November 30, 2008

Money Saving Ideas: Memories of the Library



Some of my happiest memories as a child are the trips with my mother and siblings to the public library. I have to thank my mother for consistently taking us there as kids. I loved it! It opened up my mind to adventures in books. We went more often in the summer, and I would come home with piles of books.

Now, as a preschool teacher, I have the wonderful opportunity of looking for children’s books for my preschool students. It is a money saver for a preschool teacher to have a library system in her area. Our Davis County Library system is exceptional. I reserve books from my computer at home that go along with my preschool themes. They send me an email when the books are transferred to the library closest to me. I pick them up, and it is FREE!

I also want to thank Benjamin Franklin for his suggestion centuries ago to start the first lending library. He and others would pool their money together and buy books for others to borrow. In 1731, the first lending library in America was opened. May you take the opportunity to regularly visit the library.

November 25, 2008

Decorating for Christmas from Deseret Industries - the results

I recently did a post on November 9th that showed some items I purchased at the Deseret Industries to decorate my kitchen cabinets and counters for Christmas. My friend Kristen H. came over to help me decorate, and I was so pleased with how it turned out. She is so talented. Here are the results.


I did purchase 9 ft. lengths of inexpensive garland from WalMart for $5.00 each. However, I had the little Christmas balls, the ribbon, a few houses, and the lights.

This gingerbread cookie jar, that now sits on my counter, was another D.I. find for $4.00 and was in perfect condition. I'm sure you can see my gingerbread theme. If you are determined to save money, you will!

November 19, 2008

Update on MyFoodStorageDeals.com


Well, I have been using MyFoodStorageDeals.com - a website devoted to helping you save at the grocery store each week to build up your food storage. I have been pleased. Their lists have helped me be more selective in my shopping, and build my food storage.

I'm not the best with coupons, but I try so I looked at Smith's sales at GrocerySmarts.com , and found coupons for this week's best deals. If you save the Sunday newspaper coupon inserts (don't cut them up), this website will tell you when to use the coupons. Even though I don't use all the coupons each week, I save them in a folder, and write the date on the top of the group of pages. Then, next week, I will look again at GrocerySmarts.com to see if I can use the coupon in conjuction with a sale. Hope that makes sense.

Today, I purchased the items in the picture above from Smith's grocery store. Don't usually buy so much soda, but the holidays are upon us. Also, got to have that chocolate!

Retail: $195.26
Manufacturer Coupon Savings: $13.05
Fresh Values Savings: $71.22
My cost: $110.99 before tax

Yes, that's 2 large turkeys in the picture that retail for $50! Got them for half. I'm sure some of you can do better.

November 17, 2008

Change #3 Reorganize Your Cupboards & Closets


(This is a dated post. I laugh at it because so much has changed!)
Last Saturday, I spent 5 hours reorganizing closets and cupboards to figure out how I wanted my food storage to fit, and how I could have easy access. My teenage son was a great help. We are a work in progress, but I wanted to share some pictures with you on how I am storing my food storage. We were very blessed when we bought this home because the first owners (we are the 4th) built some great storage closets and rooms. When we lived in California, we had a 4-car garage where we stored cars, not food; that was in the house. Let's take a mini tour of my Utah home:

Basement Fruit Room


This is where I store all of my canned goods, oils, and some of my boxed items. 


This room was built under the porch. Temperatures get in the low 50's in winter, and 70's in summer. The shelves are on three sides, and there is plenty of space. This is slowly filling up. Because it is so cold, we put weather stripping on the bottom of the door to keep the cold air in.


Notice the $1 WalMart thermometer.

The Former Craft Closet. Now the #10 Can Closet.


Just outside the fruit room, is another closet. This is were I am moving my #10 cans. Still need another shelf on the other wall, but here is one side. In California, it is easier to find places to store #10 cans, so I have many. Now that I am in Utah, more supplies will be stored in food grade HDPE 5 gallon buckets ($5 WalMart) with Gamma Seal lids ($6 WalMart).

The Big Storage Closet


This space is like a third car garage, and we love it. For now, this is where I store the wheat, and rice which are still in boxes. Also, my water barrels are in here since we could fill them up through a hose from a nearby window. This room could be converted into a food storage room. Maybe in the future.
The Camping Closet


This is where we store camping supplies, air mattresses, stoves, dutch ovens, etc. Needs some work.
Kitchen Spice Drawer


My friend Susan M. said she loved her spice drawer, so now I have one. It's great because you can see everything so well. Didn't spend any money on fancy gadgets.

Spice and Packaged Foods Cupboard


Here is where I keep the larger spices, just over my food preparation area. There is actually room behind the spices for a second row.

Baking Supplies

You'll find that the more you use food storage, the more you will be baking from scratch. These items are on lazy susan's which make everything available for easy access. The lower shelf has cooking oil, olive oil, shortening, baking powder, baking soda, Pam, and vinegar. You get the idea.

Another Baking Supplies Cupboard

I like these Rubbermaid airtight containers, because my #10 canned items fit right in. Here I have baking cocoa, powdered sugar, corn meal, shortening powder, rice, minute rice, potato pearls, Idaho potato flakes, brown sugar, powdered eggs, powedered milk, Bisquick.

Hope that got your mind thinking of what you can do with your own space.

November 16, 2008

California Fires: Preparing For Disaster


I received an email from my sister late last night about the fires near their home in Yorba Linda, CA. They are safe, but it was too close to home since the home my sister lives in is the one I grew up in. My niece had to evacuate from her apartment in Brea, as they could see the flames from their apartment windows. They are safe as well. But, I have to say I had a pit in my stomach, because this was family.

My sister states: "Interestingly, our Stake (congregation) has been practicing emergency preparedness drills and now they are using many of the skills and routines they have been practicing. Will and members of the Stake High Council have been checking on the Church members. Will got his ham radio license recently and now he's depending on it for communication because much of the power and cell phones aren't working."
We are proud of you, Will! And you too, Todd, for helping others. And sorry for such a loss for families in California.

More information can be found here at my sisters blog, QuiltsWithLove

Click this link to the Orange County Register for a map of fire locations.

If you want to learn more about disaster preparedness, go to the American Red Cross - Preparing For Disaster

November 15, 2008

Long-Term Food Storage Must Be Stored Under Proper Conditions


As I was researching food storage today, I came across the Department of Nutrition, Dietetics, & Food Science at Brigham Young University. They do research on Food Storage.

Check out the picture of a loaf of bread above made from 20 year old wheat stored in a garage versus a cool basement. Very appetizing! This picture really emphasizes the importance of storing foods under proper conditions so that shelf life is optimized.
In my former California home, we built shelving on a wall in a spare bedroom so that our food storage was not in the garage where summer temperatures were 115 degrees. It wasn't exactly pretty, but now, I can see what happens when we don't store under proper conditions. My kitchen cabinets were full of canned foods too. To my California friends: store in the house so that the heat of the garage doesn't ruin your food storage!

ProvidentLiving.org states -
"Storage life can be significantly impacted by the following conditions:

Temperature: Store products at a temperature of 75°F/24°C or lower whenever possible. If storage temperatures are higher, rotate products as needed to maintain quality.
Moisture: Keep storage areas dry. It is best to keep containers off of the floor to allow for air circulation.
Light: Protect cooking oil and products stored in PETE bottles from light.
Insects and rodents: Protect products stored in foil pouches and PETE bottles from rodent and insect damage."
So, if you have to store items at a higher temperature, make sure you are using or rotating them. They will NOT endure 30 years at higher temperatures.
A few ideas:
1. Move items from your kitchen cupboards that you don't use often into the garage to make space for your food storage. Vases, platters, etc.
2. Store food storage under beds in bedrooms because you usually keep these areas cooler.
3. Or create some furniture. Remember the bed Jared Phelps (Kirby Heyborne) slept on in the movie the R.M? Not far from the truth.
The little bedside table in this picture covered with the burgundy tablecloth is really about 60 #10 cans stacked in boxes. Doesn't look like it, but that's 348 lbs. of wheat! Who needs real furniture?

November 9, 2008

Christmas Decorations from Deseret Industries Thrift Store

Wooden Gingerbread Man $2.00

"One of the better ways to simplify our lives is to follow the counsel we have so often received to live within our income, stay out of debt, and save for a rainy day. We should practice and increase our habits of thrift, industry, economy, and frugality. Members of a well-managed family do not pay interest; they earn it." Elder L. Tom Perry, Oct. 4, 2008

Many of us are watching our finances this Christmas. I thought I would share an idea for finding inexpensive Christmas decorations. Yesterday I went shopping at the new Layton, Utah, Deseret Industries. They had an unually large selection (2 aisles) of Christmas items. Most local thrift stores hang onto their Christmas items, and sell them at this time of year. Thank you to all of you who donated items you were tired of, so I could buy them. :-)

Tips:
-Inspect carefully for chips, cracks, and broken parts.
-Smell the item for cigarette smoke,
-Clean items by washing with soapy water, or disinfectant wipes. Be careful to look at the fabric care labels, if any,
-Thrift store shopping takes time. Plan on an hour. If you can leave your young kids at home, do. It will make your trip much more enjoyable.


Wooden Gingerbread woman and man, $4.00 total
Holiday books $3.50 total

Rug (saw a similar one at Kohls for $35), mine cost $3.00


Gingerbread salt & pepper shakers (still had Dillard's tag for $24), mine cost $2.00

Gingerbread, Snowman Pie plate $2.00

Ceramic Bakery House $2.00

November 6, 2008

Mary Jean's Chicken with Rice


This is one of my all-time favorite main dish recipes from my mother-in-law, Mary Jean. It needs 2 hours to cook, but it is worth it. Uses lots of food storage items.

Mary Jean's Chicken with Rice
Servings: 6 – 8

2 c. rice
1 can low fat cream of mushroom soup
1 can chicken gumbo soup
2 c. water
1 pkg. Lipton onion soup
2 1/2 lbs. chicken breasts with bone (I used 3 large boneless chicken breasts, which is about 1 1/2 lbs.)

1. Mix: 2 c. rice, 1 can cream of mushroom soup, 1 c. chicken gumbo soup, 2 c. water in 9 x 13 baking dish.
2. Sprinkle 1/2 pkg. Lipton Onion Soup.
3. Put chicken pieces in upside down, push into rice.
4. Sprinkle rest of Lipton soup on top.
5. Cover tightly with foil, shiny side down. Bake at 325 degrees for 2 full hours.

November 5, 2008

Making Plain Old Bread


Last Saturday, my wonderful sister-in-law, Wendi, invited several of us family members over to learn to make bread. We ground the wheat with a hand grinder (several of the guys helped), and kneaded the dough by hand too. It was great for my girls because I wanted them to experience all of this from a great teacher. Maybe some of you can do this with your nieces, daughters, sisters, and sister-in-laws as well!


Plain Old BreadMakes 6 loaves

1 cube margarine or butter melted (in microwave)
6 c. warm water
½ c. sugar
4 T instant yeast (SAF)
2 T. salt

1. Melt the butter and then just add the other ingredients including the instant yeast in a large bowl. I just stir all these ingredients together until they are somewhat dissolved.
2. Add 10 c. flour (I used 4-5 C of the fresh ground white wheat and the balance regular flour) stir to moisten flour.
3. Dump 4 more cups flour onto the counter; dump the dough on top of it, and knead. You know you have kneaded it long enough when all of the flour is mixed in.
4. Return to large plastic bowl. Cover with a dishtowel. Let rise until double.
5. Punch down to get all of the air out.
6. Roll into loaves and put in 6 greased regular loaf pans.
7. Cover with dishcloth again and let rise until double. (Hint-I usually have better luck if it’s not rising on granite. I put a dishtowel under it for added warmth).
8. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Bake for 25-30 minutes. Take out and dump onto a dishtowel until cool.

November 4, 2008

Money Saving Ideas: Cut Your Family's Hair

Today my little princess decided to cut her own hair. She went from this . . .



. . . to this.

We just got back from Great Clips where they fixed my daughters artwork, and doesn't it look cute! This reminded me of a way we have saved thousands of dollars over the years. Since there are 4 boys (including my husband) and 4 girls in my family, I used to cut everyone’s hair. I purchased a Wahl hair clipper set when we were first married, and practiced on my husband. His curly hair was very forgiving of all of my mistakes. If you figure an inexpensive haircut costs $15, multiply that by 8 and we saved $120 per month. Multiply by 12 to save $1440 per year! Later, I bought a mini trimmer which helps with cutting around the ears. I prefer those with a cord. I know a lot of you already do this, but if you don’t, I recommend investing in a $30 Wahl clipper set, and practice on your own family. Happy clipping!

Go to the Wahl website for How to videos

November 3, 2008

Converting to Food Storage - Changes 1 & 2

I’ve been working diligently on converting to food storage. I've stored #10 cans of items for years, however, I'm trying to follow the current counsel and work on my Three-Month Supply. I remember the rotation shelves in the coat closet growing up, but I never understood that it takes a conversion process to really progress with food storage. A conversion similar to a convert joining the church. I say that because when a new convert joins the church they don’t get baptized, and stop there. They start coming to church regularly, study the scriptures, and live a more Christlike life. It's the same with food storage; I shouldn’t just get a food storage supply, and stop there. I need to make life-long changes.

CHANGE 1 - PURCHASE MORE NON-PERISHABLE FOODS

With the new focus on gathering a Three-Month Food supply of non-perishable foods your family eats, it's a no brainer. I'm so used to buying fresh and frozen, that it would take me forever to accumulate a Three-Month Supply unless I focus on purchasing non-perishable items. I decided to change my grocery purchasing this month and I’m focusing on buying 75% of non-perishable items, and 25% perishable. This will make me use what I store.

CHANGE 2 - SHOP GROCERY STORE SALES INSTEAD OF JUST WAREHOUSE STORES

In my past life, I made huge purchases at Sam's Club. But everyone keeps telling me their are better bargains elsewhere. It's so much easier to shop at Sam's Club, but do they really have the best prices? So this month, I decided to make only 1 monthly purchase at my friendly Sam's Club, and do the rest of the shopping by watching the sales at grocery stores.

Yesterday, I placed an online order with Sam’s Club, and picked it up through their Click'n'Pull service early this morning. I love ordering this way because I think carefully about the items I need for the month, place the order from my home computer, then go to the store where a grocery cart of my items is waiting. They do have to go to the freezer/refrigerator for my perishables, which takes about 10 additional minutes. Then they help me load it in the car. I absolutely LOVE it! (I think I should get a free membership for promoting them, don't you?) Having said that, I will share my Sam's Club/Albertson's Cost Comparison spreadsheet. Prices are from August, and I'm sorry to see they are creeping up. If you print it out and carry it to your local grocery store, you can compare prices and possibly Beat the Sam's Club price. (Okay. No free membership now!)

I set a spending limit at Sam’s this month, which will force me to look for bargains at other stores in my area, and not just buy from them. Sometimes you need smaller sizes of items to store that aren't offered at club warehouses. For instance, I buy my oil in the 48 oz size, not the gallon size offered at Sam's, so I can rotate easier. I also didn't buy any bread this time. Yikes! So, I'm making bread this month and trying out various recipes. I don't think my family will mind.

I also signed up for My Food Storage Deals which is helpful because their spreadsheets help me see what the sales are at grocery stores outside of the club warehouses. Looking at ads in the newspaper takes a lot of my time, and I'm horrible with using coupons, so I wanted someone else to do the work of looking over the ads for me. It costs $4.95 per month and I get spreadsheets showing items on sale in my area that would be great for food and home storage. The list is divided into groups: items highlighted in red are Great deals, items highlighted in blue are Good deals, and items highlighted in green are Okay deals. The spreadsheet for each store also shows you how to incorporate it into your years supply. I will keep you posted as to how helpful this service is for me. Sorry. This is a Utah only service.

I'll share other changes as I continue to learn and grow.

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