Tuesday, June 29, 2010

RECIPE: Pulled Pork Sandwiches

This is a great dish to make for a crowd - it can stretch a modest amount of meat into quite a few servings! I make this when pork roast goes on sale for 99 cents a pound.

1 1/2 - 2lbs pork roast
1 medium onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 ribs celery, finely diced
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp dry mustard powder
1 tsp paprika
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup ketchup
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup vinegar
3 cups water

In a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan, saute onion, garlic and celery in olive oil until they start to soften. Add remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 1 1/2 hrs or until meat is tender and can be easily shredded with a fork. Remove roast to a large bowl and shred using 2 forks. Return shredded meat to pot with sauce and simmer until meat is heated through. Serve on hamburger or kaiser buns.

Pictured here on homemade hamburger buns using Whole Wheat Refrigerator Dough, with Colourful Cabbage Salad on the side.

This post is linked to Tasty Tuesday, Tempt My Tummy Tuesday, Tuesdays at the Table, the GCC Recipe Swap, Foodie Friday, Friday Feasts and Friday Favorites.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Weekly Menu Retrospective #1

 This will be my first post of what will (hopefully) be a regular report of the previous week's eats. I prefer to report what we ate in the past week, rather than what we're planning to eat in the coming week. Why? The reason is pretty simple: although I usually have a general idea of what we're going to eat in the next week or so, life often unfolds a little differently than planned, and I adjust my menu plan on a near-daily basis to accommodate leftovers and other not-possible-to-plan-ahead circumstances. I find this is the easiest way to ensure that I minimize our family's food waste. I'm also willing to admit that I'm a rather spontaneous cook, given to preparing foods that strike me as the most appealing thing to eat right here and now!

What we ate in the past week:

Breakfasts: zucchini-pineapple muffins, chocolate zucchini muffins*, bagels with cream cheese (bagels were on sale for *4* packages for $5), peanut butter toast, pancakes

Lunches: mostly tossed green salads as we needed to use up all the bolting greens in the garden! I fortify these lunch salads with little bits of whatever protein foods we have hanging around (this week it was cheddar cheese and sunflower seeds) I topped mine off with chopped avocado to help use up the bag of five I bought on sale for $2.49.


Monday: sliced leftover sausage, leftover green bean, potato and barley salads

Tuesday: Vegetable Johnnycakes* with sour cream and rhubarb chutney, tossed green salad (using greens from the garden), vanilla ice cream with strawberry-rhubarb sauce

Wednesday: Baked Pasta*, sliced raw veggies

Thursday: Barbecued Pork Chops, oven fries, and creamy cucumber salad

Friday: leftover Baked Pasta

Saturday: Baked Frittata Squares* (using spinach from the garden), sliced raw veggies

Sunday: Pulled Pork sandwiches* on homemade rolls (using Whole Wheat Refrigerator Dough), Colourful Cabbage Salad (with a bunch of fresh herbs from the garden), chocolate peanut butter brownies

*these recipes will be coming to the blog soon!

This post is linked to Menu Plan Monday.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Yard Sale Report for June 26, 2010


The Yard Sale Gods have clearly not been pleased of late. It has threatened rain the majority of Saturday mornings for the last several weeks. So far, I've managed to get out and do my rounds before the rain came - until today. It started raining lightly before I got out the door; being the intrepid and undeterrable yard saler that I am, I headed out anyway.

I hit a street sale and two other yard sales, and it kept raining (although not *too* hard). I ended up empty handed and slightly damp after spending an hour or so rummaging through boxes of slightly wet stuff.

Oh well, there's always next week!

Did you find any great bargains today? I'd love to hear about it!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Food Waste Friday: I Really Fell Off the Wagon

 This was not a good week in food-waste land at my house. I ended up wasting an entire bunch of broccoli (which, although it doesn't look all that bad in the picture, trust me, you wouldn't want to eat it!) It had gotten buried at the back of the crisper and forgotten about. There have been a lot of good sales on veggies lately, and I was a bit over zealous in my purchasing, forgetting how many greens I had in my garden that were going to need using up (they're starting to bolt).

The second victim was a bit of honey-orange breakfast polenta, which was a recipe experiment of mine. I thought it was not too bad but no-one else in my family liked it, and after eating it for a few days myself I let the tail end linger in the fridge too long.

I also wasted a couple of handfuls of sweet cherries (not pictured) that started to spoil faster than I expected (maybe that's why they were on sale for so cheap!) I did manage to salvage most of the bag.

To see how others made out in the food waste department this week, head on over to The Frugal Girl.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Thrift Store Scores

Yesterday afternoon my dear hubby and I ventured off to Value Village for a dose of thrift store shopping. As usual, there were a couple of specific items we were searching for; we always do a general browse around the store, too, to see what other great finds we might stumble upon!

The two items on our "really need this" list were a pair of running shoes for hubby and a new toaster oven. Hubby's current running shoes were quite a wreck and so was our toaster oven. Since we don't have a microwave, we use this appliance daily (often several times per day). Our current toaster oven, bought second hand five years ago, was literally falling apart at the seams, and it was definitely time for a new one!

As you can see from the photo, we were successful on both counts. I am very pleased with the toaster oven I found. It is clearly a good quality one, obviously not used much by its previous owner (the inside was very clean) and it's also white, which matches our other kitchen appliances. The price was also right ($12.99). I noticed that ALL the toaster ovens were priced the same, no matter what their condition or quality. So in this case it definitely paid to check out each one in detail and find the best quality one, since I'd be paying the same price no matter which one I chose!

We paid $14.99 for the runners, which is more than I would have liked, but still a good deal for a pair of almost-new good quality running shoes.

Our other purchases for the day:

-a short sleeve dress shirt for hubby (he really needed another one of these), like-new condition, $5.99
-a board book (brand new condition) that will be part of my niece's birthday gift, 99 cents
-black Esprit T-shirt for me, new condition, $5.99
-cute paisley print skirt (obviously for me, lol) $4.99

While thrift store prices are not what they used to be, they're still a great bargain compared to shopping at the mall! The toaster oven alone would have been at least $60 or so if purchased new, which is more than we spent for all the items we bought on this trip.

Have you found any great buys at a thrift store lately?

Monday, June 21, 2010

RECIPE: Thai-Style Peanutty Pasta

 All of us LOVE peanut butter around here! So I'm always looking for more ways to use it (especially when I've stocked up on it at rock-bottom prices). This is a great way to use peanut butter in a main dish. It's more substantial and filling than you might expect, and the combination of sweet, salty and spicy flavours characteristic of Thai cooking is oh-so-satisfying. Increase the amount of cayenne pepper if you'd like the sauce to have a bit more of a bite to it. You can substitute different vegetables based on what you have on hand - asparagus would work well in place of the broccoli (just saute it til tender-crisp before adding to the pasta).

8 oz spaghetti noodles
3 medium carrots, sliced into disks
1 bunch broccoli, chopped into bite-size florets
13 oz can coconut milk
3/4 cup peanut butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup soy sauce
juice and zest of 1 lime
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
3-4 green onions, sliced
1/2 cup chopped peanuts

In a large pot of boiling water, cook pasta and carrots, steaming the broccoli florets over the boiling water for the last few minutes of cooking time.

While pasta and vegetables are cooking, make the peanut sauce:
In a medium saucepan, heat coconut milk until it starts to bubble. Remove from heat and stir in peanut butter, garlic, soy sauce, lime juice and zest, salt and cayenne pepper.

Once pasta and vegetables are cooked and drained, toss with the peanut sauce. Sprinkle green onions and peanuts over top and serve immediately.

Makes 4-6 servings.

This recipe is linked to Tasty Tuesday, Tempt My Tummy Tuesday, What's on the Menu Wednesday, and the GCC Recipe Swap.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Yard Sale Report for June 19, 2010

It was a hot and humid morning that turned into a yard sale marathon! I left the house around 8:30 a.m and didn't return until nearly noon. I hit nearly a dozen sales during that time, including two street sales and a church rummage sale.

The morning started out slowly; I came up empty-handed at the first few sales and the sky wasn't looking very promising, either. I ventured onward and was eventually rewarded with the following:

-a good quality world atlas and a Canadian atlas, $1.00 each (I was particularly happy about the world atlas; we already owned the exact same one - and had paid a pretty steep price for it new back in our not-so-frugal days - it ended up getting water damaged in our old basement and I'd felt bad about it ever since!)

-a novel for 50 cents (fun sounding beach read)

-Just Like Heaven on DVD for $3.00 (one of my favourite movies that I've borrowed from the library more times than I can count!)

-an excellent quality picnic/beach blanket for $4.00 (we're currently using an old Granny-square afghan for this purpose and this will be a vast improvement!)

and my favourite find of the day:

 -a set of 4 stainless steel wine glasses for a quarter each! (Mountain Equipment Coop sells a very similar glass for 12 bucks a piece) I've been looking for something like these for years to take camping, since drinking wine out of plastic camping mugs doesn't really do it for me.

Grand total for the day: $11.00 for 9 items, or $1.22 per item

Did you find anything great this week? Leave a comment and let me know!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Food Waste Friday: Back to Zero Again!

I'm pleased to report that I'm back to zero waste again this week.I managed to save a couple of items from ending up in the compost by making a batch of muffins using the Universal Muffin Recipe from the Complete Tightwad Gazette. This is a very handy recipe to pull out when you have a few odd bits of things lurking in the fridge that need to be used up ASAP. In my case, I had about 1/2 cup or so of crushed pineapple left over from another recipe (and no yogurt to stir it into) and a couple of egg whites left over from making Boiled Dressing (I think I might try this recipe with one whole egg rather than 2 yolks to see how it turns out, otherwise I may be making a whole lot of meringues this summer!) I also had a couple packages of frozen grated zucchini left from last summer, and really wanted to get those used up, too. So I decided to make Zucchini Pineapple Muffins using the universal muffin recipe. They turned out quite tasty (although they would have been even better if I had remembered to add some spices to them; I realized I hadn't put any in right after I stuck them in the oven).

I bought another bag of 5 avocados on sale for $2.50 this week, so keep your fingers crossed for me and hopefully I'll manage to use them all up this time! I also have a whole lot of lettuce, spinach and arugula in my veggie garden that is starting to bolt, so I'll need to be vigilant about using that up, too.

To see how others fared with their food waste this week, head on over to The Frugal Girl for the weekly roundup of food waste reports.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Making the Most of...MINT

This is the first article in a new series I plan to add to once a month or so. I'm always looking for new uses for foods and household items and finding ways I can do more with what I already have. I've grown mint in my garden for years, and I know I'm not "making the most of" it right now. If you have mint, you have a lot of it, so I'm going to kick off the series exploring the many uses for this very prolific herb!

1. Male fresh mint tea. This is my favourite use for fresh mint. We drink this almost daily in the summer months. Place several good sized sprigs of mint in your teapot and add boiling water to fill it. Let steep about 10 minutes before pouring. You can refrigerate any leftovers and serve over ice (garnished with additional fresh mint, if desired).

2. Boost the flavour of chilled drinks: Add fresh mint leaves to lemonade or other fruity cold drinks. If you want to get fancy, you can make minty ice cubes by placing a mint leave in each compartment of the ice cube tray then filling with water and freezing.

3. Enhance your summer salads: add chopped mint leaves to cucumber or fruit salads.

4. Make a refreshing dessert like mint ice cream or sorbet.

5. Preserve it: making mint jelly or peppermint marmalade is a great way to use a lot of mint, and will make a lovely hostess gift!

6. Take a refreshing soak: tie a few sprigs of mint together and add to your bath.

7. Soothe an itchy scalp by making a mint hair rinse.

8. Use as an air freshener: make bouquets of mint in vases or mason jars and place throughout the house.

9. Keep bugs away: mint is said to repel ants, flies and mosquitoes. You can even make your own natural insect repellent spray using mint!

10. Soothe stomach aches and headaches: try chewing on a fresh mint leaf or sipping some mint tea to get relief.

Do you have a use for fresh mint that I haven't mentioned? Please share in the comments!

Monday, June 14, 2010

RECIPE: Broccoli, Bacon & Cheddar Salad with Old-Fashioned Boiled Dressing

 I'm one of those people who enjoys raw broccoli much more than cooked (although I'll eat it that way, too). The combo of broccoli, bacon and cheddar is one of my favourites. I've made this salad for years with a mayonnaise and sour cream based dressing. Last week we were out of sour cream and running low on mayo, and there was a broccoli in the fridge that needed using up. I really wanted to make this salad, and it occurred to me that I could give it a try with a boiled dressing.

The results were more than satisfactory - this dressing has more of a mustardy kick to it than the one I was previously using, which is a perfect match for the flavours in this salad. We all loved it!

If possible, it's better to make the dressing the day before you're going to make the salad, as the flavour improves if it has a chance to sit for a while. It will still taste fine if you need to use it the same day, just not *quite* as yummy!

1 bunch broccoli, chopped into medium-sized pieces
6 slices bacon, cooked until crisp and crumbled
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
1 recipe Old-Fashioned Boiled Dressing (recipe follows)

Combine all ingredients and mix gently until well blended.

Old-Fashioned Boiled Dressing:
1 1/2 tbsp flour
1 tsp dry mustard powder
1 tbsp sugar
2 egg yolks, lightly beaten
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp each salt and pepper
1 1/2 tbsp butter, melted
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup vinegar

In a small, heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine the flour, mustard and sugar. In a small bowl, combine the remaining ingredients and blend well. Slowly add the wet mixture to the flour mixture, whisking constantly. Heat over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens. Remove from heat. Transfer to storage container and chill until serving (ideally overnight). If the dressing thickens up too much after chilling, thin it out with a little milk or water to desired consistency.

This post is linked to Tempt my Tummy TuesdayTasty Tuesday, and the GCC Recipe Swap.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Yard Sale Report for June 12, 2010

 It was slim pickings out there again this week. I hit half a dozen sales (including one church rummage sale) and came home with two items:

-a corkscrew (which we really needed as we busted our old one a few weeks ago)
-a copy of The Good Morning Cook Book, a breakfast-only cookbook published in 1976 (lots of waffles, muffins, and coffee cakes - yum!)

I bought both of these at the church rummage sale for a total of 50 cents.

Grand total for the week: 50 cents for 2 items, or 25 cents per item.

Did you score any great finds this week? Leave a comment and let me know!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Food Waste Friday: Oh, the Irony!

How embarrassing. After last week's extensive discussion of ways to use avocadoes over at The Frugal Girl, what was the first food victim of the week? Yup, nothing other than one of the little green fruits. It was lurking at the back of the crisper behind a lime and went unnoticed by me for quite a while. Unfortunately, by the time I found it there was no way to salvage it at all. This was the last avocado of a pack of 5 I'd bought for $2.50 (usually avocadoes are $1 to $1.29 each around here). They're on sale for that price again this week and I'm determined to make sure not a single one goes to waste this time!

I had a couple of other items that got wasted this week: a jar of canola oil that was left over from deep frying (it had started to grow something suspect in it) and some decomposing dandelion greens. While I'm not thrilled about wasting these, I know a lot of people don't reuse their frying oil in the first place, so in many cases it would have been discarded right away after its initial use. And the dandelion greens were foraged from my backyard, so not only were they free, they are something most people would have tossed in the compost bin rather than harvesting for consumption. At least the oil can go into my municipal Green Waste bin for composting (obviously the greens can as well), so nothing's going in the landfill.

Head on over to The Frugal Girl to see how others fared with their food waste this week.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

BOOK REVIEW: Death of a Garage Sale Newbie

I decided I'm going to do a book review every other week or so (at least that's the current plan, we'll see how it goes!) While I expect most of the books I review will be non-fiction, I thought it would be fun to start off with some easy-reading fiction, perfect for your beach bag.

I stumbled upon Death of a Garage Sale Newbie by accident, when searching my library's card catalogue for books on fixing up yard sale finds. Of course I couldn't resist checking out a book with a title like that!

The story involves a group of four women known as "The Bargain Hunters Network": Ginger, an empty-nester and expert penny-pincher, is struggling with her marriage; Suzanne, a reformed spendthrift and busy mom, is pregnant with baby number four; Kindra's a college student learning how to survive on a small budget; and Mary Margret is a kind-hearted real estate agent and aspiring frugalista.

One Saturday morning, a member of the group disappears after a seemingly innocent garage sale purchase turns sinister. The local police force doesn't take their concerns seriously, so the remaining three women pull together to figure out what happened to their friend.

I found this to be a fun and enjoyable read. Author Sharon Dunn, a fellow frugalista who "can't recall paying full price for anything", has created a group of very human and likable characters that I could imagine myself being a part of, and I was sad to leave them at the end of the book. There is a second book in the series,
Death of a Six-Foot Teddy Bear; unfortunately my library doesn't have a copy, so I'll be keeping an eye out for a secondhand volume at all my usual thrifty haunts.

To keep the frugal fun going after you've read her books, the author features a "bargain hunters" page on her website where you can stop by and leave your favourite tightwad tips, too.

Have you read any good fiction featuring thrifty characters? Please share in the comments!

Monday, June 7, 2010

RECIPE: Lentil Dal Burgers

 One of my favourite frugal tried-and-true recipes is my Lentil Dal. Dal (also spelled Dahl, Daal or Dhal) is a thick stew made from lentils, peas or beans and is a staple food in countries like India and Pakistan. It's a staple food in my home too, because it's inexpensive, nourishing, easy to prepare and delicious!

This lentil dal is particularly versatile. You can serve it hot over rice, or chill it and serve it as a dip or spread (much like you'd serve hummus). I like it on wedges of pita or rolled in a flour tortilla with some cheese and veggies. I've taken this to many potlucks as an appetizer, and always get asked for the recipe.

Last week I had about half a batch of dal sitting in the fridge that needed to be used up, and I decided to try and make burgers with it. My experiment turned out quite well and received rave reviews from all members of my family.

Basic Lentil Dal
1 cup dried red lentils
2 cups chicken or vegetable broth (use water if you don't have either on hand)
1 tbsp canola oil or other light vegetable oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp whole mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp salt
juice of 1 lime
1 tbsp tomato paste (if you don't have tomato paste, you can sub 1/2 cup or so crushed tomatoes, you'll just need to simmer it a bit longer to thicken it up)
1/2 of a 13 oz can of coconut milk
2-4 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro (optional)

In a small saucepan, cook lentils in broth until tender (about 10 minutes). Saute onion and garlic in oil until they begin to soften; add spices and cook one minute. Add lime juice, tomato paste, coconut milk and cooked lentils. Simmer until thickened. If you're a cilantro lover, stir in the cilantro for the last few minutes of cooking (personally, I can't stand the stuff).

That's it for the basic recipe! Very quick and easy. If you're going to make burgers with this, I recommend starting with thoroughly chilled dal.

(What to do with the other half a can of coconut milk? It freezes well, so you could save it to make another batch of dal. Coconut milk is a delicious addition to any kind of curried dish. You can also add it as part of the liquid when cooking rice, or use in smoothies or homemade popsicles.)

Lentil Dal Burgers:
1/2 a batch of Red Lentil Dal
1 carrot, grated
1/2 a yellow or red pepper, chopped fine
3/4 cup or so rolled oats

In a medium bowl, combine the dal, carrot, and pepper. Add oats 1/4 cup at a time until the mixture is firm enough to shape into patties (you may need as much as a cup of oats but probably not more than that). Shape into 6 patties.

I pan fried these in a little bit of olive oil; topping them with cheese for the last couple minutes of cooking so the cheese could melt. The patties ended up being a bit on the "squishy" side (i.e. oozing out of the hamburger buns when you took a bite). They may have been a bit easier to eat served in a pita or wrapped in a flour tortilla! I think next time I'll try baking them in the oven at 350F for about 15 minutes or so, which I expect will make them a bit firmer.

I'm always looking for more ways to use red lentils, so if you have a favourite recipe to share, please leave a link in the comments.

This post is linked to Tasty Tuesdays, Tempt My Tummy Tuesday and the GCC Recipe Swap.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

And the Winner Is...

I used the random number generator at random.org to pick a winner for the CSN Stores giveaway. Here is the result (I don't know why it's showing 100 as the max, because I used 10 as that was the number of entrants)

True Random Number Generator

Comment #5 is the winner! Congratulations to Nell. And thanks to everyone else for entering.

(By the way, in case anyone's wondering: my "can't live without it" piece of kitchen equipment would be my set of Cutco knives. They make so many kitchen tasks a breeze! And they're still going strong after 17 years of daily use.)

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Yard Sale Report for June 5, 2010

 I thought I was going to get to sleep in this week - a violent thunderstorm started last evening, and the forecast showed more rain for today. Imagine my surprise when I woke up to sunshine streaming into my bedroom! Of course, I no longer had any excuse not to head out on my usual Saturday morning rounds, so off I went.

I hit 5 yard sales in total. I was disappointed to discover that the street sale that had been advertised (in an area where I usually find great stuff) was cancelled. Hopefully they'll run it next weekend! I also ended up with a flat tire on my bike and had to walk home about two kilometres. At least it wasn't raining :)

After all that, I only ended up buying two items; rather ironically they were at the sale that was just around the corner from my house.The book on the left (Animals of Lakes and Rivers) is hardcover and in brand-new condition. It's actually a book of six 24-piece jigsaw puzzles, each one featuring a separate animal. On the page facing the puzzle are lots of interesting facts about the animal. There are a few young children in my life who I think would love this; I'm tucking it into my gift cupboard. The second book on kite-making I'm giving to my boys; I figure it will provide some useful summer-project activity for them! I paid $1.75 in total for these two items.

Grand total for the day: $1.75 for 2 items, or 87.5 cents per item.

I wanted to give one final reminder about the giveaway I'm holding for a $40 gift certificate at CSN Stores (which can be used at any of their 200+ online stores). The deadline for entry is tonight at 9 PM Eastern. Someone's going to win - it might as well be you! Go here to submit your entry.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Food Waste Friday: Zero Waste with a Bit More Effort

I managed to pull off another zero-waste week, but unlike last week's seemingly effortless achievement, this time I worked a lot harder for it!
My fridge was really full at the end of last week, so I had to pay a lot more attention this week to what needed to be used up or frozen before it became a science experiment. I had half a roast turkey left over from my birthday dinner on Sunday, so I chopped and froze the remaining meat from the bird, then made turkey stock to put in the freezer. I also froze the leftover pan drippings from the turkey so I can use it to make gravy in the future.

I had half a batch of lentil dal that I knew needed to be used up ASAP, so on Wednesday night I decided to try making lentil burgers with it. This was more successful than I expected (all four of us thought they were very tasty!) so I'll be sharing that recipe soon.
There were other assorted bits and pieces that we managed to polish off as well, I can't even remember what they all were now!
Even after all that effort, the fridge seems to have started filling back up again, so I'll need to do another in-depth investigation in a couple of days to see what else is calling out for urgent consumption.

To see how others fared this week in their quest to reduce food waste, head on over to The Frugal Girl.

Just in case you missed my announcement earlier this week, I'm running a giveaway for a $40 gift certificate from CSN Stores (which can be used at any of their 200+ online stores). You have up until Saturday night at 9 PM Eastern to enter, so go check it out! The contest is open to all my Canadian and U.S. readers.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Late Spring Garden: The Harvest Has Begun

 This year, for the first time ever, I got my act together enough to plant some cool-weather tolerant greens in early spring. Most greens can be planted much earlier than the "last chance of frost" date as they can withstand colder temperatures than other veggies. In previous years, I just didn't get around to sowing the seeds until I was putting in the rest of my vegetable garden, and I missed out on a great opportunity for an early harvest of salad greens!

I forgot to write down the exact date I planted, but it was mid-to-late April, so everything here has been growing for 4-6 weeks or so. In the upper left-hand corner is peppermint, which is perennial and grows like craxy! I think every frugalista should have some mint in their garden - it's great for making fresh mint tea all summer long (more on that later!) Plus, since it's incredibly hardy, you'll always have extra to swap other gardeners for more plants to add to your garden.

To the right of the mint is currently a weedy bare patch, which is reserved for some annual herbs that I haven't gotten around to planting yet (parsley and basil). Directly underneath the mint is arugula. If you haven't tried growing this green yet, I highly recommend it! It matures quickly and in my experience it grows quite vigorously. It's always the first green ready for harvest in my garden, and makes a great addition to a tossed salad. We've already enjoyed a few arugula-enhanced salads this season. To the right of the arugula is lettuce, which seems to be poking along but is finally getting noticeably bigger in the last couple of weeks.

Underneath the arugula and lettuce is spinach. Holy cow! When I went out to take this picture, I couldn't believe how much bigger the spinach has gotten in just a couple of days. We had a heavy rain on Monday night, followed by a hot, sunny day yesterday, and I swear the spinach practically doubled in size overnight. It is just about ready to start harvesting now.

Next up:
I'm a bit behind this year - normally I have the rest of my veggies planted by now! I have some green bean seeds I intend to get planted today. I still need to go buy annual herbs, tomatoes and peppers to complete my veggie garden.

How is your vegetable garden coming along this year? Leave a comment and let me know!

P.S. If you haven't yet entered my giveaway for a $40 gift certificate from CSN Stores, go here to check it out before Saturday at 9 PM Eastern.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Announcing....My First GIVEAWAY!

As promised on Friday's post, today is the day you can officially enter my first giveaway. This giveaway is kindly being sponsored by CSN Stores, who have over 200 online stores where you can find almost anything you need whether it be a new blender, a sofa, a barbecue, or a kitchen faucet. They have kindly donated a $40 gift certificate to use at any of their online stores. Of course, I know if I was the winner I'd head right on over to cookware.com and replace some of my ailing kitchen equipment!

For a chance to win this gift certificate, all you need to do is leave a comment telling me what piece of kitchen equipment you just couldn't live without. Please leave your email address if it's not linked to Blogger, so I know how to contact you if you're the lucky winner!

You have up until Saturday at 9 PM Eastern to enter. I'll pick the winner using a random number generator.

Good luck!

Festival of Frugality #232 is UP!

This week's Festival of Frugality is up over at Provident Planning. As usual, there are lots of great money-saving articles to check out, including my post on how I got an entire perennial garden for free.

I hope you'll go check it out!
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