Category: Money-Saving


I decided to do something with the frozen grapes in the freezer. We were not eating them as quickly as I expected so I decided to figure out what else I could do with them. I chose to make juice. Remember that saying, when life gives you lemons, make lemonade. Well, life gave me grapes and I am making grape juice.

As I was smashing the grapes, imagining that I was making wine the old-fashioned way, I wondered why I’d not tried this before. Was it fear of making a mistake or was it simply just unknown? I believe that is a question that we have to ask ourselves each day as we make decisions; why am I making this choice? Am I taking the easy road to just come up with a solution so I can check it off of my to-do list or am I not aware of other alternatives? Once we determine who we really are (our personal brand), then it is necessary to make choices about how we will express that brand. Fear can hold us back from really recognizing, embracing and expressing our true selves and more importantly, the strength that fuels our passions. We talked in an earlier post about change now being the constant, but with that new constant comes a point at which fear is overtaken by passion and courage. Our world changes everyday and who we are plays an important role init s and our own development. So, today, I encourage you to recognize a fear and choose to embrace it rather than hide behind it because at some point, you will have to make a choice and wouldn’t you rather enjoy life and drink yummy grape juice than just stare at a bag of frozen grapes every time you open the freezer. By the way, I am drinking my grape juice right now, it’s delicious.

Grape Juice (from http://simplyrecipes.com)

Ingredients

Equipment needed

  • A colander for rinsing the grapes
  • 1 large, 12-quart pot
  • 1 large 6 or 8-quart pot
  • A very large fine mesh sieve, or cheesecloth

Method

1. Pick the grapes. (I picked mine at the grocery store) Get a large basket, wear long sleeves and a hat, bring clippers, and fill up the basket with grape bunches. Keep in mind that a pound of grapes will yield a little less than a cup of juice.

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2. Wash and de-stem the grapes. Put grapes in a basin filled with water. Then rinse the individual grapes, picking them away from the stem, collecting the grapes in a large bowl, and discarding the green unripe and old shriveled grapes.

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3. Mash the grapes. With a potato masher, mash away at the grapes so the juice begins to flow. If you have picked a lot of grapes, you may need to work in batches. We have found it easiest to mash about 4 lbs of grapes at a time.

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4. Cook the grapes. Put the mashed grapes into a large stockpot. Slowly heat the grapes and juice to a simmer on medium heat and then simmer for 10 minutes. Stir occasionally so that the grapes don’t stick to the bottom of the pan. Halfway through cooking mash some more, breaking up as many of the remaining grapes as possible.

5. Prepare sieve or cheesecloth. Get another large pot, place a large fine mesh sieve over it. Alternatively you can cover it with two layers of cheesecloth, secure with a rubber band. Make sure pot is sitting on a plate to catch any juice that may run over.

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6. Strain grape mixture. Ladle grape mixture over sieve or cheesecloth to strain. Let sit for several hours or overnight in the refrigerator to strain completely.

7. Finishing. Remove sieve or cheesecloth.* Note that sediment will have formed on the bottom of the container. Rinse out the sieve or cheesecloth and strain the juice again, to filter out some of the sediment. Pour or ladle juice into containers. Enjoy your juice!

* Note that the grape mash can be composted.

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Getting Free Stuff

I decided at the beginning of the year to figure out how I could maintain our standard of living (a small household of 2) while spending less money. The immediate answer, of course, was coupons, but little did I know how intense couponing could be. Now, let me first say that I am not an “Extreme Couponer” like they show on the new TV series. I just wanted to see if using coupons was worth the time and effort that I’ve heard. So, I began with a newspaper, but being who I am, I had to investigate the process and that is when I found my FAVORITE money-saving blog. Hip2Save is a wonderful tool to have in your money-saving arsenal. It is run by Collin, a mother of three and the wife of a Marine, who had a similar goal, to create a certain lifestyle within her family’s budget. When I just happened to find the site, little did I know how much she would teach me, not just about couponing, but about getting products that you love either free or very inexpensively. Since I started reading  Hip2Save,  I’ve learned to save at least 60-70% on each grocery bill, how to organize my coupons so they are easily accessible, but even greater,  very rarely does a day go by that I don’t receive something free in the mail. And if that happens, that simply means that I’ve been too busy to spend the time necessary to do the work.  A few months ago, I was even sent two pairs of jeans to keep. All I had to do was wear them over a two-week period and fill out a survey that took less than 5 minutes to complete.

Now, don’t get me wrong, this process of saving money is not quick. For example, I now use a three-ring binder for my coupons and it took over 5 hours to organize. But, it’s all about what you wish to gain. Saving money while maintaining my lifestyle is important to me and I know that my boyfriend loves not worrying about whether he has all of the items that he needs. Below, I am going to give you a few tips that I’ve learned in six short months. I am, by no means, an expert, but I am getting better.

  1. Join a money-saving blog that will alert you when there is a promo online or if there are any great sales going on. As I mentioned earlier, I love Hip2Save. It is well-written, organized and well-managed. I check it several times a day to make sure I’m not missing anything.
  2. Begin couponing. It takes time, but don’t think you have to go crazy when you first begin. Just get a Sunday paper, sit down and clip the coupons for the items that you like. Use them and see if that process works for you and your lifestyle.
  3. Take the time to compare the coupons with your store’s online ad. Let this guide your grocery list.
  4. Be open to trying new things. Resist being completely brand-loyal about everything. (Can you believe a brand strategist just said that?)
  5. Join market research sites like BzzAgent and All You Reality Checker. You will be given the opportunity to try (and keep) new products for free, with no catch, but a short review.
  6. “Like” your favorite brands on Twitter and Facebook. I liked Tide on FB and received a free full-size bottle of their new Stain Release as well as a full-size bag of the laundry additives.
  7. Join House Party to apply for parties where you are sent items to have a party and introduce/try a product with your friends. I won a Coffee-Mate party earlier this year, where I was sent 18 free Coffee-Mate coupons to share with friends and family at a party. In the party package, I was also sent the board game, Cranium and a full chess set as well as free coffee to make sure everyone could try the new Coffee-Mate flavors at the party.

These are just a few suggestions. It can seem very overwhelming, at first, but do what best fits your lifestyle and you will be excited to see the results. Now, I’m off to go check the daily deal sites to see if there is anything good out there. Happy Saving!