From My Home

This is been the longest blogging break I have taken since I started blogging in 2010 (has it really been that long?). Things have been absolutely crazy here. I graduated in December, went on many vacations, and then started working. I work 50-60 hour weeks and when you tack on my commutes and sleeping, I have virtually no free time ever. I set aside Tuesday nights at 10 PM to catch the new Teen Mom (why is that show so addicting?). Multiple days go by each week where I don’t even open my laptop, which is absolutely crazy coming from the girl who used to be on it non-stop. I’m no complaining though, as I am so thankful to have a job, but it’s tiring. Most of the time, I don’t even have time to shave my legs, let alone blog! I really hope to be able to add at least a few new posts each week so I can stay connected to the great readers I had. I want to keep everyone updated on my shopping trips, my garden, the chickens, and my thrifting. I might even be able to throw in some good deals here and there. I highly, highly recommend you join the Savvy Shopper’s Group on Facebook. It is much easier for me to share on there, you can ask questions at any time. We share Swagbucks codes, our shopping trips, and anything else.

As you can see, the blog really needs a new lift. As of December, I am no longer a student so some things need to be updated. Nerdboy, the boyfriend and techie behind the blog, will work on it once he finds some free time. He’s still in school and working and he seems to have less free time than I do.

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I’ve been couponing every week! As long as I stay on a routine I can get things done. CVS has been really sucky since Black Friday, do you agree? We used to walk out of there with free Gilette razors and money makers all the time. Now we’re lucky if we see one measily freebie each week. Maybe I’m being greedy, but the deals have been so slow. My mom has been doing ShopRite each week (Glen Burnie, MD ShopRite is still doubling $1 coupons) and we usually go to Safeway for a small trip when we can. My goal is to start posting my shopping trips, at the very least. I also need to update everyone on thrifting, chickens and the garden!

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I got these shoes at Value Village for $13. They are practically new. I’ve been looking for a pair of shoes just like this for years and finally found a pair that my cheap butt would buy ;)

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Some stuff Nerdboy picked up for me!

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This was a GREAT thrifting day in February.

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Probably about a third of my collection of Vintage Pyrex

I still continue to thrift every week. Now that I’m not going to school, I’m far from my favorite thrift shops that I used to frequent. Nerdboy so graciously goes for me every once in awhile. I go to flea markets when possible (snow and cold make this difficult). I pick up Pyrex as much as I can. I collect vintage Pyrex for my personal collection, which has grown SO MUCH over the years and I also pick up stuff to resell. I have a pretty good eye for things I can flip and make a buck off of, whether it be Pyrex that I don’t personally collect, other vintage kitchen items, or even kid’s toys. I use money that I make from my personal sales (whether it be reselling items I thrift or make/craft) to pay for all of my expenses. I use Paypal for selling, so all my profit lies in my Paypal account. I use a Paypal Debit card (highly reccomend) for all my purchases so it’s a great cushion to have. I haven’t had to touch the money out of my actual bank account for months, probably a year, with the exception of student loans that I pay off in large chunks from my paychecks. If you’re into the Instagram thing and don’t mind pictures of my thrift finds (mainly Pyrex), chickens, and me selling stuff (yes, mainly Pyrex or old stuff), follow me @brandilabarre. I even post my shopping trips sometimes!

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Tilling my garden

The chickens are doing well. If you remember from the Fall, Luna (our littlest Barred Rock) wasn’t doing well. She was so sick that she lived in my bedroom for a month or so. We nursed her back to health and she has been living outside since December. She’s still a bit slow and will not hang out with the other girls. Luckily they don’t really pick on her anymore, but they certainly aren’t friends. When they sleep at night, Bonnie, Biscuit, and Ginger all snuggle together and Luna is by herself at least 2 feet away. Poor girl, but she’s hanging in there. Only two chickens are laying eggs. I think the cold weather and shorter days convinced Ginger and Luna to stop laying this winter. Bonnie and Biscuit lay an egg almost every single day. They rock! I hope the other girls step it up since it’s March already! Now that the snow is melted, they get to play outside as much as possible. They till my garden all up and that makes me so happy (until I have plants in there)! We’re still talking about bringing some new babies into the coop in coming months.

As far as gardening goes, it has officially started for 2014! I got seeds planted already and my lemon and lime trees are here in Maryland. I planted lettuce, spinach and green onion seeds in pots. It’s still a bit nippy here, but I’m hoping they’ll grow. The left half of my garden is looking really good. Last year it was filled with a good bit of yummy compost, I just recently added some horse manure that I got for free off Craigslist months ago from a lady 3 minutes away (thank you, ma’am!), and I’ve been constantly tossing in the mess from the chicken coop. The right side of the garden still needs a lot of work. I’m thinking of adding 3 raised beds and filling with good dirt and more manure because I’ve struggled with that sandy soil for just too long. I’ll update with more pictures when I can.

So, if you got through all that, I just want to say thank you for sticking with me. I thought I was busy when I was in school, but working is just so much more time consuming. I headed out for another vacation next week, but I’ll hopefully stay in touch from now on :)

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The Savvy Student Shopper survived skiing and negative temperatures in Vermont last week and is now spending time in Florida!

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Yesterday was pretty rainy so we went shopping! I went to CVS (twice this week) and to Publix! Publix is similar to an amusement park for any seasoned couponer. No matter the week, there’s always a super deal (or 15) there! Their BOGO sales allow you to use 2 coupons per pair, there are many, many Publix store coupons for extra savings, plus most of their stores accept competitor coupons, and some even double Manufacturer’s coupons. You just can’t go wrong shopping at Publix. I wish they were in Maryland! I spent about $14 on everything pictured above.

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Before leaving for Florida, I went to CVS to grab some deals. I think I paid just about tax for the items above. Christmas clearance was 90% (inlcuding candy) so I grabbed the Hershey’s Kisses for $0.39 — score! I got $10 back from the Bayer Contour, $4 from Sundown, $5 from PediaCare, and $3 from Colgate.

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And then when I got to Florida, I grabbed 6 packs of Tena ($9 money maker!!) and my mom wanted those Green Tea diet pills. They were $19.29 each originally, but I think we got them all for like $12 after coupons, ECBs, and overage from the Tena. I have absolutely no faith in those pills (or that entire section of ‘As Seen on TV’, ‘Dr. Oz sponsored’, or ‘Jillian Micheal’s’ products for that matter) but she has been wanting to buy them. The instruction booklet that comes in the box gives you a 2 week diet and exercise plan to follow. Mom said the reviews on their website were great (well, obviously) but she’s also not understanding that the pills aren’t magic and the results are only shown in the people who follow their diet and exercise routine for an extended period of time. She has zero intentions of following their suggested plan. Oh well. At least she didn’t pay full price for them, right?

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This morning also started off kind of rainy so instead of heading to the pool, we spent the afternoon at the huge flea market nearby. It’s mostly indoors and it’s mostly filled with junk. I’m a flea market junkie and this is not my kind of flea market. It’s filled with new stuff, cheap plastic toys, refurbished laptops, fake jewelry, As Seen on TV items, leopard print leggings, foot massagers, body vibrators, Bath Fitter’s salesmen, and items from a drug store that closed 11 years ago. But, there’s a great aisle that’s filled of produce and at least half of it is local. We like to get oranges, strawberries, peppers, tomatoes and herbs. I also found a nice man that was selling plants. I purchased a Meyer Lemon and Lime tree (technically it’s a centennial kumquat tree, but he said they just taste like limes) from him for $12 each. I’ve been eyeing up a Meyer Lemon tree that I was going to buy online but that would have run around $100 shipped, so I figured I’d buy it here and save the money. I fly back to Maryland next week, but my grandparents will drive my trees home when they come back to Maryland in April. The trees will enjoy their Florida weather more than Maryland weather anyway. Both varieties are pretty cold tolerant so I’m hoping they’ll survive back home, but I’ll bring them inside for the winter next year. Both trees already have baby fruit on them. I’m pretty excited to add some new fruit to my back yard! I have 2 varieties of apples, a cherry tree, mulberry tree, blueberry bush, strawberries, blackberry and black raspberry vines, and now citrus!

And that’s all for tonight! Time to get some sleep because there’s another (better) flea market I’d like to hit in the morning before we spend the day poolside.

Chicken Update 12/3

posted in Chickens on

Hello my friends! I realize I’ve totally been MIA for the past few months. It’s hard to keep up with everything! With a lot of changes going on, I figured it was time for another chicken update.

We’ll start with Luna. Luna-belle. Luna-cake. Luna-wuna. Luna-baby. Chickens get all sorts of nicknames when you share a room with them for almost a month! It has been a rough road for poor little Luna. If you remember from way back in March, Luna was our littlest girl and I’m almost positive she always will be. (Oh my goodness I miss the chicky days.)

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Luna was our last to start laying eggs and always the runt of the group. Starting around September, Luna started slowing down, not keeping up with the others when I let them run, and stopped laying eggs. We thought she was possibly egg bound since she wasn’t laying any eggs. Then we noticed Bonnie (her Barred Rock sister) was picking on her quite a bit. She was pecking at her constantly and wouldn’t let her get near the food. Soon, the other girls, Ginger and Biscuit, started picking on her too. And then, Luna started limping. I figured she was limping because the girls were pecking at her so much or maybe she had something caught in it. We saw nothing physically wrong with her foot on the outside, so we assumed it was something internal. The only time Luna got some peace was when we let them out to run. The 3 bad girls would go explore and Luna would lay in the grass. When we noticed that Luna was obviously not getting much food and her foot was not getting any better, we brought her inside.

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Luna started eating like crazy! She was so excited to have her own food bowl and not be pushed around by the others. She also loved her own personal roosting stick. She was eating well at first but her appetite started slowly decreasing and her foot was not getting better. We removed the roost from the cage hoping she’d spend more time resting without having to put weight on her sore foot. In an effort to perk her up and help her foot, we gave her 2 warm baths with some Epsom salt. We couldn’t figure out what was wrong with her foot, but noticed some spots on her foot and wondered if she had a bacterial infection. After the baths, Luna was more relaxed and seemed to like the extra attention. We added an oral antibiotic to her water. At the same time, Luna had stopped eating and drinking. I could rub the most tasty food ever all over her beak and she wouldn’t even open her beak for a lick. We thought maybe there was a blockage in her system and she couldn’t physically eat. Due to lack of food and water, Luna slowed down tremendously. She would sleep all the time and she could not keep her eyes open! We quickly realized that she needed nutrients asap. We decided to use the syringe and give her Pedialyte multiple times a day. Thankfully, this happened during the week of Thanksgiving and I was able to be home most of the time. She still would not eat. Michael ordered another antibiotic and needles, which was our last hope for poor Luna. Thankfully, Michael gave her the first shot into her breast, because I was a chicken (ironic ;) ) and after 8 shots within 5 days (and I did half of them myself!), Luna seems to have made a near-full recovery! The shots ended up being very difficult as Luna has practically no fat or muscle for a needle. She’s literally skin, feathers, and bones, but we managed and carefully found a safe location 8 times. For the past 3-4 days, she has been eating like a pig! She’s constantly munching on her dry food and we gave her some fruit and veggies too. She started drinking on her own too, so no more Pedialyte through a syringe! I still haven’t a clue what was/is wrong with her and we’ll probably never know. She is being extremely vocal and I know she wants to go back outside! My next dilemma is when she does go back outside (we’re still trying to fatten her up before she goes into the freezing temperatures as she is less than half the size of the other chickens) she’ll still continued to be picked on. During this whole roller coaster, Luna got to go outside a few times to get fresh air and grass. Every single time, the mean girls came right over to peck at her (even through the garden fence!). I’m worried they are going to bully her right back to sickness so I’m keeping Luna inside (and on chick food for extra fat and protein) to bulk her up and get her extra feisty. I know she’ll always be at the bottom of the pecking order, but she can’t be bullied to death!


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Also, Squirt, our bad cat, absolutely loves my new roommate. She steals shares food through the bars and even gives her loving pats slaps in the face through the cage. Best friends furever, I’d say.

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And the other girls… They are doing great. They are as loud and obnoxious as ever. I read somewhere that Barred Rocks were supposed to be quiet chickens. Apparently they never met our Bonnie. They have some kind of 6th sense and can tell when someone opens the front/back door of our house. They start clucking/screaming to be let out even when no one is in sight! They still absolutely love to roam the yard. Biscuit has eaten numerous frogs and lizards WHOLE. She’s still our hunter. Bonnie, she’s still the boss and flips out when the other girls leave her behind. Ginger is my sweetie, well next to Luna. Luna gets priority since she lives with me. Unfortunately, now that our days are shorter, the girls get much less time outside. By the time I get home from school or work, it’s dark already. They also lay less eggs because of the short days and cold weather. In the summer, they were laying about 6 days of the week. They just skip a day here and there. Now, they skip many more days and the egg count is very scattered. Sometimes we only get 1 eggs, sometimes 2, and sometimes 3. I can’t wait until this Spring when they’ll start laying more and hopefully Luna will join in soon! Oh, and I might be bringing new babies into the coop too ;)

So there you go! Another look into my crazy life.

And before I get the comments, let me just put out a disclosure that Michael and I are not chicken doctors, I do not recommend you keep a chicken in your room and do everything we did, I know that there are some veterinarians that’ll take chickens, I know that it’s *just* a chicken and could be dinner (seriously don’t eat a sick chicken though), but we are just doing the best that we could do to help this poor, little, young chicken that really just needed help. If you have any questions about a sick chicken, I recommend you find a reputable source for your information. If you’re considering getting chickens, remember that they do get sick and hurt and you must make the right decisions for yourself as a responsible pet owner.

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My favorite part of the Thanksgiving turkey is the carcass! Making turkey stock is so easy, delicious, and nutritious! Do not ever throw out your carcass again! Even if you aren’t hosing Thanksgiving dinner, you can ask the host what they are doing with the carcass. Don’t let them go in the trash! You also don’t have to wait until Thanksgiving to make stock, this can be done with any bones, so anytime you have a baked chicken or beef bones, don’t throw them out! If you don’t have time to make stock right now, just toss the carcass and all the drippings into the freezer.

In a large pot:

  • Carcass
  • Drippings, fat, veggies cooked with the turkey, etc.
  • Carrots (ends and peels work!)
  • Onions (ends and peels work!)
  • Celery (ends and leaves are great)
  • Herbs (I use thyme, parsley and bay leaves)
  • Other veggies of your choice
  • Salt and pepper
  • A tablespoon or 2 of Apple Cider Vinegar
  • Water to cover

As you cook during the week, save your veggie peels and ends for stock making. You can get a gallon size freezer bag and stick the veggies ends in until you’re ready to make stock. The apple cider vinegar helps draw out extra vitamins and minerals out of the bones. Bone broth is so good for you!

Let this cook for at least a few hours or you can even have it cook for a day or two. You can make it in a large crock pot or a large pot. Add more water if necessary. Be sure to keep taste testing to see if it needs anything. If it tastes too watery, let it cook down more. Keep in mind that bone broth will taste different than broth you make from a bouillon cube. Strain your stock. A tiny holed colander or some cheese cloth will do the trick. If you notice your stock is very oily/fatty, let the stock cool completely (put it in the fridge or outside if it’s cold enough). Skim off the fatty film and then bring the stock back to a boil.

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What to do with stock?

  • Make soup
  • Freeze the stock (ice cube trays work well for saving small amounts for cooking rice or flavoring other recipes)
  • Can the stock (I highly recommend the Presto 23 Quart Pressure canner)
  • Save the extra meat pieces for meals

 

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I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving! I love food, especially Thanksgiving food. Unlike many people, I go for the veggies! My plate is piled with string beans, corn, sauerkraut, and mashed potatoes (kind of a veggie… right?). I’ll eat one slice of meat and I won’t touch the rolls or pies! To me, there’s nothing better than a can (or 4) of Del Monte string beans simmered with onions and bacon grease. I’d take that over cake/pie/cookies any day! I can’t wait for leftovers for breakfast tomorrow :)

Some of you are probably out Black Friday shopping now or you’ll be up early tomorrow for the sales! Don’t forget that Amazon has fantastic deals this time of year. The best deals will sell out in seconds, so you really need to be on top of these things! I’ll try to post some of the hot deals, so make sure you’re following along.

You can head over now and view the 2013 Black Friday deals from Amazon. Don’t forget, Cyber Monday is right around the corner! Amazon posts Deals of the Day and Lightening Deals all the time. You’ll want to keep them out!

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I do a lot of thrifting. I go multiple days a week and it would be every day of the week if Nerdboy let me. I usually spend my weekend mornings (when I’m home) at the local flea market (vendors started recognizing me this summer and I just think that’s a bit odd especially because I look like a complete bum that early in the morning), local yard sales, church sales, estate sales, and thrift shops. On the weekdays when I have class (only 2.5 days a week!) I usually convince Nerdboy to stop at my favorite Value Village(s). Judging by ALL my Pyrex pictures from the past year+, you probably think I’m a hoarder and if you see my dining room (sorry, mom), you’d probably be right. BUT this week I’m having a large Pyrex purge (on Instagram @brandilabarre –honestly though, only follow me if you like Pyrex and chickens, seriously). I’m selling off a lot of my extras and unwanteds I’ve accumulated over the year, so I’ve been prepping for that. I just had to purchase bubble wrap and that’s was super unfrugal. I did find the cheapest I could on ebay for $0.13/foot. I try not to buy Pyrex that I don’t personally want, which is a lot, but sometimes I got carried away and now I need to spread my love to other collectors.

The picture above is my most recent acquisitions from this past week. The Pyrex 475 Saxony and Pyrex Pink Stripes 401 were a trade with a fellow collector. I found the tan 402 stripes bowl at Value Village for about $3. The Primary blue 502 fridgie was also $3. I mostly bought it for the lid. I also picked up a Lilly Pulitzer shirt for myself for about $2.37. Lilly is becoming one of my new addictions, watch out, but I can only afford thrift prices! Hopefully by January, I’ll have thrifted enough to make a wardrobe out of it for my Florida vacation.

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Some contacted my locally wanting to sell a lot of Vintage Pyrex for $15… of course I said yes! She even dropped all 7 pieces off at my house. I got the Pyrex Forest Fancies 401 bowl for $0.25 to add to my 401 collection. I also snagged the Pyrex lemon carafe with lid for $0.50. That morning, I made Nerdboy wake up at 5:15 and accompany me to an enormous church sale. I heard the vintage glassware was going to be good so I was planning for success! We woke up early and waited in line for hours until the sale started. By 8:00 (doors opened at 8:30) there were hundreds of people lined up along the parking lots. I could not believe it! We got there early enough and were about 25th or so in line. When doors opened, I rushed to the glassware section. Michael and I already had a plan: he’d take those 2 rows, I had the others. He was to scoop up any piece of Pyrex, Fire King, etc. that I may be interested in and I’d sort after we scooped all the rows. Well, there wasn’t a single piece of Pyrex or any vintage glassware whatsoever. I heard from another collector that a volunteer was carrying around a pink Pyrex bowl, so I believe volunteers got first pick and we waited outside for hours for nothing. I got 2 vintage Ball jars with lids for $1.25 though. You can’t win them all.

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More Pyrex! I went c-r-a-z-y this week. I spent way over my budget on Pyrex but it was soooo worth it! See that gorgeous 475 Pyrex Spirograph casserole in the middle? Also, take note of the original underplate. I thrifted the entire set for about $10. I could place that piece on Ebay for $100 and it would be gone in minutes, I’d imagine. That is one of my best scores yet! It’s still sitting in my living room in front of the TV so I can stare at it. All the other pieces were from Value Villages throughout the week for $2-$6 a piece.

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A few weeks ago, I had a Friday morning all to myself so I went to the Free Friday Flea Market down the road where everything on the parking lot is free. I scored some good stuff like a few canning jars, Fiesta tea cup, 2 Pyrex lids, wool yarn, and vintage napkins, but I just didn’t need most of the stuff that was there. I then stopped at the thrift store and got the set of Pyrex Early American refrigerator dishes for about $10. I stopped at the nearby antique store and grabbed the other 3 pieces of Pyrex for $2-$4 each.

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Here are a weekend’s worth of flea market finds! I scored 2 more blue Ball jars with lids. I think I paid about $4 for both. I got the super duper Pyrex carafe for $0.50. I already sold the carafe and Hazel Atlas Kitchen Aid bowl. The Corelle Christmas bowl has also been traded. All were scored for $0.50 each. I found 2 Pyrex refrigerator dish lids! I got the Pyrex Spring Blossom 2 441 for $1 I think. And my mom got the cute tank top for $1.

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Here was another stop to Value Village. I saw the Pyrex Pink 503 refrigerator dish there the day before and didn’t buy it because it was pretty trashed… and $5! Vintage Pyrex should never go in the dishwasher. It removes the shine and then the paint. I felt sorry for it the next day and bought it at 25% off and the Snowflake Blue loaf dish. I cleaned that Pink 503 up, scrubbed a layer of yuck off, and shined it up with some oil. It looks 95% better! I’m SO glad I bought it.

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Last time Nerdboy and I went to Deep Creek, we stopped at a tiny thrift store that benefits pets. I spotted the Pyrex Old Orchard 502 there for $1, so I bought it! On the way home, just a few minutes from my house, I saw someone on the main road was having a HUGE yard sale at like 6 o’clock PM on a Sunday. Their yard was filled of boxes overflowing with vintage crap. The man clears out old estates and this one must have been enormous. Nerdboy and I spent a good chunk of time picking through those old boxes, I even sliced my hand on the glass! Out of an entire yard full of vintage stuff, all I snagged were two refrigerator dish lids. I don’t mean to complain, but where are the dishes?!

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This weekend was slim pickings but I grabbed a Pyrex Daisy 475 (no lid) and a 045 lid for cheap.

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First, I need to point out, everything in this picture was bought the same morning at the flea market. It was a morning that I went by myself and I carried all of this to the car (I bought the cases of jars at the complete opposite of where I parked, of course) by myself. I used so much energy and so much time and not one person asked if I needed help. What is wrong with the world!? The stack was taller than me and I had to put it all down to rearrange/take breaks every 10 steps. My arms ache just thinking about that adventurous morning. Anyway! I scored the two cases of jars for $6 I think. That’s less than $0.25/jar! I found some more Pyrex lids and a Pyrex Verde 442 and Wheat 023. Both Pyrex pieces were only $0.50-$1 each.

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This picture really doesn’t count as thrifting, it’s kind of a “Brandi went crazy at the antique stores and malls when she was out of town”. I spent a lot that weekend but everything I bought was a good price and I’ve already resold about half of the items here (to make some extra money).

So after all this you probably think I’m a Pyrex hoarder, and that’s alright. I always tell myself that there are worse things I could be spending my money on. Not pictured are also quite a few pieces of clothing I got for myself at Goodwill. I think I got 3 pairs of dress paints (all $2-$4 each), a dress shirt ($2), and a cardigan ($4). My mom also scored some clothes at Goodwill when we had a $10 off $20 purchase coupon. She got 4 great looking dress shirts for work at about $4 each! I like shopping for clothes more at Goodwill/thrift stores than at any other store. It really helps when you have a coupon or when you go on discount day because sometimes you’ll find stuff that’s just so overpriced. But I grabbed a few pairs of dress pants for a small fraction of what I would have paid at the mall, so sometimes it pays to thrift shop!

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Here are the latest goodies from the backyard. My first and only carrots. They were delicious! I picked a bunch of peppers; now I need to find something to do with all of them!

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Sir Jake is modeling with my backyard goods. I LOVE that gourd! I wish the rest of the plants didn’t die so I could have a porch full of them. I have to pick the tomatoes before they get red because the squirrels keep eating them before I can pick them!

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Tomatoes and eggies from the backyard!

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On the days everyone lays, we get 4 eggs! Ladies have been slacking lately. I think it’s a combination of the colder nights and that Luna isn’t feeling well. She’s acting okay, but just different. She’s spending more time by herself, she won’t run away with the other girls, won’t roost next to them, and she’s just being a lazy loner. Maybe the other girls are picking on her? She looks fine physically so hopefully she’ll shape up soon.

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“Hi, I’m Luna and I ripped mom’s flower out of the flower bed while taking my dirt bath.”

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Onions, eggs, potatoes, peppers, oh my!

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The girls lay lots of different size eggs! Something we’ll get XXL eggs and some days they’ll be mediums.

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I have nature right outside my front yard! It doesn’t get much better than that? Well, maybe a tropical beach, I guess. The deer have been visiting every single day. Amazingly, this is the first year they haven’t gotten in my garden. We think they just have enough to eat in the marshes that they haven’t had the need to venture to my garden, thank goodness.

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My mom found this egg in the nesting boxes. Mrs. Bonnie was rolling it all around and we think she pecked at it. Naughty girl. We also have another naughty hen. Mrs. Biscuits spends her outside time hunting frogs. She roams the yard waiting for innocent frogs to move, she snatches them in her beak and runs and runs and runs and runs with that poor frog hanging out of her mouth until it dies. She doesn’t eat them, she just keeps killing them. Over and over again.

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And here’s my little sister. She always claims she hates the chickens, but with a smile like that, I think she’s lying!

Raising chickens is an adventure. Tomorrow’s the Maryland Poultry Swap but unfortunately I cannot make it. I’m pretty bummed that I’m missing out. I know I would have tons of fun looking at all the different breeds of chickens, fabulous coops, and browsing all the homemade and recycled goods. If we were going sure enough I’d be coming home with some new babies. Until next year, I guess :)

Oh, and if you want a little chicken humor, check out this video on “The Hazards of Backyard Hens”. I thought it was funny, but then again I also talk to my chickens like they are people.

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This week has been one of my busiest weeks all summer. In addition to working outside the home for over 50 hours, I had 50lbs of peaches, 25lbs of tomatoes, and 10lbs of blackberries to can. On top of all that, I’ve been taking care of my chickens, trying to find time to blog, and shipping off some of the vintage goodies I’ve been picking up at flea markets and reselling online this summer.

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With the wonderful help of Savvy Momma and Nerdboy, we were able to put up 16 jars of blackberry jam, 4 jars of blackberry BBQ sauce, 24 quarts of peaches, 5 jars of pickles (it was 6 but 1 exploded), and 6 jars of peach honey. So you are probably wondering where the 25lbs of tomatoes ended up, right? They are in the trash. And not just 25 pounds of whole tomatoes, but 25lbs of hand picked, peeled, diced, cooked tomatoes with fresh herbs and garlic that my mom and I spent the entire day preparing. I was cooking it down on the stove (hotter than I should have) so I could quickly can it up before going to bed. I sat down for a minute at my laptop for the first time all day and that’s when I smelled it. The bottom of the pot (dang cheap, thin pots) scorched leaving my entire pot of tomato sauce smelling like smoke. It was awful. The smell was sickening all night long. I tried everything I could to save the sauce; I moved most of it to the crockpot, added a raw peeled potato, more seasonings, more garlic, sugar, lemon juice, wine… and even peanut butter (I read it online. I was desperate). Nothing helped. I let it cook in the crock pot some more in case some miracle would come in and save it. Finally, my mom pulled the cord of the crockpot, the sauce cooled down, and it was dumped outside. Are you shedding a tear with me yet?

It’s such a shame to waste all of those beautiful tomatoes and all that time we spent on them, but there was nothing I could do. We ended up with a lot of nice canned goods we’ll be able to use all year. It has already been a few days since the tomato sauce incident so I’m doing my best to forget it ever happened and to move on. I’ll be asking for a set of new big pots of Christmas. Nerdboy and I are tired of using an SOS pad to scrub the pots down after every.single.use. They are just so thin and don’t transfer the heat around the entire surface of the pot.

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Our next canning adventure might be apples if we feel like it in the Fall. I’m sure we’ll do a few more jars of stuff in between since I haven’t pulled out my Presto Pressure Canner in awhile (lets you can anything low acid, like soups, beans, and more!). I love that canning allows us a way to preserve food when it’s in season and then enjoy it all year. The peaches are so wonderful (though I wasn’t thrilled at the quality this year) you can eat them out of the jar with a fork, dump over vanilla ice cream, and of course, make a peach cobbler! To make peach honey, we made a “peach juice” from all the tossed peach skins and pits boiled in water. From that strained juice, I added some sugar and a little pectin for a thickener. It will make an excellent sweetener for hot tea and also a great sauce for pork or ham! I love using up the parts people normally trash to make a usable and delicious product! We did the same with apple skins and cores last year when we made apple jelly.

I’m off to grab some hot tea (with peach honey!) and maybe a brunch with eggies from my backyard. I have to go start yet another busy weekend! I need to sit down sometime soon and do some *gasp* school preparations that I have been waiting until the very last minute to complete.

First day with 3 eggs!

First day with 3 eggs!

The chickens have been laying for 18 days – wow! My two Rhode Island Reds, Biscuit and Ginger, started laying first probably on the same day. Just yesterday, one of my Barred Rocks, Bonnie, started laying too! We’re getting about 3 eggs a day now. We are still waiting for Luna to lay an egg, but she has always been the smallest chick, so I’m not surprised she’s slower than the rest. The chickens lay about 6 eggs a week each. Once everyone starts laying, we’ll be getting about 2 dozen eggs a week until their laying slows down when days get shorter and weather gets colder. We’re all pretty excited about the eggs! Even my sister, who wants nothing to do with the chickens, will go and steal the eggs if I’m not home.

Weekend brunch: My canned potatoes, veggies from the garden, and eggs from the backyard.

Weekend brunch: My canned potatoes, veggies from the garden, and eggs from the backyard.

Checking out fancy chicken coops! Anyone have $2000?

Checking out fancy chicken coops! Anyone have $2000?

Biscuit and Ginger taking a dirt bath - their favorite thing to do.

Biscuit and Ginger taking a dirt bath – their favorite thing to do.

Chickens and a deer roaming their my front yard

Chickens and a deer roaming their my front yard

Egg comparison: My little rich yolk is on the left, compared to the lighter yolk on the right from the store

Egg comparison: My little rich yolk is on the left, compared to the lighter yolk on the right from the store

As you can see, each chicken lays a different shade of brown. I think the lightest one (almost pink) is Bonnie’s. It’s fun to see the different colors and shapes these eggs are! They are still on the small size (compared to the Large eggs we used to get from the grocery store), but they look and taste great!

From the backyard!

From the backyard!

My first dozen

My first dozen

I just used some of my hard earned money (I’m working 47 hours this week outside the home, what the heck!) to buy my babies new food and water dispensers. Their set up now really needed a change. They kept knocking them over and I had to refill every day or every other day! No one has time for that! Hopefully they will be delivered today or tomorrow and I will get them all set up. I just bought them another 50lbs of chicken feed, but it’s a bit too heavy for me to carry from my car to the coop. Thankfully, they get their fill of kitchen scraps (mostly fruit and veggies) and nature (grass, weeds, bugs, etc.) and don’t really go through that much chicken feed.

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I feel like it’s time for another Savvy Student Shopper update! I’m busy, as usual. I’m constantly on the go and the only time I sit at the computer is late at night, which really should be sleeping time. I’m hoping life will slow down once school starts and I work myself into a routine with classes, interning, working, and blogging (don’t forget the chicken keeping, thrifting, cooking, crafting, couponing, and all that stuff). When I sit down and scroll my personal Facebook, I always see people complain about how bored they are or how there’s never anything to do around here. I wish I could snag those people and make them my personal assistants; I ALWAYS have stuff to do. Who even has time for Candy Crush Saga or whatever that game is called?

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If you follow the Savvy Shopper’s Group on Facebook you’ll know that I was on the local news last week. It was pretty cool. As you know, I’m always the one behind the computer so being out in the open for all to see Friday morning LIVE was quite out of the ordinary. I talked about using coupons and how that has helped me through college. Luckily, it only lasted a few minutes. They gave me no preparation before going live. I didn’t know what questions were going to be asked and they threw me into the news room about 4 minutes before I went live (with like 5 camera pointing at me). It was quite the experience. I’m really thinking I’ll stay behind the screen for the time being. I am thankful I had the opportunity to share my love of couponing and my blog with many locals. If you’re a new reader from FOX45, welcome!


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You may also know that Nerdboy and I have been stocking up on a ton of local produce these past few weeks and canning up a storm. We’ve tackled 50lbs of peaches, 10lbs of blackberries, 35lbs of tomatoes and probably lots more just this week. We give these fruit slices, jams, honeys, sauces, etc. out as Christmas gifts and also enjoy them ourselves throughout the year. It’s something we enjoy doing, but it’s a freaking ton of work. My body aches from all the work.

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In between canning, being a news celebrity, and working, I went out shopping for some new clothes. I never buy new clothes because I thought I didn’t have a need. I really haven’t grown a bit since middle school (I’m 21 now) and I’ve been given so many hand-me-downs that my closet is totally overflowing. My closet is overflowing with sun dresses, summer skirts, sweat pants, pullovers, yoga pants, and leggings. Almost everything fits my size, but it doesn’t fit who I am anymore. I’m trying to update my wardrobe to reflect my age and give me something nicer to wear to my internship this Fall. I hate shopping though. I rarely find anything I like and when I do, I don’t want to spend money on it. I feel my money or my mom’s could be better spent on more important things. Just this week I bought a few new items (okay, just 3) but I do feel a lot better. Everyone deserves to spend time and money on themselves sometimes. Nerdboy really understands my struggles and was nice enough to go shopping with me over the weekend and force me to buy some stuff. Nerdboy, or Michael in the real word, is so great. He follows and encourages every single little crazy plan I have and really knows me better than I know myself. Last month, we celebrated 5 years together. We started dating in high school and now we’re finishing up college together. It’s pretty crazy!

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I’ve still been thrifting this summer. I try to hit the flea market every weekend but I haven’t really had time to go to thrift stores. The chickens are still laying eggs, but I’ll have an update on them soon. My garden is totally suffering since I haven’t had time to even look at it in weeks.

That’s all for now! I may try to sneak in a nap before I tackle spaghetti sauce today :)