Sunday, January 18, 2015

Pantry Challenge #3... 2015

I’ve been enjoying a visit from my sweet little granddaughter and her mama this weekend.  Oh how much we enjoyed having them visit!  I dearly love being a grandmommie!

Since it takes me longer than it used to get ready for visitors and since I needed to prepare to teach a ladies Bible class on Saturday, I didn’t get a whole lot done pantry wise this week, but I did do a few things ….

My to-do list from last time:  

Continue canning pinto beans.  Done!  I canned 7 more quarts and there’s still more beans in that 25 lb. bag!  Thus far I’ve gotten 32 quarts.

Can collard greens.  Didn’t get done!

In addition:
I earned enough Swagbucks for a $5 Amazon card before my visitors got here.  My focus was on my daughter and granddaughter so I didn’t get on the computer much while they were here … by choice.  I’ll start trying to earn another gift card this coming up week.

We emptied up a gallon size jar of Mt. Olive whole pickles that we’ve been making pickle and cheese wrap sandwiches with using Joseph’s bread.  I have another jar in my pantry that will go in the refrigerator once it’s opened.  I like to keep at least one extra of everything on hand and now that we’re down to the last jar of Mr. Olive pickles  I’ll add it to the grocery list.
I've picked this for my quilt project of the year … maybe lap quilt size and/or maybe baby quilt size … we’ll see!  In addition to working on ‘works in progress’ I like to start a new quilt for the new year and this year I’ve chosen to do a string quilt.  I already have everything to complete this quilt without having to purchase anything … which is important this year. 
Thanks to a reader’s comment I’ve started making fire starters out of toilet paper rolls and dryer lint. I learn so much from the comments that you leave ... not to mention encouragement … thanks to everyone who has ever left a comment. It means so much to me!

I made several Christmas fabric gift bags using Christmas fabric I had on hand … some of it is several years old!  These make really cute packaging when you add ribbon and best of all they're reusable! 

I got started on the practice handkerchiefs I cut out a couple of weeks ago.  The scalloping is done and I’m currently working on the initial.

Pantry Challenge #1 … 2015 was featured on the Waste Not, Want Not Blog Hop over at Poor and Gluten Free.  I am deeply honored when others think the things I share are worthy to be shared with others.

I started reading another book this week … yes, I’m one of those that have several books going at the same time … Keeper’s Book: Penny Wise.  It’s a collection of writings by several Amish and/or Mennonite women on frugal living published by Carlisle Press.

I stitched up this little apron for my sweet little granddaughter.  She loves Doc McStuffin!  I purchased the fabric back in the fall to make it but just this week got around to it.  What fun I had and she looked so cute in it when her mama put it on her! 

I was informed by my daughter that my granddaughter needed clothes for her new baby doll.  Here’s a tiny little dress I stitched up. 
My daughter brought me a 'quiet book' she had started cutting our for my little granddaughter ... she asked if I would be interested in finishing it for her ...  I said 'of course!'  I like the idea of my granddaughter having a quiet book that both her mother and grandmommie made for her!  She had enough materials to make 2 quiet books so she said I could have one to keep here if I wanted.  I thought that was a GREAT idea! Stay tuned for updates on this project!
I have several ‘works in progress’ meaning projects started but that aren’t finished … can anyone else relate?  I want to start clearing some of those out and get them finished so I’m going to start setting goals to do just that.  My first ‘finish it up’ goal is a baby quilt I’m making for a little girl that is now 3 years old … I started it when she was 1 … some of my works in progress have been in the works for a while … I’m using some of her baby clothes to make it with and as you can see I need to get it done.  This will be my ‘finish it up’ goal for the first quarter of 2015 which means by March 30th I need to have it finished and delivered. 

Can you believe that daffodils are coming up in our yard, our elderberry bushes are putting on tiny new leaves and the buds on our forsythia bushes are beginning to swell. I'd better hurry and get my sewing projects completed before gardening season gets here! Does anyone else see any signs of spring yet?

I’ve saved the best for last … the workings of God never cease to amaze me  … God is so good … I’ve shared a little about the financial challenge we’re currently having and told you that we are praying and working to find ways to balance things out.   I shared with you that with our decrease in income and increase in monthly outgoing expenses we've found ourselves in the position of having enough income coming in to pay our bills but that it left no money to budget for food.  We have been eating well from our well-stocked pantry for about a month now without adding anything substantial back in to it.   Well ….this week we received a substantial to us check in the mail for our personal use that we intend to use to build up and pad our pantry a bit more.   We didn’t know it was coming… it was a God thing.  Thank you to all who have been praying for our situation!
Here are some questions I received 
Question:  Can you freeze yogurt and if so for how long?

Answer:  Yes, you can freeze yogurt.  I’ve had success freezing it up to 3 months. 

Question: What do you store in popcorn tins?
Answer: Here are a few things I store in popcorn tins ... pasta, dry herbs, seeds, bags of flour, sugar, cornmeal (after they've been in the freezer for 10 days), dry beans, dry peas, dehydrated vegetables - vacuum sealed, etc. 

I had a request for my 16 layer chocolate cake recipe.  It’s good but it’s labor intensive… meaning it takes me 2 hours from start to finish to bake one and put it together.  I’ve baked and sold numerous ones of these in the past.

16 Layer Chocolate Cake
1 box butter recipe cake mix (I use Duncan Hines)
1 and 1/2 cups self-rising flour
1 cup sugar
2 cups milk at room temperature
8 ozs sour cream
2 sticks butter at room temperature
6 eggs at room temperature

Mix all together
Spray cake pans with cooking spray
Put 3/4 cup batter in each pan and cook at 375 degrees for 10 minutes 
Spread frosting between each layer as you stack them.

2/3 cup shortening
1/4 cup butter
3 cups sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup cocoa powder
3 cups evaporated milk

Mix all together and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until applesauce like consistency. Spread between layers, on sides and top of cake.

Here’s my pantry to-d0 list for next week:
Continue canning pinto beans

Can collards
Bargain shop to restock my pantry

Now it’s your turn, what have you done to build up your pantry or live frugally?
A Working Pantry


  1. Patsy, I have been squeezing lemons with the plan to can it in pts. Do you know how long to water bath this and have you ever canned any? It is good for lemonade and also for preventing kidney stone, so like to have it on hand. Thanks Patsy. Nancy from FB

    1. Hi Nancy, I've never canned lemon juice. I never have enough at any one time to can so I just freeze it in ice cube trays. Jackie Clay from Backwoods Home Blog/Magazine gives the following instructions on how to can lemon juice though ... Per Jackie Clay

      Can lemon juice be canned?

      Yes, you can home can lemon juice, just like you can any other kind of juice. Simply dump it into a stainless steel or enameled kettle (lemon juice is acid and reacts with aluminum and iron), heat it till it just simmers, then ladle it out into hot, sterilized jars.

      Fill to within 1/2" of the top and process pints and quarts in a boiling water bath canner for
      15 minutes (either pints or quarts). — Jackie

  2. I should have started with this...I so look forward each week to your blog. <3 <3 it! Nancy, again!

  3. I smiled when I read that you have several books on the go at the one time. I think I have about four to five books I am reading at the moment. This past week I bought bulk storage containers for my pantry using a gift card I had received at Christmas. I also bought four books at a local op shop (a shop that sells used goods), one is titled “Cooking for the Freezer,” and I am hoping to use the information to increase my stores. My husband and I also purchased four bar stools at the op shop for the same price we would pay for one new. They need a tiny bit of TLC and then they will be as good as new.

    1. Great Finds! My husband and I are both thrift store shoppers and bargain hunters. We actually enjoy the hunt!

  4. I am so happy that the check came for you! I am not surprised! God is wondrous! There have been times when some unexpected expense happens that I think, well I am going to have to dip into the emergency fund for that, and within a week an unexpected check will show up to cover whatever expense it was. Prayers are answered!

    Thank you for all the knowledge that you share. I love the gift bags made out of Christmas fabric! What a fantastic idea. And right now its such a great time to pick up some for next year.

    1. Yes, Cindy, God is Wonderous! The Christmas fabric I'm using to make the gift bags is some that I've purchased over the years at after Christmas sales. Thanks for commenting!

  5. Hi Patsi! I have a few works in progress as well. Oddly I started getting old handkerchiefs about 10 years ago, in case I ever had a granddaughter to make a quilt for her out of them. Need to work on that and when my son got married the centerpieces were mason jars with water and colored glass and had ribbons tied around them. They were going to throw them away so I gladly took them so I could use the jars, but I kept all of the ribbons and plan to do something with them as a gift on their anniversary. Maybe decorating a basket with them? They do not know I have them. Isn't wonderful how Our Father blesses us! Congratulations on the check!! Well my husband did lose his job. After 27 years they let him go. He is traumatized by this. I told him we will start by taking stock of what we do have and go from there to figure out the rest. At least we do not have a bare cupboard and no paycheck to boot! As far as frugal we used a gift card to pick up a few groceries that we needed. I got more cans that we will recycle later. We had fuel perks so got 30 gallons of gas for 94 cents a gallon. This is a huge help because he has equipment here at home that uses gas. My mom does not drive and has 1.50 off a gallon, we will use that next time. I made a loaf of French bread and it turned out really well. I figured this would be a good skill to learn I was just so leery of it and now I don't know why. I got a roast while at the store and cooked it and used half for a traditional roast dinner which will last us a few days and the other half I stuck in the freezer to make cabbage beef soup. I will have my mom over that day since she loves it. And a visit will be nice. I put some odds and ends in the bag to go to Goodwill while cleaning so more clutter taken care of. Used my drying rack to dry laundry and traded my aunt box tops for coke points. And today when we dropped off our recycling I looked for coupon inserts and found a few, but my hubby was in a hurry so I couldn't really look. I'm not a big dumpster digger, but if there is coupons on the top I grab them. I used coupons and Extra Care Bucks at CVS to get 4-12 packs of soda, toilet paper and some snacks for my son all free. We use dryer lint to start our fire too, I have never put it in tp rolls though, I just put it in there and light it I will try this. Around the holidays we dip pinecones in scented wax and use those for fire starters. If anyone would like to share their opinion here: my question is my hubby is 50 I am 43 he has enough in his 401k that we can pay off the biggest part of our mortgage and have little to no house payment. I would like to do this and start a personal savings for retirement, but I worry about his age and health being held against him when looking for work, although he is very skilled. That is my biggest fear is that we would lose our home it is not big or fancy, but my husband grew up here and his grandfather built it.
    Blessings All,


    1. Vicky, I am so sorry that your husband lost his job. I well remember a time about 15 years ago when my husband went into work one day and came home unemployed. No notice, no nothing. It was a very hard time for us and especially for my husband. We had 3 children at home, a mortgage and vehicle payments. It was a very scary time. We had to cash in my husband's 401K in order to keep from losing everything, but the penalties we had to pay were HUGE at the time of withdrawal and at tax time the following year. This is a big decision and a hard one too. I will be praying for you and your husband ... and that he finds another job soon. {{HUGS}}

  6. Hey Patsy! I am so excited to hear about that check. God is faithful!! I love those Christmas bags. They are sooo cute! I can't wait to try that. I too had an unexpected amount of cash, and really got a lot done with it. I needed some clothes for one so I spent several days visiting the Goodwill stores close by and was able to get 5 outfits, a pair of shoes, a purse and several household items that I needed for about $50. I also did a lot of grocery shopping. I'm so excited to have rediscovered Aldi. I haven't been in Aldi for about 10 years. I don't know why. But I was very pleased to find things so much cheaper. Especially produce. I got multi colored peppers for $1.99 for a 3 pack (i got 2), green peppers for $1.79 for a 3 pack, blueberries $1.79 pint, kiwi .99 for 6 (I got 2 packs) and my best buy was Roma tomatoes 6 to a pack for .49. I also got green onions for a really good price. My kids have been after me to buy more fruit but with the prices at the grocery store I was finding it hard. They were so happy. I also used my coupons at Bilo, Publix and Ingles and got some really good deals. So my pantry is well stocked right now. I just need to find some meat at a good price and we'll be set. I managed to do really good this week on not wasting food. That has been a problem for me in the past. I try to put leftovers in the freezer, but my tiny freezer is pretty full so I decided we needed to use up the leftovers. We had tacos one night and had quite a bit of meat and refried beans left so I made a mexican casserole using some stale tortilla chips that i had and it turned out great. I didn't have any sour cream so I used ranch dressing and the family loved it.I also signed up with Checkout 51 and already have $2.50 in my account. And I have $3.60 in my Savingstar account. Every little bit adds up. Thanks for answering my question about freezing yogurt. That was another thing I got at a really good price and half of it i squeezed into my freezer. Thank you for sharing your journey with us. It is always the highlight of my Mondays!

    1. Such an encouraging post Saundra! Sounds like you really deal well in several different areas!!! Thanks for sharing!

  7. A brilliant idea to make your own Christmas fabric gift bags. I plan to use that idea to make birthday gift bags throughout the year.
    For my pantry this week I've pickled beetroots and made a pot of lentil and beetroot tops soup. I used to put beetroot tops (the leaves) into the compost but now I use them in my cooking.
    So pleased that your receive a nice surprise in the form of a check.

    1. I plan to make some fabric birthday gift bags as well ... the bags are so easy to stitch up and the fabric doesn't have to be the highest quality unless you want it to. I have never thought about cooking and eating beetroot tops ... I'll have to give that a try. Do you have any tips to share on cooking them? Thanks for sharing!

  8. The chocolate cake recipe seems great! Thanks for sharing!


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