Frugality this week

FallFlowers

  • The flowers above are from my sweet mother in law to celebrate the launch of Forever Mom.  (Hope you’re not too, too sick of hearing about it! :)  )  Very sweet of her to help me celebrate!  We are enjoying the prettiness of the flowers on our table.
  • I did finally get around to canning grape juice– we did about 20 quarts.  That will be good either to drink as juice at breakfast or to make into jelly later in the winter when our jam stash is diminished.
  • I found chicken thighs on sale for 99 cents/lb.  I used some as a meal with rice, some in chicken and rice soup, and some in a stir fry. I like to cook them in a crock pot slowly with some water, which makes them quite tender and then also nets me some chicken broth to use for soup.
  • I made corn cakes this week that turned out yummy, and served them alongside a lime cilantro slaw that nicely complimented that corn cakes.  The recipe was pretty much the same as this recipe except I used gluten free flour mix instead of regular flour. FallCornCakes
  • I also made a chicken skillet pot pie this week with a biscuit topping and lots of garden veggies. (I have LOTS of cabbage and sweet peppers right now.)  Pot pie always feels like a treat, but it is actually very affordable to make.
  • I made some more homemade spaghetti sauce the oven-baked way.  It turns out so good that way, and gets very rich and thick.
  • The girls and I chopped some sweet peppers to go in the freezer.  They’re so lovely fresh that it feels like a shame to freeze them.  But we simply had too many to use quickly enough, so after using lots in stir fry, fresh on sandwiches, and in pot pie, into the freezer the rest of them went.  I’m relieved to be finally getting the excess produce cleared off my kitchen counters.  Though the abundance is a gift, the clutter and the knowledge that I need to do something about it gets to me after awhile.

FallSalsa

 

  • Salsa was another thing we got done this week, finally.  Super spicy this year!  I was glad to use most of the last of the tomatoes, but then John brought more in from the garden, so we still have a basket full ripening on the counter.  We still haven’t had a hard frost, which is really unusual around here.  Lots of time the garden is completely done by the second week of October, and here it is, almost November.
  • I was in the mood for some more fall decor, and so instead of buying something, I found some Christmas lights that actually still worked– hooray! — and twined them in with several fall-leaf garlands that I’d bought earlier this month on a 40% off clearance.  It looked pretty and saved me a trip to the store. We also spread pumpkins around on our front porch from the garden.  No big ones this year, but lots of medium and smaller ones.  We’ll be making pumpkin pie soon too, I’m sure.  Yum!

How did your frugal adventure go this week?  I’d love to hear about it!  And if you an adoptive momma in need of a getaway, remember to enter the drawing for the Created for Care Getaway package!

Creamy Chicken and Potato Soup (GF)

Soup (thin)Here’s a great soup recipe that I found on Pinterest and then adapted quite a bit to suit my preferences.  I really, really love the bright flavors and pretty color added by the fresh tomato and cilantro. I’ve served it to a crowd twice, and each time people really seemed to enjoy it.

Creamy Chicken and Potato Soup

Yield: 5-6 servings

Creamy Chicken and Potato Soup

Ingredients

  • 1 lb chicken, cooked and shredded (about 3 cups)
  • 8 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled (reserve for topping)
  • 2 tablespoons reserved bacon grease
  • 1 large red or green bell pepper, diced (1 1/2 cups)
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced (1 1/4 cups)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 6 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 4 medium russet potatoes, peeled and diced (3 cups)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 cups fresh or frozen corn
  • 1 1/2 cups half and half
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 medium tomatoes, diced (reserve for topping)
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped (reserve for topping)

Instructions

  1. Cook and cube chicken however you prefer.
  2. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Cook bacon on a cookie sheet in the oven until crispy, about 12-18 minutes, turning halfway through. Remove bacon to a plate to drain.
  3. Reserve about 2 tablespoons of the bacon grease and pour it into a heavy skillet over medium heat.
  4. Add bell pepper and onions, and saute until tender, about 3 minutes. Add garlic and cook 30 seconds longer.
  5. Stir in chicken broth, add cubed potatoes and season with salt and pepper to taste. Bring mixture to a boil stirring frequently, then reduce heat to medium-low and cook, uncovered, 10 minutes or just until potatoes are tender, stirring occasionally.
  6. Whisk cornstarch into the half and half. Add it to the soup along with the cooked chicken and corn.
  7. Simmer, uncovered 10 - 15 minutes longer, stirring occasionally. Serve warm topped with bacon, cilantro, and fresh tomatoes.

For an added boost of health and flavor, I make this soup with bone-in chicken thighs. For this recipe I cooked 5 bone-in thighs in about 8 cups of salted water to which I added some onion and carrot. When meat was soft enough to fall off the bone, I remove the meat and set it aside, then continued to gently cook the bones in the broth overnight (a crock pot works nicely). The next day I had a nice healthy bone broth, which I strained, discarding the veggies, and then used in place of store-bought broth. It adds extra cooking time, but very little additional prep time, and adds lots of rich flavor and nutrition to the soup.

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September grocery challenge, week 2

birthday time

This week I went to the store twice, but didn’t spend too much either time. Saturday I bought milk, butter, potatoes, onions, coffee creamer, and Kleenex for a grand total of $37.

Sunday we had the family over for dinner to celebrate Lidya’s 19th birthday.  We had barbecued hamburgers, salad, pickles, cucumbers, watermelon, jello ice cream, and two kinds of birthday cake, lemon and chocolate.  I already had everything except hamburger buns, which my momma very kindly brought.

Thursday evening I went to the store again and got milk, cheese, chex, yogurt, oatmeal, oranges (5 lbs for $1.25), a few peaches,  chicken ($1.37/lb chicken breasts), vanilla, chocolate chips, and toilet paper.  Grand total on that trip was $65 which brings our total for the first 11 days of the month to $102.  I’m trying not to run out of things that my husband really cares about, since that leaves him very dubious of the virtues of this spending challenge idea.

I still have lots of meat and the garden continues to overflow with veggies.  So I’m hoping that getting by for the rest of the month on only $200 more should work just fine.

Here’s what our food looked like this week.

Saturday
Breakfast: Eggs and toast
Lunch: Turkey sandwiches
Dinner: Ham and bean soup, zucchini muffins

Sunday
Breakfast: Cereal
Lunch: Corn dogs and tater tots, cucumbers
Dinner: Hamburgers, jello, salad, watermelon, birthday cake

Monday
Breakfast: Cereal
Lunch:  Baked potatoes with bacon, cheese and sour cream. Watermelon, cake
Dinner:  Rice, turkey, sauteed cabbage, cucumbers

Tuesday
Breakfast: Pancakes, apples, milk
Lunch: Turkey noodle soup
Dinner:  Hamburger enchiladas (from the freezer, basically this recipe but with ground beef)

Wednesday
Breakfast: Cereal (we’re low on eggs) and apples
Lunch: Leftover corn dogs and hamburgers, rice
Dinner:  Hamburger zucchini stir-fry, pickles, pears

Thursday
Breakfast: Hash brown combo with peppers and tomatoes
Lunch: Tomato melts, cucumbers, apples
Dinner: Baked chicken, potatoes, sauteed zucchini and eggplant, angel food cake

Friday
Breakfast: Eggs and toast
Lunch: Leftover fried rice, cucumbers,
Dinner: Pizza and garden cantaloupe, apple pie

Our tomatoes are already slowing down– it’s a cool September here– but today I think I have enough tomatoes and peppers to make some salsa. Our apple trees are still groaning with fruit.  We made and canned applesauce twice this week.  Once the younger kids and I worked through it together, and another time my oldest married daughter came over and helped us get a lot done.  I’m hoping to cut more apples today and freeze a few apple pies, and maybe even some baked apple donuts.  We love applesauce, but it is soooo labor-intensive.  Plus it will be fabulous to have some ready-made dessert in the freezer.

Are you doing the spending challenge?  Do you have any frugal wins to share today?

 

September spending challenge, update #1

Almond ButterAfter just 6 days of eating out of the pantry and freezer, I can already find things in the freezer SO much more easily. I hadn’t realized how often I’ve been frustrated trying to find things in my overly crammed space. We’re eating much more variety than usual, just because I’m trying to use things that have been ignored for awhile.  Tuesday we had enchiladas for dinner made with trout.  Odd, but pretty good.  The trout was caught by some of the kids in June and has been languishing in the freezer ignored since then.  About time we did something useful with it.  I confess, however, that I gave the last dabs of the trout to the chickens, and they gobbled it down, little omnivores that they are.

For Wednesday dinner we had turkey dinner.  John’s mom is in the process of moving, and while cleaning out her freezer, gifted me with a turkey.  It was the most enormous bird I’ve ever cooked– 30 pounds.  We’ve had sandwiches several times since then, I froze several baggies full of cooked meat, and still there’s turkey in the fridge to eat.  A nice problem to have!

For quite a while at breakfast we’ve been in the habit of eating eggs, but as the weather cools a little, the hens are slowing down in their laying, and since I don’t want to go to the store too soon, I’ve been doing some alternative breakfasts.  Wednesday was french toast made with multiple bread loaves that had been stuck back into the freezer with just a few slices left on them. Thursday morning we had polenta with flax seed and cranberries.

I’ve also been making a concerted effort to can a lot this week  (that and school account for my almost-absence around here).  So far this week we canned 22 quarts of applesauce and about 8 quarts of tomatoes.  And still there are so many apples to deal with.  I think I’ll be asking our grown kids to do a bit of picking off the trees to help me out.

Here’s what we ate.

Sunday
Breakfast: Cereal
Lunch: Tacos
Dinner: grilled pizza and watermelon

Monday
Breakfast: Pancakes and apples
Lunch: Tuna sandwiches and cucumber-tomato salad
Dinner: Hamburger veggie chowder and watermelon

Tuesday
Breakfast:  smoothies and eggs
Lunch:  Veggie chicken stir-fry
Dinner: Trout enchiladas

Wednesday
Breakfast: French toast
Lunch: fish sticks, leftover rice, carrot sticks, apples
Dinner:  turkey, sweet potatoes, cuke-tomato salad

Thursday
Breakfast: polenta with flax seed, cranberries and apples
Lunch:  turkey veggie wraps
Dinner: turkey fajitas

Friday
Breakfast: Eggs, toast and apples
Lunch: Turkey sandwiches
Dinner: Chicken sandwiches, grilled cabbage, fresh applesauce, fresh raspberries

I have to say, it’s been a dog of a week.  Tons of driving kids everywhere, plus we started school again, and with the canning and our fair share of cranky kids, it has been SOOOO very tempting to grab a pizza or burgers or something easy several different evenings.  But we’ve resisted so far- haven’t even been to the grocery store yet.  So far we’ve run out of milk, potatoes, bananas, peanut butter, cinnamon, and sour cream.  The milk and the potatoes are the first things I’m buying when I next go to the store, I think. 

As far as peanut butter  (which hubby is really missing) I decided to try something new– making almond butter, since we have a lot of almonds from my sister whose husband grows them.   I roasted about 4 cups of almonds on a flat skillet, then tossed them into the food processor with half a cup of olive oil, a half a teaspoon of salt and 1/4 cup of honey.  Lo and behold, it made perfectly excellent almond butter.  My hubby is now at peace with the lack of peanut butter in the house.

How did the week go at your house?  If you’re doing the spending challenge, I’d love to hear how your week went.

Recipe: Spicy Grilled Shrimp

Spicy BBQ'd Shrimp
For our 4th of July party several years running we’ve done spicy grilled shrimp on the barbecue.  Here’s the recipe we used this year, and I thought it was really yummy. Since I forgot to get a picture either year, though, the photocredit belongs to a different recipe I found on ifood.tv.  As pretty as this shrimp is with the tails on, we did go ahead and take the tails off ours before skewering them, to make them easier to eat.

Spicy Grilled Shrimp

Prep Time: 1 hour

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Yield: 6-8 servings

Spicy Grilled Shrimp

Ingredients

  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1-2 teaspoons Sriracha sauce
  • 2 pounds medium or large shrimp
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced

Instructions

  1. Peel and devein shrimp and remove tails.
  2. Combine all ingredients in a ziplock bag and marinate for 1 hour.
  3. If using wooden skewers, soak in water while shrimp marinate.
  4. Thread shrimp onto wooden or metal skewers.
  5. Heat grill to medium-low.
  6. Grill shrimp for 3-5 minutes per side, or until they are opaque and pinkish in color.
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Berry-Pudding Dessert for a Crowd

Berry Oreo Dessert

Last month we had our annual Bible camp in the mountains with a bunch of other families from our church.  As usual, I was in charge of getting the food planned and bought, then handed off much of the actual cooking to others once we got to camp.  Though much of the menu is the same from year to year, each year I try a thing or two that’s new.  This year it was dessert. Usually we use the camp’s soft-serve ice cream machine, but it was broken, and it’s kind of a hassle to take ice cream for 80 on a three hour car ride in the summertime. I also had a handful of gluten free people to feed.  So what could I make that was creamy and yummy and ice-cream-like, and also gluten free?

I decided to adapt an old favorite recipe, ‘Dirt’ Dessert, into something easier to pull together for a crowd. The bottom layer is chocolate pudding mixed with raspberries or blueberries.  The white layer consists of cream cheese, powdered sugar, and cool whip.  You can sprinkle crushed Oreos on top if you like, or skip the Oreos to make the dessert completely gluten free. Frozen, it was a cool and delicious dessert that seemed to please a lot of folks.

 

Berry-Oreo Yumminess

Yield: Two 12x16 pans (serves 80)

Berry-Oreo Yumminess

Ingredients

  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 4 packages cream cheese
  • 28 ounces chocolate pudding mix (dry, boxed)
  • 3 quarts milk
  • 3 large cartons of Cool Whip
  • 3 pounds frozen berries (I used blueberries and raspberries)
  • 1 large package of oreos (optional)

Instructions

  1. Bottom layer: In a very large bowl combine pudding mix and milk. Mix well with a wire whisk. Let sit ten minutes in refrigerator, then gently stir in frozen berries. Divide the mixture between two 12x16 pans, spreading it as evenly as possible.
  2. Top layer: Whip together powdered sugar and cream cheese in a large mixing bowl. (A hand mixer would probably work best.) When well mixed, fold in Cool Whip. Use a large spoon to drop mixture as evenly as possible across the pudding mixture.
  3. To serve: Cover pans with wax paper or plastic wrap and freeze until serving, at least two hours. Half an hour before it's time to serve, roughly chop oreos and sprinkle lightly across the top of the pans. If you are serving folks who are gluten free, leave part of one pan plain, without Oreos. Cut into squares and serve.
  4. Tip: If you are making this for folks who are gluten free, be sure to select pudding mix that use cornstarch, not wheat products as thickening.
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Here are a few other recipes we did for camp this year:

Molly’s Chicken– we did this one this year instead of our traditional ham dinner, for half the cost that ham usually is.  Lots of people came back for seconds, and even little children seemed to enjoy it.  We served about 140 chicken legs to 80 or so people, and only had bout 20 left over.  I used nicely-trimmed chicken legs that you can buy at Costco in multipacks for about $1.29/lb.

BBQ Meatballs–  We served these in hot dog bugs or over rice, and people seemed to enjoy them.  For 70 people, we used 15 pounds of pre-made frozen meatballs from Cash and Carry, and also made about 5 pounds more of meatballs that were gluten free.  I also found a gluten free BBQ sauce to serve over them, but ended up deciding that the BBQ sauce recipe in Family Feasts for $75 a Week is more to my taste.  Ah well.

Chili for a Crowd–This is the second year I’ve made this recipe.  People like that it is very hearty and full of meat.  We made a turkey roaster full of mild chili and a crock pot full of spicy chili, and had only a little left over when serving about 75 people.

 

 

Recipe: BBQ Meatballs for a Crowd

meatball subs

When all our kids are home for Sunday dinner, I’d much rather be visiting and playing with babies than cooking.  Because of that, I’m always on the lookout for meals that I can prep ahead of time.   A few weeks ago I made a big crock pot full of meatballs, and topped them with my homemade barbecue sauce.  I served them with hoagie rolls and hot dog buns, so that everyone could make their own meatball sandwiches.

Here’s the recipe I used.  It’s enough to serve two dozen people generously.  Any leftover meatballs can be frozen for later, or added to spaghetti sauce on spaghetti night. To make this recipe gluten free, serve over rice instead of on rolls, and use gluten-free oats and gluten-free soy sauce.

BBQ Meatballs for a Crowd

Yield: 24 servings

4-6 meatballs per serving

BBQ Meatballs for a Crowd

Ingredients

    For the meatballs:
  • 8 lbs lean or extra-lean ground beef
  • 2 cups quick oats
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 T. salt
  • 1 t. black pepper
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • dash of liquid smoke
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • For the barbecue sauce:
  • 1-1/2 cups ketchup
  • 1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1/2 of a small white onion, finely minced
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspood dry mustard powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper

Instructions

    FOR THE MEATBALLS:
  1. Combine all meatball ingredients in a very large bowl. Mold into balls about 1.5 inches in diameter and set on a large cookie sheet in a single layer. Broil in the oven about 8 inches from the element for 6-8 minutes, turning once. Keep a close eye on them during the last few minutes to avoid burning.
  2. Broiling meatballs first helps them hold together while being cooked in the barbecue sauce. By the time you remove them from the broiler, they should be cooked through, with no pink in the center. At this point you can refrigerate or freeze them until they will be used. If you choose to make the barbecue sauce at this point, you can go ahead and pour it over the top of the meatballs to marinate together in the fridge or freezer until you heat them up again for serving.
  3. FOR THE BBQ SAUCE:
  4. Combine all sauce ingredients in a medium size saucepan, whisk together, and simmer over medium heat 10-15 minutes. This sauce may be cooled and stored in the refrigerator for up to a month.
  5. TO SERVE:
  6. Combine thawed meatballs and barbecue sauce in a large crock pot and cook until hot. Use the high setting if you would like to serve the meatballs within an hour, or low if you'd like to let them simmer 2-4 hours. Serve in hoagie rolls or hot dog buns, or over the top of rice. Enjoy!
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Recipe: Beef Stroganoff

A NYT article Putting Meat in its Place captured my philosophy on meat perfectly. We don’t NEED huge slabs of meat on our dinner plates every day! In that spirit, here’s a recipe that I posted a couple years ago but just now got around to photographing. We only make this once a month or so– it is NOT low fat– but it is a favorite at our house! This recipe does not call for canned soup, which helps make it more affordable.

Hamburger Stroganoff

30 minutes

Yield: 5-6 servings

Hamburger Stroganoff

Ingredients

  • 1 (16 ounce) package egg noodles
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 T. flour
  • 2 T. butter
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 1/2 of an 8 ounce container of sour cream
  • 1 cup fresh sliced mushrooms, optional

Instructions

  1. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add egg noodles and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain.
  2. While pasta cooks, in a skillet over medium heat, brown the ground beef until no pink shows; drain and set aside. If you are using fresh mushrooms, fry for 1-2 min in same skillet that you used for the hamburger. Set aside.
  3. Again in the same skillet, melt butter on medium high heat. Add minced garlic and cook for a minute. Then add flour. Whisk well to break up any clumps of flour. Add milk and heat till bubbly and starting to thicken.
  4. Add ketchup, and sour cream. Whisk til smooth and heated through. Add ground beef and mushrooms back into skillet. Blend hamburger mixture with pasta. Salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Once you've made this recipe a few times, you'll probably be able to get the whole thing on the table in 20-30 minutes. It is a quick, easy and very delicious meal. We serve the mushrooms on the side, since not all our kids like mushrooms.
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Frugal Friday – Thai Beef Wrap Recipe

Here’s another rambling story of things that I did this week to save money. For starters, though, a fail: I frittered away $50 on TWO different fast-food dinners. Both times I was out doing things with a bunch of kids, and it felt like the best way to finish what we needed to do before getting on home. We ordered off the dollar menu, drank water, shared fries, etc.  But feeding 8 people adds up, especially when most of them are hungry teens.  Looking back, I’d rather have spent that money on something more lasting.

I’m thinking I need a stash of errand-food — stuff that’s really easy to grab out of the fridge at home, toss in a cooler, and take along when I know errands are going to take awhile.  We almost never buy anything individual and snackish, so granola bars, cheese sticks, yogurt cups, or peanut butter cracker packs would still be a treat, but at a much lower cost to the wallet. The trick would be to hide those goodies at home, so they wouldn’t be gobbled up before we needed them.

Now. On to the successes of the week.

  • Made three loaves of Harvest Grain bread and stuck one in the freezer.
  • Resisted the urge to do fast food for dinner yet another evening when the kitchen was torn up. Instead I cleared a space on the stove, warmed up soup  (yay for double batches!) and served it with bread and salad.
  • Now, on to the reason the kitchen was torn up. This week I’ve been staining our 90’s honey-oak kitchen cabinets a deeper, richer color.  I am sooo excited about this project. The stain was $16 for a pint.  I applied it with old socks, and that little pint literally did the entire kitchen. To make this project even more exciting, months ago, when doing our bathroom stain, I bought drawer pulls and knobs enough for the kitchen, which my husband is going to install this weekend.  So this will be a really affordable facelift.  Hoping to be able to show it to you next Wednesday.  Fun!
  • I took the time to look at the booklet sent by our bank about their merger with a new bank.  I think our accounts won’t have monthly charges, but it seems I need to look for a new bank for most of the kids’ savings, as it looks like they would be charged $6 a month unless they keep above a $1000 balance, which isn’t realistic for several of our kids.  Treasure Valley folks– any suggestions for kids’ accounts?
  • After looking at MANY thrift stores, we finally found a prom dress for my daughter at a nice consignment store that was having a 40% off sale.  The dress was literally new with tags (original price $179) but thanks to the sale, it was $55.  It looks beautiful on her and will only take a tiny bit of altering (by moi– wish me luck.)
  • I sent off a baby gift for a friend’s daughter that consisted of things I’d sewn from my newly organized fabric stash.  Very fun!  I also finished sewing several more purses that I cut out last winter.  Thinking they’d make a fun gift for a wide variety of ladies.
  • I’ve been working hard to not waste any of the veggies from last week’s Bountiful Basket.  Most challenging has been THREE large heads of lettuce.  The BB lady said they had a couple extra lettuces and offered them in my box, so of course I accepted. We used most of the last head today, in Thai beef wraps (recipe below). Along with the usual grated carrot and minced onion, I also diced a zucchini really small and mixed it in with the ground beef, which makes it much more bearable to the ones of mine who don’t love zucchini.  I’ve shared the recipe before, but included it again here, in case you want to try it.  I’m always pleased at how happily kids eat their veggies when I serve this.

Thai Lettuce Wraps

Thai Lettuce Wraps

Ingredients

  • big bunch of chard, spinach, or lettuce – probably a pound or so
  • 2 carrots, grated or minced
  • 1 onion, minced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 lb lean ground beef (or ground turkey)
  • soy sauce or teriyaki sauce to taste (about 1/4 cup?)

Instructions

  1. Wash chard or lettuce leaves, shake off extra water, and set aside in a bowl. Shred carrot, onion, garlic, and any other veggie that you desire using a food processor. Cook ground meat in a large skillet with a little slosh of sesame oil, if you have it. If you are using ground turkey, you will probably need a tablespoon or two of oil as you cook it.
  2. Once meat is cooked, remove from pan and cook chopped veggies in the remaining oil until soft.
  3. Return hamburger to pan and mix with veggies and a good slosh of teriyaki sauce or soy sauce (probably around 1/4 cup). Add a cup or two of cooked rice, if desired. Salt and pepper to taste. Cook over medium heat for a few more minutes, til ingredients are well mixed and heated.
  4. Serve by wrapping leaves of chard or lettuce around several tablespoons of meat. Let people take their own lettuce and their own serving of meat/veggies and wrap right on their plate.
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How did your week go?  I enjoyed reading the frugal accomplishments from the Prudent Homemaker earlier this week and I’d love to hear yours too.  Would any of you like me to add a linky to these frugality posts?  That way those of you who blog could easily share the links to your frugality posts, and it’d be easier for everyone to hop around to see what others are doing.  Let me know what you think, and if there is enough interest, I’ll add a linky next week.

Organizing sewing and craft supplies (and a recipe for homemade laundry detergent)

In my laundry room, I am fortunate to have quite a bit of high shelving above the washer and dryer, on which I store craft and sewing supplies.  I’ve been struggling for awhile with my fabric storage.  I’ve tried just folding it and stacking it.  I’ve tried keeping it in clear bins.  But inevitably when the girls or I are hunting for a particular piece of fabric, everything gets jumbled, and (apparently) none of us are terribly good at re-stacking things neatly on a routine basis.  Same with the crafts, kept in bins on the top shelves.   Things get pulled out, put away improperly or not at all, and the longer it goes between straightening, the messier the whole area gets.  Pretty soon pulling out even one tiny thing makes an avalanche of mess highly probable.  (Please tell me this doesn’t only happen at my house??)

Laundry room-- the messy middleAwhile back I’d seen this idea for organizing tissue paper, and realized it’d work perfectly for fabric.  So last week, I pulled all the mess off those upper shelves, wiped everything down, and started folding fabric and threading it through the wire shelving rack. I’m terrible at taking ‘before’ pictures when I do projects– I tend to be way to eager to just leap in– but here’s a picture of the messy middle. Anything would be an improvement at this point, right?

The hardest part about this project was folding the fabric of varying sizes and shapes into fairly uniform sizes, so that it would look nice lined up.  If I had it to do again, I’d probably organize it in the order of the colors of the rainbow– wouldn’t that be just lovely?  I’ve seen books arranged by color on bookshelves and loved it.  But I didn’t have that idea til I was halfway done with the project, so I think I will leave it be as is.  I still think it looks really pretty.

Organizing fabric with wire shelving

You might also be able to see in the photo above that I flipped the lower shelf over so that the lip of the shelf was facing up instead of down.  With the lip up, I was able to use the shelf for gift wrap storage. I’m planning to also add a long wire or a dowel just below that shelf onto which I can thread spools of ribbon, to better organize my gift wrap supplies.

Setting the fabric up this way makes it SO easy to see what I have and grab what I need without disturbing anything else.  I’m delighted with how much better my craft area looks now, and am hoping it will be lots easier to maintain.  And having everything so easy to find makes me want to leap in and use more of my goodies!  Hooray for organizing success.

Organizing craft supplies

 

Here are other posts I’ve written about my laundry room.  It’s a hard working space and has seen several revamps over the years.

Shelf for a mismatched washer/dryer

School-book shelving in my laundry room

Laundry room organization ideas

soapAnd in case you’re curious about our laundry soap, here’s the recipe:

  • 4 cups of borax
  • 4 cups of washing soda
  • 1/2 bar Fels-Naphtha soap, finely grated

We store it in a 2-quart jar onto which I’ve fitted a lid from a parmesan cheese container.  We put 2 tablespoons of this mixture into each wash load.  It does a good job and is much more affordable than regular laundry detergent.  It even worked well when we had a front loader washer.  (The front-load washer died after working long and valiantly on our behalf.)

If you like this post, I’d love a pin on Pinterest. Next Wednesday I hope to share a very exciting, very affordable project that I’m working on in my kitchen! What’s new at your house?  Have you done any organizing lately?