Wednesday, January 29, 2014

More Tips on How to Eat on a Budget!

Budget is one of those words...
It goes with this face...

Painful, but very necessary.
As much as we all hate to admit it...these days,
you have to curb your spending somewhere.
There are so many other areas of life you just can't control...
like car repairs, property taxes and the list goes on.
So when looking to cut down on extra expenses,
I look to the grocery budget!

I have mentioned budgeting before 
in reference to eating healthy at work here.  
I continue to commit myself to finding budget-friendly
tips and tricks.

Use those Holiday Gifts:

Ever get food related gifts for Christmas?
I do!
Usually they are pantry items...non-perishables.
Spice rubs, marinades, preserves.
Make use of those gifts!!!
Not only will you expand your tasting repertoire...
but you can save money by dressing up budget cuts of meat.

This year I was given a WONDERFUL gift!
(well, ok, I received MANY wonderful gifts...but this one was a first for me)
White Sugar flavoured with Vanilla beans.
I have a serious soft spot for vanilla ice cream with the black specks of vanilla beans!!!
(my friend Sam over at Ravels And Tangles blog knows me so well...)
This sugar is probably one of the best things EVER.
I made a quick batch of apple crisp one night and...
All I can say is 

Look for Sales:

Let me just start off by saying
I'm not one for coupon clipping and
I don't live in an area that gets grocery store flyers.
There's no reason why those methods shouldn't be used.
I just prefer to spend my time on other pursuits
like reading about gardening, dreaming about gardening
and looking forward to gardening.

Wait, what was I talking about?

I do, however, spot sales.
I found brown mushrooms on sale and made a delicious miso broth based mushroom soup.

I already buy spinach as a part of my normal
grocery shopping.  
It's great hot or cold and is PACKED with vitamins.
The garlic we grow, the carrots we grow.
The green onions are usually pretty cheap.
The ginger I splurge on every now and again.
It lasts a long time in the fridge crisper shelf and it goes into so many dishes and drinks.
Hot or cold and is packed with tons of beneficial vitamins.
All of these ingredients came together 
to make a very inexpensive and healthful meal
in almost no time at all!

Make yer Own:

Don't waste your money buying special herb blends!!!
In most cases, you already have the ingredients...
Not only are you saving money but you also control the sodium, 
preservatives (nitrates) and other unnecessary added ingredients.
Its also tailored to your tastes...literally!

Here is a list of spice blends you can make on your own:
(just Google them!)

Apple Pie Spice
Pumpkin Pie Spice
Taco Seasoning
Garam Masala
Italian Seasoning
Pickling Spices
Steak Rubs

Just Freeze It:

We spend a lot of time trying to fill a freezer
full of money saving food.
Pumpkins and squashes that were decorations in the fall 
become containers of puree ready for baking or soups or chili.
Frozen stock from local chickens becomes the base of
many soul warming concoctions.
The containers take up a lot of space in the freezer
but these staples are worth every penny.
(Taste WAY better than store bought anyway and NO SODIUM!)

A plastic container of frozen chicken stock
(approx 8 cups)


A plastic container of frozen vegetable puree 
(in this case pumpkin mash) (approx 4 cups)


1 onion and 2 cloves of garlic pressed


1 1/2 tsp each dried Thyme and salt


(adapted from original recipe here)

Served with Butter Dip Biscuits
(my new FAVORITE biscuit recipe)

How do you skim dollars from your budget?

Monday, January 20, 2014

A few of my favorite things...WINTER EDITION

The things I LOVE about Winter:

Frosty windows...

...the time of day when the snow turns blue...

...giggling after bailing off the sled,


making a snowman army in the front yard,

woolen socks,


chunky sweaters...
mint hot chocolate,


ice fishing with friends,


softly falling snow,


winter fires...

ice skating by lantern light
the smell of our fireplace burning cedar.

Owen loves snowball fights.
Ches' favorite thing about spring.


Things that I do NOT love about Winter:

ice storms,

sledding injuries,


so many layers of clothes that you feel 40lbs heavier!
(although taking off 40lbs of clothing makes you feel infinitely lighter!!!)
heavy snow (hurts the back!)
driving at night in a snow storm...

Owen isn't a fan of slipping and falling on the ice.

Ches doesn't like it when it rains in the winter.

What do you love about winter?
(or not love...)

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Our Winter Escapades...

 Every fall I lament the end of the garden.

Maybe for the first day or so, I actually celebrate it.
A slight reprieve for my breaking back.

That celebratory feeling never lasts long...

Each fall I also think about the things I want to learn more about...
Ideally when I'm sitting by the fire, hiding from the cold for 4 months.

Somehow it never quite works out...all this free time I think I'll have each winter.

Perhaps it's because we still spend a fair amount of time outdoors.
Even in winter!

We make sure that we bundle up properly before heading out on any given day.
We check the forecasts to make sure we aren't putting ourselves at risk.

Me!  all bundled up...
 Our family has been watching the History Channel's program 
"Mountain Men".

It has really inspired 6 yr old Owen!
Me too actually...

One mild day (around 0 degrees Celsius) we ventured outside
to track the beasts of the wild!

Raccoon Tracks
Muskrat tracks

We found raccoon track right outside our front door...
you can tell its a raccoon because the print looks so similar to a cat paw...
but note the thumb on the side!

A short walk to our dock revealed a muskrat has been making tracks to get 
under cover from a nearby predator.
Muskrat tracks looks like small rodent prints with a line
made by its rat-like tail dragging in the snow.

Owen recently said he wants to start trapping muskrat...we'll see....

The above picture is a shot from the end of our dock into the swamp.
The nearby Lazy Acres Cottages are all boarded up for the end of the season.
A distant reminder of how much quieter it is now that resort/cottager season is over. 

The open area at my feet looks like a great spot for a small ice rink!
We'll be sure to check the ice depth before any major "construction" ensues.

Can you see the open creek?
Too fast moving to freeze over unless the cold becomes extreme.

Our beautiful backyard is blanketed in white.
Our fire pit in the backyard has its own woodpile.
 It too is aching for one of our winter time blazes!
The snow is so deep that each tree seems to have a hole. 

Even the frilly fungus persists...

On a fallen log at the swamp's edge.

As time passed, I realized I couldn't hear Owen.
As most parents know...the silence is more scary than the noise of children.
I look around to see that he was busying himself in the swap...
fashioning himself his very own Mountain Men Lean-to.
Some dry bark off a fallen tree and dead branches make a fantastic boy-sized teepee. 

Owen fancies himself the next character on Mountain Men

The work is never done (much like the frontier lifestyle).
With the extremely cold weather we've became obvious we were 
running out of wood for our wood stove.
One mild day, a chainsaw and some standing deadwood becomes short work.
We make sure not to clear cut our property as we like the shade 
and windbreak that trees can provide.

Dusk brings a small wisp of sunlight...

And the allure of the outdoors makes us not want to go inside just yet.
We assemble a fire on top of where we think the firepit was before all the deep snow.

My favorite winter thing:

That time of day when the snow looks like its turned blue!

What have you been doing this winter?