this week’s frugal accomplishments

I always do better telling you about details when I start a blog post early in the week and this week I actually remembered to do that. On Sunday when we were getting the table set for our family dinner, I asked one of the kids to pick me some flowers, hoping I could put together a couple of bouquets for the table.

bouquet

Well, most of the flowers are getting pretty dry, so there was only enough for one smallish bouquet.  It looked nice, but when I’ve got a table set to seat 20 people, I like to have something pretty at each end of the table.

I got out a pretty teapot that I rarely use, and set it at the other end, but it looked a little out of place.  Finally I had an inspiration and poked three little flowers into the spout of the teapot.  Unexpected, but I thought it was cute, and then I had a fun spot of color at both ends of the table.  Bonus:  the cloth napkins under the center pieces, the little teapot, and the blue rocks in the bottom of the vase were all thrifted at various times.

teapot

Speaking of thrifting, I found myself a really cute shirt at the thrift store for $2, and one of my teen daughters found 4 t-shirts and spent only $9.  Not a bad shopping trip at all.  I think next time I get my Stitch Fix, I might toss a thrifted item into the mix and see if you can tell which one I got at the thrift store.  Maybe you’d be able to tell right away, but we’ll see.

I found bone-in chicken breasts marked down to $1.29 a pound, and also grabbed a few loaves of marked-down bread.  I’m planning on making french toast for breakfast this morning with one of the loaves.  I also bought a bunch of marked-down bananas, many of which we froze for fruit smoothies.

My mother in law who is moving gave me a bunch of jelly jars, enough that I have plenty to share with my married daughters, who also enjoy canning. I added a few dishes to a bin of dishes I keep in the garage for kids who are moving out and setting up their own spaces.  That’s always an exciting time for kids, whether the move be to a dorm room or an apartment, and I like being able to hand them a ‘starter’ set of items to keep that move more affordable.  With four kids in the 16-18 year old range, I’m working on getting that bin fuller than usual.

We got peppers, yellow cauliflower, and a few cherry tomatoes out of the garden this week– hooray! Cabbages are also close to ready.  I made more apricot jam, and gave some apricots away to my daughters.  And there are still apricots on the trees!  It is promising to be an amazing fruit year.

It’s so amazing, in fact, that our best-producing apple tree has branches that are literally touching the ground, weighted down by all the apples.  I went around the tree and nipped off the ends of the most-laden branches, hoping there’ll be less breakage and larger fruit overall. I tossed the wormy apples to the cows and brought 20 or so of the best green apples inside.  They’re pretty sour still, so I’m planning to make my first-ever batch of green apple jelly.


To do that, I bought a couple of Jelly Strainer Bags on amazon.  I was going to buy the little rack that the jelly bags sit in, but then in comments I read that the bags fit into wide mouth canning jars, so I decided to do it that way instead.  I cooked down a bunch of apples, and set the mash into the jelly bags to drip out all the juice.  Though the apples were a bright green, the juice ended up being a rather unattractive creamy tan color, not at all pretty for jelly.

I decided then to add a few drops of green food coloring, but got wayyyy too much green.  So now in my fridge I have some koolaid-green apple juice. I’m planning to simmer down a few more apples, add that juice, and am hoping to end up with a more natural-looking green.  I’ll try to add a photo once I get it done.

Here’s the recipe (source) I’m planning to use once I get the color of the juice to my liking.  Supposedly using seeds and skin will produce all the pectin I need to ‘jel’ the jelly.  We’ll see! Oh, the adventures of trying new things!

Green Apple Jelly

Ingredients

  • 4 lb green apples
  • 3 c. Water
  • 1/2 c. lemon or lime juice
  • Sugar (1 c. for every cup of apple juice)

Instructions

  1. Clean sterilized jelly bag and cheesecloth. Do not peel or core. Just wash and cut into pieces. Seeds & skin contain most pectin, so cook it right along with the pulp to get a firm jelly. Cover the fruit with the water, adding more if needed during cooking. Add lemon or lime juice and boil until tender. Remove from heat and mash. Strain the fruit through a jelly bag.
  2. DO NOT ATTEMPT TO RUSH THE JUICE BY SQUEEZING BAG OR MASHING FRUIT DOWN. THIS WILL CAUSE THE JELLY TO BE CLOUDY.
  3. Let the fruit stand in jelly bag 4 to 6 hours or overnight. The following morning add sugar 1 cup for every 1 cup juice. Boil in a very large pot until candy thermometer reads 220 degrees F. It should be a rolling boil that can't be stirred down. Turn off heat and skim the froth. Fill and cap the jars.
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Well, that’s all I have time to tell you about this week.  I’d love to hear about any successes you had!

Splash