Friday, September 30, 2011

Fall on the (Funny) Farm!

Hello Friends!

  Tis the season!  The corn and beans are nearly ready to be harvested, which means the whipping winds will be back in a short time.  The (Funny) Farm is situated in the middle of fields.  In corn years (every other year), we are shielded, somewhat, from the blowy and blustery winds that sweep across the plains.  My goal is always to have the vast majority of outside *STUFF* done by the time the corn is ready to come down.  A migraine has prevented me from getting one major undertaking done this week, but, with any luck, the ickiness will pass and I will be able to get it done tomorrow, with Papa's help.   For those who don't know.  Papa (my dad) and By-ah (my mom) live at the (Funny) Farm as well.  We combined households a little over 8 years ago and, for the most part, this arrangement works well.  So, Papa is a big contributor to helping out with outside stuff.  He is primarily responsible for the rabbits (including the butchering part, which is just fine with me).  Fortunately for me, the major undertaking does not involve cute little creatures (for the record, I do know HOW to butcher, I'd just rather not.  And, I'm not really a fan of rabbit meat, either.  It definitely supplements our meat, and I'm grateful, and I would eat it if I had to, but I don't, so I won't right now.  The boys love it, though.)  Anyhow... I just had the discussion with Papa... We'll set up shop outside - this is not a project to be taken lightly (or make the same mistake I made 2 years ago by doing it in the kitchen)... Any guesses as to what this project could be?   Well, the project is processing horseradish.  (And I will not make the mistake of doing so in the kitchen ever again!)   This is easiest to do outside (with a light breeze to carry away the tear-inducing smells) but must be done before the corn is down -otherwise it is too windy and Wizard of Oz crazy - small dogs blowing around... it gets messy.  

   All of the other things that need to be done for Autumn - the mad rush to get things done before Winter- make for Autumn being a very busy season.  It is not all drudgery, though... Autumn means apple - picking, the harvest, gratitude for all of the things we have, reflection on loss, hope for the future and eternity.  I'm looking at things differently these days.  My sister's passing has had a profound impact on me and sometimes working through it is unbearable.  Trying to make my way through this journey joyfully has been a struggle for the past few months, but, as always, coming out on the other side of a difficulty finds me with renewed hope, ready to continue figuring things out.  Going through all of the firsts since her death (her birthday, our parents' anniversary, other big days, and smaller things... at first, the day to day was an impossible feat... it seemed so pointless, gathering coupons and planning a shopping trip, picking apples, even doing dishes... it is all so small and pointless...) has been rough, and this new season of firsts will be rough as well... but I am prepared for it, I know it is going to be hard.  Knowing it does not make it any easier, but I am much easier on myself when the tears come from out of the blue (ugh... like now), knowing that this is all part of the process.  I despise the process, for the record, but I do recognize it for what it is.  Apparently, I don't grieve gracefully, or quietly.  I can't grieve in solitary, I mean... I do, but I also have to talk to others.  I'm learning about myself in this ugly process, and a lot of it is uncomfortable and even painful, but I'm continuing to come out a better person for it. 

  Indeed, Autumn on the (Funny) Farm, while a season of things going dormant and a season of finality, is also showing me to be a season of hope, anticipation.  Moving through the grey days, knowing I will be rewarded with the sunshine of Spring and Summer, but only after the harsh Winter.   My Summer was a harsh Winter, and so I do eagerly await another Spring and Summer with their warmth and productivity.  But I am grateful for this season as well, going through this with my family and friends, making my way the best I know how.  It is kind of like making horseradish... not a favorite chore, it is messy and it kind of stinks.  Making the best of the chore, sharing the chore with a loved one, repositioning myself for optimum success, getting it over with efficiently but completely... all lessons of life that apply to much more than processing the stinky root.  

Blessings to you, Friends.  Be Kind to one another.

Monday, September 26, 2011

$avings $monday- Recipe, Savings, Freebies

Hello Friends!

  So, I missed Sunday... We still love $avings, so here's $avings $monday!  :)
Got a few great buys last week.  Grocery shopping week.  Kroger has a promotion going on - buy 10 (selected) products, get $5 off your grocery bill... So that decreases the per item price by 50 cents per item - a great deal when matched up with (doubled) coupons!!!  Mom and I saved over $100 grocery shopping this week!  The boys were very happy campers because I bought some great ice cream and saved over 75% (and it would have been more, but I didn't buy 10 of them.)

  Another great buy this week:  For Local/Quad Cities Friends - Fareway has Ragu pasta sauce on sale for 10/$10.  I got the heads up that our Fareway was out, so I pricematched at Walmart.  I had 75c/1 coupons and paid $2.50 for 10. (Woot Woot!) 

  Some great buys can be had this week:


Stock up on your tissue - Puffs brand tissue - 99cents (matchup with 8/28 P&G coupon)

Halloween Candy on sale (We live in the Country, we get no trick or treaters, but I like the little candy bars - we have in our home what we affectionately call the "good boy jar"... the little candy bars are the perfect size for a little treat.)

Walgreens has their $6.99 toys on sale (buy one get one free) - always a good time to pick up a couple items to keep on hand for unexpected gifts (And even better if you have an extra high dollar Register reward to use!)

They also have Disney or Nickelodeon kids socks for $1 - great stocking stuffers!

Zicam and Delsym products $10 each... PLUS get $5 register rewards for spending $20 on these items.  (I am a fan of Delsym cough syrup... with a few of us with allergies/ allergic asthma in the house, it is fantastic to have found a cough syrup that not only works (for HOURS!!!) but it doesn't taste bad, either!)

P&G Beauty Item Giveaway! 10,000 Full Size Items EVERY DAY!   Visit every day before Noon EST to sign up!

Easy Recipe of the Week-
Adapted from ALL YOU (Oct 11) Magazine

1 Package Italian Sausage (I used Johnsonville Garlic Sausage)
2 - 28 oz cans diced tomatoes (can use Fresh tomatoes)
6 cups soaked and prepared canellini beans (4 cans, if using canned)
1 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, smashed
1 TBS cooking oil

Brown Sausage.  
In stock pot, heat oil and cook onion and garlic for several minutes on medium heat.  Add tomatoes and beans into stock pot.  Add a small amount of water (you may have to keep adding water if it gets too thick). 
Slice Sausage and add to stock pot to cook with tomatoes and beans.  Will need to simmer for about an hour and a half to cook down tomatoes.
*Notes - I needed a quick meal and saw this and tried it.  It was WAYYYY better than I thought it would be.  Next time, I will use chicken stock instead of water for a little more flavor, but this was so good.  Everyone enjoyed it!

Have a great Day, Friends.  Be Kind to one another.  And don't forget to say "I love you." - You can't say it enough.  I love you!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Keeping with the Theme of $avings...

Hello Friends!

  In keeping with the spirit of my $unday $avings post from the other day, I've been asked to share some hints on cutting down your grocery bill.  In all honesty, groceries are pretty rough to save on (although there are things I do to stay within the budget!) because with our diet (avoiding processed foods and several dietary restrictions), the foods I buy are whole foods, not a lot of coupons available for our diet/lifestyle.  There are some, however.  Just yesterday, I learned of a coupon from Earthbound Farm yesterday ( Earthbound Farm ) - take a quiz and get a $1 off coupon.  I was able to print 2 and got two pounds of carrots for free.  Other ideas for saving money on groceries follow.  I am able to save so much money on health items (shampoo, conditioner, soap, etc) and household items (cleaning supplies, laundry supplies, freezer bags, etc) that I have extra to buy what we need in the grocery budget.  My savings on these items is near 85%, so, that saves a lot of money.

  For my family, cooking from scratch is our main way of saving money on groceries.  Limited convenience foods are used.  This cuts down costs dramatically, and is so much more healthful than the SAD (Standard American Diet - clever acronym, huh?).  Simple, nutritious meals include one or two veggies, possibly a serving of fruit, a whole grain and a protein.  I've had to simplify meals because of dietary restrictions - I have a newly discovered dairy allergy and am reacting to virtually all processed grains.  So, instead of making two meals, I make one meal and just take what I can eat, possibly skipping the grain altogether.  The boys love rice and pasta (I use whole grain pasta, but this is not something I can eat), so I still make it, but I just don't eat it.  This is easier and more economical than making different meals.  In this same vein, eating in season and growing your own garden are two easy ways to save on your grocery bill.  It is not a difficult task to grow a couple of tomato plants, and green beans, peppers and eggplant are among my boys' favorite snacks.  I recognize that my family is in a bit of a different situation than most, but we also raise our own meat (rabbits and chickens) and have laying hens for fresh eggs.  The chickens free range in every season except Winter, so our cost to keep them is minimal.  This all saves on our bottom line.

  As far as coupons go, there are a few fairly nutritional products that offer coupons.  I use coupons for yogurt (at the Kroger, where I can double coupons) - the one thing I have to do with products like this, however, is to remember to check ingredients.  There is still HFCS in a lot of yogurt.  If this is they case, buy the plain variety (not vanilla, which still can contain the offending ingredient) and add your own honey or fruit.  Peanut butter is another product I buy with coupons.  As long as you're not brand-particular, there are some good coupons to be found for a few items for even the most restricted diets.

   If your store has a sale on a particular item that you use a frequently, buy as many of that item as you think you'll need until you predict the store will have the sale again.  (Many stores put things on sale on a cycle.  Walgreens, for instance, has Dawn dish soap on sale at least once a month.  I know this and buy some at each sale - with coupons, of course!)  The same concept can be applied to all of your consumables... rice, flour, sugar, beans, etc.  Always having the basics on hand is most helpful in creating simple but tasty meals.  Which brings me to my next point...

  Meal planning is a vital part of grocery shopping on any kind of a budget.  Knowing what you're making, when you're making it, how you're making it and what you're doing with leftovers is key in not wasting food.  Last week, I made a small turkey for dinner.  So, that night, we ate turkey.  With the bones and skin and fat and random meat on bones, I made stock (into the freezer for use as a meal starter at a later date) and I re-boiled the fat and bones with the giblets and used froze that stock for use for bland dog food for when a dog gets an upset tummy - we have one that gets sick every Winter and needs a rice diet for a week.  The leftover meat was used for hot turkey sandwiches a few days later.  And there was enough left over for a couple sandwiches for lunch the next day.  I even ground up the bones (after they'd been boiled soft) for the chickens- Calcium for nice strong eggs!  I always try to make the most out of preparing meals, using all leftovers quickly and efficiently so that they're not forgotten.

  I hope this helps someone with ideas for making the most of your grocery dollar.  Food is expensive.  I save a ton of money on household needs and am able to not skimp on the grocery budget.  We raise and grow our own food and buy bundles of meat from our local butcher.  I buy extra meat (chicken and ground beef) when it goes on sale, usually buying in larger quantities and breaking down large packages into smaller amounts that I use for one meal, ensuring no waste.  Careful meal planning and cooking those meals from scratch round out our grocery savings plan.  Using all leftovers in creative ways furthers stretching our grocery budget. 

  What are some of YOUR favorite ways to save money in your grocery budget?  Share with us!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

**$unday $avings **

Hello Dear Friends, 

  I've decided to begin to share some money saving ideas here on the (Funny) Farm blog.  Since Sunday is the day I go through coupons and match up money saving coupons with sales at local stores, it makes sense to have Sundays be our **$unday $avings** day here at the (Funny) Farm.  I hope these matchups, sale announcements, free samples and money saving tips are a blessing to you and yours.  Feel Free to comment or e-mail me with comments and suggestions!  I love to hear from you!

 If you go to, you can sign up for mobile coupons.  They then text coupons to your phone.  You open up the text and they scan the code and discounts are applied.  (Just don't forget your phone at the register. Sigh.  Yeah. Experience.)  In the current round of coupons, there is a $5 off coupon for any Merona plus size ladies clothing item.  I snagged a nice layering t-shirt on clearance (for $5) and got it for free with the coupon.  (Mobile Coupons - FTW!)   ***Keep in Mind - Even if an item is on clearance (any store) - You can STILL USE COUPONS!  This is why I bring my coupon binder with me EVERY time I go shopping.***

Walgreens -
Oh how I love Walgreens!  I think I will write a poem about pharmacy giant's awesomeness one day.  Just not today...for today... today I write about savings!  Do yourself a favor and watch this: 

   This little video will explain the intricacies of couponing at Walgreens.  You really will find some of the best deals, but there are a few things you need to always keep in mind.


  A couple of my favorite freebies of the week:

Rachel Ray - Just 6 Dog Food Sample

Twinings Tea - Pick Your Favorites to Sample!

Free Sample of Emergen C Vitamin Drink Mix

  With that, my friends, I leave you for today.  Be sure to clip your coupons today to prepare for savings!  Look through sale flyers and match up coupons to items on sale - That's it! You're on your way to savings.  Items that I now regularly get for free or nearly free (at least 80% off, usually more) include dish soap, dishwasher detergent, shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, toothpaste, cereals and almost all cleaning supplies.  I try to maximize savings on household and heatlh/beauty items because I generally can't get coupons for most of our food items.  I got cereal on sale a couple weeks ago (on sale for 5 boxes for $10, which in and of itself is a pretty good price, but when combined with my coupons, I got 5 boxes for $3... even better.  We don't eat too much cereal here, my youngest will eat a bowl a couple times a week and Grandpa likes it, but it is nice to have on hand.  One of my twins, for example, is more than a little under the weather this week...Cheerios are a nice snack for his upset tummy.).  So, I try to save where I can on these items.  I will do a grocery savings post in the future, because we are very frugal (and healthy!) with groceries as well!

   Have a wonderful Sunday, my Friends.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Autumn Happenings

Hello Friends!

Although the calendar tells me that it is still Summer for a couple more weeks, the temperature reminds me that Autumn is quickly approaching!  This is, of course, bittersweet.  The heat of the Summer is something that won't be missed, we had several weeks of sweltering heat, and not only am I just not a fan of terribly hot weather, but with the boys having the medical conditions they do, the hottest of days here are spent inside, in the air conditioning.  BORING!  Much cooler than outside, but boredom is not something that works for us.

   Autumn brings cooler temperatures (and boys outside playing until well after dark), bonfires, putting up the Summer's harvest, preparations for Winter, the end of the camping and hiking season... so it's arrival is bittersweet, indeed. 

   Autumn also ushers in two "seasons" we look ahead to with anticipation.  The first, a mixed bag, is clearing out the house of "stuff"... I really detest STUFF.  I have a hubby who has A.D.D. and he has made great strides in adjusting to how most of the world works, but one thing I struggle with (he rather enjoys it, apparently) is the PILES OF STUFF that he leaves everywhere.  I say he suffers from F.S.S.  Flat Surface Syndrome... as in flat surfaces must be covered with stuff.  Drives me insane... like, clawing my eyes out, insane.  SO... in order to do what I can do to feel somewhat in control of the piles, I like to de-clutter a couple times a year... and the end of Summer is generally one of those times.  I don't usually have to do the traditional "Spring Cleaning" because by the very virtue of being locked in the house for the entire long, cold Winter, I've already got things de-cluttered by the time Spring rolls around.  Now, if you come to our home, do not mistake what I just said for "there is no clutter", because there is...on the flat surfaces.  I JUST put his piles into a huge covered storage tub (when he was gone last week) and his spot (read: half the table) is covered again.  Sigh.  So, I can't do anything about this (I *have* considered throwing it all away... but I figure that would be I don't), but I *CAN* de-clutter and pass along the other items that we no longer use or need.  Usually, this means clothes that the boys have outgrown.  Since moving to the (Funny) Farm, a traditional garage sale just doesn't work... not enough traffic passing the (Funny) Farm to make it work.   But, fortunately for me, I've discovered a way to inconvenience myself  *JUST AS MUCH* as if we were having a normal garage sale!  (Awesome!)  So, all day yesterday (appropriate, on Labor Day), I was getting stuff out, taking pictures, uploading, describing...and I got 19 stinking pictures up.  And I made like $22.  Ah.... good stuff.  (It is generally more than I make in the course of a typical day, which is sad, hysterical and headache-inducing all at the same time.)  OK, so I *don't* look forward to garage sale / de-cluttering / online sale Season... BUT... we do look forward to....

   We refer to Autumn weather as "Soup Season".  We've already had a big, hot pot of chili.  Some of our other favorites include chicken and dumplings, beef barley soup, beef stew, Italian wedding soup, veggie soup... I'm making myself drool... and thinking of what I'll be making tonight for dinner.  Thinking of what I have on hand... We still have kale in the garden, so I think Italian wedding soup is the winner.  I'll bake a loaf of French bread today and yes... that will do nicely.

  What are some of YOUR favorite Autumn traditions?  Share in comments and be featured in an upcoming Life on the (Funny) Farm post!  Have a beautiful day, Friends!