Friday, August 31, 2012

False Advertising

I recently purchased 25 Black Broiler chicks from Ideal Poultry.  According to their website "Black Broilers are efficient producers of broiler meat for those who do not wish to have white plumage broilers. When broiler rations are fed, producers can expect to have six pound broilers in seven weeks or less. Since black broilers are more active than Cornish Rocks and grow slightly slower, they rarely experience leg weakness or Ascite, which is fluid in the body cavity."
This is the entire description.  Sounded good to me- fast growing, efficient birds, without the worry of sudden death. 

At 7 weeks old, my largest bird weighs 2 3/4 lbs.  Now, admittedly I am not good at math, but it seems to me that 2 3/4lbs is somewhat smaller than 6lbs.  In fact, it seems like it is a lot smaller than 6lbs.

Upon calling the company, I talked with a representative who told me she hates the wording on the website because no one gets those results.  In fact, according to her, every single factor must be 100% correct to get a 6lb bird in 7 weeks from this cross.

Wow.  Can we say False Advertising much?  My birds have been fed a high protein broiler feed, given clean water and kept properly- and they are not even half the advertised size.   I did get my money back for the birds (after demanding something be done), but meanwhile I've put quite a bit of feed in to them and now I am stuck with birds that aren't even close to a good butchering weight, and may not be ready for another few months!

At this point, I am trying to figure out when to cut my losses and have the birds processed.  I can expect maybe a pound and a half chicken if we have it done now, but I can not have roosters that start crowing.  It is annoying to me and I am sure it will be annoying to my neighbors.

I have been very disappointed with my dealings with Ideal Poultry.  Meanwhile, these poor birds are in a situation where they are unwanted because they didn't perform as expected.

Oh well, it is what it is.  We'll see after butchering the first few roosters if it's worth it or how to proceed from here.


Thursday, August 30, 2012

Make Your Own Laundry Color Catcher

I've had a few free samples of Shout Color Catcher sheets.  It always amazes me how even old clothing leaks colors in to the washing machine water.

Did you know you can make your own laundry color catcher sheets?

You will need:
1 yard of scrap fabric
1 tablespoon of Washing soda
1 cup of hot water

Dissolve the washing soda in to your hot water.  Stuff in your scrap fabric until it becomes saturated, then let it dry.  

Cut off a piece (or precut the fabric and just grab a sheet) of your dried fabric and toss it in your laundry load.  You're done!


Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Apple Chips

I was given a bag of red delicious apples yesterday- yum yum.  Red delicious are most definitely my favorite and these are crisp and sweet.  However, there are definitely more than I can eat, so I decided to give dehydrating them a shot.

I only made two trays (two apples) because I didn't want to mess them up and waste the entire bag.  I sliced the apples around 1/8th of an inch thick and left the skin on.   One tray was plain, one tray had cinnamon sprinkled on it's apples.   I started the dehydrator at 6:00pm last night and then checked the apples when I got out of the shower this morning, around 8:15.

Perfection!  The apple chips are crisp, but not burnt.  There is a very slight discoloration from being exposed to the air, but it's not bad at all. 

I packed the flavored and unflavored chips in to separate mason jars and sealed them.  I'll let them sit for a few days (shaking the jar occasionally) so that any moisture helps redistribute, then they will go in to food-saver bags.  I'm confident in my ability to make delicious apple chips now- hooray!  Now I just need to find that recipe for dehydrated apple pie... what a time saver it would be later on!


Monday, August 27, 2012

Clear Plastic Bottles and the Freezer!

Freezing chopped onions or herbs is a great way to save time in recipes later on- as well as reduce spoilage.  Try freezing them, then putting the item in a clear, clean water bottle for a handy and free dispenser. You can label the cap with whatever is inside.  You can quickly see what is in the bottle, shake out however much you need, then replace the cap and stick it back in the freezer!



Friday, August 24, 2012

Special Ice Cubes

In a conversation the other day about how much food Americans throw away (almost half of what we encounter, if you can believe it), a friend mentioned she throws away a lot of citrus and wondered if she should juice it and freeze the juice in to ice cubes.

What a great idea!
Can you imagine?  Lemon juice ice cubes to cool down and flavor your sweet tea!  Orange Juice cubes to keep your Orange Juice cool- don't even get me started on lemon cubes for lemonade.  You could even mix and match your ice cubes to create whole new flavor drinks, without watering down what you are drinking.  Not to mention the vitamins you'd be adding in to your daily diet.   You could freeze the ice cubes, then pop like-flavors cubes in to freezer bags and label them.  It would be easy to store and easy to use.

Or, let's say you need just a little lemon juice for a recipe.  You can melt an ice cube or two and have all you need, rather than buying more produce for a small or rare use.

You are saving money and helping yourself all at once! 


Monday, August 20, 2012

Make your own Taco Seasoning

Taco Seasoning is one of the most inexpensive things in the world to make- so why do we spend $1 on a small packet of it? Half the time we don't even use a whole packet, so then I have to either toss half my money away or save it in a baggy in the fridge- annoying.  Not to mention, I've heard great things about how much better homemade tastes!

So here we go- You'll Need:

1/2 cup of chili powder
1/4 cup of onion power
1 tablespoon of paprika
1/8 cup of ground cumin
1 tablespoon of sea salt
1 tablespoon of garlic powder

Combine all ingredients into a jar or container and shake.

That's it.  Use it to taste.  You can store it in a mason jar or other air tight container.


Friday, August 17, 2012

Refuse Jelly

Never in my life did I know you could make so many things out of "reject" parts of food.  For instance- Watermelon Rind preserves? Had no idea!  Corn Cob Jelly? Now we're just getting silly!

It's true though- these are real foods.  For instance, here is the recipe to Watermelon Rind Preserves:


  • 4 pounds chopped watermelon rind
  • 1 gallon water
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 9 cups white sugar
  • 8 cups water
  • 4 teaspoons crushed cinnamon stick
  • 4 teaspoons ground cloves
  • 4 lemons - rinsed, sliced and seeded
  • 1 dash red food coloring (optional)


  1. Peel off the green part of the watermelon rind, and slice into 2 inch pieces. Soak the rind in a solution of 1 gallon water and 1/2 cup salt overnight.
  2. Remove rind from the salt water, and place in a stockpot with clean water to cover. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, and cook for about 30 minutes, or until the rind is tender. Drain.
  3. In a large pot, combine the sugar, 8 cups water, and sliced lemons. Tie the cinnamon and cloves into a cheesecloth bag, and place in the pot. Bring the syrup to a boil, and boil for 5 minutes. Add the rinds, and cook until transparent. Remove spice bag. Stir in red food coloring, if using. Ladle preserves into hot sterile jars, and process to seal.

 And here is the recipe for Corn Cob Jelly-

Boil 6 or 8 sweet corn cobs (after corn is cut off) for about 10 minutes in water to cover. Strain the liquid. Measure 3 cups liquid in the same pan.Add 1 box of Sure-Jell and bring to a rolling boil. Add 4 cups sugar. Again, bring to boil and boil 1 minute. For color, you may add a little yellow food coloring. Pour in glasses, same as any jelly.
All I keep hearing about Corn Cob Jelly is that it tastes just like honey. 

You can do all kinds of neat things with odd pieces of "refuse" that you would think would need to be thrown out or tossed on the compost heap.  It may be worth giving it a shot- imagine serving this to someone and after they ooohh and ahhh over it, telling them not only did you make it- it was made out of rinds or corn cobs!


Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Winding Down

Well, the summer garden is winding down.  The cantaloupes still on the vine are smaller than the first fruits, the tomato plants are either dying off or producing very small amount of very small tomatoes and yet oddly enough, the green pepper plant is still blooming. 

Go figure.

I'm going to have to purchase tomatoes at the Farmer's Market if I want to get that hot batch of salsa made this year.  I have to admit, I'm fairly disappointed in our tomato yield.  The big boy and better boy plants (of which there were only two, thankfully) only gave us a few small tomatoes.  The romas did well, except that little black ants took over one entire plant and ruined all of them. So half our plants either under produced or were killed by bugs, so I guess we didn't do too badly overall.  It's still a disappointment though.

The tomatoes I am still pulling off the vine are being fed to some of the pet rabbits and to the chickens. I might as well get some use out of them, as there are too many for us to eat, but too few to make it worthwhile to do the canning or to try to make salsa.

I have the seeds started for a fall garden. I'm hoping I can make the seeds survive.  For some reason, mine always grow these really tall, spindly little seedlings that never "bulk up" and ultimately die.  I'm hopeful though- ever hopeful. If I can't make the seeds find the will to live, we will have to do without fall produce- at least homegrown produce. 

So far I have lettuce, spinach, broccoli and radishes planted.  I'm planning on getting some more dirt and starting a second bunch of seedlings a few weeks behind these, so everything doesn't come ripe at once, like it tends to do.

Fingers crossed!


Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Lessons in Nail Painting

I've finally managed to stop biting my nails.  This is big news for me, I've only had nails twice in my life- once in High School and when I got married!  Inevitably I have found myself forgetting and biting them- or one breaks and I get frustrated, or I get stressed and I gnaw them off.

So far, none of that has happened this time.  Dare I start to hope that the habit is truly gone?

I let my friend's daughter paint my nails last night.  She was thrilled.  Meanwhile, I had forgotten a very important rule- or pair of rules- for nail polish.  1.) Bright teal is probably not the best choice to go on your nails.  2.) Make sure your manicurist is over 10 years old.

So today I am sporting remnants of having my fingers painted.  It made her happy and it wasn't hard to remove most of the color.  How she got the paint under my nails, I will never know.


Monday, August 13, 2012

Make your own Powdered Laundry Detergent.

This comes from my dear friend Amber at Wonder Woolies-

"Powdered Laundry Soap
- 1 bar Fels-Naptha laundry soap, grated
- 1 c. Arm & Hammer washing soda
- 1 c. 20 Mule Team Borax
- 1 scoop (4oz) Oxy-Clean

Mix the washing soda and grated bar soap together.  Blend, 1 c. at a time, in a blender or food processor (optional).  In a bowl or container, mix all ingredients together very well.

We keep ours in a glass jar, atop the washing machine, labeled "Laundry Soap" w/the instructions "2 Tbs per load, 4 Tbs per extra dirty load".  One quadruple batch lasted over 1 year for our family of 6.  Now that's economical!

~  Blending the grated bar soap with the washing soda prevents the soap from sticking to the blades or clumping together.  Be sure to close the lid before you start the blender.  It helps to start on low and then slowly increase the speed.  You could also mix all ingredients together if you like and then blend.  The point is to powder the grated soap so it melts effortlessly in your washing machine.  You might want to wear a dust mask for this step.

~  Find Fels-Naptha laundry bar soap at your local grocery store in the laundry soap isle OR buy it at Ace Hardware in the cleaning/laundry soap isle.  I pay about $1.29 - $2 per bar. Kristen Note here: You can also find Fels-Naptha at Walmart for around $1 a bar.

~  Zote brand of laundry soap bar is a good substitute for Fels-Naptha.  Use one small bar or 1/2 of their 14 oz bar.  Yes, that's more than 1 bar of Fels-Naptha but it works out well.

~  This laundry soap recipe really gets our boys' clothes clean despite the very hard, well water we have.  If you have softer water, or it seems too harsh on your clothes, you may want to decrease the Borax to 1/2 cup.  It's not rocket science so it's okay to play around with it a bit to see what works best for you.  :) "

Thanks Amber!


Wednesday, August 8, 2012

P&G Rebate $5/$25 - ends 9/16/2012

There is a new P&G Rebate out there.  Buy $25 worth of products, get a $5 prepaid card.  This is a great time to start keeping all your receipts to make the $25 amount necessary! This is *before* coupons!

The qualifying brands are: Always, Bounty, Clairol Hair Color, CoverGirl, Crest Toothpaste, Duracell, Herbal Essences, Olay (Facial Moisturizers, Treatments, Cleansers and Hair Removal), Old Spice Deodorant and Body Wash, Pantene, Puffs, Secret, Tampax, Tide, & Venus.

You have to have the receipt(s) submitted by 10/12/12, but they must be dated between 7/31/2012 and 9/12/2012.


Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Make your own Rinse Agent

Tim just informed me that we are pretty much out of Jet-Dry for the dishwasher, which he made fun of me for stockpiling when I got it free many moons ago.

I just informed him we're making our own.  Cue eye rolling and resigned/amused expressions. 

He can be really annoying.

So how do you make your own Jet-Dry?  You don't.  You just buy a cheapy container of white vinegar and pour some of that in to the reservoir.

The end.  It works incredibly well, nothing smells vinegary and it's super, super, super cheap.  Oh, it's not pretty and blue- will that be a problem? If not, go for it, you will be amazed.


Sunday, August 5, 2012

Don't give up

Have you ever dieted?  You know that one day where you lose your mind, can't take it anymore and end up eating half a cake by yourself? Or maybe it's a whole pizza or a pint of ice cream.  What happens? You end up getting upset at yourself and more often than not, you give up on the diet because you've "blown it anyway".  Maybe you don't give up totally, but you stop being as strict with yourself because "it's not as bad as that day where I ate that whole pizza".  You stop losing weight and eventually you are right back to where you were.  Maybe you even self justify it by saying "Well, I'd be worse off if I hadn't dieted that two weeks- I'd weigh more."

Money management is just like dieting.   There will be some point where Murphy (you know, Murphy's Law- what can go wrong will) will pop up and slam you with some big bill- new tires for the car, a broken leg, a vet appointment- something will happen.  Or perhaps you end up taking an unexpected and unbudgeted for trip.  Maybe you just can't stand it and run out to buy the new iphone. Whatever.  Things happen.  This is no time to give up on money management or your long term financial goals.  Don't think about how you saved $20 that month and said "well, good enough, I can quit."  Don't say "I blew $1000... I'm so dumb, I am just not going to try anymore."

There is no need to throw good money after bad (which is one of my favorite sayings ever).  Get back on track.  So what, it will take a little longer to reach your goal, whether that's to pay off all your debt, or whether it's to save a specific amount- or for a specific item.  If you stop now, will you ever hit your goal otherwise?  How many times have we all said "I wish I'd stuck with that diet in January, I'd look so much better in this bathing suit now in August".   "I wish I had started couponing twenty years ago, I'd be so much better off now."

Stick with it.  Accept there will be mistakes and mishaps along the way, but it's the trying that counts.  Every $20 you save, every penny you shave off a bill, is moving you towards a better life- one including financial freedom and hopefully financial security.  So you had to take $500 out of savings to blow on new tires for your car- at least you had it to begin with.  It isn't on a credit card that will ultimately cause you to pay even more than $500.  You aren't having to beg family members to loan you the money and straining relationships with them.

You can do this! Even if it takes you a little longer because of setbacks, don't give up.


Friday, August 3, 2012

Tricking Yourself in to Saving Money #4

NBPRs and regular rebates are a great way to trick yourself in to save money.  If you were going to spend $50 on groceries anyway and you can get a $15 rebate, just sock that $15 away in the bank or on a bill! It's free, found money.

Save those receipts when you purchase items at the store. You never can tell when a rebate is available :). It's free money, after all.


Thursday, August 2, 2012

What the drought means for us.

I live in North Carolina- so why should I worry about the drought in the midwest? After all, we've been getting rain.

Initially, we are actually going to see some slight benefits from the drought.  I predict that price of meat is going to drop as the market is glutted with animals going to slaughter.  If you are looking to purchase farm animals yourself, you're going to find a lot of quality animals for bargain prices in the winter and early next year as people begin selling off parts of their herd to reduce the feed bill.

However, the drought that is killing field after field of corn and burning up the hay fields will make itself felt in not-so beneficial ways.  After the initial flooding of the markets with beef, expect to see much higher prices next year as smaller herds mean less animals to go to slaughter.  The price of food, from dog food or farm animal food to people food and other necessities that contain corn will rise, rise, rise as the crop will be so poor that any corn that makes it to market will be sold at a premium price.  The U.S. ships more than half of all world exports of corn- a failed crop impacts anyone that works in those industries.  Those in farm equipment sales are seeing a drop in sales as folks either can't afford to purchase new equipment or having nothing to harvest.

It's not all about corn either.  Most of the soybean crop is also beyond saving.  We are lucky here in the southeast, as soaking rains earlier this summer have helped restore some of our crops and gardens, but on a global scale, it's going to be too little to help.  Other countries are experiencing their own droughts and record high temperatures, which isn't going to help ease the world wide burden.

So what can you do?  Not a lot, unfortunately.  Now is the time to stockpile what you can and as much as you can, as food prices are expected to soar.  If you and your family love corn, I'd make plans to grow my own next year and meanwhile hit the local Farmer's Market in hopes of getting some to freeze for later.   If you have the ability and the need, go ahead and buy your hay now before the price increases hit. A friend of mine has already seen her rabbit feed price jump $2.00 a bag in a week.  Cull down any herds or flocks that you can now, while you still have an opportunity to make back some of your investment or even turn a profit.

There is no need to panic, but there is every reason to start preparing now. 

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Sam's Club Open House

Sam’s Club will be having their Open House weekend August 3rd - August 5th, which also coincides with many of the“tax free back-to-school shopping” weekends in various states.  Non-members can shop Sam’s Club at member’s pricing (they won't add the upcharge at checkout).

Not a bad time to go stock up on anything you need!


Tax Free Weekend

Tax Free Back to School shopping is going on for many places this weekend (some states will be later this month).  Rules, restrictions and exemptions vary by state and sometimes down to specific localities within a state.

Things that are included in the sale are:
  • Clothing items individually priced at $75 or less (some restrictions apply)
  • School supplies priced at $15 or less per item
  • Certain electronics related to back to school (laptops, tablets, graphing calculators – some restrictions apply)
  • Diapers (surprisingly enough these are included in tax free – at least in Alabama.  Check your states list to verify)
Here are participating states and their weekends.  Click the state’s name to be taken to the official IRS website for that state and you can view a detailed list of what is and is not exempt.

August 3-5

August 4-5

August 19-25

August 3-5

August 10-11

August 3-4

August 3-4

August 12-18

July 27-28

August 3-5

New Mexico
August 3-5

North Carolina
August 3-5

August 3-5

August 3-5

August 17-19

August 3-5

Reposted from: Couponing to Disney

Folks, be smart on Tax Free Weekend- buy what you need.  You're not saving that much on tax free weekend, so don't go overboard, but it is a great time to get clothes and supplies for back to school- especially if you know you're just going to have to buy the same things in the next week or two anyway!


Make your own Bisquick

Nothing is worse than being halfway through a recipe and realizing you aren't going to have enough of something to finish what you want to make.  Like Bisquick.  Why I forget I've used most of my Bisquick before the next time I cook, I'll never know.  Selective amnesia, I guess.  If I leave a little in the box, it will breed and make more...right?

You'll need:
1 5lb Bag of Flour
20 Teaspoons Sugar
5 Teaspoons Salt
20 Teaspoons Sugar
2 Cups Shortening (think Crisco)
2/3 Cup Baking Powder
A large (very large, the biggest you have, more than likely) bowl.

Put your flour in the bowl and add all your dry ingredients.  Use a whisk to mix everything up well.

Add in your 2 cups of shortening.   Mix the shortening in to the dry ingredients with your hands.  Keep doing this until there are no lumps of shortening left and everything seems to be uniform and well mixed.

Now it's done! You can store it for a year in baggies in the pantry.  Do date it and do throw out any that is leftover once that date passes- mixes like this I don't play with once the expiration date hits!

If you want to save a little extra time when you cook, think about your favorite recipes.  Do you need 3 cups for one and 4 cups for something else?  Go on and divide some homemade bisquick out in those increments, then write on the bag (or mason jar, or container, whatever) what it's for.  "Biscuits- X cups.  Pancakes- X cups .  Chicken Pie- X cups."  You'll only dirty up that measuring cup once and it's that much easier to just grab and go.