Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Canning Jar Epiphany

I'm 32 years old and have been homecanning off and on since I graduated college. My mom did not can, so I did not have anyone to teach me how to do things. Everything I have learned has come from reading the Ball Blue Book and assorted canning cookbooks and the glorious internet. I've certainly learned a bunch by trial and error as well.

One thing has always bewildered me about canning jars. Modern canning jars have a two-piece system that comes in two sizes depending on the opening size of the jar. The small size is called "regular" and the large size is called "wide-mouth." Why not "small" and "large"?

The answer came to me today in an unexpected way.

I recently asked my in-laws if they had any spare canning jars hanging around that they wouldn't mind parting with. Today they came over with two boxes of jars that Joe's dad pulled from the attic. There were lots of different jars in there. Three of the jars were the old style with the rubber gasket and glass lids. A number of them were the old zinc one-piece lids. One jar had a wide-mouth opening, but most of the jars were regular opening size. However, a couple jars had tiny bands but no flat lid. Those puzzled me until I found this lid on one of the jars (the band is under the flat lid):

At the top it says "for narrow-mouth jars". Duh! There used to be THREE sizes! Narrow, regular and wide. I can totally understand why they no longer carry the narrow-mouth size anymore. It's hard enough to fit some foods in the regular size opening. I can't imagine trying to use the narrow-mouth for something other than jams and jellies. Then it becomes a pain stocking multiple sizes of lids. I only own regular size jars (until today) for that very reason.

As you can see below, the narrow-mouth and regular lids are noticeably different in size:
There was one other surprise in the box -- a 2-quart canning jar! I've heard about these, but had never seen one. On the left is a Ball quart jar and on the right is a Kerr 2-quart jar. The Ball jar is one that I purchased at the store. I have no idea how old the Kerr jar is. The stores no longer carry that size because it takes too long to safely process foods in a jar that large. Oh, but it will be fun to use it in the fridge.
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Monday, September 7, 2009

Menu Plan Monday: Labor Day Week

The rain is pouring down this morning. It's bad enough that Directv can't even pick up The Weather Channel, so we have to use the internet to see how bad the weather is. It's kinda humorous.

No big Labor Day plans for today. Yesterday we hit up the tractor pull at the Richwood Independent Fair. Samantha really enjoyed herself. Her favorite thing were the animals, in particular the rabbits. She also liked the tractors with the black smoke. It was a vast improvement over last year when we left early because the animals and loud tractors scared her. Unfortunately the tractor pull had to be called before all the tractors had a chance to compete due to the sled breaking. It was a bummer because we waited forever while they tried to fix it.

Monday - hopefully the rain will clear up so we can grill some steak and jalapeno poppers

Tuesday - spaghetti and meatballs

Wednesday - Pizza Casserole

Thursday - smoked sausage, sauerkraut

Friday - lunch at the Popcorn Festival; dinner will be pizza on the grill if the weather agrees or in the oven if it doesn't

Saturday - spicy honey chicken thighs - these were really good the first time we had them

Sunday - Spaghetti Pie

Do you know what you're eating this week? If you would like some menu plan inspiration, be sure to check out Menu Plan Monday at I'm an Organizing Junkie to see what others are having!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Generic vs. Name Brand with Coupon

I use coupons for nearly everything I buy at the grocery store. I get this weird feeling when I buy something without one. I hate it when the generic is still cheaper even after my store doubles a manufacturer's coupon on the name brand item. I'm saving money with the generic, but I know that I can do better if only my timing were better.

I'm in one of those pickles right now. I am down to my last teaspoons of sugar. I don't even have any Splenda to substitute. So I have to suck it up and buy sugar at the going price. I can't wait for the rock bottom price. I am at my store's mercy. One of my stores has Domino 5 lb bags of sugar on sale for $2.50. I have a manufacturer's coupon for 30 cents off one. That means I'll spend $1.90 at this store that doubles. I just don't know. That doesn't sound like a good price.

I'm probably going to Aldi and/or Save a Lot this week for some of their sale items, so I'll check out their prices before buying any sugar. I could stop in Walmart to see what they charge, but that's a crapshoot. I've noticed that WM is higher than regular prices at Kroger or Meijer on half the stuff I buy. The problem is knowing exactly which half is cheaper at any given time. I really don't want to go all over town comparing prices.

We'll see. I NEED sugar, so I know I will buy it. I just don't know how willing I am to make sure I'm getting a decent price before I hand over the cash. The gasoline just isn't worth it.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

August CVS $10 Challenge: Final Week

I have had tomatoes on the brain, so forgive me for the tardiness of this post. Sunday, August 30, I did my final shopping trip of my August $10 Challenge. Joe threw me a curveball when he asked for the Blink Contacts eyedrops, so I had to pay full price for those, but everything else was somehow on sale.

Over two transactions, I bought:
(2) pkgs of filler paper
(1) medium Glade soy candle
(1) store brand hand soap
(1) Softsoap bodywash
(2) folders in Ohio State colors
(1) Blink Contacts rewetting drops

Retail price including tax was $29.49.

I had an instore savings of $3.60.

I saved $2.00 using manufacturer coupons:
(1) $1.00 Softsoap bodywash
(1) $1.00 Blink Contacts rewetting drops

I used $21.63 in CVS coupons:
- $1.50 CRT coupon for the bodywash
- $1.69 coupon from my email for a free gift (I chose the hand soap)
- $1.89 ECB from 8/16
- $1.98 ECB from last week
- $7.58 ECB from last week
- $6.99 ECB earned in the first transaction from the candle

Sunday's OOP was $2.26. I started the day with $2.61, so that left $0.35 in my pocket at the end of the month.

I walked out the door with $8.00 in ECB's:
1X $3.00 from last week
1X $2.00 from the bodywash
1X $1.00 from the folders (raincheck)
1X $2.00 from the filler paper (raincheck)

For $9.65 OOP, in August I purchased:
(2) book covers
(2) one-subject notebooks
(2) 5" scissors
(1) 3-pack glue sticks
(1) compass
(1) protractor
(2) 20-ct pens
(2) 10-ct pens
(2) rulers
(1) sticky note pad
(2) recycled plastic pencil boxes
(2) 1" vinyl binders
(2) mini composition books
(2) composition books
(2) pkgs of filler paper
(2) folders
(1) 36-ct aspirin
(1) Blink Contacts rewetting drops
(1) 10-ct box of store brand tampons
(4) Carefree ultra pantiliners
(1) set of earhook headphones
(2) Reese's peanut butter cups
(1) Glade candle holder for the scented oil candles
(1) Glade scented oil candles
(1) Glade Sense and Spray starter kit
(2) small Glade soy candles
(1) medium Glade soy candle
(1) store brand hand soap
(1) Softsoap bodywash

All-in-all I don't think I did too badly for the whole month. There are people who would have picked up each and every freebie and every ECB-earner in order to boost their numbers. I didn't do that. I stuck to items that my family will use or that I can donate.

I will be starting a new personal $10 challenge for September. Don't expect any blogging about it though. The blog provided the accountability and proof that it could be done. Besides, there are no coupons in next Sunday's paper, so I put in my vacation stop. No paper means no CVS ad, so I'm taking a holiday from CVS for a couple weeks.