Thrifty Advice

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How to tell a female or Male bell pepperLearned something new today from my neighbor while picking the peppers from our garden.  He told me that that there are both male and female peppers (I looked it up on the internet to confirm it was true and if you find it on the internet it must be true LOL).  Did you know that there are two kinds of bell peppers?

The female peppers  and more round, they have 4 bumps on the bottom. They have more seeds on the inside and when eaten raw the female peppers are sweeter than the male peppers.  So these are better for salads, veggie trays and sandwiches.

The Male  peppers  are taller and thin, they only have 3 bumps.  They are not as sweet but hold up better in heat  and are better for cooking. These are perfect for stews, dips, and cooking.

So next time you are in your garden or in the grocery store, flip over the peppers and  see if your buying “boys or girls” :)

How to tell a female or Male bell pepper

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How to Stain Concrete Floors

Thanks to Emily for passing along this thrifty tip on how to stain your concrete floors. Oh my word… I totally feel in love with this idea, and it looks amazing! If you would like to be a featured guest post on Look What I Made , watch for our weekly post each Tuesday called A Thrifty online craft fair, link up and you may be selected for our weekly feature post.

DIY Concrete Stained Flooring

Earlier this year we adopted a dog from our local rescue group. This dog was not house trained and in our efforts to “convert” him he chewed a massive hole in our living room carpet all the way through the padding. We didn’t want to replace this with more carpet and didn’t want the expense of tile or wood floors. We looked at so many options and then ran across information on stained concrete floors. We completed the process which I will show you below and it turned out amazingly well. It would have cost us over $3000 for new carpet and more than that for tile or wood floors and we purchased the items needed to stain the concrete ourselves and instead got the job done for less than $600 and have ended up with a much better outcome in my opinion. No more renting carpet cleaner or freaking out when something is spilled, I just wipe it up and move on!

Here are some visuals of different points in our project. The first step is to remove the existing carpet and padding and then thoroughly clean the floors.

DIY Concrete Stained Flooring step by step

So here we are with bare concrete floors after removing the tack strips and yes that is my huge black dog enjoying the cool concrete. The most amusing factor of the whole project was watching my husband try to use a buffer.

As you can see the tape we laid the lines down to make this look like tile/marble and we did not want to actually cut grout lines into our concrete as we didn’t want our house filled with concrete dust. Always follow the directions on your stain, not following directions caused us to have to do the staining process twice. Here is the result after the second round.

DIY Concrete Stained Flooring step by step tape design restain

We were finally satisfied with the color so we removed the tape, sealed and waxed the floors after they had completely dried, and there we have the end result. I used a stencil and gold paint to accent the border. In all it took 5 days and it’s pretty maintenance free from there. I do have to re-seal and wax mine occasionally because of my dogs.

DIY Concrete Stained Flooring Final example

UPDATE : Here are answers to the questions your readers had! I’m so glad people are liking the idea.

Excellent Source for Concrete Stain

* The entire process takes 4-5 days depending on how dirty your concrete is. The concrete must be completely cleaned including renting a buffer with a “scratch” pad to get all of the dirt and grime up. It took us 2 days to get the floor clean and the kit that we purchased did come with a special cleaner to help loosen any stains that may be on the concrete. Cleaning is your most important step, if you leave stains they WILL show through. If you have previously had carpet you will need to remove the tac strips which will likely leave holes in your concrete, these must be filled and sanded down. We created an 8 inch border around the entire room and used a vinyl concrete to resurface the border due to the large holes the tac strips left behind.

* We purchased our staining kit from  here, we purchased 2 colors of stain to get the marbled effect- Here are a number of color choices to choose from. Make sure you follow the instructions and use the “Concrete Prep” solution to open the pores of your concrete or you risk the stain acting as a paint instead of actually penetrating the concrete.

* You do have the option of scoring or cutting your concrete and this can be done using a worm drive saw. We chose not to do this because we have kids and pets and I didn’t want to be constantly cleaning dirt out of the grout lines. We made a very intricate border and used 1/4 inch Quilters tape. The tape acts as your grout line, you lay the tape after cleaning your floors. You stain the floors to your desired color, seal the floors and when those steps are complete you remove the tape from the floors leaving you a nice gray grout line. You can purchase the quilters tape at Hancock fabrics and make sure you use the white, the neon colors didn’t stick very well.

* I have not experienced the floors being extremely cold like I expected, they are not nearly as cold as my tile floors. Right now my living room is the only room with stained concrete but we plan to continue it throughout the entire downstairs.

Below is a better picture of the border and tape used to create the grout lines and also the gold stenciling within the border.  Also YouTube has multiple videos on how to stain concrete floors.

Click Here for large image of below

DIY Concrete Stained Flooring Final example of tape design

Related Post:

Kitchen Remodel – Long Three Years But Well Worth Staying Out of Debt

See how we turned a kitchen from 1972 into a model kitchen without going into debt.

From This: 

Kitchen Remodel Before

Before

To This:

DIY Kitchen Remodel stay out of debt

Final Kitchen Remodel

 

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how-to-save-on-produceYesterday I went to Ridley’s in Middleton to pick up 2 flats of strawberries (8lbs for $9.98) I wanted to make jam and freeze them for smoothies.  BUT while I was there I noticed they were having their FILL IT FRESH $10 bag sale.  You can FILL you white bag with what ever (select) veggies you want.

Jonagold, Cameo, Fuji, or Braeburn Apples
2 lbs Carrots
Fresh Cucumbers
Yams, Red or Russet Baker Potatoes
Fresh Broccoli or Cauliflower
Medium Yellow Onions
Lemons
Red or Green Bell Peppers
Papaya
Grapefruit
Pineapple
Navel Oranges

I filled mine with 24 items makes them 42 cents each… WOW.  I do not know about you but I think this is the BEST DEAL IN TOWN on fresh produce.  Deal ends monday night!

Another great local deal is at Stonehenge Produce (white barn at Fairview and cloverdale) has California strawberries $.89 lb or $6.95 flat. They will have them for the next few days. If you make jam this is the best price of the year.strawberries

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Freezing Foods A to Z

Thanks to Jolene Taylor for these Freezing tips.

Before we start with the alphabet, a little lesson for gardeners on how to prepare those home-grown veggies for the freezer.

Blanching: Most raw vegetables should be blanched before frozen. (Exceptions are onions, garlic, and bell peppers.) Blanching means to boil for a few minutes to stop enzyme actions and keep flavor, texture and color. Method: Bring water to a boil, add vegetables. After boiling recommended time, drain and plunge into ice water to cool quickly. Drain. Freeze. Look up specific time guidelines in a cookbook or on the web. DO NOT blanch in the microwave. Foods are safe to eat without blanching, but may suffer undesirable changes in flavor, texture and color.

Now specifics from Apples to Zucchini!

Apples: Peel and slice a few at a time. Treat with lemon juice or cold salt water to prevent darkening. Place in freezer bags. Great  for pies, applesauce and more.

Asparagus:  See blanching above.

Bananas: Peel and place in a freezer bag. They will mash easily after defrosting for use in smoothies, breads, etc. The whole banana in the peel can also be frozen.

Refried Beans: Didn’t use the whole can? Freeze what’s left for a lunchtime quesadilla.

Berries (whole): Wash and pat dry. Lay out on a cookie sheet and freeze, then put in a bag for long-term.

Broccoli:  See blanching above.

Butter/Margerine: Freezes fine in the tub or the box.

Carrots:  Peel, slice, blanch.

Cheese: Grate it and freeze it.

Cherries, whole or pitted:  Treat them same as berries.

Chips (as in potato and tortilla): Freeze in the bag to extend shelf life.

Chocolate: Absolutely. Wrap in foil. Chips and candy bars too.

Cookie Dough: Don’t make it too thick or it takes a long time to thaw. You can freeze it in balls (see whole berries, above) ready to bake.

Corn on the cob: Clean ears by trimming ends and removing silks. Do not wash. Freeze in freezer bags. To serve: Drop ears in boiling water and cook 6-8 minutes after water returns to a boil. For fresher taste,blanch and cut off the kernels before freezing.

Fresh Fish: Put filet in freezer bag, add water to cover fish, freeze.

Fresh Herbs: Parsley, basil, etc. Wash. Put leaves in ice cube trays, add hot water. Put in freezer. Later, pop out and put in zip bags to use for soups and recipes as needed.

Green beans:  See blanching above.

Leftover vegetables: A spoonful of this and that can be put in a container in the freezer and later used in vegetable soup.

Lemons/Oranges: Wash thoroughly. Grate the peel before using and freeze the zest for later use. The juice can be frozen also. Ice cube trays work well for this.

Liquids: Allow 1 inch headspace. Cover with plastic wrap, then with foil.

Milk: Freeze in the container. Pour off a little to allow for expansion. Use within 2 weeks for best quality.

Melon: Honeydew and cantaloupe. Peel and cube, put in zip bag. Use for smoothies. (Makes good smoothies combined with citrus).

Nuts: Freeze whole for best results. Always double bag.

Onions and Peppers: Dice and bag. Best for cooked dishes, not fresh salads. Great in eggs and on quesadillas – just sauté right from the freezer bag.

Pasta: Leftover pasta can be put in a zip bag. Squeeze out the air and freeze. Thaw and microwave; or put into boiling water and reheat.

Peaches, nectarines: Peel and slice. Fruits that darken can be helped by adding 1/8 tsp. lemon juice to keep them from browning. Or use ascorbic acid (Vitamin C) or Fruit Fresh type product. Sugar also works as a preservative.

Peas:  See blanching above.

Pies: Most can be frozen whole, cooked or uncooked. (Exceptions: custards, cream pies, meringue.) Filling only: Line a pie plate with foil. Prepare filling and pour into dish. Freeze until solid, remove pie plate and wrap frozen, pie-shaped filling with foil, label and return to freezer until needed. Crust only: Roll out circles of pie crust dough, place layers of plastic wrap or wax paper between; stack, wrap with foil, label and freeze until needed. You can also freeze a ball of pie dough. Whole pie UNBAKED: Sometimes results in soggy bottom crust.Don’t slit the crust when preparing for freezing. Be sure to pre-treat fresh peaches or apples to prevent browning. Freezes well 2-3 months. Bake 450 degrees 10-15 min, then 375 degrees until done. Whole BAKED pie: Slightly undercook before freezing. Keeps well 4-6 months.When ready to use, thaw about 30 minutes, then bake 350 for about 30 minutes.

Soup: Line container with foil. Pour in leftover soup. Freeze. Take out foil and put in zip bag for a serving later.

Tomatoes: Can be frozen whole. Rinse and dry. When ready to use, hold under hot water while still frozen. Skin will fall off. I prefer to scald and peel my tomatoes as they ripen in the garden.I put them in a large bucket with lid in the freezer. When I have a full bucket, I thaw them overnight and bottle them.

Leftover Spaghetti Sauce, Tomato Paste: Freeze and add to it until there’s enough for a meal.

Zucchini: Slice and blanch. Or, grate and freeze for bread. Moisture levels will vary when you don’t blanch. This is not an exact science, there will be extra liquid when you thaw. Adjust your flour ratio and/or pour off a little of the liquid.

Now be sure to enjoy eating those frozen foods all year!

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Yes that is right I LOVE “OLD PEOPLE” yard sales!

I do not go to very many yard sales but the ones that really catch my eye are the ones with cute little old ladies sitting out front in their canvas fold down lawn chairs (that you know they have had since the 1960′s).  I try not to bring home things unless I really like it to decorate with, or if it has a purpose or a use in my home. Otherwise I end up bringing home a truck load of “good deals” that equal clutter in my home.

So why do I like “Old People” yard sales?  First off I have found some amazing antiques and decor items over the years.  Totally unique from anything you would pick up off the shelf at your local home decor shop.  Sure you have to look past a lot of things that are NOT a good fit for your home, but once you find that hidden gem it makes it all worth it.

Second ~ the prices are often RIGHT OUT OF THE 1960′s!  Call me silly but I giggle inside every time I see a price tag for a nickle.  What can a nickle buy you these days, not much! But at the right sale it can buy you all sorts of fun stuff!  My favorite find was a whole box of antique Christmas ornaments for $.05 each!  The photo above shows a new stack of bread pans and 5  used pie tins. Both marked for only $.05 each, makes them a whopping $.01 each! I can handle that, just in time for baking pies and bread this fall.

Yard sale season is now over in Idaho as the cold winter weather has moved in.  But you can bet next season I will have my “thrifty glasses” on looking for all those cute little old ladies selling their treasures!

I got this chair for $3 and repainted it for fun pop of color on my front step.

Do you yard sale?  What is the best “thrifty deal” you have found?

 

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