my limit.
Been thinking about planning ahead recently because someone that stopped at our garage sale made the comment it was too hot to think about winter clothes when looking at some we had for sale. Well then, he can pay higher prices for them come winter! Such nonsense! It's been in the nineties here, but that didn't keep me from buying a like-new Eddie Bauer down coat for $4. I know I'll need it come November. I'd much rather pay garage sale prices now and store it away, then pay higher prices in season. There's so much children's clothing at these sales and most of it's like-new. I swear children now days must wear their clothes only once. A wise mother would buy now, while clothes are under a dollar, which is a far better price then even the cheapest of thrift stores or bargain centers, and store different sizes for when her children grow into them. It's easy enough to keep a box marked with the sizes in the attic. Planning ahead saves us a lot of money. Whenever we go to an estate sale, we always head for the workshop, where we can buy lightbulbs, nails, screws, etc for pennies on the dollars. We know we are going to use them eventually. At one estate sale I bought enough lightbulbs to last us a lifetime for $3. For almost a decade now, whenever a light burns out, I simply go up to the attic, rather than drive to the store. How much does a pack of lightbulbs cost? Plus it's a lot more convenient. At the beginning of garage sale season, we make a list of things to be on the lookout for, and it's amazing how many of those things we find. Organizing and planning ahead has saved us a boatload of money over the years!
THRIFTY THINGS WE'VE BEEN UP TO
Bought firewood from the village. Because we are loyal customers, they gave us almost an entire cord free!
Canned relish, jelly and pork.
Froze berries and peas.
Harvest peas, the last of the cauliflower, raspberries, blueberries, peppers, zucchinis, and tomatoes from the garden.
Made and canned broth from a lamb shank that was given to us.
Saved the seeds from our tomatoes for next year's garden.
Made all of our meals from garden produce and pantry items. In other words, didn't buy any groceries.
Received a $15 rebate from the vet's office.
Bought some clothes for less than a dollar at garage sales for the winter.
Used an offer for free shipping to purchase some things to be put away for Christmas presents from a catalog.
Sewed a purse from fabric from an old jacket that I was going to toss.
Reorganized our attic and found enough things to have a second garage sale.
Well, that's about it for this week! Sorry if my writing has been spotty lately. Just not much excitement going on at the moment and I think you can tell that my writing hasn't been up to par in the last few posts. Hopefully, I'll get some Divine inspiration and have something more interesting to write about soon, but just wanted to post something to let you know that I'm still here! :) Have a good one and stay cool!