The Art Of Bartering

You rarely hear of this old traditional way of ‘business’ anymore. Mostly you hear about cost and income. Bartering has been around longer than any other form of exchange for goods. You have something I need/want, I have something you need/want. We trade in an honest transaction of similar value.

I got a serious case of the giggles the other night as husband and I were watching old Andy Griffith Mayberry RFD reruns as I was drafting this blog, and it was one of my favorite episodes. I’m sure you remember the one. The Mayor is eyeing Andy’s fishing pole because it “always catches fish” and the mayor can’t catch a fish to save his life until he uses Andy’s fishing pole. Later on in the show, Andy trades his fishing pole for a gift for Aunt Bee, but when the Mayor needs Andy to vouch for him, Andy gets his fishing pole back as trade for vouching for the Mayor. I know, I know, in a way its more of a “I’ll scratch your back, you scratch mine”, but it still made me laugh because of the timing.

Anyway, back to bartering. Bartering can help your budget tremendously when done correctly. Can I sell these goods I’m trading for more money? Probably, but, what is the gain. For example, you have a farmer friend who has no market for beef organ meat and you have a surplus of relishes and pickled items. They like pickles and pickled okra, you like beef liver. A trade of a few pints of pickles and you have dinner. Also, giving time, to be “paid” in goods is more than acceptable but never thought of anymore either.

Clean stalls for a day, get sent home with ground lamb or beef soup bones. I’d say that’s a win, win for both. The sad thing is that in this money driven world, many people don’t look at the good in bartering. It doesn’t need to just be for food either, it can be a fair trade for say, materials for a hobby, or other such goods. Many times, I’ll trade jams for a basket of canning jars, or eggs for a tote of fabric scraps.

It also helps with reusing items. Someone may be cleaning out a garage and find all types of things you may need. The old adage of “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure” is more than true. Even more so in today’s world if you think about it, due to the throw away society we have been surrounded with.

A fun day can be gathering your friends for a “swap meet day”. We’ve done this before with clothes. Maternity clothes, business clothes, kids clothes, etc. Trading and reusing, re homing etc. I love getting second hand clothes that I can make into other clothes, such as jeans into jean skirts or overalls into adorable jumpers. I love to sew, I see treasures in all kinds of means of fabric.

The next time you want or need an item, think about an honest trade, barter or swap. It’s also a great way to get to know your neighbor, people, local farmers.

Until Next Time,

Mrs. Kay Lynn Rice.

Planting Seeds

I bet you expected this to be about gardening, didn’t you?  Well, in a way it is.  We are growing a garden that will feed us for the rest of our lives if we are wise, or we are creating a barren plot that will cause us to fall.  I know, that isn’t a very positive way to start an article is it?  Truth be told, today’s world has us creating a barren plot.  How can we avoid falling into the trap of World View?

Think of pennies as seeds.  Every penny placed wisely grows, pennies cast to the side are lost.  I remember overhearing a conversation that pennies are useless in today’s society and should be “discarded”.  Now even a child knows that when you put a penny in a jar each day by the end of the year you have $3.65.  When you start finding pennies in the couch cushion, in the car, on the sidewalk, and you pick it up and add it to the jar, well, you just increased your income.  Seeds that grow into a crop.  One seed gives birth to a crop of fruit.

As with seeds and a garden, the soil must be primed, there is maintenance and care and daily pruning involved.  A seed will not grow on rock.

woman standing on pasture

How to prime your soil:

  1.  Budget.  I talk about this all the time.  A budget should be a living thing, not something you do once and shove in the drawer of a desk.  It is constantly changing, growing, shrinking.  Working with your budget weekly will allow you to see upcoming storms, droughts and be able to prepare accordingly.  During good times that your ‘crops’ are doing above expectation, work on saving and giving.
  2. Revisit your wants vs. needs.  Another subject I talk about all the time.  This is a subject that should have lots of communication around with your family, especially your spouse.  Exactly what do we need as a family?  What do we want?  Is our want justified?  Just a clue here, just because the neighbors are going on a one month cruise does not mean you have to do the same thing.
  3. Making your home work for you.  No, I am NOT talking about a refinance loan.  I’m talking about utilizing the spaces.  Instead of just flowers, plant herbs and vegetables.  This will help with your grocery bill and your health.  If you have land, put in a full garden and learn to preserve by canning, freezing and dehydrating.  Berries and fruit are also a great addition for visual as well as food.  Do you live where you can have poultry?  Chickens are a wonderful source of protein in both eggs and meat, but be prepared for lots of work.  Meat Rabbits are also a great way to supplement your meat intake.  You will need a to understand that meat rabbits are food, not pets.  With bringing on livestock you will need to look into your homeowner’s insurance, community rules, etc.
  4. Family Rules.   Seeds are best planted early.  With children its the same way.  Teach your children well in the areas of money and work.  Give them chores, teach them young to keep track of their earnings.  Encourage work at the proper ages and teach them responsibility of their earnings.  Every adult & young adult who is healthy and living under the roof need to have responsibilities both in work and finance.  Do not permit anyone to slide.  You are responsible for raising the next generation.  Here is also the difficult conversation section, do not be afraid to confront misuse of finances, even if it is with a spouse.  Do not attack, do not fight, find common ground and discuss to avoid the storm in the future.  Everyone is in this together.
  5. Find your leaks and areas of waste.  This is not only in the area of actually spending money, but in how you are spending time.  If you are “too busy” to cook at home, look at why?  Are you spending time in front of the television instead of meal prepping?  Have you overbooked your kid’s activities so much that no one has time to rest and focus on each other?  Time and Money both are things that we can control how they are used.
  6. Invest.  I’m not talking necessarily about the stock market.  I’m talking about investing in your home, future and self.  Use your money and time wisely to build not to break down.  Instead of spending thousands of dollars on a cable bill, cut the cord, and spend the time outside with your family building and doing instead of spending time in front of the television or all on different devices in different rooms.  Spend pennies on preparing a garden and watch your grocery bill go down.  Take the money you normally would spend on a daily coffee shop coffee and put it in a penny jar, you’ll be surprised how much money you have at the end of the month.  But don’t go out and reward yourself with it, pay off some bills instead, put it back into the crop to grow more.
  7. Pay off and get rid of the plastic.  I talk about this one often as well.  In today’s world, yes unfortunately, we do need a credit line.  But watch how you utilize it.  Ask yourself, do I really need <item, service> right now?  Can I save for it?  How much will this cost me in interest?  Can I buy it used for less and still save money on maintenance of this item/service?  Can I make it myself?  If you do run up a card.  Pay off your smallest debt first, then take the money you would be spending on it and add it to the next in the list of debt, doubling that payment amount, leaving the larger ones at their minimum payment until you move up the ladder.  This is called the Snowball effect, Dave Ramsey teaches this.  I am a huge follower of his and his Financial Peace University.  I love his budget tool at everydollar.com .
  8. Keep a small amount of cash on you at all times.  I will keep $5.00 on me in cash and if I am out and about and need something like water, I can use the cash and not a card, it also makes me more aware of how I’m spending things.  Keep track of your cash use as well.
  9. Utilities and Insurance.    It is wise to review your utilities and insurance at least quarterly or after a big life change.  I know you are thinking why utilities.  Here is the thing, if your electric bill jumped spiked the previous month/quarter you should ask yourself why.  Was it an overly hot or cold month?  If it was, do you really need the air conditioner set cold enough to support penguins?  Do you need the heater going like a dragon on overload.  There is a difference between comfort and access.  learn to acclimate a little better with alternative methods.  Dress appropriately for the weather inside and outside.  Adjust the thermostat when you will not be at home.  It’s all about adjusting behaviors and expectations.  Your insurance should be looked at periodically to make sure you are being covered for what you really need to be covered for.  There is no reason to be insurance poor.  You can also save up in an emergency fund to offset costs here as well.

I will continue to discuss these items throughout the blog.  I hope you enjoy them and that they help you think of ways to be more efficient and cost sensitive in your life so that you can grow a most productive crop.

“She goes to inspect a field and buys it with her earnings she plants a vineyard.  She is energetic and strong, a hard worker.”  Proverbs 31: 16-17

Until Next Time,

Mrs. Kay Lynn Rice

Alphabet Soup Mix in a Jar

Meal-Prepping and filling your pantry doesn’t have to be a daunting task.  Utilizing dehydrated veggies and herbs works great to have a quick grab and prepared home cooked meal.  These also have a great shelf life to have on hand during emergency and disaster situations.

Today I am sharing a fun kid friendly recipe.  Alphabet Soup.  And it tastes so much better than store bought condensed.

First to prepare your jars.

  • 1 half pint canning jar with a tight lid.
  • 1 cup alphabet pasta
  • 2 tablespoons dried vegetable flakes
  • 1 teaspoon chicken bouillon granuals or powder
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper

Directions for jars.

  1. Make sure your jar and lids are clean and dry!
  2. Layer 1/2 cup of pasta, then 1 tablespoon of dehydrated veggies, then the boullion and Pepper.
  3. Layer the second tablespoon of veggies then the second half cup of pasta.
  4. The layering just makes it “pretty”.
  5. Tightly screw on your lid and label.
  6. Alphabet Soup Mix
  7. Add 4 cups water + 1/2 cup of tomato pasta sauce.

When you are ready to use.

  1. Place water, pasta sauce and contents of jar in a large sauce pan.
  2. Bring to a boil on high heat.
  3. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes, uncovered, or until pasta and veggies are tender.

Easy peasy!

Place in a cool place to store that isn’t prone to high humidity, your pantry.
Until next time!

Kay L Rice

One Skillet Meals: ‘Fried’ Chili

Every now and then, dinner time sneaks up on you out of nowhere and you have nothing prepared.  One Skillet Meals ate great for times like these.

This recipe is great for no time preparation.

One Skillet “Fried” Chili

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 pound of chorizo sausage
  • 1 cup of rice (dry)
  • 1 1/2 cup of water
  • 1 quarter small onion diced
  • 1 8 ounce jar/can of diced tomatoes with jalapeno peppers
  • 1 can of black beans rinsed
  • 1 can of whole corn rinsed
  • Shredded cheese

Directions

  1. In a large deep skillet brown and separate your sausage.  Do not drain off the drippings.
  2. Add your onion brown a tad.
  3. Add in your dry rice.
  4. Stir while adding your water.
  5. Put a lid on your skillet and simmer for 15 minutes.
  6. Add in the tomatoes with jalapeno peppers, the black beans and the corn.
  7. Stir in.
  8. Cover and simmer for another 15 minutes or until the liquid is not visible and your rice is soft.
  9. Dish up and serve with a sprinkling of grated cheese.

Enjoy! 🌶️

Until next time,

Mrs. Kay L Rice

Living Simple

The one thing that can be the most difficult in today’s world is to not be wrapped up over money.  We are bombarded continuously from all sides on wants over needs and blurring those lines. We are told self is a top priority and that things and money are the path to happiness.  The world lies.  You can not fill emptiness with things, only Christ can fill emptiness. 

I was told today that simple living can not be achieved in today’s world.  I’m here to tell you that it can.  Simple living and being frugal doesn’t mean loosing; it allows you to gain the important things in life.

Collect Change

Keep a change jar on your dresser.  Pennies, nickels, dimes they all add up.  When your jar gets full don’t take them to one of those change machines in the stores because they cost you money to count and sort YOUR money.  Banks still do this for free.  Put the money directly into a savings account.

Live Below Your Means

In short don’t max out your paycheck.  No matter how much or little you make find ways to tighten your belt.  When you get a bonus, overtime pay, tax return whatever it is put it “away” in a savings for later or use it to pay down bills.  Make a monthly budget and intentionally set aside 10% of your regular pay for savings. Of course the first 10% goes to tithing.  Keeping the purpose of purchases for need instead of want.

Save for the big things

There are many things that need to be saved for and even have loans.  That’s life. But knowing this and preparing for it by not wasting your money will help avoid anxiety and arguments.

Second Hand

I love my second hand stores and I’m not ashamed to admit it! The cost savings here is amazing and you can find some amazing treasures.  Clothes, books, furniture the list goes on.

Eat at Home/Pack Lunches

Eating out is expensive and most of the time isn’t really good for you.  Save a trip to a restaurant as a special treat not a go-to.  When you travel, pack picnic meals.

Kick The Starbucks Habit

Any drink at Starbucks can be made at home and without the loads of sugar.  You can gain back alot of money not stopping at Starbucks.

Buy In Season or Bulk

I preach this one all the time.  If you don’t can, then freeze.  Canning however is a skill well worth learning and can save you lots of money.

Cut The Cabel

You don’t need Cabel anymore with services like Netflix and Hulu.  But also if you pull away from filling your time with TV and such you’ll find yourself filling your time being more active instead of watching more TV.

Grow a Garden

Start small and start to enjoy your own fresh produce.

These are just a few ideas to trim your expenses.  Living simple.

Until next time,

Mrs. Kay L Rice

Winter is Coming… Preparing your Pantry

The purpose of home canning and meal prepping is to prepare for times when fruits and vegetables and meats are not as abundant naturally.  When an item is in season, it is more abundant and less expensive, this is the time to prepare for winter, especially when you live in the northern and Midwest areas.  Winter can be harsh.  We believe in canning what is in season, naturally, to help with budget costs, health benefits and being more ‘God sufficient’ than man sufficient.  The other side point to preparing and budgeting your food storage is to better understand what a REAL portion of food is.  America has gotten really bad at ‘super sizing’ and over convenience everything.  We’ve gotten into the mindset of “getting our money’s worth” instead of planning and looking at what our body needs.  The sugar and preservative addictions are just as bad as the “bad addictions”.  Look at the rise of obesity, health issues, enabling etc.  If we are stressed, we head strait for the candy jar, if a child is crying we hand them a sweet treat.  I could go on and on about this subject, because I myself suffer from stress eating and weight issues.  I come from a long line of Southern Cooks.  I love my butter, gravy and I melt with Shrimp and Grits.  Which is all fine, IN MODERATION.

But, back to preparing your pantry.  Each year it is essential to take stock of what your family will need for the upcoming year until the next season arrives with more goodies.  Also knowing crop rotation years help too.  One year may be a great corn year, the next nothing.

Now the big thing I want you to really take notice of is the PORTION of each item.  If we ate this way, I’m willing to bet, the weight loss programs out there would loose a lot of money and we would have more in our savings!

The Canner’s Pantry Planner:
Food Times/Week Serving Jars/Person Jars/Family(4)
Meats, Poultry, Fish 4x week, 36 weeks 1/2 cup 36 Pints 144 Pints
Soups 2x week, 36 weeks 1 cup 18 quarts 72 quarts
Jams, Jellies, Preserves 6x week, 52 weeks 2 tablespoons 40 1/2 pints 160 1/2 pints
Relishes 3x week, 52 weeks 1 tablespoon 5 pints 20 pints
Greens, carrots, sweet potatoes, winter squash 4x week, 36 weeks 1/2 cup 18 quarts 72 quarts
Pickled vegetables 2x week, 52 weeks 2 1/2 tablespoons 13 pints 52 pints
Juices and Tomatoes 7x week, 36 weeks 1 cup 63 quarts 252 quarts
All Other Fruits and Vegetables 14x week, 36 weeks 1/2 cup 76 quarts 304 quarts
Pickled Fruits, Pickled Eggs 2x week, 52 weeks 2 1/2 tablespoons/ 1 egg 13 quarts 52 quarts

Did you slightly freak out over the portions? Puts things into perspective doesn’t it? Here is the thing I have discovered, when you utilize the mentality of using what you have on hand, you waste less, you eat less, and you have that pride of providing. It’s amazing how the world’s perspectives dissolve when you start living like this.

There are other items to consider as well, the meat covers what you should have in your freezer as well as canning, but there are dry goods to consider:  Flour, Sugar, Baking Soda/powder, yeast, dried beans, rice, powders.  Then your wet goods such as honey, syrups, molasses.  Also your perishables, eggs & milk.  There is also cellar storage to consider, potatoes, sweet potatoes, hard squash, apples.  But all in all the portions stay the same.  Now my favorite:  Cheeses.  I love real cheese, love it!  But a portion is only 2 ounces.  That’s the size of 2 dice.

I credit the knowledge of this from my Grandma Inez and my go to book “The Encyclopedia of Country Living” by Carla Emery.

So learn to enjoy and appreciate what you have and you will find that your body and your savings will thank you!

Enjoy and let me know of your thoughts.

Until Next Time,

Mrs. Kay L. Rice

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