Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for March, 2009

Our 72-Hour kits have been on my mind lately.  We had a storm pass through recently.  We didn’t need our 72-Hour kits.  We didn’t even get them out, although we did ask each other if we needed them.  Last month, we knew of some people (and their neighbors) who lost their home to a wildfire.  When I was told of their loss, the person telling me said that they didn’t even have a toothbrush.  If only they had prepared 72-Hour kits!  Thus, I wanted to make sure that our 72-Hour kits would have enough things to keep us somewhat “comfortable” if we ever needed them.  I knew that they wouldn’t put us in the lap of luxury, but at least they would satisfy some basic needs (toothbrush, clean clothes, food).

We have two backpacks for our 72-Hour kits.  Each backpack had bottled water, but one had food and the other had everything else (matches, ponchos, first aid kit, etc.).  I really wanted to add a change of clothes for each of us, because it would be helpful to have dry clothes if you got soaking wet or muddy (or just plain stinky after wearing the same clothes for a few days).

First, I emptied the backbacks and sorted everything into two piles.  I split the food and water evenly, included a set of clothes, and tried to split everything else as best as I could.  One backpack has the flashlight, matches, batteries, radio, work gloves, etc..  The other backpack has the toothpaste, first aid kit, mess kit, etc.  Both have a poncho, an emergency blanket, a toothbrush, Kleenex, toilet paper, etc.  I made a list of contents for each backpack and put that in the front pocket.  I used a piece of duck tape to label our names on the outside of each backpack, along with, “Always take both packs.”  That way, you wouldn’t just take the one with your name on it and be without a pocketknife (because it was in the other backpack).

add-to-website-21

Dust masks, mess kit, toothbrushes, clothes, AM/FM radio, etc. This is a pic from before I split everything into two groups, one for each backpack.

I sorted the food into each day's meals and then put them in 3 baggies.

I sorted the food into each day's meals and then put them in 3 baggies.

These are the 3 days worth of food for one person.  I’m tempted to add more chocolate…  I’ve got a bowl of instant oatmeal for the first day.  After that, I have instant oatmeal packets, assuming that you would reuse the bowl from the first day.  These meals can either be eaten cold or put in the microwave, with or without water added.  I’ll check the food in about 6 months to replace anything that will be expiring soon.  Today, I replaced the granola bars with fresh ones.  I’ll eat the ones I took from the kit this week.

The water bottles are in zip bags to keep them from falling all over the place.

The water bottles are in zip bags to keep them from falling all over the place.

To see the post from when I first made my 72-Hour and Emergency Car Kits, please click here.  After originally making my Emergency Car Kit (with the backpack in the post listed in the previous sentence), I found a carry-on suitcase (small and cute) to use instead.  That way, I was able to use the backpack for one of our 72-Hour kits.

I’ve definitely been replacing the water bottles in my car kit on a regular basis, because I often take them out to drink!  There was a time recently when my friend M. and I needed a flashlight.  We were going to go hiking and wanted to take it with us, in case we were still out hiking past sunset.  We searched the car, including the emergency car kit, but couldn’t find a flashlight.  I told myself either my husband or I must have taken it out of the car at some point.  A few days later, I found it in the glove compartment.  Oops.  When I later added water to my car kit, I found that I had written, on my car kit’s inventory list (which I put in the small pocket of the car kit bag), that the flashlight was kept in the glove box.  Oops.

Read Full Post »

Making Sushi

In an effort not to go bankrupt from buying sushi everyday, I decided to take action and go about things the Learning to be Frugal way.  I decided to make my own sushi at home.

As a bit of a background, I’ve only taken to liking sushi sometime in the past year.  I love Philly rolls, which have smoked salmon or crab meat, avocado, and cream cheese.  Mmm, cream cheese.  As many of you know, sushi can cost $5 – $8 for 6-12 rolls at a sushi restaurant or grocery store.  I’m blessed with an abundance of sushi locations in my neighborhood.  I can count 6-7 off the top of my head, all within a 10 minute drive from where I live.  Ahhh, sushi.

In addition to my love of sushi, I’ve noticed that my students absoutely love it as well.  At snack or lunch time, the sushi comes out.  Kids ask if they can keep their sushi in my mini-fridge until lunch time.  My students bring seaweed to share at snack time, and I’ve even spotted them passing sheets of seaweed around like you would pass notes during lessons.  It’s quite adorable, if you ask me.

Therefore, to keep myself from going broke, I decided to try my hand at making sushi at home.  That way, I would be able to eat it everyday until I got sick of it.  I invited my good friend, M., over to help.

On the way home from work, I had purchased:

  • rice vinegar
  • a sushi mat
  • sushi rice
  • crab meat strips
  • one avocado
  • one block fat free cream cheese
  • seaweed sheets

These ingredients (and the sushi mat) cost $18, which is just slightly more that I pay for two days’ worth of sushi from the grocery store.  (We ended up making about 4-5 days worth of sushi, and I still had rice, vinegar, cream cheese, and crab leftover for more sushi.)

First, we sliced the avocado and cream cheese.  I covered the sushi mat with plastic wrap, and prepared the rice.  For the rice, I used Alton Brown’s recipe.  (I had also watched a fantastic video of him making rice, watched a Sushi Throwdown episode with Bobby Flay, and closely observed the sushi chef making my sushi at the grocery store.)

For Alton Brown’s recipe, we cooked the rice, heated the vinegar/sugar/salt, cut the vinegar mixture into the rice, and then let it cool to room temperature.  If you use Alton Brown’s recipe and you use regular salt instead of Kosher salt, use less salt than what the recipe calls for, because Kosher salt is bigger than regular salt!

For our first set of sushi, we tried putting the rice on the outside.  That went well, but our fillings were too big.  Thus, our sushi was huge and took two bites to eat.  Plus, the fillings kept coming out.

add-to-website-11Sushi ingredients: rice, crab, cream cheese, avocado
Add rice (wet hands are best)

Add rice (wet hands are best)

Flip over and add ingredients on top (thinner slices are better)

Flip over and add ingredients on top (thinner slices are better)

Roll up and slice (use a very sharp knife)

Roll up and slice (use a very sharp knife)

First homemade sushi, ever (very overstuffed, too)

First homemade sushi, ever (very overstuffed, too)

After we each tried a round of sushi, we decided to slice the crab in half lengthwise and not overlap any ingredients.  Our knife wasn’t sharp enough, so we tried a serrated one, which was much worse.  We did find that having wet hands helps you to spread the rice easier.  The sushi is also smaller if you don’t spread too much rice on the seaweed.

For the second round of sushi, we decided to keep the rice on the inside.

Thinner slices with no overlap this time

Thinner slices with no overlap this time

Rollin', rollin', rollin'....

Rollin', rollin', rollin'....

Round 2 sushi is smaller and better formed

Round 2 sushi is smaller and better formed

Yummy!!!

Yummy!!!

We made the sushi on Friday and still had some leftover on Monday.  Hooray for being frugal and making sushi at home!

Read Full Post »

Menu Plan Monday

I’m writing this post on Sunday, and I’ve already got half of what I had planned to make prepared.  I’ve had to add more items to my menu this week.  Lately, I’ve been planning my menu, cooking half of it, and stopping by the store for ready-made food.  To be honest, I did a few sushi runs last week, which led to making my own sushi, but that’s another story.  Here is my menu, including the items I made earlier this afternoon (meatloaf and cheeseburgers).  I may add additional dishes, such as chicken noodle soup or chicken pot pie.  Lately, it’s been cook-what-you feel-like, spur-of-the-moment after getting home from work.
Menu for the week of March 30:

  • Spaghetti with ground beef
  • Garlic breadsticks
  • Salad (From my garden!!!!)
  • Fresh fruit
  • Turkey/beef meatloaf
  • Roasted potatoes
  • Veggies
  • Salad
  • Bun-less cheeseburgers
  • Veggies
  • Salad
  • Pan-fried ham slices
  • Mac & Cheese
  • Veggies
  • Salad

For more menu ideas, go to orgjunkie.com.

Read Full Post »

Garden Lettuce

I’ve been getting quite a bit of lettuce from my garden.  I prefer romaine, and I’ve attempted (twice) to plant more from seeds.  I know it’s more expensive, but I definitely prefer transplants to seeds.

website-011

Here is a shrimp salad I made with lettuce from my garden.

website-02

Read Full Post »

Here are some pictures of the bulbs and snapdragons that I planted in the fall.  They’re blooming very nicely now.

flowers-1

flowers-2

flowers-4

flowers-5

flowers-6

flowers-7

Read Full Post »

Menu Plan Monday

This week, my goal is to eat meals from my home food storage.  I want each meal to be made from items I already have in my pantry and freezer.  I also want many of the meals to be ones that my husband can get started on while I’m at work on days that I have to work late.  Last week, for example, my sweet husband got the chicken in the oven, and I was able to immediately get chicken noodle soup started once I got home.  He saved me the step of pre-cooking the chicken.
Menu for the week of March 9:

  • Spaghetti with ground beef
  • Garlic breadsticks
  • Salad (From my garden!!!!)
  • Fresh fruit
  • Chicken pot pie
  • Steamed vegetables with garlic powder
  • Salad
  • Fresh fruit
  • Breaded tilapia
  • Mac & cheese
  • Raw carrots
  • Salad
  • Cumin-Rubbed Pork Roast
  • Potatoes
  • Veggies
  • Salad

For more menu ideas, go to orgjunkie.com.

Read Full Post »

Last weekend, I built a second square-foot gardening box (Click for details: Post 1 and Post 2).  I filled it with a variety of veggie transplants and seeds.  The seeds haven’t had a chance to come up yet, although I spied the beginnings of potato plants beginning to push up the soil in their effort to show themselves.

Here is a pic of the two garden boxes with critter cages:

website-27

My smaller garden box has been going a bit longer.  I’ll be pulling lettuce from it this week.

website-28(Above) On the left, we have a variety of leaf lettuce plants, most of which are romaine.  There is a spinach plant or two hiding near the top, but there’s not much to them right now.  In the middle, we have strawberries, green onions, and onions.  On the right, we have potato plants, all of which came from one potato that I sliced into thirds.  This garden box is 36 in x 30 in and is divided into 9 parts.

website-29

(Above) This is my larger garden box.  It is 4 ft x 4 ft and is divided into 16 squares.  On the left, we have zucchini and potato seeds (not showing yet), as well as marigolds.  In the middle two columns, we have cucumber seeds (top, not showing), bell peppers and a tomato plant, and carrot seeds (one square planted, but not up yet, I’ll plant the other square in a week or two).  On the right, we have another cucumber seed (not showing yet), squash, and marigolds.

Read Full Post »

Swimsuits

I own one swimsuit.  It’s a simple, black, one-piece suit.  I think I got it at Kohl’s a few years ago.  It fits nicely and is just fine for swimming laps at the pool.  But, and let’s get personal here, let’s say I need to use the restroom?  As anyone knows, one-piece swimsuits can be interesting to maneuver when wet from swimming.

This year, I decided to get a two-piece.  Now, I will admit that a bikini is not for me.  That’s right folks, I enjoy eating chocolate, especially in brownies, ice cream, cookies, and chocolate bars.  Thus, it was the tankini for me.

If I were to go to a regular retail store in my area, I would find an abundance of tankinis that would not cover my tummy if I were to lift my arms in the air.  So, I decided to check out some modest clothing websites. I found many halter tankinis, which I did not want to get.  I didn’t like the idea of having straps around the back of my neck.  Also, I didn’t want to risk having a tied strap come untied at the pool.  I looked for suits with shoulder straps instead.

After much research, I ordered a beautiful tankini from Lime Ricki.  Here’s a picture:

ginger_front_medium

The Lime Ricki website was very clear to point out that you needed to order a size larger than you normally do, which I did.  Still, I misjudged my size and the suit was too tight, especially at the armholes (they dug in).  In addition, the swimsuit bottoms had a 2-inch panel that was really just a double layer of fabric.  It had no reinforcement to keep it from rolling down under the power of my tummy.  Thus, my tummy won and didn’t stay covered when I raised my arms.  I’m sure that the next size up would have fit, but the lack of tummy control in the swim bottoms bothered me.

Thus, I returned the beautiful suit and started up my research again.

I then ordered a swimsuit from Shade Clothing.  The straps are skinnier and the neckline is a v-neck.  I read on someone’s blog that the swim bottoms have a 4-inch panel that holds in the tummy roll.  I’m hopeful that it will fit.  If not, back it goes and I’ll start up the research again.  Remember, this suit is for swimming laps (training for triathlons), not sitting out in the sun.  When I’m not in the pool, I like to stay modestly covered.  Can you say t-shirt, shorts, hat, and lots of sunscreen?  Here’s a picture:

subw

Read Full Post »

Menu Plan Monday

I’ve been doing better at shopping.  I try to buy on sale in bulk, so I’m not purchasing as much.  I’ll be able to start taking a bit of leaf lettuce from my garden this week, which will begin the gradual cut-back on money spent on veggies at the grocery store.  At Costco this past week, I purchased 10 pounds of chicken and 5 pounds of ground beef.  I won’t need to purchase those again for at least a month.  A very sweet friend gave me a box of Kashi TLC granola bars that she didn’t need, so I’m blessed from not having to purchase those this month either!
It’s been two months since I started my sticky note menu calendar, so I’m back to my favorite meals!!!  Remember, I write complete meals on sticky notes that are color-coded by type of meat (pink – beef, orange – poultry, blue – seafood, green – pork).  After I prepare a meal, if I liked it, I move the sticky note two months ahead on my calendar.

Menu for the week of March 2:

  • Meatloaf
  • Mashed Potatoes
  • Onions & Mushrooms
  • Salad
  • Apple Slices
  • Mac & Cheese
  • Turkey Sausage
  • Glazed Carrots
  • Salad
  • Spicy Shrimp
  • Brown Rice
  • Veggies
  • Salad
  • Cumin-Rubbed Pork Roast
  • Potatoes
  • Veggies
  • Salad

For more menu ideas, go to orgjunkie.com.

Read Full Post »

Another Garden Box, Part 2

So far, I’ve worked on the garden box until sunset two evenings in a row.  The raised bed is built, filled with Miracle Grow (I need all the help I can get), and gridded.  I gridded it by stapling garden twine (love that staple gun!) to the wood.  I tied a knot on each end of twine to keep it from slipping under the staples.

The cage (to keep critters out) for the box is complete as well.  I had two, 8-foot sections cut, but got home and found one under and one over cut.  I cut off 8 inches on the longer and used pliars to bend each wire (chicken wire) at the top of the 8 inch piece around the bottom of the shorter chicken wire piece, thus making two, 8-foot long sheets of chicken wire.  Did that make sense?

I laid the two 8-ft sheets cross-wise like a plus sign, raised up the sides (I previously bent the sides two feet from either end), bound the corners with plastic ties, turned the cage right side up and attached it to the wooden frame.  On my last cage, I used ties every few inches to attach the cage to the frame.  This time, I used two ties per side, and then used my handy staple gun to staple the cage to the frame.  Much faster and easier!  I also made sure to attach the cage to the inside of the frame, so that it would have a neat appearance on the outside.  After stapling the cage to the frame, I bent up the pointy bottom edges, so that they didn’t go below the frame and that everything was flush.  Finally, I used some ties at the top of the cage, to hold both sheets of chicken wire together.

See Post 1 and Post 2 about making my previous garden cage.

Today or tomorrow, whenever the weather warms a bit, I’ll start planting my tomatoes, bell peppers, carrots, potatoes, marigolds, cucumbers, and squash.

Read Full Post »