Tag Archives: save

Blueberries All Around | DIY Syrup, Compote & Dad’s Day Memories

17 Jun

I have always loved blueberries & my most delicious memories from childhood (and beyond!) are my dad’s amazing baked goods. We’d wake up on the weekends to freshly baked blueberry muffins (one of his specialties!) or celebrate the 4th of July with blueberry & rhubarb pies. The list of yummy baked confections goes on & on — keep an eye out for future posts featuring some of his secret recipes!

While there aren’t any baked goods featured in this post, this one goes out to my dad: carpenter by trade, baker self-made — & an all around amazing guy. I couldn’t be luckier (or more inspired)!

Inspiration can come from anywhere — a memory, a sale, a recipe, a special birthday, etc. So when ridiculous quantities of blueberries were on sale at a local specialty market & a friend’s birthday (whose SodaStream dreams were about to come true) was right around the corner, I dug out one of my favorite making books, can it, bottle it, smoke it by Karen Solomon, & got inspired!

Blueberry Lemon Syrup (from book referenced above)

Ingredients

4 1/2 cups fresh blueberries (the BEST/freshest available)
2 cups sugar (I used organic can sugar & a about a 1/4 cup less than this)
3 Tbsp fresh lemon juice (from 1-2 lemons)
pinch of kosher salt

Directions

1. Combine the berries, sugar & water in a large saucepan over medium heat & bring to a gentle boil (be careful not to let it boil over).
2. Reduce heat & simmer, covered, for 3 minutes — just enough time to let the berries release their juice.
3. Take the pan off the heat & stir to cool slightly then pour the contents of the pan through a fine-mesh sieve set over a large bowl, stirring but not pressing the berries to harvest as much syrup as possible.
4. Reserve the berries for another use (more on that later). The recipe suggests pureeing them in a blender to make a great jam or using them as an ice cream topping, pie filling or compote.
5. Stir the lemon juice & the salt into the syrup.

Storage 

Using a funnel, pour the syrup into a glass bottle for storing in the refrigerator, where it will keep for up to 6 weeks. (I just used a batter bowl with a little dip in the side & that worked just fine — no need for the funnel or extraneous kitchen equipment.)

Making soda

Stir 1 part syrup into 2 parts sparkling water. Add ice cubes & enjoy. (Shot of vodka optional.) It’s very pretty looking & a yummy summer beverage!

Using the blueberry leftovers

I put the leftover blueberries from the syrup making process into a mason jar & tossed it in the refrigerator. I used the compote as a topping for a week’s worth of DIY yogurt parfait breakfasts using a couple of tablespoons of compote, 0% Chobani plain yogurt & Trader Joe’s blueberry muesli. We also mixed some of the compote with fresh berries & used it as a topping for angel food cake. YUM!
 

Advertisements

Another Decor DIY | Old is the New New

23 May
We recently got a secret framing tip while visiting our friends at The Little House Studios and since it’s been so long since my last blog post, I feel like I should spill the beans & share it with you.
 
The tip?
Hit up vintage shops & antique & flea markets for old frames for new artwork or photos. I know, it sounds obvious, but I think it’s really easy to overlook old finds for new Ikea frames, simply because one stop shopping is a little more convenient.
 
The search is on...
So via our Little House Studios friends, we heard especially great things about the Cambridge Antique Market. In all honesty, I’ve had great luck finding frames at thrift stores and as I mentioned, there’s nothing wrong with Ikea, but we bought an incredible & intriguingly creepy print by Alethea Roy. And well, it was screaming for something different. I knew I wanted something old. Jess suggested something round or oval (inspired by a vintage mirror that was my gran’s that’s hanging in our office). So off I went to the Cambridge Antique Market with the print & measuring tape in hand. (If you can’t/don’t want to bring the artwork, you could just take measurements & jot them down or trace the shape of your artwork with a piece of tracing, parchment or tissue paper & bring it along instead.)

If you’ve never been to the Cambridge Antique Market, it’s a little overwhelming. I felt like Goldilocks. There were plenty of framed pictures & artwork & some frames without but none were quite right (too $$$, wrong shape, wrong size, missing parts, etc.). I contemplated  skipping the 5th (and final) floor but headed up there anyway. I’m oh-so-glad I didn’t give up hope because I found the perfect frame — the right size, the right price and antique convex glass to boot! It definitely needed some love — the metal branches on the top & bottom of the frame were broken off — but I’m always up for a challenge. Oh, and I paid in cash & received $6 off the asking price, making it a total steal at $26. Woo hoo!

Another tip: Look beyond what’s inside the frame. There’s a lot of bad art & crazy old family photos out there — just hanging out in perfectly good frames!
 
So you’ve got the frame, now what?
When I got home, I took out my wire cutters (part of my jewelry tool arsenal….I secretly hoped I didn’t need something more heavy duty), glass cleaner & paper towels, a dust cloth & newspaper. I disassembled & cleaned the frame & glass and cut & removed the rusty picture wire.  I removed the old Victorian photograph & contemplated saving it but it was warped & had some water damage so I set it aside for possible donation (another man’s trash is…).
 
Refurbishing 
I contemplated what to do about the broken branches & decided to cut them off. I was able to use the wire cutters that I had — the metal was super soft & silvery under the gold. It kinda made me worry/wonder if the branches were made of lead (?). That said, I trimmed them down. I was originally planning on filing them to smooth any sharp snags & make it appear as if they were never on the frame in the first place, but, for safety’s sake, I decided to forego the filing. Because the branches were a different material than the rest of the frame, they were painted in gold (possibly gold leaf?) so after trimming them I wondered what to do about the silver metal shining through.
 
I grabbed a gold Sharpie (one of the oil-based paint variety) from my stash, some black shoe polish & a soft cloth. I dabbed the silver patches with the gold Sharpie, let it dry & then put a little of the shoe polish on the cloth & buffed the freshly coated gold paint. I had no idea if it would actually work, but it did! It perfectly added a little age/patina to the spots I’d touched up & blended them with the rest of the frame. I thought the bumps would drive me nuts but I really don’t mind them. They add “character”.
 
New meets old
With the frame clean & ready, I carefully measured & trimmed the edges of the artwork to fit in the frame. Then I reassembled all of the parts & gave the front of the glass one more wipe down to get rid of pesky fingerprints. And…voila!
 
Share your projects with us!
How have you transformed something old into something new?

Weekly Deals | World’s Best Cat Litter Rebate

27 Apr

Disclaimer: Cat appears true to size, no magnification was used in this photo, he’s just big-boned!
Sitar came into my life in 1999, when he was 4 years old. His original owner was a friend of mine from work, who had bought him from a breeder, yes.. an intentional Maine Coon & Siamese mix. He was the only one in the litter that looked the most like a Siamese cat and fit in the palm of my friend’s hand.
Fast forward 4 years later and there I am the proud owner of what most described as a “lion cub!” Owning Sitar has always been a challenge. He is one of a kind, and let’s be real at one point he was the weight of two “normal” sized cats weighing in at a whopping 27 lbs. This leads me to this week’s deal: Litter.

I’ve always struggled with litter and Sitar, whether it be the size of the litter box, being too small of course. Or the fact that for some time I was forced to use a multicat litter for my one enormous cat, ha! Some brands track dust and others have clay that gets everywhere, not favorable in the least, especially in apartment living where we have limited space.
I first read about World’s Best Cat Litter on a local pet sitter’s blog and was intrigued. She had totally endorsed it and had posted testimonials from happy clients that she had encouraged to make the switch.

World’s Best Cat Litter is a natural clumping cat litter made from kernel corn. I’ve found that it is super absorbent and has stellar odor control, even in our tiny apartment office where the dreaded litter box is located. They often offer coupons attached to the bags of litter, online, as well as frequent rebate opportunities.

Currently they are offering a FREE bag rebate for any 7 or 8 lb bag. You just need to sign up on their website, print out the rebate form, include the original receipt, and the UPC bar code from the bag of litter you purchased.

Click HERE to take advantage of the World’s Best Cat Litter Free Mail-In Rebate Offer.
 

Recycle…Repurpose…Repeat | Yoga Mat Revival

19 Apr

Earth Day is this weekend so recycling, etc. has really been on my mind recently. And if you haven’t figured it out already, Jess & I are also thrifty/resourceful by nature.

We got a new little rug for in front of the kitchen sink and I was sick of it slipping on the tile floor. I’ve bought non-slip-under-the-rug things from bargain stores but they don’t work that well so I’ve decided to stop wasting money on them — it all adds up! I’m too thrifty to invest in a more expensive option until we have our own house. I figured there had to be an alternative that would work well & possibly offer a little more cushion…then…bing! Idea! Light bulb above head & everything. I remembered seeing my old yoga mat tucked away in the corner of our closet when I was hunting for  my Spring/Summer clothes.

I laid the yoga mat out on the floor; measured a length & width about 1/4″-1/2″ smaller than the rug I wanted to put it under; marked it with a Sharpie marker & then cut it with sharp scissors. It’s been working perfectly & it adds a nice bit of cushion, too (which is great since we’re at the sink every night washing dishes…I can’t wait until we own a home…with a dishwasher!).

I put the remaining piece of yoga mat under a throw that’s on top of a trunk at the base of our bed (the dogs & cat like to use it as a step up to the bed & it’s an antique). It’s holding the throw in place nicely & we no longer have to forever fuss with it to keep it in check. Besides, now the boys have a little bit more of a cushion for jumping, too.

I’m not the only one who has thought of reusing/recycling/repurposing old yoga mats. I found this great link while setting out to write this post. So many awesome ideas!

My favorites are 2, 3, 5, 6, 8, 18, 26, 29, 31, 49.
#26 made me wonder if yoga mat would make a good baby changing mat? What about cutting a clean yoga mat down to a smaller size & tucking it your diaper bag? It’s so easy to wipe clean & would make changing away from home a little less stressful.

So…how do you plan to celebrate Earth Day? What things have you cleverly recycled or repurposed?

Weekly Deals | Alaway Eye Drops, Right Guard Deodorant & Scott Toilet Paper

17 Apr

Disclaimer: pup did not actually use any of the products posted in this photo!

When Kate & I met, almost seven years ago, I was living in a one bedroom apartment and my only “roommate” was Sitar, my then 9-year-old, 25 lb,  Maine Coon/Siamese cat. Little did Kate know that dating, then marrying me would be a “package deal” because if she was dating me, she was dating Sitar too…for better or worse. There was just one catch, she was allergic to cats (and we’re talking about an allergy to normal sized cats). We quickly discovered that if she was going to spend any time at my place she would have to take drugs to help with her allergy. One night I had the bright idea that she should take the Benadryl that was in my medicine cabinet to help. Oh it helped, but she promptly fell asleep on the couch. At first I thought it was me — maybe she was bored or not that into hanging out — but to my relief it was actually just drowsiness from the Benadryl! Ha!

These days she takes 24-hour non-drowsy generic Claritin and uses Alaway eye drops. Now that’s love.

This week’s deal via CVS Pharmacy

  1. Alaway: Original price: around $14/box. On sale this week for $9.99. Using a $4.00 coupon I cut out from the CVS circular in the Boston Globe on 4.15.12, my total cost was just $5.99/box.
  2. Right Guard Total Defense 5 Deodorant: Original price: $4.50/deodorant. On sale this week for 2/$6. I used a $2.00 coupon that I printed from redplum.com. Total cost = $4.00 for 2 deodorants. Also, with this transaction I earned $2 extra bucks for my next visit.
  3. Scott Extra Soft Toilet Paper: Original price: around $10. On sale this week for $6.99 (for a 12 or 18 pack). Using a $1.00 coupon I cut out from the Boston Globe on 3.25.12, my cost was $5.99. But wait…I still had my $2 Extra Bucks from my previous deodorant purchase! Including that, my total cost was $3.99 for 18 rolls of toilet paper! Woo hoo!!

Tips…

  • I always cut out coupons for household staples like toilet paper, paper towels, soap, etc. Even if you have enough the week you do your shopping, the coupons usually don’t expire for a few months so you can use them along with a sale at another time to save $$$.
  • To maximize my savings at CVS this trip, I split my order up into two transactions so I could make use of the Extra Bucks I had earned that day.

Weekly Deals | Silk Soy & Smart Balance Milk

11 Apr

Disclaimer: pup not included!

Kate & I are a two “milk” household. I drink regular cow’s milk in my coffee & she drinks soy milk in hers. Oh and I tend to have more vegan bake-offs using soy milk than she would like..ha!

This week’s deal via Shaw’s Supermarket

  1. Smart Balance Milk: On sale this week! 2/$6 = $3 per 1/2 gallon of milk. Using a $.75 coupon (which Shaw’s doubles!) I cut out from the Smart Source circular in the Boston Globe on 4.1.12, my total cost was $1.50. Woo hoo!
  2. Silk Soy Milk: Original price: $3.99 per 1/2 gallon. I used a $.75 coupon (which again doubled at Shaw’s for a savings of $1.50) that I printed from the Silk website. Total cost = $2.49.

Tips…

  • To get the Silk coupon: go to the Silk website > click on the coupon link at the top of the page > register on the site > print your coupon.
  • Many brands offer loyal customers coupons online (if you register on their websites). Websites I have gotten valuable coupons from (just by registering or signing up for a newsletter) include: Chobani, Silk, Hunt’s, Wellness pet foods, Halo pet foods & Method.

Weekly Deal | Arm & Hammer Laundry Detergent BOGO*

27 Mar

Image

Disclaimer: pup not included!
*Four simple letters: B – O – G – O, and I was hooked! “BOGO” is bargain hunting speak for buy one get one free. 

I found this week’s deal at my local CVS. (It’s not just for toiletries and travel sized goodies, my friends.) I have learned that armed with my handy, ExtraCare savings card, I can save a bundle without much preparation/crazy hours of coupon cutting.

CVS Weekly Deals Sun 3/25 – Sat 3/31
Arm & Hammer Liquid Laundry Detergent (32 loads) BOGO $7.29 each.

I bought 1 bottle for $7.29, got another bottle FREE and used a $1.00 coupon that I cut out of the newspaper two weekends ago.
So, I got 64 loads worth of laundry for $6.29 – that’s just under $.10 per load!!!!

CVS Savings Note:
Tip #1: Scanning your ExtraCare card at one of the savings stations BEFORE you start shopping is a great way to save more money, since it will print out unexpected “Extra Bucks” or store coupons right on the spot. (Wha wha?!)

Tip #2: Using the self-checkout lane is the way to go for a few reasons! (I swear it feels like I’m doing something shady but until they stop me…). First, it’s easier to ring yourself in so you can split your order into two/multiple transactions. (Warning: you might have to do a little bit of math first!) Second, if you have any store incentive savings/specials (e.g. buy 2 Dove products & get $2 “Extra Bucks” back), ring these in your first transaction & THEN use the Extra Bucks you earn on the second transaction to maximize your savings. Don’t forget to use manufacturer coupons, too!

%d bloggers like this: