I have a wonderful set of plans for building a three-bin composter. The plans call for purchasing various sizes of cedar, chicken wire and various hinges to make a very nice compost bin. The plans even call for purchasing a sheet of clear corrugated fiberglass to make a cover for the whole thing. The directions must be pretty old as they claim the total price would only be $130! We like to make things with what we can find for free! Luckily close to our home is a source of free pallets. The pallets are left in a certain spot and they are free for the taking. Recently we noticed a huge pile and decided to bring a few (12) home and make our own compost bin!

composting, pallets, prudent living

Free Pallets

First we located a level spot not too far from the garden or the chicken coop. The pallets were laid in place and wired together to give us idea of the size and space needed.

compost bins, pallets

Sides wired together

The ground was them leveled in a few spots and one of the pallets was taken apart to provide scraps of wood to actually attach the sides together.

compost bin, prudent living

Using scraps to attach the sides together.

Once the sides were attached together we were ready to begin composting! If you are wondering why we like to compost go back and read my post called Why Compost? I would ask why not!

As you can see Riley approved of the final project! As the bins fill up with compost we have extra pallets on hand to make a gate across the front to hold the compost in.

composting, prudent living

Three Bin Composter

Linked to: AnOregonCottage , MsGreenthumbJean, SidewalkShoes, ASouthernGardnener, TheThriftyHome, BlissfulRhythm, HomesteadRevival, thePrairieHomestead

It’s never too early to think ahead to the holiday season! If you celebrate the holidays with the usual things: exchanging cards, gifts and holiday baking it can be very expensive. With a little planning you can enjoy a stress-free holiday without having to pay for it during the following year.

I have a Christmas notebook where I keep track of the gifts we’ve given others and the gifts received. Nothing fancy, just a spiral bound notebook that I use year-to-year.

frugal tip, prudent living

Christmas Notebook

I make notes as to what worked and what didn’t. I also make lists of possible homemade gifts to give. During the year I can glance at my notebook and be thinking of possible gift ideas. Keep a Christmas gift list in your wallet to track what you’ve purchased and for whom.

Here we are just six months before Christmas. This is a good time to take stock of what you have on hand and think about possible gifts ideas for the holidays. Summer is the time for garage sales and yard sales, watch for “new” gifts like small appliances still in their boxes or nice items of clothing with their sales tags still intact. It’s amazing what you can find when you keep your eyes open. Collect stocking stuffers: cosmetic and perfume samples, freebies that come in the mail or any other novelties that come your way.

June is also a great time to find deals for Dads and men in general. Check out razors, aftershave and cologne, grilling tools, golfing and fishing gear. Many of these things will be on sale after Father’s Day. In July you can often find deals on kids’ outdoor games and items such as picnic coolers and recreational gear.

I don’t know about you but I love to give homemade gifts. Here are a few ideas.

Gifts from the Kitchen:  Homemade Vanilla This is very easy and actually takes six months before it is ready to give. By making it now it will be ready for the holiday season. A perfect gift for the bakers you know!

homemade vanilla extract, frugal tip

Homemade Vanilla Extract in the works.

Homemade Jams, jellies and Salsas make a perfect gift, especially for those family members who don’t have a garden of their own.

jam, prudent pantry

Strawberry Fig Jam

One year we gave gift baskets with our own homemade salsa and my husband designed a wonderful label for the salsa.

homemade gifts, salsa

Salsa Label

Homemade granola is also another great idea, one year I packaged up my granola in plastic bags and then put it in a brown paper bag with a decorative label on the outside.

granola, pantry, cereal, homemade

Store granola in an airtight container.

Dog Treats: Don’t forget your doggy friends, I’m sure they would love a gift of dog treats!

homemade dog biscuits, prudent pantry

Finished dog biscuits

Handmade note cards: These can be printed off your own printers or find a source online. Put your favorite photo on the cover or use some artwork from your children. I realize not many people write letters anymore but a little notecard is always handy to have.

homemade gifts, prudent living

Handmade note cards

As we get closer to the holiday season I will share more ideas. Perhaps this will help you to think ahead. In addition to keeping your holidays calm and cost effective, buying presents during the year helps you to be more thoughtful of others. You can find gifts that your family and friends will truly enjoy and use.

Linked to: LearningTheFrugalLife, RaisingHomemakers, FrugallySustainable, WeAreThatFamily, EarningMyCape

One special item we inherited from my husband’s grandmother was her Recipe Box. There are many fond memories of meals enjoyed around Gram’s table. I spent several months going through the recipes so that I could create a cookbook for all the extended family members.

cookbooks, recipes, recipe box

Gram’s Recipe Box Cookbook

In going over the various recipes I came upon this recipe, I have to say the name caught my eye! Could it really be better? – I had to try the recipe. Luckily the various ingredients were on hand and we had a potluck party to attend. I knew exactly what I would bring!

Better Than Sex? Cake

1 box of yellow cake mix (without pudding)
½ cup oil
1 cup water
4 eggs

1 20 oz can crushed pineapple
1 cup sugar
Coconut
1 pkg of instant vanilla pudding (small box)

Nuts
Whipped Cream or Cool Whip

Combine the cake mix, oil, water and eggs, and beat for two minutes.

cake, desserts

Cake mix, oil, water & eggs.

Pour into a greased and floured 13 x 9 pan and bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes or until done.

desserts, cakes

Cake before baking.

Poke holes in the warm cake.

dessert, cake

Poke holes in the cake after baking.

Heat the 20 oz can of crushed pineapple with the 1-cup of sugar, stir until the sugar melts. Pour over the cake.

desserts, cakes

Pour pineapple mixture over warm cake.

Sprinkle the cake with a layer of coconut.

cake, fruit, desserts

Sprinkle coconut over pineapple.

Prepare the pudding according to the box directions and pour over the coconut. Prepare the pudding while the cake is baking so the cake is warm when topped.

dessert, cake

Pudding layer goes next.

When cool frost with Whipped Cream and sprinkle with nuts.

dessert, cake

Whipped Cream and Nuts.

I mentioned the cake to a friend of mine and her first response was “does it have chocolate?” After a little online searching I found that there are actually two versions of this recipe and one does indeed have chocolate. However this is the version that was in Gram’s Recipe Box and it has pineapple not chocolate. The name also varies, some people call it “Better Than Sex? Cake” while others call it “Almost Better Than Sex Cake.” I’ll let you decide which name suits this cake best for you. Regardless, it was delicious!

Cakes, Desserts, Recipe Box

Better than Sex? Cake

[hana-code-insert name=’CountryMommaCooks’ /]

Linked to: DesignsbyGollum, NotYourOrdinaryRecipes, SimplySweetHome, HomeMaidSimple, AnnKroeker, MomTrends, ComfyInTheKitchen, JulieJewels1, AtThePicketFence, Stuff-and-Nonsense, Alli-n-Son, TheCountryCook, Sweet-as-Sugar, CountryMommaCooks, SixSistersStuff, MakeAheadMealsaForBusyMoms, MsHappyHomemaker, TheMorrisTribe, MamlDiane, ItsABlogParty, CrazyForCrust, 33ShadesofGreen, InsideBruCrewLife, Mandy’sRecipeBox, BlessedWithGrace, Nap-Time-Creations, TheKingsCourt4, GingersnapCrafts.
DJsSugarShack , FrugalFollies, EverydayTastes, MizHelensCountryCottage, ALittleNosh, AGlimpseInside, SomethingSwanky, KatherinesCorner, DelightfulDisorder, TheBrambleberryCottage, LifeAsMom, ThesePeasTasteFunny, BizzyBakesb

Before I tell you about this amazing jam recipe I just want to welcome all my new blog readers! I so appreciate you all and love all the comments!  While you’re on the internet be sure to come visit my Facebook page, On The Home Front, I’d love it if you’d “like” my page!

My strawberries are coming in abundantly this year! They may be small but they are bursting with flavor.

jam, berries

Strawberries!

I wasn’t going to make any more jam but this recipe caught my eye. It’s another one from the book Small Batch Preserving. They said, “This jam is so good it disappears from the shelf. The fresh figs lend an amazing texture and taste to the strawberries. Be sure to make as much of it as jar and cupboard space allow whenever you can get your hands on fresh figs.”

jam, fruit, prudent pantry

Fresh figs

Fresh Fig and Strawberry Jam

1 lb fresh green figs, stemmed and cut into small pieces
2 cups quartered strawberries
2 cups sugar
3 Tbsp lemon juice

Place figs, strawberries, sugar and lemon juice in a medium stainless steel saucepan. Cover and let stand for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.

prudent pantry, jam

Strawberries, figs, sugar and lemon juice.

Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce heat to medium and boil rapidly, uncovered until the mixture forms a gel, about 15 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat.

Ladle into sterilized jars and process in a water bath canner for 5 minutes.

jam, strawberries, figs

Ladle into sterilized jars.

As far as I know we can’t grow figs here in Vermont but my local Farmers Market had some so I decided to give this recipe a try. Am I ever glad I did, this jam is to die for! I doubled the recipe and canned it in small jars, perfect for gift giving and enjoying!

jam, prudent pantry

Strawberry Fig Jam

jam, strawberry-fig

This jam is absolutely delicious!

Linked to: FemineAdvendtures, EverydayTastes, MizHelensCountryCottage, AGlimpseInside, SomethingSwanky, KatherinesCorner, DelightfulOrder, Kadie-SevenAlive, BlissfulRhythm, TheBrambleberryCottage, LittleHouseInTheSuburbs, LauraWilliamsMusings, DeborahJeanDandelionHouse, LilSuburbanHomestead, HomesteadRevival, ThePrairieHomestead, RaisingArrows, OurDelightfulHome, RealFoodForager, KellytheKitchenKop, GodsGrowingGarden

I love to garden and I love my gardening tools! I have a few favorite tools that make the job of weeding so much easier! I thought I would share my favorites with you!

Wheelbarrow
My garden is a walk from the house and the wheelbarrow is the perfect “tool” to carry everything in! I love the small size of this wheelbarrow, when it is full of rocks from the garden I can actually empty it without any problem. It seems I am always pulling rocks from the garden here in Vermont, even after working the soil for ten years!

gardening, garden tools

Trusty wheelbarrow

White Bucket
This bucket has so many uses; I use it to carry all my tools in. I can also turn it over and sit on it when I am weeding.

gardening, tools

White Bucket

Or I can fill it with weeds to feed to the chickens! The chickens are so used to getting goodies out of the white bucket, when they see me coming they all come running!

chickens, hens

Curious Chickens!

weeding tools

Small gardening hand tools.

Weeding Tools
These weeding tools are the tools I use all the time! I have an abundance of weeds and these tools are invaluable!  One website called the narrow one on the left a Cape Cod Weeder. It works well for edging a garden bed as well.  The wider one on the right is perfect for those really suborn weeds. It is called a Korean Weeder. It was a gift from my aunt and uncle and I think of them every time I use it. The third tool in the middle is a small cultivator, in fact I think it was actually a tool my mother passed along to me. It’s perfect for cultivating the soil around your plants. I have a long handled version as well, which is perfect for those days when you just don’t feel like getting down on your hands and knees!

tools, garden

Long handled Gardening Tools.

Hoe
Every gardener needs a hoe! It has so many uses from cultivating the soil to planting. I often use the edge of it to make rows to plant my seeds.

Gardeners Supply, gardening

Kneeling pad

Kneeling Pad
As I get older I appreciate having a kneeling pad more and more! It gives my knees a little break and makes the hard ground just a little more comfortable! It has also been used for various other projects such as sanding the deck! this one came from Gardener’s Supply and I’ve had it forever!

Gloves
I don’t mind working in the dirt without gloves but when I wear gloves I have two favorites. One pair is made of leather and is from the company WomansWork, they are designed for women’s hands and last for ever!

gardening gloves

Woman’s Work Gloves

They are heavy duty so they are perfect for projects that are a little harder on my gloves, like stacking wood!

wood, heat

Chopped wood

My other pair of gloves I picked up at the hardware store, nothing fancy but leather on one side and breathable fabric on the other. I usually wear out my gloves and have to pick up a new pair each year. This pair seems to be working really well plus I love the color!

gloves, gardening

Gardening Gloves

I have other tools hanging in our garage but these are my favorite! They help to make my time in the garden just a bit more productive!

Linked to: AnOregonCottage, MsGreenThumbJean, ASouthernDayDreamer, SideWalkShoes, TootsieTime, NoOrdinaryHomestead

 

 

It’s been some time since I made a batch of homemade dog biscuits. With only one dog, Riley,

dogs, dog biscuits, frugal tips

Riley, the Boston Terrier

in the house now we’re just not going through the dog biscuits as quickly. However Riley does enjoy her evening treat and we were getting down to the last few biscuits so I decided to try another recipe. This recipe is from the website Bullwinkle.com. They have a large assortment of recipes and I decided to try the homemade dog treat recipe for “Good Dog” cookies. Riley was very interested as I was mixing up the dough.

homemade dog treats, Boston Terriers

Cutting out the dog biscuits.

The dough was a lot stickier than my previous recipe I used. I did alter the recipe just a s bit as I wasn’t sure what “Baby Food Meat” was! I used two small jars of Baby Turkey Dinner. The recipe also didn’t make as many as my previous recipe so I’ll be making more soon. However judging from Riley’s reaction they were a hit!

dog treat, frugal tip

Enjoying a treat!

Homemade Dog Treat Recipe “Good Dog” Cookies

½ cup powdered milk
1 egg, well beaten
2 ½ cups flour
½ tsp garlic salt
1 ½ tsp brown sugar
½ cup water
6 Tbsp gravy
Baby Food Meat

Mix all ingredients well. Roll out on a floured board about ½” thick. Cut out cookies shapes with floured cutters.

dog cookies, dog treats

Cutting dog treat shapes.

dog treats, prudent living

Dog Biscuits

Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes.

frugal tips, dog biscuits

Before Baking.

Cool, maybe leaving them in the oven to dry. Cookies should be hard.

dogs, treats, homemade

After Baking.

Store in an airtight container.

Linked to: LearningTheFrugalLife, FrugallySustainable, TheThriftyHome, EarningMyCape, HomemakersChallenge

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