Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Buying Out of Season

As we light another fire in our fireplace, I am reminded of the cost savings of making purchases out of season. While the firewood is left over from the last cord of wood purchased last year, the fire starter was purchased last summer on clearance when the thought of starting a fire was the furthest thought in my mind. A 20 pack of starter cost me $4.75 package, which translates into approximately a quarter to light each fire. These starters retail for $8.00 per box in season. I purchased enough boxes to last us through the winter.

Which reminds me that I saw canning lids on clearance at the supermarket before Christmas, so I need to go get some before they sell out, as I am planning a larger vegetable garden come spring. If you know you will use an item, then buying out of season is the cheapest way to go.
Published with Blogger-droid v1.6.5

Monday, December 6, 2010

Christmas Decorations

I grew up in Japan raised by non-religious parents. We were Christians in name only. Although I was given Christmas presents as a child, I chose the present in advance and we never had Christmas trees with the exception  of one year when my parents decided to host a Christmas party for some friends.  When I was grown up and living in the U.S., I never decorated my apartment for Christmas.  I was single, so what was the point?

After my husband and I were married, we were almost immediately separated for about 5 months when he had to go for extended training to prepare for his new job.  I had to move to San Diego alone and find our new apartment.  He was due to come home 3 days before Christmas.  His one request for the new apartment was for a decorated Christmas tree. 

I remember scrimping and saving to buy ornaments for that tree.  Those were the days when Christmas decorations never were on sale until after Christmas, so everything seemed so expensive.  Now that I look back, I don't know how I even managed to get the tree decorated, but I somehow did.  It was all decked out in plastic icicles and angels and white lights.  It was beautiful.  It made my husband very happy to see it as he walked in the door the night he "returned" to his new apartment for the first time. 

Over the years, we continued to amass an assortment of Christmas decorations. purchased for the most part at after-Christmas sales.  Even so, I suspect we have spent a small fortune.  It has gotten to the point that we have too much "stuff" to use it all in any given year.  Still, Christmas decorations are hard to pass up if the price is right. Nowadays, I don't even take a second glance at anything retail and limit myself to items in thrift stores.  This year so far, my outlay has been $17.00. I spent $1.99 for a miniature tree to place on top of the fireplace mantle next to our Santa figure, $4.99 for a wreath to hang next to our front door, and $10.00 for two rolls of wide red ribbons to wrap four columns on our front porch to make them look like candy canes.  OK, the ribbon was purchased retail, but only because I knew I could not find them otherwise.  My husband and even the boys like how they turned out.  I don't think I will purchase anything else.  Decorating for Christmas does not have to cost a fortune if you keep your eyes and mind open!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

When Life Gives You Oranges

We have an orange tree in our yard planted by the previous owners.  Last year, the tree only had 4-5 fruits on it, but this year, we had a bumper crop.  Just that the oranges were full of seeds making it not palatable to even try to eat them.  But it sure seemed like a waste to let it rot.  So I decided to juice them. . .

Let me tell you what a pain in the you-know-what it was! For one thing, picking them off the tree was a chore in and of itself.  I was a bit apprehensive about getting back on a ladder after my mishap last year.  I did the best I could, then promptly delegated the picking to my 17 year old son. He was not happy, but threatening to cut off his gas money did the trick! ; )  I then started to juice. . . and juice. . . and juice. . .  It was a bitch of a job.  Since I don't have a state-of-the-art juicer, it seemed like I was having to dump the seeds every other minute from my crappy $5 model.  This continued for THREE DAYS! 

After I juiced the oranges, I strained the juice through a mesh strainer to get rid of the pulp and stray seeds. I then bagged the juice in ziptop sandwich bags, placed the bags on a baking sheet to freeze in the freezer.  I'm hoping I will be able to use the juice in recipes and perhaps frozen drinks for my sons at a later date. 

On two of the days, I decided to give another try at making jelly.  Last year's attempt with another fruit ended with the "jelly" not jelling.  Note to self: follow a recipe. Winging it when you have never done something is a waste of time and money.  This time, the jelly jelled, after I read a recipe and found out there is a way of testing whether you have reached the jelling point.  I now have 12 bottles of homemade orange jelly to use at a later date. 

The annoying thing about the whole experience was when, after slaving for three days to "harvest" our oranges, my husband asked me how much a gallon of orange juice cost. When I said, "about five dollars," he quipped to the boys, "hey, your mom just saved me five dollars!"  I could have killed him just then. . .  But the reason I did it was to practice making jelly, so I guess it was still a worthwhile experience.  The jury is still out whether the process will be repeated next year. . .