the great pumpkin(s)

Jon had to work this morning cleaning up from the conference that was here this weekend and when I got home from church he had two pumpkins sitting on our kitchen counter (leftovers from decorations).

You would have thought he gave me the moon.

I have really been wanting to try cooking and pureeing and freezing my own pumpkin to use for pies and baking, etc. but an extra pumpkin or two just wasn’t in the food budget lately. So today was my chance!

This is what I did:

1. Cut the pumpkins in half.

2. Scooped out the goop and seeds and rinsed and saved the seeds (they are drying for 48 hours and then we’re going to make this with them).

3. Placed one half of the pumpkin cut side down on a cookie sheet and baked at 350 for 1 hour. And yes there were two pumpkins, which means 4 half pumpkins, which means I cooked pumpkin for four hours straight… STRIKE 1.

4. After cooking I scooped out the good stuff and beat it with my mixer. Then I strained the liquid through a cloth so it wasn’t too watery… that was REALLY a mess. STRIKE 2.

5. Next I measured out 1 and 3/4 cups of pumpkin into freezer bags. (apparently that’s how much is in a can of pumpkin) I also did a few bags with 1 cup in them because that’s how much a pumpkin pancake recipe calls for!

All in all we got about 8 cans of pumpkin… that’s it. STRIKE 3.

We won’t be buying pumpkins to make our own puree anytime soon. BUT if free pumpkins find their way to us like they did today, it was a fun experimetn!

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frugal summer fun

Money Saving Mom is hosting the question of how to have fun with the family over the summer… frugally. Considering that it’s just the two of us, we have a lot of flexibility now, which probably isn’t the case for everyone. But here are some frugal ideas of things that we like to do for fun:

  • College Town happenings– We are super blessed to always live in college towns due to Jon’s job. If you have a college or university near you I highly recommend looking into what they offer over the summer. At the last school we were at they held an outdoor summer concert series on Friday evenings throughout the summer. Even if there aren’t “special” events planned on-campus, typically campuses are a LOT quieter in the summer with students gone. A lot of schools have some type of garden and other great green spaces that you can utilize without the school year crowd.
  • Walking… don’t underestimate it! We like to go early in the morning or late at night when it’s cooler. It’s a great way to unwind and have time to talk.
  • Game Nights– This is really a year-round fun idea.  We love to get together with a few other couples for games and dessert. In the summer you can make strawberry shortcake, homemade ice cream, or other cool desserts! This can easily be adapted for folks with kids of all ages.

two income trap

Yesterday I watched a really interesting video posted by Meredith at Like Merchant Ships. It is Elizabeth Warren’s presentation of her researching findings comparing spending in the 1970s and now. In a nutshell, she discovered that middle class families are living on two incomes much more now, not because they are spending more on things like clothes and food and entertainment (in actuality this spending has gone down, taking inflation into account). But instead spending has drastically increased in the areas of housing, health insurance and education. So, in a one-income family these areas become even more challenging.

Meredith posted again to get responses on what families are doing to beat the two-income trap.  I definitely agree with these ideas! We had a really interesting discussion about this over dinner last night. We definitely saw the impact that health insurance can make when we changed jobs recently. And working in higher education the rising costs are very evident to us… though I feel like the affluence of students attending has also gone up (we are continually shocked by the number of students driving Lexus, Corvettes, BMWs, etc. on a college campus).

Anyway, the video really had some surprising info in it to me and the follow-up post is also interesting, worth a look!

frugal friday- loose change game

This may be the most ridiculous thing ever posted to Frugal Fridays… but it’s something that Jon and I have done since we started dating in grad school and has been a lot of fun, frugal, and somewhat of a game between us.

We pick up loose change off the ground. That’s it…. that’s all there is to it. We don’t care if the penny is on heads or tails, since we don’t believe in luck it doesn’t matter. We don’t care if it’s just one penny. We just pick it up.  You would be AMAZED how much loose change is lying around that tons of people just walk right by.

What do we do with this change? Well first of all it’s something of a game. Nothing elaborate just, “Hey, I found a DIME yesterday!” (that’s big money in the world of loose change picking-up). “Oh yeah, well two days ago I found a QUARTER!” (this is comparable to a few thousand dollars in our game). Then we both say, “Hooyah!,” give each other high fives and smile.  That’s about the extent of competitiveness in this game.

Next, we put the change in a jar. Then we roll the money at some point when we have some down-time or while watching TV. THEN… we get to spend it! Our favorite is to use rolled pennies to pay for a movie at the local $2.00 theater. We just plunk our rolls down, get our tickets and off we go… it’s a very nice feeling to know that we are enjoying the movie off of money we found on the ground.

Happy hunting!

my new favorite thing

I really love pictures, but I hate being stuck with what I have. There are so many pictures that I think, hmmm, if I had just done this or that it would be so much more interesting. So today I did a web search for free photo editing online and ta-da… enter Picnik… my new favorite thing!  It’s at www.picnik.com

Picnik is free for basic services and registration is super easy. Best of all, the tools are really easy to use and they look great! Take a look at this example. To the right you see a picture of Jon and I in Maine for our first anniversary. We drove… we started at midnight and planned to trade off driving… except I couldn’t sleep, but when I got behind the wheel I got tired. We DO NOT recommend this. Anyway, here we are in this cute fishing village… just your typical touristy photo… ho hum, not too thrilling.

After a little Picniking we ended up with this…. some cropping, a little sepia toning… I like it much more! It’s a lot of fun just to play around. You can change pictures to pencil sketching, add text, add fake snow, great potential!

I will put in the caveat that I’ve only been using this for a few hours and I’ve never printed any photos once edited, so I’m not sure how they will print out.   Let me know what you think!

buying a camera

This seems to be something that is next to impossible to do in a manner that is not costly… we have a digital camera right now but it has a huge lag time between pictures and we really want to have a good camera for when the baby comes to take quick shots and movies. So… we’re searching. So far the Canon PowerShot SD 750 or SD 1000 look like my top picks, but the least expensive we can find them is around $200… we were hoping to hit closer to $100… hmmm…. keep on looking!