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Tuesday, July 26, 2016

ORGANIZING AND PLANNING AHEAD

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. 

GARDENING

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!

Hugs
Jane







26 comments:

  1. Squee new post!!!
    Just wanted to say hi! and let you know my first pressure canning "session" (green beans) went so easy and well. I feel silly for thinking I could blow something up using one.
    Stay cool and have a fabulous week!
    Jen

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    1. I'm so happy you enjoyed canning, Jen. Not going to say I told you so (OK, I am!) Isn't it easier than things that have to be hot water bathed? Happy canning! Right back at you about the staying cool and having a fabulous week, part!

      Hugs
      Jane

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  2. Hi Jane, so good to see a post of the ordinary, exciting things of life for you :) My days right now seem to be endless days of canning, or pickling, or picking or weeding with some laundry thrown in a trip to town once in a while. Today I did not canning but will pick beans tonight, water the fall beans and peas I planted last week. I went to the city for my monthly haircut and visit with my brother who is my barber, as well as a trip to Aldi's. After that is stashed away, and I ate lunch I took a nap. Keep on keeping on :) Nannie

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    1. Your days sound like mine, Nannie! Except for a brother barber. It's nice to be back to just a normal life. Hope all is well with you and your husband. How's the weather your way? Still no rain here! This is getting old!

      Hugs
      Jane

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    2. It's been very hot and dry again now but there are slight chances of rain in the forecast. They say it's cooler, only in the upper 80's and low 90's but the humidity is awful most of the time. Last 2 days we've had lower humidity so that's been nice. Hubby has been working some remodeling jobs, small but that's what he wants. Staying alive, and afloat :) Nannie

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    3. That's good news Nannie! They're predicting rain for today here, also, but the sky is as clear as a bell, so I'm guessing they're wrong once again!

      J

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  3. Glad you are ok! I always enjoy your posts. I am so jealous of your fresh tomatoes though. I do love heirloom tomatoes, and it is going to be a couple of weeks before mine are ripe. Going to have to see if I can find German strawberry and Opalka seeds for next year. It has been a hot dry summer here too. I am trying something different this year since my garden space is limited. I have a three sisters planting where I planted corn first in hills, then beans, then squash. Not sure it is going to work as the squash has ovettaken everything else...oh well, live and learn.
    Hope you have a great week.

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    1. Hi Kathy! We were surprised to see those tomatoes too. Our spring was so cold, I thought everything was going to be late this year. I tried planting pumpkins and corn together one year with unsatisfactory results. Not the best corn grower, so what little I need, I just buy from the farm down the road now. Sometimes you just have to admit defeat. Those tomatoes have the best flavor! After eating heirloom vegetables for the last decade, the stuff you buy in stores and farmers markets just tastes bland. If you have a garden, it's well worth the effort of starting your own heirloom seeds, vegetables will take on an entire new meaning! Hope you are having a wonderful week too!

      Hugs
      Jane

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  4. Hi Jane! Love the post, as always. And I agree, it's never too hot to think about saving money on a warm coat for winter. Complainers shouldn't be allowed at yard sales, I say. ;)
    Have a great week!
    Toni

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    1. Hi Toni! Oh I love the complainers! They have such sour dispositions, all I can do is laugh. Must be wonderful to have such an easy life, that all you can complain about is what a garage sale is offering up for sale! They remind me of Georgie barking at the leaves blowing by. Hope you are staying cool!

      Hugs
      Jane

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  5. You are a very wise woman Jane. We are now quite into canning season here yet, well other than cherries and raspberries and I just froze those. My bean plants are growing up the trellis like mad and are even starting to produce some blooms. Our yellow squash and zucchini plants are struggling this year, as are the peppers due to our bipolar weather. My cucumbers however are starting to really take off and the plants are loaded with tiny little baby cucumbers. I just planted some more dill to go with what I hope will be a bounty this year so I can make lots of pickles. :)

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    1. Hi Debbie! I love that phrase "bi-polar weather". It certainly has been that! The spring was so cold and now we are having unusually hot weather. I say that struggling zucchini plants are a good thing! Ha! After using a couple, I never can figure out what to do with them. They're not worth the freezer space and there's only so much zucchini bread a person make. Hope you have a fun week!

      Hugs
      Jane

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    2. Hi Jane, I have heard that some people make zucchini chips with them. I make a cheesy casserole with zucchini that I love and I also whirl it up and add it to spaghetti sauce. Added nutrition and the kids never figured out I was doing that in all their growing up years. ;)

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    3. Thanks for the ideas, Debbie! I used to make a sort of pizza casserole, layering zucchini, tomatoes, onions, spaghetti sauce and mozzarella cheese, but there's only so much a person can eat of that. Zucchini chips sound interesting. I bet a person could dehydrate them too. Have a lovely day!

      Jane

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  6. Debbie, you are a sneaky one with the zucchini added to the spaghetti sauce. Jane, I'm kind of fond of zucchini bread. It might have been mentioned and I didn't see it.

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    1. That's the good thing about zucchini, Barbara, it pretty much has no flavor. I remember in the 70s it was popular to can faux pineapple with zucchini and pineapple extract. Just made up a couple of loaves of zucchini bread this past week. It was good, just not for the waistline. Ha! Hope you are enjoying your summer!

      Hugs
      Jane

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  7. Debbie from the U.P.July 27, 2016 at 6:08 PM

    Hi, Jane!
    Debbie from the U.P. Love your new-to-me blog! You have such a positive attitude; it's lovely to read your posts.
    We're in the blueberry picking mode, here. I should say, finally! We had nothing last year because of the drought. I'm making up for lost time, though.
    Not much of a garden. I have one tomato plant, some shallots, potatoes and lettuces. My apple trees look like they're going to bless me with some apples fro the first time since i planted in 2009! So happy about that!
    Have a wonderful week!

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    1. Thank you Debbie! I see you're from the U.P.... I'm a troll, having been born just under the bridge in Rogers City.

      Any garden is better than no garden, I always say! I sure takes a long time to establish apple trees doesn't it? I planted mine about the same time as yours and they are just beginning to get a decent crop also. Except this year has been too dry and they're dropping their fruit to stay alive. It's always feast or famine in a garden! If nothing else it teaches us patience. So glad you stopped by!

      Jane

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  8. Jane, thank you for writing. Always look forward to every post. Unfortunately I can't garden. I've had a double lung transplant and can't dig in the dirt (spores). One of the things I've learned from you is making something out of nothing. I've been sewing for years and have a lot of left over supplies. I almost got rid of it all when we downsized, so glad I didn't. Even if I can't use another tote someone might. So I'm coming up with all kinds of ideas of things to make to either donate or use for gifts. I am having so much fun not wasting anything. Your making a purse out of something you were going to pitch is just one of the many ways you inspire me. J Lynn

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    1. Thank you for the kind words Jlynn! That's the spirit! There's always charity for our overzealous crafting! Hopefully next week I'll have some pictures of some of the things I've been working on. Isn't it fun to make something from nothing? I find it a lot more satisfying than going to the store and buying the materials. Plus it makes for some very unique (and beautiful) one of a kind items. I'm sorry to read that you cannot garden, but happy that thanks to modern medicine you are well! Double lung transplant! You are a walking miracle! Hope you have a fun creative week!

      Hugs
      Jane

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  9. Hi Jane,
    a wonderful post!You know I love reading your post. Today was a grey day with rain again,but it was warm.
    Have a wonderful weekend,
    Hugs Regina

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    1. Hello Regina! We need some of your rain. Otherwise it was beautiful today. Almost felt like autumn. Tomorrow I'm making more relish. Hope you have a wonderful weekend also!

      Hugs back,
      Jane

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  10. Thanks for sharing. I was just talking to my husband about clearing out some old pickles. I need the storage space. No sense old pickles taking up space that yummy jam should have.
    Work hard and enjoy the "fruits" of your labor! We've had tons of rain here in Missouri, I'll send you some.;)
    Blessings,
    Leslie

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    1. Thanks Leslie! I'd appreciate that! It's very odd. The rain just goes around Port Austin or the rain clouds break up over the lake. Just down the road a few miles they've had plenty of rain, just not here.

      Ran and I were just discussing whether I should "do" something with all our red currants. The bushes are loaded this year. But I know we won't eat the jam, preferring other flavors and no one would drink the juice, But it sure is hard to not to do something with those berries. A little voice in the back of my head keeps telling me what if someday I would be grateful just to have them. Oh well! I suppose the birds will enjoy them. I think I need to dig up those bushes just so I won't feel guilty every year just looking at them. Ha!

      Canning today! Hope you're enjoying your weekend!

      Hugs
      Jane

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  11. Great post! I make a mixed berry jam, using up all the bits (raspberry, gooseberry, strawberry and others) that are leftovers from our jam sessions. I keep a few extra jars as gifts, or to trade for extra produce.
    Barb

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    1. That sounds great Barb! I used to make some too, but now I just make crab apple and wild grape jelly, since those are our favorites. Got carried away this year and made cherry and raspberry also. Couldn't bear to see that cherry pulp go to waste. A mixed berry cobbler is on the menu for today. Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment!

      Jane

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