6.28.2013

Giveaway Winner!

So excited to announce the winner for the flower statement necklace.
And the winner is...
Melodie Porter!  Congrats, girl!  Please email me ASAP with your contact info so we can get you this necklace.  Enjoy looking sassy wearing it this summer, I know I have already worn mine a ton the past week and a half and enjoyed it!

A huge thanks to Kaylee, from Eden's Garden Boutique, for putting this giveaway on.  If you didn't win but are pining over something in her shop, show her some love.  The most expensive things in their are only $10, which isn't too shabby for an occasional "pick-me-up" :)

6.27.2013

Pressure Canning Tips for Beginners

Now, I do not, by any means, claim to be an expert at pressure canning.  2 months ago, I had no experience with it.  But since coming so freshly off of no experience to some experience, I feel like I can address a few concerns and give a little advice to those who have not yet tried it.  I remember how it felt to feel completely clueless, so hopefully I can fill some people in on a few things that I have learned.

It really isn't scary and is quite safe.
I'm sure we have all heard those horror stories from back when our grandmothers and great-grandmothers pressure canned and had things exploding and accidents happen.  Now pressure canners are made so much safer, and have many safety precautions in place.  If you follow the instructions for your canner and keep an eye on it during the whole process, then you should be just fine.

Gas stoves are preferable, because you can control the heat easier and it goes quicker, but they are NOT necessary.
In fact, when we had our canning weekend, we did most of the canning on glass stovetops.  I personally have a gas stove, and so when I have canned on it, I notice that my canners tends to get up to pressure quicker, and the heat is a little more sensitive, so it is easier to control small changes in temperature to get the pressure at an exact spot.  But we had absolutely no problems when we canned on the glass stovetop.  Just be sure to lift the canner, versus dragging it, when on glass, so that it won't scratch the stove.

To can anything other than fruit (and some tomatoes), you must use a pressure canner.
A hot bath or steam bath method can not be used for beans, meats, vegetables, etc.  The reason is, that the acidity in these is not high enough, so the food can easily spoil unless it is canned under a high pressure.  So don't risk it, use the pressure canner if you are canning low acidity foods!

The raw pack method is so awesome!
Up to this point, the raw pack method is all I have done, and I love it.  I know there are pros and cons to it, but I have some great things to say about it.  In case you don't know what the raw pack method is, it is canning your food uncooked.  For instance, you can chicken totally raw (in this case, you don't even need to add water, it creates it's own juices when cooking).  The chicken will cook while it is being pressure canned. How much easier can you get?  There are other options to can with pre-cooked food as well, if that is what interests you, or you have a lot of leftover food that is already cooked that you want to preserve.

Use the internet and books to research.
As for so many other things, the internet is full of advice, tips, recipes, etc. when it comes to pressure canning.  Of course, make sure that you feel comfortable with what is being said, and the most reliable sources are those that are research based and legally able to give exact advice (so, technically, I do not fall under this category, of course!).  I have also heard really great things about the Ball canning books, and they are quite inexpensive--I plan on investing in one soon!

Watch someone.
I had someone offer to come do a small trial run on some pressure canning, and it made all the difference to me.  It put me at ease since she knew what she was doing, she gave me some tips and tricks that worked for her, and it helped to physically watch someone handle the pressure canner and the other components.  I am sure you all know someone that could help you.  But if you don't, then check out youtube, tons of great videos to give you similar results!

Extension Office.
Every state has a state university that is given money to do research on agriculture and all sorts of other food-based research, including food preservation.  Arizona's university to receive this funding is U of A, however there are many extension offices in each county.  They are a great resource.  You can call in and ask questions, go in and get your pressure gauge checked, and use their website for helpful advice and guidelines. You can visit the Maricopa county website, here.

Canning can be pricey to start out, but will pay itself off quickly. 
I started out by price checking many stores for their canning goods, to see which place sold the jars cheapest.  It was easier to find used quart jars, but very hard to find used pint jars for sale (via craigslist, garage sales, thrift stores, etc.).  I found the cheapest place to buy pint jars, was Costco, running at $5.99/dozen (I do believe they are just carried there "seasonally", but I'm not positive).  WalMart also has some competitive pricing, and they also have their own store brand of canning jars (I used them for half pints to can raspberry jam and they all sealed and worked just fine).  Gathering your jars, lids, rings, can start to feel pricey, but don't forget--you can reuse the jars and rings!  So after getting a large supply together, you will only have to buy new lids when you want to can something.  Also, it is recommended that after jars have sealed and sat for 24 hours, that you remove the ring to prevent it from rusting onto the jar.  If you do that, then you really don't need a ton of rings either, because they can be reused instead of sitting on the jars on the shelf.

My pressure canner.
I own the Presto 23-quart pressure canner, and I have loved using it so far.  You can stack 2 layers of pints (I think I can do 18 or so pints each batch), or one layer of quarts (I believe it is 7 quarts each batch).  It was the most bang for your buck, from what I could tell.  It cost me $70 on Amazon, which I felt was a very reasonable price.  I also like that this has both a weight for the pressure, and a gauge.  Some just have a weight, and so you have to monitor the rocking of the weight to estimate about how many pounds of pressure you are at.  I like having the gauge to take some of the guesswork out of it.  A lot of people really like the All American brand.  My sister in law has one that we used over the canning weekend, and it works great too.  The price point is significantly higher though, and so I opted for the Presto and don't regret it at all.  I know eventually I will have to replace the $5 plastic seal on the lid to maintain pressure (over time they wear out), and on the All American, they don't have one (it is metal-on-metal), but that doesn't really deter me since it is such a small cost to maintain it.  Did you know most Ace Hardware's carry canning supplies?  I had no idea!  Good for replacing small parts like that!  My other sister-in-law had a Presto brand pressure canner, but hers was smaller, so we could only do one layer of quarts or pints each batch, so you had less done each batch.  I would splurge for a few bucks more to have double the capacity.  You won't regret it when you can make twice as much with the same amount of prep time!
Hope these few tips help motivate someone to dive into the world of pressure canning.  I am loving it so far! If you don't want to invest in a canner just yet, see if you know of anyone that has one you can borrow.  Try it out!  See if you like it.  It is fun and a great way to contribute to your family's self reliance.  

Happy Canning!

P.S.
Today is your LAST CHANCE to enter the GIVEAWAY!!!! It closes tonight at midnight, so hurry up and enter, you know you want that adorable necklace!

6.24.2013

Canning Weekend Recap

Well, if you recall, my husband and I traveled to his hometown over Memorial Day Weekend.  It was deemed our canning weekend.  All the women that were there, gathered together and canned up a bunch all day Saturday and Monday.

Saturday, we canned around 80 pounds of chicken.  I took it all down there, since I found a really good deal.  In that town, they don't always get good deals since they only have 1 big-name grocery store and food has to travel down there, which raises prices.  I found boneless, skinless chicken breasts on sale for $1.69/pound at Food City.  Brett and I went and each got a grocery cart full, stood in separate lines, took it out to the car, and then did it again.  We ended up getting plenty!

We canned most of the chicken in pint size jars, since that equals about a pound of meat (which is what most recipes call for).  On Monday, we canned a bunch of black and pinto beans.

It was kind of a big operation, and I of course, only remembered to snap a few quick pictures, so half of my sisters-in-law aren't even included.  But here is just a glimpse into the weekend!




Here is a peek at my early inventory...
I have since added more black, pinto, and kidney beans for recipes like white/regular chili, pasta salads, Mexican food dishes, etc.  I made my raspberry jam when I found a good deal on raspberries at the Superstition Ranch Market.

Getting into pressure canning and preserving food has been a great learning experience, as well as helping me and my family with food storage on a budget.  Stay tuned, because later this week I will post some tips on what has helped me as a beginner (that would hopefully help you too!).

P.S.
Have you entered the giveaway?!  It's a good one!  Only a few days left to enter!

6.20.2013

Giveaway Time (and a peek at my summer uniform) {CLOSED}

Kaylee, owner of Eden's Garden Boutique, contacted me about doing a giveaway, and once I saw her stuff, I was all over it!

First of all, what is more frugal than free, right?  Can't beat that!  Second of all, if you don't end up winning this giveaway, everything she sells is either $10 or under.  Very good price for some darn cute accessories for yourself or for gift-giving.  You'll be hard pressed to find a statement necklace for $10 anywhere else, that's for sure!

Here I am sporting a couple adorable things from her shop...

I spy some cute earrings...

(on sale for $2)

I spy an adorable yellow flower statement necklace...

(on sale for $10)

One lucky reader will get the chance to win this yellow flower statement necklace!
Each reader has 4 chances to enter.  Leave a comment on this blog post for each entry.  

Here is how you can earn entries:

1. become a follower on the Frugal Fashion and Furnishings blog (upper left corner)
2. "like" Frugal Fashion and Furnishings Facebook page
3. "like" Eden's Garden Boutique on Facebook
4. leave a comment telling us your favorite product from Eden's Garden Boutique

Don't forget, leave a comment for each entry on this blog post, so you can have more chances to win!  Giveaway runs from Thursday June 20th to Thursday June 27th (giveaway will close at midnight AZ time).  Winner will be announced on Friday!  Good luck!  So happy one of my readers gets the chance to have a fun new accessory for free!

P.S.
Minimal makeup, hair thrown back, and stretchy skirts and dresses are going to be what I live in this summer!  I do love that these accessories really kick the look up a few notches!  Do you have a "summer uniform"?

gray t-shirt: thrifted {$1.50}
mint maxi skirt: Charlotte Russe {$14.99)
navy and white dress: Last Chance {$12.00}
accessories: Eden's Garden Boutique 

6.19.2013

Father's Day Gift

What did you do for the fathers in your life this year?  My intention was to do an inexpensive "Father's Day Gift Guide", but it just didn't happen.  Were you creative and do something handmade?  Or did you splurge on the special guy?  Did you give him an experience instead of a physical gift?  I want to hear!

We did a combined Father's and Mother's Day gift for my parents.  We gave them DIY instagram magnets and gave them a collapsible high chair from Ikea to keep at their house (since Landon is their first grandbaby and they are just starting their "baby stuff" collection!).

For my husband (aka, the baby daddy), I gave him a couple framed pictures for his desk at work (he often has coworkers asking him to see more pictures of Landon, so he gets to be a braggy dad quite often.  This is to help make it easier for them to oooh-and-ahhh).  Brianna Yardley ran a mini photoshoot promotion for Father's Day, so we got some fun shots for inexpensive!  My mom always did "mommy and me" photos with each of her kids when we were 6 months old.  So this doubled for that as well, since I have yet to do anything like that with Landon. It worked out great--we got professional photographs for really inexpensive, and got to give Brett a fun and unique present.


We had a hard time getting smiles out of this normally smiley baby.
He was just coming off of the stomach flu and cutting teeth...and majorly distracted by the big camera in front of him.

And if you think that I am forgetting my most wonderful father-in-law, I am not.  We made a phone call (too expensive and risky to mail things), since they are currently living in Chili for a mission for our church (but they will be home in January, and we are ecstatic!).  

I've already got ideas brewing in my head for next Father's Day. 

Tomorrow, we have our first giveaway, and it is a good one.  You should be excited and check back in tomorrow!

6.18.2013

A Simple Recipe: Whole Wheat Muffins

I love food that is flavorful and delicious.  However, I often find myself reverting back to those simple, easy comfort foods that are full of flavor, yet tried-and-true.  Sometimes they are the best recipes, it is why they have stuck around so long! 

As delicious as some things might be that are pinned all over pinterest, I don't know how many of the trendy "nutella" recipes will be used frequently in 20 years (except for slathering it on bread or bananas--surely that will stay around).  But I betcha anything, this recipe will be!

I love, love, love my mom's recipe for bran muffins.  It makes a huge batch (I usually half it) and the batter will last in an airtight container for up to 1 month, in the fridge.  But, it calls for quite a few ingredients, which I don't always have on hand. 

A couple months ago, I was skimming through my Allred Family Cookbook (I got it upon marriage into the family--pretty good deal, if I say so!).  I came across this simple, small recipe that my sister-in-law Kami submitted: Whole Wheat Muffins.  I tried it, and loved it!  They are simple, easy, and make a batch of about 12 muffins.  I've made them a few times since.  I'm sure you could add some fruit (fresh, frozen, or dried) or nuts to customize your muffin.  I haven't yet, so I can't give you any advice on that.  But the plain ones are delicious.  Add a little butter into an ooey-gooey hot muffin, and side it with some fresh fruit and orange juice.  This recipe has become a regular in our house.




Whole Wheat Muffins:
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 cup milk (can use powdered milk)
1 cube melted butter
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla

Mix dry ingredients together in medium sized bowl. 
In large measuring cup combine liquid ingredients.
Stir just until moistened. 
Spoon into greased muffin tin.
Bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes.
Makes 12 muffins

Kami recommended to just slightly undercook them so they are a little gooey, which I do and it is yummy! 

What are your favorite, simple recipes?  Tell me, I want more in my repertoire! 

6.13.2013

Favorite Spots Around Town: Liquidators

My friend Angela told me about this place.  Brett and I decided to take a peek, and I can tell you I will be popping in every once and a while.  Especially if we are in need of new electronics (Brett's favorite), because they have amazing prices. 

I don't know tons about this place, other than they have pretty much everything at steep discounts, many things (if not everything--I'm not sure) is from Costco. 

They had lush carpet area rugs for $60!  Not sure if you have looked into buying an area rug recently, but that is literally a steal!  They have home d├ęcor, electronics, clothes, small and large appliances, food, and anything else you can imagine. 

I forgot to snap pictures in the actual store, but I took some of our purchases.

Location: Sorry for those who viewed this originally, I forgot to add the location!  This store is located off of Alma School and University, behind the Fresh and Easy.  It is one of the only things in business in the entire strip mall.  Hope you get the chance to go take a look at it sometime! 

I got these pillows for $12 total.  Normally one pillow like this would, at the minimum, cost $12.  So $6 each...I was happy with that!

And Brett got these Docker's flat front panel pants for $10 (and another different pair, too!).
I mean, these pants are so durable, he can even do work in them--like feeding the chickens.  (Ok, so really I just like snapping pictures of his toosh--so don't tell him I posted this, he'd be really embarrassed.  He's a pretty modest fellow, that husband of mine).
And since they decided to disperse during the above picture, here is a glimpse at our chickens.  We currently have 8.  Which means lots of eggs will be coming our way soon!




6.11.2013

Using up Produce

Over our marriage, I have gotten better about not wasting as much food.  Sure, I still have to throw stuff out.  I am sure I always will.  But I have significantly reduced it.  And what we do toss, either goes to our compost pile or chickens (some stuff makes it there inevitably--like egg shells or the mystery meat that got lost in the back of the refrigerator). 

But before that spinach goes limp and soggy or those tomatoes get mushy and leaky--give this a try! 

Homemade omelets!  They are the perfect, filling, easy meal that can use up the produce that is on it's way out.  Of course, don't use rotten food, but your leftover bits of what you planned on using for previous meals/salads/etc. that might not get used up otherwise. 

Brett is the omelet master.  So I, of course, allow him to have lots of involvement when we eat them (score!). 

We usually use a little bacon, sausage or ham that is frozen, but you don't have to.  If we do, we cook it up in a skillet and reserve some of the grease for when we make the omelets (not-so-healthy, but oh-so-yummy!). 

Then we chop up whatever produce we have leftover, the meat we prepped, and grate some cheese (we use all kinds).  Of course, these also are great "planned" meals too, as in you can purchase the ingredients with the intention of making omelets. 

 
 
So pretty, right?  Told ya he's the omelet master!
 

Here are ideas for omelet ingredients (this is not a comprehensive list, by any means):

produce:
garlic
onion
broccoli
potatoes (already cooked/baked and cubed)
tomatoes
spinach
bell peppers
olives
mushrooms
avocado (topped after it is cooked)
fresh or dry herbs (cilantro, basil, parsley, etc.)

cheese:
cheddar (we love extra sharp!)
Monterey jack
pepper jack
mozzarella
swiss
feta

We like to top it off with sour cream and salsa or ketchup, if it's available in the fridge. 


While we cook, Landon munches on ingredients (like mozzarella cheese and bell peppers).
What do you do to use up leftover food before it goes bad?
 
My friend, Libbie, uses her leftover food to make nachos which is a great idea, too!



6.10.2013

Summer Accessories: 3 for Under $3

It's always fun to revamp a few things for a different season.  When it starts hitting the triple digits here, I need something to help me get geared up to deal with the summer heat. Here are a few accessories I found for $3 or under...

I snagged these adorable sunglasses, at the Dollar Tree for $1.  I was quite shocked at what a good selection of cute sunglasses they had.  I never spend tons of money on sunglasses.  They always get broken or lost.  And it is fun to justify having a couple pairs, which you can do if you get them for a bargain.


I also bought this new lip shade for 93 cents at Wal-Mart, and I have been loving it!  I wear it almost everyday.  The eclectic shade of pink is a fun and nice change (it doesn't look as bright here as it seems to be in real life).



I picked up the nail polish at Target, for $2.49, after Brittany inspired me with a comment on my nail post.  I am pretty sure this will be my go-to summer color from here on out.  I never thought of this color, but I kind of love it. 

sunglasses: Dollar Tree
lip color: NYC #316 "Blossom"  
nail color: Sally Hansen #270 "Lacey Lilac"
 
These would be especially fun splurges if you are heading to the beach anytime this summer.  Have a good start to your summer--on a budget, of course!

6.07.2013

A few links for you to enjoy...

What are your plans for the weekend?  My husband is the scoutmaster over a group of boys, and they have a campout planned for Friday evening.  This means I get to craft into the wee hours of the morning!  Saturday (late) morning I might check out a moving sale, and that evening we are feeding some local missionaries for dinner.  Plus, there is always church on Sunday.  Busy but fun weekend!

Landon swimming with his Uncle Bennett this week, maybe we'll squeeze it in again this weekend. 

Here are a few links that I hope you enjoy...

Happy National Doughnut Day!

I love how Kristi used an old book shelf for her garden, I want to try it!

This is a useful post on packing light for a long vacation.

I'm seriously drooling over her recipes, and want to try these cupcakes this weekend!

If you remember, I linked to this, wondering what could be just $1!  Well, here is her answer...

Scroll down to see the amazing Memorial Day salad that Marilyn made.  This might be a salad Brett begs me to make, I need to try it. 

Twitter is something I need to use more, especially after seeing this thrifty list.


P.S.
If you haven't already, go ahead and "like" my Facebook page to stay up-to-date on posts and giveaways!  Thanks for all those you already have, it sure made me feel good!


6.05.2013

Family Fun + Decor: Ikea

Ikea is great for so many things.

If you are looking for reasonably priced decor, depending on your taste and style...Ikea!

If you are looking for a fun place to walk around and escape the heat...Ikea!

If you are in the mood for some Swedish meatballs...Ikea!

If you need some inspiration on decorating a room...Ikea!


As you can see, Ikea can be a great place to check out.  But be careful you don't spend too much money when you go, unless there is something you need to purchase and that is your plan!

We went the other weekend as a family fun night, to grab a couple things we needed, and to pick up something to gift my parents for Mother's and Father's Day.  Unfortunately we got to the restaurant a little too late, and it was closed for the evening, but we still had a blast!

We love our Moby wrap, especially in Ikea!  Be sure to go when you have plenty of time to browse.  If it is your first time, there is a lot to take in, and you are most likely to get lost at least once.  But the employees are nice and wear bright yellow shirts, so ask questions if you have them!

6.03.2013

Family Fun: A Donut Outing

Whew!  Sorry I wasn't super active in the blogging world last week.  I got a bad case of the stomach flu that really wiped me out.  But now I am doing much better, so the blogging can continue!  This week I will add a couple more ideas for some budget-friendly family fun. 

Have you ever been to Bosa Donuts?  We have one nearby, and they have some seriously delicious donuts! A couple Saturdays ago, we decided to take a morning bike ride over there and get a donut, and some donut holes (for Landon...ahem) for breakfast.


I loved it so much it might become a tradition every so often on Saturday mornings...not such a great idea for the waistline though!



And if you want to see how adorable Landon looks in his little bike helmet, you can check the picture in this post!