With the price of food cutting into our purchasing power, here are some ways that I am not only able to make ends meet but can store some food away for this winter.
Shop using Sales flyers, Coupons, and grocery-saving apps, but buy only what you normally eat.
Use a Weekly Menu Plan-Even a simple meal plan helps. A simple meal plan that I used was one where I decided that I determined that I would eat beef one day, pork the next, and chicken the next and continue that rotation. If I had leftovers of specific meat, incorporate the leftovers into a casserole or pasta dish.
Buy in Bulk (a pound of flour equals 3 ½ cups of bread flour, 3 2/3 cup of all-purpose flour, 4 cups of cake flour, or 4 ¼ cups of pastry flour. A fifty-pound bag of all-purpose flour equals 183 cups of flour.)
Avoid eating out-Think about it. For the cost of a single meal that your family eats out, you can buy a bag of rice and other food items that will last you a month. With the money that you save by not buying your coffee at Starbucks, and instead making your coffee and taking it with you every morning you can purchase all the bulk foods you will need this winter.
Making food from Scratch-Bread that I make myself costs me (using bulk ingredients) about fifty cents per loaf of whole wheat bread and is much more flavorful than the bread that I purchase at the store for two dollars or more per loaf.
Utilize Leftovers-Get creative with leftovers. Plan what you’ll do with your leftovers when you make the original meal. Leftover rice from today’s meal can be used in a casserole for tomorrow’s meal.
Grow at least some of your vegetables in a fall garden-plant leafy greens and root crops like carrots, turnips, parsnips, and beets this fall for vegetables that you can eat well into the winter months and in some cases use in the spring.
Use season extenders in your garden-drag out the cold frames and row covers to help conserve heat when temperatures drop to below freezing. If nothing else, use old sheets and blankets when the danger of frost threatens your garden.
Make meals with fewer meat-discover casseroles and pasta dishes that your family enjoys.
Use what you purchase- food that rots in the refrigerator costs you money, even if you purchased it on sale. Forty percent of what Americans purchase for groceries end up in landfills. Don’t play into this statistic. If you find something that your family has never eaten, but you’d like to try, purchase one and try it.
Unplanned problems usually occur at the worst times. Last week my refrigerator gave out during some of the hottest weather of the season, but it was a whole week before the new one was delivered. Monday, the new refrigerator arrived.
It all started on Friday night over a week ago after I had baked the cookies for the farmers’ market when my husband commented that the light in the refrigerator wasn’t working. We soon realized that it wasn’t just the refrigerator light, but the refrigerator wasn’t cooling either.
Because we were going to the farmers’ market, I made sure to take all the vegetables that we had grown to the market because we wouldn’t have any place to store them where it would be cool. Fortunately, all the vegetables we had to sell were sold.
Cleaning Out the Old Refrigerator
After the farmers’ market, we picked up a bag of ice and some individual drinks from the store as well as a half-gallon of milk instead of our usual gallon. We put the ice in the coolers and then I sorted out all of the food in the refrigerator. I stored certain condiments on the counter that really didn’t need to be refrigerated, but we preferred to keep it cold when we used them. These were things like catsup and mustard. I had just used up the last of the mayonnaise so I didn’t have any of that to put in the cooler, but I did put Miracle Whip salad dressing and the ranch dressing in the cooler.
I threw out the stuff that I thought wasn’t worth keeping like old salsa, pizza sauce, pickles that no one was going to eat anyway, and old applesauce. I put it all in the compost bucket and emptied the compost bucket in the flower garden where the chickens had a feast.
The refrigerator freezer was another challenge that I had to overcome. It was packed with food that I had to do something with and our chest freezer was already filled with meat and berries that we had just obtained. I took a few minutes and determined what I didn’t need in there. There were some frozen, freezer-burned vegetables that I donated to the chickens. I had two pounds of butter that I decided to store in the cooler rather. We ate the frozen potato wedges and hamburgers that night to make room for some of the other foods that were in the refrigerator freezer. There were some things that I had kept in the refrigerator freezer that I decided didn’t need to be frozen at all. For instance, I had just bought two pounds of granulated yeast that was still in mylar bags that I just stored in a container in the freezer. I also had been storing the chocolate chips and butterscotch chips in there. I decided they could stay on a shelf in a cupboard rather than let them get waterlogged in the cooler. It was easier to feed the bread scraps that I stored in the freezer to the chickens rather than trying to dry them in the dehydrator during this hot weather. Sometimes you just got to do what you’ve got to do.
Buying the New Refrigerator
Last Tuesday we bought our new refrigerator. We called several places before we ever left home and with that information in hand, we went shopping.
We started out by going to one of those 90-day same as cash places, where we found a refrigerator that was not only the size we wanted but was also on clearance. It looked like quite the deal, however, when we talked to the salesperson, he expected us to pay a one-hundred-and-fifty-dollar delivery fee and since the only available refrigerator of that model was the floor model, we would have to purchase a three-year extended warranty too for another one-hundred-and-fifty-dollar price tag. We decided we would look elsewhere.
The second place we went was a place that was locally-family owned and had been in business for more than fifty years. They were known for their customer service. The refrigerator that they had for sale was $150 more than the one we saw before, but we didn’t have to purchase an extended warranty and they required only an additional thirty dollars for delivery. That’s $120 less than the other place. We purchased that refrigerator. The only problem was that we would need to wait a week for delivery.
The Waiting Week
Since we knew that we had to wait a week, we devised a plan to pick up ice every day along with anything that we might need for that day. We purchased our milk in half-gallon jugs rather than whole gallons and ate a lot of lunch meat because the weather was over 100 degrees Fahrenheit every day. When we did cook, we cooked meals outside.
A Lot of Canning
Since I didn’t have refrigerator space and my garden is in harvest mode, I have done a lot of canning during the past week and because it was so hot, I limited this activity to the morning hours. We pulled up our bush green beans and canned the green beans that the plants had produced. I canned tomato products every time I had enough tomatoes to make anything. I canned tomato sauce, whole tomatoes, tomato juice, and salsa. Because I had the peppers, I also made hot pepper jelly. Because I didn’t want to store too much in the refrigerator at any time, I decided to can foods in jars of specific sizes to my husband’s and my needs. For instance, I canned tomato juice and canned tomatoes in quart jars because that is how we are likely to use them. I canned tomato sauce in jars in pints because I believe that is how much sauce we are likely to need for a single meal. I canned the salsa and jelly in ½ pint jars because that’s the size we’re likely to use for them. If I had a bigger family to feed, I would use larger jars, but since it’s just my husband and me, these smaller sizes are perfect for us.
Final Preparations for the New Refrigerator
The refrigerator arrived Monday afternoon, but before it arrived, we had to move the old refrigerator so that I could clean behind it before the new one arrived. I had stuff stored on top of it that I decided needed a new home. I rearranged my canning lids and rings so that I only had to get into a small number of them at a time. The bulk of it I put away so that it wasn’t in the way. The casserole dishes I had stored there I moved to another location in the kitchen so that I had better access to them when I needed them. The massive number of paper plates that I had stored up there I decided would go back on the new refrigerator. Once the old refrigerator was moved forward, I swept out the cobwebs and washed the walls, and then swept and mopped the floor. The refrigerator arrived when they said it would, they put it in place, and they hauled off the old model.
I learned long ago that it is always a good idea to have a contingency plan for potential disasters. The worst always seems to happen at the worst possible times. Therefore, it makes sense to be prepared for whatever may come.
Refrigerators (and freezers) seem to break down at the worst possible times, therefore, canning as much as possible makes sense. (For more on this subject, here are another article that I wrote Using a Deep Freezer Shouldn’t Be the Only Home Preserving Method https://hubpages.com/food/What-I-did-When-My-Freezer-Failed
Because we have an emergency fund, we were able to purchase the refrigerator with cash
We decided to purchase a new refrigerator because it is likely to last longer than another used unit would. (The old one had been used and lasted us about two years.)
Shop around for the right deal and don’t take what looks like the cheapest price. Pay attention to the price of add-ons.
Customer service is often worth more than you realize until you see what poor customer service looks like.
My most recent book, the one that I am currently working on I am calling Two Rivers. It is about Isaac Thorton, a young man who leaves behind his family and the girl everyone expected he would marry and goes up the Missouri River with the Lewis and Clark expedition.
This book has led me to research the Lewis and Clark expedition including specific members of the expedition. One of them was Sergeant Charles Floyd.
Sergeant Charles Floyd’s Life
He was the son of Robert Clark Floyd and born in Kentucky in 1782. He was the nephew of James John Floyd, a cousin of Virginia governor John Floyd. His middle name indicates that he was possibly a relative of William Clark.
He was one of the first men to join the expedition. He was a non-commissioned officer in the U.S. Army, and the quartermaster of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. He was the only member of the expedition to die during the expedition.
The Circumstances of His Death
Floyd probably died of a ruptured appendix and consequent peritonitis. The ailment was not even recognized by medical science until twenty years after the expedition, and the first successful surgical treatment came in 1884. Probably no physician of the time could have done much more for Floyd than the captains did. A purgative like Rush’s pills, their usual remedy for digestive disorders, could only have hastened Floyd’s death, but this is probably what Dr. Benjamin Rush himself would have prescribed if he had been present—along with bleeding, which would have accomplished nothing.
Floyd was buried near Sergeant Bluff on the Iowa side of the river, near the present town of Sergeant Bluff, Woodbury County, Iowa.
Later travelers often remarked about the site, and George Catlin painted it in 1832. By 1857 the Missouri had undercut the bluff and the grave was opened and some of the bones lost. Citizens of Sioux City moved the bones to a new burial site., and a concrete slab and a one-hundred-foot monument was erected in 1901.
After Floyd’s expedition journal was published in 1894, new interest was taken in his life. In 1895 thieves stole his grave marker and the bones were examined. He was re-buried on August 20, 1895, with a monument. A marble cornerstone three feet wide and seven feet long was placed in 1900. When the obelisk of white sandstone was completed on May 30, 1901, Floyd’s grave was moved for the fourth time to rest nearby.
The Sergeant Floyd Monument was declared a U.S. National Historic Landmark on June 30, 1960. This monument is now located in a 23-acre park that offers visitors a view of the Missouri River valley. Floyd’s final resting place is located on old U.S. Highway 75, in the southern part of Sioux City, Iowa, in the United States.
The Floyd River still bears his name. He is the namesake of Floyd County, Iowa. The Interstate 129 bridge between Sioux City and South Sioux City, Nebraska is named the Sergeant Floyd Memorial Bridge in his honor.
I Read His Journal
In reading his journal, my main thoughts throughout were that I knew he was going to die early in the book and that I felt sad because I knew that he wouldn’t see the expedition beyond the first few months of the expedition.
I read his while I was also reading the journal entries of the other members of the expedition and I will be sharing from those journal entries as I continue writing their stories not only in my book but here on my blog as well.
What did I do this month? Well, first, I did do the writing for all the books throughout the month, but I didn’t do many of the other social media that I had planned to do because I was busy with the garden this month. Early in the month, I was planting and later started harvesting a lot of the earlier crops. We weeded and have been watering because we are currently in a drought and excessive wave.
In addition, I processed the garlic for storage, and canned green beans as well as having prepped for and attended the farmer’s market.
Book Sales, Mixed Results
Book sales haven’t yet been what I have been looking for online yet, but in-person book sales at the farmer’s market have been doing well. If I could sell as many books online as I do in person, it would be great. I guess the issue is that I don’t have the online presence that I need to make the sales. I haven’t yet been able to connect with the right readers. I think perhaps what I need to do is to focus each month on the readership of the different genres I am writing rather than trying to do them all at the same time. I think that the best genre to work on right now during the summer would be my historical fiction series, The Locket Saga. In addition, I need to focus more time on the latest of that series Two Rivers. Probably the best idea right now is to connect with other writers in the genre too. I really do think that where I am having the most difficulty is in the aspect of connecting with individuals online. Connecting with other writers and supporting one another would be a great place to put my focus for the next several months or even the next year.
What sales I have made online have been mostly by chance, not by design. One way that I think I received purchases was when I commented on a YouTube page and left a link to my relevant book, and another was from a bookmark that I gave away at Farmer’s market and the person purchased The Locket Saga on Kindle.
There are several other things that I need to do to make my books more accessible too, but that is going to require some work that I have been putting off. Perhaps that will also need to be the focus of my work in the next month as well. I will discuss this more during the next few weeks.
Writing Two Rivers
This month I have done some work on Two Rivers, Book VII of The Locket Saga, Of course, I still have a lot of editing to complete. I currently have written 75520 which is 4480 words less than I planned to get written. However it is still progress.
Looking ahead to July
Now that I have had a successful June, I have a new month to plan for. It already looks to be a very busy month. Farmers Market and blog post writing for both this blog and my other blog The Perpetual Homesteader are given, but here are other priorities I have for July.
My writing and book marketing projects for July will be to (1) Update several books to put them into more distribution. (2) Do a complete second draft of Two Rivers by working on one chapter per day. (3) Developing contacts with other authors. (I plan to share more about how I am developing these contacts throughout the month).
In gardening, my plans are to (1) plant fall beans and late corn. As well as plant cabbage and broccoli indoors. (2) harvest beans, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, potatoes, and zucchini. (3) eat fresh, can, or sell beans, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, potatoes, and zucchini.
How about you? What are your plans for July? Feel free to share in the comments below.
If you haven’t checked out my Author Page on Amazon and check out the look inside feature on every book of interest.
For the entire month of June, I am sharing my books in the first annual Cygnet Brown Book Club Month! All throughout the month, I will be featuring not one, but all the books that I have written to date. I am continuing book club with my most recent published book in the Locket Saga Series: The Anvil
Book Six of the Locket Saga finally takes us full circle in 1800, not back to Boston, but to the wilds of Northwestern Pennsylvania. Robert McCray, the eldest son of Phillip and Elizabeth McCray is a young blacksmith who is missing one of the most important tools of his trade after his employer cheated him. At the same time, the girl of his affection shuns him for another man. He builds a house on his mother’s land and hopes to get his own property only to discover that the land that he desires was purchased by the Campbells.
Robert McCray makes the best of a bad situation and allows the Campbell family to live in the cabin that he built on his mother’s land next to the land that he had wanted and where the Campbell’s land was.
Though he thinks that he has lost everything, over the upcoming months he learns that everything he needs and wants is right in front of him.
Writing The Anvil had been on my mind from the day that I wrote the first line of Soldiers Don’t Cry. I had wanted to bring the family back to northwestern Pennsylvania because that was where the story began between Elizabeth and Phillip. It was also where I grew up and where most of my ancestors live. The Anvil does that. It brings them back to the land where, well, if you haven’t read any of the series, I won’t give a spoiler here. You’ll have to read the book.
I hope you take this opportunity to read the free sample of The Anvil on Amazon and the rest of the Locket Saga. Remember also to follow Cygnet Brown on my Amazon Author Page so you don’t miss the next book in the series: Two Rivers and other subsequent books when they come out.
When you love it, you can purchase a kindle copy or get it (at no extra charge) on KindleUnlimited
If you prefer paperback, you can purchase your copy on Lulu.com
So many of us feel guilt and shame about our past or we are worried about the future. My book Living Today, The Power of Now reminds us that we don’t live in the past, nor do we live in the future. All we really have is now. Think about it. Now IS…. We’ll never have the past again except as a memory. We’ll never have the future, except as a dream. We can only live now.
How can we let go of the past and not try to live in the future? Living Today, The Power of Now explores how to make this a possibility.
As I am thinking about this book I am reminded of the movie “Click” where the protagonist of the story gets a remote that takes him from one major event to the next and never allows himself to enjoy the journey that takes him from each event. The next thing he knows is that he is no longer in control of what happens because he has programmed the remote to skip over those things that seem trivial or painful. His whole life passes him by and he regrets not having experienced his life because he was too obsessed with reaching his goals. It is quite the metaphor for those of us who keep our nose to the grindstone in hopes that we get what we want in the future, but never quite being satisfied with what we get.
I am reminded of those people who are always living in the past either pining for something they had but lost. Whether it’s a relationship, a memory, or a situation that no longer is. These people feel that they can never be happy again.
I am also reminded of those who live in the past of guilt. These people made a mistake in the past that they can’t let go off. Something that brings them shame even after others have long forgotten the events.
There are those who live in the past because they can’t forgive someone else or themselves. They can’t let it go, and events occur often that trigger them to relive the pain of that time. They can’t enjoy today because they can’t get beyond the past.
Living today frees us from worry, shame, guilt, and unforgiveness all those negative emotions of inaction. It faces fear straight in the face by saying. What can I do right now? What is my next step? What direction should I turn right now? It allows us to move. What we face may not always be pleasant, but if it isn’t, we are simply moving through it, not dwelling in it because we are taking each step as it comes.
Living today gives us the ability to look at and appreciate life around us. It gives us permission to get off the hamster wheel to stop and walk barefoot in the grass. It gives us the power to stop and smell the flowers, to ride bikes with our children while they are still children. It allows us the privilege of watching the sun rise or set. It gives us permission to stop and just enjoy the fact that we are alive!
Every day is a gift and that was my inspiration for writing the book Living Today, The Power of Now. I believe that it will inspire you as well as you read it.
Follow this link for your free preview of Living Today, The Power of Now.
For the entire month of June, I am sharing my books in the first annual Cygnet Brown Book Club Month! All throughout the month, I will be featuring not one, but all the books that I have written to date. my next published book in the Locket Saga Series: In the Shadow of the Mill Pond
Book five of the Locket Saga takes us several years after the end of the American Revolution in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania during the time known as The Whiskey Rebellion. Under this backdrop of history, Lacey Mayford has fallen for Matthew Thorton, but Matthew is accused of murdering another member of the community. Lacey, though just a young teen, believes it is up to her to discover who the real culprit is and in so doing finds danger herself.
It still wasn’t time yet for our family to move to the wilds of Northwestern Pennsylvania, so I decided to explore an event that occurred in that part of the country in the 1790s which was termed The Whiskey Rebellion. What most people don’t know is how this could have been our first civil war, not between north and south but between east and west.
Back before the Federal Income Tax Amendment was put into effect, they had to get taxes in another way, and it was decided that they would tax whiskey. What many people did not know was that this tax on whiskey was more of a problem with the pioneers west of the Appalachian Mountains because making whiskey and selling it was the most profitable way to transport corn across the mountains was in whiskey jugs.
These people west of the mountains were livid because they believed that the tax wasn’t fair, they just weren’t going to pay it. The tax collectors that the US government sent were met by armed vigilantes who refused to share their profits when the population east of the mountains didn’t have to.
Add to this the murder and the fact that Matthew, a half-breed Native American is accused of the murder, and you have an action-packed adventure.
Have you ever heard of diatomaceous earth? If you haven’t heard of it, I’m about to share with you some amazing facts about this substance that can help you avoid the use of pesticides around your house and yard.
Several years ago, I was working at Shearers, a potato chip factory. Some of the varieties of chips that they made were considered organic which meant that they couldn’t be made using pesticides even inside the factory. Therefore, the management kept everything as clean as possible. We not only had to wear shoe covers and hair nets, but as we entered the factory, we walked onto the floor by walking over a mat containing diatomaceous earth because it used a physical rather than chemical means of controlling insect infestation.
Diatomaceous Earth, also referred to as “DE”, a naturally occurring, soft, siliceous sedimentary rock that can be crumbled into a fine white to off-white powder formed from the fossil remains of diatoms. This dried sediment is also very high in silica and its deposits are found all around the world.
Can Use as An Insecticide
Diatomaceous earth is thought to kill insects by dehydrating them or drying them out. If applied carefully, it can be used as an insecticide for fleas and ticks on pets without harmful chemicals. It can be used for the same purpose in the garden or orchard.
Though it isn’t a chemical poisoning that causes diatomaceous earth to control insects, you need to take precautions when using this substance.
First, use only use food-grade diatomaceous earth if using this substance internally or externally on humans and pets. (Nonfood grade DE is used for other applications that do not involve direct use with humans and animals.)
Also, avoid breathing in diatomaceous earth because it is composed of small silica (glass!) particles and though it doesn’t cause skin problems, it can harm the delicate tissues within the lungs.
In addition to being used as an insecticide, it can also be used for other purposes including taking internally.
When taken by mouth, diatomaceous earth is for treating high cholesterol, and constipation. It is also thought to remove heavy metals from the body through the digestive tract. Ingesting DE improves skin, nails, teeth, bones, and hair health.
Can be Used Externally
When applied to the skin or teeth, diatomaceous earth is used to brush teeth or remove unwanted dead skin cells. And more!
For the entire month of June, I am sharing my books in the first annual Cygnet Brown Book Club Month! All throughout the month, I will be featuring not one, but all the books that I have written to date. I am continuing the book club with my next published book in the Locket Saga Series: Sailing Under the Black Flag
This is the story of the impetuous and tenacious Jonathan Mayford who during Soldiers Don’t Cry was a starry-eyed patriot who wanted to bring King George to his knees. At the beginning of the story, he tries to join the Continental troops, but instead, his father, Peter Mayford convinces him to crew on one of his own ships. Through his time on the ship, the boy becomes a man as he endures hardships and falls in love with the raven-haired beauty Lowry Howells whose father keeps them separate.
A Privateer Was Legal, but Pirating Was Not
I wanted to see a side of the American Revolution that most people don’t know. For instance, before my research, I thought that pirates and privateers were the same, but they are not. A privateer is someone who had legal rights under the rules of military law to confiscate a ship, its cargo, crew and passengers and hold it for ransom during an official war. They were legally entitled to the spoils of war and if they were captured, they were considered prisoners of war. Pirates didn’t have that distinction. They were considered thieves and murderers and were hung or worse for their “crimes”. During much of the American Revolution, however, the British did not consider most American privateers as privateers but as pirates which meant that if caught, they would most likely lose their lives for their conduct.
John Forten-African American Revolutionary War Hero
As I was doing my research, I learned about James Forten and how on ships African Americans were treated like any other member of the crew. I also learned that being on a ship wasn’t like we see in the movies where a crazy pirate captain rules with an iron fist. Most ships during that time were democratic and the crew voted on a lot of what went on when they weren’t in battle. However, when they were, they had better listen to the captain or face a severe penalty.
The story of James Forten (a real person, not just one of my character creations) told of what it was like on prison ships and how he generously. . . well, you’ll have to read for yourself.
I hope you take this opportunity to read the free sample of Sailing Under the Black Flag on Amazon:
As much as I love writing and I love gardening, another of my passions is in teaching others to do the things that I do. That’s why I write two blogs (see my other blog here) and why I wrote the book Write a Book and Ignite Your Business
How can you demonstrate best how much you know about your business? Write a book. How can you add a new income source to your business that augments what you are already doing? Write a book. How can you demonstrate to another person that you know your business better than the next guy? Write a book. I believe that writing a book is a great way to show the world what you know.
Why should you write a book? Writing a book will help you demonstrate your expertise and create a new income stream for your business. Today more than ever, you have no excuse for not getting that book out that will demonstrate that you are knowledgeable in your business.
What should you write about you ask? You can write about how to do an aspect of your business. Here are a few ideas. If you’re a mechanic, a plumber, or a carpenter, write about how to do simple repairs that the average person can do. If you’re an electrician or a mechanic write a book about what the average person can do if they are having problems and know whether you’re being cheated or not. If you’re a real estate agent, share why the average home buyer needs an agent and how to avoid shady real estate deals. If you started your business, write about what you faced in starting your business, the problems you had, and how you avoided them. You might even tell what you wish you had known before you started your business that would have saved you time and money in the long run. If you’re a writer, of course, you can write about your process, how you avoid writer’s block, how you found your agent, publisher or how you self-publish, or just about your publishing journey. There’s more about choosing a topic in Write a Book and Ignite Your Business.
Write a book to leave a legacy. I personally decided to write this book because I wanted it as part of the legacy that I am leaving my children. I wanted to encourage them to share what they are doing with others as I have shared what I am doing by writing this book.
I wanted to help others make the most of their livelihoods. Life is short and it should all be about making money. Life shouldn’t be all work and no play. It should be about enjoying the life that you create for yourself, and I believe that writing a book is one way to help you do that.