These muffins make a great breakfast when paired with a bowl of fresh strawberries. It's nearly time for fresh local strawberries here in Southern Ontario, and I can't wait to have some with one of these muffins on the side! If you prefer a more "cakey" muffin, you can use all white flour instead of half white and half whole wheat.
Makes 12 muffins
1 cup flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/3 cup sugar
2 tbsp poppyseeds
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup vanilla or plain yogurt
1/4 cup canola oil (or other light vegetable oil)
1 tbsp grated lemon zest
In a medium sized mixing bowl, combine flours, sugar, powder, soda, poppyseeds and salt. In another bowl, combine eggs, yogurt, oil and lemon zest and beat well until thoroughly combined. Gently stir the egg mixture into the flour mixture, stirring just until blended (over-stirring the batter will result in a tough muffin).
Spoon the batter into greased muffin tins, filling each cup about 2/3 full. Bake at 375F for about 20 minutes, or until golden brown on top and tops spring back when lightly touched.
While muffins are baking, prepare lemon glaze:
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup sugar
2 tbsp water
Combine all glaze ingredients in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil; boil for 1 minute then remove from heat.
When the muffins are done, poke the top of each muffin several times with a fork. Drizzle glaze over muffin tops and let muffins cool in pan for 5-10 minutes to absorb glaze before removing to serve.
Ah!!! Finally - a warm and sunny Saturday morning. After not getting much yard sale action the past couple of weeks due to holding our own sale and some miserable weather last week, I was eager to get out today. There was a huge street sale being held nearby (it's held annually and a very popular event!) Often many houses in the neighbourhood "piggyback" onto this sale, taking advantage of the steady stream of shoppers. So it's a great "one stop shopping" opportunity.
Normally I head out on my bike alone, but my family likes to tag along for this street sale, so off we all went in the van. Before we left I had headed out on my bike to hit a couple sales really close by my house while my hubby got the boys fed and ready to roll. I came home with two good quality blank journals in pristine condition (I paid $1 each for them, which was a bit more than I normally would, but it was a charity fundraiser and I don't haggle at those!)
We hit three more yard sales on the way to the street sale, then spent a long time wandering around at the main event. We came home with:
-a set of four 2x4 furniture books (my hubby loves these - they're a great source of inspiration for building with scrap wood!) We paid $1.50 for the set and there was a price tag showing the original cost for the set as $103!!
-a set of four framed historic prints of our city for $9.50 - one frame will need the glass replaced and we'll probably spray paint the frames black. I have just the spot for them on our dining room wall, where a lonely Monet print from my university days has been hanging out for far too long!
-a set of two molds for making tortillas into taco bowls for 50 cents
-a "natural" candle and scented oil gift set (brand new) which also includes a candle holder and smooth rocks to put in the holder for 50 cents (going in my gift cupboard)
-a garden journal and "practical gardening" book - both in brand new condition, for $1 each (also going in my gift cupboard, but not for long as I already have a specific recipient and occasion in mind!)
-a set of black and silver earrings for $1
Grand total for the day: 15 items for $17 or $1.13 per item.
My boys also found themselves a few deals (they're taking after their mama!). They each got a GameCube game for $4, plus my older son found a long-handled net for 60 cents (he'd been wanting to buy one at Value Village for $1.99 a few weeks ago and I encouraged him to wait, which paid off!) My younger son picked up an Indiana Jones whip and a toy made out of that disgusting rubbery plastic stuff (blech).
A good time was had by all, and we came home with some great deals, too! I definitely feel like I got a good yard sale fix after this morning's outing.
I was just hitting "post" on this report when my hubby walked in the door from a bike ride and informed me there was another unadvertised yard sale we had to go check out with lots of shoes and clothes (he'd ridden past it on the way home). So we biked on over to take a look and found these:
-a pair of funky brown corduroy Converse-style sneakers for hubby
-a pair of never-been-worn slippers for my younger son (I'm tucking them away for Christmas)
-a pair of fabric Mary Jane style spring & summer shoes for me (they're a size 10, which is a minor miracle - I have a hard time finding shoes to fit my long and skinny feet!)
We paid $1.00 each for these, bringing our new total to $20 for 18 items, or $1.11 per item.
If you made any great yard sale finds this week, please tell me all about it by leaving a comment!
I'm pleased to report that I had another zero-waste week! This one seemed pretty easy to pull off, actually - I didn't even have to make a special effort to save anything from an untimely demise. In the last couple of days my fridge has mysteriously filled up with food (I'm not quite sure how that happened - usually most things disappear at the speed of light around here!) so I am going to have to be vigilant to keep myself on a zero-waste roll. Head on over to The Frugal Girl if you want to know how others fared with their food waste this week.
I'm also excited to announce that I'm going to be holding my first giveaway next week! I'm going to keep the specifics a bit of a surprise until the official giveaway post goes up, but look for it on Tuesday - I promise it'll be worth your while. The giveaway will be open to all my Canadian and U.S. readers.
Once the warm weather arrives, there's nothing I like better than puttering around in my garden. When we arrived on the scene seven years ago, the garden was pretty much non-existent, save for an ancient rose bush in the back yard that probably hadn't been tended for about 20 years (I'm NOT kidding - my husband needed a handsaw to prune it back!)
There were no existing garden beds in the front yard when we purchased our home; we had created some the first year we were here but started out planting them with annuals while we took some time to decide what we wanted for a more permanent "look". In retrospect, I wish I'd started my foray into perennials a lot sooner! Not only does it save a lot of money, it's a lot less work on the gardener since you don't have to plant a ton of plants at the beginning of every season.
This year our gardening budget is especially tight (basically we only have enough allotted to buy veggies and herbs). I have a large bed along the front of the house that I've been planting with shade impatiens each year, but I knew that I didn't have the money to purchase those plants. And to be honest, I was kind of tired spending hours on my knees planting all those flowers! So I decided that somehow, some way, I was going to get myself some perennials to fill in that bed.
Things got off to a good start when a neighbour down the street asked me if I'd like some ferns. She had received an unbelievable amount of them from a friend and had way more than she knew what to do with. I was more than happy to take the surplus off her hands, and planted them along the back of the bed (in front of the climbing hydrangea which runs under the porch, the only plant that was already there).
That was all the encouragement I needed to see how creative I could get with tracking down some more free plants. I had already received some irises from a neighbour, and swapped a computer desk at my yard sale for a hosta, a Rose of Sharon, some columbine and another fern, and some wild violets. Those were all tucked into my back garden bed, which I'd been wanting to expand for years. I decided to post an ad on Kijiji offering to swap plants I had a surplus of (mint, chives, hollyhocks, and raspberry canes) for any type of shade-loving perennial. I only got one response, but it was a fantastic one. A woman was looking to clear a multitude of plants out of her backyard (all of which had been planted by a previous owner). She didn't even want anything in return, she just wanted to get the garden cleared out ASAP! I did bring her some mint and chives as she decided she was going to start a bit of an herb garden. In exchange, I received enough plants to completely fill in my front garden bed:
Three Yucca plants, two pink Columbine, a couple big clumps of lilies, some ground cover that I don't know the name of (please fill me in if you do!), and two Rose of Sharon bushes. I am absolutely thrilled with how it turned out and can't wait to see how it all fills in over the course of the season.
After this experience, I don't think I will ever pay for a perennial plant again! Once my new garden gets itself established, I will have even more plants to swap with other gardeners. Trading with neighbours is a great way to get started, but to expand your plant horizons even further, I recommend trying the approach I used of putting a swap ad on Kijiji or Craigslist. If you have a lot of plants to trade, you could even organize a neighbourhood plant swap. Another idea I've had recently is to leave a note for homeowners if you see a plant you like that is big enough for division, offering to swap with them if they're interested. I haven't tried this yet, but I may next year as I see lots of gorgeous perennials in neighbourhood gardens when I'm out walking the dog.
I'd love to hear about your experiences if you've had success "gardening for free", so please leave a comment and tell me all about it!
Here in Canada, we just had our May long weekend (it was Victoria Day yesterday) and I know all my American readers will be celebrating Memorial Day this coming weekend. That means it's time to break out some great warm-weather recipes!
Nothing says summer to me like a great barbecued meal with some baked beans on the side. While I love traditional baked beans, we eat beans so often that I like to shake things up a bit with something slightly off the beaten path. These beans really fit the bill! They are deliciously good, and very different from traditional baked beans. They are my own adaptation of Madhur Jaffrey's "Baked Beans with Nigerian Seasonings" from World Vegetarian. My version is much quicker to prepare and heavier on the peanut butter & tomatoes - I like lots of rich sauce and lots of flavour! This dish is guaranteed to please both carnivores and vegetarians; it has been extremely well received at potluck dinners. My family loves these beans served with barbecued ribs and a hearty salad (Colourful Cabbage Salad, green bean or broccoli). Vegetarians can serve them with sauteed or grilled veggies and a hearty whole grain bread (like my Whole Wheat Bread or Pull Apart Garlic & Parmesan Breadsticks).
Two 19 oz cans navy beans, rinsed and drained, or about 3 cups of cooked white beans
2 tbsp canola oil or other light vegetable oil
1 large onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp curry powder
6 Roma tomatoes, peeled and chopped
1/4 cup peanut butter (I use 2 really big spoonfuls!!)
about a tsp or so each salt and pepper
1 1/2 cups water
In a medium frying pan, saute the onions and garlic in the oil. Add curry powder and mix until well blended. Add tomatoes and cook until they start to soften. Add peanut butter, salt and pepper, and 1/2 cup water. Cook until bubbly. Add another cup of water and stir until well combined.
Put beans in a medium size casserole dish (1/2 - 2 quarts). Pour the peanut mixture over top, and stir gently until well blended.
Bake at 375F for about 1- 1 1/2 hrs. It should be really hot and bubbly and have a nice "crust" on the top.
I hope your family loves these as much as mine does!
There was rain, rain and more rain in the forecast today, so I thought I might come up dry on the yard sale front. I decided not to even try any of the outdoor sales, and talked my husband into going down to a church rummage sale with me. This is the first time this year that I drove to a sale - it was already raining and looked like it might get worse! Plus, it was several kilometres away and I didn't want to be that far from home on my bike if it was really tipping it down.
As it turned out, it was a good thing I had hubby in tow, as the only thing we found was a summer button-down shirt for him. I will sometimes buy him clothes when he's not with me (he's just a little bit bigger than me, so I can usually guesstimate his size okay) but I prefer to have him there if possible. We got this shirt for $1.00. It looks better in real life than it does in the photo. He really needed some short sleeve "dressy casual" shirts, so this will be a good addition to his wardrobe.
Here's hoping for better weather and a wider selection of sales next Saturday!
Last week's zero waste victory proved to be short lived. The very next day I went to cut up an avocado I thought was just fine, only to discover that it was well on its way to the dark side. I managed to salvage about 1/3 of it, the rest ended up in the compost. That was the only thing I wasted all week.
To see how others fared with their food waste, head on over to The Frugal Girl.
If this is your first stop by Abundance on a Dime this week, you might want to check out my recent post on How to Make Yogurt without a Yogurt Maker, Heating Pad or Crockpot. And be sure to stop by tomorrow for my weekly Yard Sale Report. It's a long weekend here in Canada, but there are still a few sales running so I hope to do some serious treasure hunting!
Making yogurt has been just about the only frugal kitchen skill that has eluded me over the years. I first gave it a try over a decade ago, using a yogurt maker given to me by my mom, but just wasn't happy with the results. I gave up (too soon!) and went back to buying sale-priced yogurt.
A few months ago, I resolved to give yogurt-making another shot. I searched the internet for recipes and instructions, and broke out the yogurt maker that had been gathering dust in a cupboard. My first attempt using a new recipe was quite successful and I wondered why I had given up so easily years ago. Then I made another batch, and another, that didn't set properly. In the end, I discovered that the yogurt maker wasn't incubating consistently at the right temperature. In fact, I've heard of so many people getting inconsistent results with yogurt makers, that I wouldn't recommend buying one. I know many people get great results using a heating pad to incubate yogurt, but I don't have one. I do have a crockpot, but that method didn't appeal to me.
Really, the only trick to incubating yogurt is to find a way to keep it consistently at 110-115F for 8-10 hours. I came up with this Thermos-jug-and-cooler method which has worked well for me and uses items that most people already have laying around the house.
To use this method, you will need the following items:
-a 1 1/2 to 2 litre Thermos jug
-2 old towels
-4 large Mason jars (1 to 1 1/2 litres)
-a large cooler
Once you've heated the milk and you're waiting for it to cool down (so you can add starter), fill the Thermos jug with as-hot-as-you-can-get-it tap water to prewarm it. When you're ready to incubate your yogurt, empty the water out, and pour the cultured milk mixture in. Seal it up as quickly as possible to keep the heat in. Wrap the Thermos jug in one of the towels, and place in the centre of the cooler. Then fill the 4 Mason jars with very hot tap water and place around the towel-wrapped jug:
Take the second towel and wrap it around the whole thing:
Now close up the cooler to keep everything warm and toasty inside! Leave it to incubate for 8-10 hours. You should have a nicely set batch of yogurt after that amount of time.
One thing I really like about this method (aside from getting more consistent results) is that when I'm not making yogurt, I don't have any extra pieces of equipment to store - these are all items that have multiple uses around my house.
I'd love to hear how this works for you if you decide to give it a whirl!
So...I'm a couple days late with my weekly yard sale report, which I normally post on Saturday. This week we had our own yard sale, and I totally underestimated how exhausted I would be at the end of that production! We ended up making about $100 and the kids made about $10 on their stuff. This was less than we had expected, so we were a bit disappointed. Still, we did make some money and the house is a lot cleaner!
What sold well: -baked goods (we made 2 kinds of muffins and chocolate peanut butter brownies) -plants (I had mint, chives, hollyhocks and some houseplants) -CDs
I was surprised at the stuff that DIDN'T sell. We had a lot of great kids stuff on offer, and the items that did get purchased barely made a dent in the pile. The post-yard-sale cleanup took a lot of work. There were a LOT of boxes of stuff to pack up. I offered some it on freecycle, my husband took a van load full up to Value Village, and I have a few items I'm going to post on Kijiji. I also have a couple of boxes of books to take over to our local used bookstore.
A gentleman from our neighbourhood offered to swap a computer desk for some plants out of his garden. Since no one had really given the desk a second glance all morning, I figured I might as well. So I have a bunch of new perennials in my back yard, and a big piece of furniture out of the house.
I left my husband holding down the fort at our yard sale for a while so I could make a quick stop at a church rummage sale and another yard sale nearby. I only ended up purchasing one item (another holistic health book for 50 cents).
I'm glad to be finished with the housewide decluttering project - now maybe I can finally get started on that mending pile!
I did it! Finally, I have accomplished a zero-food-waste week.
::Does little happy dance::
Hopefully, I'm on a roll now.
To see how others fared with their food waste this week, head on over to The Frugal Girl for the weekly Food Waste Friday roundup.
My challenge for the coming week will be to use up all the rhubarb in my fridge! My neighbour kindly offered me free reign in his large rhubarb patch - I came home with about 15 lbs or so of fresh-picked rhubarb! I chopped up much of it with some help from my younger ds. There was SO much that I filled my largest storage container with it, plus a couple of others, and still had some left over. I'm running low on freezer space at the moment, so I'm planning to whip up a double batch of Rhubarb Muffins to sell at our yard sale tomorrow morning! I'm sure there will still be some left after that, so I might have to get a bit creative to use up the rest of it.
Since we're holding our own yard sale tomorrow, I'm not going to be doing my usual rounds, but I do hope to make it over to a church rummage sale that's not too far away. So, I should still have my weekly Yard Sale Report up tomorrow (last week's is here).
I whipped these up to go with a spaghetti dinner last week and my family thought they'd died and gone to heaven! An enticing bread can make even an "ordinary" meal seem extra special. Fortunately, these breadsticks are quick and easy to prepare, so you can be rewarded with lots of "oohs" and "ahs" without having to go to a lot of trouble. Get them rising before you start your main meal prep, and they'll be done in time to serve them fresh from the oven.
Drizzle a small amount of the butter in the bottom of a 7x11" lasagna pan, and spread around so the entire bottom of the pan is coated. Divide the bread dough into 12 equal portions. Using your hands, roll out each portion into a long, skinny rope just a bit shorter than the width of your lasagna pan. Place the breadsticks in the pan, arranging them so they are evenly spaced across. Add the minced garlic to the remaining butter and drizzle over top of the breadsticks, then sprinkle the Parmesan cheese over top. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let rise for about 15-20 minutes. Bake at 375F for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown on top.
This wasn't the most inspiring week, either weather-wise or sale-wise. I went to a rummage sale yesterday morning and thought I might get rained on coming home on my bike (thankfully the rain held off long enough for me to stay dry). This morning, it looked like it could tip down at any minute; it was really windy with very dark cloudy skies. I ventured off anyway, however the yard sale offerings were just not that exciting. You never know until you go, and most of the time it is very worthwhile; coming home the odd week empty-handed (or nearly so) is just part of the process.
At yesterday's rummage sale I got three holistic health reference books for a quarter each. I've been keeping my eye out for a homeopathy reference, so was excited to stumble across this one (I dug through a LOT of books at that sale!) I also found a pair of cute butterfly earrings for another 25 cents (a little Mother's Day present to myself!)
This morning, I picked up a small (single serving) stainless steel Thermos for another quarter. I've been on the lookout for these for a while now. I'm still hunting for a large capacity one, to hold coffee for day trips. We used to have a great one that kept coffee good and hot all day long, unfortunately my hubby dropped it and smashed the glass liner. Both of us seem to have a knack for that (also for losing them!), so I'm hoping to build up a little stockpile of decent quality Thermoses.
That's it for this week's purchases.
Grand total: $1.25 for 5 items, or 25 cents per item.
I thought this was going to be the week that I had no food waste to report, but, alas, one little item snuck past my radar. About two mouthfuls' worth of my Cucumber and Bean Salad went kaput. My 10 year old son had saved this from a meal, insisting he was going to eat it later. I did remind him about it a couple of times, then we both forgot about it. So, I was very, very close to a zero waste week, but didn't quite make it! Swing on over to The Frugal Girl if you want to see how others did in the food waste department this week.
This week's food waste prevention tip is another one for keeping the nasty little bugs away from your precious food! If you add a bay leaf to each of your storage containers (e.g. jars of dried beans and grains) it acts as a natural pest deterrent.
I didn't blog a lot this week as my dad was in the hospital for major heart surgery and I've been running back and forth to the hospital checking in on him (he is doing quite well). I did write about our $75 Deck Makeover if you need some inspiration for sprucing up an outdoor space on a small budget. Check back in tomorrow for my weekly Yard Sale Report (last week's is here if you missed it!) I'm heading off to a rummage sale this morning, and plan to attend at least two sales tomorrow, so I should get in plenty of good "treasure hunting"!
This deck makeover is actually from last summer. I realized I never blogged about it and since it's that time of year where everyone's sprucing up their outdoor living areas, I thought now would be the perfect time to share!
Unfortunately, I didn't remember to take a "before" picture. If you imagine a beat up old white resin table, with four equally beat up old mismatched white resin chairs, you'll get the general idea. We'd lived with that less-than-inspiring set for several years (a hand-me-down from my dad) and while I was thankful that we had *something* to sit on outdoors, I was very ready for a change!
My husband had just built a new fence around the back and side of the yard (the other areas already had a wooden fence) which was something we'd wanted to do for several years and had finally saved the money to complete. It made our yard look so much better that I just couldn't stand the sight of that old patio set any more! However, a brand new patio set was most definitely not in our budget. I *knew* I could find us a set within out budget, I just wasn't sure how or when I'd pull it off.
One Saturday while I was out on my weekly yard sale rounds, I stopped by a church rummage sale that was being held out in their parking lot. I arrived fairly late in the morning (after 11 a.m.) and had a good look around, purchasing a few small items. I was just about to leave the sale, when out of the corner of my eye I caught something that looked like the glass top of a patio table leaning against the parking lot fence. It was tucked well away from the main part of the sale, so I don't think many people would have noticed it. Lucky for me, because for $50 it became my new patio set! After a quick wash down with a bucket of hot soapy water, it looked nearly new. I've seen very similar sets on sale around here for $500 to $600 bucks, so I was totally thrilled with this bargain purchase (my younger son still tells everyone who comes in our backyard that his mom bought the patio set for 50 bucks, lol!) I would really like a patio umbrella to finish it off, so I'm keeping my eyes open for a great deal on one this year.
To complete our deck makeover, my husband built the three large planter boxes out of free wooden skids (also known as pallets). There are a couple of places in our area where people dump these, free for the taking. They are generally made of hardwood and are an excellent source of free wood for small building projects. He painted them with white paint we had hanging around from another project, so the planter boxes didn't cost a thing to build. The smaller tables in between the large boxes were built out of an old plant stand we had hanging around. The two pots on top of small tables we dug out of the basement. We spent the remaining $25 on soil for the large planters and an assortment of herbs for the pots, to create visually pleasing and pleasantly scented edible arrangements. The large planter boxes were used to grow cherry tomato plants.
I still smile every time I walk onto our deck, knowing that we created exactly what we wanted while staying within our modest budget!
If you have a great outdoor makeover to share, please tell me about it in the comments.
Rain was in the forecast today and when I woke up and felt how humid it was, I knew I'd better get moving if I wanted to make my yard sale rounds before I got dumped on! I had three advertised sales to check out today. The first was right around the corner from me, and it proved to be a gem - a well organized sale with a great selection of books and household items, all at rock-bottom prices. In other words, my favourite kind of yard sale.
I walked away from that sale loaded down with three bags of goodies: -a dozen children's books in like new condition -4 small decorative glass dishes (the kind with lovely intricate patterns) -a Pyrex Bundt pan (*so* excited to find this - I'd never seen one before!) -Pyrex casserole dish -stainless steel shaker (the kind you'd use for Parmesan; it's going in my kitchen for my homemade scouring powder) -a set of nesting Christmas tins
I paid $5.00 even for the lot.
Just down the street there was an unadvertised sale, so I stopped in there and found a beautiful board book for ten cents.
I dropped all my purchases off at home, then grabbed my bike and headed out to check the other two sales on my list. The first was a rummage sale held by a local non-profit. I found seven novels there, all in like-new condition (two hardcover, the rest trade paperback). They were all literary novels, interesting sounding ones that I'd not heard of before. I have a lot of serious readers in my life, so I always stock up on interesting books that would make a solid addition to a gift basket (especially when they're 25 cents each!) Speaking of baskets, I picked one up for another 50 cents.
At the final sale of the morning I bought two more books for a quarter each; a hardcover house-and-garden tips book that would make a great housewarming present, and a kid's activity book by the Royal Ontario Museum, both destined for my gift cupboard stash.
Once I got home I decided to run back over to the first sale, as I'd seen some Pyrex pie plates there and realized I should have scooped them up, so I could bring pies over as housewarming gifts and not worry about having to get the plate back (yes, I know I could use a foil one, but it's so much more charming to use a proper one and have it be part of the gift). Unfortunately, there was only one left of the several they'd had earlier in the morning. I got that one, plus three more glass dishes, for another 70 cents.
Grand total for the morning: 8.45 for 35 items, or 24 cents per item.
I should probably mention that I'm not planning to keep most of the things I bought this morning (I am really NOT a packrat!) The Pyrex Bundt pan and casserole, the stainless steel shaker, and (possibly) the basket are for our home. Everything else will go in my gift cupboard stash. I'm planning to use the decorative glass dishes for hostess gifts (filled with yummy homemade treats). They'll definitely add that "something extra" to my gift giving! All the books are going in the gift cupboard, too. I like to have a variety on hand, so I always have a little something to suit almost any child or adult I might suddenly need a gift for. I like to bring a small gift for siblings when a new baby is born (along with something for mother and babe, of course) and books are perfect for this. It's also nice to have something on hand to bring a friend or relative who's sick or "down in the dumps", so having an assortment of things to choose from in my gift cupboard allows me to put together a nice cheery "pick me up" gift on the spur of the moment, without busting my budget (or even having to leave the house, lol!) I love being able to bless others with a surprise gift without straining my finances.
Anyone else uncover a great find this week? Let me know in the comments!