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My husband has been been drinking almond milk for the last year. I was able to buy some raw, organic almonds through our local co-op and decided to try making our own Almond Milk at home. I was able to find numerous recipes online. The ingredients are simple: pure, filtered water and one cup of raw, organic almonds.

Almonds

Almonds

The first step was to soak the almonds in the water at least overnight but up to 48 hours. I placed the almonds in a bowl and put them in the refrigerator.

Soak almonds in water

Soak almonds in water

After soaking the almonds they are drained and the water is tossed. I placed the soaked almonds in my blender with four cups of water.

Place water and almonds in your blender.

Place water and almonds in your blender.

Blend until frothy.

Blend until frothy

Blend until frothy

Then pour the contents of the blender through a cheesecloth-lined strainer; I used the bag I use for making jelly.

Drain liquid from almond pulp

Drain liquid from almond pulp

Once the liquid has drained through give the bag a squeeze to get every last bit! Just like store bought almond milk this should also be stored in the refrigerator. Use it up in three days and give the jar a shake before each use. Easy!

frugal, prudent

Almond Milk

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Gardening and reading are two of my favorite occupations. I saw this poster online the other day and I though it was perfect.

If you have a garden...

If you have a garden…

Going through my gardening books I pulled out eight of my favorite books. As you can see some of them are well loved.

Gardening, Books, prudent living

8 Favorite Gardening Books

Taylor’s Guide to Perennials and Taylor’s Guide to Annuals. I actually have a whole series of these books but there two are my favorites. Both are filled with excellent cultural information and wonderful photographs. The photographs are arranged by color, which I find very helpful, especially if you want to try and identify a flower.

Taylor’s Guides

Taylor’s Guides

Let It Rot! By Stu Cambell – Years ago I took a Master composting class from the University of Connecticut. This book was highly recommended at the time. It has been republished and is now in the third edition. Teaches gardeners how to recycle waste to create soil-nourishing compost. Also contains advice for starting and maintaining a compost system, building bins and using compost. If you’re not composting yet this is a great book to help you get started.

The Well-Tended Perennial Garden by Tracy DiSabato-Aust This is one of the most useful tools a gardener can have. It gives you clear advice on taking care of your perennial garden from deadheading, pinching, cutting back, thinning and deadleafing. If you follow the advice in this book your garden will reward you with beautiful blooms all season.

Dick Raymond’s Gardening Year and The New Victory Garden both books are very similar and set up according to the month. I find it very useful to follow as you can just read the section relating to what month it is. These books guide you through step by step from planting to harvest.

Both books are arranged by the month.

Both books are arranged by the month

Are you interested in learning how to garden year round? Since our growing season is so short here in Vermont this book has provided me with good advice on extending our season. Four Season Harvest by Eliot Coleman introduces techniques that the North American gardener can use to extend their growing season. Coleman has been successful in using cold frames and plastic covered tunnel greenhouses without any supplementary heat to produce fresh produce all through the winter. He is a true inspiration.

Seed saving is something I have just started to do. As we find our favorite plants no longer available in the local nurseries saving our own seeds is one thing we can learn how to do to make sure was can grow exactly the variety that we want to. Seed to Seed by Suzanne Ashworth contains detailed information about saving seeds including the population size, isolation techniques and the proper methods for harvesting, drying and storing your seeds. It’s a wonderful book that will tell you everything you need to know about saving and keeping your own seeds.

Be inspired to garden year round or save your seeds.

Be inspired to garden year round or save your seeds.

These are just a few of the many books in my gardening library, but they are my favorites. Do you have any favorite books on gardening in your library?

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Did you know that by law you are entitled to one free copy of your Credit Report for each of the three big credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion). They will fulfill that obligation, at no charge – but only if you order from the right web site. Log onto the wrong one, and you may wind up paying for costly services.

Image representing TransUnion as depicted in C...

TransUnion, one of the three credit reporting companies

The site you want to go to is AnnualCreditReport.com; there you can order free reports from all three of the bureaus (or if you’d rather you can call, toll-free 877-322-8228). Be careful because there are other sites with similar sounding names, like Freecreditreport.com, that attract customers with the promise of a free report but then push fee-based services like identity theft insurance or credit monitoring at a monthly cost that can range from $9.95 to $29.95! The credit bureau sites also try to sell you these services.

Image representing Experian as depicted in Cru...

Experian, another creit reporting service

You may decide to purchase these services, monitoring does alert you to unusual activity on your credit report but you can also uses your credit reports and do your own monitoring. What I do is every four months I request a free report from a different bureau. That way I can find any mistakes that might affect my credit score. If you do find something wrong it’s up to you to contact the bureau and clear it up.

Image representing Equifax as depicted in Crun...

Equifax, the third credit reporting service.

Keeping an eye on your finances is a good idea and requesting your free credit report is a good place to start.

Keep an eye on your finances!

Keep an eye on your finances!

I love lentils just about any way you can eat them. During the colder months I enjoy this delicious lentil soup. It freezes well and I often use the soup as a basis to make other soups. It’s easy to make although you do need to allow time to cook the lentils! I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Lentil Soup

1 pound lentils
¼ pounds bacon, diced and cooked
½ cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped celery and leaves
1 clove garlic, chopped
¼ cup chopped red pepper
1 bay leaf
1 tsp sugar (optional)
¼ tsp thyme
2 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp flour
1 Tbsp lemon juice
Thinly sliced scallions

Wash lentils and soak overnight in water to cover them.

Soak lentils

Soak lentils

Drain soaking water and place lentils in a large soup pot. Add 2 ½ quarts of water. Add bacon to pot. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer for 2 ½ hours. Add chopped vegetables, garlic, bay leaf, sugar and thyme to the pot.

Add chopped vegetables to the pot.

Add chopped vegetables to the pot.

Simmer for another 1 to 1 ½ hours.

If you prefer a smooth soup use an immersion blender to puree the soup. Remove bay leaf before pureeing. Heat butter and blend in flour. Add some of the hot soup mixture to the butter and then return to the soup, stir until thickened. Stir in lemon juice. Serve, sprinkling the sliced scallions as a garnish.

soup, prudent living

Lentil Soup

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As I mentioned last week organization in your pantry is a two step process. Once you have cleaned out your pantry and put like items together it is a good idea to have some sort of inventory of what exactly is in your pantry. Knowing what you have on hand you can save yourself time and money. How frustrating is it to go to the store and buy a few items only to come home and find those items already in your cupboard!

I haven’t found the perfect system yet. I started with a notebook but have since changed to keeping a list on my computer. I write down the item that I have in the pantry and have a line next to each item. Periodically I’ll go down to take inventory and recount how many items on are on hand. I keep the list in the pantry so that I can mark off when we use an item.

pantry, prudent living

Pantry Inventory

I use the same method for keeping track of what’s in my freezer as well. Once or twice a year I will empty my freezer and write down what was in there. I keep a copy on my computer and a copy in the kitchen. When I take something out I make a notation. I find this especially handy as we purchase our beef and pork from a local farmer and I want to make sure we use up what we have purchased!

pantry, prudent living

Freezer inventory

In my spice cabinet I write the date I purchased the spices on the bottom of the jar, unless it is a jar I refill in which case I will write the date it was refilled. I have found this helps me quite a bit. When I do my cleaning of the spice cabinet I can check quickly and see how long something has been in the cupboard.

pantry, prudent living

Date your spices

Keeping a shopping list on the refrigerator also helps me to stay on top of what I need to purchase. When we use something up I immediately write it down. Before I head to the store I double check my pantry list to make sure we need it.

There are numerous print outs you can find online and even apps you can buy for your smart phone to help you stay organized. There are even apps where you can scan the barcodes on items to make a list. If you use an app to stay organized please leave a comment and share what you use. I’m always looking for ways to improve my system! There are also books you can buy to help you be more organized. Organizing From the Inside Out by Julie Morgenstern has some wonderful ideas for organizing your kitchen.

organization, prudent living

One of the many books on organizing.

It doesn’t matter how you keep track of the items in your pantry but you will find that keeping track of your pantry items will save you both time and money!

An Organized Pantry

An Organized Pantry

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In February my garden is covered with snow, the hills are white and there is little color anywhere.

Recently we went to Billings Farm and Museum with some friends. I love visiting Billings Farm; it is a working farm with numerous animals and an operational farmhouse run as it was run in 1890. It was a beautiful day. Shadows made patterns on the fresh snow.

Billings Farm & Museum

Billings Farm & Museum

The light was absolutely beautiful in the farmhouse as it reflected off the pantry shelves.

The farmhouse pantry

The farmhouse pantry

Molasses cookies had just been made and their scent filled the kitchen with good smells.

Fresh baked cookies

Fresh baked cookies

Apples hung on a string, waiting to be used in an apple pie.

Apples dried on a string

Apples dried on a string

Trees reflect in the antique glass.

Relections

Relections

The world may have been cold and white outside but inside there was life in the plants that framed the window.

Farmhouse window

Farmhouse window

Containers sat on the counter waiting to be filled with fresh butter.

Containers for butter

Containers for butter

My garden may be covered with snow but there is beauty everywhere.

garden, Vermont

Beauty

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