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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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If you are like me you search for the cheapest price of an item whether you are in a store or online. Once I have found a good price on an item there is one further step I take to make sure there aren’t any other deals I can add in to make the price even cheaper.

amazon.com

Amazon often offers the best prices.

Amazon often offers the best price but did you know that there is a website that lets you find out what the best deals of the day are on Amazon? You can find it on MoneySavingExpert.com. This website has some good advice as well as helping you find the best deals for shopping on Amazon.

Another site I check out is RetailMeNot.com. There you will find more than 400,000 coupon codes for more than 100,000 retailers. There is even a tool you can add to your Web browser that alerts you if you’re shopping at a site for which there’s a code. I find that this site is always worth taking a few minutes to check out, even if it’s just to get free shipping.

Retailmenot.com

Retailmenot.com

PromotionalCodes.com is similar to RetailMeNot.com. They have thousands of codes for popular retailers, many of them originally uploaded by customers who received them by email or snail mail.

Promotionalcodes.com

Promotionalcodes.com

It becomes a game to first find exactly what you want and then to whittle even more money off the price with a quick Web search or two. I check out a handful of sites and rely on them to provide me with codes, if one comes up empty I try another. Sometimes I just Google to see if anyone has a discount code, for example, try a search term like, “discount code Staples”. Many folks say “I never pay retail”, it’s even better to say, “I never pay the sale price”!

Linked to: LearningTheFrugalLife, TALUTuesday. TheThriftyHome, WeAreThatFamily, AdornedFromAbove, TheNYMelroseFamily, EarningMyCape, LearningTheFrugalLife, ThriftyThursday, Thrifty101

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Having an organized pantry will actually save you money by identifying what you’re using, what you’re not using and what you’ve bought in duplicate. It will allow you to take stock of your cooking habits and tells you what you should and should not buy in bulk. Do you have the habit of picking up a box of pasta every time you go to the store only to realize that you don’t eat pasta that often? To do a good job of organizing your pantry give yourself some time, a few hours where you can focus on the task and not be interrupted.

There are two steps in organizing your pantry. The first step involves some work! However you want to find out what is in your pantry and get rid of the items that are expired. Take everything out of the pantry including food, food storage containers and junk or trash that may have accumulated. Dust the pantry, starting with the highest shelf, and then wipe down each shelf one at a time. Be sure to check for cobwebs!

pantry, inventory

Clean shelves

Line up the food items in one space so you can see everything at once. Use your kitchen table or even the floor if you have to. That way you can spot duplicates, spoiled foods and get a general idea of how much space each type of item will need. Check the expiration dates and discard those items that have expired. Ask yourself if you use that item or if it was just an impulse buy. If you don’t use it throw it out! Ask yourself if you like the item? If not throw it out or donate it to a food shelf (if the dates are still good). Organize the like food items for example cans of beans and soups, bottles of oils and vinegar, jars of spices, boxes of grains, boxes of breakfast cereal.

Keep like items together.

Keep like items together.

It may take a little time but you want to have like items near each other. Invest in some boxes and containers to store those spice packets in. Trays, bins or baskets help in maintaining a clutter-free pantry. As you begin to put things back in your pantry be creative – keep all those breakfast cereals on one shelf, preferably on the lowest one, so that your children can easily access them.

organization, pantry, prudent pantry

Cereal kept in containers.

Isn’t it a pleasure to see a pantry closet neat, tidy and clutter free? With all necessary ingredients within one’s reach, cooking is a snap. You can find things, sort them out and even stock up in minutes.

An Organized Pantry

An Organized Pantry

Once your pantry is well organized you will be able to maintain it. What’s the goal of establishing and maintaining a pantry? It’s two-fold: household convenience and protection against unexpected events. A well-planned pantry means the household will never run out of commonly used products such as toilet paper. More importantly, a pantry is a reserve against hard times. Whether it’s job loss, illness, or natural disaster, a pantry ensures that the family will continue to be fed, clean, and comfortable in the face of adversity.

With a well maintained pantry you will be prepared for any event!

With a well maintained pantry you will be prepared for any event!

A beginner’s pantry focuses on convenience and contains back-up products for each storable item used in the home. The standard is simple: for each open bag, box or carton in the household, the pantry contains a second, back-up product; toothbrushes to spaghetti. A good first goal: a three-day supply of food and hygiene supplies adequate to support your family plus one additional person. More robust pantries serve additional goals. A mid-range pantry can feed a family for a period of two weeks to a month in case of emergency. This pantry includes substitutes for fresh foods, such as powdered milk, dried fruits and vegetables, and protein products. This pantry offers convenience and basic protection.

Regardless of what your goal for your pantry is investing in your pantry pays off in savings of time and money. So take stock of your pantry and get organized! The second step is keeping track of what is in your pantry. Now that it is organized you can easily make up a list of the food you have on hand. Stay tuned as I share my tips on staying organized!

I love a full pantry!

I love a full pantry!

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Over the holidays I was introduced to a treat that I will definitely be making again!

cookies, prudent living

Ronda Rolls

We had a houseful over Christmas and our son-in-law’s mother was able to join us which was a real blessing. I enjoyed spending time with Martha  and getting to know her better. It was fun to show her where we live here in Vermont. She is from the west coast!

Not only did I enjoy Martha’s company but she made some awesome cookies for us that were delicious! We even decided that they were good for breakfast as well!

cookies, prudent living

Bakers busy at work!

The recipe is an easy one and I understand they freeze well, although we weren’t able to freeze any as they disappeared quite rapidly!

Ronda Rolls
4 c. flour
1 lb. butter
1 pt. sour cream
1 ½ c. sugar
1 ½ c. ground walnuts
2 tsp. cinnamon

Cut butter into flour until fine. Blend in sour cream and chill overnight. (May mix dough with mixer.) Divide dough into 4 or 5 parts. Roll each into 9 inch circle. Sprinkle with mixture of sugar, nuts, and cinnamon. Cut into 12 to 16 wedges.

cookies, prudent living

Dough all ready to roll the wedges!

Roll from wide end. Bake in 375 degree oven for 25 minutes. Let cool and enjoy!

cookies, prudent living

Ready to enjoy!

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A year ago I had never even heard of Kombucha! What is it? It is a fermented drink made with tea, sugar, bacteria and yeast that is often drunk for medicinal purposes.  Although it’s sometimes referred to as kombucha mushroom tea, kombucha is not a mushroom — it’s a colony of bacteria and yeast. Kombucha tea is made by adding the colony to sugar and tea, and allowing the mix to ferment. The resulting liquid contains vinegar, B vitamins and a number of other chemical compounds. Kombucha originated in Northeast China and later spread to Russia and from there it spread to Germany and Europe.

Kombucha

Kombucha

There are many health claims surrounding kombucha such as increased energy, weight loss, better skin, better digestion, detoxification of toxins and many more. Kombucha’s health claims cannot be truly verified, as is the case for many food items claiming increased health with consumption. Kombucha products are sold as “a dietary supplement” in the United States – not a drug, which would require the companies selling kombucha to formally verify to the FDA its safety and effectiveness against its health claims. Hmm, I certainly do not think kombucha is a “cure-all” as some sites and company’s claim. However it does taste good. I have purchased it from various health food stores in the past and decided to try brewing some at home.

I purchased a Kombucha Tea Starter from Cultures for Health.  The culture has actually been dehydrated. I have been storing it in the refrigerator since it arrived in the mail.

prudent living, prudent pantry

Kombucha Culture

Before beginning I gathered all the materials necessary to rehydrate my kombucha.
*One quart jar
*A plastic or wood-stirring utensil (never let metal come in contact with the culture!)
*A towel or paper coffee filter for covering the jar while brewing
*A rubber band
*One kombucha culture
*Organic loose tea or tea bags. (I am using black tea, which is traditionally used)
*Organic cane sugar
*Distilled white vinegar (acidity of 5%)
*Filtered water

prudent pantry, prudent pantry

Ingredients to re-hyrdate the starter.

The first step was to combine 2 ½-3 cups of hot water and ¼ cup of sugar together in a jar. Mix until the sugar dissolves and then add 2 black tea bags. You can use either black or green tea. Allow the tea to seep and then allow the mixture to cool to room temperature.

prudent living, prudent pantry

Allow the tea to seep in the sugar water.

Remove the tea bags and when the mixture is cool add ½ cup vinegar to the mixture. This is very important to maintain the correct pH of the mixture. Carefully remove your culture from the package and place it in your cool, sweetened tea and vinegar mixture.

prudent living, prudent pantry

Place the culture in the sweetened tea water.

Cover the jar with a towel, coffee filter or cheesecloth and a tight rubber band. Allow the jar to sit undisturbed in a warm (70-85 degree F) and out of direct sunlight for 30 days. During this time the culture will rehydrate. To determine whether my rehydration batch of Kombucha is successful, I need to look for a change in the appearance of the culture, a lower pH, a sharper, more vinegary taste than when it started, and possibly the formation of a new culture. If any of these have occurred, I can then use or discard the batch that I’ve used to rehydrate the culture and transfer the culture into a new cooled solution of sugary tea plus vinegar or some of the liquid from the first batch. This will then become my next batch of Kombucha.

prudent living

Kombucha

So follow with me as I attempt to brew and enjoy my first batch of Kombucha. I’ve completed the rehydration step, now to be patient and see what happens in the next 30 days. Cultures For Health has some excellent videos on the whole process if you are interested in learning more. Click here to watch the vidoes.

Linked to: HomemakersChallenge, LiveRenewed, SimpleLivesThursday

 

 

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