Thursday, June 21, 2012

Canning Fresh Pineapples

Fred Meyer has this great sale going right now for pineapple that I could not pass up! We use pineapple lots of different dishes, baking, smoothies and just eating them out of the jar. At $1.00 each, this week is a great stock up price for these babies. I purchased 8 and cut only 6 for this canning recipe. It's super easy and fast compared to other canning recipes.

What you will need:

(6) fresh Pineapples
(16) Wide mouth Pint jars with lids
1/4 cup lemon juice
Canning equipment (avail at Walmart for cheap)
4 cups sugar
12 cups water
Med stock pot

Pretty simple steps here.

  • Cut the top and bottom off of the pineapple then cut (as close to the rind as possible) the rind off.
  • Either use a melon baller or pairing knife to cut out 'eyes' (pardon the phone picture) 
I chose a pairing knife to cut the eyes out. If you notice the eyes are in a diagonal pattern making it the finished pineapple look pretty.. to me at least.

  • Slice pineapple in half. Half the half pineapple. Cut the hard white core from the  1/4 pineapple.
  • Cut the 1/4 piece into 3 then crosswise cut into about 7-8 pieces. (save cores for syrup).
  • Place the sugar, cores and water in pot. Boil for 10-15 mins. (I added about 1/4 cup lemon juice)
  • Prep you jars according to canning method and recommendations.
  • Directly put the pineapple in prepped jars (pack them tight). Fill to 1/2 inch line.
  • Pour simple syrup into packed jars
  • Wipe rim with clean wet towel
  • Put lids and rings on
  • Can Pints for about 25 mins, Quarts for about 35 mins. 


I might dehydrate the other 2 pineapples or just freeze them for smoothies. What do you think I should do?


Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Sailing away on a Dresser

Another Upcycling Tuesday.. Well just don't sit there, applaud!

My middle son loves two things, Pirates and Starwars. There can never be enough of either in our household so after seeing this beauty from Miriam I knew he would just LOVE it for years.

After tracking down the original source off pintrest (who doesn't love that site?!) I read and admired that dresser but I wasn't going to pay $100+ for the decal needed to do this type of reverse stenciling. To me that just was not thrifty enough to justify buying it.

My first step was to find the dresser and lucky for us there is normally a yard sale or two each weekend here, so we ended up getting this.....

Real beaut huh?..... yicks! but it was only $20 and it has these neat little divers in one drawer. SOLD!

Next I had to figure out how in the world was I going to do a reverse stencil. After some thinking I decided to paint on paint my stencil and what was going to help me do it?

Frog tape. This stuff is amazing when it comes to making stripes or not wanting paint to bleed over.

Getting started I lightly sanded it then filled the handle holes in 4 of the drawers (sorry no picture). I primed it with Kilz and then painted it with a semi glossy white paint.

 After it was dry I put the Frog tape on the front and started sketching the picture.
 Once I got the picture down, I started lightly cutting it out. If you decide to do something like this use a mat cutter and be very careful not to cut too deep.
 The front of the dresser before painting it and removing tape.
 After :-) .... Almost done.
 Let that dry for a good 24 hours before putting your final coat sealer. I used Polycrylic gloss finish since I used a white paint (other will have a yellow ting to it)

After one coat of Polycrylic.
 In hind sight I should have fixed up the dings on the drawers of the dresser but for a kid under 7, I think it will have it's share of dings later.

 I ended up painting the bottom "feet" to match the paint color.
Here you go, for under $40 we have a dresser that our son loves not to mention the neighborhood kids love it too. hahaha. Once we get to our new home I might take the time to fill up the holes and have 2 handle on the remaining 4 drawer but for now I think it's okay.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Other ways to save.

So you like the idea of saving money and you coupon here & there but do not have the time or patience to sit and clip.. I hear ya!! Anyway you slice it, saving your family money takes dedication and time. I'll give you some tips and hints to help you save money on your family grocery bill.

Shop to stock up don't shop just for the week.  I've done it, you've done it and your momma has done it; Shopped weekly based on meals you've already planned. You got your sunday paper, you've clipped all your coupons you want to use, list in hand you head to the store. Chances are you've spent and easy $150+ on that trip for about a weeks worth of food. Taking your cart full of things that will be gone in one week you feel like the store screwed you some how... I've been there.

You're going to start shopping from the circular. You will find the best SALE prices for the item and match it to a coupon in order to score the lowest price. When the price is about 75% off after coupon then you want to stock up. Buy about 4-6 of that item to last you until the next sale cycle.  Keeping this in mind will help further stretch your dollar.

Just because you have a coupon doesn't mean you should use it right away. Know when to wait and use it.. Stack your coupons for those super deals.

Stay organized or this will not work.  All the clipping in the world wont help you unless you are organized. There is the baseball card method (which most all newbies use), the filing method (the method I use) and the no clip method . Which ever method you choose to use, organize weekly.

Shop local and help your community.  With many of us wanting better quality foods on a low budget, joining a food co-op like Bountiful Baskets or visiting a local farmers market might be the key to your families budget and health. Not only will you get better quality and quantity of food but you will stimulate your communities economy and support small business owners. I encourage you to find a local food co-op in your area and join, it will be one of the best things you can do.  Many Co-op offer organic baskets, Grain baskets as well as 'specialized' baskets, check it out.

Buy in bulk but not from those 'bulk stores'  Places like Zaycon Foods offer large quantity of meats for low prices. I personal ONLY get my chicken from them but they also sell bacon, salmon, ground beef, fruits and more.  Those other 'bulk stores' tend to have the same market rate price as your grocery store but in bigger prices (It tends to make you think you're saving when you are not). If you can't wait for a Zaycon event then watch your circular ads for low prices on meats and stock up then. Always check unit prices.

When in doubt Grow Your Own. One of the newest and fast growing trend is Homesteading . With people losing their jobs, food recalls, FDA findings of chemicals being put in our foods many people have had enough of it. Going back to our 'roots' is not for every one but you can grow your own veggies and fruit right from your backyard. If space is an issue you can always try "square foot gardening" to utilize your space. Growing your own veggies and fruit give those who prefer organics a better $$ option. Plus who doesn't like to eat from the fruits of their labor?!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Feeding my family of 5 under $160 a month

The week has really flown by. I've been busy painting, fixing walls and packing... slowly. I need some advil for these back pains. There is so much to do with so little time, when am I going to find time to bake?!

 Albertsons #1 $ 2.15
My clan can go through about a gallon every few days! (4) gal milks, 1.5lb grapes, blueberries (My oldest LOVES these), Trop50 peach drink, 1lb chicken breast and marshmallows

#2 $.89 
This is more of the stockup transaction. With our up and coming trip across country we'll need a few fast snacks so pudding and crunch n munch made the list and who can go wrong with ketchup with a house full of kids?

 #3 - $.69
Making use of the manager coupons that Albertsons sticks on their meats I bought about 8lbs of meat and spaghetti noodles.
#4 - $2.15
This transaction would have been better but my youngest saw these bowls and wanted them, at $1.00 each you can see where I had to spend $2.15. I got 3lbs of tilapia fish, mussels and yogurt. YUMMMM

These transactions where purchased with the $20 catalinas that I got from Albertsons gift card deal. Looks like I'm going back to get more this weekend.

Bountiful Basket $15 for conventional and $10 for the Asian pack
If I wasn't so tired from the bountiful basket/wedding day I would have taken the time to actually weigh the food but I forgot. I really love that our location opened up extra packs and add ons!! I wish I got the blueberries because they looked fantastic.

6/10- 6/16 I spent $28.73 (I do not count the 2 bowls in that total)

Dinner meal planner for the next two weeks? (look out for pictures and recipes later on)

Sunday- Burgers and Sweet potato fries
Monday- Tilapia with Braised radishes
Tuesday- White bean and sausage soup
Wednesday- Left Over night ( We normally will have enough left overs after 3 days )
Thursday- Fish patties (a family recipe- sorry)
Friday- Pizza night (we make our own pizza)
Saturday- Napa cabbage noodle salad

Sunday- Left overs
Monday- Spaghetti squash 'spaghetti'
Tuesday- Salmon w/ nectarine salsa (previously canned)
Wednesday- Ginger sesame chicken bok choy
Thursday- Left overs
Friday- Pizza night
Saturday- Baked chicken with pasta salad

My shopping list for all that?.... red pepper, the fish paste, and salmon :-)

Where do you get your veggies and fruit?

Isn't she beautiful?! I'm so happy for them.  

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Coupon Lingo

Couponing can be confusing and with all the acronyms it can make you feel like it's a different language. Here is a quick guide to couponing lingo. 

SS: SmartSource Insert
RP: RedPlum Insert
P&G: Procter & Gamble insert
Mfg: Manufacture coupon
psa: Prices Start At
B1G1/BOGO: Buy1, Get 1 Free
BOGO 50%: Buy 1 Get 1 50% off
WYB: When you buy
MIR: Mail in rebate
OOP: Out of pocket
$1/2: $1 off of 2 items
ECB: Extra Care Bucks from CVS
PP: Price plus from ShopRite
Wags: Walgreens
RR: Register rewards (wags)
CAT: Catalina
IP: Internet printed coupon
MM: Moneymaker
OYNO: On your next order
SCR: Single check rebate (RiteAid)
UPC: Universal Product Code
DND: Do Not Double
YMMV: Your miles may vary (when talking about your particular store as compared to another store)
NLA: No longer available
ISO: In Search Of…

Catalina: They are coupons that print out at the register after your sale is complete. It is a separate machine that is just for printing out coupons or dollars off.
Blinkie: Red Smart Source machines found in most stores
Tearpad: Coupon pads located in stores to promote products

Here is a southern price guide list :)

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Free Groceries?! yes please.

It's BACK!!!

Just letting you all know that the Albertsons 'buy $100 in gift card, get a $20 catalina' is back this week.

I went this morning to load up on some lowes cards since we are closing on a home next month and will be doing some yard work and re-modeling the kitchen.

Our soon to be house :)

Inspiration #1
 My husband likes tiles floor and I like wood so the compromise I figured would be a paver floor but I'm not sure what it will do to my back given I am always in the kitchen baking and cooking. 
Inspiration #2
I'm still tossing up the idea of either subway tiles or beadboard for the walls. I don't know, what do you think?

Getting back on track though.. The deal with Albertsons gift card deal is: purchase a $100 participating gift card and receive a $20 catalina on your next purchase, limit one per transaction. You can NOT use the catalina towards another purchase of a gift card.

Also keep in mind that the catalina will expire within one week of the purchase so plan accordingly.

 I purchased $500 in gift cards for our up coming reno and received $60 in catalinas and $40 in a gift card form (the catalina machine stopped printing for some reason). A big plus for me, I used our nRewards card from NavyFederal which gives me points for every $ spent towards other gift cards and items. Anyone thinking what I'm thinking?...... Free School Clothes for the kids!!!

So later this week I will be hitting Albertsons up for some milk, meats and stock up on some smoothie items.

If you do this deal I want to hear what you plan on doing with the cards. If you don't have an Albertsons in your area, what promos do they run that you just LOVE?

Monday, June 11, 2012

Budgeting for coupons

Let's get this started part 2

So you've read Part 1 of this series now you're getting antsy to go out to shop but before you do you need to know a few things.

Know your budget and stick to it! For me the goal is to feed my family AND stockpile for $320 a month or under $3850 a year (5 person household with 4 males... yes 4!!) Some weeks I might spend more but I am anal-retentive when it comes to my budget so I don't normally fret. Before going out shopping pull out you coupon money and just use that, stay away from your visa/bank cards! It's easier to veer off track when you have that card in hand.

Build slowly. When starting out you will see all sorts of deals that make you want to jump in your car at 9pm "Honey I will be back shortly! I found a deal!!!"  because who can't beat getting free toothpaste and shampoo? Right?! It's hard to see those deals and not go for them but START SLOWLY.  Jumping in with both feet is a sure fire way to become overwhelmed and burnt out.

Those deals come in cycles, 2-3 month cycles to be more specific (more on cycles later). So take your time and always remember that sale WILL come back around.

Is it really a good deal or not? The general rule for stockpiling is if it's 75% less than the original cost (after coupon savings) then stockpile. There are a few stockpile price guides out there that will help you gain a better idea of what is a good price for your area. Any savings is still a savings in my book, but I always strive for a 60% savings.

Starting a stockpile. This is when you budget comes into play. For my family the budget is set at $40 a week for stockpiling so we have some extra wiggle room but if you can only afford $25 a week for a stockpile you can still get a nice size stock after a while.

What can I really get for $25 a week?

(3)Yogurt 4 pack- $.50
(3)Pasta- FREE
(6)Canned Beans. $.41
(4)Sponges- $.25
(3)Cereal- $.99
(3)Spaghetti Sauce $.25
(3)Toilet paper 12pk $1.50

That's under $14 with money left over! The left over cash can be used on extra meats to freeze or fresh fruits or veggies.

How much do I need to stockpile?

I have a crazy math method that by request I can spill but to keep it simply if your family eats spaghetti once a week then you'll need 24 for a 6 month time. I tend to buy anywhere from 6 months to 9 months worth of product (only things my family will actually use).

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Fear of Independent Wandering

Let's take a moment to talk about something that might often gets you dirty looks as a parent.... Free range children/parenting.

 It's a topic that many friends have gotten into arguments about. The well meaning parents who's children are monitored 24/7 tend to get nervous and want (sometimes they do)to call the police when they see a child walking somewhere by themselves, thinking the parents that have free range children are basically asking for something terrible to happen.. The live and let live parents tend to think stifling a child's independent wandering will inhibit experiencing and gaining in-the-moment life skills.

On any given day you'll find my boys wandering and playing in the neighborhood. Maybe they're digging holes, racing on their bikes, playing bad guys and good guys or going on a treasure hunt but I don't know because I'm not normally with them. My husband and I base their independent seeking on the individual child's common sense and maturity, C is 6, J is 5 and A (ASD child) is 2. C is allowed to go on small adventures on his bike up the hill and a block away from the house, he is also allowed to walk to the bus stop alone. J is allowed to play in the circle and must ask for permission before going to the park (which is in between 2 circle- hard to explain) and A is allowed to play right in front of the garage while I am within ear range.

We are the minority around here when it comes to independent wandering and play. Many will not let their children walk to the bus stop alone or with friends, let alone play in their neighborhood without them being outside to monitor the child's every move. What ever happened to paper routes, going to the corner store to get candy, going to a friends house a block away, staying out until the street lights came on? It's a huge shift from what it was like for me as a kid. What happened?

In short? T.V

Many parents have bought into the idea that predators are lurking around the corner to harm their children. Shows like CSI, SVU and the news have made it (in many ways) entertaining to watch crime and death. But fact is violent crimes have dropped 50% since the early 90's and the number of kids being raped, murdered or kidnapped is so small it will normally make nationwide news.

Source: visual photos

Although the thought of anything bad happening to one of my children is devastating its not enough to support putting my children on a short leash but by no means do I let them run wild. Our house has rules that must be abide by, if one breaks that rule they are to come in immediately and if you see them come back out it is because I have confidence in them that they have learned. "Getting them outside gives them infinite opportunities  to explore" says Todd Christopher, author of the green hour. Tethered to me, they'd have fewer chances to hang out with pals and engage in creative play, which is crucial for developing constructive problem solving, creativity and critical thinking, says Susan Linn Ed.D, author of The Case for Make Believe. 

Over-protecting children keeps them from experiencing and resolving disappointment and failure says Bernardo J. Carducci Ph.D. Kids who don't learn to handle frustrations become fearful. They're the teenagers who won't try new extracurricular activities. When they arrive at college, they retreat to their rooms and play video games rather than going out and connecting with others.

I've encountered once or twice the parent guilt that may come with letting your children explore independently. About a year ago C was riding his bike outside and decided he could go down the main road out of our neighborhood, instead of stopping he continued to ride going towards would be traffic. He was taken inside and explained that mom and dad have rules for his safety and it was not intended to be mean. We explained the "look left, look right, listen" rule and the "earshot" rule.. He was not allowed to ride for about a week, in kid time that was more like 6 months. He was allowed to ride again because I felt he understood and had learned.

Should I be more active and hang out more with my children? no. over involved parents are often addressing their own need for closeness rather than giving kids the space they need. Being a supportive parent, in other words, can't always mean doing what's comfortable. It's also about bearing the anxiety and consequences that occur when your child strikes out for new territories. - Richard Weissebound, author of The Parents We Mean to Be.

Bare in mind there are a few things that need to be learned before letting your children out of your orbit.

  • Find out what real dangers and hazards are in your neighborhood
  • If your child follows through on tasks, owns up to mistakes and tends to look before he/she leaps into it, you are probably safe in saying yes to a longer bike ride or a walk to a friends a block away.
  • Practice until you and your child are comfortable. With us it was walking to the bus stop alone.
  • Stop watching all those tv shows and movies that show violence. It only fuels your fears. 

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Upcycling- Pallet Storage Unit

It's Upcycling Tuesday were all the magic of candy rainbows and wonders happen. Okay maybe not candy rainbows but it's still pretty awesome what can be created with some creativity, elbow grease and some time. This isn't a tutorial but if request come then I might do one.

This storage unit cost us under $15 and 2 days total to make

After my husband put it together I fine sanded it, primed and painted it. After a day of sitting I took the sander and gave it a distressed look all over.

I love my little storage unit for all my cake stands and food prop items.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Coupons and where to find them?

Let's get started part 1:

If you're just starting out, you'll realize it's easy to get overwhelmed and want to quit. Fear not!! I will try to put together a series that will help you in your couponing journey, the right way.. I will state now that I am not a fan what so ever of TLC Extreme Couponing. I do not condone shelf clearing, coupon fraud or hoarding. There are plenty of honest ways to save $$$$ and get a stockpile without being greedy or doing something illegal.

The general rule in couponing is "buy 1 paper per person in your household", for me that is 5 papers. I'm fortunate enough to have a free local paper that includes the SS insert every Friday, so I tend to get 5 of those as well = 10 inserts weekly. (I'll explain why later, don't worry)

  • Start simple. You can get either a Multi paper discount or a Sunday only subscription from your local paper or talk to a friend or neighbor who doesn't coupon, maybe they can set aside the inserts for you. 
*you might have seen on TV that people "recycle dive" for their papers/inserts. Although you might think it's okay to do that, it's still illegal.*
  •  Your local store. Most stores have "store coupons" that you can stack (more on that later) with manufacture coupons which might also be in their weekly ads. You can also find coupons throughout the store; hangtags, blinkies, booklets, tearpads and you might even see some "coupon fairy" coupons.
    Have you noticed these near products?
  • Mail. Often you can write a company and ask for coupons... YES it's really that easy. Most websites have a "contact us" tab. I normally just give them a few complements and then ask for some coupons. 

  • Clipping Services. You can usually find clipping services based on coast sides (east and west). You can also check on Ebay for coupons but be very careful. There are lots of shady dealers that sell fraudulent coupons.

Now more on why I get multiply papers....

I started couponing with saving money in mind but knew I needed to put out money in order to save money. I ran into sale that looks like this:

Make it Easy Promo:
Spend $20 get $5 OYNO

All laundry 3.99 at Albertsons
Snuggle Fabric Softener 3.99 at Albertsons
Buy 3 All laundry & 3 Snuggle
Total before coupons $23.94

 Use 3 $1/1 coupons from SS 3/21
Use 3 get FREE snuggle when you buy All
Use 3 doubles
Total OOP: $5.97, and receive a $5.00 Catalina
Total Savings: $18 plus $5 back 

I started couponing with 3 papers but quickly found that it just didn't work for our family.. we just consumed more than what 3 papers got us. Since I have a multi paper subscription I am able to figure out weekly saving scenarios to help with my families savings. I also like that I am able to stock up on items my family uses at a much faster rate.

When I first started I would run out here or there to get items to stock up on but soon found I didn't need to any longer because I had a pretty nice stockpile going, in turn saving more money because I shopped less.  I also buy more fresh veggies, fruits and meat (even organics). Before, most money went to the inner isles.

Would I coupon if I got only 1 paper? NO WAY!! Even if you are a 2 person family you can still benefit from couponing (I'll do another post on that later)

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