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Monday, August 19, 2019

More Berry Picking, Homemade Condiments and Christmas Shopping

A trio of financially-productive activities for me this weekend.

We've been picking blackberries as often as we can make ourselves get out. This is truly a group effort this year. It is taking all of us to push ourselves out the door. It isn't that blackberry picking is difficult or especially tiring. But more like we are now bored with picking. Doesn't that sound like a frivolous excuse not to harvest free fruit? We remind ourselves of that often. But the freezer is not full yet, so berry picking is still a task we feel we must do.

Sunday afternoon, the four of us went to a nearby lake to pick berries. One daughter had spied a bunch of ripe berries there earlier in the week, so we all thought it would be worth our time to go there. My husband wondered how much we are spending on gas in order to harvest the free berries. You know, the expense incurred to obtain a good or service for "free" is a good consideration. For us, the lake is quite close, so I estimated we were spending about $1 on gas, round trip. In exchange, we picked 4 very full ice cream pails of blackberries, which I guesstimate have a value of about $80, based on weight and price for frozen blackberries. We used family activity time for this excursion, so no one missed any paid opportunities to harvest berries. Even though we are tiring of berry picking, it's a good deal for us.

With so many berries, I decided it was a good time to make another batch of blackberry jam. While I had the canning equipment out, I put it to use to make other condiments. My husband had brought home a small amount of jalapenos that someone at work was going to toss, so I used some of our canned tomatoes, garden garlic, onions, spices, vinegar, and salt to make about a half-gallon of salsa. In addition to the salsa and jam, I took this opportunity to make a batch of ketchup, using canned tomato paste, vinegar, sugar, ground cloves, pickling spices, onion, and salt. I made about 3 cups of ketchup, enough to last us about a month.

The salsa was just a small batch, so I made it "by taste." Later this season, I'll make a large batch, enough to last the winter, and I'll follow the recipe in this post. This recipe makes 8 pints and uses canned tomatoes, so there is no messy tomato peeling to do.

Also over the weekend, I took advantage of a high value coupon and a sale to do a little Christmas shopping. I'll share what I bought this coming Saturday morning. Really good deals that I believe will be appreciated by my family members. Don't forget -- this coming Saturday (Aug.24), another live chat session from 9 AM to 11 AM (give or take), PDT, subject: Christmas/holiday frugal gift ideas and recipes. I have at least 6 ideas that I will share. I hope you have a few, too!

Another busy weekend -- here we are, it's Monday, I'm wiped out, and need another day off!


  1. The blackberries sound so good! Glad you can enjoy picking them as well as putting them up for winter use. We got back from a road trip late Sunday and yesterday my husband found an overgrown zucchini in the garden. I made a double batch of chocolate zucchini muffins last night and still have lots left to use! We were able to take green beans, zucchini, and blueberries when we went on our trip so we could enjoy some fresh produce (oh, and a few cherry tomatoes) and boy did they taste good!

  2. Hi Kris,
    It sounds like your garden has been doing very well. A nice surprise when you returned.
    We've done the same thing when taking summer road trips -- brought some of our produce with us. It not only saves money, but homegrown produce is so much tastier than commercial produce.
    I hope that you all had a wonderful vacation. Making memories. . .


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