Saturday, February 23, 2013

Cauliflower and Broccoli Seeds in the Dirt

Tonight I got a flat of cauliflower and broccoli planted.  They are watered, sitting on a heating pad and are being “sunned” by a grow light.  Sounds like a nice life to me! 

Last year I lost all my broccoli and cauliflower starts because I planted the starts without “hardening” them was a major brain freeze on my part.  I also planted them later last year...but I just read that in my area (Lake Stevens, WA) they can go in the ground beginning now.  I hope to have them planted in the garden in about 8 weeks.

So far I have two different onion seeds started (about 2 weeks ago) and the broccoli and cauliflower now planted (these seeds also came from Territorial Seed Company).  Now I need to get working on what I will be planting next...I am a little behind on my planning.

Seeds planted today:
Broccoli ~ Hybrid Broccoli Blend...containing four different seeds:  Everest, Express, Southern Comet and Belstar.

Cauliflower:  Amazing

Friday, February 22, 2013

Onions Seeds Planted! Garlic is Growing...

About two weeks ago I planted my onions.  Currently I have about 200 onion starts growing under the light.  I bought the seeds through the Territorial Seed Company.  Here are the two types I decided on this year:
Ruby Ring Hybrid Sweet Spanish Onion (red onion)     
Milestone Hybrid Sweet Onion

I am not sure why I chose two sweet onions...but I do remember choosing them for their storage longevity.  I would really love to not buy onions ever again.

             Next up:  Garlic

Last fall I planted 50 garlic bulbs...and all 50 are sprouting.  Love it!  But even better, while I was working in the garden a couple of days ago (when we had the most beautiful day I have ever seen in February) I found a bunch more garlic growing.  I must have left some garlic behind last year.  I dug them up, separated the starts and replanted them...bringing my total up to 73 cloves of garlic growing in my yard.  If it all grows, every family member will be getting a garlic braid next Christmas!

  And finally:                                                       

I filled the planter, by the front door, with double ruffled primroses.  It was the perfect way to celebrate a sunny, blue sky day in February (and the fact that I was able to take a vacation day from work and putter in my yard instead).

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Christmas in February (for me at least)

It was like Christmas in February today!  Let me start off by saying that this month has been impossible for me to keep on budget with my groceries.  I have not been taking advantage of stocking up on items with coupons so I am paying more and getting less for my money.
We ran out of cheese and sugar last week and I told my family that we weren’t buying any groceries until payday ~ which is the last day of the month for us.  My hubby and I only get paid once a month…and sometimes we need to get creative to stretch the dollars.

However…happy day today!  I received my Costco rebate check in the mail.  Never have I been so happy to see $77.20 in my life.  So off to Costco we went.  Before starting our shopping…we of course had to have a Costco dinner.  4 hotdogs, 3 pops and a churro…all for a whopping $7.60!  Where can three people get full for under $8.00 total?
Next up, my favorite youngest daughter grabbed her phone, brought up the calculator app and started keeping track of the dollars we were spending.  I did not want to go over $77.20

We bought duck treats (for the dogs), bacon bits, powder sugar, brown sugar, 2 gallons of milk, pancake mix, cinnamon, taco seasoning, vanilla, 10# sugar, bananas (can’t go to Costco without buying bananas), granola bars, 2# of cheddar cheese and 2 dozen eggs.

Total Retail:                     $85.96
Coupons Used:            <$6.00>                                        

Rebate Coupon:          <$77.20>
Total Paid:                        $2.76

It was so exciting that we then decided to get a hot fudge sundae (with nuts) at McDonalds for a total price of $3.88 (that is all it cost for 3 sundaes!)  It was a night that was perfect for my frugalistic heart!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Double Coupons at Albertsons

I stayed home today, took a vacation day...the sun is out and the sky is blue and I think I may be battling spring fever.  One of the fun things about staying home during the week...when the hubby is at work and the favorite youngest daughter is at that I can just putter and do my own thing.  Love it!

I have not had time to coupon...and my grocery budget is reflecting that ~ badly.  I am way over budget for February.  It seems like grocery prices have jumped recently.  I cannot believe the price of cheese epecially. 

So with that being said...I thought I had better take advantage of some double coupons that Albertsons has going through today.

Here's what I got:

This was my most expensive transaction...cheese is crazy expensive.  Each 12 count package of string cheese is $6.39.  Right now at Albertsons if you buy get one free plus I had 75 cent off coupon plus I used a double coupon.  The mozzarella cheese (in the center of the picture) normally cost $5.79 (for 8oz)...using a coupon, and a double with the sale price ($3.99)...I got it for $1.99.  The green curry sauce was not on sale and was expensive as well...but I want to try a new recipe and the curry is a necessity. 

With Curry:  Retail:  $36.14    Paid:  $17.56  ~  52% Savings
W/O Curry:  Retail:  $30.35    Paid:  $11.77  ~  62% Savings


My family loves this Bear Creek Pasta and I love adding this yogurt to my steel cut oatmeal in the morning...yum.

Retail:   $10.87    Paid:   98 cents  ~  91% Savings

And finally:

More yogurt and 4 packs of gum.

Retail:   $9.45   Paid:   Zero, Zilch, Nada  ~  100% Savings!

Now it is time to go plant some double ruffled primroses in my planter, move my strawberry plants and do some pruning.  I love unexpected sunny days in February!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

2013 ~ The Year of Making Homemade Bread

I begged my husband for a new KitchenAid mixer...told him it would be a WONDERFUL Christmas present and to make the deal even sweeter...I promised I would make homemade bread on a regular basis.

Well...I got the KitchenAid!!

And...I haven't bought a loaf of bread at all in the year 2013!

We have gone through a lot of bread flour because the bread is so good...we are eating too much.  However, I see a slow down in bread consumption now that we are 1/2 way through Febrauary. 

I haven't stopped at bread...I now use this bread dough for making pizza crusts, hamburger buns, hotdog buns and hoagy rolls.  The shapes are definately a work in progress...but it still tastes amazing ~ regardless of how badly they look.

The bread recipe I use is one I found while reading a fabulous book titled:  "The Weekend Homesteader ~ a Twelve-Month Guide to Self-Sufficiency" written by Anna Hess. 

Here is the recipe we love:

1 1/3 cup water ~ warm (baby-bottle temperature)
2 T. sugar
1 T. yeast
1 T. olive oil
2 t. salt (I use Kosher)
3 cups bread flour

In a mixing bowl add sugar, yeast and warm water...let proof for about 10 minutes until it resembles a "foamy mass".  I then add the olive oil, salt and bread flour.  I mix for 8 minutes in the KitchenAid with the hook on low speed.  I sometimes need to add more bread flour to keep it from sticking to the bowl as it mixes.  When mixed, rub the dough with a bit of olive oil, cover with a warm wet towel and let rise until double in a draft-free, warm spot for about one hour.  When done, roll into shape (I push it into an oblong shape and roll up tightly...and put it into a sprayed bread pan.  Let rise a second time until double...another hour.  Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes.  When done, thump on the top of the bread loaf to make sure it sounds "hollow"...that means your bread is cooked all the way through.

My Notes:

1.  I triple my batch when I make it.
2.  For pizza dough ~ after the first "rising" I roll the dough into a ball, wrap it in sprayed   saran wrap and put it into the freezer.  Take it out and thaw it in the fridge about a day before you plan to use.
3.  I have used 1/2 the amount of sugar...worked and tasted fine.
4.  I have used 1/2 olive oil and 1/2 canola oil...again worked fine.
5.  When I make a triple batch, I only use about 5 tsp of kosher salt.

Don't take making bread seriously...have fun with it!  It may take a few batches to get the hang of it...but it is worth it to keep trying. 

Saturday, February 16, 2013

How to Get a Kitchen Aid for 1/2 price (or less)!

Here's how I got my AMAZING...
KitchenAid Professional 600 Mixer
for realllllyyyy CHEAP!
Years ago my parents bought me a classic KitchenAid and it was very well used.  Unfortunately it was getting old and starting to give up.  Screws would loosen up, several of the "speed" levels went out so there was no low or high...just a couple levels of medium speed.
I also wanted to start making homemade bread on a regular basis...and my old classic just wasn't up to the task.
That's when I saw an awesome deal at Kohl's...and I suggested to my hubby that he could make me very happy by allowing me to purchase this so he could wrap it up and put it under the Christmas tree for me.  I also promised him homemade bread.  He is a very smart man...and was very happy to to have me buy my own Christmas present.  I did draw the line at wrapping it...I made him do that!

Here is the deal I got ~ Normal Retail Price:  $549.99


$449.99 ~ Sales Price
  -89.99 ~ 20% Black Friday Coupon Code
  -70.00 ~ Kohl's Cash (which I turned into $170.00 worth of products)
  -50.00 ~ KitchenAid Rebate
  -24.00 ~ Magazine Refund (see more information below)
  -21.60 ~ Ebates Rebate (see more information below)

Total overall price of my mixer?  $194.40!!!!

**KitchenAid was giving away a two year magazine subscription with purchase...but you could also request a refund of $24.00 instead of getting the magazines...which I opted to do.

**I logged into my Ebates account and then accessed Kohl's so that I was eligible for a Ebates rebate.  Ebates is a great way to make money when shoppoing online.  Learn more by clicking here:  Ebates.

This was the second year in a row that I saw this deal through Kohl's during the holiday season.  It was a great deal...I saved $355.00 by taking advantage of all these opportunities.  The biggest bonus?  I can make a triple batch of bread and NONE of the flour flies out of the bowl.