Hello dear friends! Hope all is going well your way on this fine Sunday! The reason I sound so chipper is because we finally had some rain and the temperatures have dropped. Whew! Friday was steamy! Today's post's subjects have been suggested by you readers. I love it when you make suggestions and requests, sometimes it's hard to come up with something new to write about. How many times can I show you my canning? Ha!
Ryan suggested that I write a post about antique hunting this week, which came at the perfect time, since this was the weekend of the Blue Water Garage Sale Trail, that runs all along the tip of the Thumb to southeast Michigan. This year the sales were few and far between compared to other years, but we still managed to score some treasures.
The first tip for would-be antique hunters is go often to estate sales, auctions and garages sales and carry lots of cash in smaller denominations. Oh! and drive a big truck! The things I passed up this weekend because I didn't have a truck or anyone to help me haul them. I'm still feeling a bit sad that I couldn't take an antique icebox home, something I've been looking for forever. (still dreaming of living off-the-grid) Anyhoo, it was in wonderful condition, the only drawback being someone had done a sloppy job of stripping the varnish off the oak. Nothing that couldn't be set straight with a bit of stripper. And only $150! And a beautiful wood cookstove. Oh dear! If wishes were horses all men would ride!
Here's a picture of Ran, checking out a guitar.
The second tip for antique hunting is to get off the beaten path. We went down a lot of dirt
Estate sales can be a great for collecting. The usually are listed in the newspaper on Thursdays. After you go to a few, you'll discover which estate sales agency have the most reasonable prices. Around here, there are a few businesses that I never attend their sales because I know they always are over-priced. If it's a sale that takes numbers, arrive at least an hour early to get a place in line before everything is picked over. On the other hand, if you wait until the last day and hours of a sale, you can sometimes snag a bargain, because the dealers are ready to haggle and they usually offer half-off.
For auctions, never bid on the first items. People are usually excited and hyped-up and bid too much for them. If you're lucky, the items that you want will be offered at the end of the day, after everyone has spent their money and become tired. You can pick up some real bargains then, if you're patient. If you're new to an auction, just sit back and observe for a while before jumping in and bidding.
If you spy something, while out garage sale-ing it doesn't hurt to ask. While I was paying at one, I spotted an antique wool challis throw on the davenport and asked if it was for sale. The man holding the sale, looked surprised. "That?" he asked. "We use that to cover the couch so the sun doesn't get on it. I guess I could sell it to you. Does two bucks sound good?" Yes, it sounded very good to me! I have a weakness for these old shawls and throws. It wasn't until I got it home that I discovered how long it was, about eight feet. This was one of my best buys of the day.
So I hope these tips help you, Ryan, uncover some treasures of your own. Antique hunting is just like any other skill, the more often you do it, the better you become!
Dana suggest that I write a post about what we eat during the week. I know there are people out there that are curious as to how we spend so little on groceries. To be fair, one of the reasons our grocery bills are so low is because we garden and I preserve a lot of food. To me, canning isn't a cute little hobby, where I wear a frilly little apron and put up pickles and jam, it's a serious part of our path to self-sufficiency. Gardening isn't something I do when I have the time, gardening is almost a full-time job for us and we produce tons of food on our little 4/10ths of an acre plot. I'm sure our tab would be a lot higher if I had to go out and buy a lot of the items that come from my pantry. The other thing that saves us a lot of money is that we avail ourselves to a wonderful bulk food store. But anyhow, even without a well-stocked pantry, we eat pretty thriftily, so here goes!
As we all arise at different times, there is no specific menu for breakfast. This week, we've had a lot of berries, so we've been eating yogurt and fresh berries from our bushes fairly often. Eggs are cheap (50 cents for a dozen medium) so Jamie has made himself eggs on a nest (cut a hole in a piece of bread,place on a greased griddle, break an egg into the hole and fry on both sides. Brown the circle that was cut from the bread and brown that too). This was the first thing I taught to boys to cook when they were six years old and Jamie still likes making them. We often eat oatmeal, which we buy in bulk at $17.99/50 lbs. Nothing gets cheaper than that. If I'm near a bakery outlet, I like to buy inexpensive English muffins and freeze them. An English muffin with a smear of orange marmalade is one of the finest breakfasts there ever was, in my opinion. Jamie likes them with peanut butter and a few mini-choclate chips sprinkled on top. My mother used to make plain white rice and sprinkle it with cinnamon sugar and a bit of butter. We all know how cheap rice is. Plus it can be made ahead of time and just needs to be warmed up, maybe with a splash of milk. There's plenty of things to have for breakfast besides expensive boxed cereal. We all drink coffee. Whenever we find a great price, I buy it and freeze it. We recently discovered an Amish-owned scratch and dent store that sells K-cups for 5 cents a piece. They're slightly out of date, but taste fine to us.
Lunch is our main meal of the day. Usually we eat the leftovers for dinner. I guess we are not "big eaters" because a lot of time we skip dinner completely or just have some hummus, or cheese and crackers. If we get hungry later in the day, we might pop up some popcorn, or again toast an English muffin and spread some of my home-canned spaghetti sauce on it, sprinkled with a bit of cheese and toast it until its heated through and the cheese is melted. I also can lots of soup, chili, and things like barbecued beef, hamburger patties, etc. that can be made into a quick meal for anyone who's hungry. Anyway, here's what we ate this week:
Bean burritos made from our own refried beans , tomatoes, peppers, and onions, from our garden, home-canned salsa, and just a bit of cheese. Just because a recipe calls for 8oz. of cheese, it doesn't mean you need to use that much. We also added rice to stretch them even further. This made a lot and we had plenty left over for dinner.
Panzanella made from tomatoes, onions, basil and peppers from our garden. I bought a loaf of French bread from the discount cart at Wal-Mart for the cubes for $1.49. For dinner I made some sandwich spread from our home-canned corned beef, home-canned relish, mayo, and mustard. We ate these sandwiches with some sliced tomatoes from our garden and icebox pickles (from our cucumbers and dill). Only thing we purchased for this meal was bread, again from the discount rack ($1)and lettuce. Need those green leafies, ours have all bolted. Sure miss being able to go out to the garden and pick our own.
Turkey Joes. The hamburger buns were another purchase from the discount rack for $1. The ground turkey was a trade for an electric meat grinder. I gave my son my electric meat grinder and he gave us some ground turkey. Also had to buy a can of chicken gumbo soup. We served this with a side of roasted green beans from the garden and some of our carrots made into honey-glazed carrots. As we always do, I added a jar of home-canned kidney beans to make the meat stretch. Turkey Joes were something I made quite often when the boys were little, as ground turkey was cheaper than hamburger. Here's the recipe:
1 lb. ground turkey
1 med. green pepper diced
1 med. onion diced
1 can chicken gumbo soup
2 tbsp. catsup
2 tbsp. mustard
1 tbsp. brown sugar
1 tsp. vinegar
1 tsp. chili powder
salt and pepper to taste
Brown the meat with the peppers and onions. Add the remaining ingredients and heat through. Serve over buns. You might have to adjust the brown sugar and vinegar to your taste. Anyway, this made a lot (I think there was more than 1 pound of turkey in the package), so we plenty for dinner plus some to freeze. The catsup was home-canned, and the peppers and onions came from the garden.
On Thursday we were out running errands, so we grabbed one of those $5 hot-and-ready pizzas (even though they're advertised for $5,the cost $6 here). In the evening we reheated the leftovers and had some salad with it. I think later that night Ran reheated some of the Turkey Joes. In the evening I baked some carrot nut brownies (using our carrots and last year's foraged nuts that we froze). We had one with some tea.
Carrot Nut Brownies
1/2 C. butter
3/4 C. brown sugar
1 C. flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ginger
1 C. grated carrots
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 C. chopped nuts
Melt butter. Combine with brown sugar and blend together. Beat in egg and vanilla. Stir in dry ingredients. Fold in carrots and nuts. Spoon batter into a greased 8" square pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. Cool and frost with white frosting.
Friday was our big garage sale-ing day, there are no fast food joints out that way, so we packed a lunch of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, fruit, those brownies, carrot sticks and some nuts. We had a thermos of lemonade and one of water. When we arrived home in the evening, Ran and Jamie heated up some home-canned barbecue pork and ate it on some bread with some of our tomatoes.
Zucchini crab cakes (recipe is a few posts back), oven-fried sweet potatoes and coleslaw. The zucchini came from our garden. The coleslaw was that bagged shredded cabbage and carrots to make things easy. We had hunt and peck for dinner. Ran baked these soft pretzels in the evening, which we ate with mustard and some of our icebox pickles.
I had every intention of making a nice brunch today with omelets made from those 50 cents/dozen eggs, peppers and onions from the garden. Roasted potatoes from the garden, cranberry spritzers made from my home-canned cranberry juice and some fresh berries and yogurt. But, Ran brought in a bushel full of tomatoes and I started in canning. Everyone got hungry, so I made up a quick Big Mac salad with the remaining lettuce, home-canned hamburgers and pickles, tomatoes and onions from the garden. Soon I'll have to figure out something for dinner as the natives are getting restless!
All, in all, I spent around $20 this week on groceries, including the take-out pizza. I need to restock my pantry with brown sugar, bread flour, lemon juice (for canning tomatoes), canning lids, baking soda, and canning salt. I hope to spend less than $50 for this.
Hello? Are you still with me? Ha! I finally finished the never-ending shawl! I got bored with the pattern after knitting 10 inches and needed to knit 60 more! The yarn is Madeline Tosh Silver Birch, which my dear friend Mary gave to me. She found 4 skeins for 99 cents each at a thrift store! It runs $30 a skein in the stores.
THRIFTY THINGS WE DID THIS WEEK
Harvested tomatoes, potatoes, onions, carrots, eggplants, green beans, herbs and zucchinis.
Canned more tomatoes.
Bought some antiques at the garages sales.
Bought 2 skirts (one a pretty Ralph Lauren and one a vintage circle skirt) a pair of vintage silver and enameled earrings and a cute green sweater from the garage sales for my fall wardrobe for a grand total of $8.
Packed our lunch rather than dining out.
Ran gave Jamie a haircut. (I always cut the boys and Ran's hair, it must have saved us thousands of dollars over the years.)
Made icebox pickles.
Working on some bowl fillers from a free pattern on-line.
Well that's about it! Was quite a gad-about this week. Hope this post answers some questions. If you have any more just leave a comment!