Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Putting up Produce

The asparagus and broccoli have been blanched and placed in shrink-vacuumed bags and placed in the freezer for use this winter.

Here is a recipe for a quick and delicious use of some of your broccoli

Chicken Tortellini Alfredo with broccoli
1) Grill seasoned chicken breasts, slice
2) Heat a jar of your favorite Alfredo sauce, seasoned with a few flakes of Cayenne if desired (may need to thin with a bit of milk) in a large saute pan
3) Cook a head of broccoli which has been separated into florets, drain and add to Alfredo sauce
4) Cook a package of cheese tortellini according to directions, drain and add to Alfredo sauce mixture
5) Toss all ingredients together and place chicken strips atop the past mixture. Delicious, easy and fast!

Berries are coming in and they will be picked, placed on a cookie sheet and allowed to freeze before packing in freezer boxes. Jam recipes are being researched for the black berries (because I don't like to eat them but do love a good blackberry jam on a toasted English muffin). I am planning on giving away some jams as Christmas gifts

Monday, June 14, 2010

Yarn $tash Prayer $hawl

I am about half way done with a prayer shawl (cast on of 80 stitches, garter stitch) created from my yarn stash of Lion Brand yarn. The rows are varying widths depending on how much of a particular color I have. I alternate a dark with a light (neutral) color for the best contract. Can't wait for you to see the finished project. It is great use of my leftover supplies which were not enough to complete any one individual project. Purchasing enough skeins of yarn to complete a regular shawl runs $18-20 when using Lion Brand skeins. This shawl is going to be beautiful (DD want to trade in her solid red one for it)and was created with love from a treasure trove of "leftovers"

Friday, June 11, 2010

Eating clo$e to home

Summer is a great time to change your eating habits to reduce your food costs. By eating what is "in season" or grown and raised close to your home you can significantly lower your grocery bill. Much of your store bought food costs are associated with the transportation of foods from distant locales. Do you eat strawberries in December? They probably arrived in your grocery store from South America, adding additional expense associated with the shipping of the produce.

To reduce your food costs you have to discipline yourself to eat what is in season. Now is the time to indulge in strawberries, lettuce, radishes and broccoli and other cool weather crops. Eat your asparagus in the spring when it is available locally (freeze some for winter use). In the summer load up on squash, zucchini and tomatoes. I am sure you agree that everything tastes better when it is in season so it is a win-win! I'll post how I "put up" produce for later use in another post.

To take advantage of local produce visit your farmers markets, make friends with the local egg farmer and seek out farm raised fish, shrimp and other meats. Your wallet and your palate will be glad you did!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

$ummer Fun(d$)

Looking for cheap things to do now that the kiddies are out of school for the summer?
My oldest DD hosts a summer camp of sorts for a few pre-teen aged girls so they don't have to go to the after school program all summer so I've included some of those ideas here.

Start by first making a SUMMER BUCKET LIST. This can and should include any and all things you hope to do as a family this summer. You can refer to it when you get bored! It might be make cleaning the basement, making snow cones, watching a specific movie, going to a specific park or museum or scrap-booking last summer's vacation photos.

Here are some cheap or free ideas to keep the kids occupied this summer

1) Cheap movies-either "rent" from the Library for free or attend the local theatre for 50 cent movies (we bought a Cinemark pass for $5 which allows each person to see 10 movies, one each Wednesday at 10am. They're second run...but who cares!) For a home showing, make up paper tickets, have popcorn, candy and lemonade available. Makes for a more festive atmosphere and seems special even if it's a movie you've watched before!

2) Join ANY and ALL reading challenges offered by your library or a local bookstores. Our library offers a package of coupons for completing 300 pages of reading and the kids won a prize at the library for participating last year. Several bookstores offer a free book when you show proof of reading 10 books. A great FREE way to expand your library and keep up their reading skills

3) Recycle t-shirts in to new fashions. Check out the Web for some ideas that only require an old t-shirt and scissors. We also purchased a book on the subject and you can check them out from your local library.

4) Adopt a "Charity" once a week for the entire summer- visit a local nursing home, pickup trash in your neighborhood park, tend the garden or walk the dog of your elderly neighbor.

5) Allow the kids to plan and prepare an easy meal once a week this summer. They'll have fun and learn some life skills too! Plus you'll have a free night off! Even if it's hot will be a good experience. Don't forget that cooking requires clean up too!

6) Find a local free or low cost water activity or pool. We have a pool in our subdivision that is not well utilized so it is like having our own private pool. We also have a spray park on the waterfront downtown. Combine that with a picnic lunch and you've wasted most of the day!

7) Have a PHYSICAL contest that lasts an entire month or summer-it could be playing a Wii game, running, jump roping, etc. Pick an activity and get moving! Make a contest out of it and offer a small prize at the end (for all participants!) We always have pool Olympics with silly games, jumping contest (biggest splash, pencil jump, belly flop, etc.)too.

8) Create a time capsule. THis can be especially meaningful if going into middle school or highschool.

9) Visit your local museums when they have free days

10) Visit local parks and take advantage of story tellers, craft fairs, etc. Learn to identify bird calls or leaves.

11) Some local craft stores offer FREE make and take it events. Take advantage of those.

12) This works best if you start now and plan to host later in the summer. Have the kids clean out their drawers and closets. Host a yard sale and they can keep the cash. If you want to spend the extra dough, sell popcorn and lemonade too.

Allow them to take their clothes to consignment and save the money for a back to school shopping spree. This really gets my kids engaged in the cleaning out process.

Donate the remaining items to a local charity.

13) If you kids love to craft have them use the available free time to make Christmas gifts for their friends. I'll post some free or cheap ideas occasionally! So check back often!

14) We have a local exotic petting zoo in our area. Take a bag of carrots and feed the camels, llamas and porcupines. Don't forget the camera.

15) Take advantage of any free Vacation Bible school, music camps or the like local churches have to offer. If your children are too OLD to attend, allow them to volunteer in some capacity.

Have fun, be a bit adventurous and RELAX...isn't that what summer is all about, anyway? Love a little more intentionally, say yes whenever possible, make a mess now and again and think outside the box.