~ from my home to yours, living the Working Pantry lifestyle ~

Monday, July 8, 2024

A Journal of My Days 2024: 7/8/24

The theme for this year is “Laser focused, hunkered down and spending as little money as possible.” 

We're talking gardening, bargain shopping and pantry building and how we utilize all three to keep us fed and cared for without breaking the bank!

(picture:  plums from our plum trees)

So, how did we do this week?

I have been so busy that I didn't know whether I was coming or going at times ...

In the garden:  Another week of oppressive heat with heat indexes hitting a high of 110 degrees several days in a row and no rain has added another strike against my little garden.  I wasn't able to harvest anything this week!

In the kitchen:  our kitchen has been a beehive of activity all week long.  So much preserving along with preparing our daily meals.

Here are some of the meals we enjoyed this week:

shrimp, French fries and cucumber salad

homemade chef salads

leftovers (buffet style)

Thrifting, Bargain, and/or Loss Leader Shopping at the Grocery Store, farmers market, etc:  We spent about $65 dollars at the grocery store for some basics including salad fixings and about $30 at a farmstand.  Read on to find out about our trip to the farmstand ...

In the Pantry:  The bulk of my week was spent juicing and canning plum juice (the plums came from our tree).  Using the juicing pot shown in the picture makes extracting juice from fruit so easy!

We also preserved cucumbers in the form of sweet pickle relish and sweet pickles.  

The sweet pickles were the ones that take 7 days to make.  With the amount we were working with, we really had a lot of pickling going on all week long!!!  

The recipe for the sweet pickles we used came from the Ball Canning Book as did the recipe for making the sweet pickle relish.

Where did the cucumbers we preserved come from?

We know a family that runs a farmstand and we had asked them about cucumbers.  We ended up helping pick from their field for the stand as well as purchasing a few items.  We were given the majority of the cucumbers in the picture below for helping harvest for the stand. (The ones we were given were culled according to what they could sell.  The culled cucumbers worked just fine for what we wanted them for, and we were thankful to have had this opportunity.)  The okra was half price as it was larger than their customers would buy.  The most of it was perfect for slicing and freezing, which is what we did!  We ended up paying less than half of what the full price on all the items together would have been (excluding the cucumbers we harvested, they were free).  We left feeling very blessed!

In other news:

The farmers in our area are facing great loss with their crops if we don't get some relief from the heat and drought conditions we've been in for several weeks.  For some, it is already too late!

You know it's bad when a chance of rain, no matter how small is forecast and you camp out watching the radar to see if it's going to come to your area!  Yes ma'am, that's where we're at ... praying for rain and watching the radar at the mere mention of the possibility!

Click HERE to read what I've been up to in the sewing/creating world this week!  This week I did some upcycling and I love the end results!  It is soft and quite comfortable!

My granddaughter and I finished reading book 2, The Reptile room in the Series of Unfortunate Events and have started book 3, The Wide Window.   We've had to have a few discussions over some words in the books of this series that we've read thus far about the way they use God's name.  My precious little granddaughter has been receptive to hearing grandma's heart and reason for the discussions.  On Saturday, when we ran across similar wording, she skipped over it when it was her turn to read.  When I thanked her for honoring me and my desire not to use God's name in the way it was used, she understood my stand.   As grandparents, we may not have the ability to shield them from things such as this, but it does give us an opportunity to plant a seed for our Heavenly Father.

Libby the library app notified me that The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom I had requested was available.  I started reading it over the weekend.

(picture:  sweet pickles)

My teaching notes on Lesson 3 from the 'Three Self's' series I'm teaching to a young wives Bible class has been posted over on From This Heart of Mine for any ladies who would like to follow along.

I also posted a lesson on Phoebe, another lady in the Bible in our series of studies on women in the Bible.

If you are suffering under this intense heat as we are, I pray you are being careful and are staying safe.

That's it for me this week, what has your week looked like?

(pictured:  sweet pickle relish)

until next time,

mrs. patsi @ A Working Pantry

She looketh well to the ways of her household … Proverbs 31:27 

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  1. My cucumbers have been going crazy in my little raised bed. I picked 4 one day and the next picked 9 more! That is more than we can eat fresh (especially with many more growing on the vines!)! So I started making our sweet pickle relish! Got 8 pints using only ingredients- cukes, onions, bell peppers, etc and supplies that I have on hand! Even though we still have pickle relish on the shelf, we are using it regularly and I refuse to waste any food if I can help it!
    Blackberries have also begun to be harvested in our garden too! So my days have been spent harvesting, preparing and preserving!
    I found 2 packages of sirloin pork chops (3 chops/pack) for $1.15 and $1.34. Froze one package and baked the other for Sunday dinner! That was only between 35- 45 cents per pork chop! Also found a 3 pound package of ground beef on FF for $3, so I bought it and gave it to my friend with 6 kids.
    Quilted up 2 quilts for a client, so that brought in some extra $$ to go into savings.
    Little steps, but they do add up!

    1. Gardenpat, those little steps do indeed add up in everything we do! Those side hustles are great with helping meet our financial goals, aren't they! Sounds like you had a great week!

  2. Love that you got those cucs for pickles and relish, especially the smaller ones. Have trouble finding those here, and I prefer the midgets for sweet pickles. The pickle recipe in the Ball book is one of my favorites, too. Nice way to barter for what you need to fill your pantry.

    1. Lori, we were thrilled to get the opportunity to hand pick what we were looking for straight from the field. God is good!

  3. We are under another heat alert here with high humidity - but - we have been lucky in that this sort of weather often comes with evening rains so everything is very green. And then after a few days it breaks and we actually get a couple of rather cool days so much more bearable than what a lot of you have been experiencing.
    I don't even have a balcony so no gardening for me - but - I am doing my best to add to my pantry (food and non-food) by shopping sales, loss leaders, and whatever I can earn Loyalty Points on so I have done fairly well recently.
    This morning I headed out early to the fancier grocery store - 1) to see if there was any discounted meat and 2) to cash in a coin jar since they have one of those machines. Netted $45.50 in mostly dimes and nickels so that paid for over half of what I bought. I did find ground beef, ground pork, ground Italian sausage and two pork schnitzels on for 50% off and then noticed that they had chicken on offer so bought a pack of BLSL chicken thighs for about 2/3 of what I would normally pay so it was well worth the trip. I also picked up a few things that I can't find at my local No Frills so these items will go into the pantry for use in the Fall.

    I also took the time on Saturday to go through my pantry - move around a few things and move a few items into the kitchen that need to be used sooner than later so it has been a good week.

    I hope that you get some rain soon and a break from the heat.

    1. Margie, there is more than one way to have a well-stocked pantry and it sounds like you are doing great! It never pays to put all your eggs in one basket and that includes ways to have a well-stocked pantry.

  4. In Ohio also,our cucumbers are just starting to come on. Blackberries are almost done making and they are the last of our berries. Lots of blooms as Hubby (weather spotter, HAM radio) spent 2 days watering so we didn't lose much. Lettuce went from too cold to do anything to too much rain to way to hot. We got about 10 meals even though I planted 4 varieties 10 days apart, they all came on during 1 wk and then bolted over Sunday SIGH.
    Not as bad as the Amish neighbor that had to replant his sweet corn as they lost it all due to the weather.

    1. Chef Owings, lettuce didn't hang around here very long this year either. When it got hot and humid, it came on with a vengeance and the cool weather crops suffered greatly. I hope your Amish neighbor's second planting of corn does really well. Our local farmers are watching their crops slowly deteriorate in the fields, you can see the worry on their faces and in their voices.

  5. I am so happy to hear of God's provision for your pantry. We have been blessed with rain here so I had hoped it had come your way. I will continue to pray.

    We have not been concerned with any pantry work here while we are resting out of town. The salvage stores back home have been posting some crazy deals but I don't know how to use the quantity. Boxes of 14 whole chickens all frozen in a block are $14.99. And many more deals like that one. I just have to let those go and hope for better quantities for us.

    We had our middle son's family here on July 4 as they were vacationing about 90 minutes from here. We soaked up those grandchildren. They had fun swimming in the lake.

    I have been reading free Kindle editions of Jean L. Kuhnke books and thoroughly enjoying them.

    1. Lana, I'm so glad you got to spend time with your son's family, grands are just the best, aren't they?

      That is an amazing price on the whole chicken blocks!

      I'll have to check out Jean L. Kuhnke books, I don't think I've read anything by that author.

      Thank you for your prayers for rain for our area. It has reached a critical, make or break, place for our farmers.

    2. lana, about the chickens frozen in a large block, if you could semi defrost them into smaller blocks to separate a bit, you could roast them off and can them along with their broth. i have one of those large turkey roasters that sits on the counter and i can do 4 chickens at a time in there. then just debone and put into jars and pressure can that. also save the bones and make bone broth too. this is all yummy in the winter. bonnie in southern pa.

    3. Thank you, Bonnie. I thought about smoking them too. I could put 4 in the smoker at a time. Frozen smoked chicken would make delicious sandwiches. I am still turning it over to my mind,mostly at night, lol.

  6. I hope you're enjoying reading "The Kitchen House" as much as did. I find that well-researched historical novels can really give you an window into what realities of that time were.

    This past week found us rising at zero dark 30 (5:30 am) to have a cuppa and go outside to work and harvest what we could in the garden. Currently it's 95 degrees here today but with the humidity feels like 110. We harvested more basil and it's drying, Swiss chard from which I was able to freeze 4 pints for the winter and very few green beans. We've been on squash bug patrol daily removing any eggs from the underside of the squash leaves and hastening the demise of the live ones. The weather has been so dry that it's bringing out bugs that I've never seen before as well. Sprayed the veggies with homemade insecticide that won't harm the plants or us but will help with the insect problem.

    In the kitchen I made 3 dozen no knead English muffins. Since they're baked in an electric fry pan the kitchen didn't get heated up. I found a recipe in one of my books to use up the stems of chard. It's a gratin made with chard stems, bechamel sauce, mozarella cheese, butter and bread crumbs. It's on the menu this week. With the peppers that I didn't want to go bad and leftover chicken and steak, and a few other veggies, enough fajitas were made to have for a dinner and enough leftover to freeze for two additional meals.
    Craftwise, I started transferring patterns on to stick and sew to begin some hand embroidered designs to upcycle a few tshirts that have stains but are otherwise in perfect condition. Cookie

    1. Cookie, it sounds like you're experiencing the kind of weather we are experiencing.

      Can you share your homemade insecticide?

      Those fajitas sound delicious!

      I love that you are upcycling your 'stained' but otherwise in perfect conditions t-shirts with embroidered designs. I would love to see some of your finished products.

      Is 'stick and sew' a brand name?

  7. Dear Mrs Patsi - I do wish you would get rain in your area. Another reason the pantry is so vital.

    I have a question Mam. I have a red plum tree but I didn't realize I could juice the plums! Do you drink that plum juice straight, or add it to lemonade? Or do you use the juice later in the winter to make it into jelly or syrups?


    1. Susan, I plan to use it in smoothies, and to make jelly later in the winter. You could also add it to lemonade, etc or dilute it and drink it straight. It would be a good water flavorer as well.

  8. While we have had high temperatures here, it's been a blessing in that it has brought rain of some sort about every other day. John's just come indoors from going out to enjoy the shower we had this evening. I can tell it's cooled off out there and am grateful for it. This week's temperatures are slated to be slightly cooler (relative in the South as we all know) until the weekend.

    I am so glad to hear that you've found good deals and barters to help fill your pantry. I went to the discount grocery store Friday and got 2 pounds of carrots, sliced mushrooms, pork chops both boneless and bone in. I also went to the peach shed and picked up a box of peaches.

    Early last week I cut all the leaves off a bunch of celery I'd gotten from the reduced priced produce and dried those in a low oven. Crumbled and powdered I now have about 1/3 cup of celery powder to season with.

    Today I put up five bags of peaches in the freezer for future smoothies and cobblers.

    Sunday we took advantage of several BOGOs at the grocery as well as an Ibotta deal that made two frozen chicken items a BOGO deal. I don't get a lot of traffic with Ibotta but I did really well with it this time. I also traded Fetch rewards for a gift card to our favorite restaurant.

    And I worked on getting my pantry and freezer inventory done. I had quite a few expired canned items which I have gathered in one spot of the pantry. Then I sat down with my list and looked up ways to use those items and now I'm excited to add them to our meal plan for this week and the next couple of weeks.

    1. Terri, you did good this week! I love peaches in my smoothies!

      I love the way you took the 'expired' items in your pantry and worked them into your meals. That is just so smart and prudent!

      If we could get some rain to offset these high temps, it wouldn't be so bad.

  9. I made some jam this week with an excess of strawberries that my husband bought and which quickly started to go off. The rescued ones were enough for 3 jars.
    I was running out of face cream and discovered that it was cheaper for me to buy 2 travel tubes and refill my jar than to buy a new jar.
    We have an on-going project to restore a chair that my husband rescued from a builder's skip and which had been used by a cat as a scratching post! He filled, shaped and sanded the damaged wood. We managed to find some paint on sale to finish off the legs, but needed some material to recover the very tired upholstery. We were struggling to find anything suitable for a reasonable price and then he remembered a beautiful pair of curtains that had belonged to my mother and which were in storage in our attic. They are just the job and I can't wait to see what it will look like when we have finished the job.
    Finally, I needed to buy a jacket for my son to wear to my daughter's wedding, later in the year. He does not normally wear formal clothes and I did not want to spend a lot of money on something that would not be used on a regular basis. My husband spotted that our local Rotary Club had opened a pop-up charity shop, so we popped in and found a lovely jacket for him that he is very happy with.

    1. Tracy, that was some smart shopping buying the travel tubes and refilling your jar of face cream!!! I'm impressed, I don't know that I would have thought of that!

      Sounds like you've done some smart shopping in other areas too. I get so inspired reading how others are navigating these difficult times!