Odds and Ends: Zip-Top Frozen Fruit Bags/Frugal Freezing

I’ve noticed for some time now that most of the waste in my kitchen that can’t be composted or recycled is plastic film or bag packaging. I can take my plastic grocery bags back to our local grocery store to be recycled, but that is the only kind of plastic bag that doesn’t end up in the landfill.

One kind of plastic bag that I can reuse is the zip-top type in which my frozen fruits (and some types of rice) are packaged. These bags are extra tough. They are made to withstand shipping and handling without breaking. They are more heavy-duty than the zip-top freezer bags you can buy in most grocery stores. They hold up better in my chest deep freeze where items are piled on top of each other and moved often.

I use and reuse these bags to freeze cooked beans, fruits, vegetables, and baked goods. (I don’t reuse any plastic bag in which I have stored an animal product, such as chicken, beef, cheese, or anything greasy.)

It’s not much, but at least I’ve kept some plastic out of the waste stream. Begonia

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A Frugal Way to Brighten Up February–Silk Flower Centerpieces

I had vowed not to spend money on anything but necessities this month–but I cracked during a trip to the Dollar Tree. I had only intended to get a Valentine’s Day card for my granddaughter and some rubber gloves and magic cleaning sponges. I ended up walking out with those items plus flower and vegetable seeds (4 for $1), a tube of chips, and two bags of silk flowers and floral foam for arranging them.

It has been so dark and dreary. It hasn’t been really cold, but we’ve only had 2 or 3 days of sun in the last two weeks. So I decided to brighten our home with some fake but cheerful (and rather primitive and gaudy) flower arrangements. (My daughter tells me that I’m SUCH a grandma! True.)

Desperate times call for desperate home decorating.

I made this centerpiece for our dining room table this past Christmas but had to put it away along with all the other holiday decorations. I made it by cutting the flowers with greens from the stems about two inches from the top and spearing them into a round Styrofoam wreath form.

I set the finished round, flower-filled form on a silver-plated charger and then placed a hurricane glass shade with a candle in the center of the wreath of flowers.

It looked so nice that I decided to make another. The total cost to make this centerpiece was about $12. How many stems of flowers it takes to fill a wreath depends on the size of the flowers. I picked at least one spray of each color of rose they had in stock because roses are smaller, so it took quite a few flowers to make a nice full wreath. My Christmas centerpiece only required 6 or 7 sprays of poinsettias for a total cost of about $8. (These centerpieces could also be repurposed as wreaths next year if I decide to make different centerpieces for the table.) 

I will keep this centerpiece on the table for the next 6 or 7 months, so I figure I’ll get my money’s worth before I make another for Fall. In the meantime, it really lights up the table. Begonia




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Swedish Snowman Luminary

I found an old letter from my mother recently while cleaning out a closet. She remarked on the weather (snow) and season (winter) and how I should build a “Swedish Snowman” for my daughter who was six or seven years old at the time.

I don’t know why my mother called the luminary she built out of snowballs Swedish or a snowman. If I were able to ask her today, she would probably say, “I don’t know. That is just what we called them.”

I remember her building one in the front yard after we moved  to the country outside Augusta, Wisconsin, in the early 1970s.

There was a lot of snow in the 70s and 80s in west central Wisconsin. My dad had to take runs at the snow drifts to get to his job at a nursing home in Eau Claire. Sometimes he would come walking back up the road to get our old John Deere tractor to pull the trapped car out of a drift that he hadn’t been able to bust through.

My mother had a lot of materials to build her “snowman” when it warmed up enough for the snow to pack. Her creations were perfect circles about 3 or 4 snowballs high set in a bit on top, forming tiny igloos with open tops.

We stood inside and watched the flickering candle shine through the spaces between the snowballs–lighting the dreariest nights of winter and the long cold spread out before us. It made life just a little easier.  Begonia





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