Extending the life of Summer Fruits

Last week one of our local stores had their blueberries and raspberries on sale.  I mentioned in a previous post Blueberry Bread how much we LOVE blueberries, so of coursce, I couldn’t resist the opportunity to stock up.  Shortly after I came home from the store I realized we were going to be gone the whole following weekend.  I didn’t want to come home from our trip and throw away this wonderful deal.  So I came across some wonderful ways extend the life of berries.  Best of all, freezing fresh fruits during their peak season is a pretty savvy way to be frugal!

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Here are a few tips I found on how to extend the life of berries.

  • Vinegar kills any bacteria or spores on contact (That’s why its used in all natural and frugal cleaners). Applying the same principle to berries will help kill any mold or bacteria that might be on the surface of the fruit.
  • As soon as you come home with your fruit, before placing in the fridge do simple vinegar wash first.  Prepare a mixture of one part vinegar (white or apple cider) with five parts water.  It is not necessary to rinse the berries after soaking.  Before placing in the refrigerator, cover loosely with a paper towel to absorb any moisture.
  • Dump the berries into the mixture and swirl around. Drain, rinse them with water, dry and put in fridge (I promise they won’t taste like vinegar). Let stand undisturbed for 1 minute; do not allow berries to soak for longer.  Make sure they are completely dry before storing them in the fridge, which is the magic secret.  Raspberries will last a week or more, and strawberries can go almost two weeks without      getting moldy and soft.

Freezing Fruit

Here are some simple tips to freezing your fruit!

  • Wash blueberries or raspberries and pat dry.
  • Sort out any under-ripe, over-ripe, bruised or otherwise damaged berries. Also remove any leaves, stems or debris.
  • Pour the blueberries onto a cookie sheet in a single layer. This will keep them from freezing together in clumps.
  • Place the tray in the coldest part of your freezer, and leave it there until the berries are completely frozen.
  • Transfer the frozen blueberries to a freezer bag or another freezer-safe container of your choice.
  • Blueberries will keep in the freezer indefinitely, but are best used within six months of freezing.
  • Stay on top of what’s in your freezer by labeling all bags and containers with their contents and the date that you froze them

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Here are some frugal Summertime Fruits for June – July – August

Apricots, Asian Pear, Barbados Cherries, Black Currants, Blackberries, Blueberries, Boysenberries, breadfruit, Cantaloupe, Casaba Melon, Champagne Grapes, Cherries, Crenshaw Melon, Durian, Elderberries, Figs, Grapefruit, Grapes, Honeydew Melons, Jackfruit, Key Limes, Limes, Loganberries, Loquat, Lychee, Mulberries, Nectarines, Olallieberries, Passion Fruit, Peaches, Persian Melon, Plums, Raspberries, Sapodillas, Sapote, Strawberries, Sugar Apple, Watermelon.

Febreeze….no more!!

My bathrooms always stink!  Seriously….

With five kids always rushing in and out of them, I often feel like I at the convenience store down the street when I walk into them.  Sigh.

With that being said, I use a lot of Lysol or Febreeze.  I look for coupons and stock up, but it is still kind of pricey.  So when I came across a post about how to make a knock off Febreeze, I had to try it!!!

Here is what you need.

1 1/2 Tablespoons fabric softener

2 Tablespoons baking soda

4 Cups warm water

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I went down to Dollar Tree and bought some fabric softener.

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Get four cups of WARM water.  This will help dissolve the baking soda and the fabric softener.  Put in the baking soda and stir until completely dissolved.  You don’t want your spray bottle to get clogged!!

photo(149)Add your fabric softener to your bottle.

photo(148)Pour in the water and shake well until all the fabric softener has been dissolved. 

Spray….deep breath.  AAAhhhh!

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Brownie and Cookie Mixes

bc cookiesDuring the Christmas season this year I saw a commercial for Betty Crocker cookie mix pouches.  The advertisement was making the case that we should buy this mix and leave the measuring to someone else.

Genius.


Ridiculous, but genius.


We are all busy people!  We live in a time where the more we can put on our plate, the better….right?  It is easy to be convinced that every short cut we can take should be taken.  Even if your wallet takes a hit. 

 

So here is what I have done.  I pre-mix the dry ingredients for cookies and brownies and store them in baggies in the freezer.  Then, when I need to whip up a batch, I have pre-measured mixes I can dump in a bowl and add a couple of ingredients to. 

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Dump Dry ingredients in the bag.

photo(144)Squeeze the bag until they are all mixed together.  Write on the bag the ingredients that need to be added.

photo(142)Or put it in a large mason jar to give as a gift!

Here are the recipes I use:

For Brownies:

2 Cups sugar

2/3  cup unsweetened cocoa

1 cup flour

½  Tsp Salt

½  tsp baking Powder

When it is time to make the brownies, dump into a bowl.  Add 1 cup oil, 2 teaspoon vanilla and 3 eggs.  Mix well.  Pour into a greased 9X13 pan and bake on 350 for 25 minutes. 

For Super soft Sugar Cookies:

 1 ½ cup powdered sugar

 2 ½ cups flour

 1 tsp.  baking soda

 1 tsp. cream of tarter

  

Dump dry ingredients into a bowl.  Add 1 cup softened butter, 1 egg and 1 teaspoon of vanilla.  Mix well.  Roll out and cut cookies.  Cook on 375 for 8-10 minutes.  Store in airtight container to keep cookies soft.

Window Cleaner…bye bye Windex!!

photo(141)There are a few things in my life that I have learned NOT to buy in a generic bottle.  Up until recently, Windex was at the top of that list.  (It used to be Velveeta!)  Then I decided to experiment with some recipes to make my own.  After dumping out some bottles of stuff that left behind streaks, I landed on one that works just as well as it’s $4 partner, Mr. Windex!

 

 

 

Here is what you will need:

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Squirt bottle

2 Ounces Rubbing Alcohol

1 Ounce Ammonia

3 Drops Dawn soap

Water

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Pour the Ammonia and the Alcohol into the bottle.

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Add your drops of Dawn.

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Fill the bottle up with water.

 

Wha Lah……Window cleaner!  No streaks and it dries QUICK! 

Cost for the entire bottle:  $0.15

 

 

Homemade Laundry Detergent….IN THE MICROWAVE!!!

I often joke with my husband about being born in the wrong century.  I love doing things the old-fashioned way, but about the time I am convinced of this I realize that I am incredibly dependent on my modern-day conveniences….like the Microwave.

This fact was quite evident a while back when I made my first batch of homemade laundry detergent.  It worked terrific, but I hated sitting over a pot for 45 minutes melting soap and waiting for the ingredients to dissolve.  So pioneer woman meets modern gal in this little recipe…

MICROWAVABLE LAUNDRY DETERGENT!!

It almost seems wrong.

I got the original recipe here  and modified it to be done in the microwave.

Here is what you will need:

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1 bar soap  (Fels Naptha, Castile, or Ivory)

1 cup Borax

1 cup Washing Soda

4 cups water

About 3 days before you are going to make the detergent, turn your bar of soap into liquid. (In this recipe I used a 4 ounce bar of Kirk’s Castile soap.)

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Pour your liquified soap into a microwave safe dish.  It should be about 2 cups of soap.  Add two cups of water and stir together.

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Microwave on HIGH for 2 minutes.

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After two minutes, the soap and water should mix together well.  Set aside.

photo(115) photo(112)Combine one cup Washing soda and one cup Borax.  Add Two cups of water.

photo(114) photo(110)Microwave for 2 minutes, and stir well.  Microwave for 2 more minutes and stir.

photo(109)Pour the two mixtures together.  Stir well and microwave for one minute.   Stir vigorously until it is no longer grainy.

photo(108) photo(106)Using four 8 ounce mason jars, or two-quart size jars, pour an equal amount into each jar. (Use the regular mouth jars.  This will come in VERY handy in a minute!)

photo(105)Add just enough water to each jar to reach the bottom of the rim.

photo(104) photo(103)Place the lid on each jar, and shake for about 20 seconds.  Place the jars upside down and let sit for 4-6 hours.  Do not let them sit longer than this, if you do your detergent will become grainy.

photo(119) When it has gelled up like this, you are ready for the fun part!!!

photo(120) photo(121)Unscrew the lid to the jar, and screw on the blade for the blender.  Place it on top of the blender and mix on high until it becomes creamy.  Your jar will be completely full at this point.

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When you pull the blender off, it will be thick like this.  It is about the consistency of mayonnaise.

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Repeat with each jar replacing the lids tightly.  This detergent is highly concentrated.  You will use ONLY 1 Tablespoon per load.  Don’t use too much!!!

Here is a list of reasons why this is my FAVORITE homemade detergent:

1.  I didn’t have to stir and stir….and stir over the stove waiting for my soap to melt.

2.  No grating soap.

3.  It doesn’t take up much space and lasts forever.

4.  It cleans my clothes GREAT!

5.  It dissolves almost instantly when you put it in the machine.

6.  It is just cool…….  🙂

If only I could learn to enjoy washing the laundry as much as I enjoyed making the detergent……

Photo Deals

I love taking pictures!  like most moms, we want to capture EVERY minute on camera right?  One of the websites I use for most of my picture development is Shutterfly.com  You can create a thoughtful, quality treasure like a photo book, calendar, photo mug, wall hanging, card, stationery and more. Create your own style or use one of Shutterfly’s templates to make it even easier! With a Shutterfly.com membership, gift giving is stress-free. You can upload and save your photos easily and securely.  It’s important to note that ShutterFly offers everyday free shipping on orders over $30.00 and they always have special deals.  Make sure to look for coupon codes online before you purchase.  Happy Savings!

Shutterfly

Freezer-friendly Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

The fastest way to grab my girls attention is by saying the word cookie.  That’s right, I think this might be the only word I never need to say more than once in my house at any given moment no matter where they are and they start running.  It’s AMAZING! I keep telling Kinley when they grow up, I”m going to their house to break their stuff, eat all their cookies, make a huge mess, say I’m bored and then just leave:)  But until then, I found a pretty awesome recipe for freezer friendly treats that will gain a few brownie points from your littles.  Just pop a few of these yummy treats in the oven and viola your set!

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 Ingredients:

1 cup shortening or butter (softened)
1/3 cup peanut butter
3/4 cup brown sugar (or raw sugar)
3/4 cup sugar (or raw sugar)
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour (you can also use white flour or half whole-wheat/half white)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups oats (rolled or quick oats)
1 12-oz. package chocolate chips

Freezer Chocolate Chip Cookies

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Cream together first six ingredients. Add flour, baking soda, salt, and oats. Mix well. Stir in chocolate chips. Roll into 1-1 1/2-inch balls.
To freeze: Place cookie balls on a cookie sheet and freeze for one to two hours. Remove from cookie sheet and place in an airtight freezer bag.
To bake: Pull out the desired amount of balls and place on a greased cookie sheet for 30-45 minutes to thaw. Bake at 375 degrees for 10 minutes or until done.  Makes approximately 40 cookies.

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