I Joined a Mushroom Club!

Identified Mushrooms

I’ve been foraging for years, but I’ve always stayed clear of mushrooms. They fascinate me, but they also scare me. There’s just too much room to make a mistake, and I don’t think a book can teach you everything you need to know. Mushrooming is definitely something that you need to learn first-hand from an expert. Or better still, a whole group of experts. And that’s just what I’m doing. My husband and I joined a mushroom club last week, and we went on our first foray over the weekend. [Read more...]

Free Fall Apples

Free Fall Apples

While we were out yardsaling this morning, we passed a house with a GIANT apple tree out front. The ground was absolutely littered with apples, so we decided to stop and ask if we could pick some. An elderly man answered the door, and told us we were welcome to as many as we wanted. He said someone else had just gathered some, so we might not find many, but that we could come back whenever we wanted. Score!

We rounded up a few pounds of good apples …

Chickens Eating Apples

and a few more pounds of blemished apples for our chickens (as you can see, they approved).

These are a tart keeping apples, so they’re perfect for long-term storage, and the tree is absolutely covered with them. Looks like we’ll be doing a daily tree check for the next couple weeks. Gotta love free food!

Vegetable Blanching Times Chart

Vegetable Blanching Times Chart

Freezing vegetables while they’re in season is a smart move that can save you a ton of money. And it happens to be really easy, too. Just chop your vegetables into whatever size you want; blanch them to preserve their quality; then, cool them off in an ice water bath, and pop them in the freezer.

Not sure what blanching is? While it sounds really fancy and complicated, it’s nothing more than submerging vegetables in boiling water to stop the enzyme processes that cause them to go bad. Different vegetables have different blanching times, so I put together a chart to help you keep them all straight. I plan to stick mine on the side of the fridge for easy reference. And this time of year, I’ll be looking at it A LOT.

Want to add a copy of my vegetable blanching chart to your fridge or recipe book? Get it here.

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How I Cut My Printing Costs

This is the story of how I got tired of feeling ripped off by the cost of printer ink, and finally did something about it.

Problem:

HP Printer

The HP printer that I had been using for the past several years burned through cartridges quickly. The black cartridge was supposed to be good for 200 prints, and the color cartridge was supposed to be good for 165. I say “supposed to” because I don’t think I ever came close to that number when I was printing in color.

Being an ink jet printer, it was programmed to use color ink – even when printing in black and white. I would go into the printer settings every time I had something to print, and change the setting to black ink only, and every time I would be annoyed that there wasn’t a way to make that the default setting. Clearly this was all a game to use more ink, and I wasn’t winning.

Each time I printed a coupon, I would wonder if I was really saving money by doing so. A couple of the coupon sites that I frequent send coupons straight to your printer, which means those coupons were being printed with color ink. Super frustrating, and I was powerless to do anything about it.

My breaking point came when I burned through a brand new color cartridge in a single day! I was working on a couple projects at the time, but I really hadn’t printed very many pages. In that moment, it became painfully clear just how short of their 165-page claim the cartridges were coming. It was time to move on.

My Solution:

For years, I’d heard [Read more...]

How to Dress for Blackberry Picking

Blackberry picking – it’s no beauty pageant. If you want to have a good time doing it, you have to dress for the occasion, and that means leaving your house in a crazy get up. If your neighbor’s don’t raise an eyebrow when they see you heading out, you’re doing something wrong. It’s as simple as that.

Over the years, I’ve perfected my blackberry picking look. It isn’t pretty, but it does a good job of protecting my family from the thorns, chiggers, ticks and poison ivy. My youngest daughter was kind enough to model it for you (quite generous given her fashionista tendencies). I now present, the key ingredients to a good blackberry picking outfit:

Galoshes

Long pants and tall boots are a blackberry-picking must. They’ll protect you from chiggers, ticks and poison ivy, too. I recommend a pair of galoshes. They’re tall enough to tuck your pants into.

Blackberry Picking Sleeves

Wild blackberry canes are thorny, and you’re bound to get a few pokes and scratches along the way. Protect your arms with a long-sleeved shirt or make yourself a pair of blackberry-picking sleeves out of an old pair of cotton tights. Just cut the top and feet off of your tights, and you’ll be left with a set of sleeves. These are great because they allow you to wear a short-sleeve shirt, and they’re thicker (read: better protection) than most shirt sleeves. The elastic in the tights ensures that they stay in place while you pick. I consider these a must-have accessory for kids, but it wouldn’t hurt to make yourself a pair, too.

My husband also likes to wear a glove on his left hand (he’s a righty). This allows him to grab a briar with one hand, while he picks the berries off of it with his other hand.

Baseball Cap

A good hat is my final must-have accessory. It helps to keep the ticks off, and provides some much-needed protection from the sun.

John Deere Hat

Bonus points if it’s a John Deere hat :)

Once you get home from picking, I’d also recommend jumping straight in the shower to wash off any bugs or poison ivy oils that may be hanging out on your skin. An ounce of prevention, and all that good stuff.

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