Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Getting the most out of bone-in chicken

Boneless, skinless chicken breasts are great for times when you are in a hurry. They are a convenience item. That said, whenever bone-in chicken breasts are on sale for $0.99 or whole chickens are on sale for $0.59 I scoop up as many as I can fit in my freezer! The things you can do with them are endless. Smoke them, bake them, grill them, fry them, roast them, etc.....

This past Sunday I defrosted a package of bone-in chicken breasts. There were 4 breast halves in the package. I used a filet knife and removed the skin. Then I cut the meat as close to the bone as I could to get as much meat off as possible. After the meat was off the bone I seasoned it and sauteed it in a pan over medium heat with some veggies. The breasts were fairly large and my family of 3 consumed 2 of the breasts for supper that night.

The next day for lunch I cut a leftover breast into small chunks and we ate it on a green salad with almond slices, mandarin oranges, thin sliced onion, and a homemade vinagrette (olive oil, red wine vinegar, orange marmalade, and sugar to taste).

The last breast was used in fried rice with small pieces of chicken, mixed veggies, and egg. Top it off with a good soy sauce and make some egg drop soup (chicken broth, a few veggies thinly sliced - bring to a boil and drop in a couple eggs that have been beaten). Yum!

The bones I simmered on medium - low heat for a couple hours with 2 carrots and 2 celery stalks. After everything simmered and the broth had a nice rich color I strained the chicken and veggies out, saving the broth. I picked off whatever meat was left on the chicken bones and diced the cooked carrots and celery up into very small pieces. I returned the broth, chicken, carrots, and celery to the large sauce pan and added 1 bouillon cube (needed a bit more chicken flavor and some saltiness), some black pepper, and some thin egg noodles. I brought the ingredients to a boil and cooked until the noodles were done. Delicious! (If you had left over fried rice you could make chicken and rice instead.)

The package of 4 breasts had cost $2.84. I got a total of 4 meals out of it. Those 4 meals equaled 11 servings (3 the first night, 2 for salad, 3 for rice, and 3 for soup). That means that the chicken cost about $0.26 per serving. Who can't afford that?!?!?

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

More Uses for White Vinegar

Fill a spray bottle with full strength vinegar and spray on weeds or grass that is growing where you don’t want it too. It will kill all plant life where you spray it, so make sure you don’t spray it anywhere that you don’t want to kill anything that is growing. You may need to apply a few times to effectively kill weeds/grass.

Are you looking to plant acid loving plants like blueberries, rhododendrons, gardenias or azaleas? Add 1 cup of vinegar to a gallon of water and pour into the soil. The vinegar will release iron in the soil for the plants to use.

Want to keep that beautiful bouquet of flowers fresh longer? Add 2 tablespoons sugar and 2 tablespoons white vinegar into a 1-quart vase of water. Trim the stems and change the water every five days.

A teaspoon of white distilled vinegar for each quart bowl of drinking water helps keep your pet free of fleas and ticks.

Use vinegar to help remove the stain and odor of fresh pet urine. (You may want to test the fabric before with a small amount of vinegar to make sure it’s colorfast.) Sprinkle distilled vinegar over the fresh pet accident. Wait a few minutes and blot it with a sponge from the center outward to soak up the urine and vinegar. After most of the moisture seems to have been removed blot it with a dry cloth. This procedure may need to be repeated for stubborn stains.

Wet your stinky dog down with fresh water. Mix 1 cup of white distilled vinegar and 2 gallons water. Pour this solution over your dog; making sure their coat is completely wet with the solution. Dry the dog off without rinsing. The smell will be gone!

How many times do you go to use a paintbrush and it’s become hard and stiff? All you need to do to soften it up is soak the paintbrush in some hot white distilled vinegar. Then wash out with some warm water and dish soap.

Need to clean salt off of your leather shoes? Make a solution water and white vinegar (1:1 ratio). Dip a cloth into the solution, and dab it over the salt-streaked parts of your shoes. (Use sparingly.) You may have to repeat the cleaning process a few times before all the salt is removed. Salt actually can damage leather, so it's best to clean shoes as quickly as possible. Don't let the salt stains build up.

Wash your filthy fireplace with a 1:1 ratio of water and vinegar to remove the blackened soot on glass front doors. You can also use the solution to clean soot off of the brick.

Pour a small amount of white vinegar on a clean cloth. Gently rub the area of lime staining with the cloth until the stain is gone. Test a small are first to ensure no discoloration.

Do you have a DVD that is worn and freezes up on you? Before you throw it away try wiping it down with white distilled vinegar and a soft cloth. Make sure the DVD is completely dry before re-inserting in the DVD player so you don’t ruin your player. This won’t always fix the freezing-up problem with DVD’s, but it’s definitely worth a shot!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Uses for White Vinegar in the Kitchen & Bathroom

One of the cheapest cleaners available is simple white vinegar. Here are some great frugal ideas for you to use in your kitchen and bathroom.

Use white vinegar to wash no-wax floors. Just add ½ cup of white distilled vinegar to a half-gallon of warm water. And you don’t need to rinse!

Mix 1 tsp of white vinegar, 1 teaspoon of liquid detergent, and 1 pint of lukewarm water to remove stains from carpets. Apply the mixture to the stain with a soft brush or clean cotton rag and gently rub. Rinse with a towel moistened with clean water and blot dry. Repeat this procedure until the stain is gone. Then dry quickly, using a fan or hair dryer. This really only works if the stain is not oil based and if the stain isn‘t old.

Wash your windows with a mixture of equal parts of white distilled vinegar and warm water. Dry with a soft cloth. This solution will not leave the usual film or streaks on the glass.

Did you know that you can use a vinegar mixture to clean your woodwork? Well you can! Simply mix 1 cup ammonia, ½ cup white distilled vinegar and ¼ cup baking soda with 1 gallon of warm water. Wipe this solution over woodwork with a clean sponge or cloth and rinse with clear water. Dirt and grime comes off easily and the solution will not dull the painted finish or leave streaks. (You can also use this solution to clean walls and blinds.)

Remove the rings resulting from wet glasses on wood furniture by rubbing with a mixture of equal parts of white distilled vinegar and olive oil. Rub with the grain and polish for the best results.

Freeze vinegar in ice cube trays and run through your garbage disposal with cold water to keep your disposal clean and odor free!

Run white vinegar through your coffee maker to clean it of any mineral deposits that build-up from hard water. Just fill the reservoir with the vinegar and run a complete cycle. Make sure you run a couple cycles of plain water after the vinegar cycle to rinse the reservoir and automatic dripper completely.

Boil a solution of 1/4 cup of white distilled vinegar and 1 cup of water in the microwave. Will loosen splattered on food and deodorize. (Boiling plain water may work if the microwave debris isn’t real bad.)

Wash appliances with a solution of equal parts water and white distilled vinegar.

Looking for a natural way to get rid of ants or fruit flies? Place a bowl filled with ½ quart water, 2 Tbsp. sugar, 2 Tbsp. cider vinegar and a couple of drops of dish soap to attract the fruit flies. To get rid of ants (or keep them away) simply wipe down your cupboards, counters, etc with full strength vinegar. Of course it’s always best if you can eliminate whatever is attracting them, (ripened produce, etc).

To keep your stainless steel appliances clean all you need to do is wipe them down with vinegar and a soft cloth. This will keep them streak-free. (Try in an inconspicuous place first to make sure it will work good on your appliances.)

Use 1 ½ cup to 2 cups white distilled vinegar in the bottom of dishwasher, along with regular dishwasher soap and wash full cycle to keep your glassware streak free.

Bathtub film can be removed by wiping away with full strength white distilled vinegar and then with baking soda paste (mix baking soda with water till it forms paste). Rinse clean with water.
Rub down shower doors with a sponge soaked in full strength white distilled vinegar to remove any soap residue.

Stubborn toilet stains can be removed from the toilet by spraying them with white distilled vinegar and brushing vigorously. You can also deodorize the bathroom by pouring a cup of white vinegar into the toilet and letting it sit for half an hour.

Soak your showerheads in white distilled vinegar overnight or for several hours to loosen debris and hard water build-up.
Check back later this week for more uses for white vinegar!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Everyday Uses for Witch Hazel

A couple months ago I hit the jackpot at our local Walgreens and bought 2 massively huge bottles of Witch Hazel for $2 each. I've been using witch hazel off and on for a year or more as a facial astringent and at $2 it was a deal I couldn't pass up.
The bottle I've been using was less than half the size of the two bottles I bought on clearance. (I've been using the same bottle for that entire time and it's still half full! Talk about an economical staple!) I decided to start doing some research to see what else I could use witch hazel for since I now had an abundance of it and if I would only use as an astringent it would probably last until I'm close to 100. Here are some of the other uses I found for witch hazel.

* Apply Witch hazel to a cotton ball or pad and gently apply to any blemishes to help reduce the inflammation on a pimple.
* Use witch hazel on baby’s bottom if your infant has a rash. Witch hazel will heal the rash quickly.
* Apply witch hazel to hemorrhoids to help soothe the discomfort, itching, pain, & inflammation. If you want something that is more like a cream or gel mix witch hazel with aloe or petroleum jelly before applying to the hemorrhoids.
* Use witch hazel to reduce and soothe bags under your eyes. Pour some witch hazel onto cotton pads or a cold compress and lay or dab on your eyes. (Do NOT pour witch hazel into eyes.) For best results apply a cold compress with witch hazel and let it sit on your eyes for 10 minutes.
* Witch hazel can also be used to soothe and reduce the inflammation from chicken pox.
* Take witch hazel on your next camping trip. Apply it to bug bites, poison oak, and poison ivy for immediate relief from itching and swelling. Just pour some into a trial size shampoo bottle that has been cleaned for easy packing. (Also soothes sunburns! Talk about being multi-purpose!)
* Witch hazel has been rumored to help heal bruises and the discomfort of varicose veins. Apply several times throughout the day for best results. Soak some gauze in witch hazel and wrap it around the problem area.
* Apply witch hazel to areas prone to razor burn (bikini area!!) before and after shaving to help prevent ingrown hairs and itchy redness.
* Witch hazel is supposed to help your skin stay moisturized when applying it immediately after showing. (Moist lotions, oils, etc will give you the most benefit if applied within a few minutes of getting out of the shower/bath.)
* You can use witch hazel to clean and heal cuts. It will help heal the cut quicker and will help protect it from an infection.
* You can also make your own deodorant. I have never tried this but am considering trying it just because - assuming I can find all the items listed without too much trouble. I’m not real sure of using a liquid as deodorant though. I have enough problems with wet arm pits right now as an aftermath of my hysterectomy! Here is the recipe:

1 tsp high proof vodka

10 drops geraniun

10 drops cypress

8 drops bergamon

5 drops neroli

4 drops lavender

3 drops black pepper

4 tbsp (40 ml) witch hazel

2 tbsp (25 ml) cornflower water

2 tbsp (25 ml) orange flower water
1. Measure the vodka into a 4 oz (100 ml) glass bottle with a spray attachment.

2. Carefully add the essential oils, one by one.

3. Shake vigorously to dissolve the essential oils.

4. Pour the witch hazel into the bottle, using a funnel if necessary, followed by the two flower waters. Shake well.

5. Label the bottle and the deodorant is now ready to use.

6. Before you use the deodorant each time, give the bottle a good shake to ensure the essential oils are fully mixed.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

A Source for Gift Cards

I love gift cards. More than that - I love FREE gift cards. Is there anything better? Many stores that have pharmacies offer free gift cards with a value of $10-$25 for a new or transferred prescription. Over the past year I have acquired over $150 in gift cards from Target and our local grocery/pharmacy store. One thing I do recommend though is that you have all the prescriptions for an individual be at ONE pharmacy. The reason for that is because a lot of medications can interact with other meds. If you have prescriptions filled for yourself (or another individual in your family) and you don't fill them at the same pharmacy then pharmacist can't know if you are on something that will interact with the medication you are currently trying to fill.

That said, if you do have multiple pharmacies running a program for free gift cards with a new prescription and you have a second family member that is on medications you can take that persons prescriptions to the 2nd pharmacy to take advantage of their gift card program.

I am currently on 2 medications that I have to take daily. One of these has to be written by the doctor and hand delivered to the pharmacy and had to be filled with a new prescription each month. (No using the new and handy software programs for filling prescriptions with this one!) So I have the potential of earning $120 a year just with this prescription. My daughter is also on 2 prescriptons daily for her allergies.

This last year we saved our gift cards and used them to complete a good portion of our Christmas shopping. Although we did use about $30 worth of them to buy our child's jeans for school.

Sometimes the pharmacies will have printable coupons on their websites, often though the coupon is only in a printed advertisement for them. Some stores that offer gift cards for prescriptions are Target, Shopko, Walgreens, CVS, Hy-vee, Rite Aid, & Kmart. There may be others, these are just the one's that come to mind.

I filled a prescripton today and picked up our first $10 gift card for the new year. This will be put away for Christmas shopping next year. It's never too early to start saving up for Christmas is it?!?

Friday, February 5, 2010

Stock up on Gifts

A couple days ago I had to go to the local Wal-mart to pick up a few things. As I walked to the various departments to find what I needed I noticed many clearance racks throughout the store. What a great time to start picking items needed for gifts throughout the year!

Everything from clothes to toys to household goods were on clearance. I was able to pick up a couple shirts from April for $1 each which will fit her this year and most likely next winter also.

I love to hit huge clearance sales like this. It gives me a chance to replenish my "Oh crap I need a quick gift and don't have time to shop" drawer. I keep a decent variety of items in this drawer for various occasions, along with some wrapping paper, colored bags, tissue paper, and small blank cards. I try to stay away from bags and cards that are occasion-specific so I can use them for ALL occasions. I usually pick up the bags and wrapping after Christmas. Red, green, blue, gold, and silver are top colors at Christmas and are great colors for any occasion and age. I do stay away from anything that looks too Christmas-y. Keep in mind though that you can add stickers and ribbon to your package to make it look less like a gift that was forgotten under the tree.

Here is a list of things that I like to keep on hand: candles, pretty journals or notebooks, spreaders w/ decorative small plates, books (good for various ages), puzzles, coloring books w/ crayons

Toys are one thing that it's pretty hard to stock up on because the "what's hot" toys change constantly. Although you are almost always safe buying Barbies for girls and superhero figures for boys. Another good choice to pick up for your "emergency stash" is games - if you come across a great deal anyway.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Sorry I've been gone

I swore I was going to do better. And really I am going to do better. This last week I've just been under the weather. First I had a sinus infection. Now I have bronchitis. I just started antibiotics today, hopefully tomorrow or the next day I'll feel more like spending some time on the computer.