Saturday, May 29, 2010

When life gives you lemons...and oranges.

Just because I am frugal, doesn't mean I don't like indulgence once in a while. I was tinkering around in the kitchen today and poking through my fruit basket when I found a wrinkly mandarin orange, too dry to enjoy, a lemon just past its' prime and an orange that time almost forgot. What to do? Well, I wasn't too sure, but I decided I had better act fast if I didn't want to waste perfectly fine citrus. I set to peeling and chopping the zest into pieces and put them in a pot to simmer. Then I cut the lemon into thick slices. It was turning brown on the inside. I was going to use it for a lemon/orangeade combo, but the brown turned me off. Probably, it would have been fine. Instead, I decided to try out a trick I once read in a magazine; cleaning my copper pots. I can attest that lemon juice is a very strong acid and with a small amount of elbow grease, my copper bottomed pots have been reborn! I highly recommend this tactic to tackle your copper. While I was scrubbing away, my lemon and orange peels began to become fragrant as the simmered in the pot, making my home smell divine. I poured off the liquid over the peeled oranges and used my immersion blender to turn it all into juice. I poured that into a recycled sports bottle and put it in the fridge. I'll try it tomorrow. Then, I had softened peels and was about to throw them away when it struck me that they might make a nice foot soak. I got out my trusty foot bath (a plastic dish drainer from the thrift store) and threw in the peels, some salt, a handful of oats, the last dribble of olive oil, and a pinch of cinnamon. Presently, I sit in absolute blogger's transpose as my hard calloused feet are softened into submission in all the luxurious splendour. Yes, this is how I spend my Saturday nights. Ain't no shame in it. No shame whatsoever. I like to think that the ladies above would agree with me. If they read blogs. They might. One never knows.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

You know what's Cheap and Hip?

Macaroni Salad, that's what! This is my lunch. Doesn't it look good? I made this delicious salad last night to go with dinner. We had burgers. I love summer. I was going to buy a tub of it at the grocery store but my husband, bag of macaroni in hand, told me, "Yours tastes so much better, could you please make some?" How could I refuse? I used up some stuff out of the fridge and it turned out fabulous. My mom taught me how to make this and potato salad, which basically has the same dressing. Here's my non-recipe. It may change depending on what's on hand. I used:
The end of the jar of mayo mixed with about a heaping tablespoon of regular mustard. I also had a tiny bit of Miracle Whip so I threw that in too, just for the tangy zip. I was going to make up the rest of the base with yogurt, but my sour cream was older, so I threw in about a cup of that. Then I opened up the pickle jar and poured in two splashes of pickle juice. I chopped up two pickles finely and added that to the big mixing bowl. Of course, I forgot to mention, my salted pasta was boiling on the stove while I was doing all this, 2 cups. Then I chopped up 2 stalks of celery, a quarter of a red pepper, a few slices red onion and added a splash of milk to thin out the dressing. I whisked this all together on the bowl. When the pasta was cooked to a firm texture, I quickly poured cold water through the strainer until I could easily handle touching the lukewarm pasta. I mixed it all together, pasta, dressing and veggies. The dressing seemed a bit liquid-y (Is liquid-y a word? Not according to spell check) at first, but I knew that the pasta would suck it up as it hung out in the fridge. I chilled it for a couple hours and served it with supper. It really is better the next day, though, when all the flavours have had a chance to meld. This made a huge bowl, enough for probably eight people. You'd think we'd have tons of leftovers. You'd think that, wouldn't you, honey? Honey? Hey! What happened to all my leftovers?

Monday, May 24, 2010

My Next Amazon/Swagbucks goal

So, the last time I used up all my Swagbucks on Amazon gift cards, I bought this and was very happy with the free-ness of it all. This has inspired me to create a new goal; to save $40 worth of Amazon gift cards so that I can qualify my purchases for free shipping.

Free+Free=Happy Hiptobeme.

There is a book that I have my eye on. I recently discovered a new frugality guru and his name is Jeff Yeager. I have begun following him on Twitter. We'll see if he has any pearls to share. I am so far inspired by his article that I happened upon today, 12 Surprising Ways to Reuse Tin Foil. This is always of great interest to me because somehow, for me, using loads of tin foil is akin to using gold foil. I just know it's costing me moolah. I never feel quite the same horror about using plastic, though I am sure I should. For some reason, the aluminum foil is more concrete, (or should I say metallic?) for me. Something about imagining the sheets of metal pouring out in the aluminum factory come to mind whenever I peel a sheet off of the roll to line my pan. Therefore, I hope to snag The Ultimate Cheapskate's Road Map to True Riches: A Practical (and Fun) Guide to Enjoying Life More by Spending Less. Not only will I save foil, but, who knows? I might learn a trick or two. Have you read this book? Reviewed it? Hook me up to the new scene in the comments, folks.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Use The Force on your breakfast.


I would be the best mom evar!

How can I get them free or cheap???
These are a necessity. My son would DIE. My husband would DIE. I would DIE.
That is all.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

(Ridiculously) Optimistic

I am feeling ridiculously optimistic these days. The sun shines, the flowers bloom, the birds sing...Is this what they call spring fever? Or perhaps I have had one too many iced cappuccinos. Either way, I love this feeling! It is still not so hot as to be sweltering, yet the vitamin D is doing wonders for my mood. I have several things to look forward to such as my husband's return, an open house, and new adventures which are as yet unknown. This feeling seems to be everywhere around me and it's contagious. It seemed to me that winter took it's time to get lost this year, so spring is certainly most welcome. It also helps that I have completed the bulk of my spring cleaning. The windows are bright and sunshine streams in. All the old dirt from winter is swept and vacuumed away. The air smells fresh and clean. I spent some time on the weekend cleaning out and washing down my kitchen cabinets. I also put shelf liner inside the drawers. I highly recommend this as a frugal update to the kitchen. I used low tack plastic which laid in place. I trimmed around the edges with a utility knife, after using a damp cloth to smooth out the wrinkles. My drawers look ten times better. It's amazing what spending a little time and using a little elbow grease can do. What heralds spring for you? Feel free to tell me all about it in the comments section.

Friday, May 14, 2010

This used to be Our Town

Well, as you may have noticed, selling real estate, working and child rearing takes up precious blogging time. So, I halfheartedly apologize. I mean, somewhere along the way a gal has to prioritize, right? I have been enjoying coming up with frugal ways to market, advertise and sell the condo. Unfortunately the upheaval has led to some rather spendy meals, coffee breaks, take out and convenience foods. When I am home, I try to prep vegetables and minimize food waste, but I will admit to a few more $5 Little Ceaser pizzas than usual. I still buy more from the grocery store than restaurants, which still saves some money and is more like real food, so I guess it's not all bad. On the plus side, I have lost five pounds because a quick smoothie is all I have time for in the morning! At night, I'm tired and the summer-like weather makes it difficult for me to remain staunch in my home-cook-only convictions. O.K., that's enough of the confessional.
There's just something irresistible about the lure of the drive-thru ice cream cone on your way home from loading boxes in the storage locker...
I am happy to report that the farmer's market has re-opened for the season and I am looking forward to buying fresh produce and other local, fresh goods. I made one exploratory visit last week and purposely left my wallet at work. Good thing because one guy almost had me sold on a $2 beaded bracelet that was probably made for about ten cents. (It had memory wire, note to self) I am buying less because I am cooking less, so I don't waste. It's tricky, so I use my freezer a lot. Tomorrow I have great aspirations for more deep spring cleaning. I have tried to borrow a carpet cleaner, but so far, no luck. I suppose I may have to break down and rent one. You get two days for the price of one if you rent on a Monday, so that is what I will aim for.
Who wants to clean carpets on Saturday, anyway?
Not me :)

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Bodacious Berry Cake

I made a blueberry bundt cake at work and I had to leave it cool at the end of the shift. I thought, "No fair! I want cake at home too," so here it is. My son was the one who told me to blog about this cake, in between mouthfulls. This photo was snapped quickly at dessert, so you won't mind the bite taken out, now will you?
I modified the recipe that I made at work, it was a blueberry bundt cake which I snagged out of their cook book. This is a mixed berry cake made in a 9 by 13 rectangular pan. I also used orange juice and zest, so I can claim the recipe as my own. I suppose any berry or soft fruit will do. Rhubarb would be amazing...
Bodacious Berry Cake
21/4 c flour
1tsp powder
1tsp soda
1/4 tsp salt
zest of citrus fruit (orange)
1 cup walnuts, optional
2 lg eggs
1 cup milk with 2 tbsp citrus juice (orange) or buttermilk
3/4 c soft butter
1 c sugar, brown or white
2 c berries
Sift together flour mixture. Cream sugar, butter, eggs and milk mixture. Beat wet ingredients into dry, adding a bit of water if needed, fifty strokes. Fold in berries. Bake at 350 degrees for 45-60 minutes. I topped this with an orange glaze. Lemon would work well here, too.
Enjoy your berries this season!