Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Raisin Bread

It is not uncommon for something I make to taste great but look gross.  Take my raisin bread as an example.  This is the first loaf of "white" cinnamon bread I've ever made.  When I formed one loaf, it had a crevice in the middle that I crammed nuts and cinnamon sugar with honey into.  That over baked a little bit and doesn't look very good -- but I can assure you it tastes just fine!

I wanted the bread because we're staying with relatives tomorrow night and each time we do, there's always nothing for us to eat in the morning.  It's just that with kids and working parents, they get behind.  So I am solving the problem by bringing raisin bread.  We'll also have the "ugly" loaf (well, the uglier of the two) as a snack in the car.

I made this recipe up and it uses both white flour and white whole wheat flour.  My mom used to bake raisin bread when we were kids so I remembered some of what went in it.  Then there is the issue that I am just to lazy to follow a recipe.  But I am not unhappy with the results!

Also, early this morning we had very high wind gusts and it kept me up -- so I did some Christmas shopping on-line!  A lot of the Good Friday deals have already begun and I will not have to deal with this stuff on Thanksgiving or over the weekend. I've also picked up a bunch of gift cards and will only have a few more to buy.  Even though I am out of work and we are trying to be frugal, I still want to spread cheer and be generous for the holidays.  I will just find the most economical way to do it and make sure I take advantage of deals, free shipping, etc.  Since I hate crowds and retail frenzy, this method works for me.

I won't be posting for a few days so I wish everyone who will celebrate it a Happy Turkey Day!

Monday, November 24, 2014

That Dog Food Thing...

Once again, it was dog food day and I decided to show a bit more about the process to demonstrate that this is not only a frugal way to feed, it's very nutritionally sound.  Providing human grade home prepared foods is often looked down on as we've had it drummed into our head that "people food" is bad for dogs.  French fries, spaghetti, macaroni and cheese are bad for your dog.  Whole foods are not.  While we are told we can't provide adequate nutrition, that's also not true.  One thing people might not know at first is that you do have to provide calcium as a supplement -- approximately 1000mg per pound of food.  I also don't think it's bad to dump in extra B vitamins.  Other than that, let the food itself do the job it's intended to do -- provide vitamins, minerals and protein!

Today I prepared the batch with two pounds of pollock which I supplemented with four 1000mg calcium tablets and four Vitamin B complex tablets for good measure.  You can grind them to a fine powder in a coffee grinder -- free of coffee grinds of course.  Mine had a little moisture in it from the last time I cleaned it, but that was no big deal.  Healthy oils are important for skin and coat, so I add a can of chub mackerel -- which also contains bones.  I'll prick four fish oil capsules too.  In order to appease the vet and critics who say there are nutritional deficiencies in a home diet, I provided a canine multivitamin with each meal and I also make seed/nut-based "treat balls" that I give each day.  Teddy loves coconut oil and I'll add garlic, wheat germ and other goodies.

This batch took advantage of three small unused beets and a turnip.  I added yams and white potato, some water, minced garlic, oregano and sage.  I always use the pressure cooker in order to really concentrate the flavor.  This will also cut down on some of the fish odor in the kitchen.  I wait until the batch has cooked and I've drained two cups of stock or so before I add the entire can of mackerel and the vitamin powder.  It gets a good stirring to mush it all up and completely combine the ingredients.  It is at this point where I puncture and squeeze the fish oil capsules.
This is probably a week's worth of food.  I'll freeze most of it and then thaw as I need.  Teddy weighs around 70 pounds so she'll get 14 ounces of food per day (you feed to approximately 2% of body weight).  I have the stock to use for soup or stew but if I don't get to that before I make the next batch, it goes in to that again for extra flavor.

I will feed this twice a day and still give a veggie puree as a snack at night.  Since I've fed this for almost two months, we've managed to shed the extra weight she gained.  Her skin has cleared up too.  Her hot spots were probably seasonal environmental allergies but we'll know for sure once I start feeding her some chicken again next week.  Even when I go back to raw feeding, I'll probably feed her one meal of this per day since it's worked out so well.

I can't believe that a processed dry dog food could be healthier than this.  While it looks like a lot of work, it's easier than making a trip to the specialty pet store to buy a bag every two weeks.  Huge bags of food go rancid, so you even if you save money, you're feeding a lower quality food.   Prep for this is easy because all you do is chop up the potato/yam, etc., dump in the fish, add water, then simmer.  Mixing in the vitamins takes an extra five minutes.  You buy the ingredients in the supermarket and you can use them for regular meals too.   Don't let the pet food conglomerates brain wash you into thinking you need an advanced degree to make dog food.  What you need are a few vitamins, good whole food, a half hour, and some spare containers to store it in.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Booze Bargains!

I did a liquor store run yesterday.  This is our favorite red wine and we get it at the neighborhood store for $12.99 a bottle but always use a 20% off coupon.  Well, Premier Liquors (the biggest store in the area) had it on sale for $7.99 per bottle, plus there was a two dollar rebate.  You can be sure I picked up a case.  TBG was also running low on Scotch and Glenmorangie original was on sale for $39 -- usually $49.  While they have other varieties that we like more, they were not on sale.  I will keep an eye out for the Ruban variety from now until Christmas as that is the one he hasn't gotten a bottle of yet; but we sampled some on our anniversary and both liked it.  At $53.99 a bottle, I figured he'd just have to stick to the Original for now -- which he likes just fine!  I managed to save $70 off of a $$240 purchase and will be getting another $24 in the mail.  That might seem like a lot, but we are set for now.  Saving six bucks a bottle per wine makes sense as we'd just go out and buy a couple of bottles a week -- and it would all end up on the same charge bill anyway.  So it makes sense to buy more all at once and get the deal.

As for Western NY weather, we missed the horrible snow that hit south of the city.  I am in touch with friends to the South and they've had it bad.  First, there is the fear many felt because they were literally trapped in their homes.  With so much snow outside, if there was an emergency, they wouldn't be able to escape with it packed in around doors and windows.  Many had to find ways to get on their roofs to clear snow.  One friend said he realized it was time to do that when doors were stuck upstairs because the weight of the roof bearing down on the structure.  Luckily, we had no bad news from anyone.  And everyone was stocked up with enough food and wine to make it through.  Here's a picture of Teddy in our snow.  We are already feeling the warmer air up here and it's begun to drizzle.  This means the snow down South has begun to soften and melt.  There will be rain tonight and that means those who have suffered from the past three days are now faced with a new peril.

We are keeping our fingers crossed that the towns are ready for the melt and precipitation.  The snow that's fallen equals about six inches of water and more is coming.  This is really a freak occurrence for our region.  Sure, we get snow -- but not of this magnitude in such a condensed area.  And if you haven't been caught in a thunder and lightning snow storm, it's hard to imagine that phenomena as well.  But we live here because we like snow -- even if it sometimes gets a bit freaky!

Friday, November 21, 2014

Another Small Job...

The closet where we keep our toiletries has been getting out of hand.  While I am resistant to stockpiling -- I'm an addict in rehab -- I still do buy in bulk when I see something for a good price.  However, once I hit a certain level, I'm pretty good about stopping.  I also no longer grab something just because it's a deal and nearly free.  One problem is that I no longer notice when I'm actually almost out of something because I am really not buying most things and the closet is such a mess that it's easy to lose track of what is in there.

Today Sluggy re-posted her first stockpiling post and it reminded me that I needed to deal with this black hole in our upstairs hallway.  While I was pretty certain I wouldn't get to all of it, I figured that even if I handled two shelves, it would be something.
Turns out I was able to handle three shelves.  I also realized that I am out of toothpaste so that is where I'll use my next CVS coupon.  This picture sorta notes where things have gone.  A large portion is used up by feminine protection products -- which I haven't had need to use for the past four months.  I'm not ready to just get rid of the stuff because I don't want to be caught by surprise!

And speaking of surprises... Who knew we actually had three jars of Glug?  This is commercial grade stuff you use to unclog drains.   I also had no idea that there was a stash of light bulbs.  I also forgot that I had a three boxes of shine/gloss (Nature's Instincts) that I can use between permanent colorings to gloss up my hair.  Nice to know as we enter holiday party season!

I have one more shelf to attack and it's likely going to mostly be of cosmetic/facial nature.  I'll worry about that tomorrow, it was just a coup to get this done today.  Thanks for the inspiration Sluggy!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Gunk in my Junk!

Caught up with most of my housework, I picked today to tackle a task long past due -- I cleaned out the junk drawer.   This was a big mess and something that I hadn't done in a while; but I do think I'd done it once before.  This was by far the worst junk drawer clean out I've had to do yet.

One of the worst aspects of the job was that I had a can of sunscreen in there that I thought would be good to have on hand for days I was out doing stuff in the back yard. Turns out the can didn't get much use but that did not stop it from losing some of its contents in the drawer.  This made a horrible goo that also started to dissolve some of the black paint.  I had to use massive amounts of goof off and would still have black under my nails had I not gone for a swim.  It was truly gross!
I have settled on a system of Ziplock bags for organization.  The tape would not fit in the bag and neither would the ruler. Before the clean-out, there were three rulers and three pairs of scissors in the drawer!  I also tested every pen.  Nails, clips and fasteners plus other assorted hardware items are in one bag.  First aid, lip balm, bandages, matches, etc. in another.  Batteries, voltage testers, etc. are in another.  Then there is a bag for instructions, etc.  It's not a perfect system but at least it's neat... for now.  Because that's how it goes with a junk drawer clean out -- "clean" is a temporary condition!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

My Snow Day

We are two miles North of the Buffalo city line.  North Buffalo and my area got very little snow yesterday.  Dodged another bullet!  Some fell early this morning and amounted to maybe four inches -- but it was easy to move and I managed to shovel the entire driveway and our walks.  It was good exercise!  Then I drove a short ways to a park so Teddy could romp in the stuff.  The noises she made in the car were just as bad as the pathetic "I CAN'T WAIT" noises she makes on the way to a swim.  The snow has her mighty excited.
Once dry and warm in the house, I started to improve our pathetic "Technology Station" by bringing up a spare old laptop from the basement.  This is an old Dell Latitude and it works just fine but the battery is shot, which means it has to be plugged in all of the time.  That makes it a pain to bring places.  My thought was that having it always at hand on the counter would mean I could look things up quickly without having to go upstairs.  Sure, I could use a phone but unless you are using an app, a phone is not necessarily optimal.  We have wireless in the house so why not take advantage of it?

The power supply and the other cords are hidden in the basket the laptop is sitting on.  I've applied all sorts of updates to it -- even though it is running XP.  If anything spills on this or it gets damaged, it won't kill me as I did not pay for it.  It was a discard at my old software job and one of many devices I've been hoarding. 

Another one of my "Stay In/Stay Warm" goals is to do some toy surgery.  Three patients await...

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Dollar Tree and Grungy Tile

I went to Dollar Tree on Sunday to get a box of baking soda and this is what I came out with.  The baking soda was .59 cents and I spent $17.50 more on other stuff, seven bucks of which was on soap -- but this is a huge savings over what this stuff normally sells for.  Now we won't need bar soap for another year.  The pasta was in two pound packages and I'm used to spending a buck on half as much.  Food coloring for a buck is a good deal too.  Aside from what I've mentioned and the baking soda, I also picked up two hard bristled brushes -- really vegetable brush/peeler combos, but I had other plans...
This is how grungy the white tile in the kitchen had gotten.  Steaming it didn't help. Cleaners didn't help.  I needed to scrub it but using something gentle that wouldn't scratch the tile.  This was my Monday chore. I could have done it today but I wanted to swim and do laundry.  Luckily, my little area of Western NY got no snow.  South of us is another story... but I digress!
Here is how it ended up. I scrubbed with baking soda and hydrogen peroxide.  Once I wiped that off, I poured white vinegar on and let it fizzle before wiping it down again and repeating.  I can't believe how much grunge came off. I hope I have time to do this monthly!  One thing to be aware of, is baking soda splatter everywhere that also had to be cleaned up.
The run of counter-top looks much better with clean grout. I wish I could get the microwave and vitamins off of it, but there is nowhere else to stash this stuff.

All this task cost me was about a buck seventy five, some elbow grease and a couple of hours of my time.  Right now, replacing the counter top is out of the question, it's a good thing that keeping it clean is not!